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Day cab semi conversion idea


Troymx576

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Hello all,

Thank you all for the information here.  I have race cars and want/need a larger truck to tow and haul the trailer I am looking at getting. The hdt semi setup just makes sense.  I have read a bunch and all the information helps.  I do need to stay in a budget so I have a current plan, but want to confirm if it really makes sense.  

 

Here is what I was thinking and let me know if you all think this is a good idea or bad based on your experiences.  I do plan to do the work myself to convert it to keep costs in line, I can weld, have a shop, ect.

 

i am thinking of buying a day cab semi with dual rear axles.  Then I can remove the front non drive axle.  I would add a box after the cab to make the living portion.  Maybe 8’ wide x 6-8’ long and maybe 6’ish tall.  I could get some 1-2” box steel and make the walls, floor and roof. I still need to figure out what exactly I want inside and the layout, but that will come.  

 

Looking at the hdt ones I see most are sleeper cabs, but the cost on those are much more   The day cab ones can cost much much less and be in my budget.

 

pros and cons so far with my limited knowledge for day cab

pros-  much cheaper,  I do not have to cut the frame, just remove non drive axle, shorter wheelbase that sleeper cab, I can make the sleeper rv box area to what I want  

 

cons- I have to make an rv box instead of using sleeper portion.  Not conventional way to doing a hdt  

 

-one other major question. Has anyone registered a semi as rv in Virginia here and help with what would be involved in this state?  

Thsnks for the help

Troy 

 

 

 

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16 minutes ago, Moresmoke said:

First step is to determine if you can haul race cars as a RV in Virginia/states you want to travel in. Some states have determined racing is a commercial venture with no exceptions.

If it is registered as an RV then that is fine. RV are exempt from commercial rules here and I called the state police to ask.  I just need to figure out how to register it as an rv so if anyone has done that in Virginia please let me know what you had to do. 

 

Thanks

Troy

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Not a day cab. Can't live in it. No fridge, no microwave, no bed. Now if you bulk an RV on the back of it, it would need to be registered as an motorhome. Need to check state laws on this

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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You say that day cabs are cheaper?     Many day cabs sell for more than sleeper trucks, they are fewer and dump truck guys like them.     Compare what a sleeper truck cost to what a day cab with the additional cost of a box and it is likely a wash, possibly much more expensive.     An air ride day cab is going to be challenging to add a box to regardless if you go sprung or unsprung.     

Honestly, starting with a sleeper is going to be far less expensive in the end.     What kind of truck are you looking for and what trailer do you intend to pull?      How many people do you need to seat in the truck?

 

Steve

2005 Peterbilt 387-112 Baby Cat 9 speed U-shift

1996/2016 remod Teton Royal Atlanta

1996 Kentucky 48 single drop stacker garage project

 catdiesellogo.jpg.e96e571c41096ef39b447f78b9c2027c.jpg Pulls like a train, sounds like a plane....faster than a Cheetah sniffin cocaine.   

 

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Rv's ARE NOT exempt if they are used commercially. I'm sure you know plenty of folks who do it, and get away with it.  Doesn't make it legal.

 Save yourself some grief and study the Resource Guide, accessed near the top of this forum.

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 rickeieio1@comcast.net

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1 hour ago, Troymx576 said:

If it is registered as an RV then that is fine. RV are exempt from commercial rules here and I called the state police to ask.  I just need to figure out how to register it as an rv so if anyone has done that in Virginia please let me know what you had to do. 

 

Thanks

Troy

Troy,

Rick above is right.  We have been through this discussion multiple times.  Doesn’t matter what the truck is registered as, it is it’s use that determines whether it is commercial or not.  For example a big road tractor with one of those $100k condos could be registered as an RV and would be an RV if it was only used for camping but the minute it hooks up to a 53’ trailer and starts hauling furniture for Ashley it becomes commercial.  It would still be registered as an RV and no LEO is going to believe otherwise than it being commercial.  Saying the above if you are not making money or equivalent off of your race cars but just doing it for fun and the car is your property, then you are not commercial.  I would definitely re-question the state police and inform them you will be hauling to competition and winning monetary prizes and see if you get the same answer.

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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Depending on the state, money may not be the deciding factor.  Some states, (Illinois comes to mind) classify ANY prize, even ribbons, as enough to require commercial status.

Don't take my word for it, check out the Resource Guide.  It's all there, thanks to Mark Bruss.

Most LEO's don't really know the rules, as it's something they rarely encounter.  So don't trust the answer you get from your friendly officer, even if he works in the weigh station.  Been there, got wrong info.

