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Old 08-05-2006, 07:50 PM   #1
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Well, here we go! After reading through truck conversion.net for 6 months, numerous other materials, (and a trip to Elkhart & Eastman, Ga) I've decided I didn't like any of the factory built units for various reasons. Nothing wrong with any of them, but they just didn't fit my requirements. Also, I found it's almost impossible to find anything with reasonably low mileage for much less than the price of a new truck. Apparently they aren't depreciating all that much.

Anyhow, I looked at used trucks and concluded that modifying an over-the-road tractor would be time consuming and involve more than meets the eye.
Frame, driveline, & other mods can be expensive, then you need to consider gear ratios, ft axle weight requirements, and numerous other revisions to really do it first class. I bit the bullet and went for a new Freightshaker Columbia spec'd out with a stretched double frame, 450 Mercedes, 10 spd Eaton Auto-shift, etc,... same as the big boys order, up in Elkhart. The spec sheet for one of these is very detailed and 14 pages long. I hated to spend the bucks to go new but, in the long run I think it will come back when it's time to sell. I also found out, most Freightliner dealers don't have a clue as to how to order this kind of vehicle. One told me they just wern't available setup for motorhome conversion purposes. If anyone wants to go this route, I would suggest contacting John Patkunas @ Central Truck, Springfield, IL. He is one of maybe 3 in the USA that knows how to spec out this kind of vehicle from the factory.
Next, I decided to have the motorhome body (shell) built as I don't have enought hands, legs, and time to construct something this massive by myself. After considerable research I struck a deal with Hawk Engineering, Jackson, Mo. to complete the outer shell. He uses 1&1/2" sq tubing (opposed to 1" that most others use) and uses a design for 90 gallon (ea) holding tanks that mount traverse and only take up one baggage bay. He will also mount a 50 gallon propane tank btwn the frame rails (behind the rear axle) which again, doesn't take up bay space, and would appear to be a safe place for a propane tank.
I intend to complete the remainder of the conversion (motorhome components, cabinetry, wiring, plumbing, etc) myself and will post a few photos, progress reports, and other pertinent info, as we go.
I would like to express my appreciation for the info, construction tips, resources, & general knowlege that I have gained within the Truck Conversion web site. I'll likely be asking many more questions in the next few months. I would also be glad to help anyone else that is interested in following a similar path with their project.
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Old 08-10-2006, 07:58 AM   #2
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Hey Bob,

Sounds like your doing it right. I look forward to updates as you start on the interior. If you get any pic's from the box builder, be sure to post them.

Bill
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Old 08-10-2006, 08:24 PM   #3
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I'll be over at Hawk Engineering, probably "living" with them, for the next few weeks. Will take progress photos throughout the build.
Also, we intend to go with ceramic tile flooring. Need input - advise - thoughts, on sub-floor. The bottom layer is 3/4" tongue & groove plywood.
Has anyone tried laying tile directly over this without any other layers of sub floor? What do I use for tile cement & grout? Any & all suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Bob E - OKC
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Old 08-10-2006, 09:43 PM   #4
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I am new to the forum and I as well have started a new conversion. I have ordered a custom unit through Show Hauler and am working with Beck's in MI. So far I have been very impressed with both the dealer and the manufacturer.

Our unit will become our home. We have four children and plan to live on the road full time. We home school the kids so for us this is, in some regards, an educational adventure. We have never owned a RV before and are a bit apprehensive, yet excited for what the road will bare.

Our unit is 45', bunks in the back, full over and under washer and dryer and is fully loaded. We have the FL Columbia chassis with the Detroit Diesel 60 engine.

Are there any other fulltimer families on the road that can give me some advice?
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Old 08-11-2006, 10:58 AM   #5
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Bonam,

Check in here --> Fulltiming for more info on this.

Bob,

Use to be in the tile industry and would have never thought it to be a good idea to have tile in something that flex's like these chassis's do. My current rig has tile and so far so good. I would check with the local tile supplier like a Dal Tile to see what innovative types of adhesives they have out now. (It's been about 12 years since I was in that industry) For grouts we used a latex additive to give it some flex. I can't imagine that my tile in my rig is on anything more that 3/4" plywood.
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Old 08-12-2006, 04:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bonam:
Our unit is 45', bunks in the back, full over and under washer and dryer and is fully loaded. We have the FL Columbia chassis with the Detroit Diesel 60 engine.
Too bad that is exactly how our 2005 Kingsley Coach is built and it is for sale. You could have just come and drove it home. Three bunks in the rear with a jiffy sofa also, stacking washer/dryer, etc, etc. It cost over $400K to build and we're selling it with 18K miles for only $225K. It is built on a Volvo 780 chassis.

Oh well, good luck fulltiming and home schooling. We are just about to start the homeschooling adventure with our 4 children...but we're doing it mostly at home with the occassional educational trip to different areas of the country.
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Old 08-12-2006, 10:10 PM   #7
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Send me some pics...I may be able to get out of my deal. I am not sure...production is schedule to start in two weeks. You can send them to bonam@mac.com or just post on this forum.
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Old 08-13-2006, 08:35 PM   #8
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You asked a question about tiling the floor in your motorhome. I did the bathroom area in mine almost 3 years and 60,000 miles ago and haven't had a problem because I did it myself and obviously did it correctly. I never had a tile pop nor did I have any problems with the grout. The subflooring in my Showhauler is 3/4" plywood. On top of that I laid down a backer board with thinset underneath and screwed down every 4"o.c. I guess you could use durock or another type cement board, but I used the Hardie backerboard because it's neater to work with and it comes in a 1/4" thickness that you can use on the floor. Most cement backerboard is 1/2" thick and much heavier than the stuff made by Hardie. I also used a porcelain tile because it's super hard and dense, but I'm sure that marble, granite or any other type tile would hold up just as well so long as you prepare your subsurface correctly. All the materials that I used were purchased and are always easily available at Home Depot or Lowes, nothing fancy. I used a modified grout and thinset with the appropriately notched trowel that was specified for the tile. Don't worry about doing the job, it's not really any diferent than doing a quality tile job in your house over plywood subflooring. Don't skip out on the backerboard or thinsetting it down on the plywood and use plenty of screws. One thing that you might want to do is lay the tile on a diagonal. You're dealing with a small space and if you put your tile on a diagonal, it will make the room appear larger. I didn't do this, but wish that I had.
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Old 08-15-2006, 08:50 AM   #9
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cjc,...appreciate the info,...I'm going to visit Home Depot today & take a look at the Hardie board. I'm also thinking of using marine 3/4 plywood for the sub-floor,...more ply's & better grade of wood. Your thoughts?
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Old 08-22-2006, 02:36 PM   #10
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Thoughts on wall materials for you. We use 1/4" birch venner core plywood glued and stapled over plywood "subwall". It sands beautifully and paints like sheetrock and if you have to repair it down the road its very easy. Pre-printed panels are impossible to fix.
Tony

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