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Thread: Building the 'expedition' box - looking for ideas and input

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  1. #1
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    Building the 'expedition' box - looking for ideas and input

    So, after a number of somewhat lengthy trips around various parts of remote Australia, and with plans in place to continue, I came to the conclusion that there is room for improvement in the currently available selection of boxes to put our stuff in. Lots of people out there harp on and on about being prepared, and taking all the right spares and spending money on suspension etc. but when it comes down to packing it all into our vehicles, the challenges begin. Everything from suspension spares and tools to sufficient food, water and appropriate clothing needs to be not only carried, but carefully stowed to prevent damage or loss, whilst at the same time kept to a minimum to reduce weight! If you get these basics right and know how to use your kit, then things proceed just that much smoother and easier, right?

    Strangely enough though, not everyone puts the same amount of thought into how to best store all of their well thought out items of equipment. One of the trends in recent times has been to install a set of expensive steel or even more expensive alloy drawers. Drawers themselves work very well and enhance the ability to pack more things in a safe and convenient manner and I've used them to good effect, but over the last few years have decided that there are some distinct downsides.

    The first big negative for us, and anyone who packs for long trips requiring plenty of gear, is the sheer weight factor. A bare bones standard drawer system comes in somewhere between about 60 and 80kg before you’ve even thought about putting your spares or your Weetbix in them. 80kgs is a hell of a lot of extra weight to carry for the convenience of better packing and in direct proportion, means you can carry less gear.

    The second major negative with these sorts of systems was the fact that when pulling up to a campsite that you might want to stay at for any length of time, the drawers, by design, remain in the vehicle, thus meaning that all your ‘stuff’ remains in the vehicle. What we find works more to our camping style, is the ability to remove our camp boxes from the vehicle to use in the camp as required, thus negating the need to keep returning to the vehicle for any little item one might need to make dinner etc. There are also a lot of campsites around Australia, particularly in some of the National Parks, that do not allow vehicles to be parked up right beside the camp.

    The third major sticking point for us, was not so much the use of the drawers when touring, but what happens when you get home from that big trip and want to return your vehicle to being the ‘daily driver’ that is required to take the kids bikes in the back, or the dog, or what have you. This was rammed home big time when my wife once asked me to take one of the kid's bikes in my Patrol, so we could do a cycle on the Cairns esplanade. It didn’t really go down that well when I had to explain that I couldn’t fit it, and the kids in, despite having a vehicle twice the size of her VW Golf.

    All of these things led me to re-think my packing and storage methods and requirements and to start a thought process around how we could do it simpler and more efficiently. When designing the layout of my 79 series dual cab canopy, I opted to use 55 litre Nally bins and a light weight aluminium mesh frame, a system that also has a couple of limitations, mostly due to the nature of the Nally bins themselves. The system though does, however, address all three of the above issues to some degree.

    So what are the key elements of a ‘touring’ storage system for a 4wd? Strength? Lack of rattles? Dust and water proof? Stack-ability? Removability? Efficient use of space?

    In terms of carrying capacity, everything revolves around the cargo area (or tray/canopy) and to a lesser extent, the roof rack, and back seats. What we really wanted was the flexibility in a system to be able to remove items from the vehicle with minimum fuss, and then return them when required. Like in the good old days when as kids, Dad used a ‘kitchen box’ made of ply, but that held just about everything we needed for the weekend. This box was put in the back of the wagon and then removed once we got to camp. The car was then free to be used for other purposes like firewood collection or to carry us kids and the fishing rods down to the beach and back.

    In my mind, setting up camp with a table as somewhat of a centrepiece, nearby to the fireplace, with the food and cooking gear under or beside the table, is still what the majority see as the most efficient way to go, unless of course, you are just overnighting all the time and cooking off the back of the tray, or something similar.

    When it comes to strength, the good old Nally bin is still probably one of the better options on the market, followed by things like the Wolf Pack (Front Runner) boxes and then a big gap down to the typical clear plastic boxes bought at Bunnings or Woolies. Unfortunately all of these boxes have some serious flaws when it comes to either the weather, the dust, or the rigours of a thousand corrugations, and we noted that a box with the attributes we wanted would by nature be starting to get into the league of the Pelican boxes, Tuff boxes, or Space Cases. Unfortunately, we didn’t want a box to be either as heavy as those options or restricted to those dimensions. We wanted something that was a ‘better’ fit to Four Wheel Drive cargo bays and frankly, a little bit more user-friendly!

