I've been lurking for a while, and really like what I see here.
I'm the "Daddy" in a young-ish family of 4 (34, 25, almost-6, and due any day) full-time ministers/Servants of the Most High that live full-time in an RV. *Whew* that was a mouthful!
Our first RV was a 32' bumper-pull TT that I built from an old Terry trailer frame. I didn't know to give the frame a thorough inspection, so due to weakened metal it bent like crazy while on my first trip (from VA to IL). We were pulling it with a '89 Chevy G20 conversion van (way underpowered), which tore up that transmission and rear end. In fact, we didn't make it quite to IL; we had to get someone else to tow the camper and we limped the last 100 miles in the van stuck in 2nd.
I currently have a '89 Winnebago Chieftain 33' (35.5 actual) Class A 454 Gasser. I've done a lot of work, but have only spent about $2500-$3000 on it in total so far ($1500 cash up front, the rest for materials). The problem is that I'm sure we're close to the weight limits (15k GVWR), and we don't have everything in it that we need. We don't have a sound system yet, nor do we have lights. I know the suspension is pretty much shot. And it can only tow 3500lbs! We don't have a car yet.
Still, it's been a pleasure to drive. Even with the 5-6 bounces after every bridge, the harsh ride, etc, I love love loved driving it. Something about being higher up, in a bigger vehicle, with good mirrors makes this much better to drive than a car. Plus, it's my house - so I could stop to grab something out of the fridge.
Even with all that taken into consideration, the motorhome's been feeling a little small, so I've been window shopping for a 5er. 'Course, by the time I find one that's big enough for my family, it seems like it's 20k+ lbs GVWR, which means I'd pretty much need to plop down $60k-$80k on a 1-ton dually diesel crew cab. If I'm going to do that, I might as well get an HDT, where I could still have comfy seats, the (mini)fridge, and possibly even a toilet if the sleeper's done right.
I'm now based out of Illinois. With that in mind, here come the questions.
1. In IL, how difficult is it to get it retitled and insured?
2. For the LEO's out there (I know I've seen at least one posting on here): would I have to get a CDL? We call ourselves "Team Jesus", and have business cards, but aren't registered as a non-profit. It's just our family - we aren't being sent by some organization or anything. We don't make any money except for a small amount of donations (so far it's been about $300 total over the past few years), but even so I've been doing IT work to pay for most everything. I'd like to stop doing IT work, but people would really have to start donating first. So at what point does our travelling to preach the Gospel, teach bible studies, and help everyone we can become considered "commercial" instead of "personal"?
3. HDT or Conversion? HDT could pull a 5-er, and possibly have a deck to haul a car as well. Or we might fit a car in a garage of a toy hauler 5-er. Conversion could pull an enclosed trailer, but has the longer wheelbase. If I'm going to pull a trailer, I'd rather the shortest wheelbase possible. Price would likely be the factor here: even if we get enough donations to buy something more expensive, we'd rather use the "extra" money to feed the homeless. Am I correct in assuming that a conversion would likely be much more expensive than a HDT-retitled-as-a-motorhome?
4. How difficult for a guy with a lot of mechanical aptitude but no experience (I watch Youtube videos, read articles, then go figure it out, and have been fairly successful), and no welding skills (yet) to do the work necessary to a truck to serve our purposes? If we go the HDT route, I'm thinking taking out the dinette from the sleeper, putting a toilet/sink on one side, then two conversion van seats on the other if possible, putting a vehicle on the bed like this:
and pulling a 5-er either with a hitch on the bed or a automated safety hitch like you see in that picture. And how long of a wheelbase would a rig like that have? Is there an inexpensive way to put the vehicle (probably a small or midsized sedan - we don't have a vehicle yet) on the back like that? With how far back the hitch would have to go, would the tail wag the dog due to crosswinds (I really had that problem towing the TT)?
5. If we go the conversion route, how difficult would it be to put a drop garage in with a kid's playroom/bedroom over it? The Little Ones are still pretty little (one still in her mommy for at least a few more hours if not days), so I'm not as worried about vertical space, and if I could get the garage to be about 18" or so off the ground, I could have 48-52" in the play room and still come in around 13' total (18" + 6' + 6" floor + 52" playroom + 6" ceiling= 12'10"). That would mean around 15-20' behind the rear axles, though, which would need to be quite strong frame extensions. Otherwise, how long could I expect to get and keep my wheelbase close to 200" so that I'd feel more comfortable pulling a trailer?
I've actually got lots more questions, but this is turning out to be way longer of a post than I'd like, so I'll leave it there for now.