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randedge
randedge New Reader
2/22/24 7:08 p.m.

So why not a 5 ton/ Medium Duty truck as a tow vehicle?

Put a fifth wheel on this thing, mud guards, and some kind of fenders to cover up those dualies, and you got yourself an extra long semi.



I'm wondering because something like a  Ram 2500- 3500 would still be asking over $40,000 CAD with over 200,000kms.  For something with sub 150,000km, you're looking at up to and including $80,000CAD. Maybe more.

Whereas this example - found without even searching hard - is under $20,000 with  under 200Kkm  (180,000km)

So why not a 5 ton? Some of them have hydraulic brakes, which means no special license required for where I am. I've driven 5 tons in my youth and something about their robustness means they could go 600,000km and not feel it. Plus, they just have a robustness to them that makes me think lighter duty racecar, hobby farm livestock towing wouldn't stress it much.

Besides the obvious storage problems (good luck parking that thing without an acreage), what am I missing?

Thanks!


R.

(Ps. No real plans for now. Just thinking out loud)

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Publisher
2/22/24 7:18 p.m.

I've looked into these a few times, and every time I get scared off by expensive/painful maintenance (every single part weighs 500 lbs.) and the sheer size of them. It just doesn't fit into my life, but damn it's tempting. I'm happy with a normal pickup truck for now. 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
2/22/24 7:21 p.m.

In reply to randedge :

Like this?

Yeah, even changing tires on these is a different level. Youre not just taking it to the corner tire store.  

RonnieFnD
RonnieFnD HalfDork
2/22/24 7:28 p.m.

I've been using medium duty trucks for personal E36 M3 and towing for ages. Maintenance isn't any more than a diesel pickup,  they are cheaper, and super easy to find coming out of fleets.  Downside is registration costs depending on how you tag it.  

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
2/22/24 8:15 p.m.

I seem to recall from previous discussions (no personal experience) that insuring them is a problem.

 

dps214
dps214 SuperDork
2/22/24 8:18 p.m.

All the downside of an extra long semi truck without any of the upsides other than the twoing capacity.

IDK how things work in canada but in the US I'm pretty sure towing with that is the recipe for every cop in existence being thoroughly convinced that it's a commercial vehicle and hassling you for paperwork and credentials that you don't have.

RonnieFnD
RonnieFnD HalfDork
2/22/24 8:40 p.m.
codrus (Forum Supporter) said:

I seem to recall from previous discussions (no personal experience) that insuring them is a problem.

 

Depends on who you have.  Some companies don't like them but State Farm insured that c60 as a normal pickup.

ShawnG
ShawnG MegaDork
2/22/24 8:58 p.m.

We used a freightliner sport chassis to haul our two-car enclosed trailer.

Yeah it costs more to fix and more up front but you're also not wearing out an overworked 1-ton truck every couple years.

Ranger50
Ranger50 MegaDork
2/22/24 9:14 p.m.

I'd farm plate one of those in about 20sec... biggest thing is to not make it look commercial.

rattfink81
rattfink81 Reader
2/22/24 10:26 p.m.

clicked  expecting one of these.

buzzboy
buzzboy UltraDork
2/23/24 12:24 a.m.

I've been dreaming of this topic for a few years now. My neighbor has two Kodiaks that look tempting. I would like mine in Crew Cab with a baby Cat and a 9 speed please.

Driven5
Driven5 PowerDork
2/23/24 2:41 a.m.

My aunt and uncle use a Freightliner Sportchassis to pull their 5th wheel. Based on their VERY expensive saga with it last year, I would neither go that route myself, nor recommend others do so. Apparently they aren't necessarily as maintainable or robust as one might hope.

RonnieFnD
RonnieFnD HalfDork
2/23/24 6:38 a.m.

