Last year at Overland Expo West & East I taught a workshop on “DIY Storage Solutions for the Budget Overlander” (title was something like that, I honestly don’t remember it verbatim). Sadly I won’t be teaching it this year, but that does give me an excuse to talk about my new rack.
|How to fit 10#’s of shit into an 8# sack|
|24″ deep, 42″ wide 19″ tall
Total cost: under $40.
|The inside was painted white for visibility
The outside walls were painted black.
The top tray area was painted a textured grey that matched the ZJ’s interior.
|As you can see, it fits perfectly.
It maximizes storage while still maintaining maximum visibility.
|First things first, remove the nonessentials|
|Dry fitting, measuring…
… refitting and remeasuring…
… like Tetris, only less satisfying because nothing ever goes away.
|Every good box starts with a strong foundation.
And every project goes a lot better with good help.
|We might have gone a little overkill with the screws… but that’s not a bad thing given the expected loads.|
|Measure twice, cut once… not the other way around.|
|Like the JRCM-mk1, the mk2 would also be subdivided for better cargo management.|
|A unique feature to the mk2 however is the front tray (more on that soon).|
|As you can see, it fits perfectly.
The only thing I didn’t account for was the rear gate’s latch pin.
Even if you don’t DIY, think about these kinds of things when shopping for pre-made boxes and drawers or make sure to outline your expectations and desires to a fabrication shop that is going to build you a custom. The last thing you want to do is pay someone for a really nice custom or semi-custom install and find out it blocks a blind-spot, a HVAC duct, a speaker, or you can’t slide your seat back all the way.
|Part of the reason for the “cut twice.”
We didn’t have the angle right the first time.
This time the seat was able to fully recline without hitting the box.
|Here you can see both my laptop (tan Pelican case) and my briefcase behind the seat.
At max-recline the seat doesn’t hit either case.
|Here You can see how things fit.
Cooler on the left, toolbox and grill on the right.
That’s pretty much how the box was for the 2015 season. I carried the bulk of the heavy stuff down load with lighter things like my cot, sleeping bag, and duffel bag on the top deck. All in all the box worked great for as simple and as cheap as it was. Although not pictured I did add roughly a dozen eye-bolts to the box to both secure the cargo to the box and secure the box to the Jeep.
Changes and adaptations
The best thing about a building a box on the cheap and doing it yourself is when things need to change it’s relatively cheap and easy to do so. When I added the trailer for the 2016 season I was able to switch things up a little. I no longer needed to carry my personal gear in the Jeep. My bedding and clothing would now be relegated to the trailer. That gave me more room in the back of the Jeep.
Rack ’em and stack ’em.
|Alex’s welded rack.
Simple angle-iron frame with an expanded metal tray floor.
It’s also removable so he can put the backseat in.
Apparently he has friends… who knew.
This is where teamwork can overcome a lack of DIY experience or skillset. Just because you’ve never done something doesn’t mean you can make/find friends who have done it. This was a learning experience for me and collaborating with both Alex and Jim on the rack design, welding, etc was a fun experience. I guess an old salty dog like myself can learn a new trick (just don’t ask to see my practice welds).
|It doesn’t take much to start.
Just a few 6′ sections of angle-iron cut down to length
I think in total I spent $65 on metal.
|The top tray is 34″ x 34″
Just big enough for my 255/85R16 Cooper S/T Maxx
|A few legs raise it up for some storage underneath.|
|Here you can see the general concept.
I added a few more legs and some angle-iron runners on the bottom for stability.
At this point the rack is about 75% done. It’s functional and does it’s job, but there are still a few things that I need to add. For starters the tire will get bolted to the stock spare tire carrier which will be bolted to the frame. This will not only be safe and solid, but it will also be secure since the spare tire will be held down with splined lug-nuts. So if the top is ever off I shouldn’t have to worry (too much) about someone walking off with my spare tire. As far as other additions, I’m going to convert the bottom to a drawer.
|For now everything is strapped down. It’s not bolted in place, which is the goal.
The final end-game is a pair of locking drawersliders for all the little stuff.
If you have any questions feel free to comment below.
But wait, there’s more.
One of the other DIY storage things built for the LJ was the dual-fuel can carrier. I don’t need it anymore since I have the GenRight 31.5 gallon Safari Tank. Still thought I’d show it off. Props to Jim for the idea, the parts, and the welding.
|It’s not pretty, but it works.
It’s also removable to make accessing the spare possible.
|I will say this is one reason I opted to get rid of the carrier.
That’s a lot of cantilevered weight.
But it did work.
|Not bad for an 11th hour build.
Two trailer fenders, some rebar, pipe, and flat stock.
Cheap, but effective.
If you enjoyed this article, and would like to be a part of making future articles like this happen, please considering joining the ECOA Patron Support Team. Not only will you help take ECOA to the next level but you’ll get access to patron exclusive items like hardcover copies of the 2017 No Highways Tour books as well as a 10% discount at the ECOA/NHT online store on cool swag like patches and stickers.