Super service truck
The High Plains enveloping the Stoeser operation seem to stretch on forever. The family's operation reflects the land by stretching out over distances of 40 to 50 miles around Hayes, South Dakota. “When you break down out here, you're often a long way from home and even farther from a town,” explains A.J. Stoeser, who farms with father Jim, uncle Rod, and cousin Tyler. “A service truck is more than a convenience out here. It's an absolute necessity.”
Like the land they farm and ranch, the Stoesers' service truck is stretched out for work. The family created this super shop-on-wheels from a used 1995 Freightliner FLD-120. Its frame extends to accommodate a 16-foot-long service box, hydraulic crane, and 1,000-gallon tank.
Yet it's not the size of their vehicle that earned the Stoesers first place honors in the Best Service Truck category of the Top Shops® Contest. Rather, it is how well the truck's considerable assets are positioned for ready use and availability.
For example, the Stoesers strategically locate the majority of their hand and power tools, commonly used supplies, the crane, and a wealth of hose reels on the driver's side of the truck for easy access and positioning of the truck near work. Secondary supplies, backup tools, parts, and even a field kitchen reside on the opposite side.
Same price as a pickup
Thanks to some great buys on used equipment (the semi tractor, crane, and welder-generator) and homespun engineering, the Stoesers have less than the cost of a new dually heavy-duty pickup invested in the entire truck. “We even had the service body and fuel tank custom-built and still kept the cost of the truck below that,” A.J. says.
Prior to investing in the semi-turned-service truck, the Stoesers had employed a 2-ton truck outfitted with a service body. “That truck lacked space for a fuel tank, and used semi tractors were so reasonable. We get a lot more truck for our money. Plus, semi tractors have the advantage of providing a better ride and greater longevity,” A.J. says.
The primary work to stretching out their Freightliner was accomplished by a local welder who, besides adding rails to lengthen the frame, also included additional cross members for support.
Some of the truck's special features include extensive use of hose reels (described in detail on the next page) and a 1,000-gallon fuel tank. “The fuel tank is one of our favorite features,” A.J. points out. “We're always fueling up while doing maintenance, so it made sense to put a tank on this truck.”
Ease of access
Other on-board fluids include two 55-gallon tanks – one for engine oil and one for hydraulic fluid. They are nestled in the service body's center well and are positioned behind the fuel tank. What that well doesn't hold (as it traditionally does on other service trucks) is the welder-generator. Instead, the Stoesers' locate their unit on the side of the truck so that all its operating controls are within easy and immediate reach while standing on the ground.