A Kingsley Coach Big Rig Conversion Article by Bruce Rayner.
A Kingsley Coach to be exact. Ever seen one on the road? You can tell it by all the heads turning to watch it go by. Built along the lines of a Prevost, this was Kingsley's first entry into the truck conversion motorhome market. The LeeAnn Rimes coach made Kingsley famous for their custom truck conversions for touring rock stars.
The LeAnn Rimes Connection
In 1996, the concept of a Class 8 Highway truck tractor married to a motorhome was an idea in the mind of Ralph Dickenson. It seemed like a logical improvement to the proliferation of underpowered square tin box RVs then on the road. His company, soon to become Kingsley Coach, built one to show at RV gatherings throughout the south. By chance, Wilbur Rimes saw the coach and was immediately sold on the concept. Rimes' 13 year old daughter, LeAnn, had just made it on the country charts and her popularity was exploding. LeAnn was about to go on tour. Rimes figured that the Kingsley coach was a refreshing alternative to the familiar bus that other groups used for travel. He wanted something different, something that said "a new kind of country star" when it rolled into town. On the spot, he ordered three of them and the Kingsley coach was a reality. The three coaches were highly customized with bunks for the crew, reception areas and in one coach a tanning booth adjacent to the master bedroom and LeAnn's dressing room.
Where are the coaches now?
One is in Arizona, the blue one is in Minnesota and the third one was seen on the way to the Sturgis bike ralley in South Dakota this year hauling a huge trailer full of Harleys! It is owned by John Breckinridge, a top racer featured on the 2006 Sturgis poster. And where did he get it? On ebay!
Dickenson, designer and president of Kingsley Coach, built one more coach with the same outward look and design of the Rimes coaches. The "look" was achieved by a graceful curve built into the side of the coach and a custom faring that blended the lines of the Peterbuilt into the coach. The distinctive curved windows were actually purchased from Prevost, the Canadian manufacturer of many of the million dollar specialty coarches you may have seen. The custom Kingsley was outfitted as an executive coach for show and private use by Dickenson. The coach was sold to TimeLine Designs.
Kingsley Coach manufactured about 100 custom coaches. This one, however, has a distinctive background. It is one of the first coaches they built, known as the "LeAnn Rimes" design, after the country star who traveled on tour with three of these coaches. This coach was created with an executive layout and used by the Kingsley designer as a personal and demo coach.
Envision yourself behind the wheel of a state of the art Class 8 truck with raw power and driving comfort as well, then enjoying the elegant living style of this executive coach when you stop. Compare this to the $1M Prevost conversion coaches you've seen. They're elegant inside as well, but so ordinary to drive. This makes getting there just plain fun. Like the idea? Read on, let us give you an idea of how you can own a Kingsley.
Prevost style windows, a low step entrance mid ships and separate driver and co-pilot entrance doors round out the looks and convenience of the Kingsley. Side storage bays and a rear bay large enough for toys like a three wheeler or dirt bike (92" x 70" x 30") add to the practicality of this coach.
A big difference, besides looks, is in the handling. This coach will never "wallow" through turns. With its heavy duty chassis and low center of gravity, it takes turns without leaning. Put it on cruise control and it will take you up and down those hills in stride.
Here's another plus: If you ever need service on the road, just drive into any Peterbilt service center along the interstate for 24 hour repair service. You can even sleep while the work is being done. Unlike diesel pushers where the engine is under the bed (love those mechanics walking through your living room), just pop the hood for instant serviceability. Because it is a standard truck, those service centers are glad to work on your rig. That means it is easier for you too to do your own routine maintenance checks.
Safety is another plus. Pray that it doesn't happen, but in an accident, a standard flat front motorhome puts you pretty close to whatever gets in your way. With a truck conversion, one gets a sense of security knowing that whatever is in the road has to get through 8,000 pounds of engine before it gets to you. As a trucker observed, it's nice to know that if something bad happens, you'll be above the carnage.
Tech Details on the Classic Coach
No slides. Gen is diesel, 15kw, connected directly to the main tanks (2 -70 gal). Coach was designed to be all electric, thus the big gen. Has several baseboard electric heaters with fans throughout. Thus hot water is elec as well, about a 10 gal tank. We are adding propane for the frig only.
At 45' it is legal, I believe in all 50 states. CA has some restrictions, like you're not supposed to take it on some small roads per a route list on the CHP website. Hasn't proved a problem. We took it thru Yellowstone. Now that was pushing it. Talked to the park ranger, yes it was legal, but those roads are twisty for a big rig. Because it is registered as a motorhome it is considered a "housecar" like any other motorhome, even if it looks like a truck. Thus the same rules apply as for a passenger car.
No stopping at weigh stations, use the speed limit for cars, pay the non commercial fee for registration, pay motorhome rates for insurance. My policy runs around $1200/yr. CA is unique in one respect, they require a "non commercial class B license for rigs over 40' up to 45'.
No medical required, just have to know about air brakes, etc. However, CA recognizes the requirements of other states it you're passing thruough. Shore power: Standard 50' or so 220v cable 50A service with adapters for 30A and 110v service. Standard left side dump hose, fresh water fill or city water connect. 140 gal fresh water tank, 100 gal black and 40 gal gray water tanks.
More details: Cummins 410 hp has Jake and 6 spd Allison auto trans. Dual rear drive axle and dual tag axle. Air control from cockpit to raise tag for shorter wheel base in city, raise rear end for clearance, lower rear end for easier loading in rear bay. Electrical convenience: Auto shore AC transfer switch, auto inverter transfer.
Thus, when dry camping, coach AC for stove, TV, microwave, etc. (except air conditioning and heat) will run on inverter on separate bank of house batteries. Remote gen start switch in cockpit and next to bed starts/stops gen, transfers load to gen and does a quick charge on batteries. Plugging in umbilical cable transfers load to shore power. Cable TV external connector wired to living room and bedroom TV. Roof antenna for VHF/UHF can be raised/rotated from inside.
Bruce Rayner, owner of TimeLine Designs, with his LeeAnn Rimes coach
A look inside the coach
A few extras do stand out. A midships low step entrance door with entrance foyer and oak banister (poodle greeter not included). A Combo-Matic washer dryer, separate high capacity ice maker, trash compactor. Walk around queen size bed with separate dressers. Full size bath and shower. New 3 way refrigerator, double sink.
Hidden behind the appearance though is structural detail that integrates the cab and coach into a single unit. Check out that workmanship!