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Old 03-04-2017, 01:31 PM   #1
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2nd guessing first Tiny House Build or skoolie

I've been interested in making a Tiny House, as I work all across the nation and I've tired of motels. Most RV's aren't built to live in full time and even fewer are setup to handle Arctic Temps. I'm confident I can build a robust road rig to live in and therefore will know every square inch of my living space when I encounter failures and challenges.

I bought 2 Thomas International Buses (94' and 95') DT466 MT643 with 4.44 axles 2 years ago. Both are 71 passengers and once I remove the seats there's 30 feet to build my living space.

I'm ready to start converting one of the buses, as spring temps are around the corner, but the more I research, I'm thinking I should just buy a 53' semi trailer and turn that into a tiny house as I could haul a car, motorcycle, bicycles and equipment for my work much easier. This setup doesn't need to be Campground friendly as I never use them, I always park in the parking lot of where I am working, which is always a Commercial setting or Farm 100's of miles from a city. A semi and square trailer would blend in an be unnoticeable except for the windows.

Regardless which direction I take, I plan to invest most of my time to build this project and complete it quickly. I'm thinking I'll focus 10 to 12 hours a day until done.

I'm interested in your thoughts as there seems to be abundant resources here.
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Old 03-04-2017, 03:28 PM   #2
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Welcome!!

I can relate to your "love" of motels/hotels. My work in the past had me living in hotel rooms for up to 3 months at a stretch and I grew to hate it. I had a perfectly good converted bus sitting in my driveway at home and was stuck in a hotel room. Eventually I managed to get the boss to let me drive my bus to jobsites. It was AWESOME traveling the country in my own home, sleeping in my own bed every night. That lasted about 6 years. Loved it.

I too considered the semi tractor-trailer conversion option. Two considerations steered me back to a bus.

First was cost. I fount that I could get a bus with 150-200k miles for a fraction of what I would pay for a tractor with 700-900k miles. Decent trailers were almost as expensive (when I looked) as a bus.

Second was flexibility in where I could stay in it. It doesn't sound like this is a concern for you.

If your budget will accommodate a tractor-trailer in good shape I think it is a great idea and much of the info available here regarding bus conversion would be equally applicable tp converting a semi trailer.

I think a great candidate would be a refer trailer. Already well insulated and, if the refer works, air conditioned.. Really, with a little modification I think you could have a diesel powered 12v battery charger and air conditioning from the refer unit.

Regarding your current buses; Those sound like nice rigs. Mechanical DT466, MT643 & 4.44 gears. Plenty of folks here that would get excited about that drive train.

Best of luck on your project and please post pics here.

S.
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Old 03-04-2017, 04:09 PM   #3
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sounds like it will be a cool build either way you go.

my 2 cents -
the thing that appeals to me most about skoolies over a fifth wheel is the rigidity of the body. trailers are not going to be as stout as a bus build. im a big guy and i loath stick and staple construction.

if i was going for a class 8 truck, i'd get a long wheel base and build it out like a straight truck.

both your buses are going to highway cruise as well as any other skoolie. maybe the bigger straight truck would get better mileage, idk, but there are some cool toterhomes out there.

post pics!!!
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Old 03-04-2017, 04:29 PM   #4
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If you are going to be putting on a lot of miles the fuel economy question does become a consideration.

My experience with class 8 trucks is a bit dated. I would guess at 6.5-7.5mpg would be in the ball park. I remember getting around 6mpg running 65-80k gross.

My 40' Eagle was a heavy beast with a two stroke Detroit. Not really known for their economy. I ran a pretty consistent 7.25 mpg. My Bluebird with an 8.3 Cummins has run 9.8-10.1mpg running empty.

If I could manage 10mpg in a bus versus 7mpg with a tractor-trailer that could be a strong influence in the decision making process.

Turf: I am pretty sure that the OP is talking about converting a commercial trailer as opposed to a 5th wheel travel trailer.
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Old 03-04-2017, 04:32 PM   #5
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My big bus, RYO, has the 466 with 643, and 4.44 rear. GREAT combo!!!
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Old 03-04-2017, 11:37 PM   #6
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Very few states allow trailers that long as an RV. Iowa and the Dakotas I think maybe are good with it. Most states limit RV trailer length to 40'. A few are up to 45' and one or two states are not over 35'.
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Old 03-05-2017, 07:19 AM   #7
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I always thought a household goods mover possum belly trailer would make a cool RV. Or one the round front 48 or 45 foot trailers from the 40's.
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Old 03-05-2017, 10:18 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by somewhereinusa View Post
I always thought a household goods mover possum belly trailer would make a cool RV.
Great idea!

I have not looked close but I would guess that the center section is tall enough to have a loft of sorts.
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Old 03-05-2017, 12:20 PM   #9
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Skylights instead of windows and no one would even know the hidden castle within.
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Old 03-06-2017, 11:51 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wunderhut View Post
Very few states allow trailers that long as an RV. Iowa and the Dakotas I think maybe are good with it. Most states limit RV trailer length to 40'. A few are up to 45' and one or two states are not over 35'.
Good to know. The majority of my work is in the Plains states, center of the US. North Dakota to Texas. So, I'll have to do some research and make sure I don't run into any laws.

Quote:
Originally Posted by somewhereinusa View Post
I always thought a household goods mover possum belly trailer would make a cool RV. Or one the round front 48 or 45 foot trailers from the 40's.
I agree. A friend had a Moving Van Semi Trailer with living quarters built in. They don't have the load capacity of a standard semi trailer, but I'm going to look into them and see if it's a candidate.
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