Box Truck Conversion

Started by kl3640, March 17, 2008, 03:32:16 AM

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kl3640

I'm going to sell my compact pickup that I really only use for hauling my bike and gear to the races (it's in the Classifieds section of this forum, a 2001 Tacoma) and instead by a box truck. I'm going to spend a few $ more and buy a bigger truck, like a 24' van body with a lift gate.

Most of the ones that I've been looking at have a side-door, just aft of the cab on the right side, about 6 or 8 feet (to the far end) from the front of the box. So I was thinking about putting a divider right before or after the door and in the front compartment building a small RV space, leaving me maybe 16 or 18 feet for bikes and gear.

My questions are:

1) Has anyone here tried something similar, AND
2) Can anyone recommend a crafstman in the SouthEast (preferrably FL) who does such work?

I don't really want to put a bathroom or full kitchen in to it, but what I would like to do is make the interior of the living compartment fairly nice, including a fridge, TV, bunk beds, a table, heat & AC, and a satellite dish.  I'd also like the electricity to be wired such that I can install a generator under the box and run off of either an RV hookup or the generator.  I'd also like for the generator to be diesel and to run off of the trucks tanks, if possible.

So has anyone tried anything like this (even with a trailer), and would it be doable without breaking the bank?

Thanks in advance for any advice/info/thoughts.

Andi

I haven't tried it but have had the same thoughts. Mine were more along the lines of a short bus or a mid size U Haul. I'm curious as to the answers you get to this question as it will probably help me decide between something like that or a cargo van. Good thinking with the larger size and the ability to have some comfort with the storage. If I had the room to store one I would love to go that route as well but the neighbors already dislike me enough the way it is.

tzracer

Be aware that building codes exist for RVs. I am not sure who would enforce such codes and who or if you would ever have an inspection. Make sure you have all the proper detectors - CO, propane, fire.

Call local trailer dealers to see if anyone in your area handles conversions.

A diesel generator may be quite large, 7.5 kW and up. Most of them are made for diesel pusher motorhomes. I have seen a few diesel generators for construction sites, but they can be quite loud and may take some work to build a proper compartment for it.
Brian McLaughlin
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2 strokes smoke, 4 strokes choke

Super Dave

Quote from: kl3640 on March 17, 2008, 03:32:16 AM
So has anyone tried anything like this (even with a trailer), and would it be doable without breaking the bank?

Thanks in advance for any advice/info/thoughts.
Well, what kind of budget are you looking at? 
Super Dave

Ridgeway

As far as the diesel generator goes, depending on the power needs, maybe something like an APU (Auxilary Power Unit) would work.  These are small diesel generators that are being put on semis so that they don't have to idle the big diesel all night just to run the TV, AC etc.  No idea what the price for one of these is, but it would definitely be smaller scale than a typical diesel generator.  Much quieter too.
CCS Midwest EX #18
07 GSX-R600
03 SV650s

kl3640

First, AC1108, I have a friend who got a short bus (an old passenger shuttle converted from a Ford E-Series van).  His problem is that he often brings his wife and kids with him, so the whole inside of it is basically RV space, which means that he winds up pulling a trailer for his bike and gear.  If you're just one or two people then you might be able to convert the back in to a garage and the front in to beds or something like that.  What my friend did was take the luggage racks in the fron and put small mattresses on them, to make bunk beds out of it.  When I was considering the shuttle route, I did some research and many of them have handicap lifts, but the problem with them is that they're not sized right for lifting a bike, and then even if you can lift the bike with it then the lift is usually on the side so that means that maneuvering the bike to secure it once inside the van is difficult or impossible.  That means that you'd have to add a walk-down stowable ramp to the back, or a portable ramp, and do it like that.

TZRACER, thanks for the info on building codes, I didn't realize that they were so extensive.  What I really want is more of a sleeper compartment than an RV, but your point is well taken.

Ridgeway, the only reason that I was considering a diesel generator is because it could run off the main engine's fuel tanks - I'll have to look in to those APU's and how much they cost.  I the cost is prohibitive for a diesel solution then I'll just use a small gasoline unit; I have pump gas with me anyway at the track.

SuperDave, I don't really have a budget, I could spend whatever it costs, the issue though is that I'll eventually sell this and it will likely sell only as a box truck, not as some franken-hauler, so I'll probably get back no more than what I invested in the main truck; so whatever I invest in the sleeper area is likely going to be immediately fully depreciated, so keeping that in mind I'd like to keep it around a few grand (accessories such as a small LCD TV not included).

Thanks all, this is very helpful.

Super Dave

I have a short bus.

Here are some of the challenges that one might go through.

The lift is certainly able to do a lot.  It's not long enough, but just put a piece of C-channel on it to put the bike on.  Roll it in, move it how you like.  I had that on the side, but I never intended to use it that way.  I have a rear door, and I can get bikes in an out of that door with a simple aluminum ramp. 

My bus is a standard wheel base, 137", dual rear wheels.  So, mine's small.  Lonny, NFCRacin who does the nice laser cut rotors, has a long wheel base model.   Lonny, you selling that because you have baby bikes anymore?

You can put electric in no problem.  Really it's a matter of wiring it up like a house.  You can have a plug on the outside for when you have shore power.  You could go really cheap on being mobile and put a platform on a rear hitch and just put your tire warmer generator on it and plug it into your "house".  You could do the same with a box van.  A box van will usually be unfinished by the frame rails.  Have someone weld on some brackets, and you could store your generator there and run it too while you're going down the road.

Licensing a box truck or a shuttle bus, and insurance, will be more expensive that if it's licensed and insured as an RV.  That can be substantial, actually. 

Maybe that gives you some ideas.

Oh, and that picture of the dry break tank side piece looks like the one I have, yes. 
Super Dave

kl3640

Dave, that's awesome info, thanks a bunch!  Also, thanks for verifying the dry-brake compatibility.

Just a point of clarification, are you saying that insuring a box truck is more expensive than insuring an RV?  In order to qualify as an RV it probably needs to have a galley and a head, I'm guessing.  I'm not thinking about either, so I'm not sure if it would qualify as an RV.

