Purchasing an ex-rental box truck

Bikes, trikes, personal mobility and getting to/from the event - this is the place to discuss general transportation issues.
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mattcamp
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Purchasing an ex-rental box truck

Post by mattcamp » Fri Jun 02, 2017 3:51 am

Has anyone ever purchased an ex-rental box truck for use hauling gear to/from the playa?

Our theme camp has expanded to the point that paying for multiple storage units and trucks is now becoming expensive and painful so we're considering purchasing one of the larger (24-26') ex-rental trucks that various places offer for sale.

Generally they're all around 17 years old with about 180-200k miles on the clock but have been fleet maintained so I'm hoping they won't be in too bad condition mechanically.

Anyone actually done this and have any horror stories or otherwise?

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Ratty
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Re: Purchasing an ex-rental box truck

Post by Ratty » Fri Jun 02, 2017 8:28 am

You're going to buy it just for Burning Man?! Once upon a time there was a horror story.....Maintenance, storage, insurance. The end.
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Re: Purchasing an ex-rental box truck

Post by mattcamp » Fri Jun 02, 2017 8:47 am

Ratty wrote:You're going to buy it just for Burning Man?! Once upon a time there was a horror story.....Maintenance, storage, insurance. The end.
Yep, it'll be stored somewhere for 11 months a year.

We're a 100% international camp so have no use for it the rest of the time... we like the idea of not ever having to unpack it into a storage unit in Reno ever again. Insurance isn't too bad as you can have it listed as off-road/inactive (or whatever the actual term is - several people in our camp do this with vans already) so we only pay for the time we need it active. If it's only doing a few hundred miles per year maintenance shouldn't be too bad and can be budgeted for.

(yes, I'd love a container but that program is still closed and has a huge waitlist. yes, I've looked at other vendors but they're even more expensive than our current storage/transport solution.)

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Ratty
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Re: Purchasing an ex-rental box truck

Post by Ratty » Fri Jun 02, 2017 8:52 am

But...When you arrive your truck won't start and you'll have 2 flat tires. You'll open the back to find rats have moved in.
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Re: Purchasing an ex-rental box truck

Post by mattcamp » Fri Jun 02, 2017 8:57 am

Ratty wrote:But...When you arrive your truck won't start and you'll have 2 flat tires. You'll open the back to find rats have moved in.
The starting and tyres issues can easily be dealt with by planning ahead and budgeting (both money and time) for basic maintenance.

The rat problem is no different versus the storage units I already have (never noticed a rat but we don't store any food at all).

Are you speaking from direct experience with owning a box-truck?

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Re: Purchasing an ex-rental box truck

Post by Ratty » Fri Jun 02, 2017 9:00 am

No, I'm speaking from years of eplay stories. Use Google to search this board. Good luck. I admire anyone that makes the trip from overseas. I sincerely hope you never have any of these troubles.
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Popeye
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Re: Purchasing an ex-rental box truck

Post by Popeye » Fri Jun 02, 2017 10:04 am

A couple of thoughts:

The Department of Transportation (feds) requires a commercial driver's license (CDL) when the GVW exceeds 26,000 lbs. Depending on the state, you will not need a CDW if you are hauling on your own behalf and the GWV is below 26,000 pounds.
Tire rot might become a large expense.
You will want someone half way knowledgeable to start it up and check it out a month or so before the burn.
Air brakes have always been a problem for me if the vehicle has been sitting for 10 months. I'll be interested to see what others say.
Two smaller trucks might be less maintenance and give some reduncancy- if one dies you can make two trips with the one that runs.
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Re: Purchasing an ex-rental box truck

Post by Sham » Fri Jun 02, 2017 4:57 pm

As a rule, trucks coming off of rentals are not usually inexpensive. Most companies take them off the road and sell them while the value is still high. I have purchased a 25 year old U-Haul truck with well over 200,000 miles on it. I brought it up to good working condition, but it was quite a bit of work to make that happen.
For a reliable one that can sit for 11 months, it's going to be possibly $8 to 10 thousand dollars. It doesn't seem to make financial sense to do that.

Just my thoughts. 8)

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some seeing eye
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Re: Purchasing an ex-rental box truck

Post by some seeing eye » Fri Jun 02, 2017 5:08 pm

I think I'm hearing that the requestor is looking for a new business plan.

Capital, operating expenses, labor.

Most burners I know with a box truck use it around town for other projects and side businesses positively impacting operating expenses. A box truck parked (at a price in the USA, and considering our sometime theft problem) as a storage unit, not so much.

Perhaps, if your business plan includes loading/unloading, there is a local camp to partner with for the rest of the year and share cargo capacity and storage inbound & outbound?

