Join Truck Conversion Today
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 09-15-2005, 08:25 AM   #1
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 5
Default

I've been looking at Class 8 conversions for over two years now. I just haven't had the time or motivation to get one yet. I'm glad I've waited, though, because it looks like their are a lot more options available.

I've been to the Kingsley facility in PA and looked through quite a few of their rigs. I was really impressed with the build quality. I want to get that level of quality in my conversion. I've spent a lot of time in travel trailers and I don't want to put cheap laminate or flimsy seats into a Class 8 conversion.

What I'm thinking of doing is picking up a used T2000 with autoshift. Having it delivered to a conversion company (since I don't have a CDL), having a conversion done and then delivered to my home in VA where I can then register it as an RV.

My wife and I would like to do a decent amount of finishing of the interior. I want to handle any entertainment wiring (radio, tv, sat, etc). I'll also install the generator but I'd like them to pre-wire the switch for it. I'll also want to do the floor installations (wood and tile). I don't want many bells and whistles on my conversion, but it needs to be nice. Ideally I'd like to get three slides but might go with two, depending on the floor plan. I'd be looking for a 28' to 35' living space.

With all that being said, what ball park price range will I be looking at for the conversion (not including the truck)? And what companies should I consider having do it? I'll definitely talk to Kingsley, but it looks like Show Hauler might be in the same league?

Any comments on the truck itself? Should I be considering other alternatives? It looks like I can pick up a used T2000 with ~500,000 for under $30k.

I will need to tow up to 20,000lbs (including trailer) as well. I haven't figured out for sure what kind of trailer setup I want, but I'm leaning towards a tag (as opposed to 5th wheel).

One other thing...I have a very large building that I can store the rig in, but it is at the top of a 19% grade driveway. The driveway is currently gravel, but I could pave it if necassary. Any thoughts on axle/tire combinations I should consider to help with getting up the driveway with trailer in tow? Regular delivery trucks can get up it fine and I expect a Class 8 conversion with no trailer would as well. However, I had a couple of 80,000lbs tractor trailers try to go up it and they got stuck. Had to push 'em up with a loader. Don't want to have that happen with a conversion!

I would welcome any comments, suggestions, etc.

Thanks!
__________________

Bulvot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-15-2005, 09:34 AM   #2
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Kingman AZ.
Posts: 59
Default

Firstly, you don't need a CDL to drive the tractor. Once you bought it as a non commercial individual, its use is now private and since its unladen weight is under 26,000 lbs your regular license covers it unless your home State requires you to have an air brake endorsement or some such other heavy vehicle, non commercial endorsement such as I believe Texas does, for one. Other States require the 5th wheel to be removed, check your local Statutes, that's always fun but if you do ask at the DMV, get the reference number of the Statute they are quoting and not just that person's opinion.

The trick is to get a temporary tag. This removes the commercial use as one cannot use a vehicle for commercial purposes when being driven under a temporary tag.

The sky is the limit on what you wish to spend on your conversion, but if you are having a company do the major work, why not let them finish it all as you will be bound to find something they have not done such as wiring, that will not be quite right, which they would have sorted if they had done the whole job. Of course, if you have really detailed plans, things should be okay, but if all you want to do is the flooring, etc. You do mention the entertainment wiring, well this all goes in before finishing the wall and ceiling so you will have to work that out too.

Basically, I would either have them do everything to the finished walls and do the cabinets myself or have them do the lot and maybe put the floors down if you want.

Don't forget the overall length you are allowed to drive and if it's a tag trailer the max in most States is 65ft. We have a stretched FLD 120 with a 24ft body and tow a 26ft bodied enclosed trailer which makes us a shade under 65ft. I know many people pull huge 4 car stacker trailers behind 40+ft conversions and are 85ft long but wait until that awkward Highway Patrol Officer decides that you will park it right there and have to get a tow truck to pull your trailer out of his State!!!!

Towing up your grade will depend upon many things including whether you have double drive rear axles or a single axle set up. If you can pave it, it would be much better in the long run.

Hope this all helps.

Peter.
__________________

madbrit is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-15-2005, 01:24 PM   #3
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 5
Default

Peter-

Thanks. I am familiar with the laws on driving a Class 8 truck for private use, however trying to convince a law enforcement officer of the law on the side of the road could be a problem. Having a truck delivered to the conversion factory can't cost much more (maybe less) than doing it myself when you add the cost of flying or driving a second vehicle. I'll probably attempt to get it full registered as an RV while it's still at the conversion factory so I can drive it home myself. Hadn't thought of that until you mentioned it, though.

With respect to the cost. I was hoping for something a bit more specific. When I spoke to Kingsley two years ago I believe the price was in the ballpark of $300k including a brand new T2000. However, that unit would have also had a lift gate in the rear and a built in garage to handle my Class 3 truck. It would have been a unique job for them with a lot of engineering due to the weight dynamics. I have since decided I'm better off shortening the rig and hauling a trailer when and if I need to bring other vehicles along.

