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2004 gmc
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After 8 solid hours carpentry, I'm pooped. Quick set of pics now. More explanations as people ask questions. Maybe a how-to article later? Anyway, my BDS lift kit didn't come in, so I had to do something with a day off. Problem with loading up the vehicle with camping, cooking, tools, and recovery gear is that the stuff at the bottom gets covered up by the stuff at the top. Inefficiency annoys me. So I saw a lot of offroad folks with Cherokees and the like were making these platforms to raise the upper layer of stuff off the lower layer. Some even did it with drawers. And it all needs to be secure for jouncing and to make sure you don't have a bunch of missles coming at the back of your head in case of a rollover.

So here's my new mod, unfinished as of yet because I don't know if I want to finish it off with indoor/outdoor carpeting or linoleum or Pergo wood laminate or stain or paint.

Took about 2 hours to plan, brainstorm, bounce ideas off Mrs. Roadie, buy hardware, find all tools, and set up some ice tea. 6 hours solid construction. I sold my table saw about 10 years ago because I did so few jobs like this anymore, so this was all done with a good circular saw and a lot of careful measuring.

The final (unfinished) unit:



The basic dimensions were 44 1/2" wide (to fit between the wheel wells and allow room for a quick-release feature, plus access to the Airlift compressor in the right side storage compartment, and flares in the left side compartment), 32" deep (so the front wall would go vertically up to the rear seat back in case they are not folded down) and 18" high (front wall upper edge - if it was any higher, the rear headrests would not fold down to the rear.) The top of the platform is at 13 1/2" for two reasons. Much higher and the security shade would not work, and any lower and the drawers would end up being shorter than 11 1/2" inside depth and I have some 11" plastic tubs I wanted to use for storing stuff inside the drawers. I might need a little more gap on the top of the drawer front, since the 3/4" plywood platform deflects a bit if its load isn't distributed, and can contact the front. As it is, it only takes fingertip force to open or close - I was very, very careful with assembly so as to not bind up the ball bearing slides with variable drawer width.



This is the hinge I used four of to make it possible to remove the storage unit. When folded down, the hinge is flat and you can hide it with the OEM cargo area carpet. At least an hour of the planning and brainstorming time were spent thinking about and discarding about a dozen alternatives. I would have used the original cargo ring hold-down bolts (Torx T-50 size, by the way) except I wanted to be able to remove it fast and without tools.



When the hinge is raised, the unit slides in, and then you push the hinge back up to the box.


The box has a 5/16" carriage bolt sticking out of the side, the hinge goes over and is clamped by a T-handle nut found in the lawn mower repair parts section of Lowe's. They are usually used to hold push handles onto mowers. I use 'em for a lot of stuff, like holding my shovel on the roof rack, and they're cheaper than alternatives in the hardware section.



This is an early shot of a side view.



I used 24" long heavy duty ball bearing slides, not cheap, but rated for 100 pounds. The drawer is 31" deep, so the last 7 inches of the drawer isn't perfectly accessible vertically , but the drawer slides cantilever out the entire 24". And with clips, the slides disengage and the drawers come right out. 32" HD drawer slides were not a stock item locally.



The top of the unit is also sized to fit these two plastic footlockers, just the right size to not hit the liftgate glass. The lockers will travel with rachet straps tying them down to cargo rings (like the ones in the original floor of the vehicle) that I still need to inset into the top plywood surface. One of the lockers has camping equipment, cooking gear, and lanterns. The other carries food, utensils, condiments, and other stuff. I can see traffic behind me over the lockers.



Almost done. The chest handles here are matched by another pair on the back of the drawers so two people can carry them out of the vehicle while loaded.



The plastic tubs I wanted to put inside. 1/4" height to spare!

 

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2002 chevy trailblazer_lt
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It's looking good! How heavy do you think it weighs? Are you planning on putting some kind of latch on your drawers?
 

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2004 gmc
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
It's looking good! How heavy do you think it weighs? Are you planning on putting some kind of latch on your drawers?
I think it's at least 80-90 pounds. Good idea to weigh it. I estimated in another thread that I normally carry 4-500 pounds of winch/extraction equipment/emergency camping equipment on any offroad trip, so the box is a minor part of that weight.

