Shiney Sided Commissary/Lunchwagon Trucks--What's up with that?

I’ve noticed that Commissary/Lunchwagon Trucks always have these shiney, reflective, crosshatched metal sides.


Why these odd, crosshatched metal sides? Why so reflective?

And why haven’t I ever seen them on anything besides lunchwagons?

What function does it serve? :confused:

My completely uninformed WAG.

The shiny sides help to reflect heat, cause it gets some sort of warm inside a tin can in the sun.

The shiny diamond pattern helps to identify the vehicle on construction sites - it’s easy to distinguish from the countless other vans and trucks on the site.

It may be traditional, like Yellow cabs, sort of a 1950’s diner theme.

FWIW, I’ve seen “roach coaches” that were plain white or other color, although the shiny ones dominate.

As a construction worker, it is very important to repair your hairstyle before returning to work after a lunch break. Don’t want the boss to see you look a mess!

The diamond-patterned or “quilted” stainless or chrome is very common in commercial kitchens and food prep areas, especially diners. It’s also making a fairly strong approach into upscale home kitchen remodels. As such, the stuff practically screams “FOOD!”

And yes, it sticks out quite well from all the other step-vans and similar sized trucks.

My money’s on this one.

You also see it on hotdog steamer carts, so I don’t think it’s a thermal-reflective thing.

I would bank on the guess that it’s for thermal reasons. The reason being is that I’ve noticed most oil trucks are shiny although I’ve seen a few white ones. I curse them every time I see them on the highway on a sunny day. I always assumed they were shiny so as not to allow excessive heat build up in the tank.

Just my WAG.

I dont think it’s for thermal reasons. Roach coaches have insulated freezers and A/Cs anyways.

I side more with the kitchen motiff theory. Shiny metal screams “professional kitchen” and “clean food”

Nope, nope, nope. Lunchwagons fall under board of health regs, and they have to be cleaned every day. Shiny stainless is easiest to clean (and it looks clean, which appeals to the customers.) The cross hatching keeps the metal from rumbling when it’s driving down the street. A slab-sided truck can be deafening on a rough street.

Just to provide a little knowledge, the material you’re referring to is known as “diamond plate,” at least as far as I know.

AskNott (I’m asking anyway) I’m curious about your claim that the diamond plate is quieter than other materials. For example, semi trailers are not made out of diamond plate, and they don’t seem particularly loud.

The diamond plate ought to be quieter for the reason that it’s more rigid. Lots of semi-trailers have non-flat sheet metal too, and lots of them don’t. But a trailer is connected via a 5th wheel so there’s a lot of isolation, and a roach coach is on the same frame that the truck cab is on, and much more efficiently conducts noise.

Try waving a piece of card stock back and forth and hearing the wobble-wobble sound. Do the same with a hunk of corrugated cardboard and you’ll see what stiffness does.

It’s not diamond plate. That’s the sharply textured stuff used for stair treads and other spots where some traction would be nice.

[]This “roach coach” is almost nothing but quilted stainess steel.


It’s called quilted stainless steel.

And a lot of food vendor/kitchen stuff is made from it.
Can’t Google why, though…

A trailer has a frame as well and that frame rides on a set of wheels that are in contact with the ground. Just because its connected via a 5th wheel doesn’t mean the trailer is floating in space isolated from the same potholes the tractor is going over. Also, consider any box van - Fed Ex, UPS, etc. No 5th wheel and no quilted material.

Personally, I think the reason trailers don’t use quilted stainless* is that the trailers are constructed with what are essentially studs to which the sheet metal is riveted. Use enough studs and rivets and you can get away with flimsy, not stiffened material. OR you can use a material that is stiffened in another way - vertical ridges for example. My point was that a roach coach could be constructed in the same manner if eliminating noise was the only concern. There is no reasons to chose quilted steel (which is probably more expensive than say, sheet steel with vertical stiffeners) over some other stiffening/noise abatement method. They use quilted though, and I think the reason is tradition and aesthetics. In other words, people associate the material with food.

*Mea culpa on the diamond plate. I realize now that the most common is indeed the quilted material, although I could swear I’ve seen some, perhaps homebuilt, lunch wagons around here that use diamond plate.

Since it’s commonly used for regular kitchens and things like hot dog carts and other street vending applications, I think that it’s pretty clear that it’s just an aesthetic/food-association deal.

I hate to ask, but since several posters refer to these vehicles as “roach coaches,” does that imply that they are frequently infested with such vermin? If so, that’s the last time I deign to partake from one of those traveling lunch counters. Is this a commonly observed phenomenon, or more like an urban legend? xo, C.

It’s like “greasy spoon cafe.” It just gives you an idea of the class of operation. Most greasy spoons have working dishwashers – but you know the fare is more about pragmatism than a fine dining experience.

Anywhere that serves food, you run a risk of roaches. Mobile operations are inspected as frequently as white-linen establishments, and just as interested in staying in business. Don’t go without lunch 'cuz of the nickname. :slight_smile:

Hell, the AAFES “roach coaches” on Ft. Hood actually had “Roach Coach” painted onto it, and pictures of cartoonish roaches. Didn’t seem to stop too many people from partaking…