On the length, it has been a couple of years since I did my research, but I believe the limit on vehicle lengths only applies when you're not on federal highways. If I recall, you can have any length you want on a Federal highway. You run into trouble when you get onto state roads. However, if you're hauling another vehicle, you do run into a limit of 75 feet on Federal highways. Here is some info I found via Google (search for "length" on this page):

http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/sw/overview/

Personally, I would be more concerned with getting hassled for blowing past weigh stations than for being over length. Unless you make a U-turn in main street and get yourself wedged, I don't think anyone's going to care too much. Physics and practicality limits us just fine.

On the wiring, I would be having them do conduits with reasonable access. I have a tendency to modify cabling and equipment as needed and I plan on keeping the rig for a long time so it wouldn't make sense to have cables in there that I can't easily change.

Oh yeah, on the length issue...the benefit to pulling a tag trailer that has a Class 3 in it is that if I'm in a tight spot (physically or legally) I can just unload the Class 3 and pull the trailer with it.

What'd I'd really be interested in are ball park #'s, opinions on who can do the conversion at the quality level I want and suggestions on the tire/axle setup for maximum traction. I'm very familiar with the dynamics of weight and traction, but have zero knowledge of the weight balance of a Class 8 conversion with a trailer.

Thanks.
Bulvot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-15-2005, 02:19 PM   #4
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Kingman AZ.
Posts: 59
Default

Why would you be concerned about an officer stopping you or "blowing past" a weigh station when you don't have to stop at them? But then again you are familiar with driving class 8 trucks as private vehicles aren't you.

I can't advise you on costs for a partial build other than I was quoted in excess of $5K just to stretch the frame. If you have contacted Kingsley ask them for a partial job quote or Renegade, or one of the other brand names. Then you will have something concrete to go on, but seriously doubt you will get a large company to mess with partial conversions when they are rushed off their feet with complete ones. You may have to search out smaller custom coach builders to work with you on this sort of project and may cost you more in the long run.

I built my own conversion and used a 1994 FLD 120, with a 24ft Gruman box, then added below floor storage and so far we have around $30K in it with the cabinets and final decor to finish. We did just take a 6 week, 6000 mile trip across the Country without any problems other than a broken fan belt on the genset. We pull a 26ft enclosed car hauler which weighs in at around 9500 lbs.

The length laws come into play with NON commercial vehicles, most of the info you supplied with that website was for commercial trucks and mainly semis, the rules are different. A tag trailer being towed behind a motorhome is a totally different thing, just ask the smaller sized trailer manufacturers, such as Haulmark or United Trailers. The 102" wide rule is also not for all routes, not many people know that. There is also a "Motorsports Exemption" to do with lengths and other things, BUT this is only for semis, not tag trailers.

What you are forgetting is that just because you get away with the oversize thing, in the event of an accident, you may well be SOL if your insurance company decides that you were driving an illegal vehicle and leaves you high and dry without coverage.

Peter.
madbrit is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-15-2005, 03:19 PM   #5
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 5
Default

The federal code is interesting because in some places it specifically says "commercial" and in others it does not use that adjective.

Irregardless, if you want to go by state laws, I've found this link to be helpful:

http://www.wecamp2.com/size.html

Also, when I was referring to being pulled over, I was commenting on how it's unrealistic to expect every law enforcement officer to know every law (state and federal). Educating them on the spot can sometimes be difficult. I was saying that I think the chances of getting pulled over for length are a lot less than the chances of getting pulled over for not stopping at a weigh station, which I would consider to be pretty low odds all the way around.

When you say "Gruman", do you mean a Grumman bus? Is your cost including the truck? Sounds like you've got a great setup for a very low cost.
Bulvot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-15-2005, 04:13 PM   #6
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Kingman AZ.
Posts: 59
Default

Grumman make box van bodies too. My truck was stretched and the 24ft body added when it was about a year or two old for some special freight contract, it was one of a pair that were modified this way for the original owner.

The cost included the truck and body for $10K delivered from Tennessee. Most expensive item was the Onan Quiet Diesel Genset at $2700. The rest I either bought new or from Ebay or from friends on bus conversions groups.

I had originally started on a bus conversion, but with 40ft of bus and 30ft of trailer making 70ft and vehicles registered in Arizona have a maximum length of 65ft, I decided to stop before we got too far into the bus. We sold the bus shell and bought the truck on Ebay and had it delivered unseen.

I have a problem with owning a vehicle which is used maybe 6 times a year and having it cost more than my house and workshop, so we built it this way. Even though I say it myself, I feel it is much better built than many of these mass produced conversions and it looks pretty good too. A lot more care went into the design and use of materials. That being said, I would love to have had the money to have one built to my spec, especially with an auto or autoshift tranny for the wife to feel more comfortable driving it.

Apparently if you use what is known as a "Stinger" hitch, which I understand is like the car transporters use, it is a loophole which allows overall length to be 75ft but I haven't seen any legislation or legal specs on this so far.

The website you posted is what I have used too, but each individual States' Statutes are what you have to read and carry a copy with you as they are all reciprocal in other States. So unless you live in Wyoming and Sth Dakota where you can have 85ft and 80ft long combinations, it's 65ft thru 75ft for the others.

