[ Triad Online Home ]                                                                                       October 28, 2005
News

M109 Van project saves tax dollars

By Loni Witscheber, Triad Contributor

      Refurbishing used and worn equipment for Soldiers nationwide is an ongoing project at the Installation Materiel Maintenance Activity (IMMA). 

      The M109 Van Project is one such venture that has been ongoing since VT Griffin was awarded the Directorate of Support Services contract in 2003.

Photo: Doug Robertson, an IMMA employee, refurbishes the floor of an old M109 van. (Photo by Loni Witscheber)
Doug Robertson, an IMMA employee, refurbishes the floor of an old M109 van. (Photo by Loni Witscheber)

      IMMA was contracted by the U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) to refurbish the vans.  Units contact USAR with their needs and the information is relayed to IMMA.

      The project consists of tearing down and refurbishing M109 vans and remounting them on refurbished trucks. 

      Start to finish, each van requires about seven weeks to complete.  A total of 60 vans have been refurbished since the contract was awarded. The government saves about $56,000 per van by refurbishing rather than buying new.

      Roger Kirkeng, IMMA's Allied Trades lead, said the vans are used for a variety of things such as electrical shops, chop shops, machine shops, offices, storage for shop-stock, etc.

      "The vans are mobile, so they can go anywhere a convoy can go," said Kirkeng. "They also work for mobilizing units, especially for on-site repairs in the field."

      Dan Plank, an IMMA employee, said it takes a couple of days to prep a van.

      The project involves a complete tear-down of an old M109 van by at least four employees.  The interior walls, insulation, and oak floor are removed and then are water-blasted to remove rust and paint.  The focus then shifts to the bodywork where minor repairs are made before new oak flooring is laid down.

Photo: The IMMA M109 Van Project refurbishes used and worn vans for various military units nationwide. (Photo by Loni Witscheber)
The IMMA M109 Van Project refurbishes used and worn vans for various military units nationwide. (Photo by Loni Witscheber)

      "It takes two men and at least eight hours just to water-blast," said Plank.

      After the van is stripped, the rebuilding process begins. 

      A rust-inhibitor treatment is applied to the metal floor before the oak floor is inlaid; insulation is added and covered with a sheet metal wall; the inside is rewired with power cable, and a truck-bed liner is installed on the roof as a sealant to prevent leaks.

      After everything is assembled, the van is painted with camouflage colors, then mounted and bolted to an M35A3 truck.  The interior includes lights, blackout lamps, a fan, a 115-volt AC and 24-volt DC, and a setup for air-conditioning and heat.  The units are responsible for adding any extra amenities, such as shelves.

       "The van can hold a lot of shop-stock in a small space," said Ryan Overhouse, an IMMA employee. 

      The finished vans then are shipped to various units nationwide with priority given to mobilizing units.

(Witscheber is a Public Affairs specialist for VT Griffin, contractor for Base Augmentation Support Services.)

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