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Old 11-06-2011, 01:38 PM   #1
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Default Converting a toterhome to a full T/C motorhome

I am a faithful viewer of what is for sale on RacingJunk.com. It seems to me that toterhomes (truck conversion with a small box and set up for fifth wheel or gooseneck) are much more plentiful than what I would call a full motorhome truck conversion (no platform in back for the fifth wheel or gooseneck).

Consequently toterhomes seem to sell at a discount.

Has anyone thought about buying a toterhome, removing the fifth wheel, extending the box, and finishing off the inside?

Pros and cons would be appreciated.

Thanks!

Dick
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Started looking for 379 Peterbilt TC, 24' to 30' box, bumper pull--but ended up w/1999 Liberty Coach conversion of 45' Prevost XLV bus. 1,000sf heated/AC'd race shop w/dump station, 50amp shore pwr where bus parks, 3 NASCAR/ARCA race cars & 26' Bravo trailer.
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Old 11-06-2011, 05:06 PM   #2
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Perception must come down to what you are looking for. I have been checking racingjunk daily for months looking for a cheap toter home (with gooseneck) and it seems to me all the cheap units I find are full boxes set up for a tag trailer, and I can't seem to find the right deal on a toter. Have you looked in the motorhome and hdt sections as well as the toterhome section?

My first thought was "why would you go to all that work", but thinking about it it really would not be too bad. A good toter is really only lacking a bedroom as most have all the amenities and the only bad part is the mini-bunk over the cab. As long as you start with a rear entry unit, that door becomes the door to the bedroom. The rear deck is usually about 9', just right for a bedroom with a queen sized bed. Use the existing side stepwell up to the deck to put in your new outside entry door. Really just need the box and some wiring for lighting, etc., all the plumbing and mechanicals are done and not needed in a bedroom. Should not really be a bad project. Trickiest part will be making the joint from the old box to the new presentable and match up where it does not look like you just welded a shack on the back of the truck.

Anyway, if you find a toter cheap enough for all that, let me know, I need one just as is.

Dave
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Old 11-06-2011, 05:27 PM   #3
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I'm checking Toterhomes, RV's and Motorhomes.

The thought process you went through is exactly what I've thought.

Don't worry, trashing a toterhome to turn into a full RV is plan B or C at this point.

Thanks for the comments.

Dick

PS: Have you thought about chopping the bedroom off?
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Started looking for 379 Peterbilt TC, 24' to 30' box, bumper pull--but ended up w/1999 Liberty Coach conversion of 45' Prevost XLV bus. 1,000sf heated/AC'd race shop w/dump station, 50amp shore pwr where bus parks, 3 NASCAR/ARCA race cars & 26' Bravo trailer.
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Old 11-06-2011, 11:50 PM   #4
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Good thought, but I don't think it would work the other way around. The wheel base is way longer on a toterhome, way too much overhang on a regular rv style conversion to consider a gooseneck hitch. I've seen a few screwy looking homemade short wheel base toters at the dirt track with the gooseneck hitch about 10' behind the axle. Emphasis on screwy looking, and I would think it would be really hard on the trailer, and probably overload the rear axle on the truck.

I'll keep looking for that good deal, hope I see it before you! lol.

And I've still got that top kick chassis in the drive way if I ever find time to start welding stuff together for my own conversion.
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Old 11-07-2011, 02:29 AM   #5
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hot rod and #90,

whats your budget?

don
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Old 11-07-2011, 06:58 AM   #6
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Default For the "joy" of it all . . .

Hello all you HDTers:

Been kinda quiet here on the board for the last couple of weeks; guess everyone is getting in their last outside work before the weather turns cold!

I have followed the information about racingjunk for awhile now, even though I already have my rig for conversion. As I never intended to do a "toter" I really never considered that need. Someone said in this thread about getting a rig already built, and "why do all that work?" A valid point, certainly.

I would take the opposite approach; why not do it. Having just turned the age where the government will start payig me back, I wanted a "one last final project" for my days ahead, whether that be a few years, or 30 years.

I am now about a year-and-a-half into my conversion, and have just started on the "living quarters" of my conversion. I really enjoy working on my project, and spend many hours planning, engineering, and then constructing whatever portion I am currently involved. I never expect to be done with my conversion! Even when its done, its not really done!

Doing the work yourself lets you learn a great deal about your vehicle; someday stuck on the road somewhere, that knowledge may come in handy. More importantly, it will keep you active and excercise your brain.

