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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys looking at an international 4700 or 4900 with a dt466 ... one I’m looking at this week is a 98’ .. A few other ones I would have to travel..

Anyway I tow a 5th wheel 21k fully loaded trailer behind me.. i’m having a hard time online finding what years have which engine in them the hp and torque seems to vary based on year and what’s ordered from the factory regardless of year? Also I’m guessing they can tow this dry if they are rated to 33k I wouldnt think they would weigh over 12k but haven’t seen curb weights anywhere

anyway My questions are what years are most reliable lowest maintenance?

what type of rear ratio do I want? I come from the world of 59 Cummins so I’m only familiar with the 3.55 3.73 and 4.10.. seems the big trucks don’t runs these ...

There are options for a 2 speed rear. Does that mean you can engage different differentials?

I’m guessing the only way to identify the transmission is to crawl under and find a number stamped?
 

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Stick with the dt466-E and stay away from the older mechanical motors. The E started in 98/99. Mine is a 195hp, they come in 190, 195, 210, 230. The higher the better. The engine tag is on top of the valve cover you can see what motor it is. They are great trucks, reliable and easy to work on and parts are easily to find and plentiful. Gear ratio depends on how fast you wanna go. Mine was spec’ed as a local box truck and it has 5.64 rear end- rather uncommon and usually seen behind an auto trans. It has a lower top speed due to that, I like to go about 62mph on the Highway with it and it gets good fuel economy at that speed, any faster and the mpg drops bad. But it has no problem pulling hills. Empty flat/dump at 12,500 empty weight I can get 15mpg at 62 on flat highway. Mines 25,500 and I pull a 10k trailer. Local/regional mixed loaded/empty I average 8-10mpg at around 35,000 lbs gross loaded weight. It’s not a speed demon nor to I try to race up hills as fast as I can either. A 4.10 gear should be better for faster highway speeds but you loose the torque for pulling hills... I would also opt for a truck with air brakes

Two speed rear ends are more common in the older trucks which help mitigate the lower power by giving you more gears, typically a 5 speed with a 2 speed rear end basically gives you a ten speed.
The newer trucks should have the spicer 6+1 7speed trans. They have different hp/torque/weight ratings. The es0667B is the one you want which is good for up to something like 36k lbs. the smaller version is usually found behind lower hp (190hp) motor.
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Stick with the dt466-E and stay away from the older mechanical motors. The E started in 98/99. Mine is a 195hp, they come in 190, 195, 210, 230. The higher the better. The engine tag is on top of the valve cover you can see what motor it is. They are great trucks, reliable and easy to work on and parts are easily to find and plentiful. Gear ratio depends on how fast you wanna go. Mine was spec’ed as a local box truck and it has 5.64 rear end- rather uncommon and usually seen behind an auto trans. It has a lower top speed due to that, I like to go about 62mph on the Highway with it and it gets good fuel economy at that speed, any faster and the mpg drops bad. But it has no problem pulling hills. Empty flat/dump at 12,500 empty weight I can get 15mpg at 62 on flat highway. Mines 25,500 and I pull a 10k trailer. Local/regional mixed loaded/empty I average 8-10mpg at around 35,000 lbs gross loaded weight. It’s not a speed demon nor to I try to race up hills as fast as I can either. A 4.10 gear should be better for faster highway speeds but you loose the torque for pulling hills... I would also opt for a truck with air brakes

Two speed rear ends are more common in the older trucks which help mitigate the lower power by giving you more gears, typically a 5 speed with a 2 speed rear end basically gives you a ten speed.
The newer trucks should have the spicer 6+1 7speed trans. They have different hp/torque/weight ratings. The es0667B is the one you want which is good for up to something like 36k lbs. the smaller version is usually found behind lower hp (190hp) motor.
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Truly great info, have been scouring the internet for this info.. highway cruising speeds 70-75 mph are important along being able to move up to 16-20k either towing on the bed where dual axles or size allows one I’m looking at is rages for 36k, my understanding is a class 7 up to 33k, class 8 over 33k... so I’m scouring the country for the right one I will look for a 230 hp.. not many hills around here so will look for a 4.10 rear ... also on the trany any advice ? I’m fine with manual if it works / holds up better than an auto. An auto would be nice though if reliable ... as far as years I’m guessing up until 04’ when emissions was added?
 

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Truly great info, have been scouring the internet for this info.. highway cruising speeds 70-75 mph are important along being able to move up to 16-20k either towing on the bed where dual axles or size allows one I’m looking at is rages for 36k, my understanding is a class 7 up to 33k, class 8 over 33k... so I’m scouring the country for the right one I will look for a 230 hp.. not many hills around here so will look for a 4.10 rear ... also on the trany any advice ? I’m fine with manual if it works / holds up better than an auto. An auto would be nice though if reliable ... as far as years I’m guessing up until 04’ when emissions was added?
What kind of truck are you looking for? Flatbed? Are you looking for a single axle 26k/33k truck or a tandem axle 46k truck?
For the tranny, keep total gross combined vehicle weight in mind. A 190hp dt466e with an auto trans behind it would not last too long if you load the truck to full gvw AND pull a 20k trailer behind it. If you are looking at a gross combined weight of truck and trailer in the 40k + range you need to go right to a class 8 truck.
The medium duty trucks are typically spec’ed for local/regional work, which is where you find the dt466e and autos/5-7 speeds and the lower 4.10-5.63 gear ratios. If you intend on being on the highways most of the time at 65-75 mph you want a class 8 truck with 3.55-3.73 gears and a 9/10/13/18 speed
The medium duties are great but they have their limitations. They are fast and they aren’t powerful. But at lighter weights and regional work, with 65mph tops on the highway you can still get 10mpg on the highway with an easy foot. If you wanna do 75 mph at 46k a Dt466e, or any medium duty for that matter will get horrible fuel economy and you’ll be beating the crap out of it. Now with 46k on a class 8 with a 12-13 liter and a 13 speed you won’t even be working it hard and probably be able to get 10mpg with an easy foot and still wouldn’t do too bad at 75
More details on exactly what you want to haul and tow would be helpful

