Building Storage For Overlanding

After spending a lot of time searching online for storage methods for the bed of my truck, I decided it was time to just go for it. I went for simple storage compartments over the wheel arches and a tray that could be be pulled out to make loading easier, it could also double as a table when camping. It ended up being a very cheap project! So far.

First things first, I worked out what materials i would need.

  • A couple boards of plywood
  • Batons for the frame
  • Wood screws
  • Self tapping screws to secure the frame to truck bed
  • Bed liner paint for a tough finish
  • Wood filler
  • Silicon sealant to make the bed watertight.
With everything gathered it was time to start figuring things out…

First I went around the bed and used the silicon sealant to fill any places in the bed where water could get in.

Once this was done I grabbed a piece of cardboard and started to draw out a design that would fit my bed. I decided that two storage compartments over each wheel arch would be sufficient, with the side rails of the bed still accessible. And then a sliding tray in the center.

Time to measure and draw a basic design.

Once I was vaguely happy with the design I decided to jump straight into building it. The first thing I did was to measure out 6 identical lengths of baton that would become the main frame. I secured two to the floor of the truck bed using two large self tapping screws for each, to ensure a sturdy base. I then decided to secure a baton to the bed liner on the side of the bed with screws. I figured by building the base of the frame in this way it should be sturdy enough for daily abuse.

The framework in process.

Once I had the base batons secured to the bed, I measured and built a simple framework. Then measured, measured again, and cut the plywood to cover the frame. I cut two large holes cut in the top board for doors to the storage compartments, I then cut two slightly larger rectangular boards to become the lids, once the compartments were finished.

Covering the frame in plywood.

And now on to the sliding tray.

This turned out to be a lot easier than I imagined. I had plastic inserts in the bed floor C-channels, so I cut one of the inserts into two foot-long sections. These were screwed to the ends of two batons the same length as the storage compartments. They then slid into the C-channels easily. Once they were fully pushed into the bed I measured and cut a large piece of plywood and simply screwed it into the batons. I then capped both ends of he tray with sections of baton. This also meant that the tray could only be pulled out a certain distance before the plastic inserts, screwed onto the batons, hit the tailgate. So there we have it. A sliding tray. Simple.

The simple sliding tray.

Once everything was in place I was pretty proud of it, but the gaps between the plywood sections were very visible. Wood filler time! I filled in all the gaps and even covered the screws where I had secured the plywood to the frame, waited for it to dry and gave it a good sanding. Once I was finally happy with it, it was time for paint.

Time for paint!

I decided to go with a cheap bed liner paint that was about £10 per spray can. It was pretty durable and the same paint I used for my sidesteps. Unfortunately Halfords have now stopped selling it, bummer, I’ll have to find something else next time. Luckily I had enough to cover the whole bed. The plywood also gave it a kind of camouflage pattern so it looked pretty cool.

So there we are finished! It turned out to be a fairly cheap addition to the truck, it will keep all spares and tools nicely organised when we are on the road now.

Finished! With the slide out.
And with the slide in.
I’ve even started putting accessories on already. Look at that fire extinguisher placement!

There’s still a few things to do. I need to paint the lids and attach them once I’ve found the correct hardware., like hinges, handles, support for the table, etc.

I’ll do another post when I have added more things, like the lids!

Chasing Squeaks (A guide on how not to problem solve)

A week after green-laning at Salisbury (a story for another day), we had decided to go down to the New forest camping.

It was a nice relaxing weekend surrounded by the nice peaceful forest. That is until the nightmare began. On the way home the front left wheel began to scream. It was so loud it was scaring the horses that roamed the forest. Moments of quiet sanctuary ruined by what sounds like a stampede of horses being chased by a baby pig….

Anyways once I was home I had a quick look around and nothing seemed obvious… other that the entire front wheel could be shaken and rocked! The bearing was completely gone. How I didn’t notice this while I was driving I’ll never know. So I went straight online and ordered two new front hub assemblies from Energized Customs. They came the next day. Simple.

I went ahead and disassembled the front left wheel and brakes, then onto the hub, bolts out and finally took out the drive shaft. It wouldn’t budge. Time for the hammer. Stupid decision. The drive shaft popped out, and the hub came straight off. The new hub went straight back on, and I started to reassemble. It was only when I tried to put the bolt back on the drive shaft that I had realised my mistake. I had completely ruined the thread with the hammer, and now the bolt. Great.

This complicated things. Instead of buying a complete front left drive shaft (probably the easy option), I bought a new outer CV joint, luckily Milner Off Road had them pretty cheap. It came two days later and after getting completely covered in grease, it was done. No more squeaky bearing.

