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Virginia newbie (wannabe)


Twisty Wingly
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I'm looking for a mentor, who has experience with all things HDT in Virginia. 
 
I don't even own an RV at this point.  I own a 1999 F250 diesel, but my research has brought me to the point where an HDT is the only sensible option.  I'm 10 years or more out from retirement.  My kids are just getting into the teen years.  My wife wants to do big trips - Zion, Grand Canyon while the kids are "young," but is "RV skeptical" <-- if that's a thing.  She wants to try before you buy.  In her eyes an HDT is a huge leap, and little to no chance of changing your mind later to sell it.  She grew up primitive camping - boat access only in the Adirondacks, which is okay (we've done that with her parents for a number of years now.)  IMO, it's a lot of back-breaking work loading, unloading, boating to and fro, and the "wonderful" night sleep in a tent.  Basically, more planning than fun.
 
My set up (dream) would be a 2000ish (pre-emissions) cabover to stay under 30'.  Probably an Argosy with a manual transmission), converted to 4 seats - maybe keep the top bunk or be able to drop the rear seats to a bed, an 18 or 20' box, large lift gate (porch), and tow an extra diesel vehicle (easy for my wife to drive in a real emergency).  lots of solar for boondocking, loads of batteries, diesel heater, diesel cooktops.  I am not intimidated by of doing any of the conversion myself.  Not expecting to be a full-timer - but a homebase, even if the kids take on the stewardship in the future.
 
My concerns at this point, beyond my wife's, are inspections, registration, upgraded licenses (this seems pretty easy), east coast modification places (truck frames/engine inframe rebuilds/exhaust <-- stuff that you're probably not going to be able to do at home even with a well equipped garage.)
 
Thank you,
Brian
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Hey Brian,

Rent a class C or A and take the wife for an extended trip.  If she loves it maybe you can make your dream her dream.  If she hates it you'll be up for a different discussion :).  At the minimum you'll figure out what you like or don't like.

Using an HDT to start a 30' build to pull a vehicle seems like significant overkill (cost and effort).  HDT's don't like being off-road (boondocking scenario) and in manual trim get to be a pain pretty quick.  What you describe seems more like starting with something like a crew cab topkick or an international say 4600 might be a better option.  Get one with the larger engine, crew cab, 4 wheel drive, auto etc and you'd have a very capable platform for overlanding.

 

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Where in VA.  I am in Virginia Beach.  A couple of friends with 
HDT rigs nearby.

I recommend going to the East Coast Rally in Crossville, TN, Apr 17-Apr 24.  A lot of good info specifically aimed at newbie want-a-bes.  It will help you decide if you want to do this.  Hurry, it is filling up.  There are a couple of cabins to rent at the site (Deer Run RV Resort) if you don't have an RV to park onsite.

 

Edited by NeverEasy
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Hey Easy, I'm north of Leesburg, VA.  I just don't see us making it to a rally this year -- kids in school. 

Stieny - I think I started in the overland realm, but my idea of comfort and my wife's...  let's just say compromise is in order...  Make the rough stuff a day trip (maybe with the towed) and head back to a comfortable crash pad.  I'd start in a bunked set up with an empty 10' box and adapt as we go, if I could find the right hdt.  Seems stretching is easier than I originally thought, if the right one doesn't come along.

I get your point about the mdt, but used they are WAY MORE expensive and (most) are limited power and weight.  I've seen a few 4x4's, but I assume 99% of the driving will be on decent hard surfaces.  Why carry that extra weight and be tempted to go places you probably shouldn't.  I'm an N+1 kinda guy, --> redundancy.  So 2nd engine (towed), extra parts, standardized fuels diesel...   I did briefly consider a truck bed slide in to get started.  My conclusion - again super expensive for a cheaply built box.  I don't know how ANY of these guys are legal/safe.    

I do anticipate a rental, although I'd prefer to skip that.

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yUoRzaVl.jpgThe Argosy is a hard unit to find and at a reasonable price. The steps that come out are nice for getting into it but I understand parts are hard to find.  Jeff Beyer has one but haven't seen him on the forum recently.  You might be better  to consider a shorter Aero cab. Our Freightliner Century is around 30' with it singled short and could even be shorter if you do not plan to haul a car on the back.