If you are just pulling a 21k camper trailer a 4700/4900 with the dt530ht and automatic are very common to find with the western hauler beds on them and you probably be a good way to go.


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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
What kind of truck are you looking for? Flatbed? Are you looking for a single axle 26k/33k truck or a tandem axle 46k truck?
For the tranny, keep total gross combined vehicle weight in mind. A 190hp dt466e with an auto trans behind it would not last too long if you load the truck to full gvw AND pull a 20k trailer behind it. If you are looking at a gross combined weight of truck and trailer in the 40k + range you need to go right to a class 8 truck.
The medium duty trucks are typically spec’ed for local/regional work, which is where you find the dt466e and autos/5-7 speeds and the lower 4.10-5.63 gear ratios. If you intend on being on the highways most of the time at 65-75 mph you want a class 8 truck with 3.55-3.73 gears and a 9/10/13/18 speed
The medium duties are great but they have their limitations. They are fast and they aren’t powerful. But at lighter weights and regional work, with 65mph tops on the highway you can still get 10mpg on the highway with an easy foot. If you wanna do 75 mph at 46k a Dt466e, or any medium duty for that matter will get horrible fuel economy and you’ll be beating the crap out of it. Now with 46k on a class 8 with a 12-13 liter and a 13 speed you won’t even be working it hard and probably be able to get 10mpg with an easy foot and still wouldn’t do too bad at 75
More details on exactly what you want to haul and tow would be helpful

If you are just pulling a 21k camper trailer a 4700/4900 with the dt530ht and automatic are very common to find with the western hauler beds on them and you probably be a good way to go.


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So I will be hauling logs for milling my gooseneck had a payload of 17k, I’m not to sure what these trucks ballpark on curb weight so don’t know how much I’m left with I guess if I get up to class 8 it’s really irrelevant. I can’t imagine much having over 20k to move, however if a class 8 allows a better configuration for highway speed towing then that just leaves me room to move more of need be... so a flatbed with a gooseneck hitch or a 5th wheel plate type plate and I can get an adaptor to hook my gooseneck up too... the gooseneck has ramps and a winch for loading ... I would like a flatbed if I had a way to load the logs onto the back.. maybe a good crane ? ... yes it will mostly be highway with some running around town 70-75 mph cruising would be really nice .. so not opposed to going to a class 8 at all. Reliability and low maintenance would be a priority tor starting off... an auto would be nice if there’s one you recommend.. driving shift is not a huge deal.
 

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So I will be hauling logs for milling my gooseneck had a payload of 17k, I’m not to sure what these trucks ballpark on curb weight so don’t know how much I’m left with I guess if I get up to class 8 it’s really irrelevant. I can’t imagine much having over 20k to move, however if a class 8 allows a better configuration for highway speed towing then that just leaves me room to move more of need be... so a flatbed with a gooseneck hitch or a 5th wheel plate type plate and I can get an adaptor to hook my gooseneck up too... the gooseneck has ramps and a winch for loading ... I would like a flatbed if I had a way to load the logs onto the back.. maybe a good crane ? ... yes it will mostly be highway with some running around town 70-75 mph cruising would be really nice .. so not opposed to going to a class 8 at all. Reliability and low maintenance would be a priority tor starting off... an auto would be nice if there’s one you recommend.. driving shift is not a huge deal.
How long of a flatbed/body do you need? I’ve been planing a build like this for a while. I would look into getting a day cab class 8 tractor, pulling the fifth wheel off and putting a flatbed on it. They can be found at very reasonable prices. Again I highly recommend 99-03. Depending on budget and how many miles you’ll put on it, day cabs that haven’t had an inframe yet are typically in the $8k for decent ones. Add a couple grand to the price tag for ones that have had a recent inframe. A frame stretch is usually 5k if you need a longer bed. I have always like the freightliner FLD and the Volvo vnm/Vnl. A good motor for power/fuel economy is the 60 series Detroit followed by the Cummins. For your lighter weights the Detroit 11.1 or Cummins m11 would be great. Those don’t have jake brakes tho. I’ve been eyeing up a few single axle day cabs that are ex-FedEx fleet trucks. Fleet maintained and have a price tag around 8-10k. Typically you won’t find older class 8 trucks with autos either. I’ve always been a fan of 10 speeds, 9/13 are great as well. Stay away from the 8 speeds. 18 are fine too but typically in the trucks I mentioned you’ll find 9/10/13’s. Check out truck paper.com. If your on the west coast or don’t mind traveling to buy one, old trucks are super cheap and plentiful thanks to California banning the pre-emmision motors (just don’t buy a pre-emmision motor that had emmisions equipment retrofitted to it)


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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Also if a truck is rated at 25k is it different from one weighted at 33k eg different spring etc or someone just didn’t want to get a cdl and could get it re weighted ?
 

