Ready To Roll: Locksmith Service Vehicles and Accessories

View our extended online photo gallery of locksmith service van options: www.locksmithledger.com/11230866.

2014 is going to be a great year for locksmiths/security professionals who want to purchase new or larger service vehicles. Ford will be introducing the Transit during 2014, as this will be the last year of the Ford Econoline van. The Econoline van will be discontinued at the end of 2014 after 34 years.

The Ram ProMaster, a front-wheel drive in the 1500, 2500 and 3500 model designations, is available with a low or high roof, having up to 530-cubic-foot capacity behind the front seats. Engine choices include diesel or gasoline with up to a 220 Amp alternator. The Ram ProMaster is probably the sister vehicle of the Fiat Ducato. If this is correct, the code series should be DE00001-DE11210.

The 2015 Ford Transit full-sized van comes in varying wheelbases and three roof heights. The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) ranges from 8,600 to 10,360 pounds with payloads in excess of 5,000 pounds. Engine options include gasoline and diesel. According to Ford, the Transit will be available in the summer of 2014.

These are the two new competitors for the Nissan NV Cargo models and the General Motors vans. The Nissan NV was introduced for the 2012 model year in three model designations 1500 (half ton), 2500 (3/4 ton) and 3500 (1 ton). The NV shares the same platform as the Titan, a front engine rear drive pickup. The 2500 and 3500 models are available with the standard or high roof with up to 323 cubic feet of cargo space. The high roof models have interior height of 6 feet 3 inches. Nissan 2500 SV and 3500 SV models have two 120-volt AC power outlets.

GM will continue with the Chevrolet Express and the GMC Savana 1500, 2500 and 3500 cargo and cutaway vans. These full or larger vans will continue to be available in regular and extended wheelbase. Chevrolet and GMC offer Van Upfit Cash Allowance or an Adrian Steel commercial bin package. For more information, contact your GM Fleet dealer.

 

Compact Service Vans

In addition to the full size and larger vans, the more compact Nissan NV200, introduced for the 2013 model year, is a 73.7”-tall cargo van that is 186.3” long and 68.1” wide. The four-cylinder engine output is 131 horsepower has a 110 Amp alternator. The NV200 has a continuously variable transmission.

The Ram C/V Tradesman is a “cargo-ized” Dodge Grand Caravan that has a flat cargo floor with solid sliding door panels and rear liftgate. The engine compartment has been supplied with a 3.6 liter V6 that produces 283 horsepower with a six speed automatic transmission. The C/V Tradesman has 144 Cu. Ft. of cargo space.

Ford will continue to offer the Transit Connect, a compact fuel efficient five door van. The 2014 models will feature exterior and interior redesign and improvements.

Smaller service vehicles have some advantages. They are easier to park and maneuver on congested city streets. They are able make use of parking garages that have height restrictions. Some towns and cities limit the residential areas to vehicle less than several tons.

As an alternative, some locksmiths are purchasing used ambulances, box trucks and vans because of the cargo capacity and converting them into service vehicles.

 

Outfitting Your Van

Once the service vehicle has been purchased, the next steps are to think about the interior and the exterior. When thinking about the interior, consider installing good lighting throughout the vehicle, and consider having LED lights for the work area. Also, consider 12 VDC motors for your key machines, as some 115 VAC motors are not compatible with inverters. Contact your key machine manufacturers for specifics.

For the interior, steel, aluminum and/or wood cabinetry makes it a service vehicle. Depending upon where you live, you may want to consider installing a roof air conditioner, heater or fan equipped vents to combat extreme weather conditions. Also, consider insulation for the more extreme climates.

 

Flooring & Cabinetry

Before installing any cabinetry, think about the flooring material. I personally prefer commercial carpet in a medium solid color. I know it will get dirty, but the advantage of carpet is pins and wafers and little pieces will not bounce as far from where they fell.

Locksmiths use all types of vehicles as a service vehicle. They can be a full sized van, mini van, pickup, walk-in van/pickup, etc. Outfitting a service vehicle with cabinets requires careful pre-planning to determine the best use of the limited amount of space available. The work area layout should take into consideration if the locksmith will require a workbench. Determine how much bench area is required for servicing and repairing, key machines, etc. Will key blanks be kept in boxes or installed onto a wall rack? How large must the largest cabinet be to accommodate specialized equipment? With the newer vans and the Ford Transit Connect, another consideration is, do you obstruct the driver’s side, side door?

