Instructables

Storage platform for the back of your camper van

Featured
Picture of Storage platform for the back of your camper van
PB240065.jpg
PB240066.jpg
This is the next step we did in our sprinter van, after doing the insulation for the walls (see http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-insulate-a-camper-van/ ).

Since we have a Sprinter with the high roof, we have quite some space in the vertical dimension to organize some storage. Our goal is to have an elevated platform in the back area of the van where we can have a ton of storage under, and have our sofa/bed/table on top of that.

In this instructable, we show you how to make that back platform. When considering a comfortable height to build that storage platform, we settled on 17 inches, since it gives enough room in the sofa area, as well as storage space under. Most of the things we will store there are skis and snowboards, clothing, and camping gear. It is up to you to see what you want to store and what dimensions you might need.

To build the platform, we mainly used pine 2x3 studs, 1/2 inch plywood and carpet tiles. These are easy to find materials and not too expensive either. We are aware that this is adding some weight to the van, however, since it is a rear-wheel drive, we think this might actually be a good thing, especially for driving in snow! There are probably lighter ways to build this back platform, but considering our skills, budget, timeframe and accessibility to materials and tools, this was the best compromise for us.

It took us about 2 days to build the platform with 2-3 people. It cost about 100$ of materials (excluding the carpet tiles that we got for free).

DISCLAIMER: This is the first van conversion we are doing, so this is certainly a process of trial and error! We tried to describe at every step the reasons why we made the choice materials we made, so hopefully you can see that we used common sense to design this process. I am an industrial designer and design researcher and my boyfriend is a landscape architect with some knowledge in wood working. We see this project as an experiment and as a wonderful place to try out some ideas about design, materials and fabrication.

If you are curious about the process, take a look at our timelapse videos!!

Sprinter conversion - day 3 (Nov 11 2013) from audrey desjardins on Vimeo.


Sprinter conversion - day 4 (Nov 16 2013) from audrey desjardins on Vimeo.




 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
veeguy8 months ago
I am dating myself here, but having constructed "camper vans" in the 1970's I have some important suggestions. The guy who commented on proper anchoring of your structure is correct. In an emergency stop, the mass of a wooden structure is immense, enough to rip out inferior fasteners. A length of 2" X 2" angle iron bolted through the van's floor into 4" X 4" backing plates then bolted to the platform's structure is a minimum.

The more important thing is to angle saw any longitudinal boards so they do not become "spears" in an accident. You don't want to end up like an olive on a cocktail straw in an accident. Design your long boards and platform plywood as a series of short boards loosely joined. The use you are making of these boards needs strength mainly in the downward direction. The longitudinal force only needs to be enough to anchor the plywood. Your plywood platform could be several 18" width boards with angled edges to allow them to slip under/over each other in an accident. The long boards on the edges at the very least should have cuts made 3/4 to 7/8 through on alternating edges so the boards tend to break rather than pierce human anatomy if a rear end collision sends them forward. An X pattern of supports is even better so you have no long boards(spears) pointed at the driver and passenger seats.

My own design had a rolling platform under the bed platform that could be rolled out the rear doors to provide a table and cooking area for my Coleman stove, or rolled out the front of the platform to allow easy access to out clothes and personal items.
Lion of Love8 months ago
So, basically you have eight wood screws securing the entire structure in a crash. The wheel wells would just serve to launch the platform (and anything attached to it) up in the air, and the next stop would be your bodies. Please consider a more powerful anchoring method? Maybe 1/2 inch (grade five or better) bolts, six of them, with fender washers, down through strengthened sections of the floor frame into the van floor/subfloor? A crash at 35mph is the same as jumping off a three story building and landing face first on concrete. Think it over...
AudreyDesjardins (author)  Lion of Love8 months ago
Thanks for all your comments and advice on this instructable! We will definitely think about the safety aspect more, this is really important.
Lion of Love8 months ago
Consider using aluminum edging. It's not a pretty, for sure, but way more durable. Oak turns black when it gets wet, too.
Lion of Love8 months ago
Adding two coats of wood sealer, clear or colored, to the platform surfaces would make the adhesive work much better, reduce dust and waterproof the wood against future spills, wet shoes, rain intrusion etc.
Lion of Love8 months ago
Adding felt or any fabric strips to the tops of all studs and braces would have eliminated many squeaks that you will have later. Also, adding power wiring now would be nice. Also, consider adding water tanks to the pockets around the wheel wells.
And, adding a thin (1/8" is enough) sheet of plywood to the BOTTOM surface of the floor joists would GREATLY increase the stiffness of the floor, and further reduce movement resulting in squeaks and rattles. It makes the floor a sandwiched stressed skin structure, easy and quick.
Lion of Love8 months ago
Next time pick up a right angle drive for your drill motor, and then drive those screws! A pneumatic staple gun would have made a better faster stronger frame, BTW. (when used with glue and done well)
Lion of Love8 months ago
A more important function of these strips of carpet will be to reduce squeaks and rattles. Gluing all joints in addition to screwing them makes the structure far stronger, and far less prone to squeaking. Vehicles flex and twist. That motion will make sound.
ModMischief8 months ago
Nicely done! I'm more than a little jealous of the extra head room you have in your Sprinter.

We put a bed in the back of our passenger van when we go on road trips, but it's built to be quick to put together and take apart and is no where near as attractive as your version.
August 2010 271.jpgbed5.jpg
ledshed8 months ago
Nicely done.
bwh138 months ago
Been watching your Instructables for a while: keep it up! D'you ever think about using channel aluminum instead of wood?
AudreyDesjardins (author)  bwh138 months ago
Thanks for watching my instructables! We thought about aluminum, but in the end, we chose to go with the material we were the most comfortable working with (which was wood).
rolltidehank8 months ago
I am really enjoying your van instructables! Hope y'all get to enjoy it soon!
ajalec8 months ago
This is a good looking job u guys have done I love ur other van project too. Keep them coming cant wait to see the next project.
AudreyDesjardins (author)  ajalec8 months ago
Thanks! We have started to work on the cedar paneling for the walls and ceiling. We should be finished in a few weeks!
jrytlews8 months ago
Awesome Van! It looks like u should be ready to parking lot camp and be ready for first chair right in time for ski season!

How does that beast drive on snowy roads?
AudreyDesjardins (author)  jrytlews8 months ago
Thanks! We are really looking forward to the first day on the slopes this year! Since we have been working hard on getting the van ready, we have not actually tried it in snow yet. We can't wait to do so. I know however that Mercedes Benz decided to do a real road test with some sprinters last year and they drove from Edmonton, Canada to Anchorage, Alaska and the sprinters performed pretty well... http://www.wheelstalk.com/2013/road-tests/sprinter-vans-were-game-for-alaskan-adventure/ Looking forward to trying it ourselves!
dkrall8 months ago
I did something similar in the back of my suv to haul my tools.