LATEST PROJECT - Truck Drawers/Sleeping Platform

#1
***FOR SALE!!!*** See Post #227 for details!

As a thank you to all of those EXPO members that have posted their ideas in the past - I give you the following in hopes that others will be able to gain as much from me.

...

My wife and I are heading to Alaska for three weeks this season. An incredible road-trip to say the least with some biking, paddling, climbing and some serious relaxing thrown in to keep it all interesting. We are both very experienced backcountry (hiking) travelers, but we wanted something faster and more convenient this time around. Hence, I turned to EXPO to see what you are all up to.

Wow! So many options. Drawers, fridge slides, showers, etc. What to do?

I spent MONTHS scouring websites and making notes. Drawing plans and erasing plans. When it all came together, I decided to design and build a fully custom truck drawer/sleeping platform system that would house two 4.5ft drawers, on-board fresh water (hot & cold), AND a canopy heater just for good measure!

Here are the results of my efforts - and your inspiration!

FINISHED PRODUCT



THE GUTS

The workings of the on-board fresh water tank and the accompanying pumps, heat exchangers, valves, etc. were all built into one unit behind the cab, bolted to the utili-trac for security. I managed to find an 18 gallon (72 litre) polyethylene tank that was a great contender. Everything was really built around that. All battery power and coolant lines from the engine are securely routed along the passenger-side of the chassis and enter the box through a grommet in the corner.


To give a better idea of what is happening, the engine coolant enters the box, goes through the canopy heater on the far right (controlled via the thermostat sitting at the top of the picture) then through the dual-helix heat exchanger to the left then returns to the engine. The water comes from the tank, pumped via the 12V pump and then splits - half to the heat exchanger to continue to the hot water faucet, the other half directly to to the cold water faucet. The red valve in this picture is the drain for the tank.


Tight quarters ... The braided hoses on the right are the supply lines to the faucets.


I did everything I could to keep everything space-efficient and neatly organized. All the electrical systems are fed from the terminal strip you see here. The water pump receives a constant (fused) 12V supply and the canopy heater only receives ACC power when the truck is running.


The heater itself is a 24,700btu unit which moves nearly 300 cubic feet of air per minute. This should be MORE than enough to keep the chill off this winter and keep our dog warm back there! In this shot you can see where the coolant lines enter the box of the truck. Standard heater hose is fed to and from the engine and all lines in the box are 1/2" copper.


THE DRAWERS

The structure of the drawers was built from 3/4" birch plywood and again bolted securely to the utili-trac system. I fabbed up a pair of turnbuckle braces to secure the side walls just in case. Turnbuckles allowed for micro-adjusting to ensure the walls were as square as possible.


Detail of turnbuckle system.


I decided to build roller-bearing slides instead of commercially available slides. This should provide years of solid use! 1" square tubing was bolted to the drawer sides to run between these bearings.


The drawers are made with 1/2" birch plywood with 3/4" fronts. Lever-action catches hold them securely in place and I built up some dividers which can be placed in grooves spaced every 6 inches.






Continued ...

Regards,
-=Doug
 
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#2
Continued

The entire top of each drawer pulls out to act much like a fridge slide. This will let us load heavy objects with ease. Side wings with access hatches to the wheel-well areas were added along with "pockets" at the tailgate to house the important stuff. You can also see the faucet installed on the far right.




And ... CARPET! We chose to leave the hatches in natural birch - the grain was too nice to cover in carpet!


Fridge/bed slide


... with FULL extension! Holds at least 200lbs at full extension.


Access ports to water tank and mechanicals - if these small hatches are not enough, the whole panel lifts off easily.




Hot and cold water is supplied by the integrated faucet on the right side. A power switch was installed within easy reach to be able to cut power to the pump if necessary. The pump has a built-in pressure switch which automatically shuts the pump off when the faucets are closed.

Faucet with flex-spout allows us to fill large pots easily or reverse it and shoot up for an impromptu water fountain!


Switch - simple illuminated rocker switch to remind us to turn the pump off before we hit the road (just in case!)


A hose can also be attached to aid with bike washing and of course - HOT SHOWERS!!! This is a 15' coiled hose. It has a standard male hose thread on the end you can't see - simply screw on a garden sprayer or the like and you are good to go.


CONCLUSION

This has been an incredibly rewarding project and we look forward to many years of adventures with it. Please feel free to ask any questions that you may have.
 
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1leglance

2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
#7
Great job, this is a great that will be bookmarked by a ton of people as a great example of what can be done with some time & skill
Excellent!

Any issues getting in and out, or with not being able to fully sit up when sleeping?
I know for my wife the problem would be clothes changing and night time pee runs. If you had a rear awning with walls then you would have a perfect setup in my mind...then again that is in my mind, a really scary place :)
 
#10
an outstanding job!
i am to the point with my own platform/storage unit where im ready to wrap the top platform with carpet. my question is, what kind did you use for yours? , and, did you treat the wood in any way before you wrapped it?
tia!
-jason
 
#11
Any issues getting in and out, or with not being able to fully sit up when sleeping?
I know for my wife the problem would be clothes changing and night time pee runs. If you had a rear awning with walls then you would have a perfect setup in my mind...then again that is in my mind, a really scary place :)
I won't lie - the drawers definitely effect how much room we have in there! The platform is just over 10" high. This leaves us with enough room to crawl in easily and sit up enough to change clothes, etc. It's "cozy"! We've spent many nights in much smaller tents, so we're fine with this set-up.

We do have a large awning that we can set up behind the truck when/if needed. We use an MSR Vistawing for this purpose. It's not as easy as some of the bolted-on awnings that we see on EXPO, but we also use it paddling, etc. so we already have it on hand.

-=Doug
 
#12
an outstanding job!
i am to the point with my own platform/storage unit where im ready to wrap the top platform with carpet. my question is, what kind did you use for yours? , and, did you treat the wood in any way before you wrapped it?
tia!
-jason
The carpet was ordered from LEER at the same time we ordered our canopy. We chose this because it is un-backed and stretches easily into tight corners and around small contours like the access hatches. You can sometimes source similar carpets at car stereo shops too. Here's a quick link to a company who you can order from if necessary - LINK.

All of the wood was treated with 3-4 coats of marine varnish before being installed and/or covered by carpet. Remember to sand/roughen ALL surfaces that are going to be carpeted. Adhesives have a tough time adhering to smooth varnish finishes.

-=Doug
 
#13
The carpet was ordered from LEER at the same time we ordered our canopy. We chose this because it is un-backed and stretches easily into tight corners and around small contours like the access hatches. You can sometimes source similar carpets at car stereo shops too. Here's a quick link to a company who you can order from if necessary - LINK.

All of the wood was treated with 3-4 coats of marine varnish before being installed and/or covered by carpet. Remember to sand/roughen ALL surfaces that are going to be carpeted. Adhesives have a tough time adhering to smooth varnish finishes.

-=Doug
sounds great! i cant wait to get off work at 5 and get working! thanks for the help and info!
 
#15
Wow, that looks great. I am really impressed with your work. I am trying to put the finishing touches on mine right now.

How do you like the thermarest dreamtime pads? Also, what type of pillows are those? They look great!
 
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