My drawer system, sleeping platform & kitchen box

Discussion in '80-Series Tech' started by BirfMark, Aug 5, 2009.

  1. BirfMark

    BirfMark

    Messages:
    454
    Location:
    Ft. Collins, Colorado
    A few weekend ago, with the help of a few good friends, I started the project of building a drawer system and sleeping platform for the back of my FZJ80. I’d done quite a bit of homework through Mud & the web to try and glean some ideas of what features I should incorporate, and what I should change. Here’s what I came up with:

    Getting an early start on Saturday morning, we started out by cutting down some ½”, sanded one side, Arauco plywood sourced from the local Lowes.
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    Before too long, we were starting to see progress:
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    Many of the drawer systems I’ve seen constructed here and elsewhere, utilized ball bearing drawer slides. While they no doubt provide a smooth drawer pull, they had two major flaws that made me to look for a replacement. First they’re expensive. Secondly, they take away storage space. By the time you factor in the width they consume, and also the height, you lose space which I think is better suited to actually storing things. My alternative? UHMWPE - Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyetheylene. Or plastic, as I like to call it. A friend of mine works for a plastic thermoforming company, and gave me a bunch of this to use – freebie! From wiki:
    [​IMG]

    Once we had the basic framework of the box constructed, we stopped to think about how all this was going to be anchored down. While I never intend to roll my rig, there is always a possibility of it happening. Even a good car accident could turn the box into a deadly projectile, so I had to come up with a way to anchor it. I’d seen several other people using turnbuckles to anchor their systems, and I chose to do the same. I used 5/16” tee nuts inserted into the plywood, and installed the rearmost floor tie-downs (the ones closest to the tailgate) at the top, front corners of the box.

    The tee nuts, as seen from the ‘inside’ of the box:
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    And from the outside:
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    And with the floor mount installed:
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    This makes for a nice, clean install in my opinion:
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    Once the forward anchor points were in, we cut out a lid, and temporarily installed the box:
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    Using an 8” turnbuckle, here is how the front edge of the box is secured (this is the portion directly behind the second row seats):
    [​IMG]

    Since I had relocated one pair of the floor tie-downs to the drawer box, I was able to use the remaining threaded inserts in the body as the anchor point for the rear of the drawer box (closest to the tailgate). I cut some room in the plastic slides for the bolts heads, and bolted it down. If I remember correctly, with ½” plywood, and the carpet left in place, I needed 6mm x 45mm long bolts to replace the factory ones.
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    And a quick overall view from the rear – we’re making some progress!
    [​IMG]

    Prior to starting any construction, I picked up a water jug from Paul at Equipt Expedition Outfitters. While a lot of people use the Scepter or MFC water jugs, I find them to be a pain to actually use – try filling a cup from them, and it’s like trying to fill a shot glass from a five gallon bucket. These 20L containers from Equipt have a large mouth for easy filling, but also provide a spigot at the bottom to easily fill smaller vessels. Brilliant! Here’s ours in one of the possible stowage positions:
    [​IMG]

    Next we turned our attention to making a storage drawer. Not rocket science here, just a simple box. Turns out our water jug will even fit in one of the drawers if need be:
    [​IMG]

    As a slight tangent to this whole drawer project, I also decided to build one drawer as a camp kitchen. Some people like to call these a chuck box, and the Boy Scouts out there (myself included) may know them as a Patrol Box. I did some research on these over the web as well (Drifta in Australia makes some gorgeous ones), and came up with a simple design that I could construct. It should be noted that even at 30 years old, prior to this weekend, I’d never run a table saw before – I’ve always been more of a metal worker. I’ve used jigsaws, circulars saws, routers & other small powered woodworking tools, but never tackled a project like this. Anyways, I digress. Here’s an early shot of the kitchen box:
    [​IMG]

    Keeping things simple, I wanted room to store our camp stove, water container & other miscellaneous cooking & cleaning supplies. Here’s the general layout – any open space will be used for storage of other necessities:
    [​IMG]

    A little more work, and I had a hinged lid, as well as a hinged front that would serve as work surfaces if needed:
    [​IMG]

    A couple coats of Minwax Clear Gloss Polyurethane, as well as some Formica I picked up off Craigslist for free, and the kitchen box was really coming along:
    [​IMG]

    Closed up (the shorter ‘front’ section is held closed with some inexpensive $0.87 push latches from Lowes):
    [​IMG]

    And opened up:
    [​IMG]
  2. BirfMark

    BirfMark

    Messages:
    454
    Location:
    Ft. Collins, Colorado
    Once the kitchen box was completed, I turned my attention to the side wings which would extend the top of the drawer box over to the edge of the body interior. Here’s the passenger side wing, with the profile to fit around the ashtray & subwoofer:
    [​IMG]

    And here’s what the driver’s side ended up looking like:
    [​IMG]

    I knew from reading other’s write ups that these side wings could be tricky, and that I needed to devise a way to still access the storage compartments on either side – particularly the jack on the driver’s side. I decided to run a continuous piano hinge at the joint where these wings would connect to the main drawer box, allowing them to easily flip up out of the way for access to the storage compartments, as well as to the underneath areas. Here’s how it looks like in the down position:
    [​IMG]

    And in the flipped up position:
    [​IMG]

    With them flipped up, removing the drawer box is a breeze – it simply slides right out the back, with plenty of room to spare.

