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Service truck size?

Discussion in 'Shop Talk' started by Outtahere, Jun 22, 2016.

  1. Outtahere

    Outtahere New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2016
    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    British Columbia
    Hey guys, first off thanks for all the info I have picked up lurking here the last while! You guys know your stuff.

    I am in the beginning stages of planning, and working toward buying a service truck and starting my own business. I will have more questions about that side of it I'm sure, but today my question is simpler;
    What are the pros and cons of different classes of service truck? I have noticed that pickup based trucks (f550, etc) seem to sell for similar cost to larger ones (f750, etc) The smaller trucks seem to have more miles for the year too... Obviously payload will be different, but aside from that, what would make you choose one over the other?

    Thanks guys.
     
  2. catfixer

    catfixer Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2013
    Messages:
    168
    Location:
    Pittsburg, KS
    It all depends on what you're doing and how far you travel in my opinion. If you do more just minor repairs or travel a great distance, you might want to consider the 5500 size. Then again if you travel a great distance, you may want the room for all the extra tooling to ensure you are able to bring with you everything you may need. Will you be doing line boring or other services which will require large tooling that takes up a lot of space? If you work in a large city, a larger truck could be difficult to maneuver about and get in and out of job sites. Smaller trucks also make working out of town more comfortable in my opinion as you can park them at any hotel, and I feel they are less fatiguing to drive. Another thing is, every 5500 truck I've been in was overweight with just my tools in it. If running local, will you have a shop close by where you can store tooling that you do not use as often and go and get if needed? There's also maintenance and operating costs associated. I've never sat down and looked at side by side numbers on actual running costs, but at least the way I see it, big truck parts are higher and they are going to burn more fuel. That being said, having a 8 or 10k lb crane vs being limited to the smaller 6500 or so lb cranes of the 5500's can be helpful on larger jobs and machines where you need to do heavy picks with your boom fully extended. Another thing to consider is CDL requirements. If you have a truck tagged over 26001 lbs You'll need a class B and depending on your maximum radius worked from the shop may need to fill out log books. 5500's are a hot item recently and it seems prices are inflated for them quite a bit. I spec'd out a new 5500 dodge and a new f-650 and the prices were not that far from each other. I've heard guys talk about buying a 5500 and growing their business, then switching to a bigger truck, but then you have to worry about buying another truck and selling the old one which can be a hassle. I'm not sure what the insurance difference would be between the two sizes but that may also be something worth taking into consideration. This is something I myself have tossed around in my head for quite some time and can never seem to come up with a concrete answer. I know some guys that run out of f-350's with no crane and do wonderfully and make due with what they have. Then you have guys like Tom V who have these gorgeous land yachts equipped with every tool a man could dream of having, and are able to do pretty much anything on the spot. No matter how big the truck though, we'll always say we don't have enough space lol. I know I said a lot without saying much but hopefully this will give you some things to consider before making your purchase.
     
  3. Junkyard

    Junkyard Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2016
    Messages:
    3,298
    Occupation:
    Field Mechanic
    Location:
    Claremore, OK
    What type of machinery are you looking to work on? What is your budget for a rig, tools etc? I've run several different size trucks over the years and even now in a 750 with a good size crane it's not enough. If you have to borrow money to buy the truck a 5500 or 550 is usually easier to borrow on. Most banks are scared of bigger trucks and won't lend unless you're a good established customer. Parts for a bigger trucks are usually cheaper, more aftermarket support and more competition due to all the interstate transport etc. Needing a CDL isn't a big deal, in fact it sometimes makes insurance a little cheaper. Which is another cost, there's a lot to properly covering your donkey in today's litigious world!! I wouldn't touch a 550 or 5500 with several 100k miles on it unless I knew the previous owner well. On the other hand, a 750 or bigger with 300k doesn't concern me quite as much. It's not used up and all the components are designed to be replaced easier than a smaller rig. You can start small and inexpensive but it has to be cheap enough you can save up $ and move onto a bigger rig without the worry of selling your current truck. That's how I started, a $2,600 ford with a service bed on it. Still have it and even knock around in it from time to time. I think it resents me for getting the 750 haha. Tires and brakes on the 750 size trucks last a lot longer. More safety factor as well if you happen to overload it a little. Something I've never done......NOT! I'm the king of throwing all I can in mine to save a trip. Just starting out I think the ability to purchase and insure your truck will make the decision unless your independently wealthy and just want to play in the dirt and grease!



