Author Topic: Home built cart plans. Ben vs Steve  (Read 3672 times)

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Mr.Rock'N'Roll

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Home built cart plans. Ben vs Steve
« on: April 28, 2015, 11:40:05 AM »
Hey doggers! Just wanted to do a little review for some home built cart plans I've seen.

I first got the home build cart plans from Steve at hotdogprofits.com . They cost about $50 and they were online plans meaning there is like a members only YouTube type site where you stream view them (for a few extra bucks he will send you DVDs). Steve is easy to understand and he makes very precise explainations about the build process. Definitely a good buy and I'm glad I got them. But then I kept thinking about the bens carts diy build kit. I felt like if I was gonna build something like this then I really wanted to see another perspective on it.

I ordered bens plans ( benscarts.com ) which cost about $100. They were DVDs shipped to me in the mail and they didn't take long to get here. The plans feature a fella named Keith who is bens cart builder for the commercial carts they sell. Let me tell you guys, the professional experience shines through! Their design seemed WAY more professional and more what I was hoping for since I am up against the very strict California codes in the notorious Los Angeles county!

To compare, Steve comes across as very friendly and super easy to understand where Keith uses more technical terms. Steves plans are great and should allow anybody the tools they need to build a cart themselves. Keith on the other hand, comes across like a journeyman builder, oozing with experience. Keith also shows a few extra steps for places where he feels mistakes could be made and offers trouble shooting tips. Both Ben and Steve offer technical support for any issues you might have. Steve actually does this in a comment section on his online videos so it's nice to see how other people's issues have been addressed. BOTTOM LINE: both offer a great set of plans! If you were more of a novice builder and haven't worked in construction or anything like that before, you might find Steves easy going everyman approach more helpful (not that Keith doesn't seem easily approachable and friendly, it's just that I knew what he meant on some things because I have worked in construction before and I feel like maybe someone who has worked office jobs before might have a hard time understanding some of his terms). If you are up against a more strict code or aren't intimidated by technical jargon, you might want to try Ben / Keith. I am glad that I got both because I see the similarities and I feel more comfortable doing a custom cart built to my needs.

The only negative I've found was found on both plans. Neither one of them include any info on adding a refrigerator (full disclosure: I'm only on disc 4 of 8 on Bens plans so maybe I just haven't seen it yet but none of the descriptions say that it's there).
« Last Edit: April 29, 2015, 07:01:33 PM by Mr.Rock'N'Roll »
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duggsdoggs

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Re: Home built cart plans. Ben vs Steve
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2015, 06:48:13 PM »
Well, I will say that was a great review.  I know Keith and have had him help me with changes to my cart.  The man is truly mechanically inclined.  As a building I would give Keith 10 stars out of 10.  In saying that I have a father in law that is my expert builder and he has helped me along the way with everything I do.  I will tell you that Ben sells a frig/freezer on his site and i would assume that they would work in California but I am not the expert.  I have also talked to Steve over the years and agree that he is a great person.  What I would look at is what your Health Inspector will require; what your county will require and what your city and state will require then build the cart to match that.  I felt that for me it was more cost effective for me to just buy the Big Dog with a few add on's and I was dogging.

The advise that I will give you is do it right and have fun or don't do it at all.

Thank you for the review too, it may help others when they look at what to do to get into the dogging business.

Keep us posted and send pictures to www.benscarts.com and Ben will post them for everyone to see.

Keep good records of the build to include pictures as you go along, save every receipt for your CPA.



If you are not a member of the "Hot Dog Mafia you need to join on Ben's site, will save you money.

Also, look around for your pans and other items; for me I found that some things are cheaper on some sites but also when you figure the shipping and handling you may find them cheaper on bens site. 
The information contained is provided in good faith, and every reasonable effort is made to ensure that it is accurate and up to date. Accordingly, this information is provided 'as is' without warranty of any kind.

DaddyDog

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Re: Home built cart plans. Ben vs Steve
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2015, 07:20:33 AM »
I joined both sites a few months ago and I looked at Steve's plans and they seem simple enough to do. I'm mechanically inclined and I learn by watching it done first then I have it figured out.

With that said after watching Steve's videos I felt like I could build my cart the next day.

