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Old 09-17-2005, 10:58 PM   #1
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I am about to retire from a college teaching job and want to hit the road in a Garage Truck Conversion that will hall my Subaru Legacy which is 16' long 6' wide and 5' high & weighs 3500 Lbs. I want to travel to the interesting sites in the US and Canada (I want to visit lots of steam railroads too). I will be 63 in November and my wife (much younger) is going to work and will fly (common carrier) in on weekends to meet me (thus the need to have a car to pick her up at airports). I want not to have to tow a car, and Subarus (AWD) can not be towed. So please inundate me with suggestions and ideas. My initial ideas are Volvo or Freightliner with Cummins 8.2 and Allison transmission with air brakes. Yes?? No?? Why?? Why not??
What are traveling costs average for fuel, camping and supplies for a man and his dog and week end wife??

Thanks.

Michael94605@yahoo.com
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Old 09-17-2005, 11:36 PM   #2
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....weekend wife will really cost you!....I learned the hard way!.....anyway go with a bigger truck. there is a garage coach on RacingJunk.com....guy that ownes it is in Indiana......Terry.... something...can't remember has a really good rig priced rite-will haul anything "roo" builds in style and comfort....Think he wants $115,000...Might make a deal if you work at it.....SF is a lot more costly to live in than traveling.....even with these fuel prices as you can overnite for free at truck stops and X-way rest stops-camp when you want to-make sure your dog has a AG. Permit or they inpound it and send you a whopping bill if it bites......geofkaye
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Old 09-18-2005, 12:42 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by Profmcmillen:
I am about to retire from a college teaching job and want to hit the road in a Garage Truck Conversion that will hall my Subaru Legacy which is 16' long 6' wide and 5' high & weighs 3500 Lbs. I want to travel to the interesting sites in the US and Canada (I want to visit lots of steam railroads too). I will be 63 in November and my wife (much younger) is going to work and will fly (common carrier) in on weekends to meet me (thus the need to have a car to pick her up at airports). I want not to have to tow a car, and Subarus (AWD) can not be towed. So please inundate me with suggestions and ideas. My initial ideas are Volvo or Freightliner with Cummins 8.2 and Allison transmission with air brakes. Yes?? No?? Why?? Why not??
What are traveling costs average for fuel, camping and supplies for a man and his dog and week end wife??

Thanks.

Michael94605@yahoo.com
Michael
sorry, this will be a long post and not my native language; i hope you can read it )

sounds like a great plan
...but IMHO pulling a full conversion (and a 3500lbs car) with a Cummins 8.2 together with a Allison will be painfull slow (not only on the grades )
i highly recomend you to look into something like the Eaton/Fuller "Autoshift" (air/electronic shifted "automated" manual trans; more gears then a auto, no chlutch needed for shifting, does not have the parasitic loss of a auto)

on the engine there is not realy a reason to not go bigger: a small engine has to work harder to move the same load so the MPG difference is very little. i personaly would not go with something smaller then the C12 cat or the cummins M11.
i like the cummins N14; there are a lot of them out there => you can get replacement parts almost everywhere and in a lot of truckstops 24/7.
a other nice side effect of a big diesel: you get a "Jake brake" engine brake IMHO one of the best safety features for towing. you almost never need to use the service brakes so they are "fresh and cold" for any emergency situation.

building a Truck conversion with a garage that can hold a 16'long car without a exessive overhang is a challenge (the rear axle of the truck is in the way)... i take it you dont like the idea of towing a enclosed "toybox" style trailer but how about a 5th wheeler/ gooseneck trailer?
they tow great (if you tow with a class7/8 you hardly know the trailer is there )
i personaly like Toters: a Toter is like a mini motorhome towing a large 5th/Gooseneck trailer. you have all the comfort for traveling like lots of elbow room (for our dog ) seating for 4+, sleeping for 2+, direct access to the restroom, kitchen, fridge, ...
in the trailer we will have more beds, another restroom, shower, living quarters, lounge and a garage for two cars.
so if you dont feel like driving the Subaru (long daytrip or a overnight trip) you could just park the `baru in the trailer, unhook the Toter and go
our rig will be 65' but with only one car, a dog and 2 peeps it could be shorter.

...just some ideas
stephan
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Old 09-19-2005, 12:58 PM   #4
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I want to thank those who have responded. Some good ideas to look into.



