Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Specialized Vehicles for Field Studies in Geology

A month ago I was asking for some ideas about a possible mobile field laboratory for our geology field studies program, and through various avenues I received some really great suggestions. Well, a month has passed and I've been doing lots of thinking and planning, and today I took a road trip to see the factory where custom vans are constructed. It was a fascinating visit, and I got to see a number of different configurations.

At the last moment, we walked past the van that would be the ultimate field lab....such innovation! It was a specialized import from Europe, a no-nonsense vehicle with such a compact modern hi-tech engine that it can be barely be located in the vehicle: it dispenses with a water-based radiator system (with all that poisonous ethylene glycol), and uses simple air instead for cooling. The small engine makes for lots of luggage space in the vehicle. The simple box-like construction allows a flat surface for the installation of solar cells. And the gas mileage! In the mid 20's mpg, almost twice what the other vans get.

The salesman did a great job of convincing me that this particular van would be the ultimate field laboratory. Yeah, he was a great salesman...

Of course, as I understand it, your first line of defense in the event of a head-on collision would be your knees...

Okay, I'm kidding. But I did see a vehicle that made me drool a bit: 4x4 van with lots of great storage in back and on top, a canopy, an external tool box, and it just plain looked cool. The planning and designing continues...thanks to everyone for your suggestions!

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