Andi

KL3640, It would just be a buddy and I traveling most of the time so 2 small cots would be enough for sleeping room. As long as I can get a manual tire machine, compressor, toolbox, some small luggage, all my gear, few sets of tires, and 2 bikes I will use what is left for sleeping area. I seriously doubt I will have one anytime soon but the thought is rather interesting. I'm having a hard time even locating a small bus to see what kind of price range they are in. Your idea of the box truck sounds much better. Too bad U Haul around here wants an arm and a leg for them.

Jason748

Quote from: Super Dave on March 17, 2008, 07:27:39 PM
I have a short bus.

What, no one's jumping on this... What has the world come to.


Good info though, I was thinking about doing the short-bus conversion myself as an alternative to a small toy hauler.
CCS MW/GP #82 am
CRA #82 am
07 CBR600RR
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kl3640

Quote from: Jason748 on March 17, 2008, 10:40:11 PM
What, no one's jumping on this... What has the world come to.

We gave my friend who has the shortbus (it wasn't a short schoolbus, it used to be a small passenger shuttle, but exactly the same only not yellow) a little bit of a hard time, so he and a friend of his were good sports about it and decided to name themselves "Shortbus Racing" - they had stickers printed and everything, kind of funny!

I do think that it's a good idea though, because they can be had at a reasonable price and apparently the lift can be made to work to load/unload bikes.  If you have only 1 or 2 bikes and not a ton of gear then they're sufficiently large.  Also, many of the shuttle-kind have those luggage racks in the front, behind the driver's seat, which can be made in to bunk beds if they're long enough (or you can extend them).  Some of of the better ones already have small TV's and speakers built in (I don't know if they're 12v or 120v though), but you could work out the electronics easily enough.  Also, a lot of the short-buses are gasoline instead of diesel (the diesel ones tend to cost much more when buying the used ones).

The other option are used Church buses and local community buses.  They tend to be larger, have lifts, and are usually medium duty diesel engines that have a lot of life left in them.

What I thought would have been perfect are the larger airport transit buses, the kind that are used to shuttle passengers to/from rental car centers.  Those are wide, low, and long.  Many of them have lifts, too.  The problem with those is that they're geared too low - they are geared for driving around the airport, so the gearing is so short that their top speed is usually around 55mph.  I don't know how easy that would be to change, possibly it could be done with a rear diff swap, because you really only need another 10-15 mph or so, but that wouldn't be too cheap.  Those buses usually have commercial grade diesel engines too.

So after evaluating all of those options I decided to go the straight-truck route.  They're not the best on fuel mileage, but they're reasonable, and they have plent of space and are designed for highway cruising (depending on the model).  I originally started looking at Isuzu NPR's (more of a box van) because they have an excellent reliability & longevity reputation, but they're more of a city-delivery van and that compromises highway ability.  Some of their bigger versions (NQR/NRR, F-Series) are better for the highway, but are harder to find.  Also, those smaller diesels give excellent fuel mileage, but towing anything other than a small trailer is out of the question.

GSXR RACER MIKE

As much as I love having a diesel truck, the $4.25 per gallon for fuel I saw today here in Northern Illinois is enough to tick anybody off.  :finger:

My round trip fuel cost to Daytona a few weeks ago pulling my 26' V-Nose trailer with my F-350 was about $900, I would imagine a box truck wouldn't be too much better.
Smites are a cowards way of feeling brave!   :jerkoff:
Mike Williams - 2 GSXR 750's
Former MW Region Expert #58
Racing exclusively with CCS since '96
MODERATOR

kl3640

Quote from: GSXR RACER MIKE on March 17, 2008, 11:58:48 PM
As much as I love having a diesel truck, the $4.25 per gallon for fuel I saw today here in Northern Illinois is enough to tick anybody off.  :finger:

My round trip fuel cost to Daytona a few weeks ago pulling my 26' V-Nose trailer with my F-350 was about $900, I would imagine a box truck wouldn't be too much better.

$4.25/gal.!  Holy @&*!$%$# Batman!

Are you serious?  I knew that it had been running about $.50 more per gallon than gasoline, but that's crazy.  By way of comparison, what's a gallon of 87 octane gasoline run in those same parts?

Also, what kind of mileage did your F-350 get pulling that 26' V-Nose (I'm guessing that it was pretty well loaded up, too), and is it a dually or single-axle?  Is it one of the new 6.4L that meets the Green Diesel standards or is it pre-Green Diesel?  Doing some quick math (based on an avg of $4/gal) I'm guessing that you got about 10-11mpg?

Depending on the load and whether or not there is something being towed, and of course the truck itself (size, engine, tranny, etc.), and of course driving style, most of these types of straight trucks that I'm considering get in the 8-14mpg range (10-11mpg seems to be fairly typical with an average load cruising at 65-70mph), so that would put it in the range of a big diesel pickup with a trailer, but I'm guessing based on rough figures.

Woofentino Pugrossi

Well I built conversion vehicles for 8 yrs (still would be if they didnt go out of business in late 01 when all conversion companies had serious trouble).

Theres a book that upfitters have to adhere to when building vehicles for sale. Personal vehicles generally are exempt from some rules. If its a seat you are installing that can be occupied while the vehicle is in motion, it needs to have proper seatbelts and mounted according to FMVSS rules.

I dont recommend setting up a small diesel generator to use the trucks main tank. A small 7-10gal tank would work perfectly and there wouldnt be a chance that you'll accidentally run the main tank dry.

Only fridge you will need to probably make sure its up to code is a LP powered one sicne they need a vent. A 12/120V one shouldnt be an issue.
The AC (some can be heat units also) may be a problem if the truck you gets box already is very high. These usually stick up about a foot higher than the roof. Most only need a 12X12 opening (standard vent opening).
For beds. Just rig a setup that can be folded up against the wall when not in use. Seen many traielrs at the track with a setup like that.
For the tv/sat system. Just make a big cabinet that mounts on the front wall.

