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    Passenger Van as Production Van advice?
    #1
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    After much research and thought I am now considering buying a passenger Ford Transit passenger van (called wagon) instead of the cargo version and then taking out most of the seats.
    Since you guys are in this field I wanted to ask your thoughts on the matter.
    I need a van to haul gear and also 1-4 people.

    The reasons I am now thinking of getting the passenger wagon are:

    1. I need extra seats and the Cargo version does not have any (only driver and passenger).
    Adding aftermarket seats is VERY expensive if done by the 3rd party companys.
    If I do it myself there are liability/insurance issues in addition to the hassle of cutting, drilling and installing.

    2. The Wagon has removable seats so I could remove all but the ones I need and even reconfigure them (to a degree). Once removed, the floor is flat.
    For hauling crew, the wagon certainly has an advantage.

    3. better outward visibility if I install perferated decals on the side windows

    4. could be used for family vacation if I took all my gear out

    ------

    The disadvantages of using a wagon over the Cargo van are:

    1. The wagon costs more

    2. The wagon has windows on the sides. I was thinking of decalling over them to help hide the fact that it has side windows for theft reasons. I was planning on installing protection for the rear windows.

    3. The wagon has side curtain air bags

    4. storing gear will be more trouble in the wagon since it has a full interior and ceiling.

    5. you lose some headroom in the wagon due to the false floor and ceiling. I can almost stand up straight in the cargo, not so in the wagon.

    attached are photos.gold wagon2.jpg2015-ford-transit-van-interior-facing-rear.jpg


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    #2
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    That's a lot of seats! The idea should work fine, maybe get some rubber floor mats for the gear area. I got some nice ones at Homedepot made from shreaded tires, going to use them for pit mats when racing. http://www.homedepot.com/p/TrafficMA...0500/206498884 a few other sizes, textured on one side and "smooth" on the other.


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    #3
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    Thank you, Greg_E.
    The rubber mats you shared look good.
    The van (wagon) comes with a rubber floor. The interior photo shows all the seats and optional carpet but the one I want to get has a rubber floor and I'd remove most of those seats
    Either leave the two single side seats or one row behind the driver/passenger.


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    Senior Member David W. Jones's Avatar
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    If it were me I would want hard separation between the people riding in the van, and the gear you are carrying. I have been on a freelance gig where we were in the scenario you described, gear and people without a wall between, when a semi truck cut into our lane forcing us off the road. Gear flew everywhere. Especially into the heads of the crew riding along. Don't make that same mistake!


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    Gear and crew in a vehicle together can be an insurance liability. There's a reason there are commercial versions of vehicles and they often come with metal barriers between the passenger and cargo areas. If you're willing to have some work done, and this means drilling, then here's what I'd suggest.

    Keep the two seats behind the driver and ditch the rest. You really will want to retain the side door access for both people and gear. You'll also want to keep the option of storage for larger/longer items. Build metal shelving behind the two remaining rear passenger seats. This shelving should be bolted into the body of the vehicle top, bottom, and side wall. The shelves should be installed upside down so that the rolled over lip edge turns up, which will help keep stiff from slipping off the shelves. There should be a plate metal side barrier to the shelves for the end directly behind the two seats as well as the side facing up against the wall so that nothing could hit a window. Make sure you use the type of adjustable shelving that's thick steel and that has lots of bolt holes so that you can use bungi cords to strap gear in place. On the passenger side of the back I suggest buying or making some taco carts or other roll-in/roll-out kit, such as a Magliner Senior. Add some serious tie-down points so that you can strap those carts in place, but I would plan to step them to the shelves if possible. Make some ramps so you can roll the carts in & out (you can get premade ramp ends that bolt onto some heavy duty lumber, and these can store under the cart.

    Above the open side where the carts will go, bolt some eye-bolts into the ceiling to hang a hammock. Don't leave the thing in place for producer's to see, but you have no idea how incredibly useful it will be to have that on hour 18 when there's a 7-hour turnaround called.

