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Old 10-27-2014, 10:56 PM   #1
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Default Smaller Toterhome?

So, as many of you are I'm sure, I'm constantly searching for the perfect RV/hauler for my needs. I have tried everything out there, even a Custom Uhaul build (My 17' Uhaul Toy Hauler).

Currently, I'm using a 38' Keystone Raptor toy hauler, but I can only haul one UTV in the back, which limits its usefulness.

Over the past weekend, I was convinced I had found another pretty good option. It's a Freightliner FL70 conversion with a Roadmaster box on it. Full living quarters on the inside and a Cat 400/6-speed auto.



I absolutely loved it, but I'm not sure I could get a bigger (40' and up) trailer into my neighborhood with it. With the F450, I can get a 48' into the neighborhood. It isn't easy, but possible.

After a trial one night stand, I took the FL70 back to the owner with bad news that it wasn't going to work out.

So, that started me thinking about another angle. What I really like about the toterhome is the minimal living quarters and the gooseneck hitch. What I don't like about it is the huge size, 22.5" wheels/huge tires, air brakes, and overall bad road manors (although still a very cool vehicle). So, why has no one created a smaller (F450/E450-based toterhome)? It seems like a pretty useful vehicle to me.

Has anyone seen photos of a light-truck based toterhome?
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Old 10-28-2014, 10:38 AM   #2
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I know a couple of guys that had F450's hauling moderately heavy 5th wheel campers. Both spent a bunch of money on upgrades trying to get them more capable. Both gave up and bought Volvo semi tractors. Both sold their F450's and had money left over. Both say the HDT is FAR superior in every way. Both said the F450 was not powerful enough and didn't have enough brakes. Now, go ahead and add a few thousand pounds to the frame of that F450 by putting living quarters on it. I think you'd not be happy.

A lot (most) of the HDT crowd (people using HDT's to haul their 5th wheel campers) are using Volvo tractors. They claim the Volvo has the tightest turning radius. Many of them single the rear axles (remove one of the drive axles) and put some sort of vehicle on the bed behind the sleeper. This often makes the truck slightly longer than a stock tractor. I don't hear any of them complaining that they can't get to where they want to go. Now, if you didn't need to place a vehicle on the deck you could make an HDT even shorter and I bet you'd be way ahead of that MDT (FL70 is no HDT) in power and maneuverability. And I bet a lot cheaper too.
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Old 10-28-2014, 11:39 AM   #3
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I agree with Bob. I went from a dually to a GMC 6500 Topkick mdt with a lot longer wheelbase and it actually has a far shorter turning radius than my dually ever did, and in most situations is easier to maneuver the trailer (40' goose/fifth). The exception may be backing 90 degrees into a tight driveway from a narrow street, the front of the long truck still has to go somewhere even though it turns really tight, the front end can swing pretty far backing up. The biggest adjustment for me was visibility backing up, you now have an 8.5' box about a foot behind your seat instead of being able to cheat and look over your shoulder and out every window in a pickup cab. But you get used to that. I added big city delivery truck type convex mirrors out on both front fenders and I can now see the end of the trailer at about 45 degrees in those (backing to the blind side) and there is just a moment of blind spot before I can see the end of the trailer appear in the right side window as you back sharper. And I can always see the end of the trailer in those while driving, no matter how sharp the curve. I see your truck did not have those, they are a big help. Also huge peace of mind on the road, those eliminate the blindspots on each side right next to the truck where a small car can easily hide out.

The 22.5's ride a little rough with a light load, but they are bullet proof and will last practically forever the way all of us use them, I think a worthwhile trade off. You can compensate for the lighter loads with lower air pressure, I only run 75# in my steers instead of the 110psi on the sidewall, based on Michelin's load/inflation chart and it makes a huge difference in ride quality. Mine doesn't have air brakes, but I wish it did. Even the big mdt 4 wheel disc brake are such a huge improvement over the small brakes on a dually that I don't need to rely on the trailer brakes (22000# trailer) at all for normal driving, and barely at all for a panic stop. With air brakes you would literally never know the trailer was back there.

The only company I know of that made a toterhome on smaller chassis was Pony Xpress and they are out of business now. I have seen many of their units for sale over the years. Most were a 8.5-10' box on a Chevy 4500/5500 mdt chassis, but they made some on the smaller Ford F450 chassis as well. Nice well built compact units, but really designed for the horse trailer market and don't have the real world capacity for a heavy trailer. The Ford F450, Chevy 4500, Dodge 4500 are basically an overbuilt 3500 dually, with the same drivetrain, 19.5 tires, and slightly heavier frame/brakes. Not a big improvement over a dually and by the time you add a big box, you are going to be farther behind in capacity than you are now.

My plan is to upgrade to a singled Volvo tractor the next time around. While my 6500 is a huge improvement over the dually, the Volvo would be the ultimate. Check out the irv2 forum, and the hdt rally forum, both have great info on towing fifth wheels with mdt/hdt trucks.

Good luck!
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Old 10-28-2014, 12:55 PM   #4
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I really appreciate the insight on the HDT. That haven't considered that route in the past. I appreciate the nimbleness of the F450 and have never really had any issues with them, although I do acknowledge that the added weight and stress of some type of living quarters box would put extra stress on them.

I'm going to check out those forums and see what I can dig up.

Thanks again.