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Also if a truck is rated at 25k is it different from one weighted at 33k eg different spring etc or someone just didn’t want to get a cdl and could get it re weighted ?
Ya it’s different. Most 25,500 trucks are 8k front axle and 17.5k rear axle. 33k trucks are 12k front 21k rear. A lot of small differences as well, double frames, heavier rated suspensions/transmissions, etc


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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
What kind of truck are you looking for? Flatbed? Are you looking for a single axle 26k/33k truck or a tandem axle 46k truck?
For the tranny, keep total gross combined vehicle weight in mind. A 190hp dt466e with an auto trans behind it would not last too long if you load the truck to full gvw AND pull a 20k trailer behind it. If you are looking at a gross combined weight of truck and trailer in the 40k + range you need to go right to a class 8 truck.
The medium duty trucks are typically spec’ed for local/regional work, which is where you find the dt466e and autos/5-7 speeds and the lower 4.10-5.63 gear ratios. If you intend on being on the highways most of the time at 65-75 mph you want a class 8 truck with 3.55-3.73 gears and a 9/10/13/18 speed
The medium duties are great but they have their limitations. They are fast and they aren’t powerful. But at lighter weights and regional work, with 65mph tops on the highway you can still get 10mpg on the highway with an easy foot. If you wanna do 75 mph at 46k a Dt466e, or any medium duty for that matter will get horrible fuel economy and you’ll be beating the crap out of it. Now with 46k on a class 8 with a 12-13 liter and a 13 speed you won’t even be working it hard and probably be able to get 10mpg with an easy foot and still wouldn’t do too bad at 75
More details on exactly what you want to haul and tow would be helpful

If you are just pulling a 21k camper trailer a 4700/4900 with the dt530ht and automatic are very common to find with the western hauler beds on them and you probably be a good way to go.


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what about a class 8 4900 with a 466E with a 9 speed manual and a 4.30 rear good for pulling 21k on the highway at 70-75 speed?
 

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what about a class 8 4900 with a 466E with a 9 speed manual and a 4.30 rear good for pulling 21k on the highway at 70-75 speed?
Best thing to do is find an online gear ratio calculator. Everything makes a difference, tire size, over drive ratio, etc. I think the old one I’m we had had 4.10 gears and a 6+1 and it got 10mpg running super light stuff (like a couple thousands pounds) on the highway at 68mph. If you wanna run 75 all the time, go with a class 8 OTR truck with a big motor and 3.55/3.73. The dt466e IMO isn’t really a good choice for heavy stuff and high speeds all day.... the truck you described sounds like a good local dump truck.....not an over the road truck, but that’s my opinion


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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Best thing to do is find an online gear ratio calculator. Everything makes a difference, tire size, over drive ratio, etc. I think the old one I’m we had had 4.10 gears and a 6+1 and it got 10mpg running super light stuff (like a couple thousands pounds) on the highway at 68mph. If you wanna run 75 all the time, go with a class 8 OTR truck with a big motor and 3.55/3.73. The dt466e IMO isn’t really a good choice for heavy stuff and high speeds all day.... the truck you described sounds like a good local dump truck.....not an over the road truck, but that’s my opinion


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Great advice thanks ... so basically one One that looks like it was made for the highway with one of those trailer plates in the back and just the cab and a short bed?

This would be cool because I’d love a Highway rated truck with a flatbed ,, where I don’t have to go buy another trailer https://www.commercialtrucktrader.com/listing/2005-IHC-4900-5010514237

But you prob mean more like this https://www.commercialtrucktrader.com/listing/2003-INTERNATIONAL-DURASTAR+4400-5016382231

I’d a Detroit 60 day can however my price range is 15 K everything in there seems like it’s pushing 750 to 1,000,000 miles and I don’t know if they’ve been rebuilt or not... some say fleet maintained but I don’t know if that’s good for
 

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Great advice thanks ... so basically one One that looks like it was made for the highway with one of those trailer plates in the back and just the cab and a short bed?

This would be cool because I’d love a Highway rated truck with a flatbed ,, where I don’t have to go buy another trailer https://www.commercialtrucktrader.com/listing/2005-IHC-4900-5010514237

But you prob mean more like this https://www.commercialtrucktrader.com/listing/2003-INTERNATIONAL-DURASTAR+4400-5016382231

I’d a Detroit 60 day can however my price range is 15 K everything in there seems like it’s pushing 750 to 1,000,000 miles and I don’t know if they’ve been rebuilt or not... some say fleet maintained but I don’t know if that’s good for
Either of those would work, they may not go 75 tho.
I’m still not 100% sure I understand exactly what you will be doing. Some clarification would help. So you want to have a straight truck so you can haul wood, but want to be able to use that truck to pull a trailer as well? Will you be pulling a loaded trailer the same time you have the truck loaded or not? Keep in mind a truck/trailer is limited to 65’ overall length where a tractor/trailer can be 75’. One issue I have with mine (20’ flatbed truck) is in rather limited on trailers. I currently have a 20’ flatbed with a 5’ dove tail with mega ramps and I’m pushing the 65’ limit. It goes from the furthest point forward(bumper) to the rear most point (ramps) so my 20+5 flatbed is about 31’ long....something to keep in mind.
When you are using one truck for multiple things you are going to run in to more issues, weight for example...I can put 12 on my truck if I don’t have a trailer, but if I’m pulling a loaded trailer I can only go about 10k since you have the tounge weight that adds in.
A better option I think is to have a tractor and use multiple trailers, especially with the weight factor.

