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Old 08-14-2013, 08:12 PM   #1
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My answer about using a semi to pull a RV

Here in Michigan and per the FMCSA once you take the "In Commerce" out of the equation, it is no longer a CMV. Take off all signage, company name and logos etc. Once that is done no CDL required to include the airbrake endorsement. The dealership added the other decals about motor home not for hire etc to make sure the point got across.

I purchased a 1993 international 9400 Eagle tractor from a used CMV dealer. They had a fix that worked out better than I planned. I had initially found that the MiSOS would determine my registration fee based on weight of the vehicle even if it is used privately, putting my tags in the $450 per year range.

The dealership upon purchasing the truck, installed a microwave and a portable toilet in it, documented it with MiSOS and had the vehicle title changed from truck tractor to motor home, end result is now the plate is $50 per year.

I purchased my toy after upgrading to my Montana and finding out my 99 C3500 wasn't all up to the task (truck rated for 10k GVWR) and the 5'er alone is 12,800 pounds empty. Used trucks to pull it run 35-55K in price used, so I picked up my tractor for 9k.

It has a million miles but descent tires, no leaks or issues, had a new clutch and fluid service just before I purchased it, it is a diamond in the rough as it needs fiberglass work on the hood and a paint job but no biggie, I will work on it as I learn how.

It has 1,066,000 miles on it, equipped with a Detroit 12.7 litre series 60 engine and a eaton/fuller 10 speed. At 55 mph pulling my 5'er with both rear axles and stock fifth wheel hitch, I got 8.5 MPG @ 55MPH, at 70mph I got 6.5 MPG.

Once I got it home, I gutted the sleeper, and placed benches over the side tool box compartments and that is where my kids ride and the dogs, it has two air ride seats up front.

The images here are recent as I have had a truck company remove the stock hitch, dropped the middle powered divider axle and moved the rear main drive axle up and chopped the frame (approx 4 ft worth). Prior to this it had a 226" wheel base and weighed in a 18.4K pounds, now its no longer than my dually and I am hoping it shed 4K pounds. when I get it home next week, I plan to put ole fashion fifth wheel bed rail mounts across the frame (so I can use my current hitch in my p/u) till I save up for a better hitch. A shop I know, did the work for me as a personal favor and kept the parts they removed as payment, the only thing I have to pay for was a custom drive shaft as the original was a bit short due to differences in the differential housings of each axle.

Insurance runs me 600 for six months at full coverage, I dont fill it as I cannot afford 200 gallons of diesel at 3.99$ a gal. I found a web site that helped me generate a table that takes into consideration the dimensions of the tank and tells me how many gallons are in the tank for the number of inches of depth (I dip them with a yard stick) so I buy fuel as needed.

Overall, if it goe to pot and is irreparable, I should recover my costs in just parting or scrapping it out, it pulls my rv so well I dont even know its there, the only real effect it has on the truck is that it makes the cab ride better, I still need to purchase a shock absorbing fifth wheel pin box as the stiff suspension of the truck will over time shake the trailer to death. Anyways I love the hell out of it and other than it eating healthy its a blast to drive!!! I hope my experiment helps you answer your questions!

As for laws in other states, I am a police officer and generally leave trucks alone unless it is a serious issue (high speed) or significant equipment violations, Michigan adopted the FMCSA (Fed. Motor Carrier Safety Act) which regulates all commercial vehicles. Even in those rules it specifies that a commercial vehicle must be "In Commerce" aka making money and then go from their on the rest of the definition, if you dont have that then it is not a CMV...
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Old 08-15-2013, 12:08 PM   #2
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Location: Mesa, AZ
Posts: 34
NICE solution to an age-old dilemma -- how safe (and effective) do you wanna be when it's time to stop a 14,000# fifth wheel trailer. Congrats!!!

(Only advice I would offer is: keep the fuel tanks full, to minimize accumulated moisture & mold-growth; whenever we sit for more than a week, I have full tanks - also, consider fuel treatment, especially if storing for significant periods like more than a month).


Don & Fannie
2005 Volvo 670, 2005 smart fortwo 450
2007 Summit - 35', 2 slides, 2' BR add-on (VIN # 746)
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Old 08-15-2013, 05:25 PM   #3
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Congratulation on the Cornbinder, yes it doesn't even know the fifth is there.
One suggestion though, these things singled short do get squirrely bobtailing, particularly on wet road. All that weight came off the rear end, so you probably have around 11K on the fronts and 6-7K on the rears, not very well balanced. It's good to put some weight back on it for solo driving, like a steel deck or a hauler body.
I doesn't matter much once you put that fifth behind the rears and are pulling.

