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Multi purpose vehicle (aka a van)  RSS feed

 
Jason Nicoll
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I'm looking for a multi purpose vehicle that can perform the routine workload of a small permaculture landscaping and consulting business of ferrying elements (mulch, soil, fruit & veg) and tools between various sites. Ideally, it would be a vehicle that could be upgraded to use bio fuel (diesel) or alco fuel and should be reasonably rugged and easy to maintain. Any suggestions of what this vehicle might be? Bonus if the vehicle can also provide other functions like transporting extra workers and the kids to school.

I've been looking at the classic combi van but wanted to ee what other options other permies have considered. Any thoughts or suggestions?
 
Tom Connolly
Posts: 180
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Do you have access to pick-ups with a club cab, meaning that it has two rows of seats and then the bed behind? If you want to be able to transport people from time to time as well, it is nice to be able to keep the smelly stuff separated from the (hopefully) not so smelly kids
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1492
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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forest garden trees urban
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I have a high milage for e150 , many brake problems, would not recommend.
I would get a Chevy Astro if I had to do it over.
 
Tom Connolly
Posts: 180
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Astros are a good value but beware of expensive fuel pump replacements! Also, trannys are not as durable as the rest of the van.
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1492
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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forest garden trees urban
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Figures. Everything seems to have an Achilles heel...
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Don't forget the option of a trailer.
When you don't need the extra carrying capacity, just unhitch it, and your fuel consumption will drastically improve. You can leave it at the site, so there is no need to haul all of that weight whenever you need to go to the store for a quart of milk. I see used horse trailers for sale often on Craigs List. A 2 horse trailer can haul a lot of equipment/material, and is mostly enclosed. A couple of sleeping bags, and you can even sleep in there.

 
Jason Nicoll
Posts: 62
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The trailer option is very interesting.

Awhile ago I was thinking of creating a geoff lawton Chicken Tractor but have the ability to remove the top of the structure (the coup) and leave it in place, until the tractor needs to be moved on again. This would then liberate the base for other uses. I was going to make multiple tops for different uses such as for transporting of tools, another for materials (mulch, earth, sand) and another that was covered. Then I realised that my idea had a major flaw in that the top structure of the chicken coup was likely to be super heavy and impossible to load without a winch set up on the base system. The interchangeable top on a base with a winch or crane still appeals but sadly, I lack the engineering know how to make it work.
 
ben harpo
Posts: 76
Location: Illinois, zone 6b
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I highly recommend 4WD if you want to go off road at all.

A cargo trailer with a ramp backdoor could be very helpful. You could roll heavy loads into it, without the need to lift everything.

Alcohol seems any easier fuel to purify than diesel. It is possible to run a warm diesel engine on straight vegetable oil (no chemical processing). Kits are available to have two fuel tanks and special valves feeding the fuel rail. The idea is to start with diesel fuel until the engine is over 200 degrees, then vegetable oil will burn just fine. Before shutting down it is recommended to switch back to diesel fuel for a minute to clean out the fuel system so that nothing solid or gelled will be in the system next time it starts. I decided not get this system because mechanics I talked to who had seen it said they had to clean sludge out of the engine every 50,000 miles or so.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3358
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Where are you? Options available vary wildly between countries.

How many people do you need to haul?

How much stuff? A few bags of amendments or TONS? There is a definite advantage to being able to buy thing bulk from the loader bucket. Trailers can do this, too.

I cannot get a single vehicle to fit my needs. Some can.
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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In my part of the world, an oldschool Toyota Hilux utilty (aka 'ute') is still the favoured vehicle for people that need an indestructable thing to move stuff.
Don't believe me? If these special individuals can't kill a car...
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Here is part 3 of that series:

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