Posted by: Steve and Bethany | March 2, 2009

THE DONOR VEHICLE

uhaul-002

date; 4/5/09

That’s right, it’s a UHAUL!

I’d mentioned before that I’m really good at making something into something else, or as my friend Shelly puts it ‘I make new shit out of old shit’! in architecture, I love getting an old worn down home and turning it into something totally unrecognizable, and although I certainly could start from scratch for this project, I really get satisfaction from taking something ugly & undesirable (sorry u-haul!) & not only make it pleasant, but take it over the top, to something wildly creative & charismatic, plus, I find I’m really attracted to the radiused corners & posts on the uhaul boxes & all the bolt head connectors (it’s got that tough ‘machine’ look .. or.. ..it will soon anyway). Over the past 6 months or so, I’ve been looking at various brands of box truck only to feel the most comfortable with the uhaul. In terms of its materials, the way it can be dismantled, the way I can cut down and alter the individual pieces, and the way I can fit it back together with my changes. I went to my local uhaul dealership to inquire about purchasing a 14’ box truck (fits on my 12’ frame). What I found over the next month or so of dealing with various sales managers in various locations, was every person I dealt with at uhaul was extremely helpful in working with me to get a truck for my application. I explained that I really didn’t care much about the truck itself, but I was extremely concerned about the condition of the box. I’m sure most people purchasing a used box truck are going to use it as a work truck, so the condition is not as critical, but in my case, being that this was going on a brand new truck, dents & nicks wouldn’t do.

As of today, I’ve narrowed my search down to two trucks, one that runs, but has had some roof repairs that I don’t know that I want to deal with, and one with a seized engine, but a box in as good a shape as I’ve seen.

One problem that will have to be resolved is that the bullet has a greater dimension from the frame up to the underside of the cabover. I have the ability to use the front aluminum posts that go from the cabover up to the roof to add to this dimension by welding them onto the lower aluminum posts, but I have no skils in aluminum welding, just steel. I plan on cutting the height down to just above the cabover, so those posts are available. I put a call in to a friend of mine, Randy, at Harvest Valley Specialties (e- mail harvestvalley@clearwire.net)

Randy has done multiple stainless steel projects for me over the years, with absolutely brilliant precision, mathematically & qualitatively. Fortunately for me, he welds aluminum also, so my concerns are gone, I told him we’d be talking in a month or so.

Another change will be the removal of the back door, I obviously don’t need a roll up door for this project, but I think the wall panels i cut off from the side height should get me enough material to use back here (minus the new door & a recess for a spare tire)

I also plan on cutting down the width of the whole box, roof included from 8’-0” down to about 7’-2” (I won’t know exact dimensions until I actually have all the parts & the truck to measure from) this will require taking apart the roof structure completely, cutting down the length of the ribs and reassembling this whole construct. I will have to add some reinforcing to this, as the roof will no longer be attached to the walls because of the pop up design. Similarly, I will have to add some reinforcing to the new top of walls, as they will no longer have the roof structure to contain them laterally.

Other changes will include a new frame below to change the existing full support frame connection to a 3 point frame to allow for flexing in off road situations, creating wheel well cutouts to allow for the new larger tires & clearances on the bullet, and a new steel back bumper/threshold design to allow for the new back wall/door assembly & for the flex of the box at this point.

Another aspect I’ve secured, is a place in my neighborhood I can park this vehicle while I build it, technically it will be built in my driveway, as I don’t have room on my steep site for a large shop, and I know once I start, I will be working on this obsessively, nights and 3 days a weekend, but I don’t want to park it in the street in between times, fortunately for me, scott & Lisa, neighbors who know my obsessive ‘project’ history, were nice enough to let me park it on their vacant lot right down the street.

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Responses

  1. Steve & Bethany::

    Terrific—Project//design//execution and a writeup for us wishIcoulds.

    I’ve wandered in my van(S) for 50 years in New England,
    SE Utah, the Smokies and more recently W Va’s Monongahela National Forest. Let me know if you want any Beta about those areas.

    Envious of the process and am sure that you will enjoy the result. Thanks for some great reading.
    Don Reese
    Hampstead, NH


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