A couple concerns..
I don't know how you are about looks, but I've seen a few homemade ones that I wouldn't be driving in public.. if ya's know what I mean.
That truck.. what kind of suspension does it have? Is it an old work truck that's going to beat you to death?
Couldn't care less about looks. No, really, I couldn't :P I haven't been in a campground in over 20 years, and I fully intend to keep it that way whether or not they want to allow my 1959 truck and camper in :D I live out in the sticks for a reason, and going to an "improved campground" feels like a step backwards to me, like I'm parking my camper in the middle of an apartment complex to me, lol. That's not to knock anyone that does enjoy the campground experience, heck my mother is one of them. She enjoys the social aspect, and I want to get the heck away from everyone :lol:
The truck? Yeah, it's a 1959 2.5 ton truck on leaf springs. Of course it's going to ride rough. Eventually I'm going to convert to air suspension on it, but until that time comes, it's going to ride like a brick. I grew up in 60's and 70's trucks..it's nothing new to me.
Which does bring up the concern of whether it will shake the camper apart, but I figure I've got enough weight capacity to overbuild a bit here and there to compensate, and I'll also keep the smaller slide in for the Dodge 1/2 ton for when I won't be taking any other toys with me. I'm thinking with the additional tongue weight of the trailer, plus a full load of water and other stuff, it should be heavy enough that the stiff suspension shouldn't be too horrible.
That's WAY more than I'd want, lol. What I was really thinking was something a lot like the old SixPac I have now, with just a few more inches in width in floor space, room for bigger water tanks, and a proper queen sized bed instead of the 3/4 that it's built for now.
That's one of the biggest issues I've run into in looking at new campers as well. Just like with new cars/trucks, no one really makes a stripped down "base model" any more, because virtually everyone wants air conditioning, power mirrors/windows/locks, and the fancy stereo anyways. So I have to special order the stripped down truck, which ends up costing as much as the optioned out truck because I don't get the special deals that get applied to the 100 extra trucks sitting on the lot already.
Which in the case of the campers, about the only time I see the basic stuff, its in the form of something like a specialized "expedition" camper, which costs a small fortune because it's "specialized", lol.
But I understand the why of it, economies of scale and all that.
No slides. What I'd really want would be pretty basic, with the exception of considerably larger than normal water/holding tanks. Especially if I go out in the middle of the summer in the desert, I could go through a considerable amount of water in a few days between drinking and bathing. That said, I wouldn't necessarily need to integrate the larger tanks into the camper itself. I'm almost thinking of making a second box with additional tanks, or hanging them under the flat bed, where I could add them when I know I'll be going on an extended trip without having to always carry them around. Kind of like the big diesel bed mounted tanks the construction guys use, where I could just use a transfer pump to fill up/drain the camper tanks as needed.
I don't need or want all the fancy gadgets such as the TVs, satellite, computer, etc gear, but I would be incorporating support for my amatuer radio hobby - solar, extra batteries, antenna wiring, etc. Being able to integrate that into the camper rather than modifying an existing camper would provide quite a bit of benefit to me.
I've recently acquired a 2.5 ton flatbed truck that I originally was going to utilize for the TC plus being able to trailer my stupid heavy 4x4s around that would far over weigh my 1/2 ton truck. Then I began to think about putting the 4x4 on the flatbed, and picking up a TT while keeping the TC for the 1/2 ton.
Now I'm pondering again, this time about building a flatbed style camper to semi-permanently install on the truck, and putting the 4x4s on a trailer behind it.
This being something I'll scratch build out, rather than buy a complete camper. I've been pricing out flatbed campers, and they sure aren't cheap by any definition! Not that this is purely a financially driven decision, as I've browsed around the new camper lots and it seemed like every camper I stepped into, I only thought about how much I'd want to change to make it right for me.
I've rehabbed several campers, and have had several down to the bare frame work, so I feel that I have a pretty decent idea of what goes into building one. I'm also aware that this isn't going to be a $1,000 project any way you slice it, though I'm pretty sure I can build out something pretty nice using all brand new materials and equipment for far less than the $25K a place like Four Wheel Campers wants for theirs.
But financials aside, I think the bigger/better question to ask would be - to those that have scratch built these campers...would you do it again, or buy a complete camper instead? I'm hesitant to spend any real money on a used camper, as after having bought a couple that looked solid on the outside, didn't have any funky smells inside, etc that ended up having major issues hidden away...once I realized how much time and money went into fixing those problems, it seemed like I really wasn't that far off from just starting fresh and building my own camper out....
