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xtal_01

Vermont

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Posted: 01/04/20 03:19pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hey!

I have a class A RV now ... it's getting old and has seen better days.

It is highly modified with a new door, wheelchair lift, interior lift, hospital beds, equipped to handle -30 deg winters, ....

I am thinking of replacing it with a travel trailer.

After looking units I can purchase, I am not impressed ... plus my wallet started crying.

I am thinking of taking a shot at building my own .... not a small teardrop unit but a full size 30 ft trailer.

I have been looking around and found info but not a great site or forum where I can ask questions and see how other have built theirs .... and learn from their mistakes.

Can anyone suggest a forum or site?

Thanks ..... Mike

[image]
https://imgur.com/gallery/vgSAkTF

* This post was edited 01/04/20 03:29pm by xtal_01 *

profdant139

Southern California

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Posted: 01/04/20 04:06pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Our thoughts and prayers are with you in this difficult time.

(Just kidding -- if you are really handy and really patient, I am sure you can build your own! The idea is very daunting to those of us who are less ambitious -- don't be discouraged by the inevitable nay-sayers.). [emoticon]


2012 Fun Finder X-139 "Boondock Style" (axle-flipped and extra insulation)
2013 Toyota Tacoma Off-Road (semi-beefy tires and components)
Our trips -- pix and text
About our trailer
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single list."


PNW_Steve

Pacific Northwet & cold

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Posted: 01/04/20 04:31pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Have you considered converting a bus into an RV? They make a very reasonable platform to build on. Many of them come equipped with wheelchair lifts. I am in the process of converting my second bus to a RV.

My current project is a Bluebird rear engine.

I have seen a number of conversions that retained wheelchair lift.

Good running, well maintained buses can be had quite reasonably.

Take a look at http://www.skoolie.net and http://https://www.busconversionmagazine.com/

I purchased my current bus for $3450. Similar buses typically range in price from $4,000-$10,000. Mine had a bit of body damage that I had to deal with. It is a bit shy of 40' and is equipped with the Cummins 8.3 and Allison MD-3060.

These buses are typically very well maintained. I have seen examples of similar buses with over 300k miles and are still in service. Mine came with 170k miles. It runs and drives great.


2004.5 Dodge 3500 5.9 Cummins, NV5400, 5" turbo back stainless exhaust, Edger programmer & 22.5 Alcoa's
2002 Forest River 36 5th Wheel (staying home)
1992 Jayco 29 5th Wheel (Mexico veteran & headed back)
2002 "faux" Wanderlodge 40' My new toy....


xtal_01

Vermont

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Posted: 01/04/20 05:02pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

This all started because after 20 years (I have owned it 10 and converted it when I got it) and 150K miles, it is becoming a maintenance nightmare.

I did the conversion myself .... took almost a year ... most of it part time ... a steep learning curve.

I just had about 5 problems in a row ... and I am still looking at things like broken engine studs (had this problem 3 times now on the Ford V10)... a slipping transmission .... and some major rust damage (I keep patching holes but the entire basement is rusted out.

I just put two ABS sensors in the front wheels ... I had to find them on ebay as they are now obsolete.

I wanted to convert a bus but I am afraid I will be getting into the same obsolete part problems I have now.

If this was a trailer, I might just be able to fix things like the furnace (just put one in last year) and keep it on the road.

Plus, we need to tow a trailer and wheelchair mini van ... not fun loading and unloading it.

I "think" pulling a trailer with a full size wheelchair van might be a bit easier ... never had a trailer before.

The van would be in good shape as it would be new (again, I need to think about this now as our van is dying ... rust holes the size of my fist) so I need to think if we want another mini van or a full size van.

Yes, lots of work but I am a machinist by trade and have a lot of tools like mig/tig welders here at home.

i just finished ... well almost finished ... building a wheelchair accessible house. Too several years but did most of it myself. We lived onsite for 3 years while we built ... -30 deg in VT !!!! Not ideal but we did it.

I even built the elevator ... the mast off of a forklift ... rated at 3000 lbs ... works great!

Anyway .... this is what has me looking at the travel trailer idea.

I am interesting in things like construction ... roof .... I just see pros and cons in every idea I have.

Thanks .... Mike

2oldman

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Posted: 01/04/20 05:34pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Usually called DIY

wanderingaimlessly

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Posted: 01/04/20 08:08pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

10 years in the current rig, and you have put 150,000 miles on it.
Are you still travelling and moving that much?
Thats gonna be hard travel on most TT's. Construction on most will have a hard time maintaining that pace.