For the electrical system. If you are plnning on using 120v stuff. Make sure you get outdoor wiring for the 120v and use a circuit box with GFI breakers. There are TV's, dvp, vcp, satsystems for 12 volt use. Just need a RV inverter setup (can also be setup to charge 12v deep cycle batteries so you can use the stuff without the generator).


Now for legality. Well thats a gray area. Some states/counties/cities prohibit sleeping in vehicles unless they are a licensed RV. Some tracks are that way also.
Rob
CCS MW#14 EX, ASRA #141
CCSForums Cornerworking and Classifieds Mod

Super Dave

Quote from: kl3640 on March 17, 2008, 09:29:28 PM
Dave, that's awesome info, thanks a bunch!  Also, thanks for verifying the dry-brake compatibility.

Just a point of clarification, are you saying that insuring a box truck is more expensive than insuring an RV?  In order to qualify as an RV it probably needs to have a galley and a head, I'm guessing.  I'm not thinking about either, so I'm not sure if it would qualify as an RV.
I think it varies state to state. 

I got my shortie licensed as an RV.  But it's not extraordinary. 

But yeah, RV insurance is cheap.  Cheaper to insure the bus that it is my glamorous Ford Taurus.  And the bus was about four times as much as my Taurus when it was a "commercial truck".   
Super Dave

kl3640

Woofentino/Dave, thanks so much for the info.

Woofy, I'm thinking that you might be right about the beds.  I only want it to be able to sleep 2, so I'm thinking fold-down beds against the side walls, and maybe the mattress on one can be reversible with a board on the other side to act as a table.  Against the front wall could be the TV & fridge, and against the back wall could be a couple of RV chairs with seatbelts or a closet-bar for hanging stuff, or even a small closet for storing stuff.  The only problem with the closet idea is that I was considering putting a door in to the divider so that getting to the cargo area from inside would be possible.  If I build the sleeper area forward of the side door then a pass through door will be a necessity.

What I'd like to do is mount the AC/heater unit (I'm glad that they make combined ones on the roof of the cab and put an aerodynamic shield on top of the cab, so that the AC/heater unit would be behind/inside it.  If the vents are a problem then I'll reverse the layout so that the fridge and TV would be on the back wall, although I'd prefer it in the front so that if anyone ever rides back there they could watch the TV while in motion.

Separately, would adding a window to the side opposite the side door (or on the same side as the side door forward of it, or both, be a problem?

Ideally I'd like to have a door from the cab to the box, but unless it's already there or set up for it then I don't think it will be easily possible.

Last, do they make satellite dish mounting systems for RV's?  I'd like to get a DirectTV or similar setup, but I don't think that driving around with it up would be possible, so I'd need a way to easily stow it when not in use.

Thanks.

tzracer

I don't think you will be able to mount the AC to the roof of the cab. There is an interior part to the unit that is rather large. You need the hole to be directly beneath the unit. The cab would have to have a connection to the box for the air to reach the box. BTW the electrical heating units are not all that powerful. Make sure you insulate the walls. Also the roof has to be able to handle the weight of the unit.

Yes they make roof mount dish systems. Some can be expensive. You may be better off with a portable unit on a tripod.

Do a search for RV parts and you can get an idea of what is available and cost.
Brian McLaughlin
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2 strokes smoke, 4 strokes choke

G-reg

Why not just get a window mounted A/C unit and cut a hole in the front of the box for it?  You can buy a really good one of those for half the price of a roof mounted one, and if you're hiding it behind an aerodynamic roof fairing you'll never see it anyhow..
--Greg
MW EX#84

Woofentino Pugrossi

Kl, the roof mount sat dishes dont look like the home style dish. They are in a self contained bubble that smaybe 18-24" in dia and 10-12" high. At least those that I've seen. Rough price guess is $2000-3500ish

The AC/heat units usually have their own aero on the roof. But they have to be mounted in the area intended to heat/cool unless you plan duct work which is a serious pita. But Dave brings up a good point. Most box truck roofs were never designed to carry static loads.

Putting a door between the cab and box isnt that hard. Easier if teh truck you get was built from a cutaway van where teh box is actually mounted to the cab also and not just plopped on behind a cab.

Ever thought about looking for a used class III ambulance to convert? Most have a side door, power converter/gen, outside and inside storage and cab access already. Just remove what you dont need.
Rob
CCS MW#14 EX, ASRA #141
CCSForums Cornerworking and Classifieds Mod

kl3640

Again, thanks guys for all the advice, this is really helpful to me.

I hadn't considered an ambulance, but I'll look at them.  Again, space is kind of my premium desire, but I'll check them out.

Another question: Gas vs. Diesel?

So I had always *assumed* diesel because of the towing capability, the fuel economy, and because medium duty diesel engines are built for higher service life, so even if I get one with a 150k then it's still good for another 150k, and possibly much more.

However, with Diesel costing a good $.50 more (at least) per gallon than 87 gasoline, the fuel economy is kind of negated.

Also, the Diesel cabs of medium duty trucks vs. box vans tend to be more spartan and are a less comfortable, a lot noisier, and so on.

Lastly, those Diesel medium duty trucks last a long time, but they are also the beneficiaries of fleet maintenance programs, so what I was going to do was to find a local dealer of whatever brand I buy (either International or Freightliner/CAT), figure out the maintenance schedule before I choose a truck, and just do that - but those service intervals, while long, are also kind of costly as compared to a regular gasoline engine.

Plus, the cost of repair is expensive.  I could replace an entire Triton V8 or V10 for a few grand, where as just the block from a CAT 3126 is twice that...of course, the assumption is that something like that would never blow on a CAT.

Thoughts?

GSXR RACER MIKE

Quote from: kl3640 on March 18, 2008, 12:44:43 AM$4.25/gal.!  Holy @&*!$%$# Batman!

Are you serious?  I knew that it had been running about $.50 more per gallon than gasoline, but that's crazy.  By way of comparison, what's a gallon of 87 octane gasoline run in those same parts?

Also, what kind of mileage did your F-350 get pulling that 26' V-Nose (I'm guessing that it was pretty well loaded up, too), and is it a dually or single-axle?  Is it one of the new 6.4L that meets the Green Diesel standards or is it pre-Green Diesel?  Doing some quick math (based on an avg of $4/gal) I'm guessing that you got about 10-11mpg?

