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Old 11-01-2006, 08:34 PM   #1
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As a newbie to this site, I'll try to keep my questions limited to things that I couldn't find answered through previous questions that I have read. I should give a little history up front: I've held a CDL since they came into existence, as I'm sure many of you have, and agree to the superior safety in using a HDT for pulling a 5'th wheel camper. The majority of the 20 years that I drove was in a single axle day cab configuration, although I took numerous layovers with a twin screw tugging a 48 foot reefer. They were not set up for OTR, so I'm sure they weren't as comfortable as they could have been. Personally, I hated the ride of the twins on a rough road. Being company owned trucks, I had no say in their set up, and didn't have to be concerned about engines and gear ratios, just pre-trip and go. Therefore, I now find myself lacking in some of the knowledge needed to decide what I need to look for in finding a used HDT for my purposes. I've so far been unsuccessful in finding out what the requirements are in Indiana to convert a commercial tractor to pulling a camper without being subject to DOT regs. Anyone who can shed some light on this?

I don't want a stretched frame, self contained unit pulling the camper, just swap the fifth wheel for the smaller one, deal with the brakes, etc. I still maintain my CDL, but would prefer to stay out of the whole log book, weigh stations, etc. mess that retaining a commercial status would involve, and I imagine insurance would be greatly affected as well, right?

I am leaning towards what I am familiar with; Intl 8100 series, single axle, either Detroit or Cummins, probably a 10 speed transmission. Not sure if air suspension would be an advantage over springs, comments on any or all of that would be welcomed.

I just bought a 37' toy box (KZ New Vision Sportster) that will be confined to my drive until I figure out and aquire the needed towing unit. Any thoughts about buying a used fleet vehicle from someone such as Ryder that may have 500,000 miles on it?

I have, on rare occasions, been put in a newer Volvo before I retired, and have to say they were nice rides, but admit my budget will not allow something like that right now.

I guess that's enough for my first post, but this seems like a great site to find assistance. Thank you in advance.
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Old 11-02-2006, 02:03 PM   #2
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I will comment on one thing- Get air ride. The difference in ride quality will have your chiropractor cussing you profusely for cutting him out of a lot of business. Remember. AIR RIDE.
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Old 11-02-2006, 08:05 PM   #3
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Thanks, Gary; with ongoing back trouble (the price of being a food service delivery driver)the ride quality should be at the top of my list. Am I alone in my eariler observation that a twin screw is rougher riding than a single axle, or was I basing that opinion on the sub-standard equipment that they supplied us with? I believe the last few trucks they bought were air ride, as the few times I drove them they rode much better than my assigned vehicles.
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Old 11-03-2006, 06:32 PM   #4
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Look at it this way; 2 axles have a weight capacity of approx. 20 tons, and one axle is 10 ton, with air ride, the bags will flex better under higher individual load than a lighter one per bag (you following this?). The single axle will actually ride better, as long as you don't need 20 ton of capacity, which I doubt you need. Plus, it simplifies everything in the rear suspension dept. I hope this helps you.
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Old 11-03-2006, 08:20 PM   #5
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Makes sense, I guess that's why most conversions start with a twin; lighter axles individually, than the axle on a stock single. They end up with a single that rides softer than the stock single, but with added expense of the removal, etc. I recall the "double whammy" when hitting a chuckhole or bump with the twins I used to drive. When that second axle hit, it would jar your teeth. Again, fleet equipment, comfort wasn't high on the list of spec's. Is my desire for a "simple" towing rig unique? I know some states require extensive conversion to gain RV status, but again, I haven't located the requirements in Indiana. IDOT won't reply to the written request, guess I'll have to pester someone at the license branch. I suppose a used twin screw would be easier to locate due to the low percentage of OTR rigs being single axle. More on the market should translate to a little better price, I would think. Thanks again for any comments relevent to this.
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Old 11-05-2006, 02:22 PM   #6
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ANOTHER adventage of starting with a twin-screw is that if you're gonna remove one axle anyway, you have a choice of two wheelbases to choose from by picking which axle position to use, then put the rearmost axle there. Obviously if you use the rearmost position all you have to do is yank the forward divider axle and suspension and lengthen the driveline.
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