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Purchasing My First Large Truck

Discussion in 'Large Equipment' started by Ryan@OTT, Mar 7, 2017.

  1. Ryan@OTT

    Ryan@OTT ArboristSite Lurker

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    Hi everyone,
    I'm looking at buying either a chipper truck, or a bucket truck. I've been in business for a few years now, and always have more work than I can handle during the season. I love being an arborist, and I love climbing. My operation has been very profitable, as I maintain an extremely low overhead by doing all the climbs myself, and using a pickup truck and a 6x10 dump trailer with some raised sides, I also do all my own cleanup. As I said, this has been very profitable, but it's time to buy something I can chip into, and get more work done. I enjoy running a small show, and being very involved. I don't like to have more than 2 employees at a time, and I prefer to have just one. I feel like the next logical step is a bucket truck with a forestry body, but I am however an arborist, not a mechanic. I'm 27, have no debt, and no financial obligations. I've also saved a lot of the money I made with such a low overhead, knowing at some point this expense was coming. I'm more than willing to finance something for somewhere between 50k-70k, and feel like that should be enough to get a decent truck. I would just like to get the right one. I do have experience flying a bucket, but not much in maintenance other than greasing it.
    I feel like either one is a good choice, I'd just like to know what you guys think as the experts who have been there.
    Did you buy a small chip truck and wish you'd bought a bigger one? Or a big one and thought it was overkill? Have you bought a bucket truck with a forestry body? Did you ever regret having the boom for maintenance reasons? How old would you say is to old, and how many km's is to many km in your opinion? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated, and I apologize for how long this post was lol.
    Also, here are two bucket trucks for sale in Ontario,Canada (where I am). I was wondering if you guys would steer towards either of these trucks, or away, and for what reasons.
    http://www.kijiji.ca/v-heavy-trucks...ck/1242902694?enableSearchNavigationFlag=true
    http://www.kijiji.ca/v-heavy-trucks...ck/1241146825?enableSearchNavigationFlag=true




    Thanks in advance, any advice is GREATLY APPRECIATED.
     
  2. lone wolf

    lone wolf ArboristSite King

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    Well to me the first one sounds way over priced!

    Here is an idea of prices http://www.schmidysmachinery.com/truck-inventory/category/forestry-trucks-and-off-road-equipment
     
  3. Ted Jenkins

    Ted Jenkins Firewood by TJ

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    You should be able to buy a chipper truck that is bigger than what you need for under your budget brand new. My thinking would be that these would have the least amount of modifications required. Buying brand new means for quite some time your maintenance will be minimal. Of course it could be used for pulling your trailer. A boom truck with a bucket is going to be way more complicated and maintenance is quite another matter. They always need something and rarely are cheap. You will not be able to rely on a boom truck every single day even if it is brand new. So getting some body you really trust with your mechanical needs should be a major priority. Also if you are really happy with where you are then maybe working with another contractor from time to time and not buy a boom truck. Thanks
     
  4. ValleyFirewood

    ValleyFirewood Addicted to ArboristSite

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    They come up at auction here once in a while. Had one last year, mid 2000s International crew cab with 4x4, dumping chip bin Like 8ftx12ft 5ft tall, Altec boom. Had a tool bin between the cab and bed too for saws and other stuff. Was owned by the power company, they don't keep stuff more than 10 yrs it seems. (No wonder electricity is so expensive!)

    It went for $18k.

    I bought a brand new CAT skid steer grapple, cost 7-8k new for 2k. Would have got it for maybe $1200, but 1 other guy really wanted it too.
     
  5. greengreer

    greengreer ArboristSite Operative

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    I would buy the nicest chip truck and chipper I could afford and forgo the bucket. You're budget will buy you a decent forestry truck and chipper but for my market it's not worth it to have the bucket.
    Not having any debt is a beautiful thing, especially when you're just starting out. A decent truck and chipper can be had for alot less than your budget and you will still see a huge increase in productivity.
    Remember you always have to feed the beast, the more equipment and expenses you have, the more you'll have to be out selling work.
     
  6. Ryan@OTT

    Ryan@OTT ArboristSite Lurker

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    Thank you all so much for the quick and great advice! Ted and greengreer especially. I've been struggling with this one all winter, and I really needed that nudge in the right direction. I'm looking at financing a dodge 5500 HD with a brand new aluminum chip box and the 6.7 cummins turbo diesel engine. It's a 2014 with 113k km. It will be nice not having to worry that a hugely expensive repair is coming soon. Seems like it'll make me money for awhile, and really make my days exponentially better.
    Again, thanks for the great advice!
     