What are these expensive repairs everyone is talking about?  I have two of them. The chevy above that has a 427 gas engine (truck not vette unfortunately lol) and a four speed so maintenance for the driveline is just and big block chevy.  Brakes and tires literally last forever.   I also have a international that has a 6bt and a 9 speed, that 6bt is detuned more than a dodge pickup so they last longer and even if they dont....it's a 6bt so you would be looking at the same parts you would be buying for a pickup.   That one has 22.5 tires so yea they are crazy expensive but will not exaggerating last 500,000 miles minimum.   That one has air brakes which are super simple and cheap as long as you don't need drums.  I guess if the clutch took a dump it would be expensive?

A 401 CJ
A 401 CJ SuperDork
2/23/24 7:39 a.m.
RonnieFnD said:

What are these expensive repairs everyone is talking about?  I have two of them. The chevy above that has a 427 gas engine (truck not vette unfortunately lol) and a four speed so maintenance for the driveline is just and big block chevy.  Brakes and tires literally last forever.   I also have a international that has a 6bt and a 9 speed, that 6bt is detuned more than a dodge pickup so they last longer and even if they dont....it's a 6bt so you would be looking at the same parts you would be buying for a pickup.   That one has 22.5 tires so yea they are crazy expensive but will not exaggerating last 500,000 miles minimum.   That one has air brakes which are super simple and cheap as long as you don't need drums.  I guess if the clutch took a dump it would be expensive?

And you get to tell everyone you drive an old Chevy truck with a 427 and 4 spd.  cheeky

Spearfishin
Spearfishin Reader
2/23/24 9:03 a.m.

We had trouble insuring our f550 for personal use, and similarly our short bus. I'm often tempted by the pricing on medium duty trucks, but insurance hassle, parking, maintenance costs (say all you want that they're not worse, but my tire costs on 19.5's for the f550 beg to differ, can only imagine 22.5's), all push me away every time. 

I'd personally be more inclined to make the leap if I could get something setup to be self contained (ie, carry the car and hopefully a little bit of living space with no trailer). I assume the easiest path there would be a very expensive lift gate on a box truck?

Ranger50
Ranger50 MegaDork
2/23/24 9:38 a.m.

In reply to Spearfishin :

19.5's aren't any differently priced than current rubber for most passenger cars and trucks now, $350-450/each. I want to say 22's are about 600(?), but they don't need replacement every 30k either. Medium duty's end up as cry once and forget about it, especially when you don't use it commercially.

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa MegaDork
2/23/24 9:43 a.m.

The only thing I have that hasn't been covered, they are some of the most utilitarian and uncomfortable long distance vehicles I've been in 

dculberson
dculberson MegaDork
2/23/24 10:07 a.m.

Dave Coleman had a bit on converting his box truck to an "RV" for insurance and registration purposes and it was much less involved than you'd think. A medium duty truck with a small box with a microwave, couch, a/c, and powered cooler might count. Depending on your state you may only need four features of an RV to qualify. 

Check it out: https://motoiq.com/the-ultimate-no-budget-racecar-transporter/

now can you fit a small box and a fifth wheel on that monster cab and chassis? I bet you could!

93gsxturbo
93gsxturbo UltraDork
2/23/24 10:16 a.m.

Upsides are they are a real medium duty chassis, meaning they tow, haul, and last like a medium duty chassis.

Downsides are they are a real medium duty chassis, meaning all the economy of a medium duty chassis, the "comfortable" drive, insurance, and servce needs of a real medium duty chassis.

Anything in the price range being shopped is going to be worn out, on its 3rd or 4th owner, and well into the "deferred maintenance" path.  And you need specialized tools and lifting equipment to work on them, everything is heavy and big and expensive.  While you wont run out of miles on the tires, they don't like to sit and the tires will age out before they wear out.  

Any old trucks are gonna be slow and underpowered, they were never made to run 80 down the freeway.  The new ones are expensive.

There are several good reasons that this is not a common path.  

Spearfishin
Spearfishin Reader
2/23/24 10:28 a.m.
Ranger50 said:

In reply to Spearfishin :

19.5's aren't any differently priced than current rubber for most passenger cars and trucks now, $350-450/each. I want to say 22's are about 600(?), but they don't need replacement every 30k either. Medium duty's end up as cry once and forget about it, especially when you don't use it commercially.

