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How Ranch Trucks Work

Ranch Truck Accessories
Author Max Evans sits on the tailgate of his pick-up truck outside his house in Albuquerque, N.M., on Nov. 22, 2003.
AP Photo/Jake Schoellkopf
Author Max Evans sits on the tailgate of his truck outside his house in Albuquerque, N.M., on Nov. 22, 2003.

So, to fit into ranch life, ranch trucks have to be strong, tough and adaptable. Working on a ranch often means improvising solutions, since life on a ranch comes with some unique and unexpected problems. And, as you might expect, living on a ranch and working with a ranch truck requires some accessories.

When most people think of truck accessories, they think of things that dress up or improve the way it looks. Ranch truck accessories, however, are all about getting the job done.

A common ranch truck accessory is a fifth wheel. That sounds odd, but a fifth wheel on a truck doesn't roll along the ground. It's a type of trailer hitch that's positioned in the truck bed. It's called a fifth wheel because it spins (it lays on its side, not upright like one of the truck's wheels on the ground). A fifth wheel is an important ranch truck accessory for a couple of reasons. Trucks with fifth wheels can tow more than a traditional trailer hitch because it centers the load's weight over the truck's rear axle, which is stronger than the truck's bumper.

Another common ranch accessory is a winch. Winches are often mounted on a ranch truck's front bumper. They have their own electric motor and can slowly wind rope or steel cable in and out. That's handy for ranchers who may have had some equipment (or livestock) get caught in mud or snow. With a winch, it's easy to pull them out.

Other ranch truck accessories include things like brush guards, which protect the truck's headlights and grille when driving over uncleared land and headache racks, which cover a truck's back glass, protecting it from items in the bed and keeping the sunshine out of the cab. Off-road lights are also helpful if the rancher has to go off-road at night and tool boxes, though they take up space in the truck bed, make sure that necessary tools are always close at hand.

Speaking of necessary tools, keep reading to learn how ranchers maintain their trucks.