That being said my trailer is a shop built trailer, it’s got 2 5k axles .. so it is a 10,000 pound trailer but I would have no way them to register it for that when I get it registeredI 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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