I've noticed that, like each survey plat we produce, each surveyor has a unique way of setting up his or her own survey truck. So, for the last couple of years, it's been a vision of mine to create a platform where we surveyors can show off our survey vehicles-all in the interest of having some competitive fun, of course.
This month, POBlaunches “My Survey Truck,” a Web exclusive feature showcasing your survey vehicles. “My Survey Truck” highlights not only how you set up your survey truck but also why and how. How did you design and build your tool storage box? Or, if you use a premade box, how did you choose it? What makes your truck different from all the others? Why do you organize it the way you do? What special features does your truck have that your colleagues’ trucks (or vans) may not? The purpose of “My Survey Truck” is to share our ideas and help others make their survey truck better and more efficient.
To officially introduce this feature, I offer you a description of my own survey truck below.
Name:Joseph D. Fenicle, PS
Employer:Office of the Fulton County Engineer, Wauseon, Ohio
Survey Duties:Boundary, topographic, construction, GPS, corner recovery and remonumentation
Vehicle(s):1998 Chevy 1500 4x4 w/2006 John Deere Gator HPX 4x4
Survey Equipment:Trimble 4700 & 4800 RTK GPS, Sokkia Set 4BII, tripods, rods, etc.
What I like least about my survey truck:For the most part, I am happy with the size and features of my survey truck. When I eventually replace my truck, the only feature I would like to change is to upsize to a crew cab and a ¾ ton. I would also like to mount the cones on the front to clear up some space in the back and install wig-wag lights in addition to the top-mounted strobe.
Employer:Burkholder Land Surveying Inc.
Survey Duties:One man solo practice (party chief, draftsmen, bookkeeper and chief bottle washer)
Vehicle(s):2001 Ford F-150 Lariat quad cab
Survey Equipment:Topcon GPT 8203A robotic total station with Satel radios; Wild NA-2 automatic level, tripods, rods, locater, etc.
Joe’s Comments:The thing I like best about Steve’s Survey Truck is the versatility. This vehicle is a fully functional survey truck, but it’s also a weekend vehicle that is both classy and secure. The custom accessories are obviously well thought out and can be moved from truck to truck. Steve has thought this vehicle through, and it clearly fits his everyday survey needs.
Employer:JFC Inc. A full-line land development company, Ellicott City, Md.
Survey Duties:Construction stakeout and onsite red line plans
Vehicle(s):2005 Quigley E-350 Ext. 6.0 Diesel , 4x4 w/office, generator, heat pump and many other extras.
Survey Equipment:SOKKIA SET 4B total station, HP 48GX calculator, Auto Cad, Ramss Software (cut sheet) and Dell Latitude C620 Core 2 DOU Laptop with 19” wide-screen remote LCD.
What I like least about my survey truck:There is one thing I would like to change: With a diesel van, I would like the generator to be diesel. Because of our gas generator, I am not able to turn on and off the generator from the front of the van. When I do turn the generator off, I need to shut the fuel supply off because the carburetor will have leftover fuel in it, and the fumes are a hazard. I’m not able to set a remote on/off because of this reason, and the cost difference between a gas and a diesel generator is about $8,000. Wow, I can live with it.
Joe’s Comments:John’s Survey Truck looks like the ultimate survey vehicle with years of research and determination. It seems as if he has studied every detail of the vehicle and customized it to fit every possible need. Reminding me of Ecto 1 from “Ghostbusters,” this mobile office has everything!
Title:Survey Crew Chief / Instrument Man
Employer:PSOMAS, Los Angeles, Calif.
Survey Duties:Corner recovery and section corner referencing, boundary survey, design survey, construction staking, GPS surveys, RTK-VRS surveys, and topographic surveys.
Vehicle(s):Ford F-350 4x4 Crew Cab Short Bed
For added safety on our Caltrans highway projects, we installed the rooftop beacon and the rear mounted LED warning light. These safety lights are powered through the inverter, which charges the battery as we drive and has a convenient controller panel mounted under the front dash.
What I like least about my survey truck:The box is a bit too heavy, and I should have installed drawer glides. With the equipment weight, the drawers can be hard to open and close. The pickup came with 17-inch wheels, and with all the weight in the bed, the auto technician recommends 19-inch wheels to make the ride more stable on the highway. This change in tire size would also be better on the braking system. Initially, we opted for a long bed truck to gain an additional two feet of bed storage, although after working out of the shorter bed, I feel we made the right decision.
Joe’s Comments:John and Sergio have an incredible set up here. I have always been a fan of the mobile office, and with today’s technology, it only makes sense. I also feel they should get a patent on the “Swing Cone Carrier” because they have found a solution to those cumbersome cones. Nice work guys, and nice survey truck!
Title:Survey Department Manager
Employer:Petroleum Field Services LLC, Denver, Colo.
Survey Duties:Boundary, topographic, construction, well locations, corner recovery & monumentation.
Vehicle(s):2006 Ford F150 4x4 Extra Cab w/4.5L V8
Survey Equipment:Topcon GPS, Trimble robotics.
Joe’s Comments:Dan has the survey truck we all typically think of, but is has the benefit of being lightweight. He has clearly customized a box that fits his needs and gains gas mileage. I am also increasingly becoming a fan of the PVC tubes. Good looking truck, Dan!
Employer:Neathamer Surveying Inc., Medford, Ore.
Survey Duties:Land surveying, land-use planning and miscellaneous services.
Vehicle(s):Ford long bed and short bed.
