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dj1
Best work vehicle for the hands on General Contractor

As a remodeler/landlord I turned into a general/builder, until I semi retired.

I always found better use of vans rather than pickups, safety of tools and storage space being top reasons. I bought a new little Mitsubishi pick up for errands for everyone on the job to use, which turned into a sub par quality piece of...

I've had 8 Dodge Ram vans through the years, 7 of them topped 200,000 miles with the original engines. I really appreciated the ease of performing normal maintenance on them. My main complaint on them was the fact that they were put together using the cheapest parts. Then I bought a Chevy Express and immediately saw the difference in quality, and I still use it today. No regrets about the Dodges, they served me well, but the Chevy is much stronger.

ordjen
Re: Best work vehicle for the hands on General Contractor

Being in the painting and decorating trade, I considered the appearance of my vans to be a statement of my work. My vans did not get high mileage per year, but coming from Chicago, the road salt would rapidly rust out the bodies.
Most of my vans were Fords. Fortunately, in 1993 when they came out with the new body style, they greatly increased the quality of the bodies with zinc coated steel being used almost everywhere. Gone were the days of doors rusting through in literally 2 years!

Ford just this year has come out with the european style vans. They are somewhat boxy, but the utility of them has increase dramatically. I think they were using the Sprinter vans as their goal. Much more headroom inside and doors which open to fully expose the openings.

HoustonRemodeler
Re: Best work vehicle for the hands on General Contractor

Since we regularly carry sheet goods, pallets of material, cabinets, lumber...an RV, a full bed pickup is essential.

The tools are kept safe and dry in an 8 foot box trailer with side door, twin rear doors, and custom shelving to keep it all organized. I have a spare tire somewhere in the work shop.....

A. Spruce
Re: Best work vehicle for the hands on General Contractor

Working for and with others, it was mostly vans, some guys preferred them, most were for security of contents. I drove a small Toyota pickup at the time and when it was time to upgrade I thought long and hard about vans vs trucks, looking at every aspect from haul/tow capacity, over all utility, and resale value. For me, working out of a truck was the way to go, it kept me isolated from the noises, materials, and odors of the cargo area, far more comfortable ride. It could haul and carry more than a van, overall a far more capable vehicle.

I had a canopy and lumber rack to go with the 8' fleet side bed. The canopy had side wings, meaning the windows hinged open which gave me full access across the width and length of the truck. I built a 3 drawer tool bin that was 7' long by 3'6" wide and the depth of the wheel wells, with the passenger side wheel well there was a full 4' clear, enough space to put sheet goods inside. The left side of the box had a plywood wall about bed height, behind it I stored my 6' ladder and items too large to fit in the drawers. The reason the tool drawers were only 7' long is that it left a nice cubby at the tailgate to put my Dewalt kit, compressor, buckets, etc. and keep them from sliding all over the place. With this setup I could access ALL of my tools and daily carry items, even with a full load of materials or debris. The best part is when I bought the lumber rack, I had them cut the legs down 6" so that I could still park in a standard garage, I could even get into many of the city garages.

I sold this truck in '03 or '04 and still miss it to this day. I miss my 6x12 dump trailer too!

Working for others in the early years I drove everything, Dodge, Chebby, Ford, whatever was supplied is what I got. Never had much trouble with any of them, but then I was never in charge of their maintenance or repair, that was all taken care of by magic fairies or something. :p

dj1
Re: Best work vehicle for the hands on General Contractor

Ordjen,

Euro style vans were around since the Sixties.

A friend of mine bought one of the first Sprinters which were marketed by Freightliner (part of Benz).

In no time things started to go wrong. First time, he took it back to the same dealer (Freightliner dealers are usually located off highways, outside city limits). At the service dept he was told that they don't do service/warranty work on "toys" and he should take it to Mercedes. At Mercedes they told him that they don't service Freightliner, and he should go to his dealer. My friend had it somehow fixed...but shortly thereafter got rid of this van.

A year or two later Benz started to sell the Sprinter under Dodge, then part of Benz. Dodge had a better dealer network with many close locations. However the newer Sprinters were also behind in the quality/dependability dept.

Later, when Benz sold Chrysler/Dodge, it started to market the Sprinters at Mercedes locations.

A. Spruce
Re: Best work vehicle for the hands on General Contractor
dj1 wrote:

Later, when Benz sold Chrysler/Dodge, it started to market the Sprinters at Mercedes locations.

There are several manufacturers making a Sprinter clone now. The main problem I see with them is their height eliminates the ability for a roof rack for ladders, lumber, or whatever long items you might need to haul.

ordjen
Re: Best work vehicle for the hands on General Contractor

Dj,

I have heard less than stellar reports of the Sprinter reliability too. By "eurovan" I was referring to the newer boxier, high roofed body styles with more useable space within and doors that completely expose the rear entrance. The new Ford and Dodge vans have been around Europe as Fords and Fiats for awhile.

The Sprinter has been around in Europe since at least 1999. My late wife was German and I remember commenting to her back in 1999, when we were visiting her hometown, that the Sprinter would make a great camper van if it ever came to America. It did make it to the US and the Sprinter is the favorite of many of the camping van manufacturers, mainly due to its useable space and its excellent fuel mileage with its diesel engine. The new Fiat based Dodge van has also been adopted by many builders of camping vans.

World wide, Mercedes builds a million of those Sprinters every year. We Americans think of Mercedes only in terms of their cars, but their truck business is actually bigger. They now own Freightliner too. The Sprinter bodies and chassis are built in Germany, but assembled in South Carolina to get favrable tax breaks.

dj1
Re: Best work vehicle for the hands on General Contractor

From ordgen: "The new Fiat based Dodge van has also been adopted by many builders of camping vans.: "

I think it's the new Ram ProMaster.

From spruce: "There are several manufacturers making a Sprinter clone now. The main problem I see with them is their height eliminates the ability for a roof rack for ladders, lumber, or whatever long items you might need to haul.: "

The others are Ford Transit and Ram ProMaster. Nissan has a big and ugly new van NV Cargo. There's a new one my block, just arrived, and I haven't spoken to the neighbor yet. It will be interesting to learn about it later. When I pass by I always see him setting up shelves, boxes.
The height of these new generation tall vans make it impossible to use underground parking, in most places, while the traditional vans could still enter those garages. But they are also better loading up plywood/OSB and drywall sheets.

bill
Re: Best work vehicle for the hands on General Contractor

I have stopper working as a plumber several years ago, all the plumbers i knew then drove 3/4 ton GMC diesels. You could not kill them. The only trouble with diesels is with starting in very cold weather so we plugged in a block heater in cold weather . things might have changed since then

Fencepost
Re: Best work vehicle for the hands on General Contractor

I've heard a rumor that, due to import laws, the European "Sprinter"-style vans (regardless of manufacturer) are all shipped to the United States as passenger vans with a full complement of seats. In the United States, the seats are all ripped out and it's converted to a cargo/work van.

I don't know what they do with the leftover seats. Ship them back to Europe for reinstallation?

A. Spruce
Re: Best work vehicle for the hands on General Contractor

The modern day truck was inspired by tax laws on luxury cars, there were taxes on cars but not trucks, so luxury trucks were born, a few years ago it was the same thing with SUVs, which are a different class of vehicle than either a car or a truck.

A similar thing is going on with motorcycles, when they add a third wheel, they are no longer a motorcycle (no helmet laws ) and they are not a car (no seatbelt laws ). Yes, there is a gray area here, however, it doesn't take much to foil the system.

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