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HDT vs LGT, reliable transportation or ongoing project?


Path2FIRE

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I’m a few years from retirement so want to dip a toe in the MDT/HDT space for safely moving our TT out West. If we love using it for long weekend and occasional summer week long trips(<2,000 miles/year), we may upgrade to nicer truck and rv for long trips in retirement. Tractor would need to be stored offsite with RV when not in use. I’m not mechanically inclined. I see lots of posts on folks repairing / replacing parts on this forum. I saw a post from a young FT couple (?on FB?) who gave up on the HDT after being stranded one too many times. I am happy to pay skilled mechanics for scheduled service / PM on vehicles, but do NOT want a truck project. I want to move the rv safely and reliably. Considering the low miles anticipated, compared to a LGT, are used HDTs ‘reliable?’ Assuming I don’t choose a lemon, on average, will it get us up and down the mountains from point A to point B 99 out of 100 times (or only 9 out of 10 times) without toolboxes or service folks involved? I admire the collective experience / wisdom here. Thank you. Rich

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Many of us like to "tinker", therefore we bought cheaper trucks. Knowing we would "get" to work on them. Other folks do not like this or cant. They paid more up front for a truck they do not have to "tinker" on.

The trucks all tend to cost about the same when all is said and done. You can buy used and spend money replacing old parts and getting things the way you want. Or you can buy new and spend your money all up front.

I got my truck for $25,000. I have had a few things to tinker on, but so far I have spent less than $500 on parts and repairs outside of the normal oil change type stuff.

2016 Road Warrior 420

2001 Volvo VNL 660

Alaska Based.

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Rich,

I’ve had my truck 8 years and we part time, traveling ~3-5,000 miles a year.  I do yearly PM on the truck and, knock on wood, have never been stranded on the side of the road with a truck issue.  All my acquaintances with HDTs will attest that my mechanical skills are minimal but that didn’t affect my decision.  With a pickup if you have a mechanical issue truck will get towed and trailer may sit on the side of the road until other towing is available.  Repair of your p/u will depend on dealership availability and may not be timely.  The HDT can often be towed with the trailer and service usually available 24/7/365.  Often times roadside service can fix an issue.  So to answer your question, in our case >90% reliability.

2006 Volvo 780 "Hoss" Volvo D12, 465hp, 1650 ft/lbs tq., ultrashift

Bed Build by "JW Morgan's Custom Welding"

2017 DRV 39DBRS3

2013 Smart Passion Coupe "Itty Bitty"

 

"Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first!"

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I bought a 2006 Freightliner with 750k on it. Little problems, air problems. Easy fix. Did put an alternator but my doing. Left wrench under hood and shorted out. I only have 21k in purchase, hitch, bed, boxes, close to 32k now. Not going to get a decent dually for this cost. This will last likely rest of my life. Also had dually previously. Stayed in shop a lot. Cost lot more. Loss money far as I can see

2003 Teton Grand Freedom towed with 2006 Freightliner Century 120 across the beautiful USA welding pipe.https://photos.app.goo.gl/O32ZjgzSzgK7LAyt1

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Rich,

We looked at used trucks and even though I can work on them, the DW wanted a new truck. She didn't want to be sitting somewhere in case of a breakdown and also wanted to be able to choose what she wanted in a truck.

A new vehicle can leave you stranded just like a used one but having a warranty is nice in case something does break. The truck cost what a couple of new dually trucks would run but will outlast them and are a lot safer and more comfortable IMHO.

We just did a 3 day, 1,900 mile run to Texas and back, averaged 60 mph and were not sore or beat up after that run. In our F350, I would not have tried it.

David

2023 Thor Magnitude XG32

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Thanks for replies so far. I suspected that the DIY posts are for the “tinkerers” who enjoy sharing.

Looking to fly into WCR in Idaho next month for weekend to learn more.

So far, my impression is no more surprise / unanticipated service than an F350 or MDT, but please keep the input coming, especially if you see it differently. Rich

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My 99 Volvo had about 800,000 on it when I sold it and never failed me in over 200,00 miles of driving but I did a lot to it before I hit the road. 

But my 2012 Freightliner with 300,000 miles on it that I only had for 7 days before I went to the ECR, I did replace all the tires and had it serviced. On the way I throw the tread on one tire. On the way home the air governor guit. 

But I’m not upset at all, cause it’s only a small bump in the road. 

Roger

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I was lucky and found a turn key truck for sale on here, even came with the Smart car, I have had it now for 4 years and have had only been left on the side of the road once. Could have probably fixed the issue but was not in a good spot and was just glad to be rescued, I do try to inspect it yearly and will fix anything that comes close to being questionable but I do have a couple of decent shops when I need them. Good luck on your search and you should get really good help here.

