Box Truck Versus Box Trailer

Cabinetmakers discuss the best vehicle for delivering cabinets to the job. August 29, 2014

For years I've used a 16' box trailer to deliver cabinets to job sites. Lately I've considered getting a box truck with the same size box as the trailer. Where I'm located it is often hard to get my truck and trailer in and out of these job sites, just not enough room to turn. Often I have to un-hook and turn and re-hook or back the trailer for 1/4 mile just to get to the site. A box truck would definitely be better for that. I would need to construct some sort of ramp for a truck? I'm just kicking around the idea at this point. The pros and the cons, what do you guys use and what are your thoughts on the box truck?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor R:
I currently have a 2004 Isuzu NPR-HD and itís very easy to maneuver in tight quarters with a really tight turning radius. It has a 14' box that I have outfitted to carry all my install tools, saws, fasteners, vacuum, cabinet jack, refrigerator, shore/inverter power-just plug in one cord at shop or job and everything is hot-chargers, compressor, lights, miter saw, etc. It looks nice when cleaned and sorted. I have it arranged so I can carry a fair amount of cabinet boxes and door carts as well. I have a pull-out ramp and two wheel dolly for loading/unloading-faster and easier than the tuckaway lift I had before. I can also pull my 24' enclosed trailer for bigger installs. The only thing it can't do is pass a gas station (9 mpg - ouch) but most of my work is within 15 miles or so of my shop so not a huge factor. The diesel version isn't significantly better. Itís nice having everything on board at all times. It saves a lot of time and hassle.

From contributor M:
Box truck for sure - with a hydraulic lift gate and pull out ramp. I have had both and trailers are a pain. I have an 18 foot cube truck right now and the only con would be that I had to get a CVOR and we have to fill out a pre-trip inspection before we go anywhere. Not a big deal. What I like is you can wheel an eight foot tall cabinet on a dolly onto the lift gate and then wheel it straight into the truck and ratchet it to the wall. It is 102" inside height. It uses a thimble full of fuel and turns on a dime.

From contributor X:
I think if you deliver/install a lot a box truck would be the way to go. I personally don't deliver enough to justify having another vehicle to maintain and worry about whether or not it will start from sitting a while. Also, if you have rough winters they can be bad for getting in and out of areas that aren't plowed. My 4x4 Tundra has no problem pulling my trailer in the snow - just something to think about.

From Contributor Y:
I had 16 foot box truck and got rid of it and bought a trailer - big mistake. They started cracking down around here on the on the US. Dot requirements. Any truck or trailer and truck combination requires to be registered if you're over 10,000 pounds. When they started telling us what the fines would be I got rid of the trailer and bought a box truck that was rated for 9,900 pounds.

From contributor C:
You didn't mention how many deliveries you make a month. If your use is low enough, rental is the way to go. State inspections and commercial truck permits and licenses should be figured in the purchase. Big enough truck and you will need a new driver's license in my state. Lift gates are great for the heavy loads, but slow down a delivery for smaller items.

From contributor R:
I previously had a Ford F800 with 26' box, 5.9 Cummins and lift gate. It was a great truck, just a tad long to be running around town in. I think it was a 24500 GVW, and as such didn't require CDL. I'm looking for a small van or pickup to rig out for installs, to help on fuel. And use the Isuzu for smaller deliveries and towing the trailer. I also have had a couple of Step Vans-Super install vehicle, hold a lot, and easiest to get in and out of all day. You'll get tired of driving it long before it wears out. Last one had a V8, automatic, and A/C. The 6 cylinder/manual sucks big time. Hard to heat, hard to cool, and noisy as all get out going down the road (deters employee phone use though).

From contributor H:
I have a box truck (Isuzu/Chevy/GMC) with a 14' box. It turns shorter than my pick up. I have a ramp that slides under the box and works well. A lift gate might be nice but would be in the way most of the time for me when the truck is at the loading dock.

From the original questioner:
Looks like the box truck is the way to go. I will give this more thought. Itís much more of an investment in buying a truck than keeping the trailer obviously, but would make things less cumbersome.