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#71341 - 10/26/06 07:20 PM Organizing your van
sparkync Offline

Registered: 10/17/02
Posts: 811
Loc: NC
What are some of your ideas on organizing a van, outside of the high dollar shelving. I have tried several ideas, and they've been "usable" but not really organized. I'm getting to the point to where I need a change again. Any ideas?? Thanks Steve..

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#71342 - 10/26/06 08:00 PM Re: Organizing your van
PEdoubleNIZZLE Offline

Registered: 06/16/04
Posts: 176
Loc: McKeesport, PA, USA
Organizing a large space, such as a van, can be as hard as organizing a small space. I just bought a safe. ) 0.8 Cubic Feet (0.0226534773 cubic meters for those of you in other countries). I have to organize Gold bars (1 gram... I wish I was rich enough for Fort Knox bars.), silver bars, silver rounds, silver coins, my coin collection, and my alcohol (so trhe kids don't get it.)

I found that the best way to organize something is build your own organizers. that way, you have a custom sized space for everything. If you're worried about it looking too unprofessional, you'll be amazed at what a coat of primer and rustoleum will do. You can make it out of anything, but in the case of a van, I suggest sheet metal or 1/2" plywood.

If you decide to go this route, just remember a few kety steps:
* Size everything to what you need. For example, don't make a 2 Cubic foot space for 4 way switches.
* Make it sturdy. 1/2" plywood, with locking plexiglass tops is durable, and you can see what's inside. Make it look professional too.
* The MOST IMPORTANT: Keep all of your frequently used supplies as easily accessible as possible. After all, what good is storage if you have to archive a NEMA 5-20 while those random nuts and bolts are out in the open.

Of course, even though these are no-brainers, most people don't think about how they are going to organize something until they already have things in place and a problem occurs.

As for pre-built/kit stuff, I can honestly say I have no clue. I have never bought any type of kit for my truck. Maybe someone else can chime in on that one.

#71343 - 10/26/06 08:25 PM Re: Organizing your van
BigB Offline

Registered: 03/31/04
Posts: 725
Loc: Tucson, AZ USA
I have found that some of the small plastic organizers from the big box stores work pretty well. You can build your shelving to accomadate the size organizer you choose, with a lip to hold them in place. Just get some reasonably tough ones like Rubbermaid etc. I fastened 1x2 strips between the organizers to keep them from jamming together from those sudden stops. Then I keep a roll of 2" tape, the blue kind, and a sharpie to write what's in each container. This way you can change it, as you will always be finding a better way.

As for the receps, switches and cover plates, I use plastic bins from Grainger, all labeled by type and color.

I have 3 Rubbermaid totes stacked on top of each other at the head, metal boxes on the bottom, plastic next and cut ins on top (I do a lot of old work). I keep them from tipping with a bungee.

You will always be changing something as you figure out a better way. Sometimes it's good to go thru a section and remove stuff you never use.

The only thing I have not been able to do is make my cargo area speed bump proof. A couple times I have not noticed one and paid for it.

#71344 - 10/26/06 08:27 PM Re: Organizing your van
BigB Offline

Registered: 03/31/04
Posts: 725
Loc: Tucson, AZ USA
Oh and PEdoubleNIZZLE, I thought I had problems, I feel so bad for you trying to squeeze all those gold bars into your safe!

#71345 - 10/26/06 09:03 PM Re: Organizing your van
PEdoubleNIZZLE Offline

Registered: 06/16/04
Posts: 176
Loc: McKeesport, PA, USA

Don't worry, if I have enough to buy a real gold bar, chances are I have enough to buy a new safe.

As for right now, the safe is the most valuable thing I have What's really sad is, ounce for ounce, some of my asthma medication is more valuable than gold. Makes me wonder if I'm making a good investment. Imagine... picture me on a dark city corner...

"Hey man, you wanna buy something to make you feel good?"
"Yeah man, what you got?"
"I got Albuterol, I got some Singulair, man. One of these and you can run a mile, man!"

