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Old 08-28-2007, 12:11 PM   #1
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Just wondering if anyone has an interest of moving to a HDT ? I know sometimes on other forums with the regulars doing most of the posting one doesn't chime in and ask the questions running through their mind because it seems elementry or not sure how to ask it. This being a new forum, maybe it's time to ask away
There are a few of us over here that has some experience and would be more than happy to share it with you.

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Old 08-28-2007, 03:10 PM   #2
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Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeellll now that you mention it...

I have been toying with going with a MDT when I replace "Lil Red". (Truck in my avitar) I would hesitate to go the HDT route as it will also be my daily driver when home...

As of now I am leaning to a F-450 or maybe some type of MDT.

Lil Red is doing fine, but around 2009 or 2010 is my projected time to replace it.

Don
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Old 08-28-2007, 03:31 PM   #3
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Hi Don
I kind of skipped the MDT class and went right from the one ton to the HDT. But I must say I am very impressed with the looks and performance I have read about from the Freightliner Sport Chassis. I have been told with the Mercedes engine they are getting between 12 and 15 mpg pulling. I do think they are just a little short on the torque but sure make up for it in looks.

JMHO

David
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Old 08-29-2007, 10:46 AM   #4
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I have just started reading about HDT's on another forum. It definately has my interest. The idea of converting it to a motorhome is great. Cheaper insurance, no cdl and tons of power for hauling your 5er sounds like the way to go. I also like the idea of being able to put a toy or two behind the cab. I wanted to get a golf car but had no way to haul it. I am currently looking at the prices and doing more research.
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Old 08-30-2007, 12:12 PM   #5
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Hello David,

I've been seriously thinking about an HDT and have been lurking on the escapees HDT forum for a while. I've only owned a 28 ft class C motorhome back in the 90s, but when I start fulltiming again (in about a yr) I think I'd like a 5th wheel. After what I've read in the other forum, I won't consider even a one ton pickup truck (safety is at the top of my list) and I can't afford a MDT, so HDT it will have to be (if I can afford that).

As a single female with no experience with trucks and not much mechanical knowledge, it does seem a bit overwhelming. I don't even know how I'd go about finding a truck (probably Volvo 610), judging whether it was in good condition, and if it was, how I'd find someone to convert it, etc. But...I'm still in the learning process and I just bought Larry Ziegler's online guide.

I've only seen a couple of these RV haulers on the road, but never had a chance to talk to the owners, let alone sit in or drive one. I'm still working, so I don't have much time to go looking for people who have them, either. But until I figure out whether I could actually own an HDT, I can't decide whether to go with a 5th wheel or motorhome. So I'm kind of stuck...

One question I have been thinking of asking, though, is whether it's damaging to these trucks to use them as daily drivers, since they're designed to go long distances. Actually, I have a similar question about any kind of motor put in any RV. What happens when they sit around for a few weeks/months at a time, then get driven a few hundred miles, then sit around, etc?

Thanks to everyone on these forums for the great info!
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Old 08-30-2007, 12:51 PM   #6
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I don't want to discourage anyone from making the move to a HDT, but that being said it is not for everyone. Two years ago at the Rally a lady rolled in with a Larry Z T2000. She didn't weigh 100 lbs soaking wet. She told us every time she had to push in the cluch she had to stand up in the cab, put both hands on the wheel and push down with all her might. Well just didn't seem safe or right. She managed to put a few miles on the truck but ended up trading it to one of the fellows for his one ton and down sized to a camper that the truck could handle.

When reading all these great posts about the HDT one kind of diverts to another world of great things. The trucks do the job we ask of them in great style but do pose limitations. You need to understand all the aspects of owning, driving,maintaining an HDT to make the right decision. Don't let just price, or what you have been told convince you to purchase. You need to climb behind the wheel, take it around the block, hook up a fiver see what it's like to pull it down the road. After all the pros and cons are in, then make up your mind and go with it.

Finding the right truck today is not anywhere near the problem it was a few years ago when only a handful of people went the route. There is so much information on the forum now and more and more people doing it, all you need to do is ask. Larry Z's guide is a very good start but you can find all that information and more right here with a click of the mouse.

Feel free to ask any questions here or over on the Escapees forum and you will be flooded with information in short order.

