Old vans from the early 60's, such as my 1965 Ford Econoline, are designed to be compact and are considered the first minivans.  There's a good amount of room inside but no place to lock up valuables out of sight unless you install a locked box somewhere.  If you don't mind doing some cutting into the floor, and permanently modifying your van, then there are two locations where you can utilize unused space underneath the van.    I call it a smugglers box because it's more fun than a battery box or extra underfloor storage and reminds me of smuggling Droids and Jedi Knights in a film made 11 years after my van was built.  Lets get started...

To do this you will need a lot of gear including welding, cutting and grinding tools.  Because I live in an apartment and don't own any of these tools I made it at Tech Shop.  Check to see if you have a Tech Shop near where you live.


For my box I used approximately:
8 feet of 1/8 x 1 inch angle iron
8 feet of 1/8 x 2 inch mild steel bar
15 feet x 1 ft 16 gauge mild steel sheet metal
2 cans of Rust Oleum primer and paint.

Step 1: Locate the Spot You Want to Place the Box, Measure and Cut.

In an Econoline there are 2 natural spots to add a box.  The one I am using here is just inside the side doors behind the rocker panel.  The box I built is 32 in  long x 11 in deep x 8 inches wide.  I used these dimensions to make it possible to hold up to 2 batteries.  Your dimensions may vary or need adjustment as you progress depending on your needs and also how accurately you are able to cut the hole into the floor.

To cut the hole I identified natural lines that will not  intersect with the frame or other important structures underneath the van and also worked with the ridges that are embossed into the sheetmetal floor of the van. I cut the floor with a portable Plasma cutter which goes through metal like warm butter but you could also use a high speed cutting wheel. 

Measure out the hole you will cut and draw a line to follow with chalk or grease pencil.  It is a good idea to drain and remove your gas tank before you do this step.
or check out yr local scrap yards. uill pay abut 40 - 60 cents a pound depending on where u live.
or flood yr gas tank (keep it flooded) with inert gases, like co2 or argon. or runn yr tank to empty.
nicely done

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a game programmer, character designer and musician. I love working on my van, Noistar and other projects at the Tech Shop. I have ... More »
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