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Using lift-gate as cargo carrier?


New Recruit
I am interested in getting a Morgan Olson stepvan built on the MT45 Freightliner chassis, with a 12' length box. Researching lift-gate options right now and I'm hoping I could find one that has some way to secure/lock/latch the gate in the open position so I could safely/legally use it at times to haul something secured to the platform.

Ideally it would have the capability to lift up to 3000 pounds, and it must not prevent the installation of a receiver hitch on the truck ( so probably looking at the "rail gate" style? ). Of course I still want to be able to stow it in the swung-up position to reduce the truck length when it isn't being used as a hauling platform. Need a platform depth of at least 50" but more like 72-78" is even better.

Mostly thinking of using the gate to load/unload and hopefully even carry small man-lifts and gangboxes. This could save me a lot of trailer towing if I can find a way to do it.

If anyone has any product suggestions or feedback on this, I would love to hear.


Veteran Expediter
Retired Expediter
Not a good idea.
The weight of a railgate is big.
You’d probably need to modify to get weight off cylinders. At least some pins like a carhauler and possibly some extra bracing.
You’ll probably void the gates warranty.
Gates are expensive.
The weight distribution will be thrown off.
Pull the trailer.
Just one guy’s opinion.


Veteran Expediter
Hauling cargo on a liftgate?

You would be considered an oversize (if that's even legal) as the lift platform sticking out is for sure not a legal rear bumper.


Active Expediter

From a fellow step vanner !

I have basically the same truck as you are looking at except with 18' behind the drivers seat.

My truck has a Maxon Rail lift (I can't recall the weight rating) AND a trailer hitch although admittedly I have never used the hitch.

Over the years I had moved many a large snack machine using a landscape trailer with wire mesh gate (reinforced with angle iron so the expanded metal wouldn't buckle under the heavy weight of the snack machines) BUT when I transitioned to moving the snack machines with the lift gate on my step van.....

WOW sooooo much easier and a one man job to boot (no fighting machines up and down the ramp gate).

One day I was filling snack vending machines and I remembered I had to move a soda machine ( UP to that point I had only moved the large snack machines).

I figured I'd put the soda machine in the truck and vend on since the soda machine repair shop was at the end of the route.

Anyways, about mid day, I picked up the soda machine (a Dixie Narco 501 I think) but to my horror the machine would not fit in (too tall)....

Reluctant to make another trip, I figured.... what If I just ran it down the road and have it ride on the lift gate (yes I realized if A hose blew the lift would go down until it hit the ground, or something structural could break off BUT I figured it would probably be OK).

I securely strapped the machine on the gate using ratchet straps and drove slowly / cautiously.

The van ran OK and it didn't seem overly scary in the handling department (again I was driving slowly in town and being as smooth as possible braking, turning and accelerating) BUT personally I wouldn't want to do anything much heavier than that soda machine and I wouldn't want to do it regularly for fear of breaking something off or living on borrowed time if a hose blew.

I suppose the gate could be modified with positive stops (to prevent the gate from lowering if a hose blew), and maybe triangulating braces added from the end of the lift gate to the frame or something to strengthen things a bit BUT I'm not sure how the rails (attached to the body) would stand up the the long term stresses of a heavy item on the gate while driving at higher speeds over bumps etc....

I'd say in a pinch you could do it, you could do it more if you did a few mods to the gate BUT regularly....I'd recommend against that unless you know you were making adequate structural modifications and changes...

If I were moving soda machines (or other tall items) regularly, I would have to see about modding the opening on the on my step van to allow enough clearance for the soda machine to ride inside.

Step vans are great for making many stops on a route (Fed ex and UPS have that figured out and it works for snack vending too ) BUT have you considered just using a straight truck with a lift (The opening is way taller and maybe you could fit your stuff safely inside and not have to ride on the gate) ?

Buying a lift new is super high $$ , finding a used lift can be time consuming and hard to locate....then installs I'm sure are probably time consuming...

Maybe a used box truck is the solution ? ( I have seen international 4700's with 16' boxes (short and maneuverable) and full rear door covering lift gates (yes HUGE platforms)...

If length is an issue, could you run a cab over truck with a regular box and lift ?

Good luck with whatever you do
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