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how to build a food truckSo you want to go the DIY route and build a food truck all by yourself? The good news is there are many examples of entrepreneurs that have successfully built their own trailers and trucks without any formal experience. The bad news is that you should expect there to encounter a few many hiccups along the way if you haven’t done it before.

This post is intended to help you avoid some of the common mistakes entrepreneurs make when trying to build their own mobile food unit and provide an outline for accomplishing this massive undertaking. But first, we recommend being honest with yourself on your own ability to pull this off.

The Downside of Building a Food Truck

Yes, you can retrofit and modify a truck by yourself. But do you really want to? If you’re not experienced with mechanics or how motorized vehicles work this option may not be for you. If you have no experience with doing electrical work, this isn’t for you either. Also, if you don’t have access to tools needed those can become expensive too.

on fire food truckThe other negative is that it will take you a lot more time to do it yourself than hire it out. Take our previous interview with for example. We recommend listening to the full-interview if you plan to build a vehicle yourself. The Boiler Monkey enlisted help from friends sorting out the complex electrical wiring and borrowed tools from neighbors. They also encountered a lot of unanticipated problems along the way that you’ll want to learn about.

The Boiler Monkey also took a full 3 months to convert their bus into the food-service machine they dreamed of. They did not have full-time jobs at the time either. If you’re serious about this, figure out if you have enough time to dedicate yourself to completing the project.

serving windowFinally, you’re building a vehicle you plan to cook on. There’s a lot that can go wrong and no shortage of fire hazards. In short, you don’t want to end up like this guy…

The Advantages

If you do have mechanical experience, an engineering background, and if you’re really good at solving problems you can most certainly pull this thing off and there are even some benefits to doing so. One checked box in the positive column is that you’ll understand the inner workings of your truck and how it works. Regular breakdowns are an unfortunate reality for many food trucks. If you put the vehicle together, you’ll have a much more in-depth knowledge on how to fix it.interior-hood You may also be able to cut some of the costs if you have friends that are willing to help you out with electrical / mechanical work and lend you tools.

Still determined to build a truck yourself? Here’s the high-level outline on how to get started.


Step 1: Determine Layout and Equipment

In step one, you will determine the type of food truck you want, along with the equipment needed to serve the food. After all, if you decide you want to start a you will have very different space and equipment requirements than a burger bus.

Get a piece of paper or open and Word document and begin to write down each piece of equipment you need to include on your future truck. This could include a refrigerator, deep fryer, freezer, heat lamp, and storage space to list a few of the basics.

After you get the list of equipment created the next part will be to determine how much space you need. Make sure to get the specifics of each piece of equipment you want to put into the truck and design a layout of where you want each piece of equipment to be placed.



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