I've been lurking on and off a few years and it's time to start getting more involved. I'm in North Phoenix, I know there's some folks nearby, hope to meet up with you guys sometime. I'll be getting serious about a conversion project in the next few months and I'm hoping I can get pointed in the right direction before I start to open new threads in the wrong place.
The 'problem' to address:
We're a family of six, 4 kids under 8yo. Until #4 came along we were fine pulling our 26' tt or 22' deck boat with my 3.5l Ecoboost f150, but now we don't all fit.. I started to think the 3/4 ton f250 route with front split bench jump seat but that felt super cramped on the one day I borrowed one. I've always kept a note in the back of my wife's mind that we will someday convert a bus, and now I have the perfect storm of events to make it happen. I love how it all works out in my favor
I was a bus driver for several years in my college days 15 years ago and drive bus a few times a year for a church and school as a volunteer. I'm fine with the size. I am mechanically inclined and have a construction background, though no formal diesel training, and minimal diesel experience, but my favorite pastime is wrenching and learning. I'm comfortable saying I'm mechanically inclined, but no expert at all. I have the space and access to most tools needed to complete a conversion.
My current thoughts on a solution:
Originally I was going to look for the right combination of engine and transmission in a short handicap bus on public surplus and use it as a truck with more seats to pull either tt or boat. There are always a dozen clean Arizona busses on PS here. It works well if we want to bring friends and more kids boating or camping, we would fit in one vehicle. We often camp and boat with another family so it'd be nice to not take two rides.
It is however not common to find a smaller bus with something other than the at545, which I hate. I have experience with that setup and it is terrible on our hills even unloaded, or downhill, with even gale force tailwinds.
My latest thought is to sell the tt, thereby boost the budget and space for a larger bus, which I'd then convert as simply as possible to haul 10, and sleep 6. The key is still simple, and as short as possible. I need to be able to maneuver the boat behind this thing and as we all know, a long wheelbase tow vehicle is not the most friendly to back a trailer. I'm imagining seats, benches, tables, etc that convert to beds, so to make it as short as possible and multipurpose the available space. Simple because we aren't living in this rig, will do one long cross country per year, and several shorter weekend trips within 400 miles of home.
I'll probably go to some rv dealers to get ideas from traditional campers, maybe that's what they do too.
My immediate questions:
Have any of you done a similar multipurpose but as short as possible set up with convertible seats to beds?
I have read to avoid anything newer than 2005, is this really all that important if I can keep the emissions stuff in order?
Pushers are great to drive and quiet and easy access to work on, but bumper pull hitch will be a nightmare, and they are generally the longest option, would you agree?
Dognose will have a longer wheelbase, but I might be able to find something in this setup that is not too long, and not too short.. what do you think?
I welcome your thoughts!
Thanks for stopping by to say hi