Peter.
madbrit is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-15-2005, 04:20 PM   #7
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Urbana,Illinois heading tor St. Louie
Posts: 89
Default

Bulvot,
Check out Kingsley again... they have changed considerably lately... new upper management... new home office etc.. they are outside of Minneapolis Minn. now and Ralph has stepped down from the day to day running of the company.. it is now more of a commercial endeavor than ever before..They do offer a complete exterior conversion with the interior left for you to do... they can get accurate about the price real quick...and are VERY flexible on what they build for you... Most of the other companies are generally less flexible and of coarse less expensive... unfortunately the fit and finish also is less impressive at times... Showhauler makes a fine coach but they are quite rigid on layout etc. United is more flexible, I have noted no flexibility with Renegade. Basically you have to check each one individually with your proposed floor plan in hand
I would suggest you decide what type of construction you want first and then you will be more able to look for the company that uses that method. It varies from tubular steel construction with aluminum siding glued on (Showhauler) to total aluminum framing and everything in between. There is bonded side walls and roof with aluminum framing, FRP (fiberglass reinforced plywood) and nearly any combination you can think of. There is a good list of converters in the links section of this site.
Kingsley uses a sidewall/roof system built by Thor... vacuum bonded fiberglass/aluminum framing/ interior finish with insulation included. Then they use the truck they prepare and finish it all off.. We visited their new plant in Minn this year and many other companies in the last year or two...so if you have any questions I can help with let me know
We are still looking for the perfect one for us..
Good luck and welcome,
John
5erFool (John) is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-15-2005, 04:54 PM   #8
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 5
Default

Peter-

That's good info on the reciprocity. I wasn't aware of that. My state has a max length of 45' for the RV and 65' total with trailer. Do you hav any links with info on the reciprocity? Sounds like something that would be worth printing out and keeping in the truck.

Do you have any pics of your setup? I'd love to see it. I might consider doing the conversion myself but I'm in the middle of building a house and the prospect of building another living space isn't thrilling me right now The T2000 I want to start off with is going to cost me a bit more, but I really like the ergonomics and my wife plans on driving it so the autoshift is important.

John-

Thanks for the good info. I had heard a little about Kingsley's changes but didn't know how it affected their business and product. I remember Ralph being very accomodating of my special requirements. I have a good idea of the layout that I want, so it really comes down to build quality. Show Hauler has a layout that is very close, but I want to install some bunks in place of a couch in one location.

I guess I have a bit more research to do in terms of materials. I want something that will last me 15 years and still be able to sell it. I want it to be solid and feel as much like a home as possible.

In general, would you say that tubular steel with aluminum rivetted skin is the most solid? Last thing I want is to have to rip out dry-rotted wood in 5 or 10 years. I've done my share of that on travel trailers (and a lot of other maintenance) and I don't want to do that on this motorhome.

You said Thor provides Kingsley's sides and roofs. Thor makes regular travel trailers, right? Not giving me great feelings about Kingsley's shell

I'll do some more research on the materials everyone uses and that will help me narrow it down, as you said.

What truck (for the base) do you think you're going to end up with? Are you going to get a trailer to go with it?

Thanks for all the help, guys!
Bulvot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-15-2005, 05:50 PM   #9
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 262
Default

Thor=Four Winds.
Camping Dutchman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2005, 12:08 AM   #10
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Urbana,Illinois heading tor St. Louie
Posts: 89
Default

Bulvot
Kingsley,
I thought the same thing at first about Kingsley's method but...the walls are framed up out of square aluminum tubing.. Foam insulation is used to fill the voids... fiberglass outside skin is applied to one side and interior finish to the other and then they are vacuum bonded together... the assembly is screwed and glued to the edge of the floor built by Kingsley with hundreds of screws...the joint between the rear of the truck and front of the conversion is the strongest of all I have seen. Lots of steel...
The Truck,
I am looking a Volvo.. I like the idea of the 630 and having the roof line continue at the same angle till it reaches the height of the conversion.. But the 670/780 would be nice with the added height more toward the front of the rig.... of coarse the sleeper's length subtracts from the overall length of the conversion section. But by having 4 swivel air seats and a removable table in that section it could be the dinette/lounge for 4 anyway.. But we do not plan to have more than 4 there at a time anyway...and it would make better use of that area.
The Trailer,
Our dream setup is a stacker trailer for my Tundra and the wife's Solara... then when we hook up and take the vehicles out it converts into a large commercial kitchen with a nice dining area... My wife is a tremendous cook... and loves to do it..
The Plan,
We are travel nurses so we do 13 wk contracts at a hospital and then have the option of going to another. Our company provides us with living accommodations or will give us an allowance to provide our own.. You can figure the plan from there..
Good luck with your search,
John

PS Thor=
Aerolite
Airstream
Breckenridge
CrossRoads RV
Damon RV
Dutchmen
Four Winds
General Coach ON
General Coach BC
Keystone RV
Komfort
Mandalay
Thor America
Thor California
according to their website
__________________

5erFool (John) is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


» Virginia State Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities


Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:12 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.