    A shot of the passenger side wing extension:
    [​IMG]

    And the driver’s side:
    [​IMG]

    Now the drawer system/ 3rd row portion of the box was essentially done, we turned our attention to building the sleeping platform portion. This was our inevitable goal – to be able to store our gear, and still have a comfortable sleeping platform for my wife & I during our camping trips. We’re heading to Yellowstone for an almost 10 days, and plan to live out of our Cruiser (no tents) for the duration. I hastily cut a piece of plywood, notched it for the door handle, and voila! – the beginnings of a true sleeping platform. Ultimately though, I abandoned this design, as it was more complex than it needed to be:
    [​IMG]

    And the door fit:
    [​IMG]

    After a bit of head scratching, I came up with the idea to build a perimeter framework of aluminum angle (to keep the weight down), bolted to the drawer box, and supported by a hinged wooden leg. I didn’t have a whole lot of luck finding just exactly how others had done this part – some made full boxes that flipped down, others seemed to just use the 2nd row seat backs with nothing over them. I’ll let my pictures do the talking for my design:
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    Some more:
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    And here showing the attachment to the front of the drawer box – again, more tee nuts, and a simple bolted connection.
    [​IMG]

    I was really happy with how this turned out – I’m able to leave the 2nd row seats in, and place the sleeping platform over them, or remove them completely for additional storage space.

    Seats in:
    [​IMG]

    Seats out:
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    And here’s one of the platform extensions removed & folded up. This piece only weighs 16lbs (7.25kg).
    [​IMG]

    Now that all the components (a drawer, a kitchen box, the drawer box, two wings, and two sleeping platform extensions) were built & put together, it was time to take everything apart for finishing. I used a router to clean up exposed edges, sanded things down a bit, installed drawer fronts & handles, and began painting & varnishing everything. All the top surfaces are going to receive more of the clear gloss polyurethane, while the other faces will get painted with some Glidden exterior satin finish paint, which I had color matched to the grey interior of the Cruiser. I’ll be wrapping up the surface finishes tonight, and then reassembling everything so I can re-install it. I plan on hitting up the Rising Sun rally here in Denver this weekend, and then camping out up on Bill Moore Lake trail Saturday night for a test run of everything. Here’s some sneak peek pictures of the finishes (sorry for the crappy, dark photos):
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    Hopefully I’ll have enough daylight left tonight after reassembling everything to get some more photos of the complete system.

    My next project: Removable, thermal barrier window covers for all eight windows. Stay tuned. :)

    Comments welcome!
  3. GLTHFJ60

    GLTHFJ60 Rum Runnin' SILVER Star

    Messages:
    14,728
    Location:
    Durham, NC
    I love the "patrol box"! I don't think I've ever seen that before.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2011
  4. d0ubledown

    d0ubledown

    Messages:
    1,930
    Location:
    vansterdam, BC
    fantastic design & build! is there enough room to sit up on the platform once matresses etc are in place?
  5. BirfMark

    BirfMark

    Messages:
    454
    Location:
    Ft. Collins, Colorado
    Not quite, no. It was definitely a trade off in design criteria between being able to leave the seats in, and have the platform over them, versus lowering the entire system & being able to sit up. Since the majority of the time we'll spend on top of the sleeping platform will be sleeping, the sitting up factor lost out to storage room.

    It's not so high that you can't hunch over to put pants on though. At 14" tall, I think it's a good in-between. This weekend when I actually get to try it all out will be the ultimate test though.
  6. Bluetribal

    Bluetribal SILVER Star

    Messages:
    4,420
    Location:
    Sandy Eggo
    Very nice design, I am very close to starting my cargo box and it's always good to see another idea before starting.
  7. gotmud

    gotmud

    Messages:
    2,117
    Location:
    Gilbert, AZ
    With four kids, I can only dream of having a self contained rig. Clicking back to the "trailer building for dummies" thread. Nice job!
  8. Brentbba

    Brentbba Former Golfer SILVER Star

    Messages:
    9,105
    Location:
    The OC, CA
    Nice work! Having done the finish work on 5, yes 5 patrol boxes for our troop, I know exactly what they are - ours are the basic BSA engineering design that's been around for 50 years!

