Dash tray, misc. storage options


RichardBulis

New member
I'm quite proud of my dashboard holder-of-stuff that I made for under $20.00
It's a cutlery tray ( you know, the silverware drawer divider thingie) that I bought at "Homeplace". It's rectangular and made of an expanded mesh of some kind and dipped in a black plastic coating. ( they also had white in stock, but I have the black interior scheme). The great thing about it is that because of the open mesh, it doesn't collect dust or fluff and most importantly, it doesn't block the defroster air flow.
I simply removed the ashtray ( don't smoke ) and made a very slightly tapered wooden block that friction-fits inside that hole, and painted the block black. I attached the tray longways to the wood with flathead screws and washers down through the mesh. I angled the tray slightly towards me so the back edge (from my pov) rests on the ridge/bump of the dash ('87 westy) and the front edge gains stability and support from (2) folding adjustable cup holders which I bolted through the mesh. (from Kmart which I learned about in the archives, btw). There is room for way more stuff than I need up there, including my cell phone which clips to the front edge next to the cup holders. Everyone who sees it thinks its official Westy stuff. Hope it works for you,
Richard
 
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Capt. Mike

Moderator
I'd enjoy seeing a picture of it. I have the original VW tray (See my picture of the interior on my pics site linked from the Westy Site homepage or http://briefcase.yahoo.com/captmike67 .

I suspect the original VW tray is NLA as it was down to brown color only when I got mine (I repainted with a plastic model paint.) The VW tray was really meant for early Vanagons as they installed the little rolled depression in the later ones, so I put mine over the ashtray with a couple of tabs and velcro. Thus I have the hidden ashtray compartment underneath for parking meter change or whatever.
 

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garyhaupt

New member
I have a roll of the non-slip white spongy stuff that I bought at a dollar store...50 cents, US. I use it on the top of the 'tween seat box, top of the cupboard behind driver...mines a '75, and on the table top. You just put some down and then lay out the good chinette...nothing slips off while driving, not my coffee cup, portable cd player, camera....all on the box top at once, mind you!

Gary Haupt
 

jeremyghamm

New member
This whole talk of dashboard accessories has gotten me excited about my exciting find; When I was going to college, I worked part time at a gas station, and fortunately for me an intoxicated gentleman in about a 1991/2 Buick Roadmaster Estatewagon (I'm pretty sure, but I could be wrong) attempted to empty out his ashtray on the side walk, and in the process, he ripped out his factory cupholder. He departed, and the cupholder was laying on the ground beside the cigarette butts. Lucky day for me: I don't smoke, so I didn't need my bus's ashtray, and the retractable two capacity cupholder hooks neatly into the lip of the ashtray, works very well and looks like it rolled out of the factory in 1976. I diggit.
 

KeithHay

New member
Capt. Mike

I took a look at your dash photos, and also at the photos of cabinet changes. I noticed that you have a wire shelf in the cabinet under the sink. What screw/malloy did you use to install?

I have two small shelves that I was thinking that I would mount in the outside of the cabinet and behind the driver's seat. These could hold flashlight, and other camping gear for quick use. However, every screw/molly combo that I look at seems to large.

The bus is an 87.

Ta-
 
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Capt. Mike

Moderator
The wire shelf inside my galley cabinet is for spices so doesn't get a heavy load. It is installed with just a couple of wood screws but be sure the length won't poke through. NO molly type fastners -- the cabinet is wood underneath the laminate and holds well.

I presume you are talking about installing shelves behind the driver's seat on the forward facing wall of the cabinet. Be sure they will clear the seat in its swiveled position and not interfer with access to either the galley fuse box or the underseat storage compartment (2nd battery box). You might want to consider something like the cargo nets instead, or just putting a lipped tray on the top of the battery box held with Velcro. Any shelf would require lips to keep stuff from sliding off anyway. Rattles become a problem with shelves.

While on the subject of storage convenience, I've done a few things to make those little nooks & crannies more useable.

The glove box on a Vanagon is usually a 'dump' box with everything lying in the bottom. I compartmentized it with plexiglass strips. You can get channels at most better plexiglass supply stores and create 'coke-case' type dividers. On the front, I've added a small pocket for the in-use maps. Attach with velcro or double-sided tape, or in my case, straps that hang over the front of the box.

The small floor level cabinet in the back just left of the fridge is usually filled with stuff on the bottom and lost space above. I installed a half-shelf in the back for seldom used things.

My 'gutter' tray over the top of the galley cabinet is divided with more plexiglass dividers and the channels. It keeps stuff from sliding from one end to the other during steep hills or braking.
 

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icarus

Moderator
Try as I might, Ican't find a better place for this. (feel free to move it to where it might be better)

I was looking to see about building a grey water tank for my syncro. After giving up on that idea I cam up with another.