For comparison here's all the vehicle's that I've towed my trailer with.

My current truck is a 2003 F-350 Superduty Dually Crewdab with the 8' bed, the powertrain is a 6.0 L Turbo Diesel followed by a 5-speed Auto Transmission with Tow/Haul mode and a 4:10 Rearend. My previous truck was a 2002 F-250 Superduty (single rear wheels) Crewcab with the 6-1/2' bed, that had the 7.3 Turbo Diesel followed by a 4-speed automatic (not sure on rear gear), the vehicle before that was a 1995 3/4 Ton Suburban with a 454 gas engine and 4-speed automatic (not sure on rear gear). My trailer is an 8-1/2 foot wide Tandem axle car hauler (15" wheels) that's 8-1/2 feet tall, this last trip it weighed about #6000 loaded.

The Suburban was definately the underdog, not enough power would be a good summary. I typically would lose anywhere from 5-15 mph when going up a hill and build all kinds of heat doing it. I believe it had a really long winded gear in it that was better for milage when not towing, but sucked when I was towing, don't even try passing someone on a hill. The only reason I got rid of the F-250 with the 7.3 Diesel was because I was planning on getting a gooseneck trailer and wanted a long bed dually for better stability and thought the 5-speed trans with the Tow/Haul mode would be a great addition as well (which it is - I highly suggest it if towing). When I sold my F-250 with the 7.3 it had something like 135,000 miles on it (purchased with 68,000 miles) and NEVER had so much as 1 single problem with that truck - EVER!!!! That was hands down the most dependable vehicle I have ever owned in my life so I thought going with a Ford Truck again would be a pretty good choice, unfortunately it wasn't. My F-350 with the 6.0 has been the most problem plagued vehicle I have ever owned in my life - by far! This last trip to Daytona had me changing the rear U-Joint while down there - did I mention this is the 3rd rear U-joint in this truck with 70,000 miles on it? Ironically the 2nd rear U-joint went out on my way back from Daytona in 2005. The amount of electrical related problems with this truck has been unbelievable, the latest issue is with the door locks and door open sensor which for whatever reason decides you shouldn't accidentally lock anything in the vehicle so it thoughtfully unlocks the doors after you lock them. Not wanting to be outdone the power brake and steering unit (combined unit - no vacuum booster for brakes) has decided that it's going to self destruct soon.

If you were to go with a Ford I would be looking into getting one of the late production 7.3 Turbo Diesel's (2003 was the last year they were an option in the Superduty's) if you want something that's ultra dependable and has alot of performance upgrades available - that engine is often times described with the word indestructable. The 6.0 in my F-350 was unfortunately the 1st year of that engine, that was a dumb move on my part. The new 6.4 is in it's 1st year as well, the scary thing with that engine is Ford is running it extremely hot to try and get the fuel to burn more completely, the heat being produced by that engine is so much that they've added vents in the sides of the fenders to try and cool down the engine compartment, those vents are combined with the engine logo just in front of the door. The new 2-stage turbo is a great idea if it doesn't have problems, but again my hesitance with a 1st production year unit.

Something to consider with Gas vs. Diesel and fuel cost is milage, the way you should figure your fuel is cost per mile. If you get 8 miles per gallon with a gas engine in a box truck at $3.00 per gallon that's 37.5 cents per mile. If you get 11 miles per gallon in that same truck with a Diesel at $4.25 per gallon that's 38.6 cents per mile - almost identical cost per mile for Diesel as Gas in this example and also a realistic improvement in milage when going to Diesel.
Smites are a cowards way of feeling brave!   :jerkoff:
Mike Williams - 2 GSXR 750's
Former MW Region Expert #58
Racing exclusively with CCS since '96
MODERATOR

kl3640

Mike, that's great info, thanks.

Yeah, I heard many many horror stories about the 6.0L when it came out.  For some reason the all of the non-engine stuff was also bad on those trucks (like the U-Joints in your case, electrical, etc.).  Those trucks also had the first gen TorqShift tranny that was the Allison clone, and the first year saw a bunch of them losing the planetary gear!

Anyway, the 6.4L is supposed to be a big improvement.  My friend has the 350 with the dual rear, and it's a beautiful truck.  I did notice those vents that you described.  I think that they also put them on the gas models to keep the look similar - I didn't realize that venting engine heat was their purpose.  The new ones also have the Diesel Particulate Filter after the engine in the exhaust train, which is where they burn off soot to comply with the 2007 Green Diesel standard, so that affects mileage adversely since they spray fuel in to that filter to combust the soot, but they don't get any engine benefit from doing so.  So the mileage is actually less than previous models.  Still, the truck is beautiful, rides nice, drives nice, pulls like a tractor, and is generally awesome...if it holds up.  My buddy put adapters in the hubs and runs the 22.5" tractor-trailer wheels, Alcoa Aluminum, w/250k miles rated tires, and it looks awesome.

The 7.3L was supposed to be great, although it wasn't supposed to last as long as some other engines, like the hallowed 5.9L Cummins.  At 150k miles they supposedly started losing seals and things, so you probably got rid of yours at the right time.

Interestingly, the 7.3L was made by Navistar (as was the 6.0 and 6.4), and so International put it in some of their 4700 series medium duty trucks, which are one of the most popular box trucks around.  So when buying a 4700, most of them have the legendary International DT466 engine, but some have what they call the DT444, which is the same 7.3L config as your old Ford.  Those generally re-sell for less than the ones with the DT466, but they also don't have the engine life expectancy as the 7.6L DT466 (which comes in many variants depending on the emissions requirements at their time of build).  I think that Navistar is calling them all MaxxForce now, with the venerable DT466 being called the MaxxForce DT.

So really what I need to find out is:

1) If I buy one, get it inspected to make sure that there are no problems.
2) Before I choose which one to buy, find out the service cycles and the cost of maintenance.
3) Find out what typically goes wrong with those model engines and see what repair costs are likely to be.

