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Post Info TOPIC: RV Hauler Truck Body Selection


RV-Dreams Family Member

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RV Hauler Truck Body Selection


 

A number of people here have RV-hauler bodies on their tow trucks. Three companies I’m reviewing below (probably in order of choice). Have heard opinions (preferences) here about Utility Bodywerks and Classy Chassis, but not any rationale of one over the other.

 

www.utilitybodywerks.com/

 

classychassistrucks.com/haulit.htm

 

www.highwayproducts.com/highwayman-rv-hauler-tow-body

 

 

 

A few questions.

 

a)      What did you consider in features, quality and cost in your selection?

 

b)     Who did you pick and why?

 

c)      What options do you think are of value (you would buy them again)? [e.g. air suspension, bed liner, extra fuel tanks, bed steps, tailgate, backup camera, etc.]

 

d)     How much weight does this body/features add to the chassis-cab?

 

e)     Did you trade-out the spare tire for the extra fuel tanks? Feel OK about not having a spare tire (use Coach-Net or Good Sam roadside assistance)?

 

f)       Slide-out shelves for tool-box, generator, or compressor?

 

g)      Have you ever loaded anything large in the bed with the 5th wheel hitch removed (ATV, UTV, etc.)?

 

h)     Drain hole(s) in the bed (prevent water pooling) – good or bad idea?

 

i)       Grounding braiding between chassis and hauler body (I’m a HAM radio guy)?

 



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We went with Classy Chassis up in Valparaiso. A little more expensive than Utility but IMO a better build. Plus Classy orders the truck for you and Utility doesn't…the advantage of this is that you get a bill of sale for the complete price so depending on your insurance company that might be an advantage.

I've looked at both…and Classy's beds just look better…superior finish welding and grinding of the seams. Tom Martin is real good people to work with.

If your loaded 5ver weighs over about 19-20K…I would definitely put in the LinkAir rear suspension that Tom has as option…you only need it on the rear as (again IMO) the air suspension on the front makes the ride mushy and really isn't necessary for ride. Our unloaded weight on the front axle (5500HD 2016) is 5,580 and the towing front axle weight is 5,940 so only another 60 pounds on the front axle with towing. We got the two tone paint job on the bed and lower panels on the truck, and 60 gallon aux tank. If I was doing it again…I would seriously getting the aux tank sprayed with the black bed liner rather than leaving it with the chrome finish…but other than that wouldn't change much.

Don't know the total weight of the bed…but in general a hauler bed weighs about 800 or 1000 pounds more than a pickup bed and a pickup bed is in the 600 pound range…so I'm guessing the total bed weight is 1500-1800. In any event…with our 24,500 pound New Horizons in tow, full fresh/black/gray tanks, full fuel, and tools and such in the hauler bed we still have almost 2000 pounds of rear axle capacity left…every other limit we're even better off.

Tom puts the spare on the rear of the bed behind the hitch…this means you need to raise the pin a little high, back the truck under almost to the hitch, then lower the pin to hitch…after a couple of times doing it that seems pretty normal and doesn't really add any hitching time. Our friend Bill Napier had the guys at MORryde build him a spare rack under the basement on his NH…but then it's a FrankenNewHorizons…and most of us other NH owners don't have the space under the basement for that. If you do…then that's definitely an option to consider but we don't really mind having the spare up on the bed.

We did not get the slide out rack for our generator…if you do then the generator pretty much fills that entire side front compartment. We only have a Honda 2000 and I keep it, 5 gallon gas can, and various oils/fluids/etc in the same compartment. If you have the Honda 3000…then it's a lot heavier…150 or so pounds instead of 40…so in that case I would likely have gotten the slide and a long enough cord to just leave the generator on the rack when it was being used rather than take it in and out of the compartment.

Drain holes in the front of the bed are standard with Classy I think…don't know if it's universal but at least on our 2016 5500HD with the air suspension and the bed level with the suspension in automatic the front of the bed is 1/2 inch or so lower than the rear so water does tend to pool in it a bit…hence the drain holes are a good idea.

Grounding strap…don't know if there's one installed or not…but if not and you want one Tom will be happy to put one in.

Bed steps aren't really necessary with Classy…the bumper gives a nice step on the rear and Tom puts fold down foot rests on both sides.

RAM will put a second OEM fuel tank in…but it takes up the area where Classy puts in the air reservoir for the LinkAir…so I would skip that and go with the aux tank in the bed.

RAM ships a backup camera with the 5500HD as an option…Tom installed ours on the bottom of the headache rack…Bill has his (I think) on top of the aux tank. It's really only a guide anyway…but if it's on the tank then one can see the hitch to help…but I can see our TrailerSaver TSLB2 through the rear window so that's not really a problem for me.

