View Full Version : New decision go big or stay small

Gravel Rat
03-19-2006, 10:26 PM
Now my dad got the bug in my head I should just buy a used tandem axle dump.

After looking at the prices of 06 F-450s for 46,000 before tax would buy a decent used Kenworth W-900 or LT-9000 Ford which makes 70-75 dollars per hour a F-550 is max 55 dollars per hour.

A tandem wouldn't work everyday but when it does could be hauling 5-6 loads a day or put in a 8 hr day of hauling a F-450 I buy may haul a load a day.

The the only thing with a F-450 is its my daily driver too used for landscaping jobs I may find a F-350 to do that.

I'am wondering if its worth taking the step to buy a tandem I worked in excavation I know how to run a gravel truck. I was talking to a contractor in early January he said there is work for a tandem as a owner operator which is what I would be. I would work as a independant truck all the excavation contractors know who I'am I pretty much worked for them all part time. In the summer time it gets busy here the construction picks up and the contractors have their own trucks but some times they are so busy they need another truck.

Like I said looking at prices on 450s and 550s you buy those trucks they are worn out before its paid for. A F-550 dump would make a good tight spot truck but is there enough work to justify the big price tag. There is absolutly no work for a 5 ton single axle they don't carry enough.

gammon landscaping
03-20-2006, 12:06 AM
well the only thought i have is a big truck is more bang for you buck but are high mantiance but if you had big truck that was sitting you could use it as a dumpster service at job sits let it sit there for a week let the contractor load it with scrap then haul it off. this would let the big truck make money when you don't need it for a while

Gravel Rat
03-20-2006, 01:36 AM
I know the trucks can be maintenance pigs but its not too bad if you keep on top of it. I can pretty well do all the repairs myself. If the truck sits for a week it won't be too bad if it sits for a month then I would get worried.

The price of trucks I'am looking at would be 20-25,000 dollar trucks they usually need a little fixing up but otherwise are good enough.

If I stay small then I can stick with doing the landscaping go with the tandem all I do is haul dirt. Landscaping I make money doing other jobs like tree removal and cleaning up a back yard.

The one excavation contractor I worked for use to say to me the dump trucks are for convience they need the trucks but they don't make big money.

I should know I repaired the trucks changing turbo's, changing tires etc. Tires alone to reshod one truck with tires was 3 grand the insurance for the truck is 500.00 a month the truck needs a CVI every 6 months thats another 300 bucks. When the trucks were running daily 8hrs a day I had to repair atleast one truck the next day.

The thing is I have a part time gov't job its up in the air I may not end up with a guaranteed full time job its typical B.S. . So I'am not going to chance it I need a back up if I go back to be a general contractor again or have something to suplement my gov't job. I want to keep the gov't job as the bank will give me a loan once they see you work for a gov't corporation its no problem if your self employeed its go away.

03-20-2006, 03:04 AM
I like the idea of tandem dump, but as you point out, they are expensive to keep around. How often do you need it? and for what use? Since I need to tug my Equip + rubbish, (trees and limbs + some rock and dirt) I will try to get a 'roll-off'. I really need 24' of deck (lots of skid attachments + skid + mini-ex)

The dumps are pretty limited, but most robust, and a must of you're doing lots of rock. I use my neighbors t800 when I'm in a pinch and pay him well. It is much cheaper than owning. I also rent, as I use rarely, tho would use more if I had one. There is not much profit in trucking, (lots of competition, narrow margins) time is better spent in seat of specialty equip.

Gravel Rat
03-20-2006, 03:49 AM
If I go with a tandem axle all I would do is haul dirt and do the bigger deliveries I really wouldn't be doing anything else with the truck no landscape work involved. There is always work for a tandem dump its not steady eddy but if you have one it will be working.

A rolloff truck is too expensive and not much work for a rolloff most landclearing debris is burnt and demolition debris is hauled in regular dump trucks. Demo debris has to be separated and sorted no mixed loads are allowed at the landfill. When House demo's or renovations are done the wood is burned in the yard and the non burnable stuff is hauled to the landfill.