Special Features and Comments:Surveyor Pickup Pack from Highway Products Inc.
Joe’s Comments:Don has a great survey truck here, and I think we have all seen this vehicle in trade magazines before. I know some guys who have this setup, and if you have the money to invest, it seems like an awesome accessory. Highway Products has also conquered that cumbersome cone scenario while incorporating a field desk and excellent, organized storage.
Title:Senior Party Chief
Employer:Pickering Inc., Memphis, Tenn. office
Survey Duties:Boundary, topographic, construction, GPS, Department of Transportation surveys, and municipality surveys
Vehicle(s):2006 Nissan Titan 2x4 with 2009 Yamaha Rhino 700FI 4x4
Survey Equipment:Leica 1200 series robotic total station, Leica 1200 series GPS, RTK
Joe’s Comments:As with a lot of the other entries, Dale has noticed the beauty of a quad cab pickup. We do spend a lot of time on the road and some may think the comfortable seats and a nice radio are silly, but they are definitely an added luxury in our sometimes torturous job. The benefits of a Rhino, or Gator, or any ATV are priceless in the right scenario. Dale also mentions safety, and that is always number one.
Employer:Benchmark Survey, Stoneham, Mass.
Survey Duties:Title Insurance, subdivisions, new construction layout, existing conditions, boundary, commercial sites, condo conversions, elevation certifications, as-builts, residential lots.
Vehicle(s):2003 Chevy 1 ton (3500) van, 2003 Chevy 1/2 ton (2500) van
Survey Equipment:Sokkia Set 330R total station, Promark GPS, Sokkia SRX robotic total Sstation, Ziess Ni2 automatic level, tripods, rods, hammer drills, chain saw, metal detector, diamond-blade cut-off saw, custom prism cases, surveyors road signs, rain/sun umbrellas and typical tools.
Joe’s Comments:I love this van not only for its classy looks but also for its overall organization. You can tell Andy has spent years dreaming of and designing this ultimate survey truck. I especially like the idea of securely storing the most expensive survey equipment in one spot, not to mention doubling as a desk. As we have seen with the other entries, most surveyors are now buying ¾ ton or 1 ton vehicles, as I would prefer. Now if we could only take our dogs with us, it would be a perfect world!
Employer:OrbiTech Inc., Prineville, Ore.
Survey Duties:GPS control, mapping control, GIS data collection, topographic surveys
Vehicles:2001 Dodge 2500 4x4, 2005 Wells Cargo trailer, 2005 Bombardier Outlander
Equipment:Leica GX 1230 GG GNSS receivers, Leica TCA 1100 total station, Leica DNA 10 digital level and full complement of support accessories.
What I like most about my survey truck:I designed this setup from the ground up, and there is really very little I would change. The truck has been very reliable, was never stranded in over 200K miles and gets decent mileage -- rarely under 15 mpg even fully loaded with the trailer (GCVW over 11,000 pounds). Even though the truck alone weighs over 8,000 pounds, I get over 20 mpg when traveling without the trailer and ATV. This truck is one of the most comfortable vehicles I have ever driven, more so than many passenger cars.
What I like least about my survey truck:The “trunk lid” will be redesigned when this truck is replaced (tentatively slated for fall 2010, which will be the 10-year mark and approximately 300K on the existing truck). While functional, I would like to be able to more quickly convert from a covered bed without needing an extra person, so I will replace the solid cover with an aluminum roll-top cover that is power retractable. (See an example here:www.pace-edwards.com/utilitybl.html.) I would also like to add an onboard air compressor for tire-inflation duties. I am very pleased with the functionality of the current system overall and will not change any basic design features in future builds.
Joe’s Comments:When I created “My Survey Truck,” this is what I envisioned. A truck that has been custom designed and retrofitted for the specific survey task at hand. Shelby knew exactly what type of work he specialized in, and he has built a vehicle to handle everything he does. I am most impressed with his foresight to continue to improve upon what seems to be a flawless setup. As this may not work for everyone, I think Shelby has built one of the most beautiful survey trucks I have seen.
Title:Past County Surveyor, Boulder County Colo.
Employer:Retired 2008; Self-employed for 45 years
Survey duties:I was a lone surveyor with one helper. I did it all -- drafting, calculation, surveying, etc., as so many U.S. surveyors do.
Vehicle:1997 GMC, AWD Utility Safari van.
Joe’s Comments:Once again, this van represents the typical survey truck all of us have worked out of one time or another. William has created a very organized vehicle nonetheless and has used everyday supplies to make it happen.
Employer:Drennan Surveying Services LLC, Nixa, Mo.
Survey duties:Boundary, topo, construction. (No GPS yet)
Vehicle:1993 Chevy Suburban 1500 4x4 with rear double doors. Good AT tires, 350 Vortec or ETB V-8 engine for power and dependability.
Equipment:Leica TCP 1205 and all its relative gear. Stakes, flagging, nails and pins, signs and bases, tool belts, hammers and machettes, etc.
Joe’s Comments:I understand the gas mileage issue Gary has with his Suburban, but I also understand his point about having everything he needs and having the ability to get in and out of compromising situations. This is a great looking Suburban and seems to be very well organized and secure. The back doors seem nice for easy access in comparison to a tailgate.
What does your survey truck look like? Submit your answers to the following questions along with a maximum of six photos (.jpg or .tif attachments) that show off your truck (be sure to include yourself in one of them). Then send your submission to lyonsw@bnpmedia.
Special Features and Comments:
What I like most about my survey truck:
What I like least about my survey truck: