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HDT set up questions.


13speed

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I am starting to narrow down what I want to do for my Tractor and 5er set up but still have some things to consider. So far I have figured out that I want a late model 430 (yes 430) with a Ishift and D13. I do not need or want a full condo for a couple of reasons. We are going to bobtail the tractor around and I want it to be the same size as a dually crew cab pickup. For places that require a car I figure that for the 40-50K I would spend building a deck, the system to get the car up there and the cost of the smart, I can rent a car for 200-250 full weeks. Enterprise will pick us up and I don't have to wash it, maintain it, get it on and off the tractor or insure and plate it. We will be traveling about 4-6 months a year and will have vehicles at home base. I also will be registering it in a friendly state that will not need a sink etc...

 

The other reason is that I want to keep my overall length with a 45-46' trailer to 65' or below for two reasons. 1. keeping something that big somewhat maneuverable. 2. I do not want to have to deal with over zealous LEO's because I WILL be that one guy who gets caught. It would be hard to achieve these things with a 730/780.

 

Now here is something you guys will not agree with me on but I do want to do it this way. In keeping with my under 65' theme I want to mount the ET in front of the rear axle. Just in front of the torque arm. This will keep the overall length under control as well as put a bit more weight on the steers. I have been told that they maneuver so much better way back like most of you have them and all of that but with about 20 years of class A experience, all in tight cities I think I will be ok.

 

All that said. Other than a crossmember that might have to be moved forward is there anything preventing me from doing this? I have a email in to Gregg and when we talked a couple of months ago he did not think it out of the realm of possibility. I also left a message for "the trailer guy" as he is much closer than Gregg. I will post a link to what I think would work. I would remove the roof and side fairings, single it rear and paint it. Singling rear should be much cheaper than mid....Just a longer drive shaft right?

 

Thanks, Chris

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Don't know which state you are in, in many states you need the sleeper to be titled as an RV.

 

Two months ago we bought a new 2013 smart for $12k. Yes, three years on the dealers lot, but under 50 miles and never titled.

 

Our deck is very basic, (you can see build photos here: http://s173.photobucket.com/user/dmnb/library/Deck%20Build) and I do not recall the exact numbers since I first loaded a smart in 2006, but I have less than $6k invested in the deck build and we had to add a stinger for the fifth wheel since the truck had already been singled. Originally had the hitch ahead of the axle, but I was towing a small fiver at the time so I really have no comparison. With the hitch behind the axle it backs like a flat tow, much more responsive than the typical fiver when backing.

 

Our fiver is 37 feet, our hitch is 3' behind the axle and we are right at 65' overall.

 

Good luck with the build.

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By moving your hitch forward a couple of things come to mind:

1) make sure you have clearance for turning the trailer and not hitting something at the rear corner of the truck.

2) you will be adding weight to your front axle and taking weight off your rear axle. Make sure you do not overload the front axle.

3) trailer turning will be greatly affected in a worse way. You will be cutting corners more.

4) make sure there is nothing you need to be able to get at service something in that area. Removing the ET hitch is not a light task.

5) resale of the truck maybe limited to certain buyers due to the smaller setup.

 

Dave

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Don't know which state you are in, in many states you need the sleeper to be titled as an RV.

 

Two months ago we bought a new 2013 smart for $12k. Yes, three years on the dealers lot, but under 50 miles and never titled.

 

Our deck is very basic, (you can see build photos here: http://s173.photobucket.com/user/dmnb/library/Deck%20Build) and I do not recall the exact numbers since I first loaded a smart in 2006, but I have less than $6k invested in the deck build and we had to add a stinger for the fifth wheel since the truck had already been singled. Originally had the hitch ahead of the axle, but I was towing a small fiver at the time so I really have no comparison. With the hitch behind the axle it backs like a flat tow, much more responsive than the typical fiver when backing.

 

Our fiver is 37 feet, our hitch is 3' behind the axle and we are right at 65' overall.

 

Good luck with the build.

I will make what ever state I need to be in my home state. I am thinking that either WA (current home) OR (can do a private truck) MT (I heard is friendly) or SD as a last resort. Good find on the Smart. I guess a deck and car could be done for 20K but that is still a lot of rentals. The DW and I have talked it over and we have one really big issue besides length and cost for not wanting a smart......Great Dane > Smart car = no Bueno!

 

By moving your hitch forward a couple of things come to mind:

1) make sure you have clearance for turning the trailer and not hitting something at the rear corner of the truck.

2) you will be adding weight to your front axle and taking weight off your rear axle. Make sure you do not overload the front axle.

3) trailer turning will be greatly affected in a worse way. You will be cutting corners more.

4) make sure there is nothing you need to be able to get at service something in that area. Removing the ET hitch is not a light task.

5) resale of the truck maybe limited to certain buyers due to the smaller setup.

 

Dave

Weight to the front will be approx. 600 lbs according to Gregg. Cutting corners.....Im a trucker! I love putting big trailers in small places...I do it in my sleep:) Got you on the accessibility for the ET! I am only going to have 50-55K in it so resale is not a huge worry.

