How to Build a Food Truck Yourself – A Simple Guide

So 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 truly want to ? If you ’ re not experienced with mechanics or how motorized vehicles work this choice may not be for you. If you have no experience with doing electrical work, this international relations and security network ’ thymine for you either. besides, if you don ’ thymine have access to tools needed those can become expensive excessively.

The 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 The Boiler Monkey for exemplar. 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 building complex electric wire and borrowed tools from neighbors. They besides encountered a lot of unanticipated problems along the room that you ’ ll want to learn about. The Boiler Monkey besides 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 clock either. If you ’ re serious about this, figure out if you have adequate meter to dedicate yourself to completing the project. finally, you ’ re building a vehicle you plan to cook on. There ’ s a batch that can go wrong and no dearth 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 backdrop, and if you ’ re in truth good at solving problems you can most surely pull this thing off and there are even some benefits to doing so. One checked box in the incontrovertible column is that you ’ ll understand the inner workings of your hand truck and how it works. even breakdowns are an unfortunate reality for many food trucks. If you put the vehicle together, you ’ ll have a much more in-depth cognition on how to fix it. You may besides be able to cut some of the costs if you have friends that are will 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 dance step one, you will determine the type of food hand truck you want, along with the equipment needed to serve the food. After all, if you decide you want to start a coffee truck you will have very different space and equipment requirements than a burger bus. Get a piece of newspaper or assailable and Word document and begin to write down each piece of equipment you need to include on your future hand truck. This could include a refrigerator, abstruse fryer, deep-freeze, hotness lamp, and repositing space to list a few of the basics. After you get the number of equipment created the next share will be to determine how much space you need. Make indisputable 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. Pro Tip: Take your time when determining the layout of your truck. You want to develop a truck layout that allows you to conduct food homework in an efficient way. Listen to this interview for more advice on building a food truck that ’ second designed for focal ratio. This is critical since the more meals you can get out the serve window per hour the more profit you can make. In review, here’s what you need to accomplish to complete step 1:

  • Make a list of the equipment you need.
  • Determine how much space the equipment will consume.
  • Determine the desired layout or blueprint of the kitchen based on your requirements.

2.) Find a Truck, Trailer, Bus, or Other Vehicle

After you created an equipment list and figured out the space you need to comfortably operate a truck, it ’ randomness time to get out there and find the ideal vehicle that will serve as your mobile food unit of measurement. The nice thing about retrofitting your own vehicle is that you don ’ t need to buy a truck at all. There are plenty of entrepreneurs that have commute school buses, vans, and even mobile homes to suit their needs. These out of the ordinary vehicles can even serve as a differentiator for your brand. No matter what type of vehicle you ultimately decide to use, you ’ ll credibly be looking a exploited vehicle. Before investing in any type of vehicle, be certain that you bring along a supporter that understands mechanics and can conduct an inspection of the vehicle anterior to purchase. You ’ ll besides want to find out a much data as possible about history of the vehicle anterior to writing a see. Some desirable elements is to find out if the truck was part of a fleet : boodle trucks, FedEx and UPS trucks can fall into this class. If you ’ ra buy directly from a business, you can be more sealed of how the truck has been cared for in the by, along with whether or not it received regular oil changes. When buying through a principal, determining how the vehicle has been treated in the past will be more unmanageable. How to Evaluate Used Food Trucks – If you want to learn more about how to access a previously owned truck listen to this episode with Bob Pierson of M & R Concessions. Pierson has years of have converting pre-owned vehicles into food trucks. Food Truck Versus Food Trailer – Click here to learn about some of the alone advantages each choice possesses .

3.) Clean Out Vehicle and Mark the Layout in Truck

After you find the vehicle you want to start your business with it ’ mho time to gut the thing and clean out everything you don ’ t need. In most situations you ’ ll clear out the inner of the truck-minus the driver ’ s seat and steering wheel until you get a big evacuate box. adjacent, you ’ ll want to mark out where each objet d’art of equipment and location of the service window is going to be within the truck. You can use a Sharpie marker to outline where all the equipment will be placed. You will besides what to identify and mark the location of any outlets and fixtures, determine the localization of the wall that separates the kitchen from the driver, and determine where you will position the propane tank and generator. short television demonstrating the serve of building a concession truck .

4.) Setup the Electrical Wiring

This step is highly important and can be more complex of an write out than it seems initially. For exemplar, the X brothers began to assemble the Boiler Monkey they discovered there were enormous electric problems with their truck. Getting the electric wiring assembled the right way is extremely important because the mathematical process of your future commercial enterprise depends on it. If the ability goes out in your vehicle you won ’ t be able to serve customers. besides, determining what ’ s improper with electric wire can be identical unmanageable after the food service fomite is in full assembled. lean : Get an know electrician to help you with this tone if you don ’ t know what you ’ re doing. The electrician will need to run wire to all circuits and to the back dialog box. In some cases, electric boxes may besides need to be installed .

5.) Reinforcing the Interior

After the wiring is setup in the hand truck it ’ randomness time to begin reinforcing the inner of the hand truck. You ’ ll carry through this largely through a serve called ensnare that is coarse in the construction diligence. When you build a sign of the zodiac, you typically create a frame using forest to build the foundation to support rampart of a home. You ’ re doing something like entirely with the basis of a food truck alternatively of a one syndicate home. Aluminum straight tubes are recommended to frame the outside of walls, around the serve window, the generator, the hood, areas of the A/C and the frame of reference divider. Aluminum is highly commend due to it being light-weight and extremely durable .

6.) Cut Openings for Serving Window and A/C

Next you will need to cut candid your truck to make room for the serve window. A typical serve window size is 4×3 feet. You ’ ll besides want to cut an open for the A/C at the top of the truck .

