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We're in the market for an articulating boom lift but...

Discussion in 'General Chit-Chat' started by Awesome Graphics, Sep 28, 2019.

  1. Awesome Graphics

    Awesome Graphics Member

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    We used to have an ancient tow behind articulating boom lift, It worked about half the time and sometimes required a hammer to get ti to rotate. In short, it was a real POS. But, now that it's been gone over a year, we miss it.

    We don't take on a ton of jobs where a lift is mandatory (maybe 10-12 per year), but we do have plenty of other jobs that would be much easier and safer with a lift vs ladders. Our max budget is around $20k and would love to stay under. I'm not sure whether to get another tow behind or a self-driving + trailer. I figure a reach of around 35 ft should suffice for most jobs.

    I know the Genie and JLG brands, but I'm not very familiar with any of them really. There's a brand called Nifty that offers new lifts at prices that I can only assume are way too good to be true ($10k new). To get a Genie at the price, it would have to be 10-15 years old. Vermont is not a hotbed for used lifts. I've looked extensively online, but am very hesitant to buy something site unseen. Ebay seems like a big reseller, but comes with a lot of question marks.

    You've probably caught on by now in this painfully long post, that I'm a bit lost in this process. Any direction would be GREATLY appreciated, as this is a fairly big purchase for an 8 employee shop.
     
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  2. Awesome Graphics

    Awesome Graphics Member

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    By the way, I am new to this site. I have been googling sign industry questions for years and this is the site that always pops up with the answers. I finally took the time to sign up, and have been very happy with all of the help. It seems like a really knowledgeable and generous community, and I'd like to thank everyone that takes the time to help out.
     
  3. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    Where can you find a new Nifty for 10k? The towable Genies (the blue ones) are total crap. The controls suck, they leak, they just don't work. The rental company I get them from owns 9 locations around the state. The owner told me at one time EVERY one of their Genies were broken at every location. They dumped em and for a good reason.

    The Niftys are great. They rarely ever break down. Only times I've had issues were when there was a leak or something. Nifty TM50 is my go-to. The smaller 34' ones are OK, but there is something about their operation I don't like...

    If you're only using them 10-12 times a year then you need to rent. I use them 20 times a year and when I run the numbers I still come out ahead renting them. Of course this depends on what you pay. I pay $240/day. Some places charge $400+

    Nifty is located in Greer, SC so check them out and see about buying one.

    Also, the self driving one's are cool. I've used it a few times. It takes extra time to load and unload it from a trailer so I usually stick with the towables.
     
  4. Awesome Graphics

    Awesome Graphics Member

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    One day rentals are between $450-$650 depending on where in VT we need them dropped off. We have also been getting more contracted work for national brands, and as that part of the business grows, the more buying a lift makes sense. We also have some sign installs for local business that we struggle through with 2-3 guys on ladders, that could be done much more efficiently using a lift that can not only raise a man up, but also signboards or raceways.

    I just pulled this screenshot off eBay. Granted there is still a day left to bid, but seems pretty low if they are quality machines. Image 9-28-19 at 12.03 PM.jpg
     
  5. netsol

    netsol Very Active Member

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    you really should get inthe habit of checking craigslist, EVERY DAY
    watch for a month or 2.
    my scissor lift is old, but i paid $500 for it. put another $1500 into it, including new batteries
    open a search, include nearby areas and go WIDE
    you will only be driving once

    i got my bucket truck for $2000. they were told it couldn't be fixed (i love can't be fixed things, i buy almost nothing else)
    granted, it took up my spare time, for about 2 months, but we never have rental fees

    buying new makes sense in the busy months
    my way make sense in the relly slow months
     
    • Like Like x 2
  6. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    Lol. Your not going to get that for 10k. Dont look at active auctions as use that as a pricing guide. Those start at like 30-40k
     
  7. Awesome Graphics

    Awesome Graphics Member

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    True. $10k is not expected. Buy It Nows on eBay are a little more. This one is $16.9k.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 28, 2019
  8. Awesome Graphics

    Awesome Graphics Member

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  9. netsol

    netsol Very Active Member

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    awesome graphics, go toadvanced on ebay & search sold listings to get a realistic idea where you will end up

    i still say think craigslist. things sell a lot cheaper and more likely to tke a lower offer
     
  10. Awesome Graphics

    Awesome Graphics Member

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    Good suggestion. Anyone have any suggestions on brands? How many hours are too many? Tow behind vs drivable + trailer?
     
