New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions...

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phantomtruck
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2014/04/15 20:58:35 (permalink)

New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions...

Hey folks. I'm starting this thread to document a new build I'm doing on a '06 Workhorse step van I'm turning into a fully functional commercial kitchen. Plans are to have a full line (6 burner, grill, griddle, fryolator), a variety of fridges, the requisite sinks and prep areas, as well as a few specialty items like a meat slicer and maybe a panini press.
 
I'm a professional builder first, a semi-professional chef second, so I have a leg up on the construction aspect of the build-out. However, there are some "food truck specific" construction details I'd love some advice on... a few questions I have now, many, many more, I'm sure, as I get fully underway. I'll really appreciate any advice anyone wants to share... it will not fall on deaf ears, I assure you.
 
So, a couple of my first questions.... I'm in the beginning stages of the build. I've given the truck a really thorough cleaning, I've glued and screwed plywood to the floor to receive my finish flooring, and I've just begun framing out the walls on the inside... question #1... I'm planning to apply stainless steel to the walls behind the line, and FRP to the rest of the walls and ceiling. How have most of you applied the stainless steel? Are you gluing it to the plywood with the occasional fasteners? Fastening without glue? I was probably planning to use construction adhesive (the kind from a caulking gun) to apply a general pattern of glue, then fasten with brads or screws... any thoughts on that?
 
Second question involves the electrical system... Obviously I'm going to have a generator and a way to hook up to shore power... does anyone have pics showing some of the connections and details of their system? I have a pretty good working understanding of household electrical systems, but have never dealt with the generator/on-grid scenario, and its various components... I know this is kind of a vague question, and if no one has any input as of yet it's no problem, I can ask more specific questions as I progress.
 
That's all for now. Really psyched to be part of this forum, and the "food truck owners club" in general. I'd be super appreciative of any advice you all would care to share.
 
Thanks!
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    edwmax
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/16 06:48:32 (permalink)
    phantomtruck

    ....
    I'm a professional builder first, a semi-professional chef second, ...

      ... and I've just begun framing out the walls on the inside... question #1... I'm planning to apply stainless steel to the walls behind the line, and FRP to the rest of the walls and ceiling. How have most of you applied the stainless steel? Are you gluing it to the plywood with the occasional fasteners? Fastening without glue? I was probably planning to use construction adhesive (the kind from a caulking gun) to apply a general pattern of glue, then fasten with brads or screws... any thoughts on that?   ...


     
    As a professional builder you should already know the wall behind the cooking line is required to be of 'non-flammable' construction.   The use of any wood within this area of wall is against Code.    ... Of course many DIY vendors have done it just as you described.    ... It is your truck and your risk to take. But, your insurance carried might refuse a fire claim if they  know of the non-complaint wall construction.
    #2
    MurphyR
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/16 16:14:44 (permalink)
     I 2nd the NO WOOD behind the cooking line.
    I fully insulated with rock wool and then  Hardie brand cement board.
    It will get warm but will not ignite. Then did stainless panels to finish.
     
    For your genset and shore power, you will need a transfer switch to select between the 2.
    I also put in pull out disconnects in each feed line prior to the transfer switch as a back up fail safe.
     
    #3
    RodBangkok
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/16 19:29:54 (permalink)
    There is a lot of information about power switching out there, most of it will be found by googling from the context of RV.  Here is one in depth example:

    http://www.ourodyssey.us/bus-e-ac.html
    Note, you do not have to go this complicated, but its a very good example of a complete system.  There are other methods, the simplest is a transfer switch or generator priority switch, also found in the context of RV.
    #4
    ZD
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/17 09:08:02 (permalink)
    As long as you have the required spacing around cooking appliances,a plywood wall is fine. Most concession trailers have a plywood construction all around. Then install the stainless.
    #5
    fishscale28
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/17 14:38:45 (permalink)
    ZD that is correct but totally not applicable in many, if not most trucks and trailers.  NFPA 96 states combustable material may be used with 18" of clearance.  3" for minimal combustable and 0" for non combustable.  I don't think anyone has a spare foot and a half of space to spare to put in between the equipment and their walls.  Basically no-you can't use plywood backing according to code 
    #6
    Midnights
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/17 15:47:33 (permalink)
    The code isn't uniform throughout the country. There are places that allow covered plywood behind the cooking area. That said, I wouldn't do it (no matter what your local code says).





    #7
    fishscale28
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/17 17:21:53 (permalink)
    NFPA is a nationally recognized code that is adopted and used by many/most/almost all local state, city, county, parish and regional jurisdictions.  Many might be more strict than what NFPA says but when it comes to fire safety, which NFPA is all about, you probably won't find anyone who agrees to a lesser code.  
     
