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Middlesex South District  Registry of deedsLand Survey 101


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Web Exclusive: My Survey Truck
by Joseph D. Fenicle PS
June 1, 2009

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.

POB launches “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.

Benchmark Survey Van competition

Andrew C. Bramhall
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.
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.
Survey Duties: Boundary, topographic, construction, GPS, corner recovery and remonumentation
Special Features and Comments: The vans were purchased with complete stock carpeted interiors and full seating. All but the two front captain’s chairs were removed to make way for the custom installation that took two full days of work for me to complete. A second layer of carpeting was installed to increase noise absorption and keep the original carpet intact. We keep our vans for eight to 10 years. They have electric everything -- door locks (handy), windows, temperature, rear AC/heater, three captain chairs (3/4 ton only), a steel locking, padded job box that contains all the instruments. There are custom compartments for legs, rods, stakes, iron pipes, shovels and tools. The pull-out drawers (3.5-feet long) are for smaller survey items, including radios, nails, spikes, flagging, keel, tapes, etc.

What I like most about my truck

What I like most about my survey truck: Since the company began in 1980, we have been using vans for survey vehicles. We started with a 1/2 ton 1977 Ford van that did not last long. When you add up all of the equipment and supplies, weight becomes an issue, so we went with Chevy 2500 vans and, most recently, to a 1 ton 3500 van. I have refined the storage compartments with each new van to the point where everything is very accessible and functional. The top of the steel storage box acts as a desk. We get a lot of compliments on the van graphics (which was designed by my wife, Kerry Loftus Design) and obtain many residential survey jobs based on the fact that the client saw the van in the neighborhood.

What I like least about my survey truck: It would have to be the gas mileage

What I like least about my survey truck: It would have to be the gas mileage. With a 6.0-liter engine, gas mileage is only 12-17 mpg. When gas hit $4 per gallon, each fill up was painful. But on the bright side, everything you would ever need for a survey easily fits in the van in an organized way, and there’s always room for those pesky 4-foot (165 lb) granite bounds. I see myself always using a heavy-duty van for our surveying needs.

classy looks but also for its overall organization

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!


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