Platform and Drawer System
If you've been reading along on this build you know that there was a dog deck and a folding utility shelf installed, neither of which worked as well as I would have liked. Add to that one of the reasons I went with this 2.5 is its room to create a sleeping platform, and I decided to do a do-over, making this Interior Modification, Part 2, combining a platform with a drawer system.
I studied a number of DYI systems on Expo and other build threads, making decisions on materials and dimensions, but keeping all this driven by our overland history of what has worked and what we wish we had. The driving need here for us was to have the ability to pull over, level out, roll out pads and bags and go to sleep.
We've done the RTT route and have a Kodiak ground tent, both with pros and cons. Being able to sleep in the Monty seems to be the best compromise for us; easy set-up and access, great weather protection and climate control, off the ground away from critters and more of a challenge for predators to get to us.
We didn't want to compromise storage, and given we've turned this Monty into more of a Nomad (its new nomenclature) by removing everything aft of the front seats, a platform with a drawer system and storage hatches would be the way to go. The system would provide a cooking and cleaning workspace and a large drawer.
And then there's the fridge dilemma. Every fridge system, save for a couple small ones, exceed the platform height requirements I established for this build; 12" high from the cargo floor, giving us and the canines enough room above board to sleep and travel comfortably. That equates to 18" in the middle seat passenger-side footwell, but the well itself is just a bit too small to accommodate an Engel or ARB fridge, so I originally considered a smaller 12V fridge.
With these considerations in mind, I hit the drawing board.
This shoot-for-the-moon design featured a stainless drop-in propane two-burner stove and a drop-in stainless sink in a slide-out drawer. A 23"W by 30"D drawer would store mess and camp stuff. There's room for a ten gallon water tank and a Luna Dual Battery system to power the fridge and isolate the 2.5's main 12V system.
I calculated around 170 pounds was removed from the interior and I didn't want to exceed that in this build. I compared MDF, plywood and particle board in terms of weight and strength and decided to go with particle board. (Welding a frame together was out of my scope.) UPDATE: Finished build comes in at approximately 185 pounds.
The first alteration to the original plan was to flip it, putting the kitchen slide-out on the door side using it as a wind break to shelter the cooking area.
I went four inches shorter on the outer uprights to allow easier access for storage under the platform.
The platform was originally designed with three hatches; two wings on the sides flanking the drawer cabinet, and one long hatch to access the space in the cabinet ahead of the drawers to store gear. I took care to make certain the interior dimensions of the cabinet were square from to back, top to bottom.
A fourth hatch was added just aft of the front passenger seat to provide access to the fridge. With everything cut, it was covered with Select Elements Foster Gunmetal Indoor/Outdoor carpet and Gorilla Glue.
With the cabinet and platform built, installed and covered, I took dimensions for the drawers, keeping in mind that the drawer sliders would occupy an inch of the width dimension of each drawer.
The original plan was to contract out the drawer construction, but for the time and cost involved I decided to build them myself. I went with one-by-two inch milled pine for the stove/sink frame instead of what I specified in the plans and 5.5" milled pine on the storage drawer.
The next big plan alteration was the hardware for the kitchen slide-out. I decided to go the budget route and use what I had on hand. I found a great little collapsible sink made by Ultimate Survival Technologies and have on hand a Camp Chef single burner butane stove and made changes to the layout.
I rotated the stove 90 degrees to make it easer to load the butane, access the controls and give it more space away from the edge of the platform.
Snap hardware was used to mount the stove to the pull-out surface, keeping it firmly in place but capable of being removed for cleaning. The collapsible sink creates space to store a dromedary bag underneath. The drawer glide for this pull-out is a 30" Firgelli Automations Full Extension Drawer Slide rated up to 400 pounds.
With all these design considerations and alterations, this is what we ended up with:
The drawer pulls are lockable Amarine 2" Flush Pull Slam latches.
Accuride 28" Full Extension Drawer Glides support the gear drawer rated at 100 pounds.
The Monty has constant power to the disc changer which I've deleted so I pulled its power to feed this 12V panel.
In our travels we never once said, "Wouldn't it be nice to have a fridge?" Our Coleman 54qt. cooler never let us down. But, it, too, was too big to fit in the space behind the front passenger seat.
Engel makes a 30qt. cooler that fits perfectly in this spot as seen from behind the passenger seat. The center support stanchion is made from 1" PVC.
To access the cooler, I created the fourth hatch that lands on a collapsible bracket on the right.
When open, the underside of the hatch has a white plastic cutting board food prep surface.
The support brackets (on both B-pillars) are an 8" folding spring-loaded support made for microwaves.
The hatch has a second support, a sliding latch that locks into the platform at the head end.
The driver's side passenger door storage area accommodates two camp chairs, our Volcano grill, portable lu, folding table and other gear.
The leading edge of the platform is protected with a strip of aluminum stair edging.
And the other three sides of the platform are finished with white vinyl wire channel.