 

I somewhat agree. My length has already prevented us from getting in several nice parks.

 

Yes! I want to keep it within reason but still have a large comfortable home!

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The only issue I see is axle/differential clearance with the hitch. My hitch is mounted as close as I could possibly get it to the rear axle, but behind it. When I dump my air bags, my hitch hangs below the top of my differential. There is no way I could mount my hitch over my axle. It would have to be completely in front of the axle or completely behind it (as it is). Just be aware of this and make sure your other clearances are sufficient. You do not want the back end of your truck kissing the front of your fiver in a tight of camber turn.

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Chris

It sounds like you have this fairly well thought out. One other way that might work would be to take the same truck and single short and put the hitch behind. Single long is the easiest, but if you have the tools or are hiring a professional I think it would be another days labor to move the axle if you want. Also a longer driveshaft may need to be in two pieces, I'm singled mid and my shaft is longer than ideal according to the driveshaft shop.

 

Nigel

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Nigel beat me to the single short and put the hitch behind the axle idea. I also want my rigs overall length under 65'. The 430 you linked as an example would look good in my opinion, with the fairings removed and singled short. It would make a great daily driver that way. You would be way more maneuverable than a dually pick up that way.

 

My T2000 is singled short and I love it. It has a bigger sleeper than the 430 though. I am about 18 inches longer than my CC Long bed dually was. The 430 would definitely be the same length or a little shorter than a dually singled short.

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The only issue I see is axle/differential clearance with the hitch. My hitch is mounted as close as I could possibly get it to the rear axle, but behind it. When I dump my air bags, my hitch hangs below the top of my differential. There is no way I could mount my hitch over my axle. It would have to be completely in front of the axle or completely behind it (as it is). Just be aware of this and make sure your other clearances are sufficient. You do not want the back end of your truck kissing the front of your fiver in a tight of camber turn.

The only issue I can see would be something on the frame blocking the installation of the hitch. I look at a lot of trucks everyday but until you take them apart you don't see the issues. This is what I am hoping to learn from you nice folks. I can not afford to do this twice or to fix a substantial screw up so I am doing tons of research to "get it right the first time" If I buy the Tractor and it is not long enough it will be a issue. I do not have the ability to do these things myself so I will have to pay people to get them done.

 

Chris

It sounds like you have this fairly well thought out. One other way that might work would be to take the same truck and single short and put the hitch behind. Single long is the easiest, but if you have the tools or are hiring a professional I think it would be another days labor to move the axle if you want. Also a longer driveshaft may need to be in two pieces, I'm singled mid and my shaft is longer than ideal according to the driveshaft shop.

 

Nigel

 

I have been thinking and thinking about this for a few years now:) Singling short would have a negative affect on the ride according to my experiences and what Gregg told me. I would like to keep things as close to 65'as I can without going over for the above stated reasons.

 

Thanks to all who have responded!

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Nigel beat me to the single short and put the hitch behind the axle idea. I also want my rigs overall length under 65'. The 430 you linked as an example would look good in my opinion, with the fairings removed and singled short. It would make a great daily driver that way. You would be way more maneuverable than a dually pick up that way.

 

My T2000 is singled short and I love it. It has a bigger sleeper than the 430 though. I am about 18 inches longer than my CC Long bed dually was. The 430 would definitely be the same length or a little shorter than a dually singled short.

 

Great to hear your thoughts on that. I don't want to go too short and have a choppy ride but I do want maneuverability. My 13, 3500 Ram is 21'.6" long and if I could stay close to that I would be set!

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Personally I would consider singling mid or short and put the hitch just behind the axle. With a small sleeper you have about 160~175" BBC, that gives you 51~2' to play with. A 48' trailer with a deep pin will have plenty of swing. If you want short and still maneuverable set the trailer pin under the gooseneck. The only limitation here is axle swing under the gooseneck.

 

Steve

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I had a 630 that I singled short and used as a daily driver for many years. It worked exceptionally well. The 430 shod be even better. As above, I'd urge you to consider the merits of singled short, and the hitch on or just rearward of the axle. This will help with maneuvering and should still keep you within the 65'. But you will have to figure it closely.

 

You will be challenged putting the hitch well forward of a singled long axle. It will GREATLY affect maneuvering. It will be worse than a pickup even with the better wheel cut of the tractor.

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When figuring clearance of the bed to the fiver, remember to allow for going over a hump or large curb, especially when cornering. The rear top corner of the bed could kiss the apron area of the fiver.

Hopefully that is something that Gregg can figure out as it is definitely a concern. The hitch head should sit right at the front of the tire. I am thinking that from that spot to the rear of the tire/end of frame should be no longer/or go any deeper under the 5er than a pick up would. I suppose that if there is a issue it could be addressed with either the pin box or I can have the trailer manufacturer give me a bit more clearance...

I had a 630 that I singled short and used as a daily driver for many years. It worked exceptionally well. The 430 shod be even better. As above, I'd urge you to consider the merits of singled short, and the hitch on or just rearward of the axle. This will help with maneuvering and should still keep you within the 65'. But you will have to figure it closely.

