If you want to be a serious contender in barbecue (or other culinary choice) competitions – or possibly a food vendor because you’ve already won numerous competitions – making your own food trailer can save money and accommodate your precise needs. If you’re handy, or know someone who is, building your own food van/trailer means a self-customized environment made for you and you alone.
Let’s take a look at some of the considerations that will be in store should you decide to fashion your very own food van/truck/trailer.
Find a Trailer/Truck/Van That Is Used But Desirable
Buying used means saving money. Saving money on your vehicle purchase means more money for your customized interior and exterior. First and foremost, buy from a reputable dealer. Check to see that the truck or trailer has been well cared for, overall; that there are good tires; the axles are stable and intact; doors and latches are in good working condition (as well as hinges); and the price is fair.
As long as there is no excessive rust on the outside, you should be able to customize or paint the exterior as you wish. Worry more about the dependability of the unit and whether it appears waterproof. You don’t want water contaminating your food or leaking all over you while you’re cooking.
Constructing the Dish Sink, Hand Sink, and Countertop
Using treated lumber for the countertop, i.e., fence dog ear panels, has been the choice of many individuals. Use 2 x 4’s to frame the counter. You will cover these with those dog ears. After cutting out holes for the sink you will sand, stain, and seal the cuts and counter top. Use wood putty to fill in the gaps. Be sure to measure so that you cut the sinkholes to the right dimensions.
Sinks and Plumbing
You can save some serious cash by picking up as much as possible at your local thrift store or searching sites like Craigslist. Some used stainless steel sinks may already come with working faucets. When it comes to the plumbing, once again, make sure that you do your measuring accurately. Best to draw things out to scale and then follow your plan. You will likely make good use of PVC and garden hoses. Your water tank can be gravity fed if you don’t want to deal with a pump. For complete drainage from the unit, again, PVC and garden hose should suffice. Make sure that all your shutoffs and clamps are tight and leak proof. Make as few bends in the drainage line as possible.
Walls, Ceiling, and Floor
You may or may not choose to insulate, but if you do, quarter inch Styrofoam (or common attic insulation) can be used on the floor, walls, and ceiling. You may also choose to cut exhaust vents into the wall or ceiling, equipped with or without a fan. Use vinyl sheeting or metal siding over the Styrofoam insulation for walls and ceiling. Vinyl sheets make good flooring and clean up easily.
Naturally, before covering the installation with vinyl sheeting (or whatever) you will want to lay out all of your overhead lighting fixtures, electrical wires, etc., and place your electrical outlets.
Windows and Serving Window
If your van, trailer, or truck does not come complete with the right kind of windows and/or serving window, you will need to cut these into the side (or rear) of the truck or trailer. They will then need to be framed. Take great care in the doors or covers that you install over these windows. They should open and close easily, but be exceedingly sturdy, because they will get loads of use.
Some metal siding and 2 x 4’s should suffice when building counters and tables. Make them hinged and collapsible for easier travel. This allows more room for equipment storage. Build your own shelving or purchase prefabricated transport truck shelving. Equip yourself with ratchet straps and bungee cords to secure equipment during travel.
All Those Added Extras
Consider installing a surveillance system, knife station, work cabinets, weather station, TV, air conditioner/furnace, water heater, and any other necessary (or luxury) item that one could imagine.
If you’re looking for a reputable dealer from which to buy your used van, trailer, or truck, look no further. Mickey Genuine Parts carries used trailers and vehicles that we fully stand behind, just like we do everything else we sell. Contact us today if you would like to discuss purchasing a used van, truck, or trailer and get started on your way to being the proud owner of a self-customized food van, truck, or trailer.