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Old 04-08-2004, 09:32 AM   #1
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Would like to draw on the vast experiences of the members, and get some view points.

I am starting to consider a project, using a 31ft. gooseneck Sundowner living quarter horse trailer. The trailer was factory built to my specs incorporating a "garage" in place of the horse stalls. I'm thinking, this should be a fairly straight forward installation onto a cab and chassis. The "trailer" can then be fitted with side storage compartments etc.

Please "kindly" show me the errors of my thinking, or help me validate why this may be possible. I would certainly be using a proffesional fabricator, and would wan't things to be very "sano".

Thanks to the board for a great site!
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Old 04-11-2004, 12:20 AM   #2
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38 views and not one opinion! ya'll must think I'm crazy. Let me elaborate, the trailer is crisp and only 4 months old. It is a solid built steel structure, sheathed in smooth aluminum panels.

From what I have concluded thus far, there are three major areas needing addressed. The current "Bunk house" over the gooseneck, is 46" up from the bottom of the horizontal steel floor framing. Most MDT cabs I have checked have a height of 58"-62". So the floor of the "bunkhouse" and trailer exterior around it, would need to be shortened 12"-14". Obvously it would need to be dissassembled, refabbed, and reassembled. The wheel wells currently house two 8000lb. axles. The trailer is 102" wide, and the wheel wells intrude into the "garage" area near 7". Being the entire existing trailer would be above the new rear axle, the wells would simply need to be removed, and structure fabbed back. There is very little on the inside other than riveted aluminum sheathing to deal with. I would be having "basement" storage compartments and new wheel wells fabbed, along both sides. The next area of attention, would be re-fitting the existing or new plumbing and tanks back under the trailer. This does not particular look either tough or expensive, as most of what I see is standard issue parts. The area I'm a little confused on, is how to handle the seating. I really like the idea of having the "trailer" open to the cab, like a motor home. That has me thinking I may need an extra cab set-up, and mount a couple of captain chairs near the current front wall of the trailer.

One of the big reasons for considering this is, I have $58,000 into this set-up. If I was to sell and try to upgrade, I may get $40,000. I'm thinking a cab and chassis, and 10-15K for a fabricator, then I can take over.

I was an AOG mechanic for years, with Boeing. This structure seems very straightforward for the kind of "modding" I think it will need.

Any taker on a interesting discussion?
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Old 04-11-2004, 01:48 PM   #3
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ochster -

My personal opinion, is to cut your loses, sell the trailer and you have a nice down payment on a professionally built conversion. I know that sounds like the easy way out, but the one off's are very hard to sell and usually the owner takes a major bath when you go to sell it. You can look at many of the racer classifieds and one off's sit on the market sometimes for years.

If you are set on doing a project such as this, I recommend you tour a number of units and see how close you can get to the look and styling. Also, be prepared to spend a year or more on a project like this, unless you plan on working on it fulltime. Custom work takes so much longer than anyone plans. I had visions of building my conversion myself, but after spending 3 months just on the cab, I knew that there was no way I could keep that up.

Either way keep us posted as you move forward with your quest to get a conversion.

Bill
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Old 04-11-2004, 02:43 PM   #4
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No your not crazy, or maybe we both are? I am planning on doing the same thing. I built a trailer and changed a few things half way through the construct and now its a little heavier than I planned. I do some cad work, so I modeled the the truck and trailer out and it looks pretty good. I am trying to find some information on chassis stretching too.

I thought most Sundowers were aluminum, with some steel around the gooseneck and jack? You will need a long wheel base, Sundower puts the axles close to the rear. Would you just set the trailer on top of the truck framr rails?
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Old 04-11-2004, 09:25 PM   #5
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warpath, your opinion has merrit and ultimately may be what I do. The trailer I had built, is exactly what I would wan't again...hard to swallow a big loss...without some investigating.

The trailer is a combination of a steel mainframe, and mostly aluminum wall structure. It has a continious one piece aluminum roof as well. Frankly, I believe this trailer to be one of the best built. I ordered it fully insulated, and sheathed, along with a larger capacity A/C ducted through out, and forced air heat. The axles could be located more forward, being I do not plan on hauling 3 horses in the rear.

For the sake of discussion, it seems like a common practice to simply set the box or in this case trailer directly on the frame. I envision buiding a ladder style designed reinforcement, that would tie the crossmembers of the trailer together, and give a full length support that rest directly on the chassis rails of the truck.

The trailer has a 7'6" hight from the bottom of existing floor crossmembers, to top of roof. The A/C unit is another 14". I envision a low profile tire based on a 19.5" wheel that would be near 32"-33" tall. I figure 8 inches for suspension articulation. Being this would be under the floor level of the trailer, I'm thinking the tire height, plus suspension clearance, plus my designed "ladder rack/stiffener (3-4"), and total height of trailer wall and a/c, gives me a total finished height of 12'5". I'm not sure weather that is good or bad, but it seems rather normal or a little less for a fullsize RV.