2017 River Stone Legacy 38MB

2001 T2000 Kenworth

2009 Smart Passion

ET Junior hitch

 

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Rich,

We decided to order a new HDT.  Like you, I am not mechanically inclined and happy to pay a skilled mechanic to do the work.  However, if you just want to "dip a toe in the MDT/HDT space" you may not want to make that kind of investment.  Like dblr did, you may be able to find a good turnkey solution that will work for you guys.

Roger and my wonderful wife Margaret
2016 Dodge Ram 3500 DRW
2017 Luxe 39fb 5th Wheel
Pioneer Camping Club
Wagon Masters

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1 hour ago, Path2FIRE said:

Thanks for replies so far. I suspected that the DIY posts are for the “tinkerers” who enjoy sharing.

Looking to fly into WCR in Idaho next month for weekend to learn more.

So far, my impression is no more surprise / unanticipated service than an F350 or MDT, but please keep the input coming, especially if you see it differently. Rich

Hope to see you at the WCR!   Just look for the red Volvo with Flames on it.....

We bought old as well.  In 4 years and 110,000 miles, we have only been in the shop once for a starter repair.  But I do "Tinker" on the rest of the truck.  

We had a Dodge Ram dually that we used for the first year.  To replace that truck would have cost $60Kish- leather loaded Texas Longhorn edition.  Instead, we bought a $19000 Volvo and have spent about 11k on it.  It is our only vehicle and is very road worthy.  

If I had the money I would love to buy new but I do like to tinker and repair.

Jim's Adventures

Old Spacecraft.... Who knows whats next

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1 hour ago, Path2FIRE said:

Thanks for replies so far. I suspected that the DIY posts are for the “tinkerers” who enjoy sharing.

Looking to fly into WCR in Idaho next month for weekend to learn more.

So far, my impression is no more surprise / unanticipated service than an F350 or MDT, but please keep the input coming, especially if you see it differently. Rich

Hopefully you can make the WCR.  You should be able to get a lot of good information there.  If you do plan to attend, get in touch with me so I can add you to my list and get some additional information from you (I am coordinating the rally).  I and I am sure many others will be happy to share our personal experience in buying/running an HDT in RV service.  There will be people who bought new trucks and people who bought used trucks at the rally, as well as people still looking to purchase trucks, so you can get lots of different perspectives.

2000 Kenworth T2000 w/ Cummins N14 and autoshift
2017 DRV Mobile Suite 40KSSB4 with factory mods, dealer mods and personal mods - now in the RV graveyard
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2016 Smart Car (fits in the garage or gets flat towed behind the DRV when the RZR is in the garage)
My First Solar Install Thread
My Second Solar Install Thread & Photos and Documents Related to the build
My MX450's solar, battery and inverter system - my biggest system yet!

chadheiser.com      West Coast HDT Rally Website

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7 minutes ago, GeorgiaHybrid said:

Rich, don't get me wrong, I like to tinker and work on trucks but prefer that they are at a rally and they are someone else's truck. Funny thing, the only ones I seem to work on are Volvo's :ph34r:

Maybe that's because no one wants to buy a used KW?? :) And no, that doesn't mean all the used KW's are still in service LOL
Rich, all joking aside I am no mechanic either. I bought a 2005 truck with 500,000 miles on it. I have lost an air governor on Christmas day. I had to stand on a hill with one leg in the air to get cell service as I was passed from one forum member to another as I was educated about it's location and  where to purchase a replacement, the "next" day. My sarge wasn't real happy when I called and said ain't gonna be there "tomorrow". I lost an alternator going to get fuel in preparation for a vacation trip and I changed that myself. I struggled for an hour to get out that bottom bolt...only to learn it was in a slot and only needed to be loosened. And I lost an electronic module on the transmission, on a Saturday, leaving the National Rally. Great friends delayed their own travels to insure I got towed to the dealership on Monday. 

Some little stuff you can do yourself, so you can't. I read the posts here fromt people like Chad and David fixing stuff and I am jealous of their abilities....but that is what road-side service is for. I dread the day I am stuck on the shoulder but , as they say, poo happens.

MY PEOPLE SKILLS ARE JUST FINE.
~It's my tolerance to idiots that needs work.~

2005 Volvo 780 VED12 465hp / Freedomline transmission
singled mid position / Bed by Larry Herrin
2018 customed Mobile Suites 40KSSB3 

2014 smart Fortwo

 

 
 
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My 1984 Pete 359 with close to a 1,000,000 mi. Cat engine, 13 speed trans and rear ends have never been touched. I'd drive it to the moon and back. Everything on it is mechanical. Give it a pull or push and it will start and run without batteries. I painted it and do my own work. Don't have 20K into it even with the $1600.00 leather seat it just put in. No computer operated anything for me. In my old age enjoy learning how things work and feel somewhat prepared when hitting the road.

