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Tailgating Rigs

Posted by Peter On March - 21 - 2011

This is a guest post from Pete Tverdov. Pete is a fanatical tailgater for Rutgers football games and he and his friend have a growing crew of tailgate members thanks to their tricked out tailgate bus. (The bus even has its own Facebook Fan Page.) Pete is hoping to come on board as a regular contributor to the writing staff of TailgatingIdeas.com.

The objective of this post is to convince someone out there to take the leap and transform their tailgating platform into something bigger than they ever imagined. Here are some vehicles that could make that happen and a little information on each. Go for it!

The Ambulance

Jambulance Parked
Many seats are already built in the back which makes for transporting a crew of people easy. The storage compartments (both inside & out) come in handy for storing food, music equipment, tailgating equipment and rowdy children. There’re a ton of things to disconnect though…

The Chartered Bus

West Virginia charter bus
If you get one of these it shows you have some money in your pocket. The inside is very nice and the storage underneath is gigantic. These aren’t always redone inside but they’re the most luxurious.

The Conversion Van

West Virginia Shaggin Wagon
The Ford Conversion vans are very cost effective. Most come with a TV & DVD player. A video game console is also in some of them (easy to install one if not). Then you have spacious reclining seats, blinds, and a small trunk space for tailgating equipment. All that is needed is a fresh paint job and your group is all set.

The Fire Engine

Indianapolis Colts Tailgating Fire engine
Having a fire engine automatically gives you a tip of the cap because not everyone can drive them. Some have benches installed on top and people sit in that section on the drive to the stadium. Most come with wear and tear and they aren’t cheap. However, it’s one of the rarest tailgating rigs.

The Garbage Truck

Yes, someone did indeed turn a garbage truck into a tailgating vehicle. You might be turned off by that thought until you see the video of this truck that rolls in for game day to cheer on the Tennessee Volunteers. I can’t imagine the cleaning job it took but after that you have a huge inside area to create whatever you want.

The Short Bus

Patriots Mini tailgating Bus
This is one of the more fun projects because you have a lot of options to reconstruct the inside into whatever you want. A CDL license isn’t required since it’s a mini. If you just leave it as is and paint it you still have ample space for transporting gear and passengers.

The School Bus

LSU Unsupervised tailgating school bus
The regular school buses require a CDL license but you can get very creative with redesigning them. Most people turn them into RV style vehicles. Some add a deck on the roof for people to tailgate on and some create back porches. This is the vehicle that gives you the most creativity because of the room you have. They are also the most common type of tailgating specialty vehicle. They’re the toughest to insure and you usually want to insure them as a “motorhome”.

The Step Van

Iowa State Tailgating Step Van

The step van is similar to a mini bus but the interior is already gutted since most are delivery style vehicles. It is a good thing because it gives you the freedom to leave it as is or design your own creation inside.

The RV

Tailgating RV
The RV is the easiest vehicle to customize but a little more expensive. Most come with all the essentials of normal living arrangements which you can’t say for most of the other vehicles. The hardest part is getting a good paint job and some decals. They are still awesome though!

Righteous Rigs: The Dawg

Posted by Dave On October - 9 - 2008

As many of you are aware, Browns fans are notorious for being incredibly dedicated to their team. Some might even say they are crazy. Take a look at the video below and you can decide for yourself just how far Cleveland tailgaters will go.

This Righteous Rig is called “The Dawg” and is the creation of Ryan Mayhugh.

Ryan has been a Browns fan his whole life and in 2002 he introduced his wife Neema (at the time she was his fiance) to the Browns tailgating experience. Neema grew up in New York and was a big Giants fan, but pulling into the West 3rd parking lot at 8am in December and seeing it more than half full, she was hooked on the Cleveland tailgating experience. The couple decided to relocate to Cleveland from the NYC area in 2005, but Neema made Ryan promise that they would get Browns season tickets. He sent in the form the following day. Herein lays the first requirement in having a tailgate vehicle like The Dawg van – a wife who loves football and tailgating, and is tolerant of irrational behavior.

van-before.JPGWhen the couple relocated from New York to Cleveland in early 2006, they only had one car. When looking for a second vehicle that they could use for emergencies, Ryan thought he might as well see if they could use it for tailgating. They looked at a few different options on the internet and one morning Ryan found a 1975 Dodge Xplorer van on eBay. It was only a few miles away, so he contacted the owner and took it for a test drive. It ran well, and the owner’s uncle had bought it brand new in 1975 and he still had the owner’s manual and all the repair records. They went home and placed their bid and a few hours later, they were the proud owners for the low price of $1,500.

