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Vanorak
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Step by step: removable storage cabinets
    Posted: 21 Aug 11 at 07:48
Thanks Ed.  We're off to Ireland for a fortnight so the wide cabinet is being taken out of storage and getting bolted back in this week. 
 
They've been used and abused and are wearing well.  I keep the narrow one in permanently.  It adds loads of storage without using up any of the floor space.  Worth all the hassle involved in their making!
 
Hope all goes well with your project.
ECB           2006 SWB 174 window van
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Jul 11 at 22:04
Superb workmanship...
 
 
My van arrives tomorrow, I cant wait to get stuck into kitting it out. I have until the end of the month so is going to be a task to get it all done.
 
Inspirational work, mine will be marginally less quality I think. Nice One
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Feb 11 at 20:53
Peter, email in your inbox.
ECB           2006 SWB 174 window van
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Jan 11 at 00:06
Hi Ross,
 
What a real craftsmans job !
Would you still have the Word.doc  that you could email to me ?
I`m trying to get rear furniture made for my lwb Shuttle T5 (extra 13" behind twin sliding doors;  mirror image on either side, gap right down the middle with two fold forward single rear bed/seats at the `C` pillars). 
I know a local chippy that your article may just inspire as to what can be achieved !
regards,
Olgit.
email: 
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jul 10 at 16:56

I got most of the final jobs done today.  We’re camping the week after next so the pressure is on!  I also need to fit my new Reimo rail but that’s another story...

 

The first job of the day was to finish fixing the vertical luggage rails to the cabinet ends.  These have been simple to make but quite time-consuming. 

 

I fixed them from inside the cabinet so that the outside appearance remains screw-free.  I used my usual screw of choice, Spax T-Star, which self-tap into the wood and bite very strongly, so I’m confident of fixing the rails without glue.  The combined thickness was 24mm so I used 25mm screws with a brass cup washer.

 

The left hand narrow cabinet was fitted with rails and coat hooks. 

 

 

 

This is the front face of the same cabinet, with just a set of four coat hooks still to be made and added.

 

 

The wider right hand cabinet was fitted with another set of rails and four hooks on the front face - I did the rear face last time.

 

 

 

Next, the two fixings near the tops of the cabinets that secured them to the van were supplemented by two lower fixings.  On my first test run I found that the cabinets, when stuffed full of heavy contents, were forced away from the van side near the unsecured bottom.  As before, I used angle brackets, M6 threaded inserts and M6 allen-headed bolts.  The existing softwood frame (used previously for my full-width bed deck) made this task easy. 

 

Left front:

 

 

Left rear:

 

 

Right front:

 

 

Right rear:

 

 

I’ve been thinking lately about crashproofness of the whole set-up.  As in “What would happen to it in event of a collision?”

 

I feel confident that these four-point fixings are substantial enough to stop the whole thing being ripped off the van, as it's very solid now.  In any case, the double rear seat would stop the big cabinet if it did come unstuck.

 

Anyway, back to the final job of the day, fixing the stays to the top door of the narrow cabinet, which becomes my fold-down worktop for cooking and preparing food etc.

 

The steel stays are lightweight but very strong.  To be sure the table top will take a bit of abuse, I decided to bolt through the door end of the stays rather than just use screws.  I used M4 bolts with locknuts.

 

It was an absolute bugger of a job, for two reasons.  One, the manufacturer’s instructions had the geometry dimensions wrong, so I ended up having to use trial and error to (eventually) get the right locations for each end.  And two, some idiot (me) had put the shelf right in the way of the desired location of the fixing point of the stay.   Because the shelf and the support were glued in place, it was a bastard of a job to do without wrecking the cabinet and I had to make various cut-outs in the corner of the shelf for the stay and the heads of the nuts that protruded from the door fixing.

 

Several hours later I had a very sturdy table top opening perfectly to exactly 90 degrees so I was well pleased despite the cursing and wasted time.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m pretty much at the finish line now with the job, and ready to rock and roll.

 

I’m not sure I need to bother with the planned carpet lining to the shelves as it will just make them harder to keep clean.  I think I’ll use them for a bit and see how I get on.

