I found a new ROLE MODEL! A family friend did me a big favor and took me out to meet Jamie, proud owner of Virginia Beach's only MOBILE SIGNAGE SHOP. Jamie provides vinyl lettering and graphics services out of his 1989 Chevy Grumman step-van, and has been doing it that way for 25 years. Very recently he acquired a new truck, and is already ahead of me in the renovations process to outfit the second work vehicle in his tiny fleet.
Jamie gave me a tour of both vans, which gave me a great picture of both the 'during' and 'after' of his process for outfitting his space in the van. Just like how I image my future vehicle, his space is insulated, temperature controlled, equipped with computers, well-lit, and well-powered. I took a bunch of notes and pictures that I'll lay out here.
Click for big, then rollover for notes:
- He has AGM batteries, SBS brand, 6V 225 AH/20 HR, with a 12 to 120V true sine wave inverter.
- He also has a battery charger that runs from either the generator, van motor, or outlet (shore power).
- This is backed up for the computer by having an APC brand battery backup for computer power. Medium size is plenty, small might also be fine.
- His generator is ONAN (car style) brand, 4000 watts = $3000. A portable style Honda is a good alternative - use it 'in the field' if you can plug the van in at home.
- Wiring run under the truck is run through rubber-looking exterior-grade pipes to protect it from the road/water/etc.
- If the roof is fiberglass, cover it in aluminum so you can walk on it. He says he walks on the roof all the time when installing signage.
- Get a second fire extinguisher, and make sure it's ABC style (Class A for trash, wood and paper, Class B for liquids and gases, and Class C for energized electrical sources.) One for the front, one for the back
- Childproof magnet locks (you need a little magnet 'key') keep his cabinet doors closed
- Get a pot lid mirror for the back of the truck, and/or a backup camera! Don't squish children.
- The trucks actually come with a security system, but he doesn't mess with it much. The truck comes home at night and he's inside it otherwise, so he just locks it up and leaves the security stickers on.
- Having 1 A/C removed the humidity but didn't make it actually cool. 2 A/C may seem like overkill but it'll be frosty.
- He gets heat from a diesel-powered something something. Didn't ask about this. Sounded high-powered, and I'm probably going with something different.
- "rite-off" is a citrus-based degreaser/glue remover - great at getting vinyl off!
- Truck paint - the aluminum is primed, possibly with zinc chromate (noxious!) and then a baked enamel top-coat.
- Remember to plan exterior signage with the awning in mind - still be able to see my name when it's rolled out.
Overall, it was a huge morale booster for me to see a 1:1 example of someone who has already taken the path I'm looking down. So much else I've looked at is clooosssee.... but really not the same, and usually not nearly as well-concieved.
I still need to ask Jamie: What does he do about internet? Does he just not need it, beyond what his phone can provide? Also, does he carry a spare tire?