1. Register NOW and become part of this fantastic knowledge base forum! This message will go away once you have registered.

Production Trucks

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by Cucco, Jul 28, 2009.

  1. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Does anyone here have any experience setting up a production truck?
    I know Remy does - perhaps you'd be willing to share....

    I'm looking at setting one up. I figure I can go one of a few different ways:
    1 - a small box truck (~12-14 feet - diesel)
    2 - a tow behind trailer (6*12)
    3 - a full-sized van
    4 - a school or similar bus

    The idea that I'm looking at is to have a studio on wheels (not a tracking room, just a control room).

    I need to consider power (diesel generator or some sort of mobile power linked into the vehicle's alternator), A/C (maybe not...I don't do much if anything with it in the summer. Then fans may work), cabling (though, I have tons of cable including 500' snakes and similar.

    I'd love to know some thoughts and experiences on the subject.

    My ideal would be a bus that I could put a small V/O booth in, a nice control room and then maybe a couch/sleeper (for long trips) and maybe some other amenities. However, my wife would give me no end to the grief if I actually bought a bus!

    Otherwise, I'm torn between the tow-behind and the box truck idea.

  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Just a thought J, you might survey gas stations with diesel and whether they carry #2 in the winter. I get asked enough times whether there is diesel available around YNP (YES btw) that it must be an issue in some areas.
  3. MadTiger3000

    MadTiger3000 Active Member

    Do what all the big nonprofits, government entities, and some businesses do:

    Hide it in the budget.

    Come up with a budget for the ENTIRE project. Get that TOTAL number in a range she can live with.

    Some of the items won't be needed, or will use your existing materials and/or skills (eg. cabling). The money saved goes toward considering the bus option when you rework your numbers for the actual budget.
  4. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Sadly, it's not the budget she would care about. That would come out of the studio budget (although, she does do my numbers and my books...)

    No, instead, she'd pretty much tell me that I'd need to buy a short school bus b/c I'm "special."
  5. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Must feel good to have a wife that understands you, eh?
  6. MadTiger3000

    MadTiger3000 Active Member


    Oh, that kind of grief.
  7. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Have you checked out any of the ready to roll production trailers out there?


    They don't normally include a generator though.

    What are your power requirements?
  8. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member


    In the FWIW catagory..........

    I opted for a trailer. The reason being, that if a truck breaks down, I'm not making a gig.

    On a trailer, about the worst you run into is a flat tire.

    If the towing vehicle takes a dive, I can get a rental and/or a tow from AAA.

    I purchased a 7x14x8 high ceiling with curbside and wide swing doors. I would rather have had a drop door. That way I wouldn't have to carry a dock plate or ramps.

    When I put the 2nd rig together (probably next year), I'm probably going to do a 24' straight with either a Cat or Cummings diesel. The Cat and Cummings are both pretty much 2,000,000 mile motors and matching trannies that are pretty damned reliable. Be careful about the liftgate. I've heard repeatedly... do not get a Tommy Lift on a big truck unless you buy it new. They just aren't all that strong to begin with, and maintaining the seals is a PITA. So, I'm gonna look for a factory installed lift.

    You can find good deals on 10,000 GVW's that are non CDL in the spring. Especially catching my attention is the consideration of a reefer. The only thing you gotta watch out for is keeping the reefer compartment dry. They evidently do like to suck in moisture when they're running down the road.

    The thing I don't like about a school bus/short bus, is the frames are welded big time to the box. This makes em' a major PITA to convert.

    12-16' straights are limp in the suspension and dogs to keep the transmissions in good running condition.

  9. BRH

    BRH Active Member

    You will also need to live in it as wife will give you the boot!
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Forget the school bus route, Cucco. I did that and it was great for traveling, but expensive to restore. The bus companies usually sell them when they are miled out. They are designed for being full of kids and have extra safety add-ons like double brakes, vacuum tanks, lines and so on . I still have mine, its mint. I dumped 25 grand into restoring it. Removed all the windows, added a security system and super duty locks. I'd sell it to you for a few grand if you want to drive up here lol.

    One thing I would concider is buying something that rides really smooth. Buses an't a smooth ride. They are tanks. I'd go with something that had a soft ride and then go from there.
  11. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I'm actually right on with MadMax's thoughts. I like the idea of the tow behind for the simple reason that if the engine dies in the truck, I'm not completely stranded.

    I have looked at the Markertek trailers but they fall outside of my budget and are WAY more than I need.

    I'm thinking a used Chevy Silverado and a 6x12 trailer with A/C and a gennie should set me back around $10K (done some research...)

