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  1. #1
    Maxim is offline Hot Rolled
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    I'm looking at buying a truck as a second vehicle. Since it won't be a daily driver, I figure I should get the biggest thing I can afford.

    So I've seen advertised locally a 1989 Chevy CK30 Roll-back (roll-off?) flat bed tow truck. 454 Big Block, new tires, no rust. 17 foot bed with hydraulics w/ no leaks.
    Asking price is $6000, a little more then I want to spend but it has a couple of advantages over a regular truck.

    So I come forth to PM's collective wisdom as to whether or not I should even consider a monstrosity of the sort (as opposed to a regular dually).

    Its a lot longer, has a flat bed with tie down points. And it has a headache rack/barrier on the bed.

    I would imagine loading stuff on the back (not necessarily machinery) could be done by dragging a pallet on and off using the winch? Anyone ever done this on a regular basis?

    I'm a little skeptical about the engine, my experience working on cars has been mostly in bimmers. Can anyone point me in the right direction as to what to look for in an older big block. Any potential design faults in this motor?

    I've never used any hydraulics more complicated then a bottle jack so the bed is a bit of a concern for me. As long as nothing leaks it should be alright I suppose?

    Anything else to look for?

  2. #2
    lathefan's Avatar
    lathefan is offline Titanium
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    ...454 is a good engine...until the price of gas went to 3 bucks. You can use the roll back to haul your dumpster full of cash to the gas station.

  3. #3
    Maxim is offline Hot Rolled
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    lathefan, thats probably true.

  4. #4
    Milacron's Avatar
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    Back in the early 90's I owned a Chevy "two ton" rollback...C6500 I think. I presume the CK30 is a "one ton" size, but they probably used the same engine. Mine was a PITA to drive due to so many gears plus 2 speed rear end, but otherwise was ok.

    I rarely used the rollback/winch aspect to drag things up but sometimes used it to get even with a low dock. If you have a load of machines at ground level keep in mind you can't drag but one of them on there because after it's on there it's in the way of the cable for the next piece !

  5. #5
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    The 1989 C/K truck probably has the TBI fuel injection which I've found to be a very reliable offering. If it starts, idles, and has power then you're probably good for awhile. Vacuum leaks are very important to find and address, Napa sells some nice silicone rubber vac hose that can replace any dried or rotted lines very quickly and conforms to a couple sizes larger than nominal to replace those "idiot proof" OEM vac pipes with two different end sizes.

    A big block in my experience is a fairly tough motor...it's not a deep skirt block design, so it can't really be badged bulletproof but still fine for what you want to do. Most of the problems stem from knock issues because of the large bore and oil consumption...again sealing up that big bore. Not sure what kind of knock detection you'll have, typically the compression ratio is set low enough to compensate, which doesn't help the fuel mileage either.

    In a rollback, the hydraulics will probably last a good long time if they are maintained, used regularly to keep the water out of it. Not sure how the prime hydraulic pump is driven, ideally it's an engine PTO and not a transmission PTO...the trans pto involves shifting to neutral, setting parking brake and other hijinks.

    Personally I think it would be great truck...the rollback feature would be handy for vehicles, smaller forklifts, machines. It might not be ideal if you wanted to haul dirt, but you might be able to get around that too with some plywood boxes or staked sides.

    ** side note, I own a 1988 "R" series 1-ton Chevrolet pickup...it has the 454 and TBI fuel injection, but its not the newer "C/K" style chassis and body. The easiest visual clue to separate them is the side-vent window is present in the "R/V" series and the single pane window with no side vent in driver and passenger door is the "C/K" series.

  6. #6
    Milacron's Avatar
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    the rollback feature would be handy for vehicles, smaller forklifts, machines
    If a CK30 is a "one ton" rollback there are no common forklifts light enough to haul on that truck...esp if it has a steel bed. I remember hauling a 6,000 lb Clark (weighed about 10K) on my C6500 rollback and it was overloaded really...not very pleasant experience.

    If one ton and steel bed, he'd probably max out at 6,000 lb load...maybe even less. That's why the two ton (and up) size rollbacks are more common today than the one ton size...the diabled heavy SUV's and pickup trucks were maxing out the one ton rollbacks, even with aluminum beds.

    The heaviest common SUV's and pickup trucks are still lighter than the lightest common forklifts !

  7. #7
    Maxim is offline Hot Rolled
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    D. (or Mr. Milacron), what I was envisioning to do eventually was to have a dolly with wheels I can pack with what I want to drag on top (say a pile of metal or such). Then I can roll it to my truck and yank it on there with the winch. Granted I can only do one at a time, but I have a long way to go before I am packing a 17' bed with machines.

    Any idea as to the load capacity of this vehicle? I would imagine it would take at least 6000lbs on the back.

  8. #8
    gbent's Avatar
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    The 454 is a good engine. If it doesn't fog the skeeters when you start it, you probably can't afford enough gas to wear it out.

    As for whether it is the same engine in the one tons vs the two tons, no its not. The two tons had two fat block gas choices, a 366 and a 427. The 366 is the better choice and a great engine.

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    I think the medium duty 366, 396 and 427 big blocks have 4 piston rings and are kind of an overcooled and underpowered motor....to make it extremely long lived.

