Carting materials: Trailer or beater truck, van?

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I recently bought a house that's going to need some fairly major updating, remodeling, etc. I'm not concerned about being able to do the various tasks involved, most of which I have done before, but this will be the 1st time I'll need to transport fairly large quantities of materials (like maybe 5-6 interior doors at once, 8+ sheets of drywall, 4x8 sheets of plywood, maybe some French doors to replace the sliders I want to remove, etc.) & we don't own a truck. I'm trying to decide between a trailer (to be pulled by my wife's auto trannied Subaru Impreza) or a beater pickup/van. Up sides of the trailer would probably be cost & insurance. Downside is I've never pulled one & would need to learn that. I don't know much about selecting a truck. Obviously to lay 4x8 sheets flat (not that that's essential, I guess) , you need 4' between the wheel wells, so we're talking a bigger model. For a truck I'd be looking at something in the 2-3 grand range (less for a trailer, I hope), if that's doable. I't doesn't have to be PRETTY ;-) If anyone has any helpful suggestions about this, especially specific trailer/truck model suggestions, please share them. I know I could have all the stuff delivered, but I plan to do this over time as time & $$$ allow, so I'd prefer to just have the ability to go get what I want w/out having to deal with repeated deliveries, charges, etc. Also we're new here, so I don't really have anyone whose truck I could borrow, plus I'd kinda hate to bug somebody repeatedly even if I did...
Thanks
Dan
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I have a trailer which is 6X8 works just fine for hauling what I need for my house. BUT, there is an alternative for you without going to the expense of purchasing a truck or trailer. My trailer costs almost 700.00. The Big Box stores offer a rental vehicle @ around 20.00 for 45 min. I believe they also offer delivery.
Searcher
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Thanks for the reply. $700 for a decent trailer seems pretty decent. What make/model is it? I've seen those renta trucks outside HD etc. Not a bad alternative, cheaper than delivery & no waiting around.
Dan
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Around here (Phoenix AZ area) I see a lot of trailers made out of 1/2 of a beater truck. They cut the frame at the front of the pickup bed and weld on a tongue, using the existing rear wheels of the truck.
Not sure where you would find one of these homebrew trailers, or how much they cost. My only thought was that it would be the size of a full-size pickup bed if that's what you started with.
Just a suggestion, sorry I couldn't be more help.
Jerry
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Thanks for the reply. Yeah I've seen those too. Probably a good option if you already have a truck with a shot driveline, & the required welding skills, both of which I unfortunately am a bit short on ;-)
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They're often too short for 4x8 sheets too.
--
Chris Lewis,

Age and Treachery will Triumph over Youth and Skill
  Click to see the full signature.
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get a ford F150. darn near indestructible, and usualy are already ugly when bought used.
(proud owner of one. either 200 or 300k miles and still going strong. still ugly though)
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wrote:

Thanks for the tip. There's a bunch of these on the local Craig's list. Seems like a pretty good supply in the $2K range. Is there a preferred motor/trans? I see 300 CID six's and 351 V8's, also 4X4's. Probably wouldn't need the 4 wheel drive, one more thing to break. Anything in particular to look out for on them (problem areas) in the 1985 to 1995 age range? Judging by the pics, some are even not tooooooo ugly!!!
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mine is a '86 with 300 inline six, rear wheel drive. so rusted out that it actually has decent gas mileage when not hauling (nearly 30mpg!)
dont expect any money back(i.e. depreciation) and if you record is good insurace wont jump that much(mine dropped when i combined it with the house insurance). rev has some points, but my position is a bit different.
also, I got mine for $400, limped it over to the auto garage and said "fix it" $800 later i said "fix it some more" then they ran out of stuff to fix, aside from replacing all the body panels with rust free parts. total cost into it as less than 3k, and i probably can sell it for $1500 no prob, but i aint. when enough body panels rust away enough, it'll become a bush truck that i'll use to pull stumps, tear down old barn foundations, erect a 40x80 workshop, and other such things you dont want to do with a "good" truck. then if the motor still runs, I have plans for an experimental airplane that it might fit into(hey, i can dream!)
oh, when my ford focus finaly gets paid off(in a few months) i'll got get me a NICE truck. maybe a F150 with an FM radio that works!
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I would STRONGLY suggest that you "contract out" the delivery.
BIG BOX stores (Lowe's, HD) will charge a fixed fee (around here it's $70) and for that they will bring your entire order. Moreover they will place it where you want/need it. If they drop it, they make it good.
When hauling away old junk, a power saw will reduce to manageable size most things and you can just haul them a little at a time to the local landfill.

