Swiss Army Knife Trucks

I’ve always mulled over my vehicle purchases intently.   When selecting a new set of wheels, the expectation is that it will fulfill the majority of my needs reliably, cheaply, and for over 200,000 miles before succumbing to wear, tear, and rust.  The requirement list is not unreasonable, but allows for minimal compromises.  

Qualities required in future modes of transportation for me include:

  • It has to be a used vehicle, thus letting somebody else pay the depreciation on it.
  • Good gas mileage is a must, getting at least 25 mpg regularly.
  • Record of reliability, as stated in reputable review sources, coupled with word of mouth.
  • Easily maintained and repaired.
  • Ability to haul stuff, such as for a camping trip or to make a modest dump run.
  • Has to carry 4 people in relative comfort.
  • Can navigate the roads safely in Maine during all 4 seasons.
  • Has a sound system that will let me play my music.
  • Must have an element of “fun” to it.
  • Is not Subaru.

Some “nice to have” elements encompass:

  • Standard Transmission.
  • A tow hitch.
  • Enough room to sleep in if needed.
  • All Wheel Drive.
  • A moon roof, for some sun and added ventilation.
  • Roll down windows, because I like the visceral feel of it.

It may seem pedantic, but when making an investment in something such as your primary source of transportation, you want to be sure that it will accomplish what you require.  Annoyingly, the list is never completely fulfilled.  I’ve gotten close, but have yet to acquire my “perfect” vehicle, and maybe that is by design.  Not getting everything you want encourages individuals to reach for “next best thing” and “latest, greatest model” versus settling for what they already own, and that kind of mentality helps keep the economy going.

In the construction world many attempts have fallen short of developing the “uber-truck.”  A modern masterpiece that will fit every niche for every potential use.  Even the mighty military has been unable to conceive of a single machine to serve as its “do-it-all” work horse.  To the benefit of many a grunt, engineers have created some awesome wheeled warriors while attempting to achieve this objective, such as the nearly indestructible post-World War 2 M35 “Deuce and a half,” the Vietnam-era M809, and the present day Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck.  Close is good, but in lieu of a “one-size-fits-all” solution, Uncle Sam still requires a myriad of vehicles to carry out his mission.

The critical factor that contributed to the long-lived success of these pieces of military inventory was they could be converted fill different needs.   One basic chassis could be transformed into a weapons platform, long hauler, tow truck, dump, command center, or whatever else was required.   However, this versatility was complicated by the limitations of having to take one body off, and put a new one on every time these platforms had their mission changed.   In many cases, especially in theaters of war, human ingenuity would kick in and these vehicles would look more akin to a Mad Max Comic Con rather than something designed for the task it was currently being pressed into service to accomplish. 

Having “one truck to rule them all” is, in theory, a great idea and would save on costs and time.  The challenge remains that a small business owner normally lacks access to the manpower, coin, and resources of the military-industrial complex to make swapping bodies prudent.   Many establishments currently resolve this obstacle by collecting a myriad of machines to fill the needs of their business, or simplify what they offer for services to require less vehicular variety in their fleet.  The “one-truck-does-all” seemingly remains an unattainable dream for many.    

Or does it?

Over the decades there have been strides with the innovations and technologies surrounding what are called Detachable Truck Bodies.  This sub-set of the work truck industry specializes in creating a solution for people who want one truck that can accomplish many jobs.  Regardless of the vendor, all these rigs are similar in function.   A hoist system is installed on a truck chassis, coupled with a set of rails and stops.    Most hoists are hydraulic or electric, but there are a few older models using cables and winches.  After the install, the rest is elementary: you back the truck up to the body you want to snag, latch into it with your hoist, and through the magic of mechanical advantage it gets dragged on and secured snuggly.  These products are so versatile that they can be used as dumps, haulers, and more.  Employ a dose of creativity, and the possibilities are endless and limited only by available monies and space to store the bodies on.

Benefits are numerous.   For example: a contractor could own one truck and two dump bodies; one can be loaded at the work site while the other is getting moved and unloaded.   This keeps the driver busy versus waiting, and provides increased value for the company.  Multiple bodies also empowers one small business owner to transform their truck to match the seasonality of their income - a dump for lugging salt or a sander in the winter, a rack body during the landscaping months, and the ultra-useful flatbed to haul wood during Autumn.  Messer Truck Equipment had one customer who installed a Switch-and-Go system so he could put a flatbed on to haul his microbrew beer in the cold months, and an insulated van body to keep the product refridgerated when transporting in the summer. 

Depending on the nature of your work, a detachable work body system could dramatically change the way your business functions.    The sales team here at Messer Truck Equipment can help find the detachable system that works best for you and your company, using our vendor partners Switch-N-Go and AmeriDeck.  A whole new way of doing work is within your reach.   Give us a ring and let us change the way you do business.