If I go with a F-450 or F-550 truck I will do the 1-3 yard deliveries and the landscaping work I do. I get jobs removing couple tons of junk out of peoples yards some of it is old derilict vehicals etc.

I have to see if spending 30 grand on a used F-450 550 will be justifyable it will be my daily driver work truck so I can spread the cost of the truck over 3 to 4 years.

With the smaller truck if I don't have steady work atleast the truck is serving a purpose its getting me around. A tandem axle dump truck if there is no work its sitting the cost of insurance is pretty expensive.

I will have to have another vehical for my daily driver say a 1/2 ton P/U. So I'am paying 900 dollars a year for insurance for the P/U truck plus the cost of buying a decent reliable 1/2 ton.

03-20-2006, 10:07 AM
We can't tell you what to do and what truck to buy. We been over this several times. Re read all your post in this thread. You listed all the pros and cons your self. You should be able to make a educated decision by just looking at thoses.

03-20-2006, 10:23 AM
Pop is looking at a '06 F-650 to replace our '87 C-70 Chevy. From some preliminary calculations, its actually cheaper to get the F-650 16' dump than it is to get a new F-350 CC Lariat 4x4 dually diesel. With the commercial incentives being offered by Ford it makes the F-650 look even better. The particular one that he wants is a XL trimmed, regular cab. It has the Cat C7 7.2L diesel in it, Allison automatic (6 spd.), 16' Cook dump body w/ barn door rear gates, automatic tarp/cover, trailer hookups, air brakes, 26k GVW. He wants to back off from the C-70's 33k GVW to 26 because the C-70 has farm tags on it, and as such we don't need CDL's to drive it. But if the farm tag program gets discontinued as is being discussed as we speak, we will have to get CDL's and thats a big reason why we're looking for a size smaller. The other reasons include wanting something under warranty, and something that has the power to maintain speed when loaded. The C-70 has a Cat 3208 non-turbo and while it has enough power to move just about anything, it doesn't have the power to go much past 55mph.

Gravel Rat
03-21-2006, 12:15 AM
I have been thinking about a tandem today I know I can get work with a tandem if our construction season is as busy as last year there should be enough work.

If I be a independant truck and not be bias to any of the contractors they can hire me if they need extra help. I can also haul for regular residents who want topsoil or sand or gravel delivered when they get told by the excavation contractors they don't have time.

I do know for one thing a single axle 5 ton dump has no work as a guy a few years older than me (32) bought a single axle to move his mini excavator around. He thought there would be work for it but it really didn't pan out the truck does pull a tilt trailer for his 11,000lb machine and thats about it.

A tandem axle will go in and out of peoples driveways the wheelbase on a single axle is only about 4' shorter it doesn't make enough difference. The cost to the customer for a tandem is 70-75 dollars per hour and you can get 12 yards delivered. A single axle is 60-65 dollars per hour but the truck only carries 6 yards for 10 dollars more per hour you can get double the load.

If I stay small scale I would be doing the 3 yard deliveries that is mostly the people that want a small amount of topsoil or gravel to mix concrete with I'am unsure if there is enough of those jobs to justify the price of a F-450.

Right now just in this community there are two contractors with dumping flatdecks one is a landscaper friend and a building contractor. The building contractor only hauls his own material and the landscaper hauls material just for his jobs. The landscaper friend of mine usually has a contractor to haul him larger amounts of soil etc.

The junk removal and construction site clean up service I do want to keep I can do that with a regular 1 ton and put my dumping flatdeck on it. The junk removal is decent money I get paid by the hour to load the truck and I get paid by the hour for the truck. Junk removal isn't hard on the truck most loads are only 4000lbs its more bulk than heavy. I rack up alot of labour on those jobs as it takes awhile to hand load the truck and clean up the yard. On construction sites its usually a regular visit to the site till the project is done.

So after rambling to myself here I may seriously look into getting a used tandem and try keep my 95 F-450 running so I have something to drive and I may end up mounting the dump deck I'am building on the 450 untill I find a F-350 4x4 to replace it.