They bought it in mid-July, and only had a month and a half until the season started. They knew they wanted it to be different – a simple orange and brown paint job wasn’t going to do the trick. So they parked the van in the driveway, invited a bunch of friends over, bought a few cases of beer and started brainstorming. The winning idea was to make it into a furry Dawg (the Browns unofficial mascot). Then everyone went home and Ryan and Neema were left with the hard part – turning the idea into reality.

Ryan looked around online and came across the most wonderful fabric in the world: tangerine colored poodle furry fleece from Jo-Ann fabrics. It happened to be on sale (for some reason it wasn’t flying off the shelves) so they ordered 40 yards of it. They also ordered 10 yards of Browns licensed fleece from Jo-Ann for the ears, tail and collar.

So they had the fur, but didn’t quite know how they were going to keep it attached to the van, which of course, was pretty important. Ryan ended up calling a salesman at Industrial Webbing and told him what they were trying to do. After a brief pause as he tried to digest what was being told him, he asked if they were trying to replicate the Shaggin’ Wagon from the movie “Dumb and Dumber”. That was exactly the perfect description of what they were trying to do. Ryan bought a high grade Velcro that has a strong epoxy on one side that sticks to the van, and the other side is sewn to the fur. It was the perfect product.

dawg-van.JPGNow that the main ingredients were purchased, they started sewing. Ryan’s sister made the tail, ears and sewed the large section of fleece together for the main body. His parents and wife all chipped in on the sewing machine and made the other accessories, like the eyes, tongue, nose and dawg tag. Ryan’s Dad even ordered industrial grade magnets that hold the fur in place near the wheels and the bottom of the doors. After about a month, the van was in good shape and The Dawg was born. Total cost of all materials was in the $300 range.

On the inside, they put up a few posters (including a Bernie Kosar poster that they found at a garage sale during a vacation in Maine) and filled in with pictures and football cards of Browns greats like Jim Brown, Clay Matthews, Brian Sipe, Paul Warfield and LeRoy Kelly. They have made a few improvements since it debuted in the West 3rd lot on September 9, 2006 (wheel covers, large Dawg decals on either side of the body, etc.) but otherwise it has just about everything needed.

dawg-van-2.JPGAfter a great season in 2007, including a 7-1 record at home, the Browns have struggled as of late. Some people wonder how Ryan and his family can dedicate so much time, energy and money to a football team. To be honest, sometimes he wonders that himself. But he never questions it when he is sitting in the parking lot, cooking eggs at 8 am on a cold Sunday morning in the winter and talking about the upcoming game over a breakfast beer. Even if the Browns don’t win, the tailgate is always fantastic when you have ‘The Dawg”.

Righteous Rigs: West Virginia Shaggin Wagon

Posted by Dave On September - 18 - 2008

In our second installment of “Righteous Rigs” comes another tailgating vehicle that you would be hard pressed not to notice when it is either parked or on the way to Milan Puskar Stadium. Nick named “the Shaggin Wagon”, this 1988 Ford E150 Conversion Van has undergone numerous modifications to make it the ultimate tailgating companion in Morgantown, West Virginia.

West Virginia Shaggin Wagon

Steve Sanders, a loyal West Virginia season ticket holder, found it too problematic when it came to loading and unloading all the tailgating equipment from his 2001 F150 pickup. You see, Steve and his wife make the five hour drive every Friday prior to a Mountaineers home game to stay overnight in West Virginia. They then make the additional two and half hour drive to get to Morgantown on game days. Talk about dedication! Logging that many hours and miles on the road, the Sanders decided it was time to get a designated vehicle that was strictly for tailgating.

