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Truck and camper question
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Situation is this. I have a 1998 K1500 F44. Extended cab. ( Heavy Half ). 4 X 4. Lifted 6 inches. Not in good shape. Life events have me thinking of building a camper that I could live in full time if I needed to. More I've looked into it more I feel like I should start off with a truck that has a heavier frame. Keep in mind all I have right now is the non running truck that I guess I could sell or part out as a step towards getting another GMT400 or rolling chassis or other make / model. I guess my question is what make and model of truck would y'all, wait I guess from same year as my truck on back, unless some post 98 ones are not much higher than what mine would go for, what truck would you want to build off of, upgrading/changing suspension brakes etc sway bar etc all the goods but what base would you start from? Heck since I'm asking what frame would be the best to add another axle to, to make it a 6 wheeler. To be more precise because this is what I want, so you y'all have an idea. I'd like to have a vehicle roughly the same dimensions as my current truck with the extended cab (not crew) and could go long bed if that makes the extra axle easier (think mine is standard). but add an axle in front of the rear one and put up a cab over camper. ( I'll look more into what powertrain I want etc.. Just looking for base to start from). Thanks.

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What, if I may ask, is the reason you wish to live in a truck? The reasons you wish to do this will help on advise.

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Homeless. I was. And for several reasons it's best to focus on this as if I still am even though I'm not now. Have some other reasons too, but I'm not really sure how this applies to ideas on what frame or truck you would want to have or build that's 4 season capable and can handle at least mild boondocking. I like the body style of my truck so I'm kind of liking the 1998 K3500 extended cab diesel long beds I've looked at online... And you? By the way thanks for replying

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I would start with a 3500 frame, probably from a "C & C" model.

Have you considered an older "short bus" model? Flat frame, already enclosed, can sell the interior stuff you don't need, etc...

It would depend a lot on the local ordinances/codes. Here, vehicles above "3500" are commercial and are taxed differently as well as not allowed to park on the street in residential areas...

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97k15004wd wrote:
I would start with a 3500 frame, probably from a "C & C" model.

Have you considered an older "short bus" model? Flat frame, already enclosed, can sell the interior stuff you don't need, etc...

It would depend a lot on the local ordinances/codes. Here, vehicles above "3500" are commercial and are taxed differently as well as not allowed to park on the street in residential areas...


"C & C" meaning cab and chassis? Those frames different or are they just missing the bed? And on the size thing I've seen builds on like dodges and ford 4500's and 5500's... If I did the same you're saying some states might be problematic with calling them commercial vehicles? Thanks for reminding me I need to keep that in account, because I'd like to be able to park anywhere in the city and yet be able to boondock. Because I'm looking at everything all kinds of things and for me a self contained truck checks is what I prefer. Speaking of the bus, it's pretty cool GM actually built motor homes for a few years. And it's 6 wheels! 23 footers and much more 26 footers were made. the bogie axles were actually on the frame itself. Front wheel drive so no drive shaft. Super low profile, which I don't wan't, among other things. I would like a pass through though and that's been done. There's a lot of cool stuff and people doing stuff like that when you look into over lands vehicles, expedition vehicles, etcetera. ... Think I might try to figure out how throw a pic or two up to help visualize what I like..
.... I posted the above and came back with intention to add to the conversation like a pic or whatever but I don't see any way to do that without having to click on either quote or edit to get something to come up that I can enter a message into. Might be the old iPad or I'm not seeing something so I'll just check to see if a pic I copied will work here or no and either way resubmit the post. http://s196.photobucket.com/user/healeyjet/media/6CEC5ACE-AD6A-4848-8C6D-73655779BD19.jpg.html , ...ok well I guess it comes out as a link the way I attempted it... Is that ok? Don't post much so ...

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I asked because if you were an anarchist, you'd be looking at something that can survive a nuclear blast so long as it didn't land on you. For that, you can get a military surplus rig. But, for someone who is/may be homeless and is looking for cheap digs, there are 3 options I can suggest. Convert a school bus, convert a U-Haul style delivery truck, or convert a car hauler trailer. I don't mind telling you that living in a converted pickup truck like the picture is going to get very old very fast, because there just isn't any room to move around in there. For boondocking you will want water available and there's not going to be much room for water tanks unless you plan on not taking showers and using a shovel for a terlet.

The bus and the truck would need separate insurance, and you'd want another car to drive because they're cumbersome to drive around. The trailer would not need auto insurance and would be covered by your tow rig's insurance. They all require differing amounts of work to get where you want, but if you are handy with a wrench I think they'd all wind up costing about the same when it was all said and done. The trailer would be the cheapest one to operate, because it's always cheaper to have one engine than two but then if your tow rig dies you're stranded. All can be fitted with a propane stove, heat, hot water heater and refrigerator, all can be fitted with potable and black water tanks for boondocking, and all can be fitted with a solar power setup for electrical needs if your needs are modest. You'd likely want port power if you wanted to run an air conditioner.