Haven't loaded an ATV in ours…but our hitch is permanently bolted down and the spare would be in the way for us anyway…but barring that and if you removed the hitch and folded down the little tailgate on the back of the Classy bed then rolling an ATV up on it doesn't look like it would be too difficult. 

Whether to go with Classy or Utility (sorry, I know nothing about Highwayman)…it really comes down to how price sensitive you are. We we were going with Classy anyway…but a ****tail napkin level comparison of ordering a 5500HD and getting it delivered to Utility vs just telling Classy what we wanted would have save us somewhere between 5K and 10K with Utility…but then in my opinion you get what you pay for to some extent…and if you're spending 100K on a truck then 5K is (largely) just rounding error.

I do know that I've had at least 3 dozen folks lust over our 5500HD/Classy bed combo in the year we've had it…and while that might happen with Utility beds as well I've never had a Utility bed owner tell me it happened.

 



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RV-Dreams Family Member

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Thanks Neil and Connie for the wonderfully detailed reply. Immensely helpful.

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We choose Utility Bodywerks. If we were to make the choice again today, we would choose Utility Bodywerks—we can’t say enough positive things about our hauler body and the service we received. To be fair, we have friends that own both (i.e., Utility Bodywerks, Classy Chassis) and I believe all of them are happy with their choice. We did not look into Highway Products.

We initially considered Classy Chassis, but not only were they more expensive but they were not willing to make some of the modifications that we were considering. We also contacted a friend who previously worked with Utility Bodywerks, to gain their insights and confirmed they were still happy with their purchase.

Regarding Neil's commend about a bill of sale for the complete price–that is something that Utility Bodywerks can also provide (i.e., that was something that was offered when we purchased our truck). We ordered our Ram 5500 from Sorge Dodge in Goshen, IN (Bart was the salesperson, a great guy)—they seamlessly coordinated with Utility Bodywerks. You have the option to use any truck dealership you want.

Some of the options we chose were:

  • Elite all-aluminum hauler body. (Note: I particularly like the 81” crossbox storage compartment that opens on both sides and from the top.)
  • Kelderman 4 link rear and front air suspension
  • 75 gal l shaped auxiliary fuel tank, rhino lined
  • Locking fuel door cover, painted body color
  • Locking spare tire tie down
  • Rhino lined bumper surface, with painted bumper and stainless steel corners and trim
  • Rhino lined deck surface and sidewalls inside bed
  • Power point in two cabinets
  • Ram backup camera on rear body panel
  • Stainless steel fold-down bed step
  • Tie down system using an aircraft system

We carry a spare tire that is mounted behind the hitch as well as have a 75 gallon auxiliary fuel tank. We have been happy with that choice.

We do not have slide out shelves. Thinking about it, we would not have installed them—but we have a built-in generator and store our compressor in the RV.

Similar to Neil, our hitch is bolted in. Since we fulltime (i.e., regularly use the hitch) and it would be a real pain to take out—we did not even consider installing a hitch that we could remove.

We have never had an issue with pooling water, so at the very least Utility Bodywerks and (per Neil’s comment) Classy Chassis’ design addresses that potential issue.

 



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2014 New Horizons Majestic 40'
2014 Ram 5500 HD with Utility Bodywerks hauler body

Enjoying this chapter in our lives!!!



RV-Dreams Family Member

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Thanks Lynn and Ed. Really appreciate the details. Sounds like both Utility Body Work or Classy Chassis are good choices. I have spoken with and had email exchanges with Tom Underwood at Utility Bodywerks a couple of time to get more details. Cole Brokenicky of New Horizons steered me in the direction on Utility BodyWerks first. I will contact Tom Martin as CC also, as it sound like he has some good options also. Need to get the RV finalized before making the hauler decision, but moving all the piece along in parallel.

I had kicked around the idea of loading the UTV on the truck bed initially to transport it to offroad locations and not having to bring the toy hauler. But will the challenge of removing a heavy hitch every time, I have abandoned the idea and will need to look at other options - folding trailer!! Plus many UTV are a bit too long for the bed and would require some sort of extension.

I like the idea of how you mounted the spare tire. Would want to keep the spare with the truck rather than in the RV, for non-towing travel. Tom Underwood was recommending not having a spare (too heavy to change for a 60+ person!! 150lb) and just relying on Coach-Net Roadside Assistance. Just made me a little worried about not have some degree of control!



