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Old 09-11-2019, 07:43 PM   #1
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Boondocking coach?

Has anyone ever seen a 10x10 Lifted Coach built for off road/boondocking? I don't mean a rock climber or mud-buggy- that would be stupid. Just a RV motor coach equipped to go down BLM and national forest dirt roads. I look forward to your reply.

Papa Bone.
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Old 09-11-2019, 07:51 PM   #2
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There are 4x4 buses out there.

There is one down the road from me that is lifted and has aggressive tires on it. I have been bugging the school district for a year waiting for them to retire it.

Or: https://expeditionportal.com/forum/t...ol-bus.191677/
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:05 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by TheRollingBones View Post
Has anyone ever seen a 10x10 Lifted Coach built for off road/boondocking? I don't mean a rock climber or mud-buggy- that would be stupid. Just a RV motor coach equipped to go down BLM and national forest dirt roads. I look forward to your reply.

Papa Bone.
What does the "10x10" refer to? Rows of seats? Or do you mean the 5 axle Daf monster bus from Iceland?
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Old 09-11-2019, 10:23 PM   #4
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10 x 10 Coach explained-"on a typical American RV motor coach"

there are 10 wheels on the typical american motor coach. Some tag axles only have two wheels. If all 6 or 10 wheels are powered-you would have a 10x10 0r a 6x6. If I am wrong, I apologize.

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Old 09-12-2019, 09:57 AM   #5
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there are 10 wheels on the typical american motor coach. Some tag axles only have two wheels. If all 6 or 10 wheels are powered-you would have a 10x10 0r a 6x6. If I am wrong, I apologize.

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Thanks for the explanation. Makes perfect sense now.

Member "JDOnTheGo" on this forum fulltimes in a big, newer MCI coach and does a lot of boondocking.

From what I understand, he got stuck once when the ground was too soft and the rear wheels sunk in on one side until the axle bottomed out. More driven wheels are not going to help there.

Let me explain the real problem with heavy vehicles. I have a 4x4 Unimog that could theoretically drive on one wheel with lockers in the center and on both axles. Add to this massive tires, portal axles, and therefore huge ground clearance. If that is not enough it also has a front loader and a backhoe that can be used to shift weight or push/pull you out of a precarious spot.

You would not think about ever getting stuck with this thing, right?
20180116_154705.jpg

Wrong! When the ground gets too soft to support the vehicle weight (16,000#), even this purpose built off-road machine sinks until it bottoms out and then it's 'game over' as shown in the next picture.
20190313_145350.jpg

The solution to my blunder of driving in the wrong spot (a recently filled ditch) was a long chain and the green tractor in the background.

Also visible in the background is a white box truck that I am currently converting into an off-road RV. I decided for the Ford E series chassis because it can easily be converted to 4x4 like mentioned in the first reply to your original post.

At this point, I am torn whether I even do the 4x4 conversion. I think a modest lift, taller, wider tires and a locker in the rear will do the job (plus a winch bumper just in case). I came to this conclusion after taking the truck as is with DRW and the original, puny tires on many Forest Service roads in the Smoky Mountains. There were one or two places where the vehicle would simply not fit due to size but 4x4 is not going to fix that. Clearance and turning radius will be even more the limiting factors for a coach.

The other big challenge with a coach is to find off-road tires that are rated for the weight and the speed of a coach. There are military tires that have the weight rating and will get the job done in the dirt but they will slow you to a crawl on the highway, howl like wolves, and wear out quickly on pavement.

I think the best solution for boondocking with a coach is a toad that you scout the area with and only drive the coach to places that you have confirmed to be safe. That's how JD goes about it now.
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Old 09-12-2019, 10:33 AM   #6
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I think the best solution for boondocking with a coach is a toad that you scout the area with and only drive the coach to places that you have confirmed to be safe. That's how JD goes about it now.
Having a towed vehicle makes it MUCH easier to scout out boondocking spots. If the road looks even a little sketchy, we usually find a place to park the bus and scout with the truck. Having to back the bus out of a forest road is no picnic.
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Old 09-12-2019, 05:35 PM   #7
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In terms of coach/class A RV, I've never seen anything more than a single drive axle. A drive shaft coming from rear to front would spoil all the basement space that a coach offers.

Not sure where you are/plan to go but many BLM/Forest Service roads are reasonably good. Washouts, trees, sand, and very tight corners are the most significant problems I've had (in the west). If you have a tag, you have to be a little careful as you can end up with the drive tires barely making contact with the ground.

