Roof platform for Dodge RAM Van - suggestions appreciated

Ideas, advice, tips, and tricks regarding the building and creation of mutant vehicles in Black Rock City
jabadabaduu
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2011 1:32 pm

Roof platform for Dodge RAM Van - suggestions appreciated

Postby jabadabaduu » Fri Apr 25, 2014 9:31 pm

Hi!

I started thinking of retiring my good ol' band van as a mutant vehicle because its engine runs fine and clean, but in its current cosmetic condition its not worth of that much money (awful paint, dents, interior is kind of destroyed and probably has mold in it!). Perhaps in following years I could go ahead and do some really crazy stuff with it, but now for the first year I was thinking to build something 'simple' (and reversible when I come back) like this:

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_xRFNBWST25E/S ... ng+Man.JPG

I'll probably mutate the vehicle with fabric (and use LED strips underneath as lights), like that pig car above, but I'd like to get pointers from more experienced MV builders -> how to build a solid roof deck on top of the van?

My van has side and back windows - it looks a little bit like this guy (although mine doesn't look that good):
http://carphotos.cardomain.com/ride_ima ... ge.jpg?v=0

Obviously my biggest worry is how to support the platform so it won't put stress on the roof, and break the windows etc. I still want it to be in a roadworthy condition when I get it back from the playa. I'm thinking it should carry max 8 people up there. I'll also attach a small PA, and band instruments, but those won't be on the top of the roof.

I was thinking of putting two support beams up from the rear and front bumpers, and find couple of solid spots from the bottom of the car (on the side, between the tires), where I could weld square metal tube to hold two more support beams on each side. I'll sketch this this weekend, and post some pics.

Anyway, I'm sure this has been done so many times already, and someone probably can give me a really good advice. I wan't able to find anything from this forum though...

So - any links, advices etc would be highly appreciated.

Thanks!
Veli

User avatar
unjonharley
Posts: 10240
Joined: Tue Sep 09, 2003 11:05 am
Burning Since: 2001
Camp Name: Elliot's naked bycycel repair
Location: Salem Or.
Contact:

Re: Roof platform for Dodge RAM Van - suggestions appreciate

Postby unjonharley » Sat Apr 26, 2014 9:35 am

I'm adding a roof to the van this year.. This one will be soft for insolation and hold a lite load..

You may be able to use this idea..

Using 1x6 or 8 along the rain gutters. Drill the gutters every so far to hold the 1 x..

Notch out the the 1 x runners every 16 inches to receive a 2 X 2.. Insert the 2 X 2's across the vans roof.. Reinforce the 1 X runners under and to the 2 X 2 with metal corner brackets.. Screw down a plywood floor.. Add safety rails..

User avatar
some seeing eye
Posts: 2607
Joined: Tue Sep 09, 2008 12:06 pm
Burning Since: 1999
Camp Name: Woo
Location: The Oregon

Re: Roof platform for Dodge RAM Van - suggestions appreciate

Postby some seeing eye » Sat Apr 26, 2014 10:21 am

That is a unibody vehicle, so you are on the right track. The frame you propose is a good structure to hold bent pvc or fiberglass support elements for fabric, all installed on playa, post highway and pre BRC DMV. Early communication with the DMV and correspondence with other MV folks is a good thing. Lighting and operator visibility are something to consider. Best with the project!
increasing the signal to noise ratio with compassion

User avatar
Captain Goddammit
Posts: 7830
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2003 9:34 am
Burning Since: 2000
Camp Name: First Camp
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: Roof platform for Dodge RAM Van - suggestions appreciate

Postby Captain Goddammit » Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:40 pm

If I were building a mutant vehicle from a van, I'd put the driver up top for both visibility and fun.
Mutants covered with fabric bodies pretty much suck for driver visibity otherwise.
Vans have such a vertical steering column you can extend it up through the roof without having to do any fancy gear, chain, and u-joint biz. You could probably rig up simple extensions for the pedals. Maybe even the shifter, that's the trickiest part I think.
The bumpers are a good spot to anchor your top deck supports, close to or right on the bumper attaching brackets.
I don't know if you're fabricating in mostly steel or wood... I think if wood, maybe unbolt the bumpers and replace with something like 2x12s or 4x4s or something good and stout to give a solid and easy place to build up from. I think if you laid wood on top of your drip rails like unjonharley said, boxed together at each end, and attached down to your wood "bumpers", you could probably not even bother drilling the van full of holes to anchor it. It really couldn't go anywhere.
Relocating the driver to the roof would mean a few small hull breaches in the roof I suppose.
GreyCoyote: "At this rate it wont be long before he is Admiral Fukkit."
Delle: Singularly we may be dysfunctional misfits, but together we're magic.

ranger magnum
Posts: 731
Joined: Fri Sep 09, 2011 12:05 pm
Burning Since: 1996
Camp Name: Outpost Tokyo
Location: santa barbara

Re: Roof platform for Dodge RAM Van - suggestions appreciate

Postby ranger magnum » Sat Apr 26, 2014 5:54 pm

some seeing eye wrote:That is a unibody vehicle, so you are on the right track. The frame you propose is a good structure to hold bent pvc or fiberglass support elements for fabric, all installed on playa, post highway and pre BRC DMV. Early communication with the DMV and correspondence with other MV folks is a good thing. Lighting and operator visibility are something to consider. Best with the project!


