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Kenworth W900 build project


traxman25

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First off, this build is a bit outside even the HDT RV tradition. It has also changed face over the course of this year. This rig started off as a haul rig built to replace my aging Dodge Ram 12 valve Cumins while simply meeting the requirements of a motor home. We (myself and a friend of mine Ben) wanted to be able to haul one off road truck by itself on a deck, and haul a trailer (either another off road rig, or custom built toy hauler) behind. I had picked up a 60 inch stand up sleeper, we were in the process of building a cab/sleeper air ride sub frame when we got hit by a change of mind. Long story short, a 3 person trip to Flagstaff Arizona in May that included rain, snow, freezing temps at an outdoor 3 day event mad us realize that this little sleeper just wasn't enough. So as most projects go, it has evolved into a fairly different project. We have since purchased a 120 inch condo sleeper and are rebuilding it to suit our needs and wants. More on that later.... I should mention that this will be my first Motorhome/RV/camper of any type.

 

Enough babble, on with the truck!

I picked up this '95 W900L knowing it needed some work. However, it doesn't have all the extra emissions stuff a more modern truck has, was cheep, and it gives us a great base to do our own thing to.

It is a factory extended frame with a 320 inch wheel base.

Has a Cat 3406e, Eaton 13 speed, and 3.7 diffs. We don't have a clue for mileage. All we know is that the odometer has certainly rolled over at least once and that the trans is not the original, thankfully (was a 15 speed).

 

KW1.jpg

 

KW2.jpg

 

Goals:

Sleep 3 adults comfortably, 4 if needed.

Be able to cook, eat and live inside if the weather outside is well... frightful.

Haul at least 2 off road rigs, one on an attached flat bed.

Haul a bumper pull trailer. (might add 5th or goose hitch later)

Improved ride quality (air ride).

Have good heat and air conditioning.

Have a quite interior, driving and parked.

Enough on board power to boondock when needed.

And of course look great.

 

The plan:

120 inch condo sleeper, rebuilt into a small living space featuring:

Kitchenette with sink, 4.4 cft. residential fridge, microwave, hotplates and plenty of storage.
72" x 34" (not sure yet) dinette that will fold into 1 bed.
Double bunk across rear wall. Lower bunk will fold into a chair, upper bunk will slide up out of the way.
72"Tx24"W pass side RV exit door.
Storage cabinets all around.
RV Roof top AC.
Eber. D3C diesel jet heater.
Honda EU3000 generator with remote start controlled by custom touch screen controller inside.
3kw+ pure sine inverter.
Large house battery bank.
300w of solar on the roof.
25 gallons of fresh and gray water storage
Lots and lots of other details.

It will not have a toilet/shower. We just couldn't make it work to sleep 3 and fit a Kitchenette and shower/toilet combo. Almost everywhere we go has facilities available in one form or another anyway.

 

As for the truck, there's lots of details going there too.

Cab and sleeper both get air ride

Front suspension air ride, with overfill lift capabilities (additional ground clearance getting into places a truck like this probably shouldn't go)

Rear suspension air ride overfill lift capabilities (same as above)

16 foot flat bed, with integrated rear bumper/hitch This will be more of a "truck" flat bed than the traditional "toter" flat bed.

All new matching tool/storage boxes, including both front steps.

New front bumper

And of course no more barney paint job.....

There's so many details for this project I can't even remember them all right now. I'll add them as I think of them.

 

Ok so enough for a first post. In these pics you can see the size of this monster with my Tacoma sitting beside the back end of the truck. The flat bed will be big enough to haul that rig on board.

 

KWinshop1.jpg

 

KWnosleeper1.jpg

 

KWnosleeper2.jpg

 

That's all for tonight, more to come.

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Welcome to the dark side. Quite the project and nice to see another Kenworth. Mine has a rollback deck for the jeep. Have you heard about the HDR Rally in October? It is a great adventure and will give you a chance to look at a lot of different rigs

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Hi traxman25 -

 

nice W900L - this body on truck concept is in our "possible" plans of different rigs we are thinking about.

