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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Not wanting to spend several hundred dollars on a shelf to put in the rear of my Xterra, I made one. Also, the commercial shelves aren't high enough for me to put my Iceco fridge underneath. The Iceco is 20 inches tall.

All parts were sourced from the local Lowe's and Home Depot. The PVC pipe is 3/4 inch, schedule 40.

I would have finished this project by now, but I had to special order some 4-way corner couplers from Lowe's. They aren't due until early next week. So, in the picture, substitute 4-way couplers for where the 3-way couplers are now, and imagine a small shelf on top, capped with the 3-way couplers, and a railing. The whole thing will look similar to the commercial shelves, when finished. Mine will be a few inches taller, but I should still be able to see out the back.

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The two center pieces, running fore and aft are to support a piece of plywood, as the base of the top shelf. The plywood will be secured to the PVC pipe by drilling holes in the bottom of the pipe, large enough to pass a wood screw. I will also drill a small pilot hole in the top of the pipe for the screw.

Pipe diminsions: 4 Uprights = 20 inches, 4 Side pieces = 21.5 inches, 2 Center pieces = 19.5 inches, 2 Side-to-side pieces = 36.5 inches.

The two center pieces that support the plywood make a hinge, so I can open the fridge without needing to remove it from the truck. The tees toward the front are 1 inch, with the base being 3/4 inch. This makes a loose fit over the front 3/4 inch pipe that runs side-to-side. The tees toward the rear are all 3/4 inch. I used a Dremel to cut out a section, so they snap-fit over the rear 3/4 inch pipe. When unloaded, the weight of the plywood should keep the snap-fit tees in place. If not, I can add a bungee, or secure them some other way.

In the picture, you also see the cardboard that I used as a mockup for the shelf, before cutting the plywood.

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The plywood should be 19 inches by 36 inches. This will leave enough room all around, so that it can be hinged up, without hitting the frame.

Everything is secured to the tie-down tracks. I had to add two flat washers under each of the 1 inch conduit clamps, to keep them level, when the bolts are tightened down.

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You may question my use of PVC for this project. If I was going to carry very heavy items on the shelf, then yes, PVC is a poor choice. For my purposes, I think it will work just fine. Time will tell, but this isn't the first thing I have built out of PVC.

Nothing is cemented together yet. When I receive the 4-way couplers and finish assembly, I'll cement all joints, except where the four uprights join the shelf. Downward force and friction will be enough to hold things together. When I want to remove the entire thing from the Xterra, I will have three pieces, which will store compactly, instead of one huge piece.

I also intend to paint this. White PVC with text and barcodes isn't to my taste.
 

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Interesting idea. Not sure I need anything like that. Does it make it harder to access the under floor storage?
 

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Thanks for sharing your project, as long as it works for your needs that's what matters.

If anyone wants a thorough list of rear rack projects, the first post in this thread is great:

 

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Good attempt at using a different material other than metal or aluminum like most but however, I do question the rigidity of the rack when offroading. It seems like the pvc will "flex" and sway under heavy loads when you're going off road. I think the racks that outback97 linked you too would be a better choice. It's a "quicker" mod versus you measuring all the different lengths pvc and putting it together. Just my .02.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Interesting idea. Not sure I need anything like that. Does it make it harder to access the under floor storage?
No more than normal. The carpetted area between the tracks is the top of the storage area. The same size and location as the other trim levels that have a grippy covering, instead of carpet.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Good attempt at using a different material other than metal or aluminum like most but however, I do question the rigidity of the rack when offroading. It seems like the pvc will "flex" and sway under heavy loads when you're going off road. I think the racks that outback97 linked you too would be a better choice. It's a "quicker" mod versus you measuring all the different lengths pvc and putting it together. Just my .02.
Like I mentioned, I know PVC isn't going to hold a lot of weight. For my use, it will do. As for offroading, I don't boulder crawl, or ford rivers. The worst I'll do is a slightly rutted or muddy dirt road, at slow speed. If I feel like I'm riding a bronco, I'm doing something I shouldn't. Yes, for people like my sister's husband, who goes "wheelin'", a welded steel rack is more suited.

