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Truck Topics
Living Large in a Van: Cargo Van Sleepers
By Jeff Jensen, Editor
Jun 20, 2003 - 12:02:00 PM

Improving the comfort level of cargo vans in earlier days of expediting usually required that the owner be skillful with the tools and materials necessary to insulate the truck and install the basic necessities such as the bunk, inverter, etc. 

Many of the home-constructed "conversions" were impressive, with foldup bunks, folding bulkheads, overhead storage and TV racks, etc.

There are still a number of those good-looking home-built cargo van sleeper setups out there, but over the last few years, the commercially constructed sleepers have been gaining popular acceptance. 

With today's professional conversions, the "B" unit driver can now choose between a spartan conversion with the basics of a bunk and storage compartments to a conversion that is close to the comfort levels of the bigger trucks, albeit on a smaller scale.

Some features to consider in the expediter sleeper conversions:

Length of cargo bed - The sleeper manufacturers have been able to retain a sizeable nine feet of cargo area behind the bulkhead. This allows the transport of two full-size pallets, long considered a gauge of sufficient cargo length in a van.

Bulkheads - All of the conversions spotlighted here feature heavy-duty bulkheads that separate the cargo area from the sleeper.  The bulkheads provide driver protection from a shifting load, they help insulate the sleeper area and enhance the truck's heating and air conditioning and provide a sturdy surface to mount storage cabinets.

E-Track - The conversions utilize both wall and recessed floor-mounted e-track securement systems.

Freightliner of Knoxville Sprinter Van

Phoenix Conversion in Sprinter
Freightliner of Knoxville offers a 158" wheelbase, 73" tall roof model that has become the "Sprinter-of-choice" for the expediting market. 

A company called Phoenix Conversions is the exclusive provider of this sleeper package to Freightliner of Knoxville, and as New Truck Sales Manager Jim McFerrin says, "We provided Phoenix with our specifications, and we're very happy with the job they've done!  They've produced a unit that is equal in workmanship and quality to any of the more expensive sleepers that are available."

"We're fortunate to have a working relationship with a fine company like Phoenix Conversions - and they are located right here in Knoxville.  We've had extremely positive feedback from our customers who have purchased this package."
Sleeper Conversion Features:

-A bunk measuring 27.5" W x 66" L x 5" D  with lift-up lid for access to storage area.
-Floor-to-ceiling storage closet behind the front passenger seat with latching double door.

-Full width storage cabinet over sleeper bunk with latching double doors.
-Audiovox 13" color tv/video player built into overhead cabinet

-Ceiling mounted "Hide-a-Way" television cabinet
-Overhead cabinet with built-in microwave
-Built-in 12 volt refrigerator inset into a floor mounted cabinet with a laminated counter top

-1750 watt power inverter with remote on/off control switch
-Dual battery system with deep cycle battery and solenoid isolator system

-Exterior 110 volt shore power hook up with automatic transfer switch (inverter to shore power)
-12 volt interior lighting package with 3 fixtures
-"Reflectix" insulation package in the walls and ceiling
-Vinyl-covered walls with custom diamond button pattern and vinyl-covered ceiling

-Carpeted floor in sleeper area

-Fabric divider curtain around front doors and windshield

-Tinted glass - 5 percent on rear, 20 percent on side sliding door, 35 percent on driver and passenger doors

Cargo Area Features:

-Rear divider wall 108.5" from the rear doors - a full 9 feet of cargo space

-E-track securement system in rear cargo area (side walls and recessed in floor)

"Phoenix can also customize their installations to meet customer specifications," says McFerrin.  "They can build these conversions to suit with a very quick turn-around time, a matter of a week or two, in most cases."

"Because Freightliner of Knoxville deals in volume, we can pass our lower prices along to our customers.  We always keep several Sprinters in stock, including at least one conversion."