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Thanks for the reply. I didn't know it was that much, I was thinking about $50. I see your point, but there's also the convenience of just being able to run over & get stuff. I wonder also, when your getting a delivery, do you pick out all the items personally or do you just give them a list? Wouldn't matter with something boxed like a water heater ( I need TWO) but like with lumber, I'd want to select it myself, not just tell them "15 2x4's", or pre-hung doors, several of which I saw yesterday at HD were pretty dinged up.
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...

I'll reiterate my suggestion -- forget the box stores for anything except the plainest of plain run-of-the-mill stuff that's on the shelves. Lumber, moulding, doors/windows, etc., etc., etc., should (imo) be bought from a "real" supplier. W/ a good supplier you _can_ tell them you need this and be assured it will show up and be what you need (and in the rare case it's not, tell them to take it back). Obviously you have to pre-select window/door styles, etc., but you won't get picked over stuff nor.
Again, you have to decide what the personal convenience factor is worth to you.
IMO, YMMV, $0.02, etc., etc., ... :)
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I've seen people do that, unfortunately I'm the only gardener I can afford!!! ;-)
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The cost analysis is a no-brainer -- it's virtually certain you'll come out far ahead simply having stuff delivered for the kind of quantities you're discussing -- and while it may seem fairly significant, unless you're only talking about the first weekend's work, this sounds like pretty small project(s). My practical recommendation would be mirroring others with a small addendum. Plan the materials for a sizable project well before starting, order them all at once from a _good_ supplier (the local BORG probably isn't that) and have it delivered and store it in the garage. Many full- service lumberyards will deliver at no additional charge and for the difference in service and quality any perceived savings in cost will quickly be overshadowed.
OTOH, there's the convenience factor, certainly. There it depends totally on what that's worth to you, but it can probably never be justified on a purely economic basis. Again, as you already know, the pickup will be had and shoulders more expensive than the trailer alternative, but there may be more overall utility in the truck if you could use a second vehicle anyway, and sometimes storage of the trailer is as much or more of a pita than the other vehicle. Driving w/ a small trailer is basically nothing other than paying some attention and learning a little about backing it when necessary, but no real problem. Small car can't handle a lot of weight, obviously, but you're, again, talking pretty minimal quantities here.
But, you're definition of "beater" and mine are quite a bit apart...:) I'd call the $2-3k truck a "work" truck--a beater would be $1k or (probably) less. Any thing that runs will handle what you're after. It doesn't even need to be long or wide bed -- to lay sheetrock flat, simply build a small platform to fit between the wheel wells and use an old sheet of 3/4 or 1" subflooring as a support platform. 2x and all that sort of stuff can slide in under between. But, once you have the truck, license and insurance, etc., are unending. OTOH, if it's a real beater, you can probably keep it for a couple years or so and get as much or more as you gave as they're to the point depreciation has essentially ended...
HTH with some viewpoints...
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Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I agree about the cost vs convenience factor. Also I'm surprised at the nice trucks I'm seeing on Craig's list (as a start) in the 2-3 k range. I really didn't know what was available. I could probably do with less! The trailer is probably the most attractive alternative, just not sure where I'd put the damned thing. A licensed vehicle you can park on the street etc. without anyone bitching, an empty trailer sitting idle for weeks at a time might be another matter.
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Dan wrote:

Some trailers can be folded and carted around. They're usually small capacity type - 200-300# load range - but the convenience can't be beat.
You fold one half over the other, stand it up, and roll it off on little castors.
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Dan wrote:

If you don't already own a truck, then a trailer will be the most useful. You can buy a used 16' trailer for less than 1K and you won't ever have to worry about not having enough space to haul stuff again. A trailer will burden the transmission on a vehicle that is not meant to haul one though.
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Dan, If I interpret your question correctly you are torn between taking a one time hit ie the purchase of a trailer vs the incremental costs of multiple deliveries. Its comes down to "own the tool vs, rent the tool." My solution has usually been to buy it and not have to worry every time. You'll probably find uses for the trailer you haven't yet anticipated. Joe G
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Factor in depreciation, insurance, taxes, maintenence, fuel, etc, and a trailer is the clear winner.
I just sold the last pickup truck I'll ever own.
-rev

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I think you're right. I'm seeing stuff like this: http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/car/314931351.html http://seattle.craigslist.org/sno/for/315133364.html http://seattle.craigslist.org/est/for/314199620.html http://seattle.craigslist.org/est/car/314535016.html
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