    No combustables behind the line is the way to.  
    #8
    edwmax
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/17 17:28:21 (permalink)
    Thanks for the above pics.   They show it does happen to Food Trucks.
    #9
    fishscale28
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/17 17:40:37 (permalink)
    Its scary how quickly something like that can happen.  Certainly puts it into perspective!
    #10
    Midnights
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/17 17:46:33 (permalink)
    fishscale28 you probably won't find anyone who agrees to a lesser code.  

    At the risk of high-jacking this thread: the above statement is not true, and you know that. It has been brought up on numerous occasions, and anecdotal evidence of other foodtruckers on this very website has proven that statement false on numerous occasions.
    #11
    fishscale28
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/17 18:28:29 (permalink)
    Right-because fire marshalls who implement these laws, rules, regulations and codes are far less intelligent on these matters than many of the food truckers here.  Anyway case closed moving forward
    #12
    Midnights
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/17 18:40:08 (permalink)
    It has nothing to do with the intelligence of the posters here, according to your perception. It has to do with the actual codes which members have posted links to from where they live.
    This is a great example of how any advice you get here should be taken with a grain of salt. Not everyone knows what they are talking about. Misinformation can cost you money and time (and in some cases, your life).
    #13
    fishscale28
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/17 18:47:38 (permalink)
    Yes sir whatever you say.  So sorry to have used OUTSIDE evidence of how important NFPA standards are.  Spend some time reading outside this forum on how relevant NFPA recommendations and standards are.  I didn't even mention it being a code across the country-you did and said it wasn't uniform.  My point was there is a very well adopted fire safety organization that says we shouldn't put combustibles behind a line with open flames.  Using that well accepted information isn't a bad start to someones build.  Drop it holmes I'm just giving this guy some direction on where some good ideas on what to do and what not do can be found (and why)
    #14
    Foodbme
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/17 19:57:09 (permalink)
    fishscale28
    Yes sir whatever you say.  So sorry to have used OUTSIDE evidence of how important NFPA standards are.  Spend some time reading outside this forum on how relevant NFPA recommendations and standards are.  I didn't even mention it being a code across the country-you did and said it wasn't uniform.  My point was there is a very well adopted fire safety organization that says we shouldn't put combustibles behind a line with open flames.  Using that well accepted information isn't a bad start to someones build.  Drop it holmes I'm just giving this guy some direction on where some good ideas on what to do and what not do can be found (and why)

    As self-appointed referee:
    Fishscale - 62
    Midnights - 14 (Drive safely and carry a VERY BIG Fire Extinguisher!)
    #15
    edwmax
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/17 20:57:52 (permalink)
    As I stated above, ... it is your truck and your Risk ... do it the way you want.  ... However, even if your local government & local Inspectors (HD, Fire, Building, or whoever) has not adopted or enforce the 'National Codes' there is nothing wrong with following them or any more strict Code.  ... It is your MONEY ($50k - $100k) and investment.   ... The pictures above proves the point.
    #16
    Lost Nation
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/18 04:35:04 (permalink)
    Four years ago when I built my trailer (I know its not a truck) the town asked for a Labor and Industry review (fire marshal in Vermont). L&I doesn't inspect mobile units, only brick and mortar business.
     
    That being said the small cost increases for a fire resistant backer verses the risk of using plywood aren't worth it in my opinion. Good Luck
    #17
    phantomtruck
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/22 00:51:03 (permalink)
    OK, sorry for starting the thread, then not checking in for a few days...
    I hear the rationale behind no plywood behind the line. My hunch is the pictures provided are not started due to that exact scenario, but they make a point. I have not closed in that side of the truck yet... waiting for the hood to arrive to make sure my wiring is all where it needs to be, so I still have the option of the Hardibacker as my substrate. I HAVE been a builder for 30 years, though very little commercial kitchen work, so that was a concern that slipped past me. I'm guessing the plywood behind stainless would be fine, but I think Hardiboard is actually less per sheet than good AC plywood, so no worries there.
     
    The generator transfer switch... I could not come to terms why it would be necessary if I am never going to have a shore line and a generator line attached at the same time? I was just planning to use one twist lock connector and either plug the generator in or the shore line in, but not both at once. Where does the need for a transfer switch come into play? (I actually bought one and was about to install it when I came to the above realization... they are really meant for when the generator and the grid power are both hooked up at the same time.)
     
    Have any of you encountered any issues with the suspension of the truck being a little "lopsided" due to all the weight down the line side of the vehicle? My equipment isn't installed yet, but I wondered about that. Also wondered about the possible need to build up the leaf springs a bit. I'm attempting to disperse the weight evenly a bit, but am going to end up with a lot more weight down the driver's side than the passenger's
    #18
    fishscale28
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/22 11:11:40 (permalink)
    As for the suspension yes-I believe that's pretty common.  I added an air bag to the drivers side (where all my equipment is) and that allows me to balance it out.  The airbag kit was pretty cheap-just a couple hundred bucks and you won't need to add them to both sides, unless you wanted.  It's really on the heavy side that needs a bit of help.
     
    The transfer switch is a great way to just make things easier and streamlined.  Of course your methods for one twistlock and either the genny or shore power installed at a time will work fine-but if you wanted to have the one twist lock wired into the transfer switch and have the generator wired to the transfer switch you'd be able to seamlessly switch from one power sourch to the other making for a permanent, failsafe installation for providing power from your truck.  It's just a matter of convenience as well.  It's super easy to flip a switch once you get home (obviously need to plug in shore power) and flip power sources.  Definitely a great way to go if you have the resources.  Good luck!
     
    #19
    phantomtruck
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/22 16:11:46 (permalink)
    Thanks fishscale, I appreciate the input, particularly about the airbag... sounds like a great fix to the situation. 
    #20
    Midnights
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/23 09:52:41 (permalink)
    phantomtruck
    The generator transfer switch... I could not come to terms why it would be necessary if I am never going to have a shore line and a generator line attached at the same time? I was just planning to use one twist lock connector and either plug the generator in or the shore line in, but not both at once. Where does the need for a transfer switch come into play? (I actually bought one and was about to install it when I came to the above realization... they are really meant for when the generator and the grid power are both hooked up at the same time.)

    That's similar to the set-up on my truck. There's no need for a transfer switch in such a situation because there's no way they can both be hooked up at once. Transfer switches are more common when you've got your generator hard-wired into the panel (like you would for a back-up generator in your home).
    #21
    fishscale28
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/24 03:04:05 (permalink)
    Why not hard wire it? Do you need to? No, of course not. Does it make sense if you have a permanent generator installed? Of course! I opted to go with a long term generator solution and have a slow turning diesel genset permanently installed. If your generator is an integral part of your truck-as it is-and if you depend on shore power when at home then it's worth it to properly wire things to a transfer switch. One cord to worry about and a switch. Not a bad way to do things but I'm sure this will turn into a pissing match too.....
    #22
    edwmax
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/24 09:41:17 (permalink)
    phantomtruck

       .... I HAVE been a builder for 30 years, though very little commercial kitchen work, so that was a concern that slipped past me. I'm guessing the plywood behind stainless would be fine,    ...


     
    Many builders believe this.  But, it is not true.     The wood 'could' smolder & char until it burns though the metal, then bust into flames when air enters.   ... There is a documented case of an apartment fire that started from from the constant contact of 180 deg F hot water line to wood studs. Heat built up (over a long period) until the char was hot enough to bust into flames.    ... A couple of the pics above clearly show the fire was behind the cooking line.   Very likely there was a fire that was quickly put out; but the wood had already charred and was smoldering unknown & hidden to the vender until it was too late.
     
    Look at the manufacture's installation instructions for commercial equipment.   You will see clearance requirements to combustible materials about 8 to 16 inches (usually 8 to 12 inches).   Thus, for ZERRO clearance, the wall behind the equipment needs to contain no combustible materials. This is where I stand on Trucks and Trailers should consider using 'residential' type equipment.  Besides being lighter in weight, this equipment is built for ZERRO combustible clearance.  Most vendor do not need the high heat output of commercial equipment (quick heat-up of water, ect); nor (in most cases) can they provide LPG tanks in a mobile setup that will allow the equipment to operate at its max. BTU output.
    post edited by edwmax - 2014/04/24 09:47:57
    #23
    phantomtruck
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/26 09:45:07 (permalink)
    Well, edwmax, I am not one to ignore informed or well argued opinions, so I have gone ahead and installed 1/2" Hardiboard behind the 6 burner/griddle stove I'm planning to use. Then behind the grill and fryer, both of which are countertop units, I'm doing a heat shield offset by 1" with openings top and bottom. It all seemed like no-brainer decisions to me, not affecting the overall pricing or weight enough to worry about, and will give peace of mind where needed. Thanks very much for the suggestions, everyone. 
     