 

A planned future development is to cut away the top 120mm of the front face of the wide cabinet.  This is the bit that protrudes above the top shelf.  Removing it will allow me to carry a couple of windsurfing sails, a mast and a boom in the long thin space above the cabinet and along the top right hand side of the van to the driver’s headrest.        

ECB           2006 SWB 174 window van
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jul 10 at 18:09
Drawer dividers made and fitted.
 
 
ECB           2006 SWB 174 window van
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jul 10 at 21:11

I’ve been busy for a while....my Financial Manager (me) told me to get some paid work done so the van cabinet jobs have been temporarily on hold...

 

However, of the nine remaining jobs I’ve managed to get work done on 1, 2, 4, 6, 7 and 8.

 

The coat hooks and vertical rails are now made and fitted to the wide cabinet, all in 6mm birch ply to match the rest of the cabinet.  The rails will take Velcro straps to tie back whatever is stored or hung on the cabinet end – coats, folding chairs etc.  The hooks are designed to be low profile and I have a second row of hooks to fit about half way down, for children’s coats and other shorter stuff.

 

 

 

 

I also have a similar system to fit to the narrow cabinet.

 

The big top-hinged door on the wide cabinet now has lightweight stays fitted.  These are excellent; they click in place when you open the door by 90 degrees and to release them you just open the door an extra 10 degrees or so and they allow the door to be closed.  A very nice, compact design.

 

 

 

The curtain/blind dilemma was solved when I realised that the megavanmats lining carpet sticks to the Velcro I have already fixed around the window frames for my existing blinds.  When I next see her, I’ll get me old Mum to sew Velcro tape around the edge otherwise they’ll get tatty, but for now it does the job, blocking light, protecting the glass and hiding the cabinet contents.       

 

 

 

In the meantime I’ve used the cabinets on a couple of weekends away and left them in for day to day use and I have to say they’re superb, but then I would say that wouldn’t I? LOL

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jun 10 at 08:22
Nothing wrong with a bit of cheap ply wood , pulled out my mates shed , with a coat of B+Q  black stain on it   LOLLOL
Come on Ex car bloke whats the hold up !!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jun 10 at 17:20
Dub4life, your storage unit looks great.  Not come across motexion before but being a furniture maker I really had to go for wood, plus I wanted wipe-clean surfaces not fabric covered.  "Cheap plywood", you cheeky bugger! Wink
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jun 10 at 17:14
Originally posted by BlackBeltBlakey BlackBeltBlakey wrote:

So to attach your cabinets you effectively now just use an allen key?       Are you just attaching them at two points, basically at window level?  Nothing at floor level at all?
 
 
Just an allen key, yes.
 
Yes, just two points.  On the wider cabinet the fixing points are near the top of the window.  On the narrow cabinet one is near the top of the window and the other the bottom.  The reason is that the front face of the cabinet runs in a plane that is over the glass and the cabinet is not as tall as the top of the window.
 
I will soon be modifying this to four fixing points for each as just two has proven insufficient.  We were away for the weekend and crammed the cabinets full (and boy can you get a lot in them! Big smile) which pushed them out a bit at the bottom.  I plan to fix them at this lower point to the wooden frame that I already have in place about 200mm below the bottom sill of the windows.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Jun 10 at 14:04
Originally posted by Ex-car bloke Ex-car bloke wrote:

So now I have leather lined drawers, how terribly decadent!  Much more practical than the lining carpet I'd planned to use, and the smell that wafts up when you slide the drawer open is just fantastic! 
 


just like my porn draw!
here's mine I did 3 years ago, no rattles either. Built one on either side at the same depth, bottom bit opens a hinged door to wheel arch where I keep the Jack and Jump leads.
Motexion, not cheap plywood!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Jun 10 at 11:52
Originally posted by Ex-car bloke Ex-car bloke wrote:

So basically I screwed to the van metalwork small plywood blocks to two points as high up each cabinet as possible, to which they are attached via M6 allen-head bolts.  I will replace these with M6 plastic knobs in due course.  It’s crude but effective, I guess, and when the cabinets are in you can’t really see the fixing points.  I might round off the sharp edges and clean them up a bit but the main thing is the cabinets are well fixed.