    Did you go with the turnbuckles for ease of removal instead of using the existing bolt holes left from the 3rd row seats on the floor? Jeff Kaufman (SLO60) uses HDPE for his drawer slides and even with a fully loaded drawer, it slides like a champ. You'll like what you did.

    Can't wait for final finished installed pics and your first trip report!
  9. BirfMark

    BirfMark

    Messages:
    454
    Location:
    Ft. Collins, Colorado
    Well, I could have used the bolts where the 3rd row seats actually latch into the floor, but they're about 2/3's of the way into the box. Thankfully I'm not a big guy, and can actually crawl into these drawers (had to do it to get some of the tee nuts in after a change in design), but it's not something I'd want to do each time I want to take the box out.

    This box is about 40" deep from tailgate to the back of the second row seats if memory serves correctly. As it happens, this leaves the remaining front tie-down points placed just ahead of the front of the box (yet still behind the 2nd row seats) - it's one of those 'meant to be' designs. I thought it was just a bling-thing at first, but it actually does appear to serve a purpose. The turnbuckles are simple, effective, and not very expensive. I think I paid $5 a piece at the local Ace Hardware for mine.

    I've had my 20L water jug filled and in place in the kitchen box, and everything still seems to slide well enough. It's quite surprising, really. Hopefully it still works well when it's really loaded down. While there are a few things I would probably do a little differently if I built another set, $300 drawer slides haven't made that list yet.

    :beer:
  10. Brentbba

    Brentbba Former Golfer SILVER Star

    Messages:
    9,105
    Location:
    The OC, CA
    LOL - Jeff cuts a square hole in the front of the box to the drawers specifically to ease the access to those bolts! I've never taken mine out!
  11. BirfMark

    BirfMark

    Messages:
    454
    Location:
    Ft. Collins, Colorado
    Well, as planned I got everything reassembled last night, and re-installed. Overall I'm really happy with how it came out. It's probably not up to the quality of craftsmanship that the aftermarket manufacturers are able to achieve, but I don't think it's too bad for a guy in his garage working with basic power tools & crappy wood from a lumber mega-mart.

    Some final pics:
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    Color-matched paint:
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    Cabinet maker, I am not:
    [​IMG]
    (getting the drawer fronts lined up & installed was a beyotch. Anyone have tips for that? Obviously I suck at that part.)

    I ordered some Penn-Elcom spring loaded handles for the drawers. SUPER happy with how they turned out.
    [​IMG]

    I routered the storage drawer sides for dividers as well - this was a little tricky, considering I don't have a router table.
    [​IMG]

    I thought this was a neat shot (quickly stitched together using PTGui):
    [​IMG]

    On to the next project!:cheers:

  12. 94SRUNNER

    94SRUNNER GOLD Star

    Messages:
    2,633
    Location:
    Dayton, OH
    Awesome! Looks professional to me, I like your design to keep the weight down by using the plastic strips instead of the metal hardware. And that finish turned out great....shoudl be easy to keep clean.
  13. Brentbba

    Brentbba Former Golfer SILVER Star

    Messages:
    9,105
    Location:
    The OC, CA
    Don't sell yourself short - you obviously had fun doing the project and it turned out great!
  14. Polak

    Polak

    Messages:
    1,312
    Location:
    KIND
    Very Nice!!!!!

    :clap::clap::clap:
  15. Skillet

    Skillet Skillet SILVER Star

    Messages:
    4,176
    Location:
    КАГІҒОЯИІА
    those look very nifty.

    good work.
  16. myfirstlx470

    myfirstlx470

    Messages:
    6
    Very Very nice JOB!!!
  17. OB-1

    OB-1

    Messages:
    333
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    Nice job!

    Now post up your measurements so we can steal your idea...I mean use as a reference :hillbilly:.
  18. Steelbender77

    Steelbender77

    Messages:
    79
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    Beautiful job on the drawer system, don't sell yourself short on the turnout--I'd be proud of a job like that!
  19. Sanchez

    Sanchez

    Messages:
    754
    Location:
    San Jose
    nice!:clap:
  20. BirfMark

    BirfMark

    Messages:
    454
    Location:
    Ft. Collins, Colorado
    My goal was actually to produce a detailed set of plans for how to build your own system, complete with material purchase list, piece dimensions and tools required. I'm a draftsman by trade, so under normal circumstances, this wouldn't be a big deal.

    Unfortunately right now, my hand is broken (damn table saws!) and work is pretty busy, so I'm not sure when I'll get around to it.

    I'll be sure to update this thread when I do get the plans done though! In the meantime, if anyone has any questions, ask away!

    Thanks for all the compliments!

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