That is not a unibody vehicle. Unibody means no frame. It's a derivative of unitized body, meaning the frame and body are one. All passenger cars are unibody (the exception is Ford crown Victoria and Mercury Marquis). All 1/2 ton and above vans and pickups have a ladder style frame.
Praise the Lowered

User avatar
Captain Goddammit
Posts: 7830
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2003 9:34 am
Burning Since: 2000
Camp Name: First Camp
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: Roof platform for Dodge RAM Van - suggestions appreciate

Postby Captain Goddammit » Sat Apr 26, 2014 9:31 pm

Almost all new passenger cars are unibody. My Chevy passenger car has a frame... but it's 59 years old.
I thought he was referring to unjon's van, which I thought was a VW if I remember right. Those are sorta unibody-ish. But the Dodge certainly is not!
GreyCoyote: "At this rate it wont be long before he is Admiral Fukkit."
Delle: Singularly we may be dysfunctional misfits, but together we're magic.

ranger magnum
Posts: 731
Joined: Fri Sep 09, 2011 12:05 pm
Burning Since: 1996
Camp Name: Outpost Tokyo
Location: santa barbara

Re: Roof platform for Dodge RAM Van - suggestions appreciate

Postby ranger magnum » Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:34 am

The last passenger cars with frames were the Panther platform cars from FoMoCo. I believe they were discontinued in 2011.

What Chevy do you have? I have a 62 & 64. 58-64 are my favorite years, at least for Impalas. I'm also partial to 49's. And nothing looks as sleek as a 53 Buick Skylark.

Those were incredible years for GM... The 58 was a one year only design, and 59 & 60 were two year. Those were the Harley Earl years (well up to 59 anyway).

In 1965, GM produced over one million Impalas alone! This does not include bel-air or Biscayne models. No other manufacturer has ever accomplished this.

Every four years came a totally redesigned car. Production stopped in late June of a particular year, then during July and August the factory would re tool for the following year. In September, the new models would roll out. My 64 was built in the 5th week of September, 1963. It was # 3099 off the line at the Arlington Texas plant.

Sorry about the history lesson....
Praise the Lowered

User avatar
Captain Goddammit
Posts: 7830
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2003 9:34 am
Burning Since: 2000
Camp Name: First Camp
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: Roof platform for Dodge RAM Van - suggestions appreciate

Postby Captain Goddammit » Mon Apr 28, 2014 5:17 am

Mine is a '55 Bel Air hardtop. I like them better than the '57s because they are cleaner and less pretentious though I do have a soft spot for almost any 1958 car or ''59-'60 anything-American.
And anything '66-'70.
GreyCoyote: "At this rate it wont be long before he is Admiral Fukkit."
Delle: Singularly we may be dysfunctional misfits, but together we're magic.

jabadabaduu
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2011 1:32 pm

Re: Roof platform for Dodge RAM Van - suggestions appreciate

Postby jabadabaduu » Mon Apr 28, 2014 10:37 am

Perfect. I think I have much better idea what I'm going to do now.

The 'driver on the roof' is actually a fantastic idea. ...I'll definitely see if I could make that happen. I'm definitely worried about the visibility out there. ..I don't want to run over anyone...

Thanks guys.

User avatar
trilobyte
Site Admin
Posts: 16452
Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2004 10:54 pm
Burning Since: 2004
Camp Name: Eridu Society
Location: San Francisco
Contact:

Re: Roof platform for Dodge RAM Van - suggestions appreciate

Postby trilobyte » Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:36 am

I'm giving this a nudge over to the Transportation board, since that's a better fit for general preparation and project discussions. The year-specific boards are intended for announcing or updating about fully formed projects for that year's event.

In response though, I'll add that if you're going to put something load-bearing up top, IMO you need to build a frame that connects to the frame. Not the flimsy top or sides, and not the 'not designed to support weight at all' bumpers. The walls and roof of most vans (including what you pictured) just aren't designed as load bearing. Even a contractor's roof rack (made for ladders and other equipment) has a max load measured in hundreds of pounds, not thousands.

When I did a cargo van-based mutant vehicle back in 2007, I ended up designing and building a steel frame that went through the roof and down through the cargo area, and welding directly to the vehicle's frame. Once you've got a solid framework in place, you can build flooring/decking, rails and seating, and start diving into the real work... your creative mutation (that's where the biggest chunk of time/energy and 90% of the money goes in building an MV, IMO).

If you're planning something for 2014 and haven't already got a solid idea of what you're doing, you need to get a serious move on it. The mutant vehicle questionnaire closes on May 15 and I think a successful application requires a pretty fleshed out idea, especially if it's a new vehicle or first-time MV builder. Good luck!


Return to “Building Mutant Vehicles”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests