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Introduction and HDT Q's


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Hello Forum Members!


A quick introduction:


I'm a retired Fed. Gov't Physicist that unfortunately, had to retire early due to chronic illness. That said, I'm extremely mechanically inclined and have built several 1/4 mile drag cars when I was younger, have built several custom motorcycles (still have mine; however, due to sickness, haven't ridden in several years) and still have the wife's HD. I most likely won't be taking the bikes based on the above.


We currently have our house for sale and have been helping my elderly parents get through as they've done for us all of our lives (been married almost 31 years) and we plan on buying an HDT w/ fifth wheel to travel while I still can.


I'd first like to thank all the forum members for their invaluable information and knowledge and willingness to help others. I certainly don't have anything to offer regarding HDTs and fifth wheels, but at some-point-in-time, that will certainly change.


At this time, my thoughts have been going from a buying a used HDT and singling for smart car use, but have also been contemplating leaving the HDT tandem and having a hauler bed built. The rationale for the tandem is that I'd really like to haul our 2014 F-150 long bed supercrew as we have a Mastiff and a Chesapeake Retriever that we'd like to take with us on most journeys once we're located at a fixed camp site for a week/month, etc.


I really haven't been able to find much information regarding the tandem with a hauler bed. I have read some information regarding insurance and it appears to be doable.


If you all would be so kind, could you please provide me w/ some insight regarding leaving an HDT, such as a Volvo 780 as a tandem and having someone like Gregg or Larry Herrin build me a hauler bed?


It appears based on what I've read, that in most instances, forum members seem to like the Volvo. I corresponded w/ Gregg and it's obvious that he prefers the Volvo and he provided several reasons for doing so.


And/all advice would be greatly appreciated.




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Welcome to the forum.


As to hauling your pickup on the bed, it's possible, but you'd be restricted to a VERY short fifth wheel. I have a p/u very similar to yours, and it's about 20' long. Add in the clearance needed for turning, and try to stuff it all into 65' overall length, and you don't have much left for living space.


If you like your p/u as much as I do mine, you may need to consider just driving it separately.

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Thanks very much for the reply.


I agree w/ you and I figured that the length of the truck and FW length would probably be an issue. I suppose we could consider a smaller vehicle as we really don't want to be driving two vehicles. I guess, if need be, we could go the singling route, but then we'd be leaving the dogs in the FW when we're out and about. My Mastiff is the biggest baby and he'd most likely be crying/barking and causing a nuisance.


Lots of thought to consider. I know that several exceed the 65' length, but I'd rather not chance that as I really don't need the headaches and hassle if caught.





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If you MUST have the truck, consider a Class A and tow the pickup. I know that isn't the answer you want, but RVing is a compromise in just about every aspect. When the Mastiff passes (hopefully a LONG time from now), reconsider the HDT/5er route. Getting the dogs into/out of a HDT cab also requires some thought. You won't pick up the Mastiff and an HDT is harder to get into than a p/u.


Another option is to shoe horn the dogs into a smaller vehicle you can carry on the hauler bed. Also consider how often the dogs will go out on day trips with you. Unless they are service dogs, lots of places are not dog friendly so you may take them with you less than you think. Can't leave them in the vehicle while you're sight seeing.


BTW, what breed of Mastiff do you have? The likes of a Neapolitan 200+ lb type or a "smaller" French 150ish lb type? Not that it makes much difference, they are all big dogs.


I'm assuming you have a vet at home that you love. Good luck finding that on the road. Yes, there are plenty of well qualified vets, but the rapport you have built with one over years is not easily replaced when the pets need care on the road. Not to mention it can sometimes be a chore finding a vet when you are in new area. I've been pretty lucky with that.

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Thanks for the input remoandiris,


We've tossed around the​ diesel pusher MH several times and that's not what we want and we appreciate the thoughts. BTW, I have a Neapolitan. We've had several Mastiffs, Great Danes and Retrievers through the years. It really looks as though we'll have to consider another vehicle; however, I hate the thought of not having my truck as that's been a staple for us most of our years together.


Does anyone have any thoughts regarding trying to find a single sleeper and going that route? I know they're somewhat scarce regarding I shift; in fact, I don't know that I've come across one in my research. it appears most are ordered w/ stick. I don't have a problem w/ stick and the wife can certainly drive one, but getting rid of it sometime down the road may be a hassle.


So, it looks like I'll most likely pursue what mostly everyone else has been doing, i.e., looking for tandem and having it singled.

Thanks for any advice!​

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For loading large dogs into the truck, consider this http://www.petloader.com/ . We have an 85lb lab that will go down one of the cheaper ramps but she has issues going up it without an boost from us.

Loading a fullsize pickup on the back of an HDT is possible, it will make you long, more than 65'. How much of an issue that becomes is more up to you, the LEO that has you stopped, or the campground your trying to fit into.

We have an older Volvo 610, the sleeper is 61" long, The bunk is just big enough for both of us to lie down on, but add a dog and someone is sleeping on the floor. There are 420's around but they are scarce. There is one gentleman on the forum here that has one though, Alan0043. He might be able to give you an idea of how big the cab actually is.

