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Old 08-27-2015, 08:17 PM   #1
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Default Recommendation on what truck to buy

Hello gentleman, I'm looking to purchase a used truck and start a build. I am looking for recommendations on trucks with pros and cons of individual trucks. I have some ideas but would like some feed back from individuals who have already been down the road.
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Old 08-28-2015, 06:25 PM   #2
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Well, I'm pretty sure most of the people that have built their trucks would tell you it's going to cost you twice as much and take twice as long as if you bought one already built. There are enough good units for sale that you should be able to find something much cheaper and ready to go. In my mind the only reason to build your own is if you absolutely need something very different than anything you can find.
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Old 08-29-2015, 08:20 PM   #3
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What truck to buy... depends on what you your goals are.
Automatic or standard or some sort of autoshift?
Medium duty or heavy duty?
Price range?
What is your length goal? (you'll save $ if you don't have to stretch it)
How many rear axles? Air ride?
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Old 08-29-2015, 09:11 PM   #4
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Im not looking for something that has already been built. I have a specific floor plan with a very specific garage that I want. I also need a project to keep me busy (for the next 2 years or so).

I now see that I should have given much more info. The coach (and garage) will measures 34'. Looking for a heavy duty truck with tandems. I will also be pulling a 15,000 lb trailer. Overall length will end up being somewhere around 45' or slightly under depending on truck.

So my original questions should have been more like this. I am thinking I would like to be in the 400 hp range. Do you think this will be adequate power? I have no issue driving a standard trans but my wife has never driven a tractor, she is a very capable driver and will currently drive our 38' unit towing a 30' trailer. She is open to the idea of a manual trans but i wonder if going full auto would be better? I do not think i am interested in an auto shift, I drove in one and it shifted terrible. If the truck i was in was not the norm and someone can give me different feedback I would be happy to listen. I would like a truck pre 2007 to avoid the emissions components. I am trying to stay under 300,000 miles. I have been looking at Volvo's but I don't know that much about them. Pro's and con's on Volvo would be great. As far as suspension can anyone give suggestions as to air ride or not. I was told by a mechanic friend that Western Star cab wiring can be difficult to work on because all of the wires are the same color, wiring diagrams are not available and often times need to be taken to dealer for repairs. Any info like this would be great.
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Old 08-30-2015, 09:04 AM   #5
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I've got a 10 speed 3 pedal autoshift. I like it. Never miss a gear. I just have to use the clutch to get it rolling, and when I come to a stop. Works great. The service manager at my local Kenworth shop said these boxes are extremely reliable. If I was building a camper I would never consider doing so on a fully manual trans truck. You would have a very difficult time selling it down the road. Or your heirs would. It's also just so much more convenient and comfortable to drive an auto shift too. I could see rowing gears if you were a truck driver since you can skip gears and start in whatever gear you want. I just don't think it's that needed on a Truck Conversion. There are plenty of trucks available with some sort of auto shift. I wouldn't want an hydraulic transmission like an Alison. I don't know a lot about them. But, they have a torque converter. These generate heat, which sounds like a loss of power to me. And, they are much more complicated than an autoshift. Which means more expense when it fails.
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Old 08-30-2015, 09:09 AM   #6
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You want to have 34' overall length on the coach? A day cab truck is going to be at least 10' front bumper to back of cab. That leaves you 24' for the living quarters. Now, you want a garage in there? Doesn't sound like much space left for living quarters. Pretty sure a 34' coach isn't going to need tandem drive axles. You can put a single rear axle rated at 22,700 lbs. (that's what my rear axle is rated) and I don't think you're going to be able to overload that with that short of a coach. With a single axle you have more room for storage and utilities.
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Old 08-30-2015, 09:16 AM   #7
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Now, you're going to have a hard time finding a pre-2007 truck with less than 300k miles. I don't think the miles is that big of a deal. Maintenance is more important. My son is an owner/operator. He bought his truck about 3 years ago. It's an '03 Freightliner FL Classic with a N14 Cummins engine and straight 10 trans. It had 1.1 million miles when he bought it. It had a in frame engine rebuild 100k miles before he bought it. He's had no mechanical problems with it. And he's regularly at 80k lbs. Pretty sure this truck gets worked way harder than a truck would in r/v use. So, I wouldn't be too worried about a high mileage truck to build on. The care it's received during its use as a commercial rig is what I'd scrutinize.
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Old 08-30-2015, 09:26 AM   #8
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About the Western Star, I've heard that same complaint about Freightliner. I don't know if it's all that valid though. Especially on FL. There are just so many of these trucks on the road that any mechanic worth his salt should be able to work on it just fine. FL has a pretty extensive internet database too. I'm not too familiar with Western Star. I guess from a service aspect I'd lean more toward FL. Even compared to Volvo. Volvo is very popular with the HDT (campers that use semi-tractors to pull their 5th wheels) and they seem to love them. I think finding a repair center is slightly harder than FL, and some of the parts might be slightly more expensive than FL. I don't think the difference is that important for rv use though since we just don't abuse our trucks like a commercial use truck is. More important to me would be pre-emission and non-smoker. The non-smoker is the hardest thing to find.
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Old 08-30-2015, 09:33 AM   #9
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Two years to build it is about right. If you work hard. Don't forget it's going to cost you twice as much as you think it will. Just ask any of the several around here that have built their own. And, even if you are very accurate in your price calculations you might not spend twice as much. But, it's only going to be worth less than half of what you spent building it when you (or your heirs) have to sell it.
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Old 08-30-2015, 09:34 AM   #10
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How can you get 15k lbs. in a 10' trailer?
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