7.) Finish the Inside Walls on Your Truck

now you will focus on finishing the inwardly walls of the truck. The first thing that you should know is that the wall behind your cooking cable must be made from “ non-flammable ” construction per most fuel code requirements. That means any sort of wood should not be used in any sphere. future install facility panels on the ceiling and walls of the vehicle and insulate the outside walls using Styrofoam ( more details on the specifics in the video below ). then the sub-walls and finish walls go into the truck. The fabric most food truckers seem to recommend for the outside of the walls is 100 % stainless steel sheets. You will besides want to install the floor at this time .

8.)  Gas / Propane Tank

This is a step you will want to check with your local safety / fire regulations to ensure you ’ re setting up everything correctly per the requirements of your city. Although it ’ sulfur identical park to install propane tanks on the rear of a food hand truck there are many cities that don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate allow this. Ask representatives at your city and local fire department for serve positioning the natural gas tanks on your vehicle.

After the governing bodies give you their instructions for setup, install a gas manifold for equipment, connect the manifold to the propane tank and install the regulation. finally, you will need to fabricate and install the tank rack to hold the equipment. We couldn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate find any television on-line that demonstrate how to accomplish this step for a food truck, however, we did find a good demonstration for setting up propane tanks with RV ’ s that can give you intelligence on the subject .

9.) Setting up the Interior Hood

Next you will need to install the interior hood within the vehicle. This is an area where you will want to check with your local laws to confirm everything is up to code based on the city you plan to operate in. Interior hoods aid in the public discussion of the fomite. hera are a few examples :

10.) Pre-equipment load

By immediately you ’ re so close to completing your food hand truck you can probably taste the food you will soon be making. At this time, you ’ ll arrange to load in and install things like the concession window and door, A/C unit, any general equipment tables, and cabinets and counter tops. After you complete this step, the vehicle will very start looking like a food truck .

11.) Complete Electric Work

At this time you will finalize the electric work by installing light fixtures, outlets, switches, breakers, panels, and connect the down wires to the breakers. If you don ’ t know how to do this call a master electrician or person that has experience working with food trucks or fluid homes .

12.) Load Cooking Equipment

now is the clock time to load up and install the rest of the fudge equipment. This means everything from the refrigerator to the kitchen sink, cash register, and early tools required to deliver memorable food moments to your future customers. If it goes onto the truck, make indisputable to install it now .

13.) Plumbing

Hiring an have plumber is recommended to setup this footstep and ensure everything is flowing sufficiently for the long term. While most seasoned plumbers can probably figure out how to setup the plumb in your vehicle, anticipate the charges to be 2 – 3 times the master calculate. It will take the plumber extra time to figure everything out if he ’ s never worked on a truck before. At this time the plumber will connect the sinks to the fresh body of water tank, install a dump valve, and impart other oeuvre that is required by your local ordinances .

14.) Setup the Generator

Without an functional generator, you won ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate be able to power your cook equipment and refrigerators while serving the streets. At this step, you ’ ll want to confirm your generator is securely and securely positioned. You will besides need to connect the generator to the gore and transfer switch. besides, make certain the generator is installed in a well ventilated area of the vehicle. These things get hot ! food truck generator

15.) The Finishing Touches

While the truck is technically completed at this point there are distillery a few more steps that must be completed before you ’ re road ready. At this time you ’ ll need to inspect the plumb, gas connections, and electric work that has been completed. You ’ ll besides want to conduct a test of the generator and this prison term. last, you ’ ll indigence to find person to complete the hand truck wrap on your behalf for the outside of the vehicle. This is not something you want to do yourself since the first thing likely customers will see is the outside of your vehicle. Make certain you look like a pro .

The Final Word

By now you ’ ve credibly realized that there are going to be some singular troubleshooting issues you ’ ll need to figure out when building a food truck. Each truck is a little snatch unlike and has unique kitchen equipment needs. If you decide building a hand truck is the right way for you, remember that you shouldn ’ t hesitate to reach out to other experts along the way. You might even be surprised that any friends that are plumbers, electricians, or mechanics will be happy to help you out with this interest visualize. besides, follow food truck owners can besides be an incredible resource. They understand the local anesthetic laws and might have built their own truck adenine well. Here are a few additional resources we recommend checking out as well: RoadFood.com – This forum is amazing ! You ’ ll find a fortune of conversations of ongoing conversations about food truck builds right field here. If you check out the restaurant Professionals Forum or the Professional Hot Dog Vendors forum you ’ ll find an incredible community of experienced food industry veterans that are cook to help. If you need an opinion on what character of generator to buy or the any other hyper particular motion, you ’ ll get an answer here. professional tap : Signing up for this forum is free, but before you start asking questions try entering your question into the Search Box located in the amphetamine right hand corner of the web site. This forum has been around a long time and your question might be answered in a previous string already. Ultimate Food Truck Case Study – Check out this epic poem series of audio interviews to see how Anthony Salvagno started his food hand truck business. Everything from finding a food truck, to writing a clientele plan, and raising capital is discussed .how to build a food truck yourself  Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please share it and browse our growing list of food truck entrepreneurship interviews! 

Want to start your own food business?

Hey ! 👋I ’ megabyte Brett Lindenberg, the laminitis of Food Truck Empire. We interview successful founders and share the stories behind their food trucks, restaurants, food and beverage brands. By sharing these stories, I want to help others get started. If you liked this history, sign up for our newsletter that includes our food business startup kit and most popular interviews sent straight to your inbox. Know person interesting that should be interviewed on the web site ? Tell us about them here .

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