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Thoughts on truck purchase??

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Moose's Mowing, Nov 22, 2013.

  1. Moose's Mowing

    Moose's Mowing Senior Member
    from SE PA
    Messages: 198

    I did better than expected this summer season and made more than anticipated. I wouldn't mind having an extra smallish tax write off this year and I love buying equipment like my wife loves buying shoes. I'm mainly solo but will use an extra person or two on jobs I can't do alone. I've been wanting to get a cheap dumptruck for about 3 years and I'm always scouring C-List.

    I'm pretty set on an older Chevy 3500. I found a few, but one is close to me and it's an OK price. The main selling point on that truck is that it comes with a 8' Meyers classic setup. That's the same style I have on my 2500. I like the idea of having an 8' blade in case I break my current 7'6" blade. It'll be nice to have them interchange between the trucks. This truck is an '86 K30 dump body 4x4 auto. The trans doesn't shift above 1st and there's no reverse. The guy has a working used TH400 included, just needs swapped in. He said he'd take 2600 for the whole package. The plow runs off central hydraulics, it's not electric/hydro. Tires are decent, dump beds pretty good. frame is good, cab has some rust on the doors & rockers. I could definitely use a dump for my summer work doing mulch, chipping and general cleanups. Tags & insurance will run $500/year +fuel, inspection & maintenance. So the operating costs wouldn't be too terribly much, nor is the initial purchase price.

    My question is how well do these style trucks hold up? I drove a K10 back in college and loved it. It was ugly, loud and slow, just like me. That old K10 was a solid truck I wish I still had it. So what are the common issues on those OBS Chevy's? What are your thoughts on having a second truck when I'm mainly a solo operator? I don't think I'd use it much, if at all for plowing. It'd be a backup truck. But I'd def use it during the summer and even for myself to haul firewood. I'm still torn, talk me into it.
     
  2. ducaticorse

    ducaticorse PlowSite.com Addict
    from we
    Messages: 1,426

    You did "well" this season, and want a tax write off? The truck your talking about buying sounds like something you'd find in a scrap yard. Why do that to yourself lol??
     
  3. Moose's Mowing

    Moose's Mowing Senior Member
    from SE PA
    Messages: 198

    I like projects, what can I say.....lol I love American iron and fixing crap. This is a (legit) part time 3rd job for me. I don't rely on this income as of right now and I'd rather purchase equipment than pay taxes.

    So, my original question, what's your thoughts on those older trucks? Mechanical repair is no prob for me, I'm set up pretty nice in my shop. I don't mind wrenching on my junk, just don't want to have to do it every time I need the truck. The 350 4 bolt mains were a decent engine, the TH400's are (supposedly) a good trans. Not sure but I think it's got an NP208 t-case, don't know much about those.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
  4. ducaticorse

    ducaticorse PlowSite.com Addict
    from we
    Messages: 1,426

    Well putting the "tax write off" aside, since it will be basically non-existent, I'd say that your mind is already made up. That motor will crush fuel, and your down time fixing the brake downs become a problem weather you like it or not simply because of the adverse effects it will have on your customer service. If you can buy it, and bullet proof it BEFORE the season starts, then go for it. Like I said, it looks like your mind is already made up.
     
  5. goel

    goel PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,079

    16 year old trucks are not a tax write off. They are money pits.
     
  6. OldSchoolPSD

    OldSchoolPSD Senior Member
    Messages: 242

    I love older trucks.

    That being said, I've found that my time is much better spent soliciting new work than working on my "project trucks". Now days I don't have time to work on projects, but I have plenty of money to buy new equipment when I need it because of all the new work I've brought in.

    I still have one of my old trucks (1995 Ford) but it's a toy and I don't let anyone drive it.
     
  7. goel

    goel PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,079

    And that's smart business.
     
  8. derekbroerse

    derekbroerse 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,377

    :rolleyes: Everyone is an expert. I run nothing but these style trucks. They are from an era when trucks were built to be trucks, not Cowboy Cadillacs. The biggest problem is rust, mainly from lack of care from idiotic previous owners who think anything that is not less than five years old "belongs in a scrap yard".

