M916 for RV Build Project

oldMan99

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"M916 for RV Build Project"

I have been looking for a truck to convert into a really big RV. Thought about the Duce or the 5 ton and then with more homework I think I have found what I really want.

With some searching (And some help) I figured out that the M916 is what Freightliner calls the FLD120. This is basically a full blown 18 wheeler tractor. This size chassis would actually be really good for my RV Project and I have seen a few companies that utilize this size truck to build what is basically a gigantic class C camper. They can be titled as a RV so you do not need a CDL.

There is a SS member that has some 916 cabs for sale and I am thinking I would really like a crew cab. (See the link below)

So I poked around and found this:

It is a 2003 FLD120
Factory Crew Cab
4x6 (not the 6x6 like the M916)
Has 183,822 miles
And the asking price is .... $35,900 (OUCH!)


Pictures below, links provided just in case...











In Soni's “Bad ass truck” thread I saw his M916 and it is totally awesome. I also saw in his thread where he has the big tires/wheels. I also saw the link to the 916 at the auction that was a real POS.

So... Now comes the questions...

Where can I get a USMC M916? (In the same general condition as Soni’s!)

Does anybody have any leads?

How do I go about getting one from the auction?

Where do I find out about the auction?

I have done some Google searching and have found dozens of sites that say the sell surplus military equipment and trucks but like everything else, I'm sure most are full of crap or blowing smoke. Somebody help me out and point me in the right direction... Please..

Also, since I will probably not need all the weight capacity of the 916 and I really like the look of the large "Super Single" type wheel/tires and I have seen that it can be done I want to do it once I get one.

What is the weight capacity of those tires? (Will it lower the GVWR on a 916?)

What size tire is the largest that will fit and will that end up giving me gearing problems? (Can I use the big 52’s?) (I know Soni has the 16R 20’s but I’m not sure how tall those are??)

I assume (Hope!!) that since this is really a FLD120 it will ride all day at 80+ on the interstate? (And not have to be at a billion RPM or otherwise hurt the truck) (From the sounds of what Soni said in his thread, I believe that should not be a problem, I just want to make sure.

Lastly… I see the hood of Soni’s truck is pretty different than the civilian FLD120. I have also seen several of the treads about making a crew cab from a Duce and understand most of what would be involved. Is the cab in this link the same cab as on Soni’s 916? I ask because the hood shown looks like the normal civilian tild forward hood with the military lights added. 5 ton front clip and cab. GREAT CONDITION!!!!!!!! edit: m916 - Steel Soldiers::Military Vehicles Supersite If so, I think I’ll probably buy one of them and crew cab it and then build my RV on it.

Thanks in advance to all who assist!

Standing by!!
 

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Derrickl112

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The m916 is made by Am General. not freightliner.

BUT! the m916a1/a2 are made by freightliner. (see picture)

I was talking to the guy who has the cabs in the classifieds, and he was talking about scrapping them so they may already be gone.

Now about the speed....they have a 4 speed allison automatic in them and i think they only go about 45mph....but i could be wrong on that.

Another thing is that the freightliner m916's cost much more than an Am general 916. the last ones sold at auction for bewteen $20k - $24k
 

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M920

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Ok....I know you said you are going to call me so I don't have to type so much....lol but here is one thing right of the bet that I would like to clearify; The M916 that I own is NOT a Freightliner. The later version called the M916A1 A2 and A3s are built by Freightliner and are based on the FLD120. My M916 was built in 1979 by a company called "Commercial Crane Carriers" or short "CCC", out of Tulsa OK, then a subsidary of AM General Corporation. Thats why it has the "CCC" logo on the grille and AM General on the side of the hood. It is a completely different truck though....the cabs are NOT EVEN CLOSE TO THE SAME and not many parts interchange between the two trucks.

Just wanted to point out to you that if you are looking for the "Freightliner FDL120 M916" you have to look for the -A1, -A2 or the -A3 variant of that truck.
Btw....the M916-A3 version has the same HD 4070, 7 speed, double overdrive Allison tranny as my USMC M916. ;-)

P.s. here are a few pics of some M916A1s.....
 

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oldMan99

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Polk County, Florida
The m916 is made by Am General. not freightliner.

BUT! the m916a1/a2 are made by freightliner. (see picture)

I was talking to the guy who has the cabs in the classifieds, and he was talking about scrapping them so they may already be gone.

Now about the speed....they have a 4 speed allison automatic in them and i think they only go about 45mph....but i could be wrong on that.

