I took the bus to get weighed just before Christmas so I could get a sense of how much I had left to play with, now that the build is almost finished.
I was expecting it to be around 4000kg, and hoping it would be less.
I was disappointed to find that it actually weighed 4200kg. Quite a bit more than I hoped.
My GVM (maximum the bus can weigh fully loaded) is 4990kg so I still have 700kg for stuff. Sounds like a lot, but when you add Pepper and me (110kg) full water tanks (170kg), and at least 300kg of food, clothes and other house stuff, it doesn’t leave much leftover.
If I wasn’t needing to carry gear for my business, it would be totally fine. But I DO need to carry gear for my business, and quite a lot of it. The best estimates I can get after weighing all my tools and materials is that I need about 400kg for studio stuff.
I could just get a trailer, and part of me likes the idea of having a fully set up studio I can just walk into with space for everything, and also having the trailer would be good emergency backup accommodation if the bus ever had to be at a mechanic’s overnight and I couldn’t stay in it. There are in fact, a lot of pros to having a trailer. BUT there is one big con that for me, kind of overrides all the pros, and that is, that having a trailer just makes it so much more complicated when driving and parking the bus, and will restrict the places I can go.
A huge part of why I am doing all this in the first place is FREEDOM. Freedom to spend my life doing what I love, and freedom to move around and not be restricted to one place. I am already restricted a bit in terms of where I can go in the bus, because of the size and weight of it, and the fact that I will be travelling with a dog also limits where I can stay. I do not want to restrict myself even further by having to tow a trailer everywhere I go.
I have been looking into the options for increasing the GVM to allow me to carry more weight in the bus. Lots of research into the legalities and lots of discussions with engineers and transport department inspectors.
I have found an engineer in Brisbane who will certify an increase up to 5410kg (the current max load rating of the bus axles) if I upgrade the suspension in the bus. The only thing he requires me to do is add airbag assist to the rear springs.
My mechanic has told me he can supply and fit the airbags for $1500. The engineer has quoted me $330 for the certification.
To get the size trailer I would need, and to fit it out with shelving, insulation, ventilation etc, as well as add a heavy duty towbar to the bus to be able to tow it, would likely cost close to $10,000. Money I don’t currently have spare.
So I have decided to go with the GVM upgrade. It will give me an extra 400kg which I think will be just enough if I am careful about what I take. I’ll still be cutting it fine but it would be so much better than having to go with a trailer, so I will do my best to make it work.
In order to fit all my studio gear in the bus, I will need to give up the idea of having my piano in the bus, and instead build in another cabinet under the table. And most likely also store some things on the roof. I also have the option to raise the height of the bed, but this adds a few more complications ( I would need some steps for Pepper to get up and down, and would also need to pull out the overhead cabinets that I built above the bed) I’m not really keen to do this, and so far, it looks like I won’t have to.
The bus is booked in to have the airbags installed on Feb 20th, and I will hopefully be able to get the GVM increase certified soon after that. Not counting my chickens until I have the paperwork signed, and bus work is on hold until I get it done.