DIY Cargo Platform (updated)

Original post June 18, 2018 updated April 10, 2019

To be a true Overland, one must first be in possession of a few things: MaxTrax, patches on their headliner, and a fridge.  I have two of the three, so I’m getting there!  

My first time to Ouray, Colorado and Moab, Utah was in 2015, and I used a regular ‘run-of-the-mill’ cooler with ice packs.  Novice.  It’s pretty dry in the rugged high terrain of Colorado and Utah.  That is – it was dry everywhere except my cooler, where melting ice packs had created a humid enclosure that was anything but cool.  My sustenance spoiled fast, and I just as quickly had to rethink my setup.  Getting a powered fridge was now very high on my list of priorities.  

The ARB 50Q fridge is perfect, with a snug fit in the cargo area of the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (4-door Jeep).  I have not test-fitted or loaded out a 2-door Jeep so the info in this entry is very specific to the 4-door JKU/JLU.  The JK and JL are very similar in size and do share a lot of after market gear with a few changes.  

Securing the fridge in the cargo area was a challenge.  Using the four factory tie down loops was a possible solution, but it was not very ‘clean’ and it did not offer the possibility of adding the ARB fridge slider.  Not to mention, it would possibly impede other gear.  

One easy solution was to buy the Goose Gear platform.  At over $500 and a permanent install, I was not there yet.  I wanted to be able to remove the fridge from the Jeep when I was not using it, as this is a daily driver for myself.  

The solution that I came up with was to build my own platform, using plywood and LineX coating.  

First, I’m to make a template with cardboard; I use the removable cargo mat as a starting point and trace out the interior of the Jeep.  This doesn’t work out the way I want it to but nevertheless it does the job.  It’s not as ‘clean’ as the Goose Gear, but I’m limited on the wood cutting tools that I have at this time.  I use D-rings from Home Depot to support and secure the ARB Fridge tie-down system.  I use the four cargo tie-downs as my securing locations for the platform to the Jeep.  I remove the four bolts and replace them with longer ones and wide washers.  The holes in the platform that I make are larger than the bolt because I’m having a difficult time finding the bolt locations.  It’s not a big problem, but that is why I’m using a larger washer.  

I pre-drill  the holes for the D-rings and get the platform LineX’ed at my local dealer.  Getting the platform LineX’ed does cost more than I expected, but it turns out great and it will last a long time.  I pre-drilled the holes so the LineX material can secure those.  I have to drill the holes a bit larger to compensate for the LineX material.

There.  That should do it.

My first test run of this setup was the Mountain State Overland Trip, November 2018.  This was much better than the warm humid ‘cooler’.  I had my hard top on for this trip, which gave me easy access to the cargo area; however, getting stuff that was at the bottom and/or back of the fridge was hard, as the Jeep is lifted combined with the fridge being tall by design.  Before my next trip to Moab, Utah on the Easter Jeep Safari in April 2019, I knew that I would have to invest in the ARB Fridge Slide.  I was able to find one for sale on FaceBook from a local friend.  Unfortunately, because the platform is LineX’ed I would have to drill new holes that will show exposed wood.  This isn’t a big problem, but if water were to get into the back of the Jeep (could happen) with the platform installed I will have to make sure I dry out these holes so I do not get any wood rot.  

One note with the fridge slide, when you’re on the trail, you need to make sure that Jeep is as level as possible.  The weight of the fridge and the lock on the slide, can make it difficult when the Jeep is on an incline, which is almost always.  You’re able to open the slide, but it’s more “difficult” – a term I use lightly.  

Overall I am very happy with the setup – it is very nice to have cold Cokes and fresh food when you’re imbedded in Colorado and Utah, happily far from civilization.

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