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Old 3rd January 2016, 22:51   #1
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THE BACKGROUND

In January '15, I drove from Mumbai to Ranthambhore; on the way taking a detour to Little Rann of Kutch. Unfortunately, I couldn't extend my stay there because there were no rooms available in the area. That's when I thought about having a vehicle so I could drive up to such places and camp out for a few days. Me having such thoughts wasn't unusual, but those thoughts lingering on for more than a few days in my ever-occupied head, was.

DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar-lrk.png

I was now back in Mumbai but I still couldn't completely let go of the idea of having such a vehicle. I figured I'd need a reliable and comfortable 4x4 LWB vehicle to drive long distances. It would need to have room at the back for my stuff and still have some left for me to sleep. The vehicles I kept coming back to were Scorpio, Safari or a Xenon. But neither did I have the means, nor the need to justify buying a new vehicle and chopping it up for a project like this.

What I did have was a Thar. I knew it wasn't the ideal vehicle. But it's not a bad option either, I thought - half lying to myself. There were a couple of huge problems glaring before my eyes, the biggest one being the soft top. This meant the vehicle wouldn't have any security. The other was it being a SWB vehicle. This meant it had a lot less space. Though these were big disadvantages, they were by no means deal-breakers, I lied to myself. Again. Somehow I convinced myself that it was a perfect way to test if I actually liked overlanding. Having a vehicle of my own which I could drive into remote wilderness was too tempting to resist. I gave in...

THE PLANNING

I got on the internet and researched overlanding vehicles from Africa. I also found some excellent YouTube channels and some great blogs which discussed such builds in detail. One vehicle I referenced a lot were the older Land Rover Defenders. Since these were the smallest of the commonly used vehicles, the builds, I thought, would be the easiest to adapt those builds to the Thar.

Given the budget I had, I ruled out rooftop tents or even converting to a hardtop quite early on. I would first concentrate on building the storage and sleeping area, then upgrade to these later. The main work would be in the rear half of the car which roughly measures 5'x5'. I decided on making the entire rear cab into a storage area, the top of which would double as bed.

This was the underlying build design for a lot of basic vehicles. It was tried and tested, except all of those were LWB vehicles. This meant the area was a comfortable 6' or longer. This gave them the option to have two separate storage spaces.

DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar-planning.jpg

My initial design plans were based on this concept, which is why you see two storage areas in photos above. But once I realised it wasn't possible with the area I had, I simply removed one of the storage areas, the one commonly used for batteries and tools.


THE PREPERATION

Once I had a rough idea of what I wanted to make, the first job was removing the rear seats. A simple enough process if you have enough WD-40.

DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar-seats-taken-out.jpg

I should probably add here why I was so excited about this project. This was the first ever DIY project I'd taken up. The only other time I'd worked on the car was replacing the front bumper of the Thar with the expedition edition one. I understood the consequences of screwing this up but let's just say my judgement was clouded.

Having removed the seat, I now had a better idea of how much space I actually had. Honestly, it wasn't ideal but my first project had begun and there was no way I was backing out now.

DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar-template.jpg

Before cutting through any plywood, I made a template of the entire storage box with 1" heatlon foam. This gave me an idea of how things would look and I realised a few mistakes I'd made, which I corrected. One thing I always did was make templates. It was quick and easy to work with and correcting mistakes saved a lot of valuable time and materials.

DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar-cutting-insulation.jpg

One problem I always had with the Thar was the lack of sound and heat insulation in the entire vehicle. There were products like dynamat but it was just too expensive to cover the entire car in it. Now I had no choice, I couldn't have wood rubbing against steel. So, after talking to a few people I found the best option for me, heatlon foam. It worked well to insulate sound and also kept the heat out.

DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar-insulation-done.jpg
Quote:
TIP: Speb7 is the best adhesive for this foam. Also, make sure you know where everything goes because once you stick it, it doesn't come off clean.
A few rolls of foam and a few tins of Speb7 later, every inch of the rear cab was insulated. During this process, I realised I'd have no way to move wires around to the back of the vehicle once the storage was in place so I cut half an inch from either side and added wire casing to all 4 sides. Before, I had wires for a rear work light and the speakers running below the carpet. All these ran neatly in the casing now.

DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar-side.jpg

I also covered the insides of the soft top with heatlon. This worked out better than I'd expected. Because it was heavier how, it flapped a lot less on the highway and outside noise was also noticeably reduced. It looks positively ugly, though. I still haven't figured out how to correct that!