There never seems to be enough space for all the mechanical stuff. Crawling under the van, I found that between the frame rail and the rocker panel is a great spot for a container. After a bit of thought, I built a 12x36x5" box out of 18g steel. By removing the bolts that hold the seat rails onto the floor and replacing them with longer ones, I mounted the box to the bolts that stick through the floor, with nuts. No welding or drilling. It sticks down just as much as the propane tank, so there is no loss of clearance.


The box hinges on the ends, so that you don't use up width with the hinging geometry. The box is attached to the car with it's lid, so that as it swings open, the stuff doesn't all fall out. It was not built to be water proof so I drilled some drain holes in it. (I made some errors in the design. The through the floor bolts are so tight to the rocker panel, I had to cut notches in the box to clear the nut flats. You could get aroung this by making the box smaller than the lid, but that presents some design challenges as well). (Nothing in it cares if it gets wet anyway)

I compartmented the box (2 24"x12" compartments, 1 12"x12") so that it holds 2 jacks, cross type lug wrench, a couple of litres of oil, jug of coolant, jumper cables, plus some assorted other spares. The box weighs about 15 lbs, but it gets all that stuff out of the cubbies and under the back seat. If you are handy with a wire feed, or know someone who is, it is a snap, but beware of some of the engineering problems. Think it out first.

I can't post any pictures or drawings(because i don't know how!), but if you e-mail me or ask here I will do my best to explain.

Icarus
 

icarus

Moderator
In additon to tha (d)ash tray storage, (I made one out of wood, divided for sunglasses. pens maps etc) I have a wall mount multi-compartment paper holder(office type, not toilet!) screwed on the end of the cabinet behind the drivers seat. (I don't use that table so I have taken it out) Unless you are very tall and need to set the seat as far back as possible, this makes a great place to store the atlas, road logbook, other maps etc. I also have a cargo net hung under the a/c shelf, for things like towels, extra pillows etc. The shelf over the sink/stove is divide with plastic single silverware divider that fit nicely the long way. These are filled with spices, bug spray, card decks, mag-lights etc. I also built a bookself, hanging on the side of the rear closet. It is about 2" deep, with a lathe and a bungee. It allow us to keep 3 or 4 books at hand. There are tons of little crannies, if you look around and find containers to fit. I have small rubbermaid boxes tucked under the rear seat,behind the bulkhead where there is a 2"x12x12" space. I put all the little spares in there, like fuses light bulbs etc. (I also have a post in the "grey water thread" for an under body box to hold coolant, jacks, oils etc.) Another place to put stuff is in the engine compartment. I keep oil filter, belts etc in the cranny at the left rear. The real trick is to keep the stuff you need everyday handy, and the stuff that is there for emergencys can be stuffed in other places. I like to leave the space under the rear seat for camping stuff we use all the time, camp stove, propane bottles, paper towel etc.

One other tip is to take stuff out of it's packaging. Most items will store much smaller if you repackage them. (not to mention take small quantities. Tiny Nalgene bottles of olive oil, ketchup etc. keep you going for days, but take up little space.

I am reminded of Roald Amundsen's trek to the south pole. His cans were round, so he sewed cloth bags to fit between the arcs of the cans to fill the space with flour etc. Amundsen lived to tell the tale, Scott who packed willy nilly didn"t. (Every one should read "The last place on earth" if you want idea about effecient travel).

If you really don't need it don't take it.

Icarus
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Vanagon owners: If you look next to your mattress and under the closet/cubby, you'll see a void. It was created to clear the engine lid being removed. There is room for 3 trays, outside dimensions 4¼" x 13". The opening hieght allows trays up to 3" deep. These make ideal places to store the 'little thing'.

Since you have to remove the trays one at a time, my left-most is emergency stuff -- baling wire, epoxy glue, drain plug socket, shackle & hook for the tow strap, etc. The middle is rope, duct tape, travel-size WD-40, GI fire-starter packs (OK, so I cheat when building campfires.). The right-most is my city-water hose (collapsable), assorted water adapter nozzles, AC power adaptor, etc.

Since I have A/C, the A/C lines prevent the boxes going all the way to the outside wall. Westies without A/C may be able to go slightly wider with the trays. Tray width is determined by the clearance with the mattress in place.

My trays are plywood ends with fiber-board sides and bottom.
 
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Capt. Mike

Moderator
Under-closet storage trays.

I was recently asked for more detailed dimensions of the 3 storage boxes or trays I made that fit under the storage closet to the left of the engine lid.

These trays will slide in & out through the small cut-out next to the mattress, one-at-a-time. But are great for those rarely used small items.

