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Old 03-19-2017, 12:26 PM   #1
ourmefa's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Nashville, TN
Posts: 208
What would be the best donor vehicle?

We are looking at purchasing a drivable donor vehicle for various parts of our build. Ideally we would find something that has the majority of the major components needed for a conversion - fluid tanks, generator, sink, stove, fridge, etc.

Does anyone have a recommendation for the best brand or type of RV for scavenging parts from?

Our idea is to purchase something that we can travel in for the first 6-8 months and then at the end of the summer, park the RV along with our bus and do the conversion, robbing anything we can from the RV.

Specifically, I am interested in knowing what brands of RV's have better quality components.
Family of 4 - Jamie, Mel, Jensen and Maddie (+3 cats) - less than 60 days out from ditching suburbia in a converted school bus.
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Old 03-19-2017, 01:00 PM   #2
Bus Crazy
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Colorado
Posts: 1,605
Year: 1993
Coachwork: bluebird
Engine: 5.9 Cummins, Allison AT1545
Rated Cap: 2
best donor vehicle is a home depot.

i had a camper that i was going to use as a donor, and i ended up not using anything from it. it was junkie as a camper, and i didn't want that.

its all about your choices. if you are adding propane fuel, then a deal on a newer rv with a fridge, water heater, furnace, stove, co detector....would be worth it.

i made a choice not to use rv stuff. appliances, plumbing, and electrical are mostly home stuff. my furnace and generator are diesel. so my coach is diesel and electric.
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Old 03-19-2017, 07:10 PM   #3
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Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Gonvick MN
Posts: 338
Year: 1975
Chassis: Gillig
Engine: Cat 3208t/10 speed transmission
What Turf said.
RV appliances are what they are.
You need some RV specific stuff tanks, pump, toilet, maybe a furnace and AC.
Try to get the donor for free and save your money for a nice fridge stove sink and shower.
I just hauled another donor home for the AC and awning since you are never "done" with a skoolie.
But it were cheap!
Have fun!
Remove hence to yonder place....
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Old 03-20-2017, 12:08 AM   #4
Bus Geek
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 6,325
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
What Turf & Alan said.....

One of the reasons I want to build my own is so that I can avoid some of the fixtures & materials that the "stick & staple" manufacturers use. Plastic sinks etc.

I have been watching Craigslist and have picked up a nice bathroom sink with faucet & drain. A two basin stainless steel kitchen sink with a "pull out" faucet and both drains.

Total cost: $10

I am currently in a nice (I think so) Forest River 5th wheel and all of the CL finds I am making are better quality fixtures than the ones I use every day.

Just my $0.02

Whatever you do, make it yours & enjoy it.

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Old 03-20-2017, 02:51 AM   #5
Bus Crazy
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 2,198
Most RV's, including high end RV's, are made out of some pretty low end materials.

As far as appliances are concerned, if you can get a used RV cheap enough it would make a great donor. Brand of RV isn't really important as they all use the same Atwood, Dometic, Magic Chef, Coleman, etc. brands for appliances. It doesn't matter if it is a six figure Airstream or entry level pop-up it is all pretty much the same.

I would not spend the $$$ for a running RV as a donor. Regardless of how new or nice it is, it will require quite a few more $$$ to get it ready for camping.

If it is more than five years old it will most likely need tires. Six tires are going to be a minimum of $600+tax for a small Class 'C' to over $3,000.00+tax for a big Class 'A'.

If it is more than five years old it will most likely require the dash A/C to be repaired. It may cost as little as $600.00 for a recharge or multi-thousands if the compressor, belt, condenser, the drier, and/or the evaporator needs replacing.

You would be much better off getting some Coleman products, some air beds, and a porta potti and use your bus this summer. Lay out your floorplan with tape and cardboard walls to get an idea of what might work for you.

Save your $$$ and spend those $$$ and get a better bus to convert.
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Old 03-21-2017, 02:38 PM   #6
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 164
I agree with the folks saying you may be dissatisfied with rv quality fittings. After six or eight months of constant use, many may have already broken down. They are plastic, undersized, and often surprisingly fragile. If you want a camper to use until your skoolie is ready, I'd look at it as a separate buy and then just stock pile parts from craigslist, building supply recycling shops, and other sources for your build.

With that said, you could probably get lots of stuff for cheap if you looked for water damaged campers or trailers with accident damage. They would be trashed, but I see them go for very little money, and they have full sets of appliances and plumbing fittings still onboard.
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