Another thing is that the freightliner m916's cost much more than an Am general 916. the last ones sold at auction for bewteen $20k - $24k
You guys are making my head hurt.... Sigh....

OK, so it looks like I was wrong but not completely wrong. At least this explains why the hoods are different. So If I read this correctly, the one Soni has is a M916 with no extra letters/numbers after it?

And am I right in understanding that Soni's truck has an automatic and in his thread I read that because it is a USMC version it has lockers in all 3 axles. I "THINK" that is what I am looking for. (The one you included pictures of and the one in Soni's "This is a bad ass truck" thread.

Below are examples of what I want to build. All of these are WAY fancier than what I'll be building. I'll be using a refer box (Think U-haul box, but insulated)and building the RV inside it and leaving a lot more ground clearance. I plan to paint it OD and make it look like something that people who do not frequent this website will think is original MV.

The deal breaker on the 916 would be the speed. I really want to be able to cruise the interstate a 70. Having a reserve speed available up to 80 or so would be nice but not mandatory. I might be pulling a 5-10k pound trailer as well. Have not decided to build with the spot for the 5th wheel hitch or not as of yet.

I had thought I wanted to build the crew cab version but when drawing it on paper the extra cab space seems to take up to much room that could be used for the living quarters and the extra passengers can just ride in the back. So I'll probably save the work of building the cab and just put the box behind the current stock cab.

So, can somebody please verify the speed issue with the largest tires I can run w/o hitting/rubbing or causing other problems.

Any guess on the MPG?
 

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Darwin T

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one of the guys on here, i think from louisiana, had a 5 ton with a box with slide out sides i think he sold. but it was ready to camper out, i almost bid on it. i think the picture is his avatar. very sweet truck. i don't remember the M#.
 

98hd

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An M916 (AM General) will top out at 55mph unless you have the rare USMC version that Soni has.

You can put 16x20's (53" tall) and get more speed, but I think it will top out around 69-70mph. That and the tires are only rated to 55mph in the first place.

You could swap out the gears in the axles to a numerically lower set to gain more speed (I think Soni did this on his M920), or even swap in a trans that will get you a lower OD ratio, and try and find some large commercial tires rated for the speeds you want to run. That's alot of work though.
 

Derrickl112

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the 916 is no where near long enough to do what your pictures show..maybe an M820 (as pictured above) would better suit your needs. but again, these MV's wernt built for speed.
 

oldMan99

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the 916 is no where near long enough to do what your pictures show..maybe an M820 (as pictured above) would better suit your needs. but again, these MV's wernt built for speed.
Even the M820 is not long enough.

Frame extension. A very heavy duty over built one. For this I have access to a guy that builds both heavy duty trailers and off road race trucks and has welding certifications up the wazoo. I have faith that however he builds the extension it will be every bit as sturdy as the strongest part of the vehicle. He is not cheap, but he is very very good.
 

oldMan99

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An M916 (AM General) will top out at 55mph unless you have the rare USMC version that Soni has.

You can put 16x20's (53" tall) and get more speed, but I think it will top out around 69-70mph. That and the tires are only rated to 55mph in the first place.

You could swap out the gears in the axles to a numerically lower set to gain more speed (I think Soni did this on his M920), or even swap in a trans that will get you a lower OD ratio, and try and find some large commercial tires rated for the speeds you want to run. That's alot of work though.
I want the USMC one because of the 3 lockers, because I like the MC and now because it appears I need it to go the speed I want to go.

As for the speed rating on the tires... I'll have to look into that for sure!
 

Derrickl112

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Even the M820 is not long enough.

Frame extension. A very heavy duty over built one. For this I have access to a guy that builds both heavy duty trailers and off road race trucks and has welding certifications up the wazoo. I have faith that however he builds the extension it will be every bit as sturdy as the strongest part of the vehicle. He is not cheap, but he is very very good.

do you really need 6x6 though? because i would hate to see a nice m916a1 get cut up...
 

Derrickl112

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lockers SUCK on pavement. not so much when going straight, but when you make a sharp turn you can definetly feel them dig. just out of curiosity...how far off road are you going to be taking this? sure it will have lockers and 6 wheel drive but i dont think something 40ft+ long will do that great. its more likely to high-center too. just my2cents
 
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oldMan99

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Just got off the phone with Soni. He answered a boat load of questions for me. We are definitely looking for a M916. Not the A1, A2 or A3 (But the A3 might work if we don't the ... No A?)

I thought I had read in his "Bad ass truck" post that the USMC version had 3 lockers, he corrected me, it has 2, both in the rear, open front.