When I have "lulls" in my construction interest, then I climb in and "fire that mother up" and take a trip somewhere!

Live is good!

I certainly enjoy this site . . .

Best to all,

Speed
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Old 11-07-2011, 12:09 PM   #7
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OPie- No arguments on anything you said, I agree 100% if I was in your position. My first choice was to build for all the reasons you mentioned, rusty tools make me an unhappy guy. But I need the rig for my business, and I just can't seem to find the time to get started on the project. I bought a real nice GMC 5500 topkick cab/chassis a year and a half ago and it is still sitting in the driveway with a small pile of Elkhart parts in the garage, and no time to start on the serious business of welding together a box. So I've been struggling along still towing with my dually and scouring the racingjunk ads daily hoping to come across the right deal I can afford to buy already done. I did see a real nice 14' Renegade toter a month ago for a steal of a price at $39,500, but that one was clear across the country and it only lasted about 2 days. Blizz is right in that this is definitely the time to buy vs. build, the prices are right if you have the cash. So I'll have to keep looking on racingjunk every morning and try to beat #90 to that real good deal when it pops up.

Don- I'm looking for CHEAP, definitely can't afford anything like what you have in your pic. I've come across a number of units in the $50k range, which I know is a good deal, but my budget is more like $40k, and that is a stretch. Trying to keep it under what I can buy a new dually for and end up with a better rig in the long run. I know the right deal will pop up sooner or later. Would like a factory built unit for it to be presentable, but does not need to be fancy or late model or have slides, just reliable.
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Old 11-07-2011, 12:12 PM   #8
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OPie-

I believe you ended up with a new built to order box for your truck? Do you mind saying what that cost and the specifics of ordering one? I am tempted to go that way for my project truck, just bolt down a short box truck box like yours behind the cab, then all I have to build is the bed for the gooseneck. More $$, but less time, which is my holdup on the project. Thoughts?
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Old 11-07-2011, 01:36 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hot rod View Post
I've seen a few screwy looking homemade short wheel base toters at the dirt track with the gooseneck hitch about 10' behind the axle. Emphasis on screwy looking, and I would think it would be really hard on the trailer, and probably overload the rear axle on the truck.
Most all of the HDT guys on the escapees site have their 5th wheel several feet behind the rear axle - helps it behave more like a tag trailer, and makes maneuvering and backing better.

Just another perspective..
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Old 11-07-2011, 02:31 PM   #10
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Hot Rod, FYI I noticed there was a nice looking Kodiak toter right at the top of the list on racing junk this afternoon. Ad#2069704 They started off at 58K back in Feb, and now down to 45K. would think in this economy you would not have too much trouble talking them down below 40.
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Old 11-07-2011, 06:04 PM   #11
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I have seen some of those hdt rv haulers on the escapees forum with the hitch farther back like you mention, usually just behind the rear axle. That setup does not look too bad. The dirt track rigs I saw were WAY farther back than that. I think some of their reasoning on the rv haulers has to to with the width of the hauler bed/tires/axles vs. the turning room available under the camper, and they cannot have the 5th wheel in the normal position over the axle and still turn sharp.



Backing easy is what you are used to, I'm in the habit of maneuvering my 40' gooseneck just fine, and actually think tags are harder to get into a tight spot. Personal preference. Also, those rv guys generally have a very expensive air ride 5th wheel hitch to soak up the extra "springboard effect" you get with the hitch that far back. And my pin weight is around 5000# so I can't go too far back
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Old 11-07-2011, 06:19 PM   #12
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Default My budget

Don:

I'm bottom fishing. $25k to $50k.

Dick
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Old 11-07-2011, 06:49 PM   #13
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Default Cost of box, etc.

Hi Hot Rod:

To answer your question immediately; around $12M by the time all the work was done.

Went to my local Morgan dealer here in Grand Rapids, and ordered it through them. One nice thing about buying a new box is you get it exactly the way you want it not buying it off a lot where you have to take it the way it comes. Base price was around $8M, but then we added:

1> Sealed hardwood floor; bolt holes were plugged and the floor was rough sanded.

2> Bright stainless where ever we could get it; front radius corners; rear frame opening; along each side at the lower edge.

3> Stainless black painted revits throughout to match the color of the box.

4> LED lighting and rear mounted white emergency strobe lights.

5> Two 48" and one 24" rail mounted stainless tool boxes (our "basement").

6> Folding aluminum side steps.

