Adventure RV

Chris Kouba

Supporter
If you're wondering why I haven't lifted a finger on the GT since the ignition problem popped back up last spring, this is why.

For some time now, Bethany and I have been in search of the ideal RV for us. We had a slide in truck camper which allowed us to go just about anywhere we felt comfortable going with the truck, but it wasn't quite robust enough or spacious enough to afford sufficient storage. We tried a bumper-pull trailer, which we liked the extra room inside, but didn't quite feel comfortable taking it off the beaten path. We are currently using a converted E350 EB cargo van for our adventures, which checks the boxes of robust and simple, but lacks a long list of desired features beyond transportation and a place to sleep. After all of this Goldilocks experience, we came to the conclusion that what we really want doesn't exist and if we're serious about it, we should just build it ourselves.

So then the question becomes, what exactly is our ideal rig? There were a few non-negotiables:
  • All-terrain access
  • Stand up headroom (>6' 4" interior)
  • Full bathroom
  • Dedicated bed space
  • Full galley
  • MASSIVE amounts of storage
In looking around, I knew what my dream rig would be (more on that later), but the reality of the situation was that for the money we were willing to burn on this, we would likely be getting a diesel 4x4, stripping off the bed, upgrading the chassis, and building our own habitat. With our budget in mind, we (read: I) started seeking a chassis.

With a target of $20k for the base chassis, what I found in that ballpark were ratted out 300k mile rigs. I didn't want another Powerstroke and LOVED my Dodge (Cummins), and it seems like everyone else does too. The one or two I found in the reasonable range with the basics of what we wanted were long gone by the time I got there (one in less than 6h!).

My "dream" rig though would be built on the 10 ton (6x6 version) of the US armed forces LMTV variants. They are designed to operate at 100% duty cycle, can carry a massive amount of weight, are reasonably serviced by OTR truck shops (CAT motor, Allison trans, etc...), and let's be honest- they are super cool looking too. At least I think so. But they are also above my pay grade.

Or so I thought.

Despite looking for a nice older Cummins, I also would plug in FMTV search terms into the local craigslist from time to time. Much to my surprise, about 45 minutes away, I found a 2000 M1088AO military 5th wheel tractor for sale. With 7200 miles. And high speed axles installed. For $15k.

WHAT??!!?!!??

This was easily ~10k below market and well below what was already in it. Plus it was local, I could touch it, sit in it, DRIVE it, and most importantly, Bethany could do all the same and say yes or no. And if we chose to buy it, all we had to do was go get it- not wait for an auction to end, get it transported and wait for documents to get it registered. This was unbelievably ideal. I called the guy. It was for real. We went to see it. We took it home the next day. This truck is bad ass!!!!

This is the story of how this truck


Will become this truck:

(don't worry, the cargo bay at the back will have a door on it)

Fairly current pic:


Much has already been done, much remains to be done. The tractor components were stripped off, driveline stuff rebuilt, induction system replaced, other chassis maintenance items addressed, tires replaced, radiator leak fixed..... and that was just the beginning. I have a build thread started on another forum which I have been pretty good at keeping current. The purpose of this post and thread is to share the project with you and possibly get some feedback on what I am doing and ways to make it better. I have always appreciated the amount of info passed around on this forum, maybe someone will have a good idea for me to incorporate here as well.

I will try to post on here when I post updates on the build thread, probably with just a link to the latest update. If you have any questions, picture requests (of the project, not me!), etc.. fire away!

And of course, as shown above, it will be painted in our traditional white with red livery.

Happy New Year and all the best wishes for a healthy and much less distant 2021!!!!
Chris

The link to the steelsoldiers.com build thread:


GT40 relevance: What does a 40" tall car look like next to 48" tall tires?
 
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Brian Kissel

Staff member
Moderator
Lifetime Supporter
CHRIS, That thing is "BAD ASS".I'll be following along closely. I can't wait to see the finished project.

Regards Brian
 

Randy V

Staff member
Admin
Lifetime Supporter
That is an AWESOME project Chris! Thanks for posting about it here! We hope to follow along!
 
This is great,good luck with project.please post up pics as I’ve never seen something like this lol.
 

Ian Anderson

Lifetime Supporter
Supporter
Definitely watching this one!

I also want to see the size of his push starters to get that one rolling down in the push cart derby!
 

Neil

Supporter
Rolling alongside one of these on the Interstate is not a good feeling. Sort of like passing an M60A1 tank in a VW, hoping that it won't throw a track. :eek:
 
The link to the steelsoldiers.com build thread:
Thanks for the link to your build. I read the whole post, very interresting stuff.
With the current emission rules in Europe anything less then a Euro 5 diesel engine will be out of the question now unless its stone age on classic registration.
So a Reo M35 multi fuel Whistler always tinkers me to do the same. ( they are available in Holland).

For the moment, our '73 F250 Camper special will do fine, and will haul our GT40 when its finished.
20200629_125122[1].jpg
 

Chris Kouba

Supporter
Thanks guys. I am loving the build.

JP - That's similar to the rig that got us all started on this. We had ours on a 4x4 diesel and really enjoyed where we went with it. We didn't feel constrained by the hardware.

Neil - The good thing about rolling past one on the highway (especially in AZ) is that you won't be near it for long. In OEM configuration, they have a top speed at max revs of 58 MPH. The OEM final drive is almost 8 to 1. There is a set of gears which drops it almost 25%, and our rig already had them installed when we bought it. That was one of the things I verified before purchasing it. I got deep into the 60's with it and was satisfied.

