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Discussion Starter #1
I think the easiest way to make a bed in the back, with storage underneath, is to make use of the platforms that are already in the vehicle -- just forward of the two rear storage bins (see picture below that shows these small flat surfaces). These platforms are about 11" up from the floor.

For the forward part (where the rear seats usually are) just construct a simple platform (also 11" high) and place it on the floor.

The vehicle's interior at this height is exactly 48" wide, making it super easy to slide a piece of plywood in, cut to whatever depth you want.

I installed two hinges on mine for easier access. See pictures below...

The nicest thing is that this is only two pieces - the plywood and the wooden platform. That way it's easily removed when you want to put the seats back in.
 

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! wow that looks really trick!

I like the fold up idea so its easyier to get to your stuff! great idea. How strong is it? Im not sure i would trust the plastic pieces to support a large amount of weight.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks. The accessibility is choice!

There was similar concern from another post-- it seems like they'd be weak, but it's surprisingly sturdy.

Particularly with the weight distributed over the entire 12-14" length of that small platform (a la plywood), it seems to hold the weight confidently.

Also - check out that area yourself-- if you knock on it, you can tell it's solid beneath.

I weigh 185, and I'd say it would support twice that weight.
 

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>Easiest Bed with Mass Storage

My immediate thought was a mattress with a 250GB disk drive. :shock:

Seriously, great job. I, too, was wondering about the ability of the trim to hold the weight, but OTOH the spare tire cover is pretty flimsy in its own right. Good thinking!
 

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Very neat. Has to be heavy to have wood thick enough to hold up 400ish pounds? I too would worry about the trim and the wood eventually sagging in the middle with unknown consequences to the trim/sides.

Very cool idea though! The accessibility with the hinges is nice.
 

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Based on past experience and the amount of sagging in test pieces, I figured that I needed either 3/4" plywood, or 1/2" plus several 1" boards to span the 40" of the bed.

My 4' long platform, which rests on boards just in from the plastic bins, uses 5 1x3 boards plus 1/2" ply, and feels solid with 2 people. Using 3/4" ply would have save a bit in platform thickness, but I think, would have been heavier.

paulj
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Two comments
1) RE difficulty of making this assembly -- the beauty of the back of the Element is that the 48" width means you only need to cut one piece of plywood one time if you want it that simple. To whatever length you want -- the width of stock plywood is 48"...

2) RE weight, etc. The plywood is the heaviest part -- the other box structure (of 1x2s) is fairly small and light weight. Not too cumbersome to move around...

I can remove the whole thing easily -- it's only two pieces. The box for support, and the piece of plywood.

Hopefully this helps -- it's a great rig so far.
 

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Have you tried this platform while driving over bumps? Any thoughts about how it might move in a sudden stop or crash. I secured mine with turnbuckles attached to the 4 tie downs in the bed. As a backup I also run a rope between the two side seat mounts. The seat mounts in the floor would also be a good solid anchors.

Any cargo on top of the platform is also free to move around.

paulj
 

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Very nice! :)

There is a significant after-market opportunity in this concept for whoever can crank out a similar configuration that is sturdy and professional looking.

For less than two or three hundred dollars.
I'd love it for camping and for security of all the stuff I'm prone to carry 24/7. My backseats would rarely be in with this setup. As it is, I keep only one backseat when in the city.
 

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Another option for the front, and possibly rear supports would be a PVC breakdown frame as opposed to the 1X2's. I had a similar setup in the bed of my Dodge Ram (12mpg ugghhhh) that worked great. I haven't decided whether I can modify it to fit the E or just start from scratch. Also, if anyone is looking to get a 3/4" sheet of plywood but worrying about making the cuts, Home Depot or Lowes will cut plywood. I believe the first couple cuts are free.
 

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well, this thread gave me an idea, thanks will morgan! i really liked the idea of extra storage, however i had some criteria that needed to be met...
1. i have people in my back seats way too often for the seats to be removed, and
2. i go camping all the time and i always sleep in my element, so, the rear seats had to be able to lay flat, and
3. i cant stand rattling or things making noise when i go over a bump or around a corner

so, heres what i built, it satisfies all of my criteria. it took about 3 hours (i planned it as i went) and exactly $20.81.

the top board measures exactly 26.75" X 42.5" and it fits PERFECTLY.
i mounted the power inverter and a bike mount after it was done. the whole thing is attached to the spare tire cover with screws on the bottom, so if i need to access the spare, i just slide the whole thing out as one piece.

inside i have a full set of tools, an atlas, and a duffel bag containing a tow strap, yakima roof top stretch net, tow hitch, skylight pouch, gloves and jumper cables, and there is still room for plenty of other stuff. none of it rattles or shifts while im driving.

another benifit, is that as you can see, anything i put in the cargo area will now STAY in the cargo area, no more groceries sliding up to the front. the carpet helps a little, but the best thing is having the floor raised to the level of the seats.

ive gotta run, but if anyone has any questions on this, let me know...
 

