Using the van for dirty work (mulch, sand, scrap metal)


2-6 times a year I need a vehicle to move mulch, sand, dirt, scrap iron or other miscellainous loads that are better suited to a truck or trailer. For my van build it would make sense to have a trailer but I have had one before and don’t care to store an extra item. I can also borrow a trailer from a family member but I really like to have the van capable to easily run out and carry a small load.

In my previous build I had planned for a tarp add on that created a “bag” of sorts that would fold up to keep from spilling and would fit in the back 6-8 fee of the van. My plan was that I could just shovel into the back of the van (hopefully the tarp/bag would protect the back from over thrown material) and use the tarp to “peel” out the contents as well. I am not writting this idea off but I have since had another idea.

Enter the wheeled dump cart. The plan was to make a ramp (hopefully that stores just under the van or in the van… a ramp would be useful for many other things like my hand truck, the cargo bike, and other large items. The model I was looking at could hold 3/4 cubic yards of dirt. I toyed with the idea of installing a winch underneath the back seats as well so it could easily be “towed” up the ramp and into the back. I like this option because it could be filled remotely as well and could also move the contents directly to where it needs to go (with mulch I end up dumping it onto the driveway and then using a wheel barrow. This lead to another idea though.

Why not just 2-4 wheeled garbage bins? They are smaller so easier to move up and down. Can be used to bring upstairs for construction debris (I know I will be using this multiple times this year). 1 could be my standard metal recycle bin, one could be in the wood shop for wood… they could have multiple purposes. I also can buy them incrementally… buy 1 for $50-$100 instead of dropping $600 on a larger commercial bin above. If I go this route I should measure the stairs to the 3rd floor and use that as a basis for the width.

I will have to consider the location of where I place the tie downs which I need for the cargo bike anyway… I don’t think I need to make any significant design accomodations.

One more thought: Get a square bin, no wheels. Ideally 50 gallon if possible (I’d like to hold a cubic yard, 200 gallons). Simpler is commonly better. I can use my own hand truck if I need to move them. The bins should be cheaper and stronger. Shooting from the hip, this is a good idea if there is significant savings. Loaded up bins need to move often which justifies them having their own wheels.

Planning notes:

  • Place tie down points to accommodate a few bins.
  • Bed height doesn’t need to change, bins only used with bed up.
  • Still consider a ramp that could also be used for the cargo bike or hand truck.
  • Watch for a good price for larger bins. something that is less than 32″ wide for now… currently think the isle will be about that width.
  • Another reason to keep the back entry larger (although I am deciding that I don’t need to keep the 4′ width for sheet material because I can put sheet goods on their sides.

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