Welcome to the sixth entry in May’s Medium Mod Contest. One Medium Mod will be published in every Email Alert in May. At the end of the month, we’ll hold a reader vote to determine May’s winner. Click here for information about the 2021 Mod Contest, including how to enter.
Phil Bogardus, Bothell, Washington
Premium Under The Seat Storage
2014 Ford F-350
2018 Northern Lite 8-11EX SE
As we all know, storage in a truck camper can be at a premium. We are always looking for ways to make existing spaces more efficient or create additional storage space.
Under the seat of my Northern Lite 8-11EX is a space where the electrical and plumbing systems are located. I kept staring at this space (photos above and below) and thinking, “Boy, there is a lot of empty space under that seat. There has got to be a way to make it useful for storage.”
What I really want to use it for is the storage of 12-ounce cans since we use our camper mainly for fly fishing trips. We all know adult beverages and fishing kind of go together. My solution was to build a storage shelf that sat up above and around the existing plumbing/electrical systems.
The challenge was the shelf had to sit above the plumbing, fit around the electrical panel and be removable for access to the area below it. The floor next to the electrical panel was nearly 14-inches below the flat area where the water heater sat.
I figured to support the edge of self on the electrical panel side I would need a leg for support. On the flat area near the water heater, I would need short legs to get above the plumbing pipes. After careful measurements were made, I cut a plywood shelf to fit the space (photo above).
Then, I did a trial fit and realized I couldn’t install the shelf into the space with the support legs installed. After some head-scratching, I decided to cut the shelf in half and splice it back together after it was installed.
After cutting the shelf in half, a board was installed on the bottom side to splice the two halves together. A one-inch high wood strip was installed around the entire perimeter of both halves of the shelf to keep the items stored from sliding off (photo above).
Next, I installed legs on the shelf pieces. For the half that needed to sit above the plumbing, four legs were installed to raise it up just above the pipes.
On the other half that went around the electrical panel, I installed a single long leg. You can see in the photo above that the two halves spliced together with the legs installed.
Originally, my plan was to install two legs on the electrical panel side. The problem was that leg needed to be very long to reach the floor and I couldn’t install the shelf with it on. In the end, I realized the shelf was plenty stable without that second leg so I never installed it.
To install the shelf, you first put the piece in next to the electrical panel (photo above).
Then I installed the other half above the plumbing and screwed them together with the splice board.
To make sure that the shelf stayed in place and didn’t slide around I installed two screws through the shelf edge strip into the seat box framing.
With the shelf in place, all that was left to do was fill it with beverages. To maximize the number of drinks that could be stored I left the drinks in their boxes. I cut the drink box tops off and taped up the seams for added strength and durability. Using these boxes, I can fit about forty 12-ounce cans in the space.
Of course, this mod will work for other items besides drinks. You could store canned goods, towels, or just about anything you want.
This mod has done everything I wanted it to do. What started out as an empty, un-used, worthless space is now the perfect spot for storing lots of drinks for weeklong fishing trips. When the cold drinks in the refrigerator get low, you pop open the storage space and move what you need into the refrigerator to keep you hydrated.
All materials can be bought at your local hardware store. The shelf was 1/4-inch hardboard (could be plywood also) and the legs/shelf rim can be made from 1×4 pine material.
I used 1-inch long drywall screws and wood glue for assembly. You can build it with a hand saw, drill, and screwdriver if you wanted, but it would be easier with more advanced tools.
Above: Phil’s sketch of the dimensions for the Under Seat Storage Mod
It took me six hours including measuring and trial fitting to complete this modification and cost me nothing since I used wood I had sitting around my shop. It might be $20 if you had to buy the wood and screws.
In my opinion, the skill level of this modification is easy to medium.
Disclaimer: The modifications above are submitted by Truck Camper Magazine readers. It is your responsibility to make sure that any do-it-yourself modification project you undertake is safe, effective, and legal for your situation.
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