    This is the kind of question that will get a different answer from each guy. Here's what I believe is solid advice regardless of the direction you go.....avoid loans as much as possible. If you do borrow, only get what you absolutely have to get to make things happen. I have seen lots of good guys get overextend and lose a good deal. Resist the urge for new and shiny. If you're working to see if something is worth investing in be very conservative with your expected revenue and shoot high with your costs. Seems painfully obvious but you'd be surprised how many guys strike out on their own and can't tell you what their cost per hour or mile is. This forum will tell you all you can digest and then some.

    Junkyard.
     
  4. Seabass

    Seabass Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2011
    Messages:
    78
    Location:
    Canada
    I have an f350, build my own deck and boxes, put a welder/gen that powers my air compressor. It works well and is a good set up. No crane. Could it be bigger, yes but I make do. If I need something really heavy lifted I can line up something or there is usually another piece of equipment to help out. Some people do cube vans as you have an enclosed area to work inside. I work on construction equipment in Kelowna. I suppose the type of equipment you work on will determine your needs, and what you need to carry.
     
  5. nowing75

    nowing75 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2009
    Messages:
    812
    Location:
    coatesville indiana
    I am pretty happy with mine wish it were a little longer maybe a bigger crane but other than that it works well image.jpg
     
  6. Outtahere

    Outtahere New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2016
    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    British Columbia
    Nowing75, nice truck! I'll put that on the 'one day' list!

    I realize there isn't a one size fits all answer, I was looking for opinions, so thanks for those guys. As far as a CDL, its not needed here until you get up to tandem drives. That said, I have it, so no big deal.

    Budget - small to start. My hope is to start out on my own while still keeping my day job, and hopefully transitioning to my own thing, while possibly contracting for my current employer. I am trying to make the budget work on 20hrs/month to start out, and build the business from there.

    As far as what I hope to work on, construction, aggregate, and logging are pretty common around here, as well as trucks, but I'd prefer to stick to the dirt side of things. Some sort of crane would definitely make life easier, but I am not really sure what capacity would be best. Right now I am spoiled with a 20 ton
     
  7. Outtahere

    Outtahere New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2016
    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    British Columbia
    Overhead crane in the shop. Sorry, not sure why my post split...
     
  8. catfixer

    catfixer Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2013
    Messages:
    168
    Location:
    Pittsburg, KS
    my last truck was a 5500 dodge with a 6500 pound auto crane. I never came across a pick I couldn't lift, but I also didn't have to pick anything like dozer blades, large excavator buckets, roller frames and such. Outside of stuff like that, I feel a 6500 is a pretty good size for cylinders, engines, valves, transmissions and other commonly lifted components.
     
  9. FSERVICE

    FSERVICE Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2009
    Messages:
    635
    Location:
    indiana
    start out with what you can afford without borrowing any $$$$$$!!!!!! if it gets slow then you don't have to worry where dinner is going to come from... depends on how big of things you have to work on, its different if you are working on Cat 375s & D8s or if you are working on bobcats!!! if you only have 1 customer that has a 375 then you don't need a KW or pete (unless you get a great deal)
     
