Ford Transit USA Forum banner

Safety Questions

2427 Views 44 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  Vanaroo
Hey all!

I recently got a 2015 HR/EL that I started converting, and it came with a safety partition as it was a work truck before. I want to replace it with a DIY-partial wall to drastically improve space and add functionality/homey-ness. But I'm having second thoughts, mainly because of safety.

In terms of collisions, the partition will provide separation from flying tools/toys. However, the discussion online mainly revolves around work trucks though, and the few camper-type articles are relatively shallow thought-wise.

I'm hoping to see your opinions on what you did, what you would change, or if you ever felt unsafe?

much thanks!
1 - 20 of 45 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
4,442 Posts
There are a handful of people here that put one in a camper van with myself being one of them, Most people here want swivel seats and you can not have swivel seats with a partition.
My camper is more of a portable motel room with a queen bed and a refrigerator, Microwave and a audio/video system too. I did not need a lot of storage under the bed so the foot of the bed is low enough to the floor to make good seating for two people. With a 60"X 80" bed it is a little cramped in the van but all we really do is sleep in it.
Ranger contoured partition with glass window, I removed the glass and the front ac in the cab lines up perfectly with the window to blow cool air into the back of the van.
This is the partition I bought, There are many different kinds of partitions in this catalog that fit the transit.

 

· Registered
2020 High-Extended AWD EcoBoost Cargo with windows
Joined
·
4,891 Posts
I'm sure a significant enough front impact would bring things coming toward the cab. I don't know how significant that would need to be. And I sure don't want to find out. But I don't feel LESS safe with my aluminum framed cabinets bolted to the walls than I would in a Winnebago or the like - those things look pretty scary. I'm pretty confident that anyone assuring that any RV-ish setup is auto-manufacturer safe is... uh... wrong.

So... safe priority? Add the partition. RV-like comfort and convenience priority? No partition.

If you do decide to crash-test both, do me a favor and also add a front bumper setup with the big bull-bar things and hit a deer or an elk. I'm really curious how that holds up as well. Thanks!
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,435 Posts
I’ve worked as an automotive body structures engineer-

my .02c is that most peoples builds are ~death traps. Anything bolted in to plywood/using wood structurally will likely come loose in a serious crash, and if it hits an occupant they will be seriously injured or killed.

the seats actually will provide a good amount of protection, it’d be hard for things to go through the seats to hit you (although I wouldn’t want to find out what happens if a 75lb fridge to crashes into it at 50 mph). You could maybe put in some thin steel plates behind the seat fabric in the back for extra protection. Something hitting your head is more of a concern though, you could maybe fabricate a steel “shield” to go behind the headrest.

I think if you do an aluminum extrusion interior structure for everything (interconnected) and bolt those in to the metal walls with plus nuts, that will be much safer than a wood build or most any RV. That’s the route I’m taking. I have a folding aluminum bulkhead up front as well, which is more for break in security but would also help in a crash. To me it was the best of both worlds, I get swivels and easy can access, but can have the safety/security of a bulkhead when I want.

A permanent metal bulkhead will definitely be the safest option. I’d still definitely want a door in it though, I go from the cab to the back all the time in my van
 
  • Like
Reactions: surly Bill

· Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
That’s the route I’m taking. I have a folding aluminum bulkhead up front as well, which is more for break in security but would also help in a crash. To me it was the best of both worlds, I get swivels and easy can access, but can have the safety/security of a bulkhead when I want.
Can you provide more information about your folding aluminum bulkhead? Is it purchased or custom-made by you? Vendor? Thanks!
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,435 Posts
Custom made, with big piano hinges, and an aluminum extrusion frame bolted together. Here are my 3D mock-ups (haven’t actually built it yet but I have no doubt it will work):


Thanks for the thread link. Still considering roller, as I have more than 6" of head room so it could be integrated pretty easily. Building a frame for it might be difficult with the airbag blobs.

I like the folding aluminum door idea in that thread, but when collapsed it would stick out almost 10" which would interfere with the swivel I think.

__
Crossposting from my new idea I put in the other thread:

What about a 3-sectioned hinged partition? If you can get 20" of space from the back of your seat to your first cabinet on the driver's side, you could put hinges connecting the first panel where the cargo area meets the cab. Then have a 20" panel, with a ~360 degree hinge on the end connected to the next 20" panel, which has a hinge which connects to the last 20" panel. This setup allows the partition to curve around the seats jutting into the cargo area as well, and come back in front of the sliding door.

Add a way to chain/lock the last panel to the area in front of the sliding door. Maybe some sliding bolts into the floor and/or ceiling for extra strength.