I'm still waiting for the 4-way corner couplers. Supposedly, I'll see them Monday. Today, I did add one thing. To keep the "hinges" from sliding side-to-side on the horizontal pipe, I bought two 1-1/2" to 3/4" reducers. I had to use the Dremel to remove the stop-ring from each reducer (and slightly enlarging the entire inside, for a snug fit). Then I slipped one reducer on each end of the pipe, to constrain the sloppy fitting "hinges". When I receive the missing couplers, and put everything together properly, I'll post another picture.

I bought some Krylon Fusion spray paint, in matte black. It is supposed to work on PVC, without a primer. I'll let you know how it works.
 

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That’s cool... if it works for your needs... then it’s all good. Well at least with pvc... it’ll be much lighter than the steel ones. Plus when you paint it, it’s going to look a lot sleeker.


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Discussion Starter #8
After looking at the very nice DIY shelves in that other thread, I should add that I live in an apartment, and don't have a shop full of power tools. Many times, I have wished that I did have all of those nice tools. My only power tools are a Dremel and a hand drill. Not looking for sympathy, but I just had to buy a hand saw so I could cut the plywood for my shelf. If I had a shop full of tools, I would have probably made my shelf out of aluminum, instead of PVC.

I also would have made the shelf wider, so that it just fit between the wheel wells. Since I can't fabricate custom hold-downs, I was limited to using off-the-shelf conduit clamps, which determined my overall width.
 

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There are ones where you don’t need to cut or weld.. all bolt on. Did you read about the Harbor Freight shelf where it’s all bolt on? You just buy the shelf $60, put it together and bolt on the legs and that’s it. Pretty simple.

Found the link:




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Discussion Starter #10
No, I didn't see a post about a HF shelf. I'll do a search. For now, I'm going to go with my current creation, as I belive it will do what I need for now. Later, who knows?
 

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Here ya go:



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And also check out the infamous Lobo rack if you haven’t done so. There are different variations of it as well.




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Discussion Starter #13
That does look like a nice DIY shelf. I'd have to mod that to make it hinge up, like my PVC one. My Iceco fridge is somewhat heavy. I don't want to have to pull it out of the vehicle every time I want in it. When I set up for sleeping, I can just rotate the Iceco 90 degrees, and slide it forward, to access it from my bed. Midnight snack, anyone? Bears and other critters not invited.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
And also check out the infamous Lobo rack if you haven’t done so. There are different variations of it as well.


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Yes, the Closet Maid thing I had seen. Also a nice idea, I actually was looking for something similar, to use for the top of my shelf/rack. I couldn't find anything suitable, so I decided on all PVC with a plywood base.

Well, my stomach tells me it is dinner time, so I'm gone for now. Thanks for the links.
 

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Necessity is the mother of invention.

I’m looking forward to the end result. PVC built stuff is pretty cool, and yours is definitely up there in the rankings.
Done correctly the design will be surprisingly stout.
Maybe you could build a roof rack next, never know!


(My only recommendation is to scuff the surfaces before painting. It helps a million percent with adhesion.)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I finally got the 4-way couplers today. Here is the almost finished project. I still need to paint it. I went with panhead wood screws, instead of PVC cement. That stuff sets so quick, that I wasn't sure I could get the parts aligned and seated fast enough.

I also added a skirt, made from part of a $5 tarp. This makes it harder for anyone to peek inside to see what I have. The wind was blowing a bit when I took the picture.

I still need to rig up something to hold the shelf when it is up. It hinges up to within a few inches of the headliner, so there will be plenty of room to access the fridge.

As for a roof rack, I don't think I'd chance PVC for that. I did use pool noodles with PVC pipe shoved inside, as temporary cross rails to haul a kayak. When strapped down, that worked well. I will probably get some metal channels and clamps to make cross rails, like someone here did. Then I'll buy a real kayak carrier (or two).

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Looks to be very useful. Instead of covering with a tarp... I suggest you get those big art foam pieces to use as a cover. Just cut it to size and use magnets to attach it to the rack. It’s only a dollar from the Dollar store.


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As for a roof rack, I don't think I'd chance PVC for that. I did use pool noodles with PVC pipe shoved inside, as temporary cross rails to haul a kayak. When strapped down, that worked well. I will probably get some metal channels and clamps to make cross rails, like someone here did. Then I'll buy a real kayak carrier (or two).
For an example of strut channel crossbars:

 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks. That looks like what I want.
 
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