One of the things that came easily to us when we started caravanning was packing. We’d read on ‘the forums’ about people packing experiences and how long it took to “pack and load”, but honestly we never gave it a second thought. I then started to wonder why. I figured it goes back to our early days of flying in small… really small aircraft where it was the norm to shorten the bristles on your tooth-brush to save on weight.
We had developed over the years a packing technique that seemed to lend its self to the caravan quite easily. Now we can “pack and load” quite quickly as the key is prior organisation. We opted to use boxes from The Really Useful Box Co which makes things easy. Their boxes come in a multitude of sizes and the lids lock on securely allowing the boxes to stack neatly. We chose boxes that slide under the front bench seats and will also pass through the locker doors.
Boxes are designated for key things and given locations. One had all the bike bits – helmets, lights, trip computers, bags and security cables in it along with the straps for the bike rack. This travels in the back of the Freelander as it is heavy and when on site as the Aquaroll and Wastehog are removed from under the bed, its slid under there via the side locker. The food boxes are the same. Normally they stay at home so we can fill as required from a check list – heavy items like tinned items, Rice, Pasta, etc. things that you only need access to infrequently are in one box, which like the bike bits, travel in the Freelander then are moved to the under bed locker on arrival. Sue has a smaller box for her hairdryer and other bits and pieces…. it travels in the Freelander then is moves to the caravan on arrival. Having an organised system makes it easy. We have large sealed ‘Tupperware’ type box that stays in the van that has spices, coffee, tea or anything that would be affected by damp or could attract unwanted guests… and we have a list of what’s in this box so its easy to keep a check on anything running low. Everything else in the comestibles department is in the stacking boxes, so at the end of a trip or when we are changing sites, its easy to just stack them back in the Freelander for the move. So with our little system, the only thing we have to move is five boxes…. which makes it so easy to “pack and load”. I just wish we were this organised with the clothes!
Bike Rack question….
Someone asked about our bike rack…. they had seen our bikes against the A frame on the van, but no bike rack on the Freelander and asked if we weren’t using the bike rack. Well we were. One of the really neat things about the bike rack is that fact we can simply lift it off the Freelander and set it next to the A frame without having to take the bikes off the rack. It means that even for an overnight stay, we don’t have to have the “is it worth taking the bikes or not as it’s so much hassle” discussion. The rack simply lifts off in a minute and sits next to the A frame, without having to spend ten minutes unstrapping each bike and lifting each bike off. The bikes and rack can be secured using a couple of motorbike cable locks and connected to the caravan alarm. At the moment we are using a simple nylon cover to put over the bikes, but we have been looking at the versions that are offered by two companies – Bags4everything and Taylormade Screen Covers to use both on and off the vehicle. If anyone has any experience of either of these or any others, we’d love to hear about it.
Thanks for reading
hi just out of intrest as im trying to make one my self, how did you manage to get the right angle for the corners for the parcel shelf, i have tried useing paper and marking it up then transfured it to the wood but when i lined it up after being cut it didnt fit (just used an off cut for this to check if it fitted which it didnt)
I used a couple of boxes packed up to the hight I wanted the finished shelf to be at. I then cut a 3mm thick sheet of ply the depth (back seat to door – less twice the thickness of the carpet – about 8mm) The ply was about half the width of the finished shelf.
I used the boxes to support the ply in position while I used a small wooden block about 50mm in length and 15 mm wide with a pencil as a scribe pushed through a hole in one end to mark the curve. This step takes a few passes… mark the curve, trim off the excess, place the ply template back in position and re mark the curve. This will allow the template to move a little closer each time. As the template becomes more shaped and fits better, I used a smaller narrower block to get the fit as close as I could.
The next step was to use an oscillating drum sander to refine the curve to achieve a perfect fit. This would be my base template to produce a master template. I cut a sheet of 5mm ply slightly larger than the finished shelf and used the base template as a guide for my router (using a straight cutting bit with bearing follower) to shape one end. I flipped the base template over and cut the other end. I allowed it to be slightly smaller so it would not foul when wrapped in the black carpet.
I then checked the fit and adjusted it in a couple of places where required. This then became my master template that I could use with my router to produce the finished shelf.
As I was using 13mm marine ply for the finished shelf, I used a taper follower bit in the router to give a slightly angled cut. I went round all the edged with a round-over bit to make the carpet fit easier.
Under the shelf I routed a couple of rebates to accept some steelwork that gives the shelf additional strength and also allows it to be securely fixed. I’m not going to give details about how I have done that as I sometimes have to secure camera equipment in the rear of the vehicle.
Next step was to cover the shelf with carpet using a contact adhesive – an £10 off cut from Carpet world would be enough to do 3 or 4 shelves. B & Q were the source of the chrome handles that are the tie down points. I swopped out the original machine screws that came with the handles for some longer better quality ones and made small aluminium plates to fit underneath to provide a backing so the screws can’t pull through the wood.
I use a small elastic cargo net to hold small things down, or if I load up the shelf with camera cases some hooked bungee straps.
The shelf in the photos is the Mk1 and the whole thing including making the templates took a good afternoon to complete. The Mk2 that had a couple of security upgrades took about 2 hours to complete from start to finish.
Even off-road with a large camera bag and lighting bag strapped down, it has proved to be very secure. One of the upgrades on the Mk2 was to shape the front edge of the shelf so that on either side there are two ‘horns’ that project forward either side of the rear seat to almost where the rear seat belts are.
Hope this helps.
Thank you very much,
I shall attempt this way when I next get a day off and let you know how it goes
What id that shelf in the back of your freelander – how can i get one?
It’s a custom made solid security shelf….. a one off.
did you nake it yourself? if so do you have the plan ot something, i would find one vet usefull
It was a custom jig and cut and shaped with a router. I scrapped the jig after I’d finished machine the shelf.