Before I jump into this, I will freely admit what I am about to outline is definitely a first world dilemma. There is no right or wrong answer for this situation and I wanted to see what the CC Commentariat would think.
I have some large items to transport a long distance, items that if considered independently are not an issue but when combined create the dilemma.
Later his month, my wife, daughter, and I will be traveling to Alto Pass, Illinois to visit my parents. Google says the shortest route time-wise is 241 miles.
At some point in our trip we will also be in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, thirty-five miles southwest of Alto Pass. If we head back home from Cape, that will be another 237 miles.
The dilemma is which of the two chariots seen in the lead picture we should take. Before you answer, let me explain what there is to move.
Some time ago my mother expressed desire in giving her modestly sized cedar chest to my daughter. Being just enough too big to fit into the Volkswagen, I figured the cedar chest would fit nicely behind the rear seat of the van. Easy peasy.
But that was premature.
Back in July we were there to clear out my grandparents house so it could be sold subsequent to the death of my grandmother “Iris” (introduced in these pages previously) in February of this year.
Taking the pickup that time was a no-brainer as there was a trailer to pull locally and there was stuff to haul back.
As an aside, I laugh when people claim crew cab pickups are untaxed commute-mobiles. For having only a 5.5′ bed, you can see what I hauled returning from that trip – a washing machine, four wrought-iron lawn chairs, luggage for three people, two patio type coffee tables, eight pairs of shoes, a bunch of record albums, three furniture dollies, and my bed extender – with there still being open bed space.
But we had accidentally left the garden tiller I received from my surviving grandfather. This is the other item I need to fetch and what has prompted this dilemma.
At this point, both of my options have strong and weak points. The fuel mileage in either will suck, being around 16 to 18 mpg, so that’s a moot point. Mileage is also as the van has 120,000 miles and the pickup has 130,000 miles.
Option 1: Take the van, a 2000 Ford E-150 equipped with a 5.4 liter V8.
Strong points: It’s quieter and more comfortable than the pickup while being more powerful – and there are some mighty long and steep hills to climb on the way. Everything can be inside with no concerns about weather.
Weak points: I’ll have no concerns about weather to a point. It’s a heavily front-weighted rear-drive van built on a twin I-beam Ford pickup chassis. It’ll be November in the lower Midwest, so it may or may not snow; it’s a crap shoot this time of year.
Also, this situation encapsulates my hesitation about vans in general. I’ll have large items in the cabin with us. Given this van’s passenger hauling bias, there is nowhere to easily tie down a tiller and, another concern, I have no clue how much old gasoline it contains and there will still likely be oil in the crankcase. Yes, I could drain both but the aroma will linger and I still can’t easily tie it down. I’m not wild about having nothing but air between large objects and my family’s heads in the event of a panic stop.
Option 2: Take the pickup, a 2007 Ford F-150 equipped with a 4.6 liter V8.
Strong points: Unlike the van, cargo is in a separate location. Items will still move during a panic stop but two steel walls separate the cargo from our heads. It’s also better suited than the van should we encounter unfavorable weather as it has more suitable tires and four-wheel drive. There are abundant tie-downs in the pickup. It also handles much better than the van.
Weak points: It’ll be November so temperatures are unknown. An annoyance with the pickup is for whatever reason cold air will blow on your feet in the winter despite how high the heat is on; it’s likely a simple fix. I rarely drive it very far in the winter so I keep forgetting about it.
While the pickup has a folding tonneau cover, and the bed has always stayed dry despite intensity of the deluge, hauling the tiller will mean lying it on its side so I can keep the cedar chest covered in the event of precipitation. I will need to ensure any leakages from the tiller don’t assault the chest. Keeping the two physically separated won’t be an issue. Also with the tiller lying flat and the tonneau cover closed, I’ll feed the perception of driving what appears to be an unladen crew-cab pickup.
