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Discussion Starter #1
We just bought an extended body cargo van to replace our aging minivan for carrying pigs and heavy loads. This is our way of avoiding a trailer for as long as possible. I'm figuring out how we're going to utilize the van.

Currently we transport pigs to market in our aging minivan as well as picking up dairy for feed and such. It has extra springs so we can carry about 2,300 lbs. I try to avoid going over that tempting as it is when offered a third pallet of cheese trim... This is a bit abusive for a small sized minivan so it has only lasted 15 years. :) Everyone keeps telling me to get a pickup but I like vans. I keep promising the Caravan that this really is the last big trip and to just make it back up the mountain. "I think I can, I think I can" it groans...

I want a deck that the pigs won't destroy during transport - they pee, have sharp hooves, strong jaws, big teeth, etc. Pee is caustic and eats metal quite nicely. I imagine that with no protection we'll have no van very quickly - Or maybe it will look like the Flintstones with the pigs legs sticking out of the bottom and pushing us along! I've had triple galvanized 12 gauge fencing that was destroyed quickly by dogs and pigs peeing on it. Indestructibility, easy clean-out and traction for the pigs are important

I can not go with simply the interior shell of the van. Their pee would destroy the metal, there are accessible wires and sharp edges. Plus I would hate it when they want to come up front and drive. Are you going to argue with a 400 lb boar about who gets to shift?!? :) So we need to divide the van up into separate spaces. We need the following spaces inside:

-Cargo (ten 400 lb pigs, 4000 lbs cheesetrim/milk, trash/etc)

-Stoage (clean 10' pipes, plywood, coolers filled with meat, etc)

-Reefer (insulated and clean for boxes of frozen meat)

-Driver (us - the van's not sophisticated enough to drive itself :) )

I am thinking about laying down a 1" or 2" ferro-cement deck using vermiculite aggregate in the concrete. It would weigh about 200 lbs per vertical inch and be low to the center of mass. Weight isn't an issue - in fact it would improve driving traction when the van is unloaded in the winter.

I have quite a bit of concrete experience from various projects including our tiny cottage. I would use a PVA fiber in the concrete as well as 661010WWM and possibly lath. Aquron-300 in the mix as well as CP-2000 and SPT-1200 spray on afterwards like we're doing on our tiny cottage to waterproof and harden the concrete. I also plan to use maximum Calcium Nitrate accelerant so it comes up to hardness quickly - I can let the van sit for seven days easily. Two weeks out of service is hard but I would do it if necessary.

For side panels I'm thinking of using something light weight but tough like Ag-Tuff or Dura Panel for the walls and roof. Those are PVC. Polyethylene would be better perhaps but I haven't found a source of panels yet. It will need to be tough to handle the pigs yet light weight to not raise the center of gravity much. I've also considered going with galvanized metal roofing for the walls and ceiling.

I also need to find a good material for building the interior of the reefer box. I might go with fiberglass but am thinking about panels. It must be sealed and washable to a drain.

Thoughts on decking and pouring concrete in a van? On the wall, ceiling and reefer material? Other ideas?

Cheers,

Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm LLC
Orange, Vermont
Pastured Pigs & Sheep
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/blog
http://HollyGraphicArt.com
http://BlackLightning.com
http://NoNAIS.org

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agmantoo
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I would opt for a heavy coating of spray on bed liner (rhino liner) since you already own the cargo van. An aluminum body delivery van (think UPS truck design) would have been my first consideration.
 

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KS dairy farmers
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Walter - I quote "...we are trying to avoid a trailer as long as possible..."

