I’ve been thinking a lot more on the roof top tent bedroom above the crew cab on the truck, and the more I think about it, the more I love the idea. So I started a little more research and came upon Colorado Campervan. They make lifting roof model vans, similar to a sportsmobile. But according to their website they are also into custom projects. I particularly like the photo gallery they have for the custom 2011 Ford Expedition getting the lifting roof setup. Basically they built a new wooden roof structure with integrated yakima storage rack and fiberglassed it all, and then grafted it on to the roof of the Expedition including cutting the roof out of the truck and cleaning up the trim.
This is exactly what I would like to see on ROAM for our satellite bedroom. Imagine the lifting portion could be built to include an entire interior storage shelving section in the roof. This could be full of little cubbies to put clothes, books, all sorts of personal things that could be permanently left there, but would be collapsed down on top of the bed for travelling to keep the overall rig height lower. This would be exactly analogous to the second floor lifting roof on the main cabin, to keep us under a 12′ overall height on the vehicle. But then when you activate the lifting mechanism, it telescopes up and then you could climb up through the porthole and have your made bed and 40″ of interior height, and then all of your stuff up in the ceiling storage area above you. We could even duct in heat and AC from the main cabin behind into the rigid fixed top since the truck cab would be not really well insulated. Here’s an example currently for sale from Expedition Truck Brokers from a Steyr 4×4 Crew Cab Conversion.
This one is a fixed room above the cab, but the idea is similar. I think the lifting roof would get you a lot more space and a lot more storage making it more attractive. I almost envision the lifting rigid portion of the roof looking similar to this conversion on the outside, so there could be plenty of interior room storage for all of David’s things, but then a lot more room when lifted for his bed. Now it’s possible that the Crew Cab may not have enough length for a decent bed, in which case an option like the van below may be required for the bed.
I really do like the integrated brosh bars on the cabover for the steyr though. I think they look really cool and could be functional for helping to push tree limbs and branches out of the way going down thick trails and the like, or even lowhanging powerlines in some rural villages and the like.
Now as for the truck, I found this advertisement from IWS, which is a Tow Truck outfitter in Idaho but they also build, rep, service Freightliner based motorhomes, namely Renegades. They’ve got a 2015 M2 Extended Cab with Low range meritor transfer case for part time 4×4. This is the first example of an M2 I have seen with the dedicated Meritor transfer case. They made a decent video about it, and in the video they make it sound as though this truck is unique and made special for them, but I don’t see why those options wouldn’t come straight from the factory and be available to any Freightliner dealer or outfitter.
I may have to give them a call soon, or at the very least contact my local Freightliner dealer and see about getting a quote and an option build out list on exactly what I want to see in a truck to get a feel for the price. Last spring I actually did go visit a local International truck dealer (the Freightliner dealer is much farther away) and sat down with a sales guy for a while to explain what I was looking for. I had much less of a defined idea of what I wanted in terms of specifics at the time. But he did generate a quote for me, here’s the pdf for the quote:
The quote was only for a 6×4 rather than true 6×6. At the time the guy from Hendrickson Suspensions had me believing that a hydraulically driven front axle setup may be the way to go for the application similar to the EZ Trac setup. While think that the hydraulic front wheel drive concept is intriguing, I later got a verbal quote from Tulsa Truck for about $40,000 to install this in a truck, that sort of put the damper on it. Plus the fact that you wouldn’t have a true low range gear without the transfer case made it much less appealing as well. That being said I still haven’t gotten a quote for a truck with the true 6×6 and low range transfer case. All in all though I was really surprised about the International quote above. Here’s a brief rundown:
2015 International Durastar Crew Cab 6×4 with Air suspension on both rear axles, locking differentials on each axle and interaxle, air brakes, air suspension on the crew cab, Allison 3000 Automatic transmission, and 2 -70gal diesel tanks came in for a total of less than $90,000 price to me. Then unfortunately they did include the Federal Excise Tax of 12.5%(!) which brought my price up to $100,541.
I think that there must be some way around that excise tax as a non commercial user, but I have yet to find a way going through the tax code. Apparently if the vehicle has a rated GVWR of more than 33,000lbs then it qualifies as required to the first owner of said truck to pay a 12,5% FET. And according to the International sales guy, as soon as you request the tandem axles at the rear, the minimum GVWR jumps to 54,000lb, thereby triggering the FET. I think that there must be a way to get Freightliner to derate the truck to only 33,000lbs even with the Tandem axle. I only want the third axle for purposes of 1)Increased floatation (less likely to sink in sand or mud due to increased total tire patch size area (lower psi to the ground)), 2) Better departure angle for a given vehicle length by getting the third axle closer to the back of the truck and less likely to bottom out in the middle by moving the second axle further forward, 3) less total weight on the rear axle and hopefully lowering its stress state., and 4) because a 6×6 is badass looking! But there’s no way the rig should come in at more than 33,000 lbs. So I still need to look into that situation and see what I can do. But that truck above from IWS appears pretty close to exactly what I’m looking for. Maybe a bit more cab, and another axle, but definitely going in the right direction.