Massachusetts

“Hey guys, I was just wondering what you all started out with as far as a bucket truck. I have the chance to buy a hand-me-down bucket truck from either Verizon or Comcast. Its got 38 feet of reach, plus I have a Stihl 13-foot pole saw. Do you think it would be smart to buy that bucket truck just as a starter to my tree work fleet? It’s got a utility body for great storage, also. Let me know what you think. I’m only paying $2,700. Needs a little work, but that’s nothing. Any pros or cons you can think of would be great. I know it’s not a 60-footer like most of yours, but I have to start somewhere.”

Pennsylvania

“I would rather spend $2,700 (plus the cost of repairs) on climbing and rigging equipment. A short bucket like that doesn’t give you enough height, unless your trees are no taller that 40 to 50 feet. I would suggest saving your money and just climbing. If you need a lift of some sort, check your rental yards for a tracked unit that you can rent. I don’t have a bucket, but haven’t had a job yet that I couldn’t do without one or rent something to do it. I would concentrate on a chipper and chip truck.”

California

“I think they have a lot of great storage in the box, but [38 feet] is not too high. You will be doing a lot of climbing out of the bucket to keep climbing. How old is the unit? By what I have seen, those units get driven hard. Wonder if it is near its end or has other low-lying problems. Don’t think it would be a wise investment, especially since so many trees are taller then 40 feet. A GRCS would be way higher on my list than a short bucket.”

U.S.A.

“That bucket truck is the same size as the first one I had. I sure regret getting rid of it. It was able to get into the tight spaces my new one won’t. Another thought is, what can you buy these days for $2,700 that will generate you revenue? That 38-foot truck will save a lot of climbing. Now, I go up 55 feet and climb from there. I am also old, so the need to prove I can climb went by the wayside a long time ago; now I use all the tools to make the job easier! If you can jump in that truck and work for one and a half days, it’s paid for. Maybe even in less time.”

California

“I think the questions to ask are: What are the majority of trees you work on? How old are you, or how old is your climber, and what is the situation your business is in? Do you have a place to keep the truck? How much is the insurance a year? Fuel economy?

“I would definitely look into finding a mechanic to check it out and check the boom out, find out what condition it is in. Hopefully this can help you make a wise decision.

“In my opinion, and this is just me personally, I would buy a GRCS.”

U.S.A.

“Agreed, 38 feet isn’t all that tall, but it could make the guy some coin to invest in a bigger truck or other equipment. We have no idea what type of work this person does or what type and size of trees he works on.

“We did three years of elm pruning with the one we had, it more than paid for itself, and made it possible to purchase other equipment. I had mine for five years and sold it for more than I paid for it. It’s all about availability and usage.

“It took a long time to get used to the 55-foot, had to park a long way away a lot of times. Shorter booms are great for getting inside the crown.”

California

“Buying equipment that needs work seems to be a universal mistake for all at least one time in our career. That is why I was wondering why they are so cheap. Aren’t those trucks F-550 with utility boxes? That should be worth a token in its own respect.”

Colorado

“I think your equipment says a lot about your business. If you show up to a customer’s house with a backfiring, rickety, hydraulic oil-leaking bucket truck with a crooked boom, they probably won’t recommend you to their neighbors. On the other hand, we all have to start somewhere. I started (two years ago) with a 1975, 60-foot HiRanger that I picked up for $11,000 and used that for a year, and then upgraded to a 1997, 60-foot Altec, which is a hell of a lot nicer (aesthetically and in function). That $11,000 investment got us started and now sits in the back of our yard. We don’t use it anymore, and will probably get rid of it next year, but right now we are using it as collateral on a loan for newer equipment and as a tax write-off.”

“In Your Own Words” is contributed from www.TreeServicesSite.com. Visit the forum, and join in the discussions.