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Both Neil and Connie and Ed and Lynn are good friends of ours so we agree with both their opinions.  However, {Grin} having now purchased two Classy Chassis trucks from “Tom” I’d recommend Classy.  We seriously considered Utility for our first purchase but liked the Classy product and business requirements better.  Utility builds a fine bed. We think the Classy Chassis version and experience is “better.”  Ford / Chevy – maybe.  {Grin – again.}

I’ll let Neil’s comments stand except to add this one point, while I know Ed and Lynn are very happy with the Utility product and rightly so, the 8 Classy sales I have been indirectly involved with have also been very happy.  (No, I don’t get commission – sort of wish I did in one case LOL.)

All that said, if you’re going with a 29K trailer I’d seriously consider an HDT.  While we absolutely love the Ram 5500HD Classy version, if I had a 29K trailer I would not be using a 5500HD or an F-550.

 

Bill



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Bill & Linda
2014 New Horizons Majestic F37RLTSS 96

2016 RAM 5500HD \ 4-Wheel Drive \ Link Air Ride
Classy Chassis RV Hauler Bed Conversion \ Aux Fuel Tank 



RV-Dreams Family Member

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IrishRover wrote:


I like the idea of how you mounted the spare tire. Would want to keep the spare with the truck rather than in the RV, for non-towing travel. Tom Underwood was recommending not having a spare (too heavy to change for a 60+ person!! 150lb) and just relying on Coach-Net Roadside Assistance. Just made me a little worried about not have some degree of control!


 Yea, Tom Underwood at Utility gave me the same spare pitch concerning the spare tire.  He's wrong. "Ask me how I know this."  Even if "you" can't change it think about how long (and $$$$) it will take to round up another tire "in the middle of no where."  ("Ask me how I know this.")  Without the trailer a 5500HD doesn't need a spare if one goes out.  Just take it off and proceed on 5 tires if solo.  You only need 4 tires on the truck without the trailer's pin weight.  (I've done the math - a lot of math with trucks.)  So if the spare is with the trailer that's the only time it could be "required."  Call road side service and they change the tire if you can't.  But one has to have a spare tire to change it. :)

Bill



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Bill & Linda
2014 New Horizons Majestic F37RLTSS 96

2016 RAM 5500HD \ 4-Wheel Drive \ Link Air Ride
Classy Chassis RV Hauler Bed Conversion \ Aux Fuel Tank 



RV-Dreams Family Member

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Thanks Bill. I see the voice of experience here!!! The only added challenge with driving without a spare while not towing, is it a drive tire was the one with the flat. But that could be handled with a double tire removal (spare from rear). Roadside tire rotation. Sounds like a another fun experience! biggrin



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Nice to know that Utility gives you a filling price bill of sale…either they changed since we talked to them or I misunderstood. Bill's right though…this is mostly a Ford vs Chevy debate. 



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RV-Dreams Family Member

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Whether a 60+ can change a tire depends on the shape of the body…true its harder than changing a car tire. It both Bill and I have done it and he's older than I am. He is right that having the spare for somebody to change if needed is still a good idea. I wish we could have the under the basement truck spare rack he has…but our standard frame NH Majestic doesn't have the space that his Frankentrailer has. He's got a one of a kind cross between their Summit and Majestic models because of what he and Linda wanted in their trailer and it's got space for that rack to go. 



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IrishRover wrote:

Thanks Bill. I see the voice of experience here!!! The only added challenge with driving without a spare while not towing, is it a drive tire was the one with the flat. But that could be handled with a double tire removal (spare from rear). Roadside tire rotation. Sounds like a another fun experience! biggrin


 Yea, actually if I lost a rear tire I would just take it off.  I'd have no issue driving with one side single and the other with dual.  I'm going for a repair, not a cross country trip.  FWIW, I done the mental tire fire drill and I just can't see any real problem with my plan.  And yes, I've done roadside tire rotation, on the trailer, more than once but not because of tire failure - bearing failures - yes plural.  G114 "H" tires don't blow out.  But they do get damaged in a total Nev-R-Lub bearing failure.  "Ask me how I know this" and why we don't use them anymore.  Welcome to the campfire - and I do recommend your trailer only run on "H" grade tires.

Bill



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Bill & Linda
2014 New Horizons Majestic F37RLTSS 96

2016 RAM 5500HD \ 4-Wheel Drive \ Link Air Ride
Classy Chassis RV Hauler Bed Conversion \ Aux Fuel Tank 



RV-Dreams Family Member

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Neil and Connie wrote:

Bill and I have done it and he's older than I am. 


 Anytime there is a lot of hard work to do I am always way older then Neil. :)  He's always wiling to help the old man out.



__________________

Bill & Linda
2014 New Horizons Majestic F37RLTSS 96

2016 RAM 5500HD \ 4-Wheel Drive \ Link Air Ride
Classy Chassis RV Hauler Bed Conversion \ Aux Fuel Tank 

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