Each box is 13"L x 4½"W x 3-3/16"H. That's 33 x 10.7 x 8mm if my conversion is correct. Mine are made of 5/16" plywood ends and bottom with 1/8" pegboard or Masonite sides.

These will fit even with the factory A/C hoses running through the back of that area. You have to slide them in one at a time and then move them as far left as possible to fit all 3.

My far left contains the rarely used small emergency items like baling wire, nails, glue, etc. Good place to put small rope, camp-stove pump oiler, knife sharpener. The right one, easy to get in & out, contains camp-site hook-up stuff like the fold-flat water hose, 'water thief' faucet adaptor, AC plug converter, etc., that are likely to be used most any camp night.

Two of them do need to be removed and set aside to open the top engine lid. Since there may be some variations in available space due to the A/C hoses, etc., I'd do a cardboard mock-up first.
 
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wodraska

New member
I'm a brand new owner of a relatively pristine "86 Westfalia. Packing for the [first] shakedown tour I discovered that rigid containers just don't work well in all the nooks and crannies, but cloth tool rolls do. A typical one would be strong cloth [denim, canvas], 16"W x 30"L. I just make these to hold a half dozen or so tools, supplies, etc., so they're a foot or a little more long, 3" or 4" in diameter, tied with a small bungee. They fit very nicely in the nook under the rear cabinet, next to the back of the matress, on the cornice at the top when you open the hatchback, in other places where a rigid toolbox or tupperware container just won't go. And NO rattles!
 

Ludwig van

New member
Here are a few ideas we've used to get better use out of our 78 Westy's cabinets, bins, etc.

We have a p22 model - no stove, so no cover over the sink. The sink always ended up being the repository for a variety of stuff, and it was a nuisance having to move the stuff to use the sink. The solution is a cheap plastic basket that fits inside the sink. It holds lots of stuff, doesn't scratch the sink, and can be removed in a second.

We use the middle cupboard shelf for canned and packaged foods, and it's often inconvenient to have to root around in there to get the soup that's at the back. I built three boxes of 3/8" plywood (1/4" would probably do, but I had some 3/8" around). I don't have the measurements handy, but the trick is to leave enough space between the boxes to slide them sideways to clear the cabinet face (i.e. the opening is narrower than the shelf). The shelf is L-shaped, and one box occupies the short leg of the 'L' while the other two fit in the long leg, one behind the other. With the boxes, everything can be taken out quickly so you can find that soup, and be put back just as quickly. They can be packed and unpacked in the house. I cut hand-holes in the ends so as not to waste space with protruding handles, but I wish I'd done it before assembling the boxes - it was awkward and I'm not happy with the result.

We don't use our van in winter, so rear-seat heat isn't important to us. I removed the galvanized triangular duct under the bench seat and covered the hole with the round cover plate from a household junction box (in the electrical department at any hardware/home improvement store). Now we have a flatter floor under the bench, which helps. I also made a smaller cover box for the AC electrical wiring. We don't have a fridge, so we don't need the bulky original cover.

We carry our spare tire on the front of the van, and I use the tire storage bin for tools, parts, etc. My toolbox fits nicely in the bottom, and I added a shelf above it so everything else isn't resting on it when I need to pull it out. By the way, I also bolted a swing-out handle on the end of the toolbox that faces out, since it's pretty heavy when it's packed for a trip. I also stick one of those magnetic saucers on that end, under the handle.

I hope someone finds some of this useful.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Some nice ideas. VW once made a spare tire well cover for the '68 - '79 Type II's. It was a thin sheet of a fiberboard type material that had four spring tension clips near the corners. We had a P27 those days with the closet that covered some of the well so just cut ours short and moved the clips to make a hidden stash underneath what became a flat floor for the closet -- and another layer of space recovered under the hanging clothes. Would be easy to duplicate, even using Velcro to secure it instead of clips.

Speaking of closets, one can find plastic bags meant to hang on closet rods (Or make one!). These are good for things that don't hang well such as ponchos. I always carry one of the disposable coveralls in case of an emergency where I've got to crawl under the bus or do something dirty. It came in a closet hanging bag and I've accumulated a couple of extras I reuse. The bag also protects the other clothes from getting wet or dirty.

We use a version of your dish basket in the Vanagon. The rear table is "bungee'd in" with two of the footman's loops (the tie-down clips like on your roof rack) -- one at the corner of the cabinet and the other at the corner of the closet. With a bungee across, I can safely carry two plastic dishpans and a plastic covered 'shoe box' without them sliding off first left turn. As I remember, one pan carries the bulky bread items, the other sink/cooking tools.
 

HGC101

New member
I store my fly rods in a 2 inch PVC with capped ends and place it under the rear cushion by the rear lift hatch. This keeps it out of the way when traveling.
 

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