How to Convert a Motorhome Into a Toy Haulerby John Cagney Nash
A typical 38-foot A-Class motor home stripped from the rear wall to the back of the cab seats would provide approximately 30 feet of usable linear space, approaching eight feet in width and seven feet in height. This large and functional open space could be effectively divided between the "house" and "garage" sections of a toy hauler. Converting a motor home into a toy hauler is a challenging and ultimately rewarding project for a skilled handyman, requiring a great deal of forethought and planning.
Ensure the project is begun with a fully functional motor home, because the cost of buying aftermarket equipment would swiftly make the project untenable. Test the roof air conditioner, furnace, refrigerator, cook stove, water pump, shower, toilet, windows, roof vents and generator. Ensure there are no leaks in the freshwater tank or the black and gray holding tanks. Preserve all fixtures and fittings for reuse.
Design the rear garage door with the assistance of a competent engineer and fabricator. If axle height allows, plan a split "Dutch" door where the bottom section hinges down to form the loading ramp while the upper section hinges up; this would create shade at the open end. Install a heavy, welded metal frame around the entire opening, and weld this frame to the motor home chassis. Hinge the lower part of the door to the chassis to relieve strain on the floor, even if this entails extending the chassis from behind the rear axle all the way out to the back of the motor home. Always use marine-rated hardware for any exterior fittings.
Consider reflooring the entire open space. Once the original appliances have been removed, the floor will be peppered with between 20 and 50 openings of various sizes, ranging from small holes through which propane and water lines ran, to large holes which served the toilet and the plenum ducts.
Line the garage area with fiberglass reinforced paneling, or FRP, available from most home improvement warehouses. If the original interior walls can be largely preserved, proprietary FRP glue will fix the panels securely in place. Install fluorescent lights, which use far less electricity than conventional bulbs, and build work benches over the wheel arches.
- Resale value for such a vehicle will probably be negligible, given the limited customer base competing to purchase it. This cost penalty be would offset by having a purpose-built unit designed and constructed to exactly suit the owner.
- Simply reorganizing the motor home's original fixtures, fittings and equipment will provide a great deal of space for use as the garage, but removal of furniture will do little to reduce the vehicle's curb weight.
Things You'll Need
- No tools required
- Never consider this kind of conversion project for a travel trailer. Travel trailer frames will wring under the additional weight loading of garaged machinery. The tongue weight would be insupportable for all but the most heavy-duty tow vehicles, gross weight would create sway, and both the suspension and the electric brakes would be entirely inadequate for the strain.
- Although motor homes have low ground clearance for easy access, which would permit the fabrication of a fairly short rear ramp/door combination, they are not intended to be driven off-road. Toy haulers are typically used for snowmobiles, scrambler motorcycles, four-wheelers -- all machines intended for off-road use.
John Cagney Nash began composing press releases and event reviews for British nightclubs in 1982. His material was first published in the "Eastern Daily Press." Nash's work focuses on American life, travel and the music industry. In 1998 he earned an OxBridge doctorate in philosophy and immediately emigrated to America.