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PostPosted: September 8, 2009, 11:36 am 
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These commercial trucks are cheap, tough, and built to last. Because they are commercial vehicles, a commercial insurance policy is required even if the use is only personal. Persons who may be transported in the vehicle and operate the vehicle must be listed on the policy and the radius of the area in which it will be used must be listed. I think I’m paying about $30/month for two occupants/drivers and non-commercial use.

Ambulances, school busses, and box trucks are also commercial vehicles.

RVs use the same parts but are titled differently. A commercial truck can be modified, inspected, and retitled as an rv in which case insurance may be cheaper/easier to find.

This vehicle is going to be used for commercial use once it is finished.

The truck has about 190K and cost me $1,700.

The purpose of this truck is mobile pet grooming.
It must be easy to make a U-turn and back up (i.e. short).
It must be easy to enter (i.e. stepvan).
It must have enough room to stand up and move around.
It must be low cost.

PIC front, side, inside

1997
Forward Control
Body: Utilimaster, all aluminum
Chassis: GMC P32, independent, coil spring, front suspension with 1.250” swaybar
Engine: 6.5L Diesel
Transmission: 4L80D
Axle: Dana 80, 10 bolt wheels, 5.13:1, dually
Brakes: Front and rear anti-lock disc brakes, hydroboost.
GVWR: over 14,000 lbs
Heater, adjustable air scoops, no air conditioning
Dual 12vdc batteries in parallel
Width: 6’8”
Length: 17’11”
Length behind driver: 10’


Equipment being added:

Water service panel
Water pump, 110vac
Water heater, tankless, 110vac
Waste water tank, 25 gallon
Fresh water tank, 25 gallon
Accumulator, 5 gallon
Bath tub
Faucet and shower head
Rear view camera, LCD 7”
Florescent light fixture, flush mount, 2’x4’, 4 bulb
Generator, 110 & 240 vac, gasoline, 8500 watts/13,500 peak
Air conditioner, 5,000 btu
Windows (3 qty), 40”x22”, tempered, tinted, screened, sliding
Plug-in battery maintainer
Sound deadener, insulation, and white fiberglass interior panels.
Various outlets and switches

I had a few things to fix first. The engine oil cooler lines are long pre-bent aluminum tubes with short crimped hoses in-between. They were not supported due to a broken plastic clamp and leaking badly at the crimps. I had to cut the hose just to remove them in pieces from the truck.

I cut the crimp sleeves on each side of the tube, then pried them off, flared the tube ends to fit tightly in the replacement hose, re-curved the soft aluminum tube for better routing, and used heavy duty stainless clamps, hose, and addel clamps from Mcmaster.

PIC line pics
I added a Harbor Freight battery maintainer where I could plug it in without opening a panel or lifting the hood. There is a remote battery connection near the front. I think it is for jumping off the truck. I rerouted and added a lot of clamps to various things rubbing together from poor maintenance.

PIC charger

Because of the oil leaks, the soft rubber front swaybar bushings were missing/crumbling. I replaced those with blue plastic bushings from RockAuto for $35. There is an aftermarket front swaybar that comes with plastic bushings for the rear bar for about $250. It would be nice to have but I have bigger fish to fry right now. My truck doesn’t have a rear swaybar or the brackets. I have 12 leaf springs on each side which is a lot more than I need. I’m removing about half of those for a better ride but I’ll probably want more sway control at that point.

PIC bushings


Attachments:
File comment: The "fishbowl".
2009 north ga & aspire accident 053.jpg
2009 north ga & aspire accident 053.jpg [ 176.76 KiB | Viewed 12954 times ]
File comment: Passenger's spring loaded jump seat.
2009 north ga & aspire accident 054.jpg
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File comment: Added a few clamps with the charger. The cooler lines were floating.
Old Yellar 023.jpg
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File comment: High but not too large of a foot print compared to a miata.
Old Yellar 038.jpg
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2009 north ga & aspire accident 052.jpg
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2009 north ga & aspire accident 049sm.jpg
2009 north ga & aspire accident 049sm.jpg [ 151.17 KiB | Viewed 12940 times ]

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Last edited by Miatav8,MstrASE,A&P,F on September 8, 2009, 7:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: September 8, 2009, 11:37 am 
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I found factory GM service manuals for the truck on Ebay for $11.