  11. GB2

    GB2 Very Active Member

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    I think a first consideration is what dealers are in your area and how easily you can get service and parts if you have a problem. I happen to like Haulotte (formerly BilJax), Nifty and JLG, probably in that order. The self driving ones are expensive and require a moderately heavy tow vehicle. You can get a new towable 34' lift with manual outriggers for about $15,000. The main difference with Nifty is that it is all hydraulic while the others are electric-hydraulic and those have expensive control boards and electronic components that can be a problem sometimes but the Nifty's have unique European fittings so I've heard, which can be a problem if you replace a hydraulic line...and you will.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    You brought up a good point about the drivables being heavier. Before I got my 3/4 ton I had a regular 1/2 ton and having a drivable or a 50' towable can get dicey. The suspensions and brakes are not built for something that heavy. The 34' towable isn't bad but anything larger or heavier really is best to consider a heavy duty pickup. The HD pickups have better tires, brakes, suspensions, transmission coolers, the sit taller... built for towing but suck on gas
     
  13. Awesome Graphics

    Awesome Graphics Member

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    Really excellent info. Especially about the potential hydraulic and towing capacity issues. We have a Toyota Tundra pickup and a big trailer or towable would probably require an upgrade and more $$$.
     
  14. GAC05

    GAC05 Major Contributor

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    Had a chance to rent a new one of these.
    Really compact and easy to tow.
    Worked well, but this one was all battery - I would opt for the gas model as the all electric was kind of slow up and down compared to older gas models.
    Goes up to about a 40'+ working height. Holds one fat guy or 2 not so fat guys.
    Not sure what the cost is but a nice unit I'd like to own if we had enough work to justify it.

    tow along.jpg
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Moze

    Moze Precision Sign Services

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    The towable Haulotte Biljax are the best I've used. They can easily be found for under $20k.
     
  16. bannertime

    bannertime Very Active Member

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    No
    We've been using a Haulotte from a rental company when our truck isn't high enough. That thing is pretty great.
     
  17. fixtureman

    fixtureman Member

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    I would check rental places. Around here they sell their equipment after just a couple years and the stuff is well maintained
     
  18. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    Not in my area I wouldn't suggest this. The equipment I see them sell gets used until they can't fix it anymore. Lifts are abused by tree-trimming guys. They are basically trash by the time rental companies sell them and on top of that they still ask for 10-15k.
     
  19. Awesome Graphics

    Awesome Graphics Member

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    Thanks for all the advice.
    I think we've settled on getting a new Nifty lift. Works out that we'll need 9-10 jobs per year to finance, (rentals here are $450-550 depending on location and we have 6 needed this month alone). At the very least, after 5 years it should be a steady source of income.

    Anyone have any retrofit ideas as augments to lift baskets to help one man support and lift a sign on his own? I know companies like VanLadder claim to have support arms, but wondering if anyone has ever rigged something like this themselves? We've always just held on while the guy below raises the basket into position. Must be a better way.
     
  20. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    Yea. Screw on two 2"x4"s and have them stick out about 4" from the basket. Rest the sign on it and run a strap from the bottom of the basket to the bar at the control panel so you can operate both hands. Don't get fancy and bolt square tubing... You'll get in a position where you need to loose the "forks" and being able to easily unscrew them from inside the basket has saved me many times.

    Get a magnetic doggie dish to keep screws and bits.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
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