The Build

My custom built overhead storage unit

It’s been a lit­tle while since I first put this unit togeth­er so had to track back and see if I still had any photo’s, for­tu­nate­ly there’s prob­a­bly enough to get the idea on how this was done.

First­ly, to explain why I have made a unit like this, my van has a 3/4 rock and roll bed with a cush­ioned bench beside it, there­fore, when the bed is made I have a full width bed, except for just a small sec­tion at the bot­tom where the sink is. There­fore, instead of build­ing a unit from the floor to the roof I want­ed to imple­ment a method which will give me more stor­age but not com­pro­mise the full width bed so the idea of a lock­er style sys­tem seemed to work.

Any­body think­ing of doing some­thing sim­i­lar will have to bear in mind that this would need to be mod­i­fied if you have a pop-top roof as it uses the strength­en­ing struts in the roof to attach to.

So the first step was to get the mea­sure­ments and decide on a sen­si­ble size that will also match the base unit I already had. This had me head scratch­ing for a while, but in the end I worked it out with a whole array of batons strapped togeth­er and at the right angles, then I used Corel­Draw to draw the unit on my lap­top.

Mea­sur­ing the area for the over­head stor­age unit

Once I had the mea­sure­ments, I could cut the 15mm ply to the cor­rect size. In order to achieve the curve on the edge I used a piece of quad­rant mould­ing which is avail­able from most DIY stores. The three pieces were then stuck togeth­er with wood glue and the use of wood­en dow­el pins. The pieces were held togeth­er by tape while the glue cured overnight.

The ply being glued togeth­er

The pieces of ply were held by tape while the glue cured

Once the glue had cured I just used a sand­ing block to ensure the whole curve was smooth. Any gaps were filled with wood filler and smoothed down again.


Sand­ing down the curve to give a smooth fin­ish


Wood filler was used on any gaps in the join



The unit after sand­ing down and fill­ing


A close up of the fin­ished curve in the unit


A view show­ing the inside of the unit


The small piece cut out here will be at the back of the van

I now had to cut the open­ings, this was just marked up on the wood and cut care­ful­ly with a jig­saw, then final­ly sand­ed down with a sand­ing block.

After cut­ting out the open­ings

Now I want­ed to make sure I got my mea­sure­ments cor­rect and check the unit will fit into the van. The unit is fit­ted via 4 bolts, 2 attach to the side of the van and two to the sup­port­ing struts across the top.

Test fit to make sure the unit is OK and to check the exact places to fit the shelf brack­ets for fit­ting.

I adapt­ed these float­ing shelf brack­ets by replac­ing the rod it came with, with a thread­ed rod


The mod­i­fied shelf sup­port with the rod replaced by a thread­ed rod

The rea­son I opt­ed for the float­ing shelf brack­ets was so that as with every­thing on my van, I have the option to take things out should I need to mod­i­fy it, that has cer­tain­ly been the case since first doing this.

In order to stop any­thing falling out the back of the unit, I added a small lip to the back of the unit, this need­ed to be a bit small­er towards the back in order to not touch the roof.


The small lip at the back of the unit


The bolt attached to the strut on the roof, there is a nut on the inside and one on the out­side. It was even­tu­al­ly trimmed to the cor­rect size.

A view down through the unit to show the fit­tings

Once I was hap­py with the fit­ting, I con­tin­ued with the con­struc­tion of the unit. After using a t-slot router bit around the open­ings I wrapped the unit in leather effect vinyl, I used the smooth grain ivory which can be bought online from AS Trim, this being stuck down with high tem­per­a­ture con­tact adhe­sive. Once this was done, I cut out the open­ings and added black t-trim edg­ing.


Wrap­ping the unit in leather-effect vinyl


T-mould­ing edg­ing used on inside of open­ings


The unit after the t-trim has been added to the open­ings

Now, the next stage even­tu­al­ly became redun­dant. I had orig­i­nal­ly built small box­es for each com­part­ment, the rea­son I had gone for this is I thought it would be good to not have to see the roof when open­ing up, but this proofed to be prob­lem­at­ic and end­ed up with less space so I since mod­i­fied and I won’t go into that here.

I fit­ted the down-lights and pur­chased a cus­tom sheet of per­spex online which will hang below the unit above the hob, the rais­ers are the kind used for signs. Now although I used per­spex, if I could afford it I would use glass as it’s above a hot area. It’s gen­er­al­ly OK though as long as the hob isn’t on full blast with noth­ing on it.

The LED lights and fit­tings for per­spex above hob

The tam­bour doors were bought as a cus­tom kit from Clearcut Cus­toms who were very help­ful in sup­ply­ing exact­ly what I need­ed. I found due to the small height, I only need­ed to use the bot­tom spi­ral guide. The straight guides were glued to the top and bot­tom and I also added LED strips to each of these.

Each sec­tion of the unit has a small wood par­ti­tion just to stop any­thing fly­ing off down the whole length but I also glued down some anti-slip mate­r­i­al which seems to work well.

The kitchen roll hold­er is handy when cook­ing in the van.


The tam­bour door kit


Inside one of the com­part­ments


The light­ing above the hob area


The kitchen roll hold­er, NOT a toi­let roll hold­er as some­body joked

That’s that for now, although I do have plans to build a small­er unit that hangs beneath and inset from this one with just a few cub­by­holes I can chuck things in. Watch this space!

Previous post

New worktop and upgrades to the storage unit

Next post

Video of trip to Cornwall in May 2017

The Author

sharkbait

sharkbait

A complete self-confessed VW nutjob. My VW T4 is actually my first and only VW I have ever owned but I love it. Having bought my van as a straight forward panel van, I enjoyed the process of converting it how I wanted. Now the van is all done, it's getting out and exploring I love to do.