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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm considering buying an MT45 Freightliner stepvan to convert to an RV. It would be about 3-4 years away (when all the kids are done with school) but I want to start my research now.

Did they make any of these in 4x4? If not, hard to convert or reasonable?

Gearing: these all seem geared for local delivery, so maybe 55 mph tops. Any problems gearing it for the highway, maybe to reach 65?

Emissions: I'm assuming they now have DPF filters. When did they switch?

Rear axle: DRW can handle more weight/stability, but I'd like SRW so I could carry a spare and do a tire change on my own if needed (and it would be the same wheel front and back).  Thoughts?

Options: Ideally, I'd like one with AC, cruise, 4x4, and I'd want to chose whichever engine is better on mileage vs maybe use warmed WVO if one can handle it. Cummins or MB engine?

thanks all
 

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I can't help ,much with the freightshaker info, But I can offer a few things to add to your research list. What does it take in your state to change the title from a truck, to a motor home? Usually at least a permanent bed, toilet, and stove, before you can get the title change. Pa, a little porta pottie would not cut it, even though there is plenty of smaller RV's that use them. Can you get insurance on a home made RV? Easily? How is your town for doing such projects? neighbors? Until you convert it, with title and everything, it is a commercial vehicle.

Then think of the actual conversion. You already hit on the AC, cruise, What about seat? door? Step vans usually suck in that dept.

Do you really need 4x4? Mercedes is the only cut away chassis that I know of with 4wd. There is several RV's that use it, and can have 4wd. Even with a dually axle, with matching front wheels. 3 to 4 years you may find them reasonably priced for used.

A lot of 70's and 80's campers that were made from the van cut aways, had a single wheel axles, that the camper company swapped on the dually rims, so they had single front wheels, and dually rears. They were usually equipped with a spare for the front, but the rear if you got a flat, you could generally drive to a tire place with one of the two tires holding air. I would consider that over running a single tire rear.

Have you considered starting with an ambulance, or bus? They both have better AC, seats, insulation, doors, ect.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Appreciate your input

4x4 is really just wishful thinking and not a deal-breaker.

I wouldn't register or title the vehicle until the conversion was done for the same issues you bring up. The other one is the GVWR. I have to see about that, CDL vs regular license, etc.

No way I could do this conversion in my current neighborhood. I would hit up a friend with 25 acres and a big shop. When I do this conversion, there won't be any pesky kids around anymore, so we could move to someplace a little more rural (like my last home, but then I went ahead and got remarried so back to town lol).

Bus too big for my taste. I like something shorter and a 20' van is better than a 30-40' bus in that regard. But who knows. I did consider ambulances, but they're probably too small. Maybe some big rural fire department ambulance would be big enough, not sure, but many of those are converted big rigs.

I would get a rear swing-door model, not a roll up. And for front passenger seat I'd make a frame and put in an SUV/minivan seat with integrated seatbelt.
 

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I was thinking the smaller 20 pass or so para transit buses. They would be easy to shorten after the rear axle if wanted, and still have a a good chassis under neath you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·

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Single wheels is easier (direct swap) if you start with a more common 1-ton chassis using 8x6.5" wheel pattern.

Some GM step vans (early 90's) already had a 4BT.

Some heavier models have an I-beam front axle on leaf springs... and still 8x6.5" pattern... which would probably be the easiest version to convert to 4x4.

Have you looked at any older, shorter Winnebagos? Just add a front axle and a cummins ;)
http://ramchargercentral.com/diesel-talk/classic-winnebago-diesel/
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I saw that thread a while back. That was a slick swap, like it was meant to go in. But I like the vans better, something about their construction I prefer - simple cube shape, all aluminum box, etc. 90's vans are a little long in the tooth. If I find one without frame rust it's alright. The 2000-2010 models seem to be holding out alright. Just want to get something before they added a DPF
 
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