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Old 08-05-2022, 05:37 PM   #1
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Has anyone attempted anything like this (RV style car garage in bus conversion)



I've been thinking about this for several years now, I'd love to do a 40+ ft bus when I am able to start the project, I want to live in the bus full-time but I know a full size bus is going to present a lot of challenges when I need to go somewhere that's not bus friendly and the idea of adding another 18 feet or so by towing a vehicle isn't the most appealing idea either to me.

I know this is bordering on getting kind of crazy in terms of features to add to a bus conversion but I'm wondering if anyone with engineering knowledge has any good input on even how this would be constructed? I've tried finding information on such an idea but never really got any traction in the search.

I've always thought it'd be nice to do this on a front engine (having car pull into back like the usual hauler) but this seems way better since I'd rather have a rear engine bus and I know there isn't a massive driveshaft running from the front to back in that configuration.

I've always liked the idea of doing something as small as possible for a small car (90's Honda CRX, Toyota MR2, Mini Cooper, Del Sol, etc. sized car) even a 90s NSX would probably be acceptable in the height department but not so much length.

Would love to see if it anyone's ever gotten started on trying to build one of these retractable "car trays" for lack of a better name.

If I were to go front-engine route I originally wanted one that you could pull a small vehicle into the back but a very very small area rather than using more than half of the bus for the garage like all I've seen do and then build a sort of loft over the car where the bed would be as not to waste too much space maybe with an extendable roof (like pop-up camper) as not to exceed standard hwy overpass height when going down the road.





And for what it's worth I'd rather have a city transit bus but those are always rear engine so the "tray" is the only way to do a garage and I've just never seen anyone crazy enough to try fabricating such a thing yet but they're on high-end RVs all over the internet.

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Old 08-06-2022, 06:56 AM   #2
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As noted, this approach is on high-end RVs all over the internet but what you're likely not seeing is more commonplace applications easily available on RV dealer lots. That's because this approach is exotic, expensive, and complex. Much more cost-effective and practical to simply tow behind.

To understand what it would take to achieve this on a DIY conversion, you'd have to scope out what's underneath your coach or any coach. First of all, if you're talking about a school bus, they are ALL built on a truck-based ladder frame regardless of front- or rear-engine. Anyone with pics of a rear engine bus with under-belly boxes can show how it's not just empty space from ground to floor, left to right, steers to drives. The ladder frame, that's non-negotiable. But even more easily altered necessities like air brake lines, electrical wiring, engine controls, and plumbing are made to measure and therefore have no slack coiled up that can facilitate simply rerouting them so you'll have to compromise these pathways and splice in extensions to provide the necessary extra length to reroute them out of the space you require for an under-floor avoid. And that's not as easy as it sounds - cut into an electronic transmission control data cable and you've probably just bricked your transmission and by extension your whole bus.

Aside from these obstacles, half the reason people buy certain buses is because of the under-floor storage area to accommodate tools, luggage, holding tanks and even routing plumbing and electrical but now you're having to define your entire floorplan around this massive, uncompromising void in the basement.

You'll also need some sort of engineering experience to fabricate a powerful yet compact mode of motivity to 'eject' the stored car sideways before you can drive out off/out of the RV's belly. The RV industry has a lot of adaptable solutions but this is quite exotic and therefore custom to the application. That's why the only RVs you're seeing this implemented are million dollar monstrosities where money was no object in the implementation of the owner's vision or whim. Somehow I imagine if that person is you then you wouldn't be here inquiring of an online community whose reputation is often the lowest cost or simplest option in order to save money and embrace simplicity of design for the sake of longevity or efficiency.

Conclusion - just tow behind and if the moderately increased length intimidates you please reconsider ANY RV ownership. I don't say this to be critical; rather I'm speaking from a career on the road in which I far too often see unprepared and sometimes dangerously operated RVs, U-Hauls, and other non-commercial larger vehicles that are just one coffee sip from killing themselves and other road users around them. Don't be that person, don't let your ego be your demise, be realistic about your expectations and your capabilities.
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Old 08-06-2022, 03:28 PM   #3
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Yeah I figured as much to most of that... I've seen some wild builds though just wondering if anyone's attempted anything like that because it'd be a fascinating build to follow but pull behind or drive into the rear style seems to be the only way to go... custom RV slideouts are the most exciting stuff I've seen so far with bus conversions.

I'm more into the idea of a transit style bus over a school bus but I'd love either I'm sure, I'm going to probably try and do as much as I can on $40-50k tops as it'll be my rolling office/home for me and my 2 dogs and also be incredible for following poker tournaments across the country and attending festivals.

