Replace late model 1/2 ton with vintage IH MDT/HDT for tow pig duties?

Discussion in 'General IH Tech' started by urbex, Feb 18, 2016.


  1. urbex

    urbex Binder Driver

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    My current tow pig is an '05 Ram 1500 with a rated 9K towing capacity, and somewhere around 1600lb payload capacity. I'm already at the point where I'm really pushing those limits, and need to go beyond the 1/2 ton category of trucks (my car hauler trailer is a 20 foot flat deck, and I could tell the Dodge wasn't all that happy when I brought a Suburban home on it, and I'd like to add a cabover camper as well when towing the Scout). But I also don't do this often enough where I can justify dropping another $20K+ into a newer 3/4 or 1 ton truck. I started considering selling my current truck, and just getting an older 1 ton, but then after looking up towing/payload capacities, I find that my current 1/2 ton is rated about the same as 1 tons were 20 years ago, and I'm not gaining much by going with mid 90s trucks and losing quite a bit in comfort, options, braking ability, etc. Yeah, I know there's a bit of CYA in those ratings to protect the manufacturers from lawsuits and what not, and I'd be fine with occasionally overloading a bit, but I figure comparing factory ratings would at least give me an idea of how the older stuff compares to now.

    So then I started thinking "well...what about going for the "cool" factor, and looking at old IH medium and heavy duty trucks?" Something like the 50s R series, or 60s Loadstars...having never driven one of these trucks, or even being around one any closer than seeing something at a car show, is this even a feasible option? Obviously they're not meant blast down the highway at 80mph like modern vehicles, lack creature comforts like cruise control and AC, and I don't expect them to be anything even remotely close to a modern truck experience. But I also remember my '64 Scout wasn't really all that fun to drive in modern traffic, both from an acceleration and braking standpoint and forget about running it down the interstate....and wonder if one of these old brutes would be similar? I know from experience that getting a load moving is only a small part of the equation when dealing with traffic, lol.
     
  2. Howard Pletcher

    Howard Pletcher Farmall Cub

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    I'd say you probably don't want anything older than a Loadstar unless you're planning on doing some major mods to upgrade the power and braking for running with today's traffic. In fact, I'd probably stay with an S-Series of 1979 vintage or newer rather than a Loadstar which could have some of the creature comforts not in the earlier trucks. An S-Series built prior to 12/82 could have an SV-8, those after would have a 6.9 or 7.3L diesel or a DT-360/466 which could be beneficial for towing, but will cost more to purchase.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2016
  3. BO185

    BO185 Y-Block King

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    Define "not all that happy" power lacking, brakes, trailer sway?

    Does your trailer have brakes? Whats trailer empty weight?

    Hauling most vehicles your not at your max tow wait on the 1/2 ton. So it should be fine. Trailer brakes would make things better. If your towing over 10k then a get newer gas 3/4 or 1ton might be better. One from early to mid 2000's can be affordable and gas rigs are way cheaper. The 3/4 and 1 tons from 20 years ago have similar ratings 10-12k bumper pull on paper, but pay load is twice to three times as much, as well towing is better in general as springs are heavier as well as MUCH larger brakes.

    The big thing with the MDT is they will not ride well at all. Brakes and hauling will be better. Power depends on which motor. If its a gas SV forget speed. lol Power is better with a DT diesel. Also parts can be iffy on older stuff. Might be state reg. issues and inspections in MDTs. Not to mention parking and driving unloaded.

    Look for early 2000's gas 3/4 and 1 ton and enjoy.
     
  4. Forcus

    Forcus Farmall Cub

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    60's-70's medium duty trucks like Loadstars are cheap around here. Even early gas and non-turbo diesel S series are cheap. On paper they seem to make sense as an alternative but they are from a different era, IMO not suitable for real work on today's roads with a moderate load. This is just IMO, I do see a lot of roofers and septic guys using these old trucks so some people disagree and it seems to work for them. I've driven a few and they are SLOW. They are meant for an era where every truck was low powered, acceleration was foot to the floor all the time and MPG (gasser's) was measured in low single digits. I think they have their place, project trucks, fun trucks, home depot runs, but would I want to take a trip from Central IL, through the mountains somewhere, absolutely not. Maybe too I'm just a little spoiled, after I had a Cummins 3/4 a few years back that hauled anything I wanted and got 21+ highway in car-like comfort, it would be hard for me to want to spend much time in a Loadstar.

    A better alternative might be a newer S series with a DT360 or DT466... based on my reading they can be easily "turned up" and while they wouldn't be confused for luxury vehicles at least many of the newer ones have A/C and overdrive transmissions. I've seen them under $5k and to a certain point no electronics. I think the best combo would be a crew cab, early 90's with a DT360, manual trans and hydraulic brakes, with a shortened frame (10-ish foot bed).
     
