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vdubinsd New Reader
5/30/11 12:41 p.m.

After recently spending way too much renting trailers and borrowing trucks to move my assorted crap around, and browsing craigslist to see how overpriced most trucks seem, as well as storing a dolly or trailer, I had this thought....

  1. Buy van front motorhome-pre smog vintage (CA sucks) easy to find and look like they can haul some weight (?)
  2. Remove camper portion completely, seal big hole in rear of cab somehow (rear cut from similar van? sheet metal? aluminum riveted?)
  3. Make rear structure with ramps rising above cab (with winch of course)

This could be easily registered, cheap to insure (and build if I do it right), have lots of storage area for tools and parts under ramp ( if I weld some metal boxes down there) and much easier to store-I dont mind moving it every 3 days, and without smog tags would be easy and cheap... Anyone here done it? Ideas for something better?

I see a dedicated tow rig under $1500....

2002maniac HalfDork
5/30/11 1:07 p.m.


sounds awesome although getting a car up onto the ramps sounds a bit scary.

Is this kind of what you're thinking?

vdubinsd New Reader
5/30/11 1:15 p.m.


in my mind 2 straight ramps (the one in above pic has that curve, would be impossible to get anything I own on that) running from edge of roof (or longer as needed) to rear bumper-then ramps that go on just like a car hauler

big ol winch should make loading easy, but would have to be pretty strong and have some engineering behind it so it doesnt fall apart when loaded

vdubinsd New Reader
5/30/11 1:15 p.m.
  1. Profit in the form of savings....
Jay SuperDork
5/30/11 1:52 p.m.

Try an old school bus (van based "short bus".) They have fairly low floors (therefore low deck height) and are built on heavier chassis than class-C RVs. Comparing the handling on one of those to the 1977 Dodge van-based 24' motorhome my parents had at the time was night and day, WAY more confident and controllable. I don't know about finding a pre-'74 model but the bus company I used to drive for sold a bunch of 1990-1992s off for 3-digit prices when I worked there.

914Driver SuperDork
5/30/11 2:27 p.m.

I shortened the body of an E-250 van, kept the same wheel base. I wasn't going to live in it, just haul a light car.

For my $.02; it's a lot of work.

JeffHarbert Reader
5/30/11 2:33 p.m.

Why the heck not? Someone did it to a Dodge Caravan: http://www.netbug.net/blogmichael/?p=21

mad_machine SuperDork
5/30/11 2:35 p.m.

take the van front, rivet/weld it to a higher box that is only a couple of feet long (for storing tools and stuff) and then build/plate the deck for cars.

As above.. you might want to consider a stiffer frame or suspension... motorhomes are meant to be comfy

914Driver SuperDork
5/30/11 2:37 p.m.

Plan B:

Add a porta potti, some comfy seats, viola'


internetautomart SuperDork
5/30/11 3:55 p.m.

I've been working on exactly that for the past couple of months. Mine took a bad turn when the motor failed shortly after purchase. The average RV has a hole overhead to be sealed as well. I have pics of mone torn down if you want

SVreX SuperDork
5/30/11 4:14 p.m.

Check the GVWR.

The average motorhome is severely under engineered. Some have a cargo capacity of only a few hundred pounds.

The average schoolbus is severely over engineered. Most have a cargo capacity in excess of 10,000 lbs. Cheap too!

Don49 Reader
5/30/11 4:24 p.m.

+1 on the school bus. I have had several over the years and they worked very well. As was mentioned, they have plenty of weight capacity. Get one that was geared for highway use. If you just cut out the back, fabricate a rear ramp door and ramp over the wheel houses, you can have a basic transporter very quickly.

donalson SuperDork
5/30/11 5:07 p.m.

also for the school bus option... if it has a porta-john and hooks with a hammock it qualifies as an "RV" and can be insured for next to nothing....

internetautomart SuperDork
5/30/11 9:16 p.m.

click on it for pic w/o watermark at full size. that is a 1972 chevy van chassis after removing the motorhome part.
frame is still too short to be used as a car hauler asis. It needs to be stretched. From what I can tell this one is the stock wheelbase for a 72 dually van with an overbuilt rear end.

turbojunker HalfDork
5/30/11 9:18 p.m.

Do a burnout with that thing and post pictures.

vdubinsd New Reader
5/30/11 9:28 p.m.

school bus is a cool idea if you have a place to put it, I dont think a school bus would go unnoticed by the parking cops around here-have to look into parking rules in my city, but I know that I see at least 3 small(ish) motorhomes that never seem to move, which is encouraging-I am used to jockeying cars around on street sweeper day :)

internetautomart-interested to see more pics-how did you solve the hole in the roof? my thought was to put the ramps at an angle toward the roof and center the tow(ed) car in the wheelbase best possible, anything long enough to flat tow aonther on the back is gonna be too long for me

the school bus gives me an idea-leave the motorhome sides, and gut the center and add ramps and folding roof-undercover motorhome car hauler

cwh SuperDork
5/30/11 10:40 p.m.

School buses sell for next to nothing, but have good diesel engines, heavy duty every thing, and are very susceptible to a sawzall attack. If you can find an auction for a short bus, even better. All the goodies, shorter.

ransom Reader
5/30/11 11:10 p.m.

All I know about van-based motorhomes is that the one my friends used as a touring vehicle for their band was prone to sway and tail-wagging with just a half dozen people and a few amplifiers in it.

Putting a car on it, let alone on top, sounds absolutely terrifying.

Apexcarver SuperDork
5/30/11 11:58 p.m.

My only question on the varying options is what is the gas mileage?

What are the most fuel efficient towing options?

914Driver SuperDork
5/31/11 6:28 a.m.

Poke around here .....


WilberM3 HalfDork
5/31/11 8:06 a.m.

In reply to 914Driver:

do you have finished pictures of this thing?

914Driver SuperDork
5/31/11 8:17 a.m.

The E-250? No.

914Driver SuperDork
5/31/11 8:19 a.m.

In one uppity neighborhood nearby, motorhomes cannot be visible from the street, if so you face fines etc. One clever home owner got a pop up aluminum and canvas type portable garage and painted it like a shed, draped it over the bus.

Ta Daaaaaa.

DILYSI Dave SuperDork
5/31/11 9:08 a.m.

My schoolbus idea:

4 link rear suspension with airbags on all 4 corners. To load/unload, inflate the front bags and deflate the rear bags. Do whatever it takes to make it lay the rear bumper on the ground. Then you don't need the retarded long ramps.

Ian F
Ian F SuperDork
5/31/11 9:30 a.m.
vdubinsd wrote: school bus is a cool idea if you have a place to put it, I dont think a school bus would go unnoticed by the parking cops around here-have to look into parking rules in my city, but I know that I see at least 3 small(ish) motorhomes that never seem to move, which is encouraging-I am used to jockeying cars around on street sweeper day :)

Wha? You're concerned about parking a school bus and yet you want to park a car transporter?

Check your local ordinances. Car transporters are often considered commercial vehicles - even if registered for personal use ('Not For Hire' painted on the doors) - and can be not welcome.

For awhile, I considered replacing my truck with a Izuzu cab-over roll-back, until I found out I wouldn't able to park it in my second driveway. And my area is pretty lienent about these sort of things (nobody cares about derilict cars in back-yards).

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