Large Expedition Vehicle Self Build Location?

#16
Also, I would not have access to all the metal fab tools I will need for this project.
Craigslist is your friend for specialist/single use tools. Buy used (as long as its not stolen) - do what you need - sell used. Probably won't even cost you depreciation.

I'd aim for coastal Oregon/Willamette valley - it may be rainy for much of the year, but you probably won't lose too may build days to sub-zero temperatures, or sweat your assets off too much in summer - may not affect most fabrication tasks directly, but if you end up doing anything with fibreglass or adhesives then a reasonable ambient cure temperature becomes important. Reasonably large population centres in Portland, Salem and Eugene for craigslist and specialist suppliers, and Tacoma/Seattle are also not that far way if you need to pick up the right thing. I believe there are actually a couple of high end RV manufacturers in this area if you really need something special doing....

I'd look at farm/rural settings with a barn to work in, and as you mention if you need to spend a year as trailer trash in a mobile home/travel trailer/fifth wheel living on site its doable and probably works out cheap - again, buy used, sell used, no sales tax.

Or for the winter advertise for a house sitting job for some snowbird RVers who are heading south to Palm Springs for a few months and who are leaving their RV garage/porch empty....
 
#17
That is an excellent idea!

I am handy with most tools and can both weld and machine but I would never say I am a fabricator, certainly not for anything I want someone to look at cosmetically.

Also, I would not have access to all the metal fab tools I will need for this project.
I would host you at my shop if I could but there is no space, especially not for another expo camper build. Tennessee is very nice though and my friend down the street is renting his back lot for storage. Maybe you can park an RV there?
 
#18
I would host you at my shop if I could but there is no space, especially not for another expo camper build. Tennessee is very nice though and my friend down the street is renting his back lot for storage. Maybe you can park an RV there?
I appreciate the theoretical offer :giggle:

I am still a good number of years out, I have 1.5 years on this contract and expect another 3 years after that before we leave Shanghai. So we have no urgent requirement for storage or help yet...

I'll keep looking at both different states and options for housing us and the rig while we prep for our adventure.
 
#19
Craigslist is your friend for specialist/single use tools. Buy used (as long as its not stolen) - do what you need - sell used. Probably won't even cost you depreciation.

I'd aim for coastal Oregon/Willamette valley - it may be rainy for much of the year, but you probably won't lose too may build days to sub-zero temperatures, or sweat your assets off too much in summer - may not affect most fabrication tasks directly, but if you end up doing anything with fibreglass or adhesives then a reasonable ambient cure temperature becomes important. Reasonably large population centres in Portland, Salem and Eugene for craigslist and specialist suppliers, and Tacoma/Seattle are also not that far way if you need to pick up the right thing. I believe there are actually a couple of high end RV manufacturers in this area if you really need something special doing....

I'd look at farm/rural settings with a barn to work in, and as you mention if you need to spend a year as trailer trash in a mobile home/travel trailer/fifth wheel living on site its doable and probably works out cheap - again, buy used, sell used, no sales tax.

Or for the winter advertise for a house sitting job for some snowbird RVers who are heading south to Palm Springs for a few months and who are leaving their RV garage/porch empty....
We'll absolutely be looking hard at Oregon. I've seen some places in the greater Eugene area that might work. Just gotta see who would accept a year's worth of rent upfront as we won't have any monthly income or much of a credit history in the USA as we have been gone so long.
 
#21
I cannot think any landlord would refuse!
we rented 3 places in Canada for winters with no local credit history - they were happy to accept proof of funds from UK bank accounts and a 1 month security deposit in case of damage to the property. All the people we met from Oregon were very friendly and helpful, so I wouldn't worry about your credit score....
 
#22
I am still a good number of years out, I have 1.5 years on this contract and expect another 3 years after that before we leave Shanghai. So we have no urgent requirement for storage or help yet...
Maybe a daft question, but why not build it over the next 3+ years in China and then drive it home via the rest of the world? Chances are most of the parts you will need to buy will originate there, and you can save yourself the drumpf's trade war tariffs. I've not seen any Chinese vehicles used as a basis for overland rigs here, but I'm sure their military must have 4x4 trucks "inspired by" Unimogs and the like...
 
#23
Maybe a daft question, but why not build it over the next 3+ years in China and then drive it home via the rest of the world?
We have thought of this but there are quite a few very complex issues with the idea.
1. There is no way to change the class of vehicle (HD->RV) so we will need CV licenses
2. We live in the inner ring road so license plates are ~$15,000 per vehicle at our address
3. I work ~15 hour days currently leading to zero time to work on anything else...
4. My Chinese language skills are lacking so attempting to get things built would be .... problematic

As for returning 'home' we hope to never really call any one location on earth home anymore. :) We don't really consider the USA our home anymore. I have not returned to my home state in 12 years now ....

However, the VISA issue is always a concern so for the period of time we need to build this, the USA still offers us visa free unlimited access. Once I leave my job here I have only a few weeks to leave the country.
 
#24
OK, all good reasons :)
I sympathise - having spent 47 years in my home country I had enough of one place and hope to never have to spend more that a few months in one place going forward....6 years on the road and counting
 
#26
What about Europe? There are many suppliers ( eg https://www.reimo.com/en/ ) catering to the diy RV builder, a good supply of suitable 4x4 trucks and a large community of long term travelers who have build their rigs themselves.
Stefan
Having lived in Europe for many years, we would be open to the idea. However, as US citizens, we can visit for a number of months but we can't reside for a year without a visa.
Also, like any traveler has to deal with... 'home' currency to 'foreign' currency exchanges get time and money consuming. Keeping in USD for the build duration should keep the majority of the costs stable and calculate-able. There are of course some EU/ROW sourced components that will fluctuate but, glue/hardware/materials/labor etc. will be domestic to wherever we build.

If I won a vast sum of money tomorrow I would just let someone else build it to my specs where ever it would be convenient.

Mike
 

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Expedition Leader
#27
I did mine in our driveway. I looked at rental spaces, it would have been SO nice in the rainy PNW, but added a huge budget hit here in the greater Seattle area. So I dealt with tarps, rain, cold and wet.

I think your on the right track with a warehouse style live work space, just make sure its not too far out of town to be able to easily get shipments. I had a lot of packages being delivered daily during our build, not having good shipping access can add a lot of time and cost as well.
 
#28
You could look into "hack factories" or "maker space". These are places where you pay a monthly membership fee for access to, usually, metal and woodworking facilities. If you had workspace near a hack factory that could be really helpful.
 
#29
It is my understanding that some areas in the US currently won't allow vehicles of commercial size to be parked in personal areas or worked on in areas that are not zoned as such. There is at least one builder having to keep his vehicle off his property due to this leading to less working time and a lot of hassle.

As for the maker space, that is also a great idea. I have a friend who runs one but up in Liverpool, UK but I will hit him up for contacts as we get closer to the kick off time.
 
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