Setting Up The Beast! Part 2 – Boxes

Everything working together

Creating Order Out Of Chaos!

So now that we have settled where the dogs are going to be travelling and sleeping we can move on to handling the second question in our list of priorities: Where are we going to put the things we are going to take with us and how are we going to keep everything together? Well now that we have the dog crate in place we won’t be using our normal ‘Throw everything in, close the door and hope’ method so we have been thinking of something that gives us a little more controlled. On top of that it would be useful to have something that would raise the dog crate up to window level so that the dogs can get the benefit of ventilation when the windows are open.

Mmmm maybe we took too much stuff!

Mmmm maybe we took too much stuff!

So what we need is some form of storage unit that will fit under the crate and allow us easy access to our stuff (like kitchen equipment, food etc.). Now there are some very nice storage units made for the backs of vehicles with wonderful pull out drawers etc. but they tend to be a) expensive and b) not made for our model of Landcruiser (Colorado – model 95) so they are pretty much out. We then got to wondering how much it would be design our own? We went out and (again) measured up the back of the Tank and worked out we pretty much had a 1m x 1m space to play with and about 320mm height before the crate hit the roof lining. Mmmm what if we made a box out of Marine Plywood to keep everything in – yes that could work apart from one minor issue – Neither of us are very good with woodwork  😥 . No problem – we are lucky to know someone who is very good at woodwork: Our friend Clive North. Excellent, looks like we have a plan then!  🙂

Let’s Work This Out!

So now that we have decided that we need some form of wooden box we need to work out how we are going to keep everything we need together. There are basically three ways of doing it:

  • Throw everything in the space provided
  • Use pull out drawers to store everything
  • Use some type of box or boxes to store everything according to what it is (kitchen equipment, clothes, dog food (very important) etc.

Obviously the first one is just a modification of the chaotic method we use now and, as such, doesn’t give us any advantages apart from giving us less space. Having drawers that pull out is nice but it would still require a bunch of either off the shelf or custom built box arrangement to further compartmentalise all of our stuff. From our point of view the easiest, simplest and cheapest option is to standardise on an off the shelf box system and build our storage unit around that. So the search began for a suitable set of boxes.

A Box Is A Box Right?

So we need some sturdy, good, lidded boxes – OK that should be easy shouldn’t it? Errrr No! Once we started looking we found that there are a lot of different types of box around. Some, like cheap and nasty plastic junk boxes, it was easy to eliminate from our search but some, such as, for example, Really Useful Boxes, were definitely worth a second look. In the end we decided to work out what we were looking for in the boxes and create a short list of box types. It turns out our criteria are:

  1. The box must be robust and capable of handling overlanding
  2. The box must be dustproof (or at least as far as posssible)
  3. The boxes used should stack easily on top of each other for storage when they are not on the vehicle
  4. The boxes shouldn’t cost too much

The second criteria really meant that the box needed to be both solid and have a lid. Putting these together meant that our eventual shortlist came down to just two types of box: The Wolf box and the lidded Eurocontainer. Again, as with everything, each in our situation has its pros and cons which I have laid out below:

Box Type Size Pros Cons Notes
Wolf Box

Wolf Box

Wolf Box

520mm x 400mm x 240mm Slightly sturdier (own opinion) that Eurocontainer Construction of the box means packing isn’t optimum as internal space not as big given the outside dimensions as the Eurocontainer There is also a high lid model available which is the same width and height but adds an extra 60mm (approx) height
Eurocontainer

Eurocontainer (Shown without lid)

Eurocontainer (Shown without lid)

Various Lots of different sizes allowing fitting to every available space

Interior is smooth with no nooks and crannies allowing best use of available space

Not quite (own opinion) as robust as Wolf boxes There are a standard set of box sizes (600mm x 400mm, 400mm x 300mm, 300mm x 200mm) which allows you to mix and match boxes for a given heght

To be perfectly honest either of these two types of boxes would handle our requirements easily. So which did we choose? Errr both! Now before anyone accuses us of a cop out let me explain our excuse reasons  🙂 Whilst the Eurocontainer has the better packing arrangements, the Wolfbox can be put in a specially designed off the shelf waterproof cover! So we will be using Eurocontainers for storage inside the Tank and Wolf boxes (in covers) for external storage (which will be detailed in a later post).

And The Winner Is…

Our Main Box Type

Our Main Box Type

So we will be using lidded Eurocontainers for internal storage. Sorted – well at least until we need to work out what actual size or sizes we would need. Luckily this decision is made slightly easier since we already have a Eurocontainer we currently use to store part of our camping kitchen. This was purchased in 2013 from our a very useful (and for us local) supplier of plastic boxes Plastor based just up the road in Maidenhead (apart from being local they also have a very large range of storage to choose from  🙂 ). This box is one of the 600mm x 400mm range with a height of 245mm and an internal volume of 45 litres. That height nicely puts us below the amount of space we still have available – Excellent!

So the question is now how many of these boxes can we possibly fit in to the space we have available. Well we looked and we looked and we looked and it turns out the answer is two! Which is a lot less than we had hoped for! So back to the drawing board! But wait – this is only one of a family of boxes having this height! There is also a 400mm x 300mm x 245mm box and a 400mm x 300mm x 230mm box as well as a 300mm x 200mm x 230mm box to choose from! So having thought about it we came up with the following set of boxes to build our storage around:

Item Size (mm) Volume (l) Quantity

Large Box

Large Box

600 x 400 x 245 45 2
Medium Box

Medium Box

 

 300 x 400 x 230  20 2

Small Box

Small Box

200 x 300 x 230 9 3
Total
157 7

157l – yes that should be enough! I know the medium and small boxes are a different height from the large but that is due to two things: 1) Plastor do not do a small (300 x 200) lidded box at 245mm and 2) One of us (OK Adrian) cocked up the initial order of the medium box and got the 230mm instead of the 245mm!

Once we get the storage unit together the boxes will be laid out as follows:

Storage Box Layout

Storage Box Layout

Due to the need to get the boxes at the back out and a set of short arms each of the boxes will be slightly modified to allow a loop of Paracord to be attached to form a fold flat handle to allow us to grab them and pull them out. Apart from that and, eventually, some labels showing what is in them they will be used as they come.

Box Handles

Box Handles

Again we will be getting all of these boxes from Plastor because they are local and that means we can easily discuss our requirements with them and see the products at their showroom and we have never had any problems with them in our previous purchases. We will also probably get a dedicated dolly (or thing with wheels) to stack the boxes on when we are not using them which saves our backs moving them too and from the Tank – after all old age does terrible things to your back!

In the next post we get on to the ever so exciting world of designing, building, modifying, building, modifying and fitting the storage unit and keeping a count of the number of cups of tea it takes for each stage. Which reminds me…

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