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Old 08-15-2013, 08:26 PM   #4
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As i mentioned in another thread, I want to put a deck on it and customize the sleeper like a van of sorts. I will be sharing it with my folks (they plan to snow bird in the winter when they retire) so with their age and one with arthritis, we plan to put a door in the center of the rear sleeper wall and a more friendly, retractable star case with hand rail for them.

It will be work in progress, right now it aint to pretty but it works I do plan to take off the top fairing so its not as tall, it will still cover up a lot of the 5'er front and still be a little more tree friendly at the campgrounds.

I love driving it, i find it challenging to learn the transmission... I plan on trying to do a lot of the body work on my own to save cost, I have some help with others with some experience in that area.

To the other fella, I plan to get some diesel service for it. I usually store my dually in the winter as well and make a point to go out and start it once a month for 20 or so minutes each month.

I did make my own electrical converter for the wiring harness out of automotive relays and converted the supply line to the trailer so that it will now run light air tools and fill tires, I still have to cap off the service line and considering circumventing the electrical plug in the back of the sleeper with tapping the main wire harness so I can get rid of the plug in the wall as well...

Overall I am excited to have it and the possibilities it has... Thanks for the replies and the advice the more the merrier!!!
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Old 08-15-2013, 09:22 PM   #5
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Nice write-up, thanks for it. Henry (hjsdds) really knows a lot about hitches and wiring and stuff. Basically he knows about everything about what you're doing. He has a very cool device to do the electrical hookup for you. He's also a great jazz keyboard player. You should come to the www.hdtrally.com in October in Hutchinson, Kansas. It's very worthwhile. Did I mention Henry is a great keyboard player, you might get to hear him play.
MN is home for now.
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Old 08-17-2013, 12:21 AM   #6
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Thanks for the information, I guess I didnt think about the weight distribution that much. I had toyed with the idea of adding a full deck to it but now it appears that it may be a good idea... I had always planned to keep the truck sort of short so it would fit in almost any campground, so with that said I still plan to try and keep the hitch over the axle rather than behind it as I see in a number of the rigs on here..

Any suggestions on what gauge of steel to use? I also see that their is a variety of steel i.e. hot rolled, cold rolled, galvanized etc... From what research I have done thus far, it appears hot rolled would be better as the surface is a bit more rough than cold steel which would be better for painting.

Any pointers will be greatly appreciated.
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Old 08-17-2013, 07:28 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by rphillips370 View Post
Thanks for the information, I guess I didnt think about the weight distribution that much. I had toyed with the idea of adding a full deck to it but now it appears that it may be a good idea... I had always planned to keep the truck sort of short so it would fit in almost any campground, so with that said I still plan to try and keep the hitch over the axle rather than behind it as I see in a number of the rigs on here..
When backing my 5'er into my driveway (residential street) with my commercial hitch, I always had the nose of the Volvo stuck in my neighbors hedge row, requiring the removal of leaves from behind my grill. With the frame extended to accommodate the installation of my "ET Hitch", and the pin exactly 48" further back now, I was concerned. What I learned was the new pivot point changed the amount of space needed, and I now clear the bushes completely. Taking a test drive through the residential streets also revealed that the improved tracking of the trailer meant that I was now clearing curbs that I had previously rubbed against. Surprisingly, moving the pivot point back 4 feet had resulted in improved maneuverability in both directions! Others had commented about this in the past, but it's one of those things that you tend to doubt until you experience it yourself.

Granted, it means that I will now have to disconnect once parked in campgrounds that I previously just fit into, but that's a small price to pay for the improvements I've gained.
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Old 08-25-2013, 02:27 PM   #8
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A few weeks ago I saw where Jack Mayer was showing a hauler bed for sale by Larry Herrin. It was a nice unit.
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Old 09-22-2013, 09:41 AM   #9
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That is my old bed, it will fit a Volvo 730, 229 wb that was singled mid. it is a good deck, no issues. We just changed the method of loading the Smart car. It could probably be modified to fit.
I'm sure you could get it for a screaming deal, normally those decks are about 16 to 18k.
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Old 09-22-2013, 10:15 AM   #10
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370, is this thing on air or spring on the rear? Couldn't see where you said anything about this. Nice truck by the way. I have drove many corn binders and always liked them.

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