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Jack & Danielle Mayer
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RV Electrical & Solar
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MDT or Class 8?
Choosing and Modifying Your Tractor
Inspecting the Truck
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Updated July 3, 2007                                   
 
To better serve you...this website is MOVING to:

The new site is free of pop-up ads, and contains additional information that is not present on this site. Be sure to bookmark the new site. The current site will remain active for some time, but will not be upgraded.  Thanks for your support.
 
 
Welcome to our website. We are Jack and Danielle Mayer.
 
It was always our dream to live and travel fulltime in our RV. Beginning in August of 2000 we started living that dream as fulltime RVers. It is a lifestyle that we enjoy  and we do not see ourselves "coming off the road" unless medical conditions force us to.
 
When planning for the fulltime lifestyle we had to consider what type of RV to use. For us, a fifth wheel trailer pulled by a truck was the best choice. We thought we chose the ultimate tow vehicle when we purchased our Ford F550. We were wrong!
 
We now tow with a Heavy Duty Truck (HDT), otherwise known as a semi-truck. Yes, these are the trucks you see towing freight all over the country. An HDT is truely the ultimate tow vehicle. It can tow any RV trailer on the market, stops easily with weight behind it, and is more capable in every regard than the typical RV tow vehicle. In addition, it is easier to drive than a crewcab dually pickup. However, an HDT is not for everyone.
 
This website provides information on HDTs as used for RV towing, factors to consider in deciding if an HDT is for you, conversion of the HDT to a motorhome, solar and electrical issues relating to the truck and RV's in general, and some insight into the RV lifestyle and boondocking (living off-grid in an RV). It does not provide info on fulltime RVing or determining if our lifestyle would suit you. For information on fulltime RVing we recommend our friends Howard and Linda Payne's website, http://www.rv-dreams.com/ and their daily blog, http://www.rv-dreams.typepad.com/.
 
We also do not cover general towing information - how to calculate towing capacity, the difference between GVWR, GAWR, GCWR, etc. A good resource for that information is at the website of Mark and Dale Bruss; http://www.dmbruss.com. Probably the best resource on the web for info on HDT's is the HDT section of the Escapees RV Club forum:  http://escapees.infopop.cc/eve/ubb.x
 
The information here consists of  a mixture of our opinions, and facts. Where information is opinion, it is either apparant, or I try to specify that it is opinion. Factual information on electrical implementations, etc., follows best practices and code, where applicable. If you are not sure, do  your own research.
 
 

For almost three years our Volvo 610 tractor was our only vehicle. We are often asked how we managed daily driving in such a large vehicle. The reality is, that our Volvo tractor is not much bigger than a crewcab dually pickup (it is slightly longer, and the same width).  We now have a Jeep for offroad use, which we tow behind our 5th wheel. You can read about towing doubles (or triple towing)  in the Registration, Licensing, and Other Legal Stuff section.

After several years on the road we realized that if we ever wanted a heavier 5'th wheel, we were going to have to upgrade the truck first.  So we started researching Medium Duty Trucks (MDT's).  The typical MDT you see is a small Freightliner or International converted for RV use. These are capable trucks, with many of the features of pickups that most people are familiar with. You should carefully consider their capabilities when looking for a more capable tow vehicle.
 
In the process of searching for our "ultimate" RV Hauler, we realized that for us a class 8 tractor would make a better hauler than a MDT. To see our thought process and a comparison between a MDT/HDT see Selecting the Right Truck - MDT or Class 8?  What you see here is a result of our search - what we consider the Ultimate RV Hauler. 
 
Our Volvo tractor is titled as a motorhome in TX. It is a 1999 Volvo 610  with a 182" wheelbase. It is pushed by a Cummins ISM with 400 hp./1450 lb/ft of torque. This is the smallest engine commonly found in an HDT! This tractor is considered a "mid-height" sleeper - it has 6' 7" of interior headroom, and is 10' 10" on the exterior. The exterior height is slightly below the trailer height, is more practical for bob-tailing around town than a full-height tractor (13'+), and has the added advantage of keeping the nose of the trailer bug-free! To see more about our truck look at Choosing and Modifying Your Class 8 Tractor and Our Truck Body.
 
Much of this web site documents the conversion process of taking an over-the-road tractor and turning it into a dedicated RV hauler. We added a number of items to make the truck more comfortable, allow us to take overnight trips with just the truck, and to title the truck as an RV (instead of as a truck). Specific projects we did on our Volvo are shown in some detail. We hope this helps you with your conversion project!
 
There are a large number of pictures of the truck being converted to a single axle here: http://onezman.tripod.com/jackmsvolvo/
 
We purchased our tractor from Larry Zeigler, who converts Volvo 610's and 770's for RV hauling. Larry did the basic conversion from tandem rear axles to single rear, added the aluminum wheels, and had the frame cut. His true "value-add" was to select a good truck to perform the conversion on. Larry has converted over 60 Volvo 610's and 770's, so he has experience we could never hope to duplicate. If you are thinking of doing a Class 8 conversion, I strongly recommend you purchase Larry's conversion guide. It contains a wealth of information and is very reasonably priced. http://onezman.tripod.com/yourrvhaulercom/
 
Use of Heavy Duty Trucks for hauling RVs has increased quite a bit in recent years. There is a national rally for heavy duty haulers held in Wichita, KS in late September or early October every year. If you are thinking of using an HDT for hauling an RV, you should seriously consider attending this rally. It will provide a wealth of knowledge, the ability to see 50+ trucks in one location, talk to the owners, and drive some of the rigs. There is no better way to understand the value of the HDT for RV hauling, or to learn as much in such a concentrated timeframe. All are welcome, and prospective owners are especially encouraged to attend. There are nearby hotels if you do not have an RV. The 2006 Rally had 47 trucks in attendance. They varied widely in type: Volvo, Kenworth, Peterbuilt and Freightliner were the primary types of trucks, but there were others as well.
 
The pictures to the right show some of the reasons that HDT's are becoming so popular. There are no practical limits to the weight carrying capacity. You can carry a car piggyback with no problem. You can move the hitch rearward as far as required for you cargo needs. For the most part, you are limited only by your imagination. Build a large garage on the back for tools. Or motorcycles. Or carry stock for an on-the-road business. No problem with an HDT. Plus they are easy to drive and relatively inexpensive.

"Casper", our 1999 Volvo 610
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Our current trailer
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2001 Royals International 3741 - 38' and 21,400 lbs

Double towing our Jeep. Just under 75' long.
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Jeep "tracks" within trailer track, but no backing!!

This is why we tow the Jeep
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Moab, UT - "Fins and Things" trail

Smart car Piggybacked
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Volvo 770

Smart Car Piggybacked
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Volvo 610

Casper with our old trailer. Before truck body.
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2000 Newmar Kountry Star 34BKWB weighing 16,400 lbs

2006 HDT National Rally
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