It's a Truck!
It should be cute.
It should be functional.
It should be small on the outside and large on the inside,
like a TARDIS.
We went through months of discussion about body
style and the relative weights of form and function. Finally consensus was
reached and the Supreme, Inner City body was chosen.
There are several manufacturers of truck bodies, which can be
placed on chassis for various vehicle manufacturers, typically Ford or Chevy/GMC. From a
survey of commercial truck dealers in our area,
Supreme seemed to be a common
brand of body and early contacts indicated they could accommodate a variety of
customizations needed for the grooming vehicle. We owe special thanks to
Dave Powell, the Supreme representative in St. Louis.
Most commercial trucks are routine combinations of
chassis and body, and the bodies tend to be simple boxes. We
made Dave jump through hoops over a range of details from generator, to LP gas
tanks, to mirrors, paneling, and more.
Most commercial grooming conversion vehicles use extended roof
vans or Glaval-style bodies. We looked at these as starting points.
The standard van bodies didn't offer the capacity for our design. The
Glaval-style bodies, familiar as airport shuttles, were large enough, but Trey
preferred the more rigid, rectangular shell of the
Supreme Inner-City body.
The design includes complete separation of the grooming area
from the cab. Experience has shown that hair and moisture from the
grooming area should be separated from the cab. Entrance to the
grooming area is through a 32" door on the curb side. All support
equipment is housed in a compartment at the rear of the vehicle. There
is a complete partition 26" from the rear, separating the grooming and
The body construction is FRP, or fiberglass reinforced
paneling. The default construction of the Inner City body is an
aluminum skin on aluminum ribs, typically with a light plywood sheathing
on the inside. FRP is an inch thick sandwich of plastic and
plywood. Barb had a strong preference for this since it does not
have any rivets to interfere with appearance/graphics. The
interior of the body is paneled with 3/4" plywood, covered with a 1/8"
plastic laminate called Chemlite.
Insulation was important to operator comfort.
Everything that could be insulated was. The outside walls,
separating partition and roof were firred out and insulated with
injected polyurethane foam. Two types of insulation were available
for the floor based on whether the body was lowered, with wheel wells,
or sitting on the chassis rails with a flat floor. Since the floor
was raised to accommodate the generator, the heavier insulation possible
with the flat floor was used. Side and rear doors are insulated,
as is the underside of the step well. Windows in the grooming area
were left to last until all interior furnishings were complete.
Windows are made from insulated glass units.
An upgraded laminated oak floor was provided by Supreme.
An aftermarket vendor will apply a sprayed-on flooring material, similar
to that used for pickup truck liners.
Ultimately, Supreme provided the
Onan generator in a custom
under-body toolbox with pull-out shelf for maintenance.
The undercarriage LP gas
tank, manufactured by
Manchester Tank, was supplied by Supreme, based on a custom
design. Details of this installation can be found
here. The LP gas tank was mounted between the frame rails rather
than simply "hung out" under the body, exposed to the elements, road
debris and collision hazard. The rear of the tank is protected by 12"
of steel making up the custom bumper assembly.
Mirrors for the vehicle were important. Mirror
selections from Ford were superior to those available directly from GMC.
Since we chose a GMC chassis, research was required to find satisfactory
mirrors. On the "Version 1" vehicle, based on a short school bus, Barb
got used to "West Coast" style side mirrors and blind spot mirrors on the
front fenders. More info on mirror selection and