Shortest Wheelbase For Tandem Tractor?

Discussion in 'Heavy Duty Diesel Truck Mechanics Forum' started by BJW27, Mar 30, 2019.

  1. BJW27

    BJW27 Bobtail Member

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    Jan 8, 2014
    West Creek, NJ
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    Hello all. I've been searching for measurements on what the shortest wheelbase would be for a tandem axle tractor, and I'm having a hard time finding numbers.

    I have a 1996 Freightliner FL70 8.3C Cummins with a 9 speed, not exactly sure of the drive ratio. It's a single axle dump and I'm considering removing the box, and adding a fifth wheel and a drop/pusher axle to it. The wheelbase, as it sits, is 180" center to center. 12K front axle, 21K rear axle on springs, 11R 22.5 x 8.25 all around. If I add a drop axle, at 40" spacing, it would put the wheelbase at 160" to the center of the tandems. Is that too short a wheelbase for a fixed/non steerable lift axle? Would a steerable lift be best? Is that too short PERIOD?

    My intention is get a dump trailer and run around local, much the same as I do now servicing my own construction and landscaping projects customers. Pretty much under the radar, not worrying about too much, if you get my drift.

    This is a great little truck. It was a San Diego County Road Department truck that I got in 2012. It has less than 90K miles on it, and is solid. I think I can the get truck/trailer weight to come in around 25KLbs, and I'd like to be able to haul around 22 ton or so of material.

    Just a little more info on me and my experience trucking - I owned and operated a triaxle dump and ran interstate for a number of years. I'm not looking to do that. I'm not buying another truck. I know what I have, I own it, the overhead with insurance and maintenance is negligible. I'm not looking to make a ton of money with it. It's not my primary source of income. I'm just thinking that for under $20k, between modifying the truck and buying a trailer, I can make a setup that will allow me to keep doing what I do with it already, and make the truck more versatile. Anyway.

    So, my primary question is again - would 160" wheelbase (center of front axle to center of rear tandems)be too short for a tandem axle tractor, considering that the forward rear could be a steerable lift?

    Thanks for any insight.
     
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  3. x1Heavy

    x1Heavy Road Train Member

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    I don't know. We kept a international single axle dump. Probably not more than 120 inches. you could only put maybe 10 ton into it at all. Anything smaller you are in the realm of landscapers who pretend to drive a dump. (Sort of...)

    Really short tandem trucks go to Mack bobtails and a few others no longer made.

    You know you have something really good at 90K, try to work with what it has existing and if you have to drive three times to get a certain amount delivered so be it. It's better than trying to scoop everything into one trip.

    On the other hand we had a old converted road tractor tandem which was the big one. 20 plus yards in the back plus beaver trailer and paver with backhoe etc. Tool truck and trailer carried the rest. But sometimes Mr Big does not do well in small houses when customers want a tiny driveway built somewhere.
     
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  4. 062

    062 Road Train Member

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    @BoxCarKidd @spsauerland may be able to give some advice. Biggest thing I see is if you make it a regular gig pulling that kind of weight, then you’ll wear the motor out quicker than something with a bigger bore.
     
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  5. DL550CAT

    DL550CAT Road Train Member

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    Why bother adding an axle? Get a 3axle dump trailer. But..... I think you’ll find your great little single axle won’t be so great anymore with that kinda weight.
    My advice, go buy a cheap, great little tandem axle truck with a properly sized truck motor and components. Or a bigger straight truck that dumps.
     
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  6. Pedigreed Bulldog

    Pedigreed Bulldog Road Train Member

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    Yeah, we get your drift. What we don't get is why you would think anyone who puts forth the time, effort, and expense of running their operation legally & in full compliance with the regulations would want to offer ANY advice to help you cut corners because you have no desire to do the work to be legal in your operation.
     
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  7. x1Heavy

    x1Heavy Road Train Member

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    Our operation is strictly in state, All we had was the Maryland sticker valid for the year and tags to the truck and enough insurance for the business and vehicle. Among other things. No logs in our time. We just went got some rock and proceeded to start the day, then blacktop until we could not see anymore after sunset.

    The dump truck, the big one with the 300 gallons of fuel became a tanker on the job, keeping the paver and hoe going.
     
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  8. Rideandrepair

    Rideandrepair Road Train Member

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    Seems I remember the old cabovers were 164”
     
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  9. BJW27

    BJW27 Bobtail Member

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    Jan 8, 2014
    West Creek, NJ
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    I appreciate everyone's input. To reiterate, my primary question was if 160" wheelbase is ok for a tandem axle tractor, and since it would be a drop axle, if given that short of a wheelbase, a steerable lift would be best. Thanks in advance for the input.
     
  10. BJW27

    BJW27 Bobtail Member

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    Jan 8, 2014
    West Creek, NJ
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    I really appreciate you taking the time to send me your opinion. Have a blessed day!
     
  11. BJW27

    BJW27 Bobtail Member

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    Jan 8, 2014
    West Creek, NJ
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    Thanks for the advice. I had a triaxle and ran interstate with it for a while. I didn't find it to be profitable, at least not for me. Like I stated, I only run around local and service my own customers. The insurance, regulations, and paperwork required to be in compliance are minimal compared with how I've ran in the past. Furthermore, it's not my primary income at all and I'm the only one who drives the truck. If I was driving 375 mile a day at 80K all day, yea, that's ridiculous to be that hard on a truck that's not built for it. To do a load or 2 a day a few times a week locally at maybe 73K- not concerning. It's flat here, and with 3 extra axles worth of brakes and an exhaust brake, it'll stop beautifully.

    I've learned that I'd rather keep what I have and own, and make into something that will work, instead of buying another headache. I don't have the time or desire to screw around with buying another truck. I've carved out a niche where I live, and I'm just exploring how I can squeeze a little more out of it. Thanks again for your input.
     
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