Travel Vehicles comfortable and cheap..HOW?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Kenneth in NC, Jan 6, 2005.

  1. Kenneth in NC

    Kenneth in NC Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    806
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2002
    Location:
    NC
    Any one know where I could find a van like this...cheap?
    http://www.4wdonline.com/Dodge/Camper.html

    Any ideas on how to convert a 15 passenger van to 4x4 motorhome?

    OK all 3 (DW,DD and me) agree that the vehicle needs a bathroom preferably a normal size toilet. At least one full (or queen) size bed. 3 comfortable captain chairs, A/C. After reading the other post many times I think you guys are right So instead of trying to get a RV that only gets 6-8 mpg were opting for a comfortable "Exploration" vehicle that can get 15-25 mpg (hopefully) and stay at Motel 6 or Super 8's every other night or so.

    We inventoried our camping supplies and found that we still have my old Coleman double burner propane stove, Coleman lantern, Our mess kits and outdoor cook set, cast iron frying pan, DD has a single burner butane stove, sleeping bags, 12-Volt cooler, 50qt ice chest on wheels, assorted battery powered lanterns and lights, first aid kit, fire extinguisher. These may help outfit the "Exploration" vehicle.


    Now I need creative suggestions on how to make, build or buy something that will become the "Exploration" vehicle.

    Kenneth in NC
     
  2. bare

    bare Head Muderator

    Messages:
    1,857
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    If we're talkin' cheap on the scale I THINK you're talking cheap, you'd best give up on the idea of 4x4. By the time you make the conversion, you'll have tons of money into it and be back to bad mileage.

    In my area, I'd be looking at surplus school buses. Since we're pretty rural, the district has a fair number of smaller buses that they put out for bid every year. I've driven the things and I'm here to tell you, it takes a pretty bad situation to get one stuck. They probably have higher clearance than most 4x4's and those duals give an amazing amount of traction. If you get in a real jam, you can usually chain 'em up and back out.

    You can do the conversion any way you want, on the cheap or more involved and spendy.
     

  3. Lt. Wombat

    Lt. Wombat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    335
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2003
    THere are tons of surplus bus sales places, here's a link to the first one I got with google: http://www.rv-coach.com/current_category.258/links_list.html


    The local charter bus place for the Black Hills sells the short yellow one for $2000 and the long yellows for $3500. Both International diesels and all seats in place. Conversion can be as fancy of thrifty as you want. I have seen some with the sides filled in with fancy fiberglass and some with plywood. It's what ever you can live with.
     
  4. comfortablynumb

    comfortablynumb Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,808
    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2003
    Location:
    Dysfunction Junction, SW PA
    ask the question where exactly will you need a 4x4?

    go do an ebay search for what you want you might find one close.
    you can rent em, or even lease one for less than the purchase, maintenance and plates will run you and then your not stuck with it to sel off when you dont need it (or cant keep it).

    if I trip over one I will post it...
    your in north carolina I assume by the name right?
     
  5. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,977
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Location:
    East TN
    Have you considered motor home rental? I used to think it was ridiculous but then relized that it's probably cheaper than owning one. If you rent it's their problem if it breaks during your limited time vacation. Plus you don't have to try and sell or maintain it when you're done with it. Most come with discounts on campgrounds also.
     
  6. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    9,264
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2003
    Location:
    Whiskey Flats(Ft. Worth) , Tx
    ..................
    ......................ken , I would look around for a class C motorhome in the 1988 to 1994 or so year model . Most of them will have a ford 460 for an engine , and get about 6 to 8 mpg . But , If you stay in motels several times aweek you'll spend awhole LOT more money than you will on fuel . Prices will probably range around 6 to 12 thousand . But , you'll pay that much for a 4x4 van . You really don't need a van . Converting a school bus would be the best option , Atleast initially . Keep in mind that any vehicle that is being auctioned off probably didn't get the maintenance , at the end of it's service life that it should have had due to it being putup for sale . Most of the small f350 , f450 , size school buses will be a gas model anyway . There are Lots of used motor homes being constantly putup for sale by conscientious owners who took very good care of their machine and have the records to prove they performed regular maintenance on their vehicle . Of course , they'll want a decent price for a motorhome in better than average shape . Good luck with your search and I hope your health improves as time passes , fordy.. :)
     
  7. bare

    bare Head Muderator

    Messages:
    1,857
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    I disagree on the school bus maintanence, those things get it all and excellent records can be obtained of service.
     