OK Round 2.

1) What kind of license will be required to drive a rig like this?

2) What are the costs and considerations regarding insurance?

3) What is the maximum practical height to go?

4) Is it possible to use low profile IE smaller Diameter wheels to lessen the intrusion into the garage space?

5) Is there any way to lower the entire profile (ground height) to allow the garage to have a lower center of gravity?

6) Is the registration for a truck based rig likely to be higher than the Bus type? (I live in California).

7) Is there another car that might be more practical than a Subaru to hall about?

8) Is it a good idea to try to have a motor scooter too?

9) If you were going to have a rig built for you which builder would be the most skillful and provide the best product?

10) Does this lifestyle of travel compete with the traditional Cars/Motels/ Restraints way to go?

11) What are the known downsides to this way to go?

12) Is there much danger of being robbed, assaulted or killed in camp sites or rest stops?



Thanks soooo much.



Michael
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Old 09-20-2005, 12:39 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Profmcmillen:
I want to thank those who have responded. Some good ideas to look into.



OK Round 2.

1) What kind of license will be required to drive a rig like this?

2) What are the costs and considerations regarding insurance?

3) What is the maximum practical height to go?

4) Is it possible to use low profile IE smaller Diameter wheels to lessen the intrusion into the garage space?

5) Is there any way to lower the entire profile (ground height) to allow the garage to have a lower center of gravity?

6) Is the registration for a truck based rig likely to be higher than the Bus type? (I live in California).

7) Is there another car that might be more practical than a Subaru to hall about?

8) Is it a good idea to try to have a motor scooter too?

9) If you were going to have a rig built for you which builder would be the most skillful and provide the best product?

10) Does this lifestyle of travel compete with the traditional Cars/Motels/ Restraints way to go?

11) What are the known downsides to this way to go?

12) Is there much danger of being robbed, assaulted or killed in camp sites or rest stops?



Thanks soooo much.



Michael
Michael

i hope my brother jumps in here and answers no 1+2+6 (he knows the legal stuff a lot better )

3; max legal height is 13'6". however, we try to keep the roofline of our Toter as low as possible. for us the Totertruck is our (almost) daily driver; its a lot easier to "get around" if we keep it under 12'. the big trailer will only be used for long trips so it will be a "two level" (lower floor garage, upper living) and right at the max of 13'6".
4; IMHO i would not use anything smaller then regular truck lopro 22.5" . if you ever have a tire problem you can get a standard truck tire replacement everywhere and 24/7 . the riding comfort of the tall tires is also a lot better. to install something like 17.5" you need also to re-gear the rear end to match the final gear ratio: can be lots of $$
5; i would not go too low (and i would also keep the rear overhang short); you can hit and do some $$$ damage . it also limits where you can go (campgrounds, nationalparks, shortcuts, driveways, off road, ....)
7; a Mini would be easy
8; why not (great around camp)
our garage will be 96" wide on the inside (our cars are very wide with sand tires on it ) if you haul a regular car (~62" wide) i guess there should be room next to it to strap a small scooter to the wall.
9; i would go with somebody like Randy @ Butler motor coach or Cobra or Showhauler ,......
not many here in the west
10; for me its complete freedom and mobility; i like to be "on the road". truck conversions have the strenght and riding comfort for driving long distance and hauling a big load (not like the underpowered plastic diesel pushers ). we have everything we need to camp wherever we want. i dont like camp grounds; most of the time we camp under the stars in the wide open desert here in the west. the Truck/Trailer acts as a base: we can go for sightseeing with the Toter or take the buggie (our "offroad" cars are street legal).
11; hmmmm ...dont know any
maybe this: some peeps will look at you funny (i guess in the sea of standard white RVs our rigs stand out a little )
12; its hard to answer that. i dont like/have guns. we travel a lot and i can say we never had any problems at all even on some odd places. i guess our dog (100+ lbs of french sheepdog muscle ...but looks like 300lbs with all the hair ) that hates strangers and scares the s..t out of peeps when he growls/barks at them helps a lot . in general i feel very safe traveling with the truck; from the outside you dont have the "easy prey" look of a "retired old peeps" diesel pusher.
on roadside reststops we usualy camp with the truckers; they usualy dont like RVs between them but with a Truck conversion your accepted. Truckers look out for each other and i think the bad guys know that. again, never had a problem or even a bad feeling

stephan
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Old 09-20-2005, 11:25 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Profmcmillen:
Re:

9) If you were going to have a rig built for you which builder would be the most skillful and provide the best product?
Transport Designs! Their products, flexibility, and quality are the best I could fine for the price I could afford.
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Old 09-21-2005, 08:45 PM   #7
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I want to thank you both for such good thoughts.