Have you checked the resource guide for info on Virginia?

Edited by Star Dreamer
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Why the 30 foot?  How many kids?  I drive a won-ton pick-up with 32' RV and have a ton of room for wife and I.  They make rvs with bunks, some have converted toy hauler garages into bed-rooms.  I am one that see's no reason for an HDT but that's just my opinion.  I can pull any RV I would ever be interested in.  My wife has driven my truck with and with-out RV in tow no problem.

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Birdman, 30' (or under) will get you into The National parks.  I understand that some do allow bigger.  I'd prefer to be a short as possible on the wheelbase (ground clearance and maneuverability), hence another reason I like cabovers.  You gotta start somewhere with your desired length, so less than 30 (overall minus the towed) was just the upper bracket.  2 kids and a dog would be a safe bet.   If I can find an automatic, I imagine my wife could tackle the driving, but she generally prefers to ride along and see the sights.  

Star - the Argosys have the one thing I think my wife will appreciate - the flat floor, instead of the huge doghouse of the older cabovers.  They do pop up from time to time at "reasonable" prices (I know everyone has a different idea of what's reasonable).  If you are willing to stretch the frame in the future, I've seen quite a few tractors (instead of box trucks).   Freightliner, while not as comfy or smooth shifting (if you can find one with an automatic) as the Volvos, seems to have huge market share, and a fair number of repair facilities.  The tractors look like they'd easily hold a 10' box without any mods - tight, but a nice starting size, maybe...    Those overlanders seem to make due with some vey tiny setups.  A small stretch (4'?) for a washer dryer, a bit of storage and a separate set of bunks or a REAL bathroom, seems doable in a 16-18' box.  

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| Heavy Haulers RV Resource Guide (hhrvresource.com)

Here is a direct link.  You can find a path if you go to the top of the browser and back step one level to HDT.

Anyway, on the HHRG go to HDT Decision block, and click on the two "State Listing" for registration and licensing.

There you will find that you don't need a CDL if not towing commercial.  It says no to MH title/registering but that is not always true.  You get different answers at different places.  The usual answer is no.  But I know of one that got it done.

Maybe Pat can shed some light on it.  How about it, Old Sailor?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Easy - The resources guide for VA is pretty much what I found over the last year or so.  VA is just one of those not-so-clear states.  I may have to spend some time at the DMV and "circle back" with any info I find.  Specifically, I've been trying to figure out what Virginia wants in order to classify something as an RV - Toilet? Electrical system? 12v, 24v, or 120v?  Kitchen with appliances?  access from the cab?  HVAC?  Photos?  Does it need a different inspection?  Could I pull the box off the back and bobtail with just the sleeper cab for a quick weekend?  I think we'd like to start out this way.  I did see "PT" in the chart, so maybe it's as simple as a registering as private truck, and I'm making this harder than it seems.  

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Private truck is doable.  

I don't think you are making it harder than it seems as it is hard.  Better to know what you are facing.

IMO, the only chance you have of getting it titled/registered as a MH is to bring it into VA titled as that.  

PM "Old Sailor" and tell him Chet sent you his way.  See how he got it done.

Chet

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I did something similar but in a different state.

I went through the register an HDT as a MH in the state of MN, the truck came in as a private truck on a 30 day drive off tab.

 

I went out to MN's DMV website and found the form.  The vehicle needed 3 of 7 items, stuff like toilet / hvac / sink / etc.  Took pictures of the items as proof and rolled into the DMV, 30 minutes later all goodness.

 

I wouldn't assume it'll be that easy as I had read about a pile of horror stories.  But definitely the first step would be to figure out what the path would be and see if your going to be able to follow it.

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This is what I found for VA.

§ 46.2-1500. Definitions (virginia.gov)

"Motor home" means a motorized recreational vehicle designed to provide temporary living quarters for recreational, camping, or travel use that contains at least four of the following permanently installed independent life support systems that meet the National Fire Protection Association standards for recreational vehicles: (i) a cooking facility with an onboard fuel source; (ii) a potable water supply system that includes at least a sink, a faucet, and a water tank with an exterior service supply connection; (iii) a toilet with exterior evacuation; (iv) a gas or electric refrigerator; (v) a heating or air conditioning system with an onboard power or fuel source separate from the vehicle engine; or (vi) a 110-125 volt electric power supply.

