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seattle smitty

external toolbox solutions on little pickups

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I had an '81 Datsun 720 kingcab, gasser, stick, some years ago.  Got some use out of it, but it needed work and was pretty rough, and I had too many cars, so I sold it for $160 to a friend who had two or three similar machines.  I thought what I wanted was a little station wagon to carry my tools out of the rain and somewhat out of the reach of opportunistic thieves.  I have had a couple of those ordinary long diamond-plate toolboxes for sale everywhere that fit into the front of a pickup's box, but I find them very unhandy and inefficient to use, since you end up having to climb up into the truck to rummage around in the bottom of that toolbox to find what you're after. By comparison, I thought, a little station wagon with four doors and a hatch would give me good access, a fairly easy reach to any point in the vehicle.  Having previously owned a couple of early 510 wagons, I looked for one, but couldn't find one quickly at a reasonable price.

So I settled on a 1986 Dodge Colt Vista wagon with 5-speed and 4WD transfer case.  Kind of a cool little car, I thought, so I rebuilt every system on it.  Nice daily driver, and I have so much time and money invested in it that I have to keep it, but I find that a little station wagon is not an especially good tool carrier, either. Nor is the '88 Ford E150 van (300-six, C-6) that I currently use for tool transport.  The problem is inefficient use of the interior volume.  In the little wagon tools slide around, the drawers in any fixed toolboxes get blocked, etc..  The van has lots of volume, and I could build more shelves, but I am old and none too spry, and don't feel like climbing in and out of a standard van, which also is too low to let me stand upright.  A step-van would answer all those issues,  but I don't want to carry all that much stuff anymore, and I want to get my fuel-burn down.

For a little while I had a '96 Chevy pickup (350, auto) with a service body (some call this a utility box).  Now THAT was a pretty handy set-up, mostly.  But I didn't like the vehicle; too new and therefore too complex.  One day the knock sensor wire, worn bare, shorted against some metal and the engine backfired on startup, blowing the PLASTIC intake manifold into three big pieces!!  So I sold the truck.  But I did kind of like that service body.

Now my friend who bought my old (SIMPLE!!!) 720 tells me that he is never going to get around to doing anything with it, and will give it to me if I wanted it back, and I said yes please.  You can see where this is going.  I'm wondering what sort of enclosed outside tool storage any of you might have worked out for one of these little rigs.  I believe King Cabs of this era could come with either short or long boxes.  Mine has the long (six foot) box, which means a lot of overhang aft of the rear axle.  I don't want to carry a lot of weight way back, as it would be if I replaced the 6' box with a 6' service body (if such things exist), not even with overlod springs or a dually axle. 

So I'm envisioning getting rid of this Datsun's pickup box (which is rather rough) and maybe welding up a flatbed platform maybe five feet long.  As a welder, I could also consider stretching the chassis forward of the axle by maybe a foot.  Anyway, a flatbed with some sort of side-opening, weatherproof storage bins, maybe somewhat deeper than the usual commercial service bodies have.  I don't need a very wide open center section between the boxes  (even the standard 720 won't carry 4X8's flat unless atop the wheelwells).  I'll weld up a good "ladder-rack" to carry any long/wide stuff. 

Has any of you done or seen something like this?  For the storage box on one side of the flatbed, I'd almost like to bolt down a rollaway type of toolbox (though not full rollaway height), but they aren't weather-resistant, so I'd have to devise some kind of weather-door over the top and front of the rollaway.  And I'd like to have some sort of small storage hanging
BELOW the level of the flatbed deck, both ahead of and behind the rear axle/tire.

Hah hah, pretty ambitious, ain't it?!!  But this is my current idea of a handyman's handy little truck. You have any ideas or pix, I'm open to ideas.

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I have a small trailer to haul all my pressure washing stuff around, but I have so much stuff now that I have to take several things out to get the pressure washing equipment out, and then I have to put it back in so no one comes along and steals it while I am out of sight on a roof or in the back yard.

I stretched my frame 24 inches and added a box under my flatbed on the passenger side with a door, but it is a hassle too store stuff there with the locks and having to bend over, so it doesn't have anything in it anymore, if anyone ever cuts them locks off to get in it they will be disappointed.

So recently I have been thinking about building a sleeper type setup to put between the cab and the flatbed that has a door on each side, my truck is a 521 so I would need 2 back half's of a 521 cab, turn one around and spot weld them together all the way around, then fabricate door hinges for both sides, I would still be able to see out the back thru 3 pieces of glass, but everything would stay dry, I could keep my blowers, 12 volt sprayer, pump sprayers, and chemicals along with my tools in that, and that would free up the flatbed for just debris, I could possibly make it a dump bed then.

But that would make my work truck fairly specialized, I could not really haul a cord of wood anymore, so all of the above about a sleeper extension is really just a fantasy/dream.

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Dreams are good Wayno.  Not sure this is the place to visit fantasies!  LOL

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