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  5. urbex

    urbex Binder Driver

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    Yes on trailer brakes. On a single axle now, and I have plans to install them on the 2nd axle as well. I haven't scaled the trailer, but comparing to other trailers of similar design/dimensions, I'm guessing it's 2200-2500lbs. With the Suburban on it, and again, guesstimating based on other similars, 7500-8000 total. Possibly a little more given additional steel bolted up to the Suburban. So no, I'm not at the max rated tow capacity, but getting pretty close to it. Once I toss a slide in camper into the mix, I'm going to be WELL over the rated capacity of the truck. Obviously I'll have a bit more wiggle room with the Scout or Tracker on the trailer, but I'm looking at worst case scenarios here.

    "Not all that happy" parts - when I was bringing that Suburban home, sway was a big issue, though I know it was largely due to not being able to properly distribute the weight on the trailer in order to keep the rear end of the truck off the bump stops. 50mph was the max speed before the tail began to drag the dog around, lol. I know I need to at least get a weight distributing hitch before I load that heavy pig back up on the trailer again, but I'm also looking at the down the road future as well, and it feels like I'm going to be throwing a lot of band aid fixes on things here in an attempt to make a bad combo work. I even thought about tossing a set of 1 ton axles under the Dodge, plating the frame to beef it up, and adding a set of air bags in for additional load capacity but then I figure it's only a matter of time before I fry the trans due to over loading and frankly I'm not enough of a mechanical engineer to know if just adding plate to the frame is going to help or hurt things. I could very well make the situation worse without even realizing it.

    Power wasn't an issue at all with the Hemi - it still got things moving just fine. I did have a bit of a concern with the truck brakes though...if I ever had an issue with the trailer brakes, or brake controller, I'm not sure I'd want to rely just on the truck brakes to keep things in control. But with the trailer brakes working, I didn't have any issues slowing it down either.

    If I was to get an old MDT/HDT for towing/hauling duties, that would very likely be the only thing I'd use it for. I don't see myself attempting to make a daily driver out of it, or even running it around empty, other than maybe occasionally running it down to the gas station before loading everything up. Ride quality isn't really a huge concern of mine, as I know these are trucks, not Cadillacs, lol. Unless we're talking that even loaded up, I'm still going to be begging for a kidney belt...that might change things a bit :D

    I've spent some time on the RV forums as well, and have been finding that apparently it's quite common even for the guys in the 1 ton dually pickups to be overloaded by thousands of pounds when the big campers get involved, and while on one hand it could be viewed as "people do it all the time, so it shouldn't be a problem for me either", but it still doesn't give me the warm and fuzzy feelings either. Then there is always the factor of what works today might not be enough tomorrow. When I bought this 1/2 ton, getting into heavy trucks and campers never even crossed my mind, so a 1/2 ton was plenty. I also didn't have the room at home to have more than one toy, yet now I have the room for an entire fleet of semi trucks if I wanted them. So I'm also thinking along the lines of future proofing myself a bit in case the need arises.
     
  6. 'Mater

    'Mater Binder Driver

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    Loadstars are SLOW. They will haul a full box of coal up the side of a mountain, just don't be in a hurry. Fill your suburban with pig iron, load it on a trailer with the Scout AND the camper ... then you might need a loadstar.

    I think your right. You will tear up your Dodge if you do any serious towing, so you need a new, strong, truck that doesn't break the bank. My old International pickup will pull any trailer I hook up to. Your Dodge ram has limits. It probably has twice the horsepower and a similar stated towing capacity but it doesn't matter in the real world. Old 3/4 tons are strong. I've been throwing parts at it for two years and I'm still under 4 thousand dollars, I could beat a loadstar in a race and I can park in a regular parking space.

    You could probably put your camper on a small trailer and pull it with the Scout, but let's stick to the premise of big hauling for little bucks. I would get an old International pickup and nurse it along. Someone smarter would get a Chevy with a 454. Diesels are better for towing and hauling but unless you are familiar with them, they are a pain and the good ones are expensive.
     
  7. urbex

    urbex Binder Driver

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    Then I'm screwed if I break the Scout in a catastrophic way on a trail. Not to mention, despite the running gear of the Scout, something that short of wheel base sitting on a flexy suspension and 37s I don't see being an enjoyable towing experience. It also doesn't solve the problem of moving that Suburban back and forth.

    I actually had an '89 Chevy 3500 ECLB with the 454, and while it wasn't fast by any means it certainly didn't argue with a ton of weight behind it either.
     
  8. BO185

    BO185 Y-Block King

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    A MDT or HDT will ride horrible max loaded or unloaded. Now certain setups are better but avg leaf sprung trucks will beat you to death. If your going along distance of an 1hr or more, again get a used early 2000's gas 3/4ton or 1 ton will handle avg slide-ins and bumper pulling 12k pretty easy.

    Its really hard to say how "loaded" you would be as that depends on the camper. If your spending money on a huge slide in camper then you can afford a 20k truck to haul it safely.

    You could simply just buy a used gooseneck and mount slide in camper on it leaving room for the scout. Its been a populaor option last 5 years or so. Then you have your car hauler for towing with out the camper.
     

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