 

You will be challenged putting the hitch well forward of a singled long axle. It will GREATLY affect maneuvering. It will be worse than a pickup even with the better wheel cut of the tractor.

 

There are two things I am not sure about with going short. One is the ride. Gregg warned me about that as well as my personal experience being a truck driver. I have been in two almost identical tractors except for one having a longer wheelbase and there is definitely a difference. The other is that I do want room for a box behind the cab to hold a couple of bikes. Maybe 24".

 

With the hitch forward would it not maneuver similarly to a typical tractor trailer? Like a 48' van with the tandems all the way forward and a single screw tractor?

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A couple things to consider, the hitch placement either forward or rear will effect the trailer tracking and backing. If you have the hitch forward of the axle you will have to make some really wide turns. The hitch placement in a pick up is over the axle, about 50" from the tailgate. A hitch ahead of the axle on a tractor would be farther ahead to clear the third member, another consideration is the rear axle on the tractor is wider than the pick up so you will need more swing clearance. I don't think even an extended pin box would be enough.

 

The least reactive hitch point is over the axle, move forward or back and you will realize a distinct change in trailer tracking. Forward placement will have the trailer tracking well inside the turn.

 

Steve

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My hitch is at very end of bed. My Teton tracks same as truck. Also backing in it responds quick. Much quicker than a dually with hitch over axle. I would not want hitch forward. Loose a lot of manuverbilty.

 

I can put 48 and 53 foot trailers in places that most people can't put their cars with a regular tractor so its hard for me to understand the need for more maneuverability than that. I do know that while I am working if I slide the 5th wheel forward I can back in places much easier and if I slide it back it is harder to back in. Putting the 5th wheel way back behind the tires sounds like it would be even harder. It just makes the whole rig that much longer???

 

I am going to try to make it to the rally for a couple of days. I guess I will have to investigate this more while there since I just can't wrap my little head around it here on the forum.

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If your hitch is before the axle then you will lose maneuverability even when comparing to a tractor trailer. With a tractor trailer the pin is still over the axle(s) not before. You mentioned a ET hitch. A ET hitch rides between the frame rails. So you will definitely have to relocate at least 1 or maybe 2 crossmembers plus anything else between the rails. If the ET ever needs to be serviced that requires the removal of the hitch this would be quite a chore as anything put back between the rails between the end of the hitch and the end of the rails will have to be removed (like the rear crossmember). In a typically ET installation the hitch buts up to the rear most crossmember and if the hitch has to be removed it is just slid out the end of the frame rails.

 

I think your better option would to be install the hitch behind the axle(s) but as close to the axle(s) as possible. Then if you still need to shorten your length some then switch out the pin box. Instead of a box that extends forward use one where the pin is directly below the mount point on the trailer. I know at least on my truck with the number of things I would have had to move to make my ET installation before the axles the cost to have a pin box fabricated would have been cheaper.

 

Another hitch option is a trailer saver. It rides on a plate that is mounted over the frame rails. Would not require as much work to install. Somebody more familiar with the TS can chime in on if any additional work is required including the height of the head.

 

As for the box behind the truck, make it as big as you can once you have established hitch location and know how much room is available. Initially the 24" box may work but over time most of us find other things to stuff in our storage boxes. Before you know it will be wishing you had more.

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Something else to consider.....ET has a "little brother" referred to as the ET jr which I believe is marketed as a direct replacement for the TS brand of hitch and mounts in a similar manner. Might work in this situation. Need to talk with ET's father to get all of the details.

 

I was wondering if you have pulled a RV 5th wheel type trailer with a HDT?

RV 5th wheel trailers have the axles more to the center of the rig verses the commercial type trailer having the axles at the rear...makes for a bit of a difference when towing and backing...just something else you might consider in you plans.

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Also With RV tires you typically cannot do a tight turn with triple axle (assuming your length will need 3 axles) without tearing up the tires, you can ask if you want to know how I know this!

 

I just laid out our trailer and if I put the hitch pin in line with the front of the tires, the trailer just barely clears the rear of the tire and that does not allow any space for fenders, mud flaps or mounting arms for the mud flaps. You need to have what you want all drawn up to scale before you buy or start cutting to make sure it works.

 

For ride concerns, the air bag Cab and seat will help a lot but with the roads and bridge crossings now a days, the only thing that seems to help is a driving slower no matter what the wheel base.

 

You can always try it and if it doesn't work, you can still move the axle and put the hitch behind the axle since your frame will be long enough. Be sure to let us know how it works in real life.

 

Dave

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Hi 13speed,

 

I remember seeing a video from Gregg talking about the pin box on the trailer. If you can change the pin box you can get a savings of inches in total trailer length. Just an idea I want to put out there. I don't know if you thought about this idea. Take a look for Gregg's video.

 

If you where thinking about and older Volvo 420, I will be selling mind. The truck is a '98 VNL 420. It started life as a factory single. The truck has a Cummins N14 with a super 10 speed.

 

Wish you the best with your journey,

Al

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