Bucket trucks gas vs diesel operating expenses

Discussion in 'Business Management' started by TreeMonkee58, May 24, 2018.

  1. TreeMonkee58

    TreeMonkee58 ArboristSite Lurker

    Aug 11, 2017
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    Coastal NC
    Truck owners, I am shopping for a bucket truck and with the rising price of fuel trying to figure out which is mire economical to operate.

    I’m a big fan if diesel but it’s going above $3. Any input is appreciated.

  2. Luckysaturn

    Luckysaturn ArboristSite Member

    Oct 6, 2017
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    I've been in a few gas buckets at work. If they are not a squirt boom they are severely underpowered in hilly areas.
  3. The Singing Arborist

    The Singing Arborist ArboristSite Member

    Dec 22, 2017
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    +1 with luckysaturn. I drove a gas one for a company I used to work for. It was slow, weak, and underpowered. The one bright spot was it had a secondary motor for powering the hydraulics. That way it wasn't necessary to run the truck's engine with the PTO.

    I never have driven a diesel buck truck, but every time I got to a hill, I wished I had something stronger.
  4. northmanlogging

    northmanlogging The gyppo's gyppo

    Jan 17, 2012
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    western washington
    Diesel, more power, better mileage, more reliable, cooler running.

    Gas... better availability at the pump... but if yer in an ethanol zone you will need to run premium or be working on it constantly.
  5. Del_

    Del_ Life is but a song we sing.

    Feb 18, 2002
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    N/E GA
    I've had a gas and a couple of diesel bucket trucks. All three were underpowered on the road.

    Of course I like the diesels the best but one problem was that if the diesel motor is run slow is that it can 'wet stack'. Meaning fuel condensates on the cylinder walls and gets into the motor oil. I was told by several people that rpm's of 1,100 would keep the cylinder walls warm enough so that condensation did not occur. I'd also run radaitor blockers in the winter time to keep diesel motor temperatures up. Running at 1,100 resulted in faster than I liked boom movement but you learn to work with it.

    On the gas unit, which was a 1982 Asplundh AR50 I believe, it had an 18hp two cylinder cast iron Wisconsin engine as a pony motor. It drove the boom hydraulics and also an air compressor for the bucket pneumatic system. We didn't use it so we took the air compressor off of the truck and put a little larger pulley on the Wisconsin so it would rev slower at working rpm's. That Wisconsin was the perfect driver for the hydraulic system. It ran just a little over half speed and put out a nice deep sounding sound and you could tell from the bucket as the load changed on the motor. It also charged the main truck battery system.

    One problem I do see with a single diesel motor in a bucket truck is that when the motor is driving the hydraulics only that the diesel is way large for the task and is often run in rpm ranges that are not the best for the large motor.

    The Wisconsin motor was air cooled but I've often though if it was water cooled and shared the cooling system of the main motor just how nice it would be to have heat in the cab and an already warmed main motor when it came time to move around. I've seen small Kubota diesel pony motors but they always had separate cooling systems from the main diesel.

    My last of the four bucket trucks that I've owned was an 1985 International with a 65ft. High Ranger non over the center boom. DT466 motor, 5 speed, dual speed rear. It didn't have good ground speed either especially in hilly areas but ran like a top.

    Just a little remising from a 62 year old tree guy. Today I climb everything but am doing much less work by choice. Kind of sliding in to home plate. I do have a Raptor gas powered ascender which was largely responsible for me selling my last bucket truck. Don't miss that truck a bit.
    ray benson likes this.
  6. Griff93

    Griff93 ArboristSite Operative

    Apr 23, 2011
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    Huntsville, AL
    One thing to consider is the longevity of the engine. I have a diesel bucket truck with a 3126 in it. I'd go diesel again. It's better suited for this kind of use than a gas engine.

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