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Old 11-24-2013, 04:15 AM   #1
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Default How/where to learn?

Hi, I just joined this forum to ask some questions. I want/need to learn how to convert a box truck into an RV. I know what I would like & can picture it in my head but I don't know how to make it a reality. I don't know anything about RV's or building but I'm gonna have to learn fast. I have no interest in owning a house ever & I'm not willing to give my entire paycheck to a greedy prick landlord. I also like to travel a lot, can't stand being in the same place for more than 6 months & I will never trap myself in a lease. I got myself trapped in East TN. for the past 18 years, I hate it here & it's killing me. So now my #1 goal is to never get trapped anywhere ever again. My home has to have wheels from now on.

So how did you learn to build/convert it yourself? And if you don't do it yourself where can you take it to get the work done? I've been watching youtube videos & trying to learn but they're not geared towards a beginner. I still feel like I don't know anything. It would be really nice if I could meet somebody in real life that does this sort of thing but I'm not that lucky.

And say I bought a truck, what order should I do stuff in? I need a list of things to do & in the order I need to do them. Like insulation, installing windows, water tanks, batteries etc. I'm afraid I'll do something & it will get in the way of something else that I should have done first.

This is something I have to do but I don't even know where to begin.
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Old 11-24-2013, 06:16 AM   #2
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Sounds like you need to go to an rv store to figure out what you want and maybe buy an rv. The only reason people are building rv's out of trucks is to 1 tow a large trailer safely or 2 they are retired truckers that need an excuse to still own one If you don't have a passion for building your own RV and are just doing it to have a mobile home you probably would be better off purchasing one.
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Old 11-24-2013, 10:37 AM   #3
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I'm curious spider001 - how old are you ?
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Old 11-24-2013, 04:57 PM   #4
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The only reason people are building rv's out of trucks is to 1 tow a large trailer safely or 2 they are retired truckers that need an excuse to still own one
I like the idea of designing it my own way (I'm an artist). Only putting in what I want. And leaving out crap I don't need that will only waste space.

I also think most RV's are ugly & look ridiculous. And when you're looking for a used RV you're not going to be able to pick & choose the right paint job & colors. You'll be looking for good condition & the best price. The way it looks, the price & the condition will NEVER match up. A plain white box truck looks a lot better to me.

I also really like the "stealth" aspect of it. It looks like a plain old delivery truck on the outside & nobody will know I live in it. I just think that's really cool. I would totally prefer a plain truck to a gaudy looking RV.

And I really only need a place to sleep & wash up. I don't need furniture, cabinets, counters & all that extra BS. The only things I really "need" are a bed, a shower, heat/AC & my Xbox.

Hell, if I just stick a bed in a box truck that's a million times better than paying the stupid BS prices they charge for apartments. I don't understand how people bust their asses on crappy jobs that they hate every week of their miserable pointless lives just to hand everything over to a greedy landlord. I won't live that way, I'm not that kind of person, that lifestyle will never work for me. I tried to live like that but it just won't work. I don't want to support these people. I don't want to pay their rent & help them buy new cars & pay for their dinner at the most expensive restaurants while I get shit in return. I'd rather spend *MY* money on *ME* rather than piss it all away on some douchebag landlord.

Right now we pay $600 a month for rent. We've been here around 18 years. $600 x 12 months= $7200. $7200 x 18 years= $129,600.00. So that's $129,600.00 to live in a place that I despise. And I don't know where to move to. I don't know where in the USA that I will like. I'm from CT. I want to move back up to the New England area but it's ridiculously expensive up there. There's no way I could afford to live up there. But if I had a truck I could go wherever I want without being enslaved by over priced rents, greedy prick landlords & leases. Just imagine if I put $600 into fixing up a box truck every month instead of burning it on a rent. It would be like building my own house only a lot cheaper & with total freedom to move around from state to state.
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Old 11-24-2013, 09:07 PM   #5
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i take it your not single. can you all be in the back of a truck all day and night in bad weather with out driving each other nuts? do you have a place to work on it? place to park every night and get water? what about jobs or do you sell your art work? what lenght truck are you thinking about? will you have a car also? tell us what you require it to have. plan on running a generator?
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Old 11-24-2013, 10:04 PM   #6
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i take it your not single. can you all be in the back of a truck all day and night in bad weather with out driving each other nuts? do you have a place to work on it? place to park every night and get water? what about jobs or do you sell your art work? what lenght truck are you thinking about? will you have a car also? tell us what you require it to have. plan on running a generator?
Totally irrelevant!


