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Senior Contributor

First time semi buyer

Ok I only have straight trucks, needing to get something different, any pointers when buying used Semi??

what would be the minimum horse power, I don't need to pull a big trailer, I was even considering just a 28' of so, That way I can get around the yards better.  

Almost everything has high miles on that like around that 500,000miles but people tell me that isn't a lot for a Semi. 

 

any ideas comments,

 

thanks

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33 Replies
Advisor

Re: First time semi buyer

Ralph is the local truck builder. Stretch, shorten, put on beds, take off beds, he's driven, repaired, rebuilt, and talked bad to more trucks than most guys have been in

 

He told me this the other day when we were discussing semi's for the farm.  For farm use an N14 or 3406 is to big.  It weighs too much and you don't need that much horsepower (note, we don't have many hills)  A 3306 or N11 are OK.  The two I bought have M11's which still met with Ralph's stamp of approval.  He prefers Cummins because it is cheaper to fix if it breaks.  He strongly advises agains Mercedes because or repair cost. The problem with the bigger engine is the added weight.  It doesn't pay better and it costs you capacity

 

He says for farm use look for 4.10 final gears.  4.44 is OK, 3.90 will work, but don't get a smaller number than 3.90. I found a truck that looked perfect until I realized it had something like 3.07 gears in it. 

 

Wheelbase should be 165 to 185 unless you are needing concerned with bridge weights.  If you are needing the length go longer but remember it will be less manuverable.

 

He recommends Fuller transmissions over Spicer.  He says they are cheaper to repair.

 

As you may have caught, Ralph tends to focus on repair cost. He preferes Cummins over Cat, Detroit, and Mercedes; Fuller over Spicer, not because one is necessarily better or worse.  He just feels they are cheaper to run and repair.

 

As a side note, Ralph doesn't recommend making an over road tractxor into a straight truck.  He does it (did it for me) but it isn't his first choice.  He says most OTR trucks are geared wrong, don't have the ground clearance needed for farm use, and are too heavy. 

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Veteran Contributor

Re: First time semi buyer

I wouldn't worry too much about miles. More important to look for immediate big money items, like needs 10 new tires, or all new brakes and drums. Make sure you have a low rear end ratio, or a low hole transmission. A lot of these over the road  tractors with 500K or so miles seem cheap, but if they have a 10sp tranny with 3.55 rears you will be sorry. Pulling out of a field takes a lot lower gear than you can get with this setup. Look for 3.90 rears or better, and if you haul heavy the more  tranny gears the better.

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Senior Contributor

Re: First time semi buyer

Agree with most every thing said.  Loose rule of thumb, if you walk faster than low gear will go your probably going to be okay.  Short wheel base is good.  I have 165" and can turn it around on 32 end rows.  As far as trailer length yards will probably not be as much problem as field drives on narrow roads.  I had to widen a few, but I am at this time pulling a 42'. 

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Veteran Contributor

Re: First time semi buyer

I was in your situation a few years ago. You can NEVER and i stress never have enough horsepower, though you say you only want a 28' now you may want a 36' later. I rented a trailer first to see what i liked. Rented a 30' then bought a 34' and couldnt be happier.

 

FOR a 28' even without hills i would suggest at least 350 horsepower. Guys will tell you less will do but dont listen. There is no better feeling then having more than enough power. And the cost is relativly the same if you buy 300 or 500 horsepower.

 

If your wanting to move around easily get a short frame truck with a set back front axle. I got a 1990 International 9300 with short wheel base and 34' trailer and i can turn shorter then the 1984 359 Peterbilt with 22' box that it replaced. My truck has a 9spd and i have to say i miss the ten speed that the pete had, but it works fine. The one extra low gear reduces the spacing makeing for better shifting when climbing hills and getting out of fields. But again im satisfied.

 

Again as was sayed 3.9 or 4+ gear ratio is all the better. Hardest thing to do is get going, specialy in a soft field. Miles are almost no issue. The pete had 850,000 some and had never been overhauled. The one i got now has 650,XXX some and no worries, pulls like a champ. Yep check the tires!! A full set of rears could cost you 2 grand easy, thats quite a bit of money when your only spending 10000+ or what ever it might be. 

 

IF you find a truck you like see if you can get a mechanic to look at it. Heck even throw in a couple hundred bucks if your really serious about the truck, its well worth in the end. Perhaps even agree with the seller to have it looked over and maybe split the cost if you decide to by it. I did that with a truck i sold in the past. Watch out for trucks from other farmers, some think they only put a few hundred or thousand miles on a year that they dont have to take care of them as well. I bought mine from a construction company, i have records for it since they bought it new in 1990. Talk about being able to sleep at night. Took it in this fall after having it for a year. No problems just oil and grease.

 

Well hope i helped and good luck let us know what you end up with.

 

Again i would suggest renting a trailer first if youve never pulled one before. After running a 30' for several weeks you wont believe how short it feels. All i could think about was how much capacity i was losing, went to the 34'. On several of our fields that was pretty much the limit to be able to get in and out of.

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Veteran Contributor

Re: First time semi buyer

Yes 34' trailer is a nice general size.  I thought about a 28' this summer just for the fact that most of them come with one hopper and I thought that would be a nice way to go and quickyl dump 700 bu.  Engine size "There is no replacement for displacement" of course our first diesel tandems were OTR trucks converted in the late 80's with 855 Cummins in them so I've never been to the prom in a yugo but I have driven quite a few of the smaller motors.  The Detroits 11.1s and 12.7s I think ??? Seem to be ok compared to other smaller displacement motors.  Just because you have a large displacement motor doesn't mean you have to run high HP, all our 855s are set at 300-350.  We run all 9 speed Eatons with the low hole transmission.

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Veteran Contributor

Re: First time semi buyer

I have a 34' DMF and the hoppers both come down to the middle, so you can open both hoppers at the same time on the same pit, because you have the two doors it has a larger open area than just one, i think its actually faster.

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Advisor

Re: First time semi buyer

You have to watch the trailer length. I have a friend with a conventional Freightliner..and a 34 foot frame dump trailer. He's been stopped twice in the last couple years...because his wheelbase isn't quite long enough to scale 80,000 lbs. when you figure it out according to the bridge laws. To add insult to injury..in Ohio..if you're loading untitled grain out of your field or farm bin...you can exceed the 80,000 lb. limit by about 5%...but if you are overweight, they figure your fine from the 80,000 lb. limit. So if he can scale 78,000...he gets fined for around a 7000 lb. overload....

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Senior Contributor

Adding goose neck ball

Has anyone ever added or seen a truck that had a goose neck ball behind the 5th wheel plate?   Someone told yesterday that it can be done.  I guess that would make a difference with me since I have cattle yet and I could justify the cost of semi a little easier.  

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Veteran Contributor

Re: Adding goose neck ball

Yes it can be done, how you do it depends on how you like it and how your truck is setup. 1 inch plate layed accross the farm and bolted in place will do the trick. We did it with a F700 that we took the bed off of and use it to pull our hay trailer.

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