Trailer purchase

Better trailer for loading logs and occasionally brush?


  • Total voters
    11

Jehinten

Well-Known Member
Location
Evansville
I'm debating my next equipment purchase. Currently for hauling debris away, anything that doesn't get chipped gets loaded with the mini skid onto either a flatbed trailer or a rental dump trailer.

Cons to my current setup:
If the flatbed, I have to haul the mini to the dump site and unload it to unload the trailer.
If the dump trailer, I have to take time out of the day to pick up and drop off the trailer. Not to mention the possibility that a trailer may not be available.

Option #1 Grapple trailer.
I've rented the one in the picture in the past.
Screenshot_20210430-203442_Photos.jpg
Pros: self loading (no need to unload the mini, if the wood is by the road) max 3,000lb capacity
Dump bed
18' bed for longer logs

Cons: cost $30,000
this particular model is CDL (I believe it's a 20,000lb trailer)
Only does one job

Option #2. Roll off trailer. I've rented containers from a sub contractor in the past
Screenshot_20210430-203549_Chrome.jpg
Pros dump bed
Can switch out beds (dumpster, flatbed, chipbox...) can do multiple jobs
Lower deck height when loading logs than traditional dump trailer
Cheaper than grapple trailer $14,000 (for trailer and one container)
Could haul multiple bins to a big job. Load with logs and come back for loaded bins later.
If desired, could do dumpster rentals for extra income

Cons: shorter in length than the grapple trailer although the sides can be higher
Have to unload the mini to load logs




Any pros/cons I'm not considering? If you had a small business and wanted to upgrade your hauling capabilities, which would you choose? Although a standard dump trailer is great, I feel like the extra options with these two choices out weigh buying a standard dump trailer.
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
Personally, I would go with a regular dump trailer, as they can haul much more weight than the others. For us, the grapple trailer won’t lift enough to be worth much - we can lift more than 3k with a skidloader, so why buy a grapple that will lift only that?

The roll off trailer seems to be of only moderate use, while it would be nice to drop and hook cans, how often would you actually do it? Dropping multiple cans on a job means making multiple trips empty each direction, ending ok with twice as many total trips to do the same work as you would if you just ran with one can. Would the extra weight carrying capacity of the dump trailer be worth more than the extra features of the roll off?
 

Jehinten

Well-Known Member
Location
Evansville
Personally, I would go with a regular dump trailer, as they can haul much more weight than the others. For us, the grapple trailer won’t lift enough to be worth much - we can lift more than 3k with a skidloader, so why buy a grapple that will lift only that?

To give a little more info, my mini is the only loader that I have. It's a Vermeer s600 (about 600lb capacity on paper) I've loaded logs over 2000lbs with it, but it's time consuming.



while it would be nice to drop and hook cans, how often would you actually do it?
On a typical job, probably not often. What comes to mind in this senerio is crane jobs. Allowing the trunk picks to be loaded without waiting for a single can to be dumped and brought back. And getting the crane and Op off the clock.
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
To give a little more info, my mini is the only loader that I have. It's a Vermeer s600 (about 600lb capacity on paper) I've loaded logs over 2000lbs with it, but it's time consuming.




On a typical job, probably not often. What comes to mind in this senerio is crane jobs. Allowing the trunk picks to be loaded without waiting for a single can to be dumped and brought back. And getting the crane and Op off the clock.
Thank you for the clarification. I can see your points there, and understand your thoughts on going both ways. If the log loader will lift more than your mini, and will save you from making extra trips, that’s probably the way to go in my opinion. It will not haul debris as well as the roll off, but it will haul logs better for sure. And you can do what one local company here does for debris - load it in Bagster bags, and set them in your trailer with the grapple. You can take them out the same way and dump them with the mini or creatively with the grapple, I would imagine.
 

Serf Life

Well-Known Member
Location
Maine Island
ROI on the grapple trailer seems questionable to me but who knows? Wood pickup is relatively cheap here and dump sites are not always nearby. More trips unless you have another person driving. What is your subcontractor availability and rates for wood/brush pickup? $30k towards a larger chipper would make more money and you’d have less to haul.
 

Crimsonking

Well-Known Member
The roll-off requires a couple more considerations:

Slope- how steep is the road or driveway, and is there side-slope?

Soil- if you have to drop on turf, how soft is it? Those things can wreck a yard. Mats or plywood would need to be handy on some jobs.

