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Old 10-05-2009, 08:40 AM   #1
Junior Member
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 6

first off i'd like to intro myself and go through the same speech of "i'm new to the board, been lurking for a while". i've noticed a few names that come up a lot and seem to know "what's what" when it comes to these rigs.

i do have a few questions that i'd like some opinions on.
1) my initial thought was to go with a KW W900 with the 86" sleeper. i noticed NOBODY is using this truck.....why? that truck does have the largest factory sleeper available so assumed that would be the way to go?
2) volvos are VERY popular with this group.....why?
3) i was also looking at T2000 and Volvo (780 believe?). they seem to have the nicest looking interiors. the least "industrial" looking cab areas.
4) i also notice there are no peterbilt 379 users? why is that?
5) any opinions on auto vs manual tranny. i have no problem rowing through the gears but i may try to get my wife to start driving as well and an auto may be easier to get her behind the wheel with. i have heard some bad things about the auto tranny's in these trucks. are there any years or models to stay away from? are they more expensive to maintain than the manual versions. my experience is with 9, 10, and 13 speed.
6) there was a thread on here somewhere that i can't seem to find now, where someone had posted there recommendations on what specs to look for in a truck to convert. i can't find it ANYWHERE now. i was going to print the thing out.
7) is one truck easier or less expensive to convert to a single drive vs a tandem drive?

what i intend to use the truck for:
i don't need a huge living area, which is why i was looking at the w900 with the 86" sleeper. there are 3 people in my family so i was also looking at the double bunk. I did notice the type of crapper that geofkaye mentioned (the Incinolet) and looked up their site. i LOVE the idea, they are tad on the spendy side but the convenience would be more than worth it. is it possible to convert the typical class 8 truck, using the factory sleeper, into a liveable area w/o having to the go the route of an aftermarket box? i want a truck that will be able to go into all national parks (i'm told they need to be 30ft or less in total length....correct?). it will spend some time in CA so i'll need to be under the 65ft rule. my boat trailer is 37 from the tip of the trailer to the rear edge of the outdrive. but it's very light (under 10k pounds). i want something that is comfortable for the entire family and decent sleeping quarters along with an area large enough for a dinette when we're not sleeping. after reading some posts i realize i shouldn't even consider a range top and just stick to microwave type applications. is it possible to add a shower/toilet to a factory sleeper? where are items like this purchased? i'll be checking to day to see what the rules/regs for NV are to change the title from commercial to RV. i'm not in a hurry whatsoever to make a purchase so i have plenty of time for R&D and reading

to qualify some of my experience, i do have a current CDL and do get some windshield time in a truck pulling 45ft flatbeds but they are ALL older Petes (377 model). i have ZERO experience with any other model. ANY input would be appreciated. i do apologize for the LONG initial post but i have a TON of questions. thank you in advance for any help, advice and opinions.

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Old 10-05-2009, 12:19 PM   #2
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: St. Paul, MN
Posts: 1,819

Welcome Lakejunkie! That's a ton of questions, it'll give Geofkaye lots to comment on, hahahah. I'd like to hit a couple. I think it'd be hard to fit everything in the 86" sleeper. I think you need to consider what, if anything, you want to use the sleeper portion for. I've seen some conversions mount more seating there for passengers while going down the road. That makes that area kind of wasted space while camping tho. Except maybe a good place to pile junk up. I think it would be awful tough to convert the sleeper area to a bathroom, and not very easy to interact with passengers in the living quarters while going down the road shouting through the potty/shower. I've seen a couple of Showhaulers that used a sleeper cab and installed small sofa/sleepers on each side facing each other. Nice for passengers to ride and chat with the two front seats. Then they fold out flat and connect to each other to form a nice sleeper when camping. I looked at one like this and even made him an offer (too low for him, too high for me). My rig is a day cab so the living quarters begins right behind the two front captains chairs. I like this. I've owned it all summer and put over 5k miles on. By ditching the factory sleeper you leave more space for your living quarters in the same overall footprint.

I don't know if Volvo is the most popular owned truck on here. Maybe we should have a topic where everybody can vote on which rig they own? I know they do seem to be a popular truck overall. I test drove a Kingsley built on a Volvo. It was just okay I thought. Granted, I didn't take it for a long trip. My son drives over the road. His company truck is a '05 Freighliner Columbia with the Mercedes 450h/p and Eaton 10speed. He's also a trucker snob, hahahaah, he thinks KW and Pete are the best trucks and the only ones a real trucker would buy. I've ridden in his truck but never driven it. I don't think the sight lines are as nice as my FL112 from the driver's and passenger's seats. I sat in a Kenworth T600 and didn't like how narrow it was. That Showhauler I looked at was on a T2000 and the view out the front was not anywhere near as nice as my FL112. I wonder how the view is out a Pete? They sure look like they don't have much windshield to look out. This is very important to me. I bought a motorhome to see the country, not peer out a narrow slit of a windshield sitting on top of a too high dash. They also have a very long high nose, don't they? Cutting off more vision, albeit, road and ground so not as important, but giving the feel of less view?

When I was looking for my rig I also noticed lots and lots have some sort of autoshift. I went to my local Kenworth dealer and chatted with their service manager. I asked him most specifically about the Eaton autoshift 10 speed. He said it is a very stout tried and true transmission, used in many many trucks. He said it is probably more durable than the fully manual one because it isn't subject to driver error. It's the exact same transmission internally as the manual. They just attach auto shifting stuff to the outside. He said there would be no reason to choose a fully manual one over that as far as durability goes. The electronics and controls are very reliable according to him. My tractor was built to handle 80k lbs. I'm at 27k full tanks. It's not even working at this point. Now, I'm a manual tranny lover as much as any guy and I'm certainly not afraid to drive a shifter. But, after driving my truck 5k this summer I sure do like that it shifts itself. These rigs are all about relaxing and enjoying the great world out there.

You sound like you're thinking about building, or having built, your own truck? There are tons and tons of ready to go truck conversions out there right now, and the prices will never be better. And, you can't possibly build one cheaper than you can buy one out the door down the road. Sure, I'll catch heck from others on here that say you need to build one exactly the way you want it. I guess I have too little time left on this earth to build a truck. I also don't have too high of standards I guess. You should just start locating rigs close to you that are available and go check them out. After walking through several of them and driving them you will certainly have formed some different ideas, or solidified the ones you've already got.

Okay, Geofkaye, where are you?

'03 Freightliner FL112, 295" wheel base, with '03 United Specialties 26' living quarters, single screw, Cat C12 430 h/p 1650 torque, Eaton 10speed , 3.42 rear axle ratio
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Old 10-05-2009, 01:08 PM   #3
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 6

thanx for the response and insight. i'm not convinced either way in reference to building my own or buying one that's done. i would never attempt to build a rig like the one in your avatar. but i would possibly attempt a "conversion" of a factory sleeper. just by looking at pics on the internet, the volvo has a very nice interior with what looks like a lot of room. that would be a reason NOT to go with a pete 379 or KW 900 series. they both have very narrow cabs. unlike the volvo, t2000 or your freightliner. and like you said, these are meant to be relaxing, road trip vehicles so you may as well get one that has what you need and want. the longer i think about it the auto tranny is definitely the way to go and you apparently are of the same opinion. thanx for adding the info about the eaton autoshift. i do see a fair number of trucks floating around with the tranny. thanks again for your input. it's much appreciated!
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