I spent same on 4 drive tires for F550 as I paid for all 6 on my f350 (17"). Both what I'd call "quality" tires, both Toyo, as it were. That's not nothing. Other small issues, which would only be exaggerated by a medium duty: registration costs and personal property taxes are higher (specific to VA), and things like yearly safety inspections have to be done at a "truck" shop instead of any ole mechanic. $50 vs $20. None of these are deal breakers in themselves, but they add up. Cost of ownership seems undeniably higher. 

fidelity101
fidelity101 UberDork
2/23/24 11:05 a.m.

In reply to rattfink81 :

same but still stayed for the content 

wspohn
wspohn UltraDork
2/23/24 11:23 a.m.

What exactly are you planning on towing - a Sherman tank?

I have towed sports cars with cars with 2.0 l engines, American station wagons and minivans, but nothing I have towed weighed more than about 2400 lbs.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
2/23/24 11:23 a.m.

I used to have an F700 26' box truck.  It had a 180-hp Cummins 5.9L.  I also have to rent a 26' box truck for work about 4 times a year.  Former CDL driver, so I've driven pretty much everything.

Randedge, have you ever driven an all-stock truck from the 40s or 50s?  If you have, take that experience, make it ride like the wheels are solid steel, triple the noise, and cut the acceleration by 70%.  Congratulations, you have a day cab.

Really, air ride or not, they will give an otherwise normally-healthy person a slipped disk if you're not careful.  They stuff them with massive engines that only rev to 2000 rpms so they might make a lot of torque, but they make less HP than a Camry.  They are designed to get their GCW up to 60mph and nothing else.  Keeping it at 60 with weight on it is WORK.  You have to know each shift point and nail it (even if it's an automatic... they will shift at the most economical time, not the best time) or you might top a hill at 40 instead of 55.

The F700 I had, I tweaked the P7100 pump a bit and I'm guessing it made 215hp.  That was about as far as I could go on the tiny little turbo without making EGTs dangerous.  I used it to move from CA to TX, so it was loaded with all my stuff and towing a trailer at about 10,000 lbs.  Even with a perfectly-matched Road Ranger 6 speed, there was no way I wasn't using flashers on every hill.  Newer trucks are better about making oomph, but they are so heavily focused on efficiency that they make it a chore to drive.  The International I was driving last month had a severely detuned ISB 6.7L.  Wimpy.  Many of the Class 5 and 6 trucks use some version of the same engine they put in their pickups, but detune it for longevity.

Honestly, I think many of the folks who use a Class 5 or 6 to tow a 5er do so because they HAVE to, but unless you spend big dollars on a custom truck, it's going to be just a slow rattle box.

iansane
iansane Dork
2/23/24 11:31 a.m.

State Farm insured my c50 like a normal truck. It's no 5 ton, but medium duty stuff is fun. 

NY Nick
NY Nick SuperDork
2/23/24 11:51 a.m.

Other than what people have said about parking and insurance etc. the real question is how far and how often are you going to drive it? Having a slow loud, uncomfortable vehicle is alright now and again or for a few hours a few times a year. If you are going to tow 6x a year 8-10 hours that would get old fast. I have driven way less comfortable trucks than that international and it isn't awful for a little bit. That truck probably needs a seat that is more geared towards comfort. Most of those trucks have a fixed height bench or maybe a bucket but it's not comfy. That is the newer generation international cab which is decently sealed and it looks to have air ride so that will help. If I was going to drive the truck you have in the original post I would probably shorten it because something that long is cumbersome. There is great debate on the maintenance costs. I think they are really reasonable from a maintenance standpoint until they aren't. If you are just doing normal maintenance (brakes, tires, oil changes) it is a little pricey but you have the longevity to balance it out. If you have a major issue they can cost the asking price of the truck, fast. 

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