Hi, Sunrader question - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-23-2016, 08:41 PM   #1
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Name: Vova
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Hi, Sunrader question

Planning to pick up a Sunrader pretty soon. I really want a 4x4 but not willing to spend $20k on one.
My plan is to get a 1980-85 2wd and convert it to 4wd.
My question is, are the early Sunrader frames the same as the early model truck frames? Could I just swap the Sunrader cab and box to a 4wd long bed frame?
Plan would be to swap out the 22r for a Chevy 4.3l, a toyota r151 5-speed, and a full floater rear axle (maybe a 14bolt).
Thanks in advance.
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Old 03-24-2016, 08:22 AM   #2
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Try out Toyotamotorhome.org

This is something that comes up often enough.

The thing to understand is that there aren't really "Sunrader frames". There are trucks. On those trucks, RV manufacturers attached their fiberglass campers, with some modifications.

The modifications typically include a frame extension to the truck, and some beefier suspension.

You will find no truck that you can just plop a Sunrader body down onto. They will all require a frame extension. Are you talking 17' or 21'? Either way you'll need a frame extension, but obviously a much longer one for the 21'.

But the Sunrader is just a fiberglass shell. It has no frame. You take the truck, modify it to be long enough and strong enough to handle the camper, then set the camper down on it.

That will be at least as big a job as converting a 2wd to a 4wd. It partially depends on what your skill set is.

Taking a 2wd Sunrader and making it 4wd is a lot of work. But probably not as much work as taking a Sunrader body off a 2wd truck, then modifying a 4wd truck and putting the body on it. People have done both but I think for whatever reason it's more common to take the Sunrader off the 2wd truck and put it on a 4x4. Probably because that way you can use a more modern truck, rather than being stuck with whatever year 2wd the Sunrader happened to come on.

Just be realistic about cost. If you spend $8,000 on a 2wd Sunrader, then buy a 4x4 truck, then all the materials, time, thought and energy...at what point does a $20K 4x4 Sunrader, ready to camp with, start sounding like the better option?
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Old 03-24-2016, 10:02 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZachO View Post
Try out Toyotamotorhome.org

This is something that comes up often enough.

The thing to understand is that there aren't really "Sunrader frames". There are trucks. On those trucks, RV manufacturers attached their fiberglass campers, with some modifications.

The modifications typically include a frame extension to the truck, and some beefier suspension.

You will find no truck that you can just plop a Sunrader body down onto. They will all require a frame extension. Are you talking 17' or 21'? Either way you'll need a frame extension, but obviously a much longer one for the 21'.

But the Sunrader is just a fiberglass shell. It has no frame. You take the truck, modify it to be long enough and strong enough to handle the camper, then set the camper down on it.

That will be at least as big a job as converting a 2wd to a 4wd. It partially depends on what your skill set is.

Taking a 2wd Sunrader and making it 4wd is a lot of work. But probably not as much work as taking a Sunrader body off a 2wd truck, then modifying a 4wd truck and putting the body on it. People have done both but I think for whatever reason it's more common to take the Sunrader off the 2wd truck and put it on a 4x4. Probably because that way you can use a more modern truck, rather than being stuck with whatever year 2wd the Sunrader happened to come on.

Just be realistic about cost. If you spend $8,000 on a 2wd Sunrader, then buy a 4x4 truck, then all the materials, time, thought and energy...at what point does a $20K 4x4 Sunrader, ready to camp with, start sounding like the better option?
Thank you for the thorough response.
I've searched the net and have not found any info on the swap so if you come across something please share.
As far as costs, I see Sunraders going up for sale for $1,500-$2,000 that are non running. I can also find a toyota rock crawler with a 4.3l, r151 tranny, and upgraded axles for $8-$10k. For $10-12k I would have 90% of the parts I need for the swap.
I can do most of the fab work myself but figure it will cost me another $3 for other.
Having several Toyota trucks in the past I can't imagine enjoying driving a Sunrader with a 22r so I would want to upgrade the engine and tranny anyway.
I guess in the end i would have a pretty sweet 4x4 rv with plenty of power for close to the cost of a stock 4x4 Sunrader.
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Old 03-24-2016, 10:07 AM   #4
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Sounds like a large project with a fun outcome to enjoy for yrs beyond. I wish you much success in your endeavor.
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Old 03-24-2016, 10:30 AM   #5
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Thanks...
This is pretty interesting.
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Old 03-24-2016, 10:59 AM   #6
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If you didn't need the "walk-through" feature of a motorhome, that would sure be an easy solution!

Look up Chinook 4x4 transplants. Same idea, different model rv, lots more of them documented.
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Old 03-24-2016, 11:13 AM   #7
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If you didn't need the "walk-through" feature of a motorhome, that would sure be an easy solution!

Look up Chinook 4x4 transplants. Same idea, different model rv, lots more of them documented.
The rover is a walk-through. If you Google sunrader rover there are pics.
I do want the walk-through for sure. I have two kids so a 17' sunrader would be perfect for me.
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