View Single Post
Old 03-28-2010, 03:31 PM   #436
fishing with dynamite
jesusgatos's Avatar
Joined: Nov 2006
Location: on the road
Oddometer: 2,414
Originally Posted by rawdog
I am always intrigued by shipping container homes. I've done a bunch of research and they can be as or more expensive to build than traditional construction.

Lately I feel that to live on the cheap stateside, it would be cheaper to do so in a fifth wheel than to construct a shipping container home.
Originally Posted by mpanther
I am looking into building a container "Cabin" on the family property up in Washington.
I think that's a really important distinction to make. There's a HUGE difference between a cabin and a proper house. I'm talking about building something waaay off-grid. A Swiss Family Robinson-style Ewok Village out in the middle of nowhere. Powered by Mah Deuce, and very modest/rugged. I think I could build a place like I have in mind for as little as $20,000-30,000 (including the land). For that kind of money, I could build a new cabin every few years if I can save all the money that I would have otherwise spent on rent/mortgage if I had a real house. The idea of having a few cabins that span the west-coast, from OR down to Baja is REALLY appealing to me...

Originally Posted by Super Suz
Holy Schmoly! Jesus, that's some serious planning and design.

Off Grid and ready for the end of the world as we know it. Lots of people really respect that. The thing is, as you drive around out there, people are going to be so intrigued by your rig, you are going to get lots of visitors asking for a tour. I know I'd have a hard time keeping away and would be plenty nosey.
Thanks. It's been a lot of work, but I'm really happy with how it's turning out. Your comment about being ready for the end of the world is something that I get a lot. 'Normal' people think I'm nuts, but everybody loves it. The only people that creep me out are the bunker-building conspiracy theorists. They remind me of the guy that ran the army surplus store in Falling Down. "You're like me, man. You and me, we're the same." Fuck that. I'm really not preparing for the end of the world, or anything like that. Really.

But it's something to consider. A big obnoxious military truck definitely makes a statement. People approach me everywhere I go, and I love talking to everyone it. There is a potential downside to building on a military platform: international travel. These military surplus vehicles aren't even really supposed to leave the United States, but you can apply for special permits to take them out of the country. From what I understand, it's not much of a problem, as long as you're planning on returning with the vehicle. I think they're just trying to cut down on the number of US military surplus vehicles that end up in military service in places where we'd rather not see these types of resources (for obvious reasons). But that's not even really my point. The thing I'm much more concerned about is how people in local communities are going to feel about seeing a vehicle like this rolling through their streets. I know that even here in the states, when we ride our dirtbikes into any of the one-pump gas station 'towns' that we come across out in the middle of bum-fuck-nowhere, people look at us like we're aliens. It's no wonder. We look like fucking storm troopers in our helmets and reflectives goggles and body armor and shit. I was talking to Wachs about that a long time ago, and he told me that a pair of Carhartts will go a long way to making people feel a little more comfortable (he was just using that as an example, talking about toning down our appearance in general). Sure enough. I think there's a lot to be said for adding a little bit of a whimsical flair to a vehicle like this, that might otherwise give people the wrong impression. Here's a good example of what I'm talking about. Who could be anything but curious (in a good way) about a motorhome with a Studebaker grafted onto the roof of it? But take that too far, and you're going to get hassled by the man.

I'm getting ready to sand-blast the truck and trailer pretty soon, and when I do, I think the new paintjob will make a big difference in the impression that the rig will make on people. It's never going to be low-key, I just don't want it to look like I'm an invading army OR a traveling gypsy. And I've got an added consideration, that this is sort of a promotional vehicle. I'm documenting the build-up, and will be publishing a series of magazine articles about the project. And I'll be publishing a lot more content about this project on my website. Soon. I promise. Beyond that, I'm also concerned about the way that all of this is perceived by the people that I work with (because I'll be living and working out of this vehicle). Luckily I work in a field full of creative and eccentric people, so this hasn't been much of an issue. But there's a big difference between my rig, and say, a beat-up old Winnebago. As far as perceptions go, it's the difference between 'living the dream' and looking 'down and out'. Mah Deuce works for me, where an old junker would definitely work against me. So in that sense, this is an investment in my business/livelihood as much as it is a personal project.

