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Thinking about adding a new wrecker to the mix


Andy
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Ive never even been in a wrecker to know what to expect. I own a 2015 f550 4x4 roll back that’s more than paid for itself. I foresee winter winch outs and recovery  tows as an easy way to cover the cost of a new wrecker. I’m skilled in bad weather driving and winch outs it’s kind of part of my DNA so it’s a good fit. 
 

But I really have no idea what is the right configuration of a truck to buy. I know I want self loading wheel lift and the easiest to use rear dolly system. I plan to be a lazy old tow truck driver for years to come and won’t be skimping on a few dollars now to regret it ten plus years down the road. 
 

so my questions would be something like this keep in mind  that I have a very nice roll back for normal weather for cars and light vehicles. What length and body configuration is going to serve me best for really bad weather ice snow high wind and getting up or down a steep driveways roads etc. 

 

my train of thought is short standard cab 4wd diesel powered F550 Ford or 5500 Dodge in 4x4 but I like having the extended cab for people or gear. Or would a crew cab matter in its performance for the type of use I’m buying it for.  And if the roads clear I have my roll back. Some winters we get very little snow and ice then there’s the ones that roll in in November and leave in may. Ideally I’ll chain it up when storms hit and not be taking them off and on a lot. I know that won’t always be possible  
 

and to complicate that off winter season I’d like to be able to tow things like one ton crew cab LWB trucks with the wrecker theres just a little more the roll back I have now should be used for and for sure legally not. This is also why the 550 or 5500 is what I think I need. I pass up just enough of these types of tows to be part of the scheme in getting the boss ( my wife) to ok this purchase. 

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I run a 2015 Dodge 5000 standard cab 4x4 84" CA with a tunnel tool box.  The long wheel base is a must.  I also have two leafs added to the rear springs.   It has an MPL40 on the back.   Its about as perfect of an all around truck as I can get.  I have the sling, which is a pain and in the way of your view, but when you need it, you really need it, so I wouldnt be caught without it.   I hate Ford... sorry guys... but I really wish Dodge would do like Ford and I would go with an extended cab with the 84" CA... I dont want 4 door.... just a little more wheelbase would be nice at times..... although I would just be overloading it anyway... so its prolly best I dont have it.   Check out the Renegade that Eds built... its about as perfect of an all around truck that I could think of too.  Here is a picture of my 2011 Dodge 5500 towing a 3500 Dodge.  Both our 2011 and 2015 are still in service.  My 2015 is the same spec.

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I am with ESC... Ram / Cummins 5500 4x4 84"c.a. all day, every day.. Since we bought our first Ram in 2012, I will NEVER own another Ford.. 

The Chevron Renegade 408a ( dont quote me on the model #, I might be wrong ) the one with the stiff legs is a killer recovery unit. That is the truck / unit that is on my wish list for the near future. My 2012 Ram 3500 4x4 has the older version of this set up minus the stiff legs and it is an awesome rugged unit. It has served us well for over 20 years and benn on 2 different truck chassis.  

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PROFESSIONAL TOWING & RECOVERY IS NOT JUST A JOB.. IT IS A LIFESTYLE

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And now that I’ve got the green light from my wife I can’t find a truck. Same thing happened in 2015 when I bought my roll back 

 

ive now searched the us top to bottom. Looks like I will have to order what I want wait for a truck to show up and hope they can get a wrecker box installed before winter rolls in. 
 

ive only found a couple of used ones of interest to me and there to high mileage come from states with heavy de icer use or so close in price to a new one I will wait for one to be built. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have found a new super cab F550 4X4 with the extra leaf springs or HD package its a 84CA bed length which poses a few questions. 

 

Will the length of this thing be to much to deal with bad weather roads etc especially getting into places for recoveries and things like that. Most likely it will be chained up on all four corners or should I really target the shorter truck. 

 

And how much more stabile will this length be towing heavier rigs in a sling or on the wheel lift. Which might offset some of its length in the above question 

 

 

thanks for your input. 

