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Vagabond Journey

Moving Van Converted To An RV (Part 3)

Part 3 of an ever growing series on moving truck to RV conversions. This is probably the best live aboard overland travel vehicle there is.

In 2009, I published a post about meeting a guy in an Arizona parking lot who had converted a Uhaul moving truck into an RV, or a live aboard travel vehicle. A community of moving van converters and people looking to do such a conversion sprung up around that page, some of whom have been sending me updates and photos of their conversion projects. I just received a report from a reader from West Virginia named Bill who had very impressively transformed a Penske moving van into an RV. The following are photos and notes from his conversion:

Living in a converted box is not something new to me. I am a Boilermaker by trade and I have to travel for my work. Staying away from home for extended periods of time can be expensive, lodging is sometimes hard to find and one still ends up driving a distance even if lodging is found. Well I have built my own truck that I live in while I’m away at work and I thought I would share what I have built just because of the truck connection. I appreciate thinking outside the box (truck) anywhere I find it.

My wife and I have went camping a few times in this truck and have been quite pleased in the accommodations it provides not to mention the interest it creates. Several people have stopped by for the “nickel tour”.

penske-truck

2005 ex-Penske truck. I didn’t change the outside Built a Deer/Bumper guard to keep the deer off me.

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The inside finished

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The bed can be made bigger to sleep two comfortably.

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Beginning the build….

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Rear Layout with Calls[7]_DCE

Here is the list of amenities I have incorporated into my truck,
It has:

Direct TV satellite TV with a roof mounted Winegard satellite dish

Flat screen TV w/DVD

32″ shower stall

10,000 btu. propane wall mount heater (for heat when I’m “off the grid”)

1800/3600 watt Xantrex inverter/charger to make 110 VAC from a battery bank and charge the batteries when I am hooked up to line power.

Honda generator, 3000 watt

NOCO brand battery isolator to charge my inverter batteries while driving

13,500 btu roof mount A/C

6 gal., 110 VAC water heater

60 gal. fresh water storage

23 gal. aux. fuel tank for generator

Smoke & CO alarm

Microwave

Fridge

4 camera surveillance system for looking around outside while in the truck.

Walls and ceiling are insulated as a house would be, it is very easy to heat and cool.

Also I have a George Foreman grill, electric griddle and toaster but mostly use the microwave. The bed has two sections of mattress, I use the widest section when I’m by myself and a smaller section is added when my wife, Octavia, is staying with me, that section stays at home when not being used. The living area is roughly 8′ x 12′ and the “equipment room” is the 3′ just inside the rear door. The ceiling closer to the rear of the living area drops down to accommodate the roll-up door when it’s open. Sometimes I still wonder who built it because I’m am no carpenter by any means but it did turn out quite well. It is a “work in progress”, I am always coming up with ideas to make it better and more user friendly.

Although my truck was built for the purpose of working away from home it worked well for camping with my wife.

Hope you find this interesting.

Best Regards,

Bill

Find out more about converting moving trucks to live aboard travel vehicles at Homemade RV Converted From Moving Truck and Converting A Moving Truck Into An RV Style Travel Vehicle.

Filed under: Travel Vehicles

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3411 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Rochester, New York

4 comments… add one

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  • Rick September 5, 2013, 11:25 pm

    Hi Wade

    Please let the guy who converted the Penske truck to know that it looks great.

    I am currently sitting in a 103 year old house in Calgary that has been in my family for 90 years. We have ripped the house apart starting last October and I wished that I had his truck as I know it would be more comfortable than sleeping here.

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    • Wade Shepard September 6, 2013, 12:14 am

      Will do. Yes, these box truck conversions seem as if they could come in pretty clutch in a lot of circumstance.

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    • Bill September 10, 2013, 8:50 am

      Hi Rick,

      This truck has served as a “lifeboat” on a few occassions, couple of times the power was out and used the generator to power my home and once the A/C stopped working at home while on vacation in the Penske. We came home to a house as hot as an oven and had to spend the night in the truck.

      The truck was a joy to build. There are a few things I might to different if I were to build another one but so far I have been very pleased.

      Good Luck on your restoration.

      Bill

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  • Jack September 22, 2013, 7:54 pm

    Beautiful conversion. I think this is definitely something to do if you have the skills and the desire to create something unique.

    Don’t take this as a negative but I am going to give another take. I don’t know if this makes sense for a lot of travelers. Heck, I have dreamed of converting a uhaul or a stepvan or even a school bus to an rv on MANY occasions. The idea of being in something unique is worth it.

    I decided against going the route of a conversion though. I did some calculating and figured that it would cost me more to buy a truck and all of the supplies to convert it than it would be to buy a good used motorhome. In the last 5 to 10 years the prices have really come down. Add to this the fact I don’t possess the skill set to make a nice conversion and the fact that my wife still wants something nice to live in.

    I paid $6500 for a 1991 27 foot Winnebago with 112,000 miles on it a month or so ago. It’s got a generator, sleeping for six, air conditioning, gas refrigerator, bathroom, etc. It’s self contained and it will take me where I need to go. I’m certain it’s a better choice financially for me than a conversion.

    Of course I’d love to be corrected.

    In Part 1, you talked about getting off the beaten path to where the free campgrounds are. You’d be surprised how far off the beaten path a class C could go compared to a Uhaul conversion. More than that, you’d be surprised how far you don’t have to go off the beaten path to find free campgrounds.

    I am exploring how much it will cost me on a monthly basis to vagabond in a motorhome in the US. I’m wondering if it will be possible to do it through online work coupled with flea market selling.

    Just another option.

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