    Are you thinking that this vehicle will be just for crew or will it be for your small crew plus producer/client when they come in for stringer day-hire work? I've seen it both ways. Be prepared to leave room for the client to want to shove in loads of personal soft bags and other crap. Also, get a big inverter, wire it into the system and mount it under those two rear seats. Have a bunch of power strip outlets available for the clients to charge phones and power laptops. And a friend of mine go really smart and mounted a pretty big LCD monitor to the roof. It folds up flat against the ceiling above the driver/front row but then swings down into place (and clicks rigidly there) to be a monitor to watch dailies, review edits for the clients, plus be a great entertainment system when waiting around on set. This only works on Transit and Sprinters because of the high ceilings.

    Most important is to plan out just what you think you want to store in the vehicle and then make sure that there is PLENTY of room for this as well as room to grow. You'll be stunned by how quickly you run out of room. And don't think that the swap to family vacation concept will ever be that realistic. Unless you were willing to go on vacations just by pulling out the carts and emptying the shelves but leaving all that metal work in place and not sticking back in any seats. You'll all be squeezed together in one small part of an otherwise cavernous truck.
    Mitch Gross
    Cinema Product Manager
    Panasonic System Solutions Company


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    #6
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    I say get a cheaper, smaller van.

    Are you getting paid more to take the crew with you? What about parking? You may be either completely shutting the production our of many locations, or causing a bigger headache for people if they're not used to the needs of video production professionals.

    I think the whole point of a van or truck is to move equipment and not people. If it were up to me and I had to choose between having more equipment in the van or getting a couple of crew members there in the same vehicle, I'd go with more equipment every single time, unless of course it's special application stuff you're doing.


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    #7
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    Separation is critical for safety.

    Also driving 4+ people is a job and a responsibility with a duty of care - do you want to do that after 12 hours on location

    Yes a second row of seats can be useful on a production of a certain size.

    I see vans like that often on small productions.

    Careful consideration needs to be given to compromising your ability to carry long items. 8.8 frame elements or example.

    My van and many others are about 8.5 feet in the rear - perfect for polybiards 8.8 frame et al.

    Careful design can get a few tubes under the second row of seats


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    #8
    Senior Member Capt Quirk's Avatar
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    All good and valid points, but I am surprised nobody has mentioned electrical capabilities. If by production van, you are planning on editing, streaming, etc., you will want extra batteries and an on board genny. Try contacting a couple of those bigger paranormal groups like TAPS (The Ghost Hunters, used to be on SciFi), they are doing that, and might be able to give you some tips as well.


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    #9
    Senior Member Run&Gun's Avatar
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    Something else to think about: where do you park the most on jobs? Most parking decks are around 7' and most of the vans like that are MUCH taller than that. My truck is 6'8" and while I can park in MOST decks, I still run into locations every once in a while that I'm too tall for. I just did a shoot out of town a few weeks ago. We were in downtown Baltimore and the hotel parking deck was too short. We ended up having to park our vehicles(other crew was in a Nissan van) a block away at another hotel. Thank goodness the weather was good.

    A few times a year now, I look at vans, because I want/need more space and easier load/unloads, but they just don't have the amenities and comfort and ride like I'm used to in my F-250. If you're just "in-town" or traveling locally, they can work, but I do a lot of trips that are 4-7 hours one way. I have two friends that each have HUGE Sprinters and they are great to work out of(custom shelving, etc.), but parking them is rough.

    As far as carrying people. I keep my back seat "full" on purpose. Just room for me and my audio guy.

    I also had a 2K inverter installed a few years ago. I can easily run an HMI(800w) off of it and it's actually saved our butts twice in the last month and a half.


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    #10
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    I think this is certainly not a first van.

    I've had four the first two basically being cars with no rear seats - Ford Fiesta
    Then I had a 7 series BMW then a Vito them my current Boxer

    In uk 2m is the car park height often

    Vito and transporter skim under 2m

    A transporter with two seat rows and seperate back is pretty awesome

    But they are both realy expensive

    My Boxer is much more proper van but you lose the 2m thing .. And now i wonder if I should just have a Luton (box van)

    Each driving experience is different - clearly the BMW was best for 4 hours on the highway.

    It's like a whole "this is how I role" thing - some dart about on a scooter - while clearly a feature has lorries and organised parking.

    Somehow transporters get thrown in the car park while boxer or bigger you get in the loading bay - you enter the club with stage riggers and the like at venues.. If your PM phones ahead.


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