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Old 03-16-2011, 10:34 AM   #1
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Question UHaul vs. Penske trucks for build

I was thinking of starting with a straight van for my first build and for weekend camping until I can move up to a full time rig when I retire (years from now). I looked at UHaul and the 26ft vans, 1989 model year, all have approx 200,000 miles and are all priced at $3395.
I looked at the Penske had to offer and they have newer trucks (2005's on average) but the mileage tend to be in the upper 200's to over 300k. They want significantly more money too (>$15,000 - $25,000) for their trucks.
Can those who have had experience with these trucks give the pros and cons of buying a UHaul vs. a Penske truck. That's quite a bit of cost difference for a truck with the approx the same mileage. I'm leaning towards the UHauls based on the lower price and cab-over box where a bed could be built. My thought is the significant cost savings could be used to have any maintenance performed to "refresh" the truck (brakes, etc).
Also, what is the average lifespan, mileage wise, of the diesel engines these trucks run? Is 200,000 miles towards the end of their life or should they last longer with regular maintenance?
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Old 03-16-2011, 12:29 PM   #2
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I would defiantly take a closer look at the Penske over the U-haul
2 different sets of renters, the U-Haul was used every trip by folks that never drove anything that big in their life. Backed over curbs, idled all day. Late braking at intersections the list goes on and on.

Penske usually rents out to businesses who need a truck for short term fleet additions or while their regular truck is in for service. They are usually driven by guys that are used to that type of truck. the same millage in shorter time tells me, more highway, less short trips back and forth in town with the U-haul.

Personally, if you are going to invest 15K into a Penske truck then another 15-25K just to very basically construct it. Go to Racing Junk and by a completed unit for 40 and drive it next week! tons of RV's and Hauler trucks in that range.
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Old 03-16-2011, 02:31 PM   #3
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Agreed. I converted a freightliner straight truck, and did a lot of investigation. The u-haul trucks are usually in very poor condition. They run them till near death by less than professional repair methods. The penkse trucks are well maintained, but will get rid of them at the first decent problem. i bought mine from an independent dealer from truckpaper.com. FL60 53k miles, liftgate, 24ft box, 24.9k gross (under CDL) for $9000.00

Great truck.
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Old 03-16-2011, 03:23 PM   #4
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Blizz-

There you go again, trying to talk people out of it. lol. And you with the nicest homebuilt rig out there! I have seen your cost breakdown though, so i can see where you are coming from. If you really want to scare them off, post that list everytime you give somebody this warning. lol.

The problem for me, and presumably for a lot of would-be builder like myself is that even knowing the cost will work out about the same in the long run, the problem is we don't have or don't want to borrow the 40 grand up front. But it is a lot easier to come up with the chassis (check) and then the money to get it checked out and serviced (check) and then the money to buy the steel (check) and then the rest can be spread out every time there is enough money for a Home Depot run, or an Elkhart run. Plus it keeps my tools from rusting, and keeps me out of the house. But money availability not being an issue, I'd be with you and just buy one and get it over with.

Dave

Which reminds me, I had a question for you after looking all through your build photos a few times. It appears as if you just welded the front wall and roof wedge of the box to back and roof of the cab, constructing the front wall from plate steel. Is that accurate? And if so is that working out ok as far as cracking at that joint? I am wanting to go a similar route so I can get some standup room out of the drivers seat like you did, as opposed to a traditional accordian booted crawl through, but I was worried about flex between the rubber mounted cab, and the solid mounted box. I have a newer 6500 chassis like yours. Any thoughts or advice you would care to share on that issue? Thanks in advance! Dave
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Old 03-16-2011, 05:34 PM   #5
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Thanks for the great feedback. You're right, this is a buyers market now so I'll have to do some in-depth searches and see what's available already built. I'd like to stay away from a factory RV because I want the full size comforts (full size shower, toilet, etc). I'm "big boned" and I don't relish the idea of trying to squeeze in the average small RV bathroom, bedroom and other basic layouts I've seen. Thanks.
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Old 03-16-2011, 09:00 PM   #6
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Do what I did find a decent truck and then buy a uhaul box. Another bad thing about uhaul is that almost all are now gas and ALL are geared low and use fuel like that also.
I really like mine but I am still building it.
A build thead on it is here:
My F-700 RV/jeep transport build thread - Ford Truck Enthusiasts Forums
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Old 03-16-2011, 11:17 PM   #7
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yes I do try to talk folks out of building their own, even though this its a build it yourself forum.

I just cannot see the point of doing it yourself unless, you have a special need or requirment like I did the 9' door.

Had I known. my final costs would be pushing 90 grand, I would have bought a Class 8 and a fiver, then built my own bed on the truck.

I would sell my truck in a heart beat if someone would offer me 90% of my cash only investment, the time I spent designing nd building was priceless entertainment, but I am a fiscal realist.

