View Full Version : Pickup Truck or Trailer?

05-29-2003, 12:47 PM
I'm a 28 yr old high school teacher full-time and I am starting a lawn care business on the side. I don't intend to pick up more than 15-20 residential lawns max and I don't intend to expand more than that anytime in the near future. I need to haul a 48" w/b mower, 22" mower, trimmer, blower, gas, tools, etc. I'm looking at 2 options and would like opinions.

1- 84 Ford F-150 350 V8 4x4 with new engine, trans, tires, brakes, etc in good shape for $1500

2- 6x10 trailer for $500 plus I would need to have a trailer hitch and light adapter installed on my Jeep for around $350. This would pulled by my '94 Jeep Cherokee 4.0 V6.

I'm leaning toward the truck because I don't really have a good place to park/store a trailer, but I'm open to ideas.

05-29-2003, 02:30 PM
Trailer, I'd say. Be a tight fit for a 48" + equip. in a truck bed. Not to mention 4x4's will always need repairing, and they're not cheap to work on. Also, the trailer can be used for many other things, business related and not. Cheaper too....use the rest of the money for advertising or a back up trimmer and blower.

Just my $.02 worth.


05-29-2003, 02:31 PM
Hey Coach, if your jeep is in good shape I would just use it. I personally would stay far away from anything that has had that much "NEW" stuff installed unless I knew the person.

Since the jeep is newer it should get better gas milage than the old ford. Do a good tune up yourself, plugs, wires, distributor cap, rotor and timing. Don't go second rate on any of these parts i.e. autozone. Buy quality parts, either from Jeep or Napa. Also install a cat back exhaust system or a free flowing muffler along with a K&N or AFE intake filter to compliment the freeer (sp) flowing exhaust.

Parking the trailer may be a problem but I think you will be money ahead just buying the trailer and using your existing vehicle. Total cost of tune-up will run about 125.00 to 175.00 and the exhaust will vary depending on what you buy.

Good luck.

05-29-2003, 04:13 PM
Whats a 350 doin in a Ford??--I would also keep the jeep and buy a trailer.If that jeeps got an overdrive,DON'T use it when pullin.:)

05-29-2003, 04:24 PM
use the jeep and get a 6x10. The 4.0 is a very powerful motor, just make sure you balance out the trailer nicely (cherokees and grand's tend to squat when loaded.)

Use drive, not overdrive and you'll still have waaaay better gas mileage than the f150. I'm sure you can squeeze the trailer in somewhere. If you were going with the f150 where were you gonna park that? the truck will be considerably longer than the trailer.

05-29-2003, 04:32 PM
Sorry- 351 in the Ford - 5.0 V8. It was a typo.

A friend of mine fits 2 48" w/b mowers, a 21" mower, plus trimmer, blower, tools, etc in his full size pickup (tight but fits) so I didn't think it would be any problem with only 1 48" mower.

My Jeep should pull the trailer with no problem. It's a '94 but my commute to where I teach is only 6 miles each way, so I only have 39K miles on it and it runs like new. That wasn't really of any concern.

The trailer I found (only 1 I found for under $1800) won't really be good for much else. The sides are too low to haul mulch, etc so it would eliminate that as part of the business thus eliminating potential income - I have source where I can get a full size truckload of mulch for $10. It's comparable to the mid-grade that we usually pay $20 a yard or more for aound here so I could make some decent money doing that too. That was one reason I was leaning toward the truck. BUT, the trailer is cheaper. Hence the dilemma.

The truck was in the process of being rebuilt and is pretty much done and runs good.

I priced a trailer hitch, etc for my Jeep today and that will run $275 + tax installed with light adaptor and all. I can probably make an offer on the trailer of $400 and get it. After talking to the guy with the trailer again, it seems the usuable space is only about 6'x8' (not 6x10). It was originally meant for stand up jet skiis and he converted it. However, it does not have a drop down gate/ramp to load it. I would have to retrofit something for that purpose.

With this new/additional info, what do you guys think?

05-29-2003, 04:46 PM
hmm, it is a tough one. i recently bought a 6x10 at (of all places) Home depot. It's made by SnoBear up in canada and it isn't some flimsy piece of fluff. It's made with 2" square tubing, plus a beavertail ramp on the back. I paid $725 for it , $200 off cause it was damaged; all i had to do was drop a backhoe on it and flatten out the tongue :D It has 2" tubing around the sides, but no true sides, so i've been thinking of a way to haul mulch/gravel with it and I think i'm going to end up building a container for it. this way i can just drag it up on the trailer and strap it down when i need to haul something that'll fall out the sides.

Here's a link to some pic's of it.

I think you'll find 6x8 a little too constricting if you ever want to get a few more pieces of equipment.