H.J. - That also looks like an AWESOME project! I think what we have is already overkill, but at one point I even thought about tracking down one of the HEMTT chassis instead. Then I realized just exactly how much more ridiculous that would be. So I throttled back down and went with just the 6x6.

Randy - Happy to share, as this forum specifically has driven much of my mechanical competence, and some of the people I have "met" here have become good friends.

I am certain that we will enjoy using the rig but I am really having fun on the engineering and build side. It's been a blank canvas and what I end up with will be uniquely mine, and precisely outfitted for the mission statement B and I have chosen. I am super excited and sometimes have a hard time believing that I own it!

Progress will be paused for a while as I am away from home for a month. I will be getting some things ordered and prepped for when I get back home though and hope to be right back at it when I get there. Thanks for all the comments and enthusiasm, I'll make sure to at least post a couple of pics here when I update the other thread.

Chris
 
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Chris Kouba

Supporter
Knocked out a bunch of fab work in Dec before heading east for Christmas and to help out my parents:


While I was off helping my parents, someone came by and put in lockers. I had to go out and try it, so I went back to a place I tried a few times to get over a slippery berm. Drove out to it, put it in "MODE", didn't even really line up all that well, and just drove over it with no issues at all. AWESOME!!

Took a couple of glamor shots while I was out:




And then I flexed the subframe a little bit, just for proof of concept:




Seems to be working as it should- truck chassis twists, platform remains flat. Job done!
 
That’s pretty cool, perfect for the western US wide open spaces.

Tow a 2003-2006 TJ Rubi behind it, or even better, a Suzuki Samurai, so you can really bushwack!
 

Bill Kearley

Supporter
I'v had a bit to do with RV's and wanted to build that type of set up, it would have been a fun project, but went a Arctic Fox slide in and GM 3500 on singles. The camper is very heavy so I'm using commercial 19.5 in. tires on Vision wheels. Better in small places and one less vehicle to insure and maintain and 20 - 23 MPG. loaded with car in trailer. The best trip so far was going to Tuktoyaktuk on the Beaufort sea last year and have a look at the DEW line station.
Caution tho, There will be times when the twist will exceed the limits of your setup. With all my home work I was going to go with a three point system. A pivot on a rear cross member. Here on the north west coast of B.C. most roads are tight and twisty. Keep us up yo date and have fun, I like it.
 

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Chris Kouba

Supporter
Caution tho, There will be times when the twist will exceed the limits of your setup. With all my home work I was going to go with a three point system...
I've gone through the thought process and think I understand the flex issues, so I am reasonably confident that the current plan will be sufficient for my mission scope. I don't intend to rock crawl or do other extreme antics with it, although I expect there will be times when I do exceed the free travel of the springs through normal scope of travel over the surfaces encountered. The good news is the habitat on the back will also be built from some hefty amounts of steel and I would expect it to support any torsion transmitted beyond the travel of the subframe springs.

I had looked into more hi-tech construction methods (both for the box and requisite subframe) and the $'s added up much more quickly than I was willing to have sit in the driveway between trips. I went for the simple and robust option.

We also had a slide in which we hauled in a crew cab dualie. The camper was a 2001 Bigfoot 25C10.6- which we loved for what it was, but felt it was lacking in storage and never felt "roomy". In addition, I was able to delaminate the front wall under the cabover at one point on a trip down a marginal road to access a trailhead for climbing. It took 3 hours to go 12 miles. The intent for this one is to endure no matter what we encounter and swallow TONS of gear, although I will admit it may not end up feeling much more roomy inside.

I am impressed that you can haul the truck, camper, and a loaded trailer while managing 20-23 MPG. That sounds dreamy compared to what I used to get with my rig ('06 Powerstroke, maybe 12 MPG on a good trip with the camper):

 

Chris Kouba

Supporter
That’s pretty cool, perfect for the western US wide open spaces.

Tow a 2003-2006 TJ Rubi behind it, or even better, a Suzuki Samurai, so you can really bushwack!
Yep, looking forward to it.

Towing another vehicle gets into a bit of a circular argument on my end. If we were going to tow a 4x4, we'd probably just get a normal RV and drive to trailheads, etc... With this rig, we get to camp in comfort wherever we can get it, presumably nowhere near a campground.
 

Neil

Supporter
I've gone through the thought process and think I understand the flex issues, so I am reasonably confident that the current plan will be sufficient for my mission scope. I don't intend to rock crawl or do other extreme antics with it, although I expect there will be times when I do exceed the free travel of the springs through normal scope of travel over the surfaces encountered. The good news is the habitat on the back will also be built from some hefty amounts of steel and I would expect it to support any torsion transmitted beyond the travel of the subframe springs.

I had looked into more hi-tech construction methods (both for the box and requisite subframe) and the $'s added up much more quickly than I was willing to have sit in the driveway between trips. I went for the simple and robust option.

We also had a slide in which we hauled in a crew cab dualie. The camper was a 2001 Bigfoot 25C10.6- which we loved for what it was, but felt it was lacking in storage and never felt "roomy". In addition, I was able to delaminate the front wall under the cabover at one point on a trip down a marginal road to access a trailhead for climbing. It took 3 hours to go 12 miles. The intent for this one is to endure no matter what we encounter and swallow TONS of gear, although I will admit it may not end up feeling much more roomy inside.

I am impressed that you can haul the truck, camper, and a loaded trailer while managing 20-23 MPG. That sounds dreamy compared to what I used to get with my rig ('06 Powerstroke, maybe 12 MPG on a good trip with the camper):

Where were you climbing, Chris?
 
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