Friday, June 21 2024

It’s been a lit­tle while since I first put this unit togeth­er so had to track back and see if I still had any pho­to’s, for­tu­nate­ly there’s prob­a­bly enough to get the idea on how this was done.

First­ly, to explain why I have made a unit like this, my van has a 3/4 rock and roll bed with a cush­ioned bench beside it, there­fore, when the bed is made I have a full width bed, except for just a small sec­tion at the bot­tom where the sink is. There­fore, instead of build­ing a unit from the floor to the roof I want­ed to imple­ment a method which will give me more stor­age but not com­pro­mise the full width bed so the idea of a lock­er style sys­tem seemed to work.

Any­body think­ing of doing some­thing sim­i­lar will have to bear in mind that this would need to be mod­i­fied if you have a pop-top roof as it uses the strength­en­ing struts in the roof to attach to.

So the first step was to get the mea­sure­ments and decide on a sen­si­ble size that will also match the base unit I already had. This had me head scratch­ing for a while, but in the end I worked it out with a whole array of batons strapped togeth­er and at the right angles, then I used Corel­Draw to draw the unit on my laptop.

Mea­sur­ing the area for the over­head stor­age unit

Once I had the mea­sure­ments, I could cut the 15mm ply to the cor­rect size. In order to achieve the curve on the edge I used a piece of quad­rant mould­ing which is avail­able from most DIY stores. The three pieces were then stuck togeth­er with wood glue and the use of wood­en dow­el pins. The pieces were held togeth­er by tape while the glue cured overnight.

The ply being glued together
The pieces of ply were held by tape while the glue cured

Once the glue had cured I just used a sand­ing block to ensure the whole curve was smooth. Any gaps were filled with wood filler and smoothed down again.

Sand­ing down the curve to give a smooth finish
Wood filler was used on any gaps in the join
The unit after sand­ing down and filling
A close up of the fin­ished curve in the unit
A view show­ing the inside of the unit
The small piece cut out here will be at the back of the van

I now had to cut the open­ings, this was just marked up on the wood and cut care­ful­ly with a jig­saw, then final­ly sand­ed down with a sand­ing block.

After cut­ting out the openings

I then want­ed to make sure I got my mea­sure­ments cor­rect and check the unit will fit into the van. The unit is fit­ted via 4 bolts, 2 attach to the side of the van and two to the sup­port­ing struts across the top.

Test fit to make sure the unit is OK and to check the exact places to fit the shelf brack­ets for fitting.
I adapt­ed these float­ing shelf brack­ets by replac­ing the rod it came with, with a thread­ed rod
The mod­i­fied shelf sup­port with the rod replaced by a thread­ed rod

The rea­son I opt­ed for the float­ing shelf brack­ets was so that as with every­thing on my van, I have the option to take things out should I need to mod­i­fy it, that has cer­tain­ly been the case since first doing this.

In order to stop any­thing falling out the back of the unit, I added a small lip to the back of the unit, this need­ed to be a bit small­er towards the back in order to not touch the roof.

The small lip at the back of the unit
The bolt attached to the strut on the roof, there is a nut on the inside and one on the out­side. It was even­tu­al­ly trimmed to the cor­rect size.
A view down through the unit to show the fittings

Once I was hap­py with the fit­ting, I con­tin­ued with the con­struc­tion of the unit. After using a t‑slot router bit around the open­ings I wrapped the unit in leather effect vinyl, I used the smooth grain ivory which can be bought online from AS Trim, this being stuck down with high tem­per­a­ture con­tact adhe­sive. Once this was done, I cut out the open­ings and added black t‑trim edging.

Wrap­ping the unit in leather-effect vinyl
T‑moulding edg­ing used on inside of openings
The unit after the t‑trim has been added to the openings

The next stage even­tu­al­ly became redun­dant. I had orig­i­nal­ly built small box­es for each com­part­ment, the rea­son I had gone for this is I thought it would be good to not have to see the roof when open­ing up, but this proofed to be prob­lem­at­ic and end­ed up with less space so I since mod­i­fied and I won’t go into that here.

I fit­ted the down-lights and pur­chased a cus­tom sheet of per­spex online which will hang below the unit above the hob, the rais­ers are the kind used for signs. Now although I used per­spex, if I could afford it I would use glass as it’s above a hot area. It’s gen­er­al­ly OK though as long as the hob isn’t on full blast with noth­ing on it.

The LED lights and fit­tings for per­spex above hob

The tam­bour doors were bought as a cus­tom kit from Clearcut Cus­toms who were very help­ful in sup­ply­ing exact­ly what I need­ed. I found due to the small height, I only need­ed to use the bot­tom spi­ral guide. The straight guides were glued to the top and bot­tom and I also added LED strips to each of these.

Each sec­tion of the unit has a small wood par­ti­tion just to stop any­thing fly­ing off down the whole length but I also glued down some anti-slip mate­r­i­al which seems to work well.

The kitchen roll hold­er is handy when cook­ing in the van.

Inside one of the compartments
The light­ing above the hob area
The kitchen roll hold­er, NOT a toi­let roll hold­er as some­body joked

That’s that for now, although I do have plans to build a small­er unit that hangs beneath and inset from this one with just a few cub­by­holes I can chuck things in. Watch this space!


New worktop and upgrades to the storage unit


Fitting Lensun semi-flexible solar panels

About Author

The Moonraker

A complete self-confessed VW nutjob. My VW T4 is actually my first and only VW I have ever owned but I love it. Having bought my van as a straight forward panel van, I enjoyed the process of converting it how I wanted. Now the van is all done, it's getting out and exploring I love to do.

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