7> The box was ordered with no rear overhead door. The dealer "built" the rear wall and installed the windows I provided. Said it was cheaper than having the Morgan factory to it. Who knows!

8> Installation of the side door which I provided.

9> The box was installed and positioned exactly where I wanted it; I was there to direct the placement.

10> Fabrication of a rear (ICC bar) "bumper" and very heavy duty trailer hitch.

Ordering time was 12 weeks and installation and all the other goodies took about another month. Between dropping the front drivers and having a new drive line fabricated, extending the frame rails six feet, and the installation of the box pretty much consumed all of last summer. All of this "heavy work" I elected not to do myself. Now that it is all done, everything else including the installation of the five remaining windows and finishing out the box I will do myself.

"What would I do different next time" you ask?

Well, I had fully intended to buy a used box; they are dirt cheap. The problem is finding a nice one; "most" of the boxes on the used market are really in sad shape. I know of places now which I didn't know about a year ago, and I would concentrated more on trying to find a nice used box that fit my desires. However, my wife did't really want a used box as it was going to be our "living quarters", so I said, "Okay honey, just to make you happy, I'll buy a brand new one!" Then we talked about this bridge which was for sale in Brooklyn!

Overall, I am very happy with my decision, and my progress so far. Plus, the upfitter is there and knows me, and is very helpful on other construction ideas I pass by him; so I guess it was money well spent.

Hope all this helps.

Good luck, Hot Rod.

Speed
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Old 11-07-2011, 08:49 PM   #14
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Why black? Wouldn't that be hot in the summer? Or is it insulated enough that it isn't material?
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Old 11-08-2011, 05:52 AM   #15
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Default Why Black?

Hi ya 90!

Why black? First, my wife likes black. Second, it matches the tractor. In the future I also plan to extend the red portion of the tractor back to the box, so the black area will be reduced somewhat. The box will have 2" of insulation plus 3/4" additional hard maple paneling, and four powered vent fans in the ceiling, plus six widows. And, the top of the box is silver, no black, and has been coated with some treatment to reflect the sun. I guess we could add air conditioning, but there are no plans for that at this time.

I hope all of this is enough to eliminate the heat. If not, we'll spend a lot of time naked, which is okay too!

Thanks for the question.

Speed
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Old 11-08-2011, 09:15 AM   #16
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Ok, I'm trying hard not to picture your no a/c solution. la la la la la...

How thick are your walls going to end up with all of that? I see there is already some sort of wood strips in there (I assume the insulation will be between those and not over?) plus paneling. Aren't you getting to the limit of what an rv window can handle for wall thickness? I know you can order the windows based on wall thickness, just don't know how far they go. I ordered some custom windows for my Pace trailer that way. Tried Elkhart first, they have acres of windows laying around, but it is about impossible to find them with the right ring for your walls unless you are working on something the same thickness as a standard rv wall (mostly frp these days).
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Old 11-08-2011, 12:58 PM   #17
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Highway, Nice job so far on your box, should make for a good solid rig. I would think that spray foam insulation in the cavity formed by the metal studs and the wood rub rails would be the way to go. The foam will get in behind all the spaces and bond to everything reducing a lot of road noise and creating a good thermal barrier. Just remember to plan ahead with any wiring or plumbing as adding it into the wall later is more than a pain. one disadvantage with adding the foam after siding is there can be quite a bit of heat from the chemical reaction of the foam setting up and can distort the siding if not careful. However the advantages of not having an insulation material that will absorb moisture within the wall cavity is a big plus.

Dave
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Old 11-08-2011, 10:11 PM   #18
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The main reason for the way back positioning of the 5th wheel hitch is to unload the front axle and put as much weight on the drives for traction out of grass and clay track pit areas.

It is also been mentioned, it helps in the trailer trailing in tigh spots and aids in backing, and when you are long wheelbased you need all the help you can get.
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Old 11-08-2011, 10:19 PM   #19
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We learn something new every day.

Thanks Mr. Blizzard!
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Old 11-12-2011, 03:10 PM   #20
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Default Plans for box?

Opie,
Just wanted to say looks very nice. what are your plans for the interior of the box? Do you plan on a walkthrough to the cab? You mentioned you might of found a better scource for a used box, would you care to share? I am still interested in building a conversion using a Cabover design tractor. Only because I need to keep overall length at 29 ft front to rear and feel I could have a longer living area by using a cabover. Just not sure if you could come up with a seal that could be easily detached to tip the cab or just skip a pass through portal.

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