David
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Old 09-01-2007, 01:26 PM   #7
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MaryAnne and David: While I am not inclined to a 5r for a lot of reasons and as a result will build a truck conversion in the next 2-3 years, there are easy answers to the clutch/transmission issue which apply to both pulling or a conversion. I am inclined to order a new truck with specs set up for what I want, as this is a one time purchase for long term use, which also may not correspond to your wishes and cost levels.

I do concur with those who say go Class 8 - the safety and other improivements are staggering. The incremental cost difference over a class 7 is small, but the return great. The answer to the transmission issue is two fold. One is that one should not be a weakling; the world is a harsh place and good physical condition is part of survival. In my OTR days I saw a lot of small women driving trucks without any problem. A more sensitive answer is the Roadganger ULP - it has an automatic clutch, and the low gears of the 18 speed, with the splitter function blocked off in 2-5, leaving it essentially a 13 speed with the crawling ability of the low gear from the 18 speed. This is the answer I'll have to use as my wife is small and has a bad back; while she will not be a significant driving presence, she needs to be able to move the RV for safety reasons.

The only real drawback to the ULP is its low torque capacity; 1650, or up to 1750 with a MT rated engine; I'd prefer 1850 since I live in the west and slowing down on grades is a major safety problem. This makes the 435MT (1550/1750) Cat C15 a good choice - it will never work hard and will have ample torque for most purposes. My gut inclination at this time is to get a Western Star 4900SA, but research may change that.
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Old 09-02-2007, 05:01 AM   #8
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New to IRV2.com. Neat Web Site!

Hope to move to an HDT out in the future. Going to skip the MDT step, but did have a motor home in the begining of our RV ventures....
We want a tow vehicle that will meet all future needs.

David, good to see you over here with all of your knowledge of conversions!!!

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Old 09-03-2007, 12:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Toterman (David):
I don't want to discourage anyone from making the move to a HDT, but that being said it is not for everyone. Two years ago at the Rally a lady rolled in with a Larry Z T2000. She didn't weigh 100 lbs soaking wet. She told us every time she had to push in the cluch she had to stand up in the cab, put both hands on the wheel and push down with all her might. Well just didn't seem safe or right. She managed to put a few miles on the truck but ended up trading it to one of the fellows for his one ton and down sized to a camper that the truck could handle.

When reading all these great posts about the HDT one kind of diverts to another world of great things. The trucks do the job we ask of them in great style but do pose limitations. You need to understand all the aspects of owning, driving,maintaining an HDT to make the right decision. Don't let just price, or what you have been told convince you to purchase. You need to climb behind the wheel, take it around the block, hook up a fiver see what it's like to pull it down the road. After all the pros and cons are in, then make up your mind and go with it.

Finding the right truck today is not anywhere near the problem it was a few years ago when only a handful of people went the route. There is so much information on the forum now and more and more people doing it, all you need to do is ask. Larry Z's guide is a very good start but you can find all that information and more right here with a click of the mouse.

Feel free to ask any questions here or over on the Escapees forum and you will be flooded with information in short order.

David
Hi David,

Well, I'm not THAT small...and I do pull 60 lbs of dogs + trailer behind my bike on some rolling hills, so I think I might be strong enough
I do get your point, though. I don't want to have either an RV or a truck that is overwhelming to drive. I probably should see if I can get any women to chime in on the Escapees HDT forum.
Larry's guide was very helpful in having some straightforward info. I have gotten a little lost on the forums where there's a lot of technical info without any background. For example (Doug)...what is a Roadganger ULP?? Even google had trouble with that one!
Thanks!
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Old 09-03-2007, 02:18 PM   #10
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Sorry, MaryAnne; old truck drivers never die - we just smell that way. Take a look at (http://www.roadranger.com/Roadranger/index.htm) and peruse the links, starting with transmissions; there are other pieces of information you should find useful. One issue you may be up against is not knowing enough to ask the right questions. Some of what is useful is hard to know without having enough background.