    So with this in mind, a mate and I have decided to have a go at designing a bullet proof 'touring' box that could easily meet the above needs, but that was waterproof, dust-proof, and could be used either in the back of the vehicle or on the roof. The box also needed to be compatible for use with ratchet straps, turnbuckles or quick release mechanisms, and was still stackable, did not collect water on the lids (like Nally bins), could be used as a seat, couldn’t be opened by inquisitive animals, and didn’t cost hundreds of hard earned dollars.

    What we have conceptualized is now being fine tuned in CAD and we hope to have a working prototype ready for testing on our next big trip in about May next year. This new system is also going to work with a specifically designed 'Quick Release' mechanism, a lightweight frame (to replace the heavy drawers) that can be easily removed once the trip is over and the vehicle needs to return to its 'daily driver' duties. Initial research and conversations with some of those in the industry, who spend a lot of time in the great outdoors, indicates that if it all works as we hope, then it will do really well.

    The R&D process isn't complete yet, so if you have a feature in mind that you think should be considered for inclusion, let me know and I'll see what we can do with it. If we can get our ducks in a row with it, then we'll try and fire it all up via a Kick Starter project. If you would possibly be interested in something like this, or even willing to help out in testing a prototype sometime next year, then sing out.
    Had a beaut GU with 6.5 Chev TD, but sold the soul and now driving a 79 series dual cab. Yes, a Tojo on the Patrol Forum! Also having fun trying to build the ultimate Expedition Grade storage box.
    www.openskytouring.com

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  3. #2
    Hardcore lucus30's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FNQGU View Post
    So, after a number of somewhat lengthy trips around various parts of remote Australia, and with plans in place to continue, I came to the conclusion that there is room for improvement in the currently available selection of boxes to put our stuff in. Lots of people out there harp on and on about being prepared, and taking all the right spares and spending money on suspension etc. but when it comes down to packing it all into our vehicles, the challenges begin. Everything from suspension spares and tools to sufficient food, water and appropriate clothing needs to be not only carried, but carefully stowed to prevent damage or loss, whilst at the same time kept to a minimum to reduce weight! If you get these basics right and know how to use your kit, then things proceed just that much smoother and easier, right?

    Strangely enough though, not everyone puts the same amount of thought into how to best store all of their well thought out items of equipment. One of the trends in recent times has been to install a set of expensive steel or even more expensive alloy drawers. Drawers themselves work very well and enhance the ability to pack more things in a safe and convenient manner and I've used them to good effect, but over the last few years have decided that there are some distinct downsides.

    The first big negative for us, and anyone who packs for long trips requiring plenty of gear, is the sheer weight factor. A bare bones standard drawer system comes in somewhere between about 60 and 80kg before you’ve even thought about putting your spares or your Weetbix in them. 80kgs is a hell of a lot of extra weight to carry for the convenience of better packing and in direct proportion, means you can carry less gear.

    The second major negative with these sorts of systems was the fact that when pulling up to a campsite that you might want to stay at for any length of time, the drawers, by design, remain in the vehicle, thus meaning that all your ‘stuff’ remains in the vehicle. What we find works more to our camping style, is the ability to remove our camp boxes from the vehicle to use in the camp as required, thus negating the need to keep returning to the vehicle for any little item one might need to make dinner etc. There are also a lot of campsites around Australia, particularly in some of the National Parks, that do not allow vehicles to be parked up right beside the camp.

    The third major sticking point for us, was not so much the use of the drawers when touring, but what happens when you get home from that big trip and want to return your vehicle to being the ‘daily driver’ that is required to take the kids bikes in the back, or the dog, or what have you. This was rammed home big time when my wife once asked me to take one of the kid's bikes in my Patrol, so we could do a cycle on the Cairns esplanade. It didn’t really go down that well when I had to explain that I couldn’t fit it, and the kids in, despite having a vehicle twice the size of her VW Golf.

    All of these things led me to re-think my packing and storage methods and requirements and to start a thought process around how we could do it simpler and more efficiently. When designing the layout of my 79 series dual cab canopy, I opted to use 55 litre Nally bins and a light weight aluminium mesh frame, a system that also has a couple of limitations, mostly due to the nature of the Nally bins themselves. The system though does, however, address all three of the above issues to some degree.

    So what are the key elements of a ‘touring’ storage system for a 4wd? Strength? Lack of rattles? Dust and water proof? Stack-ability? Removability? Efficient use of space?