It currently has an icebox in it, but I planned on changing that out for an actual fridge. In the meantime, I have an Engel portable I plan to use with it. After having experienced the joys of a fridge while camping, I don't see myself ever going back to having to make a side trip just to buy ice.
We had one almost exactly like that when we were station in Alaska, but ours was for an 8 ft bed. the over cab bed tilted up so you could get into the dinette,
Hmmm...that's not a bad idea. I've been wondering what to do with the bed section, as it's sized for a 3/4 mattress. I was pondering building an extension, but with it overhanging the dinette area would be a problem. My next thought was to switch the mattress direction from crossways across the cab to long ways, with the foot end up front, and the head end overhanging the right side of the dinette but I haven't yet measured to see if that would even work...mainly because I was trying to figure out how to handle blocking off that side of the dinette when the other side would be blocked temporarily by my portable fridge sitting there (it's a 60qt...not exactly easy to move when loaded up).
Ahhh...removed and filled. That would make sense then. I didn't expect a grey water holding tank, after reading that it was very common on the older campers to just dump the grey water right in the ground before the environmental movement really took off.
Probably should have looked into this a bit more before installing a regular faucet in the new counter, lol.
So then perhaps there would have been a battery and/or power converter installed in the forward compartment where the wires are, and the two large holes there may have been for an outside electrical connection?
I was thinking of putting a battery or two in that forward compartment, add a power converter, and fit the biggest fresh water tank I can in the remaining space to help keep weight centrally located. But now that plan is on hold as well, as I've began to seriously look at bigger flatbed trucks to more or less permanently mount the camper on (still using proper tie downs, but just having a truck dedicated to the camper) to also have more weight carrying ability to add tanks outside the camper.
I'm finally getting back on getting the old SixPac camper back together. Near as I can tell, it's a 1974...something. No clue what model it would have been, other than it's a full size shortbed model. This is the first one of this vintage that I've had, so I just plain don't know how things would have been done back then.
When I got it, all the plumbing had been completely removed with the exception of the sink, and a short section of hose from the sink drain to a garden hose connector on the outside. There is still some random wires under the sink, and in the forward compartment, connected to nothing. There was a hole in the countertop that I assumed was for a faucet (no faucet was installed), but for the life of me, I can't figure out where a fresh water tank would have gone, or a water pump, or any of that stuff, unless it was maybe a 5 gallon tank directly under the sink? But I think even 5 gallons might be a tight fit there. I also haven't found anything that looks like it may have a tank vent installed somewhere either in that area.
What I'm trying to figure out is how the factory would have set this up. I know I'm free to change things around (like I'll be doing when I change out the icebox for a refrigerator), but I'm still curious how it would have been set up originally.
Side view of the camper on my wee truck
View of sink/stove counter/cabinet
LP compartment is directly underneath the stove top
First set of unknown wires, under sink, and drain hose going outside. I cut the drain hose when I removed the sink to install a new countertop.
View from standing in the door, looking forward and right. There is a hole drilled down through the light brown wood directly underneath the lower right corner of the window, going into the lower forward compartment.
Closer look at the hole
View from door, looking in and to the left. The large hole at the front of the bench does go outside, and there is another hole under the left lower corner of the window that also goes down into the forward compartment.
Closer view of holes -
Another set of unknown wires on the left side of the forward compartment. I haven't put a meter on them yet to see if they match up with the under sink wires...as, well, that just now occurred to me to check that, lol.
I'm thinking due to the age of the camper, that there wouldn't have been a grey water tank on board, and the sink drain would have just dumped straight to outside. Perhaps the large hole near the front of the left bench would have been the original location for the water fill port, and a fill hose would have just run to the second hole there going to the forward compartment where a fresh water tank would have been? Would it have been common to not have an outside vent for the fresh water tank back then?
Though if that's the case, I'm still not sure where a hose would have gone from the tank to the faucet. There were no other holes drilled that I could see going into the cabinet where the sink is. If the tank was underneath the sink, I don't know how it would have been filled, unless there just wasn't an outside fill port back then?
Ha! Try working with a 70s short bed camper...the kind without a basement. Prior, I was camping out of a little Chevy Tracker, and now feel like I have to downsize my stuff because it all won't fit in the TC, lol.
My 2015 4wd Ram 5500 has a 9000 lb payload capacity. Some of the older Class 7 trucks have close to the same capacity and are not as fast or comfortable. Look closely at their ratings and unloaded weight before making a commitment even if it drives well.
I carry a 4000 lb camper on the flatbed (will be upgrading to a 6000 lb model) and tow an 8000 lb enclosed behind it at the same time.