My getting stuck adventure was mostly stupidity - but I learned a thing or two. It was on a sandy beach. Semi-moist & firm when I arrived, fairly dry when I attempted to leave several weeks later. Also had one drive tire that had went flat and that may have helped (the getting stuck part).
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Old 09-12-2019, 05:45 PM   #8
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Having a towed vehicle makes it MUCH easier to scout out boondocking spots. If the road looks even a little sketchy, we usually find a place to park the bus and scout with the truck. Having to back the bus out of a forest road is no picnic.
Much trooth here.....

Unfortunately I did not have the good fortune of learning from someone else's experience.
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:48 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by JDOnTheGo View Post
In terms of coach/class A RV, I've never seen anything more than a single drive axle. A drive shaft coming from rear to front would spoil all the basement space that a coach offers.

Not sure where you are/plan to go but many BLM/Forest Service roads are reasonably good. Washouts, trees, sand, and very tight corners are the most significant problems I've had (in the west). If you have a tag, you have to be a little careful as you can end up with the drive tires barely making contact with the ground.

My getting stuck adventure was mostly stupidity - but I learned a thing or two. It was on a sandy beach. Semi-moist & firm when I arrived, fairly dry when I attempted to leave several weeks later. Also had one drive tire that had went flat and that may have helped (the getting stuck part).
IF it is really a "tag axle" then all you have is an extra set of wheels to help with more weight, there isn't a tag that is a drive axle period.
Letting air out of your tires when stuck will actually help you gain more traction. Done it several times in 2wheel drives to gain more traction, especially in snow.
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:54 PM   #10
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IF it is really a "tag axle" then all you have is an extra set of wheels to help with more weight, there isn't a tag that is a drive axle period.
Exactly right. You can then imagine the problem with a very uneven surface where the tag is solidly on the ground and the drive axle is not. Normal people do not take coaches into such conditions.
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Old 09-12-2019, 07:08 PM   #11
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Exactly right. You can then imagine the problem with a very uneven surface where the tag is solidly on the ground and the drive axle is not. Normal people do not take coaches into such conditions.
I've had a class A motor home with one (moore ride) wouldn't ever advise anyone to get one either, much less a motorhome (JUNK JUNK JUNK).

You def have a sweet lookin coach buddy. I like going into primitive camps and such, I sure get it.
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Old 09-12-2019, 10:11 PM   #12
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Sage-wise advice. Thank you!

Don't go off the beaten (paved) roads in a coach. Got it!
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Old 09-12-2019, 10:41 PM   #13
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4x4 full length Luxury schoolie?

Would a "Glamoured up" 4x4 full length School Bus be an oxymoron?

Are there any structural or mechanical reasons why a 90 passenger Thomas Safe-t bus diesel pusher school bus interior could not look like this?

Secondly, what would keep someone (besides money) from lifting said bus and installing aggressive tires and a 4x4 drive-train plus full air ride suspension on said vehicle?

I look forward to your comments.

Grace and Peace.
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Old 09-12-2019, 10:51 PM   #14
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Would a "Glamoured up" 4x4 full length School Bus be an oxymoron?

Are there any structural or mechanical reasons why a 90 passenger Thomas Safe-t bus diesel pusher school bus interior could not look like this?

Secondly, what would keep someone (besides money) from lifting said bus and installing aggressive tires and a 4x4 drive-train plus full air ride suspension on said vehicle?

I look forward to your comments.

