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Old 03-31-2005, 12:09 PM   #1
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I'm a long time follower and first time contributor of this forum. It has been a wealth of information.

I have a 1990 379 extended hood Pete that I use to pull a 2000 48' Cargo Mate Eliminator living quarters trailer. I got the trailer for less than the manufacturer's cost to build it when I bought it off of a bank who had the floor plan on the trailer dealer that went bankrupt. It seemed like a good deal at the time. I had a 1995 K3500 Chevy with the 6.5 turbo that I planned to pull the trailer with, but soon found out that the truck and its brakes were not up to muster when it came to the trialer's 18,000 lbs. loaded weight. Having been an over-the-road driver, I knew a Class 8 tractor was the only way to go with that kind of weight. However, the cost of commercial insurance and license can hardley be justified, given the amount of time I get to play with my toys. I've come to realize that I can convert the truck to a motorhome and/or buy a conversion for the amount I spend on insurance and license for my current rig.

Having built my own racecar and being the DIY type, I've prety much decided to convert the truck to a motorhome. Besisdes, I have a friend who will help that converted a bus that looks like it was done by a profesional. I've talked to a Manufacturing Shop here in WV that will build the box to spec, leaving me to finish the interior. Based on some of the pictures I've seen of the conversions the shop has made, I'm impressed with their quality and construction. However, I've not had a chance to talk to any of their customers and have some concerns about the specs. The entire box would be construced with aluminum using 2"x3" aluminum boxed tuing in the floor and 1"x2" aluminum boxed tubing in the walls with .063 aluminum skin bonded by 3M tape on the outside. Having drove a truck, I know that aluminum trailers are highly susceptible to stres cracks. Given that SH and the other manufacturers use steel to construct their boxes internally, I'm wondering if cracks are common in aluminum constructed conversions and that's why SH and the others don't use it? Then again, it could be the cost. Anybody have any thoughts?
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Old 03-31-2005, 02:07 PM   #2
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Nothing wrong with a properly done Aluminum structure. Airplanes and large Yachts use aluminum all the time.
I suppose it depends how well done thw welding is, and the design has a lot to do with it as well.
Many Fire Trucks and Ambulances are made in Aluminum as well.
Steel is OK, but what is better, 1.5" X 1.5" .059" steel or 2" X 2" .125 wall tubing???
It all depends.
You might consider .125" plate walls instead of .062.
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Old 03-31-2005, 04:50 PM   #3
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Quote:
The entire box would be construced with aluminum using 2"x3" aluminum boxed tuing in the floor and 1"x2" aluminum boxed tubing in the walls with .063 aluminum skin bonded by 3M tape on the outside. Having drove a truck, I know that aluminum trailers are highly susceptible to stres cracks. Given that SH and the other manufacturers use steel to construct their boxes internally, I'm wondering if cracks are common in aluminum constructed conversions and that's why SH and the others don't use it? Then again, it could be the cost. Anybody have any thoughts?
I admire your skills and ambition as you (like many on this site) set out to build the ideal motorhome. The contributors on this forum are an incredible source of experience and knowledge.

I share your interest in an aluminum frame and skin accepting that cost will be higher than steel. The weight advantages of aluminum are appealing even though your rig can probably carry much more. Heavier (especially in transportation) does not necessarily mean better. I know that MCI bus conversions also use the 1/8th inch skins. How did you arrive at your aluminum frame thickness specs?

I don't know if stress fractures are more a product of the design rather than the fact that they are aluminum. Many trailers are made out of all aluminum and last decades and hundreds of thousands of miles. I doubt that your mounted coach would be subject to any different conditions.

How do you plan to mount your coach structure onto the truck frame?

Again, please share your enthusiasm and updates on the progress of your coach. Pictures often say more than words ever can . . .
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Old 03-31-2005, 07:45 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies.

After submiting this post, I contacted the shop that I'm considering have build the box and spoke to one of the employees who helped build the past conversions.

As for construction and design, the shop constructs utility bodies for trucks and custom built trailers and has been doing it for some time so I'm not real concerned with their welding and design.