We discussed the speed issue and I think it will be fine and if not, I'll just learn to live with it. I'll be selling the big winch on the back since it would not be real convenient to have to run the cable through the camper to use and It will make an odd looking decoration in the living quarters. So if you need a gigantic 45,000 pound winch let me know...lol.

If you know where there is an M916 for sale please let me know so I can check it out.

I'll make a build thread once I get the truck and start on it.

Thanks!!
 

wreckerman893

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Not meaning to be a smart azz but here again we have someone wanting to use a MV to do something it was never intended to do.

I have no probs with modifications (I had a bob duece) but you have to weigh the cost and effort against what you are going to end up with.

The M916/920 and larger trucks were designed to haul heavy loads at low speeds over various terrains in harsh environments by drivers that may or may not be experienced.

The suspensions on these vehicles will beat your teeth out on anything except a silky smooth asphalt road (concrete roads have expansion joints.....bam, bam, bam, bam...everytime an axle passes over one).

Anything in your camper box will take a beating.....if it is not bolted down or secured it will end up on the floor. Wiring and piping will constantly flex and eventually you will have issues.

You can swap the springs for airbags and put air ride seats in the cab but the ride will still be rough. The cabs on these trucks are spartan....very little insulation or sound deading....better than a deuce or 5 ton but not much. They did not come stock with air conditioning (at least the ones I drove did not) and in the summer they are ovens.

Unless you just want the cool factor of a MV I would go commerical.

Buy a big crew cab (insert brand name here) truck like the utility companies use for right-of-way work and have it modified. Many of them are available with all wheel drive through dealers.

You might also want to consider a fire truck....most of them have bigger cabs and AC. Remove the fire fighting body and install your camper. Many of them had long wheel bases and you see them on GL occasionally.

It prob won't cost anymore than modifying an MV and you will end up with a more user friendly truck.

And ref the wheel base.....if you do plan to go off road the shorter the better. Units that had the big expando vans and semi-trailers always looked for flat ground to set up in order to avoid have to drag vehicles over rough terrain. Been there, done that.

Just my input for what it's worth.
 

oldMan99

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do you really need 6x6 though? because i would hate to see a nice m916a1 get cut up...

For what I’m building I want the extra stability and support of the second axle in the back. Especially in soft terrain, a single will sink in a lot faster than the tandem. Additionally I want the extra drive from the second axle. So, I guess, yeah, I want/need it. For factory built RV’s of the size I will end up with about 50% have tandems, of those I’m not sure of the percentage that one is just a non-powered tag but for a rig that will be going off road, that is not only useless it is a negative.

Cut up? Nobody is cutting anything up. We will be adding quite a bit to it. If it makes you feel better think of it as an Un-Bobbed truck. Think of it as an M820 (See the picture somebody posted on page 1 of this thread) on super steroids (length wise – it will not have expandability) but that is what it is going to end up looking like, only much longer. (OK, we will be cutting the frame and moving the removed rear section back about 20-25’ and inserting new frame members to properly re-attach it, but I don’t really call that “cutting up”. The final wheelbase will be roughly the same as the longest ones that are in the sample pictures. I am thinking it will not be going through to many fast food drive troughs, especially with the 30’ trailer behind it.

lockers SUCK on pavement. not so much when going straight, but when you make a sharp turn you can definetly feel them dig. just out of curiosity...how far off road are you going to be taking this? sure it will have lockers and 6 wheel drive but i dont think something 40ft+ long will do that great. its more likely to high-center too. just my


I have driven lockers in the rear before. No problem. How sharp of a turn you think I’ll be making in a 40ft+ rig? Probably will not be making any “U” turns on 2 lane roads. How far off road? It only takes 8’ if you pull off the highway in the wrong place. I have been in “Improved” established normal regular every day campgrounds and seen big RV’s get stuck in a regular spot.

This is to say nothing of the time it rained for a week straight, got the ground good and soft then the creek overflowed and there was 6” water in the entire campground. It took several huge wreckers over a day to pull everybody out. I plan to go to races, drive down to the beach, out in the woods and so forth.

I’m not making a rock crawling 4x4 (Been there, done that, more than once!) but even my regular civilian DD has been a 4x4 for the last 30 years. I hate getting stuck and remaining stuck. I intend to be as self reliant as possible so this means yes, I need all the wheels on the ground I can get and I need them all capable of turning at the same time and this means lockers.


 

tigger

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I have to agree with Wreckerman on this one! Thies trucks were never designed to be fast, as far as i feel it is not safe to drive them at high speeds.If you want to be able to go fast look at civy truck. Thats just my 2cents
 

jesusgatos

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...here again we have someone wanting to use a MV to do something it was never intended to do.