Could find some thin metal panels (or even wood or composite, I doubt anyone will be throwing their weight at this thing) and when folded against the wall only adds a few inches of thickness to the wall.

Rough mockup of what I'm thinking. Color key:

Green: Seats
Red: Hinge Posts (8020?) Bolted to Van's Structure
Pink: Walls of Van
Yellow: Hinges
Blue: Sliding Bolt Locks into floor and ceiling
Gray: 3 Folding Panels
White: Countertops.

Currently I only have about 12" of space between the rear of the driver seat and my front countertop with my van as-planned. Could maybe get to 15" and go to 4 folding panels, otherwise I'd have to remove drawer space in my layout.

Alternatively, I may put the main hinge to the body on the passenger side (where I have a 22" gap from back of passenger seat to my sink counter in the slider opening), and it will normally be folded out 1/3 of the way, covering just the passenger seat width, but leaving the middle walkway open. Since I'm living solo in the van for now, I don't mind blocking the passenger sear swivel. If I have a guest over and want to use the passenger swivel, the door panels can hinge to covering the slider.

View attachment 145307

View attachment 145309

View attachment 145310

View attachment 145311



Stowed:

View attachment 145312

View attachment 145313
Yeah, I think you could pretty easily add a window in the middle panel, and maybe a thin door you can squeeze through sideways.
I was also thinking I can cut the upper outside corners of the first and 3rd panel so that the match the contours of the airbag blobs, so there wouldn't be any gaps.

Ona van like mine without windows in the cargo area, this could also serve as an easy way to insulate the rear end from the front cab that gets hot through the windows in the sun. I like your idea of sandwiching XPS cores. could possibly do a composite design:

Lay 1/8" Plywood flat on the ground. Use adhesive and maybe a few bolts to screw in some 1/4" or 1/2" Aluminum bar rectangular frame all the way around the panel, with some cross beams inside (would want to weld the frame or have a shop waterjet the cavities out of one solid piece of 1/4" aluminum). Then fill in the gaps in the metal frame with XPS or the like. Then another plywood layer adhered to the other side.

Thin, lightweight, and strong, insulates. Solid mounting through the metal.

Mockups of cutouts and panel construction. Gray is aluminum, pink XPS, then wood sheets sandwiching this core.

View attachment 145352

View attachment 145351
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,951 Posts
One possible compromise - especially if you are usually solo - would be to build a very sturdy bulkhead behind the driver's seat and then leave the rest open (you could then have a swivel passenger seat).

Obviously that won't be as good as a full width partition -- but combined with some attention to detail in the rest of the build (and no magnetic knife rack on the passenger side) it might be a good middle ground.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
7,164 Posts
I think if you do an aluminum extrusion interior structure for everything (interconnected) and bolt those into the metal walls with plus nuts,
All my 80/20 structures are bolted together and bolted to the floor, walls and the roof ribs. One big structure. The floor has a frame that is bolted down to the floor and to all the tiedown tapped holes. Then cabinets are then bolted to the floor frame.

Using 80/20 | Orton Travel Transit (ortontransit.info)
 

· Registered
Joined
·
6,723 Posts
Custom made, with big piano hinges, and an aluminum extrusion frame bolted together. Here are my 3D mock-ups (haven’t actually built it yet but I have no doubt it will work):
I messed around with some wooden prototyping and found that the curvature of the side wall was problematic even if I did not go full height. Adding a fixed panel to square the drivers side would preclude a swivel and then the folded stack of panels would take up a LOT of critical space. If going without a drivers swivel a set up with one fixed and 2 sliding panels might be a way to go. When I thought about a roll up, it seemed that the extreme curvature of the walls would preclude the side rails without adding fixed panels again. An accordion style security grate was discussed by @Van Gogh but I don't think he proceeded with the idea (yet?) . Again it seems either/or case with a drivers swivel.

I'd love to see (and copy!) something if you are able to figure out something creative to make this work. Swivels plus a bulkhead with a pass through door when closed, is a holy grail to me. I the case of my 148 non-EL the cab seats are the only seating so the 2 swivels are essential so in the meantime, I am giving a lot of consideration to the design of my 8020 structure to the selection of the connectors and attachments to the van.