THE BUILDING

DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar-plywood.jpg DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar-channels.jpg

It was only a couple of days later when the plywood and other materials were delivered to my house that it suddenly got all too real. Woodwork/carpentry was something I had absolutely no experience in and I understood how crucial it was to get everything right. Instead of taking any chances, I took help from a friend. It took us a few days more but we eventually got everything just right.

List of Materials Used
  • 12mm marine ply (2 sheets)
  • 24" heavy duty channels (4 pieces)
  • 48sqft grey (speaker box) fabric
  • 20' Aluminium 'L' strip (1/2" thick)
  • 20' Heatlon foam (8mm thick)
  • 3 litres Speb7 Adhesive
  • 2 litres Fevicol
  • 8' x 6' tarp
  • 10' PVC tubing (1" thick) + 2 1" couplings
  • 3 cans of black spray paint, 1 can of Rustoleum LeakSeal
  • Misc. screws, nails, angle bracket, handles, etc. not accounted for.

DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar-template-final.jpg
Quote:
TIP: If you remove the soft top from the side (like the photo above), it's impossible to pull it back into place by hand. Instead, use a screwdriver to hold the top down, while screwing in the next nut.


My design originally had two 2'x4' pull out drawers. It was only when I placed the wood that way I realised I'd be wasting a lot of space if I went with this configuration. Not only would I have to leave space for two more channels, I would also need to have 1 supporting piece of plywood running through the centre. Eventually I would only end up with 12" wide drawers, so instead I decided on making a single large drawer and maybe add a divider inside.

The only way to slide in the top sheet of ply was by opening the top from one side and sliding it in. The sides and the bottom were nailed and glued into place outside and then slid easily into place from the back. Once that was fixed to the top, the entire box was bolted to the body using the holes which were meant for the seats. 3 on each side.

The single most frustrating thing in this entire project was getting the channels levelled. I tried for a half a day before realising I'd have more holes than wood in the sides of my drawer and I asked a friend's help. That's the only thing that I didn't do by myself.

DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar-extension.jpg

Adding this extension was the trickiest part of the build. Given the dimensions of the rear cab, the length of my bed would only be 4'. It would be impossible to sleep on (I'm 6'). I needed at least 5' so I had to improvise.

I took a piece of 1' long plywood, attached a collapsible bracket under it on either side and screwed it at the far end; between the front seats and the storage box. Getting this right took some time, as drilling holes in the area was particularly difficult, given the angle and the space in the area. But it was manageable.

The only way to pull it up would be if both the front seats were pushed fully ahead. It wasn't the prettiest thing, but I got another foot to sleep on. That's what mattered more.

DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar-gluing-fabric.jpg

Quote:
TIP: Before cutting any fabric, place it flat and trace a paper template of each part you need, over it. This ensures you waste the least amount of fabric.


With the drawer in place, sticking the fabric was simple and straightforward. Next was putting the handles to pull open the drawer and aluminium 'L' strips around the edges to ensure the fabric doesn't come off with regular use. I'd spray painted these black beforehand. Which, obviously is optional. Next, all the visible edges which didn't have fabric were painted black.

DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar-ready.jpg

It was ready, for now.

DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar-cabin.jpg

DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar-dsc_0088.jpg

DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar-dsc_0092.jpg

DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar-dsc_0090.jpg

I use that space to store PVC pipes for an awning and an umbrella.

DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar-dsc_0091.jpg

DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar-dsc_0089.jpg

Quote:
The two elastic ropes are used to store my sleeping bag, blanket and anything else which I want out of the way temporarily. I'm still looking for a sturdy cargo net to replace this, I plan on hanging one up in the entire top of the rear cab.

Last edited by GTO : 6th January 2016 at 15:35. Reason: Adding latest images to the opening post itself :). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 4th January 2016, 13:33   #2
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Default Re: DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar

That is a very interesting build there. Can you post more pictures from inside of the cabin ?
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Old 4th January 2016, 14:32   #3
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Default Re: DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar

Hi, good work there. It should give you what you wanted. I wanted something similar, but also wanted to have those side facing seats, have a look at below on what I did to have a bed/storage and also retaining the seats.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/4x4-ve...me-mods-4.html (Big Bull - My Mahindra Thar experience...& some mods)

You can also see how I covered the sides with plywood and nitrile foam etc., which may give you some ideas.

Good luck with your modifications.

swami
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Old 4th January 2016, 14:32   #4
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Default Re: DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar

That's is very useful and practical build. I know a Bhpian who has done the same in his Pajero. Whenever needed, he removes the last row seats and attaches his single-folded "bed", with the option to keep the luggage over and under the bed. If we tumble fold the middle row seats and unfold the bed on the seat top, we get a flat bed of almost 6 ft by 4ft (sufficient for 2 people).

