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Old 12-09-2012, 05:03 PM   #1
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Default MDT for RV Hauling

Hello All. Just joined and looking for some feedback. I sold my class 8 tractor and started delivering new RV trailers with my F-350 pickup. But this pickup, as well as past other brands, is not proving reliable under the mileages I am putting on it. So I am looking at building a new medium duty truck. It will either be a Hino or a T-270 Kenworth with a PX-6 (6.7 Cummins.)
I want to put an expeditor type bunk on it, like what Alumi-Bunk offers. I'm sick of motels, or sleeping in a pickup, truck stop showers and crappy road food.

There are pros and cons to this....more expensive purchase than a new pickup, and probably not as good of fuel mileage, but how does it factor out when you figure in 70 grand average for a new pickup, that has been giving me numerous engine problems (8 grand out of warranty so far) and stuff like wheel seals, pinion seals, etc. failing constantly. Not to mention high tire and brake wear.

What kind of mileage are you all getting out of your medium duties?

I can have a truck with bunk built for cheaper than one of those custom Sport Chassis types with a hauler body. So it makes it tempting.

Thanks.
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Old 12-09-2012, 06:37 PM   #2
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I'd look at a toterhome with a real shower, dinette and bed. the Power and braking of a HDT would beat almost anything in the MDT lines

something like this on RJ is cheaper than a new F450 and has only 250K miles, you will never tax this truck pulling campers...




http://www.racingjunk.com/Toterhomes...Toterhome.html
you wont wear out anything on a HDT like you have experienced towing with a LDT this truck seems to be a bargin well below your 70K number @ $55K

good luck no matter what you decide
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Old 12-09-2012, 06:37 PM   #3
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My 2004 topkick 6500 with a Cat C7 and Alison transmission does a good job hauling my 40 foot fiver. I fulltime so it's loaded and heavy. I don't put the miles on it like a commercial guy would though.
I have had dually diesels in the past, braking was always a problem and running at or near max weight.
Guess I am getting around 9 mpg, never really did a long term test.
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Old 12-09-2012, 06:43 PM   #4
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Better shot of the truck. Thinking I may add a sleeper, cut the frame and extend it 60 inches or so.
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Old 12-09-2012, 07:51 PM   #5
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Thanks guys. I should have singled out my highway tractor and kept it. But too late now.
I know a class 8 would be more reliable, but I'm trying to get an idea on the difference in fuel mileage, if the medium would be any better? I know I could have gotten 7 to 8 mpg with my 525 h.p. tractor pulling travel trailers.
Fuel is the big killer in this industry. There's not a lot of profit margin. Only reason I did it, is it is a lot less stress and bull than trucking.

A used toter like you showed me would be even more cost effective even.

I realize the fuel mileage is less than my F-350 but like I said, you have to factor in the cost per mile when repairs come into account.

Nice trucks there by the way.
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Old 12-09-2012, 07:53 PM   #6
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At the risk of going off the deep end....on average what do new Toterhomes cost? I know it all varies, but something livable not overly fancy.
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:04 PM   #7
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Big money well over 100 g

I built 6 trucks this last year for guys hauling their fivers, mostly fulltime Rvers. The one that left here last month, a big Volvo, these guys figure it's cheaper and safer using a big truck too haul their trailers.

Pic of the Volvo during the build.

What part of northern ontario are you at
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:14 PM   #8
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By the Sault On./MI. border Coal.

Low mileage used would probably be the way to go. Like BlizzardND said, not much more than another new pickup.

Don't want to get too long either as you need the manueverability. Most factories just dump the trailers out in tight rows in farm fields. And most dealer lots are even worse. Some I have to drop out on the road with the pickup, lol.

I spec'd out a T-370 with a 64" bunk (no shower or bathroom of coarse) and a 104" tow body and it came out to the same length as my crew cab long box pickup.
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F-350 Explorer View Post
I sold my class 8 tractor and started delivering new RV trailers with my F-350 pickup. But this pickup, as well as past other brands, is not proving reliable under the mileages I am putting on it. So I am looking at building a new medium duty truck.
From what you said the focus of the truck will pulling RV trailers for delivery. Pulling a 5th wheel in one direction and returning empty in the other direction.

I see those types of things all the time on I roads in the area; they are always pulling something north and west bound out of Chicago and Milwaukee. Suggestions:

If you're buying new, consider going with a compressed natural gas (CNG) engine. I was at a CNG a few weeks ago in Sheboygan (WI) partially sponsored by Kwik-Trip the La Crosse (WI) based convenience store/truck stop operator. KT is making a HUGE committment to CNG. They had two CNG semi tractors for us to look at. I think both had Cummins CNG engines. The larger used CNG and diesel, the smaller (which would be great for a MDT like you need to pull the 5th wheel RVs) was exclusively CNG. You wouldn't believe how quiet the CNG engine was.

Kwik Trip Advocates Natural Gas Adoption - Truckinginfo.com

I don't know about the current availability of CNG on the routes your run, but the savings is significant. CNG appears to run 50% to 60% the cost of diesel. KT said they think they will never buy another diesel truck for their operations; CNG or LNG going forward.

Build your truck so you can haul something on the back hauls and make a little money. Is a car carrier or deck for pallets or tow truck stinger for cars and trucks a possibility?

I normally see 1 ton duallies pulling the 5th wheel RVs for delivery, but is that the best thing out there? is there something better? Making the right truck/engine combo selection will have a dramatic impact on how much money you make.

Let us know what you find out!
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:33 PM   #10
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the nice thing about the HDT over the MDT is many times the wheel cut on a HDT is much tighter than a MDT, add a hitch further back behind the singled axle and the HDT will turn inside the radius of the f450 super-cab duelly.

I would not by new in this economic environment, the race car guys are all re-accessing next season and sponsorship will be very tight again next spring. If the economy doesn't turn around for them, thier fleet of "for sale" toterhomes will be devaluing more and more as winter progresses.

RV's on the other hand are selling really well to the babyboomer soon to be retirees, which should be good for your trailer toting for some time to come.

Find a good used toterhome, then remodel, re-carpet what ever to suit your needs and then get it on the road and make some money.

Possibly even look to re-gear it to tow the light loads that you will be towing so that empty return trip maxes the MPG as much as possible.
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:35 PM   #11
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CNG is not readily available yet in my travels, but I agree with you. It looks like it will have a big future. A couple big carriers in Quebec have just invested in CNG class 8 tractors and are setting up distribution centres. But not enough YET.

The guys hauling cars seem to be doing good. I also have the option of pulling a wedge trailer, where I could carry two or three RV's or cars.
I do lots of long distance single hauls, because of my a licence, they use me for all the big toy haulers and park models.

Lots of options, but not with a pickup. Pickup pros are it is cheap and you can sneak around certain "obstacles."
But I'll tell you, a pickup with a 14,000 pound 43 foot trailer with 9 foot cielings in high winds is not fun. Especially on icy roads.
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:45 PM   #12
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I live along I-94 in Fargo ND As you have probably learned by now ND is a great place for our dozens of huge windfarms, but a terrible state to cross with a 43' toyhauler behind a pickup.

I see those Transports heading west every time I return from western ND every 5 miles or so I will meet one, some days they are down to 50-55 either to conserve fuel, or just to stay on the road.

The HDT guys set the cruise turn up the radio, and enjoy no having to shift from WI to Billings MT.
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:55 PM   #13
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Ya, I've had some trips "white knuckling" at 50 mph weaving like I'm drunk, people giving me the finger, LOL. And I've driven transport for 25 years on and off road, so it's not lack of ability. These new toyhaulers have far surpassed 350/3500 pickups.
Likely why my insurance is so astronomical in this industry.
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Old 12-09-2012, 11:18 PM   #14
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"These new toyhaulers have far surpassed 350/3500 pickups."

Na, the dealers will tell the purchaser "it only weighs 15,000 and that new F350 is rated to tow 21,000 so you have plenty of capacity, no problems!"

The wife will tell her husband "honey that trailer looks so big behind our little pickup"

at which hubby who has just spent $56,000 at the Ford dealer for his dream leather seated turbodeisel one ton, and a $35,000 toy-hauler says "no problem's the truck is rated for....."

Then hubby, wife and the little dog come though ND in the spring on their way to AK for the summer, March-May good time for wind energy, bad time for vacation..

"honey slow down, I feel like were going to get blown off the interstate!"

"no problem's the truck is rated for....." as he grips the wheel even tighter

Go HDT, gear it right for your business model, and the insurance you mentioned might even go down since their liability to insurer an under-loaded HDT is so much less risk.

There are some really nice HDTs rigged up and ready to go on the Escapees Forum

HDT - Escapees Discussion Forum

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Old 12-09-2012, 11:35 PM   #15
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BlizzardND, thanks for the info. I started looking at some of the class 8 threads to see some fuel mileages. Looks like the 7's is common?

I once delivered a 43 foot KZ Inferno tri-axle toy hauler, every available option. Got to the dealer and the salesman tells me a 56 year old guy bought it and is going to tow it with a Dodge 2500! Single rear wheel!
I said tell him good luck with that, lol.
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:45 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F-350 Explorer View Post
I once delivered a 43 foot KZ Inferno tri-axle toy hauler, every available option. Got to the dealer and the salesman tells me a 56 year old guy bought it and is going to tow it with a Dodge 2500! Single rear wheel!
I said tell him good luck with that, lol.
Should be criminal.

When I bought my race car in 2005 I needed to find something to haul it in. Never owned a trailer before. Went to Muellers Sales and Service in Random Lake (WI). Talked to Jerry Mueller (he and his brother had raced in ARCA as well as NASCAR Cup and Trucks and knew what it took to haul a 3400# race car). Told him I wanted a buy a Chevy Tahoe and a 20' enclosed trailer. He told me I needed a 24' trailer because 20' would fit just the car and no "stuff" and I'd need "stuff" to go racing. He also old me whether I bought a 20' or 24' trailer he would NOT sell me a Tahoe to pull it; too short, too small. Trailer in the wind would wander all over the road. Said I needed a Suburban or a Pickup.