Weight- I’ve seen the winch version lift the front of the truck off the ground because the roll-off was overloaded. The trailer will be hooked to the truck, but that’s gotta be tough on things. What if the tongue lift picks up the rear tires of the truck on a slope?

Can you get the grapple trailer shorter with higher walls? 16’ with 4’ walls could be a good fit, especially if you’re outfitted to drive it close enough to a good percentage of trees to cut out too much mini skid work.

Another option is a well built dump trailer with a side loaded mini platform on the tongue.
 

Mitch Hoy

Well-Known Member
Location
Rochester
Can you get the grapple trailer shorter with higher walls? 16’ with 4’ walls could be a good fit, especially if you’re outfitted to drive it close enough to a good percentage of trees to cut out too much mini skid work.

Another option is a well built dump trailer with a side loaded mini platform on the tongue.
I just priced out one of these grapple trailers with almost the exact specs that @Crimsonking is listing, with a gvwr of 24k. It came in at $50,000. I started looking into them when I found out that new grapple trucks are taking 6+ months to build and prices are shooting up everywhere.
My hope was that we could drop it on the other side of a driveway from our chipper and use it to feed, speeding production, which is how I would use a grapple truck with an operator platform. I realized that if we just got a second machine it would be cheaper and more versatile, while serving that intended function with the large dump trailer we already have. We could then split crews between more services, etc. At some point we would add a hooklift truck for still less than a grapple truck at current market prices. A hooklift and a second machine compared to a grapple truck may be comparing apples and oranges, but possibly makes for a better fruit salad, for us. A grapple truck can’t haul stump grindings to the curb or plant trees.
Just sharing in the hopes that my thought process in my own current purchase may be valuable to your decision making. That grapple trailer could be really cool, but I wonder if a large dump trailer and more beef in the machine department wouldn’t serve you better for longer?
 

Jehinten

Well-Known Member
Location
Evansville
ROI on the grapple trailer seems questionable to me but who knows? Wood pickup is relatively cheap here and dump sites are not always nearby. More trips unless you have another person driving. What is your subcontractor availability and rates for wood/brush pickup? $30k towards a larger chipper would make more money and you’d have less to haul.
From what I've seen, there are no subcontractors around here for wood pickup. There are a few who would do it for the firewood, but no big setups, meaning bucking into rounds on site and hand loading. I'm not a fan of leaving it for a couple of days for them to get to it.

Dump sites: not looking at chipdrop... there was 2 mulch companies (one just closed) that would take any sized load for $20. Most wood if a mulch plant isn't convenient gets dumped back at the shop for no cost, usually within 25-30 mins of the jobsite. Then later turned into firewood or milled
 

Jehinten

Well-Known Member
Location
Evansville
The roll-off requires a couple more considerations:

Slope- how steep is the road or driveway, and is there side-slope?

Soil- if you have to drop on turf, how soft is it? Those things can wreck a yard. Mats or plywood would need to be handy on some jobs.

Weight- I’ve seen the winch version lift the front of the truck off the ground because the roll-off was overloaded. The trailer will be hooked to the truck, but that’s gotta be tough on things. What if the tongue lift picks up the rear tires of the truck on a slope?

Can you get the grapple trailer shorter with higher walls? 16’ with 4’ walls could be a good fit, especially if you’re outfitted to drive it close enough to a good percentage of trees to cut out too much mini skid work.

Another option is a well built dump trailer with a side loaded mini platform on the tongue.
Slope here isn't bad, one side of town is full of hills but most of where I work is relatively flat.

Soil: we have hard soil here unless there's been a heavy rain consisting largely of clay.

Over loading may be an issue on non crane jobs. With the crane we can make sure to add up the weight as its loaded. Over loading and lifting the truck is definitely something to consider

The size of the grapple trailer is customizable, atleast a little bit. I'm still waiting on an exact quote for it, but we spoke about different wall heights. The owner of the one pictured is a dealer for them, and suggested at least taller walls on the back for more brush capacity when the chipper isn't needed. He suggested shorter walls in the front where the grapple is strongest for larger logs to be lifted over the side wall. I think a removable or fold down wall in the front makes sense for the best of both worlds. Would just have to be careful not to abuse the removable section while loading.

The dump trailer with mini platform may be a good choice as well. The mini currently rides on the flatbed, but setting up ramps and loading on a 42" high platform isn't the most convenient, except for the fact that I don't pull a trailer specifically for the mini or fill the mini's spot with logs like hauling it in the bed of a dump trailer. This option seems to address both of those issues. I'll look into it more.
 