PIC manuals

The truck is very noisy. It has zero sound deadener and numerous holes in the floor. I used Auveco rubber plugs with black silicone sealant to fill holes. I used liquid bed liner material on the top of the engine cover, under the removable floor panel over the transmission, and on the firewall.

PIC deadener

I carefully measured how much space was available for adding tanks under the floor to save interior space. I shortened the battery box by about 6”, then built a frame from 1” angle iron and 2”x .125” plate. Coated in epoxy concrete sealer.

PIC frame off, on

I needed a half step to get into the truck. It uses ¼” hardware, 1” angle and 2” x .125” tread plates. Coated in epoxy concrete sealer with antiskid tape. I cut and drill for both sides to save time.

PIC step, pieces

I still need to add splash/stone guards behind the front wheels and in front of the rear wheels for the generator, tank, and steps.

PIC guards
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The water service panel has a street hookup so if the generator goes down, a water hose will provide pressure. An onboard extension chord will provide adequate power for running a few items at a time.

PIC svc panel
Attachment:
p32 004.jpg
p32 004.jpg [ 126.38 KiB | Viewed 12932 times ]


Attachments:
p32 006.jpg
p32 006.jpg [ 119.41 KiB | Viewed 12928 times ]
p32 008.jpg
p32 008.jpg [ 148.19 KiB | Viewed 12920 times ]
File comment: tank cage and step. Shortened battery box at the end.
Old Yellar 033.jpg
Old Yellar 033.jpg [ 134.38 KiB | Viewed 12915 times ]
File comment: Cut parts to do other step while making the first to save time.
Old Yellar 011.jpg
Old Yellar 011.jpg [ 129.9 KiB | Viewed 12907 times ]
File comment: Step
Old Yellar 029.jpg
Old Yellar 029.jpg [ 198.28 KiB | Viewed 11241 times ]

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Last edited by Miatav8,MstrASE,A&P,F on September 8, 2009, 7:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: September 8, 2009, 11:37 am 
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The generator was used for $500 from Craigs. I determine the max electrical load to be about 3,500 watts. I’m making a very large, long muffler to quiet it down. A large access panel will be cut from the side, hinged, and a locking latch added. I haven’t sorted out the fuel tank and filler access. A diesel generator would have been great but it would also have bee a lot more expensive.

PIC generator

The air conditioner is a small Fridgidaire window unit for $112 from Walmart. A traditional rv type ac unit would not work on this truck, with its flexible, translucent, plastic roof. The cheapest rv units cost about $700.

PIC ac unit

The rear roll up door must go, replaced by a wall to support the window ac unit and one of the 3 rv windows. The wall consists of a 2x4 frame and ribs, sandwiched by 3/8” plywood sheet, covered by a white fiberglass panel glued on the outside. The assembly is installed with screws from the inside. The inside is covered with another white fiberglass panel.

Side walls are already 1.5” thick aft of the aluminum door wells. 1x2 spacers are sandwiched by a 3/8” plywood sheet followed by a glued white fiberglass panel. Insulation is installed between the spacers. I ordered the windows the max wall thickness, 3 “. The windows use setting tape on the outside wall and are clamped with screws into the U-channel around the edge.

PIC windows

The tub was new from Home Depot for about $100. It is ceramic coated steel. I looked into stainless vet tubs, used restaurant sinks, using ½” plastic sheet, etc. This is by far the most economical solution. It is raised to an appropriate height for a large dog, with a plastic stand for a small dog to stand on, keeping it comfortable for the groomer.

PIC tub

I considered using a cable pallet lift for maximum range with an electric winch but I thought it would be too noisy. The grooming table is based on a Harbor Freight hydraulic table for $200. The lift pedal is extended around the side. The top is expanded and covered with a rubber sheet and metal edging.

