Introduction: Split Level Van

About: I am an automation engineer but I will give anything a go. I don't know if you call if pessimism or just being an engineer, but I look for problems everywhere, then I look for some weird, left field way to sol…

I drive a commercial Mitsubishi Outlander Van and on a normal day I carry a large amount if equipment and tools. The problem is that with access from the side doors and the rear tailgate, there is the tendency to load lots of gear in, most of the equipment is in small boxes and they fall about and obscure access to other items. I was spending far too much time rummaging about so we set about creating a solution.

We looked at all kinds of shelving and storage boxes but most good solutions are designed for panel vans and not commercial versions of traditional passenger vehicles.

Finally the decision to split the van into 2 levels, the lower for tools and heavy gear and the lower for light and frequently accessed stuff. We also split the lower level to separate access from the side and rear doors.

Step 1: The Design

We decided to make a box steel frame, the design is shown in the image.

The materials and cutting list are:

20mm box steel

  • 2 x 1550mm
  • 2 x 1050mm
  • 9 x 340mm
  • 6 x 860mm
  • 2 x 500mm (to be cut for diagonals)

8mm marine ply

  • 1 x 1270 x 1050mm
  • 4 x 1270 x 250mm

Automotive carpet

  • 2.5 sq m

Assorted nuts and bolts

The frame was cut at our factory and sent out to a welder for construction ( he was kind enough to paint is black for us while he had it)

The frame was inserted through the tailgate and bolted to the floor and the cage behind the passenger compartment using 6mm bolts.

The ply was bolted down with round head bolts and the carpet glued on with contact adhesive.

Step 2: Access Flaps and Full Height Storage

We did recognize that the access from the tailgate would be very deep and the items at the front would block the ones behind, recreating our previous problem.

Also there is a need from time to time to move items that are taller than allowed by the shelf.

To get around this we made 2 loose inserts at the back of the shelf, these were bonded only to the carpet and this allows one or both of them to fold away for access and full height storage, they then fold back down to form the rear section of the shelf.

Step 3: Front/Rear Division

We also added a small partition at the middle support, this lines up with the rear edge of the rear door, this allows more delicate items to be segregated near the cab and keeps the lower shelf from being too deep to be useful.

I'm sorry I didn't go into massive detail on all of the dimensions and construction steps but this really is unique to your vehicle.

On a side note, we bolted this down permanently but with some clever use of bolts or latches, you could make it removable, the whole setup only weighs about 30kg (66lb) so one person could easily move it.

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