    If the frame is solid, you can do anything with it YOURSELF very very cheap and easily. If you do the work yourself, these trucks are perfect... if you have to pay a shop $100/hr because you aren't mechanically inclined, forget it. Older anything requires maintenance and repairs, but those of us who do everything ourselves can do a year's worth of repairs for the cost of a payment or two on a new truck, have lower insurance, and a level of satisfaction that a new truck buyer can never know.

    My trucks are purpose built to plow snow. I really could care less about highway fuel economy, since while pushing the white stuff or hauling a load of salt your truck doesn't get any better mileage than mine. And yes, of course it is still a tax write off (at least here), any asset you purchase new or used is depreciated over three years.

    The TH400 is generally considered a bulletproof transmission. I've never broken one... dunno what they did to it, probably overloading the truck, low on fluid from a leak, no cooler... who knows. An NP205 transfer case is what you would hope for, but it could well be an NP208. Quick check, 208s are aluminum cased, 205's are iron. Front axle will be a Dana 60, not the weak independant crap the later trucks used. Leaf springs hold up the weight, no problem. 350's are also very reliable, and are a dime a dozen to buy used and easy to swap at home. An '86 is still carbureted, so no computer crap to deal with at all. Simple has inherent reliability....

    The answer to the question of whether YOU should buy it or not depends on your needs and your mechanical skill level. A new truck makes sense if it is a) your daily wheels b) you make enough money to keep leasing/buying then getting rid of them before the bigger problems start... Those who do it part time can't justify huge payments on a truck that sits in the driveway!

    Again, look the truck over carefully for rot in the frame. They tend to go right behind the cab or in the steering box area.... also in pockets around the leaf spring brackets at the back from idiots who don't wash the crud out. Then look the cab over, body mounts, floors etc. Rockers and cab corners are a bit more work to replace, doors and fenders are a snap. All parts are cheap and readily available. Oh and make sure the dump box isn't ridiculously rotten either. Patches to the floor are easy enough but crossmembers and structural components are a pain.

    Besides, if you ever get tired of it you can always drop it off to be rebuilt for part of my "scrap yard" fleet! :jester:

    Not every business model works for every business! New equipment is not guarenteed reliable (and warranty is great for those who wait, IF its not classified as abuse like they always try with snowplow trucks) and just because something is old doesn't make it junk!
     
  9. Moose's Mowing

    Moose's Mowing Senior Member
    from SE PA
    Messages: 198

    well maybe I'll rethink the dump truck then. Still tossing around the idea of a little dump insert for my current truck or a dump trailer or another truck. Each has it's pros and cons.

    Does anybody have any experience with the old K30's? Nobody answered my original question yet, I appreciate the opinions tho.
     
  10. Moose's Mowing

    Moose's Mowing Senior Member
    from SE PA
    Messages: 198

    thanks Derek, that's the kind of info I was hoping to get. Appreciate it.
     
  11. derekbroerse

    derekbroerse 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,377

    lol look again, posted at the same time...
     
  12. Kwise

    Kwise Senior Member
    Messages: 123

    I always ask myself one question. Is this piece of equipment/tool going to make me money or cost me money? Sure if it is a spare truck that question might be hard to answer, as I have a spare plow truck also. However, if my main truck has a major break down during a storm then yes it will make me money because what I can make in one storm can exceed the value of the truck.
     
  13. Mr.Markus

    Mr.Markus PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,169

    Stop living in 2003. He's talking a 26 yr old truck. It's a classic.....

    The first truck I plowed with was a '78 Chevy, it was a tank and I still pass it cause it sits in a field on my route with the plow still on it. I remember it cooking me out and having all the windows down when plowing. We always had to take the front pto off in the summer cause the truck would wear them out cause they were constant on.
    I prefer my comfortable 07 diesel, it pushes easier and gets more done. I am a 1 man operation with 2 trucks, you should save those pennies and buy something newer and graduate your older truck to back up. One thing this business does is wear out equipment... I rarely sit in my '96 gm anymore.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
  14. goel

    goel PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,079

    Awe Markus you just made me feel even older.