    As to the transfer switch, that one I'm taking a pass on. My generator is going to be rear bumper mounted for now... perhaps built-in later down the road... so hardwiring it doesn't make any sense. I'll have one plug right by the generator, and no matter how convenient it might be to have it hard-wired, I am totally comfortable with the effort involved in just plugging in one cord, gen or shore, as needed... 
     
    I wish there wasn't the "30 post" rule before we can post pics, I think you'd all like to see the progress so far. I'll do a full build-out album once I am able.
    #24
    phantomtruck
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/26 10:12:49 (permalink)
    edwmax, you may find this report enlightening... but mostly disproving your concerns regarding the combustion of wood charred at low temps. It's a thick read, but in essence what is necessary for this circumstance to exist is LONG term exposure to heat... like months or years, certainly not hours, like in the environment present in a food truck. Also, there is virtually no way the charred wood, were that to actually occur, could ever become hot enough to melt the sheet metal to allow the introduction of oxygen to cause combustion. I certainly appreciate the safety concerns, and am still going to exercise some cautionary measures, but feel plywood behind sheet metal would probably be just fine in every circumstance. I would need to see some documentation of your own to believe this not to be the case. Additionally, I do not believe any of the fires in the pics provided are caused by combustion of the wood behind the line. I'm quite sure they are more likely poorly situated or installed fryers, grease fires, etc. Just because you can tell the fires are in the area of the line in no way suggests they are due to some mysterious ignition of charred wood members combusting.
    #25
    phantomtruck
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/26 10:15:12 (permalink)
    Oh, I guess I can't post links, either.... this is the link, you'll just have to remove the spaces and insert the necessary www, I guess.
    nakedwhiz. com/ eggbase/ lowtempwood1.pdf
    #26
    edwmax
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/26 16:12:36 (permalink)
    phantomtruck

    edwmax, you may find this report enlightening... but mostly disproving your concerns regarding the combustion of wood charred at low temps. It's a thick read, but in essence what is necessary for this circumstance to exist is LONG term exposure to heat... like months or years, certainly not hours, like in the environment present in a food truck.    ...

     
    I'm not concerned with low temperature heating of wood in the mobile food truck/trailer environment.   The report you posted confirms my statements and I have posted the same report before in these forums.    The report [url]nakedwhiz.com/eggbase/lowtempwood1.pdf[/url] specifically states more than 1900 fires have been documented as starting from low temperature (<200 deg C) water pipes and at least one fire starting as low as 77 deg C (170 deg F).    This disproves previous claims by others on the forums that such low temperatures does not and can not start a fire.    ... It further states the 2 researchers which also made such claims, that their logic & research was flawed.    ... You stated " I would need to see some documentation of your own to believe this not to be the case."   ... You have it in your hand now.
     
    My concern is the event of a fire (it is not if it will happen, but when) in a cooking equipment line where the wall metal was heated to 300 to 500 deg F and charred the wood (or any combustible below) does occure.   The grease fire or what-ever can be quickly put out by kitchen personnel, but the charred interior of the wall is hidden and unseen.   It can continue to smolder & grow (unknown to the kitchen personnel) until the metal opens to allow fresh air in.   The wall is not a vacuum and there is a limited amount of oxygen to fuel the char.
     
    As I said, it is you choice and your decision.  It is not my intent to debate this.  You have the report in you hand now and still disagree.  ... so be it ...
    #27
    phantomtruck
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/26 22:58:51 (permalink)
    all a moot point, anyway... as I said, I am exercising sensible precautions. One of today's project was Hardibacker behind a good portion of the line. 
     
    I guess you confused me, edwmax, because in your previous posts you referenced the "slow char" behind the sheet metal as a real concern, even using the aforementioned report as an example of how that could happen. My point, as it states in that report, is this condition is not a concern in food trucks. The time frame they were referencing in that report stretched over years of constant heat. Certainly exposing the plywood to temps in the 500's would be a concern, but that, too, would be a rare scenario, at least with my set-up. Semantics, really, but you did seem to be indicating that the low temp char was a concern...
    #28
    edwmax
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    Re:New VT food truck build underway... this is the beginning of a variety of questions... 2014/04/27 17:59:30 (permalink)
    phantomtruck

    all a moot point, anyway... as I said, I am exercising sensible precautions. One of today's project was Hardibacker behind a good portion of the line. 

    I guess you confused me, edwmax, because in your previous posts you referenced the "slow char" behind the sheet metal as a real concern,  ...


     
    I never used the term 'slow char'  ... you did.    Use you browser's search function for 'slow'.  It doesn't show in my post.   ...  I said charring and smoldering of wood hidden within the wall is a concern.
    #29
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