05-30-2003, 12:23 AM
You can buy a brand new 5X8 or 5X10 trailer for $700 or so. Then you can make some plywood sides that can be removed when your not hauling mulch. This way you have the drop down gate for a ramp and you can haul mulch with it.

Believe me, it will get old real fast putting a w/b in and out of a p/u.

I used to run with just a p/u, and buying a trailer was the best thing I ever did.

05-30-2003, 01:59 AM
Originally posted by CoachLinz
I'm leaning toward the truck because I don't really have a good place to park/store a trailer, but I'm open to ideas. It does sound like you're leaning toward the truck. And if you don't have a good (and safe?) place to park a trailer, then you've answered your own question.

When I started out, I bought a new 95 F-150. Had new Weather-Guard tool boxes mounted on it; the ones that run lengthwise on the truck, one on each side of the bed. I built holders for all my two cycle equipment to fit inside of the boxes (except for the smaller weed trimmer which I just kept in the bed of the truck). Ramps, mower bags, and the like hung on brackets on the back of the tool boxes. Gas cans under the boxes out of the sun. 21"Mower went on first in the middle of the bed up against the cab. Followed by 48" WB. Tailgate closed; everything fit great.

And it worked great. There was no problem getting the 48" in/out of the truck. You get used to it. But a trailer is faster for loading and unloading. Eventually I bought a 5x8 trailer for hauling mulch and leaf cleanup equipment. Put a board over the front and rear of the tool boxes, a mesh cover over the top, and vacuum leaves into the pickup with Little Wonder Blower/Vacuum and hoses. Worked great. Still does.

Having said all this, if it were me, just starting out and on a budget, the trailer and jeep are the way to go. The jeep is a known: you know you can trust it. But if you don't have a place for a trailer (with your equipment on it?) well....there you go. BTW, I bought my 5x8 trailer, 3500 lbs gvwr, full size tires, with full size spare for $800 new. And oddly, the rims on it matched my truck exactly. Anyway, the 48" (going on first) followed by the 21" (sideways) fit fine. Used it many times like that with no problems. YMMV

05-30-2003, 02:33 AM
coach you got your engines mixed up 351c.i is 5.7 litre, 5.0 is 302 c.i, hope you know your lawn stuff better than that. go with the trailer and jeep, old fords gas guzzler.

05-30-2003, 08:41 AM
Yeah, I'm not a car mechanic, but I can handle my mowers. Plus, I've been reading and posting between teaching classes so I've been kind of hurried, but I've got to make a decision so....
I'm going with a trailer. Not sure if used or new, but the truck I was looking at has been sold and there isn't much else around in decent shape and I need to get moving on this. I've already got a few lawns I've been doing for a while and some of them are a real pain to do with a 21" mower. I've got a used 48" Exmark lined up if I can do it quick, I just can't get it until I have some way to move it. If that falls through I also have a line on a 48" Bobcat w/b or a 48" Woods or a 42" Craftsman. Don't know much about those so if you do, please let me know how they are. I know the Craftsman probably won't get it done long-term.

05-30-2003, 04:10 PM
Originally posted by mr.lawnzap
coach you got your engines mixed up 351c.i is 5.7 litre, 5.0 is 302 c.i, hope you know your lawn stuff better than that. go with the trailer and jeep, old fords gas guzzler.

MR.LAWNZAP--351 IS A 5.8-NOW how well do you?:)

05-30-2003, 07:50 PM
Originally posted by CoachLinz
I know the Craftsman probably won't get it done long-term.

Buy equipment once, meaning buy quality! Go for the 48's if you can. the extra swath will get you done that much faster on each lawn.

05-30-2003, 08:23 PM
I'm going to look at the Bobcat tomorrow morning. Sounds like its in good shape. Would be $1100. Is that a decent deal?

05-30-2003, 08:34 PM
damn i was off by one tenth of a liter, i suck huh!

Firefighter Dave
05-31-2003, 09:50 PM
IMO - go with the trailer! I think after the first two or three times loading and unloading the WB your going to wish you went with the trailer! And you want 15 - 20 customers; ouch. A lot less stess on you!!!


:blob2: :blob2:

05-31-2003, 10:58 PM
Go with the trailer. I have a 16' with 12" angle iron sides and I usually put 8 yds of mulch on it. I use a huge tarp, lay it down, load, fold the sides over the top so they overlap and tie it tight with a rope, works fine for me. A 6'-10'should carry 4-5 yds. You should be able to get 1 for around $750 or so. Your back will thank you.

Green in Idaho
06-01-2003, 12:03 AM
Go with the truck first and then be sure to get a trailer.

Get the right equipment for the job. Even staying on the inexpensive side is fine. See the thread about Jim Lewis's red truck. That is a Perfect set-up!

If you can't get the right equipment wait until you can.