    In terms of carrying capacity, everything revolves around the cargo area (or tray/canopy) and to a lesser extent, the roof rack, and back seats. What we really wanted was the flexibility in a system to be able to remove items from the vehicle with minimum fuss, and then return them when required. Like in the good old days when as kids, Dad used a ‘kitchen box’ made of ply, but that held just about everything we needed for the weekend. This box was put in the back of the wagon and then removed once we got to camp. The car was then free to be used for other purposes like firewood collection or to carry us kids and the fishing rods down to the beach and back.

    In my mind, setting up camp with a table as somewhat of a centrepiece, nearby to the fireplace, with the food and cooking gear under or beside the table, is still what the majority see as the most efficient way to go, unless of course, you are just overnighting all the time and cooking off the back of the tray, or something similar.

    When it comes to strength, the good old Nally bin is still probably one of the better options on the market, followed by things like the Wolf Pack (Front Runner) boxes and then a big gap down to the typical clear plastic boxes bought at Bunnings or Woolies. Unfortunately all of these boxes have some serious flaws when it comes to either the weather, the dust, or the rigours of a thousand corrugations, and we noted that a box with the attributes we wanted would by nature be starting to get into the league of the Pelican boxes, Tuff boxes, or Space Cases. Unfortunately, we didn’t want a box to be either as heavy as those options or restricted to those dimensions. We wanted something that was a ‘better’ fit to Four Wheel Drive cargo bays and frankly, a little bit more user-friendly!

    So with this in mind, a mate and I have decided to have a go at designing a bullet proof 'touring' box that could easily meet the above needs, but that was waterproof, dust-proof, and could be used either in the back of the vehicle or on the roof. The box also needed to be compatible for use with ratchet straps, turnbuckles or quick release mechanisms, and was still stackable, did not collect water on the lids (like Nally bins), could be used as a seat, couldn’t be opened by inquisitive animals, and didn’t cost hundreds of hard earned dollars.

    What we have conceptualized is now being fine tuned in CAD and we hope to have a working prototype ready for testing on our next big trip in about May next year. This new system is also going to work with a specifically designed 'Quick Release' mechanism, a lightweight frame (to replace the heavy drawers) that can be easily removed once the trip is over and the vehicle needs to return to its 'daily driver' duties. Initial research and conversations with some of those in the industry, who spend a lot of time in the great outdoors, indicates that if it all works as we hope, then it will do really well.

    The R&D process isn't complete yet, so if you have a feature in mind that you think should be considered for inclusion, let me know and I'll see what we can do with it. If we can get our ducks in a row with it, then we'll try and fire it all up via a Kick Starter project. If you would possibly be interested in something like this, or even willing to help out in testing a prototype sometime next year, then sing out.
    I'd be very interested if it suits my needs. But that's the thing one size generally doesn't fit all.

    Im looking for something I can Chuck in the back of the wagon

    Sent from my E6653 using Tapatalk
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  4. #3
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    Yep, that was exactly what started this whole thought process off. Making it fit better in the wagon cargo space.

    I'll do a couple of sizes. Basically thinking that there will be a standard size and a long size to start with. The longer box is probably the one I'd be throwing on the roof rack. Two of the standard size boxes will still stack on the longer box too.
    Had a beaut GU with 6.5 Chev TD, but sold the soul and now driving a 79 series dual cab. Yes, a Tojo on the Patrol Forum! Also having fun trying to build the ultimate Expedition Grade storage box.
    www.openskytouring.com

  5. #4
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    Well done FNQGU, I'd buy em in a heartbeat mate. Our family wagon has the cheapo drawer system weighing some 80+kg and helps send us into GVM upgrade$$$ territory if we ever seriously tour in it. My ute/tray I've got an assortment of Bunnings 'Rhino' boxes 900&1200's inter stackable and so tough can be used as stairs up when off loaded. Only trouble for me in the ute setup is that as I get older the old back can't handle the 1200's weight and I'm sure oneday soon the 900's will break me too.
    Lego I reckon was one of the best inventions ever, especially how varying blocks can always interlock to create any structure we like. Imagine a whole convoy unloading to create a camp kitchen or grandstand seating around the fire, lol :-)

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    Patrol Freak garett's Avatar
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    this is why i don't have draws in the back. i use my mav for everything. and draws would kill too much space when i'm not using them. love the idea, much better than the cardboard boxes i use now.
    if its worth doin its worth over doin

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    Working on a quick release fridge slide and drop slide too...in HD alloy instead of steel. Should be able to fit the box system to one side and the pull the lot out and stick it all back in the shed when home. Fridge slides are another pain.
    Had a beaut GU with 6.5 Chev TD, but sold the soul and now driving a 79 series dual cab. Yes, a Tojo on the Patrol Forum! Also having fun trying to build the ultimate Expedition Grade storage box.
    www.openskytouring.com

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    I’m watching this with interest. If you can achieve your aim I too think they will be very popular.

