badass cab-over mini transport build.

Sfoppema

Active Member
Like I'm sure many of you do, I spend way too much time on craigslist, treetrader, facebook marketplace, etc etc looking at anything and everything cool. I saw something shiny, and I just had to buy it.

This is a 1990 Mitsubishi Fuso fe 5 speed manual 4x4 with 53,000 original miles. It was owned by a school, which bought it new. Supposedly, the guy who used it the whole time the school owned it retired, and subsequently bought the truck from the school. It had a dump body on it, I'm told, which was taken off and replaced with a "brand new" flatbed, which looks great in photos. He put a sander on the back and a plow on the front, and the guy who was going to plow with it supposedly fell down a flight of stairs and broke his back. Now the guy doesn't need it. I have no interest in plowing, so I bought the truck with a 100 gallon diesel tank on the back for 6k. Probably too much, but it looks so cool and it has the 4x4 I couldn't help myself!

It shifts, steers, runs, and drives very nicely. Cab is in great shape inside and out, though the areas directly under the front tires are definitely going to need attention at some point. All tires are 75%. It's a north east truck, so it's got about as little rust as it could have considering it's 29 year age and location. It's clear that it was very well taken care of.

So, I took a three hour drive. Right away, I noticed that the "brand new bed" was homemade, and made with lighter duty materials than a tacoma pick up bed, potentially welded by a highschooler. But, I wanted the diesel tank, which was probably $1000+, and I figured it wouldn't be too bad to pull the wood off and beef up the frame. Got a few hundred bucks off and scooped it. It's no highway cruiser, so it was a 57mph drive all the way home. I immediately took it to a good friend's welding shop. He's a wizard, and has built lots of things for me previously.

He confirmed my suspicions regarding the highschooler home made bed situation, made some measurements, ordered up some steel, and assured me everything would be ship shape in no time. Now that the shoe box under my bed is fully open and losing weight swiftly, I may ball out and have the truck sandblasted and painted from the cab back after we get the new metal on, and before I replace the wood and diesel tank.

Plan is to use it to transport my mini skid steer, the diesel tank, and mats. Currently, I've been permanently borrowing an equipment trailer from my dad, which he truthfully never uses and doesn't really need, but I feel a little guilty about it. I use an f350 dump truck to tow that trailer, which comes in handy as an overflow/auxiliary chip truck or if we need to remove only a small amount of wood from a job. Of course, that involves lots of connecting, disconnecting, rearranging, backing up etc bullshit that takes days and weeks away from our lives over time.

So, my hope is, after this truck is done, I'll have the Mitsubishi as an equipment/fuel/mat transport, f350 as overflow chip/small amounts of wood hauler, and then I have an international chip truck with lots of toolbox space to tow chipper.

Worst case scenario, I'll have a bizarre/badass looking mini hauler which I'm sure will inspire lots of rubber-necking. I'll take and post pictures later this week once the new metal is on.
 

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Sfoppema

Active Member
Also, it does have a tow package with lights and brakes wired in, and all the wiring is still in for the plow, which I'm going to use for a winch soon or eventually. Wouldn't be difficult to rig up a platform to the plow mount.....
 

evo

Well-Known Member
I’d say you scored big time. On the wet coast those FG fuso’s are hard to find. I was and still some what am fixated on them. Only thing is they are a little gut less loaded down on hills or highway, and once a chip box is put on their payload sucks. Could always go super light with aluminum or even plastic.

Sounds like it’s not the plan for you, and it will be a great truck for your intended purpose. I don’t think I’d want a plow on one or I’d really look the truck over if it had a plow. I question how much the front end is up to the abuse of plowing. Consider picking up a lift gate burley enough for the mini! No ramps needed
 

Sfoppema

Active Member
My thought was to mount them on the side behind the fuel tank. I've seen guys that permanently mount the ramps vertically with a little pin that holds them up. When you want to take the mini off you just pull the pin, and easily pull the ramps down. Up you go.

It's not a very wide rig, though. I have seen people drive the mini up behind a truck cab with the grapple on before, though I doubt it's DOT approved. We stay pretty local, though, and unless it looks real suspect, that's what I intend on doing. Otherwise, I'll drive on from the rear. Got a few other ideas that I'll shoot some pictures of once finished.
 

Fivepoints

Well-Known Member
Those generation of fuso's are great trucks. We have a 1992 fh. Its an 18k truck with a 16 ft flat bed. Ours has 270k on it and has been more reliable than our f550 7.3 truck. Our f550 has been very good, the fuso has just been even better. Tom's truck center is a good place to buy parts for these trucks. We haul our mini on ours occasionally. Ours won't fit sideways. We also like to haul logs on ours.
 

CanaryBoss

Well-Known Member
I’m amazed that they say those ramps can hold 3k. I’ve always just built mini bobcat ramps for mine. I side load my minis on my fire trucks and topkick, and I back load on my converted box truck. What is the height to that deck? On my topkick, we had to build dang near ten foot ramps to make the angle manageable. Hope I’m not sidetracking you here, I love conversions and I’m just trying to help.
 

