Why not a 2-ton Medium
More and more choices of trucks oh my! The term medium duty truck covers a
lot of territory. It use to refer more to 2-ton trucks. Since 1998 the 1-˝
ton trucks are coming back. In the “Forties and Fifties” a 1-˝ ton truck was
a common size. By the “Sixties” farmers needed more capacity and the 2-tons
took over the market of medium duty truck. Now you see more and more big
rigs on the farms that have all grown to match economics of size. The market
for pickup trucks has once again become competitive. Bigger diesels created
bigger trailers and so on. A one-ton use to be as big as a pickup grew to.
With trailers growing over 15,000 #’s truck manufactures have brought back
the 1 ˝ ton’s with the Ford F450 and F550, GM HD cab and chassis, Dodge HD
cab and chassis and the new GM C4500 and C5500. With the growing trailers
it’s so important to get the numbers in line for the maximum capacity of
your truck. You need to know the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) of the
truck and the trailer. You need to know the GCWR (Gross Combination Weight
Rating,) what the two together weigh. You need to know each GAWR (Gross Axle
Weight Rating.) and you need to know the tongue weight of your trailer
whether the tongue is a ball or mini-fifth wheel in the bed or a receiver
the other category of medium duty trucks, the 2-tons. I have worn out my
share of trucks. No I really mean I wore them out! When I was done with them
they were worth about $20 a ton for scrap metal. The springs were arced the
wrong way, the box was gone, and you couldn’t tell what color the engine was
from the oil dripping off it. But by then I could replace the starter,
alternator, u-joints or clutch with my eyes closed.
Being a rancher/farmer meant my truck had to pay for itself with use. Being
overloaded most of the time is what got the job done. I hauled livestock,
hay, wool, tractors, balers, backhoes, buildings, trees and whatever “kind
of fit” the trailer. I was overweight, over width, and under trucked. No not
me, the truck!
After I replaced another set of u-joints in the drive shaft, I thought maybe
I’m working my 1-ton dually too much. It had 300,000 miles on it and my
Korean replacement door from the last time I jackknifed the trailer was
leaking so much air I couldn’t hear the weather report on the AM radio. So
time for my next workhorse. I saw an ad for some furniture van body 2-ton
trucks. They had 90,000 miles on them so they were already broke-in. My
neighbor and I each bought one.
Mine was a C65 Chevy.
I took the 18 ft. van body off, leaving a flatbed and added a recessed
gooseneck ball to the rear of the rear axle. I pulled a 32 ft. flatbed
triple axle trailer with it and had 12 feet to haul cargo behind the cab in
front of the gooseneck. That was the most reliable truck I ever pulled with.
It had a 366 cu engine and a 5-speed manual transmission with an electric
2-speed Eaton axle. I loved that truck and couldn't hurt it. Ten gears, I
was in heaven! If even rode nice. I couldn’t tell it was loaded, it had low
axle ratios and would pull anything 70 MPH. Tires cost more but they also
lasted longer. The most expensive repair I did to the truck was replace the
king pins in the front axle. The next 100,000 miles were all trailer miles.
So I do like bigger trucks with bigger brakes, trannies, axles and springs.
If you also decide you pull too much weight for a 1-ton,
(Ford F350, Dodge 3500, GM 3500,)
now the next decision
is between new and used. One of the nice things about a used big truck,
(two-ton or 26,000 GVWR) is they can last like an “Eveready Battery Bunny.”
If you go out to farm country, you can find the old “Over The Road” rigs
that are 30 years old plus still hauling corn or hay. Some trailer dealers
also sell big trucks even conversions that are classified as an RV. The
rental businesses like U-haul, Hertz or Penske sell thousands of used 2-ton
trucks a year. Penske is friendly with GM so a lot of these used van trucks
can be found at new GMC franchises. Hertz is friendly with Ford but also
sell there own trucks and used cars. Several of the 2-ton used trucks that
U-haul, Hertz and Penske would have will have the a low profile kit with
just 16 in. tires, so they won't be any harder to climb up into than a
1-ton. Some of them will even have Allison automatics, probably AT545 and a
few diesels. I think my truck came from Mayflower originally. It had a
hydraulic lift, which I used a couple of years and then took off. So check
out a few of the big moving companies also.
of the 2-ton trucks will have 6 to 10 gears in the manual transmission or 4
or 5 speeds with an automatic transmission. These trucks are made to be
loaded all the time. My 2-ton gave me the least amount of trouble hauling
loads and pulling trailers. It’s also nice to have a heavy truck pulling the
trailer. It gives you more control when you brake going down hill keeps the
trailer behind you instead of trying to pass you. And if you were to loose
your trailer brakes, these big trucks with their extra weight and size of
the brakes, will stop you better than a 1-ton, (Ford F350, Dodge 3500, GM
you choose a new big truck, (2-ton, medium duty) choices range from GM 6500,
7500 and Ford F650, F750 to Freightliner FL60 ,FL70, International 4700,
Peterbuilt T-330 and Kenworth T-300. And with the big boys you can get
engine or exhaust brakes, crew cabs, any diesel engine you want, more gears,
air ride and air seat. Yes air seat! The diesels in these medium duty trucks
are very powerful, with a whole other realm of torque reaching into the 800
ft.#’s. Now the biggest down side is the cost. So it’s a bigger decision.
You can finance or lease for a longer term. And they have a better resale
value. You are also looking at a truck designed for one million miles
instead of a target of 300,000 miles for a good pickup truck diesel.
Another consideration is drivers license. I had a Class A drivers license in
Colorado, which would let me drive anything in the old days, and I could
have grand fathered in with the CDL license but I wasn’t smart enough back
then to see the need.
This is a gray area for the whole country. Pickup trucks pulling trailers
and big trucks pulling gooseneck trailers seems to confuse the DOT,
(Department of Transportation.) I know some people who get tickets because
they are over 26,000 GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) and don’t have a CDL
and log books and I know people who have never been pulled over with rigs
that look totally commercial. Even with national CDL’s you would think there
is some kind of constant rule but each state DOT seems to not know what to
do. 10 years ago in Colorado when I pulled everyday, I never stopped in a
port with a loaded trailer even when I hauled large round bales 12’ wide.
But when I went threw Nebraska even with a stock trailer, I had to stop at
the ports. Now the portable ports in Colorado would stop everybody. With
the newest trend in the 2- ton trucks that are 26,000 GVWR but you add a
trailer and you could be over the legal GVWR again. The one thing the DOT
does agree on is RV’s. Pull a fifth-wheel RV or a horse trailer with Living
Quarters and I haven’t seen where they require a CDL or logbook.
Another problem with a big truck and a short wheelbase and a single rear
axle is the bounce. Some people ad weight to the rear frame so when not
pulling a trailer is will bounce less. A nice heavy flat bed will help. If
you always are hooked to a trailer it won’t be a problem. My truck had a 18’
flatbed, so I did use it without the trailer to haul things. It worked well
for me but not everyone wants that long of a rig with a trailer.
Now as with any trailer pulling truck, you need to know the GCWR (Gross
Combined Weight Rating,) with combines the truck and trailer. Also you need
the tongue weight, as well as the axle ratings. All this combined to give
you the big picture for your big truck option. Good Big Truck’n. Kent
Medium Truck Links:
GM (Chevy, GMC)
online big truck market