That brings me to an important point though: I really don't NEED any of this shit. A while ago, I was over at Metolius, where my buddy Jamie was helping me turn my queen-sized
tempurpedic mattress into a futon
and he introduced me to another employee there, who also lived in a truck. We started talking, and I was asking him about his setup. It's a late-model Toyota Tacoma with a regular camper-shell on the back of it. He's got a couple of deep-cycle batteries and a small invertor, a bedroll, a backpacking stove, a few gallons of water, and all his hang-gliding equipment. He lives out in the wilderness east of Bend, and comes into town to work a few days a week. Showers at the gym. Sounded like he was really happy with his whole situation. When he asked me when my project was going to be done, I immediately replied, "It's pretty much done as soon as we finish this mattress". At the time, I had only just barely finished all of the woodwork (cabinets and all that stuff) and there was no plumbing, heating, or electricity, but this guy made me feel like such a bitch.

I spent about a month living in Mah Deuce with my dogs, up in Bend, after I moved out of my house. I was building the cabover rack at my friend's shop, and spent most nights just outside of town. Friends came out to visit me wherever I was camped. Kept my beer on ice in an old cooler, was cooking on a coleman campstove (also used to heat water for sponge-baths), washing my pots and pans in the river, falling asleep under the stars on the roof of Mah Deuce (it was summertime). It was great.

Since I've been down at my parents' place, I've collected a lot more of the parts I needed, and I've done a bit more work on the truck. Got all of the general maintenance done, and now I feel pretty confident that it's mechanically sound. Rebuilt the axles and brakes, replaced the transfer-case, changed all the fluids, bought new tires and built new wheels. Also bought a new engine, along with a brand new cab and hardtop, and a bunch of other cool stuff. But mostly, I've just been working. Pimping myself out in order to make enough money to 'finish' my motorhome. The truth is, I won't ever really finish this project. I'll keep geeking-out on it until I move on to something else. I'm reaching a point now, where it doesn't really matter what's done and what's not. My trailer is basically a rolling workshop, and I can continue working on this thing wherever I take it. I'm sure my life will get more and more comfortable as I make further improvements (like installing a water-fountain in the center-console, and maybe a urinal?). This is just the kind of shit that I love to do. And I feel incredibly lucky that I've been able to spend my time in such frivolous pursuits. I could spend the rest of my life building a motorhome, and I have to remind myself of that from time-to-time. Believe it or not, this IS me restraining myself. My initial plan was to build something from scratch...

Originally Posted by Super Suz
The water purification system has been tested and retested?
No, the plumbing isn't even done yet. What I meant to say, is that all of the systems are redundant, several times over. So if one of the electric water-pumps fails, I'll have spares. If the whole electrical system goes down, I'll be able to use air-pressure (engine-mounted air-compressor) to generate water-pressure. If whole electrical system is down, and the engine isn't running, I'll be able to use a manual water-pump to draw water. Same thing goes for water purification, the electrical system, heating, and all the other 'critical' systems onboard.

Originally Posted by Super Suz
Pics of the inside of that rig?
Don't have many pics of the interior as it site right now, but here's one.

Originally Posted by Cellar Yeti
I'm really interested in multi fuel vehicles. Been doing some research on them lately but it seems they only come in military vehicles. I love the idea of the flexibility...
Unfortunately, you won't find many. These old engines don't make much power for their size and weight, but I just bought a brand new 5-ton multifuel engine for Mah Deuce. It's designated as an LDS465 (2.5-ton engine is called an LDT465). It's basically the same engine, but it's got a different cam profile, and oil-cooled pistons, and makes just a bit more power (about 200hp vs. 130hp). Honestly though, something like a Cummins 12-valve 6BT (the diesel engines that came in the older Dodge Ram trucks) would be a lot better choice for a vehicle like this. But I didn't want to give up the multifuel.
jesusgatos is offline   Reply With Quote