1988 Chevrolet Dually C-3500 w/ DCT 28′ flatbed trailer

1988 Chevrolet Dually C-3500 with 454 V8, automatic, 2-wheel drive, crew cab (Bonus Cab) and graphics by Choo Choo Customs.  On the registration for model it says “ChooChoo”.  The box has been cut down to a “flat bed” to make room for the 5th wheel RV-style hitch.  It also has a gooseneck ball plate that could be used if the 5th wheel was removed.

The trailer is a DCT made trailer, 28′ usable flatbed, 8′ wide, bed over tires.  It has a tandem single wheel setup, rated for 7000 lbs per axle.  Total capacity of 14000 lbs, minus the 4000 lb dead weight of the trailer, so 10,000 lb net usable.  Not sure how the capacity of the truck adds to this?

The truck and trailer combination popped up on an internal company auction and limited to employees only.  It was open bid auction, and most of the bids will typically come in right at the end.  My good friend Alan R was kind enough to help me out in this, as me being in China made it a bit difficult to bid live.  He was also willing to take a bunch of pictures and send over to me, and also help to give an honest opinion on the condition of the combo so I could come up with a number for bidding. Then I relied on him to make a good decision on when to stop, and fortunately bidding didn’t go very high.  End of May 2014, and I was the proud new owner of the truck and trailer combination for a total of $2,650!!!!!  That to me seemed like a really good deal!

Here’s some pics:

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I arrived back in the US in July 2014, and once I was at the company, Alan and I went for a test drive with the combination.  It started right up, and seemed to run okay, but once we started going down the road with it, it didn’t want to get over 45mph.  The company used it as a yard truck to move material and finished goods between campus buildings, so high speed wasn’t really an issue.  We stopped and checked everything, and stuff seemed okay, but it just didn’t want to go any faster.  Also, the transmission was shifting really weird, where it wouldn’t shift up unless I let off on the gas.  Seemed to indicate a possible transmission issue.  Not good, as I had a 120 mile roadtrip in front of me to get it to my shop.  We then drove a few more miles and circled back to the company, and unhitched the trailer to eliminate that as a culprit.  It still did the same thing, and just didn’t seem to have the gitti-up that a 454 should.  I was suspecting the transmission as a possible problem, and if they’re low on tranny fluid, it can really affect them.  The dipstick did seem to indicate that, but the dipstick was a bit short, and had a very small area to show the correct level, and fluid was not showing on it.  We headed down to the local Wal-mart…. Classic redneck style…. and stopped off at the auto-parts side of it.  I got a couple of quarts of trans fluid, and a couple of gas treatment bottles, as I knew it had been sitting for somewhere between 6 months and a year.  Dumped those in the gas tank, added a quart of transmission fluid, and then took a for a spin……. Whowzers, what a difference that made!!!!!! It shifted way better, and it easily got up to speed, no problem now!!!  Headed back to the company, hitched up the trailer, and took it for another test drive.  It had no problem pulling the trailer at 65mph!  So now I knew that at least I had a decent chance of driving as some semblance cruising speed for the drive home.  We also checked all the lights, and discovered that the trailer lights all worked, but the truck had no working brake lights, turn signals or running lights, and that it wasn’t feeding them to the trailer either.  So effectively no lights for the whole operation.  That meant I needed to make sure I got this combo home in the daylight hours.  The headlights did work though!

On the way home, I planned to stop off at a steel supplier, and stock up on some steel shapes, might as well make use of an empty flatbed!  A week later we started the drive up to the shop, with my wife and baby following in another truck.  We made good progress, and stopped off at the steel supplier.  They were backed up with orders and it was going to be about an hour wait.  So I dropped the trailer in their back yard area, and headed to an auto parts store.  I had noticed a couple of things on the longer rider: battery charging seemed a bit erratic, and the temperature was climbing a little higher than I would have liked.  I turned the heat on full blast, which helped, but wasn’t exactly fun on a warm July afternoon.  At the autoparts store, I had them check batter/alternator, and it turns out the battery was bad (not surprising) and that the alternator was ok but the internal voltage regulator was bad, again, not surprising.  We also checked the clutch fan, and that was insanely free turning, which meant it was pulling air through the radiator effectively, and causing? the cooling problem.  For sure a strong contributing factor.  Back in the store, I  picked up a rebuilt alternator, a new clutch fan, fuel filter, spark plugs, and spark plug wires.  The last 3 items are just preventive maintenance items that it’s probably due for anyway.  Should also help with some performance too.  I didn’t replace any of the items, but hopped back in the truck, headed back to the steel supplier, picked up my order of steel, and then we proceeded on the rest of our trip.  Later on the trip, we stopped off at a rest area so baby could be fed and changed, and I did another check.  The wife had noticed a whiff of smoke from the rear passenger tire, so it was a good time to check that.  The dually tires were okay, and so were the trailer tires, hubs were cool too.  I’m suspecting that the smoke may be caused by a leaking brake wheel cylinder on that wheel on the truck.  I’ve had that happen on a previous vehicle, but with a lot more smoke!!!!  I did notice that the front seal of the rear end is leaking oil, so that will also need some attention.  Inspection over, we continued on, and made our arrival with no further events!!!  Not to bad, a 13o mile journey with a truck and trailer that hasn’t seen highway speeds in years, and no breakdowns to speak of!

I didn’t have time to make any repairs to the truck or dig into any of the wiring yet, so that will have to wait until my next trip home from China to the US.

Here’s a few additional pictures:

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To really make the trailer usable for me, I’m planning to add a beavertail or dovetail to the end of the trailer, and also some fold down ramps.  Need to have an easy way of getting a vehicle up on that trailer!  Or a piece of heavy equipment!  I’ve done some preliminary CAD models, but after looking at a few other trailers while back in the US, I’ve got some more work to do yet before I start cutting steel and welding.  Here’s a few teaser pics of what I’m thinking:

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Nothing is set in stone, so constructive/helpful feedback is welcomed.  I’m also entertaining the idea of adding a 3rd axle to help maintain the proportions/center of load of the trailer.  Maybe it’d be an air dropdown tag?  Lots of time to think about it!