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New trucks / Old trucks

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by J & B Lawncare, Sep 4, 2005.

  1. J & B Lawncare

    J & B Lawncare Member
    Messages: 88

    Hello New to the site. I notice so far most opeerators seem to use newer trucks. I am looking to break into the snow service most likly next (2006) season. My questin is does anyone bring start with rebuilding a older used truck for the sole perpose of a work truck and design it the way you want it? Most posting seem to be about newer trucks. I am leaning towards a short bed 70's-80's big 3 truck and rebuilding the drive train, gutting and rebuilding the inner cab, paint the outside and build a custom flatbed for salt/sand and a drag plow with a typical front plow also. This would be geared towards my client list. I feel that I could do this at a lesser cost than buying a newer truck, please the layout of the equipment would be just where and what I need.

    What do you guys think? Good? Bad? I just looking for input.

    J & B Lawncare
  2. derekbroerse

    derekbroerse 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,377

    Nothing wrong with working with old equipment IF you have the skills, tools, and time to take care/repair/maintain them yourself. My newest worktruck is my personal '82.

    If you have to pay someone to repair them you will keep yourself in the poor house....
  3. hickslawns

    hickslawns Senior Member
    Messages: 613

    Nothing wrong with that. My first truck was a 78 Chevy. Started as a rag, and I fixed it up a piece at a time. First drivetrain and cab repair. Then fenders, bed. . .long story short, I still use the truck for plowing. Mostly plowing only now, but it is still respectable to look at and most don't realize it is nearly 30 years old. I also use a 79 and 86 Chevy, and a 77 Ford which I just rebuilt. We keep one newer truck for the mowing crew that also plows. It is an 03 2500HD. My 2000 Dodge ext cab 4x4 dually goes out with the bobcat/plow combo when we are behind. Newer trucks also break down, but they cost more to fix. As we grew, I found with payroll, fuel, insurance, and maintenance it was pretty close to the same money to subcontract as it is to use your own trucks. that has worked for me for many years. If you can work on your own stuff, I say "GO for it!"
  4. NJ Plowman

    NJ Plowman Senior Member
    Messages: 799


    We run a about a dozen 85-87 GMC 2500 3/4-Ton 4x4 Pick-Up trucks. We buy them from various sources and rebuild them strictly for use plowing snow and salting. We replace the front wiring harnesses and then add dual batteries. Then we go through every system one at a time (fuel, cooling, electrical, exhaust, suspension, etc.). We upgrade the front and rear springs with one ton parts. We add back-racks for lighting and then install Western cable operated Pro Series plows.

    These trucks use front and rear leaf springs, straight front axles, and they are bullet proof. So are the Western Pro plows with the cable operated controls. You just cant kill them. After we use them for a year or two we then have them painted and they stay in our fleet.

    We do everything specifically for snow use, every wire is shrink wrapped, every connection gets dielectric grease, etc. When we start on a system, we do it right. For example, every dual battery setup consists of all new components as follows: new factory battery tray and hardware, new factory auxiliary battery tray and hardware, two Optima red-top batteries, 4-gauge positive and negative cable through out (including solenoid, plow, and salter wiring), military terminals, 100 amp circuit breaker and an ignition hot solenoid to separate the auxiliary battery from the system if it gets run down (so the truck still starts after you just killed the equipment battery!), and then 2 Delran battery tenders to trickle charge each battery when you plug the truck in. The whole setup runs about $600 for parts, but money well spent when you get up at 2:00AM and turn the key and everything works!

    Each system get done like the above system. Brake system, suspension, etc. More expensive then your average rebuild, but worth it because the trucks last many more years. We even equip each truck with custom tailgates made from 2" receiver tube steel that hold a Meyers 36000 600lb salter on one side and have a fold down hinged gate on the other to load snowblowers and hand spreaders. Email me at njplowman@hotmail.com if you have any more questions, I don't want to write a book here...

    Hope this helps...
  5. NEAL

    NEAL Member
    Messages: 98

    I think the key here is how familiar you are with doing all the work yourself and having the time to do it. I always wanted to build up an 81-87 chevy pickup with all the good stuff for plowing but after realizing the time it would take to do it right and the pain in the butt it would be I gave up. So far my 99 chevy has been good to me.
  6. Detroitdan

