Single cab on crew cab frame?

hidn45

New member
I tried searching a couple different ways, & found some very interesting stuff, but nothing pertaining to what I am looking for, so here goes. I'm looking at the feasibility of mounting a single cab body on a crew/ double cab-length frame, in order to get more wheelbase under whatever camper box I come up with. What we're looking for is a low-budget camping vehicle that The Little Woman & I can retire in. It looks like we'll need in the neighborhood of 15-18' of camper box to live comfortably, according to our admittedly theoretical plan. I'm looking at box trucks ($$), RV's (durability?), bus conversions (cheap, but large, heavy, headroom issues), etc, as well as building or buying a box to put on a "pickup" chassis/ cab.

Anyway, it seems like it must have been done before, or at least attempted - gaining frame length by replacing the long crew cab with a standard single cab. Logic would lead one to believe that the body mounts would be the same (to a point, obviously), so, is there something I'm missing? Is there a more practical (read - "cheaper") way to get my rearend further back under my house? We're not planning any rough play, but we want a vehicle that will handle well both on the highway & in mild boondocking scenarios. A "pickup" type vehicle would seem the easiest, cheapest way to gain 4WD, which would be very nice to have, but not essential to our plans, as well. We have a couple/ few years to get something put together, but these snowbelt winters are really starting to get to us....

Thanks in advance for any & all help & advice....

Randy & Lois
 

The Artisan

Adventurer
My 07 fuso fe140 has a wheelbase of 113 and I have a 13.5' flatbed on it. Mine is the shortest wheelbase. I will be using a 12' pod with maybe a 2 foot slant on the rear.
Kevin
 

nitro_rat

On a Suburban Excursion
The 2nd gen Dodge Cummins trucks were available in a long wheelbase single cab configuration. A friend of mine has one with a 14 or 15' flatbed on it. They have a solid beam axle when 2wd that is easy to swap for a Dana 60. Just add transfer case and you're good to go!

I'm sure Chevy and Ford had similar configurations but they're probably not so easy to swap to 4x4 if desired...
 

Recommended books for Overlanding

Long Way Down: An Epic Journey by Motorcycle from Scotlan...
by Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman
From $26.49
Lone Rider
by speth Beard
From $16.39
Build Your Own Motorcaravan, Build Your Own Overland Camp...
by hn Wickersham , even Wigglesworth
From $44.99
Motorcycle Messengers 2: Tales from the Road by Writers w...
by Jeremy Kroeker, Ted Simon, Lois Pryce, Billy Ward,...
From $9.99

Jnich77

Director of Adventure Management Operations
Definitely got with a "cab and chassis" truck. Not only will the frame be longer, but its flat, thus making your life mich easier when it comes to building your camper. Plus, they are really easy to stretch.

Also, you are going to be pretty heavy and it might even put you in F450-F550 territory.

Personally, I'd buy a used gasser 1 ton 4x4 and use it to pull a used (but remodeled) Airstream. In the end it will cost you less time amd money, plus its far more practical.
 

sarconcepts

Adventurer
I agree with what's been stated above, go with a cab & chassis, what would the swap out gain you, 3 feet of frame length ? that wont get you anywhere near the frame length for a 15' to 18' box .
you could look around for a used tow/ flatbed truck, take the bed off, and off you go, plus as also stated above, the frame is nice and flat/straight, etc.
see the pic
Mine was an 84" cab to axle chassis and this just fits an 11' camper floor (plus the cabover) so you'll need a lot more length than swapping out the cab would get you.
i also agree with needing a 4500 or 5500 truck, as you get heavy quickly.interior 009.jpg
There's plenty of things you can do to enjoy the process, swapping the cab just isn't one of them !
 

shortbus4x4

Expedition Leader
My dad did that back in the early 70s with his 67 Ford F250 on a 72 crewcab 4x4 chassis. Had a 9' flatbed on it. It didn't add as much length as you're looking for. You'd be better off looking at the class 4/5 cab and chassis trucks.
 

billiebob

My Uncle drove a government issued Jeep in Europe
I tried searching a couple different ways, & found some very interesting stuff, but nothing pertaining to what I am looking for, so here goes. I'm looking at the feasibility of mounting a single cab body on a crew/ double cab-length frame, in order to get more wheelbase under whatever camper box I come up with. What we're looking for is a low-budget camping vehicle that The Little Woman & I can retire in. It looks like we'll need in the neighborhood of 15-18' of camper box to live comfortably, according to our admittedly theoretical plan. I'm looking at box trucks ($$), RV's (durability?), bus conversions (cheap, but large, heavy, headroom issues), etc, as well as building or buying a box to put on a "pickup" chassis/ cab.