Now as far as mileage goes, my first question is how many miles are you going to put on the truck in a year? Is this for business use, personal or both? Will you be doing any of the maintance/repairs/upfitting yourself, you will you have a shop do the work?

The medium duty trucks, such as the trucks with the Dt466e, were typically meant for local and regional work, which is why they are mostly found in small dump trucks and school buses. They run higher rpms, make less power and don’t last as long. (Look up engine B50 life ratings). Engines are given an expected life expectancy. B50 means 50% of the engines lasted X miles. B20 means 20% X miles. The dt466e has a B50 rating somewhere around 400k miles. So typically around that time you will need an in-frame overhaul. This depends greatly on how the engine was used and the maintenance and how it was driven. A dt466e used in a school bus is not going to last as long as an engine in a box truck used by a mail contractor running light loads on the highway.
Now the heavy duty engines you find in class 8 road tractors, like the 11-14 liters, typically last 750k to 1.2 million miles before needing an in-frame. Inframes aren’t that expensive is you are doing your own work. If you aren’t putting a lot of miles on them a truck with 750k miles may last you 5 years.


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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Either of those would work, they may not go 75 tho.
I’m still not 100% sure I understand exactly what you will be doing. Some clarification would help. So you want to have a straight truck so you can haul wood, but want to be able to use that truck to pull a trailer as well? Will you be pulling a loaded trailer the same time you have the truck loaded or not? Keep in mind a truck/trailer is limited to 65’ overall length where a tractor/trailer can be 75’. One issue I have with mine (20’ flatbed truck) is in rather limited on trailers. I currently have a 20’ flatbed with a 5’ dove tail with mega ramps and I’m pushing the 65’ limit. It goes from the furthest point forward(bumper) to the rear most point (ramps) so my 20+5 flatbed is about 31’ long....something to keep in mind.
When you are using one truck for multiple things you are going to run in to more issues, weight for example...I can put 12 on my truck if I don’t have a trailer, but if I’m pulling a loaded trailer I can only go about 10k since you have the tounge weight that adds in.
A better option I think is to have a tractor and use multiple trailers, especially with the weight factor.

Now as far as mileage goes, my first question is how many miles are you going to put on the truck in a year? Is this for business use, personal or both? Will you be doing any of the maintance/repairs/upfitting yourself, you will you have a shop do the work?

The medium duty trucks, such as the trucks with the Dt466e, were typically meant for local and regional work, which is why they are mostly found in small dump trucks and school buses. They run higher rpms, make less power and don’t last as long. (Look up engine B50 life ratings). Engines are given an expected life expectancy. B50 means 50% of the engines lasted X miles. B20 means 20% X miles. The dt466e has a B50 rating somewhere around 400k miles. So typically around that time you will need an in-frame overhaul. This depends greatly on how the engine was used and the maintenance and how it was driven. A dt466e used in a school bus is not going to last as long as an engine in a box truck used by a mail contractor running light loads on the highway.
Now the heavy duty engines you find in class 8 road tractors, like the 11-14 liters, typically last 750k to 1.2 million miles before needing an in-frame. Inframes aren’t that expensive is you are doing your own work. If you aren’t putting a lot of miles on them a truck with 750k miles may last you 5 years.


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Great info... for business but I will only put about 8-10k on it a year... I have a 26” deck gooseneck with 4” dovetail... if I had a good bed that size that could take the 16k payload on the bed. I would prob sell the trailer and have one less thing to deal with and it just load it on the flat deck bed.. and selling the trailer would take my budget from 10-12k to 15-17k ..

I also have a bumper pull trailer I use around town quite a bit and my little 1st gen tundra can’t pull it around town picking up logs when it’s loaded.. pulling that with a 97’ 5.9 ram 3500 but it doesn’t have the power or trany to pull the 21k fully loaded on the highway...

So I’m looking for something to do both would hate to have to get a highway truck that won’t bumper pull eg tractor .. unless there’s an adaptor I don’t know about. 70 mph is fine don’t have to have 75 would be nice though.

I can do a lot of the work ... was stuck on the dt466 for the sole reason of reliability low maintenance and ease to work on. I see many Detroit 60’s in the 750,000- 900,000 in my price range but scares me with those miles ... I need something that’s going to run now till I can get cash flow going... also heard great things about 350 Cummins,1693, 380,3408, c-15& c-16 cat’s...

Keys are low maintenance comparatively to higher maintenance ones and ease and price to work on if I can’t ... all that being said I’ve looked a ton online on commercial truck trader and can’t find just what I’m looking for I’m also clueless as to transmissions and rear end ratios I need...