While it looks finished it still needs several thousand dollars to complete. I have to replace the power awning that I mistakingly bought in Elkhart, Thus my Elkhart warnings! I would like to replace the cheapo Menard countertops and I would really like to redo my rear fuel filler doors, but I don't know where to start on those. The tanks take 20 minutes to top off.

I also would warn everyone ho easy it is to get the front axle over weight. Those over the cab bed units get heavy fast! Not enough rear over hang and the ft axle loads even faster.

There are so many skill sets it takes to build one of these, if you have the talents, you are money ahead, if not, at 50 bucks an hour 5000-10,000 in labor doesn't by a lot.

Advise to anyone starting.. get a Menards card, use the discounts, watch the sales flyer in the newspaper buy ahead on sale. buy more than you need, save receipts then once a month bring all the surplus back to be credited to your Menards card.

Would I do it again? probably not, like I said, the class 8 makes more sense, I could build it to fit in my shop, and store the 5vr at the local storage yard or behind my shop.

again, follow my build at your peril, but I'm willing to share anything I learned.
-blizz
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Old 03-16-2011, 11:23 PM   #8
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Nice build Mekanic! How much did you pay for the Uhaul box? I wonder how one would fit/look on the back of an HDT (would have to be one without the overhang)?
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Old 03-16-2011, 11:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blizzardND View Post
yes I do try to talk folks out of building their own, even though this its a build it yourself forum.

I just cannot see the point of doing it yourself unless, you have a special need or requirment like I did the 9' door.

Had I known. my final costs would be pushing 90 grand, I would have bought a Class 8 and a fiver, then built my own bed on the truck.

I would sell my truck in a heart beat if someone would offer me 90% of my cash only investment, the time I spent designing nd building was priceless entertainment, but I am a fiscal realist.

While it looks finished it still needs several thousand dollars to complete. I have to replace the power awning that I mistakingly bought in Elkhart, Thus my Elkhart warnings! I would like to replace the cheapo Menard countertops and I would really like to redo my rear fuel filler doors, but I don't know where to start on those. The tanks take 20 minutes to top off.

I also would warn everyone ho easy it is to get the front axle over weight. Those over the cab bed units get heavy fast! Not enough rear over hang and the ft axle loads even faster.

There are so many skill sets it takes to build one of these, if you have the talents, you are money ahead, if not, at 50 bucks an hour 5000-10,000 in labor doesn't by a lot.

Advise to anyone starting.. get a Menards card, use the discounts, watch the sales flyer in the newspaper buy ahead on sale. buy more than you need, save receipts then once a month bring all the surplus back to be credited to your Menards card.

Would I do it again? probably not, like I said, the class 8 makes more sense, I could build it to fit in my shop, and store the 5vr at the local storage yard or behind my shop.

again, follow my build at your peril, but I'm willing to share anything I learned.
-blizz

Blizz,
Would you take on building a custom trailer using a commercial trailer body? Was wondering if you think it would be a little easier. I keep leaning towards this because I haven't seen a factory 5ver that meets my needs or fits me (or is durable enough for long term). I wanted to get your thoughts on this route since you've got experience doing a truck build.
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Old 03-16-2011, 11:46 PM   #10
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I was going to mention...
once you buy a good used truck, you now own a good used truck, if you decide after you have cut holes for windows and invested in those windows, your reciepts start to add up and you run out of money or interest in the project, you are pregnent, to sell you will suffer a huge loss, and even at that, you may be a happy man seeing that money pit roll away from your driveway.

these things are big, projects, perhaps smaller in size but really bigger and more complicated than most of those "home buy and flip programs" on tv.

Folks understand carpet, sheetrock and landscaping. Try to get help with a AC / DC electrical panel wired to a generator while having the ability to plug into shore power or run off 4 golfkart batteries.
you need a set of buddies just as crazy as you and me to understand why you are doing this, when you can just by that RV in the newspaper for 50 cents on the dollar from its 2008 prices.

Your budget will suffer just purchasing the truck, licencing and painting that big yellow box and truck.

Before you buy. Price it all out. You have to have a budget to keep you on track,

Search this site, read my build, read Rad St.Clairs project. Both are small truck builds with really high price tags. I don't even have a stove or conventional oven. I didn't by a 1000 dollar rv fridge, I cut a slug of corners and bought most stuff used or at cost or on sale. You buy retail, you pay sales tax on every nail, screw board or chunk of steel tubing.

