Custom Tool and Hydraulic Floor Jack Storage in a '71 Westy
Custom Tool and Hydraulic Floor Jack Storage in a '71 Westy
by Ron Van Ness
December 21, 1998

     There's plenty of storage space onboard a Westfalia, which only leaves the questions of how and where to organize gear. In an effort to keep my hydraulic floor jack and tools accessible, I used the space available in the spare tire well. On my Westy, the spare hangs on the nose and the well space is therefore ripe for innovation. I just happen to have a pair of tool boxes that fit into the well and are capable of holding most of the hand tools I like to carry. In the past, I've kept the floor jack under the rear seats, but opening the sliding door and raising the seat cushion was inconvenient. Some floor jacks come with a plastic storage case which makes stowing easier and eliminates nicking the interior if the jack is not otherwise contained. Here are some photos of the accessory I built for tool/jack storage:

jack box raised, right side

jack box raised, left side

     The wood is 3/4" oak, stained and urethaned. The lower piece fits the space to the left of the Westy bed cushion. A rectangular opening centered over the spare tire well and trimmed by angle aluminum allows access to the tools when the hinged jack cover is propped. The cover has four 1/2" deep pits carved in it that match the jack's foot print. The wheels sit in the pits and a lashing strap wraps around the jack to hold it against the cover.

jack box lowered, in bus

     The cover is held open by a support bar that folds down (and clips to the underside when not in use). The tip of the support bar fits into a socket in the base to prevent displacement if jarred.

jack box raised, in bus

     Probably not visible from the picture: a notch was cut on the left side of the lower piece to clear the spare tire strap eyelet. This, as well as glued on rubber pads, keeps the base from shifting (alternatively, the base could be bolted to the sheet metal below to both secure the accessory and, if a lock is added, to protect the tools). The cover is roughly 4" narrower than the lower piece. This is so the gas heater recirculating air duct inlet on the left (that black grill in the photo) is not obstructed and the bed cushion on the right is not abraded when the jack cover is raised and lowered. The cover piece is elevated along its rim by 1" oak strips to clear the tool boxes, which protrude slightly over the base. Foam rubber pads are also glued in the spare tire well to cushion the corners of the tool boxes. In the future, I'll build a simple wooden enclosure that will serve to cushion the boxes and better use the remaining space in the well to store some small, loose items.

jack box raised, showing tool boxes

jack box with cushion installed

     This "jack on the box" is a simple design, fun to build and rewarding to use. Most of the pieces came from my scrap bins. The hinge is an upper front door hinge off a pre-'67 bus. Part of the support arm was made from a head stud and case saver (covered by scrap rubber hose for easy cleaning and on its end, by a large manifold vacuum cap to eliminate scratches). Before the warm weather returns, I'll make a matching cushion to fit over the box when the jack is removed to extend the bed when camping, and I plan to attach a light under the cover to better see the tools at night.

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