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It's A Light, Medium, Heavy Kind Of Job...

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Wasn't sure where to put this...it's a Pick Up...Pulling a 40' 5th Wheel Trl...and they called for a Heavy Wrecker so...It is what it is. Anyway, these folks were making their way around a detour when the driver had a "Coronary event" & passed out. The truck veered off the road, narrowly missed a pole head on, and ran in to a swampy are in the woods...





The Police were having animal control coming for their pet hound dog since the wife was riding with her husband to the hospital. We told them we would take care of her & had my Daughter in Law come pick her up to go back to the shop. She was pretty nervous...




Winched some boulders out of the way to ease the removal & post damage...




Lots of brush to clear & clean up so our van goes on every accident...




So there were more boulders under the trailer that were too big to move. If pulled straight, it would surely damage the axles more. So we decided to go ahead about 4' to clear the pole and then we would pull the trailer sideways & "crab walk" the unit up the bank. Used 2 rim slings through the wheel to spread the force to both axles. I figured the trailer at around #12,000....







She was a pretty good grunt for the 650 but she came through as always...





Once up on the black top, the guys started to clean up the mess while we got the trailer jacked down to unhook. Once secured, I pulled the truck out "junk yard" style just to get it out of the way. Then we could hook our truck to the trailer & load the pick up on a carrier...






We chained the axle up because we couldn't find a spare and the axle /frame was pretty screwed up...





All went pretty well. Fortunately the guy was ok. They were able to pick the dog up the next day and family came today to take them home. Truck was an 18' & the trailer a 19' so it will be a big dollar claim! 



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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

I recall it being pretty snug in there against the drum...the rim slings were 3/4" out of my heavy & a bit big for light duty applications. I have since gotten a few smaller ones for the smaller trucks.

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This recovery turned in to quite a nice job for us....a real adventure! The equipment sat at our place for a while till they determined what they were going to do. The truck was picked up by Copart & taken 35 mi away to their salvage pool. The trailer sat for 5 or 6 weeks in our storage until they totaled it. It was 2 weeks old & $73,000! We don't allow companies to work on our property & this wasn't just a hook and go so...Copart unhappily had to pay our rates to deliver it to their facility...




As said, we were paid for the recovery & truck storage when it was picked up but the insurance company had it re appraised. They came to the mid $30's and couldn't total it since it was a $63,000 truck! So they contacted us & requested if we would be interested in repairing it. We just started our body shop a few weeks before this and my original intention was for doing commercial work...not insurance so much. But after seeing the estimate we decided to jump in! The truck was written for a complete frame swap and everything OEM so I figured lets do it...




About 30 min in while we cleaned out the bed and found our 1st supplement...the bed floor was buckled due to the hitch...




So that added another $5 grand to the already high estimate. We put the truck in our mechanic shop while the body shop worked on painting components. Lifted the cab/front clip off the chassis and then removed the engine/transmission/transfer case as 1 piece with a wrecker...






Palletized the drivetrain & set out of the way. This made the swap work much easier...



Picking up the frame @ the dealer...



The customer requested if we could paint his chassis because GM puts a wax based tar paint on them that comes off easy & rusts even easier... So we stripped the whole frame and primed/refinished it...







My guys had it swapped in record time and then back to the body shop to get it's new suite...







Hood had a little damage from the incident but they also got caught in a hail storm in Nebraska on their trip which hammered the heck out of it...






In the end it came out like new or better...




Just thought guys might like to see the rest of the story.... It was a big task but in the end a profitable job from start to finish! 



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I replaced at least 24 frames in pickups the last couple years and i could always beat flat rate. Keep suspension and other pieces in as large of sections as possible. Separate as little as possible. Never had one come back with a squeek or a rattle either. Looks like you did a good job Ed.  Some insurance companies really drag out paying supplements. If it is a company you don't work with regularly, insist they overnight a check for the supplement before you release the vehicle. More and more body shops are doing this, sometimes we spend way too much time getting supplement payments and they drag on for months. Sometimes the insurance sends the supplement check to the customer and they think it is Christmas and they spend it instead of paying us.  Good luck in your body shop venture, it is challenging at times.


Check out our website at:  www.cjwagnerinc.com


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This insurance company was a pleasure to work with. From the original recovery job that they paid quickly without any issues, to the salvage transport which Copart had an issue with....they paid the job before we started it and the supplement as soon as we presented it.

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Ed.... that is a nice job throughout ….something to really get your teeth into...and the profit is sweet !! 


Shame they totalled the  5th wheeler  I guess it must have weighed about  12 ….14000 lbs….that looks like another nice big repair job as well 


we ran our own bodyshop for many years and did a lot of very big work ….sometimes the odd job tried my patience  and had the occasional battle with insurance cos over supplementarys  but normally if you kept them informed at every move they were ok ... 

in the UK …..several insurance companies have their own approved repairer network and occasionally we were approached to join the networks  guaranteeing large volumes of continuous work and fast track payment ……...but  they wanted  us  to do free tows....free storage.... discount on all parts and paint materials....  and work for a stupidly low labour rate ……..sorry,  No Thanks !!   we remained independant.

Wish you the best of luck with your new venture ….      btw … the new response van kooks really good.



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  • 8 months later...

RVs and Tow trucks can equal big bucks when they get together, I really miss the Tow trucks and the RV is leaving next.


Thank you for the photos.

John R.___" WATCH YOUR BACK"____

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