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 rickeieio1@comcast.net

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All good points and I will try to answer them. Thanks again for the help.  

 

I do not have a larger trailer yet, but I am looking at trailers in the 44’-53’ long stacker with weight is the 22-33k range.  Currently I have a 32’ that weighs about 14k loade and is a pull behind trailer. I currently have a 2013 f350 dually gas that can tow the current trailer, but not new trailer that is bigger. I usually drive by myself or with one person.  I have a wife and 2 kids so it would be nice to have them be able to drive in it also if needed. 

 

On the need for comercail I do not think this is an issue as I am just doing track days or races, but amature races and we do not win money.  It is just a hobby.  I know a lot of guys that have Toter homes and have no issues.  

 

I am reading the resources as I can find them. I am now going through the faq section with links all over the place.  I did not find specifics for Virginia yet though, hence the questions. 

 

I have a budget of about 15k for the hdt. I assume most will think I am crazy and not possible, but I have to work with what I have. On the day cab vs sleeper the prices on day cab seem to be like half, maybe I am looking in the wrong places.  I see some day cab dual axle rears for the 10-12k range.  I am thinking I can add the rv box section for about 1-2k with AC. 

 

Also, reading the single vs dual rear axles if we get the day cab the length might be good to just keep the dual axle as some think it can be better to have the extra capacity.  It can make the conversion easier.  

 

Also, I have seen people on the race pits with large trailers that have some living quarters in them and use a semi day cab registered as an rv.  I am not sure the rules on that also so if anyone info on that would be great.  

 

Thanks again. 

Troy 

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As the mileage goes up, sleepers become cheaper, not day cabs. Day cabs stay close to home  if they break down, a sleeper needs to be dependable 1000 miles away. Lots of companies won't sign a truck on for OTR if it is over XXX miles. If you're determined to do a day cab, you can find a sleeper box commonly up to 61" and plop it on there reasonable compared to a fabb'ed box 

You'd have to see the movie to understand..........

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8 minutes ago, ARGO said:

As the mileage goes up, sleepers become cheaper, not day cabs. Day cabs stay close to home  if they break down, a sleeper needs to be dependable 1000 miles away. Lots of companies won't sign a truck on for OTR if it is over XXX miles. If you're determined to do a day cab, you can find a sleeper box commonly up to 61" and plop it on there reasonable compared to a fabb'ed box 

That is a good idea on the sleeper box. I am just looking and figuring out what I need and can get for the money.  I need to keep this on the cheap to stay in budget.  I plan to drive it about 6-10k mikes a year.  

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Troy,

You sound like the rest of us who chose to go the HDT/Semi route. I am not an expert. I am still in the beginning level of getting set up.

First I am happy I jumped over to this type of truck. I have a 2010 Volvo 780. Ishift transmission just under 1 million miles.

The truck cost me 20,000.00 plus I had 5000.00 of mechanical work done on it before I drove it off. Plain tickets to Florida from Vegas cost me about 450.00 for me and my friend who had a CDL and helped me drive back to Vegas trip back about 700.00 for a fill up and food + showers.

Since then I have put about 5000.00 more into it. Lots of small stuff plus mechanics are 125.00 per hour out in Vegas. I am not a mechanic and don't pretend to be. 

I love this truck, I am happy I bought it and you will be too. Jump in with both feet, just do the research before you do that. Warn the wife of incidentals that will pop up and have fun.

I saved for 2 years before I bought mine and Vegas Flyer, the friend who went to Tampa Bay with me, found it for me on Ebay. 

Later,

Cory O - Vegas Teacher. I teach High School Biology.

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In Va, the combined overall length for an RV is 65 feet, that length should be a guide to your trailer/ truck size decision.     The price point you set is going to be very tight.     There are a number of 2008-12 trucks in that price range, they have known issues with emissions systems.    Pre emission trucks are selling at higher prices generally and automatic trucks generally in the 2008 up market are cheaper than manuals.     The 2008-12 trucks are a good buy IF you know how to deal with issues, there has been more and more aftermarket support and repair solutions along with some things to cure the issues (not cheap).

Figure that the cost of the truck is a starting point, a 15K truck is going to have a lot of little problems even if it is a good runner.    Leaving it tandem is the cheapest option, you loose length in the trailer with that option.    Removing the front axle and re-positioning the rear to the front is likely your best option, you do the work and have a driveshaft made  800-1200 and your time.     The 65' limit means if the truck is 20' from bumper to the hitch then you could pull a 45' trailer with a forward kingpin.     Semi trailer vans that are 48'  have the kingpin at 45' from the back, race trailers generally have the kingpin at the front or very near it.     Swing clearance is another thing to confirm for length.     An average conventional tractor with a 60/65" sleeper is 15 to 17' to the back of the cab.     Realistically you are looking at 44-46' trailers at best to stay under 65' OAL

Honestly, your numbers are low, the cost of the truck is only the beginning.    Double your number and you are closer to what the real cost will be.     Just as as example, tires are pretty expensive, then add FET, parts are expensive, shop rates are 120-150 an hour.    Unless you do all the work yourself and have a flair for finding parts a simple repair can be 1000-3000 bucks.    

