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Need a little advice from those of you that have been driving HDTs for bit.  Moving up from a 1ton dually that recently caught fire and burned to the ground.  So since I need a replacement I was thinking now might be the time to go to MDT or HDT.  The more I have read I’m leaning to HDT.  I’m not a trained mechanic but I’ve been working on cars and jeeps since I was young so not afraid to do my own work if I can learn what to do. 

Why do I need and what will I be using it for? 

Primary and long term use is to haul a trailer with Jeeps or vehicles to events.  I currently have a gooseneck trailer with truck slide in camper on it.  An HDT with a reasonable sleeper setup has me thinking I could use it the same as my slide in on trailer and have a shorter trailer or have room for another vehicle.  Short term use.  I will be moving from VA to CO over the course of the next 2 years.  I have several jeeps and cars in need of full restoration that I need to take out to CO.  An HDT would allow me to have a larger trailer and move 5-7 cars at a time vs. 2-3.  Making for significantly fewer trips.  May could even use a dry van for household goods.  In CO my driveway has a decent grade and is dirt/gravel (many places we take jeeps it is not paved).  I’m a little concerned on getting up it loaded.  Always put my truck in 4wd when pulling trailer.  This all is still unfamiliar territory for me and need to know if I’m on the right track for my needs or need to be thinking differently. 

So based on my reading I think I want a single screw truck with sleeper large enough for two.  To register as an RV in VA it needs 4 of 6 standard defined things.   This weekend I was planning on going to look (approx. 9hrs away) at a Freightliner Columbia w/700k mi, single screw, locked diff (I thought that would help with my driveway), Detroit 14L only has EGR (no dpf or def), 10 speed, low straight top sleeper for around $17k.  Doesn’t have anything it needs to convert to RV so I would have to do that relatively quickly to register it.  Would need to put gooseneck and receiver hitches and electric brake controller to make more useful.  Doesn’t have APU or hauler bed, both of which seem to be fairly spendy unless the used market is reasonable.  Research seems to show the Detroit is a good motor if taken care of and potentially delete egr.  Total investment I really have is about $25k but would prefer to spend a little as possible.  I might could stretch to $30k if and only if it was something that had all the extras without me having to spend time and money doing it myself.   

So am I on the right track?  Any suggestions for my price range?  Should I look for something that is already RV and hauler ready?   

If I am on the right track are there things I need to look for and understand about the Freightliner?  I do have a copy of the pre purchase inspection checklist from the resource guide.  Most of the stuff I understand what to look for there are some on there I don’t. 

 

Thanks in advance,

 

Truck

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It's a learning experience with each truck. Best resource for me was the HDT National Rally in Kansas  and it's coming up in October. If you can make is to a day or two of it you will learn a lot. 

 

Rod

White 2000/2010Volvo VNL 770 with 7' Drom box with opposing doors,  JOST slider hitch. 600 HP Cummins Signature 18 Speed three pedal auto shift.

1999 Isuzu VehiCross retired to a sticks and bricks garage. Brought out of storage the summer of 2022

2022 Jeep Wrangler Sport S Two door hard top.

2007 Honda GL 1800

2013 Space Craft Mfg S420 Custom built Toyhauler

The Gold Volvo is still running and being emptied in July. 

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That truck sounds like it could be a good start.    How big is the sleeper a small one will be tight to put RV items in.    I have a single rear axle truck and tow a 48' drop frame van, only issue is axle loading Vs a tandem.    What is the wheelbase on the truck and what rear suspension?     I know of a guy that had a FLD with an M-11 that was single axle and he was commercial with a step deck, really not a big issue. 

Any of the pre-emission trucks are going to easer to maintain and with the exception of wheels /brakes the tools you have will be most often used.     These are not hard to work on just big.    Unless you have a tall garage it will be outside work.   

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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Registration in CO is a little easier than some places.  My HDT is registered as a recreational truck and none of the MH items were required.  They do send out a form annually stating that GVW over 55,000 requires some special taxes but I stay under that.  Like all vehicles in CO plates are relatively expensive.

My driveway always required my PU use 4x4 to back my 5er.  I put a fairly heavy bed on the HDT and it will back the 5er into my garage without powering both axles.   I had a single axle Freightliner before this Volvo without a bed and it was a struggle to back the 5er.  Hitch weight makes a big difference.  I have a small dump trailer that I can't load for hitch weight as the hydraulics can't lift it.  Even with the heavy bed the HDT struggles with only one axle powered on steep gravel roads with just 21,000 pounds.  Our HDT has air lockers on both axles when going gets really rough but that isn't needed often.