The Shaggin’ Wagon as it is known today was just an old 1988 Ford E150 Conversion Van with 80,000 miles on it that was sitting for sale outside of a neighbors house. On a whim in 2005, Steve Sanders took a look at it after numerous times passing it and wondering what could be done with it. It had power seats, windows, door locks, CB and even an old TV in there and after $1,800 exchanged hands the Shaggin’ Wagon was about to take shape. Like finding money in your jeans pocket on laundry day, a trip to a mechanic revealed this van was in excellent shape but also came with the ambulance package, which means a heavy duty electrical system.

In 2005 the modifications commenced with the installation of a 600 watt inverter in the off season, a satellite pole out of aluminum that could handle a mounted dish and a 15″ computer monitor. Satellite TV and music was on iPod via a Bose speaker.  Both of these were run off the van’s electrical system via the inverter. The 2005 Mountaineer football season was the first season the van was used for tailgating full time.

Before the 2007 season, the idea to install a dedicated stereo system in the back of the van was born.  An AM/FM/CD/DVD receiver, which is normally used as the radio in a car, was installed and were coupled with the marine speakers (woofers, tweeters, crossovers) in the face of the rear doors. A dedicated AMP and an iPod adapter were installed in the back of the van. The system came with a remote control in order to listen to the live TV, iPod, radio, CD or even play a DVD out to the swing down TV (22″ LCD).  All this runs off of the van’s electrical system with the receiver being driven through the normal DC connection and the DirecTV system. The TV runs off of the 600 watt inverter.

The additional tailgating gear has been added little by little including tables chairs, coolers, etc. to accommodate those friends and family that join the tailgate party. The van got its distinguishing paint design prior to the 2008 season courtesy of Murphy’s Body Shop of Durbin, West Virginia (304-456-4858). The decals were provided by Scott Sign & Design of Shinnston, West Virginia (304-592-1835).

If you are ever in Morgantown on game day, be on the lookout for the Shaggin’ Waggon. It is not hard to miss and with the 2008 tailgating menu already planned out, choose your game wisely before you drop in. Take a peek…

30 Aug – Villanova – Mike Ditka’s Pork Sandwiches

6 Sept – ECU – Steak & Shrimp

27 Sept – Marshall – Buffalo Burgers

4 Oct – Rutgers – Prime Rib Sandwiches

11 Oct – Syracuse – Turkey Burgers

23 Oct – Auburn – Chick Fil a Platter

8 Nov – Cincinnati – Prime Rib Sandwiches

6 Dec – South Florida – Cindi’s Chili

The Shaggin’ Wagon crew has two mottos: “WVU – We’ve never lost a tailgate” and “WVU – Win or Lose.  We booze.” Amen to that!

Here are more photos of the Shaggin’ Wagon. (Click to view full size)


Auto Accessories at Autogeek.net!

Righteous Rigs: The Toledo Jambulance

Posted by Dave On September - 12 - 2008

If you have spent any amount of time in a parking lot tailgating you have probably seen what I call, a “Righteous Rig”. This is a tailgating vehicle that is so bad ass that there is no way in hell it would blend in with the surrounding tailgate landscape. So in the first of many installments to come featuring killer rides dedicated to tailgating, we start with the Toledo Jambulance.

The genesis of the Toledo Jambulance started with the purchase of a 1993 Ford E-350 7.3L diesel ambulance in April 2005. A retired ambulance that once served the small town of Cincinnatus, New York was for sale and was residing in New Jersey. Pat Ryan, an alumnus of the University of Toledo, bought the retired ambulance and drove it back to Ohio with his friend, Dan Miller. The transformation into the Jambulance that is regularly seen prior to Toledo Rockets Football and Basketball games started soon after.

Some of the initials modifications on the Jambulance included affixing huge rocket decals that stretch the length of the vehicle along with changing the emergency light lenses to Toledo’s school colors Midnight Blue and Rocket Gold. All of the original emergency equipment (lights, sirens, public address system) were fully operational and remain that way today. A full-size grill, a 27′ LCD flatscreen TV, TracVision (mobile DirecTV) and a Kenwood stereo system were installed in time for the Toledo home opener of the 2005 football season.

