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How much use do you get from the sleeper?


CA_Tallguy
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Hi folks -- I'm looking at HDT's for my new rig but am having a hard time understanding if a sleeper is really useful.  How much do you guys use the sleeper vs using whatever you are towing for sleeping, eating, relaxing, showering or relieving yourself?

I've been drawn towards an HDT because I can't find a SHORT class A that is strong for towing a 10-15k car trailer or stacker, bumper pull or fifth wheel.   I don't want a twin screw class A diesel pusher because a 40-42 foot rig is way more than I need, and apparently this is what you need for decent bumper pull towing specs.  So this got me thinking about HDT trucks but I didn't realize that most sleepers have no shower/toilet and have only the bare necessities for food/drink. 

Since legally we only get 65 feet for the most part in length (yes, I know that many of you guys are over that and it usually isn't a problem), it seems most efficient to me to have all the living quarters either in the tow vehicle or in the trailer.  When I add up the length of the nose of the HDT plus the sleeper -- it seems like that's a lot of feet that may not be the most efficient use of space.

I think most of you guys are pulling 5th wheels so it strikes me that sleeper bunks and amenities really duplicate what you are towing behind you.  So is this the least efficiently used space on your rigs?  Is it more there because it makes it possible to register and use the truck as an RV, or does it get a lot of use?  Do you use it day to day when in camp or only on travel days?  Is it mostly useful for comfort of the travel companion?  (I'm single and travel alone so that wouldn't be useful case for me.)

In my case, I would like just a bit more living space in the truck so I could use that as my primary living quarters. I'd then tow a race trailer or small car hauler that I would then use as a workshop or office when I am in camp.   A custom 100+ inch "big bunk" sleeper, toterhome or Super C seem like better options for me but they are out of my price range.  These are more "self contained" for living space and if I wanted to get into some smaller campgrounds I could just put my trailer into a storage facility for a short stay. 

Or maybe I should be looking at a HDT/MDT with a 25 to 30 foot box and no sleeper.  Then I would use 18 feet for a garage and the rest for living quarters.  The garage could transform to living space when camped.  Is anyone here doing something like this?

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29 minutes ago, CA_Tallguy said:

Or maybe I should be looking at a HDT/MDT with a 25 to 30 foot box and no sleeper.  Then I would use 18 feet for a garage and the rest for living quarters.  The garage could transform to living space when camped. 

 Yep. That option sounds best for your situation IMO.

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A lot depends on how you want to camp and travel. We have used our sleeper as a mini motorhome a couple of times, when we went across country to pick up our trailer and a year later when we had our one year warranty items taken care of and couple times when we did not want to bring the 5th wheel. 

The wife will sometimes climb in the back and take a nap while we are driving down the road and we have stopped for a night and used it instead of the trailer. 

We have a porta potty in ours along with a microwave and 12 v refrigerator. We also like the extra space inside and would not like a day cab for it's lack of space. 

Yes the primary reason was to allow us to register as an RV. In your case if you are going to run a business or use it for racing it may not matter if you have to go commercial. 

The 65' length limit is not on all states and as you mentioned it has not been an issue in others. We are 72' long all hooked up with our current trailer (was longer with previous trailers) .

We also like the extra space so we can carry extra people if needed and still use ours as a daily driver. With our current trailer, we haven't had to much any more as we can fit our Dodge Journey SUV in the toyhauler garage.

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Most people here you will find have the sleeper and amenities  to be able to claim as an RV for registration purposes. Some of us are not so lucky as our states don’t like the idea of loosing registration revenue.

I installed a jackknife sofa in mine. That is where the kids ride. I also use my HDT to pull my toy hauler, which happens to be a lowboy. I can operate in my state registered as a truck without much hassle, so long as I don’t leave the state in truck mode. The jack knife sofa allows me to have a spot to crash for the weekend at a tractor show if I want to. They generally have  restrooms/showers/food so I don’t need to worry about that.

So it boils down to what works for you, and that will be primarily driven by the rules of the state you call home.

One other option I will throw out is a modified bus of some sort. I have seen a few that were nicely modified, shortened up on the back, so they could have a hitch with decent capacity.

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I wondered that myself when I first looked at HDT's. I am so glad I went with the 770 and not something smaller. 

I am a RN  Travel Nurse and have used the truck for an assignment  and it wasn't really as bad as I though it might be. It was winter in Pensacola, Fl. but it was a year when the temperatures were in the 20's many times and measurable snow did fall. I typically rode my motorcycle from Tallahassee to Pensacola for my working days  but was glad I took my car the week it did the freezing rain stuff. I did ride to Tallahassee one Saturday with snow on the sides of the roads. 