Back on topic, I neglected to mention that if anyone decides to make their own storage system, make ABSOLUTELY SURE you cover the side grain (thickness) of the plywood with paint or epoxy or something. I made the mistake of just painting it, and there was a small gap in the middle ply. It swelled up and split pretty bad.

I mainly do handy work (If someone needs electrical done, I take a look and then reccomend an electrician... same with plumbing or anything structural). All my hardware is in the bins. I keep screws seperated and in plastic tubs with handles. I mainly build doors for all the old houses around here, because I can build them cheaper and faster than special ordering one. I'm sure something similar can be done for electrical stuff. All my tools are in 3 tool boxes: 1 for all my hand tools, 1 for drills and bits, and an empty to put various hardware in(in your case, outlets, etc.) I don't carry a toolbelt, because it gets in the way, but then again, I usually work in one spot at a time.

The best organizational system I've ever seen is just shelves (with guards to prevent stuff falling) with plastic tubs (square tubs that had 25 pounds of nails/screws in it), and tool boxes with guards. All the guards were flip down, because straps take a few minutes to do. Sure, it's not that long, but imagine 3 minutes per job times 260 days a year. That could add up, not to imagine the stress if you're a speed guy and hate ratchet straps for everything.

I'm not necessarily trying to advocate DIY storage in your van, but my experience is any type of DIY storage is gonna have too much room for one thing, not enough room for another.

Sorry for my long winded posts, but lately all my posts are almost like a novel.

#71346 - 10/27/06 02:50 AM Re: Organizing your van
PE&Master Offline

Registered: 02/25/06
Posts: 138
Loc: TX, USA
I built mine from store bought utility shelves from Sam's and cut it up to fit. Tilt the shelf slightly so everything slides to the inside for easy access.

Use cardboard, not plastic bins. You can get them in any reasonable size.
The plastic works well but is EXTREMELY noisy over bumps etc. Cardboard bins can be had from Grainger for less $ than plastic too. Get the cardboard first, then built the shelves to fit them.

Everyday items should be placed within reach of the doors. Keep ladders out of the inside of the van - at least while ur using it. I have a 4 footer standing up in mine, a six on one side, an eight on the other. A 10' and a 16' stepladder on the top.

The key is not to be crawling through the van for a 1 gang cut in box and a hand full of wirenuts. (by the way I've also seen gas mileage improve 1.5 mpg by using Mobil One synthetic oil. Doesn't sound like a lot but when ur getting 9mpg, 10.5 looks real good.)

#71347 - 10/27/06 09:00 PM Re: Organizing your van
DougW Offline

Registered: 06/08/03
Posts: 1083
Loc: North Chicago, IL
As a tip - you might consider

I'm not a salesman - a former foreman of mine got me using them to hold various couplings and connectors for 1/2" & 3/4" EMT.

Another cool feature? They can be stacked while loaded.

(Link fixed. Larry, thank you)

[This message has been edited by electure (edited 10-31-2006).]

#71348 - 10/28/06 08:36 AM Re: Organizing your van
CTwireman Offline

Registered: 02/07/02
Posts: 839
Loc: Connecticut, USA
One of my coworkers keeps his van very well organized by not keeping any stock in it.


#71349 - 10/28/06 02:24 PM Re: Organizing your van
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant

Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 5305
Loc: Blue Collar Country
DougW, thanks for the new product!

BTW, note it is KlenK Tools, and not Klein. For some reason, the link didn't work, but I was able to find it anyway.
Available in two sizes, and a variety of layouts, the trays run about $37 each, plus shipping.

They look to be a good replacement for the milk crate/ peanut jar arrangement I currently use.

#71350 - 10/29/06 04:28 AM Re: Organizing your van
iwire Offline

Registered: 01/05/03
Posts: 4343
Loc: North Attleboro, MA USA
One of my coworkers keeps his van very well organized by not keeping any stock in it.

Little stock, lots of tools and enthusiasm.

What's in your van CT?

Oh yeah you don't have one.
Bob Badger
Construction & Maintenance Electrician

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