I picked up a copy of "The RVer's Bible" by Kim&Sunny Baker Copyright 1997.
ISBN 0-684-82267-9 It looks like some good basic stuf. Nothing on Truck conversions though. As I develop more questions I will put them up for your comment.

I want to express my appreciation for your input. My teachers pay will not allow me to make any new mistakes. (I'm still sorting out the old ones).

Best wishes

Michael McMillen
Sunny Oakland Calif.
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Old 09-21-2005, 11:19 PM   #8
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.....I'm a retired teacher also and I don't feel your pain at all....most people would like to retire on $76,000 a year!....course I get a little workman' comp and I still have a small private practice of <25 clients...but I will manage. Can you build one yourself?....I did at about 30% of the price of a commercial model-fancy-NO!- it's not, but, it is bullet proof and really rugged.......and will do a flat out 102 mph just in case you got to outrun a hurricane........geofkaye
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Old 09-22-2005, 06:27 PM   #9
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Geof,
Is that all it will do? I wanted to see how fast mine would go, so while on the road I pushed it up to about 1900 rpm that came out to 96mph so I got scared and slowed down. I'm figuring that I could get around 110 or 115 at 2200rpm. Not sure I would like to go that fast!!! Too many deer standing beside the road....
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Old 09-22-2005, 09:45 PM   #10
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wick--- you are familiar with I81 just south of whites truck stop near raphine-- right--- ummm some time back i passed a lisa motor freight going up the north bound side from the bridge at about 110 to 115. there was some lift but i was to busy to check just what was left. oh--- your new rig looks fantastic! ---- take care --- mase
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Old 09-22-2005, 11:40 PM   #11
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Aaaahhhhhh, the benefits of that bitchin' combo of waaay too much power (which, by the way, is NEVER quite enough) and nice, long-legged gearing; such are some of the makin's of the good life.......
Gary
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Old 09-22-2005, 11:48 PM   #12
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.....Wick -I don't mind if I hauling a freind of mine-he can take care of the legal stuff-if caught.....but running at that speed with my weight does make me nervous because of the tire situation on the trailer....they are new Goodyears so I tend to go the speed limit most of the time anymore.....If I get out west this year I'll let her roll out-but right now I run out of road around here......geofkaye
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Old 09-23-2005, 10:24 AM   #13
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So for many of you guys "out west" here in CA is still considered the "Wild West"?

No wonder I have a tough time passing trucks when im doing 120 in my Mercedes SLK.

Walter
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Old 09-25-2005, 08:43 PM   #14
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Reply to Wick
I looked at the pix on the link... "Awesome" to quote my 16yr old. That is just the kind of rig I want 40 feet but with a garage about 18 feet long in the back. Who built that? What does a rig like that cost to build?
That is a great Gallery of photos. I have some ideas of layouts I'd like to run by you for comment.

In addition I have some new questions.
1. How does the rig handle in cross winds or storms?
2. How do you secure the contents of the cupboards from sliding around?
3. Are there good and bad choices for Kitchen appliances, & washer/driers?
4. How do you make sure the water you fill up the tanks with is pure and not contaminated?
5. Where do you dump waste tanks on the road?
6. Are there maps or navigation programs that will warn you of roads which might be dangerous due to the camber or elevation changes?
7. How do you tell if the road you are traveling has any low over crossings or other obstructions which might hit the top of the rig?
8. Are there any books or data bases which tell you what parts of a city to avoid for crime and where you can overnight park safely?
9. What are the optimal Chassis/engine/transmission choices?
10. The Freightliners I see on the web seem to have Mercedes Benz engines. If you want a Cummins or CAT or Detroit are those options available?
11. What kind of fuel mileage does a rig like this get?
12. Is it possible to have 360 degree cameras to see sides and back while driving and for security at night?
13. Are there any license restrictions when you have air brakes and Jake brakes?
14. Where can I go to try to see if I can handle a rig like this?
15. How do you keep the windshield clean on these rigs?