For many of us, it's a requirement to have a place to sleep, cook and go to the "bathroom" to qualify for a "Motorhome" status for licensure and non commercial insurance. If you don't need that, then by all means go with a day cab. If you have never had a sleeper you won't miss it. I would certainly miss mine. I usually go from location to location in the shortest amount of time. I pull into a Truck Stop, or Rest Area to sleep for a few hours and then hit the road again. Winter or summer I'm usually good to go in the Sleeper.  In the early days my youngest would travel with me on occasion and would hit the sleeper bunks pretty soon after departure and most of the time would remain there until we hit the destination. 

I have also used the Sleeper on the occasional "Party Nights" where I don't want to  risk the drive home. 

 

Rod

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14 minutes ago, sandsys said:

I clicked on that link but it didn't tell me anything about a truck's facilities. It was a driver recruitment ad for a trucking company.

Linda

Panther is an expedited freight company. You'll see pictures of a couple different rigs at their site. I saw a straight truck and a tractor, both with huge sleepers. I assume that was the point of the clicky. When they reach the eight foot or so length, they're fully loaded condos, with full baths and kitchens. You're only limited by your wallet and your imagination. Jay

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Parrformance said:

http://join.pantherpremium.com/

The trucks like this may be what you need.

Large apartment sleeper, with a box

 

46 minutes ago, Jaydrvr said:

Panther is an expedited freight company. You'll see pictures of a couple different rigs at their site. I saw a straight truck and a tractor, both with huge sleepers. I assume that was the point of the clicky. When they reach the eight foot or so length, they're fully loaded condos, with full baths and kitchens. You're only limited by your wallet and your imagination. Jay

 

I did check out expediter trucks but most of those don't even have a bathroom.... I think until you get to 10+ feet.   It seems to be the "custom/legacy" sleepers that have the bathrooms and bigger kitchens and they are always selling for $$$ it seems.   Probably cheaper to just convert a van box into a condo/toyhauler.

There is a good variety of trucks here: https://www.expeditertrucksales.com/  and you will see that most still do not have a bathroom.  Bummer.

Edited by CA_Tallguy
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You need to develop a mission profile of what you want your tow vehicle to do. 

-Is this a weekender, several months at a time or fulltime RV?

-How big of an office do you need?  Can the space be a multipurpose space?

-Are you self employed where the vehicle would be used in pursuit of income or prize money?

Most of the bigger condo style cabs, Volvo 780 for example are set up with microwave, fridge and 2 bunks.  They can be found with what's called a workstation that gives you a dinette that converts to a bunk. 

Do you want a true self contained vehicle where you role up to camp, push a button for your levelers, swivel your seat and your "Home"  or do you want to get out and have an RV with all the amenities?  

 

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And be aware the it can be very difficult to get insurance on "converted" vehicles.  My insurance guy says he can no longer get insurance for converted school buses, just as an example.

It would appear a short Super C is your best bet.

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Our daughter leases a company truck with two bunks with two small lockers--one behind each seat. She put a tiny fridge in (or behind I can't remember precisely) one locker, a one burner butane stove which she uses on top of a locker and a folding toilet behind the driver's seat. She also has a RoadPro 12v oven. She calls the upper bunk her attic. She showers at truck stops. She lives in that truck except for occasional home time. So, it can be done in a sleeper cab if you want it badly enough.

Linda

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I may be wrong but I think the 65' rule is recreational pull only. You mention a stacker trailer which suggests racing which would be commercial and has different length limits.

Lenp

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The oft quoted 65' is the length states limit combination vehicle length.    There are exceptions for commercial vehicles, a tractor with a 150" aftermarket sleeper with a single 53 or shorter trailer is allowed on the national network and designated routes.     Are length laws often enforced on RV's NO, can these laws be enforced YES.

The down side to private trucks or RV's are the exemptions that commercial vehicles are granted don't apply.    You could possibly obtain a yearly permit from your state for over length some boat owners get width and length permits.    That gives you access in state with some possible restrictions.     If or when you travel outside your home state you would need to buy permits as needed.     

The length AND width limits yes Kentucky as an example still has a 96" state width restriction apply to the roads that are not on the national network.    I have no first hand knowledge but, have heard of trucks being ticketed for that in rural Kentucky?      Most state limits are based on the road systems, the states with narrow old streets are likely to have lower limits.    California has a king pin to rear axle limit for trailers due to tight ramp radius.   

The other thing not mentioned about day cabs is they are not too roomy.    Older trucks with crawl thru sleepers and day cabs are like old single cab pick ups.     If you are tall they may not be comfortable.    