Steve

2005 Peterbilt 387-112 Baby Cat 9 speed U-shift

1996/2016 remod Teton Royal Atlanta

1996 Kentucky 48 single drop stacker garage project

 catdiesellogo.jpg.e96e571c41096ef39b447f78b9c2027c.jpg Pulls like a train, sounds like a plane....faster than a Cheetah sniffin cocaine.   

 

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1 hour ago, Steve from SoCal said:

In Va, the combined overall length for an RV is 65 feet, that length should be a guide to your trailer/ truck size decision.     The price point you set is going to be very tight.     There are a number of 2008-12 trucks in that price range, they have known issues with emissions systems.    Pre emission trucks are selling at higher prices generally and automatic trucks generally in the 2008 up market are cheaper than manuals.     The 2008-12 trucks are a good buy IF you know how to deal with issues, there has been more and more aftermarket support and repair solutions along with some things to cure the issues (not cheap).

Figure that the cost of the truck is a starting point, a 15K truck is going to have a lot of little problems even if it is a good runner.    Leaving it tandem is the cheapest option, you loose length in the trailer with that option.    Removing the front axle and re-positioning the rear to the front is likely your best option, you do the work and have a driveshaft made  800-1200 and your time.     The 65' limit means if the truck is 20' from bumper to the hitch then you could pull a 45' trailer with a forward kingpin.     Semi trailer vans that are 48'  have the kingpin at 45' from the back, race trailers generally have the kingpin at the front or very near it.     Swing clearance is another thing to confirm for length.     An average conventional tractor with a 60/65" sleeper is 15 to 17' to the back of the cab.     Realistically you are looking at 44-46' trailers at best to stay under 65' OAL

Honestly, your numbers are low, the cost of the truck is only the beginning.    Double your number and you are closer to what the real cost will be.     Just as as example, tires are pretty expensive, then add FET, parts are expensive, shop rates are 120-150 an hour.    Unless you do all the work yourself and have a flair for finding parts a simple repair can be 1000-3000 bucks.    

Steve

Steve, great info on overall length and something I will sure look at.  The 44’ is about 42’ to that hitch. I will need to single axle it and keep it shorter, which works with what I want to do now. 

 

On the cost, you say I need to double that. Wish I could, I just can not afford that.  If it is 30k minimum then I have to say no to the project as I need to buy a trailer also. 

 

I can do a a lot on avehicle myself, I build race cars and the little things I do not mind doing.  I have a shop with fabrication tools to make things. Hopefully that can keep costs in line.  

 

Thank you 

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Troy,

If you are very resourceful you can do for 15-20, I have found things that the dealer wanted 100+ for for a few dollars on ebay.

These trucks are not hard to work on, they do require some large tools for tire/wheel/ brake work.    The things that add up are not what you would expect.    The trucks you are looking at have lived 10 lives of a passenger car already, stuff like door latches, window regulators, ignition switches, they all wear out.

The auto shift transmissions have a number of sensors  that can cause grief, the electronic shifter  X-Y actuator and voltage to the trans are all things that can stop you in your tracks.     The fatal flaw kinda failures are rare, the shifter or X-Y are not common, low voltage is a common reason for MIL light and weird behavior.

I don't know about registering in Virginia but, there are several folks on the list who are residents.    Can't say they have registered their trucks in Virginia as RV's  but should know the process.     

A word of caution, there are tons of International Prostars very cheap, they have significant known engine issues.    Do some research on these before you consider them.     Also, Cummins engines in the 2008-12 era have significant known issues, heads, cams and, the early emissions stuff.     The small Volvo and Paccar engines seem to be the least troublesome in that range, that is relative.      All the trucks and all the engines in the first few years of the DPF/DEF era are subject to significant engine/emission related issues.

Steve  

2005 Peterbilt 387-112 Baby Cat 9 speed U-shift

1996/2016 remod Teton Royal Atlanta

1996 Kentucky 48 single drop stacker garage project

 catdiesellogo.jpg.e96e571c41096ef39b447f78b9c2027c.jpg Pulls like a train, sounds like a plane....faster than a Cheetah sniffin cocaine.   