If this is you, which option do you take? And, no, I’m not renting a trailer to haul a forty year-old tiller!
Pickup. You’ve half talked yourself into it already. The pickup solves all the important concerns of using the van (4WD/suspension and snow, separating you from the haul), and you have devised adequate risk mitigation for using the bed (can close the tonneau with all items separated to minimize damage).
I really want to say 1963 Galaxie with an enclosed U-Haul trailer, but it has the same problem as the van – too old and as our wives seem similar in some ways I would go for the least likelyhood of causing others inconvenience via breakdown or roadside tinkering.
Therefore, I say pickup towing an enclosed U-Haul trailer.
Interesting point about the van and its age…..its age doesn’t bother us. Maybe it’s because I’m like you and will drive a 50-odd year old vehicle long distances so this one is still new!
EDIT: Antique furniture is my side -business, ….. these cedar chests are very vulnerable to cold temperatures and moisture. Hauling one in a pick up truck is not recommended. Moisture, freezing temperatures and major temperature / humidity swings play havoc to vulnerable antique veneers and finishes. Poor weather might damage/ruin the chest rendering it worthless. It’s much safer in a heated van.
I’ve owned 3 full size G-vans and 4 pick ups, and hauled lots of antiques in both.
The vans are better suited to almost all hauling jobs, the exceptions being aggregates, extremely messy/dirty stuff and very tall items.
However, I completely understand your unwillingness to be crushed by the items you’re hauling if you stop or crash etc. For one van, I made a steel protector for the drivers seat from 1-inch square section tubing. For another van, I reinforced the mounts for the rear seat, so the entire heavy steel seat frame because the barrier, and still left me with an 8-ft bed.
But these options are not open to you. A 3rd option I used with extremely big and heavy objects was to wrap heavy flat-nylon load straps (not the dollar store ones, the real load – binding type)around the object. Then use another nylon strap or two going out the rear doors and tying the load to the frame, bumper or trailer hitch. These straps would fit under the rear doors. The doors would close, because the weather seals simply conformed around the strap.
The straps don’t actually take any load unless the cargo shifts forward in a sudden stop. Also put a tarp /old sheets/drop cloths around the tiller and maybe brace it with a couple of milk crates so it won’t fall over.
Thank you for mentioning the vulnerability of old furniture.
You’ve given me an idea on how to accomplish this…
Are you able to remove all but 3 seats in the van? It should just be a few bolts. Remove the rear seat next to the drivers side of the van(the non side door side.) Put the chest laying side ways on the drivers side where you removed the seat. Put the tiller in the back.
You should be able to stuff a bunch of crap back against the tiller to keep it from going places when you slam on the brakes.
For the truck, may I suggest warm footwear and a blanket for a cold air counter? It is a blend door issue.
For the rear, go out and buy a cheap water/oil repellent tarp and wrap the chest in it to keep anything from spilling on to it.
I’d go pickup.
Or call UPS.
Do not beg the demons of the Law of Murph to pay you a visit with a panic stop and a shifting load in a van. Unless you are a masochist, any time spent in the Twin I Beam zone of camber changes, is too much time at all. Sorry for my bias, never really liked them, nor the Pimp-Tastic barcaloungers.
For this specific situation? Neither of them.
I know you’re a die-hard pickup fan, Jason, it’s almost impossible to talk you into a van 🙂 but I would never, ever haul household goods on an open bed truck. Regardless any form of soft-top cover.
Your Ford van is a plush MPV rather than a cargo van, so I wouldn’t choose that one either.
No trailer allowed you say, although DougD’s suggestion above is really good, so I would rent a proper single- or double cab midsize or fullsize panel van. With a full-divider -small window included- behind the first (in case of a single cab) or second (in case of a double cab) row of seats. For the panic stops…
He’s already vastly more prepared with more (two more) options than many or most other red-blooded Americans would be. Most people here would just strap the tiller to the trunklid with a bungee cord and the chest would ride on the roof with some twine to hold it down(ish) and call it good. Almost zero chance of being pulled over by any authority.