If you are looking for a truck to haul cars and only cars a supper C would be best.    You get most or all of the HDT pluses and don't waste space with a sleeper.     Any box truck you buy used is going to be a huge disappointment as an RV conversion to tow a heavy trailer.    MDT box trucks are under powered with spring ride, they will rattle the cabinets and creep up ant hills.   

It is kinda redneck but, a camper trailer on a stretched day cab might be a poorman's supper C

Steve    

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Thanks to everyone for all the comments and feedback.  A "mission profile" is a good idea and I've thought a lot about it.  Unfortunately I go in circles! 

To clarify on my use case -- I will not have any commercial/prize/race use.  I just want garage/workshop space as it will be more useful to me than anything else.  As with a toyhauler, it becomes "flex space" and you can have drop down bunks, flip down seating or a flip down desk, or whatever.   I think most of the time it may serve as an office/den, or maybe on side will be office and the other side a workbench.

One aspect of your HDT lifestyle that appeals to me is that the HDT can become a "support vehicle" for your pull behind trailer.... extra power, water, and even ability to offload holding tank contents.  I love the sensibility of this and that an HDT can pack a lot of weight. 

It seems natural to try to mesh all of the above with my desire for some garage/workshop/flex space.   If I can tack on a wet bath and kitchenette, this could be my ideal tow vehicle.  Plus, the roof of the garage would be ideal for a large solar array. 

At times I may just take trips in this vehicle alone.  Other times I might opt to pull a fifth wheel or trailer with more living space.   Since all my "infrastructure" would be built on the tow vehicle, I could keep the trailer fairly stock making it easier to change/upgrade over time.

This "support" vehicle could also be a trailer pulled behind a class A or super C.   But doing it with an HDT or showhauler/toterhome configuration would offer extra weight capacity, and if self contained for living quarters, would itself be a great, stand-alone boondocking rig even without pulling anything behind it.

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In addition to a mission profile, you need to investigate the laws of the jurisdiction you wish to register in. Some won't allow a "weight bearing hitch" and RV registration (Florida), some won't allow RV registration on a daycab, due to missing amenities. Some won't even allow private vehicle registration, requiring a Commercial drivers license to pull your RV. Do your homework.

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On 4/24/2021 at 7:24 PM, sandsys said:

I clicked on that link but it didn't tell me anything about a truck's facilities. It was a driver recruitment ad for a trucking company.

Linda

The Panther Rapid Response trucks, are HDT box trucks with an apartment attached.

FedEx runs them as well.

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On 4/24/2021 at 8:28 PM, CA_Tallguy said:

 

 

I did check out expediter trucks but most of those don't even have a bathroom.... I think until you get to 10+ feet.   It seems to be the "custom/legacy" sleepers that have the bathrooms and bigger kitchens and they are always selling for $$$ it seems.   Probably cheaper to just convert a van box into a condo/toyhauler.

There is a good variety of trucks here: https://www.expeditertrucksales.com/  and you will see that most still do not have a bathroom.  Bummer.

Perhaps a bathroom could be added in the front of the box.

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We made the choice for HDT after disappointments with 1 tons and MDT. Originally we targeted the mid-heigth cab (630) over the condo. But a rare configuration of a 670 with a workstation/dinette was found. The table is important. We have meals on the road at the table and I use it as a workstation, and the grandkids hide back there with their computers and phones....and they like the access to the fridge. As well, being 6'3", the taller space inside the cab is appreciated.

In Utah it's really easy to reclassify these to motorhomes. Towing a huge 5th wheel plus a 20'+ trailer with side-by-sides with a 1 ton, is normal here....and tolerated. Not smart, but done every weekend.

So far we have under-utilized the truck (building a bed on the back of the truck to carry toys), but our few trips so far, we really like the space. Pulling a toyhauler, we do have all the living space we need. Everything has been a 'needs' and 'wants' list compromise. So far we have balanced the two and are liking our decisions.

It was 2 yrs of figuring this out. Like others have said, it's personal. Sometimes, you just have to jump in and see if it works for you. The 1 tons and MDT didn't, for us. They are easier to live with on a few levels. All choices have things that will irritate you on some level. Those lists... you have figure out which might be an irritation that you can or can't live with.

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6 hours ago, Parrformance said:

The Panther Rapid Response trucks, are HDT box trucks with an apartment attached.

Yes, you said that. But, I can't find any information on the "apartments". Do you have a link that gives that information?

Linda

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40 minutes ago, sandsys said:

Yes, you said that. But, I can't find any information on the "apartments". Do you have a link that gives that information?

Linda

I know of at least one rapid truck couples has a YouTube channel.

May be a way to see how the trucks are designed.

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