Grace and Peace.
Papa "Rollin" Bone
With enough money anything can happen, BUT in a pusher it's going to be crapping hard to route the drivetrain to do what you want, a huge lift would probably be required to even try that. If you have a welder the you can make about anything happen with a frame.
I wouldn't know where to start trying to plan to put a 4 wheel drive in a pusher, prob have to flip the rear end around, put a divorced xfer case in front of the rear end to make it happen but you would need some tough drive shafts because that would be the weak link in that setup.
I kinda day dream about doing that to mine but I won't ever try it would be a project I'd never finish like alot of other stuff I start LOL.
But if you have the tools (skill helps but that can be learned) it could happen but you better have money laying around you don't care to lose because it sure would have a learning curve that would likely be costly.
You wuold find a damaged high end motor home and pull all that stuff out though it's a massive chore especially if you are reusing it, I've scrapped out motor homes and it's not a bit fun or easy. I wish I had a place i could have burnt them up so I didn't have to cut them up, horrible. I won't take on another RV again.
Ir prob would be alot easier and cheaper if was a FE bus to do the 4x4 conversion. We are talking about alot of drive shaft running, the longer the shaft the easier it is to bend and snap them.
Anyways I won't bore you any further, there is another thread were people are talking about 4x4 conversions I was trying to find the one I read but forgive me I can't find it quickly....
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Old 09-12-2019, 11:03 PM   #15
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Crown's and Gillig's tandem (three axle) mid-engine 40-foot school buses have both their rear axles driven, with a lockable inter-axle differential to help traction off-road or in slippery conditions. Some years ago on the Crown Coach Junkies forum we half-jokingly discussed the feasibility (or lack thereof) of converting such a bus to true all-wheel drive, and my suggestion was to have a hydraulic drive to the front wheels, using a hydrostatic motor for each front wheel that could be easily powered by a larger hydraulic pump than the original PS pump. This way there wouldn't be any extra driveshafts or drop box complications to faff about with, and if you used a complete steering axle from a large all-terrain forklift or something with hydrostatic drive it could be almost easy to do, maybe? Most of the time you don't need the front wheels driven, and then the front drive hubs could be taken out of use by something as simple as a valve. Well, I thought it was a good idea, even if some of my fellow CCJ busnuts thought otherwise!

Even with their stock two-axle drive, Crown buses were often used to take kids and all their luggage to summer camps way up in the Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests at the end of steep narrow switchback dirt roads and fire roads. There's an apocryphal story of one such bus that helped rescue a stuck Jeep way up such a road, complete with 60 kids on board for extra traction weight! Crowns also had no trouble dealing with the long unsurfaced desert roads on the eastern side of the Sierras, reliably hauling their kids many miles every day to and from schools in Bishop and elsewhere (some of those buses had well over a million miles when they were retired!).

Catalina Island has, or at least used to have, 4WD school buses for their back-country routes, and a friend of mine has a wonderful old International 4WD short school bus with a Gillig body. 4WD buses are rare, but occasionally come up for sale.

John
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Old 09-12-2019, 11:29 PM   #16
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Not boring at all! Thanks for the wisdom! I can look into purchasing a puller flatnose Thomas safe-t-bus HDX. That would solve the 4x4 complications. II Edition follows:

I will look into the Crown/Gillig option. Very interesting!

Best Regards,

Papa Rollin Bone
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Old 09-13-2019, 12:30 AM   #17
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How far on dirt road do you want to go? How much risk are you daring to take.
If you are talking mud and even wet grass then you already lost if you sink more then 4".
For windy mountain patches a coach is to long. For anything uneven a bus or coach does not have enough axle articulation.
If you get stuck in death valley with a bus and you need a rescue vehicle then that could easily be more expensive then your bus.

Later j
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Old 09-13-2019, 04:16 AM   #18
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How far on dirt road do you want to go? How much risk are you daring to take.
If you are talking mud and even wet grass then you already lost if you sink more then 4".
For windy mountain patches a coach is to long. For anything uneven a bus or coach does not have enough axle articulation.
If you get stuck in death valley with a bus and you need a rescue vehicle then that could easily be more expensive then your bus.

Later j
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Old 09-13-2019, 07:36 AM   #19
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Don't go off the beaten (paved) roads in a coach. Got it!
Hmm... that isn't the point I was attempting to make - sorry about that. Hopefully we are using the term "coach" the same way - I see "bus" being mixed into the thread.

Mine has an air suspension system that has a high and low ride position. High is 4" above normal. So, I typically bump it to high for trails and go VERY slow. I also scout the trail in advance in my Jeep. Sadly, I am not normal so I don't mind doing this. I don't see too many folks in these places but most of them have some really shocked looks. I suspect mostly city slickers that are afraid for the SUV (that has never been off the pavement) on the current road and then a giant coach appears - it just doesn't compute.

As Johan suggests, getting into a problem and needing assistance may ruin a lot of plans so doing this with eyes wide open is important.
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Old 09-13-2019, 12:53 PM   #20
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I am no longer seeking a coach. I want all the comforts of a coach with the power and clearance of a 4x4 e.g. "Poshed" out conventional 90 passenger Thomas HDX 4x4 school bus. We want to drive down national forest and BLM dirt roads without the worry of damaging the undercarriage.

Regards

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