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FAQ2018-09-27T21:48:24+00:00
Can I build a Motorhome all by Myself?2018-10-01T16:23:14+00:00

Sort answer is No.

There are several stages in a construction of a motorhome where large item must be glued, supported, lifted high and so forth… Is not about weight but more about size.  Two people is the bare minimum.  You can still do most of the other jobs yourself and maybe organise few weekends BBQ where your mates can help… 😉

And that reminds me…

Thanks Paul… Your help was invaluable…

Can I convert any type of Bus/Coach into a Motorhome?2018-09-26T22:22:35+00:00

Absolutely Not! As per NHVR Vehicle Standard Guide (VSG5)

Size and dimensions

There are strict limits on the maximum dimension of a heavy vehicle. In particular motorhomes must not exceed the regulation dimensions, including:
• maximum length: 12.5 metres
• width: 2.5 metres
• height: 4.3 metres
• rear overhang: 3.7 metres or 60% of the wheel base, whichever is lesser and including items or equipment mounted on the rear overhang
• combination length (motorhome towing a trailer) – 19.00 metres.

When measuring the dimensions of a vehicle, all equipment that is fitted to the vehicle must be included. For motorhomes common fittings that must be included when measuring dimensions include spare wheels, tow bars, bicycle or generator racks, solar panels, roof racks, bull bars and awnings.

 

There are also other rules, but the ones above are the first one to check when purchasing a vehicle for a conversion. If there is no need for a large carrying capacity, it also pays to remember that your registration (at least in QLD) is based on the number of axles… A three axle coach cost an average of $400-500 dollars more per year compare to the two axles standard bus/coach. Normally the tag axle will give you an extra 4000kg of carrying capacity..

Remember, there are a lots of coach for sale out there 13.5 metres long… We can’t use them…

Do I need a shed or a tarp to convert a Motorhome?2018-09-27T19:31:30+00:00

No you don’t, unless you live in an area where it always rain..

But not having any protection from the weather, does slow you down a lot and you need to change the way you would normally work to accommodate those weather changes and sometime, it can stop your project all together..

I do recommend at least some form of tarp as it does make things a lot easier and it can actually save you money in the long run as the project will be completed earlier..

Do I need insulation and if I do which is best?2018-09-27T22:56:29+00:00

This is a very good question, as too often I see people using wool for insulation in conversion…

I did too once.. Then realised that all the condensation that forms when there are two different temperature between inside and outside was saturating the wool and promoting rust, I since stopped using it.

These day there are much more suitable materials especially for vehicle that have very thin walls and prone to condensation..

I use and recommend XPS foam does not absorb water and is very clean, light and easy to work with. It comes in sheet of different thickness and colours and it doesn’t go brittle in time like polystyrene..

Should I go for a manual or an automatic gearbox?2018-09-27T22:56:55+00:00

I like to drive with manual gearboxes, but I can’t deny that most automatic vehicle have become extremely enjoyable to drive, especially around cities…

There are a lots of different gearbox out there ranging from the crashbox, all the way to the fully automatic, with several variation in between…

Depending whom you ask, you will get told that “real man” only drive crashbox, but that is really not the case.. On trucks, the linkage between the cabin and the gearbox is very short and therefore tends to be precise even after a million kms. On buses and coach unfortunately the gearbox is at least 10 metres behind your seat and after 20 years, all the linkages are worn out and tends to get very sloppy, making a clean gear change a lot more difficult.

The next gearbox is the one where the gears are synchronised. Much easier than the crashbox, as you don’t need any longer to match the speed of the engine with the speed of the gearbox, but again those long linkages are worn out and you may find it hard to get the correct gear in when you need it…

To alleviate this problem most bus company replaced those long linkages with solenoids mounted around the gearbox and all you have left is a small stick where you still need to select the gear, but the actual gear change is effectuated by the solenoid making it virtually impossible to miss a gear… There are several variation of those gearboxes, even ones where you don’t need to press the clutch other than for stop and start and they are all pretty easy to learn…

Finally, we have fully Automatic gearboxes like the Allison or the ZF… Here like in a automatic car you just push the button and off you go… Simple as that…

If this is you first time driving a long vehicle, I would start from Automatic, so that you can concentrate on the drive, and work your way down to the crashbox if you have to…

If fear of expensive repair is in your mind, the crashbox is the best bet as there is not much that can go wrong with them.  That’s why they are still so popular..