I think at these weights I’m ultimaly going to get over 26,000 lbs and will just end up getting my cdl
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Great info... for business but I will only put about 8-10k on it a year... I have a 26” deck gooseneck with 4” dovetail... if I had a good bed that size that could take the 16k payload on the bed. I would prob sell the trailer and have one less thing to deal with and it just load it on the flat deck bed.. and selling the trailer would take my budget from 10-12k to 15-17k ..

I also have a bumper pull trailer I use around town quite a bit and my little 1st gen tundra can’t pull it around town picking up logs when it’s loaded.. pulling that with a 97’ 5.9 ram 3500 but it doesn’t have the power or trany to pull the 21k fully loaded on the highway...

So I’m looking for something to do both would hate to have to get a highway truck that won’t bumper pull eg tractor .. unless there’s an adaptor I don’t know about. 70 mph is fine don’t have to have 75 would be nice though.

I can do a lot of the work ... was stuck on the dt466 for the sole reason of reliability low maintenance and ease to work on. I see many Detroit 60’s in the 750,000- 900,000 in my price range but scares me with those miles ... I need something that’s going to run now till I can get cash flow going... also heard great things about 350 Cummins,1693, 380,3408, c-15& c-16 cat’s...

Keys are low maintenance comparatively to higher maintenance ones and ease and price to work on if I can’t ... all that being said I’ve looked a ton online on commercial truck trader and can’t find just what I’m looking for I’m also clueless as to transmissions and rear end ratios I need...

I think at these weights I’m ultimaly going to get over 26,000 lbs and will just end up getting my cdl
Any advice ? I’m going with what you recommend
 

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You can put a receiver tube on the back of a tractor too if you want, with a tractor you can pull anything you want. They already have a 5th wheel on it, if your gooseneck trailer has a removable hitch you can pull the ball coupler out and put the king pin in there and use the trucks fifth wheel, or you can mount a gooseneck ball behind the fifth wheel plate. You can mount a combo 2-5/16” ball and pintle hitch directly towards the rear crossmemeber. So technically you could pull any trailer you wanted with a tractor. If a truck would be enough with out a trailer just get a 24’ flatbed truck and put a hitch on the back, when you need a little more space just pull a small trailer.

Here’s my setup



The 99-03 Dt466e is definitely a reliable and low cost truck. They are so common that parts are very easy to get, stocked at most places and used parts are cheap and plentiful. They are super easy to work on, plenty of good resources as far as repair manuals. You can get the service manuals for like 20 bucks. You can also get get servicemaxx (the dealer software) for free, you just need a laptop and a 300 dollar cable and you can do everything the dealer can do, including changing the speed limiter, tire size to correct the speedo, and unlimited diagnostics. I’ve done major engine work right in the driveway. They are just easy to work on. Aftermarket inframe overhaul kits are less than 2 grand, and can be done pretty easy.



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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
You can put a receiver tube on the back of a tractor too if you want, with a tractor you can pull anything you want. They already have a 5th wheel on it, if your gooseneck trailer has a removable hitch you can pull the ball coupler out and put the king pin in there and use the trucks fifth wheel, or you can mount a gooseneck ball behind the fifth wheel plate. You can mount a combo 2-5/16” ball and pintle hitch directly towards the rear crossmemeber. So technically you could pull any trailer you wanted with a tractor. If a truck would be enough with out a trailer just get a 24’ flatbed truck and put a hitch on the back, when you need a little more space just pull a small trailer.

Here’s my setup



The 99-03 Dt466e is definitely a reliable and low cost truck. They are so common that parts are very easy to get, stocked at most places and used parts are cheap and plentiful. They are super easy to work on, plenty of good resources as far as repair manuals. You can get the service manuals for like 20 bucks. You can also get get servicemaxx (the dealer software) for free, you just need a laptop and a 300 dollar cable and you can do everything the dealer can do, including changing the speed limiter, tire size to correct the speedo, and unlimited diagnostics. I’ve done major engine work right in the driveway. They are just easy to work on. Aftermarket inframe overhaul kits are less than 2 grand, and can be done pretty easy.



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Boom that’s what I want! Now for a highway rig I’m guessing I want a 3.55 rear or the lowest rear ratio I can get and a 9 speed manual or is there a 13 manual? or a better auto to run 70-75 mph? I’m guessing that’s much cheaper to maintain that a 18 wheeler tractor Detroit 60 too!?
 

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Boom that’s what I want! Now for a highway rig I’m guessing I want a 3.55 rear or the lowest rear ratio I can get and a 9 speed manual or is there a 13 manual? or a better auto to run 70-75 mph? I’m guessing that’s much cheaper to maintain that a 18 wheeler tractor Detroit 60 too!?
I love my setup! It’s very versatile and I’ve really got a good niche markup set up locally. I even have one customer that splits down full truck loads of lumber into 3 trips for me since the delivery is very tight they have trouble getting a tractor trailer into. So they can be very valuable - you just gotta learn how to use them right to be profitable.

First, I highly recommend getting a cdl, being limited non weight can really take its toll. Technically, my setup IS NON CDL, I’ll go more into that later.

