Car Camping Kit: 2006 Toyota Sienna

Car camping is about being mobile, right? So who would we be if we didn't take a journey every now and then to supply a client beyond the Seattle city limits. 

It was a blue 2006 Toyota Sienna minivan owned by a family friend that took our operation points I-5 north all the way to Ferndale, WA - a small hamlet that lies between Bellingham and the Canadian border. Before this project, I'd actually ridden in this same van multiple times with the family patriarch on the way up to Mt. Baker for an overzealous Ski-to-Sea leg that would leave me hobbling for days after, so it was great to be able to put a little love back into the van that had given me some great memories.  

Unique specifications for this build included leaving enough room to access added well space where the 3rd row seats usually sit as well as achieving a minimum of 13" of clearance along the main floor bed for a ton of storage under the backseat platform.

The former was a bit tricky as it required "leveling" the trunk platform before anything else, and then using that as our equator across the rest of the 80" worth of length. Quick note: we went with 47" for width on our boards as a nice compromise to get enough wood underneath for two sleeping people while also making under-bed access simpler.

The project required 2 pieces of 4' x 8' plywood that had a nice maple top sheet to make the platforms and drawer. To build the leg supports as well as structural reinforcements, we picked up a couple 2" x 4"s and 1 piece of 2" x 6" for our middle bridge that would be our joiner for the trunk and backseat platforms.

The van's floor, deep hole aside, had a bunch of subtle ups-and-downs that caused a bit of concern, but luckily the carpet accepted a lot of the new weight, leveling itself to a degree. We still weren't operating on a perfect 180 degree slate, but the little bumps turned out to be more bark than bite and required no special attention.

Once we settled on working back to front, our main task was to find the right height for the trunk platform support legs as the drawer structure and platforms had already been built. Each leg set ended up being a different height with our final two utilizing the furniture levelers we'd installed in the bottom of them. 

Due to the undulations, our platforms weren't flush all the way across to the far edges, but they did mesh nicely throughout the middle. Most important though, the abundance of space that was desired was delivered with small coolers and boxes being able to fit in the back boot while full coolers and suitcases fit underneath the backseat platform. Equally impressive, there's plenty of headroom to spare. 

We finished, cleaned up, and had lunch. The mobile shop headed home, and rumor has it, the new build got taken out for a spin that night.

 


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