Deciding on new 'landscape' truck

Discussion in 'Trucks and Trailers' started by LB1234, Nov 6, 2005.

  1. LB1234

    LB1234 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,208

    A little business background...

    We have two 3/4T HD pickups...Chevy & GMC, both w/SB, one with CC & one w/ext cab. Both gassers w/plows one has hitchmounted salter. We are managing just fine with them in the winter plowing and salting. The other three seasons we (obviously) use the trucks for lawn & landscape work towing three different trailers. One is a single axle 14' utility trailer we use 2-3times a year (basically a backup), a 20' enclosed trailer we use for towing all of our lawn equipment, and a 14' dump trailer we use for 90% of our landscape/leaf removal jobs.

    Basically the trucks do well in all aspects but may not excel at any particular area. We have been getting more and more landscape work over the years (in business 6 years)..i.e. decorative stone walls, timber walls, walkways, etc. The problem we are having is multiple trips to the job. For instance, the job this past week...we had to load the dump trailer up with 3/4 modified stone for wall base. We then had to leave the job to go load up with two pallets of wall block and caps. Hence, two days on a one day job. In addition, during sping & fall we bag some lawns to help with leaf pickup and excessive growth. Were do we put the back of the pickups...not to fun getting it out. Thought about dump insert but the capacity of those things (legally) is next to nothing and I'd rather put the 3-4k into a big downpayment on a new landscape truck.

    So, what can we get that can be the jack of all trades...can be the everyday towing vehicle with a dump/stake body on it to place any refuse from the mowing days, can have two pallets on its back (secured) and still tow a 12kGVWR trailer.

    I went to a show earlier this year and I took a look at the mitsu fuso. I liked it a lot. However, after performing a search here it seems it wouldn't work as an everyday tow vehicle nor would it have the capacity to carry two pallets of block/stone and tow a trailer. I'm a stuck with a F450/550 type truck? How about the hino's? Any help that could steer me in the proper direction on what we should/could be looking at would be helpful.

    As for cost, as always, its an issue. We'd rather not trade in either of the trucks. We'd like to leave one as basically a dedicated plow truck and literally just run it into the has ~90k miles on it now. The other would also be a plowtruck and pull the second trailer...if needed. This new 'landscape' truck wouldn't need 4WD drive cause we really couldn't use it for plowing...tight areas parking lots in condos/apartments. We'd like a diesel 2WD so the mileage would be better, could maximize our towing capacity, cheaer repairs, cost, etc.

    We have not, nor do we want to purchase a used vehicle. So that is not (really) an option. We are looking to purchase in the 07-08 timeframe. We could place something between 10-15k as a downpayment and afford the 3-400 per month payment.

    So any suggestions?
  2. Jpocket

    Jpocket LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,281

    I'd say a nice GMC or Chevy 4500 w/Grain body Duramax diesel/Allison
    That truck will do it all, and will look good towing your mowers
  3. Eclipse

    Eclipse LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,149

    It's funny how we all face the same questions at times :)

    Personally it sounds like the 450/550 is one of the better options. The GM 4500 sounds like a decent option too but I have not really looked at one to comment on how will it may or may not do for your application.

    I would be carefult that you do not get a truck that it too long. Pulling a 20' enclosed and trying to turn around is some places with a longer wheelbase can be a PIA, this I do know about ;)

    UNISCAPER LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,426

    Every contractor has their nitche and trucks are best speced and suited for the nitche markets you own.

    Said that, we have had all of the above. Hands down, the 4500 is stronger in every aspect than the 450. But, this is what you should really consider. Fresh out of the sign shop, we just took delivery on a 6500 with a 9 liter Dmax and 9 speed Allison manual tranny.

    It has a 208" wheelbase, 3' tunnel box behind the cab, and 14' roll off dump on the frame. I was out playing with it Saturday, and decided to do a U-turn on a 4 lane road at the light (a legal move in California.) This move in the F-450 would have had me straddle the white line in my lane, and end up scraping the curb on the opposite lane when the truck went around. I expected full well I would have been shifting in reverse and backing up when I dod this with such a long truck. What shocked me, was the truck pulled the full U turn, and kept within the lane lines about a full 2' off the curb.
    Though I don't know everything this unit will be good, or bad at, I have strong hopes after seeing that occur.

    Cost wise, it was within 3,000 of the 45-5500 with the same equipment mounted on it. Weight wise, we can carry 1/2 again more than the 45-5500 series, but then I took into consideration, the type of work that crew is on. Lots of pavers, which means spoils,demo and road base hauling. It's too small for a large driveway, but for 80% of them we sign, it is the perfect truck, and if my calculations are right, we should shave 4 trips off every job so the 3K extra we paid, will be recovered in a few short months.

    We can carry 4 full pallets of brick or Keystone wall legally. The 45-5500 limits us to two and 1/2 pallets.

    cost as delivered with body, lettering hitch, pull tarp, boxes, Alcoa rims, air, cruise, roll up windows, and matted floor, was 56K.
    If you choose GM trac lease, you can keep the money in your bank account because all is required is first and last months payment up front, and the lease is bought out at the end for a buck. That way you write off every dime the eyar you make the payments, rather than taking net gains, getting nailed by the feds, then taking depreciation on a conventional loan. It actually pencils out at $1,300.00 per year cheaper for us at our current volume. check it out.
  5. LB1234

    LB1234 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,208

    That is what I figured...the 450...5500 type trucks w/dump stake body to haul both pallets and bulk debris (i.e. mulch, stone, etc.).

    We are aware of the turning radius ordeal. Actually, the 20' is inside nose to rear so the trailer is probably in actuallity a 24 footer. You know, come to think about it, I'm not 100% sure what the total length is :)dizzy: :dizzy: :dizzy: ). Anyways, most of our residentials are situated on 1 acre lots with no dead ends or cul-de-sacs. So we really don't have to 'turn-around' per say. Our commercials on the other hand...that could be a littel bit sticky. There is an apartment complex that we could have some serious issues with...that is part of the reason why I was looking into the NPR's and FUSO's cause there turning radius' are pretty tight.

    That is interesting about the lease to own or whatever they call it. I will have to look into it, although this is a ways off I'm just trying to plan for what we need to save up for it and truthfully, whether or not it'll be worth it to opt for the 3rd truck. We really didn't want to look past the 45k range. It really is going to depend on next year...if we have a good growth rate like this year, it is definately going to be a possibility. Hey, you never know. Perhaps we will have such a bad winter (well bad for those without plows!!:D ) we can just buy a truck outright...sorry...just dreaming:sleeping:
  6. lawnmaniac883

    lawnmaniac883 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,613

    550 with the cummins ISB option :waving:
  7. climber

    climber LawnSite Member
    Messages: 247

    550 with a duramax/allison combo cant go wrong there:cool2:
  8. LB1234

    LB1234 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,208

    I have the allison trans on my Chevy w/8L gas. I've heard (well, read) about a few problems that the allison has/had. Knock on wood no problem. I really like how the tranny has held up through plowing for through two seasons. Only maintenance I do is drop the oil and replace the filter every year. So, I probablly would lean towards something with an allison trans...although, are they different when you get up into the larger trucks...sorry not much of a mechanic.

    Also, is there anything else besides the GMC, Chevy, and/or Ford?

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