For any of these, you can likely park anywhere but if there are restrictions you can set up in a campground or state park and use your extra truck/tow rig to get around whatever town you're in. Wal-Marts are usually friendly to RVers so long as you keep your area clean as they expect you to do your shopping there while parked in their lots. Alternatively, if you find a place you like, a few acres of land 20 miles from whatever town you want to live near can be had with no restrictions for next to nothing, at least in the Arkansas/Oklahoma area. Park in the middle, make sure you can't be seen from the road and nobody will know you're there.

So far as initial pricing goes, I've seen school buses and delivery trucks in drivable condition for less than 5K, and I recently bought a steel floor 20ft car hauler for a little over 2000 dollars new. You can probably find a longer used trailer for less. You start with less structure on the trailer, but you can also customize what you do get. If you have internet TV I'd suggest watching Tiny House Hunters, which is on Hulu, to get some ideas. Those people are total idiots who are spending some 400 dollars a square foot in some cases to move into those tiny little houses, but you can get some ideas on how to build one by watching the show.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

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Another option is a ford 4 wheel drive van. They have 2500 models with 4WD (older style though) that were used by construction and electrical line crews. Easier to keep stuff secured from "barracks rats" and the like. There are used commercial vehicle outlets all around that sell various vehicles for pretty good prices. I've seen older (20 yrs) boom trucks for less than 5k, vans and other trucks about the same or less for pricing.

I would check the commercial vehicle auction sites. When summer winds down, a lot of places cut back on equipment or buy new for the tax breaks (capital equipment purchase write-off) and there is stuff available.

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Oh ok well I've looked at the Unimogs and stuff like that and they're cool, but .... Parts, gas, huge, in city...... Etc.. Small b class RV comes close but no... Same with the 4x4 van. But I will keep looking into to them more to make sure. An RV is an obvious motor home and more expensive, a van is or can be much more stealthy which is a plus. (Less attention), but ... Well I think I'll get more use out of a cab over truck unit with wet shower/toilet. Or separate compost toilet and shower. I've looked at travel trailers and all that but I'm solo and deaf. I'm not so sure that the truck would need separate insurance. I often think about something like a Suzuki ninja or jeep Willys to pull and use Depending on circumstances. But again I tell myself first things first so... Speaking of which the u-haul truck is a good idea and something I've thought of, and may even look into their boxes or design more, but wanted to ask around here and maybe learn something. Which I have thanks. My ideal with the truck unit would be to have a dirt bike and/or mountain bike for break downs or such attached. In looking around I've seen how more and more campers that 1/2 ton trucks are capable of hauling but I'll actually be putting it to use... Unless the truck I have can be built? But frame right, not ideal for "full timing it". On the road. So... I've happened to see a nice '98 EC long bed cab and chassis K3500 with a nice flat bed for sale in another state, just can't afford it right now, and need to make sure that or similar is what I'm gonna go for. Anyway yeah I became very familiar with the walmarts around town in the state I became homeless in. My poor truck did what it could limping around, and as hard as that was with the stress because I knew it was in bad shape and being progressively more difficult to get around, well... It became impossible once the truck became a paperweight smack dab in the middle of the street. By the way, thank you very much for the cheap land idea and like everything else it's backwards because be ideal to have now but at least might be possible to save up for that once I'm established with the full timing and am able to keep expenses to a minimum. I gotta go but might try to see if can get a pic or link to that truck I saw later. Just for conversation. By the way that prior link, a couple do a lot of traveling in it and the guy is nearly 6'5". Which is why it's so tall. I'd want lower. And more of a cab over. Also he asked a semi truck body building company to build that for him and it turns out I happen to know somebody who works at a company that does that exact thing and another person I met once a long time ago but found out is not far from me in this state has done custom aluminum shells before too ... But circles back to firm decision on truck/frame or something else first. Thanks all. Back later.

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Missed your question on the C&C. Depending on the model, the frame can be different because of the gas tank mounting and the fact that the rails in the back need to be "straight" so a body can be put on it. There may also be a difference in the braking systems, axle ratios, spring rates, and the like as well since C&C models usually carry much more weight on their "backs".

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I like the Van idea.

If you can find a turtle top, or one that has an extendable camping top, even better. That way you can strech your legs even when it rains or it is cold. Also I like vans because in an emergency, you can easily jump behind the wheel and drive away.