 

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On the single vs tandem swap. As I have said before-  if'n I was to do it again- I'd swap the whole tandem to a yard for a factory single **in the ratio you want**. Tandem as a unit is more saleable for them, and you get bigger brakes on a factory single axle.

You'd have to see the movie to understand..........

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1 hour ago, Troymx576 said:

Steve, great info on overall length and something I will sure look at.  The 44’ is about 42’ to that hitch. I will need to single axle it and keep it shorter, which works with what I want to do now. 

 

On the cost, you say I need to double that. Wish I could, I just can not afford that.  If it is 30k minimum then I have to say no to the project as I need to buy a trailer also. 

 

I can do a a lot on avehicle myself, I build race cars and the little things I do not mind doing.  I have a shop with fabrication tools to make things. Hopefully that can keep costs in line.  

 

Thank you 

Troy, you may want to relook at some of your dimensions, we have had a 44' living quarters race car hauler and now have a 48' Living quarters race car hauler. In both cases the pin was only 6" from the front of the trailer and the over length was greater than stated as that is usually inside dimensions.  We pull with a singled midroof Freightliner Century with a sleeper and can seat 4-5 comfortably. You will not be able to register your day cab as an RV until  after you have converted it and it has passed inspection (if your state requires it). I think it will cost you more than 1-2k to do your box and fit it out to pass an RV inspection. 

Dave

2005 Freightliner Century S/T, Singled, Air ride ET Jr. hitch
2019 46'+ Dune Sport Man Cave custom 5th wheel toy hauler
Owner of the 1978 Custom Van "Star Dreamer" which might be seen at a local car show near you!

 

Check out http://www.hhrvresource.com/

for much more info on HDT's.

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Here is our set up with the 48' trailer. We are right at 75' long. Don't forget to add space for trailer when turning.

hRtosFrl.jpg

2005 Freightliner Century S/T, Singled, Air ride ET Jr. hitch
2019 46'+ Dune Sport Man Cave custom 5th wheel toy hauler
Owner of the 1978 Custom Van "Star Dreamer" which might be seen at a local car show near you!

 

Check out http://www.hhrvresource.com/

for much more info on HDT's.

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11 hours ago, Steve from SoCal said:

Troy,

If you are very resourceful you can do for 15-20, I have found things that the dealer wanted 100+ for for a few dollars on ebay.

These trucks are not hard to work on, they do require some large tools for tire/wheel/ brake work.    The things that add up are not what you would expect.    The trucks you are looking at have lived 10 lives of a passenger car already, stuff like door latches, window regulators, ignition switches, they all wear out.

The auto shift transmissions have a number of sensors  that can cause grief, the electronic shifter  X-Y actuator and voltage to the trans are all things that can stop you in your tracks.     The fatal flaw kinda failures are rare, the shifter or X-Y are not common, low voltage is a common reason for MIL light and weird behavior.

I don't know about registering in Virginia but, there are several folks on the list who are residents.    Can't say they have registered their trucks in Virginia as RV's  but should know the process.     

A word of caution, there are tons of International Prostars very cheap, they have significant known engine issues.    Do some research on these before you consider them.     Also, Cummins engines in the 2008-12 era have significant known issues, heads, cams and, the early emissions stuff.     The small Volvo and Paccar engines seem to be the least troublesome in that range, that is relative.      All the trucks and all the engines in the first few years of the DPF/DEF era are subject to significant engine/emission related issues.

Steve  

Great info on which ones to avoid and will do.  We keep leaning towards Volvo.  

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10 hours ago, Moresmoke said:

Manual or auto shift trans is a fairly simple one. If you are hoping the other half will do some driving, ask her opinion.

I would have been very happy with a pre emission u shift it. DW said no way no how. So I have a Volvo with an I shift.

Debate solved.

She said she will never drive.  The big trucks scare her.  

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9 hours ago, Star Dreamer said:

Troy, you may want to relook at some of your dimensions, we have had a 44' living quarters race car hauler and now have a 48' Living quarters race car hauler. In both cases the pin was only 6" from the front of the trailer and the over length was greater than stated as that is usually inside dimensions.  We pull with a singled midroof Freightliner Century with a sleeper and can seat 4-5 comfortably. You will not be able to register your day cab as an RV until  after you have converted it and it has passed inspection (if your state requires it). I think it will cost you more than 1-2k to do your box and fit it out to pass an RV inspection. 

Dave

I will need to make sure I have good measurements then and great info.  

 

As far as day cab goes I am now convinced to get a sleeper cab. It does seem easier and a better solution. 

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