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Partitions and Side Curtain Airbags

2503 Views 7 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  harryn
I have a 2018 Transit 350 passenger van that has five row side curtain airbags. Long story short, I need to install a partition to protect myself from flying mailbags in the event of a collision, but don't want to disable the side curtain airbags. Havis makes prisoner partitions that appear to have enough of a slant on the sides that you wouldn't need to remove the side curtain airbags. It's also not mentioned in the install manuals.

Problem is they don't seem to make one for a high roof van. Despite all my Google searching I haven't been able to find a partition that functions without removing the side curtain airbags and I was hoping someone here has found a solution.
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Fantastic build quality. I didn't want to go the wood route for fear of crash safety, but if I did a solid inch of wood isn't a bad idea. Without any mass manufactured and crash tested alternatives that might be the best way to go.

When expediting I can strap down large skids, but with this new route I'm running I'll be moving several thousand pounds of mail in bags loosely stored in the cab. Wood would be a lot more aesthetically pleasing and a lot less noisy.
 

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This is what Ford has to say about it, But this is for the cargo van because no one puts partitions in passenger vans.
Maybe it will give you some ideas if you try to read between the lines.


All aftermarket partitions are designed to bolt to the B-pillar directly behind the drivers seat, The B-pillar has threaded inserts as well as holes for more threaded inserts that are provided to mount partitions, The upper part of the partition bolts to the roof beam, You have to drill holes for threaded inserts for this. None of this will help you but maybe you could drill holes for inserts in the same locations on the C-pillar just behind the sliding door and mount an aftermarket partition there, I am not sure how the roof beam will line up.
Maybe you could look at a cargo van to see these pillars and beams.
 

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You could use a standard partition and notch the sides for airbags, slice the factory trim panels in half and mount where it is intended. I did this on a brand new 2007 Ford E350 and it was perfect. The trim had a narrow section cut from the center and just kind of wrapped around the sides of the partition.

Wood when laminated with opposing grains is very strong but heavy. It's going to take one helluva hit for something to penetrate it. I would be more worried about something blasting though the window or shearing the mounts loose. If it does come loose it's just going to slam into the back of the seats and the chances of 4 mounting points shearing at the same time is about the same as having 2 random serial killers riding in the same van together without either knowing. With my walk around design I would be more concerned with things coming around the corner.

I ran a Chevrolet dealership body shop in the 90's and we serviced all of the local trucks for a nationwide phone company. They had metal partitions and their guys liked to strap wooden step ladders to the bottom side of their roof (inside the van) with bungee cords. One hit a car broadside at speed when the other car ran a traffic light. The ladder broke free and made a nice rectangular hole in the partition and exited half way through the windshield before stopping. Everything else in the back of his van tried to escape the same direction and we found things from inside latched cabinets inside the cabin.

I rolled a Ford Ranger multiple times with a lunchbox size cooler in the seat next to me and I was strapped in with my seat belt. The cooler beat me black and blue breaking my nose and cracking an eye socket before it decided to exit through the window. Dangerous loads do not have to come from the back and you can get a ticket from the GA DOT for having an unsecured load in the cab (I didn't but an employee later on did).

Put something in there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Indeed. Prisoner transport and limousine are the only people movers that use partitions. There are a lot of companies that do custom vans for people transport, but none of them offer a self-install package designed for Transit high roofs. Havis makes some prisoner partitions for medium and low roof transits only.

Most emails I get back from cargo partition manufacturers are boilerplate "these are designed for cargo vans". The difference between cargo and passenger vans seems to be the side curtain airbags, AC vents, headliner and trim paneling. I've removed the headliner and interior panels to install an inverter and such before and have my headliners outside my house right now.

The long of the story is I have one van I use to do courier work and transport my family of seven. The courier work ranges from hotshot cargo expediting to a regular postal mail courier route transporting mail from a warehouse to the post offices. Seats can come out when I need to load a large skids or two, so the rear portion of the van behind the B-pillar needs to be capable of both.

So far I'm on track for this, but the new mailbag transporting raises safety concerns as I can't cargo net down a hundred bags of mail. A partition seems to make the most sense, but I'm increasingly realizing I'll have to manufacture my own and hope for the best. A wood partition would need to be quite beefy, but could do the job as Spotco2 mentioned. Being a former bodily injury adjuster for a major insurance company I'm definitely familiar with the physics of it all and that's where my concern comes from.

At this point I'm leaning towards prefab cargo partition behind the B pillar and modifying it so it doesn't interfere with the airbags. It will compromise safety a bit from flying cargo, but still retain airbags for passengers. I'm still debating wood, which would probably be my choice if I was redoing the entire interior camper style.
 
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