In the early days of Detroit there were hundreds of car-body manufacturers who built car bodies by hand, one at a time. When Henry Ford started up his assembly line, all of these companies(with the noted exception of Walter Chrysler, the Dodge Brothers, and Louis Chevrolet) could be heard to make statements along the lines of "...we are trying to avoid the assembly line as long as possible."
History reflects that refusal to adopt efficient technologies generally leaves the refuser eating the dust of those who adopt efficiencies.
There are reasons Livestock Trailers have replaced all other modes of farm animal transport:
Low Entry Height. Quick and easy for an animal to step on board without extra ramps or structures.
A Sorting Tool: Most Trailers have one or more swinging dividing gates which makes sorting animals into groups, or unloading one or two at one place, then others at another, so on and so forth quick easy, and minimal stress on the animal.
Low center of gravity when towing: Safer for you and the stock.
Physical Separation of Humans in Towing Vehicle from Livestock, speaks for itself as a benefit.
Versatility: We have hauled Cattle,Horses, Pigs, Goats, chickens, Turkeys, Ducks, Cattle Panels(16'), gates,fence posts,furniture, appliances, farm machinery implements& parts, Lumber, roofing steel, shingles, and even a skidsteer in our modest 16' Bumper Pull Stock Trailer.
Another benefit is that most months of year you can pre-load stock to go to locker day before, unhook trailer and still have use of towing vehicle to run to groceries, church, etc.(Without hosing and scrubbing it out first.)
If loading area conditions are muddy or snowy, a 2WD Cargo van can get stuck, causing unneeded delays. The Livestock trailer owner has option of hooking his tractor on trailer, backs over soft ground or mud, loads, pulls trailer back to firm roadbed, and then puts highway towing vehicle back on for trip to town.
Well,the good news is that your extended cargo van would make a nice trailer towing unit :)
I could supply some solid ideas to prepare your van, but that would only be giving you more rope to hang yourself with unnecessary labor and inconvenience. Converting van to meet your needs will equal or exceed the cost of a used stock trailer, if you place value on your time and labor.
Take a tape measure and measure from ground level to the inside floor of the Cargo Van. Then measure that distance to a stock trailer floor. Do you really want to lift 300 hogs a year that extra height?
I know I would not.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
It's a long and winding road up the mountain and then up our driveway... There are tight turns around buildings by cliffs. Trailers are far more difficult to get around some of the very tight curves we have and are more dangerous to drive. I've watched too many people with trailers, even though they were experienced on much more open and easy access locations, have lots of difficulty. Trailers are an inferior solution for us.

The cargo van is the right height for the unloading dock at the butcher we use so that works perfectly. We load with a ramp here at the farm so that also works right.

I must do 80% to 90% of the work already for the other functions so the cost is not the issue. Making it pig transport only adds a tiny bit to the total cost I'll be doing but the added cost is not significant.

We already have the sorting and separation baffles built into the design so that isn't any advantage for a trailer. You can have that with a trailer or a cargo van, it isn't unique to trailers.

We will have physical separation within the van for people, reefer, stoage and cargo (pigs, etc) for safety and organization so that is no advantage with a trailer.

A trailer does not do a good job of handling the other needs we have. A trailer would mean an additional vehicle register, insure, taxed and to manage plus greatly reduce our gas mileage according to everyone I spoken with about trailers. The difference in gas cost alone makes a trailer far more expensive per year and not worth it.

The interior of the cargo van is 12' long x 6' wide x 60" high so there is plenty of space. I'm not hauling cattle or horses nor will I any time soon - if I ever do I'll look at trailers for that. The cargo van does have a heavy duty hitch and is rated for 10,000 lbs towing weight so if I'm wrong, we can always get a trailer.

A trailer is not an option. Soo... back to the originally schedule show of "Concrete vans" the wave of the future livestock transport! :)

Cheers

-Walter
Sugar Mountain Farm
in the mountains of Vermont
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/blog/
http://HollyGraphicArt.com/
http://NoNAIS.org
 

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pine grove farm
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walter, walter, walter! You have abviously have never used a trailer! They do make hog, sheep trailers that are lower in height. They would be easier to pull, less wind resistance if your worried about gas mileage. Honestly, i think your concrete van idea is crazy. Don't be mad, i think you have alot of clever, cool, practical, and very usefull down to earth ideas. You are a very smart man, i think you have just over thought the hog hauling idea. I think your cottage is the BEST!
 

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I haul my riding mount in the bed of my pickup.

The way you study things and work them out, Walter, I have confidence that your idea will work just fine, even if there's adjustments along the way.
 

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I would second the idea of a roll-on bedliner. If you are dedicated to the concrete idea, what about using the cement backer board used behind tiling? It is waterproof, strong, and durable, and you could use it on the sides as well.
 

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Argent Farms said:
I would second the idea of a roll-on bedliner. If you are dedicated to the concrete idea, what about using the cement backer board used behind tiling? It is waterproof, strong, and durable, and you could use it on the sides as well.
Can I 3nd the spray on bedliner, imho it is a much better way to go then using Concrete.
 
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