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I am planning on buying a van doing service work, so I need to have a plan of attack on how I will organize it.

I have always thought that a majority of service plumbers are organizing their vans wrong. I have seen many vans with the metal shelves with about a foot of space between the shelves and they are full of very small plastic bins with open fronts that are about 3 inches tall, so there is just tons of wasted space in between the shelves. Here is an example of what I'm talking about, if you look at the pvc fittings: (2) New Van | Plumbing Zone - Professional Plumbers Forum

I found a video on you tube where a guy organizes his van in smart way, by that I mean he uses the cubic feet allotted to him, with briefcases and square plastic bins without space between them. Plumbing Van Tour - YouTube
I have always said that the hard plastic briefcases with the dividers and a handle should be used as much as possible. Put all your 1/2 inch to 1 1/4 inch fittings in those for sure. Also put your various screws in these plastic briefcases. They maximize the use of cubic feet and also have the advantage of being moved easily into the house your working in.

The guy in the you tube video did something I had not heard of before with his shelves, he had the front 1 inch higher than the back of the shelve so nothing with fall off the shelves while driving around. I plan on stealing that idea. The one thing I'm thinking I would do different than him is I will store my briefcases vertically instead of horizontally like he is, thus eliminating the need for so many shelves. I would store the briefcases like books on a shelf. This would have the advantage of not having the additional space used up and expense of this additional shelving, that also ads the expense of additional weight while driving around.

Another thing I have disagreed with is how people store their pvc fittings. When I was first starting out I worked for a service plumber who wanted me to replenish his van each morning. He had all of his 1.5 inch pvc fittings in a large wood box, he also had another box of 2 inch fittings. All the fittings all just mixed up in this large wood box. He expected me just kind dig through there and somehow notice if he is low on couplings, 45s, ls 90s, 90s, vent 90s, reducers, 22's , 60's, st 90s, st45.all mixed up, in one big ****ing thick wood box. Like WTF? Or you could just do this way simpler....

I recommend back then to allow me to make dividers into the boxes and each fitting would have it's own area. Well he wouldn't let me do that, it was inconceivable to this fella. Since then I have always advocated to get a plastic bin and make your own dividers for it for your pvc fittings. I used cardboard and duct tape for the dividers back then, but this time I plan on the more sophisticated route with thin plastic dividers held together with silicon at the corners. Plastic bins are always better than wood because the weight of the wood works against you for both wasted gas and it would be too heavy to just bring all the fittings into a house.

As of now I'm thinking of having about 10 or so plastic briefcases and I will only need one shelf for all these, they will be placed on the shelf like books. I also plan on buying a bunch of under the bed plastic storage containers. These are about 7 inches tall/3 feet wide. I feel like this is a good height. Not too deep or too shallow for most of your plumbing parts (wax rings, supply lines, angle stops, ptraps, etc) It will essentially be like having drawers. This is maximizing cubic footage. I will make wood shelves for these plastic containers. I will have like 6 of these containers on top of each other like drawers. The only reason I wouldn't just use an old dresser for a bedroom is just because it might be too heavy. It seems like dressers with drawers are hands down the best way to utilize three dimensional space, so why not just do that?

As for storing the pvc parts, I'm thinking a taller clear plastic container is better, more like 12-16 inches tall and that is only because the 7 inch tall/ 3 foot wide under bed storage bins would be too awkward to bring indoors. Pvc parts can be stored vertically in the bin, and it's the same part under the same part, so for instance 2 inch pvc 90s would have their own area. A 16 inch tall container could fit 7, 2in pvc 90s all stacked on top of each other in their own little space 4inby4in by 16inch space in he bin, next to that 7 45's could fit in a 4inby3inby 16inch space in the bin etc.
 

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As someone who almost exclusively does service work, and is a real stickler about my van, I can tell you that organization is easier said than done. I only have shelving on one side. On the passenger side nothing sticks in past the wheel well. It's so I have more room in the middle for toilets/heaters/dehumidifiers/etc.