For gearing, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything lower (lower number but higher gear) than 4.10 in the medium duties. So stick with 4.10, if they make 3.55’s it’s pretty easy to swap them out. You can do small adjustments to compensate, such as going to a low profile 22.5, or even a 19.5. Smaller tire diameter will increase your road speed and drop the rpm.

For the trans, I don’t like autos. They get complicated and are expensive to service. Not much to go wrong with a manual- cheaper fluid changes, a clutch and easy to rebuild or swap yourself - not the case with autos. These trucks will typically have the spicer 6+1 (7speed) when you get into the 33k trucks is where you will find the 9 speeds. You can always swap one too. There are two types of bell housings. Sae #1 and Sae #2. Incan never remember which is which I think 1 is the larger one. So basically all the transmissions are the same, the medium duties use the smaller one where the big class 8 trucks use the larger. To put a big tranny in a medium duty all you need to do is get the other larger bell housing and the 9/10/13/18 speeds will bolt up to the dt466e. You will need air tho to run the splitter. So if you have spring ride/haydrualic brakes you would have to either swap on an engine driven air compressor or add an electric one so you could run air to the tranny

Now for cdl, my truck is non cdl, 25,500 truck and a 9990 trailer. This set up is NON cdl. I have a copy of the fmcsa manual stating this which I keep a copy on the truck just in case a come across a dot officer who is new or not aware of the regs. Trailers under 10k pounds do not count twoard the 26k combo limit. So what I do is buy a new 14k trailer and have it de-rated from the manufacture to 9990 (this is a common option and the trailer dealer can do this for like a 50 dollar fee. They MUST be de-rated by the manufacturer and they send you a new vin tag to put on the trailer with the new lower weight. This is NOT the same as just registering it lower when you get the license plate. They go by the vin tag, not the registration. I’ve been thru several roadside inspections as well as an on-site dot audit and this truly is a non cdl set up with a gross combo weight of 35,490lbs. So keep that in mind. You can get creative with weight distribution too provided the trailer tounge is built heavy enough (along with properly rated towing equipment such as the hitch, ball mount, ball etc, as you can over load any of those) load the trailer tounge heavy to transfer the weight to the truck. For example with an empty truck I put my 10k trailer behind it which had an empty axle weight of 3500lbs. I put an 8000 pound f550 cab and chassis on the trailer far enough forward to give me 9500lbs on the trailer axles and the rest on the tounge which transfers to the trucks axle weight. So about 2000 pounds on the tounge, which was all within the ratings of the hitch/ball mount and ball.

Here’s a pic of the rule



But again I do suggest a cdl as it opens you up to so much more weight
And do keep in mind if you run non-cdl take weight extremely seriously, as the reprocussion of being over weight are extreme. If you are over weight it’s more than just an over weight fine, you get put out of service in the spot and won’t be able to move the truck until you find a cdl driver to move it for you. You, the driver, get fined for operating a cdl vehicle with out a cdl AND you, the company get dinged for allowing a person to operate a cdl vehicle without being properly licensed. All pretty hefty fines and could put you out of business, so do take weight seriously.


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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I love my setup! It’s very versatile and I’ve really got a good niche markup set up locally. I even have one customer that splits down full truck loads of lumber into 3 trips for me since the delivery is very tight they have trouble getting a tractor trailer into. So they can be very valuable - you just gotta learn how to use them right to be profitable.

First, I highly recommend getting a cdl, being limited non weight can really take its toll. Technically, my setup IS NON CDL, I’ll go more into that later.

For gearing, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything lower (lower number but higher gear) than 4.10 in the medium duties. So stick with 4.10, if they make 3.55’s it’s pretty easy to swap them out. You can do small adjustments to compensate, such as going to a low profile 22.5, or even a 19.5. Smaller tire diameter will increase your road speed and drop the rpm.

For the trans, I don’t like autos. They get complicated and are expensive to service. Not much to go wrong with a manual- cheaper fluid changes, a clutch and easy to rebuild or swap yourself - not the case with autos. These trucks will typically have the spicer 6+1 (7speed) when you get into the 33k trucks is where you will find the 9 speeds. You can always swap one too. There are two types of bell housings. Sae #1 and Sae #2. Incan never remember which is which I think 1 is the larger one. So basically all the transmissions are the same, the medium duties use the smaller one where the big class 8 trucks use the larger. To put a big tranny in a medium duty all you need to do is get the other larger bell housing and the 9/10/13/18 speeds will bolt up to the dt466e. You will need air tho to run the splitter. So if you have spring ride/haydrualic brakes you would have to either swap on an engine driven air compressor or add an electric one so you could run air to the tranny

Now for cdl, my truck is non cdl, 25,500 truck and a 9990 trailer. This set up is NON cdl. I have a copy of the fmcsa manual stating this which I keep a copy on the truck just in case a come across a dot officer who is new or not aware of the regs. Trailers under 10k pounds do not count twoard the 26k combo limit. So what I do is buy a new 14k trailer and have it de-rated from the manufacture to 9990 (this is a common option and the trailer dealer can do this for like a 50 dollar fee. They MUST be de-rated by the manufacturer and they send you a new vin tag to put on the trailer with the new lower weight. This is NOT the same as just registering it lower when you get the license plate. They go by the vin tag, not the registration. I’ve been thru several roadside inspections as well as an on-site dot audit and this truly is a non cdl set up with a gross combo weight of 35,490lbs. So keep that in mind. You can get creative with weight distribution too provided the trailer tounge is built heavy enough (along with properly rated towing equipment such as the hitch, ball mount, ball etc, as you can over load any of those) load the trailer tounge heavy to transfer the weight to the truck. For example with an empty truck I put my 10k trailer behind it which had an empty axle weight of 3500lbs. I put an 8000 pound f550 cab and chassis on the trailer far enough forward to give me 9500lbs on the trailer axles and the rest on the tounge which transfers to the trucks axle weight. So about 2000 pounds on the tounge, which was all within the ratings of the hitch/ball mount and ball.

