How realistic?

Funrover

Expedition Leader
I see a lot of large campers/expo rigs on this site and that makes me happy. However I wonder how realistic are larger campers for adventures. Currently I have a 1966 Dodge D200 Mitchell motor home that I would love to make 4x4 and travel around with the wife in. That being said we go out in my 92 Range Rover and get a lot of great places. I know I can't do the same trails but are the larger coaches (this on is 20' from end to end) still able to go a lot of fun off beat locations? I am not a fan of camp grounds and like to get back in the hills. I have seen the earthroamers in person and other off road coaches in person and I am small by comparison. I just wonder where they go, they just seem so large that they wouldn't fit.


Thanks for any tips, help, insight


Here is the rig in question.
 

Iain_U1250

Explorer
The main things that govern where you can and can't go are width and height. Next is the departure angle and ramp over angle. After that, is ground clearance, the come things like turning circle, wading depth etc.

Your rig looks pretty wide, not very high, but higher than most 4x4s, but has next to no ramp over or departure angle, and not much ground clearance. So can you take it out into the desert, go off-road through goat tracks, or take on muddy river crossing - probably not a good idea.

If you stick to decent dirt roads that are properly maintained , then you should be fine, washouts and river crossings may cause a few problems, but you can still have fun.
 
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IdaSHO

IDACAMPER
Even in its current state, you could go more places than many on this forum would choose to go.
Expedition portal (for many) has grown into highly modified rigs and weekend trips.

IMO anything even remotely "expedition" related has near nothing to do with the rig, and everything to do with the trip itself. The destination is secondary.

I love the looks of that old dodge. But I love the old campers.
That said, Id suggest the following...

If the camper is structurally sound (looks like it is), I would do little to the structure to help it survive off-pavement travel. The old campers are tougher than most think. I would look at the rear overhang though, and would look into a large bash/skid plate to protect it.

Besides that, a 4x4 swap would be great, and would allow you to go many places you would have significant difficulty getting to in 2wd.
Especially in snow/mud/slick situations. Though I think the biggest benefit from a 4x4 conversion would be to lift the front end, and the entire chassis. That dodge does sit pretty low.


Though you would be surprised where people can get in just 2wd and good tires.... :ylsmoke:
 

Cody1771

Explorer
just be prepared with a drill and some screws. those old campers tend to rattle themselves loose on gravel roads
 

LuckyDan

Adventurer
I'm with IdaSHO, I'm a fan of the old campers, even own an "Old" FWC. I'm also kinda nostalgic over the old Dodges based on my childhood. On to your questions:

At 20' you are about in the same league as the standard 3/4 ton pickup and slide on camper. I'm also with IdaSHO you can go lot's of places in it besides campgrounds. My Grandfather had a 65 or 66 D200 4x4 pickup with a 10' (about 2' past the tailgate opening) cabover camper. When he wasn't farming he hauled us grand kids camping anywhere that it wouldn't tip over or sink to the door handles. It went a whole lot of places in 2wd that today would be illegal to drive, at least on most pubic lands. As for the 4x4 conversion, from what I remember working on the old D & W 200 and 300's on the farm there was not a whole lot of difference between the 2wd and 4wd's other than the components.

Yeah the Earth Roamers and such are extremely plush and equipped. As for where they go? I work outdoors about 1/3 of my time in a service area that the counties run from 45 to 70 some % public land, so lots of "remoteness". When I run into one it's sharing space with the Toyota's with pop ups, 1 ton Fords with a dual slide out Lance, Volkswagen Vans, RTT equipped Jeeps, Troopers pulling Scamp trailers and so on. Basically anywhere I can get with my old Ford and FWC and most people can with less "Expo'ed" vehicles. Yet if one showed up lost in my front yard I'd adopt it like a 4 year old adopts a lost puppy.

Travel on and thank you for the photo.
 

Funrover

Expedition Leader
just be prepared with a drill and some screws. those old campers tend to rattle themselves loose on gravel roads
Noted!

I'm with IdaSHO, I'm a fan of the old campers, even own an "Old" FWC. I'm also kinda nostalgic over the old Dodges based on my childhood. On to your questions:

At 20' you are about in the same league as the standard 3/4 ton pickup and slide on camper. I'm also with IdaSHO you can go lot's of places in it besides campgrounds. My Grandfather had a 65 or 66 D200 4x4 pickup with a 10' (about 2' past the tailgate opening) cabover camper. When he wasn't farming he hauled us grand kids camping anywhere that it wouldn't tip over or sink to the door handles. It went a whole lot of places in 2wd that today would be illegal to drive, at least on most pubic lands. As for the 4x4 conversion, from what I remember working on the old D & W 200 and 300's on the farm there was not a whole lot of difference between the 2wd and 4wd's other than the components.

Yeah the Earth Roamers and such are extremely plush and equipped. As for where they go? I work outdoors about 1/3 of my time in a service area that the counties run from 45 to 70 some % public land, so lots of "remoteness". When I run into one it's sharing space with the Toyota's with pop ups, 1 ton Fords with a dual slide out Lance, Volkswagen Vans, RTT equipped Jeeps, Troopers pulling Scamp trailers and so on. Basically anywhere I can get with my old Ford and FWC and most people can with less "Expo'ed" vehicles. Yet if one showed up lost in my front yard I'd adopt it like a 4 year old adopts a lost puppy.

Travel on and thank you for the photo.
Thanks for the great reply,glad you enjoyed the photo!
 

Mark Harley

Expedition Leader
I agree making it a 4x4 would be simple.
but I would be afraid the first trip off road with wash board ruts would give me a huge pile of firewood by the time I reached camp.

