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Switching to older trucks

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by KLC99, Nov 4, 2014.

  1. KLC99

    KLC99 Senior Member
    Messages: 160

    Have any of you with a fleet of 3-5 or more gone this route.

    We're setting up 1 or 2 mid eighties dodges, a late seventies ford and a 79 gmc this year with the idea that maintenance and repair expenses are lower vs 5-10 year old trucks. No more brand new plows either - we've had better luck with spares than new stuff over the years (sec 179 deduction notwithstanding).

    Trucks and plows get cheap, clean paint jobs and don't leak anything.
    Does this make sense to you guys?
  2. xtreem3d

    xtreem3d PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,548

    It does to me. I couldn't justify 5 or 6 20,000.00 trucks and 6 30,000.00 skid loaders for snow.
  3. Nascar24

    Nascar24 Senior Member
    Messages: 645

    Old vs New

    I have always purchased New or Very new trucks over the years, when I say very new, under 3000 miles, never purchased a new plow.

    I would love to own another brand new truck but after walking a Ford, Dodge and Chevy lot over the summer , its not going to happen. Why some may ask, New Diesels x-cab or 4dr cabs are stickering in the high $50K - high $60K ranges, even with $10K- $15K incentives I can't justify the cost.

    I decided t keep my 12 year old truck I purchased used two years ago with 47,000 miles. Its a typical Dodge with a CTD and 75,000 miles now, I purchased the truck from the original owner who never plowed and only used the truck for towing a small 5th wheel RV for the first two years of its life. It was well preserved, heated garage, no salt , never worked, just a toy . I say it is a typical Dodge CTD , it needed a Injection pump, lift pump, turbo, throttle positioning sensor, front wheel bearings and yes a transmission all in the past year. The truck also required regular maint like set of tires, batteries, brakes, and u joints , since the past owner sold the truck just before it needed all of it . To date I have a little over $21,000 in this truck including the purchase price. The plow came off my last truck which I purchased hardley used for $1600 three years ago. All in all I have about 1/3 of an investment in my truck that a new one would require and believe with all the updates it should go another 150, 000 miles without much more than tires and maybe front end parts.

    Some may say I was crazy, some may say I did the right thing, I think it comes down to getting the right truck to begin with.

    There are a few snow removal contractors in my area who buy older trucks that never plowed, put plows on them, transport them to private lots and leave them, their operators just go there when a storm hits and make money. Not sure how their insurance works but I never see plates on these trucks,, must be a significant cost savings in registrations and individual vehicle policies? They have a truck that tows a trailer with a large fuel tank mounted to it that comes around and tops of the trucks throughout the winter. I have also seen them deliver replacement trucks when they break. These contractors have been doing business this way for years, so they must be making really good money doing this . The company also buys old plow blades and puts their business name and phone numbers on them and places them all over the city, on lawns of busy streets . Cleaver way to advertise !
  4. northernsweeper

    northernsweeper Senior Member
    Messages: 397

    In this business, its different for everybody. You just gotta do what works for you.
  5. JustJeff

    JustJeff 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,481

    Northernsweeper is correct. There is no "right answer" for all individuals. I prefer new equipment for reliability, fewer maintenance costs, and let's be honest, image. I think the way your equipment looks does say something about your company. And there are good, quality used vehicles out there that can be had for significantly less, which is okay too, but I'd never put my company name on some rusted out piece of crap.
  6. Banksy

    Banksy PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,113

    You can take a 20-30 year old truck and make it worthy of your company name. Spend $40k+ for a new truck or get a 25 year old truck for a few grand and put a few more into it to make it respectable. That $6k truck could pay for itself within a few good storms. Running older stuff makes a lot of sense and you can fix a lot of stuff right on site with a basic Craftsman tool set. I will say it's easier to spend many hours in a nice comfy newer truck than in an old tank.
  7. gallihersnow

    gallihersnow Senior Member
    Messages: 304

    Not to mention it's more enjoyable to drive a new truck, at least for me it is.
  8. jimbo64

    jimbo64 Senior Member
    Messages: 194

    Finding 70's and 80's trucks that aren't high mileage and don't have rusted out frames and bodies where I am are very hard to find. I personally would love brand new but newer works best for me.
  9. fastxcr800

    fastxcr800 Member
    Messages: 87

    I only buy older trucks for plowing. No sense spending big bucks for a truck to ruin it plowing snow. The trucks I buy, are ones that I either know the owner or who serviced them personally. If your mechanically inclined older trucks in decent shape is the way to go.:mechanic:
  10. Gman1200hd

    Gman1200hd Member
    Messages: 35

    I have to say older trucks are the way to go cheaper parts, insurance easy to fix and for not a lot of money you can make older trucks look very sharp so image is not a problem and may even make you stand out of the crowd.and comfort wise you can add newer seat etc fairly easy. Just my two cents.
  11. Brian Young

