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Old 08-21-2011, 07:47 PM   #1
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Do any of you have any experience converting a tractor to a toterhome? I have read that the frame should not be welded but I remember seeing this done at a truck company I worked at in 1970. I thought it might be cheaper to buy a tractor than to buy a single axle truck with a long frame. When I look for trucks to buy, there are millions of tractors but almost no trucks that would work for a toterhome or RV.
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Old 08-21-2011, 08:52 PM   #2
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Check out the Escapees forum, a bunch of guys on there have bought tractors and converted them to single axle with a small frame stretch to haul big 5th wheel rv's. I know you are doing something different, but the basic work to start would be the same.
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Old 08-22-2011, 08:09 AM   #3
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You are probably right about a tractor being less expensive than a long framed straight truck. There is no reason that a frame cannot be strecthed and welded but you need to know what you are doing. Truck frames are made of high tensile material that is sometimes heat treated. This stuff can be welded successfully by the right people. You will want to make sure that the pieces you weld in are made of the correct material as well. Some folks choose to have frame rails made the slip inside of the existing frame and bolt to it. My toter was stretched this way. This method may be more practical for the guys building their own trucks. Make sure that you extension rails are made of good material and use the proper bolts. Double frames do have a small disadvantage. They are prone to rusting between the frame layers which can cause trouble in the long term.
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Old 08-22-2011, 05:45 PM   #4
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Default Tractor to toter

Thanks for the information. After I asked my question, I realized that there is a lot of information on this forum that I should read first. I also looked at the Escapees forum - another great source of information. I love it when the people who have "been there and done that" record their lessons and share it with the rest of us. I would much to prefer to learn from other than to learn the hard way. Thanks again for responding to my questions.
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Old 08-22-2011, 09:17 PM   #5
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Generally "toterhome" refers to a tractor with a small/medium size living quarters box behind the cab, and a deck with a fifth wheel hitch or gooseneck hitch. Something like this:


Is that what you want to do?

If the living quarters you want isn't too big I suspect you could fit something on a regular/longish frame tractor. If you found one with a large sleeper and remove the sleeper and build the box? I'd do something like that before buying a straight truck since most straight trucks aren't class 8 hdt's. Unless you don't need the big engine/trans stuff.
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Old 08-24-2011, 07:17 AM   #6
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That is a beautiful toter. I am aiming for something like that except without the fifth wheel hitch (at least right now), so I suppose what I want is really a motorcoach or RV instead of toterhome. The picture shows the size I am interested in, so I think the beginning steps are the same.
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Old 08-24-2011, 11:22 AM   #7
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Toterwannabe:

First, good luck with your project.

Regarding your welding question . . .

If you mean cutting and extending the frame, then welding is the only way. If you are in a large city, there are certainly frame shops that can do that for you. The price here in Grand rapids, MI is currently about $1800.

I had my frame extended six feet in the back after I dropped the front driver and extended the driveline. This was to accomodate a 16' box I was putting on it to make a motorhome. The frame was welded, and has held up nicely.

Now, if you mean welding "to the frame" to mount brackets for side boxes, or battery boxes, or for whatever, there is a school of thought that says "no, don't weld to the frame." Further, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Handbook implies it is prohibited (393.201), saying all accessories attached to the frame must be bolted or rivited.

That said . . . your vehicle is not in commercial service, so technically all that federal stuff doesn't apply. You can't be put "out of service" for welding to the frame because you are not "in service." So do what you want, it's your truck. Just be safe.

I have three large stainless steel "tool boxes" installed on my "motorhome" used for storage. The brackets were all welded to the frame, as were the mud-flap supports. No problemo, so far.

About the only real caution I will pass along regarding working on the frame, is DO NOT DRILL, WELD, OR IN ANY WAY ALTER THE TOP AND BOTTOM FLANGES OF THE FRAME RAILS. This is where all the strength comes from, so don't mess with the flanges.

I will be excited to hear how your progress progresses.

Keep us all posted!
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Old 08-24-2011, 03:21 PM   #8
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[QUOTE=Highway OPie;37297]Toterwannabe:

If you mean cutting and extending the frame, then welding is the only way..
[Quote]

Why?
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Old 08-25-2011, 07:02 AM   #9
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Well, just using long side plates and through bolting them wouldn't provide the strength and rigidity on the frame I would trust. In the commercial market, frames are always welded when extended or shortened, with additional welded side plates at least on one side of each frame rail.

That's my opinion . . .
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Old 08-25-2011, 07:31 AM   #10
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My truck was extended using "C" channel rails bent to fit inside of the existing frame rails with significant overlap on both ends. I see no reason that this is not a good way to extend the frame,
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