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Old 10-28-2014, 01:13 PM   #5
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I should have mentioned there are some situations where the F450/550 pickups make sense, typically a fifth wheel rv where they want a reasonably sized truck to shoot around town and such once they have the trailer unhooked at the campground. It is an upgrade from a F350/C3500, but still parks at Walmart and antique stores like a pickup truck. I just don't think I'd want to stretch one and put a box on it. Speaking of parking, my 6500 is 26' long, but I zip around town like a car once you are used to it, and the only time I have trouble finding a parking spot is something like a downtown where you have to park on the street. For instance when we were camping in the Keys last winter, If we took the truck into old town Key West we had to use a pay lot, no chance of finding a street parking spot for something that size. Other than that no problems, take it anywhere you take your car.
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Old 10-28-2014, 01:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hot rod View Post
I should have mentioned there are some situations where the F450/550 pickups make sense, typically a fifth wheel rv where they want a reasonably sized truck to shoot around town and such once they have the trailer unhooked at the campground.


I pull my 38' Keystone Raptor with a '08 F450 now (photo above is a previous 48' Haulmark). It works pretty well (H&S programmer, 4" exhaust, CAI, DPF delete) for that trailer and honestly, it's going to be hard to beat. What you mentioned is a big concern for me due to the fact that when we travel on vacation with this setup, often times my wife will leave out in the F450 herself. She's not a fan of driving the "big" truck, so I'm sure she wouldn't be a fan of driving the even larger truck. Definitely something weighing heavy on my list. If I went with a HDT, I would be a full time chaperone for her shopping trips. At least I would have a sleeper, though.
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Old 10-28-2014, 01:38 PM   #7
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Something else to look at is what it would cost you to replace an F450 and the longevity vs an HDT. Just remember an HDT with 700,000 miles is still designed to run another 300,000 miles (give or take) without rebuilding the drivetrain. Miles are not as much of a concern with the bigger trucks. Also, your F450 is just as wide as an HDT. The only difference is the HDT is the same width from front to rear whereas your F450 is only wide in the rear.
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Old 10-28-2014, 01:49 PM   #8
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Something else to look at is what it would cost you to replace an F450 and the longevity vs an HDT. Just remember an HDT with 700,000 miles is still designed to run another 300,000 miles (give or take) without rebuilding the drivetrain. Miles are not as much of a concern with the bigger trucks. Also, your F450 is just as wide as an HDT. The only difference is the HDT is the same width from front to rear whereas your F450 is only wide in the rear.
You're definitely right about all of the above, but you should imagine yourself in my shoes when trying to explain the width situation to my wife. I can't imagine that conversation yielding my hopeful result.
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Old 10-28-2014, 01:56 PM   #9
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You are in the same boat as me. My wife doesn't even like to drive my pick up, let alone anything bigger... But something else to consider is like my situation, I am 59 years old so I would be looking at replacing my pick up probably two more times in my lifetime, but the HDT would in all reality be the last truck I would buy. The cost savings is huge.
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Old 10-28-2014, 04:46 PM   #10
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There are plenty of women driving their HDT's. They even have their own thread in the Escapees forum: RDBE (for those in the know) - HDT - Escapees Discussion Forum
My wife doesn't drive our camper. But she did drive it once when we were at the HDT Rally and several other women convinced her to give it a try. She did just fine and didn't mind too much. But, mine is quite a bit more than just a HDT.
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Old 10-28-2014, 05:26 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mntom View Post
You are in the same boat as me. My wife doesn't even like to drive my pick up, let alone anything bigger... But something else to consider is like my situation, I am 59 years old so I would be looking at replacing my pick up probably two more times in my lifetime, but the HDT would in all reality be the last truck I would buy. The cost savings is huge.
I have been weighing the costs quite a bit today. I turned 37 yesterday, so, like you, I would be replacing the F450 several times throughout my lifetime. I'm not in a huge hurry, so I may take my time to build the truck right the first time in hopes that it would be the last one I ever bought.

I'm going to begin the conversation with her this evening. Wish me luck. She wouldn't even ride in the FL70 when I brought it home for a one night stand.

Bob, I'll be sure and reference your thread during the conversation.

Another thing in the plus column for a HDT is that I could haul another vehicle on the bed of the truck. I see that the Smart cars are pretty popular, but in my case, it would be another Polaris RZR. With the toy hauler, I'm limited to only one vehicle. With the HDT and a rear bed rack, I could haul two.

Current race car - https://www.flickr.com/photos/octane...57641092875673

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Old 10-28-2014, 05:50 PM   #12
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Here's what I came up with to haul a quad on the back of the toy hauler. Worked great all the way to MN from AL, but did keep me pretty nervous and looking in the mirrors to see the quad bouncing down the interstate.



With the HDT, this would fit easily and safely on the back of the truck.
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Old 10-29-2014, 05:00 PM   #13
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So, the conversation with my wife went about as I expected it to go. She was pretty emphatic about her not driving a semi around town. That will be a steep hill to climb.
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Old 10-29-2014, 08:07 PM   #14
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Well, that's too bad. But, you need to keep Mama happy or you ain't happy.....
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Old 10-30-2014, 12:03 AM   #15
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My wife won't consider driving our coach either....fine w/ me....gives me MORE seat time.

Truth be known my wife doesnt even like driving our f350 crew cab long bed....she has (on long road trip).

As for getting around "town" - thats what we have the jeep for....and my wife has no problem driving it around town (even w/ it's manual trans).
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Old 10-30-2014, 08:33 PM   #16
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Don't feel bad..... My wife doesn't even like driving our (my) 3/4 ton extended cab long box pick up. If I get anything bigger (yep, planning on it!) I will be the sole driver.
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