Monday, September 24, 2012

Food Truck, part 3: The hood

July 12. 2012

It's another hot day and the truck is sitting in the sun.  Doug and I decide to move it to the other side of the building so he has a handy electrical outlet and can work in the shade.  Since the truck had been set up as a camper we start looking at the improvements the previous owner had made.  There was a sink and some 5 gallon water tanks and a dump tank under the truck.  It looks to be about 25 gallons.  The truck also has 4 different electric receptacles that have either a normal plug or a cigarette lighter power source.  We open the hood and find there are two batteries.  One battery runs the motor and the second is for all of those cigarette power sources.  The engine compartment also has a plug in receptacle.  We plug an extension cord into that and find we can run any electric power tool off of the normal plug receptacles.  That will be what I plug my generator into to get power for the back of the truck.  This is a wonderful discovery and saves me tons of time and money creating something like this.  I can get a refrigerator or hood or french fryer and just plug them in and turn on the generator-instant power!  Doug continues demolition and asks about the grill I am going to use.  I tell him it's at my house and he says "lets go get it!"

July 13, 2012

Doug and I take his truck to my house and load the grill into the back of it.  When we get back to the shop we lift it into the truck.  This is the first moment I feel like this could be a real food truck.  "Where do you want it?" Doug asks.  We try the front up by the passenger door, but decide on the back.  He says that our next task is to get and mount the hood I am going to have in the truck.  We head over to Lowes to look at hoods.  Most of them pull about 150-200 cubic feet a minute and I am apprehensive that I need more draw than that.  We decide to investigate further.

July 16, 2012

Doug has pulled all of the paneling off of the interior walls.  Underneath is some Styrofoam insulation that looks pretty shopworn and pieced together.  I say that maybe it will be OK.  He looks at me and says "No, you don't want something that is half-assed like that in the truck."  I begin to get nervous again-more expense and who is going to see it.  But actually I agree with him.  I think we should just insulate it correctly which will make a huge difference in the comfort level inside the truck.  Before I can even tell him OK he is ripping out insulation.  Once he gets done he says "lets take everything out and clean out the truck before we start adding anything to it.  A clean workplace is a happy workplace!"  So I get the hose and some soap and clean out the truck.  Doug is happy.

July 17, 2012

Doug calls me and tells me to look at Craigslist for hoods.  I go online and find four different hoods right away.  I call all four asking them to call me back.  One is a custom hood that looks very promising.  The seller of that hood calls me back.  It draws 600 cubic feet a minute.  We talk some more and make a deal.  He is even going to deliver it to my shop.  Doug has been putting in the new insulation.  It looks good.

July 18, 2012

The seller shows up with the hood.  It is brand new and was leftover from a building project.  Doug and I lift it into the truck and hold it up over the grill.  It is larger than I thought but will work perfectly.  We are pumped up!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Food truck, part 2: Demolition

Friday, June 22, 2012

Doug Coats is a friend who can do anything.  He remodels, fixes, tinkers and has fun doing it.  I call him to ask if he would be interested in working on making a food truck.  I catch him while he and his family are on vacation in California. He's at the San Diego zoo when he answers the phone.  He laughs and says he'll take a look at it when he gets back from vacation.  That night I play a gig with my band at Cutters, a bar-b-que place in Eudora. I'm all excited about the truck and talk to Herman, my guitar player, and Len, the bass player, about the rebuilt engine.  They Google the type of engine on Herman's phone and pronounce it OK.

June 28, 2012

I have been calling the health department all week trying to get one of their inspectors to come and look at the truck and tell me what improvements I need to make before I start to spend any money.  I want to make sure that this project is feasible. We finally hook up and she swings by in the afternoon to look at the truck. She likes it and gives me pointers on the sinks, water tanks and refrigeration.

July 7, 2012

I'm spending four days visiting friends in Spokane, Washington.  I've done nothing to the truck since I bought it.  Catering has been busy and then my trip has consumed my thoughts.  I contemplate what directions my life might take and I wonder if I could get the truck to Spokane.  I talk to my friends Billie Moreland and her husband, Steve Simmons, about the truck.  She has done some research on food trucks and both caution me about the potential problems with food trucks.  I resolve to call Doug again when I get back to Kansas City.

