Potential Energy


Stock Panel Springs

We needed to get a few stock panels. They are 16′ long by 4′ wide. Our van is 19.5′ long but the stock panels can’t go up through the driver’s area so there isn’t enough room to lay them flat.

I sent the far ends of the panels up over the freezer and down behind the driver’s seat creating a strong sprung arch. At the store a sales guy, Holly and I compressed the ends of the panels into the back of the van and up against the roof, closed the doors and locked them. A very tight fit as shown in the photo above.

After I took this picture I opened the second door and their ends popped out with a loud clatter. Excitement on the farm! The far ends were firmly wedged in so they stayed put but it was quite the racket.

Outdoors: 28째F/17째F Partially Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 65째F/59째F

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor…

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13 Responses to Potential Energy

  1. Yeah the panel story is cute but just look at the wear and tear on Hollys coveralls. This REAL woman works hard for a living !

  2. MMP says:

    I have rain gutter roof racks on my van. If I am hauling 10 or less panels, I lay them flat on top of the van. More than 10 makes me worried about raising the center of gravity of the van too much. It's also worth noting that two cross bars are not enough to keep the panels from sagging and hitting the roof. A pair of boards running the length of the van under the panels or more cross bars make it work, though.

    I have a standard length van, so there is about 3-1/2 feet of overhang back and front for me. That's enough to setup quite a osscilation while driving. Using 14 foot boards under the panels will take car of that for a longer drive. With your extended van, this would be less of an issue for you.

    It does help that the local dairy supply store will load them for me with a fork lift, making it a much easier task. When I get them home, I just pull them off two at a time. I can do it alone if I am careful.

  3. I've wondered about putting them on the roof but hesitated for the same center of mass reason you mentioned. I like the idea of the boards to dampen the vibrations.

    It was really great when you delivered a whole lot of them using your trailer. That's the solution for transporting large numbers of panels.

  4. walter, do you know if they make vans like that with 4 wheel drive and heavy duty suspensions?

  5. I wish ours had four wheel drive or all wheel drive and differential locking. I have looked around but not found any.

    Ours is rear wheel drive, the first rear wheel drive vehicle I've had. It is not nearly as good on ice or snow as front wheel vehicles. Putting a lot of weight in the back helps greatly. It is very important that the weight be balanced on or in front of the rear axle or the front end can literally lift off the ground at high speeds – up, up and away!

    Unfortunately I have always bought vehicles used so that makes it doubly hard to find one.

    If anyone knows of a 4WD or AWD version of this type of extended body cargo van please let me know.

  6. Sally H says:

    My farm truck is a van — 1990 Chevy conversion van we bought at auction. The thing is UGggLY, and has no traction, but I can't kill it or get anyone to steal it . We bought it when we needed a vehicle that could both pull a horse trailer AND seat 6 people. I use a small trailer (not quite 6' x not quite 8') as my cargo area. To load cattle panels I "walk" them in — with the long wires on the outside, the help-you-load guy and I bring the ends together. Then he holds both ends while I pick up the bowed middle from the inside for the bow, and push it to the front of the trailer. I have to break-in every new guy, and they all look at me like I'm crazy, until it works . Very important to have the long wires on the outside — the short wires catch on each other and make loading (and unloading) way more difficult.

  7. MMP says:

    I know the 2000 and newer Chevy Express van (GMCs new version to replace the old G-series/Vandura body style) was available with all wheel drive from the factory, but not four wheel drive (no locking differential). The factory AWD still uses an A-Arm suspension in the front and they didn't look particularly heavy duty to me. The A-arm has a hole through the center for a small diameter axle. It looked kind of spindly for a vehicle of it's size to me.

    There was at least one company that made aftermarket 4X4 conversions for Ford and Chevy Vans. The Chevy conversion is more involved because it converted the front suspension from A-Arm style to leaf spring. I think the leaf spring suspension would be much more capable for heavy loads than the AWD A-Arm.

    I do occaionally run across used four wheel drive vans for sale. But they are always old and in poor shape or very expensive. They are rare beasts and generally used hard. It's been a long time pipe dream to have one, but the sacrifice of purchase price and mileage/maintenance costs has always prevented me in the past.

    I have always found that my two wheel drive chevys can't backup for anything on ice. Aside from that, they have passable traction going forward. I have always felt that the long wheel base offered better stability in slippery conditions. In terms of the rear end loosing traction and kicking out, you have more time to make a correction compared to a shorter wheel base. And once I have a little forward momentum, I have driven through some impressively deep snow and mud. I once did a 3 mile treck down an unplowed seasonal road with 18 inches of virgin snow. Once I got started I just kept my momentum up… Good studded snow tires have added a lot of capability to my vans.

  8. MMP, Do you have a web address for the 4×4 conversion company for the Fords? I would be curious to look at what they offer. Frankly, just getting differential lock would be great as that would solve the problem 99% of the time. Cars should not slip dif unless one is turning.

    Right now, if we can't make it up the mountain Holly parks and I bring the tractor down and haul the van up the road. The tractor has serious chains, the logging type, so it gets traction on anything plus it has the 4WD and differential lock.

  9. MMP says:

    I don't know the name of the 4×4 conversion company. I always knew it would be too expensive for me so never persued it. I like the idea of a limited slip differential, though. I agree that would add a lot of capability to a two wheel drive van.

    I have used tire chains on a van. they did work in a pinch. But I always thought of them as an emergancy solution.

  10. Ryan says:

    I worked for GM as an engineer at the Wentzville MO factory where the full size vans are made. (Interiors not drive trains)
    But I know that changing to a locking differential is a good option. Though for the AWD I think it is only on the 1500 not the 2500 or 3500 series.

    I am surprised you don't have a trailer yourself Walter. Wouldn't a shorter van and trailer be more versatile?

  11. Interesting to know the inside scoop on the vans, Ryan. We prefer the larger interior to the trailer because neither Holly nor I want to pull a trailer. So far we have avoided it. We keep coming to things that we say "oh, well, we'll need a trailer for that." But then we find a way around it. For example when we needed a whole bunch of stock panels my brother delivered them with his trailer. When we needed several large stock troughs the feed store delivered them for $50. When we needed a big tank that was delivered free. These things only come up about twice a year so the incentive to get a trailer is low. We'll see how long I can continue putting it off. :)

  12. Tiana Thomas says:

    “Quigly” makes 4×4 conversions for vans.

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