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  #1  
Old 09-23-2008
dljosephson dljosephson is offline
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Location: Central Coast, CA
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Default Wild idea or not, rear porch for atv/Smart

I've posted a similar topic on the WanderlodgeForum Yahoo group, so apologies if you see it twice. My charming significant other is warming to the idea of a BB coach (to combine the best features of her Winnebago and my 4WD Tahoe + 25' Airstream) so we've been researching things for a couple of years now. She's got her heart set on some way to carry a runabout car inside the coach or some other way than towing it. She's driven schoolbuses and big trailers before, so that's not a problem, she just wants to have it all and inside a package that isn't too long.

I'm an engineer and work with other engineers so getting the structural details right once we start doing a design is certainly possible (and, responding to another post I saw here some time ago, I'm the kind of engineer who can tell you not only why it works but why it's stopped working...!). But if someone has already done this, I sure would like to know about it.

I am focusing on later model FCs, and the original idea was to install a toybox door in the back wall with a loading ramp, and set up the bed to pull up to the roof, like the Safari Trek. We have a few floorplans, and a Smart car would fit inside if we modified some of the closets. Structural drawings on these older coaches are hard to come by, so I've only recently realized that this isn't going to work unless we also relocate all the tanks and heaters that are under the bed.

Now doing some research here in Calif I find that if we load the Smart car on a back porch sideways, it's actually short enough to be legal if the front bumper is in line with the left edge of the coach fender, and the rear bumper sticks out a bit (it can be up to 6" overhang on the right). The car is 106 inches long and weighs 1800 pounds, not a lot more than two big motorcycles. The trick will be to figure out how far forward we have to carry this load in order to distribute it properly, and how far over the GVWR we'll be on the rear wheels.

Anyone have structural drawings and some actual weights for later model FCs that they can share?

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 09-23-2008
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gcyeaw gcyeaw is offline
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I think you will run into a weight problem on the rear axel to start with. I don't know what a Smart Car weighs, but by the time you get all the stuff for a tailgate and ramp installed you will be way over. Now the resultant effect on handling is something I would be very concerned about. Excess weight in the rear will pivot the chassis on the rear axel taking some load off the front. Also, the water tank, and hot water heater will need to be relocated, where???? And don't forget the fuel tank fill in the rear center.

Sounds like more work and cost than it is worth. And you will ruin a perfectly good coach.
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  #3  
Old 09-23-2008
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Rob Robinson Rob Robinson is offline
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I didn't see your name or coach on your post. Your topic is timely as it was just discussed on this forum a week or so ago. John Finn posted a picture of a Tommy Lift and Randy discussed the lift he built for Arley Roe's PT. It is a monster capable of lifting any Smart Car. I posted a picture of the lift. We looked up the weight of the Smart on Wikipedia and it stated 1609 lbs.
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  #4  
Old 09-24-2008
mynavion mynavion is offline
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Why not just buy a toy hauler. I'm not trying to insult here but I just grimace when I see someone wanting to butcher a perfectly good Wanderldoge. If you were to do so what do you think the resell would be if you got tired of it later? Others may disagree but I have heard of or seen more than one Wanderlodge taken apart by an owner with good intentions of radically modifying it only to see it get parked and rot away later. Sorry for the soapbox here but I am the temporary owner/caretaker of my bird. My hopes are that one of these days some other owner can enjoy this example of the finest built motorhome on the road.
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  #5  
Old 09-24-2008
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Randy Dupree Randy Dupree is offline
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when i built the bike lift for Arleys coach i was not concerned about the coach "balance" too much because he has a pusher,with a tag axle.
the axles are more to the rear than on a FC,with the FC you already have a lond overhang,add 6' for the smartcar and you have got alot of overhang.
the "balance" will be severely affected,the drivability will affected for sure,and not in a good way.

keep us advised on your project.
and welcome to the site.
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  #6  
Old 09-24-2008
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dlefty dlefty is offline
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Lightbulb

Maybe having a PT36 would allow you to build a lift that would hold a Smart Car without changing the handling characteristics. Their is a really nice 87 for sale at http://www.vintagebirds.com/ Having a PT would allow for the tag axle with a shorter overhang and the 36' is basically the same size as a 35'. There are a few PT35's out there also. Just a thought...

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  #7  
Old 09-24-2008
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Bumpersbird Bumpersbird is offline
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By the time you spent the $’s turning a Bird into a toy hauler you’ll end up with a coach that only you will love. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I love to upgrade and modify my coach but don’t try to turn a silk purse into a sows ear. My freinds on these sites usually let me know when I’m stepping over the line.

As suggested in the previous post a PT-36 or better yet a 38, The race car of Birds, you’ll get the power and the capacity to handle your lift, while staying under 45’ Look around there are some great deals out there right now. I’ve seen good looking 38’s and 40’s at the $60K to $70 area. & PT-36’s are $10K + or- in general, if you find a great 36 they are usually more $’s they are little harder to come by and if I lived and stayed in the N.E. that would be my choice. These coaches are the best keep secret in the motorhome market.

Anyway a good car trailer isn’t very expensive and in an FC @ 35’ you can pull a 26’ box trailer with a 4’ tongue for 65’ total length and be legal in the R.O.C.

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SIR, How long is that puppy? Well sir she's 64'11.9999999999999" More or less!
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  #8  
Old 09-24-2008
dljosephson dljosephson is offline
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Hello all, thanks for the welcome. Yes, I am well aware that such a project could be an ugly nightmare.

A porch or lift of some sort may be the better answer, and I'll be looking at the PT drawings from Kurt very closely to see what could be done without making a mess of it. The tag axle for the extra load makes a lot of sense.

Indeed it was the post on the Tommy Lift (or similar) a few days ago that got me started in this direction.

We can't buy the 1609 pound Smart here. The lightest US model has another 199 pounds of regulatory compliance, see www.smartusa.com.

Sorry I didn't properly introduce myself.. I'm David Josephson, I have a little company in Santa Cruz, California that makes microphones for studio recording, musicians and acoustical measurements. I also do two-way radio, and mountaintop repeater site engineering including solar installs. We don't have a BB yet.

Randy, do you have a figure on how much weight you can put on Arley's lift and stay under GVWR?

--
David
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  #9  
Old 09-24-2008
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Randy Dupree Randy Dupree is offline
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i must admit i never checked the GVWR.
i did this job for a friend,the lift is a 3300lb lift,the coach frame will hold it no problem.
he says it did not affect the handling of the coach.
he wants to haul two big bikes on the lift,but i refuse to modify the work i've already done. in other words,one bike is enough!
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  #10  
Old 09-25-2008
fxdwg fxdwg is offline
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Motorcycles are like good dogs, one is never enough and you can't have to many!!! Course the same could be said for donuts!! Since we've got 5 bikes and I've eaten more than my fair share of donuts, I'll say you really need to extend that lift!! More bikes, more donuts, please!
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