Jerry was right. I certainly wouldn't go with any bigger trailer without a larger truck.
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:57 AM   #17
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You won't be disappointed moving up to a mdt or hdt. I am currently towing a 20000# plus (the heaviest I ever had the trailer loaded was 23000#, 21000# is probably my average) 40 foot fifth wheel tri-axle racecar type trailer with my Chevy 3500 dually. I bought a GMC topkick 6500 to tow with, and after one trip with just the cab/chassis and and air ride hitch installed I am sold on the deal. Currently in the middle of building the hauler bed and sleeper box to make it presentable and usable for my business. No more scary braking, and you literally don't know it's back there except for the weight going uphill. This particular trailer was generally pretty stable behind the dually, it has a lower profile than an rv type fifth wheel, but you don't even feel it behind the big truck.

Blizz is right on the toterhome, perfect for your deal. You can get something on racing junk with under 100,000 miles (barely broken in for a big truck) for under $100,000 real nice and real new, or under $60k a little older and rougher around the edges. All the comforts of home when you pull over for the night. New ones are out of the question, silly money at $175k to $250k. I don't know how they are selling new ones with all the used ones on the market. One other thing, that type of toter is about to get cheaper and more plentiful as the racers are dumping the fifth wheel / gooseneck trailer and toter combos for the huge tag type trailers and conventional moterhome hdt conversions as many states will no longer license or title any truck with a fifth wheel or gooseneck as a motorhome, and they are getting around it with those ridiculously huge tag trailers. Can you imagine a 40' (plus hitch) stacker tag trailer? They are building them.

My topkick will out turn my extended cab dually by about 10' of turning circle. Way more maneuverable going forwards or backing. I don't remember the wheelbase, but I am building a 7' sleeper and full 8' hauler bed with the hitch where it is supposed to be over the axle. Most of the guys on escapees build them with the hitch way back behind the axle to keep the wheel base shorter, and in theory easier to back up. I have my doubts on that particular theory, I can put my 40' trailer wherever I want it with a conventional hitch location, and I am sure you can too.

I know I can also highly recommend the air ride fifth wheel hitch. I got a good deal on a used hensley air safe hitch designed for a mdt, and I can tell you I will never go back. The trailer rides way better, which also helps the ride on the truck. Also, hooking and unhooking is EASY. No cranking the trailer way up and way down with the manual landing gear. Just back under the trailer with the air out of the hitch, air it up from the cab control all the way up taking the weight off the landing gear, and spin it up with one hand, then adjust the air pressure to level the trailer. Same deal unhooking, just spin the landing gear down until it just touches the ground, drop the air out of the hitch, and drive away. I hook and unhook a lot, and you do too, worth the investment.

Good luck with your business.
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:04 AM   #18
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I've seen some scary stuff out there going down the road too, including a LOT of those fivers towed with single wheel trucks. They don't want to be bothered with a "big" truck like a dually once they get where they are going. IF they get where they are going.

And you are correct about the factory weight ratings being out of whack. A Jeep Cherokee is probably "rated" to tow GTSC's race car trailer, but only a fool would actually try it.

Scariest thing I ever saw was a Dodge 1500 extended cab pickup towing about a 34-36' fiver with the nose of the truck way up in the air, with a PONTOON BOAT doubled up behind the fifth wheel. Doing about 45mph on the interstate swaying all over the road. And the dot rides MY ass. But that's a camper, so he can do what he wants with no oversight or special license. Oops, there goes my soapbox!
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Old 12-10-2012, 09:12 AM   #19
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I agree on buying used, the market has some good deals. I do work for the guys that haul the cars in and around the Toronto area, most of the guys with the 53 foot wedge trailers have been forced into the larger trucks now, usually a 550 series and up. The ministry is frowning on using a 350 series dually, as usually the rear axle is overloaded.
The duallys don't stand up anyhow, transmissions, front end and brakes are what give out all the time.

I don't know how anyone is making any money with the cost of fuel, most are over 50 % of thier gross gone too fuel.

If your going with a MDT, stay away from the 5.9 cummins or powerstrokes, they don't fare too well, better to get into a larger engine. Again, a singled highway truck starts to make sense, especially considering parts costs. Cheaper on a large truck versus a medium duty.

I have a Cat C7, and would not recommend it either, can't inframe it. Mine runs well, but thier B50 is only 500k miles, at that point they are generally wore out.

Second on the air hitch, pricey but well worth it. If your going with a HDT, it will be mandatory along with air ride on the truck suspension. MDT, I would find one with the air ride suspension already installed as locating the parts can be tricky and expensive.

Alot guys with the custom HDT put the hitch behind the axle when the truck is singled so that the front end is unloaded. Otherwise about 1000 pounds of ballast weight needs to be added behind the rear axle to unload some weight from the steer axle. Each truck situation is unique.

I built a couple of trucks for guys up your way, Bill at the KOA in the Soo and a feller in Elliot Lake.
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Old 12-10-2012, 09:21 AM   #20
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Thanks Hot Rod. So you have about 15 feet of frame behind the cab?
What do you have for power in your Top Kick and what kind of fuel mileage have you seen so far?

And you are right 175 grand is way out of the question for this job.
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