I have no probs with modifications (I had a bob duece) but you have to weigh the cost and effort against what you are going to end up with.
Maybe I missed it, but I don't think the OP was asking for this kind of input. He seems to know what he's looking for, and just wants some help finding it. So he's planning on using it to do something it was never intended to do. So what? What's the problem with that? Is it ruining a collectible MV that you're opposed to, or the 'foolishness' of something that doesn't make sense to you, or something else?
 

oldMan99

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Not meaning to be a smart azz but here again we have someone wanting to use a MV to do something it was never intended to do.

I have no probs with modifications (I had a bob duece) but you have to weigh the cost and effort against what you are going to end up with.

The M916/920 and larger trucks were designed to haul heavy loads at low speeds over various terrains in harsh environments by drivers that may or may not be experienced.

The suspensions on these vehicles will beat your teeth out on anything except a silky smooth asphalt road (concrete roads have expansion joints.....bam, bam, bam, bam...everytime an axle passes over one).

Anything in your camper box will take a beating.....if it is not bolted down or secured it will end up on the floor. Wiring and piping will constantly flex and eventually you will have issues.

You can swap the springs for airbags and put air ride seats in the cab but the ride will still be rough. The cabs on these trucks are spartan....very little insulation or sound deading....better than a deuce or 5 ton but not much.


Your not being a smart ass, I asked for advise. If I like the advise you give me or not is not your problem, it is mine. As for making the truck do something it was not designed to do, your partially correct. Of course that means your also partially incorrect. What I want to do is see if it is feasible to take the base vehicle and redesign the aspects that do not fit my needs to the point that they do fit my needs. If that can feasible be done, great. If not, I’ll have to look for other options, most of which cost a whole lot more and may or many not overall work as well or be as heavy duty. But, I’ll never know unless I look into it and ask all the questions and have people like you give me their opinion. Of course opinion are like….. However, I came to SS because there are people here that have specific experiences that I do not. It is those experiences and the lessons learns from them that I am trying to tap into. So, either way, I respect your opinions and than you for them. I do however reserve the right to use or ignore them and weight them in my decision making changes in the plan or canceling it completely as I go… J

As for the airbags and air ride seats, I would have to disagree. With a rig the size/weight/length of what I’m planning there has got to be a lot of room for improvement. I’m just trying to find the best way to get that improvement without spending a small fortune trying to invent the wheel all over again by myself. That’s why I’m here asking questions.

They did not come stock with air conditioning (at least the ones I drove did not) and in the summer they are ovens.

One way or the other, mine will. I don’t mind installing it.

Unless you just want the cool factor of a MV I would go commerical.

There is a certain amount of cool factor involved. Also a certain amount of “If I have a MV (even a highly modified one) then I get to go play with the guys that have the fun toys at the various rallies.. if I want to. I’ll probably end up with some MV’s that actually look much more like the way they cam from their respective factories at some point as well.

Buy a big crew cab (insert brand name here) truck like the utility companies use for right-of-way work and have it modified. Many of them are available with all wheel drive through dealers.

I have been looking at those as well. Most of them have a bazillion miles and are beat to crap. Not all, but most. Those that are not are usually to expensive. Also, I think I may abandon the CC idea because as I noted, for this project it eats up to much of my wheelbase/frame and I would rather use that space for living quarters than extra doors.

You might also want to consider a fire truck....most of them have bigger cabs and AC. Remove the fire fighting body and install your camper. Many of them had long wheel bases and you see them on GL occasionally. It prob won't cost anymore than modifying an MV and you will end up with a more user friendly truck.

Well I was a firefighter/medic for several years, I do know my way around a fire truck…lol. Actually I had not thought of that but it might work. Most FT’s are not all axle drive though and I am trying to avoid that conversion. (Actually except for the small brush trucks and the huge airport CFR units, I can’t remember ever seeing an all axle drive FT.

And ref the wheel base.....if you do plan to go off road the shorter the better. Units that had the big expando vans and semi-trailers always looked for flat ground to set up in order to avoid have to drag vehicles over rough terrain. Been there, done that.

As noted before, I am not wanting to build a trail rig. I want a RV that I’m not worried about getting stuck every time the tires are on anything other than pavement and the ability to get to some non-traditional camping spots. My last RV was 34’ and had no real ground clearance. I really missed the ability to do… much of anything at all that was not located on pavement.

Just my input for what it's worth.

It is worth quite a bit! Thank you!

 
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