• The Sprinter

    Submitted by Matthew A. Mickletz

    The Sprinter (Dodge, Mercedes, Freightliner) has become a vehicle that many museums and professional art handling companies rely upon and sing the praises of. While it’s not the only vehicle in its class, it tends to stand out from the pack.

    I was recently tasked with researching and proposing a new vehicle to replace our current Art Handling truck. This article is not intended as a pro-mo for the Sprinter and I am in no way affiliated with any dealer or motor vehicle company. The following is a snippet of my research, with supplemental information and photos, to help explain the reasons as to why this vehicle is so popular
    and, in my case, fits the bill for my institution’s transportation needs. – M. Mickletz 11/09

    While the above illustrates a Sprinter Passenger van, it does a good job of showing available
    lengths and wheelbases

    To give a view of the size and a look at the side sliding door.
    Sprinter pictured is: Freightliner 2500, Mega Roof with extended box

    This arm (red arrow) is releasable, via a latch inside (yellow circle), allowing the rear doors to open flat to the sides of the vehicle, held fast by strong magnets. Jeff demonstrates its operation.

    Looking down at the back corner of the box
    Note: Floor D-Rings (red arrow), Mid and Lower E-Track and Door Release Latch (yellow circle)

    Looking back from the side door
    From this view you can see the situation in the background of having a loading dock with a lift (yellow square).
    Note different heights of E-tracking on walls.

    Rear of vehicle with doors wide-open, backing up to a loading dock.
    The lift on the dock is being lowered to the level of the Sprinter’s bumper.

    A flap on the dock’s lift is lowered, bridging the gap between the Sprinter and the lift.
    Materials couldthen easily be unloaded (carried or rolled) from the box to the lift.
    The previous two photos illustrated well that while a lift-gate may be nice to have, it may not be a
    necessary expense, depending on the primary use of the Sprinter and facilities at your site(s).

    A look in from the side sliding door at a different feature Artex added a rear passenger seat.
    Note also, the removal of the bulkhead (partition) between the cargo and passenger areas.

    Notes on the basic Sprinter:
    (costs approximated and dependent on source and manufacture)

    Base Price (2008- 09) - $38,425 – without any applied taxes, features, destination charges, etc. – round up easily to approximately $42,000

    Bulkhead/Partition – The standard partition to the Sprinter is simply a full metal panel bolted to a flap of metal. As with the above Sprinter it can be removed or replaced with an after-market partition of your choice which includes partitions with round perforations, hinged and sliding doors, and partial partitions behind the driver and passenger seats. The choice is yours.
    Cost: $400 +

    Climate Control (Reefer Unit) – The Sprinter above did not have a “Reefer Unit” to control the climate of the cargo area it was pointed out by both Jeff and Mike Paska that the A/C unit, with no cargo area partition, was able to maintain the desired temperature. Great way to save a few thousand dollars. However, this feature, as with many others, is dependent on the demands, wants and needs of your work place. Cost: $8,000 +

    Insulation – Behind the gray paneling of the cargo area, on the walls and the ceiling (ceiling panel added by after-market contractor to conceal insulation in Artex’s Sprinter), insulation has been added. This not only helps to maintain the climate but makes for a quieter, more stable ride.

    Lashing Rails – With the above Sprinter we saw the style of lashing rail most familiar to many an art handler and preparatory, the “E-track” system. Speaking for myself, it has been consistently reliable and easy to use in our current truck. As an after-market product, you can buy it in lengths and install it at whatever heights you’d like.

    Lift-gate – Nothing says, “Back-saver” like a lift-gate. This is a much talked about add-on that will be address in an addendum to this article in the near future. Whether or not your Sprinter will have one or does have one depends completely on usage, with the addition, of course, of the added cost. Just as with almost every aftermarket expense, while it may be nice to have is it an absolute necessity to have one? I surprised myself after talking it out with those who know the Sprinter much better and have moved many more objects than I, that we may not need a lift-gate after all. More to come on this topic! Cost: $8,000 – 10,000

    Suspension – The manufacturer does offer different options. The standard suspension has been told to me as perfectly adequate for most all moves. Again, dependent upon your wants, needs and in this case, average weight of the payload

    American Truck and Bus Inc.
    American Sprinter Dimensions Page
    Artex Fine Art Services
    Bonsai Fine Art Inc.
    New Haven Moving Equipment – one source for E-track and straps
    Sprintervanequipment.com (INLAD Trucks and Van Equipment Co.) – after-market add-ons

    My Thanks To:
    - Jeff Colburn and his assistant Elliot for stopping by with one of Artex’s Sprinters

    -Jack Leonard of American Truck and Bus Inc.

    - Mike Paska of Artex - for providing consultation on the finer points to the Sprinter (a huge help!)

    - Artex Fine Arts Services for allowing the photos to be used in this article

    Matthew A. Mickletz
    Art Handling Specialist
    Winterthur Museum and Country Estate
    Winterthur, DE