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Truck selection

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  • Truck selection

    This isn't quite a welding question, but I think there will probably be some folks on here that could help me make a decision. I'm looking at getting a new work truck here sometime this next year. My question is do I stay with the one ton heavy pick up chassis, or step up to a small, low profile class 5 truck. I was looking as something like a 4400 series International or one of the business class Freightliners. I would want to spec it out with no more than a ten foot flat bed with all the usually amenities such as GN ball and tool boxes. I may even go ahead and recess mount a winch in the front of the bed and possible a rolling tailboard. Right now, a 3500 will do just fine, but I was thinking down the line for pulling some bigger trailers and equipment. One of the major drawbacks would be maneuverability on some job sites and the fact that I probably wouldn't be able to afford 4WD on the bigger chassis. Just thought I'd see if anybody on here has made that transition before and what your opinion would be. SSS

  • #2
    If you have the money I would recomend one of the International XT truck series.


    • #3
      Exactly what type of business are you in? How much do you anticipate driving the truck (annual miles?).

      I was in exactly the same position you were about ten years ago, working off an overloaded Ford F350, getting close to replacement. Considering F450/F550, upwards of $30,000, plus the time and cost of building a bed. Started looking at used medium trucks (class 5 and 6). Took a couple years, came upon an IHC 1900, already set up as a welding rig, with a 400 amp Miller on it, for $15,000. DT466, air brakes, common components throughout. Maintenance for the most part has been nil, tires, brakes, and parts are common and relatively cheap compared to those on Ford/GMC class 4 or 5 products and much easier and simpler to work on. Did have to do an in-frame, but that was my fault, the same problem on any other truck/engine without wet sleeves would have potentially been much more expensive.

      I have found the big truck is so overbuilt for what it does, things just hold up much better.

      Manuverability hasn't been a problem, customers either make adjustments or they are replaced by new customers who appreciate the service I can bring them with the big truck.

      For me, anyway, this was the only logical business decision to make. Much more money has ended up in my pocket due to my buying this truck, rather than a new F450/F550 class truck.
      Attached Files


      • #4
        I really like the basic idea behind the 450/550 idea, but have some of the same reserves that you had, calweld. (I've looked at the XT, but I could buy a Z06 and a work truck for that kind of $) As the guy that does 95% of his own mechanical work, I just can't bring myself to buy a V8 diesel that you can't even see the engine when you open the hood. Now if only Dodge built a 4500, I'd consider it with a straight 6. Granted, the power stroke is just a repackaged VT 365, but in a 'nash you can at least get to it! I have put an untold amount of miles behind at DT466E in the 47/4900 trucks. It'll never rip out a drivetrain with too much power, but it's as reliable as the day is long. As far as the $ side, your right. I've found some decent straight trucks for about half that of a new 550, and there's no comparison to the durability. I just have to be able to work off the truck and can't have a real high bed height (36" max).

        To answer your question, I'm in primarily residential general contracting with some side ventures into light commercial. I'd say the truck would get around 10-15K miles/year mainly due to the fact that my work is in about a 30 mile radius of the house. Right now I average dragging about 12K lbs around with the loader and attachments. The bad part is that I'm not dedicated to just one area of construction. I have to be extremely flexible and tackle new problems/situation on a daily (if not hourly) basis. Basically, I have to be able to pick up everybody else's slack when they leave and something little needs to be done. There are days I'm a weldor, carpenter, mason, painter, and trashman....and that's just before lunch. I would like to be set up with something that I could permanently leave my basic mobile welding outfit (bobcat/torches/air comp/hand tools) on, plus be able to drag around equipment. When things get a little less hectic, I'd like to branch out and start doing all of my own dirt work. This of course would mean I need something to haul a D-5 and track-hoe around with.

        So, there's my situation. It's not going to be an easy answer and there are pros and cons to all sides. Ideally, I'd have my compact truck for running around, a nice 3500 decked out with the small stuff and then a dedicated move/haul truck for the equipment. But then I wake up and realize there's no way I can justify that much equipment to maintain, insure, and most of it would be sitting. I can only be in one place at a time (despite what some customers/contractors think I should be able to do).