Honestly I could probably get by without a car at all I'd just be limited on where I can go and have to Uber/Lyft my way around to certain destinations from time to time probably -- I wish double decker buses were common in the United States to be honest that'd be a fun build, I've seen some really awesome ones but then I'd have some height clearance limitations most likely as well.

Thanks for the response... I knew this would come off as a little "dreamer" probably especially as my first post, been lurking here for probably 5 years or so and finally signed up a year ago.
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Old 08-06-2022, 04:37 PM   #4
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Why do you even "need" a car at all? With my bicycles and a simple load-carrying bike trailer I'll be able to easily ride short distances (up to 20 miles) carrying a useful amount of Stuff such as groceries or 20lb propane cylinders. My present car cannot be towed, so when I start living in the bus the car will be sold and I'll just have leg-powered transportation for local trips. Or you could have a simple bike carrier on the back (or front) of the bus that can carry an E-bike or a small motorbike/scooter.

Why complicate your life unnecessarily? KISS.

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Old 08-06-2022, 04:40 PM   #5
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Why do you even "need" a car at all? With bicycles and a simple load-carrying bike trailer I'll be able to easily ride short distances (up to 20 miles) and also carry a useful amount of Stuff such as food or 20lb propane cylinders. My present car cannot be towed, so when I start living in the bus the car will be sold and I'll just have leg-powered transportation for local trips. Why complicate your life unnecessarily? KISS.

John
That's a good point, I've probably gone longer than anyone in here without a car since the last time I owned one was my Toyota Supra in 2004... I've gone 18 years without one so I suppose no reason to start now.

It's kind of weird I used to be a huge car enthusiast too, that's part of the reason I think it'd be nice to have one again but I definitely haven't needed one the past almost 2 decades.

I've been a work remotely from home creative professional since the late 90s so haven't been a huge struggle except for photography jobs so that'd be another time where a car would be super helpful but not required all the time because showing up to a wedding w/ a 43 foot bus or something might be silly haha.

Most other times a bike would work in a pinch though unless I'm in winter somewhere because I wasn't chasing the good weather.
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Old 08-06-2022, 05:57 PM   #6
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I wish double decker buses were common in the United States to be honest that'd be a fun build, I've seen some really awesome ones but then I'd have some height clearance limitations most likely as well.
There are options like Van Hool TD925 used by Megabus I believe which are US street legal but yes they are very tall and you always have to watch for low clearances. I haven't been inside one but simply by deduction I'd imagine they're low ceilings although ~50% more square footage floorplan than anything else. Lots of very cool examples online and in that case you could probably utilize a reasonable section of Lower level for a very small ride like a Smart Car or motorcycle with far less engineering than the basement shelf idea.
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Old 08-06-2022, 06:12 PM   #7
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There are options like Van Hool TD925 used by Megabus I believe which are US street legal but yes they are very tall and you always have to watch for low clearances. I haven't been inside one but simply by deduction I'd imagine they're low ceilings although ~50% more square footage floorplan than anything else. Lots of very cool examples online and in that case you could probably utilize a reasonable section of Lower level for a very small ride like a Smart Car or motorcycle with far less engineering than the basement shelf idea.
I actually just saw this video get posted today, this guy is in the United States which was super cool to see because almost all the double decker conversion videos I've seen were primarily European locations (as expected)



This guy has the kind of bus you mentioned I believe, that'd be so much fun to have as a starting platform but I'd definitely love having just a regular full-length bus too either way.
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Old 08-07-2022, 03:50 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Sehnsucht View Post
Conclusion - just tow behind and if the moderately increased length intimidates you please reconsider ANY RV ownership. I don't say this to be critical; rather I'm speaking from a career on the road in which I far too often see unprepared and sometimes dangerously operated RVs, U-Hauls, and other non-commercial larger vehicles that are just one coffee sip from killing themselves and other road users around them. Don't be that person, don't let your ego be your demise, be realistic about your expectations and your capabilities.

How many ways can you spell "DANGER, KEEP AWAY" on the side of a truck?.....


U-Haul
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Old 08-07-2022, 03:53 AM   #9
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...... you could probably utilize a reasonable section of Lower level for a very small ride like a Smart Car or motorcycle with far less engineering than the basement shelf idea.
A friend hauls his 40ft fifth wheel with a Kenworth Condo tractor. He put a flat bed on the back and has ramps. He parks his "Smart" car AND his motorcycle on the bed with the "Smart" car "parked" perpendicular to the direction of travel. Clear out a section of bus from outer skin to outer skin....maybe even bump it out to the legal max, and you might get one in sideways.
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Old 08-07-2022, 05:36 AM   #10
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A friend hauls his 40ft fifth wheel with a Kenworth Condo tractor. He put a flat bed on the back and has ramps. He parks his "Smart" car AND his motorcycle on the bed with the "Smart" car "parked" perpendicular to the direction of travel. Clear out a section of bus from outer skin to outer skin....maybe even bump it out to the legal max, and you might get one in sideways.
Yup. This is exactly what I've seen piggybacking on a semi so can totally envision adapting that approach in the side of a bus like a toy hauler.
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Old 08-07-2022, 07:37 AM   #11
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Liftgate?