  10. rmllarue91

    rmllarue91 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2014
    Messages:
    687
    Occupation:
    field technician
    Location:
    northeast pa
    We run 90s medium duty trucks a 4700 and l8000 and gmc topkick all under 200 hp and they are slow but we get paid by the hour they take the abuse of quarrys gas pad roads you name it with minimal maintenence very simple to work on and parts are cheap I could by all the parts to rebuild motor for what a set of injectors cost in a newer diesel. Tires last 3 to 4 years and in the last six years I've lost a few hours to being broke down. Now I would love to build a pre emissions pete or kenworth with 10000 pound crane 14 foot body all 70 inch cabinets locking rear ac... and on and on. But for us in the northeast you can buy them cheap they don't rought out like 550s much more storage and are very cheap to own. My 06 f350 not so much lol
     
  11. CableDW10cat

    CableDW10cat Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2016
    Messages:
    42
    Location:
    montana
    F450 or f550, 99 to 03 with the 7.3 is my current answer. Did the trailer thing, went to a chevy tonner, to a chevy c60, kenworth t600, freightliner classic and back to a crewcab f450. Higher maintenance costs, easier getting around jobsites, easier to park at hotels, grocery stores, gas stations. Biggest plus is driving past the scales. Back seat is clothes, shelving, drawer unit, food, service manuals, safety stuff etc. FMB out of California makes great boxes to customize your own bed. I travel alot, the size makes it easier, imo.
     
  12. KRW

    KRW New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2016
    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    BC
    CableDW10cat is pretty much on the money.

    I'm in BC as well. That vintage 7.3 Ford F550 is what I started out with, and I miss it. I currently have a 2006 C5500 Duramax 4x4 with a 13' Accurate deck and it's FULL. The Ford got around better in the mud, was more comfortable to drive, and easier to work on.

    In your case, it really depends on whether or not you need 4x4. The cost goes up astronomically once you are looking at 4x4 trucks larger than the "pickup based" series.
     
  13. Jonas302

    Jonas302 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2015
    Messages:
    1,051
    Location:
    mn
    20 hrs a month? Thats one day in construction mechanics world that is barely going to pay license and insurance on a big service truck best thing you could do is put your skills and tools in a pickup and build your reputation and business with jobs that you can handle with rig which trust me is a lot of them its more about skills and knowing how to use what you have than who has the biggest crane or toolbox in the shop
     
  14. quackattak

    quackattak Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2010
    Messages:
    188
    Location:
    Oregon
    I have a 91 F350 4x4 Diesel with a 11' reading box. Have 3 clients & they all have forklifts & loaders around so I have never had a crane, I don't even pack a welder anymore, just use there's. The best benefit of this setup is the 13-14mpg & the old IDI's are really cheap to work on. This is my 20th year of being independent, all the work I got in the early years was from being financially flexible enough to tell someone I would do it for half, don't have to do that anymore, but I could.
     
  15. fast_st

    fast_st Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2010
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    Occupation:
    IT systems admin
    Location:
    Mass
    I was at a ritchie bro auction a couple months back, they had a slew of freightliner trucks single and tandem axle 5th wheel stuff that went for really cheap money, I want to say $15k each and they looked great with maybe 50-80k miles on them. The class 7 and 8 trucks weren't selling fast, heck a late 80's pickup went for almost as much as a peterbilt. A class 3/4 might work if you're doing light work but 6/7 might be had for less money and it'll have bigger truck parts, better brakes and the like.
     
  16. td25c

    td25c Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2009
    Messages:
    5,251
    Location:
    indiana
    Pretty hard to go wrong with a one ton set up with service bed , crane ,torch , & welder .

    Would not worry to much over crane capacity as if you are working on the bigger equipment chances are the customer will have something on site that will help assist on the heavier items .

    I started out with a 1974 Ford F 350 , she made money & got the job done . https://www.heavyequipmentforums.com/showthread.php?11651-Flat-tire-on-the-fiat


    Today I approach a wrench job depending on customers need at the time .

    Might just throw a few needed tools in the back of the Jeep & head to the job .

    We don't try to carry the whole shop with us 24/7. Generally just take the the call and make a decision on what to bring to the fight depending on the issue at hand from what the customer is describing .

    Other jobs might have two trucks & trailer . http://www.heavytruckforums.com/showthread.php?263-Some-Holmes-750-action