  7. jaystihl

    jaystihl ArboristSite Operative

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    Hey Ryan, i too have contemplated this decision. Something to keep in mind and helped me make my decision on a bucket or chip truck , is accessibility. Are you able to access your trees with a bucket truck on the majority of your jobs? Also yard damage, hydro leaks on someones property, busted sprinkler lines from the weight of the truck. most bucket trucks worth buying are going to be 50 ft. plus, which means they are heavy. These ate just a few things to keep in mind. I have been in business 15 years and have 5 employees. still don't have a bucket truck, simply because we can't get to most trees in our area with a large bucket truck. If i need to , i rent a tow-able boom lift and push it into back yards with my mini skid. For the most part, we climb. You can make great money climbing those trees other guys can't get to with a bucket truck. remember that! As I get older a bucket becomes more enticing , but you are young brother. Climb while you can, build your business, then get a bucket. Dont get me wrong bucket trucks definitely have their place and can make you a ton of money, but if i were at your point in business, buy a good size chipper and a decent chip truck that can hold a substantal amount of chips. Watch the money roll in! Keep up saving money and keep reinvesting. Like it was mentioned above, you've got to feed the beast! Good luck
     
    moondoggie and greengreer like this.
  8. Millerhill520

    Millerhill520 ArboristSite Lurker

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    Ryan,

    I started in a similar way to you. Except, I am very mechanically inclined, and can do all repairs myself. But, when I am out making money doing tree service, a mechanic in the pocket is like gold. Make good friends with a good truck mechanic. There are specialists in the Arial lift equipment trade that do all forms of mechanic work. Some are reasonable, some are not.

    As far as your quandary. You are 27, and young. But, keep in mind that climbing is one of the hardest things I have seen on the body. And climbing every day, day in and day out for the next 10 years is gonna be a workout, but also you are gonna feel like you are worn out as time goes on too! (10 years is an equipment loan timeframe, that's why I thought that..and I am 37 now)

    Our first bucket truck was purchased a few years into tree work. It cost 21,000. 55 foot ex asplundh vehicle. We owned it for 7 years and had to do a brake job on it, few hydraulic hoses. It had 21,000 miles when we got it. (Keep in mind that's not hours, that's miles). The bucket needed replacement once, as well as a pin. Just worn and cracked, not human error. At the 7th year, we put in a new clutch, and sent it off to contract work for the state with a crew. It got a fresh paint job, and worked 7 months. We replaced that with a 65 footer, and then brought it home. It did local residential work for 6 months, and then I sold it to a smaller outfit last year for 18,500. They haven't had to do a thing to it, and it's got 44,000 on odometer, and still earning. Long story short, my 65 footer cost 35,000, and needed a new motor, (employee error), but, that first truck of mine owed me nothing when I sold it. It made me money, over and over again. I re couped the 21,000 the first year I had it. It was a forestry truck, 10' chip dump. I have a chip truck as well, but usually, the smaller chipper went out with the forestry and did the jobs I knew they could fit the chips in that one load and return to dump at end of work, not having to dump throughout the work day.

    So, if you are loading a dump trailer and loading brush, and its 6x10, you'll fit more chips into a 10' chip body than the truck you have been loading. Get at least a 12" chipper and a forestry package. Go 55' minimum, or else you are wasting your money because you can't reach the trees you need to reach, and do the jobs you can do with the bucket faster and make money. Anything higher, well, you already climb. And climbing out of a bucket at 55' is easier than starting on the ground. (We did it often)

    Our first chipper was a morbark 2100, and we got that from a d.p.w. Sold that to a former employee just starting out for 2000 when I bought my first 18" chipper, and he has it still.

    Ex asplundh trucks are everywhere. Some are lemons, some are really low mileage, good solid trucks. Some sit in a core area and wait for work, storms etc. most just pruned lines from 10 years and go on their way. Try to get one in a private sale. We bought ours from a state trooper who bought it from the company (asplundh) he use to detail for daily. He just knew it was a low mile truck. Any equipment company is gonna charge a lot more for it. You should get into a forestry package/12" chipper, (15 would be really nice!) for about 30-35k. Buy a very good chipper, or buy a brand new one, you'll have it for years and can put it behind anything you upgrade to in the future.

    A chip truck can always come later. A cab and chassis can be had cheap, and a chip body put on, or even a nice 6 wheel dump truck and you build your own box on top.

    I wish you the best. I scaled back last year due to some family losses and I will never go back to runnin numerous crews. It's exhausting. Exciting but exhausting. you hand the right direction already going for you. Just make sure you take time and enjoy life as well. Good luck and be safe!
     
  9. LRTS

    LRTS New Member

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    Hey all, I wanted to chime in and sort of pose a question. I just scooped up my own first bucket truck. I'm a full time arborist for a company here in Maine, but decided to pull the trigger on a truck for my side business. I grabbed up an '01 international 4900 with an Altec 60' work height, material handling boom. 83k miles with a very nice running DT530, and Allison Automatic for $12,000. The boom is super rugged compared to the booms on our "forestry Package" trucks at work. The material handling jib is actually super slick and sort of allows you to safely "cheat" as an aborist, plus I can load logs with it into my dump trailer. The outriggers on this truck are also super stout. I suppose the only drawback I am seeing is that is heavier than forestry trucks, but I am investing in some good mats to help with the lawn situation. I'm just wondering why more of us don't grab these up. I have found many more of them for sale cheaper on the used market. I felt this was alot of truck for the money. I figure...no payment, good shape....hopefully get a good few years out of it. What do you guys think?
     
  10. Scars2prove-it

    Scars2prove-it ArboristSite Operative

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    Most tree companies don't use this type of truck because the booms don't break over center and it doesn't have a chip box. This limits accessibility into a tree and necessitates driving a separate chipper truck to the job.

    To the original poster:

    When I got my first bucket truck, my business grew faster. It is something I wish did sooner. Sure, there is more expense and maintenance but the increased productivity and the lessened strain on your body is worth it.
     
    lone wolf likes this.

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