Gdetrailer

PA

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Posted: 01/04/20 08:34pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Xtal, you have a compelling argument for a DIY trailer, does remove the vehicle issues because now when the vehicle becomes a problem child you can replace with a newer one.

BUT, Wheel chair modified vans might present some challenges, all of the modifications will most likely reduce the cargo capacity of the van.

You would have to carefully control how heavy your DIY trailer gets so you do not exceed the vans leftover cargo rating.

I was going to have a trailer builder that custom builds horse trailers with living space make a frame for me and title it.

Then I was going to build the box on top of that.

Before I was able to give the go ahead, I found a old rotted TT in the length I wanted and bought that for $700 instead, gutted the trailer and made it the way I wanted.

This gave me good windows, good bath tub with surround, good furnace, good A/C, good stove with oven and much more. Windows, doors, furnace, A/C, Stove are insanely expensive to buy new.

Hindsight, I should have removed all the good stuff, then cut the bolts and removed the rotted box then built from scratch and new box. Would have saved me months of work..

I would however, suggest rather than attempting to build from scratch you might want to look up custom horse trailer builders.. Many custom horse trailer builders offer pretty darn nice living quarters and it wouldn't take much work to have them build a all living quarters trailer specifically around your needs..

xtal_01

Vermont

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Posted: 01/04/20 08:35pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Well, it had 75K on it when I bought it 10 years ago ... so 75K in 10 years.

Actually I hope to do more traveling now that the house is done.

If my unit had help up better in winter ... salt, slush, water, ice .... I would not mind putting time and money into it.

The steps have seized so many times that I have the gear box held together with SS studs and wing nuts. Even the steps have rust holes in the treads.

Like I said, the entire basement is rotting away.

I looked at two new trailers with "winter" packages ... $40K ... but went I looked at their forum comments, owners had the same problems as I had .... set up for the cold but not the salt and roads of winter.

I used SS bolts and SS trip on everything I built for my RV. The lift is made of heavy gauge steel with brass bushings and SS shafting and bolts.

My lift and door still work (no wind noise even at 80 mph) after 10 years.

I wish the rest of the RV was built that well.

Thus the idea of building my own.

Won't be "cheap" but if I can build it for a bit less than one I could buy ... do a better job ... and have my investment last longer (maybe 20 years) ... plus have it custom the way I need it ... then I don't mind.

Mike

xtal_01

Vermont

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Posted: 01/04/20 08:49pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Just saw the last post come in while typing ...

I am hoping that the towing capacity will not drop much ... on a full size van, they usually raise the body ... drop the floor.

This is done so that the driver (my wife started driving a few years ago) will be looking out the windshield at a normal height. If you are only a passenger, they just raise the roof.

The lift adds some weight but not much.

I think GMC is the only one who produces a full size van.

A 2500 or 3500 with a 6.0 V8 has a rating of 10,000 lbs.

The RV is 28 ft so I am thinking a trailer of 24 - 30 ft.

If I could find on with a decent frame, I don't mind starting with that ... it would save time and money.

Here are two more pictures of my RV:

Note int the bedroom, I have the beds on tracks to I can move them from side to side .... I can then get on both sides of my wife ... makes it much easier to do her care.

Thanks .... Mike


https://imgur.com/gallery/gVFkJDg

https://imgur.com/gallery/8oq9Rvh

Gdetrailer

PA

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Posted: 01/04/20 09:26pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Dropping the floor typically requires major modifications to the frame of vehicle, often results in considerable amount of reinforcements to the frame. This is going to put you in the same place as a customized van with reduced cargo capacity.

Raising the roof of the van, typically they will cut off the roof of the van then install a fiberglass roof which gives additional headroom. Fiberglass roofs do add considerable weight.

Not impossible, but this can be a substantial issue to take into consideration because you typically will run out of cargo capacity well before you hit the tow ratings.

Your hitch weight becomes cargo of your vehicle and with bumper pulls your hitch weight MUST be no less than 10% (10%-15% is typical TW range)of the trailer for a stable tow. The higher TW, the more stable the tow so ideally you really want to shoot for 15% TW when loaded.

15% of 10,000 lbs is 1,500 lbs TW without taking in account weight distribution hitch weight.

Additionally, your van may not have a hitch receiver from factory and adding that will reduce your available cargo.

For your needs, I highly recommend you look up custom horse trailer builders, I have one in my area that builds theirs out of all aluminum including the frame..

They can make them not look like horse trailers and should be able to build to your specific needs with wheel chair access designed in from the start.

Most likely they will be able to build it quicker and you won't have to spend so much time DIYing it.

Another option is to start with a cargo trailer but they tend to be pretty heavy to start with and that may become an issue.

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