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Sfoppema

Active Member
Canary. That converted box truck is what inspired me to do this whole project in the first place. I was searching for something like it when I came across this mitsubishi. I bought a mini off of a guy with the same exact ramp set up. Saw it work with my own two eyes. Also was skeptical until I saw it.

I'm starting to think that I'm just going to take the bed off the truck and build a totally new one. The frame is a little rusty, so I think I'm going to take the bed off, get the frame sandblasted, then have my guy beef up any thin areas on the frame, build a totally new slightly wider/longer bed, sandblast and paint from the cab back.

There's a temptation to build a dump bed, but I already have enough dump trucks considering my operation, and a good relationship with a logger who has multiple log trucks. I just give him a call when we have some logs and he scoops them up for pay by the hour. Nice trucks and he's a mint operator. Much better than paying for 40k+ for a shitty log truck that breaks all the time. We don't move enough wood to warrant such a truck anyway. So I don't even want to leave myself the option of turning it into any sort of wood or chip moving vehicle.

I want it for mini transport/mat transport, mobile fueling, additional toolbox space maybe, and for towing the chipper if needed. If we do jobs where wood and chips stay, I can just take the one truck. 4x4 probably won't get used that much, but just badass to have when you do. Going to put a winch on the front as well.

It'll be a fun project. I'll post pictures as the project progresses.
 

Sfoppema

Active Member
Not sure on deck height. It's not super short or tall. I'll measure. The aluminum folding ramps are 10' though. That'll be long enough. If they're suspect I'll just rig up some type of kick stand or toss them in a dumpster if they're shite.
 

CanaryBoss

Well-Known Member
Canary. That converted box truck is what inspired me to do this whole project in the first place. I was searching for something like it when I came across this mitsubishi. I bought a mini off of a guy with the same exact ramp set up. Saw it work with my own two eyes. Also was skeptical until I saw it.

I'm starting to think that I'm just going to take the bed off the truck and build a totally new one. The frame is a little rusty, so I think I'm going to take the bed off, get the frame sandblasted, then have my guy beef up any thin areas on the frame, build a totally new slightly wider/longer bed, sandblast and paint from the cab back.

There's a temptation to build a dump bed, but I already have enough dump trucks considering my operation, and a good relationship with a logger who has multiple log trucks. I just give him a call when we have some logs and he scoops them up for pay by the hour. Nice trucks and he's a mint operator. Much better than paying for 40k+ for a shitty log truck that breaks all the time. We don't move enough wood to warrant such a truck anyway. So I don't even want to leave myself the option of turning it into any sort of wood or chip moving vehicle.

I want it for mini transport/mat transport, mobile fueling, additional toolbox space maybe, and for towing the chipper if needed. If we do jobs where wood and chips stay, I can just take the one truck. 4x4 probably won't get used that much, but just badass to have when you do. Going to put a winch on the front as well.

It'll be a fun project. I'll post pictures as the project progresses.
Glad I could inspire. We make some neat toys around here if I dare say so myself. I would love to get into building trucks for other tree service owners one day but it just seems like such a hard market to break into. Either people want to finance, go cheap or build themselves. Anyway, I’m going to build another fire truck one day, I just need A buyer to find me. Did I mention we were in a parade yesterday with our trucks. Handed out a thousand flyers!
 

Sfoppema

Active Member
Yeah, nobody is going to forget the fire truck. Not so great on fuel though, I would bet!

Fivepoints, I'm thinking to go 8' wide by probably 11.5' long. Still plan to put my mini sideways. DOT says 102 inches is legal for width without special permitting. We stay local mostly, and if someone wants to break out a tape measure on me for hanging off the side a tiny bit then so be it! Can't be but a few inches over 8'. I've got ditchwitch sk650. Anyone ever modified the platform with a hinge so that you can fold up the platform when storing/transporting it? Sounds like a good idea, but I bet it'd be funkier than I think to do it. I would bet it's 16" anyway of extra length that could be shaved off on the machine. Would be a lot faster to open that up than to be taking disconnecting and connecting the grapple every day. Not like the Vermeer where the platform is recessed into the machine. Still thinking!
 

CanaryBoss

Well-Known Member
Fuel is reasonable. About 6 to 8 miles to the gallon. My one hundred thousand dollar 2019 f750 chip truck gets the same fuel mileage. Not much changed in 40 years.
 

Fivepoints

Well-Known Member
I have an sk650 as well. I looked at making the plate hinge but its not going to be really simple. For the most part it really didn't matter to me as I normally put it on my 16 ft trailer long ways. I have been thinking about how I could put sideways in the very front of my 20 ft bed on my grapple truck. That would be really handy at times. I was thinking about doing some sort of removable divider to shield it from logs,etc.
 
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