I live out west now, and speeds are much higher here. It is foreseeable that we could drive for over a day at 75 or so, safely and legally, but we also have to be able to put up with places like Illinois, which have a 55 limit for RVs. This means a 10 speed geared for out here would probably be in 9th - bad idea. A 13 or 18, or the ULP, would split that top gear and be ok. (I've done with the math with a road speed calculator.) Since we have family in the midwest and I want to spend time in Maine (I want to do the Golden Road, etc) such flexibility is important. You might want go to the truck conversion forums (truckconversion.net); lots of folks posted their experiences and thoughts there; I did, and the evolution of my thoughts, though imperfect, might be worth considering. They are read only now, replaced with this set of forums.

With a 5r, though, I would be uncomfortable running over 65 due to the tiny tires, forward wheel placement, etc, and a 10 speed would probably be adequate (we won't have a 5Rr for lots of reasons, including the dogs, and I am not interested in the safety and convenience issues of getting out of the power unit to get to the living area). Since 65 would qualify as "impeding traffic", and I stop people for that crap when I have time, I'm not comfortable with that concept either.

Vehicle size may be intimidating to you - it is to many. The simplest way to overcome that, although not cheap, is to attend a formal truck driver training school, if you can find one of decent quality. You could also find a women trucker to ride with and learn from ....
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Old 09-04-2007, 09:21 AM   #11
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MaryAnne,
There's no good substitute for experience when it comes to driving any large vehicle, whether it's a pick-up with a camper behind, or a class 8 semi. The trick is in gaining that experience without injuring yourself or anyone else. While driving a large vehicle can be intimidating at first, the many advantages soon push aside the initial fears. Being able to see over the traffic directly in front of you helps you take evasive action before it's needed, for example. Doug offers good advice about a driver's training school, where you would learn skills to qualify you to drive virtually any vehicle that you would be considering, and would be a more "qualified" driver than many of those currently driving big RV's. There are many more women driving big rigs these days, and they aren't all auto-shifts, either. Again, practice is required to shift smoothly, but that truck doesn't know or care whether the operator is male or female. Good luck.
Jess
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Old 09-04-2007, 11:02 AM   #12
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While it is not proven enough for my preferences, and I also would want more gears and a broader range from low to high, Cat also makes an automatic transmission which might be of appeal to some - the only version I would get is the heaviest, as it has 8 gears forward, and I don't think a 6 speed is enough to address the varying operational conditions one might experience. With the additional integral retarder in the transmission, combined with the Jake, one would have a great amount of braking capacity for the downgrades, so the service brakes would not be subjected to real stress and heat unless one were careless.
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Old 09-05-2007, 04:25 PM   #13
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Hi Toterman!

I would just like to see an upfitter like MountainMaster or 2L do turn-key RV haulers using HDTs. If they could acquire a new Volvo, singled at the factory, and build a bed on it, in about the same price range as their MDTs, that would be perfect. A new Volvo can be had for about 100K. Why couldn't they add a nice bed and charge $120K like they do for the MDTs?

That would be the hot ticket for someone like me who would like a new HDT, but don't look forward to trying to spec/buy/upfit a new one myself!
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Old 09-07-2007, 09:34 AM   #14
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Thanks Doug, that link is very helpful! You're right about not knowing enough to even be able to ask the right questions! But I know a lot more than I did 3 months ago, so I'm assuming I'll eventually know enough to at least understand the jargon.

That won't help me drive one of these vehicles, though, and I have looked into truck driving schools. I think having a CDL would be useful for anyone planning to drive any large RV. The problem is that I work full time, and I'm not sure how to find time to do that right now since there's no school nearby.

The size of a big truck doesn't intimidate me any more than the size of a big class A motorhome. I think many people have a false sense of security driving a 40 ft class A, just because it seems a little more "user friendly" than a HDT might. I have the same safety concerns with a class A, and even some of the larger class C motorhomes--controlling on the road and stopping. My only experience was with a 28 ft class C, and that thing was definitely too heavy for the brakes it had, even though I never overloaded it.

I'd like to learn more about chassis and brakes for motorhomes, too. What kinds of criteria are used for deciding what brakes go into motorhomes--just the gross weight? and are they actually tested? How do the different chassis affect handling and other kinds of safety parameters, as well as longevity?? I have to start looking into those issues also.

Well, I'm no farther along in deciding what kind of RV to get. The information gathering continues...
and as always, thanks for your help!
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