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Old 06-23-2011, 06:50 PM   #1
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Default DIY Straight truck to Tractor?

Hi Folks,
I've just found this forum and it appears to be what i am looking for.

I currently have a 1988 International straight truck with 24' reefer box.
(single rear axle.) I'd like any input on what would be involved in converting
this truck to a single or dual axle tractor with fifth wheel.

I apologize in advance if i have posted this in the wrong forum.

Thanks,
Terry
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Old 06-23-2011, 09:58 PM   #2
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Cool you found this forum, Terry. There are some very talented people on here (not me that's for sure, I bought mine all done). Are you thinking about taking the box off? Why not keep the box and add an extension to the frame that you can mount a ET hitch on for pulling a 5th wheel. That would be great. You'd have a bunch of room for stuff. You could also put enough stuff in the box to qualify it as a rv for licensing. That would save you a lot of headaches with laws and stuff. What kind of trailer are you looking to pull? A camper? Even pulling a 5ver you could still license the truck as an rv so you wouldn't have to get a class A or B license. You wouldn't need DOT registration. You wouldn't need to stop at scales. You wouldn't need to do all the paperwork and regulations for a commercial vehicle. I think insurance would be cheaper. Even parking it is easier if it's an rv. Most towns restrict commercial vehicle and truck parking but not so much rv parking. If you take that box off you're not going to be able to register it as an rv, I don't think. You could probably register it as a private truck if it's under 26k gvwr, thereby avoiding some of the truck laws, but not all of them. I'd bet it wouldn't be that hard to extend the frame out for a 5th wheel hitch tho.
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Old 06-24-2011, 07:31 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply Bob,
Unfortunately, an RV is not my goal.

My goal is to pull a 45' lowboy boat trailer about 275 miles roundtrip, so i can bring my boat home from time to time for maint and repair.

The truck is a 1988 S1900 International

GVWR will be about 35,000 lbs.

If i was only going to move her one time i would just hire a boat hauler and be
done with it, but i would like to have her at home for a month or two, every other year.

Thanks,
Terry
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Old 06-24-2011, 09:26 AM   #4
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How about shortening the box to allow room for the 5th wheel while still leaving enough box for a "sleeper condo". My psuedo toy hauler has enough room for toilet, shower, tv, microwave, fridge, couch, bed, etc, in 12 ft. You could have RV status and still use it to pull your trailer. The other 12 ft being storage.

It would be unique and cool......
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Old 06-24-2011, 10:44 AM   #5
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Terryc If your truck has air brakes, and you remove the 24' box, you should consider that tractors when used without a trailer don't give full air pressure to the rear brakes. If you don't remove the box it won't matter. Good luck Kenn
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Old 06-24-2011, 04:59 PM   #6
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Thanks for the tip Kenn.

It does have air brakes.

I'm really interested in knowing how the conversion is done.
Is the frame just cut, shortened, and rewelded? Maybe with fish plates?
What would be the standard wheel base of a day cab, and also a sleeper cab?
I'm trying to figure out how much to shorten the frame.

Thanks,
Terry
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Old 06-24-2011, 10:54 PM   #7
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wouldn't it be easier just to buy an inexpensive tractor with fifth wheel and everything?
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Old 06-25-2011, 09:37 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by #90-GTSC View Post
wouldn't it be easier just to buy an inexpensive tractor with fifth wheel and everything?
Probably so, but where's the enjoyment and sense of acomplishment in that?
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Old 06-27-2011, 02:49 PM   #9
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You're still going to have to deal with the dot hassles if you don't make it into an rv. I like the idea of shortening the box. Then you'll still have room for the water wings and inner tubes.
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