Anyway, it seems like it must have been done before, or at least attempted - gaining frame length by replacing the long crew cab with a standard single cab. Logic would lead one to believe that the body mounts would be the same (to a point, obviously), so, is there something I'm missing? Is there a more practical (read - "cheaper") way to get my rearend further back under my house? We're not planning any rough play, but we want a vehicle that will handle well both on the highway & in mild boondocking scenarios. A "pickup" type vehicle would seem the easiest, cheapest way to gain 4WD, which would be very nice to have, but not essential to our plans, as well. We have a couple/ few years to get something put together, but these snowbelt winters are really starting to get to us....

Thanks in advance for any & all help & advice....

Randy & Lois
The quick easy way.... buy a regular cab cab and chassis and get the frame stretched. Any competent truck shop can do it.

Stretch1.JPG


The advantage of starting with a dually pickup is a wider rear track...
But that can also be a disadvantage on a trail.
 
Last edited:

hidn45

New member
Well, the hive mind again shows the way.... Some things I have thought about, & some I definitely haven't.

A camper trailer is out - looking for the most compact rig possible. I'll take one large vehicle over 2 medium ones every time. The only way we'll drag something would be a little utility trailer for a sidehack grocery-getter....

I see I may need to get a better handle on where we may end up for total weight. I may need to review some more build threads & take notes. I'm almost hoping I will need to build my box, because I can use foam & glass & keep it light, allowing the whole system to be lighter. I'm trying to avoid the rig being any heavier than necessary; as the truck gets bigger, everything about it gets bigger, & more expensive - tires, service, parts, towing, ad infinitum. Some of the expense will be offset with longevity, but it's a lot harder when you need to shell it out up front.

If I found a screamin' deal on a shorter truck that would do the job I might consider getting it stretched, but it wouldn't be my first choice. As for width, I'm hoping to end up as wide as I can be, for more efficient use of the space - wider will help keep us as short as possible & still have everything we need/ want.

Bottom line - there's a lot of roads that lead to where we're going (pun intended). It'll be a balancing act of what's available, what it costs & how much work it will take to get it where we want it. If it has to be a 4500 or F-550, then maybe the Isuzu NPR is in play, for about the same money, keeping things shorter as well as more economical on the road. On the other hand, if we came across a real nice, southern, 8-window transit bus with a bulletproof Cat/ Allison combo for $2500, the savings would buy a lot of tires.... Keeping our options open should help us find that best bang for the buck - it's just hard for the planner in me to not have every detail thought out ahead of time.
 

msiminoff

Member
Hi Randy & Lois,
I'm the guy who owns the stretched truck** in the photo above. I've put a ton of thought into getting just the right truck & camper for my family... I know exactly how much energy the planning phase can take.
It sounds to me like you're trying to do this build on a modest budget, however the stuff you're talking about (stretch + custom box) is not an inexpensive undertaking. In addition, a 15-18' camper box is huge for a 1-ton pickup truck chassis. By way of example: My 3-foot stretch cost ~$7k (not including getting the truck & me and to and from Salt Lake City), my Total Composites box has a 12' floor, and I am building as light as possible & still bumping up against my GVWR. Maybe with a single cab on a long wheel base chassis you could have a slightly longer box, but IMO anything longer than 12' and you're in 450/550 territory.
Have you considered looking for a nice 2-door, 1-ton, long bed, 4x4 pickup and putting a truck camper on it?
Cheers,
-Mark
** After seeing what it takes to do the job right, I don't agree that "any competent truck shop" can tackle this job. YMMV.
 