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Did you see the recent picture Aeromax posted of his setup with a tandem cab over:





You can see they only have a jeep on the back and it has to be loaded at an angle to put it on, Not sure of their overall length but they have to be close to 65'. You are not likely to get a full size long bed supercrew and a decent size 5th wheel trailer and still stay anywhere near 65'


We built our hauler to bed to handle our full size van, but we would have to pull a bumper pull trailer if we hauled it and needed a trailer at the same time. We plan to just use the truck sleeper if we hauled the van that way. We do put the van inside our 44' 5th wheel trailer but as you can imagine our living quarters is very small and the longest we have been in it at a time is 3 weeks and that is about pushing it. We really need a slide out to have more room inside. We are just over the 65' length but in MN we can be 75'. Doesn't make us legal in other states though but we still go where we want except to California.


We agree with others that a large dog will be hard to get in the HDT but not impossible, you may need to get creative and use a ramp or a lift or put a rear access door on the sleeper. We have had to pick up our granddogs to get them in the truck and they were not small dogs.



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Ctgreg, welcome to the forum......... you have no idea how badly this forum has need for a Fed. Gov't Physicist.......


Before I make the suggestion for your rig I will need to dress in my Nomex undies and fire-suit since I sometimes tend to tickle the leading edge of things and a lot of the forum members tend to ...........be pretty .....Expressive.......so get out the flame-throwers........


Take a peek at this link below and..........get those Physicist-juices flowing.........as you know.....some problems may have many answers....




Forum member Aeromax is obviously at the bleeding edge of the........."outside-the-NORMAL-HDT-box"........but as a Physicist "outside-the-box" is just another ho-hum-day-at-the-office.........


Some forum members will likely comment that the Aeromax HDT is a poor HDT-RV choice but you might ask that member IF they had any RV-HDT actual mileage to base their comments on (very likely not).


We haul a lot of items with our Freightshaker but we tow a rather modest 30ft toy-horse-hauler that is not a fifth-wheel so if need be, we can haul a 20ft long pickup on the HDT and still have a combined length of under 65 ft total. Having a horse travel with your RV is a total different RV game so our rig works for us but not likely ideal for too many folks.......


We tend to follow the sun and tend to spend a lot of time outside the RV so we do just fine with our modest trailer size......most of the forum members tend to favor the largest 5er that they are able to attain.


The HDT mainstream is a fairly safe well-traveled-concept..........but a few 'special HDT" rigs may have some merit as well........


Lots to ponder........( just another Physicist-day-at-the-office....)



Drive on............(Enjoy the ride)

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I agree with most of the above comments. A truck long enough to haul a super cab long bed and pull a 5r is just not practical. You are going to be exceeding the length of a "straight vehicle" (40' in some states?) just with the truck. And good luck finding a campground to get into and out of with that rig. A further option is you could consider a bumper pull trailer, there are pluses.


Your medical problem allowing, I think you would probably be best considering a setup like Aeromax---a short jeep or smaller car either in a toyhauler or on the deck. Or, if you tend to only move a couple times a year, do what some others have done. Just drive the PU. To get a dog like that in the HDT, either he is gonna have to learn to jump, or I might suggest a special access door built into the rear of the sleeper. Several others have put a full size camper door in the sleeper, and had access from the bed. Build a stairs into the bed design. Just a thought.

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Don't forget about truck conversions if you really want to have a large run-around vehicle with you. Obviously there are some compromises compared to a class A motorhome, basement storage being a big one, but you could either flat tow the truck or tow a larger trailer (stacker or liftgate) that would give you some additional space.

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Dolly-the-paint-horse is our 950 pound replacement for a "big dog" she just trots right up the ramp of the toyhauler into her removable horse module and sticks her nose in the hay-bag......HAY No Problem.......


Maybe a portable kennel carrier on the back bed of the HDT might be a good ride for the big dog.........look how many ranchers dogs love to ride on the back of farm trucks.....


Drive on .......(With dog ears flopping in the wind.....)

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Thanks to all for the replies! They're greatly appreciated.


I agree w/ everyone regarding getting the dogs into the truck; we always have to give them a "boost" to get into our 4x4 truck. I guess I really didn't think that one through at all, but some of the suggestions are very good food-for-thought.


I like the small car hauler deck on the HDT that Damian provided, but am guessing it's either too hard to find one or too expensive to have one built.


I certainly could configure something to get the dogs in/out of an, but I will have to really think on that one. Maybe, I'll really have to consider a crew cab MDT, but that's not the path I want to take as we're (I mean I'm) really set on a higher HP and more capable/safer truck. Please don't flame me for that comment!


It really looks like I've got much more to think about thanks to you good folks. I definitely don't want to take the chance of being much longer than 65', so in essence, that rules out putting my truck on the bed. If I really didn't like my supercrew trucks so much and how much practicality they offer for me and the wife, I wouldn't have contemplated the possibility. I will definitely have to look into something shorter to either haul on the bed or as stated, have to wife follow even though that's definitely not what we want.