Randy

2001 Volvo VNL 42 Cummins ISX Autoshift

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14 hours ago, Steve from SoCal said:

 How big is the sleeper a small one will be tight to put RV items in.    I have a single rear axle truck and tow a 48' drop frame van, only issue is axle loading Vs a tandem.   

Steve  

I don't know the dimensions but the pictures he sent me show the typical "cabinets" behind seats on both sides and what looked to be a typical double size mattress that is in most trucks.  So I was assuming I could fit fridge and microwave in cabinet area.  

Only time I think axle loading will be an issue is in my short term while moving.  Long term loads will be light for this kind of rig, two maybe 3 jeeps or classic cars.

 

13 hours ago, Randyretired said:

Registration in CO is a little easier than some places.  My HDT is registered as a recreational truck and none of the MH items were required.  

I thought about registering in CO since that is ultimately where it will be.  I just wasn't sure about driving with CO tags and a VA license would cause a problem especially pulling cars even though I will have "not for hire" and everything will be my own personal property...Just wasn't sure how strict folks are out there.

 

Truck

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8 hours ago, lappir said:

It's a learning experience with each truck. Best resource for me was the HDT National Rally in Kansas  and it's coming up in October. If you can make is to a day or two of it you will learn a lot. 

 

Rod

Yes, I read about the rally.  I don't know if I could make that or not....I would have to plan it while making a trip out to CO, as I can't afford to waste vacation time or fuel going that far without taking things to the new homestead. 

Do you suggest I wait on buying a truck until then or see what I can do to the truck I may have bought there.

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I was considering replacing my F 350 with an MDT many years ago. I'm so happy I didn't do anything before spending just a Sunday and Monday at the HDT event. I rode my motorcycle and slept in a tent that first year. The next year I had a my truck. Bought it sight unseen from a forum member. ( I did send my Dad and long time truckdriver brother to take a look at it for me.) Still driving it. 

Depending on your time frame, there has been a Spring Event called the East Coast Rally which may be a bit closer for you. 

 

Rod

White 2000/2010Volvo VNL 770 with 7' Drom box with opposing doors,  JOST slider hitch. 600 HP Cummins Signature 18 Speed three pedal auto shift.

1999 Isuzu VehiCross retired to a sticks and bricks garage. Brought out of storage the summer of 2022

2022 Jeep Wrangler Sport S Two door hard top.

2007 Honda GL 1800

2013 Space Craft Mfg S420 Custom built Toyhauler

The Gold Volvo is still running and being emptied in July. 

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There are pros and cons whether to be single or tandem rear axles(s).  In the case of having to go up a gravel road/drive, tandem will be better.  Fuel economy might be a little worse, but not much.  You'll likely never need brakes replaced, so that leaves tires.  Personal choices.  I've left both of our trucks tandem.

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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We have a 2005 Freightliner Century with the 14L Detroit and a 10speed Ultrashift transmission. We have not done an EGR delete as we still take ours in for service and I do not want to have any issues with a repair place saying they need to put it back to work on it since it is illegal to remove it. I only do minor maintenance and repair items, the big stuff I leave to the shops.  Ours runs good, we bought it with 450k and after 10 years, we know have 575k with us using it in RV service. It was a factory tandem and singled short by previous owners. It works but if I were to do another one, it would be singled Mid or left Tandem. Since you do not know what your weights will be with the 7 cars loaded on a trailer, you may find you might be limited on the number you can haul with the single axle. 

You budget might be a little low, but that depends on how much you need to bring the truck up to the standards you want to have to drive it safely without breaking down. You should keep at least $5k in reserve for emergency repairs, or have a good credit card. A tow alone could be expensive.

You may end up with needing a set of chains to get up the gravel hill if you go single and probably need to have a set anyway if heading to Colorado!

On the Freightliner, look at the area around the dash brake valves. That area of the dash gets broken. We were able to get a replacement dash piece from the dealer and it wasn't very expensive at around $50 at the time but you will find that the plastic in the Freightliners do break and you could spend a lot replacing all the broken pieces. I have replaced a few in ours as they get bad enough that JB Weld is not holding it together. Luckily most of the parts have been still available at the dealership but who knows for how long.

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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maybe my ignorance but i thought most tandems weren't locked.  and even if you have both as drive axles if you still may only have two sets of tires grabbing traction and maybe only on one side.  Where locked diff will have both sides spinning.

Although i have been looking at the length of twin screws and they might have a bed long enough to put my Jeep Scrambler on when only taking one and not have to tow a trailer, but still tow a trailer when needed.  Too many options!!! 