I welcome a informational discussion on this idea, and would love to hear from some that have first hand knowledge. While I may very well decide against it, a savings of 30-40k in the long run, may be the only way I ever actually get to own one these vehicles, atleast at this point in my life.

rwrr001, whats the lowdown on your idea?
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Old 04-12-2004, 09:47 AM   #6
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Sundowner trailers are very well built. The total height of 12'5" is not bad, most fifth wheels, buses and truck conversions are right around there too. Buiding a ladder style designed reinforcement should work, the reason why I asked is that most sundower trailers floors are made of an aluminum extrusion.

Looks like you have a lot off money into your trailer, I would really think about it and make sure its planned out before you convert it.

My trailer I designed and built it and have less than $7,000 into it.

Photos are at: www.geocities.com/rosenbergwelding/

The problem that I have is the trailer weight, towing 16,000lbs up a mountian with a 1-ton truck does not work well. So I modeled the the truck and trailer, will at basement storage compartments and change wheel wells, change the trailer front and it will look pretty good. The total height will be about 11'4", will have basement ac and heat. I would like to use a cabover tractor, I know they do not ride as well, but they are not as long and I will have some extra storage space.

Looking for some information on chassis stretching, photos or anything else would help.
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Old 04-12-2004, 11:25 PM   #7
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The trailer currently is near 12,000lbs. Fully loaded I may see 16,000lbs, including tools, race bikes, water, hospitality tent, etc. It would also be nice to be able to tow with the set-up, should it ever become reality. I definately would need to be able to seat four people "legaly".

Any opinions on the fallowing?

Weather to use a four door cab, or manufacture the cab open to the "motorhome" and incorporate seating in the transition area. Or any other ideas on how to nicely arange this.

Having no knowledge of medium duty trucks, is there a brand or two that seem to operate under the popular radar, that would be considered a bargain? What size/spec does it appear I will need? I'm hearing great deals can be had on Fords (F650), and it seems I would need near 250 HP to be decent. I would also prefer to have an "auto style" shift. This is an area, I would need to get alot of bang for the buck, if this was to become reality. I cannot afford a new truck, or an expensive truck, I don't think. I know wheelbase will be somewhere between 230-250 inches.

I would like to thank anyone that will entertain me in this discussion. If nothing else, I will be better educated next time around.

rwrr001...that is a project man, my hats off to you!
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Old 04-17-2004, 06:22 AM   #8
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I would go with a class 8, then you will be able to tow a trailer or car. I have been looking for a class 8 truck and most times they are less then class 6 or 7. With the class 8 truck you could incorporate seating in the transition area.

I would also think about what warpath said "but the one off's are very hard to sell and usually the owner takes a major bath when you go to sell it" If you really like your trailer and want to keep it for a long time then the conversion my be worth it.
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Old 04-18-2004, 08:19 PM   #9
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I'm taking a slightly different approach than most on this forum with regard to a class 8 / motorhome conversion. Perhaps you will glean something useful from my perspective. I consider myself working on a relative shoestring compared to some people and their units I observe here, and will ultimately replace the 1983 class 8 I have with a more current one in the future. To that extent, I've chosen to incorporate the utility services I need into the tow vehicle without any structural modifications, then modify a trailer to suit my needs. For me, this offers more flexibilty, accomodates my primary interests (experimenting with solar/wind energy), allows use of the truck tractor separate from the trailer, and use of off the shelf (off the lot?) items and carriage more readily.

I agree with RR, class 8 is best. Price of used is all to do with the quality of the driveline. I know I'd be dissappointed with anything less than 400hp with the wind and grades in the Western states. I went with an older Kenworth because I'm familiar with them, like the flat dash, and found one with a rock solid drive line spec'd out just right. Whatever you buy, make sure to drive it yourself, and have it checked out on a dyno before committing to purchase. I appreciate everyone's time typing out their thoughts since I've learned a great deal from this site and have been prompted to look into all sorts of conversion possibilities for a trailer based on what I've seen, even if it's not stretching a frame and adding on.
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Old 04-18-2004, 08:47 PM   #10
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It has become very clear, that I simply will lose to much money to either trade or sell to "buy up". Just a pure matter of economics, I cannot afford it. So accepting that, I began thinking about a conversion. The price I have come up with for my threshold, is $30K. For this I would need to purchase a cab and chassis, and pay to have the labor done. That's where I'm at right now, is trying to come up with some accurate figures to see if it fit's the budget. If anyone near Seattle know's of a willing fabricator, I would be interested in talking about the project.
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