It would be heresy to pay money to rent another cargo vehicle to transport these two items. (And expensive, on the order of 59-79cents per mile plus daily charges for the round trip. Also, there really are no doublecab rental vehicles here, they’d all three be sitting side by side in a singlecab (but still very likely powered by either a 4.6 or 5.4, just like what each of his own vehicles have to add insult to injury.
Now if he just had a crewcab long bed dually RAM 3500 with the Cummins TD, well, then he could show us all how it’s really done in the midwest. Maybe bring a cow along to take up the extra space in the bed. 🙂
Jim, I find your reply amusing, but with uncharacteristically flawed logic. Most red-blooded Americans own double cab pickups, and would use their pickup regardless of weather or any other factors. Because we always are looking for an excuse to use our trucks. Not that I’m suggesting that Jason isn’t red-blooded …
dman, I think I will have to concede that point to you! I think I was going off what others here (here in the US, not here at CC) would do, i.e. find a way to strap it to their otherwise not suited for the job vehicle. Sure, a little tongue in cheek as it pertains to a several hundred mile slog, but across town or slightly more we’ve likely all seen some Very Bad Ideas in action. 🙂
Johannes, here’s what my choices are:
At $0.69/mile for a 9′ cargo van (which may not sit three), I’m looking at nearly $400 in mileage alone plus another $60 for rental fees. It’s not worth it; I will use something I already have.
Double cab vans are like hen’s teeth. 🙂
A vote for the van here. I always found my E-150 Club Wagon a great snow vehicle. It had no 4WD but it did have a limited slip diff and good tires. I never got stuck and drove it in all kinds of weather a lot farther north than you live.
Yank the rear seat out (I presume it comes out reasonably easily) and tie the roto tiller down to the seat mounts. Or – remove one of the middle seats for the cedar chest and tie the tiller down behind the rear seat, tying it to the seat frame. Team Obsolete’s idea of tying to the bumper/frame is one I had not considered but might be the ultimate tie-down. Draining the gas shouldn’t be hard and you can cover it with some plastic to keep any fumes from wafting too far afield.
One note – rear cabin heat all came out of the driver’s side floor area, so keeping the cedar chest on the drivers side behind the front seat might expose it to too much hot, dry air for its health. Your passenger could sit on that side and you could take the passenger middle captain’s chair out for the chest.
The rearmost seat comes out easier than the others – but it’s still a bitch!
Thinking about it, I believe the seat mounts are almost flush with the floor for the rearmost bench and intermediate captain’s chairs.
You should be able to hook straps to the mounts for the rear most seat. Find some thick cardboard to put under the tiller and cut out as needed to attach the straps to the seat mounts.
Alternately or in addition you can hook straps on around the seat frames. Ditto for the chest.
Great question, and good choices of vehicles for this! Personally I would gravitate towards the pickup, primarily for the reason of fluids in the tiller. That’s a long drive to be potentially exposed to fumes for. Also, it’s hard to clean all the dirt out of a tiller and carpet is often fairly plush in a conversion van. Finally, you’d likely have to remove a seat or two from the van, which isn’t the easiest thing in the world.
Personally, I’d be inclined to make a dividing wall or cover for the chest to put in the pickup so that you could have the tonneau cover either partially folded or removed and allow the tiller to remain upright. Personally, I like keeping a topper on hand (though rarely mounted on the truck) for times like this where I need to transport things a fair distance in the weather. Around here one can usually find one for little to no money if color matching isn’t a concern for 6.5 and 8 ft beds, but I acknowledge it might be more expensive to get one for a 5.5 ft bed.
Another possibility would be getting a hitch mounted cargo carrier for the van, they are often not very expensive. Put the tiller on that and the chest in the van.
I have used Rubbermaid plastic office chair mats to cover the carpet in the back of my vans. It is good protection when carrying something dirty.