PIC table


Attachments:
p32 001.jpg
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p32 019.jpg
p32 019.jpg [ 150.18 KiB | Viewed 12891 times ]
Old Yellar 014.jpg
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Old Yellar 013.jpg
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p32 018.jpg
p32 018.jpg [ 132.33 KiB | Viewed 12881 times ]
Old Yellar 008.jpg
Old Yellar 008.jpg [ 117.49 KiB | Viewed 12876 times ]

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Om3C1Ep ... D3E18BB447


Last edited by Miatav8,MstrASE,A&P,F on September 8, 2009, 7:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: September 8, 2009, 11:38 am 
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I used a standard home type 5 gallon accumulator ($50) instead of one the tiny one designed for rv use. This accumulator will reduce the “hammering” from a water pump short cycling and cause the pump to stay on a long time whenever it does run and stay off a long time afterwards. This should greatly extend the life of the pump.

PIC accumulator

The tankless water heater ($159) was much cheaper than a tank heater and takes up a lot less space. There is no need to give the heater time to heat the water tank. A low flow sensor prevents the heater from burning up if the water runs out, unlike a tank water heater.

PIC water heater


Attachments:
File comment: Inside handle for scoop. Very high tech.
Old Yellar 022.jpg
Old Yellar 022.jpg [ 140.23 KiB | Viewed 11238 times ]
File comment: Side scoops open both directions. They work great.
Old Yellar 021.jpg
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File comment: Serious stack of leaf springs, killing my comfort level.
p32 021.jpg
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File comment: great access! I added bedliner material to the underside.
p32 002.jpg
p32 002.jpg [ 159 KiB | Viewed 12862 times ]
File comment: various outlets, multi function switch, waste tank dump valve ordered without flanges by mistake.
p32 016.jpg
p32 016.jpg [ 154.13 KiB | Viewed 12859 times ]
File comment: lcd backup camera, about $80 on Ebay. It needs a better mount than the visor.
p32 020.jpg
p32 020.jpg [ 155.26 KiB | Viewed 12856 times ]

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Last edited by Miatav8,MstrASE,A&P,F on September 8, 2009, 7:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: September 8, 2009, 2:06 pm 
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This looks like it will be great info. I don't know much about small trucks / RV's, but you have talked me into it. Seems possibly more sensiable then getting an enclosed trailer for the FF and might be a pickup and SUV replacement for the rare times I need them.

The insurance issues will need some investigating though.

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PostPosted: September 8, 2009, 2:12 pm 
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PICS, please? :)

It sounds very cool. That was certainly a good price for the truck, as because it is a commercial vehicle I'm sure that most of it's useful life is yet to be seen.

I just googled "mobile pet grooming" and got 186,000 hits, indicating that though the concept is novel it is also pretty well accepted, a nice place to be. That van will be a rolling advertisement, so I encourage you to be as garish as you dare with the signage. I feel sorry for all these local shopping center businesses with their uniform storefronts and 'tasteful' signs. Who knows what the hell they do?

Best of luck with the venture! Please keep us posted on your wife's adventures with it.

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PostPosted: September 8, 2009, 3:52 pm 
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Thanks for the support!

I started to post this before but I wasn't sure it belonged here. Having the information I plan to add in one spot should be helpful to someone as it was tough to gather. I'll get the pics together this evening.

Groomer vans are ridiculously expensive. I think most mobile groomers are spending most of their money for the vehicle. The cost of various grooming equipment is very high as well, which is why I'm making what I can. IMHO and IMPE, most groomers are not mechanically inclined fabricators.

This truck seems to get better mileage than many suvs. The 6.5L is not producing much HP. The electronic overdrive will not shift into 4th gear until I reach 51 mph. I've had it going over 70 mph without putting it to the floor. It also doesn't smoke at all.

One downside is the cost of tires at about $200 each. When looking for tires, whomever supplies your local school busses tires should be the first stop. These tires are 14 ply and last a very long time.

Most similar styled trucks have 8 bolt 19.5" wheels and very expensive tires (8R 19.5 or 225 70 19.5). The bolt patterns are different between Ford and GM. GM went to 10 bolt wheels in 1997.