I still need to decide how to lock the drawers, but when the hatch is closed, I think there's zero or less than 1/4" clearance, so it's not an urgent problem. Oh, crap. First time I open the hatch when I'm parked uphill will be a problem. :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: Better put some sort of temporary stop on in the morning. Now I'll have something to dream about as my body repairs itself tonight.

Sincere THANKS for that reminder. I was seriously too tired to think straight at the end. Getting too old for an all-day mod project like this in the hot sun. :p
 

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2004 gmc
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
sweet idea are you gonna paint or carpet it?
Haven't decided yet. I put a few alternatives in my original post, and am contemplating the benefits. I'm leaning towards indoor/outdoor carpeting, since I often have to put wet things there if I pack up in the rain. Stain and varnish would be nice cabinetry, but this is a vehicle that works for its owner, not a showpiece. I would have used birch or oak veneer plywood if I was going to stain it.
 

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Nice work! Maybe you should think about writing an article for our site.
 

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2006 chevy trailblazer_ls
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Very nice work. :thumbsup:

Now for a nice finish. Nothing wrong with a functional piece of equipment looking good. :D
 

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Could you write up a shopping list of everything you had to buy to build this? I'm definately gonna do it, so it would help. It's awesome, Thanks man.
 

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Haven't decided yet. I put a few alternatives in my original post, and am contemplating the benefits. I'm leaning towards indoor/outdoor carpeting, since I often have to put wet things there if I pack up in the rain. Stain and varnish would be nice cabinetry, but this is a vehicle that works for its owner, not a showpiece. I would have used birch or oak veneer plywood if I was going to stain it.
I agree with the carpeting idea.

Looks really good roadie! Too bad nothing like that could be done in the EXT or i would be all over it!
 

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Excellent! I've been contemplating something similar for awhile but have yet to overcome the inertia involved in the project. My concerns were for a way to solidly attach the unit in the vehicle (no tie downs in the EXT but maybe something with the rear seat bolts). I like your quick release idea. I also was thinking of a latch for opening when pointed uphill. I was going to make is shorter though so that the space would still be useable with the rear seats folded and I was going to use carpet to reduce sliding when stuff was piled on top. Unfortunately this sacrifices the rear cargo hold under the floor but it's too small to be useful anyways.

I agree with kendico, function and nice form are not mutually exclusive.
 

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The EXT doesn't have any tie downs, it does have the molded side panels to hold the cargo shelf, could they be used? Could the cargo shelf be the cover??
 

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rhino line it! and make a tray on top, so you can put muddys and stuff, and add a rail with tie down places or a sliding rail to tie stuff off to.... if you rhino it, you can hose it out/off, and not have to vacuum it....
 

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Great job !! You are much more of a carpender than I am. My favorite wood working tool is a chain saw. If I have to be more precise than I can be with my Homelite I look for some help or find another way to get what I want to accomplish.

May I offer one suggestion?

The carriage bolt sticking out the side of the box is something I would damage my Traiblazer with and gouge a hole in my body sooner or later -- maybe more than once. Why not put "T" nuts (available at Lowes and Home Depot) on the inside of the box and use some sort of thumbscrew thru the hinge to hold everything secure? It might take a moment or two longer to find the hole when installing the box but that is better than tearing you pants and cutting your calf.

The box has a 5/16" carriage bolt sticking out of the side, the hinge goes over and is clamped by a T-handle nut found in the lawn mower repair parts section of Lowe's. They are usually used to hold push handles onto mowers. I use 'em for a lot of stuff, like holding my shovel on the roof rack, and they're cheaper than alternatives in the hardware section.



This is an early shot of a side view.
 

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2004 gmc
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Why not put "T" nuts on the inside of the box
Excellent, excellent idea and I can't believe I didn't think of it myself.


I even have Tnuts in stock. A trivial change next time I have the box out. Much appreciated!

I reallize I forgot to followup when I started putting the indor/outdoor carpeting on it. Took about a quart of carpet contact cement, but the rug color matches nicely. ALso started (but didn't finish yet) the aluminum extruded edge treatment and rolling carpet around the exposed plywood edges. Looks a lot nicer than bare plywood, and helps acoustics as well.



 

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Nice Mod Roadie,

Excellent job on making them easly removable. Certainly would like to see the completed project.

Chris.
 
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