    Detroitdan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,937

    NJ Plowman, that rocks! I have built two (working on the third now) GM 3/4 tons, just like you said except for the flatbeds and sanders, I hate the way a flatbed looks but I wont argue they are better for a work truck. Mine were daily drivers. I had the isolated dual batteries, beefed up driveline and plenty of motor. J&B, personally I would recommend GM for several reasons: 1) I think everything else $ucks. 2) a 73-87 GM 3/4 is a workhorse, whether you treat it nice or beat it it will still keep working and get you home after. 3).you can find repairable GM trucks everywhere, and the best thing is the parts availability. And parts are cheaper too. I just bought rear shoes and hardware kits for my 84 yesterday, cost me $19.98 and they were in stock! Beat that!
    I would stay away from the half tons, not because they wont do the job, but a 3/4 will take more abuse. Only real difference is the axles, that will be the first thing to fail on a 1/2 ton. You can put 3/4 ton axles under a 1/2 ton if you're handy with a wrench. I did that once, found a real sharp 1/2 ton and got a rat 3/4 parts truck, made the truck I wanted. Get an automatic and add a cooler and fan with a temp gauge. I've always preferred to buy a 4x4 w/o a plow and add one myself, that way you start with a truck that hasnt been plowed. But I have bought plow trucks too and had good luck. I wouldnt buy one that was a company truck.
    If you can do the work yourself, (and its much easier than working on a new truck), you can definitely save money and make money. When I was plowing with my 20 year old trucks and the guy in the next driveway was plowing with a brand new one, I always felt like I was making more money than him because mine was paid for, and he was depreciating a new truck fast. Good luck and let us know what you decide to do.
  7. NEAL

    NEAL Member
    Messages: 98

    NJ Plowman & Detroitdan,

    Do you know or at least have an estimate on how much you end up spending on getting those old chevy trucks fixed up? Do you think using older equipment (even nice looking) effects your customers opinion of your operation? I love the 73-87 Chevy trucks and Blazers and like I said have always thought of building one up but don't know if it's worth it for me. My current truck is a 1999 Chevy 2500 and is great but may need to have a second truck going soon. Seems like an older Chevy might be a good idea.
  8. jt5019

    jt5019 Senior Member
    Messages: 853

    I actually liked when i ran older equipment now im always worried about scratching the paint or something happening.
  9. Detroitdan

    Detroitdan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,937

    It all depends on what you start with. I just bought an 84 3/4 ton GMC with an 8' Fisher. Stole it for $1800. Runs and drives well, but it sat too long and the underside is pretty crusty. I am in the process of changing all the brake lines and brakes, should be able to do it for under $200 if I don't need drums or rotors. I'll probably go through and do all the u-joints, maybe balljoints and tierods if it needs them. It had sheetmetal and paint already, just needs minor bodywork on 1 rear quarter to be pretty again. Under $500 I'll be working it, then the next project is to find a 85-87 Blazer or Silverado parts truck so I can swap it over to a 700r4, power windows, and a Silverado grille. I could build a sweetheart of a truck for under $5000 if I went all out, I'm hoping to stay around $3500 for this one, since it wont be a daily driver like the last two. You can probably shop in the $3-5000 range and not have to do much at all. Biggest problem with these trucks is rust, everything else is cheap.
    That was a valid point about what the customer sees you plowing with. I used to get a lot of compliments on my trucks, especially the first one, a restored white 79 Silverado. I think as long as it looks presentable you're okay, but there are an awful lot of ratbag junkyard dogs out there that shouldnt be, and like I've said before I wouldnt pay someone to plow my driveway when they are going to be waking me up with loud or no exhaust, bleeding various fluids all over and possibly breaking down and not getting the job done.
  10. hickslawns

    hickslawns Senior Member
    Messages: 613

    I have done several Chevys and it depends upon what you choose to do to them. If you want a perfect body, then you will spend more unless you can do it yourself. I usually end up with $2-3k in a body done right unless i do some myself. 350/400Turbo tranny rebuild $450-500 plus swapping it out if you can't pull it yourself. Transfer case rebuild $100-300 because you just find a used one and swap it. Don't forget to keep the front driveshafts greased or they freeze up on you, costing another $200-300. Engine rebuild done yourself $1000 should cover most unless you want crazy power instead of useable. Front end work $400-500 at the shop, maybe half if you do it yourself. I always replace the brake lines, fuel lines, tranny lines, and add a tranny cooler initially. I usually end up replacing brakes, exhaust, batteries, starter, alternator, and front end parts or suspension parts as needed when they break. Now add all those up (minus body work) and compare them to a tranny in a newer truck ($1500-4000). Makes sense to spend about $5-6k on an older truck to me. Respectable, bulletproof, and easy to work on.
  11. J & B Lawncare

    J & B Lawncare Member
    Messages: 88

    truck update

    Hello all

    After the responses and time pondering, I beleive we have an plan of action. First off I think all modern pick ups are fairly equal. I have started looking for older Dodge pick ups.70's + 80's. I was always a Dodge person and know far more about them than the others, except Internationals.

