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Old 03-23-2013, 05:42 PM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 4
Default Want to build my own- Need opinions

Hey guys...

I just posted an intro thread with a little about myself and my background.

Now here is where all the idea and questions come out.

First let me say I have a shop large enough and tools to do this build.

I currently live in Idaho where the max motor home length is 45'. I am wanting to build a toterhome with a class 8 chassis. I have not settled on a particular truck yet, I am just getting the thoughts out on paper. Rather than hauling a trailer, I want my rig to be able to carry a small SUV inside. I know this really cuts down on the interior usable space but that is ok with me. I do not plan on having any slide outs, and it will only be for my wife and I, and maybe a couple dogs so only the one bedroom.

I know most people plan on staying in RV parks and the like, but my rig will be strictly highway only, sleeping at rest stops, or large truck stops.

I have a crazy thought that I want to throw out and would like any opinions on it. With it just being a large motorhome and never pulling a trailer over 16'(rarely), I figure a single rear axle would probably be ok. If you think I should keep the doubles, please give me your reasons why. Now comes the crazy part. In Iraq we had large trucks called a PLS that was used to haul cargo anywhere and everywhere. This truck had 5 axles and the first two would turn, and also the furthest rear axle would turn, greatly increasing the turning of this giant beast. It has a step sister that was basically the same called the HEMTT, that only had the 4 axles. It did not have the extra rear turn axle and it was amazing the difference in turning between these two trucks.

So this is my thought. With a 45' rig, that is going to be a LOOOOOONG wheelbase and a bit of a pig to turn around, or turn period. Would it be possible to add a second rear axle (non powered), in the rear rear position that would turn opposite of the front axle to increase the turning capability of the rig? I was thinking basically adding a typical front axle, and have the steering powered by a hydraulic ram. Or the other thought was... At least in Utah most cement mixers are a single seat, front chute rig, with a back axle that pulls up and is only used when it's fully loaded. This back axle also steers like I am talking about, so use that and mount it being the drive axle.

I would love any thoughts, comments to this idea.

Next thought... how do I calculate what is the best placement for the rear axle? I know on a typical trailer it's about 60/40 F/R. Honestly I would love to be able to have the entire garage portion behind the rear most axle if possible so I can drop the frame down and put storage or overhang the bedroom over the front of the car. The car I plan to take would only weigh about 3500 lbs.

This is mostly for a project that I can work on when I can, and I know it will take a long time, but I am ok with this. It will make a great project for my wife and I to work on together.


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Old 03-23-2013, 08:55 PM   #2
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Location: Grafton
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Calculating weight and balance (Center of Gravity ... CG) will be key; especially if you go with a single axle in back. Get the CG to far forward and you'll overload the front axle, too far back and you'll be doing wheelies.

Think about the heavy stuff and where it will be going. The CG location will be dictated by where the back axle(s) is(are) and what is in front of and behind them.

Gets more critical if you put a vehicle in the back. Will you have a liftgate or a ramp? Both will be heavy.

I've noticed that some of the Kingsley T/C's have the same kind of "stinger" that wreckers are using now. They install it in back, it retracts into the underside when not in use, picks up the front wheels a car. Allows you to be able to back up with a car, which I guess is either really hard to do or impossible when flat towing a car. Think about that rather than the garage for the car.

Good luck!

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 03-23-2013, 11:46 PM   #3
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Location: West Fargo ND
Posts: 300
Default Wow.. where to start..

lets just cut to the chase... spend 2-4 weeks on Racing junk opening and reading all the toterhome and motorhome ads..

you will find that 99.9% of the rigs for sale are being sold for pennys on the dollar, want a high end 300K truck? they are for sale for 180-190k

you want to build a low end home built 30,000 truck? it will cost you in the end 50-60K and if you want to sell it.. it wont sell till you mark it down into the low 20's

since you have the shop and the tools / talent,, buy a truck in your price range, then re-carpet it, put new beds, curtians showers, crappers and couches maybe install a modern tv or 2, and paint a stripe or detail on the outside that says "you".

you will save 10's of thousands of dollars, and 2 years build time. the adventure of going across country to buy it and bring it home will be more exciting than 300 trips to menards or home depot too!


been there bought the t-shirt and am 25-30k upside down on my home built.

regarding balance as mentioned above, the whole truck has to be planned out to the nearest 500 lbs on the total finished weight. you start with the front axle, because it is non-negotiable, it is what it is and you cannot exceed it. that tells you max on the front. The box and all the contents must be decided into 12" locations to start all the calculations. Once total weight is determined the fulcrum point of the rear axle will be established. you need to have weights for all the tubing, the tanks the appliances everything, as well as exactly where they will be located. By running tandems, you could put much more on the rear thus taking it off the front. That is why class C mini-homes have so much tail behind the axles to teter-totor the weight off the already maxed front axle.

it gets complicated, its not impossible it just takes time, you learn new skills like wiring gen sets battery storage and 120 ac is not exactly like wireng a house or a car, their are special grounding considerations, just a whole lottof stuff that if I were to do it all over again I'd go with racing junk and let the pros build it and let the first owner take the huge monetary loss rather than me.

2001 GMC 6500 Topkick, 22' box, dropped frame, designed to fit into a 9' garage door. 3126 CAT 6spd Man Lo-Pro 19.5's w/ 3.07 rear axle ratio
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Old 04-02-2013, 01:46 AM   #4
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Starkweather
Posts: 41

So are you doing a truck or a trailer?
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Old 04-02-2013, 06:56 PM   #5
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Location: Grafton
Posts: 285

I agree 100% with Mr. Blizzards observations on the weight and balance importance. Tandem axles solves a bunch of front end weight problems ... unless you get everything too far forward!
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 04-04-2013, 06:13 PM   #6
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Location: St. Paul, MN
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BlizzardND has been down this road. He knows of what he speaks. I applaud him, and the rest of the guys, that build their own. I couldn't even begin to put together a coach. But, even if I could. I'd much rather buy one ready, or nearly ready, to go. You will feel bad about stealing it from the seller. Oh well. 3 years and over 30k miles later I still feel bad for the guy I bought mine from. But I sure do smile wide driving/camping in it.

'03 Freightliner FL112, 295" wheel base, with '03 United Specialties 26' living quarters, single screw, Cat C12 430 h/p 1650 torque, Eaton 10speed , 3.42 rear axle ratio
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