Though I'm not surtain, I imagine that the body would be U-bolted to the truck frame like most other utility bodies. As for the aluminum frame's thickness specs, the shop manager provided them when I originally contacted the shop about building the box. I'm surtain he told me the thickness of the 1x2 and 2x3 box tubing, but I negleted to write it down.


The manager was out today (in Louisville for the truck show), so I could not obtain more detailed info. I had planned on visiting the shop tomorrow to view more photos of their conversions and work out dimensions and prices but have decided to wait until the manager returns. Besides, I also plan on being in Louisville Saturday.

I agree that a pictures often say more than words so I'll post pictures when I can, but given my stoneage connection speed, it may be a while before I can get them posted.
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Old 03-31-2005, 11:21 PM   #5
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Vern396
all right!...another "379"er
we are also working on a 1995 regular hood "379" (N14/super 10/front drive axle removed) moho conversion (~34' with ~27' tag trailer).
our framework will be welded steel (we actualy plan to "stretch" the sleeper to 25' ) with "3M VHB" tape bonded aluminum skin. i`m still not sure if we should go with regular .095" aluminum or maybe .065" 6061 T6.
the T6 is more $$$ ... but ultra strong and easy to lap-joint.
i`m still working on AutoCAD to figure out all the little details...
cant wait to see your rig/progress
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Old 04-01-2005, 06:24 AM   #6
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Hey Spooner

I figured you would come knocking on the door. Something about a Pete just draws a crowd.

I've seen the pictures of your conversion and have always thought a high rise sleeper could be stretched to make a conversion. Keep posting your progess so as to motivate me to keep working to get mine done.

My Pete has a 48" flattop that is going to have to go to make room for the conversion box.

You indicated that your conversion is going to be 34'and that you remeoved the intermediate drive axel. Have you, or are you going to, stretch the frame as well?

I'm planning on a 28'conversion, but I'm concerned with the wheel base. From the back of my truck cab to the back of the tires on my last drive axle is 16' +/- a few inches. That will leave me with about 12' behind the wheels which I'm afraid may be too much. I too want to pull a tag trailer for the toys (69 Chevelle, SS 396), so I may have to stretch the frame. I've also though about pulling the intermediate axle out, but like the idea of having the additional tires on the ground and locking differential for traction in swampy pits. I've pulled out of some fine messes with the way the truck is configured now, so I may just leave well enough alone. What do you think?
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Old 04-01-2005, 05:40 PM   #7
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Here are a couple of good canidates.

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Old 04-01-2005, 06:23 PM   #8
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Needlenose!!

Vern
sorry, i was not clear there: our overall lenght will be 34'
the conversion part (stretched sleeper) will be 24' long and 95" wide up front (slightly wedge shaped in the first 8') and the rest of the body will be 100" wide.
inside height will be 81" and overall height we shoot for 11' (no roof AC; i`m thinking about a low mounted "mini split" heat pump
our WB with the front drive axle removed is now 278" (was a 250wb tandem).
rear overhang is only 8'4" from CL axle ...


....need to run for dinner....more later
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Old 04-01-2005, 08:43 PM   #9
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Vern,

have fun in Loisville, would be there when it would be 1000 miles closer to Arizona

My brother already started a little, our conversion is planed to get as good as possible road handling at the 75mph speedlimit in AZ, UT, NV. Also it should tow a three axle enclosed trailer with two of our cars in it like there is nothing behind it.
Also we live on a dirt road and we camp often in sandy areas (close to the sand dunes) we decided to go without slide outs. I seen the most expensive new diesel pushers trying to put them damn slide outs back in after a little sand storm... it is just hilarious to watch them

but anyway will keep our website with the conversion pictures up to date, but we are still in the destructive phase.... hopefully soon we start with the construction.
O'Malleys website

Thomas
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Old 04-01-2005, 09:50 PM   #10
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.....before you guys go off half cocked check with Randy Butler he has many ideas to share with you all and does reasonable work.......geof kaye
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