I keep my 1-1/2" pvc fittings in a large milk crate and my 2" fittings in a slightly smaller milk crate. They are stacked behind my snake. I think your insane for wanting to divide up your fittings like you said. It will take much more space. You don't need more than 5 or 6 gallons of each size and they are quite easy to dig through. Being milk crates I can see in the sides too.

At least once a year I change something about the way van is organized in a significant way and I've been doing this a long time. Your van will never be perfect, maybe close. The first couple major efforts will be quite wrong, you'll have to resign yourself to taking a weekend at least once a year for the first couple years to get the van to 90%.
 

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As someone who almost exclusively does service work, and is a real stickler about my van, I can tell you that organization is easier said than done. I only have shelving on one side. On the passenger side nothing sticks in past the wheel well. It's so I have more room in the middle for toilets/heaters/dehumidifiers/etc.

I keep my 1-1/2" pvc fittings in a large milk crate and my 2" fittings in a slightly smaller milk crate. They are stacked behind my snake. I think your insane for wanting to divide up your fittings like you said. It will take much more space. You don't need more than 5 or 6 gallons of each size and they are quite easy to dig through. Being milk crates I can see in the sides too.

At least once a year I change something about the way van is organized in a significant way and I've been doing this a long time. Your van will never be perfect, maybe close. The first couple major efforts will be quite wrong, you'll have to resign yourself to taking a weekend at least once a year for the first couple years to get the van to 90%.
OP-Access and maintenance. My work is niche and busy. If something has to be moved to get to something else, there has to be a good reason. Maintenance and work flow are what you're setting up for. Looks like you're on it.
 

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I wish I would have taken pictures of our
E350 maxi van set ups from back in 2010..... it was pretty sweet..

The best way to store plastic fittings is to use a recycle trash box and stack 3 of them on top
of one another in one of the front corners of the van.... 3 inch on the bottom, and 1 1/2 on the top
we rarely needed 3 inch fittings...but the 1 1/2 was always getting hit on....

We raised the floor up with 2x 6 wood and a plywood floor enough to throw about 4 10 foot lengths of
3 inch PVC pipe in the bottom cavity from the back doors---2 inch and 1 1/2 went into the 3 and copper too.
it worked pretty well with a lot of things going underneath the cavity
like shovels and toilet augers..

now I dont care any more because my 14 ft box vans rule..


.
 

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Organization is a constant problem of mine. I’ve been running KUV style for the last 5 years. I recently got a reading on a transit chassis with a high roof and I manage to keep the outside boxes decent but the inside is a catch all. I spent today climbing over all the crap that accumulates and I probably got 400lbs of galv pipe in the chutes that hasn’t moved in months. It’s a constant battle but everyone is different. One of the Journeymen that works for me keeps his van neat as a whistle, always been like that since we used to work together at another company but he couldn’t run his own company so here we are. Gotta pick your battles.
 

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Organization is a constant problem of mine. I’ve been running KUV style for the last 5 years. I recently got a reading on a transit chassis with a high roof and I manage to keep the outside boxes decent but the inside is a catch all. I spent today climbing over all the crap that accumulates and I probably got 400lbs of galv pipe in the chutes that hasn’t moved in months. It’s a constant battle but everyone is different. One of the Journeymen that works for me keeps his van neat as a whistle, always been like that since we used to work together at another company but he couldn’t run his own company so here we are. Gotta pick your battles.
Trash accumulates because you're already on to solving the next problem/getting paid. 400lbs uses gas, wears on the brakes, etc. while it's on the truck. Trash/waste gets in my way too, then it becomes someone else's problem (as long as it's agreeable:)) ASAP.
 

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I am planning on buying a van doing service work, so I need to have a plan of attack on how I will organize it.

I have always thought that a majority of service plumbers are organizing their vans wrong. I have seen many vans with the metal shelves with about a foot of space between the shelves and they are full of very small plastic bins with open fronts that are about 3 inches tall, so there is just tons of wasted space in between the shelves. Here is an example of what I'm talking about, if you look at the pvc fittings: (2) New Van | Plumbing Zone - Professional Plumbers Forum

I found a video on you tube where a guy organizes his van in smart way, by that I mean he uses the cubic feet allotted to him, with briefcases and square plastic bins without space between them. Plumbing Van Tour - YouTube
I have always said that the hard plastic briefcases with the dividers and a handle should be used as much as possible. Put all your 1/2 inch to 1 1/4 inch fittings in those for sure. Also put your various screws in these plastic briefcases. They maximize the use of cubic feet and also have the advantage of being moved easily into the house your working in.

