After using our $27 RV for nearly 1 year worth of weekend trips, we decided it was time for some upgrades. While our basic conversion functioned fine for short trips, storage and gear was far from optimized. There was always a good deal of digging for things and shuffling of goods.
I sketched out a plan to build an 8″ platform sleeping platform with sliding storage underneath. I thought it through about 50% as well as I should have and wound up at Home Depot picking out the materials. I had boards in the cart and was on the verge of setting that in motion when I hit a snag with my incomplete design. We put the wood all back & returned to drawing board that evening at home while we shaped our mattress to a custom fit.
In the already small sleeping quarters, we did not particularly want to sacrifice a substantial amount of our sitting room to permanent under platform storage.
We thought through other ways to get storage, including the idea of a roof top carrier. We realized the pinch point for storage was while sleeping. During the day while not using the sleeping platform, it was a massive cargo compartment with ample storage. While driving, we wanted the rear windshield clear. While sleeping, the area above our feet was unused and an ideal space for more storage.
I immediately started turning over the idea of a shelving system on vertical tracks that could be raised or lowered to an up or down position, which lead Sara to say that sounded complicated.
Simplicity was the savior again.
Sara suggested that the removable trunk sun shade was essentially the perfect height for a shelf and that it would have been perfect if the roll up shade had been built to hold weight.
The sun shade itself rolls into a bar, which is dropped into a 2” x 2” sturdy holder. The screen then pulls out like a projector a projector screen. It is extended beyond 2 “c” shaped mounts that face the tailgate. Two irregular shaped rubber tips fit in the mount and the force of the screen trying to retract towards the front of the car holds it in place. This later attachment point is weaker than the front and is not an ideal place for most other forms of attachment.
I took some measurements and made a plan for a shelf using the available sun shade attachment points.
The original plan consisted of a square 2×2 cut to length for the front cross piece and a dowel for the rear cross peice. I was thinking to bracket the dowel to the underside of shelf leaving the appropriate length extending beyond the shelf surface which could slide into the irregular mount and allow the shelf to rotate down to rest on the front cross piece. To keep the dowel from sliding out of the “c” mounts, I planned to attach a strip or two of scrap wood under the front edge of the shelf that would rest with an edge flush to the front of the front cross peice.
I then bought materials. Because the rear mounting brackets are lightweight, I wanted an appropriately lightweight piece of wood for the shelf by using one piece of 0.205″ x 23.75″ x 47.75″ plywood ($9.92). I had it cut to size in store. I also bought one 8′ x 2″ x 2″ to cut down at home for the front cross piece. I wound up using another piece of the same board for the rear cross member as well rather than the dowel. The “c” bracket needed a much more specific fit than a dowel. I made a mold of the “c” bracket using cling wrap over putty. I then carved down the tip of the rear 2 x 2 until it fit in the opening.
On our initial test trip, we used 3 big loops of painters tape to hold the 2 cross members together, and we have since upgraded to using to tie down straps for this.
The shelf then rested on top, which rattled much on gravel roads to the campground. This noise bothered Sara, and she came up with using heavy duty velcro to secure the shelf to the cross members in a fixed but removable way. I also wrapped the shelf in the roll of heavy duty paper to increase its longevity and prevent splinters from the unfinished plywood.
The shelf has been a great storage increaser ever since!