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Thread: Flat bed size

  1. #1
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    Default Flat bed size

    So I am shopping for a Flat bed truck. I am thinking of one that comes with sides so I can use it for other things also. Also thinking of a lift gate also. I am thinking an Isuzu great gas mileage and cheap used.

    So size is my question. I know bigger is better but, Not in this application.

    14' *12/32.5=5.16 =40 Hives
    15' *12/33=5.53 =40 Hives
    16' *12/33=5.90=40 Hives
    17' *12/32.5=6.27=48 Hives
    18' *12/32.5=6.64=48 Hives
    (feet)*(inches per foot) / (pallet width) = (2 rows 4 hives on each)

    I also was thinking if I had a lift gate and put it up I could use it for some extra room and get more on. How large is the lift gate usually and is that a good idea. I am planning on pulling a forklift on a trailer behind. So if I used 14' with liftgate that would make it 18 correct?

    What size should I be looking at.?

    Also what do you think of getting a box Isuzu and adding a flatbed. This way I have both. Not sure how easy to swtich back and forth though.

    Thanks in advance for the advice.
    Last edited by EastSideBuzz; 02-22-2012 at 01:31 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Flat bed size

    I have an F-450 w/ a 14'3" bed on it. I get 5 rows of 4way pallets on the deck and another layer on top of that. That's 80 hives per load.

    What do you need a liftgate for? It adds weight to the rear and limits your payload carrying capacity. Besides, if you are using pallets, you need a skid steer loader to load and unload your hives. So you will have trouble w/ a tow hitch for the trailer if you have a liftgate.

    Once you have a flatbed you won't want to switch back to the box. Leave it off and use it for storing equipment in. Put it up on railroad ties and it may not be considered permanent enuf to effect your property taxes.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Flat bed size

    What Mark said A 450/550 sized truck with a 190" wb and a 14' bed really hits the sweet spot. The only caveat is if it isn't a 4x4 those trucks with the 19.5" tires pulling a forklift are virtually helpless in slippery or muddy conditions. I own 6 flatbed trucks and the old 02 450 4x2 with the 7.3 is still the workhorse of the outfit.... unless it's muddy.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Flat bed size

    Jim,
    My bed is 102" wide including rub rails. W/ your narrow bed, can you see behind you when you are loaded? I can't see much at all thru the mirrors when I am loaded. I wish the mirrors would extend further, but they don't.

    I also have 4WD, which saves my butt regularly. It got me out of a bee yard just last week.

    Mine is a 2005 w/ a 6L deisel. Check the fuel useage this last trip North. Less than 8 miles per gallon. Fuel economy seems to be getting worse w/ age.

    Have you had any trouble w/ the fuel tanks?

    I've also wondered about having a different Bobcat trailer. Maybe something different would pull easier.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Flat bed size

    Mine is the same width, visibility isnt ideal when loaded but good enough for me I guess. No fuel tank problems, only issue was one water pump. 8 empty? would be pretty low. If loaded and pulling a Bobcat trailer, though, its about right. Typical bee yard work without a trailer is 10 to 12 mpg. The absolute best mileage would be around 14. Mine is a 6 speed manual. I have a little over 100,000 miles on it and havent noticed any mileage difference with age. I have a 2011 Dodge 5500 4x4 with 6spd. automatic and aluminum flatbed. Its a lot more truck than the Ford, it easily hauls a ton or so more weight and gets about the same mileage but you have to add the Urea.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Flat bed size

    Partially loaded and pulling a trailer w/ Bobcat. I haven't gotten above 10 in ages. I have almost 150,000 miles on this truck. I have the 6 speed too.

    How do you like the automatic transmission. When I get a new Ford F-450 it will be an automatic because they don't make a manual transmition anymore. Maybe the 550s do.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Flat bed size

    I really like the transmission, never thought that I would say that. It has buttons for both a tow/haul feature and an exhaust brake that really reduces the wear on your brakes. With the improved braking and heavier suspension and frame you just dont have the sense that you are loaded nearly as heavy as with the 450. Ford dosent even offer a manual transmission anymore. With the Dodge the (6 speed) automatic was a $2300 option. I know the new Fords are excellent as well, I was planning on buying one but when I priced them the Ford was about $4,000 higher for pretty much an identical truck. I havent regretted my decision at all.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Flat bed size

    Wish I had 4WD on my 02 GMC 6500... guess they never made one that way. Today after spotting where my bees are going tonight.. I see I am likely to have some issues with deep sandy soii. Mark got the good blue berry farm and I got the bad ones... or at least so it seems. I told the owner to keep his cell phone charge as there is a distinct possibility that he may need to drag me out of there about 2:00 AM.
    “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled.” - The Quran

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Flat bed size

    Alight to refocus the thread.

    14-16 foot bed will allow 5 rows. Skip the tailgate lift. Gotcha. I am leaning toward the Isuzu because of the gas mileage. I am going to add sides at some point for much more uses. If I need to haul a lot more of them I will need another truck. Trying to go smaller for now as this is my first truck like this.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Flat bed size

    Is the Iszusu a Gas vehicle... that could be an issue.
    “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled.” - The Quran

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Flat bed size

    EastSide, There is no perfect vehicle. Just use what you get for whatever you need to and don't worry too much.

    How many hives do you run? What do you need the sideboards for?
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Flat bed size

    The Isuzu 4cyl diesel (NPR) will be a little underpowered, pulling a trailer especially, hwy will be slow but barley doable. I owned one of the EARLIER ones and I think it was 165hp. I would not want to pull a trailer with full load of bees ........but with just a load of bees on the back, would be great, the things are real workhorses. Just mash the pedal to the floor and go, pretty much. Great truck.