I'm asking what is the best way to learn for a beginner. Where is the starting point? How do you acquire the skills & the education? Do you need to go to school? Read certain books? Watch certain dvd's?
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Old 11-25-2013, 07:58 AM   #7
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There is no single place to find any of the knowledge you need but the best place is on this site. Read any of the builds and when you see something you want more info on, ask the builder. My build is under "Coach in the Making" and the reason I'm posting it is to help others and get feedback when I do something stupid.
So a quick dirty listed for you:
*Futon - sofa during the day, bed at night
*Fresh water tank and a 12v pump to move the water
*Cheap one piece shower stall from Home Depot or Lowes
*Grey water tank under the shower but you need a trap between the two because of smells.
*Toilet which drops straight into a black water tank. Both grey and black tanks go below the floor unless you want to put the bathroom up on a raised floor. Somewhere these tanks need to be drained so you have to figure out how/where to do that. These tanks need a vent line thru the roof.
*Sink is optional as you can use a hand sprayer in the shower for that.
*A couple roof vents to let in light and air.
*Some 12v lights
*Cut a hole from the cab to the box for an entrance. You need to seal the hole which can be several different ways.
*Windows kill the stealth look

I bought my stuff from PPL motorhomes and RV Parts Nation plus Bontragers Surplus.

Sound like what you want? What other questions?
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Old 11-26-2013, 01:07 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by RLPRACING View Post
There is no single place to find any of the knowledge you need but the best place is on this site. Read any of the builds and when you see something you want more info on, ask the builder. My build is under "Coach in the Making" and the reason I'm posting it is to help others and get feedback when I do something stupid.
So a quick dirty listed for you:
*Futon - sofa during the day, bed at night
*Fresh water tank and a 12v pump to move the water
*Cheap one piece shower stall from Home Depot or Lowes
*Grey water tank under the shower but you need a trap between the two because of smells.
*Toilet which drops straight into a black water tank. Both grey and black tanks go below the floor unless you want to put the bathroom up on a raised floor. Somewhere these tanks need to be drained so you have to figure out how/where to do that. These tanks need a vent line thru the roof.
*Sink is optional as you can use a hand sprayer in the shower for that.
*A couple roof vents to let in light and air.
*Some 12v lights
*Cut a hole from the cab to the box for an entrance. You need to seal the hole which can be several different ways.
*Windows kill the stealth look

I bought my stuff from PPL motorhomes and RV Parts Nation plus Bontragers Surplus.

Sound like what you want? What other questions?
Yes, a lot of that is helpful. Thanks!

I would really like to know the order I should do stuff. When I get my truck what's the first thing I should work on?
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Old 11-26-2013, 08:06 AM   #9
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Do the work to the box first. Vents in the roof, passage cab to the box and any changes to the walls, floors and ceiling like adding any insulation and /or paneling. Windows if you still want them. I like the idea of the bathroom in the rear on a raised platform. Roof of the box should be high enough to allow that. Tanks can be under that platform with access to them via the rear door.
One big issue is power. You are going to need some kind of power generation. Generator? Solar? Running the truck to take a shower would be a little expensive.
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Old 11-26-2013, 07:52 PM   #10
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Did you read Randy StClair's thread about the "Stealth Camper?"
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Old 11-26-2013, 09:40 PM   #11
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sorry if i read your first post wrong. it sounded like you didn't want to own a house or rent. i thought you were thinking about living in the back of a truck full time. i don't think i would want to live in mine full time.
i started out making a list of what i needed and wanted. started drawing it out in a note book till i had a good idea then drew it out on a big poster board to scale. then i started building it.
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Old 11-26-2013, 10:13 PM   #12
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first thing you need to figure out is what kind of truck you want and what lenght it will be. do you want to buy a box, build your own or hire it done? then comes several personal choices. insulation type, flooring & wall materials, water tank sizes, windows style & sizes, a/c & furance, room sizes and 1000s of others things to figure out.
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Old 11-27-2013, 10:38 PM   #13
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Thanks for the help. I'm on the right track. My thoughts on what should be done match your replies/advice.