Thanks for all your input.

Michael McMillen
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Old 09-25-2005, 09:56 PM   #15
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Hi Professor

let me answer only your question 13, as I had sort of similiar question like you in another thread and the license came up. I see you are also in CA, and as per the 2005 edition of the CA drivers handbook there are not even endorsements for air brakes or such. All you need is your standard class C for "housecar" 40 feet or less and non-commercial B with endorsement for 40 to 45 feet lenght.

If towing a 5th wheel between 10,000 and 15,000 you need endorsment for your class C, otherwise anything over 10,000 you need non-commercial class A.

I do know that some states require endorsments for air brakes, but - correct me if im wrong there - drivers licence requirements have reciprocity. So whatever you need in your homestate is good anywhere else.

Walter
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Old 09-25-2005, 11:08 PM   #16
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.....I'll answer #15 when you go to a fuel stop they have long handled brushes and a bucket of soapy water-you scrub them off and take a hose and wash off the windshield.....don't ever get on a ladder to wash the windows....most truckers that have have fallen.....geofkaye....#14 If you are ever in Cincy Ohio [and aren't mugged] I let you drive my rig around......
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Old 09-26-2005, 08:59 AM   #17
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Michael,
#1) This truck handles the wind and cross surrents very well. When we drove down across the bottom of Hurricane Katrina, I slept thru most of and did not even notice it.(except for the rain)
2) the ride is smooth enough that the items in the cuboards usually ride fine. The shelf's are lined with a liner. I usually will have a cup or drink sitting on the counter and it is still there when I stop.
3)As far as kitchen appliances, I just let the manufacturer of the coach select those. You can use ordinary appliances for the most part as they are generally cheaper, but some might not handle the rigors of travel.
4) I always fill up before I leave home. I only use my sanitary hose and have a filter attached to the supply line. If I need water on the road I will get it at a Flying J Truckstop from the RV service island. They have both drinking water and water to flush your holding tanks with. They also have a dump station as well at no cost.
5)See above. I set up a dump station at my shop to dump when I get home.
6)I do not know of any
7) The roads are required to post any heights that are below 13 feet 6 inches so I just look out for those.
8)I do not know of any. When stopping we will stop at Flying J truckstops or at a Walmart. They are the most RV friendly.
9)Optimal depends on what you are going to use the coach for.
10) You can on a new truck spec any setup or power plant you would like. On a used truck you just have to look for the right one.
11) I get around 9mpg when not towing and around 6.6 when towing.
12)I don't know about a 360 degree camera, but you can have several installed that display on the same monitor.
13) see Walter's reply
14)If you look at the links to the manufacturers on this site you can navigate to the dealers and find some close enough to you to go and look at and test drive some units. When we were first looking we found the dealers very recptive to us.
15) We use the good washer fluid and then when I need to I keep a long brush in the truck that I can use to clean the windshield. I have a hose attached with a spayer on it so I can rinse it off. Also whenever stopping for fuel we clean it at the truckstop.

Hope this helps. Show Hauler is the company that built this for us. You can pay anywhere from $135,000 to 350,000 or more for one.

Wick
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Old 09-26-2005, 02:43 PM   #18
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I might have to stand corrected on my response.

Even though CA drivers handbooks says under class C license

... any housecar 40 feet or less...

i got 2 responses on the other thread that for a 3 axle conversion you still need a non-commercial class A.

As i am still a few month away from my decision making I did not contact DMV yet. But you know if you ask 3 people at DMV you will get 5 different answers.....

Walter
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Old 09-27-2005, 08:22 PM   #19
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So a Twin screw 40 ft rig requires an advanced license in California?
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Old 09-27-2005, 09:23 PM   #20
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Well, the 2005 CA Drivers Handbook states that class C is good for
'ANY HOUSECAR 40 FEET OR LESS.'
and does not specify weight or axles on housecar, only the length.

But at the same time it says, class C is only good for a 3 axle vehicle 6,000 lbs or less.

So, depending on which part you want to believe, you get away with class C (as i hope to think) or you need non-commercial class A (as 2 other posters told me, looks like they had personal experiences).

Again, I did not have time and energy yet to try to call DMV, you know thats a full day job to get hold of them.

Walter
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