PS: I'm guessing the dimensions basing on the few times I have driven his vehicle. I will ask him to share the pictures of his modification.
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Old 4th January 2016, 14:37   #5
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Default Re: DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar

A similar bed mod here:

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/4x4-te...-seat-bed.html (Gypsy Mod Pictures: Rear Seat & Bed)
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Old 4th January 2016, 15:00   #6
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Default Re: DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar

Hi 911er,

A great idea to have your own ride converted into a semi mobile home you can sleep in for a few nights. I usually tumble down the rear seats of the Safari and create a make shift bed for wife and kids to sleep while I'm at the wheels. We take turns and sleep if the drive is too long. that space is just about OK for my 6' frame.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 911er View Post
...

Adding this extension was the trickiest part of the build. Given the dimensions of the rear cab, the length of my bed would only be 4'. It would be impossible to sleep on (I'm 6'). I needed at least 5' so I had to improvise.

I took a piece of 1' long plywood, attached a collapsible bracket under it on either side and screwed it at the far end; between the front seats and the storage box. Getting this right took some time, as drilling holes in the area was particularly difficult, given the angle and the space in the area. But it was manageable.

The only way to pull it up would be if both the front seats were pushed fully ahead. It wasn't the prettiest thing, but I got another foot to sleep on. That's what mattered more.
I'm guessing your trips are going to be solo. Why don't you remove the front passenger seat and make space for a longish bed that way ? You can utilize most of the available space length wise that Thar can provide. This way you don't really compromise on comfort, nor on storage. With the mods you have done so far, not sure how simple / difficult this is going to be. May be something you could consider in the future.

Regards
Bugs
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Old 5th January 2016, 00:01   #7
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Default Re: DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar

Hi

I have also done a flat 180 degree bed in my Ertiga. Have used it multiple times in various long trips.

Cheers
Rajain
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Old 5th January 2016, 00:08   #8
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Default Re: DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar

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Originally Posted by bhagathmp View Post
Hi 911er,

A great idea to have your own ride converted into a semi mobile home you can sleep in for a few nights. I usually tumble down the rear seats of the Safari and create a make shift bed for wife and kids to sleep while I'm at the wheels. We take turns and sleep if the drive is too long. that space is just about OK for my 6' frame.
How do you manage to keep the kids safe?
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Old 5th January 2016, 06:00   #9
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Originally Posted by bblost View Post
How do you manage to keep the kids safe?
I pack the bags/Luggage around them and pad with pillows so there's no tossing around. Also maintain a safe speed of about 80.
Regards
Bugs
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Old 5th January 2016, 13:02   #10
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Default Re: DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar

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Originally Posted by swami69 View Post
Hi, good work there. It should give you what you wanted. I wanted something similar, but also wanted to have those side facing seats, have a look at below on what I did to have a bed/storage and also retaining the seats.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/4x4-ve...me-mods-4.html (Big Bull - My Mahindra Thar experience...& some mods)

You can also see how I covered the sides with plywood and nitrile foam etc., which may give you some ideas.

Good luck with your modifications.

swami
Thank you. I would've loved to retain the rear seats too but I needed some secure storage, so I didn't have a choice. I love what you've done. It's the best of both worlds! Could you please share photos about the nitrate foam on the sides? I couldn't understand from the photos on the thread.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ashis89 View Post
That's is very useful and practical build. I know a Bhpian who has done the same in his Pajero. Whenever needed, he removes the last row seats and attaches his single-folded "bed", with the option to keep the luggage over and under the bed. If we tumble fold the middle row seats and unfold the bed on the seat top, we get a flat bed of almost 6 ft by 4ft (sufficient for 2 people).

PS: I'm guessing the dimensions basing on the few times I have driven his vehicle. I will ask him to share the pictures of his modification.
Thank you. That's the main advantage having a vehicle like that. Also the middle row seats folding flat is a huge advantage. It saves a lot of work and you see have a 4 seater vehicle! I would love to see photos, if you could share some.

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Originally Posted by Tejas@perioimpl View Post
Thank you! This looks fantastic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bhagathmp View Post
Hi 911er,

A great idea to have your own ride converted into a semi mobile home you can sleep in for a few nights. I usually tumble down the rear seats of the Safari and create a make shift bed for wife and kids to sleep while I'm at the wheels. We take turns and sleep if the drive is too long. that space is just about OK for my 6' frame.
This is why Safari was one of the choices, its size is a huge advantage and you can have the most ideal storage and sleeping solutions with the least amount of tinkering!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bhagathmp View Post
I'm guessing your trips are going to be solo. Why don't you remove the front passenger seat and make space for a longish bed that way ? You can utilize most of the available space length wise that Thar can provide. This way you don't really compromise on comfort, nor on storage. With the mods you have done so far, not sure how simple / difficult this is going to be. May be something you could consider in the future.

