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Old 03-16-2011, 09:34 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, 11:29 AM   #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.
-blizz
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Old 03-16-2011, 01:31 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, 02:23 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, 04:34 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, 08:00 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, 10:17 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, 10:23 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, 10:28 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, 10:46 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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