More questions coming in the future! Thanks again.

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Let me reiterate - or is it piling on - about the crew cab. It is simply not practical to haul that. Not if you want a truck that is practical in campgrounds and a total length under 65'. As someone mentioned, it is all about compromises. You cannot carry all your "landlubber" stuff with you on the road. Although some have made a valiant effort to do so, in the end it is simply not practical. And part of the real benefit of living on the road is simplifying your life.


The dog ramps work exceptionally well and almost all dogs are pretty easily trained to them. Even with your Mastif you should not have an issue with a ramp.


On the "other type" truck - the Freightliner M2 112 is every bit a heavy truck. Has the same hp/torque and a 4-door cab, but it will be a single rear. You may consider that - but bring lots of money because a new on with bed is going to be in the $160K+ area. And used ones are very hard to find. They have all the safety and performance equipment of our "conventional" HDTs. Just in a different package. Pull a toyhauler with a moderate sized car and you should have the best of both worlds. But no pickup.


If you HAVE to have the pickup then look seriously at the DP motorhome or a truck conversion. You can find a nice DP used for a decent price - same for the truck conversion. I happen to like the conversion, but they have way less space inside and less storage space than a DP. And generally less slides. I know you don't want to go this route, but with the truck a requirement this is the best and most practical answer.

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depending on the type of chronic illness you mention, this raises a red flag in my mind. An HDT is no more difficult to set up, hook and in hook as a normal 5th wheel and pick up.

However when you start talking about loading even a Smart car or larger you add more physical labor. And none of us are getting any younger.

IMO With what your wanting to do you should be looking at a diesel pusher and a toad pulled behind it.

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Thinking about what's been said, and looking up the Ford published length for your F-150 (2015 is 243.7" long, your's can't be much different), you'd be overlength pulling it even behind a 40' DP or truck conversion. Not by a lot, and you'd have the option of disconnecting if you got pulled over.


If you're full timing, I doubt you'd be moving that far, or often, at any given time. Driving separately wouldn't be that big an issue.

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Putting a PU over the cab will be a tall rig. Way over the 13.5' allowed in many states and likely over 14' allowed in others. We load a Forester with just the nose over the cab and slanted down from there. We are 13', which is the maxium in Colorado when off the Interstate. This is with a 42" small cab Volvo.

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Figure it this way: list out all the logical places you could put a pickup: over the cab, behind the cab/in front of hitch, on the trailer (most likely rear, for the sake of loading), or towed behind the trailer (with significant concerns for overall length and legal ramifications of double trailers).


Perhaps shift your thinking to putting the pickup on the HDT bed and switching to a bumper pull (pintle hook?) trailer. Obviously a tradeoff in square footage, max weight, etc, but you recover the use of the full bed and potentially some overhang, depending on clearances and such.


Look at the Smart car. I'm not suggesting it for you, but still take a look at how the space is used. Engine, passengers, small trunk. Very effective use of 8' (and change...which keeps changing apparently). An F150 pickup burns a lot of square footage creating a 6.75' bed. Even an Excursion gives more flexibility (three rows of seats plus small cargo area, or two rows of seats plus sizeable cargo area, or one pair of seats and 4'x8' plywood in the vehicle with the doors closed) for the length committed; any smaller SUV will have similar (types of) combinations like this, whereas the pickup form factor is committed from the day it rolls of the line.


Hope your search ideas continue to blossom...

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Thanks again for everyone's input and thoughts. You've all given me a lot to think about and it's very much appreciated; hence, the reason I joined this forum to pick the brains of experienced RVers. Your input is extremely helpful.


I guess we can live w/o the truck as full-timing is about sacrifices and as Jack stated, "simplifying our life."


I really gave a lot of thought regarding the DP/toad combination, but I believe the lack of safety IMHO is a big issue w/ me and depreciation appears to be significant. That's not to say that HDT/FW's don't depreciate, but I feel that in the event we have to go back to S&B someday (most likely inevitable), I think that I would have better luck selling. This may or may not be true, but the safety factor is really the biggest reason for me.


The TT route is not for us as there's not enough room for all of us (me, wife and eight paws), and I haven't seen anything that we like.


Thanks so much for the dog door video from Gregg. I watched mostly all his singling videos, but didn't catch that one. I have no doubt we can work either with ramps or the doggie door.


So, that said, I'm willing to give up my truck as I figure we can use the HDT to haul dogs when necessary and will get a Smart car for travelling w/o the dogs. Now I just have to get my house sold and things will progress forward. The thought of getting rid of a lot of stuff, e.g., two Corvettes, M3, custom bike and wife's HD, etc., will be really difficult as I've always had my "toys." It's time to move on and get out and smell the roses while we still can and we're both really looking forward to joining the "club."


Thanks again and feel free to provide any/all input. This forum really is a great asset and the information is invaluable.

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