Fatboyz

Observer
The other thing to think about is putting your bed over the cab. Mine isn't as tall inside as I'd like but it works. If I had started with a taller box truck it would have been perfect. There's another fellow here that is notching the front of his box truck cube for the over cab portion. Mine was a uhaul and the over cab was only 36" so I had to use up 20" inside for the bed. We have a long wheel base crew cab F550 and weight wise I'm at 13,200 right now with a motorcycle on the back. If you started with a fairly big box truck box and notched the front for a north south set up of a full queen (think Earthroamer) over the cab you'd get your length. My floor was 13' but I lost almost 2' with the bed. If you put the bed over cab then you could comfortably be in your 15-18' range with a 10-11' floor and 6' over cab. I wasn't concerned about weight so my cupboards are 3/4" ply. I have 1/4" ply on the ceiling then I put 5/16" T and G cedar over that. All the walls are covered in 1/4" and feature walls have 5/16" barnboard look planking over that. Mine is built "Ford Tough" but heavy.
 

hidn45

New member
Mark, Fatboyz - thank you. This is just the kind of nuts-&-bolts hard data I have come here for, from those who are doing it. Houses I know, trucks I do not. Yep, it sounds like we'll be firmly into F450 territory (or better), & I'm certainly ok with that. I definitely want plenty of margin for error. I'm not really considering a stretch, mostly due to cost & engineering/ quality control concerns. That was my thought on the cab swap - keep the factory systems, just rearrange them a bit. But it sounds like there are better options.

I'm hoping my composite panel experience will help keep both cost & weight down IF I need to build a box. I feel like this would be a better option for us than a store-bought truck camper of comparable value & weight, though I could very well be wrong. I've seen the guts of a few of those, & didn't like what I saw, especially for the money they bring. If we find a box that will work (or a truck with a box), we'll have to weight the labor/ cost/ weight savings at that point. Mark - just for the telling, if you would, just curious what a 12' Total Composites box goes for, roughly, if you wouldn't mind sharing? BTW, do you have a build thread?

Fatboyz, your point is well taken on the over-cab bed - it's a good way to keep the length vs space ratio as efficient as possible. There is a uhaul truck for sale near me, which they call a 17 ft box, but is actually about a 13-14' box with a 3' over-cab. I could make that work, but they want over $8k for the thing, & it's a glorified cargo van with a gas V-8 & 120,000 miles on it! As I think I mentioned, I can almost be in an NPR with a box & liftgate for that, from the little searching I've done. Granted, it'd have twice the miles, but still well within the half-life of those trucks if well maintained. We're not going to live forever either, & don't plan on more than maybe 15K miles a year, +/-.

Yes, it's a lot easier & cheaper to correct my mistakes in the planning stages than while we're trying to put the whole thing together. Or worse, playing shoulda/ coulda/ woulda after we're in it. Again, thanks for all the help so far, & keep the ideas coming, if you would.

Randy & Lois
 

sarconcepts

Adventurer
another thing to look into is to contact U haul directly, I went to them looking for just a box and found them extremely helpful in getting me a list of all of the old U haul boxes and trucks for sale at the pacific northwest U haul locations (where i live) from there, I traveled around looking at all of the options until I found a good box on a truck with a seized engine at a U haul in Portland Oregon, for $1500 dollars. They even had it towed down to my home !

uhaul 001.jpg
 

Recommended books for Overlanding

Vehicle-dependent Expedition Guide
by Tom Sheppard
From $136.95
Don't Go There. It's Not Safe. You'll Die.: And other mor...
by Jared McCaffree, Jessica Mans, Kobus Mans
From $19.99
Crossing the Congo: Over Land and Water in a Hard Place
by Mike Martin, Chloe Baker, Charlie Hatch-Barnwell
From $29.92

msiminoff

Member
Mark - just for the telling, if you would, just curious what a 12' Total Composites box goes for, roughly, if you wouldn't mind sharing? BTW, do you have a build thread?
Total composites price list is published on their Facebook page (this is from 2019, I believe there has been a price increase since then). Those are the base prices so any changes you request that deviate from their standard box size/shape could increase the cost. The price does not include shipping from China to your location, import duties, and assembly. Also If you go this route, you will need a subframe to mount the box to your truck chassis.

Andreas from Total Composites is a regular here and he'll be happy to answer any questions you have about his products,

Yes, I have started a build thread.
-Mark
 
Last edited:

hidn45

New member
For what it's worth, if anyone's interested - when I stopped at uhaul to look at that "17 footer" the guy told me they're getting rid of all their 17's & going with 15 & 20' boxes. He said as the 17's get to 100k & up they are getting rid of them. In case anyone's looking....

Mark - thanks for the info, I'll check them out of curiosity if nothing else. And actually, I did check out your build a week or so ago, just hadn't made the connection. Lots of good info already! We'll be keeping an eye on that one.... How long are they saying to build your box?
 
Top