I never looked at the plans for Ben's carts. But if I ever get to the point where I will need a second cart I know I'm going to build it and I will probably order Ben's plans just so I'll have both for reference.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2015, 07:30:12 PM by DaddyDog »
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SupremeDogg

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Re: Home built cart plans. Ben vs Steve
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2015, 10:21:38 AM »
who's Steve?

OzDogs

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Re: Home built cart plans. Ben vs Steve
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2015, 03:38:31 PM »
Totally awesome review. I did a review of Ben's carts myself and I declared it to be the hands-down winner in terms of up front cost. Here in Phoenix the Victor Carts rule supreme and they are wonderful. We are currently running 2 Vitcors and we're keeping another slinger with a Victor working.

As far as fabricating a cart, I've seen people do a fine job with whatever comes out of Home Depot and they are basically using residential materials and methods. Not everybody has access to metal brakes and tools to cut large panels of aluminum or stainless properly. HOWEVER it is the kind of thing you can run up to a local shop and have them do the cutting and braking. If you can't find a metal fab shop try the local seamless gutter guy. They usually have the brakes and bending tools.

From there, for the most part, these carts are riveted together so it's not like you have to run out and buy a tig welder. Although it's good to know the local welder too.

The thing is, Bob's carts are priced so well I can easily see it costing somebody MORE to actually make one. Especially if you aren't tooled up to begin with. You are gonna need at least 2 power tools and about a dozen hand tools. Plus if you aren't a tradesman, the chances are pretty high that you will screw something up.

MY JURY IS OUT on the latest Victor series 3 carts. I've seen one up close. I'm not sure what that diamond-plate like exterior is. Its kinda wobbly and flexible. And I'm not sure I like how he encloses the whole service area. That's one great thing about Victor's older designs and Bob's current designs is you can actually look around the steam area and make eye contact with the customer.

What I really gotta do is get back to the Home Depot where there's a Windy City cart. These things are MONSTERS. I understand they are custom built, no other carts like them. Full automotive suspension, axles, tires, fully self contained. Huge amounts of storage space. You don't need your coolers or tables or anything, the cart is a MONOLYTH. I'll try and get some pics.

I hope to meet the actual Windy City people some time, they really have this thing nailed. True gurus.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2015, 03:43:47 PM by OzDogs »

Mr.Rock'N'Roll

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Re: Home built cart plans. Ben vs Steve
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2015, 05:00:10 PM »
who's Steve?

He runs hotdogprofits.com
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Mr.Rock'N'Roll

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Re: Home built cart plans. Ben vs Steve
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2015, 05:07:29 PM »
I do have all the tools I'll need so I'm kind of ahead there. I really can't afford any other option but to build one. I figure I can build one for $2500. That's actually an overestimate (I hope!!!). Plus this way all elements have been handled by myself and I should be comfortable with repairs. I haven't even found a used cart close to that price up to local code.
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DaddyDog

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Re: Home built cart plans. Ben vs Steve
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2015, 08:28:46 AM »
I do have all the tools I'll need so I'm kind of ahead there. I really can't afford any other option but to build one. I figure I can build one for $2500. That's actually an overestimate (I hope!!!). Plus this way all elements have been handled by myself and I should be comfortable with repairs. I haven't even found a used cart close to that price up to local code.

That is the number I had in mind when I was considering building my cart.
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OzDogs

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Re: Home built cart plans. Ben vs Steve
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2015, 09:13:08 PM »
I figure I can build one for $2500....I haven't even found a used cart close to that price up to local code.

Must be some harsh local codes. What's so extraordinary about them?

Mr.Rock'N'Roll

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Re: Home built cart plans. Ben vs Steve
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2015, 10:01:17 PM »
We need a massive supply of fresh water, twenty gallons! Five per sink.

So yeah, we need four sinks, and the ware washing sinks must have drain boards of the same size as the sinks. And "overhead protection" which I haven't gotten an explaination on what exactly that means...

Thirty gallon grey water tank is needed too and all water tanks need some sort of overflow control (I haven't figured out how they want that done exactly yet)

Mechanical refrigeration is needed and the code says twelve cubic feet of space is required (which is huge for a cart!) but I saw one that just passed with seven cubic feet.

If a griddle or grill is used then a overhead exhaust fan with fire suppression is also needed and it needs to be certified every six months.

Service area needs to be covered and enclosed. Most carts have a plexiglass box built around the steam tables and I've asked about the roll top covers and no one knows what I mean when I explain them to them.