        Last edited by SkidSteerSteve; 01-07-2007, 04:34 PM.


        • #5
          Originally posted by SkidSteerSteve View Post
          Now if only Dodge built a 4500, I'd consider it with a straight 6.
          You're about to get your wish!! Check out this article at!!


          • #6
            Thanks BigEd,

            I haven't seen this info yet. I'll check around and see what else I can find out. I won't be serious about getting something until next fall sometime, but I'm starting the process now. The only thing I didn't like about the article was the line "Eventually, a Mercedes diesel and the Chrysler automated manual transmission may be added." Is it going to be a true Mercedes, or a rebadged Detroit like Freightliner is putting in the new M2s? Whatever happened to the days of Ford being Ford, Chevy being Chevy, Dodge being dodge. Maybe I'll just get me an Interforevyodge. It'll either the best of all worlds, or more likely the worst of all worlds



            • #7
              It's the same in the big rigs (I'm a truck driver). Peterbilt, Kenworth, and Freightliner (commonly called Freight Shaker) are teaming up to build a will be called the Peter Worth Shakin'!!


              • #8
                Talk about the American way of doing something...Did you know that Freightliner was started by a freight company (I think it was Consolidate Freightways AKA Corn flake) because nobody else would build a truck they wanted to handle the west coast runs. So they just said fine, we'll just build our own. And the rest is, as they say, history (now it's headquartered in Germany )

                Words of wisdom from the road:
                Keep it between the ditches,
                Hope the chicken coups are closed,
                Don't run the front door in Ohio,
                Make sure your New Mexico card is valid,
                And remember to fill up in the morning so you don't have any pesky time stamp when you really got there

                Last edited by SkidSteerSteve; 01-07-2007, 09:01 PM.


                • #9
                  Yep, it was definitely Consolidated Freightways. I had some friends that drove for them out of the Angola, IN terminal. Consolidated is gone now, as far as I know. I believe CCX is in their old terminal. CCX, I believe, is one of the companies that Consolidated spun off, that paid less than CF did. I don't worry 'bout the rest of the stuff you mentioned now, I run a local job shuttling parts into the GM pickup assembly plant in Fort Wayne. I drive 34 miles to work, shuttle 7 - 9 loads a day into the plant, driving at the most 30 miles, and then drive 34 miles back home. Too bad it doesn't pay as good as when I was running the road, but I don't miss being gone all the time, I actually have a life now!



                  • #10
                    Hi steve you do want to go with the low pro. but stay away from the chevy 45-5500 class the drive trains have a little difficulty and the rear fuel tanks are huge and get in the way if you want a hoist or hitch at the back. the KW and internationals are a good bet and the frames are usualy heavy enough to do a crane on them also. how ever the 4500-5500 chevy do come in 4x4 modles also its the save gvw as a f450 and 550 with a huge cab on it. hope this helped


                    • #11
                      First of all, thanks for the input. I think I've somewhat talked myself in a particular direction. I'm going to kinda layout my business plan for the next couple of years and somebody stop me in they see a major red flag

                      Right now I'm doing business with a ranger and and a 3500. I've kept the ranger because I had it and it was payed for. It has been my errand truck. The 3500 has been great, but it's not big enough to pull what I want to eventually do and I don't like the idea of squeezing an 8X8 flatbed into a spot at the mall.

                      Any of you that are self-employed on here know that one of the great things is that your personal and professional lives don't have real clean cut boundaries. You also know that one of the worst things is that your personal and professional lives don't have real clean cut boundaries.

