Intercontinental Truck Body Expands With Canadian Moviemaking Industry

May 1, 1998
EVEN in the rugged, breathtaking Canadian wilderness of British Columbia more than 1,000 miles from Hollywood movie studios, the show must go on. Intercontinental

EVEN in the rugged, breathtaking Canadian wilderness of British Columbia more than 1,000 miles from Hollywood movie studios, the show must go on. Intercontinental Truck Body helps make sure it does by building trailers and truck bodies used for makeup studios, costume wardrobes, and living quarters for actors.

"Moviemaking is an expanding industry in Canada, and film production companies need trailers and truck bodies primarily for makeup and wardrobes," says Peter Van Seters, general manager of Intercontinental Truck Body.

The trucks and trailers travel to remote outdoor locations, mostly in British Columbia where film production companies shoot movies and television shows. Intercontinental manufactures and equips trailers and truck bodies at three locations including a 40,000-sq-ft plant in Surrey, near Vancouver, British Columbia.

To build the floor and sidewalls of trailers and truck bodies, Intercontinental uses snap-together aluminum panel extrusions rather than conventional sheet-and-post construction. A shop-built, air-operated ram snaps together joints in 12-inch-wide panels. The joints effectively form a structural rib with the strength of a sidepost.

The number of panels snapped together determines the length of the truck body or trailer, Van Seters says. To make doors, the 12-inch-wide panels are joined and positioned horizontally.

A DeWalt 16-inch saw cuts panels to length. A press brake bends panels to form corner posts. A circular saw can cut door and window openings anywhere in a sidewall.

"We can do custom work for a relatively low cost," Van Seters says.

The finished interlocking panel structure is stronger and more durable than sheet-and-post construction, he says. After the aluminum panel extrusions are snapped together to form sidewalls, the assembly is lifted with an overhead crane and lowered over the steel floor frame of a truck body or trailer.

The aluminum-panel sidewalls are bolted to the steel floor frames. Door and window frames then are installed in the sidewalls with Huck bolts. At the next station, an aluminum-sheet roof is Huckbolted to an extruded toprail on each sidewall.

Then trailers and truck bodies are sanded, taped, and painted. The Surrey plant has a 65-ft downdraft paint booth and an older 53-ft paint booth. The 65-ft spray booth was installed six years ago because the company needed a larger booth to paint specialty trailers.

After truck bodies and trailers are painted, electrical fixtures, wiring, carpeting, cabinets, and plumbing are installed. On trailers for crew quarters, bottle racks are installed for propane used to fuel interior heaters. To supply electrical power in the trailers, Intercontinental installs Honda Silent diesel generators.

The cabinets and upholstery are purchased from a supplier. Besides the makeup and wardrobe truck-and-trailer sets, other truck bodies and trailers are equipped as living quarters complete with showers, kitchens, and entertainment areas.

About half of the combined production at all the plants is specialty trailers such as those built for movie companies or oil drilling companies, Van Seters says.

"We expanded into building these specialty trailers because we were too vulnerable by building only truck bodies," Van Seters says.

Most truck bodies and trailers that the Surrey shop produces are used for mobile wardrobes or as makeup studios.

The trailers range in size from 32-ft utility trailers to 53-ft semitrailers. The specialty trailers built for drilling companies are used as living quarters for workers in the Canadian oilfields.

The oilfield crew trailers are 32 ft long and have a 16,000-lb GVW. The quarters are equipped with benches, lockers, and a lunch room with a window and heater. The interior furnishings are built and installed by Intercontinental in its plants in Surrey and Coaldale, Alberta, Canada.

Besides being used to build truck bodies and trailers, the snap-together panels are well-suited to build outdoor enclosures for telecommunications equipment and electrical generators. The enclosures often are moved by helicopter to mountaintops in BritishColumbia. For transportation in other types of terrain, the enclosures are on skids so they can be dragged by bulldozers.

Some of the enclosures are 50 ft long, 11 ft high, and 14 ft wide. Generators in the enclosures are bolted to steel flatbar on top of five-inch I-beam crossmembers. The company recently built several power-generating stations for a resort in the Bahamas.

Outdoor Equipment Enclosures "The enclosures have very good sound attenuation to reduce generator noise, and are very strong and secure for protecting telecommunication equipment," Van Seters says. "British Columbia is almost all mountainous. The enclosures protect television and cable equipment that transmit signals from mountaintop to mountaintop. Other enclosures house repeater stations for cellular telephone signals."

Up to 800 trailers and truck bodies including the oilfield crew trailers are built annually at Intercontinental's 60,000-sq-ft plant in Coaldale. Some of the mobile crew quarters are produced as part of the 600 truck bodies and trailers built each year at the Surrey plant. The company builds 300 to 400 trailers and truck bodies a year at a 25,000-sq-ft facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

About the Author

Mark Nutter