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Thanks to all of you for so much good feedback. Lots of great stories and perspectives.

In terms of reliability, sounds like HDT and LGT are like most vehicles. Spend enough up front so you don’t get more “project” than you can handle,  keep up on preventative maintenance, fix stuff early, and you won’t get stranded very often, ....but poo still happens.

Is that about right?

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11 minutes ago, Path2FIRE said:

Thanks to all of you for so much good feedback. Lots of great stories and perspectives.

In terms of reliability, sounds like HDT and LGT are like most vehicles. Spend enough up front so you don’t get more “project” than you can handle,  keep up on preventative maintenance, fix stuff early, and you won’t get stranded very often, ....but poo still happens.

Is that about right?

About right, except that everything is bigger, heavier  and many times stronger than on even the biggest pickup. That usually means your not working anything very hard and that adds up to reliability. 

Pick a price you would pay for a big three truck and then look for a used hauler for the same price. Or contact one of the hauler builders and see what they can do for that price. Keep in mind that all the security of a hdt is worth a lot.

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On 5/22/2018 at 7:34 AM, Path2FIRE said:

I’m a few years from retirement so want to dip a toe in the MDT/HDT space for safely moving our TT out West. If we love using it for long weekend and occasional summer week long trips(<2,000 miles/year), we may upgrade to nicer truck and rv for long trips in retirement. Tractor would need to be stored offsite with RV when not in use. I’m not mechanically inclined. I see lots of posts on folks repairing / replacing parts on this forum. I saw a post from a young FT couple (?on FB?) who gave up on the HDT after being stranded one too many times. I am happy to pay skilled mechanics for scheduled service / PM on vehicles, but do NOT want a truck project. I want to move the rv safely and reliably. Considering the low miles anticipated, compared to a LGT, are used HDTs ‘reliable?’ Assuming I don’t choose a lemon, on average, will it get us up and down the mountains from point A to point B 99 out of 100 times (or only 9 out of 10 times) without toolboxes or service folks involved? I admire the collective experience / wisdom here. Thank you. Rich

P2Fire,

I just might come across as a bit of a Grump ........and I am at times......but you ask for........  "opinions" ....so here are a few from a guy that has about SIXTY years off and on of being abused by heavy trucks and other odd mechanical torture devices.

I almost certainly have the worst "eye-sore" "rattle-trap" truck on the forum bar none and it would be at "Rat-rod-Truck" but no self-respecting rat would ride on or in the Freighshaker Dollytrolley v1.0 (we also have a Diesel Pusher motor home, Dollytrolley v2.05).

While the Freightliner is not good to look at ..........it runs VERY well and leaks NOT ONE DROP OF OIL.......EXCEPT.....where trucks are supposed to leak oil (air dryer). Dollytrolley has not left me stranded by the road yet but as Phil says someday poo likely might happen.

The last few years the Dollytrolley has clocked a few thousand miles towing our GMC pickup on a trailer after it had some roadside-heartache.........if it has a engine and tires it can fail the story goes.......

We almost always haul Dolly-the-painthorse behind one of the Dollytrolleys and some trips we take BOTH Dollytrolleys (last week both clocked 800 miles each).

When you haul a horse it's a different world than folks that RV with a pet rat ........ALMOST ALL tow companies will NOT tow ANYTHING that has the word HORSE related to it so ............when you RV with a HORSE(s) your rig need to get to the next camp.

The main game on the forum here often is to compare Heavy trucks to medium trucks to light trucks and that is a never ending game but in the real world it's a blame-game that often exaggerates the positives of a HDT and downplays or ignores the negatives...... 

FIRST,  Heavy Trucks are COMMERCIAL Vehicles........NOT pickups.....they are DIFFERENT in many ways good and bad from pickups.

SECOND,  Heavy Trucks are intended to be driven by Professional Drivers hopefully  trained and competent but this is not always the case......here on the forum we have real pros all the way to .......clueless ........to darn lucky (so far).

THIRD,    Size DOES matter.........Heavy trucks are......HEAVY and BIG.......this can have some advantage but can have BIG disadvantages, the larger your rig becomes the smaller the roads you travel on and less room folks give you at times.

FORTH,    Yes you have LOTS and LOTS of power.........until you don't have any power than you have a HEAVY LARGE LUMP of METAL on your hands ......your pickup stalls a few big guys might push it out of the intersection......your HDT stalls its .......THERE.

