Work Van Carrying Capacity

A woodworker who's considering a van purchase wonders how to manage 16-foot lengths of finished moulding. April 20, 2008

I am still undecided about which vehicle to get - van or truck - and one big question comes to mind with a van. Can you easily transport 16' lengths of molding in a van? In my little truck, I can open my sliding window, set the moldings on the dash, and let them hang out the rear of the truck. Are the long body vans long enough to carry the moldings inside? I know that a rack can be put on top for lumber, but is there a way to put the moldings inside, maybe leave a back door open if necessary? This is an issue that could determine which direction I take, as I very often carry long lengths of molding to job sites or back to my shop for spraying.

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor R:
So, with a van, put them on the dash, let them hang out the back, wrap a packing blanket around them where the doors will contact, bungee the doors shut and drive off.

From contributor D:
Why not put the molding on the "lumber rack" on top? Why do you want it inside with you so much?

From contributor P:
Take a couple of large pieces of PVC pipe, screw caps on each end, and fasten the things to the top of the van. Weatherproof way to transport all sorts of stuff.

From the original questioner:
I want to keep it inside because the roof rack is up high, sort of a hassle to reach up and strap on. Also, there are times that I spray a finish on the moldings, and transport them finished, so I like to keep them out of the elements in that situation.

From contributor S:
One of the reasons we went with an aluminum body step van. 14' truck has 16' to the motor housing and 18' to the windshield. You can pick up used ones for very little money. Plus it makes for a big billboard.

From contributor L:
I've had pickups, and I've had vans. For me, the van wins, hands down. I have a Ford E-250 van. 8' sheet goods fit easily, standing vertical (which I prefer), or horizontally. A 16' piece of molding will just fit inside if you can bend it a little and don't have a lot else filling the cargo area. But, if you have a lot of pieces, or 16' 2x8's (for example), they will not fit inside with the doors closed. I have a weather guard lumber/ladder rack on top, and anything too long goes up there. Interestingly, I can put a 24' extension ladder inside. If I push the passenger seats back down and rest one end of the ladder on the dash, it barely fits. I also have a large knaack box in the van, and everything stays out of the weather and my tools stay out of sight. Sure, there are times when what you need to haul won't fit inside, but the same is true at times for any vehicle, even if you have a 40' trailer. My van came stock length, but they make extended body vans, which might do what you need.

From contributor N:
I do what PK said and keep large PVC secured to the racks. When you need to load or unload, just unscrew the caps and you don't need to mess with bungees.