GM had 16" wheels also with the same 8 bolt pattern. Tires for those are no more expensive that most vehicles but I don't know if the 19.5" brakes will clear the 16" rims.

Dana rear axles from 60-80 series have been used on the GM chassis. Ratios range from 3.54 to 5.13:1. Ring and pinions are available for swapping gear sets. Two different diffs are used, 4.10 down and 4.10 up. There is a 3.73 R&P to fit the 4.10up diff.

I think one can run only one pair of rear wheels. I think the inner rear wheels are the same as the front wheels.

Typical engine/trans: 350 chevy and turbo 400 automatic or Ford 460 and C6 automatic

Some trucks have the 4.3L v6, straight six, 454, etc.

Diesels include the Cummins 3.9L, GM 6.5, and 6.5L turbo

They are called million mile vehicles because they are built to last. They are simple and rugged. For normal commercial use, it is typical to replace the engine and transmission every 300,000 miles or so.

It is easy to find good runners for around $2,000 and needing a transmission for about $1,000.

Grumman and Utilimaster are the main body manufacturers, both aluminum.
The normally installed chassis under a utilimaster has been the GM P30. Not much has changed since the late 1960s so most parts interchange.

Obviously, considering the weight and commercial use, it is emission exempt if you have testing in your area.


Attachments:
File comment: The other side of the generator.
p32 015.jpg
p32 015.jpg [ 145.13 KiB | Viewed 12862 times ]
File comment: On a side note, I just finished making brass burners and stainless burner guards for this $50 grill I got on Craig's. It is amazing what a lot of elbow grease and Mother's Metal Polish can do.
Old Yellar 007.jpg
Old Yellar 007.jpg [ 204.34 KiB | Viewed 11238 times ]
File comment: I drilled a thousand or so .060" holes in the pipe and made guards from 4" stainless exhaust pipe. A new grill like this with red brass burners is around $4,000.
Old Yellar 006.jpg
Old Yellar 006.jpg [ 165.7 KiB | Viewed 12853 times ]
File comment: This mirror is so the driver can see exactly where the front bumper is, very handy. Also very high tech.
Old Yellar 027.jpg
Old Yellar 027.jpg [ 200.09 KiB | Viewed 11238 times ]

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PostPosted: September 8, 2009, 8:34 pm 
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Thanks for all the pictures and keeping us informed! I enjoy seeing projects like this. I hope everything goes as planned for you, and I hope you keep us updated!

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PostPosted: September 9, 2009, 12:12 am 
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Definitely non-traditional...but I'm enjoying the thread! Keep us posted, please!

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PostPosted: September 9, 2009, 8:47 am 
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Thanks! I have more pics and content to add.

It is applicable as a vehicle for use as a locost tow and camper for events like the Mitty, it just isn't long enough to put the locost inside like Rod's van.

I get some strange looks/smiles shopping at Walmart/Lowes/Home Depot.

Suppliers:
http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/parts/rv_p ... sories.htm
http://www.plastic-mart.com/?gclid=CIKT ... 5Qod5QOg-A
http://www.tank-depot.com/product.aspx?id=162
http://www.stepvanparts.com/

http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/show ... &showall=1


Home Depot has flexible, white, fiberglass-reinforced, plastic panels. They are usually laying flat under the 20 foot long, vertical sticks of trim molding. I used these panels and liquid nails FRP, which is specifically for these panels and comes in gallon containers.

A grooved trowel is a must have so the right amount of adhesive is left on the panel. It says to apply to the panel but it was much easier to apply to the plywood then position the panel. I built the rear wall first to replace the 200 lb roll-up door assembly.

The wall consists of 2x4 sanwiched by 3/8" plywood, 1-5/8" drywall screws and plastic panels. The goal is a 3" thick wall for the windows to fit properly.

The sides around the tail lights are C channels with a Z channel riveted on. To transfer the holes in the Z to the plywood, I used a finger wipe of grease through the holes. There isn't enough room in the C for anything else.

The rear wall contains one window and the air conditioner.

I removed the 3, shortest, alternating leaf springs on each side. Using a cutting torch, I cut the ends off of one to be used on each side as a spacer so the original U bolts and locating pin can be reused. It sits above the helper spring which is above the eye spring and below the top clamp plate so it doesn't act as a lift block and keeps the helper spring travel the same.

This lowered the rear a couple inches and the suspension will move slightly when I get in it, so hopefully it will move when going over bumps where it didn't before. I regained the bumpstop clearance by removing spacers installed between the stop and frame. I also bevelled/tapered the bumps stops so initial contact with the stop will be less harsh.

To protect the grey water tank underneath from the rear wheel, I ordered 24" x 36" x 1/4" rubber mud flaps from Ryder Fleet at $11 each. I was going to use rubber sheet but this was much cheaper than any other supplier. The flaps will be framed and supported all the way around so there will be no flapping.
www.ryderfleetproducts.com


Attachments:
File comment: Z channel
Old Yellar 009.jpg
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File comment: The guess was a bit off.
Old Yellar 008.jpg
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insidewall.jpg
insidewall.jpg [ 206.62 KiB | Viewed 11234 times ]
File comment: Shows 4 but I only removed the 3 shortest springs.
Old Yellar 001.jpg
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Old Yellar 011.jpg
Old Yellar 011.jpg [ 188.81 KiB | Viewed 11234 times ]
File comment: Water fill and street pressure hookup panel
p32 017.jpg
p32 017.jpg [ 114.07 KiB | Viewed 12706 times ]

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PostPosted: September 14, 2009, 6:36 pm 
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I've been cutting for windows. The walls are .250" thick aluminum!

I also made the mistake of cutting for the interior clamp ring rather than the window itself. The ring is about 1/4" larger than the window so the fits is not as good on the first window as I would have liked but nothing insurmountable. The trick is to mark the screw holes in the ring onto the wall, then cut 1/4" outside a circle connecting them.

I should have ordered thinner windows for the sides, adding the paneling directly to the gelcoated plywood to cover all the screw holes. As it is, I had to add 1x2 and 1x4 spacers around the windows for clamping and to screw the tube edge to. It should be like a little crows nest up there with all the windows in.

I ordered a 35 gallon fresh water tank from the the Tank Depot for $154, shipped. When the 25 gallon grey tank and plumbing are full and the tub stops draining, she will know there is less than 10 gallons of fresh water left.

There is only so much that grooming can do, maybe some bows?:


Attachments:
File comment: He just needs some sunscreen lotion and shades.
Cuddles.jpg
Cuddles.jpg [ 31.16 KiB | Viewed 12646 times ]
File comment: I wonder what Tater has been into.
Tater3.jpg
Tater3.jpg [ 7.91 KiB | Viewed 12646 times ]
window.jpg
window.jpg [ 205.89 KiB | Viewed 11235 times ]
backdoor.jpg
backdoor.jpg [ 226.86 KiB | Viewed 11235 times ]

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PostPosted: October 5, 2009, 9:15 am 
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I’ll add pics this evening.

I used eight, ¼ x 3.5” bolts on the sides to attach the rear wall to the truck channel after using clear silicone caulk in between. I drilled holes for drains in the outside step.

The window setting tape is clay-like, with very little adhesive quality to it. The process is to install a few screws through the inside clamp a few turns into the channel on the edge of the window to hold the clamp ring alignment, then drill the other positions through the holes in the clamp ring into the channel with a #27 bit.

The stacked 2x4 supports the tub edge. It is best to drill all the holes since the aluminum extrusions in the walls cannot be seen. Just running the drywall screws in with a #2 phillips in the drill will strip the hole in the wood if the screw hits aluminum.

I didn’t have the foresight to realize the outside channel would interfere with the best place to mount the water service panel. Mounting it above the channel would be hard to reach. I should have ordered a lower profile tank so I could fill it completely. I may need to move the panel above the rub rail and either plug the hole or use it for something else.

The water service panel didn’t come with any fasteners. I’m using #12 x ¾ self tapping stainless hex head bolts I picked up from Home Depot. #10 would have been best. The bolt heads interfere slightly with the door.

I took the aluminum grab handles off of the rear and put them below the ones near the side doors, reusing the countersunk stainless ¼-20 screws, bending the lower end for alignment with the flange.