 
So to attach your cabinets you effectively now just use an allen key?       Are you just attaching them at two points, basically at window level?  Nothing at floor level at all?
 
I'm asking because my kitchen pod is still bungeed into the van and I've been wracking my brains for a way to attach them and hence have been waiting on your solution with baited breath!

Cheers
Blakey
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jun 10 at 22:35
They are going to last longer than the vanClap
Brian Vantana. 60% of the time it works everytime!

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jun 10 at 21:22

Talking of waxing lyrical, I found a lovely piece of thick tan leather today in the workshop, left over from an old upholstery job.

So now I have leather lined drawers, how terribly decadent!  Much more practical than the lining carpet I'd planned to use, and the smell that wafts up when you slide the drawer open is just fantastic! 
 
Just don't get me started about how pleasant it feels to stroke my silky smooth bottoms....LOL
 


Edited by Ex-car bloke - 21 Jun 10 at 21:23
ECB           2006 SWB 174 window van
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jun 10 at 11:45
"The birch is transformed, taking on a lovely pearlescent appearance.  The accentuated contrast between the lighter birch ply and the darker Scottish birch is really nice too. "

I love when you talk dirty.

Bollocks to it all!!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jun 10 at 11:28

 This next short section should be avoided of you are a vanorak of a nervous disposition or get anxious about unsightly holes, fixings or specks of dust on your beloved T5 interior. 

 

I know the proper advice here is “use nutserts/rivnuts”, but I don’t want to spend the money on the rivnut applicator, I have unsuccessfully tried to fix them in using a manual method and when you see the other wooden framework in my van and its general agricultural state inside, you will understand why, after some agonising, I went for a fixing method that is simple and robust but not cosmetically beautiful.

 

So basically I screwed to the van metalwork small plywood blocks to two points as high up each cabinet as possible, to which they are attached via M6 allen-head bolts.  I will replace these with M6 plastic knobs in due course.  It’s crude but effective, I guess, and when the cabinets are in you can’t really see the fixing points.  I might round off the sharp edges and clean them up a bit but the main thing is the cabinets are well fixed.

 
 
 
 

Now we resume the stricter quality control...

 

Next job, door fitting.

 

First I rebated the door edges so that the solid brass hinges sit snugly in place then fix them to the cabinet.

 
 
 
 

Then the rare-earth magnets are fitted.  I drilled the 10mm hole in the cabinet frame first and used a dowel marker to locate the corresponding magnet in the door.  Magnets are fitted flush (the one in the photo had to be shimmed out by about 1mm) which is important as they need to close directly onto each other with a satisfying “clack” which provides a rattle free fixing.  Make sure you get them the right way round or you end up with a door that will never close!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made the little turn-buttons next.  These are pieces of 6mm birch ply and just provide a safety catch, really.  The magnets hold the doors shut very effectively but in the event of, say, driving down a deeply rutted track, the contents of the cabinet could push open the door.  Compared to more sophisticated, ugly and/or heavy catches and latches, I’m really pleased with these low-profile wooden ones.  There are single ones on the narrow cabinet and double ones on the wide one, to hold the drawers in too.  The drawers have a positive “click” at their closing point so again there is no strain on these buttons most of the time, and no rattling.

 
 
 

So, for the exciting bit....fitting the almost-completed cabinets into the van and taking them on their first trip, home to show Mrs ECB!   She loved them and was so impressed that she forgot to give me a bollocking for spending so much unpaid time working on them!

 

So, some photos of the now almost-done job:

 
 
 
 
 
 

I’m very pleased with them, I have to say.  The lightness of colour is going to be easy to live with and looks great with the light blue of the van.  I’m also pleased by the lack of rattles or squeaks.  It all feels quite solid.  The access around them and for opening and closing door and drawers is, in the end, a good compromise over storage volume I think. 

 

Most of all though I’m just excited by the practicalities that they will bring.  I reckon in summer time I’ll keep them loaded up most of the time so that we can nip away at short notice for a night or two away.  On longer trips (like the ones we have planned in August and September) it’ll just be brilliant to be able to find anything I need quickly, and to not be forever tripping over bags and plastic boxes.   The narrow left hand cabinet will probably stay in year round, as it takes up as much space effectively as a box around a wheel arch.