Does anyone have opinions on a removable cargo net in place of a solid partition?
I've thought about this one as a possible option. I wonder how taught it would need to be to be somewhat effective. That could make it a real PITA. Probably not an ideal solution but could be helpful. Not sure, but it might be dicey to drill into the boron steel d-pillar with the seat belt stuff that is in there. I suppose that stuff could be removed first.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,951 Posts
Swivels plus a bulkhead with a pass through door when closed, is a holy grail to me.
This doesn't fit your holy grail (because only one swivel) but prompted me to type it out anyway. I saw a "van tour" video (is there anything else on youtube anymore? :ROFLMAO: ) where a fellow had made a full bulkhead that was two panels split more or less in the center. The passenger side panel slid over behind the driver's side panel when open, and then you could swivel the passenger seat. You did have to slightly "fit" between the passenger seat and the center stile to get to the driver's seat, but I thought it was in interesting approach. It was a Sprinter but seemed like it could apply to pretty much any van.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
6,723 Posts
This doesn't fit your holy grail (because only one swivel) but prompted me to type it out anyway. I saw a "van tour" video (is there anything else on youtube anymore? :ROFLMAO: ) where a fellow had made a full bulkhead that was two panels split more or less in the center. The passenger side panel slid over behind the driver's side panel when open, and then you could swivel the passenger seat. You did have to slightly "fit" between the passenger seat and the center stile to get to the driver's seat, but I thought it was in interesting approach. It was a Sprinter but seemed like it could apply to pretty much any van.
When I was kicking around ideas, I briefly entertained the idea of a 3 panel sliding set up to allow full access through the center of the seats. I even considered a door inset in the center panel of a folding partition before I figured out that the folding concept was not feasible. It seems that their might be a lot of options in the quite common layout where folks put the shower directly behind the drivers seat.

This would be great in so many ways (bulkhead being just one) . Perfect size, shape, integration ... IMO, But now I am off topic.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,951 Posts
This would be great in so many ways (bulkhead being just one) . Perfect size, shape, integration ... IMO, But now I am off topic.
Be still my heart! Very narrow body and it looks like SRW too 😍 Can a regular person get one like this in any reasonable way? I still think of ambulances like the old E-450's with DRW and a big square heavy body.

Wheel Land vehicle Tire Vehicle Car
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,435 Posts
My folding bulkhead simply has notches in the top outside of the side panels to clear the blobs and roof curvature. When extended across there might be a small gap up top, but shouldn’t be large enough for a person to squeeze through. Folded the panels only take up about 3” of space in front of my shower behind the driver seat.

CAD is useful to figure out right spacing before building something
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,951 Posts
My folding bulkhead simply has notches in the top outside of the side panels to clear the blobs and roof curvature.
That sounds really nice. Could you show a photo of it? Is it more focused on privacy (only) or would it do some "stuff flying forward" mitigation in a crash (if anything did fly forward; not saying your cabinets would).
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,951 Posts
UK. Not even sure if it is in production.
Yep. My "reasonable way" would mean it would need to be a US spec vehicle. I looked on a couple of ambulance builder pages here in the US and most of them were either purely in the factory van body or were huge trucks with giant square bodies and duallies. Bah.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
6,723 Posts
CAD is useful to figure out right spacing before building something
No doubt, but for some reason developing even a rudimentary competency with CAD has always eluded me. My wife has been playing with Sketchup and it also seem to be a challenge.
My folding bulkhead simply has notches in the top outside of the side panels to clear the blobs and roof curvature. When extended across there might be a small gap up top, but shouldn’t be large enough for a person to squeeze through. Folded the panels only take up about 3” of space in front of my shower behind the driver seat.
What I found would seem to indicate that any part that is past the cut out folds to the wall, there will still be interference with the inward curvature. I did look at putting a header in (which I think is needed structurally) with shorter panels to avoid the curvature, but did not like the ducking under (and IIRC maybe the closed in feeling with the seats swiveled). Do you have any drawings of a side view with the panels in the opened positions, or even the file if it can be read in Sketchup. I'd love to "find a way". Thanks.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
7,164 Posts
No doubt, but for some reason developing even a rudimentary competency with CAD has always eluded me. My wife has been playing with Sketchup and it also seem to be a challenge.
Download the free test version of 2D General Cadd. Have used it and the original DOS version of Generic Cad for about 30 years. The test version is a full version, but you can not print the drawing.

General CADD - Overview

$600 program that uses simple two letter commands. Very intuitive. There are some tricks to make CAD easier. See my web site for typical drawings done with General Cadd. Using a 2D program to draw everything before you start fabricating can eliminate any rework. No need for 3D to build a conversion.

The main trick is to make template drawings for each scale and each paper size. Once that is done then you just pick a drawing size and the scale template and start drawing.

Now that you are retired, take the time to learn CAD before starting the conversion. Too late?
 
1 - 20 of 45 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top