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So there are a lot of variables involved with finding the "perfect" truck for your scenario. To me, a truck needs to be versatile and fill the needs that I'm looking for. It needs to have value regardless of the cost. And I prefer a unit that will outwork the chassis it's on. I don't want my "tool" to break...I want to control my outcome by my abilities and what my truck can handle.

 

For me, I wouldn't buy a regular cab. No room and the added wheelbase makes the truck perform that much better. We run extended cabs which are fairly comfortable to sit back there and our Ford has as much room as a crew cab Dodge. Now we have had 60" & 84" ca trucks and both work well. Currently I have an 84"...and a number of reasons for it that I'll discuss. Sometimes it's a little harder to get around in but when you run it all the time, you don't realize it. Maybe in a metropolitan situation I would feel different but the added abilities outweigh the size restrictions.

 

As for the Ford/Dodge issue...that's a lot about personal preference. I'm a Ford guy, and it works good for us. Not to pick on Dodge, but a couple issues I have is every dealer will tell you that you have to add springs to make them perform...or they squat like a school girl...LoL They already ride like a rock and will wear holes in your T shirt from your nipples bouncing... Many guys don't like the Fords due to the 6.0 / 6.4 years and there is merit in those situations. But in all seriousness, they both will do a good job.

 

As for units, I was always a Jerr-Dan guy. We bought a Chevron because JD didn't make what we were looking for. So I'll discuss that unit 1st.

 

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This truck is tough as hell and a great profit earner in my business plan due to the type of work we do. It's capabilities for recovery are excellent. The bottom line is the legs make a huge difference...they are a "game changer" period. This truck will sit still & pull a house down.

 

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Fronts off the ground and it's pulling a loaded unit w/ 35k in the box in unplowed snow...

 

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So sitting still, and the fact that we had this built with 12k, air free spool winches w/ 7/16 rope, this trucks ability opens up other profit centers. It's not a Heavy by any means, but we perform "heavy duty" jobs all the time at appropriate price structures. But this only matters if you get calls for that type of work. If your primary call is light duty stuff then it my be characteristics that you don't require. Remember this is great but it comes at a cost...This truck was like $130,000. So anyway, having these abilities, it can do more so you need to carry more...that's where the added tunnel box comes in. This truck has a fork set up, snatch block racks, and a lot of rigging to match what it can recover & tow. We carry a lot of stuff so the space is nice. But the other side of the coin is towing...and it does a good job. The legs that benefit the recovery, hurt the towing ability because you loose 10" of wheel lift. They stick out too far. Any vehicle with a big overhang is an issue. You have to tilt them high so the tail swings over the back of the truck. I'm also not a fan of the Self Loader T head. They scoop up rocks, dirt and everything else in to the mechanism. For my area, it's always a problem. Maybe guys in the concrete jungle will never have an issue...but we have to clean them out all the time.

 

This unit replaced a similar truck with a Jerr-Dan MPL40 on it...

 

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To compare the two, the JD boom was stronger in my opinion. The wheel lift was much better in that it was indestructible. The Chevron L arms will swing all the way around but it's not enough benefit to me to offset it's downfalls. The Chevron is much heavier but in all the wrong places. The new truck is substantially heavier then the old one and primarily on the rear where you would rather not have it. In my opinion the JD body is more service friendly, not that I don't like the Chevron. But if a car hits you in the rear corner on the Jerr-Dan, you could be up & running in a day with parts. The Chevron is going to be a $10,000-15,000 hit and require real crash work. It's just in the simplicity of the JD design that makes it easy, all the pieces are an easy R&R. 

 

Good luck with your decision and I hope this will help.

 

We got something in the works which should be the Ultimate Light duty but it's a few months out....Stay tuned!

 

 

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Thanks  you helped me a lot. 