                      So, here's my idea. Sell/trade both the ranger and the 3500 and get a new 3500 crew cab, short bed, single wheel. I'll build a 6X6 custom bed to go on the back. This will take care of the errands and personal transportation as well has handle the low end of the equipment needs. I've already pretty well developed a good trailer system for the different job needs. That way I can just hook on whichever trailer is need for a certain job (welding trailer, enclosed for carpentry, dovetail for tractor, GN for loader and so on). After all, when you figure the true cost of two pickups (insurance, maintenance, and the lost time/expense of driving back across town to get the whatchamacallit that was in the other one), a little savings on fuel isn't that big of a deal. Then, once that is set up and functioning, I'm just going to bite the bullet and get a "real" truck. Probably pick up a used (but decent) dump truck with a pintle hook, or maybe a used single drive day cab tractor to handle the heavy moves. With that style of truck I don't have to compromise on whether or not to get air brakes, what size truck, trailer, can I work off the bed height...... I'll just find something with a 3406 CAT/13sp road ranger and call it good. This way I'm somewhat streamlining things and providing better definition of equipment usage.

                      I'm at that point in my business that I'm either going to nickel and dime things or step up to the plate and pay with the big boys. I've already got $100K of my own and $300K of the banks turned into it, so what's a little more?

                      Of course this all is dependent on what the next 9-12 months of business is like and a thousand other factors. But, you have to at least have a plan and goal or otherwise you're just flying blind and end up in chapter 13 court.

                      Last edited by SkidSteerSteve; 01-09-2007, 08:34 PM.


                      • #12
                        Could you further define what you need in a truck, lots of information has been given here. I may buy a heavy duty truck at this rate.



                        • #13

                          Well, I wish I could accurately define what my needs are, but they seem to change about every six months Maybe some year things will settle down and I'll streamline things, but for now, I typically need a commuter truck that can still pull a few things and then something I can roll a 30klbs dozer up on and head down the highway. Anyway, here's my suggestion. If you are constantly needing something equivalent to a 350/450/550 style truck, then go ahead and move up to 25,500lbs medium duty trucks. For one thing, you can get them with a myriad of options and configurations that you can't find on the consumer end trucks. You can get them with 19.5 or 22.5 inch diameter tires. I'd stay with the 22.5 and put a low-pro tire on them. With that set up you can get air brakes. I think you can get air with the smaller ones, but it is a special drum and shoe combination that is expensive and not very common. As calweld put it, the trucks are so overbuilt that they basically idle along at the work load you'd be putting on it. Another good thing, it that if you want to buy used, there is a pretty good market out there to pick from. From my searches, I'd expect to spend around 15-20K for a cab/chassis that was about 6-8 yrs old with 150-200K miles on it. Of course, there are newer one, but you'll spend more. If you find one that has too long of a wheel base, don't fret. It is extremely common to chop the frame down to the desired length. In fact the local dealer I talked to said that they when they order a straight truck just to have in inventory, they order the longest wheel base and have it cut down if the customer wants it. All the do is unbolt the rearend , roll it forward, drill new holes and rebolt it. Then cut off what frame you don't want. It's a lot better than having one too short and trying to stretch the frame with all the welding considerations. Feel free to shoot me any questions you might have. I may or may not be able to help, but I'll try! SSS
                          Last edited by SkidSteerSteve; 01-12-2007, 07:12 AM.


                          • #14
                            My truck was actually built as a 32,800 GVWR truck, same brakes, running gear, frame as a class 7 or 8 tractor. Simple, common, and (relatively) cheap parts and tires.

                            View from above
                            Attached Files
                            Last edited by calweld; 01-12-2007, 09:42 AM.


                            • #15
                              My needs are hard to define also. I just don't have needs as big as yours. If I need one of those super trucks, I would have a small Ford or Chevy also, for when I am need to go to the grocery store and need to get two bags of stuff. That would be cheaper in the long run for me.

                              With me, I need a van that affords me some luxury for traveling to job sites that I can drive for 12 or more hours, can double as a sleeper if necessary and can haul 1,500 pounds in the back. Plus has to get O.K. mileage.

                              Now I need to haul a trailer with stuff up to 1,200 pounds if the van is full.

                              This sumer I will probably buy a pickup truck like a F250.

                              Then a larger trailer and then some kind of trailer for camping out at job sites. My work varies greatly and I like to vacation some times after the work is done.



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