Crawler Hauler Build Thread!

Discussion in 'Freightliner Forum' started by rustyshakelford, Apr 16, 2021.

  1. rustyshakelford

    rustyshakelford Bobtail Member

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    Full disclosure I am new new new with this! However, I’ve jumped in with both feet for a wild ride and this place has been incredibly helpful already.

    We own a Jeep shop and travel all over the country attending Jeep events and running trails. This isn’t done thru the business but rather our free time. We used to haul a 28’ GN car hauler with our Jeep with a 20 F350. So long story short we’re wanting to build a crawler hauler which is a fancy way of saying an RV trailer mounted to another trailer which also carries your toys or Jeep in our case.

    This simple decision led us down an long and expensive rabbit hole however I couldn’t be more excited. For the trailer we bought a brand new load trail 44’ triple axle car hauler which is 52’ overall. Added some 18 ply tires with 17.5 wheels (6005 lb capacity per tire) Next we ordered a 29’ fifth wheel. We would’ve gone larger which would’ve opened up a ton of options but the original plan was for a 40’ trailer and we’d be pushing everything fitting easily. Trailer will arrive end of May and we will mount it to the trailer then. After doing quick math, we’re figuring we’re going to be right at the capacity of the trailer assuming zero weight being transferred to the truck (21k lbs)

    Our F350 pulls great, but drinks DEF and does pretty poor of fuel for the load. Couple this with it has 25k miles on it in a year (that’s nothing here though) but it’s what we have and has plenty of capacity...but if this was the end of the story, I wouldn’t be here.

    I was talking to a buddy I’ve known for years and he said I should buy his dads old freightliner. I had seen the truck years ago and discounted it but kept thinking about it. He told me the batteries are dead and I think the transmission needs a solenoid. It had been sitting for two years and not used for around 6. This had be concerned but was still interested. We set a time and I drove over to see it telling myself if we could get it to start and build air I would get it. Well neither thing happened and I decided this was to big of a project this close to leaving for our big 7k mile trip in July.

    As you’d imagine I couldn’t stop thinking about this filthy 1999 freightliner Century with a C12 and gen 1 eaton autoshift. I decided to buy some batteries and see if it would start. This would prove to be a slippery slope. Here it is the first time I saw it.

    brett
     

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  3. rustyshakelford

    rustyshakelford Bobtail Member

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    After spending a bunch at interstate battery I installed them and after ensuring all fluids were good I tried the key. Nothing, zip, nada. You could hear a click in the fuse panel but no draw on the batteries. The front drivers side was sunk down which made it near impossible for me to crawl under and get to the starter. I grabbed a compressor to allow me to release the brakes and drug it to hard ground where I could get under it. Checked everything I could find and decided to jump the starter solenoid. It fired up within about 2-3 seconds. I couldn’t believe it. It started building air and at this point I knew I had to have it and work thru all the issues. The dash would show an ecu code so no idea of the miles at the time. At this point I called a buddy with a datalink and connection at freightliner. Got the trans solenoid ordered along with everything for a full service.

    Buddy came out and could see thru all the grit and grime and confirmed this was a solid truck. His laptop wouldn’t show hours or miles though and we were thinking the battery for the ecm might’ve died and lost the data. Ended up coming back on I think. Installed the new trans solenoid and I had all 10 gears vs the low side 5.

    At this point I had about 10 hours messing with this and knew it needed a bath. Got the pressure washer going and it made a huge difference. We’re getting close to attempt the 35 min drive home. Needed to air up the tires, it wasn’t running hot and everything looked great. This trip would need to wait until we have a full day.

    All cleaned up
     

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  4. skallagrime

    skallagrime Heavy Load Member

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    Thats sharp looking for sitting so long, starting to feel you stole an excellent work truck to pull toys with :p
     
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  5. rustyshakelford

    rustyshakelford Bobtail Member

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    A few days later, I asked my wife to drop me off so I could drive home. My wife hasn’t exactly been on board with this plan but I think she’s coming around. We jump the solenoid on the firewall and she fires right up. Our son asks to ride with me with I readily agree too. Give it one more pretrip and figure we’re good for the drive home. We load up and hit the road, trip is surprisingly uneventful. Jake brake sounds great, brakes are excellent and everything feels good besides the lack of A/C.

    Now it’s home, I’ve been tracking down several air leaks, pulled the bed and cabinets from the sleeper and wiping down all soft surfaces. It needed a deep clean which is what I’ve been working on. Painted the muffler with high temp paint, and getting a build plan.

    I have spend several grand at freightliner at this point. Just got home from picking up 2 prestige seats for my bride and myself. Will meet up with another buddy and install some super singles and new steer tires.

    Upcoming plans

    Build a flatbed over the tires and mounts for additional 100 gallon diesel/toolbox combo, and 100+ gallon water tank in front of hitch.

    Small projects
    Clean up wiring
    Install Jack knife sofa in sleeper and route seatbelts
    New cam position sensor and IAT sensor
    Full service with coolant flush
    New A/C components
    Lots of love for the paint.

    When we were on the way and got home

    Brett
     

    Attached Files:

  6. rustyshakelford

    rustyshakelford Bobtail Member

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    I think so. After learning more and more I have found out this is pre-ELD and knew it was pre-emissions!

    I love this truck! Sounds amazing too

    brett
     
  7. rustyshakelford

    rustyshakelford Bobtail Member

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    Sorry for all the posts. Trying to break it up. The plan for the legalities are to register it as a motorhome. I have the 4 requirements already which the law calls for 4 of 6. This will allow me to use my class A license and have no additional headaches you pros have to work thru with DOT and everything that comes with being commercial.

    Our overall length is 75’. The biggest decision im trying to make and understand was I was told if it’s a 5th wheel trailer we can be 75’. We’re planning on retaining the gooseneck trailer but need to add air. The cheaper option is to use a shocker gooseneck hitch and mount a 30k ball but If I have to stay with a kingpin I’d need a 3k air ride hitch and then gn to kingpin coupler. Either way we go I would like a 4 axis coupler to alleviate stress on the trailer neck.

    brett
     
  8. Brettj3876

    Brettj3876 Road Train Member

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    That cleaned up pretty nice. Keep us posted. Got any pics of the crawlers? My cousin and her husband are big time into that
     
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  9. Brettj3876

    Brettj3876 Road Train Member

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    Later on down the road you could always make it a single axle to shorten it up.

    That c12 you'll get same or maybe even a tad better mpg. Running super light maybe mid 8s
     
  10. rustyshakelford

    rustyshakelford Bobtail Member

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    We just have one now. Might try to add a dedicated buggy next year. This year has already become pretty costly!

    no real interest in going single axle on the rear, don’t know what the benefits would be besides shorter length!

    Very optimistic on the fuel mileage. We were getting 7/8 with our 28’, the 44’ will be 2.5 times the weight and going thru a tank of def per 1k miles was getting old. The ford had plenty of power though.

    Here’s an older pic of the Jeep

    brett
     

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  11. rustyshakelford

    rustyshakelford Bobtail Member

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    Unboxed one of the new seats! I’m excited to get this in. They are extremely proud of them however. Was wanting the black on black leather substitute but we’re completely out so went with the mesh. Should stay cooler and not stick to us as bad!

    We’re pulling the old seats out and detailing the inside of the cab today. On the fence on how much I want to get into pulling up the flooring or just clean it as best as I can for now.

    Brett
     

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