Filed under: Comfort at Camp, Destination Camping & RV Resorts, Entertaining Kids at Camp, Entertaining Kids at Camp, Kid-Friendly Trips, RV Campgrounds, Safety on the Road
East Coast HDT Rally in VA Beach
Unless you have a motor home, some sort of tow vehicle is needed to pull your RV. The size and type of the tow vehicle is dependent upon the weight and, to some extent, the length of your trailer.
The maximum safe towing weight for most half ton pick-up trucks ranges from 6,500 to around 10,000 pounds. As trailer weights increase, 3/4 and 1 ton trucks are needed to safely carry the load.
There is a growing number of RV’ers that feel even more muscle and mass are needed to safely tow the larger fifth wheel trailers that can tip the scales at 16,000 pounds or more. Rather than move from a big pick-up to a medium duty class 5 or 6 truck, they elect to jump directly into a class 7 or 8 heavy duty truck. Heavy duty trucks, or HDT’s, are the tractors commonly called Semis that carry heavy trailers and freight coast to coast.
These trucks are built to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are designed to provide reliable service for a million miles or more – and the majority do just that. The neat thing about these trucks is that they can be extremely quite inside, provide excellent fuel mileage, and have a luxury-like ride quality. The addition of a few components, such as a porta-potty, microwave/refrigerator and electricity allow them to be registered as a private motor home and as such are not required to comply with commercial vehicle regulations in most states.
In preparation for our planned long-time RV living and travel experience, Nancy and I decided to “try” a HDT to see if it would work out for us. Last year we bought a 2004 Volvo with a 67” sleeper cab containing two bunks. Over the winter I added the features needed to qualify the truck for a motor home registration. We began using it as our primary tow vehicle in February.
After about 3,000 miles I am convinced that a HDT is the only way to go if you are pulling a heavy fifth wheel trailer all over the country. It is extremely easy to drive once you receive the necessary training on gear shifting, air brakes and stopping distances – all of which differ from a conventional vehicle. The power and torque provided by the big 12L diesel engine laughs at the weight of the camping trailer. The engine in our truck develops 465 horse power and 1,825 foot pounds of torque – all at 1,500 rpm! From a safety point of view, the truck is always in control of the trailer, never vica-versa as is often encountered with a pick-up that weighs less than a trailer.
While a HDT is not for everyone, it is an alternative to consider. Many of those who own and drive a HDT gathered last weekend at the Virginia Beach Holiday Trav-L-Park for a five day rally full of comrade and an almost constant exchange of ideas and modifications devoted to their trucks. My wife and two of our grandchildren were with me. The two grand-boys were somewhat awed by the assembly of big trucks, as were the other campers in the park. The boys were also able to enjoy the pleasures afforded by the park pool, store and game room. They had a day at the ocean and the opportunity to visit all the shops along the main street behind the boardwalk. Without the invitation to join us for the camping trip, their experience would have been lost.
All I can say is that this rally was the most impressive display of horsepower, torque, innovation and technology I have experienced in one location, period! The owners were some of the most fun, helpful and knowledgeable people anywhere — assembled into a select group.
Many of the Rally participants live in their RV’s full time. Some carry Smart Cars on the back of their trucks for local transportation. Others opt for motorcycles and even a few tow a vehicle behind their fifth wheel.
It is an event I will never forget. I look forward to attending more HDT rally’s in the future. I hope you enjoy the photos of some of the vehicles present at the rally.
More information on these vehicles and their conversion can be found on the Escapes HDT forum.
LINKS related to items in the article:
Holiday Trav-L-Park, Virginia Beach: http://www.campingvb.com/
Escapes HDT Forum: http://www.rvnetwork.com/index.php?showforum=32
Classes of Trucks: http://changingears.com/rv-sec-tow-vehicles-classes.shtml
Smart Car: http://www.smartusa.com/