DITCH YOUR SECOND-ROW SEATS FOR THIS STORAGE SETUP!

Storage is always at a premium whenever we head bush, especially if it’s on an extended trip. You’ve gotta look for every little bit of storage space you can, and make use of everything that’s available. If you’ve got a four-door wagon or a dual-cab ute and you don’t have tin lids (or mates who mooch rides all the time) then it’s definitely worth considering ditching your second-row seating. Building a second-row storage system can be as basic or as complex as you like – it all comes down to what you want to carry.

The 4WD Action 80 is crying out for a second fridge to run as a freezer on the big trips, and we’ve just had a Travel Buddy pie oven turn up that we’re hanging on getting mounted. Check out this setup for an easy, functional second-row storage solution that’ll change the way you head bush!

[dropcap]1[/dropcap]We’re all about making things easy, and this trick will make your job a million times easier. Rather than try and measure and mark out your plywood by guesstimate, get some cardboard, tape it together and use scissors to cut it to shape around the wheel wells.

[dropcap]2[/dropcap]Once it sits nicely, simply transfer it onto your plywood, mark with a permanent marker and cut your false floor with a jigsaw. We considered lifting the false floor for extra storage, but at the end of the day, the more contact the plywood has with the floorpan, the more weight it’ll be able to support. A couple of lengths of 2×4 at the leading edge of the false floor sit perfectly down into the footwells, making the whole setup rock-solid and perfectly flat. Plenty of timber screws later and it’s not moving a millimetre.

[dropcap]3[/dropcap]All of the original seat bolts need to go back into place if the idea of a cabin full of dust doesn’t appeal to use. We’ll use the rearmost mounting points to secure the false floor. Here’s an easy trick – get your old seat bolts and wind them right down into the threads, then grab some bearing grease and put a dab on top of each of the bolt heads. Then, carefully position your false-floor down on the bolt heads, remove it and you’ll have the exact locations you need to drill marked out for you. Drill them out, then a couple of longer high-tensile bolts and washers later you’ll have the floor perfectly secured.

[dropcap]4[/dropcap]Jobs like these are all about how professional a finish you can get, and with a few of the right tools you can make it look like you paid the pros. Marine carpet is cheap, easy to work with and looks tops when it’s done right. Start by cutting your carpet to size with a couple of inches of overlap on all sides, then cover the top of the floor in contact adhesive. Lay the carpet over the floor, and then using your staple-gun start working the carpet around the underside of the floor and stapling it into place. Pull it tight as you go, and with a few knicks with a Stanley knife on the edges, you’ll be blown away by how good it will come up.

[dropcap]5[/dropcap]These Travel Buddy 12v ovens are a cracking bit of gear, and the 80’s going to get one as part of the second-row storage setup. Problem is, you don’t want things crashing around in the back smacking into the oven, so the solution is a bit of left-over plywood and marine carpet to create a little compartment. We’ve ditched the included cigarette socket and we’re hard-wiring the oven straight into the fuseblock off the auxiliary batteries, so it’s got a permanent power supply.

[dropcap]6[/dropcap]We’re going to be running a fridge as a freezer on the long trips, so to secure it properly we’re running a couple of these bolts and eyelets up through the false-floor. Make sure you use big washers (mudguard washers work well) on the underside of the floor, as it spreads the load across a wider area and resists tearing out the eyelets. A couple of cam-buckle straps later, and that’s our second-row storage setup complete!

LEGALITIES

A big word of warning here. We’ve heard third-hand stories of blokes being booked before, for removing second or even third-row seats because the vehicle no longer can carry the same amount of people it is registered to carry. If you look on your rego papers it will say ‘seating capacity’ – as long as you don’t make any sort of permanent modification, like cutting out seatbelts or welding over mounting holes, you aren’t permanently altering the seating capacity of the vehicle, which means that you’re technically not breaking the law. Of course ‘technically’ doesn’t matter one bit if you fail the attitude test and get a copper or roads inspector off-side, so if you’re really concerned give a local vehicle engineer in your area a call and get his interpretation on the rules. Be warned though – registering a vehicle as a two-seater often changes it to a different (and sometimes more expensive) registration class. Of course if you’re not sure, check with your local roads and traffic authority.

WHAT WE USED

2400x1200x12mm marine ply: $78
1m plush marine carpet: $36
Staple gun: $12
Contact adhesive: $9
Assorted hardware, tie-down eyelets, high-tensile mounting bolts, etc: $58

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