|This is a Roadtrek 190 Popular. Do you see those hinged compartments at the very bottom of the body? At least a few of those open into under-floor storage compartments, of which the brochure (PDF) states that there are two.|
The space I'm going to talk about in this post is perhaps best illustrated by this unfortunate image that was posted in this Sprinter Forum thread, uncredited, in a PDF euphemistically titled "Sleeping Sprinter".
|Aaaarrghhh, I hate it when that happens! The damn propane line for the hot water heater was placed smack dab in the middle of the space. Why couldn't Airstream have scooted it out of the way?|
|There's an unused support structure already integrated into the chassis. Perhaps it was intended to be used to hang a battery box.|
The project, then, consisted of fabricating a shelf with attachments so that this space could be utilized. My general steps are described below, and I'm going to provide more detail than I sometimes do, just to encourage people to tackle DIY projects like this. As I've said in other posts, it's not that hard if you break it down step by step. I'm a middle-aged woman with no DIY background and I learned how to scope projects and work with metal. This stuff is do-able by ordinary people.
The difference between this carrier and my last carrier is that this one was designed to have an inset liner of spread metal, and so rather than being a simple butt-jointed skeleton in which the two side rails overlap the end rails, it had to serve as an inset frame in three dimensions. So it's a bit fancier, in a sense, with compound cuts. I can't find a decent line drawing on the internet to explain what I mean, but hopefully these pictures will convey it.
First, let's start with the raw materials.
|A 14-inch chop saw with a metal-cutting blade. We don't have a table or anything, so I simply put it in our driveway. It gives our neighbors something to think about.|
|So I start by nipping off the ends of a few of the steel segments.|
|The chop saw has a 45 degree setting, so you can nip off those initial corners like this, without disrupting the vertical portions which have to remain "straight up and down", in other words, at 90 degrees to the long axis of the piece.|
|I cut these off but they both appear 90 degrees whereas the two on the left are actually at 45 degrees to that plane.|
|Here you start to get the idea of what I mean, although now the opposite visual effect is happening due to the oblique view - everything looks like it's 45 degrees whereas only the bottom sides are cut that way.|
|The metal gets smeared.|
|I was hoping to get a nice spark-throwing picture but it didn't turn out.|
|Now you can see it. The one on the bottom needs its corner nipped off at 45 degrees in order to fit with the one to the right.|
|I cut that cross piece to nest in the same plane. That way the spread metal could drop right in and the entire assembly would accommodate it.|
|I measured my cut tray, took the cardboard template over to the locker, and re-verified against the battery well.|
At this point, an unforeseen complexity entered into the project (as they always do). Unlike my Valterra under-chassis rack which floats semi-freely on top of our ground effects supports, this one was going to sit quite close to the body of the Sprinter (inside panel). Therefore, I had to go to special effort to add attachment points to it, as I wasn't going to simply be able to wrap bungee cords freely around all sides of it such that they joined and hooked in the middle. So I had to incorporate attachment provisions into the design, before it was welded up.
Cue the next major annoyance:
|The one on the left is from a fabulous internet retailer called Strapworks. The one on the right is this piece of junk from Home Depot.|
EDIT: My husband took a look at this thing on the right and said, "Nnnnnope!" He hates installing junk on our rig. We may eventually go back and retrofit some of the D-rings on the left (which I have on order) but in the mean time, we're just using wrap-around bungees, as you'll see below. The side clearance of the tray is too narrow to add and remove the bungees because of the thicker hooks on their ends, so we just mounted it with them already in place. Dedicated bungees, in other words. Can't be removed without removing the entire piece, which I would be loathe to do.
|These pics are fun to take, because of course I have to do it with my eyes closed, and I never know what I've got until I upload the pics from my SD card. Nooooo!! Don't look at the liiiight!!!!|
After the welding and my paint job, then came the mounting. But first, look at this:
|HOLY CRAP! It's amazing what happens when one removes eleven years worth of road grime!! It's clean!!|
|And the neoprene washers go on the outside, so that they will press against the body and help prevent water from getting in those screw holes.|
|This is a little tricky because this structural member itself is actually threaded (3/8ths) - I don't know why. But it's hard to get that nut on top tightened down because of the clearance issues.|
|You can see there's plenty of clearance below that propane line.|
|Like my knee boots, for instance. They're quite heavy, the real thing, woodsman-style. I don't think anyone would desire to steal my stinky lady boots, would they? So these are good candidates for storing down there.|
|Also in there: Multiple kayak accessories. None of which are worth a damn without the kayak itself, so I wouldn't expect any of it to be a theft target.|
|There's those two packages on the rack, and there is still space remaining.|
Anyway, I'm as pleased as punch. Yet another storage expansion achieved, and the pressure to find space for everything I want to take on longer, more elaborate trips is duly reduced in yet another new way.
|No pressure, no DIYamonds. Ohhhh, yeahhhhh.|