It's time for a new vehicle and I've been thinking of going to something that gets better milage like a mid size truck and buying a cargo trailer for use on larger jobs. All I've ever used is a 3/4 ton van so I'm not too sure of this idea. I do mostly residential and small commercial. Anyone have any experiences or opinions they'd like to share on this?
I have an 04 Silverado with a contractors cap on it. It's ok, but just not enough room and some stuff is just too hard to get to. I also do HVAC-R so maybe something like this may be fine for you. Next purchase will be a cube van or something similar. Seems to me that if you load any vehicle the way I do the mileage suffers.
back in '97 I bought a '93 dakota extended cab with a V-6 and 10'long 6' wide single axle 3000lb trailer (with brakes). I loved the setup. I could pick through parts standing up. Then I had a tonnue (sp?) cover on the bed (only because it came with it) wich was okay too. I had a ladder rack for the extention ladder on the truck.
What I would have preferred was an extended......
I have to run.... I'l finnish this later. I have quite a few opions and pros and cons to consider. But right now I work out of a '97 E350 (that was just robbed yesterday.... different story/ maybe post) But anyway, I still have the trailer and it comes in handy often.
What I would have preffered was an extended cab with the rear doors. I had an alarm and wanted to keep the tools in the cab. So the ideal setup would have been to have enough room in the back seat to store all the power tools (maybe 5 or 6 cases) and then the small parts bins that I might need on a small service call. machine screws, misc. fittings, couple outlets switches, GFI's etc. hand tools. Then a complete setup in the trailer.
The pickup only would work well for the small calls like changing a ballast, changing bulbs, inspections, quotes, troubleshoot residential work. Alot of times you have a pretty good idea of what you need before you get there. For the ones that just sound too wierd and you make sure you have everything, throw on the trailer. But I do remember being asked to do work that I knew what I needed and I could grab everything I needed out of the trailer and throw it in the bed.
The problems I ran into was parking. Some calls I had no idea what the parking situation was until I got there, only to find out it wasn't going to work. Also, the truck was a little small for the task. I'd had an extra spring put in the rear, but there were certain sections of particular highways that would really rock the rear end.
I ditched the pickup because I was living in a condo and had to keep the trailer at my parents house (1 mile away), and it was too much of pain to go back and forth all the time. I bought the van then. Now that I have a house I wish I would have kept the truck. It would have made company growth possible when I had the opurtunity a couple of years ago.
One last note to throw in the pro column, unhooking it and leaving it on site can leave a crew setup pretty well while you can go elsewhere, but security can be an issue too.
Thanks for the feedback guys! JPS, that is the exact setup that I'm considering. I think of all the miles that I drive when I don't need a fully stocked van and I can only guess how much gas would be saved with this set up. It's great to get an opinion from someone that's tried it before. ElectricBill, I'm curious to know which truck you like better, the Ranger or the Dakota?
I wasn't sure if the engine and trans would have failed prematurely due to excessive load, although my loads were within the manual specs. I would definately recommend the brakes because obviously stopping is most important, especially in panic situations. With the smaller truck it's a must. Bigger truck, take it or leave it on 3000lbs, but on a mid sized, get them. I could actually stop quicker with the trailer. Also I loved the inersia (sp?) brake controller verses the one in my van now. It will sense a panic stop and apply more brakes if necessary. If they lock up, do a quick pump.
Gas savings was great. not only smaller engine, but less weight. Also shave minutes off trips because acceleration and cornering is zippier.
Also, with my single axel 10' trailer, empty weighs 1200-1300lbs. GVW is 3000 or 3500. I built my shelving with weight consideration. I use 3/8 ply for the shelves with notched 2x2 rails. notching reduced weight and created the lip to keep the bins from sliding out readily. also liquid nailed everything together for rigidity.
To do it over I would consider some of the bed accesories for misc. parts. I'm not a big fan of camper tops on truck beds. an open bed is too convienent when you need it, and besiede, that's what the covered trailer is for. But I do like the idea of the retractable tonnue cover. pricy I'm sure, but really expands your weather flexability. Sometime you might only need the truck, you have to go to the supply house anyway, so you buy everything per the job. They give it to you in a box, your cab is already full of tools and it starts to sprinkle. no problem.
also pay attention to loading. Too much in the front and you'll tax the rear suspension, to much in the rear and the trailer will trail wildly like a broken shopping cart front wheel. keep the weight (wire etc.) in a nonshiftable manner over the axel and then 10-20% heavy toward the front.
well... the ranger gets better milage... but the comfort and room in the dakota was NICE!(both were/are x-tra cabs) either one will pull a trailer. the dakota can pull bigger ones.. my next one MIGHT be a Nisson...unless rangers get upgraded. bill
[This message has been edited by electricbill (edited 09-24-2005).]