    Our pod based storage came about after I realised the Troopy access only from the rear, for everything, just wasn’t going to work for extended travel. When planning the pod one of the primary goals was storage which as much as possible avoided having to move one thing to access another. I achieved this to a large extent, but it could still be a lot better, especially since removing the previously portable solar panels permanently to the roof. I used two different size of ‘Nally’ bins, same width & length, but two different depths. They slide in & out on aluminium side rails so that when all are removed they leave taller open spaces than you get with shelving, but the framework is restricts non-camper use. When collecting stuff from the hardware store it is not uncommon for me to use my wife’s diminutive two door hatchback as I can get longer things into it. I couldn’t carry a bike inside. A trailer is a necessity for at home use.

    IMG_0163.jpgIMG_0172.jpg

    2006 4.2TDi ex-Telstra Remote area Camper. 425w roof mounted solar, 360Ah Aux batts, BCDC1240, Onboard hot & cold pressurised & filtered water, (25 litre hot water calorifier), ARB fridge, ARB freezer, Built in kitchen, 240v, 3” Genie exhaust + dynotune, 2” lift, Lovells GVM upgrade, ROH Blaktrak steel wheels, Bridgestone D697’s, Redarc gauges/pillarpod, Hema HX-1, CB, dual rear view cameras, Onboard 30amp Victron mains charger, second glovebox, dual seat conversion, Tyredog TPMS, Boss PX7 onboard air with 9 litre tank, 350w inverter, Steel bullbar, Harrop Eaton diff lock (front), Warn winch, Snorkel, Dual spares , 160 litre water tank, 2010 Tvan Tanami. (incl another 70 litre water tank) with matching wheels/tyres (& 3rd spare)
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  13. #8
    Patrol God mudnut's Avatar
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    As someone who is very restricted on how much I can carry, I would love to have bins that are able to be fitted with a handle and wheels. As you have posted, some camps have a fair distance between the carpark and the camp site. I have thrown together a platform that sits where the mid row of seats is, so being able to put a mattress on top of the bins would be a big plus too. I wonder if you could build in a frame at one end of the box to accommodate the wheels and fasten the end on with quick release screws so that the contents can be accessed if the need arises. And maybe interlock the boxes when loaded next to each other.
    Last edited by mudnut; 27th November 2016 at 08:02 PM.

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    One of the aims we have with the QR frame is that it can actually be pulled out of a vehicle and left in camp, with the boxes in it so they slide in and out nice and easily. The QR bases of the frame could in theory snap onto anything, including a set of wheels I guess. The frame will also hopefully be stackable - so a double stack and a single, can be joined vertically to make a triple. Some of the feed back I've had from ute owners is that they want a triple stack, or a fridge with a single above it, then directly behind it and up against the headboard, a triple stack. ie. back to back.

    The boxes themselves will also have the same feature if we can engineer it. We're aiming to have them snap onto a QR mount on a roof rack, without any straps at all, so technically you could attach some sort of rolling system for either the whole frame, with boxes in it, or an individual box. Designing and building rollers as accessories wouldnt be that hard I don't think. It would just depend on demand.

    Cuppa - if we get this right, the system would allow you to pull the whole frame out at will, thus free-ing up that space where your current frame is. I have the exact same drama in my truck now, and this is part of my motivation for trying to make something 'better'.
    Last edited by FNQGU; 27th November 2016 at 08:40 PM.
    Had a beaut GU with 6.5 Chev TD, but sold the soul and now driving a 79 series dual cab. Yes, a Tojo on the Patrol Forum! Also having fun trying to build the ultimate Expedition Grade storage box.
    www.openskytouring.com

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  17. #10
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    I've been following the website recently concept looks good but are they going 2 be any different 2 the poly space cases that are already out on the market?
    Time is never wasted when your wasted all the time



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