Most breakdowns occur in the field, but during the off-season you maintain and recondition machinery inside your shop. So why not store most of your tools in a service truck that goes wherever you need it, reasons Tom Dreesen. He and son Jeff, of Meckling, S.D., handle row-crop operations on land owned by Gary Freeburg, while Freeburg and his family concentrate on hay production.
Dreesen purchased a service truck body from Service Trucks International (www.servicetrucks.com) and set it on a Ford F-550 truck chassis. The service truck body came equipped with a 4,000-lb. crane.
"We don't use the crane often, but it's sure handy when we need it," Dreesen says. "With the remote control, you don't have to wonder if someone can hear your commands for up or down [as you would with a fork lift]."
Dreesen equipped the truck with a full line of air tools and a hydraulically driven 37-cu.-ft. air compressor, which "will run any air tools you need," he says. "But if I were building another truck, I'd get a larger air compressor, capable of supplying about 100 cu. ft. per minute, so I could blow dust and chaff off equipment faster." The air compressor and
hydraulics are powered by an orbit motor.
Every tool he needs. Besides parts, lubricants and manuals, stored in various compartments, the truck carries a three-phase welder/generator, a cutting torch, spare steel for fabricating parts and a 250-gal. tank of diesel fuel. It also came equipped with field lights.
A pressurized seal in the doors helps keep dust from being drawn inside when the operator starts the engine.
The truck is on the go every day, hauling a seed or fertilizer trailer, rolling to breakdowns in the field or sitting in Freeburg's shop when repairs are being done inside.
The latest addition is a laptop computer with high-speed Internet access, which lets Dreesen look up parts information in the field. "That's really helpful," he says. "Manuals are
expensive. If you don't have the latest edition, you sometimes discover a part number has changed or is no longer made."
After six years, the only thing Dreesen would change is the size. "The truck is borderline for handling all the weight I've got on it," he says. "It weighs 18,000 lb. when it's filled with fuel. If I were doing it today, I'd buy an F-650 or F-750."
You can e-mail Darrell Smith at email@example.com.
- Early Spring 2009