Here’s a pic of the rule



But again I do suggest a cdl as it opens you up to so much more weight
And do keep in mind if you run non-cdl take weight extremely seriously, as the reprocussion of being over weight are extreme. If you are over weight it’s more than just an over weight fine, you get put out of service in the spot and won’t be able to move the truck until you find a cdl driver to move it for you. You, the driver, get fined for operating a cdl vehicle with out a cdl AND you, the company get dinged for allowing a person to operate a cdl vehicle without being properly licensed. All pretty hefty fines and could put you out of business, so do take weight seriously.


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Wow that’s genius ... ok what’s my max highway speed with this setup ? .. bartering power I plan to get a 300 hp model.. lower number rear end higher highway speeds right ? How will a manual trans affect highway speed ? A 6 speed won’t be as good as a 9 speed ? What’s my max reasonable speed on the highway?
 

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youll want to check out some gear ratio calculators for your max speeds. its just one big math equation involving the the engine RPM, Transmission gear ratio, and the rear axle ratio which gives you your road speed. you are really only limited by the engine rpm. my truck does its best at 62mph on flat ground empty i can achieve 15mpg at about 2200 RPM. now the truck physically WILL go 75, but the engine is turning like 2800 rpm...so it will go 75 BUT its probably getting about 5mpg, wouldnt take too long to overheat it and its being beaten to death. maybe if you are using it just for personal use a few times a year that may not be a problem, but for a business fuel economy and maintenance can really put you out of business. but anyway, check out some truck gear ratio calculators. these are pretty accurate as long as you put in accurate numbers. the biggest being the tire size. generally ive found most of these trucks to have the standard 11R22.5 (the "tall 22.5") better yet is the lo-pro 22.5, like 275/80 R22.5. smaller tire will turn faster giving you a little bit more road speed at the same rpm, OR a lower RPM at the same speed. so going to a low pro can either gain you a bit of speed or drop your rpm. when looking at the calculators, keep in mind that every engine is different, mainly the different class of engine. medium duties (6-10 liter engines) are higher rpm motors, mine for example is 190HP @ 2300 rpm/ 485 ft lbs. @ 1500 RPM, where as the larger engine (11-15 liters) are lower rpm motors, for example the 60 series detroit 12.7L is 450hp @ 2100RPM and 1500 ft lbs at 1200RPM. generally an RPM somewhere between the rated HP and Torque number will yield the best power, fuel economy, and reliability. so 2000 RPM on the medium duties and 1600 RPM on the heavy duties is what you would be looking for.
for the calculator numbers you can find tire diameter on most manufactures or tire dealers websites. some calculators use the TIRE RPM (Tire Revolutions Per Mile) - also located on tire manufactures websites, or the Tire Diameter, also on tire websites. the diameter of my 275/80 R22.5's is about 39-1/2". the other number you will need rear end ratio, and transmission gear ratio. for these trucks, as we talked about, a typical rear end is 4.44, and 4.11, i have seen 5.63's (mine) and a couple others but the 4.44 and 4.10 are pretty common. again a gear swap is cheap if done your self, and these parts a extremely plentiful in truck salvage yards. when you are ready to buy a truck, the VIN number can be used to determine the rear gear ratio by doing some internet research, or even calling a dealer and giving them the vin to check. on a side note for clarification, the small bellhousing is SAE2 and the big trucks use SAE1 (i always mix them up lol). for transmission gearing, again the VIN can be used as stated above. in person, you can find the rear axle tag and the tranmission tag to verify what they are. there are a TON of different big truck transmissions, theres like 50 different versions of eatons 13 speed, all which are different gear sets. typically the model number is what you look at. "OverDrive is typically in the 0.80's (0.83, 0.85, 0.87) and a Double Over Drive is the the 0.70's (0.73,0.74, 0.75) so you have Direct Drive transmissions, which the highest gear is a 1.00. an Overdrive in the 0.80's, and the double over in the 0.70's. the double overs will give you a faster road speed and a lower RPM but they are less fuel efficient. heres a link for eatons 13's Eaton Fuller 13 Speed Transmission Ratios - Global Transmission Supply
the model number is what to look for. an RT is a direct drive, and RTO is an overdrive, and an RTLO is a double over. with a direct drive tranny you would need really really high gears (2.60's) so you would want a single over if you are going to use 3.55/3.73 and a double over for anything other than that is you wanna do 70-75mph.