After years of making a mess in the back of my vans I had an apifany and put the kiddy pool (hard plastic type) the last time I had to move dirt. Worked great! I am just surprised it took me 20 plus years to figure out.
Never thought of the office chair plastic protector, nice hack.
Likewise, the kiddie pool had never occurred to me. I might have to use that one some time.
A friend of mine used multiple 5 gallon pails for bulk material. Made it easy to load and unload. A carpet remnant on the floor would also protect the factory flooring.
Take the truck, wrap the chest in a tarp and (key) strap it down on a couple of 2x4s or a small pallet from work to elevate it from any tiller juice spills. Or maybe it can fit in the rear of the cab with the 2/3rds rear seat folded up (or removed before you leave home.
I didn’t see how big the chest is though nor do I know how large the tiller is.
Maybe one of those cargo trays that goes on the hitch could hold the tiller on the back of the van while the chest is strapped inside the back of the van.
Very good point about the size of the chest – it’s not overly large. It’s the size that would fit at the foot of a bed.
Take the van and bring back the trunk. It’s heavy and (probably) won’t go flying; put something heavy in it or tie it down if you’re still worried. Then come back next year and get the tiller and a few bushels of peaches – it’s Alto Pass, after all.
Rent a minivan, so you can carry everything in the comfort of a new vehicle. Then, the rental agency will be out of minivans, so they’ll offer you their next biggest vehicle, which will be a Corolla. After that, you can write an article about driving 241 miles in a Corolla with three people, their luggage, an antique chest and a tiller full of gas. In the snow, of course.
In their case they’ll be out of rental cars completely so he’ll have to buy airline tickets on Frontier and will then write about oversize baggage charges. 😉
Always a vote for the van, unless it’s too dirty, too tall, or a motorcycle.
Big agreement with Team Obsolete: If you talking real antique furniture, or any kind of good furniture, and it’s more than a trip across town, you take the van. Period. There is no way I’d take my (homebuilt and competently finished, but hardly antique) reenactment furniture to a campsite in a pickup truck.
And even my small cannon stays inside a vehicle, not in the back of a pickup truck.
We used to transport two motorcycles, and camping gear, in the back of my brother’s Econoline van. Of course this nearly 40 years ago, when we were younger and dumber. We wouldn’t even drain the gas tanks, we just strapped them down tight and had at it. One thing in our favor was that there were sufficient wind leaks into the van to keep the fumes away from the driver and co-pilot.
For this trip I would definitely take the van; too great of a risk of the chest getting wet in the back of a pickup. As some others have said, your best bet is to try and find a small trailer for the tiller. If that isn’t possible I would find some strong restraints and strap the tiller as securely as possible. Looking forward to your final decision and good luck.
Stuff socks into the vent holes on the floor and take the pickup. Who wants to breathe gas and oil fumes on the whole drive?
I’m probably not the best guy to advise you, Jason…
I’m just glad you have a truck in the proper truck color.
Take the truck.
Wrap cedar chest with a blanket, then shrink wrap it. Tarp over the top for good measure.
Too much effort involved with the van, and then there’s the weather factor.
I’m leaning van:
TeamObsolete has persuasive advice re antique care and restraining possible shifting load.
Drain fluids such as you can from tiller, and then put it in an oversize plastic bag (like for Christmas trees or mattresses) to contain any possible fumes. The tiller doesn’t have to be held absolutely immobile, just restrained from undue worst-case movement.
Just my two cents–Jason, you’ve set up an engaging poll today, I’ve enjoyed the CC Collective Wisdom’s perspectives. Please let us know how you work it out!
Thank you about the poll. It’s hopefully something we can all identify with.
Simple solution: How many drivers are there amongst the three of you? If all of you drive, you could take turns, or even if just you and your wife drive, I’d suggest taking BOTH vehicles; the van for the chest, and the pickup for the tiller. It’s only a 4 hour drive, which isn’t ridiculous.