If the difference in operating cost is a couple of cents per mile, then I'll stick with the Diesel for the durability and because that will give me the option of towing.  Also, I'll need to stop less often to refuel, which is always nice.  Many of the trucks that I'm considering have 2 fuel tanks, often about 80 gal total.  Even the single tank ones hold at least 40 gallons, so 400 miles between refills isn't bad.  I likely would try to run the tanks low as I return from a trip so as not to let the Diesel sit for too long.

So I'm going to test drive a couple and as long as the Diesel's are too noisy or uncomfortable for long trips, and if the maintenance cost issue checks out, then I'll go that route.

Next question:  I've seen people who make custom haulers out of box trucks, and they have these small boxes underneath the main box.  They are usually diamond-plate of some kind of metal, or sometimes they match the look of the main box.  Sometimes there are one or two just aft of the fuel tanks, and other times they run the length of the main box.  I've seen them where they house generators, electrical panels, etc.

So my questions are, does anyone know how those things are mounted (do the frames have a standard way of attaching the boxes, or are they welded to the box and not the frame, etc.), and could I possibly put the HVAC unit(s) in to one of those instead of on top of the cab or the box or inside?

Someone else here mentioned getting a small window unit and mounting that in the box.  I know that there are small portable air-conditioners available, and small portable heaters, so that could be another option, to just get the small portable units rated for that amount of space and use those as necessary.

BTW, what type of insulation should I use when building the divider and for the side/front walls...just regular home-grade fiberglass, with a high R-rating?  And do I need to put up a ceiling of some kind (luan?) and insulate behind that?

Again, thanks everyone for all the advice, this is tremendously helpful.

GSXR RACER MIKE

Something negative about Diesels is having to stop at truck stops for fuel once in a while when you can't find a regular gas station with Diesel, most don't have pay at the pump and require that you leave a credit card inside while you fuel up - a real pain in the ass when you just want to make a quick stop and you have to go inside and wait in line a couple times. Another one is if you use the vehicle in the winter, fuel gelling can be an issue, but there are ways to avoid it (like additives and even fuel tank, fuel line, and fuel filter warmers). But in all reality these are really minor issues for the added advantage of better milage and POWER galore!

A warning about running diesel fuel tanks low, this puts extra strain on the low pressure fuel pump, it's best to keep at least 1/2 a tank of fuel or more on a regular basis. Talking with a Diesel injector service locally he told me a common failure of the high pressure fuel injector pump is losing the low pressure fuel pump pulling the fuel out of the fuel tank (the more fuel in the tank the less strain on the low pressure pump). The high pressure pump is not made to pull fuel from the tank so if the low pressure pump fails it may result in the eventual failure of the super expensive high pressure injector pump. As long as you don't run your tanks low on a regular basis you should be fine.
Smites are a cowards way of feeling brave!   :jerkoff:
Mike Williams - 2 GSXR 750's
Former MW Region Expert #58
Racing exclusively with CCS since '96
MODERATOR

kl3640

Thanks Mike, again, good info.

I'm aware of the fuel gel-ing problem with Diesel, but I thought that in the Winter they sell #2 Diesel that's gel resistant?  Also, aren't there additives?  In any case, I'm not too worried about it because it's going to be a Florida truck, but those are good points.  The first night at Daytona this year (before Team Hammer), the temp was down to 39F!

I've experience the lack of Diesel pumps on occassion, but being that I'll be mostly on highways it shouldn't be a problem.  Still, that's good reason to look for a truck with two tanks, or to consider adding one.

Right now I'm looking at a 2001 Freightliner FL-50 w/130k miles.  It has a 6 spd Spicer manual trans and CAT 3126 Diesel.  Those straight diesels that they use in the commercial market tend to last longer than the V8's and such that one sees in consumer vehicles, but that probably has more to do with the designed service life than the engine configuration.

Anyway, it's the LP chassis (lo-profile), so it sits lower than the standard chassis by several inches, which is nice for my purpose.  It has a 2500# Maxon lift gate and a side door.  The price is right, too.  The one disadvantage to this vehicle is that the box is only 18'.

So I was wondering about maybe putting a divider in 6' from the front, and having a 12' cargo area, but part of my purpose for this truck is to be able to haul several bikes, and to have room for a few things like a tire changer, wheel balancer, air compressor, cabinets, etc.

That got me thinking about a different approach to making a living space out of it.  Rather than try to divide it and make a crew quarters which I will use only a few times a year, why not try to make it like one of those Hobbi trailers.  Have you seen those?

They're configured such that most of the furniture folds up against the walls, and the floor is tiled throughout the trailer, with quick-releases for wheel chocks, recessed tie-downs, etc.  So when you're hauling you load up the bikes back there.  Then when you get to your destination, you unload the gear, lower the beds, tables, etc, and you have living quarters.

What do you guys think about that idea, and is it feasible?  In some ways I think that it might be more feasible than the divider idea.

I was thinking about putting up luan over all the walls and ceiling, with insulation, and then tiling the floor in checkerboard aluminum.  Then, where the studs are, mounting beds, tables, etc, that will fold down.  I could still put the entertainment center against the front wall of the box.  Then I'll put a roll-down insulating blanket such that I can roll it down to cover the door, so that it's insulated when I'm running the HVAC.

Also, does anyone know if installing a window in to a box-truck's box body is possible and commonly done, such that I can go somewhere to have it done?

Thanks.

Woofentino Pugrossi

Quote from: kl3640 on March 19, 2008, 01:16:15 AM
Also, does anyone know if installing a window in to a box-truck's box body is possible and commonly done, such that I can go somewhere to have it done?

Thanks.

Yes its possible. Its just locating one that will fit between the studs. Most RV/Van windows its just cut a hole for teh window, put the sealing strip on teh flange (or silicone) and install the inner window clamp ring (sandwiches the box sheet metal between teh windows flange and inner ring flange).
Rob
CCS MW#14 EX, ASRA #141
CCSForums Cornerworking and Classifieds Mod

kl3640

Quote from: Woofentino Pugrossi on March 19, 2008, 01:51:23 AM
Yes its possible. Its just locating one that will fit between the studs. Most RV/Van windows its just cut a hole for teh window, put the sealing strip on teh flange (or silicone) and install the inner window clamp ring (sandwiches the box sheet metal between teh windows flange and inner ring flange).