 

I may go with the MPL40 and forgo the drop legs and just go with a spade bit or build something to dig. I am going with 12,000 pound twin line winches. I like dragging stuff:) 

 

Two functions of this wrecker are winter winch outs most of which will be cars and one ton or lighter trucks. At least that’s what i think. The other function is towing either on a sling or the wheel lift, vehicles that are to heavy for my roll back which is a 4WD F550 ex cab as well. Its limited in carrying anything more than a light crew cab half ton truck. Even then I’m over legally on wheel weight regardless of where its put. And i think its a 50/50 toss up for which one of those two uses will be where the truck pays for itself. 

 

9 months out of the year this truck will probably sit a lot as the roll back will most likely always be the go to truck when possible. 

 

I have a plan for the extended cab. First I’m a fabricator of sorts I plan to remove the single portion of the split rear seat and make this a storage area. This might offset the lack of a tunnel box as I want the extended cab over a tunnel box but not the length of both because there are a lot of mountain roads around here and maneuvering on these roads turning around in tight places etc in bad road conditions is a big priority. My tuck also sits in a secured lot in the middle of nowhere so i can build chain and cable racks that are behind the cab without them being stolen every time it sits. So theres a way to improve storage. 

 

OK about the drop legs and there interference with vehicles with a lot of overhang because i really like the looks of the chevron box with drop legs is it something I can live with when towing trucks and box vans or not. I also know it adds quite a bit of weight to the whole show which is also a factor as these F550 and lighter trucks are really legally challenged to begin with when you start getting down to GVW and loaded wheel GVWs I live on a state line and tow back and forth over state lines and theres weigh stations. Also thinking about repairing the Chevron equipment is something to think about. 

 

Price wise your spot on with what I’m pencilling in. If I’m forced to wait until next summer for a truck I will order a Lariet. The dodge is out for me because of two things ther fuel tank is like a teacup. 22 gallons I think the Fords 28 gallon fuel tank sucks to begin with. And it becomes a loss of time. Seems like some days I’m already filling up three times. And  I do not want the added length the Dodge crew cab adds even though its not much over the Ford extended cab. I’m trying to get someone in the NW to put my desires in writing with a fairly close ball park to actually have an idea. No one here on the west coast is even interested in that. Meanwhile several dealers on the east coast dealers think there going to be able to fill this order 3 to 6 months faster than anyone on the west coast.  However its really not a huge rush unless someone can land me some truck keys before winter hits which no ones been able to do that anywhere. Thanks again 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have found and ordered a new wrecker. Its like the song you cant always get what you want but I did get what I needed. And its enough of what I wanted to be ok all the way around. 

 

Its a 2021 XLT F550 extended cab with and MPL40 twin line Jerr Dan wrecker no tunnel box.  In reality I would have changed two things if it was possible. I would have liked a Lariet but thats superficial and the chevron wrecker body. 

 

It will be done by the end of Sept I imagine and in reality I was hoping for delivery by the end of October so I’m pretty sure its in time. Weather here is a little odd some falls. We might not see snow till January so who knows. 

 

Its of coarse about as far away as one might imagine. I’m trying to find a wrecker training class between there and here in the time frame and maybe I can hit that on my way home and look like a fool driving up in my new wrecker. But I will get over it. I dont know if I mentioned this but I havent even sat in a wrecker since the mid 80s let alone operated one. But I’m a quick study and there ain’t no turning back now. Its funny my wifes more excited about it than me however all she does is make sure I get paid for my work hell shes even making my son do that. I guess I’d be happy to if she landed a new job with the potential for more money and all I had to do was spend it. 

 

Maybe I will be more excited about it when I sit in it:) I do know that i was unsure about buying the roll back in 2015 but it has turned out to have worth while. In the beginning it helped me enough in just keeping cars moving between the two shops enough that I didnt even really need to see a profit from customer and insurance tows. Now that ive backed out of running the shops the towing is something I like to do and it is also something I hope to be able to do much longer than physically working the shops and for sure its less stress than running two of them. 

 

Thanks for your help Andy 

 

 

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17 hours ago, Andy said:

I have found and ordered a new wrecker. Its like the song you cant always get what you want but I did get what I needed. And its enough of what I wanted to be ok all the way around. 