Regards
Bugs
With my current setup, I straighten up and push both the front seats fully ahead. This, and the extension I made give me roughly 5' of length and a reclining backrest to lean on. While sleeping, I sleep diagonally, that gives me a full 6' to stretch my legs.

Though removing the front seat would be ideal, I need one. I usually have a friend accompany me on short trips on the weekend. And even if I'm alone, I might still need 1 seat for someone like say a forest guide if I'm in a jungle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajain View Post
Hi

I have also done a flat 180 degree bed in my Ertiga. Have used it multiple times in various long trips.

Cheers
Rajain
I always thought that would be an ideal vehicle for something like this. Would you please share some photos of what you've made? I'd love to see it.
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Old 5th January 2016, 13:35   #11
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hi 911er

If you had gone through my thread, you would have noticed the plywood cut to shape of the sides with windows. On top of that plywood, I pasted a 1/2 thick Nitrile foam which acts to cut external noise and also to keep the cabin much cooler. This is the foam which is used in Air Condition ducting and you would have seen them on the home A/C copper pipes covered with a foam tube - it is exactly that, but in a sheet form.

So, for the sides, it is Plywood + Nitrile foam + Fabric cover and for the top, it is 4mm foam board + Nitrile foam + fabric cover to cut out heat and noise to an extent.

Hope it helps.

Swami
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Old 5th January 2016, 14:10   #12
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Default Re: DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar

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Originally Posted by bhagathmp View Post
I pack the bags/Luggage around them and pad with pillows so there's no tossing around. Also maintain a safe speed of about 80.
Regards
Bugs
Sorry but this is not enough to break the laws of physics.





40 kmph crash test for passengers without seatbelts:


I would strongly recommend you DO NOT do this modification. Its putting your valuable children at risk.

Last edited by bblost : 5th January 2016 at 14:12.
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Old 5th January 2016, 14:31   #13
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Default Re: DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar

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Originally Posted by 911er View Post
I have since added more things, changed another few. I'll discuss those in the next post.
Hello 911er,
Must appreciate the outcome considering it was DIY.
in one if your post you mentioned about awning, is it vehicle awning attached to the side of the vehicle, any picture of the same.
I do want to install that awning on my bolero 4x4 for my jungle/camping trips.

Regards,
Shubhendra
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Old 5th January 2016, 16:31   #14
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Default Re: DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar

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Originally Posted by swami69 View Post
hi 911er

If you had gone through my thread, you would have noticed the plywood cut to shape of the sides with windows. On top of that plywood, I pasted a 1/2 thick Nitrile foam which acts to cut external noise and also to keep the cabin much cooler. This is the foam which is used in Air Condition ducting and you would have seen them on the home A/C copper pipes covered with a foam tube - it is exactly that, but in a sheet form.

So, for the sides, it is Plywood + Nitrile foam + Fabric cover and for the top, it is 4mm foam board + Nitrile foam + fabric cover to cut out heat and noise to an extent.

Hope it helps.

Swami
I went back and checked the thread. I hadn't realised earlier that the link was for Page 4. I'd missed the first 3 pages completely! I absolutely love what you've done.

In fact there was something similar which I had saved as a reference for my own hardtop project. Another BHPian had shared photos in one of the threads of how he had created just a wooden frame and covered it with the existing soft top, instead of a sheet metal or fibre hardtop. But having an entire sheet of plywood is nicer! Thank you for sharing this. It will be very helpful!



Quote:
Originally Posted by Shubhendra View Post
Hello 911er,
Must appreciate the outcome considering it was DIY.
in one if your post you mentioned about awning, is it vehicle awning attached to the side of the vehicle, any picture of the same.
I do want to install that awning on my bolero 4x4 for my jungle/camping trips.

Regards,
Shubhendra
Thank you so much, really appreciate it.

I didn't get a vehicle awning, as I didn't want to tear up the soft top canvas to attach it. Instead I bought an 8'x6' black tarp off the market but it was too rigid and prone to tearing so now I use a Quechua tarp I have. It has reinforced straps sewed on so I tie it up using stakes in the ground.

I don't have any photos of it yet but it's similar to this setup.

DIY: An overland vehicle on a budget! Storage & sleeping area in a Thar-tarp.jpg
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Old 6th January 2016, 13:09   #15
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I would strongly recommend you DO NOT do this modification. Its putting your valuable children at risk.
Hi bblost, thanks for pointing out the obvious risks. I appreciate your concern and I will rather take a night halt than put lives at risk.
Bugs
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