Thanks.  What do you think about converting the inside in to a shared space (garage/living quarters), kind of like the Hobbi trailers?

Woofentino Pugrossi

Would be great for some tracks. Just take measurments of teh inside, note stud spacing (some are 12"oc then space put to up to 24"oc. Some stay the same oc the length of the box. Depends on who made it), make a detailed drawing of the box (kinda like a house plan), make little paper templates of the appliances/items you want and just move them around until you see what you like.

I'm planning on doing the same, but with a trailer when I get back into racing. I'm gonna make it so the living quarters are sealed off from teh garage. Rather not try to sleep with fuel fumes from teh bike/car/gas cans. I'm probably gonna go a bit more complicated since I'm also planning to have a head, kitchen sink and other more complicated setups (looking at a min of a 36-40' OAL trailer)
Rob
CCS MW#14 EX, ASRA #141
CCSForums Cornerworking and Classifieds Mod

GSXR RACER MIKE

Something else to consider with the size and type of box truck is license plates and drivers license requirements. I had looked into some trucks before that would have required a CDL (which isn't a big deal for me to get one) but that limits the people who can help drive on longer trips. You also get into having to keep a log book and being restricted as to how many hours any 1 person can drive at a time (and how many hours of rest required before that person can drive again). I realize you might be going for the RV plates, but make sure ahead of time what the driving and cargo restrictions are for that where you live. Some people get away with never being pulled over with RV plates, but all it takes is once by a State Cop having a bad day and violations can get really expensive really quick - worth at least checking.
Smites are a cowards way of feeling brave!   :jerkoff:
Mike Williams - 2 GSXR 750's
Former MW Region Expert #58
Racing exclusively with CCS since '96
MODERATOR

benprobst

At current fuel prices, you will still come out ahead going without spark plugs. Since it sounds like youre looking to retain as much resale value as possible, the diesel will help. Planning for resale also negates the usual extra start up cost of running a diesel (i.e. 3-5 thousand dollars more on the buy in), so the diesel wins again there. When you start looking into maintenance the scale continues to lean torwards the old tech. The diesels are simply better. Its of course arguable, but if market/industry trends hold any truth, diesel should start dropping by summer.
BP Performance_Team Dreaded_Motul_Michelin Tires_SLU Machine_Midwest Cafe Racing_FastbyEnrico_Outlaw Kustomz_BS Design
Home of the GSXR 565

kl3640

Mike, thanks for the info on licensing requirements.  Most of these types of trucks that I'm considering fall under the 26k# GVWR w/hyd brakes, so their non-cdl, so thanks for mentioning that requirement.

Ben, I think I agree with you, for a vehicle of this type, that diesel is undoubtedly the way to go, especially because their engineered to be fleet vehicles w/300-400k miles minimum service life before required overhaul.  In fact, when the CAT 3126 is put in to semi's, that config has a 1mm mile mark before overhaul.  I agree with you that they're going to hold their resale, and quite frankly they're the only way that I could get in to a truck like this.  Otherwise, I'd have to buy a cube van or the like to get gas.  The major repair costs are less, but are more likely to be required in the long run.

Woof, thanks for the suggestion on how to proceed with finishing the interior.  A question: what kind of materials would I use to finish the walls and ceiling?  For the floor I'm going to get some kind of synthetic checker-board tile that's gas and oil resistant.  Could I use luan (like in trailers) for the walls and ceiling?  And if so, how are joints between sheets, handled, with a trim piece, or overlap, or something else?

Another question in general for all of you: The particular truck that I'm considering has a 2000# hydraulic tuck-away lift.  The tuck-away is nice because it retracts under the fame, as opposed to flipping up in front of the roll-up door (which isn't necessarily a good thing because if the door is covered that's an extra layer of security).  The problem is that I'm not sure if a hitch could be mounted.

Does anyone know if adding hitches to trucks with tuck-away hydraulic lifts is feasible and done commonly?  If not, then I'm going to have to look in to a flip-up lift or getting rid of the lift altogether and replacing it with a stowable walk-down ramp, like the kind on the U-Hauls.

Thanks.

Woofentino Pugrossi

Generally luan is common for walls and ceiling. Usually you butt them together and put a trim strip over the joint. Basically in a sense, you finish it like you would if you finsihed your basement. In vans we usually covered the luan with 1/4" padded headliner material and used decorative screws to hold it up. Where the ceiling luan met the wall luan we used either a welt at the joint or wood trim. If you can, go to a local car dealer that sells new conversion vans and look inside one. They all are pretty much built the same way. May give you ideas. Look inside both a standard height van and a raised roof van.
Rob
CCS MW#14 EX, ASRA #141
CCSForums Cornerworking and Classifieds Mod

tzracer

Also go look at some RVs, especially toyhaulers. It may answer some of your queastions and give you some ideas.
Brian McLaughlin
http://www.redflagfund.org
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2 strokes smoke, 4 strokes choke

kl3640

Thanks for the luaun info.  I always thought that luaun was plastic, but it's apparently a type of thin plywood, kind of like a low-grade mahogany in 1/8"-1/4" thicknesses.  I'm sure Woof you know a lot about it.

So my next question is regarding isulation.  The "studs" are I think 24" on center but I'm not sure yet until I can get in to the truck an measure it.  Assuming that I just use luaun like regular sheetrock on the walls, and build some kind of frame for the front wall and some kind of light-weight frame for the ceiling (and figure out how to attach it), what would I use for insulation?  The depth might not be as great as interior house walls so I was thinking about using thin sheets of styrofoam.