FIFTH,    Yes you have a LOTS and LOTS of AIR-BRAKES and even IF you have LOTS of BRAKES but you also have a spring-brake emergency-brake that seldom does  come on at the best place to STOP but WHEN your EMERGENCY BRAKE sets often the truck and trailer winds off the road (look at where those LONG BLACK skid marks often lead into the ditch).

SIXTH,   Your "Truck-Bubble" should be LARGE because large trucks tend to be less nimble that smaller trucks so you need room to Brake, Turn, Park, etc. etc.........you need space in a often cramped world.

SEVENTH,    You need to LOOK ahead........AND BEHIND......and understand what you are looking at.......you are a BIG DOG and it is never a nice day when you step on the smaller animals.

EIGHT,     Put your road-rage-panties back in the drawer.........You might be a BIG DOG but little "animals" WILL DO DUMB really DUMB things in their rush-to-eternity.......stunningly DUMB things and it's important to NOT get MAD .........you can get "disappointed" but you simply need to do what ever it takes to NOT crush the little animals.

NINE,    Pickups with big Chrome Exhaust Pipes and BullDog chips WILL try to out run you UP the longest steepest grade.......its that size thing again........best back off and let them pass rather than have them melt down and head-on the guy coming down the grade in the other lane.

TEN,    Ya you got HUGE air-brakes and a Jake Brake but you also need to give yourself some room to use those brakes.....good days often are measured how well you use the Jake Brake and how seldom you use the service brake pedal.

ELEVEN,     IF it moves .....sooner or later it will Stop........just a fact of life......Heavy trucks tend to have a fair amount of common parts and for the most part these common parts are well serviced all around the USA by mechanics that tend to be fairly committed to getting commercial rigs on the road ASAP ........RV trucks tend to be placed behind the working rigs on the repair schedules so best to understand that pecking order.

TWELVE,   Trucks with Computer systems (1995's ....on) can be a Royal Pain in the A$$ and when the Computer(z) are unhappy you will likely become UNHAPPY as well as $$$$ poorer.........

THIRTEEN,       New line-haul-HDT's may be called Million-Mile-Trucks but the fact is that most large operators tend to sell trucks starting at the 2 to 3 year age and 350K to 500K mile marks since many systems and subsystems tend to need more and more shop time and $$$ to keep the rig running..........A LOT of the 'Low-mileage" trucks often find themselves in the hands of RV forum members with a mix-bag of results........it can be a bit of a dice roll.

FOURTEEN,      From about 8 to 18 I grew up in, on, and under too many heavy trucks that the family owned and Grumps (owner) and me (Slave) agreed to disagree that I would be a truck operator.......at 18 I had way too much truck experience (including a loaded roll over and thru the windshield- Grumps took the ditch rather than crush the little car wrong way in our lane) so Grumps declared I was not good enough at trucks to drive one........so I took off flying for forty years......... and off and on drove a HDT a bit here and there............

Some days I row that old 10 speed with the greatest of ease and then once in a while I grind a gear or two and smile............maybe Grumps was right after all is said and done............he would say ......."some folks drive the truck and some folks let the truck drive them"

2fire,  keeping the truck running and throwing $$$ at the truck is the easy part.......the devil is in the rest of the details.......

 

Drive on..........(Truck on with your one eye ahead and the other looking out at the ......mirrors and gauges and tires and, and )

97 Freightshaker Century Cummins M11-370 / 1350 /10 spd / 3:08 /tandem/ 20ft Garage/ 30 ft Curtis Dune toybox with a removable horse-haul-module to transport Dolly-The-Painthorse to horse camps and trail heads all over the Western U S

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Dang DT, that was long winded....and 14 points? I run outta fingers at 10 ya know? I had to unlace a boot just to keep track of where I was in your reply. It was all good poo to read but caused my dogs to leave the room till I put my boot back on. Could ya do me a favor next time and split it into parts I and II?😁

.

MY PEOPLE SKILLS ARE JUST FINE.
~It's my tolerance to idiots that needs work.~

2005 Volvo 780 VED12 465hp / Freedomline transmission
singled mid position / Bed by Larry Herrin
2018 customed Mobile Suites 40KSSB3 

2014 smart Fortwo

 

 
 
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One other thing.......  HDTs and LGTs have something else in common.   If you buy at the bottom end, trying to save some $$$, you will likely spend those $$$ later when it's not convenient.  Size of the truck really doesn't matter.

Been there......:(

KW T-680, POPEMOBILE
Newmar X-Aire, VATICAN
Lots of old motorcycles, Moto Guzzi Griso and Spyder F3 currently in the front row
Young enough to play in the dirt as a retired farmer.
contact me at rickeieio@yahoo.com

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