 

Its a 2021 XLT F550 extended cab with and MPL40 twin line Jerr Dan wrecker no tunnel box.  In reality I would have changed two things if it was possible. I would have liked a Lariet but thats superficial and the chevron wrecker body. 

 

It will be done by the end of Sept I imagine and in reality I was hoping for delivery by the end of October so I’m pretty sure its in time. Weather here is a little odd some falls. We might not see snow till January so who knows. 

 

Its of coarse about as far away as one might imagine. I’m trying to find a wrecker training class between there and here in the time frame and maybe I can hit that on my way home and look like a fool driving up in my new wrecker. But I will get over it. I dont know if I mentioned this but I havent even sat in a wrecker since the mid 80s let alone operated one. But I’m a quick study and there ain’t no turning back now. Its funny my wifes more excited about it than me however all she does is make sure I get paid for my work hell shes even making my son do that. I guess I’d be happy to if she landed a new job with the potential for more money and all I had to do was spend it. 

 

Maybe I will be more excited about it when I sit in it:) I do know that i was unsure about buying the roll back in 2015 but it has turned out to have worth while. In the beginning it helped me enough in just keeping cars moving between the two shops enough that I didnt even really need to see a profit from customer and insurance tows. Now that ive backed out of running the shops the towing is something I like to do and it is also something I hope to be able to do much longer than physically working the shops and for sure its less stress than running two of them. 

 

Thanks for your help Andy 

 

 

I'm glad you made the jump!  You will be happy.  I can't say I am a Ford fan, mainly because of the way the local dealers have done us wrong in the past.  But, That extended cab really will be nice.  It will also be a good wheel base as a happy medium.... you can still get around tight areas ok, and still haul some weight.... not that you'll ever over load it i am sure. :)  I really wouldnt want to be without my tunnel box, and would love it if Dodge would add an extended cab on my next one.

 

Add some heavier springs on the rear and it will be perfect.  Dont forget all of the added attachments they offer for the MPL40.  They can set it up with an ice spade that can go on the boom.  And we have the gooseneck, motorcycle and standard trailer adapters on ours as well.

 

I just ran 145 miles to NY for this Diesel F350 crew cab work truck last week...... never would have wanted to do that trip with a shorter wheel base.

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i added the ice spade bit and sling. I will probably build or buy the fifth wheel attachment but I can haul most trailers with my Gm dually already I’ll probably never see a motorcycle if so I’ll put in on my rollback. 
 

I started designing a storage compartment for the small seat section of the back seat going to make one for each truck and remove that section, I’m pretty crafty if time ever presents itself I tig and mig weld aluminum can bend thick materials as well. 
 

for the life of me I could not have a truck without a back seat, and I will probably fabricate all kinds of hangers for chains bars boards etc off the light bar and rear deck when I figure out what I need. 
 

I really need a wrecker class because I know nothing about how to maximize this trucks potential and be safer doing so, 

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

Here’s the new truck. Were 2/3rds the way home made a couple stops to see family and friends on the way. Signed myself and my son up for a week long training class in October as well. Oh and also my first wrecker job;) this parking barrier was drug out into the middle of the isle at one of the places I stopped for lunch. I guess I’m now confident I can move something that weighs 110 pounds. Played  with the dollies yesterday. Little more work than the lazy days of a rollback. But someday soon I’ll be dragging cars out of snow banks and trees. 
 

 

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What a nice ride...Best of luck with it!

 

As for the Lariet, you typically have to order that. I don't know of many companies that spec that way. We just ordered one for delivery 3rd Qtr next year. Pretty much the only difference is leather seating and I think the availability of LED headlamps.

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  • 3 weeks later...

For what it's worth the Chevron's will sit pretty good even without the legs. This is my little honey badger pulling out a 24kish traffic truck that was buried at all 4 corners in sand. I had 2 wheel chocks on the back axle and she didn't move an inch once they bit.20191113_100258.thumb.jpg.cb62b8b40fb3b55309c27cd9440530e7.jpg

 

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