Cabinetry is available in steel, aluminum and wood. Wood cabinets are usually constructed by the locksmith.

Cabinetry options include base cabinets, overhead cabinets, closets, shelving, partitions, workbench and countertops. The depth of cabinets can vary with the deeper cabinets holding more equipment. However, in a service vehicle, if the cabinets are too deep, there may not be sufficient space for working or moving. Something else to consider is just because the service vehicle has cabinets, not all of the equipment necessary may fit in the cabinets. For example, a stepladder will not fit. It may be a good idea to install a roof rack for oversized materials and ladders.

For more cabinetry information, consider contacting the following companies:

A large vise mounted onto a sturdy work top gives you a third hand to service and to make modifications. Purchase a good quality vise. The difference between a cheap vise and good quality vise is the moving jaw remains parallel with the fixed jaw. Smaller object can be held securely when the jaws remain parallel.

 

Tool Boxes

Some tools must be in a service vehicle at all times. Other tools can be brought in for specific jobs. These tools will vary by the expertise of each employee, the costs and how often the tools are used for a job.

Having dedicated tool boxes labeled for the different jobs enables each employee the opportunity to have what is necessary by just grabbing the tool box.

This is a great idea in theory. However, not every employee will return the tool box as prescribed, nor will the toolbox have all of the necessary tools.

 

Inverters

To power electrical tools, recharge the batteries for cordless tools or operate key and other types of machinery, locksmiths are investing in inverters. An inverter is a power converting unit that inputs 12 VDC (Volts Direct Current) and outputs 115VAC (Volts Alternating Current). For the end user, Inverters are purchased by the wattage output.

The type and size of the inverter determines the devices that can be powered. Some devices, for example variable speed motors, require 115 VAC that is identical to the power provided from the grid to your home or business. The power requirements of the devices to be powered determine the size needed for the inverter.

For applications that require 300 watts or less, there are inverters, designed to be powered using a cigarette lighter. For greater power demands, the inverter must connect directly to a 12 VDC battery.

The output of the vehicles alternator determines the wattage that can be produced. Most newer van and pickup truck alternators will produce at operating conditions approximately 1200- 1500 Watts under optimum conditions. Determine the actual amperage output of the vehicle’s alternator before purchasing an inverter.

If the alternator does not output sufficient amperage for the devices operation, consider purchasing a higher output alternator. Using a second battery with a battery isolator improves the output of the inverter. Some vehicle manufacturers offer a factory standard isolator system for a secondary battery.

Remember no matter how sophisticated the inverter is, it cannot change the first law of thermodynamics. Paraphrased, the energy of an isolated system (vehicle’s alternator and battery) is constant. it cannot create more energy then it is designed to create.

For more detail on inverters, read our feature article beginning on page 26.

 

GPS

Knowing how to get to where you are going especially in areas that you are unfamiliar with makes a GPS unit a valuable addition to any service vehicle. Another advantage of a GPS unit is providing directions to a specific location from different starting points. Plus, many GPS units offer traffic information and alternative routes that may save time if you are caught in traffic.

 

Vehicle Wrapping

Over the last several years, the use of vehicle wrapping has become very popular. Instead of purchasing a magnetic sign or pay a sign painter or body shop to personalize your service vehicle, consider vehicle wrapping. There is significant evidence that vehicle wrapping is a very good way to increasing brand (company name) recognition.

Vehicle wrap advertising partially or completely covers a vehicle with an advertisement. For our purposes, the advertisement would be for the locksmith/security professional’s business. Wrap advertisement is similar to a gigantic vinyl decal. Note: Do not cover the windshield or necessary windows for driving.

Wrapping a vehicle makes it a mobile advertisement. The vehicle wrap when properly implemented captures the attention of drivers, passengers and pedestrians. These mobile billboards seem to be getting amazing recall rates, which result in significant sales increases.

Warning: Before wrapping your service vehicle, determine if your local government has introduced laws against mobile advertising. For example, New York City has outlawed motor vehicle wrap advertising; however, non-motorized mobile advertisements are legal.

To create a vehicle wrap, consider contacting a company that specializes in branding to create your company’s persona. Some companies only create the design other companies create the design, fabricate and install the wrap.

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