By a used unit on RJ then re-carpet, pop a new shower and stool when the budget allows, but use your cash for diesel fuel, enjoy it, take the family out on weekends, tailgate at the college football game, enjoy the investment rather than worry about every being able to finish it.

blizz
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Old 03-16-2011, 11:54 PM   #11
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Thanks Blizz, good advice.
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Old 03-17-2011, 01:28 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dgorila1 View Post
Nice build Mekanic! How much did you pay for the Uhaul box? I wonder how one would fit/look on the back of an HDT (would have to be one without the overhang)?
Ok so I have to tell you I consider myself a professional tightwad. I live by myself. and really watch big phurchases.
Now when I went to dream about this project I should tell you I have only tent camped up untill now, so what will make me comfortable is probibly on a whole different level than what most people who have RVs level of comfort.
I do not plan on installing a bathroom or even a sink in my vehicle.
Just a nice big comfy (queen size) bed, fridge, Microwave, genset, 110V outlets, flatscreen TV, dvd player and a fold down table.
So I found a 1994 F-700 with a 32,700 GVW which is a little higher than I wanted but it has the 5.9L cummins that I wanted. the truck has 107K on it and it runs like new. No A/C but I can live with that.
Truck?? Try $2500. No joke.
The box is your typical U-hbaul box it is not dent free but doesn't look to bad.
The box was $1500.
I have bought 3 windows on Fleabay for less than $100 INCLUDING shipping!
these are camper windows really not house windows.
All in all I should end up with less than 8,000 in this truck.
I kind of like the heavyness of the truck as I could tow basicly anything I can attach to the bumper hitch without a problem.
This truck has a double frame and good air brakes.
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Old 03-17-2011, 08:37 AM   #13
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Nice! Keep us updated with plenty of pics as you progress and your final total cost.
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Old 03-17-2011, 01:20 PM   #14
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I think there are 2 routes to this hobby,

One like mine and many of the others with commercial T/C's. Guys that buy or build our RV's to travel cross country and spend time with wive and children, most of us have been down the standard RV motor home route and found their quality, power and design lacking; so we invest in a project or purchase a T/C to meet those needs with as much attention to detail and creature comforts as a commercial RV.

The flip side, guys like Mekanic just wants a fun cheap project to camp locally, and maybe tow a race car to the track, or dune-buggy to the sand and have a place to sleep in comfort when the day is over. They require nothing fancy, and are ok with the "look". Because they fit in with the others that are out racing, dune-bugging or motorcycling with them. I fact the toughness of their truck look might even be a added bonus.

Different stroke for different folks, both have pluses and minuses.

I just get concerned when I see someone mentioning that they are going to buy a wore out foundation in the form of a beat up U-haul, to build an expensive project atop it. winding up with a 30K RV that they could have just bought from RJ for 15.

More than one guy has mentioned my build as their "inspiration" or something to that effect, while I'm flattered, I don't think that is warranted, I'm just a guy that started a project with a plan, and a budget, then blew the budget all to hell. and I feel that once I've recovered from the poison ivy patch it should be my job to warn others of the leafy weed.

Its all fun...
-blizz
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Old 03-17-2011, 05:00 PM   #15
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I've said it before and I'll repeat. The RV parts industry is DEAD! Call the manufacturers and buy direct. Don't be shy, they're hurting and will sell to anyone. The windows, doors, shower, water pump, seals, generator, walls, etc. can all be bought for a fraction. My truck may not be the glamor ride, but I bought the truck for 9k and conversion for 11k. I have 20k in a truck that will last for years and has already saved me tons of money on the road.

I've owned entertainer coaches, and I now have the pseudo toy hauler. Both have their purpose, but one can cost way more than the other.
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Old 03-17-2011, 05:14 PM   #16
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One other thing to keep in mind is licensing. Be sure to go to the BMV or courthouse in your state and find out the specifics of licensing as a motorhome. Be very sure you are getting the correct information because most of the personnel there tend to be very undereducated on the issue. You may find you need to install that bathroom or at least a sink with running water after all. The laws vary wildly from state to state, and trust me you do not want to be forced to license commercial and deal with logs, scales, etc., you will want to change the title to a motorhome.

Here in Ohio it is pretty simple. You have an affidavit to fill out at the courthouse and must have: a- a permanent bed, b- permanent cold storage for food (which can be an ice box or refrigerator) c- permanent table with seating and 4- permanent cooking (either range top or oven). And permanent means permanent means permanently installed, a cooler and bbq grill and a camp potty do not count. In Ohio you used to have to have it inspected by the highway patrol, but now you just fill out the paperwork. That is the exception to the rule, most states require inspection.

Definitely something you need to check out in advance, it would really suck to have to put in a bathroom after everything else was all done.

Good Luck! Dave
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Old 03-18-2011, 08:57 AM   #17
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One other thing. Even tho you don't want a sink now, maybe consider putting one in. You might decide down the road you'd want one and it would be much more expensive and difficult to do. Or, something catastrophic might happen and you'd have to sell it and with no sink it could make it much harder to sell. It will also likely satisfy one of the requirements to license as an rv. My rig was built with just a cook top, no gas oven. I'm now in the middle of building in an oven and I sure wish they would have just built it that way from the get go. And the sink I think would be even harder.
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