03-21-2006, 02:51 PM
If I stay small scale I would be doing the 3 yard deliveries that is mostly the people that want a small amount of topsoil or gravel to mix concrete with I'am unsure if there is enough of those jobs to justify the price of a F-450.

Around here a lot of the supply yards will deliver that quantity of material for somewhere around $50, and all of them have the equipmet to deliver it.

You talking about directly marketing this service to the end customer, or acting as a subcontractor with your local supply yard to handle their deliveries?

I've thought of a dump truck as a "cost of doing business", and not the business itself.

Tim Wright
03-21-2006, 03:46 PM
1. I would think that you could get more per hour than $75.00.

2. You should also consider the extra issues that come with a tandem, such as DOT issues and CDL. With DOT, there will be a horrid of issues, from the drivers getting yearly physicals, to saftey issues, logging hours on the road, payloads, etc.

With the 450, you should be able to fly under that radar.


Gravel Rat
03-22-2006, 12:06 AM
I'am already a licensed trucking company I got my motor carrier number last year when I finally went legal after running semi illegal for the last 10 years. I have had my CDL since I was 20 years old and I will be the only driver of the truck run it as a O/op.

The DOT stuff isn't a problem deal with it on a regular basis I used to be a part time truck mechanic.

As for deliveries there is 2 gravel pits one only deals with tandem axle dump trucks if they can't load you with a 988 Cat the pit doesn't want to sell to you. Topsoil is sold by local suppliers usually they only load tandem axle dumps or single axle 5 ton trucks.

There are 2 landscape depots that sell to people with P/U trucks but the price is higher at those places as they are handling the material more. You buy from a topsoil supplier you buy the material in 12 yard loads.

If I go to a tandem axle a I essentially go back into the excavation business except all I would do is haul gravel. You can make money dump trucking aslong as you are the owner operator you higher a driver you have to pay the driver 20-25 dollars per hour it cuts into profit.

Most local deliveries would be a even 100 dollars if the material comes from the local pit and its a 1 hour job. If its material from the other pit then its by the hour and right now the hourly rate is 70-75 per hour.

With a excavation contractor the person they are working for expects to get a better deal but if they have to hire a outside contractor then they get charged the full rate. During the summer the local excavation contractors get so busy when home owners want a load of gravel delivered or building contractors want something they get put on a waiting list. The excavation contractors can't send one of their trucks to do a delivery when they are busy hauling material to the site they are working on.

Alot of the time the excavation contractors would like to have a outside contractor to help them haul gravel because it makes the project get done sooner.

If the work is good I prolly would beable to make a 25,000 dump truck pay for itself in one year.

Tim Wright
03-22-2006, 10:45 AM

Well I think you have answered your own question, except for two other questions.

1. Do you have an excavating contractors license? or, do you need one?

2. I think it would be a good thing to go with the tandem, as once it is paid for, you can always go and get a good used 1ton as a suplement for smaller jobs.

The only other thing to then think about is whether the tandem stays in the existing company or branch, or whether you might want to start a whole new division within the existing company or even start a seperate excavating company.

Either way, you have enough momentum built up in your business as it is to make this a good decision.


Gravel Rat
03-22-2006, 07:49 PM
No excavation contractors license needed to operate a gravel hauling business you don't need a license to be a excavation contractor.

As for the company there is no name its just a registered number with the gov't along with my name.

I probably won't get into the excavation side there is already enough excavators working in the area.

Tim Wright
03-22-2006, 10:52 PM
I bet you could keep that truck busy sub-contracting to all of those excavators already there then, or even find someone else doing that side of the business, and you be the hauling side.

Do a little diggen to see what kind of business you can come up with before you commit.

It does sound like you have been doing a good bit of thinking though, and you will be ok either way you go with this.


Tim Wright
03-22-2006, 10:58 PM
I bet you could keep that truck busy sub-contracting to all of those excavators already there then, or even find someone else doing that side of the business, and you be the hauling side.

Do a little diggen to see what kind of business you can come up with before you commit.

It does sound like you have been doing a good bit of thinking though, and you will be ok either way you go with this.