 

I don't want to rush into it but i also need to get something relatively soon so I don't loose the time I have set aside to go to CO this fall with a load.

Truck

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What ever you end up with big truck wise, forget about any lettering on the truck.    The 'not for hire' or RV on the side can confuse law enforcement.    The idea that there is lettering on the truck alone makes it 'look' commercial.    

 

Regarding finding a truck, the truck market is crazy right now but it is starting to ease up.   In your budget I would suggest you focus on pre-emission trucks 2005/6 and older.    The 2008-12 period was some of the worst and while deleted trucks sound nice the implications could be costly.      As far as axle weight for a single with high mount car rack, many dealers use single axle trucks with high mount trailers.    There are the 5-7 car trailers that have a conventional 5th wheel mount.     You would be hard pressed to get 6 cars in a drop frame unless it was a 53' with ramps.     These trailers run in 60K plus range used.

 

I don't know what your jeeps weigh but cars are averaged at 4000 so a six pack is 24K  the trailer is 12-14.     The trailer axles generally scale 2/3 of the gross so king pin weight is 12-14K that is right in line with axle capacity of a single axle.   

 

Any of the car trailer options above are going to costly for a one time move.    Even at high fuel prices several trips with a 2-3 car trailer you have will be far less expensive.     If you plan on getting a van trailer keep your 5th wheel and put the goose ball behind it.   

 

Your options with an HDT are far greater than with an MDT from power options to creature comforts and the equipment is designed to haul at highway speeds at 80K gross or better.    Most MDT's are what is known as vocational trucks or speced to perform a given task like a dump truck or local delivery.     They may be capable of towing and have more robust systems than a pick up but, they lack the design features of a road tractor in comfort, power and handling.     

 

If you own property in Colorado you may be OK to register the truck there, it sound like a much easier route.  

 

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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You are correct, most tandems only have the axle interlock that ties the front drive and the rear drive axles together but they typically just have an open differential. You can then get air lockers for at least the rear drive axles and they may even have them for the front drive axles but not sure on that. Obviously ones with lockers do get harder to find.  

As far as signage, in our case for 10 years, we have had "Private RV" on the side of ours. We are titled and registered as a motorhome. We have never been pulled over or have stopped for weigh stations. The DOT officers may be confused when they see us but obviously not enough to pull us over. In your case you will look more commercial than one pulling an RV so just make sure you have all your paperwork including proof you own all the vehicles you have on the trailer.

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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My HDT has 2 air lockers but it was originally ordered that way.  It is a 2001 Volvo with a 42" cab.  It was very difficult to find a truck with even one locker so when this one was available I grabbed it.  I bought it used in 2005 and it has around 560,000 miles today. With 2 lockers it will get us out of a lot places but if the front axle buries it is over.  Locking both axles makes the truck only want to go straight if the axles have significant weight.  Turning can be a little tricky.  

Randy

2001 Volvo VNL 42 Cummins ISX Autoshift

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Ok what do ya'll think? There is the truck described above that is 07 Freightliner single axle, with locker, 680k mi, on a Detroit 60 Series 14L and never been run as an rv.  

The below one popped up on the boards: 04 International, tandem, not locked, 250k mi on overhaul, Cummins (he thinks N14) deleted, and flat bed with 5th wheel, gooseneck and receiver hitch, registered as an RV.  

https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/787047202609728

The second one is twice the money as the first. Is the bed and low miles on overhaul worth it?

 

Like I opened up, I'm new to this.  first truck seemed to meet initial needs and then add to it in future, however it is 9hrs away and I don't want to make that drive just to educate myself.  I want to be prepared to purchase if it checks out.  But maybe I shouldn't spend the time if I need to be looking for something that is more complete?

 

Truck

Or should I really try and make this Rally and get better educated before I do anything!!! 

Only issue with that is I may loose my trip out to CO for this fall.  Probably loose these two opportunities but I assume other stuff comes up.

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Trying to go cheap is the path to heartaches.  Educate yourself first so you can recognize a relatively good deal when it comes along.

Finding a truck already set up close to your end goal will likely be cheaper than doing it yourself.  Good trucks turn up here in the "for sale" section occasionally.  While they may cost more, they're usually the better value.

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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'04 will have an ISX engine. Do some research before buying an early ISX, which this is. The average education time is approx 1 year, so you're rushing things, given the limited knowledge you have. Do your research, gather some potential candidates, do more research, then buy. It'll be faster and cheaper in the long run.

I have been wrong before, I'll probably be wrong again. 