all this plays in to how well the truck will drive, as well as the fuel economy. heres a little story to explain why speed inst always everything...
i started driving truck as an regional flatbed driver, i was in a 95 freightliner FLD120 with a Cat 355HP and a 10speed with 3.55 rears. it was governed at 68mph and i was always loaded to gross at 80k lbs. it did fine on the highway, usually had to drop only one or two gears going up hills on the interstate and still hung in there around 60mph. after that i ran a local dump truck...an old 80's International with a big cam cummins and 13speed. man was that thing SLOW! it was an old municipal plow truck, had crazy low gears. it would top out at about 55mph wide open, did ok at 45mph but it took a beating to go 55. it really drove the same as my Freightliner up until it would max the road speed out. it went thru all the gears pretty fast and got up to 45 about the same as my FL, but it just couldnt go any faster. shortly about that the owner retired that truck do to maintenance reasons. he replaced it with a newer International, a 1990 9400 eagle with a 450HP 3406 Cat...with an 8LL behind it.... WOW. all that Horsepower makes you think its going to be GREAT, right? wrong... that damn 8LL was HORRIBLE!!! ya the truck would go 65mph no problem, when it was empty it was fine. but when you load it... it was just as slow as the old dump truck and my 80,000 pound freightliner would out run it on the hills all day long! this is the problem with spec'ing the RIGHT combination of transmissions and rear end gears. as soon as you would come to even the slightest hill you have to drop a gear. the 8 speed doesn't have all that many gears and the gap between them was pretty big. so even tho you only had to drop 1 gear it took your road speed from 65 down to 55.... loaded you would have to drop 2 gears so now you are doing 45.... it was the worst engine/trans/rear gearing combination in a truck that i have ever driven!! id put money on my current truck - 190hp DT466e and 7speed loaded to 36k would probably out run that 450hp cat dump truck with the 8speed, not only that but it just sucked - like it wasn't any fun driving that thing - all that power and it couldn't go up a hill 45mph lol. moral of the story - SPEC THE TRUCK RIGHT!

heres the spicer 7 speed book, page 3 has the gear ratios.
look at the weight ratings and the gear ratios of the different versions, another reason to look at that when you are looking to do things "outside the box" with these trucks, as these medium duties where meant to be a TRUCK not a tractor - and typically weren't configured for anything other than TRUCK WEIGHT, where a tractor is meant to have a trailer and typically gross 80-100k with out any modifications.

in our case here with medium duty straight trucks and trailers. i can tell you that mine WILL be getting a 10speed (my favorite) or a 13 speed. at 36k the dt466e is more than adequate, again providing you aren't looking to break land speed records or outrun the truck beside you up a hill. the biggest problem is the trans. the spicer 6+1 (7speed) is a great tranny, BUT it is a double overdrive only. so it goes from 1.00 in 6th gear to 0.74 in 7th gear - it doesn't have the single overdrive between 1.00 and 0.74. the 9-18 speeds DO, so in a 13speed - 11th would be 1.00, 12th would be 0.84 and 13th would be 0.74 - much like that over powered-under geared dump truck i was talking about. when you come to a hill and need to drop a gear in the spicer 7 speed you are actually dropping 2 gears double over down to direct. so when you gotta drop a gear you lose a LOT of road speed.

in your case i would buy a truck well under your budget, these trucks are so common and so cheap that you can get a good one at a super cheap price and still have a lot left over for mods. im thinking your best bet would be (CDL wise) is to buy a 33k single axle truck that already the right length for your application (24' body) as a frame stretch is going to run you 5k. dont forget to look at the cab and chassis trucks and box trucks too, most places that sell bodies will remove an existing and install a new one - used bodies can be had for 3k and if you buy a box truck you can trade in your box on the price of the flat. use your budget to do a tranny swap, buy a good used 13speed and an SAE 2 bellhousing for it and its a direct swap other than running air lines to the shifter and probably the drive shaft length.

the more gears the better - it will allow you to stay in the power band more often (better fuel economy and a better driving experience) some of the 33k trucks did come with a 9 speed, you can check the specs on that specific tranny and then see what the numbers would be in the calculator.
using the calculator, my truck with 5.63's would have the following speeds/rpms:
Spicer 7 speed
7th - 2200RPM - 62MPH
6th - 2200RPM - 46MPH
5th - 2200RPM - 34MPH

Eaton 13speed RTLO
13th - 2200RPM - 63MPH
12th - 2200RPM - 53MPH
11th - 2200RPM - 46MPH

you can see how much less road speed drop there is when you need to drop gears just haveing the ONE extra gear in there. 16MPH loss in the spicer when you drop from 7 to 6 where as there is only a 10mph drop as the same rpm when you drop from 13th to 12th.

now lets try that with the 4.10 rear end gear ratio AND dropping the cruising RPM from 2200 RPM DOWN TO 2000RPM
Spicer 7 speed
7th - 2000RPM - 77MPH
6th - 2000RPM - 57MPH
5th - 2000RPM - 43MPH

Eaton 13speed RTLO
13th - 2000RPM - 78MPH
12th - 2000RPM - 67MPH
11th - 2000RPM - 57MPH

so ya, theres some good numbers for you - the spicer would let you go 75mph with 4.10's but like i said - you wont be going very fast when it comes to hills of any kind. where as a 13speed would be WAY better for drive-ability and fuel economy.
 
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