  8. Kenneth in NC

    Kenneth in NC Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    806
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2002
    Location:
    NC
    I heard about a van that almost fits the bill. Only thing is I haven't ever seen one. I was told that VW made one in the 70's that had 4 captain chairs that folded all the way down to make beds and had a toilet in the center of the back. The best part was that it got 25-35 mpg. :)

    Anyone know anything about such a vehicle? I appreciate if you tell me about it.

    Kenneth in NC
     
  9. Janon

    Janon 993cc Geo Metro

    Messages:
    665
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2002
    Location:
    Southern Ontario CANADA
    Around here, some of the older 1/2 ton and 3/4 ton window and conversion vans are fairly cheap... not much demand for them. With only 3 people, you should be fine... even a window van towing a small trailer would work... or a club cab pickup (much more expensive) to tow a small trailer or with a slide-in.

    Cheers,
     
  10. henk

    henk Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    57
    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2003
    Location:
    The Netherlands, EU
    Hey Kenneth,

    That prob would be the VW LT syncro (4x4) http://www.nwpvandenbergh.nl/lt/vak170403-2.jpg
    (this is a 2wd but looks the same ;) ) Over here in europe they (syncro's) are hard to find and expensive, starting at 8000 usd for a base vehicel in average condition.

    As for cheap go anywere 4x4 why dont you convert a militairy radiowagon
    http://www.besko.nl/images/Uni_zij.jpg (unimog, but im sure there is a usa equivalent)
    Or a size bigger http://www.besko.nl/images/Daf_314r.jpg (Daf ya342 radiowagon, but im sure there is a usa equivalent)

    These would cost about 4000 usd for a car/truck in good condition and about the same amount for outfitting them.

    For more pictures http://www.besko.nl/reizen.html (click links, scroll down past the txt)

    In my experience there are a just a few prupose built 4x4 campers, and non are cheap. If you want to be able to travel offroad go for a (light) 4x4 truck (non-american for good milages :D ) and fit an aluminum life/radio shelter on it (they are bold on items, army surplus). You will have room enough for a bathroom, fullsize bed(s) and a kitchen.

    Good Luck!

    Henk
     
  11. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

    Messages:
    6,844
    Joined:
    May 11, 2002
    If you are just going to be camping on this, do you REALLY need a queen-size bed. Can't you an DW sleep in single beds and send DD to the movies or something when you want to get romantic. Seriously, a queen-size bed requirement will greatly limit your options.

    For a commode, do you really need a full size commode or will a sturdily build box-type cover over a 5-gallon bucket work as well?

    For whatever you choose, consider a small trailer for storage as it would free up space in the vehicle.

    Ken Scharabok
     
  12. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,977
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Location:
    East TN
    What do you have for a vehicle now? Why do you need a special vehicle for one trip? Improvise and overcome.
     
  13. Bigfinn

    Bigfinn Member

    Messages:
    12
    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Location:
    WI
    I've seen used 4x4 School buses for sale in northern MN. They are really impressive looking. Often thought it would make and excellent RV. You might want to do a internet search on that.
     
  14. Bigfinn

    Bigfinn Member

    Messages:
    12
    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Location:
    WI
    Try www.salemkroger.com They make 4x4 conversions of class B and C motorhomes. I don't know what the prices are, but you might get some ideas from them.
     
  15. Kenneth in NC

    Kenneth in NC Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    806
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2002
    Location:
    NC
    More details on "aluminum life/radio shelter"



    Kenneth
     
  16. Darren

    Darren Still an :censored:

    Messages:
    14,723
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    Back in the USA
    Kenneth,

    A lot of the radio trucks were built on Unimogs. Some import the used ones into the states but you have to climb to get into the cab. They make Hummers look like low riders. In fact I know someone who is trying to locate one to use as a recovery vehicle to extract Hummers when they get stuck. Those things were built to fiord almost three foot of water without pressurizing the drive train. With that you could probably drive across a stream that put water into your lap as long as the current was safe because the air intake is about 8' off the ground. The cabs are also on the small side. Many only seat two. You could ride in the back but you'd never be comfortable in the cab. Those are typically cabovers which means you won't be able to install a captain's chair unless you go with one of the expensive adjustible seats they put in semi-trucks.