    Brian Young PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,394

    I was kicking this idea around this week after my tranny melt down in our 06. Not that older trucks won't fail but I bet if I needed to replace a tranny in a 80's Chevy, it won't be around 5-6K! I also looked around at new trucks this past weekend and like someone said, high 30's -low 40's for a truck to plow 10-15 dollar driveways...? The more the govt gets involved to appease the tree huggers and global warming freaks the worse and more expensive these trucks are going to be to repair. You could probably buy an older Chevy 1 ton, do a ground up restoration and have a brand new truck for 1/2 if not 1/3 of the price of a new one. I know a guy who owns a construction company and about 5-6 years ago he had his chevy dump sent to Buffalo for a ground up restoration, he said it cost him just over 16k but the truck was brand new inside and out. The whole truck was gutted, truck and frame were sand blasted,re-painted, engine, tranny all rebuilt. He said they replaced all the joints, bearings, suspension parts etc. It looked like a truck that was stored in a showroom after it came off the assembly line.
  12. Jakedaawg

    Jakedaawg Senior Member
    from N. Mi
    Messages: 134

    I have thought often about going to a rust free area and buying a couple old 1 tons and rebuilding. It would probably take a couple years to et them done but I wonder if they wouldn't make great plow trucks. Solid front axles, real geared transfer cases. Trannys that dont last as long but are less expensive to rebuild. It certainly wouldn't be as comfortable but they also wouldn't have the EPA crap everywhere.

    For example, I couldn't get gas to go in my '10 2500 hd last year because of some stupid gas tank vent solenoid.

    I think if I stumble on the right deal I may give it a try someday.
  13. Buswell Forest

    Buswell Forest PlowSite.com Addict
    from NH
    Messages: 1,668

    I have owned and plowed with old trucks, and with new trucks. I prefer the new ones. About everyone I know hears what my payments are, and nearly faints. Me, I am willing to pay the price for the ability, comfort, looks, and reliability. Better a known fixed cost that can be planned for than a surprise breakdown and all that goes with it- like lost wages.
  14. Citytow

    Citytow Senior Member
    from phila
    Messages: 548

    no notes ? all profit .
    but personally i like to ride in a warm comfy lariat vs. a bumpy carbon monoxide cab filled dinosaur .LOL
  15. 90plow

    90plow Senior Member
    Messages: 739

    I think I depends on how much your making and what the trucks do in the off season. My two trucks 95 and 06 sit except for plowing so to go buy a new truck does not pay. However if I needed them for lawn maintenance etc I'd try to keep newer trucks. Also if your doing 200-300k a year in snow why buy old junk if you can justify newer stuff.
    I don't mind wrenching but it does get old when it's 0 outside.
  16. rjigto4oje

    rjigto4oje PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,380

    Just my 2 cents look at the purple dodge project and look at my project another dodge ram project a few thousand can buy a lots of parts new or used ones if i were to replace my 2 trucks 80 to 100 grand just my thoughts
  17. BUFF

    BUFF PlowSite Fanatic
    from FR NoCo
    Messages: 9,081

    There's a few outfits in my area that have several mid '70s-'80s trucks that they park at the lots they're plowing. They're not pretty in any way but they do the job, most are running old Meyer or Western plows with a few Northman's too. As was pointed out cheap operating and repair cost on all levels.
    My stuff could be considered older, '97 F-350 and '87 Chevy K-5. My F-350 had 29k on it when I bought it 7yrs ago, no rust and a 8.5 Meyer. I did put a Boss 8.2 DXT w/Wings on it last season, other than that it's been basic maintenance and tires. The K-5 had 85K on it rust under drivers side carpet with a blown trans, weak motor, and 7.5 Meyer. Bought sheet metal from LMC Truck to replaced the floor pan and also put a rubber mat in to replace carpet. Had the 700r rebuilt (built for plowing) w/3yr 36k warranty for $1,100.00, have a 350SB GM Crate motor on its way w/3yr 36k warranty for $1500.00. I'll end up having less than $4500.00 into the K-5 and it will plow as well as a newer truck with the similar equipment.
    I also have a '08 F-350 CC but only use that for towing, I can't see subjecting a higher valued truck to plowing
  18. wahlturfcare

    wahlturfcare Senior Member
    Messages: 323

    i have used newer and older trucks and prefer the older ones for plowing. Cheaper to repair, last longer, etc..with older ones, you have true lockouts that hold up instead of elec. actuators that constantly give out. I do also have a 77 w400 that will actually push snow better than my '00 and both my 3='93 1 tons.
  19. bhmjwp

    bhmjwp Senior Member
    from kcmo
    Messages: 309

    I vote older-but for me that is 92 to 99' GMC or chevy. I sold off my 2005 and my 2006 about 4 yrs ago. Maintenance and repair run about 50% less. I run 4 with 2 back ups. Every fall I take them in, trusted mechanic, and he does a 60 point inspection. Only problem in last 5 yrs was a bad starter day of the storm.

    Just go to your normal parts site and price the difference in starters, alternators, exhaust,brakes,ect,ect,ect. A no brainer!

    As with anything snow related, upkeep is the key!
  20. xtreem3d

    xtreem3d PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,548

    I think all of us who own the business prefer new or newer trucks and equip but the OP was referring to a small fleet and that many newer trucks may not be practical.