 

Your W900L should be sitting right around 41 ft overall length right now right?

 

for front ride height adjustment from the driver seat check out http://www.canadianloadshare.com/ kits. Used around here lots in oilfield trucks to add stability and raise the fuel tanks a couple more inches out of the mud 'n ruts

 

for rear - you can plumb an "overinflation" valve into a switch on the dash - winchless lowbed guys and cow haulers in our area use them to raise the trailer a couple inches before uncoupling so they can allow the "non crank" landing gear to settle a bit and still get back under the trailer easier. These circuits usually have a dash warning light so the driver doesn't forget to drop to correct ride height so the driveline angles are not all wonky out on the road at speed.

 

'course with Kenworth "8 bag" suspensions your interaxle u-joint angles remain parallel so it will run with quite a bit of deflection without fussing...

 

Great project - keep us "posted" -

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In a way my comment regarding HDT insurance may not seem valid for your main thread subject however you might consider the effects of your condo-construction may have of the "insurability" of your HDT once you have completed your construction.

 

Our HDT is a very basic Freighliner Century with a integral condo and a additional 48" coffin sleeper that we utilize as a bathroom and laundry facility.

 

We shop our insurance fairly agressively and we have found that many RV insurance agencies are fairly adverse to insuring Non-Proffesional toter-home conversions. Many underwriters demand many details of the units construction be documented and even then it can be a real task to obtain underwriter approval. One huge factor that many insurers seem to demand is a perm. Shower and Toilet WITH built-in Black & Grey tanks. The sad fact is that often the quality of owner-converted tractors-to-toterhome conversion exceeds "Proffesional-Built-Units" by a wide margin the fact remains that the insurance carriers considers these unit indeed to be "One-of-a-kind" and as such can be a headache when it comes to claims issues.

 

Once in a while the subject of insuring single vs tandem pops up here in the forum and I will say that indeed sometimes tandem configurations are not acceptable HDT units to some insurers. Between being tandem and custom-built you need to consider your insurability..........

 

Something to ponder.......

 

Drive on..........(enjoy the ride.......)

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Hi traxman25 -

 

nice W900L - this body on truck concept is in our "possible" plans of different rigs we are thinking about.

 

Your W900L should be sitting right around 41 ft overall length right now right?

 

 

Thanks! The cab, hood and engine are in great shape. There isn't any body work to do to the cab itself, I can't say that about most older trucks. It is at 34 feet front bumper to back of frame right now, will be 37-38 feet once finished.

 

Thanks for the link, I'll keep that in mind.

 

Cool! Looking forward to following your build.

 

What are your off-road rigs? We run Jeep CJ8 Scramblers from stock to built (tons & V8's).

 

Thanks. I'm a yota guy, I have an older 4Runner and the newer Tacoma in the pics.

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Welcome to the dark side. Quite the project and nice to see another Kenworth. Mine has a rollback deck for the jeep. Have you heard about the HDR Rally in October? It is a great adventure and will give you a chance to look at a lot of different rigs

 

Thanks. A roll back would be cool. I'm sure that helps a lot with safe loading and unloading! I don't think we're going to make it to rally. I've thought about it and I just can't commit to it at this time. It's a lot of time and money that could go to the truck.

 

Anyway, lets see if we can get caught up a bit.

 

After scrapping the 60 inch sleeper plans I picked up the only 120 inch sleeper I could find. It is a Double Eagle Industries sleeper that looked good in the pictures.

 

120sleeper1.jpg

 

120sleeper2.jpg

 

The junk yard didn't feel like taking the tool boxes off, so getting it home was, um interesting. This was by far the most sketchy thing I've hauled. I'll be happy to live the rest of my life not having to do something like it again. (BTW, the straps and chains are laying out to dry, They'd been unhooked before I took the pics).

