I have driven nearly everything up to around 2005, as a driver, but never have I owned a big truck. I am now retired, and the wife and I want to hit the road in a class 8 sleeper truck modified to have a flat bed, double stacked to carry our Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, and our boat. Then haul our RV behind it. Currently a bumper pull, but I want to leave the option to haul a 5th wheel if we decide to change it. This means probably a 22' to 24' flat bed. After spending 4 years towing with a pickup, and several hair raising experiences of the unit just not having enough power, or brakes, I want to go with a class 8. I have considered a medium duty, but the HP isn't there, and most are spring ride, and geared too low. If we get set up properly we can take the boat and the Jeep, and ride in air ride comfort. Ok, now since I have told you my intended use, I will ask my questions about what truck to buy.
Since I was always a company driver, I have no clue about maintenance issues or costs. I would like as best MPG as I can get, and certainly don't mind being overpowered.
Here is what I feel my needs are with my current knowledge.
1. Air Ride suspension, seats, and cab.
2. Wife wants an autoshift, and since I have shifted all too much I might be looking forward to having it.
4. As low as possible maintenance costs.
5. High HP for low RPM Cruise
6. Geared as high as needed for low RPM cruise. Would make no sense to get a truck geared for heavy haul.
7. Driver COMFORT..
8. Jeep weighs 4400, RV 8000, and my boat is 1500 Total Tow and carry weight: 13,900
9. If we ever go to a big 5th wheel they are maxed at about 16,000 for a new total of: 21,900
10. IF we ever wanted to add a couple of big bikes add another 1500 to 1600 but still isn't a lot of weight compared to 80,000
11. 22' to 24' flatbed.
12. Inverter power, and or an APU.
What brand motor is the most reliable, and least expensive to overhaul and maintain?
Have heard the Ultrashift is very expensive to repair, and can start with many problems after about 650,000 miles.
I would like to keep with an older model before the emissions got so tough, what years am I looking for?
We would like to have a sleeper that is like the Volvo Workstation so we can have a lounge area, and a place for extra people to ride.
I have seen a few Freightliners with the Workstation. It's possible we may have to gut the sleeper and install what we need.
We live in TX, and I know here and some other states allow this as well, but with a fridge, microwave, HVAC and some other items, a
class 8 can be licensed as a motorhome.
We live near Ft Worth, TX & possibly a reader in my area can help us put together the right truck.
I look at it this way, pickups, even 1 tons really aren't that safe towing a RV. Then I see these guys hauling their RV, and then have their
boat behind that as well. Not that safe. If I go with a Class 8 I have good brakes, I have enough power to pull any hill I need, again adding
to highway safety. Since I am not going to be loaded to 80,000 my brakes will last me forever, my unit won't be worked very hard adding
to engine and driveline life, and I can probably get a unit with enough life left in it to safely and in comfort carry us for the rest of our traveling
lives for much less money than buying a new dually.
All input is appreciated.
Advice on buying a class 8 truck
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Congratulations on thinking this through. Duallys are not made to last when hauling like this. Look for 2003 and older, no emission problems. I prefer Detroit Series 60, but that is just me. I'm not in your area. Look on truckpaper and go to local dealers explaining what you want and why. Good Luck on your plan...
Thanks for the info. I have heard DD is more wallet friendly. Any particular model DD better? I realize when I am looking
for used trucks, it isn't like ordering a new truck, so many times it is what it is. I have heard of some tricks that some unscrupulous
sellers are doing to make a blow by test look ok. What kind of crap can be found? I even heard of one dealer doing something to an
oil pressure gauge to make it look good, but it wasn't. Any idea of the cost to get a mechanic check out trucks? Is there a service where
you can hire an impartial to do a check out if by chance the truck is 1000 miles away?
I may have posted in what might be the wrong area, but I am looking at help from more of a mechanical and maintenance area. Possibly even
find a person close enough to me to help me obtain my goals by assisting me with the purchase, and subsequent retrofit and mods for my use.Last edited: Nov 24, 2014
I would go with a 430/470 detroit 12.7l for both reliability and fuel economy. Easy to work on and fair on wallet. Wouldn't go higher than 3.55 rears with that setup. They have bull gear problems about 750k. My best friend went 1.8 million on his with one head gasket install and replaced bearings in bull gear. He bought truck with 300k. You will be more than happy with that and can find volvos and freightliners with that engine fairly easy. Good luck and if you get tired of spending money I'll bring a wheelbarrow and help you out!
You might want to look into an auto transport setup. I have seen one converted to haul two cars (one being a rock crawler) and tow a fifth wheel. The person sold the trailer and used the money to fab the truck for the setup.
They used something like this (I wish I had pics of the actual unit after)
The truck will already have the hydraulics, but will require a lot of fabrication to get the fifth wheel to raise up and down for loading. He also converted it to single drive. Did the work himself, so that was a major cost cut.
I actually inspected one very close to what this one looks like in a motel parking lot. What I couldn't figure out is how you could unload the top deck without the ramped trailer. It was dark out when I was looking at it, and hoping the guy that owned the truck didn't see me looking at his truck real close. I never saw the guy, so I couldn't ask any questions. I guess it is like anything, with the proper fab work it could be made to work great. I want to keep mine tandem. A lot of people who convert class 8's into an RV hauler single their axles. I want to keep the extra stability and from my experience, many times I have needed that extra bit of traction. Thanks for posting this pic and idea. I think it is worth looking into.cowboy_tech Thanks this.
Let me ask everyone this: IF I found a worn out pre 2003 truck, with a bad motor, bad trans, then replaced both with rebuilts, or had both repaired to new. Then I went ahead and rebuilt front suspension, kingpins, new brakes all around, new tires, new bags, new tires, u joints, etc. What would be an approximate cost? I have seen a bunch of trucks that LOOK cosmetically OK, but are worn out, maybe missing engines, trans, etc. As you know those are cheap, cheap.. Then lets say I wanted to honor the wife's request for an auto trans or auto shift. Can you retrofit older trucks with newer transmissions? I am sure a complex computer is involved and probably not compatible. Ideas? Comments? No I don't have the ability to do my own work. Have to hire it all done.
Oh, ya I almost forgot. Is there a max length of the power unit? I see hot shot rigs with big sleepers and 24 ft boxes, so I am guessing if no longer than they are all would be well.
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