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I haven't paid much attention to the space under the lowered rear seat, but turning it into dedicated storage for things like tools makes sense. You still have to figure out where to put gear that travels on top of the platform, but at least some items stay put until needed.

Is the top board 1/2" ply?

What are the dimensions of the vertical supports? Nominal 2x6?

I considered something like that, only I wanted it to cover a full size spare (so needed at least 9" of clearance). I switched to a 4' long platform when I decided to I only needed it for camping with 2 people, so I could remove the rear seats, and secure the spare in their place. In its current form, my platform is bolted to a homemade sparetire well cover, one that allows me to access tools in the well without removing the platform.

paulj
 

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Is the top board 1/2" ply?

What are the dimensions of the vertical supports? Nominal 2x6?
the top is actually 1/4" ply. now that the project is complete, that is the ONE thing i dont like about it, i should have used something a little thicker. i was trying to keep the height low to be sure the seats would still lay flat. maybe someday when i have absolutely nothing to do, i will rebuild it. that top piece cost me $.51 by the way, at home depot. it was a piece of scrap wood.

and yes, you were correct on the supports, they are 2"x6" - 8'

someone could really run with this idea and make a lightweight platic insert that fits into the rear cargo area and has lots of little drawers and storage compartments.
 

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Inspired by Elemint8's project...

After seeing the simple shelf that Elemint8 created for the rear storage area behind the seats, the light went on!

I love the simplicity of this approach and was able to construct this even with my limited carpentry skills.

I deviated from Elemint8's design a little bit in that I used 1/2 inch plywood on top and used 2x8's for the three supports.

Since I did not need the seats to be able to lay completely flat, I went with the extra 2 inches of height for the platform. I keep my seats in 95% of the time and the only time they need to be reclined is when my kids want to nap. Since they have their seat belts on I did not want the seats to flat anyway for safety reasons. With this shelf behind the seats, they can recline enough but not too much that I worry about them in the event of a crash. The downside is that if I want to put my seats up and hang them from the rear handles, I need to slide the cargo shelf and bins out onto the tailgate to allow enough clearance to flatten the seats prior to hanging. Once the seats are hung, I can slide the shelf and bins back in place. In order to prevent the shelf and bins from sliding around when the back seats are up, I am going to install an eye hook on each side of the shelf to allow me to attach to the rear tie downs. This height also allowed me to use some small bins I had laying around. This makes it real easy to access items in the back by sliding the bins out like drawers.

For the construction I just used deck screws (countersunk) to attach the top piece of plywood to the 2x8 supports. I backed off of Elemint8's dimensions by about a half inch to allow for the thickness of the carpeting. It is exactly 26" x 42". Once in place it does not move at all, being held in place by the tailgate and seat backs. I glued some thick rubber shelf liner to the bottom of the 2x8 supports to minimize movement as well. The carpet was glued to the top and sides to avoid staples or brads scratching the plastic surfaces. I did use staples on the underside of the plywood to help pull the carpet tight and then pounded them in with a hammer.

I also screwed in a metal handle to one of the 2x8 supports to allow me to slide the whole unit in and out easliy.

Since I will have our dog in the back area at times, I cut a piece of thick rubber (I think it was a carpet runner) to the 26 x 42 inch size to keep muddy paws off of the carpet. The rubber has velcro superglued on the four corners to hold it in place.

The materials used:

-one 2x8 in 8 foot length (gave me (3) 26" supports)
-one 1/2 inch piece of plywood (26x42)
-one piece of carpet (36" x 60")
-three strips of thick shelf liner (1.5" x 26")
-one piece of thick rubber "runner" (26" x 42")
-one metal handle
-some glue (I used weldbond)
-some bins to fit under the shelf (7" clearance)

I am very happy with the ease and simplicity of this project, many Thanks to Elemint8 for sharing.
 

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My local Home Depot had some precut plywood. It is 2'x4' 3/4 inch thick. All I did was round the corners closest to the hatch and glued a piece of carpet on it. Thats it. It is really sturdy. I weigh a whopping 150lbs. wet, and there was no sign of buckling when sitting on it.
 

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eyemhess said:
My local Home Depot had some precut plywood. It is 2'x4' 3/4 inch thick. All I did was round the corners closest to the hatch and glued a piece of carpet on it.
Very nice! Good job.

- Jeff
 
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