Jon Mosier
Freightliner of Knoxville
1413 Everett Road
Knoxville, TN. 37932

Bentz Transport Products Conversion

In 2002, Bentz Transport Products introduced the Expediter Interior Conversions for Cargo Vans. Designed and installed by Bentz, a leading manufacturer of aftermarket sleeper cabs, the interior conversions are targeted to expedited freight applications and provide bunkspace for convenient and comfortable rest when out of service.

Bentz offers three different conversion packages:

Model B10 Expediter Interior Conversion

  • 30" fold-up bunk assembly only
  • 30" x 76" fold-down bunk assembly, left side,
    with foam mattress
  • Bunk support legs when in open position.
  • Bunk hinge, gas piston and retainer straps when in closed position

Bentz B30 Conversion in Sprinter
B30 Expediter Interior Conversion

  • 30" fold-up bunk assembly with overhead storage compartments
  • 30" x 76" fold-down bunk assembly, left side, with foam mattress
  • Bunk support legs when in open position
  • Bunk hinge, gas piston and retainer straps when in closed position
  • Aluminum overhead storage compartment, left side
  • Aluminum overhead storage compartment, right side
  • TV compartment, right side, with external side-mount TV
    antenna and 12-volt power outlet
  • Soft trim panels with foam and vinyl on exterior surfaces of
    aluminum storage compartments

Bentz B60 Conversion in Sprinter
B60 Expediter Interior Conversion

  • 60" sleeper berth with cross-frame bunk configuration
    Relocated factory cargo partition with 9-feet clear cargo compartment
  • 60" sleeper berth with 30" x 66" bunk assembly, hinged bunk pan,
    underbunk storage and foam mattress
  • Carpet with 1/2 inch insulation pad
  • 2 inch fiberglass insulation: side & rear walls, cargo door and ceiling
  • Soft trim panels with foam and vinyl on side wall, back wall, and cargo door; cloth on headliner
  • Reading light and fluorescent light
  • Aluminum storage/refrigerator cabinet, left front
  • Aluminum wardrobe/storage cabinet, right front
  • Aluminum overhead storage compartments, left side & rear wall
  • Aluminum TV compartment w/roof-mount antenna &12-volt outlet
  • Soft trim panels with foam and vinyl on exterior surfaces of aluminumstorage compartments
  • Black vinyl sliding curtain behind seats

Bentz Transport Products, Inc.
4532 Allen Martin Drive
Fort Wayne, IN 46806
800 664-2865
Ph: 260 441-0404
Fax: 260 441-0202

Alumi-bunk Expediter Cargo Vans

Alumi-bunk Ford E-350 Conversion
Dan Tilley, Expediting Truck Specialist at Alumibunk of Knoxville says, "In the area of cargo vans, the Ford E350 1-ton van is a proven vehicle.  Our vans are equipped with the Ford 7.3 Powerstroke diesel, so an owner can rely on great fuel economy and great power."

"Alumibunk developed the first sleeper conversion for the cargo van a number of years ago, so we have been able to refine this installation, and build it to suit what our customers need." 
Sleeper Conversion Features:

  • 24" wide bed
  • 5" high density foam mattress
  • Fluorescent light
  • Digital alarm clock
  • Privacy curtain
  • Storage compartment
  • Fully insulated door panel
  • 4" Fully insulated bulkhead reinforced with aluminum sub-frame fully sealed from cargo area

Cargo Area Features:

  • 9' Cargo bed
  • 2 Rows of logistic E tracking on side walls
  • Plywood floor
  • 2 Rows of logistic E tracking recessed in floor
  • 13" Corrugated scuff plate on bulkhead wall

Tilley adds, "The Ford E350 has the longest manufacturer's warranty for a vehicle of this size, and for the buyer with good credit, in many cases, these can be purchased with no money down."

Dan Tilley
Alumibunk Truck Center
I-40 @ Cherry Street (exit 390)
Knoxville, TN
I-40 @ Cherry Street (exit 390)
Toll Free 866.799.2865
Tel. 865.329.0332
Fax 865.329.0381

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