Any thoughts on how to mount the luaun on the front wall and the ceiling?  I think that the ceiling will have metal cross-members, so perhaps affixing it to that is an option, so long as it won't cause a leak.  Ditto with the front.

benprobst

Quote from: kl3640 on March 20, 2008, 05:03:15 PM
Any thoughts on how to mount the luaun on the front wall and the ceiling?  I think that the ceiling will have metal cross-members, so perhaps affixing it to that is an option, so long as it won't cause a leak.  Ditto with the front.

self-tapping screws. greatest thing since sliced bread. The pull very hard and have no problem sinking in flush even in the hardest of wood, will have no problem sinking into the luan (trust me, I install probably a thousand sheets of luan a year  :biggrin:) . It all depends on the truck, but if its a true box truck it will most likely have actual roof bows rather than roof posts like a fabricated dry box trailer. Roof bows are semi U shaped with a flat side down then sides rolled up and over, normally about 1-2 inches tall. As long as you use proper length screws you will have no problems with creating leaks. With a load lock or two you can line the roof of a truck by yourself in under and hour, maybe 2 if youre new to it. Just go to home depot and talk anyone about insulation, thats pretty easy to solve. Just rbing him you stud spacing and depths.


Where are you located?
BP Performance_Team Dreaded_Motul_Michelin Tires_SLU Machine_Midwest Cafe Racing_FastbyEnrico_Outlaw Kustomz_BS Design
Home of the GSXR 565

kl3640

Quote from: benprobst on March 20, 2008, 05:11:00 PM
self-tapping screws. greatest thing since sliced bread. The pull very hard and have no problem sinking in flush even in the hardest of wood, will have no problem sinking into the luan (trust me, I install probably a thousand sheets of luan a year  :biggrin:) . It all depends on the truck, but if its a true box truck it will most likely have actual roof bows rather than roof posts like a fabricated dry box trailer. Roof bows are semi U shaped with a flat side down then sides rolled up and over, normally about 1-2 inches tall. As long as you use proper length screws you will have no problems with creating leaks. With a load lock or two you can line the roof of a truck by yourself in under and hour, maybe 2 if youre new to it. Just go to home depot and talk anyone about insulation, thats pretty easy to solve. Just rbing him you stud spacing and depths.


Where are you located?

Thank you.  I'm located in South Florida...are your services for hire? :)

gntbldr

Holy shit! there's a lot of Great info in this thread!!!!!

Thanks.

benprobst

They would be, if you lived in the midwest or I lived in the south east. I do this stuff for a living, and have a FULLY equipped service truck, so too bad you dont live 'round here  :ass:. Hah, but seriously just take your time and have a game plan before you get started, if some of the guys that work for my Dad and I can do it, anyone can. Luan is seriously easy to work with and it only costs 10 bucks a 4X8 sheet, so its ok to mess up a few times. Feel free to ask any more specific questions once youre actually in to the project, you would be suprised at how simple some problem solving answers are.


Also just as a note, as long as the box truck is short enough, (should be, my big international with a 7 foot box is only 10 3/4 foot tall) the roof will have no problem holding a refrgeration unit, the height you must stay under is 13'-6"). The thing to do is get some sheet steel that has a bunch of diamond shape cut outs (kinda like a mini chain link fence - you will see it used for traction alot, kind of like the opposite of diamond plate with the diamonds stamped out rather than sticking out) and use that as a base, get a solid steel plate as your primary mount - drill and figure out how to arttach the cooling unit to it. After thats done get all of your cuts in place on the roof (for ducting entry). Weld the primary mount plate to the base weight distributing plate then attach that to the roof (riveted on if the roof is aluminum, if the roof is fiberglass, dont use pop rivets without and aluminum backing plate on the inside). Install your ducting, then use some Seal-gap to seal any and all joints. pop your new reefer on and enjoy the cool box. The base plate will only need to contact two roof bows (i.e.) have its weight over them) A single roof bow can handle me standing and walking in the middle of the trailer, and im giant. If you offset the reefer to either side the roof wont even know it is there.
BP Performance_Team Dreaded_Motul_Michelin Tires_SLU Machine_Midwest Cafe Racing_FastbyEnrico_Outlaw Kustomz_BS Design
Home of the GSXR 565

kl3640

#37
Quote from: benprobst on March 20, 2008, 11:52:26 PM
They would be, if you lived in the midwest or I lived in the south east. I do this stuff for a living, and have a FULLY equipped service truck, so too bad you dont live 'round here  :ass:. Hah, but seriously just take your time and have a game plan before you get started, if some of the guys that work for my Dad and I can do it, anyone can. Luan is seriously easy to work with and it only costs 10 bucks a 4X8 sheet, so its ok to mess up a few times. Feel free to ask any more specific questions once youre actually in to the project, you would be suprised at how simple some problem solving answers are.


Also just as a note, as long as the box truck is short enough, (should be, my big international with a 7 foot box is only 10 3/4 foot tall) the roof will have no problem holding a refrgeration unit, the height you must stay under is 13'-6"). The thing to do is get some sheet steel that has a bunch of diamond shape cut outs (kinda like a mini chain link fence - you will see it used for traction alot, kind of like the opposite of diamond plate with the diamonds stamped out rather than sticking out) and use that as a base, get a solid steel plate as your primary mount - drill and figure out how to arttach the cooling unit to it. After thats done get all of your cuts in place on the roof (for ducting entry). Weld the primary mount plate to the base weight distributing plate then attach that to the roof (riveted on if the roof is aluminum, if the roof is fiberglass, dont use pop rivets without and aluminum backing plate on the inside). Install your ducting, then use some Seal-gap to seal any and all joints. pop your new reefer on and enjoy the cool box. The base plate will only need to contact two roof bows (i.e.) have its weight over them) A single roof bow can handle me standing and walking in the middle of the trailer, and im giant. If you offset the reefer to either side the roof wont even know it is there.

What's next, the formula for building my own Saturn V?  Seriously, it sounds trivial to someone like you who has expertise, but I've not done too many vehicle mods (bikes notwithstanding) so it would be a considerable project for me :) (unless I had someone helping me who knows what he's doing)  I'm not saying that I couldn't do it or that I'm afraid to try, I'm just saying that paying an expert to do most of the rough work might be more time/cost effective.

Where in the Mid-West do you live?  I'm going to be travelling around this year with some friends for Solo Challenge, so maybe I could bring it by that way a week early or something, depending on how long a project like this would take?  How long would it take for a basic setup? (AC/Heat, floor/walls/ceiling? - I could certainly figure out the fold-down beds/table, etc, myself).  I'm also wondering now if a galley and kitchen, just small ones, might be worth the added cost.