Quote:
Originally Posted by RLPRACING View Post
Do the work to the box first. Vents in the roof, passage cab to the box and any changes to the walls, floors and ceiling like adding any insulation and /or paneling. Windows if you still want them. I like the idea of the bathroom in the rear on a raised platform. Roof of the box should be high enough to allow that. Tanks can be under that platform with access to them via the rear door.
One big issue is power. You are going to need some kind of power generation. Generator? Solar? Running the truck to take a shower would be a little expensive.
I'm going for solar. I was thinking about working on the power source first so I could get heat & A/C out of the way.


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Originally Posted by Bob86ZZ4 View Post
Did you read Randy StClair's thread about the "Stealth Camper?"
I might have. I've been looking at threads, web sites & youtube videos for months. That's how I finally figured out a converted box truck is the best way to go. I'll search for it now. Ok, got it!

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Originally Posted by volvoman View Post
sorry if i read your first post wrong. it sounded like you didn't want to own a house or rent. i thought you were thinking about living in the back of a truck full time. i don't think i would want to live in mine full time.
No, that's right! I don't want to own a house or rent & I want the freedom to move where I want when I want. I'm going to live in it full time for a while. See how it goes. I just can't deal with slumlords anymore. They need to change the name of this country to "The United States Of GREED!" I don't want to be trapped anymore. Owning a house or getting stuck in a lease means you're trapped in that town. I can't live like that anymore. Humans are all control freaks, there just ain't no way around it. All throughout history you'll find nothing but control freaks starting wars & making everybody miserable.

I'm from CT. The New England area is one of the most overly expensive areas in the country. This is the ONLY way I can ever go home. I've been going over every possible way for the past 3 or 4 years & this is the only way. My mother & father have a cemetery plot up there. My mother died a couple years ago & I can't get up there to bury her ashes. How fucked up is that? And I don't understand why it's so expensive up there. CT. has nothing to offer, nothing special about it, it's a tiny crappy hellhole state so why are they charging so much for everything? Pisses me off! Better to not think about it.

My ultimate goal is to be able to hop around from state to state. I want to stop in CT. to bury my mother & visit some relatives & then hop around between all those states up there. I want to check out PA, MI, NH, ME, VT etc. The rents are so ridiculously expensive up there that this is the only way to do it.

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Originally Posted by volvoman View Post
first thing you need to figure out is what kind of truck you want and what lenght it will be. do you want to buy a box, build your own or hire it done? then comes several personal choices. insulation type, flooring & wall materials, water tank sizes, windows style & sizes, a/c & furance, room sizes and 1000s of others things to figure out.
I want a 24' box truck. I'm going to do what I can myself & hire somebody to do the other stuff. I want it to be simple & open. I'm not going to make "rooms". I'm planning to make a small bathroom & leave the rest wide open like a studio apartment. Nothing fancy, I'll keep the costs down to the minimum. I'm an outdoors type so between working & going out bike riding & swimming & all that stuff I won't be in it much anyway. When I am stuck in it because of weather I'll just play my Xbox.

I would like the rear door to lower to form a ramp. That way I can drive a motorcycle in & out to get around town. I saw a few lawn mowing & landscaping companies do that for their mowers. Looks really cool!
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Old 11-28-2013, 08:14 PM   #14
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are you going to have axcess from cab to motorhome? check out my pictures. you may want to do like i did with rear bed. mine raises to ceiling or some fold up against the wall.
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Old 11-28-2013, 11:20 PM   #15
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are you going to have axcess from cab to motorhome? check out my pictures. you may want to do like i did with rear bed. mine raises to ceiling or some fold up against the wall.
I'm planning on it. I'll have to find a truck first & then see what needs to be done.

Looks like finding a truck is going to be a problem. I see lots of good deals on the different websites but nothing close enough. I'm also seeing smaller trucks the same price as the larger trucks. Which doesn't surprise me much because I've seen studio apartments that are the same price as 4 bedroom houses. People just throw numbers around. Size, condition & actual worth mean nothing.
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Old 11-29-2013, 06:45 PM   #16
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Totally irrelevant!


I'm asking what is the best way to learn for a beginner. Where is the starting point? How do you acquire the skills & the education? Do you need to go to school? Read certain books? Watch certain dvd's?
Best way to learn anything in life is to "ask the right questions" and "listen patiently" to the answers. If your not sure of the right questions just keep on listening and they will come to you.