Drink storage must be built in to the cart, no additional ice boxes are allowed.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2015, 10:12:02 PM by Mr.Rock'N'Roll »
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OzDogs

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Re: Home built cart plans. Ben vs Steve
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2015, 12:03:02 PM »
Uh....they do know you are talking about a pushcart right? I mean, OVERHEAD EXHAUST FAN? Hey guys, we're already in the open air, where are we gotta exhaust to? Another dimension? Pipe it to Canada?

Those are catering truck/trailer specs here. And with the level of expense involved, I mean, with these specs you can forget about your $2500 target. You know that right? Good bye $2500 hello $15k.

I'd be looking at a trailer. In a trailer all you have to do is cram in salvage components. Except the fire suppression thing, they don't mess around with those. The big point is they've already pushed you into the higher level of investment and you will appreciate having a fuller menu to offer.  Yer gonna have to sell a  lot of hot dogs before it starts paying you back.

Mr.Rock'N'Roll

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Re: Home built cart plans. Ben vs Steve
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2015, 06:45:13 PM »
Uh....they do know you are talking about a pushcart right? I mean, OVERHEAD EXHAUST FAN? Hey guys, we're already in the open air, where are we gotta exhaust to? Another dimension? Pipe it to Canada?

Those are catering truck/trailer specs here. And with the level of expense involved, I mean, with these specs you can forget about your $2500 target. You know that right? Good bye $2500 hello $15k.

I'd be looking at a trailer. In a trailer all you have to do is cram in salvage components. Except the fire suppression thing, they don't mess around with those. The big point is they've already pushed you into the higher level of investment and you will appreciate having a fuller menu to offer.  Yer gonna have to sell a  lot of hot dogs before it starts paying you back.

Well, I don't intend to have a griddle or grill so I don't need to muck about with the exhaust fan. I have looked into a trailer too but I still think the quickest and best way to start is with the cart. Most trailers and food trucks are either operated by fancy chefs offering super good meals or taco trucks that cater to blue collar folks on lunch breaks. So far I can't get the same answer twice from anyone from the health department so I haven't finished my design yet but I'm looking at a 10x4 side serve tow cart. That way if I have to use the twelve cubic foot refer, I can use a chest style one and should still have enough room for all those damn water tanks underneath. Plus a modest ice chest for drink storage and I think three steam trays. I should be able to serve chili and cheese sauce by including the ware washing sinks.
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OzDogs

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Re: Home built cart plans. Ben vs Steve
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2015, 10:09:38 AM »
I'm looking at a 10x4 side serve tow cart.

If no grill means no fire suppression system that's good. That's real good. And that thing about the exhaust fan for an open air prep area still just makes me laugh. But at least we're back in the realm of reason.

So I'm assuming you will go for a propane powered frige right?

The overhead covering: I've seen open carts with roofs over them. 4 poles rise up from each corner supporting a roof. I'd want to see about a fabric roof that can be removed for transport. The less sail area you present to the wind the better.

I'd be tempted to go with real automotive wheels and tires. We pull our carts 50 miles routinely and 100 miles occasionally. I do worry about these little low-speed tires on the highway.

Mr.Rock'N'Roll

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Re: Home built cart plans. Ben vs Steve
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2015, 02:00:19 PM »
Actually I am looking to an electric fridge. Double marine cell battery setup with solar to help keep it from draining mid shift. I am in the desert so might as well let that sun work for me, right? I was looking into a more sturdy trailer like you mentioned. Jury is still out on that one. You're right on with the wind being a problem. I'd wager my weather is damn close to yours in az.
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OzDogs

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Re: Home built cart plans. Ben vs Steve
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2015, 05:51:54 PM »
Propane friges do have their down sides. If they aren't level they choke, they take a while to get cool, they need product inside of them to keep cool, they need to be housed where they have air flow (no fan) they can't keep up with high demmand well. Plus they are expensive.

Batteries are what you know they are: heavy, smelly, caustic and expensive. And you are heating an element and turning a fan. You will need an easy-up tent's worth of solar cells to keep up with that.

You were thinking about a tub design. Put a drain plug in the bottom, make it water tight, get your cooling system on there for "general purposes" and prepare to back it up with ice. That's where I'd go with this one. A hybrid electric-cum-ice design. Don't tell the inspectors about the ice part, just demonstrate refrigeration.