What I'm envisioning in the long run is something like this:

http://keystone-hobbi.com/

Scroll through the pictures towards the right of the main page.

Where the floor is tiled, the walls and ceiling are finished (maybe with some lights in the corners between the roof and walls), a couple of fold-down beds and a fold-down table, an entertainment center, heat/AC, and possibly a small head (combined shower/toilet, like in many RV's/boats), and a small galley (sink, small counter, small surface area, microwave - no stove or cooktop - and fridge).  I'm really not sure about the galley and the head; what I may do is lay out the floorplan such that one space somewhere, likely a corner, is free so that I can retro-fit a head if I choose.  I plan to have a microwave somewhere, so I'll build the cabinet for that and located it in such a way in such a way that any plumbing that I add can be run to it so that I can add a small sink to it later if I choose.

BTW, a couple of ancillary questions:

1) Anyone know about how much painting an 18' box truck would cost, typically?  I just want it to be plain white (it's rental-truck yellow right now).

2) The truck that I'm considering has a 200# hydraulic lift gate.  It's the kind that stows away under the box, not the kind that flips up in front of the roll-up door to the box.  Does anyone know if I can still mount a hitch on this truck, if I choose, or would I have to get rid of the current lift to do so?

Thanks.

Woofentino Pugrossi

Paint job probably could cost $3000 and up. Thats a LOT of paint.

As for the hitch, take it to a place that does custom welding and see if they could make a hitch that would work with it. Without actually seeing the lift and truck, its hard to say.
Rob
CCS MW#14 EX, ASRA #141
CCSForums Cornerworking and Classifieds Mod

GSXR RACER MIKE

My experience with different flooring materials.

I have a checker board linolium floor in my V-nose trailer and aluminum diamond tread plate on both ramps, in my experience I will probably avoid both of those as flooring surfaces again. What I found is that when both of those surfaces are wet (water or oil) they are VERY slippery, I've had numerous times where I almost dropped a bike going up the ramps in the rain or even after going thru the grass if it was a little wet. The linolium may look nice when new, but the oils from tires will stain it, it's not all that durable to sharp objects, and I've also had the wheels from my roll around toolbox compress tracks in it and even deform the linolium if the toolbox is able to slide even a little during transport. The year the trailer was built I had a tie down strap slip that allowed my roll around toolboxes solid mount wheels to slide sideways around corners about 2 inches and it actually deformed and stretched the linolium and created 2 raised bubbles in it that were about an inch high and 3 inches long - I hadn't expected that to happen.

In my next trailer I will probably get the ramps, floor, steps, and the lower 1-2 feet of the walls in the cargo area sprayed with something like Line-X truck bed coating - tough yet still hopefully has some traction to it when wet (maybe even have them add extra grit / texture if possible to the mix).
Smites are a cowards way of feeling brave!   :jerkoff:
Mike Williams - 2 GSXR 750's
Former MW Region Expert #58
Racing exclusively with CCS since '96
MODERATOR

tzracer

My last trailer, I put some roll on bed liner on the ramp door. No problem with water.

I carpeted the floor of the trailer. I used some indoor/outdoor carpet from Home Depot. It was about the cheapest they had. Used waterproof double sided carpet tape. Lasted more than 10 years. Yes it did stain, but no holes and not slick when wet. Just vacuum to clean up.
Brian McLaughlin
http://www.redflagfund.org
Donate at http://www.donate.redflagfund.org
 
2 strokes smoke, 4 strokes choke

Woofentino Pugrossi

+1 to the line-x/rhinoliner for the floor.
Rob
CCS MW#14 EX, ASRA #141
CCSForums Cornerworking and Classifieds Mod

kl3640

First, regarding the hitch, here's a small picture of the truck that I'm considering:



I doubt that you'll be able to tell from the pic if a hitch can be mounted or not, but I figured that posting it here is worth a shot.

Second, on the subject of floor liners, I had done some research and was considering a product like the ones on these sites:

http://www.bltllc.com/blt_main.htm
http://www.rubbercal.com/

They actually offer some of them in rolls that are the same width as a box and can be trimmed to length.  So I was thinking about something like that, maybe even without glue as the tackiness, weight, things that are drilled through, etc, might make it stay in place just fine.

The spray-on bed-liner idea is a good one, I had considered that myself.  At first I thought that it would be really expensive because of the surface area, but when I had my pickup done (Line-X) I talked to the guy and most of the cost is really in labor, e.g., stripping the paint, cleaning it well, etc.  That should be fairly easily on a flat, rectangular surface.  I could be wrong though because it may require a lot of work to get the liner to adhere properly.  If not done right, it will peel up (albeit in one piece), which may be fine if it does because it's so heavy and shaped to the box that it wouldn't move around anyway.

Also, I know that things like Rhino Liner can be bought in a DIY format from PepBoys or wherever.  So I was thinking about doing that as well, maybe even going up the side walls an inch or two just for extra spill protection, assuming that the joint between the walls and floor is smooth enough to allow that.  Or if I'm going to do that then I might do it post-luaun, unless it can't be done, in which case I'd do it pre-luaun so as not to risk accidentally ruining any part of the walls.

Ducmarc

most lifts fold under the body so would be hard to ad a hitch you might be able to put  a hitch on a truck with a rail gate which is the one that covers the door. have a truck at my shop with a lift i'll look at it in the am. I own a truck shop here in central fla and run into box trucks for sale all the time .email me and let know what your looking for I did see one of the moving co's in orlando had there trucks repo'ed they are late model fords with 26 ft moving bodys on them.  marc

Ducmarc

i looked at the gates on the trucks we have at the shop  and there all differant looks like the rail gate  which slides straight up and down is the only one you could put a permanent hitch on but there quite expensive others you might be able to use a detachable hitch of some kind.

kl3640

Thanks Ducmarc, I will PM or email you.  FYI, I found that there are hitches that have removable or swing-out receivers, so that they can be out of the way of the lift when it is down, but usable when it is stowed.