Off Road EnhancementsEnhancements to improve your off road travels
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Here's my most recent mod -- a sturdy sleeping platform suitable for two plus gear. The structure is out of 3/4" CDX plywood, and the carpet is boat carpet that is glued and stapled down (staples for the large areas, and glued around the edges). The platform top is screwed to its supports with pre-tapped 3" gold deck screws. The vertical supports are bracketed together at most 90° junctures using 4" steel brackets. At each corner the platform has a smaller compartment with a removeable lid, and in the middle close to the cab, I did one larger lid on a piano hinge. All use spray-painted 2" flush-mount barn door-style rings for pulls. I painted three coats of polyurethane on the bottom exposed faces and edges of all the wood, in case of an inadvertent flood. I tested it out last night (just sleeping, no flood) and everything worked like a champ. On to the pictures.
Full rear view showing tub storage and two side compartments suitable for 7-gal water jugs or a stove and other gear in the absence of a lot of water.
A closer view. I used spring-loaded closures to hold the lids down. It looked a little unfinished with unpainted edges, so I used black acrylic paint on the cut edges and undersides of the lids. The hardware arrived as bright zinc so I spray-painted it matte black.
A view showing the rear half of the underside. The larger middle compartments are about 36" deep, and due to the rear humps the rear side compartments are in the 22" range.
The cab-side center compartment with the piano hinge spans the center support; one half provides ample room for two ammo boxes in front, and about the same amount aft of them. I stuffed a sleeping bag in there yesterday.
The other side holds the 800-Watt inverter and provides over two cubic feet of volume for goodies. And next to that is the Optima d34M battery in its own compartment. At the other front corner is a similar compartment which I sealed with clear caulk to protect the contents from water.
The deep-cycle battery powers a pair of aux 12V sockets (one on the platform, the other mounted in the driver-side stow compartment which makes it convenient for the Peltier fridge). The deep-cycle powers the inverter, and that is wired to a pair of flush-mount 120V outlets.
The deep-cycle is bridged to the Optima Red-Top starter battery via a Painless brand dual battery control system, which I mounted under the hood near the charcoal canister. Here's the switch for it. Now is a good opportunity to rework ugly switches. I moved my fog light switch, which previously lived lower down, got in the way, and looked ill-conceived.
I needed some more tie-downs, so I installed two self-stowing flush-mount tie-downs designed for rail-top mounting. I had to bend the wings out in a vise to fit under the platform top, but they work great.
So, how's all this make me feel? Great! I used it last night in the wind, rain, ice and snow at 9,500 feet and it worked quite well. I definitely will be getting a 3" memory-foam mattress to put on top, but for now it did OK with a thermarest.
Finally, here's a simplified version of the drawing I did for guidance. I'm happy to say that with one exception I had no serious DOH moments, so I'm pleased.
Here's a parts list.
3 - 4x8 CDX 3/4" plywood (or buy higher grade and not have to sand as much)
1 - 1x2 #1 pine (8' length)
20 - 4" steel brackets
1 - box (100 pcs or so) of 1.75" 1/4-20 bolts, with nuts to match
40~50 3" deck screws
1 - pt polyurethane sealer
1 - qt black acrylic paint
1 - 5x6 feet boat carpet (i chose gray to match the cab interior)
1 - can 3M "90" spray adhesive
1 - 30" piano hinge (should have screws, but consider replacing with larger)
8 - spring latches (should come with screws)
2 - medium plastic tubs (appx dims 16w x 34d x 6h)
2 - large screw eyes to bungee in the plastic tubs
1 - adjustable bungee
1 - flush-mount 120V outlet
2 - flush-mount 12V sockets
various 10ga wires
A few gotchas you may want to keep in mind:
1) Putting in the larger top piece of plywood necessitated lifting the topper off the rail a bit to slide it in. The smaller top piece went in fine and could rotate.
2) Paint the edges of the lids, at a minimum, and consider painting the top as at least an outline so that once you cut the carpet, the seam won't show bright new plywood.
3) Ventilate very well when you use the spray adhesive, and if you get the 3M "90" adhesive, be aware it has a line-shaped dispersion pattern, which you can adjust at 90° or 0° depending on your needs.
4) If you'll be adding an aux battery, don't just measure the battery itself, but consider the bracketry and cables as well. I had to expand the compartment an inch after discovering that.
5) I used large cardboard pieces to pattern the wheel well humps prior to cutting out the far right and left edge supports. You may want to do straighter cuts to save wood. I used a jigsaw and cut them out fairly accurately.
6) Diagram out your bed corrugations or suffer the wrath of a creaking foundation. It turns out that half of my supports were 1/4" longer than the others due to resting on the actual bed rather than on top of a corrugation.
7) I had to remove two of the four cabside tie-downs. The platform simply wouldn't go in with the lower ones present.
If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask. There are other pages to the machine drawing, so if anyone has this same model year and wants more detail, just ask and I'll send the Visio.
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