I would stay away form any exotic unimog type vehicles for the reasons that you have mentioned. Parts, $$$, stress and also they may be targets to be stolen.

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It seems you are pretty set on a cabover slide-in. I've seen them with onboard terlets and outdoor showers, even saw one with a side slide-out. But, they do run about the same as bumper pull trailers. You get the ability to jump in and leave with the cabover, as well as the ability to go to a bar, get plastered and just climb in the back to sleep it off. But, you get more of a house with the bumper pull. It's possible to do all that with the bumper pull, it just needs a larger parking space. Good luck on it.

https://stillwater.craigslist.org/spo/d/original-owner-2008-jayco-jay/6650263580.html
https://seks.craigslist.org/rvs/d/1996-short-bed-slide-in-pop/6623406210.html
https://oklahomacity.craigslist.org/rvs/d/2008-slide-in-truck-camper/6644836398.html

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A cab over either pre made or built is what I feel the most affinity for while looking around online. But with a pass through so I'm able to access cab and camper from inside. The couple with the 5500 ram in the first link have that but different than I'm thinking cuz see I think our gmt400 trucks can have roll down rear windows installed, see where I'm going with that? That travel trailer in the links you (speeder) posted is real tempting when you consider the amount of space for that $, but I'm solo and don't mind the mobility I gain from the camper while sacrificing space. Pop up ones are very tempting when you think of the aerodynamics of it but most tend to be soft sided , not 4 season , etc. the okanagan camper in the other link, wow thinking real hard I think I saw the name in the beginning of looking around but never saw them, tend to see northern lites or lances etc, and I like how they look inside and out the little I looked just now. Custom of course is best cuz it's how you want it, but it's good to know what's out there. As for myself ability wise, I don't have auto shop experience but I do enjoy doing those kinds of things and have spent a lot of time around motorcycles in my time. Fiddled with my trucks. What do you guys think about adding an axel? Might not seem worth it at first but if its lift-able in the rear for turning purposes and drop it down for long distances? "Peace of mind" if there's a blow out with a house on the rear...? A van would probably be my 2nd choice, 4x4 class B RV third probably. If money was no object then heck an earth roamer cuz why not.

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The Okanagan looks pretty sweet. Makes me want one and I don't even own a pickup.

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I would not recommend adding an axle as you might run into DOT, or state vehicle registration issues. Here, insurance will not cover any vehicle above a 3500 unless you buy a commercial insurance policy - different liability and such. Just be aware of the state laws and regs where you intend to have the vehicle licensed and registered.

Personally, I would register in a state that did not charge annual property taxes on the vehicle. Always irritates me to have to pay taxes on my house and cars every year so I can continue to "own" them - in reality I am leasing my stuff, that I bought and paid for, from the county and the state. If I don't pay, they place a tax lien and sell it (house) or on the vehicles they take the tag and then the vehicles can't be driven on the roads.

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Yeah a lot of stuff doesn't make sense. Makes for an uncomfortable and stressful world. 97, so far I guess I'm leaning on a C&C K3500 as a point to compare / contrast other ideas. Now, you've mentioned "here & above 3500". So a 3500 "there" would be fine right? And by that mouthful (handful - sign language) under your sig , does that mean Hawaii? I know Hawaii is part of the US but it's an island and probably needs to be weight conscious for the whole islands sake? Yes thank you as I look over this thread over time it will remind me to keep track of DOT and equivalent type stuff and how they may change between states etc. Have any of you heard of the dodge T-Rex 6 wheeler? I think I saw somewhere about it being street legal. And by far that guy wasn't the first to add an axle. A strong attraction to me is maybe a tire flat or blowout would be easier to handle with the extra axle. Less stress on the frame with the extra load bearing axle is the obvious thing, but might even assist with the math stuff related with the cab over part since it's a cantilever, and center of gravity stuff. I know nothing changes the total gvwr, ....

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lol. Sorry about that - the name is made up! It's "why kick a moo cow" - I cant' remember who I got that from on this site, but I thought it was great! I'm in the lower 48 in the southeast. We get screwed by "property" taxes here because it's the only way the government can fund itself.

For example, the school district can "borrow" up to 8% of the total taxable value in the county since they are using my property as "collateral" to back their loan and then using the money I pay in taxes to pay back the loan (bonds).

In other words, they are "proxy" for me in financing the schools, and since my viewpoint is in the minority, I always lose. The answer is always "well, if you don't like it, move". And then the government wonders why everyone is always pissed about it.

LOL - that's life I guess. There's a Janis Joplin song about it - something like freedom is having nothing left to lose or something like that.

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