    The factory bed will go and a custom bed made for it. A flat bed with wheel wells so I can get the weight low. Leaf springs on all four corners. 318 or 360ci engines with an built up automatic trans. Dual battery system. Bucket seats.

    Not sure of the brand of blade yet. I am looking at a Salt Dog spreader unit for the bed.

    The plan is to build several of these over the next several years and keep the parts the same for ease of service and replacement.

    Off course if I find a International thats cheap I build one.

    Feel free to comment

    J & B Lawncare
  12. mcfly89

    mcfly89 Senior Member
    Messages: 306

    ive plowed with a lil of everything. i started off with an atv which basically built my business. now i've moved to full size trucks with a 79 international scout as a backup and my daily driver. its rare to see any international enthusiasts anywhere, let alone on the plowsite :) my scout is rust free and i intend to keep it that way, so id rather not drive it at all in the wintertime. but if my past experience with fords holds true...ill be plowing with the scout before winters over with, lol.
  13. Detroitdan

    Detroitdan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,937

    I had a 79 Scout II also! Man I loved that truck! 345 schoolbus motor, 4 speed stick and 4:10 gears. What a beast. Unfortunately the rust and rot got the best of her and she got retired young. I always wanted to build one with a fiberglass body. They had an awesome driveline but the way the underbody held moisture made them rust on the showroom floor.
  14. mcfly89

    mcfly89 Senior Member
    Messages: 306

    sad but true :cry:
  15. NJ Plowman

    NJ Plowman Senior Member
    Messages: 799

    It seems like we all agree that the pick-up bed must go. I am looking into having some single axle flatbed bodies made like the ones you see on the Home Depot and Loews rental trucks. They have fold down sides and the ones from Loews even have fold down tailgates. I am still trying to figure out where they get them from, they look great. Anybody know any good welders in NJ that would build on without taking the eyes out of my head?
  16. Detroitdan

    Detroitdan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,937

    not that its anywhere near you, but the guy next to where I work sells and installs all kinds of truck bodies, huge inventory and busy all the time. He also sells Meyer and Diamond plows and sanders. So, there must be a place like his in your area. I'd check the Home Cheapo truck for a manufacturers tag on the bed, and search them out on the internet. Or, rent one for $19.99 and remove the bed. Then just tell them it must have fallen off, and they are lucky you werent hurt and arent going to sue them! Just kidding. Shoot, for 20 bucks you could take it home and get all the measurements and make one yourself, probably save a ton of money
  17. genrock

    genrock Member
    Messages: 60

    Best thing going for an old truck to use as a plow truck or work truck is that when somethings breaks, and they break on any truck new or old, the price of the older trucks parts are a life saver as opposed to a new trucks. Take for example my 84 gmc sierra the calipers on that thing are only $12. Try buying calipers for a 2000 or better trucks and see what they clip you for.

    Also if you buy a new truck and put a plow on it you completely void the warranty even if the dealership puts the plow on for you. Also I like older trucks cause they can take a serious beating and keep on rolling. Older trucks are made simpler and cost less to repair and there is less to break down on them as far as computers sensors etc that they pack these newer trucks with. The trucks there making now are made for woman ie heated mirrors and seats whats that all about I wouldnt know what to do if I didnt have to bust ice off my mirrors before getting started.
  18. sawbones25

    sawbones25 Member
    Messages: 74

    I'm glad I'm not alone in this then...

    I bought a 1984 F-250 with a plow on it already. I figured it was better than a new truck payment plus repair costs if I break something.

    I'm not used to these older motors though. I'm a fuel injection kind of guy. I went to clean up the vacuum lines on this thing and when I was done I kept thinking I was missing something because the top of the motor was so bare...
  19. J & B Lawncare

    J & B Lawncare Member
    Messages: 88



    Just an update. Going with the 318 engine with I beleive a 727 to transmission. Planning to have a spare engine and transmission in the garage as a back up. One of the nice things about the older trucks. Easier replacement and cheaper.


    J & B
  20. Mdirrigation

    Mdirrigation Senior Member
    Messages: 408

    I am in the business to make money , to me the truck is the means to push the plow . They have to be reliable ,safe, and do the job . Appearance , I want a 50/50 paint job, the truck has to look good from 50 feet or 50 miles per hour. I recently retires my late 70s wagoneers , still run late 80s and early 90s fords , chevy, dodge ,and international 2wd and 4wd . I keep swapping blades and mounts to newer trucks. I can put 4 trucks on the road for the price of 1 new one, making 4 times the money . Liability insurance vs full coverage , if I lose a truck I will just get another one. NEVER has a customer asked the years of my trucks. If the truck needs a major repair , if its too expensive I will sell it and find another. I cant see putting a plow on a new 40K pickup