    1994 and newer the Isuzu NPR/ GMCW4500 have slightly bigger engine, then again in 1999. GVW around 14,500. Step up to the 6cyl (Isuzu FRR) and they are nice truck. But mpg and purchase price take a big hit. At that point consider International or Freightliner. Honestly in real life application you will not see incredible mpg with the npr diesel, around 14 max, more like 12, is my best guess. That said I do like cabovers. I think they would make great trucks for bee work. You might also look at UD (Nissan) if parts availability doesn't scare you away.


    Also what you are talking about for a bed is called "stakesides" and most flatbeds will have stakeside pockets, you can build or buy, and easily remove them for bees. Would not want to swap between flatbed and box truck myself. If you realllly need that, set a box on top of the flatbed or something. Buy the boxtruck and set the box in your yard for storage Then put a flatbed on...


    So as these guys are saying f450 can see the same range of mpg figures, and will be able to actually tow 10k trailer loaded. I am a fan of the 7.3 international (pre powerstroke, 87-94) but then again, I have no problem with older vehicles. Or better put can't afford the newer ones, and know how to work on the older ones. You can easily find f450 with 14' bed, if you start looking 99 and up f450 you can actually find a rare one here and there with 4x4. I have a 95 f450 5spd 14' now (powerjoke) I would consider selling. Best of luck. Get a wood deck or aluminum.

    Or consider a dodge 3500 diesel cab and chassis (12' bed) 1991-1998, this may give you actual better mileage. Sure wish they made the perfect truck... but they don't, at least in our price range...

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Flat bed size

    I have 100 hives going to 300 over the next year. I do 4ways, and will be getting a Swinger 1k in a couple months. Like the box idea on the flat bed. StakeSides for hauling stuff would be nice to have. I will check into those others makes and models. Gas mileage is going to be important when we get up in the 4$ a gallon for gas which means diesel will go way up. Most of my bee keeping will be North to Bellingham, Eastern WA and CA so freeway use mainly.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Flat bed size

    The thing you start to realize pretty fast is that a loaded Bobcat trailer is the great equalizer when it comes to mileage. Whatever you are pulling it with is rarely going to get north of 10mpg, probably more like 8 to 9. The irony is that the way you can get fuel savings is by going bigger not smaller. I have an IH with a DT466 and a 20' bed. It will haul 70 pallets of singles or 42 pallets of doubles (nearly twice what a 1 ton will haul) and still get around 7 mpg pulling a trailer. I am not suggesting this is a better choice in your case ESB with the numbers you currently have just pointing out that the cost to move one hive drops as carrying weight increases. Airlines have been trying to squeeze profits out of this principle for years.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Flat bed size

    jim brings up a good point. we have an older ford with a 12 foot bed and the 7.3 diesel. also we have a small freightliner (fl70) the freightliner has the cummins 5.9. the ford gets 10 mpg while the freightliner gets 12 mpg. the freightliner only has a 15 foot bed but it has a 4 foot sleeper with tv micro wave etc. we can tow a trailer and live in the truck. this truck is over built which makes it a lot safer vs the ford loaded to the max. a very good beekeeper told me once that a beekeeper never has the right truck. he was right. just depends what works for you. good luck

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Flat bed size

    Jim I have been throwing the idea around of replacing my aging 97 F450. Currently it has a posi rear with 5.13 gears in it. I have been looking at the Dodge 4500 heavily with the 6.7 cause they are boasting 350 HP. What gears do you have in your 5500 and is it Posi?

    BTW my F450 only has a 10 foot bed on it and I typically put 72 double deep colonies for local runs. Interesting enough I have considered a larger OTR truck like a Ford 6000 but not sure I want the road tax headache.

    Beeware10 you have to pay heavy road use tax on your FL70 correct?

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Flat bed size

    bmac no on the road tax. It is under 26000 # gross so its in the same class as yours. we have agriculture plates on it. when registering with agr plates no sales tax has to be paid and this saves a lot. we have to keep a log book when out of state but beekeepers are exempt from having medical, drug tests etc. there is a section in the dot book stating this. buy the small green dot at a truck stop for the details. as long as you are under the 26000 # and you can also pull a trailer under 10000 #.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Flat bed size

    BMAC: The Dodge has a 4.88 rear end the specs list 4th as an even 1:1 5th at .77 and 6 th gear at .63 so the rpm's really drop. They may have bumped up the hp this year. Mine is listed at 305 hp, 610 torque and dosent seem underpowered at all with this power train set up.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Flat bed size

    I appreciate the input. I need a good yard truck. My truck still works, its just losing power and Im starting to have electrical issues with it. I don't really see much advantage from the 4500 to the 5500. They both rate combine weight at 26000 which seems a bit light for 350 HP. Something odd too is they are advertising 800 torque with the automatic transmission but 610 with the standard transmission. Either 305 or 350 if a far cry better than the 175 I am pulling with down the road now. It reduces me to 40 MPH running up the Poconos in PA. I would rather run up at 70!

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Flat bed size

    BMAC,
    Throttle down thru the PA mountains. What's your hurry? Surely you have seen the big trucks in the right lane going slow. They still get there just the same.

    Back when I had a CB, remember CBs?, running thru PA in my 89 Dodge 1 ton, every now and then I would apologize to the big boys when they had to go around me on those hills. "That's okay, we're all doing the best we can.", one guy said.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

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