Some of the major features of the Jambulance:

  • Flat-Screen LCD TV – The original 27″ LCD flat-screen TV was replaced by a 32″ LCD flat-screen with built-in DVD player prior to the 2006 season.
  • Freedom Grill FG-100 – If you are unfamiliar with a Freedom Grill FG-100, read this article. The Jambulance FG-100 even sports a custom Toledo Rockets Grill Grate by Yarder Manufacturing.
  • Honda Super Quiet EU2000i Generator – Provides power to crock pots, tent lighting, kerosene heater’s fan when it gets cold or anything else that requires electricity to run.
  • Kenwood Stereo System – Four Kenwood 6″ x 9″ speakers mounted in the rear doors, a 14″ Kenwood subwoofer mounted below the Mission Control panel and two Kenwood 2000 watt amplifiers installed in a cabinet powered by a DC-to-AC power converter.
  • Jambulance Helmet – An oversized Toledo Rockets football helmet that resides on top of the front cab. Originally a “helmet grill” modified to mount on the top of the cab, the original helmet was stolen off of the Jambulance at Iowa State in 2006 and had to be replaced. The current helmet features two blue LED “eyes” and plans are in the works to add a “helmet cam”.
  • Custom LED lighting – Much of the traditional and halogen incandescent Jambulance lighting has been replaced with LED-based lighting to draw less power and to last longer.
  • Whelen Messenger – Mounted on the top rear of the Jambulance, the LED message board allows messages to be displayed in a variety of fixed and moving formats, such as flashing and scrolling with normal, boldface, reverse and mirrored text.
  • Mission Control Panel – On-board Xycom computer is mounted in the panel as is a two-receptacle 120V AC power outlet and RCA jacks to allow an XBox, PlayStation or GameCube video game console to be easily connected. These jacks directly interface with the 32″ LCD Flat-Screen TV. The Mission Control panel also features a countdown clock (final installation and testing is pending) that will eventually display the countdown time remaining (down to tenths of a second) until the next game’s kickoff.
  • On-board Computer – Featuring a 12.1″ touchscreen and enhanced with the addition of a larger hard drive, this Xycom PC stores the Jambulance’s ever-growing iTunes library, GPS software, Whelen Messenger programming software and other computer-related functions.
  • Custom Stainless Steel Panels – The Plexiglas cabinet doors for the interior storage cabinets were replaced with custom stainless steel doors with the Rockets logo lasered in them courtesy of Yarder Manufacturing.
  • Jam Cam – A color CCTV camera mounted on the rear of the vehicle that can be displayed on any of the 5 monitors installed in the Jambulance and is used to assist the Jambulance driver in backing up and parking.
  • 2 Litton MobileVu Touchscreens – Installed in the front console and a second display mounted on one of the rear gurney doors, these MobileVu displays are connected to the two on-board computers that allow the Crew the ability to control different audio and video feeds. The display on the rear door was installed specifically to select music from the iTunes play list without having to go inside the vehicle.
  • Wireless Broadband Internet Access
  • Garmin 18 GPS
  • USB TV Tuner – The Hauppauge WinTV HVR-950 brings the Jambulance over-the-air high definition ATSC digital TV plus analog cable TV to a PC or laptop.
  • Horntones FX-550 – Mobile audio system that allows the Jambulance to supplement the vehicle’s horn function using virtually any MP3 audio file.

The dedicated Jambulance “crew” includes:

Pat “Ranger Rocket” Ryan – Owner/Operator
Steve “Don’t Mess With” Tecza – Mechanic/Electrical/Electronics/Operator
Dan “Photodan” Miller – Graphics/Photography/Crewmember
Scott “Busdriver” Frey – Mechanic/Operator
Abe “UT1” Fadell – Copilot/Crewmember
Mike “Big Mike” Rains – Muscle/Crewmember

Some more photos of the Jambulance in action.


Learn more about the Toledo Jambulance by visiting their website.

Think you have a righteous rig or know someone who does? Contact us and tell us about it.





About Me

TailgatingIdeas.com is a tailgating blog dedicated to bringing you the latest and most intriguing tailgating ideas out there. Whether it is the latest tailgating gear reviews, a great new recipe or a funny list to make you smile, our goal is to inform and entertain the avid and the casual tailgater alike.

Started in August 2007 by tailgating enthusiast Dave Lamm, TailgatingIdeas.com has evolved into an advocate for tailgaters rights and is not afraid to touch on controversial issues confronting those who frequent the tailgating parking lots.

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