Something like that is going to be so far out of my budget range that it's not even a blip on the radar of "maybe in a few years", regardless of how much I may need it, lol.
The big reason why I was looking at one of the bigger trucks like this was to eliminate the use of the trailer for most circumstances, when I'm taking just the camper and one of my trucks. Then be able to still hitch the trailer up if say I want to haul a buddies truck out at the same time. But I'm thinking I really need a 10K payload capacity to make that work just based on how stinking heavy the 4x4s themselves are fully loaded up. I don't have my main 4x4 fully built yet, but I'm guesstimating it's weight to be around 5500lbs when done. I'm coming up with rough numbers of around 8800lbs total between camper, 4x4 on flatbed, spare parts/tools/additional water tanks and tongue weight of loaded trailer.
Sure, it's under the 9K mark there, but I'd still want a bit of extra cushion room, just in case.
Otherwise, I may just be better off forgoing the bigger truck idea, get an older 1 ton flatbed, and continue towing the 4x4s on the trailer...perhaps just getting a bigger deck/heavier duty trailer big enough for two rigs if need be.
EDIT: Gah! Found a 1990 F350 dually w/460 and 5 speed trans on Craigslist just to use as an example, and from what I'm reading on different forums about towing capacities, this thing is rated lower than my '05 1/2 Dodge! I found some posts about people talking about the truck struggling to pull a 9,000lb load...which says to me that I'm going to be right back in a similar boat as I find myself with my current truck.
I had not considered that, at least not in the strictest sense. I was under the impression that one of the advantages of the bigger trucks was that parts were available for them longer than the typical automobile/light truck application, as they were kept on the road longer. I figured it wouldn't be as easy as stepping into the dealer and buying bits for a 2015 Ford, but hadn't really thought about parts just flat not being available at all.
One of my other considerations was something like the International 4700s (and I'm actually partial to International trucks to begin with, from being a big fan of the old IH trucks). Is the parts availability issue an issue across the board on these things, or just more confined to Ford/GM/Dodge stuff?
Big too. Have you driven a MDT or HDT ? They take up a lot of road.
That I have :) We have a fleet of Freightliner M2s and SDs here at work, along with a few day cab semis,so I'm familiar with the physical size..not gonna get these puppies through the McDonald's drivethru! :D
Though these aren't exactly comparable to the old stuff as far as ride quality and power. I was actually surprised at how easy these new trucks are compared to some of the older stuff...it's almost just like driving a monster sized pick up truck!
Part of the reason for going down this road is cost, namely acquisition cost. I just flat don't have 20K in the budget right now for a new truck. Even if I were to sell the current Dodge, it wouldn't get me much closer, as it's been used as a truck quite a bit, and has taken some body damage off road here in the Arizona desert. It's still a plenty solid truck mechanically, but I honestly would be astounded if I got $5,000 out of it if I were to sell it. Realistically would likely be closer to $3,000.
I really don't like the idea of taking out another loan for a truck, especially for something that's going to be sitting far more often than it will be driven. Ever since I started driving my Miata as a daily, my Dodge gets driven once or twice a month now. So the thought of having a 10K or 20K loan on such a vehicle doesn't exactly excite me, lol, even more so if I decide a year or two down the road that even a 1 ton dually isn't enough for whatever I get into then.
Some of these older trucks I've been seeing for $2,000-$5,000, which I could easily do right now.
I currently have an '05 Ram 1500 2WD quad cab short bed truck, with the Hemi and factory tow package. As is so common, when I bought the truck, I didn't forsee my future needs, thus it doesn't really meet my current needs. Oops.. :P
My main hobby is 4x4 rock crawlers, which I typically trailer to the trails rather than drive them, largely due to them being set up for the rocks and street manners are not at all friendly. I have a 20ft deck flat bed trailer that I move them on, which works quite well behind the Ram, although I do have to be very careful how I load it to avoid bottoming out the suspension on the truck.
I have recently added a '70-something SixPac truck camper to the mix, and by itself, it is lightweight enough that it barely squats the Ram. Although I haven't scaled it, I'm guesstimating it to be around 1,000lbs empty based on suspension squat of the truck.
Either are fine by themselves with the 1/2 ton Dodge, and although I haven't yet attempted to do both together, I'm really thinking the truck isn't going to like it.
I started looking at various other truck options, and whoo-boy!! New(er) trucks are EXPENSIVE!! Plus, now I feel like if I go into a 1 ton truck, I'm only meeting current needs again, not "future proofing" myself.