However, now there was a squeak coming from the right side. Probably a bushing. I sprayed some WD-40 onto all the front right bushings (two on the upper control arm and two on the lower), this seemed to quieten the squeak for a while.

At this point the truck needed an oil change. I bought 10L of fully synthetic 5w-30. I drained the oil from the engine. For future reference it might be beneficial to use a piece of piping to direct the oil away from the skid plate and into a tray.

I forgot to buy an oil filter.

So after letting the truck sit for a day with no oil in it, I picked up a Mann oil filter. Getting the old oil filter off was a pain, I ended up breaking a chain oil filter remover tool, removing the front right wheel and wheel well liner, hammering a screw driver through the filter to try and turn it. That didn’t work. Eventually I ended up borrowing a metal strap filter tool which did the job.

After all that excitement my steering started to squeak! Great. We’ll get to that later.

On to the squeaky bushings. I removed the front right upper control arm as this is where I thought the squeak originated. I took it to a shop to get the old bushings pressed out. After an hour or so of them beating the bushings with a sledge hammer they finally popped free. I had bought some polyurethane bushings from Milner Off Road as a replacement. They pushed in easily and went back on to the truck with ease. Wheel back on and truck on the ground, there is still a squeak…

This is where I am now, 3 months from the first squeak. I’m pretty sure it must be the lower bushings squeaking now and possibly the lower ball joint causing the noise with steering. I decided the best action was to buy a lower control arm complete with new bushings and ball joint installed. This does mean that I won’t be able to put in polyurethane bushings but with all the rough terrain of green-laning I think it won’t be too many years before they need changing.

With the new control arm installed I should have a quiet truck! But for now I’m stuck with this squeaky thing.

So in brief:

  1. Do not use a hammer to remove the driveshaft from the hub assembly.
  2. Make sure you know exactly where the noise originates before buying and changing parts.
  3. If bushings don’t need to be changed, DON’T CHANGE THEM.
  4. Milner Off Road have next day delivery.
  5. Use the right tool for removing oil filters.
  6. If you are changing the oil, get a new oil filter.
  7. Use drainage piping of sorts to guide dripping oil away from skid plate.
  8. Polyurethane bushings are super easy to install.

I’ll keep you updated.

Rock Sliders! (My first real welding project!)

Looking around online for new side steps for the skunk proved to be difficult, they were either really expensive (over £700) or the same as stock ones (gross). I was tired of the old ones, they had been painted by the previous owner, probably more than once, the paint was chipping, they were rusty, and the plastic step surface on them was all warped and discoloured. They were too short. I did not like how they looked.

The old side steps.

So I decided to make my own.

I ended up buying about 12m of 30x30x2.5mm square steel tubing for around £80 online. I had a plan in my head so I started to draw out the measurements on an old dirty piece of cardboard. (Engineering at its finest). It didn’t take long before I had cut out the main shape and laid it all out on the floor.

Once I was happy with how the step looked I began to weld it together.

Now I’m pretty new to welding, and I was using a small arc/stick welder that I got from Aldi. So I wasn’t expecting perfect welds, but I think I did a pretty good job!

Once I had the main steps welded together I was pretty happy, although I had no idea how to attach it to the truck. I decided to use where the stock steps had been bolted on. So I just measured out some small bits of flat metal and welded them on.

Once I had welded these parts on I put it onto the truck and quickly realized how unstable they were. Time to attach them to the frame like ‘proper’ rock Sliders. So measured some more tubing and some thicker flat metal for the bolts, welded and Vola!

They fit snugly on the truck and even unbolted could withstand me jumping about on them. Now to attach them to the frame I decided to use rivet nuts. At short notice I could only seem to get rivet nuts that were hexagonal.

Rivet nuts similar to the type I used.

Have you ever tried to set these things using two spanners and a spare nut and bolt? It sucked! This led to me going out and buying an electric impact wrench (Best tool I have ever purchased!). This made setting the rivet nuts in the frame easy. With everything in place and tested, (and a load of grinding to get rid of my bad welding…), time for paint!

I ended up painting them with a cheap bed liner paint from Halfords. Which made them durable and grippy making getting in and out of the truck easier.

And so here they are, the finished product!

I’m pretty happy with them to be honest, especially with my welding skills!

They are tough and sturdy. Since I’ve had them on I’ve hit them against quite a few rocks and banks whilst green laning, the occasional tree, and they are perfect.

The only issue I’ve had is the paint isn’t super durable and I have had to go over parts every now and then.

So there it is. You don’t have to go and buy super expensive rock sliders to make your truck look good. I built these for about £100, even if you include the welder it’s still below £200.