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Old 01-06-2010, 01:23 AM   #1
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Hi all. I'm a retired trucker. I have a vintage Peterbilt tractor with all the toys and a vintage Blue Bird Wanderlodge with a drivetrain that is obsolete and inadaquate. I had originally planned on re-powering the coach, but stuffing a big diesel in the doghouse and extending the nose of the bus to accomodate it, along with all the plumbing and wiring modifications would involve a huge amount of work and the result would not justify the project. I've pretty much decided to remove the nose of the coach, remove the engine and trans, build a new front wall for the coach incorporating the front wall of the sleeper with the boot as an entrance to the drivers area and cutting and splicing the frames, resulting in something like a Kingsley Coach type conversion. I will use the rear drive axle from the truck. In short, a Peterbilt cab with a Wanderlodge body.
This post is just a note to introduce myself and my planned conversion. If I can do this it would be great. I'd be a lot happier to be driving my Pete with a custom 31' Wanderlodge body than an antique bus. The dog would be happy to have his old seat too and "drive" his truck.
The truck is titled in Texas and I'll be doing the work there. The Wanderlodge is also titled in Texas and registered as a private bus. I don't know how I'm going to work the title/registration. I'd like to think I could get away with leaving it titled as is using the Wanderlodge title, but then the Peterbilt is titled and has it's own VIN. Texas is strange in that you have to do your registration and title work in the county where the vehicle is parked and mine are registered in Hidalgo County, down on the border. They are really tough to deal with down there and I anticipate difficulties in re-titleing. I've read the threads on this forum and on the escapees forum and haven't found much help. Seems like it's either easy or impossible, depending on who you deal with. I may need some help and advice in this area.
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Old 01-06-2010, 03:40 AM   #2
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Welcome to TC, your project sounds challenging and will produce a one of a kind masterpiece. If answers can be found to your reg problems, they will be found here. Please start a thread with photos when you get started. G
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Old 01-06-2010, 06:27 AM   #3
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+1 on starting a thread with pictures. this would be another fun project to watch come together.

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Old 01-07-2010, 12:30 PM   #4
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......COULD BE A NIGHTMARE....BUT....I'd need to measure the frames first then I could tell you if it will fit together....might be a little high in back but that can be dealt with.....keep both titles the same and go out of state for a revised title....easy if you get into a state that has workers that have an higher IQ than a mud puddle.....stay away from minorities at the BMW they say NO automatically cuz they don't want to spend the effort to research and do the Job right-like here in OHIO with the Social Security Office.....has to get my congresswoman involved and her X husband to get my SS correct....IDIOTS!....anyway the frame sizes will be the variable that mite make it or break the deal....Schoolies are built like a tank and not easy to cut up with out a lot of thought....good luck and send a pix....AND AS ALWAYS ASK FOR IDEAS.....WE HAVE A LOT OF SMART PEOPLE ON THIS FORUM...geof kaye and the Rivercity Girlz in Cincinshitty Ohio
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Old 01-07-2010, 03:03 PM   #5
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About the frames.....I know you are not supposed to weld the frames, so does that disallow the use of a plasma cutter to cut the frame? If so, how do you cut such a hard piece of steel?

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Old 01-07-2010, 04:03 PM   #6
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I think it sounds cool too. How 'bout you Blizzard? Sounds like something you'd do. The guy that claims to be the founder of Kingsley Coach lives not far from me. His web site is www.busesandmore.com . His name is Ralph Dickenson. Call him at 612-747-8580. Here's what I found to support his claim of starting up Kingsley: http://www.erstarnews.com/2006...ry/21fitforking.html

Here's a portion of that article that might pertain to what you're doing: Dickenson then had his crew here cut the front clip off of an old bus he had parked in the back lot. They then backed a used Peterbilt truck chassis underneath and joined them together. There are still photos of Kingsley No. 1 on Dickenson's office wall, although the coach now resides in Boston.


The Kingsley company is defunct now I think. There's just no business. Ralph is a very nice low keyed guy. He showed me all his coaches when I was shopping. He doesn't seem real busy now so you might get some good ideas or advice talking to him on the phone.

As far as titling it. I'm betting you keep the Peterbilt titled and mount the Wanderlodge to that. Then you get it changed to a r/v or motorhome since you will have installed all the items needed to qualify as an r/v. I don't think it would be that hard to do. You just do it and tell them to title it as a r/v. Don't try to get anybody to commit to anything before because you'll get a bunch of different answers I'm betting.

You're not thinking of doing this to save money I hope.
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Old 01-07-2010, 06:48 PM   #7
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.....DOC; THAT IS WHAT WE CUT FRAMES WITH...THE HEAT DOESN'T CRAWL AND SOFTEN UP THE EDGES....WELDING IS ANOTHER ISSUE...- PREHEAT WITH A OXY/ACETYLENE TORCH AND WELD WITH 6012 AND OVER LAY WITH 7016 SERIES ROD....I BACK THEN UP WITH A STEEL DIAMOND AND WELD AS NEEDED....MOSTLY THEY ARE COVERED BY THE DOUBLE FRAME CHANNEL AND BOLTED AFTER WELDING.........anymore I just send them up to John's Spring Service and he does all the frame work for me-which I pass along to the customer without a markup....I'm getting old and lazy specially in this snow stuff...none of the girlz showed up for work today so i took my long winters nap with out interuption.....aaAHHHH!...I SPENT TOO MUCH MONEY ON the plasma and have to sell it asap-know anyone with $1500 laying around?....geofkaye and the Rivercity Group...yawn!
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Old 01-08-2010, 03:08 AM   #8
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Yes Bob, thanks for the links, I'll check them out. I'm thinking about just what he did with Kingsley 1. I've had trucks stretched and shortened before and am pretty familiar with that part of it. It won't be all that expensive, as I have all the parts at hand and will be doing most of the work myself. I'm not looking forward to raising the coach off the frame to make the splice and might ask the man from Kingley about how that went. Also, the idea of painting again doesn't thrill me.
As far as getting anything done by the DMV in the Rio Grande Valley, you're right geofkaye. Forget it. They don't even want to speak English to you and will give you a hard time just because they can. I've already resigned myself to probably needing help retitling it somewhere else.
I really appreciate the helpful responses. The tractor is here in Louisiana with me and the coach in Texas, so I'm unable to measure the height yet. the bus is on a heavy duty Rockwell drive axle on 900/20's so I'm thinking that height will not be a problem. I plan on going to 22.5 lowpros on both axles and using the rear drive axle from the Pete, 19,000# Eaton on Peterbilt Air Leaf. I'll have to change the parking brake to that axle.
Again, appreciate the advice and keep it coming, as I'm in the planning stages and way open to collaboration.
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Old 01-09-2010, 09:41 PM   #9
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I'm not sure how you plan to mate the two. I would seriously look into stretching the frame on the Pete and remove one drive axle. Then remove all the running gear under the Wanderlodge. Then drop that down on the new long frame and bolt it down. Wouldn't that be better and possibly easier than trying to mate the two frames and some junction?
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Old 01-10-2010, 05:46 PM   #10
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I think i would streach frame also. you can get 2 wreckers to lift bus real easy. Or jack up and put on stands. back truck under bus and tie down. we have been getting same size frame and up by transmission area frame gets bigger. slide frame up to old frame till it gets tight. bolted frames together with crossmember in spliced area. weld plates onto both ends of frame to make same size. then weld dimond plates over welded area. we don't per heat frame. we also cut our frame with a steel saw. looks like a skill saw. i can get name of saw and post later. cost about $300.00
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