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Pickup Truck or Trailer?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by CoachLinz, May 29, 2003.

  1. CoachLinz

    CoachLinz LawnSite Member
    Messages: 126

    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.
  2. ElephantNest

    ElephantNest LawnSite Bronze Member
    from La.
    Messages: 1,878

    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.

  3. Mudmower

    Mudmower LawnSite Member
    Messages: 102

    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.
  4. grassdaddy

    grassdaddy LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 565

    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.:)
  5. BSDeality

    BSDeality LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,849

    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.
  6. CoachLinz

    CoachLinz LawnSite Member
    Messages: 126

    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?
  7. BSDeality

    BSDeality LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,849

    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.
  8. drobson

    drobson LawnSite Member
    Messages: 237

    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.
  9. Hud

    Hud LawnSite Member
    Messages: 63

    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
  10. mr.lawnzap

    mr.lawnzap LawnSite Member
    from tulsa
    Messages: 123

    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.

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