I have been lurking on this forum for a while and have finally registered mainly due to the fact that I couldnt get to the forums without doing so. Not sure if that is something that has changed recently or maybe an error of some kind, but what the heck I am here now...
I am researching the idea of making an FE into an RV with a bit of a twist. I am not 100% sold on a bus and my alternative is posted and explained below. Cost is not an issue and I would rather do the work myself and pay others to do things right. Since many RVs today are poorly built and I am a picky about details, I will have the quality of a high quality six figure RV for a fraction of the cost. Since everyone has grand ideas in the beginning, here they are, all suggestions and comments welcome.
First, I need 25-30 feet of usable floor space, not counting cockpit, stairs, etc. Can one figure overal length or floor space by counting seats or windows? I will probably use a TC2000. They are plentiful, reasonable cost, many the ISB engine and I prefer the COE design to traditional buses. The ISB will be rebuilt and modified by a local guy I know for 450-550hp. It will be setup for cross country trips and towing. The stock trans will be ditched for a heavily built Dodge or Allison 1000.
I would like to remove the entire body and take the bus to the frame. The front section (door, windshield, driving seat, etc.), will be either be raised up or pushed to the rear making a cabover style truck like this:
and eliminating the long protrusion past the front wheels (of the TC2000). This will give better visibility and drivability and make the cab match with the new body that will be constructed. Entry steps will hide under the body when not in use. Any leftover parts and pieces will be sold or recycled. This will be a green bus also, having solar power, a biodiesel powered genset, lithium ion battery packs that can run for days without being recharged, no VOC paint, FSC wood, etc. Since I have lots of plans for the living area, it seems easier to remove the body entirely instead of modifying it heavily. I am planning a full wall slide to double the size of the living area when extended. The rear body will be simple, like a box truck.
Which brings me to my alternative plan. Instead of getting a bus and cutting it up and moving the cab, etc., I may just start with a box truck, like the one posted above. The disadvantage to doing that is they are more expensive to acquire and I would have to swap the motor instead of rebuilding the ISB from the bus. Also, a pass through of some kind would be required and it would be small, not open like a bus.
I would dearly love to find a bus that has been stripped already or maybe even a chassis with little or no body remaining, but the chances of this are slim and none and slim is on vacation... There is a large bus yard in North GA that I will check out for this when I get some time.
A 20' trailer will be towed using a class 5 air ride bumper hitch. It will contain a small car, mountain bikes or motorcycles and tools and supplies that wont fit into the bus. Things further down the list to research are items like an air ride suspension, sound deadened sleeping area (I am a light sleeper) and building versus buying things like slide rails, awnings, wall panels, etc. Nida Core is possible for exterior walls and a wrap will be installed over it to give an RV look. If the vinyl wrap is damaged it can easily be repaird or replaced.
This could be a full time living location, with over 400 ft2 of living space with the slide wall out, (the size of some NY apartments). I will be limited by my size and cant go off the beaten path like an expedition rig can, but I can take lots of stuff with me and I have plenty of room. I can be self sufficient for 7-10 days, maybe more depending on final design and use this rig as a base for smaller expeditions via car, motorcycle, mountain bike or on foot like hiking and camping.
Thoughts, comments and suggestions are welcome.