One of the things I know most about is box trucks, I run a fleet of them for service and repair on those evil rentals you spoke of. Most important thing to know about a Box truck is it's history, especially its work history if you can get it. The box itself for example wears out just like an engine or transmission. Budget / Penskey / Ryder take care of their trucks properly and often sell them before they have reached the end of their useful life like say U-haul who runs them into the ground and sells them long after they are a safety hazard on he road.
You can pick these up in 10' - 15' in very good condition for 8 - 9k, by very good condition I mean that you can put another 100k to 200k miles on them before any majors need to be replaced. I.E. items other than tires and brakes.

Before you would be able to get to the how to's on how to mod the truck to your liking, you would need to pencil a few things out to know where to start. Like how big of a foot-print do you need to live, how many people will share that space, how much access would you like to perishable food, the ability to cook it, do you both want hot showers daily, do you want a toilet inside or are you going to go looking for one when you need it.

Once you know where you want to go with it, the rest will be easier than you might think. Your going to need some basic safety / hand tool / power tool skills that you can find all you need to know about at the local public library.

I suspect though, until you learn what is actually "totally relevant" to encourage folks to share their expertise with you, that you are on a rough road. I should know I spent far to many years on that thoroughfare.

Good Luck to you, no disrespect intended.
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Old 12-03-2013, 05:58 AM   #17
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I lived aboard for 12 years up in CT... 42' trawler, two staterooms, two heads... Tons of room... I definitely did not plan on living in my toter... Just a long weekend or so... Maybe a week at most! I know that many communities have laws agains residing in am rv outside of a camp ground... I think your asking great questions and as you compile the answers start to quantify them... Ac/DC needs... Water capacities... Definitely as much insulation as possible if you are going to be up north.

Most importantly... Enjoy you build! It will make the ride that much better!
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Old 12-03-2013, 06:03 AM   #18
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Best way to learn anything in life is to "ask the right questions" and "listen patiently" to the answers. If your not sure of the right questions just keep on listening and they will come to you.

One of the things I know most about is box trucks, I run a fleet of them for service and repair on those evil rentals you spoke of. Most important thing to know about a Box truck is it's history, especially its work history if you can get it. The box itself for example wears out just like an engine or transmission. Budget / Penskey / Ryder take care of their trucks properly and often sell them before they have reached the end of their useful life like say U-haul who runs them into the ground and sells them long after they are a safety hazard on he road.
You can pick these up in 10' - 15' in very good condition for 8 - 9k, by very good condition I mean that you can put another 100k to 200k miles on them before any majors need to be replaced. I.E. items other than tires and brakes.

Before you would be able to get to the how to's on how to mod the truck to your liking, you would need to pencil a few things out to know where to start. Like how big of a foot-print do you need to live, how many people will share that space, how much access would you like to perishable food, the ability to cook it, do you both want hot showers daily, do you want a toilet inside or are you going to go looking for one when you need it.

Once you know where you want to go with it, the rest will be easier than you might think. Your going to need some basic safety / hand tool / power tool skills that you can find all you need to know about at the local public library.

I suspect though, until you learn what is actually "totally relevant" to encourage folks to share their expertise with you, that you are on a rough road. I should know I spent far to many years on that thoroughfare.

Good Luck to you, no disrespect intended.

My evil retired uhaul had a remanned 7.3 with 25K on it... 217,000 miles on the rig... A set of tires and a few other minors... And she run like a champ... No she will never ride like an over the highway rig... But for $3000 I could not be happier
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Old 01-18-2014, 03:12 PM   #19
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My retired U-Haul was in the 250+k range but also had a rebuilt motor. Mine did end up costing me some money in maintenance and repairs, but it is what it is. I paid 3500 for mine. I've also driven it across the country fully loaded. And, while it was not the fastest or most comfortable thing, it really wasn't even "bad".
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Old 01-20-2014, 04:59 PM   #20
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My retired U-Haul was in the 250+k range but also had a rebuilt motor. Mine did end up costing me some money in maintenance and repairs, but it is what it is. I paid 3500 for mine. I've also driven it across the country fully loaded. And, while it was not the fastest or most comfortable thing, it really wasn't even "bad".
i catch alot of grief for not painting my rig... but I sort of like orange on the lower half of the cab... pay homage to her heritage...

to do it over again... i would travel the same road
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