    Not quite the same animal as a 454 for light vehicles.....

    A C/K/R/V-30 is probably around 10,000# GVW, I figure around 5000# payload would be all for my pickup truck...I would say 4000# would be safer to account for the weight of the rollback. You could probably get away with 5000# or 6000# if speeds were kept low.

    Oh yeah, and last thing...I think you probably only have 3 forward gears [img]smile.gif[/img]

  10. #10
    Maxim is offline Hot Rolled
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    What kind of maintenance am I looking at with a 454 and the hydraulics? Provided this thing isn't going to be driven on a daily basis.

    3 forward gears?!? I forgot to mention that its a manual, but 1st is probably a granny gear. What does it top out on the highway at with a full load?

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    A 454 uses oil...some people get the idea that since they continually have to add, they don't have to change :rolleyes: The PO of my truck was apparently of this school of thought.

    And...oil is now expensive!

    The hydraulics I think will last and last...provided they don't get filled with water. Working it regularly is one way to avoid this, parking inside in a temp-controlled facility is another [img]smile.gif[/img]

  12. #12
    bigais is offline Stainless
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    It would be good to check with your vehicle Insurance Co. also,as the rates might deter you depending on how much you figure on using it in relation to cost.

  13. #13
    lathefan's Avatar
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    ...if you want a SERIOUS ROLLBACK...here it is...and only $7995...click on the thumbnail below:


  14. #14
    Maxim is offline Hot Rolled
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    lathefan, fascinating but if I get that thing does that mean I need a 24' dumpster of cash to fill it up instead of the 16' one?

    I don't have a CDL and I think that might be dangerous for me to drive. Imagine the power of the metal magnet on that thing.

  15. #15
    dirty old man is offline Stainless
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    I learned back in the days of hauling race cars all over the Southeast that a fully loaded BBC will burn less gas than a SBC at Interstate speeds. Once you put a load on the engine, it's pure and simple, you're gonna burn nearly the same amount of fuel, whether it's a small block working hard, or a big block loafing along!
    Now stop and consider which is wearing out faster, the SBC that's being used to near it's limits, or the BBC barely knowing it's got a load to pull?
    As for the roll back bed, that's what has been used for most of my machines. An old friend, also from racing days, has a rollback that he uses hauling cars for insurance companies and salvage yards, therby supplementing his retirement.
    For me he has moved a 16"X60" Carroll-Jamieson lathe, 9"X42" Bridgeport mill, and a 12'X 12' storage building on skids.
    Others that I know have had similar use of a rollback.
    I agree with Milacron that it would be difficult, however, to load/unload multiple machines in one load.
    Dave

  16. #16
    Milacron's Avatar
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    Actually that's not a "serious" rollback at all. Proper forklift hauling rollbacks have dual rear axles. The one below is a more traditional style truck and will haul way more weight than that Peterbuilt.

    www.ctemi.com/2000International8100.php



    The dual axle International is a lean mean hauling machine whereas that Peterbuilt is like a big fat man with very tiny legs !

  17. #17
    lathefan's Avatar
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    Actually that's not a "serious" rollback at all.
    ...I should have made it more clear...for $2000 more than the one ton...the Peterbilt has much greater potential than the one ton.

  18. #18
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    That single axle Pete would be a gvw of 33K. Tare on the chassis 11-12K plus 4-5 for the body. That would be 15k + payload without overload. Driven qently MPG better than the 454. Takes up lots of room, neighbors may not like it, insurance ? you would need a CDL w/air brake en. You can buy alot of milk for the price of a cow.

  19. #19
    Timw is offline Stainless
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    I've loaded and unloaded 20' and 40' containers on a 48' Landaul Semi trailer and it's no big deal. The worst part was loading when I couldn't back straight up to them. That's when I had to stick a piece of pipe in a pocket and piviot the container around.
    I knew a company that had a Trail-(something) trailer that had a continuous chain under the center of the floor run with a hyd motor and you could hook to it to load and unload. You could load stuff back to back with just enough room for the chain hook up.
    1989 should have knock sensor/computer and throtle body fuel. Very good system. I had a 1983 Winnebago with 454 carb. and it got 4-7 mpg but I had it up to 90mph with more peddle left.

  20. #20
    Mud's Avatar
    Mud
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    Maxim - I have an '89 GMC 1 ton with 177,000 miles on the original 454, it still runs good. If the one you are looking at doesn't smoke badly or make loud noises and has decent oil pressure, it's probably OK. Mine has used 1 quart of oil for every 1000 miles since it was new, more when towing heavy. The weak spot in that engine is the stock timing chain and sprockets, they need replaced at about 80,000 miles with a good aftermarket roller chain, then forget them. If it idles real fast it needs the gasket under the throttle body replaced, that's normal too. Check the exhaust manifolds for cracks.

    Expect 6.5 MPG loaded, maybe 8 or more empty. The good news it a 454 is cheap to maintain compared to a diesel.

    The bed will not tilt steeply enough for a pallet to be self unloading, you'll need to encourage it with a lever to get it to the end of the bed. Once it is at the end, you can slide the bed forward to slide it out from under the pallet.

    I think just about any useable rollback of that size will bring $5-6000, so you shouldn't lose much depreciation when you go to sell it.

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