    You're probably better off moneywise buying a trailer if you have a reliable vehicle with towing capacity. If it needs work, it would probably be a better idea to spend the money on fixing it, rather than buying another vehicle and paying additional taxes and insurance and still having something that you had no experience with.

    I wouldn't hesitate to drive a vehicle with 100k or 200k miles across country if I'd owned it for years. FWIW, I've done that. By that time you know everything about the vehicle or should. Buying a vehicle just for the trip gives you no time to drive it long enough to get familar with when parts will fail. That's the benefit of driving a vehicle for hundreds of thousands of miles. You know when water pumps, starters, alternators, timing chains, etc, should be replaced before they die and strand you.

    Without that knowledge your trip is a crap shoot. Even buying a brand new vehicle is no guarantee, you won't have problems soon after. It's another roll of the dice with somewhat better odds. A used vehicle you've owned for several years is as reliable as you want it to be, assuming the manufacturer didn't put poorly designed components into it to start with.
     
  17. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    11,301
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    Location:
    So Cal Mtns
    I would consider a smallish lite weight travel trailer the Dakota could pull?All the comforts are there,and trailers depreciate fast,good prices at any range you want.

    Unimogs in proven condition.licensed are about 5-9000 out here ,some with the radio box,but leave lots to be desired for comfort while driving,and 50 MPH is kind of pushing it.GREAT offroaders!

    BIL's dad went from a ford full size deisel van pulling an airstream to a much lighter trailer.Wasnt nearly as well built,but said the lightness made it much better to tow.They fulltimed for 10 years between Mexico and Canada,following the weather.Still has van,and its still nice.Says van is best tow vehicle there is.His words not mine,I know zilch about towing.

    SIL has ford deisel truck/light 5th wheel.I think thats the best combo for RV there is.Should truck break down,you arent out your home as in MH(THAT I know first hand)Trailer can easily be towed home.Best way to go in my book.She is a retired Lady and handles that rig/25 foot trailer Colorado to San Diego by her self,and its very comfortable,both truck and trailer comfy.Big bucks though,just an aside.

    Friend with an F-150 pulls about a 20 foot,(again light weight) trailer.Says it pulls like a dream.

    Get the rv trader or look at rvtraderonlie,trailer might excite you.Dont think a 4x4 needed either,but if its possible,hey,great vehicle,I would like a 4x4 too :)

    BooBoo
     
  18. cc-rider

    cc-rider Baroness of TisaWee Farm Supporter

    Messages:
    2,138
    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2003
    Location:
    flatlands of Ohio - sigh
    I've got an email out to a friend that was trying to sell something like that. It's a VW (I think!) camper/van. High-topped...won't fit in my garage, or I'd have it. Good shape. Chairs that fold into beds, cabinets, etc. Ugly orange shag carpeted inside. Obviously a 70's model!!!!

    Will get back with you when I hear from him.

    Chris
    In Ohio
     
  19. Kenneth in NC

    Kenneth in NC Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    806
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2002
    Location:
    NC
    Thanks Chris (Check your pm)

    That VW LT syncro (4x4) looks good. On my pc I morphed it by stretching it out boy now that would make a great RV. I’m sure that has to be the one I was told about.

    Now as to the WHY 4x4? Well have you ever got stuck in a drive way or been stranded in a primitive area??? I have. My cousin works for a Park Service and when I went to visit My truck got stuck in the lower part of the park (on a perfectly good graveled road). The turn around spot is such that a pickup gets hung when turning around. So I learned that even maintained roads have hidden hazards.

    On my Montana trip back in the 80’s if not for my 4x4 I might be still out there. My cousin and I went through many back roads and found a terrific place down by a lake. When we started out the hill looked mighty steep and in fact only 1/3 way up we had to engage the 4-wheel drive. Now granted back in my 20’s if I had been alone I might have powered up that hill in a 2-wheel drive. But not with someone with me and most certainly not with my daughter and wife onboard.

    You see if this trip takes place I don’t plan on just Highway travel I plan on taking those excursions to see the backcountry. Heck while were out there we may as well be looking for a place we might want to move to and call home. I realize it sounds like Kenneth’s last ride but I do hope to survive and be around to pesture you guys for some time to come. :D