So I started browsing Craigslist, and found a few 70s and 80s MDT trucks - F700s, F750s, Kodiak/Topkicks, C4500s. C5500s (which I think is just a Kodiak with a different badge?), etc. A couple had 17-20 foot flatbeds on them, and it got me thinking....Toss the camper on the front of the flatbed, and without a bed in the way, I'd have room for much larger water tanks and storage areas as my old camper doesn't have a basement on it. Then I'd still have room behind it to load one of the 4x4s...and probably still have enough capacity to haul the trailer behind it if I needed more room still.
The problem here is that I really have zero experience with these old trucks. Is this even a feasible plan for these types of trucks? I'm guesstimating a total load, between the loaded camper, 4x4, bigger water/storage tanks, tools, etc to be between 8000 to 10,000lbs. Obviously the ride is going to be horrible compared to a new pickup, the "creature comforts" won't be there, and I figure the gas mileage is going to bring on the major suck regardless of whether I go gas or diesel. But on the other hand, this would be a dedicated hauling truck for me, I still have other vehicles for daily usage, and I'd still keep the Ram for light duty hauling duties.
Really what I'm wondering is whether I could realistically load up 10K on the deck of one of these things, and cruise down the highway at 65mph without much issue?
At this point, I haven't really considered much of anything. I suspect that this is going to be one of those things that after much consideration, I will realize that it will be much more expensive to go this route just to be able to have a "cool vintage" coach.
Over the past few days I've gone from thinking about ways to making my 1/2 ton work better as a camper hauler + off road crawler hauler to realizing that regardless of what I'm doing, I'm basically just polishing cow droppings to thinking of medium duty trucks to dreaming about big ol' Class As and Bus conversions. The reality is that the typical class A is WELL beyond my current budget to get something that would fit my needs, and is merely a dream right now.
I started browsing Craigslist just to get an idea of some pricing, and found the GMC, to which began the gear turning, and how cool it would be to have a vintage coach pulling my vintage 4x4 around.
As for repairs on this particular coach, while the owner claims it's merely just head gaskets that are needed, I've bought enough broken vehicles over the years to know that what the owner claims, and what is reality, often is vastly different once the parts come off. Thus I'd rather take the time to go completely through everything drivetrain related before embarking on a trip that long, and I don't think that would be feasible to do when I still have to go to work on Monday :P
So that's why this is more of a "what if" scenario.
Yes, another one of those questions that I'm sure has been covered a million times, but I can't think of the proper keywords to use, thus I'm getting a ton of hits on people wanting to use the coach as a tow vehicle, and not towing the coach itself.
While perusing Craigslist, and dreaming of things well beyond my budget, I came across an old GMC conversion bus, and the wheels started spinning in my head :D This particular one has blown head gaskets according to the owner, and is approx 300 miles away on the other side of a mountain range, so it's not something I'd want to attempt to nurse home with a bunch of water with me.
Realistically, having never owned a diesel before, and certainly not having any experience with such an animal, I don't see myself taking this particular animal on as a project, but it did get me thinking - how do you transport something like this in the case of catastrophic failure? I'm sure it's not something I could call AAA on, lol. I looked at the Good Sam towing plan, and while it's unlimited distance, it's also to the "nearest service center", which wouldn't do me a whole lot of good as I'd want it as my house for repairs.
Would this be the kind of thing to call a heavy duty towing service for, or would I be looking at transport specific services? I found one heavy tow company in South Dakota that listed rates (though I'm in Arizona, I was just looking for listed rates to use to get a general idea of what this kind of stuff would cost) - $200 hook up charge, $3.50/mile, and $100/every half hour after the first half hour. One way costs at this point add up to $2045. I'm also assuming that if I was to contact a towing service, either by the coach, or from my side of town, that I'd probably be getting at least a mileage charge both ways, which would bring the total to almost 4 grand...suddenly the "good deal" seems like less of a good deal, lol.
The typical Truck Alternator setup was only typically designed to charge up the ONE Truck Start battery.
My understanding has always been that the alternator is there to maintain a state of charge, not recharge a low battery. This is an important distinction, as the alternator doesn't have the circuitry in it to properly charge a deeply discharged battery. Sure, driving around for a while will eventually "fill" the battery back up, but it doesn't do it in a way that maximises battery life.
The intentions of the high amp alternators, and dual alternator setups is for vehicles that have higher than normal electrical loads, such as emergency vehicles with a bunch of added lights. electric hydraulic pumps, bigger cooling fans, etc.
It's always been my understanding that the 12V charge line was intended for maintaining small batteries, such as those that power the breakaway system on trailers, not charging up the house battery (or batteries). Even then, you're supposed to charge the brake system battery to full with a battery charger, then the TV maintains that charge.