Van Rack


Van Rack

This is the white stretch limo that my wife drives down to Adams Slaughterhouse each week with piggies in the back and a chest freezer in the middle for picking up last week’s batch of meat.

What’s different is the hairdo. My brother gave us a roof rack this week so now we can pick up hog panel at the farm store. Previously we would roll small amounts up and put them inside the van or hire someone with a trailer to deliver large amounts. If you get a rack like that please drive carefully as they are a leading cause of accidents in vans like this since the weight up high makes the van top heavy shifting its center of mass – dangerous on corners.

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Right after I took that photo we removed the roof rack and placed it on the old brown van for storage. If we’re not actually using it I don’t want to waste the air ripping effect it will have on gas mileage. The old van runs fine but is not inspectable due to the road salt induced rust on the body. Thank you, Vermont.

We use vans rather than trailers and a pickup truck because a van gives protection to the livestock during transport – they can be air conditioned in the hot months or heated in the cold months since they are right in the same space as the driver just separated by a partition. Trailers are dangerous on our often muddy, steep dirt mountain roads. Even a rear wheel drive van is safer than any vehicle with a trailer on it.

Some people question using a van as a farm truck but we find that the van is more versatile, gets better mileage and makes it so we only need to use one vehicle which saves on registration, taxes, insurance and maintenance costs. Most of the work the van does is deliveries and we run it full, back hauling almost all the time so it is quite efficient.

Ideally we would have a four wheel extended body drive van but that is not in the cards right now. I’ve seen conversion kits – maybe someday. For now we depend on good driving skills and studded snow tires.

Funny Factoid: Our house is only 6″ longer than the van.

Outdoors: 61°F/38°F Partially Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 70°F/65°F

Daily Spark: “If I were a carnivore, this is what I would eat! Kickstarting the Butcher Shop -RavenBooks tweeted

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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12 Responses to Van Rack

  1. You are a genius Mr. Jeffries. Your blog has been our go-to source for what works in farming and we have implemented a number of your ideas into our day to day routine. A quick question about the stretch limo – how many and what size piggies do you typically carry in it? Thanks so much and keep up the great work!

    • About the back half of the van is the animal transport space. Sometime I’ll do a post about that in detail. Our son Will welded together a very sturdy transport space in the back for them. It holds six big finisher pigs easily. The middle space holds a bench seat or a chest freezer. So the van holds six live pigs, six pigs of pork, six people and a dog. This is a bottleneck for us in weekly orders and something that will be easier once we have our own on-farm slaughter.

      Update: You can see an article with photos of the interior of the back of the van in the article Stainless Steel Pig Carrier and another angle here.

  2. Ryan says:

    Walter, take a look at a General Motors van, their extended models lengthen the wheelbase rather than just extend the body rearward. That helps with stability. The other stability option is to make the axles longer, or add a second tire to each side and make a dually.

  3. Chris Wagner says:

    I second Ryan’s comment. I know someone with an all wheel drive GMC Savana that works great.

    I recently switched from a pickup truck to a van myself. I had an ’04 Dodge 2500 4×4 (10-12mpg) and switched to a ’99 Chevy Astro Cargo Van 2wd. Big improvement on fuel economy and everything is inside when I shut the doors.

    My van has a permanently mounted rack, which I appreciate because I use it several times per week for hauling lumber and ladders.

    Inspection is a huge problem here in Maine as well. Too much salt and calcium chloride on Rt. 1.

  4. BH says:

    bookmarked!!, I like your website!

  5. Diana says:

    I hadn’t thought of carrying animals INSIDE the vehicle. Great idea hear in the frozen north country. Thanks for one more great tip! I would love to see photos and details of how your inside space in the van is setup.

  6. Farmerbob1 says:

    “now we can pick*up hog panel a* the farm store.”

    Missing a space in there, and a letter ‘t’

    ‘pickup’ is a truck, ‘pick up’ is an action.

    • *grin* Our truck does the action although it is actually the same vehicle as a “Pickup Truck” just with a closed body according to our mechanic. Apparently they use the same frame, engine, transmission, breaks, control systems and put a different shell on it depending on if you want a passenger van, a cargo van or a pickup truck. Ironically, ours is the same length as our cottage – more van related trivia.

      • Farmerbob1 says:

        True, true!

        That is one thing which the automotive industry *sometimes* does reasonably well. A good cross-platform chassis can serve many different needs. Pickup truck, passenger van, panel van, utility vehicle, small recreational vehicle, small boom truck, tow truck, ambulance, ice cream truck, small moving van, the list goes on and on.

        • We have a friend who has the same chassis, engine, etc and even the front looks the same but theirs is an RV. It is apparently a very versatile line. I like that. So much we got another for backup. Holly saw one with a lift crane on it like telephone company crews use to work on the poles.

  7. Tim says:

    Your response to the first comment starts “About the balk half…”. In the entry you refer to the “back” half of the van.
    Again, the meaning is not lost and it is a minor correction. The information presented is so great that I have not had a significant contribution to make other than minor corrections of homonyms or misspellings.
    Thank you for freely sharing your experience, knowledge, and lessons learned. Your blog is a wonderful resource.

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