That’s not to say that the automatic gearboxes do break very often, but they do rely on other components to work well…

Should I keep the original windows?2018-09-27T19:30:27+00:00

Glass is not a really good thermal insulator and in nearly all Coaches they are large, heavy, and fixed… Therefore it always make sense to actually replace them with fibreglass or composite panels plus good insulation, where they are not need it and proper RV double insulated windows where you need an opening..

It goes without saying that you are also making a “real” conversion and therefore adding, value, functionality and comfort to your vehicle…

In some coaches, I notice people keeping the front side first two windows as they do add visibility and internal light while driving..

What size engine do I need for a good Motorhome conversion?2018-09-27T22:57:21+00:00

Here in Australia, the majority of bus and coaches are powered by Diesel, except for the majority of council buses where they have these days, large number running on LPG. Diesel and LPG have both cons and pro but there no denial that in Australia Diesel is more readily available especially in remote areas…

I’ll leave the choice of fuel to you but I think is far more important to concentrate on the actual power of the engine…

Most twin axles buses/coaches will have an average of between 210 and 290 HP, while triple axles and/or large coaches could have as much as 550HP…

This is just a guideline but I would recommend 18-20HP for  every ton of weight in whatever vehicle you choose…

So for a 20 tons coach 360-400HP would be nice. It also pay to remember that a large displacement engine will normally use less fuel for the same given weight as it doesn’t have to labour as hard as a smaller engine would. New engine have come a long way and these day you can find smaller size like a 7 litre engine for a 16 tons vehicle.. But you wont find those engine in the 20-25 years old vehicles… Back in those day, 12 and 13 litre engine were the norm…

Get an underpowered vehicle and you will regret it every time you drive up hill…

What’s the fuel consumption of a large coach?2018-09-27T22:57:49+00:00

The average fuel consumption do vary based on driving technique and conditions but the average consensus is between 3 to 4 Km per litre..

It can easily drop below 3 or even 2 if there are serious problem with the engine or lack of maintenance of filters for example

What’s the most important thing to look for when purchasing a bus/coach?2018-09-27T22:58:12+00:00

Here people tend to have different opinions based on their knowledge & Skills…

Truth is, is a lot cheaper to rebuild an engine, even if you are not a mechanic, that to re-skin an entire vehicle, once you found rust… We are talking about rust that has already start to destroy the frame here, not the superficial rust..

So, based on my previous experience, I strongly suggest to pay more attention to the inner frame than the drivetrain and Engine…

The inner frame is not the expensive part to replace. Is the labour involved to get there and to put everything back. Re-skinning also do take considerable time, so pay a bit more for a younger vehicle, can save you a lot more later on down the track..

Average cost for an Engine rebuilt in a coach (in chassis rebuilt) can set you back up to $15,000 or $20,000 in the worse case scenario (you can also buy new Engines for around the same money, but that does not include installation)..

The average bus company, will easily charge you around the $35-40,000 for a rust removal on the main frame and a good re-skin job..

Which colour should I pick for my new motorhome?2018-09-27T23:11:56+00:00

If you look around, you will quickly realised that the majority or motorhome and caravan are white.. There is a good reason for it..

I did a test once in January on a beautiful day with two composite panel laying on the grass, one white and the other one black. Then with the help of a laser thermometer I checked the surface temperature..

At 9 am they were both sitting at 16°…

At 10am, white on 19°, black on 31°…

At 11am, white on 26°, black on 55°…

At 12am, white on 34°, black on 78°…

I just couldn’t touch the black panel any longer.

Clearly, white or any bright colour are the best choice…