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Old 08-07-2022, 05:51 PM   #12
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Looking into doing this for my eventual build. The most promising thing for the garage area is cutting the frame off behind the rear axle and replacing it with a flatbed towtruck style rollback. No worries, it won't be a hack job, this is just a simplistic explanation of what will be a well-designed and engineered project when I finally start. And that's if it's even required. If the back of my eventual bus is low enough it might just be a ramp job.
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Old 08-09-2022, 10:48 AM   #13
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We have towed the PT Cruiser for Quite a while now, we sourced the Roadmaster towbar off Craigs list for $100 with most of the cables and brackets.

I built my own Base plate (The part where it attached to the car)
The PT Cruiser is a manual transmission, so just put it in neutral and go.

If it weren’t for the Backup camera we wouldn’t know it’s there, no difference in handling, acceleration, stopping or fuel mileage.

After the brackets are on it takes under two minutes to attach or disattach the car.

Having a Car after we arrive at the Camp Site to get Grocery’s or go to the Local Brewery, PRICELESS……

We also tow a trailer with the Motorcycle on it occasionally.

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Old 08-09-2022, 12:02 PM   #14
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Anything is doable . . . as long as you have enough money.

I'm sure you noticed none of the three cars in your example pictures were low dollar econoboxes. For that matter, neither were the buses.
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Old 08-09-2022, 01:54 PM   #15
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In our search for a Toad we are looking for a couple of rigs ( the 3 wheel build is rather new concept and I'm not sure I want another big project but we'll see).
Suzuki Samurai
Jeep Wrangler
Chrysler PT Cruiser
Willy's



We have a rig we could turn into a Toad but the idea of pulling my 4500 pound Ram 1500 but that would make for one looooong set up. Oh and it was heavily protested by the fuel gauge and our wallets. And you KNOW it would end up with a shell and lots of stuff in the bed making that 4500 more like 5500....LOL

The problem with the Samurai and Wrangler is that so many are jacked up for off roading and we don't really want that.

Problem (and advantage) with the Willy's is that they're ancient tech which means parts may be a problem. However, you can definitely work on them....if yo can source the parts.
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Old 08-10-2022, 04:04 PM   #16
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wheel lift?

A thought that I have kicked around is to adapt the hydraulic telescoping lifting wheel lift boom "stinger" from under a retired to truck here. the idea seems from where to bars are convenient for say our diesel jeep, on the other hand, the prius is a hard no. Forcing us to go with a tow dolly to keep drive wheels off the ground (eliminating ability to reverse) or a trailer which stacks up pulling weight. further when folks see a bus/rv with an empty dolly or trailer it's easy to deduce no one is home. The solution I see is a pair of frame crossmembers to hold boom pivot and second for rams and triangulaton, a short duty cycle electric hydraulic pump (like the bouncy cars use) and the boom that pivots to lift, telescopes out and retracts to serve or meld into bumper when not in use and pivot for steering when extended. with wheel lift arms and straps. I recently bought an old rotted out tow truck for the axles and am dreaming on what and how to adapt to the blue bird, but thinking might be easier to fab from scratch stealing the pattern from it or go with a repo-man sneak-o-tow kit patterned to disguise into an unassuming fleetside pickup.
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Old 08-10-2022, 08:03 PM   #17
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A friend hauls his 40ft fifth wheel with a Kenworth Condo tractor. He put a flat bed on the back and has ramps. He parks his "Smart" car AND his motorcycle on the bed with the "Smart" car "parked" perpendicular to the direction of travel. Clear out a section of bus from outer skin to outer skin....maybe even bump it out to the legal max, and you might get one in sideways.
A Smart Car is 106.1" long. The maximum width of the largest RV is 102."

The OP mentioned using a transit bus. They often have a low floor to reduce steps in climbing in. I fail to see how you could 'hollow out' space for even a compact car that would fit underneath. I towed a New Beetle behind my RV from coast to coast, for 10 years and never had an issue.

I used to drive a 72-passenger YMCA camp bus towing a 6-canoe trailer. That was a long unit going down the road. On side of the bus were listed all the YMCA programs. In one small town in Michigan, I pulled up to shop for supplies.. An older gentleman sitting on a bench commented, "You offer one more activity, you'll need a longer bus!"
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Old 08-11-2022, 08:16 AM   #18
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