July 9, 2012

I get Doug on the phone.  He laughs again and says he'll come by that afternoon to look at it.  He shows up about 2:00 and hops out of his truck to take a look.  We hop up in the back of the truck. I can tell he is intrigued.  Doug asks what I have in mind.  I want to rip out all of the wood in the truck and strip it down completely, putting in aluminum or stainless walls.  I have a grill, but I need to figure out what kind of sinks I need and how to hook up refrigeration. I haven't even started thinking about a hood yet, but that is another problem.  Doug says "I love to tear up stuff.  This is going to be fun!"  I start to get nervous...

The next morning Doug shows up.  I'm busy getting lunches ready and leave him to his own devices. After lunch I go over to the truck to see what he has done.  As I walk past the dumpster I can see that he has filled it with the cabinets, beds, table and paneling that had been in the truck.  I peek in the back. OMG, there is almost nothing left!  Doug is standing there with a hammer in one hand and a pry bar in the other.  He looks happy like a cat who has just caught a mouse.  I get this feeling that its too late now, but with all the junk out I really start to imagine the possibilities. Doug says "You said you wanted to get rid of all the wood!"

Monday, September 17, 2012

"Urban Assult Vehicle" Food Truck, part one

September 15, 2012

I've just finished the final polish on the aluminum exterior of the step van I bought last June to convert into a food truck.  I'm happy with the results of the final polish and glad that the truck is ready to go.  It seems like yesterday when I bought it:

June 16, 2012

My long time friend from college, Clay, has asked me to go to look at the Anderson County Prairie Preserve over the weekend.  I have no catering this weekend and gladly decide to go.  I want to "get out of Dodge" to get some personal problems out of mind and am looking forward to a weekend out of town.  We are going to look at the preserve that morning and then go to his own property that evening to camp.  He is restoring his land into a prairie preserve, too.  I pack some sandwiches and salads, go to the store and pick out some salmon to grill, and we take off that Saturday morning.  The Preserve is very inspiring, one of the professors who gives us a tour is wonderful, and we enjoy the morning.  After a meal with his ex-mother-in-law, we head to his property where we explore his property putting our new knowledge of flora and fauna to work.  I've brought my accordion and he has his harmonicas, so we jam after dinner.

The next morning we drive to Hillsdale to look at a house where Clay used to live.  Going through town we pass an RV park.  I spot a truck and exclaim, "I think that truck could be a food truck."  I make him stop on our way back out of town and I look it over. The body is all aluminum and is very oxidized.  The interior has been turned into a camper.  The body looks in good shape. I call Bill Isenhower, the RV park owner, to ask about the truck.  He tells me how great it is and says to take a look at it since the truck is unlocked.  I hang up and open the back door.  The camper part has a sink, microwave, refrigerator, table and bed.  It seems crowded but I think it could be a food truck.  We close it up and leave, not waiting for Bill.
The next day I'm still thinking about the truck.  I have been thinking of getting a food truck for some time.  I have even looked online for Airstream trailers.  I give Bill a call and tell him I'd like to come by to have someone else look at the mechanics of the truck. He says fine. and I plan to go down on Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday is another hot day.  I head down to Hillsdale and meet Bill. He shows me how to start the truck and I drive it into Olathe to have a mechanic look at it.  It needs new tires and possibly brakes, but otherwise seems OK.  I head back down to Hillsdale to negotiate with Bill.  We agree on a price and I tell him I'll be back later in the week to pick up the truck.  Actually my friends turn out to be busy later that week, so I call Bill and he offers to come and pick me up. He shows up at my apartment with the title and notices my pedal steel guitar.  All of a sudden we both realize that I had been at a jam with him earlier in the spring.  That seems to break the ice and we head down to Hillsdale.  I start the truck and head back into town.  Amy and Dale want me to stop by with the truck.  Amy seems impressed but I can tell Dale is less than thrilled.  I'm anxious to start on it and Amy suggests that I call our friend Doug Coats to help with the restoration.  I decide to call him the next day.