2000 Kenworth T 2000 w/N-14 and 10 speed Gen1 Autoshift, deck built by Star Fabrication
2006 smart fourtwo cdi cabriolet
2007 32.5' Fleetwood Quantum


Please e-mail us here.

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3 hours ago, Darryl&Rita said:

The average education time is approx 1 year, so you're rushing things, given the limited knowledge you have. Do your research, gather some potential candidates, do more research, then buy. It'll be faster and cheaper in the long run.

I appreciate the sage advice and realize ya'll have been doing this awhile.  Unfortunately I don't have the luxury of waiting a year to have a tow vehicle for my short term requirements.  If I put off that long I will have to get a pickup truck after which I will not be able to afford to come back to an HDT solution.  Thus, I'm trying to learn as fast as I can.  

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Then it's time to learn. Pre-2005 trucks will be cheaper, but will need more repair/refurbishment work and money. Pre-'05 will be emission device free. 2005 began the EGR system, and Cat getting out of the onroad engine market. Emmisions systems get more complicated the newer the truck. Long hood. flat sleeper trucks look cool, but are a pain to live with, as time goes on. Aero trucks, with a setback steer axle, will turn better than any hood truck, with Volvo still the king of turning circle radius. Other brands ar close. A standup sleeper is more freindly day to day, whether for passenger use, or seperate camper use. Bigger sleepers are easier to convert to RV requirements, because there's more room to add things. You need to learn the conversion requirements for YOUR jurisdiction. It's not required to convert over to RV rgistration, but it makes life a lot easier, going forward.

Keep asking questions, learn as fast as you can, we won't intentionally steer you wrong.

I have been wrong before, I'll probably be wrong again. 

2000 Kenworth T 2000 w/N-14 and 10 speed Gen1 Autoshift, deck built by Star Fabrication
2006 smart fourtwo cdi cabriolet
2007 32.5' Fleetwood Quantum


Please e-mail us here.

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I think finding a well cared for truck with lower mileage is important.  If a truck has been abused or not cared for it will often be a money pit.  Finding the options you need are also important.  Volvos  drive nice and make a good hauler but parts can be expensive. Some others may meet your needs but I recommend you drive a few to see what you like.  Still a quality cared for truck in good condition with the options you value would be my choice.  Then check it over and over to look for problems.  Problems cost money in these beasts.

Randy

2001 Volvo VNL 42 Cummins ISX Autoshift

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In my book, under 500k is low mileage.  I know folks on here with older trucks under 300k, but they're scarce, or they bought new.

Darryl's right about newer trucks having more emissions equipment, but some of them are getting the bugs worked out.  For instance, early PACCAR  13 L motors earned a terrible reputation.  But since 2017, they seem to have it fixed.  Given today's market, they'll set you back about $75-$90k for one with around 500k on the clock.

Now consider this:  If you must buy a dually to make your move, you can sell it later and jump to an hdt.  If the dually market falls, odds are the hdt market will too.  It would buy you time to make informed decisions.

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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On 8/31/2022 at 2:24 PM, Darryl&Rita said:

Then it's time to learn. Pre-2005 trucks will be cheaper, but will need more repair/refurbishment work and money. Pre-'05 will be emission device free. 2005 began the EGR system, and Cat getting out of the onroad engine market. Emmisions systems get more complicated the newer the truck. Long hood. flat sleeper trucks look cool, but are a pain to live with, as time goes on. Aero trucks, with a setback steer axle, will turn better than any hood truck, with Volvo still the king of turning circle radius. Other brands ar close. A standup sleeper is more freindly day to day, whether for passenger use, or seperate camper use. Bigger sleepers are easier to convert to RV requirements, because there's more room to add things. You need to learn the conversion requirements for YOUR jurisdiction. It's not required to convert over to RV rgistration, but it makes life a lot easier, going forward.

Keep asking questions, learn as fast as you can, we won't intentionally steer you wrong.

Everything after 2003 has EGR. 

 

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Just to confuse the issue, emissions equipment requirements followed engine build date, not truck model year.  So, a 2005 truck might have an engine built it 2003, thus no EGR.  Same goes for when DEF first got implemented.

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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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok all, I'm taking advice and going to go to the HDT rally.  I'm going to visit my folks in OKC and my father and I are going to drive up to KS.  We will probably only be able to attend Mon-Wed but hope ya'll can educate me enough to venture out and make my own purchase.  Maybe you can convince my dad this isn't a bad idea...he thinks I'm nuts...but he thinks that about any car I have purchased for restoration....So I look forward to spending some time with my dad and learning from all of you that will be there.

Cheers,

Truck

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