VenasNursery

Well-Known Member
Location
Michigan
A contractor in our area had one didn’t seem to use very often at all
I believe he sold it

Like others had said a truck or dump trailer with a mini is just so much more practical

Not too many grapple trucks in our area either
 

Jehinten

Well-Known Member
Location
Evansville
I just priced out one of these grapple trailers with almost the exact specs that @Crimsonking is listing, with a gvwr of 24k. It came in at $50,000. I started looking into them when I found out that new grapple trucks are taking 6+ months to build and prices are shooting up everywhere.
My hope was that we could drop it on the other side of a driveway from our chipper and use it to feed, speeding production, which is how I would use a grapple truck with an operator platform. I realized that if we just got a second machine it would be cheaper and more versatile, while serving that intended function with the large dump trailer we already have. We could then split crews between more services, etc. At some point we would add a hooklift truck for still less than a grapple truck at current market prices. A hooklift and a second machine compared to a grapple truck may be comparing apples and oranges, but possibly makes for a better fruit salad, for us. A grapple truck can’t haul stump grindings to the curb or plant trees.
Just sharing in the hopes that my thought process in my own current purchase may be valuable to your decision making. That grapple trailer could be really cool, but I wonder if a large dump trailer and more beef in the machine department wouldn’t serve you better for longer?
The guy who owns the grapple trailer above also uses it to feed his chipper. He runs a treemek and parks this trailer and his 18" Bandit next to the drop zone.


As far as splitting crews, I'm technically a one man show. I do team up with other companies to complete larger jobs, but I don't have the manpower for multiple trucks
 

Sfoppema

Well-Known Member
Location
Central MA
The grapple trailer sounds great until you use it... If you are used to watching a tri axle load logs, it's excruciatingly slow and underpowered. Plus, as you said, you technically need a class A to use it. Will it move wood? Sure, but for 30-50k I'd put my money elsewhere.

Some one said it, but I'd look harder into finding a log truck you can sub. If we have a handful of logs, we will jam them into a truck, but for a massive pile of logs a log truck can pick up a lot of logs quick and cheap compared to loading into trailer. I've got two guys I can call, and I didn't have to look super hard. Could have gotten lucky, but that has saved me many thousands and made me able to perform a lot more jobs/bid competitively. Sure you have to wait for them sometimes, but it hasn't been so bad that I have been tempted to purchase one.
 

Birdyman88

Well-Known Member
Location
Arlington
Since you're a one man show, I would personally vote for the large dump trailer with a mini space. You have all kinds of flexibility, depending on CDL or not, on how to set up the GVWR's of it and whatever truck you want. Admittedly, this is still not ideal for crane jobs, but do you have a local contractor there to handle large debris volume? Our primary local contractor charges about $8/yd to pick up from curb. Not sure about yours, but my actual cost to dump using my trailer works out to $6.70/yd (mileage rate, worker cost, truck/trailer cost, dump fees, added time loading dump), so their $8.00/yd charge has kept me from looking at bigger self-owned options.

HV dump with mini space: $10,000 min to $20,000 max
Used Truck: $14,000 min (F250) to $30,000 max (wide open)
 

Jehinten

Well-Known Member
Location
Evansville
I'm starting to look into the hybrid dump trailers now. I found one with 2' sides, 12' dump with 8' platform. One neat feature on the one I was looking at, is front doors on the dump box that opens. This allows for a 20' deck length when needed. $11,000 I'm thinking I'd rather have something closer to a 16' dump and 4' platform.

My truck that will be pulling this trailer has a 12' flatbed, with 8' of it for tool storage and 4' for the mini transport.
 

Jehinten

Well-Known Member
Location
Evansville
For you guys with subcontractors that pick up large debris, how did you find them? Is there key words to look up in Google?

The few random grapple/log trucks I've seen in town are owned by larger tree services. More than one of the large guys refuse to even talk to other companies. I guess they're afraid they'll run out of work if they don't get every job.
 

Sfoppema

Well-Known Member
Location
Central MA
Don't know anything about debris removal, but loggers or a firewood processing outfit. Neither are going to really have much of an on-line presence. Ask around. They'll usually be able to make money off the wood plus 100-150/he for picking up the logs. Works great for everyone. They can pick up 7 cords of logs in 10-15 minutes. Take you all day with a dump trailer...
 

Sfoppema

Well-Known Member
Location
Central MA
Or a local sawmill if there are any around you. They will know who has a log truck. Land clearing company maybe. Other local tree company would be my last ditch attempt
 

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