Most states only require some of those. Like 4 of 6.   The "or" is the last sentence is ambiguous.

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, NeverEasy said:

This is what I found for VA.

§ 46.2-1500. Definitions (virginia.gov)

"Motor home" means a motorized recreational vehicle designed to provide temporary living quarters for recreational, camping, or travel use that contains at least four of the following permanently installed independent life support systems that meet the National Fire Protection Association standards for recreational vehicles: (i) a cooking facility with an onboard fuel source; (ii) a potable water supply system that includes at least a sink, a faucet, and a water tank with an exterior service supply connection; (iii) a toilet with exterior evacuation; (iv) a gas or electric refrigerator; (v) a heating or air conditioning system with an onboard power or fuel source separate from the vehicle engine; or (vi) a 110-125 volt electric power supply.

Most states only require some of those. Like 4 of 6.   The "or" is the last sentence is ambiguous.

 

 

 

A motorized recreational vehicle designed to provide temporary living quarters, guess my Class A DP designed for FULL TIME living does not qualify as a RV under VA code 46.2-1500

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I'm in Mechanicsville (your side of Richmond Metro).  I've been running a 2004 Volvo HDT for 12 years - now pulling a 40' fiver with 4 slides and weighing right at 19K loaded.  I did all the conversion work myself - outdoors.  If you are a DIY type of guy getting the truck to RV motorhome status is not all that hard.  I'm sure you have met Pat (Old Sailor) over in Chesapeake by now.  He has a Volvo registered in VA and pulls a fiver.  Drop me a line or better yet, go to the ECR in Crossville in April.  I hope to be there.  It will be time well spent and you do not have to own a HDT to attend.  They do have some cabins at the campground but don't know if any are available.  Several motels/hotels in Crossville.

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Twisty   I had plans of converting a big truck to a RV here in Va. After many calls to DMV I still had no answer. The one thing I'm sure of: if a truck has been registered in Va as a Class A You can't convert it to a RV. However if you can buy a truck with the M/H title and Va will honor it. That is the way I got "Pat's Pride" a 98 Volvo 610. We have been towing with it since 2011. I had a 550- Ford for 5 years and after towing with the Volvo I would never go back to a little truck. The wife was not totally for the Volvo but after towing with it out west and having the Jake brake that made going down the other side much easier. The Cummins N 14 made going up the hills in the left lane no problem. She enjoys the air ride seats and the comfort the truck allows. We have been towing a 43' Mesa Ridge for 6 years. A CDL isn't required but I went and got one anyway. The Volvo is registered in Va and insured by State Farm. We have been with SF since day one. What I would recommend is doing a day trip and come down to Chesapeake and go for a ride in our truck. My wife and I have had both shots for the virus. My cell is 757-646-1686. I have a shop behind the house. PP has been in there but not for anything major. It only has 590k. So any ?'s or if you just want to talk trucks or RVing give me a call!!   Pat

 

 

The Old Sailor

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  • 3 months later...

Quick update...   took my wife to a truck auction preview, and she sat in one truck (dirty!), climbed into another (newer and cleaner)!  I did not think the extra head height would be an issue, as we are both 5'9", but I gotta say that extra height is welcomed.  Also, I was very close to renting a small class C for a 3 or 4 day along the Maine coast, but other plans got in the way.  Progress in my mind!  Pat tells me it took him 5 years to get his wife to agree...  Brian

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TW  It did take 5 years to get her to change her mind. That was the good news now the bad news , we sold the 5er and the Pride. We are now without anything sitting on the slab. A sad time in Flat Rock. Maybe a small C will be in the future but time will really tell.Text or call anytime. Be safe and take care. Pat

 

 

The Old Sailor

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JPL,

Brad here. Sorry to hear you sold the trailer and truck!  I really enjoyed my visit to you house, SHOP!!!, and talking about going to an HDT.  Thanks for being so hospitable!  We blew through western VA last year, with our (new to us) HDT and 5er, but didn't have the time to hit VA beach.  Hope all is well.

 

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