It is a lot of work for a few windows but it made a huge difference inside. More white plastic will be added.

I’m using a standard office type suspended ceiling system, which is much lighter than plastic over plywood over 2x4 with easier access and better noise absorbing qualities. Stringers are sold in 12 foot sticks to be shortened, riveted to the sides of the truck and hung by wire through holes drilled in the existing ceiling stringers.

The 24x48” light is riveted to the existing ceiling for maximum head room.

The fuel filler for the generator is going to be cut from a 1980s ford ranger, which is very flat around the opening and on the correct side so wind won’t be opening the door. The original generator filler cap vent will be sealed. A sheetmetal cover will fit over the filler neck inside the truck.

I received the massive mud flaps (4.3L v6 intake in back ground for scale). I think I’ll use one for the grooming table top.


Goal for the left wall:

1: Cages are stacked, 38L x 30W x 30H with plastic slide out trays under an expanded and rolled flat ¼” thick stainless from Mcmaster or composite deck board in a U-groove at one end so they can’t pop out of position but can be lifted out for cleaning.

2: Ranger filler to generator below a short counter top and shelf, both with a high edge lip to keep things from falling off. The wall will have tool holders with a swinging dryer and a clip for retention when driving.

3: A rubber topped hydraulic table, 36 x 30 based on an HBF hydraulic table, directly over the wheel house.

4: A storage cabinet. Dims are 30L x 29.5W x 48”H over the truck diesel filler house, below the AC unit in the rear wall.

Goal for the right wall:

1: Upholstered Mini couch with a hinged top over 35 gallon fresh water tank.

2: Water service panel, 115VAC water pump, 5 gallon accumulator and T, Street water pressure T, tub drain trap and T to vent and drain through floor to waste water tank.

3: Tub, directly over wheel house with end walls 12” higher than tub deck for splash protection and clip rails on the wall. The tub is supported along the wall with 2x4 and screws through the flange, with a stand bolted to the wheelhouse supporting the center. There is a recess under the edge for foot clearance and gallon bottle storage and a retaining rail to keep it in place.

4: Faucet, with pump, 3-way soap bypass valve, 4-way soap selector valve, and 4 gallon bottles of soap with siphon hoses.

Soap metering systems are standard, hydrosurge being one brand name. A soap metering system costs $500-1,000. I considered using a $20 mixing venturi but it won’t work properly with backpressure. A proportioning pump is a much more precise method, driven by the material being metered. Soda fountains use proportioning pumps but they are usually driven by co2 or compressed air. I found a Shurflo Proportioning pump that has a 4:1 ratio and is water driven for about $140 new. It even comes with a 3 way valve for bypassing the soda syrup/soap. Part number 94-260-03.

http://www.superiorsupplyonline.com/shu ... pumps.html


Attachments:
File comment: I found another conversion
stepvan.jpg
stepvan.jpg [ 170.4 KiB | Viewed 12573 times ]
BrixPlumbingenlarged.JPG
BrixPlumbingenlarged.JPG [ 40.58 KiB | Viewed 12569 times ]

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PostPosted: October 5, 2009, 5:53 pm 
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Joined: July 16, 2007, 9:30 pm
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Location: Broken Arrow, OK
This is GREAT!!!........ I used to have an early '60s Metro Step Van converted to a single small bed in the back, and a ice powered refrigerator. I used it to drive all over the So. Texas oilfield back in the day. I kept my Laverda 750 in the back too, and loved it.

Mine was a bear to drive on the highway though, it was geared for around town.......

Yours is going to be very, very nice indeed. Keep the pics and posts comin, I am interested in all this
Joe G.


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PostPosted: October 5, 2009, 6:31 pm 
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Thanks! The old step vans have a lot of character.

We've had a lot rain to put it mildly, setting me back a few weeks. Not much to show for a lot of progress made this past weekend.


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File comment: 4.3l v6 intake (yet another project) in background for scale. These matts are about $11 each.
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PostPosted: October 7, 2009, 12:25 pm 
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A few interesting steps found through Jalopy Journal:


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