 

However, quite a few jobs still remain, which I hope to get done quite soon:

 

1.       Finish fixing the magnets to the wide cabinet.

2.       Fit the metal stays to the lifting door and the fold-down door/table top.

3.       Fit the Megavanmats carpet to all horizontal surfaces.

4.       Make window blinds out of the same carpet and figure a neat way of fixing them to the metal window frames.

5.       Make and fit the drawer dividers.

6.       Apply another coat of Osmo to the carcasses.

7.       Make and fit birch ply low-profile coat hooks to the cabinet ends.

8.       Make and fit thin vertical low-profile rails on the cabinet ends to allow Velcro straps to be threaded through for holding coats and other stuff hung on the ends.

9.       Have a holiday!

 

I’ll keep you posted on all nine tasks...

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 10 at 18:39
thumbs up from me!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jun 10 at 21:20
Fantasic work ECB
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 10 at 11:26

I had a sudden realisation that I have to make a living, so I’ve been busy for a few days...

 

Still, I have a little progress to report.

 

Final sanding everything to 320 grit (smooth-as-a-baby’s-botty smooth) was followed by application of the first of two coats of satin Osmo Polyx Oil, a product designed for floors and loved by furniture makers because you can apply it with a cloth like a polish so dusty air is no problem.

 

The birch is transformed, taking on a lovely pearlescent appearance.  The accentuated contrast between the lighter birch ply and the darker Scottish birch is really nice too. 

 
 
 

I also had both cabinets in the van together for the first time.  A quick measurement check to make sure both front faces are vertical confirmed that all my ball-aching work at the start has paid off again as all is parallel as it should be.

 

 

You can see from this shot that the narrow cabinet doesn’t hinder access via the side door at all so even with the rear double seat in place coming and going will be no problem.

 

 

The space between them is a good compromise, I think, between huge storage volume combined with enough room to get turned round, do some cooking on the fold-down worktop and get into the fully-extended drawers.

 
 
I’ve also been spending some time thinking of the next job - the neatest squeak-free method of securing the cabinets to the van sides that will also allow quick fitting and removal.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 10 at 17:07

Al, your excellent little shelving units inspired me to do mine, I just got a bit carried away!

 

I just did a couple of quick jobs today.

 

The drawer fronts were fitted to the carcasses and the runners fitted to the cabinet.

 

It was a bit fiddly as the runners don’t adjust very much so there’s lots of measuring and making of slight adjustments until they fit perfectly.  I made the gaps between drawers 3mm to give myself a better chance of having it all looking consistent.  Usually this gap is a lot less - often 1mm - which is too challenging for van furniture.

 

I had to rebate the top edge of the drawer sides to clear the shelf support.  It was only just rubbing but I routed a couple of mm off to be sure.

 
 

These runners are way over-engineered for the job.  They will take 45kg per pair!!  All full extension runners are heavy – soft close ones are much heavier than these – so I went for these because they stole less drawer space than other designs – just 12mm down each side and nothing from the depth.  I could have got slightly lighter duty runners but I love the solid feel and smooth action of the heavier type.

 

You can see from the back how little wasted space there is. 

 
 
The drawer runner length was actually the starting point for the whole design, so I just had to decide whether I went for 350, 400 or 450mm runners.  I ended up with 400mm.

 

The full extension is just that, so it allows for the drawer dividers to be removed and refitted without taking out the drawer.   They’re quick-release anyway so easy to remove when needed.

 

Like, for example, when lifting the cabinet into the van! 

 
With the drawers and especially the runners now fitted, the weight of the cabinet is spiralling slowly  upward, but the penalty will be worth it for the versatility of having deep full extension drawers, which will be a real benefit for camping.  The way I figure it is, the weight of a compressor fridge and a Calor gas bottle (of which we have neither) is much more than the extra weight of my cabinet over lighter ones, so it’s all relative, and I’m only carrying mine around when on holiday, not the whole time.   

 
 

You can really start to see how the end appearance will look, with the drawers in place.  It’s giving me motivation to get the job finished.  



Edited by Ex-car bloke - 09 Jun 10 at 17:13
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