The side business could be in a larger city, and the storage could be closer to the event, making Reno burners friends.
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Re: Purchasing an ex-rental box truck

Post by Captain Goddammit » Fri Jun 02, 2017 5:19 pm

I've worked with trucks of all sizes and types all my life.
And I'm gonna tell you pretty much what the others so far have: A truck that sits, especially outside, all year without moving isn't going to give you less maintenance issues, it's going to give you a lot more. Just sitting is the worst thing for them.
You can do this, just don't expect it to be trouble-free. Personally I think you'll regret it... but if its the plan then if possible, I'd send someone ahead of time to check it out and handle whatever is wrong before you all get there and depend on ALL your shit getting to the playa in that truck. It will suck to have your whole camp infrastructure in that truck and it doesn't start or has whatever issue when you all get there. You'll be betting the whole ball game on that thing working when you get there.
Store it right. Oil the cylinders.
Cover the tires (that's VERY important, they will dry rot and blow out on you otherwise).
You probably won't have a reliable source of power to keep a charger/maintainer on it. You could try a solar charger with controller (to avoid overcharging) but all things considered it's probably less hassle and more reliable to just bring a new battery.
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Re: Purchasing an ex-rental box truck

Post by Popeye » Fri Jun 02, 2017 9:09 pm

I wonder if it woulod be worthwhile to buy a large enclosed trailer and rent a pick up truck to tow it?
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Re: Purchasing an ex-rental box truck

Post by AntiM » Sat Jun 03, 2017 7:59 am

Popeye wrote:I wonder if it would be worthwhile to buy a large enclosed trailer and rent a pick up truck to tow it?
Renting tow capable vehicles can be difficult.

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Token
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Re: Purchasing an ex-rental box truck

Post by Token » Sat Jun 03, 2017 8:24 am

An older 1-ton dually with a cargo or horse trailer may be something to consider.

That way you can have the trailer stored and the truck parked near someone who can give it a spin once a month.

Both can be had dirt cheap provided you are able to to do some wrenching.

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Re: Purchasing an ex-rental box truck

Post by Popeye » Sat Jun 03, 2017 10:45 am

Does anyone know what the difference is in being able to use a ball hitch and needing a 5th wheel? Weight?
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Re: Purchasing an ex-rental box truck

Post by AntiM » Sun Jun 04, 2017 5:09 am

Popeye wrote:Does anyone know what the difference is in being able to use a ball hitch and needing a 5th wheel? Weight?
Uh, one is a ball hitch off the back, and the other is this big mounted horseshoe plate thingy?

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Re: Purchasing an ex-rental box truck

Post by Captain Goddammit » Sun Jun 04, 2017 10:13 am

Popeye wrote:Does anyone know what the difference is in being able to use a ball hitch and needing a 5th wheel? Weight?
Yep. Over about 10,000 pounds is where you come out of ball hitch territory and enter the 5th dimension.
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Re: Purchasing an ex-rental box truck

Post by arthur02 » Tue Jun 06, 2017 12:26 am

Token wrote:An older 1-ton dually with a cargo or horse trailer may be something to consider.

That way you can have the trailer stored and the truck parked near someone who can give it a spin once a month.

Both can be had dirt cheap provided you are able to to do some wrenching.
Reminds of the dually truck with Blue Ox towing on it. This would be a better option if he is mechanically inclined, as well as the person who will let it in on his garage.

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Re: Purchasing an ex-rental box truck

Post by mattcamp » Tue Jun 06, 2017 1:20 am

arthur02 wrote:
Token wrote:An older 1-ton dually with a cargo or horse trailer may be something to consider.

That way you can have the trailer stored and the truck parked near someone who can give it a spin once a month.

Both can be had dirt cheap provided you are able to to do some wrenching.
Reminds of the dually truck with Blue Ox towing on it. This would be a better option if he is mechanically inclined, as well as the person who will let it in on his garage.
I doubt it would be big enough... I need a minimum of a 26' truck and that will possibly also be used to tow a light trailer of yurts and bikes.

Being based in the UK and having no camp members at all in the USA means we are very limited on our options... we'll have a couple of weeks to purchase and service whatever we buy and then it will need to be stored at whatever commercial storage facility we can find (there are a few options on the table here but nothing I've found yet that would be willing to give it a spin).

Total budget is around the $8000 mark (for the one-off cost, year on year target is much lower) so that also rules out many of the more expensive options, including semi-trailer rental.

While we're not mechanics we're able enough to handle basic maintenance (filters, fluids, pumps, etc) so at present the plan is to use jack stands and tyre covers along with enough time and money budgeted for a service each year. That still seems to work out a bunch cheaper than renting a semi-trailer (which is what we'd need for equivalent space).

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Re: Purchasing an ex-rental box truck

Post by Token » Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:04 am

Wow, that is a tall order on that budget and with those requirements. Good luck.

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Re: Purchasing an ex-rental box truck

Post by Doctor VonBacon » Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:11 am

Umm.. ever think of pairing up with a stateside camp or two and forming a village? It would seem that you have a lot of infrastructure to offer a smaller (local) camp(s) and they could assist you with your logistical needs..

Or am I oversimplifying everything?
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Re: Purchasing an ex-rental box truck

Post by mattcamp » Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:39 am

Doctor VonBacon wrote:Umm.. ever think of pairing up with a stateside camp or two and forming a village? It would seem that you have a lot of infrastructure to offer a smaller (local) camp(s) and they could assist you with your logistical needs..

Or am I oversimplifying everything?
Has definitely been considered but so far we haven't found anyone who was compatible (in terms of size, location and expenditure).

As we're only in the USA for a couple of weeks a year it hasn't been easy to organise such things.

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Re: Purchasing an ex-rental box truck

Post by some seeing eye » Tue Jun 06, 2017 11:34 am

The Burning Man org containers and Bruno's are sold out as you know.

There are new trailers that can drop and pick up cargo containers if the load can be tilted. But you might chat with the approved vendors to see what services they have available that would meet your needs - list in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=65&t=80563. Burner Bungalows allowed year around storage in their 20' units, not sure they are back.

It would be interesting to have a all box truck all the time camp.
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