Now I would like to vent :
The cheesiest thing I see (and it's common for this site) is someone hauling a lawn trailer with an SUV! You might as well hook a trailer up to the wife's Toyota Camry! It just proves they are not in the biz for real. So please Coach, please avoid joining that subculture.

The second cheesiet thing is someone pulling a trailer with some "decked out" truck ready for some a truck show. Leather, lights, chrome, wheels, jacked up with a lift kit, etc. "I don't want to scratch or dirty my new truck.... "
It is NOT about having the coolest truck sittin on the curb. It's about making money. IT'S F%kin WORK! So use a work truck! (for those this applies to).

Firefighter Dave
06-01-2003, 10:37 AM
Green In Idaho,

Sorry you feel you have to vent......

But appearance is everything!!! I don't care what business your in. From the white collar workers wearing the best suits, to fast food workers wearing the latest uniforms and from lawn service companies having nice trucks that are appealing to be in nice neighborhoods. It's all about appearance.

I don't see anything wrong with SUV's pulling a trailer.... Expeditions & Excursions have just as much pulling power as a cheap pickup. Now I have an awesome pickup, only got it for a change of pace.... If they pulled a trailer with a Hummer would you complain about that too? Or do you just like to complain about everything?


:blob2: :blob2:

06-01-2003, 11:56 AM
well said FFdave.

when we were shopping around for a painter we had them come out to the house and we would intentionally escort them to the driveway and watch them leave after they gave us an estimate. we'd check their vehicles, to see what sort of shape they're in. It didn't matter what kind/how old it was. What mattered was did it have paint stains dripping all over the bed/tailgate or **** strewn about it like it was a mobile trash can.

Granted we probably didn't employ plenty of good workers, but we got one guy who was very neat and didn't spill an ounce of paint anywhere in the room, on the walk, on the driveway or on his vehicle.

Appearance is everything, and you only get one chance at first impressions. Dress for success (vehicles, clothing, etc)

Green in Idaho
06-01-2003, 01:42 PM
Originally posted by Firefighter Dave
But appearance is everything!!!
:blob2: :blob2:

You said it EXACTLY! I'm glad you agree with me.

And someone pulling a lawn trailer with an SUV gives a cheesy appearance! Same for a decked-out personal truck.

It's not about pulling power or weight, it's about application. The best vehicle for landscape applications is a truck. The best application for a business truck is a basic, functional, clean, and modest truck.

A Hummer would be even dumber (I'm a poet).

It's like the guy who goes elk hunting in a Subaru stationwagon. Sure it's 4-wheel drive and can carry the carcass, but it's not the best application. Or how about camping with a Cadillac? Yes it works but it's CHEESY!

That's my opinion. And I'm sure there are rookies and part-timers that will disagree because they are in the exact situation. "Hey don't make fun of me. It's all I got and I'm trying..."

06-01-2003, 11:38 PM
I looked at a few trucks this weekend. One I may go back for if there is nothing new in tomorrow's ads - we have a real good classified paper that comes out every Monday. It was an 84 GMC High Sierra - full size pickup. It was in great shape on the exterior other than needing a little touch up paint on the back of the tailgate. Runs pretty good - needs a few little things but what 84 truck wouldn't. It's got 150K miles, but only 70K on the engine and 5K on the transmission. My only concern is the engine is no longer the stock 350 but a 302 (or so I was told by the owner - he didn't put the engine in, the prvious owner did). Seems to still have plenty of power, but what about when I load it up with mulch, etc?
I could get this truck for between $1000 and $1200. Any thoughts?
I haven't found a trailer used around here that could handle the weight for hauling mulch and stuff, so I'm probably going to go for a truck. A guy I teach with does this on the side also and he loads everything into one of his 2 trucks and finds it better and more efficient than when he used a trailer. I know alot of you guys have said go for the trailer, but I don't have a place to put one. I guess it's a bit of personal preference on everyones part too. Whatever gets the job done right is what I figure. soem guys have mention that it's tougher to load/unload a truck, but I'm a 230 lb. amateur powerlifter (gotta have my fun you know) so I'm not real worried about that. I basically lifted the 48" Bobcat out of our mini-van when I brought it home yesterdaybecause I don't have ramps yet, so I figure rolling up a ramp into a pickup can't be that bad.

Anyway, I'm babbling because it's late. Any thoughts on that 84 GMC would be appreciated.

07-08-2003, 04:44 PM
I have some friends in FL that live in an area that doesn't allow trailers to sit in front of their house. They have to be in the garage and not noticeable. It just depends where you live. If you don't have a place for a trailer then get a pickup. It's no big deal to place everything in the back of your pickup. Besides.......if you in a bigger city where traffic is bad....guess what.....no trailer to worry with. If anyone has pictures of their setup (equipment in pickup) then post them. Would like to see how you all have things set up.