Sure, it’s twice the gas expense, but it’s likely cheaper than renting something as suggested above.
And you have “safety in numbers” (of vehicles) just in case one gives you trouble. After all, they are both over 10 years old (one almost 20) with north of 100K on each of their clocks.
The chest isn’t overly large, so space won’t be an issue in either.
Now, the van is only 19 and isn’t that high mileage; it’s just now getting broken in! 🙂
I like the idea of taking the van with the chest inside, and the tiller strapped to a hitch mounted cargo carrier (assuming the van has a hitch) out back. Or the truck, and you just protect the chest with a bunch of moving blankets and plastic wrap. My reasoning for these two suggestions is that I would do anything I possibly could to avoid the chance of getting one single drop of gas in the carpet of the van! Gas smell in a cars carpet is nearly impossible to get out! And it doesn’t take much more than a drop to fill the entire vehicle with the smell for a long long time.
I know you don’t want to pay for something to bring the tiller.
Compromise. If the van has a hitch beg,borrow or steal a small utility trailer from a buddy. It can take the tiller safely and the chest goes warm and dry in the van.
As far as panic stops what I’ve done in the past is literally strap things to the inside of the back door. Strong straps and as safe as can be.
I just carried a motorcycle on a 12 hour drive in a passenger van with a nice interior.
Drained the gas from the motorcycle and put it in the van’s gas tank. Why waste it?
Let the gas vapors evaporate while I prepped the van. Did not bother draining the oil, as it is less likely to result in fiery death.
Put a plastic sheet on the floor, with a tarp on top. Didn’t want to mess up the carpet. Strapped the bike forward against the back of the middle bench seat. It had nowhere to go in a panic stop – it was already forward! Panic acceleration is less of a risk in a loaded van.
Experienced very little fumes on the trip. What little there was went away immediately upon unloading the bike. The van came through without a scratch.
At rest stops I locked the van and walked away.
Hope that helps.
My choice would depend on the quality, condition, and value of the cedar chest. You don’t want it ‘outside’ in the pickup bed if it’s a good chest that has sentimental value. As noted above, you don’t want to expose it to the temp and stress of an exterior haul. Also, any odor contamination from the tiller would be very difficult to air out. Maybe sell the tiller where it sits, and not even bother with transporting it (unless it’s a heirloom type thing), and buy one locally.
I’d go with the van, and give priority to the chest.
The Van is the way to go for the sake of the chest. There are ways to strap everything down using the mounts and/or seat frames. Heavy cardboard and some plastic should be on your list of needed items.
I’ve got a dumb question: If you opt to use your passenger van and yank the rear seats out so that you can load all the stuff in the back, where are you going to stow the removed seats?
Best wishes for a safe and uneventful trip.
My house, before I leave.
After a particularly unpleasant instance of hauling garbage to another facility in an employer’s Astro van, I gotta go with the pickup- at least for my purposes. Most of the stuff I carry is either car parts, recyclables, or garden waste. Ant-infested soft drink cans and pointy palm fronds aren’t exactly the kind of stuff you want riding around inside with you.
On the other hand, I’ve sort of been shopping for a cheap, older Astro van strictly for taking to the beach or the lake, or transporting the dogs to wherever.
Start the tiller and run it till its empty. Use the van.
I see you have a trailer hitch. Why not one of the these for the van? Keep the chest inside and tiller outside. Lots of tie-downs, too.
+1 came here to suggest this. When I moved west, I bought one of these on Craigslist for $25. When I got here, I sold it on Craigslist for $25 🙂
Put the furniture in the van and sell the tiller.
Or sell the van and then take the truck since it’s the only remaining choice…
I would say both there will be stuff you will want to have covered I would think and some stove maybe doesn’t mater Van gives a space to keep stuff in out of any weather pick up has a good bed too