It is an awsome vintage camper!
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
You know, that thing is kind of a classic. If it were mine I'd probably just try to restore it and use it as-is. Get a decent set of tires and you can go a lot of places off the beaten path. You won't be taking that thing over Red Cone or Schofield or Black Bear but you could find a lot of nice, out-of-the-way primitive campsites off of FS roads that would be perfect.

Roads that are bumpy/rocky/off camber I would think would result in chaos inside the camper. All that twisting and rocking would make cabinets pull away from the framework, things would fall out, etc.

4wd might help in a few circumstances if your camping area was muddy, or if you use it in the fall as a hunting cabin, but it would lift that vehicle up and I don't think making it taller than it is would be a good idea. It's tall enough already.
 

cnynrat

Expedition Leader
I want to say something like adventure is in the eye of the beholder.

If adventure for you is mainly about how far off the beaten track your campsite is located, then a bigger camper/truck combo is going to limit your options. If adventure for you is more about what you can see and do from your camping location, then there are a wide possibility of adventures that can be had using a fairly large truck camper.

We have a Bigfoot C25-10.6 that we carry with a '99 F350. It's a big rig, and we don't take it on anything rougher than reasonably well maintained dirt roads. Most of the time we are actually in smaller campgrounds, but we have a tendency to use it off-season when cold weather keeps the crowds away. Obviously, this is also a time when the comforts of the camper are valuable.

Here's a picture of our campsite at Natural Bridges National Monument from a trip in 2007:



We were there for Thanksgiving week. Thanksgiving night as we sat around the campfire it began to snow. This was the scene we woke up to on Friday morning. The campground there is small - just 13 spaces I think. During the entire week only one other campsite was occupied. He was a solo camper, so we invited him over to have drinks and share our campfire one evening, ended up hiking with him a couple times during the week, and invited him over for Thanksgiving dinner.

During the week we were there we explored the Cedar Mesa area taking day hikes down into many of the local canyons looking for ancient ruins and rock art. We visited the Big Man Panel, a famous Barrier Canyon Style art panel. We had the canyon to ourselves that day save for the fresh mountain lion tracks.



Here is Fallen Roof Ruin, just one of many that we saw that week.



We have enjoyed many trips like this with this camper, using it as a base camp in not too out of the way campsites that give us access to other places to explore. Not having to tear down camp each day gives us more time to hike and explore. The camper allows us to camp in the off season with comfort.

We have other camping options for times when we want to camp way off the beaten track, but there is no limit to the adventure you can have with a larger rig like this.
 

Mundo4x4Casa

West slope, N. Ser. Nev.
fun,
The rule of thumb is: any two-bye to four-bye conversion on an older rig is not worth it. My bro has a saying, "it is what it is." Your Dodge, as cool as it is, is just too far away from being an off-roader. Lots and lots of reasons. The truck frames of that era are very weak AND too plyable. That will pull that cute camper to dust in a short time, especially if it's bolted to the frame and not on a 3-point. Electrical wiring has a short life in a rig like that, off-road. Carb. All rubber parts are near or at the end of their life expectancy. You would need an entirely new suspension system/drive shafts/new transfer case, front drive axle, whole steering revamp, adapters for the trans to t.case. That auto trans in there cannot take the massive amounts of heat that it will bear when grinding slowly up hill. Almost all 4WD conversions are not as good as a factory setup. Almost. If you throw enough $ at something you can eventually get there. But there again, "it's not worth it." But, it's so romantic. Yeah, that and two $ will get you a cup of coffee. Then there is the specter of faith in your vehicle. I'm facing that now with my '82 CJ8.

It is getting unreliable since the last complete rebuild/re-do in 1996. I just don't trust it any more. I drove it to town the other day after just replacing the battery, when it just stopped cold in the middle of the street. No ignition, no lights, no nothing when you turned the key on. Had to be towed to my Jeep Guru and he eventually found the problem: bad starter celanoid. He said most of my problems are caused by not enough use. One post was wobbly and had intermittent contact. When I was a jeep writer for Off-road.com and 4X4Wire.com, I got this question all the time. It's just not worth it. There is a large percentage of folks who started a project like this and hit the wall and never finished it. I've owned and rebuilt/transformed/re-rebuilt 10 4WD's in my time, and I had to keep re-learning the awful truth: "it looks good on paper". It has taken me 10 years to get my Dodge CTD/Lance Lite lash up to a place where I can trust it on awful roads and not pull it apart. And that's starting from an already off-road worthy rig and a not-so-off-road-worthy Camper.
If it were me, I would just go over the whole thing to make sure everything works, putting as little cash in it as you can, looking for weak spots, do a tune-up, lube, oil change, check the tire pressure, hoses and belts, fill it with gas and go out and have the time of your life. You have almost nothing to loose. It reminds me when I got a tiny Japanese rental all-wheel-drive wagon in Denver on business. I headed for Summit and went up some arroyo, foot on the floor of that wimpy little auto trans until all forward motion stopped. Engine was still racing but the trans was just spinning. What I found was, I had nothing to loose. Nothing off-roads like a rental car. Nothing loads up, or corners, or brakes like a rental car. Nothing.
"It is what it its."
In the end, I would bet on a different horse for off-road camping.
regards, as always, jefe
 
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redveloce

Adventurer
There were some factory 4x4 chassis mount campers built during the era. My Range Rover blew up in protest the night before going to pick up this Jeep/Chinook, and I had to back out of the deal.

 

Mundo4x4Casa

West slope, N. Ser. Nev.
That is such a cool Glad. It's a one-ton; right there a pretty rare beast, with a Dana 60 rear/dual wheels, Dana 44 frnt., 31 spine axle with one-ton 6-bolt, heavy steel wheels that have the 'Power Wagon' hubs. I've seen VERY few of these lashed up to a chassis camper.
Too bad it didn't work out.
regards, as always, jefe
 
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