The guy in the you tube video did something I had not heard of before with his shelves, he had the front 1 inch higher than the back of the shelve so nothing with fall off the shelves while driving around. I plan on stealing that idea. The one thing I'm thinking I would do different than him is I will store my briefcases vertically instead of horizontally like he is, thus eliminating the need for so many shelves. I would store the briefcases like books on a shelf. This would have the advantage of not having the additional space used up and expense of this additional shelving, that also ads the expense of additional weight while driving around.

Another thing I have disagreed with is how people store their pvc fittings. When I was first starting out I worked for a service plumber who wanted me to replenish his van each morning. He had all of his 1.5 inch pvc fittings in a large wood box, he also had another box of 2 inch fittings. All the fittings all just mixed up in this large wood box. He expected me just kind dig through there and somehow notice if he is low on couplings, 45s, ls 90s, 90s, vent 90s, reducers, 22's , 60's, st 90s, st45.all mixed up, in one big ****ing thick wood box. Like WTF? Or you could just do this way simpler....

I recommend back then to allow me to make dividers into the boxes and each fitting would have it's own area. Well he wouldn't let me do that, it was inconceivable to this fella. Since then I have always advocated to get a plastic bin and make your own dividers for it for your pvc fittings. I used cardboard and duct tape for the dividers back then, but this time I plan on the more sophisticated route with thin plastic dividers held together with silicon at the corners. Plastic bins are always better than wood because the weight of the wood works against you for both wasted gas and it would be too heavy to just bring all the fittings into a house.

As of now I'm thinking of having about 10 or so plastic briefcases and I will only need one shelf for all these, they will be placed on the shelf like books. I also plan on buying a bunch of under the bed plastic storage containers. These are about 7 inches tall/3 feet wide. I feel like this is a good height. Not too deep or too shallow for most of your plumbing parts (wax rings, supply lines, angle stops, ptraps, etc) It will essentially be like having drawers. This is maximizing cubic footage. I will make wood shelves for these plastic containers. I will have like 6 of these containers on top of each other like drawers. The only reason I wouldn't just use an old dresser for a bedroom is just because it might be too heavy. It seems like dressers with drawers are hands down the best way to utilize three dimensional space, so why not just do that?

As for storing the pvc parts, I'm thinking a taller clear plastic container is better, more like 12-16 inches tall and that is only because the 7 inch tall/ 3 foot wide under bed storage bins would be too awkward to bring indoors. Pvc parts can be stored vertically in the bin, and it's the same part under the same part, so for instance 2 inch pvc 90s would have their own area. A 16 inch tall container could fit 7, 2in pvc 90s all stacked on top of each other in their own little space 4inby4in by 16inch space in he bin, next to that 7 45's could fit in a 4inby3inby 16inch space in the bin etc.
I think you're on the right track, I will warn you I used to organized my PVC fittings the exact same way on my old truck, with the plastic tall bins with thin plastic dividers, held together with silicone. You would think that would hold up but the silicone was constantly wearing out and the dividers were coming loose. I knew I was moving on to a new job so I never tried to devise a plan to fix this, I'm sure there is one, but they don't usually hold up long term. I was in one of those Hackney NPR trucks and they bounce around like nothing else on earth, so maybe it would work out better in a normal truck that wasn't designed by Nazi holocaust scientists.
 

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I made shelves that slope just like in the video you found. I can tell you that it works great. Nothing comes out, hell right now my shelf is not even screwed in to the van but just sits nicely by having my heaviest boxes at the bottom (I need to secure them). Making the boxes go vertical like books would not be advised. It puts extra stress on the box in a way it was not built for and could be bad for the boxes. With less shelves that way, you would likely also get too much weight on the shelf itself.

Here is some if my set up right now. Not ideal as my ideal set up would be a nice big van set up much like the one in that video.



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