Rear Storage

In the 86 Trooper, I removed the rear seats, and stored heavy items like the winch, recovery gear, jumper battery and tool box behind the front seats where the passenger foot box is. I tried the same thing in the 96 except the rear seats aren't so easy to remove. So I left them in and just stored the heavy stuff behind the front seats like in the 86.

This worked quite well, keeping the heavy items near the center of the vehicle and they were secured with Heavy straps to keep them from flopping around in the event I roll the Trooper. BUT it basically eliminated the usefulness of the back seat. Since I have to drag the seats with me anyway, they might as well be functional. I could just pile all of this stuff in the space behind the rear seat, but it would be tough dig through to get at something that you need. So I looked at putting everything in plastic under bed storage containers. After looking at quite a few of them, I settled on these.

The dimensions show that 2 of these will fit nicely side by side between the wheel wells, and they are amongst the tallest that I could find, but it looks like they will be a bit long.

They have wheels, and the lids open from the ends. The plan is to just set these in the back, and store stuff in them, then pile other stuff on top of them. That didn't work. The boxes are too long!!, and although the doors will close, closing the small door deforms the lid of the container on that side to an unacceptable extent.

In an attempt to reduce that lid deformation, I trimmed part of the lid handle. That didn't work either. So I decided to get rid of the lids, and build a box in the back that the trays could fit in. Building the box the same height as the back seats when they are laid down increases the useful storage area of the trays and when the front seats are tilted forward, allows enough room in the back of the Trooper for two people to sleep

It's a simple box, made with 5/8" mdf. Just held together with screws. That way I can just unscrew it and take it out. The top is notched out for the CD changer, and the uprights are notched to accommodate the rear tie downs and the lip of the rear door sill. The mdf was sealed with a water based polyurethane. The Trays fit in there quite nicely.

The tray on the small door side still hits the door, but not so much to cause adverse deformation of the tray, or interfere with door closure.

Here are the trays with all of the stuff that was behind the front seats, and all of the stuff that I had in a plastic box in the rear area. Behind the first-aid kit on the left is a shovel. It fits between the left upright and the interior wall.

Since the trays are a little on the long side, they have to be pulled out a little bit to put the rear seats down or back up. Here you can see how with the seats down the entire rear area would allow enough room to sleep.

There is just enough room to reach between the shelf and the seat and activate the levers that allow the seats to tip forward. If I was to do it again, I may have made this portion of the box with a piano hinge so I could lift the top and reach into the trays from the rear doors. Then again the trays pull out easily even when heavily loaded and the hinge would have complicated the installation.

In the trays are: 4000 lb. receiver hitch winch with a snatch block, receiver clevis, straps, gloves rope, clevis's tree saver, come-along, 4 way tire iron, tire repair kit, can of tire sealer, 2 foam pads, 2 sets of rain gear, role of paper towels, tool box, jumper battery, jumper cables, shop manuals, 1 bag of peanut M&Ms, 1 MRE, upper and lower radiator hose, spare belts, air hose , inflator and not shown in the picture a fire extinguisher, and a CD holder. There is still room for more stuff.

There is very little wasted space. I can fill the trays up to the top if the box, and still pull them out. There is plenty of room left on top for groceries, coolers and camping gear, etc. I will cover the entire thing with gray carpet, and post the pictures when I do. Total cost so far is a bit less than $50, and about 6 hours of my time.