    I'd build the inside out myself...
  12. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    I think you have the right idea with the trailer. I am now dealing with an intermittent starter solenoid & a rusting out power liftgate. But you'll need more than fans in the summertime I can guarantee that. You'll die from heat protestation and so will your equipment. You can get ceiling mounted RV air-conditioners but their noise may be objectionable. I stuck a BARD "Wall Mount" air-conditioner on the back of my truck, with 24,000 BTU's of cooling power but it requires 208-240 volts. Then there is the issue of power distribution if you don't use a generator. A power isolation transformer from Signal Transformer Corp. that can handle 75 amps would be a minimum you want to go with. That is unless you go with a diesel generator. That's what I'm looking into right now after pulling shore power for the past 19 years. putting an additional generator on the truck engine is not what I would call an option. My advantage is that I can have the box removed and placed on another chassis if I should so desire. I haven't gotten there yet. With most any other truck you will want to get "air ride suspension" which are rubber airbags. My old Mercedes will is known for its soft extended leaf spring suspension requiring no air ride. And my box is a fiberglass reinforced plywood body. different problems as compared to metal. I often considered purchasing a used Greyhound/Trailways bus. But most of those already have over 250,000 mi. on them. My track only had 135,000 when it was five years old. I didn't want Windows and I didn't want a side entrance door. I only have the back door. The power liftgate is certainly handy. But I have to get that fixed now also. Heck, it's 25 year old, 1984, antique. What you might want to look into is one of those Freightliner/Dodge/Mercedes vans. Nice tall ceilings, 30 mpg with a five cylinder Mercedes engine, diesel. Something like $36,000 new. Larger than a Chevy van, more sleek than a box truck. How about an old already converted 1984 Mercedes-Benz 1117? I think and getting too old for this stuff? 54 is right around the corner. Can you say arthritis? Ouch.

    Chugging away
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  13. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Years ago we were looking seriously at a camper for a mobile studio. They have a good ride and you can purchase one new without all the interior stuff for a considerable savings. The one we were looking at was about $19,000.00 and was used. It had a very good engine and a good transmission and the interior of the camper was all custom and a lot of the "junque" that many campers have on them was not installed in this unit. There was a bathroom and a small kitchen which would both be nice on extended recording sessions. The shore power was well done and it had a generator located on slide out rails in the chassis which was capable of running the entire vehicle plus about 10 amps. The camper had a roof mounted A/C which was fairly quiet. We decided not to do it based on a couple of personal reasons but it sure would have made a nice mobile studio.

    FWIW and YMMV
  14. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member


    Just to give you a heads up... I would be really careful on the Silverado's. I was originally towing my mobile rig with a Suburban. After I started to spin the 3rd transmission out of it – it needed to go.

    I talked to a buddy of mine who suggested the Ford Excursion. 205k later, the trannie is still holding together just fine.

    Seems that the GM trannies just aren't all that beefy except in certain models... so, be careful in which transmission it's equipped with.
  15. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    I had a Road Trek II, a converted Chevy van, for a couple of years. It was gutted of the rear "bedroom" in favor of an AMEK and a rack of DA88's....LOL!!!! It rode GREAT and the roof A/C was pretty good.
    Max is right about the trannies. Mine gave me fits, and the rear end had to be rebuilt TWICE, as well. In a previous life, I was a service manager in a Ford dealership. I saw F350's with 460 engines and C-4 (?) trannies go well over 200K miles. If I was to do it again, that's what I would tow one of those Markertek trailers with...
  16. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    How was your available space in the conversion van? I've definitely considered an F250 van but need space for a few racks and a pair of engineers. Oh yeah, and a disco ball.
  17. BRH

    BRH Active Member

    My vote is for a new dodge van.
  18. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    If you look, you can find F350's or maybe an Excursion.

    I LOVE my Excursion... (TheBoss© calls it the Little Bus) It's the best of both worlds. It's like a van, w/o the top heavy issue, and it's like a pick-up, except that you can fit a 4x8 sheet of plywood in it flat, with 3" to spare.

    You can pull a 40" tall object straight out the back w/o tilting it. And there's no way it'll get wet as the back is totally enclosed like a van.

    With a standard 10,000 lb GVW towing capacity, with a 7 pin hitch connector std, it's da' bomb.

    I just wish they hadn't discontinued making them. IMHO, it's probably the best commercial use vehicle they've ever made.
  19. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    The Chevy (Road TrekII) was big enough for an AMEK Big by Langley 32-strip. We kept the recorders in a rack in the bedroom area (by the board) but rolled it over to the "dining area" so that 2 enginners could sit at the board. It worked out pretty well.
    Jeremy, if you are looking into a Ford, ask the dealer if they still have the "Club Wagon" chassis, as opposed to the "Econoline". The CW was designed to be a luxury ride, as opposed to a plumbers truck.
  20. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    J. The Sprinter (in various box and suspensions) with the Cummins diesel and the matching trannie is the shizits. 30mpg. 200,000miles min. You can get them lowdeck and duals...the interior is roomy as you want depending on the box...a/c converters built in DUAL converters @20 amps each!

    My last electrical company was switching to these until the economy tanked. So I saw them new and raw. The build out can be exactly what the cia ordered.

    and in todays market....hell they may give you lifetime lease with free replacement every 100K miles....

    Just a thought.

    BTW. The Cummins with a complete set of racks and tools for electrical work did not notice the complete set of racks and tools for electrical work.

    I dont know if you're familiar with how much crap we carry around, but its three times as much as any other construction trade. Period.

Share This Page