 

The plan all along was to strip the interior and rebuild the interior into something more useful. And things started going down hill from there.

 

120sleeper-teardown1.jpg

 

And this is where things started to go south. The frame is shaken apart, badly. DEI clearly never factored fatigue into their design.

 

120sleeper_damage_2.jpg

 

120sleeper_damage_3.jpg

 

120sleeper_damage_5.jpg

 

 

Yikes, there's a whole lot more work! All 4 of the stock mounting points were cracked, on of them completely broken. The front wall was literally falling apart, and the back wall was not far behind. So now we're not just redoing the interior, we're rebuilding the entire sleeper frame! I sent these pics off to the junk yard, and was able to get a large portion of my money back.

It might look bad, but as they saying goes...lets make lemonade. So we're stretching the sleeper 6 inches wider to match the 8 foot width of the flat bed, and making it 6 inches taller for more head room (I'm 6'1"). Onward we go.

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For the first time since we got the truck we got to take it for a nice long drive today. Lets just say that if there's a governor, it's beyond any speed we need to take the truck too. :D

 

Anyway, here's a final update to the build to get up to speed with our current state.

I designed a new base frame for the sleeper, and reworked the design of the stock shell to make the whole thing a lot stronger. Part of the design includes making the floor, ceiling, and bolt side walls 2 inches thick, and the front and rear walls 1 inches thick. Those cavities will be filled with closed cell spray foam insulation to well insulate, and glue everything together nicely. The bottom of the floor will be skinned with 0.05" thick Aluminum sheet, and the walls will be resheeted with 0.09" thick high strength AL. The interior floor is getting 1/2" plywood sheet, then laminate wood flooring. I'm still not sure what we're doing for the interior of the walls and ceiling though. I do not want to use the cheepo plastic wall sheets I see in a lot of trailers, but I'm not sure what else is available. Maybe Masonite?

 

Anyway, here's the new floor frame going together, and finished.

 

120sleeper_reuild_2.jpg

 

120sleeper_reuild_6.jpg

 

Once the floor frame was done we set the sleeper frame on it to check to make sure they both lined up. It was good enough, so we started cutting. Here's what was left, not all that much IMO. The bulk heads will be coming out, but were left in for support.

 

120sleeper_reuild_7.jpg

 

And one half laying doing the Double Eagle Flop in prep for sectioning to the wider width.

120sleeper_reuild_9.jpg

 

We got the height and width stretched, and tac welded it all to the floor frame. Then we decided we had to see how it looked on the truck!

This will be the air ride ride height, with the bottom of the floor 4 inches above the top of the frame.

 

120sleeper_reuild12.jpg

 

120sleeper_reuild13.jpg

 

120sleeper_reuild14.jpg

 

In this last pic you can get a pretty good feel for the extra width and height built into the new condo.What a difference that is going to make! That gets us caught up with our progress on this thing. So more to come, but it won't be too quickly.

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Hi traxman25 -

 

Your paint scheme is called "Seminole" and is all the rage again on new KW's, too bad it is the bug warsh purple :o

 

Nice work overhauling the sleeper - maybe now is the time to check into some sound mitigation methods and materials especially for the floor of the sleeper?

We once owned a fiberglass shell truck camper without a "basement" - the floor sat flat on the bed of the pickup.

(Safety Hall Monitors please cover your eyes) - I took a ride back there once to open the rear door and observe my sweet AirSafe receiver hitch adjustment and operation towing a trailer on a worn out rough corrugated stretch of highway. Even with the rear door closed it was LOUD in there....

 

Are you planning to use the OEM KW cab air ride arrangement with separate sleeper suspension? Is there any way to set up a 3 point support for your sleeper to frame attachments (like the cab has 2 front single middle rear) so twisting forces from the truck frame as you "off road" to your boondocking camps aren't transferred to the sleeper structure?

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