Truck platform: take 3

See our first and second attempts at a truck platform:

As noted in the Hammock article, our first attempt was pretty successful, we really liked the platform, both in concept and in practice. It had some downsides though around bulk, weight, simplicity, removability, etc. It's pretty good, but we thought we could do better.

The Hammock fell through... well, luckily not literally, but it didn't work.

And thus comes, platform attempt #3. Here it is folks: IMG_20130120_154301.jpg

The idea is simple. Build a platform that sits on the lip of the truck bed and cap. This way we don't need any supporting structure. This saves weight, bulk, and construction effort. The platform also comes out a touch higher than our last one, giving us even more cargo space. The box in this picture just *barely* fit under the old platform.

The tricky part is figuring out how to get the platform *in* there. If you make flat solid platforms the width that is needed to sit on the lip, they won't fit in through the door. Because of the angle of the sides of the cap, tilting the platform to slide it in doesn't help. In fact, the window's cause a slight inward bulge in the cap, such that the platform above is completely captive vertically... so what to do? IMG_20130120_154313.jpg

This platform is built out of 6 separate pieces of ply. Each piece has 2 2x2's screwed to it to add rigidity and as spacers. These then sit on 2x4's that span the width of the bed of the truck, from lip to lip.

The idea is simple, to get the platform in you take each 2x4 and spin it into place (around the vertical axis). Once they are in place you drop in the pieces of ply. The 2x2's attacked to the ply keep the 2x4's from spinning, thus locking the structure in place.

As it turns out this worked beautifully. I was able to get the ply to fit in a single 4x8 piece. The cross pieces are from 2 10ft 2x4's, and the spacers are from 3 8ft 2x2s (it would've been 2 10fts but they didn't have any at Lowes). The 2x2 and 2x4's are redwood. It was what they had, and it should have less trouble with bowing due to dampness then say fir would. One bonus is that being made of 6 pieces makes removing one of the back pieces while you're in there somewhat easier, making it easier to reach the stuff in the back.

It all worked beautifully and looked perfect. I took these pictures. Then I went to close the truck to go inside and.... IMG_20130120_154501.jpg Oops! I completely forgot to save space for the latches! Luckily, Jess has a dremel and using that and my pull saw I cut out a space for the latches. Well, what's a project without a little hacking. Oh FYI: If you want one, I built this one, including purchasing materials, this afternoon. A good saw, square, measuring tape and screw-gun is all you need. Well... and a pencil and paper.


I glued the 12 volt socket to the inside of the truck bed, just a bit below the platform in a slight recess. It looks like the epoxy is going to hold. One more problem solved! We have a small pile of stuff that lives in the truck: backup camping supplies, roadkill kit, tools, and truck recovery gear. This used to all go in the side compartments of the platform, so it'll need a new home. I'll have to find some good water-proof containers to put it all in. Then it will either go under the platform and be tied in place with rope to the tiedowns, or if I manage to track down a roof-rack some of it might move to the rack.

Truck Hammock: A failed experiment


I write a lot here about things that work. I'm amazed sometimes at how often things we try work out, but... they most certainly don't always.

You may remember this post some time back: http://www.blog.smalladventures.net/2011/06/jack-camper.html. We love that sleeping platform and it's been really really useful. On the other hand, after using it for a while we've found a few flaws with it.

  • It's not tall enough. This severely limits how much gear we can fit in the truck. As an example, a 5 gallon bucket doesn't fit upright under the platform.
  • The openings to the boxes are too small, this means we don't use the space in the boxes efficiently.
  • They are a lot of wood, this means they are heavy and they take up space.
  • The splits in space that the boxes make severely limits what *shapes* of gear we can fit
  • The space that remains is long and narrow, meaning there isn't enough "front" easy to access space
  • The boxes do take time/effort to remove and reinstall right now (particularly due to needing to be tied in place).

These are minor gripes overall, but, we thought worth trying something else, in hopes of solving some of these problems. If it doesn't work, we can just go back to the boxes we have.


The basic idea is simple, build something with no underlying structure that just sits on the lip of the truck cap/bed. This way we have more space underneath, the structure is much simpler, and takes a lot less material.

We got to chatting with a friend who was hanging out at our house, and came up with an idea. What if we went father, what if the platform could be made *really* light... What if we made it out of fabric! This seemed cool enough to be worth trying. I went to the store and bought 10 C clamps and a bit of wood. I also went to the army surplus store and found some sports netting. With these bits I constructed this: IMG_20130119_192145.jpg

The problem is that currently, if I get in, my butt touches the floor. With this setup if I retensioned and fiddled I'm confident that I can make it so one person is fairly far off the ground. The goal though is to hold up *2* people and to maximize cargo space underneath. Tension is exponential with respect to droop under load. In other words... this would have to be *ludicrously* tight to have sufficiently little droop and to be useful. 5 inches would be a big loss in space. Even if we could get everything else to hold at that tension (the hammock strings, the clamps, etc.) there's some danger to the truck bed and cap as well.

We *could* build a very solid frame and use that for the tension, this would work just fine. But, that's complex to build and getting somewhat heavy again. I think this can be done and it would be really cool, but right now I want a new platform that's easy to build, deal with, and repair, not a difficult engineering project. So, I think my next attempt will be a much more mundane solid sleeping platform. I have some sketches in the works now.

One thing to keep in mind if someone else embarks on this journey. If you have gear underneath the hammock, note that that gear may be dangerous. Imagine your hammock giving way and you landing with an ice-axe through your right lung... Yeah... This is an additional reason why I decided to abandon the project.


Archery: Carpet and silencers

I decided I need a new carpet on my bow (I shoot off the shelf) and for some time I've been thinking I should really put on some silencers.

Well, this evening I finally got off my butt and did it.

We had a road-kill squirrel pelt in the garage that Jess had been meaning to tan. A little while ago she finally declared it wasn't worth it and she probably wouldn't tan it. It's got a bit shorter fur than the rabbit, so we decided that it might make a good carpet. For this use, we also figured rawhide would work just as well, maybe better.

After scraping off the old glue and carpet with a pocket knife, I glued a bit of the squirrel pelt onto the the shelf using barge cement. Then I trimmed it down flush with the shelf with a pair of scissors.

Now for the silencers. A little while ago we ate a roadkill rabbit. When we did this we of course saved the pelt. Along with the primary pelt a few bits and pieces came off as little tufts. We set these aside then, thinking maybe they'd make decent silencers. These are also rawhide, but we'd salted it as we didn't have time to clean it on the spot. We put on a lot of salt, so the hide was actually a touch fragile. I tore one piece a bit so I had two strips maybe a half inch long with big tufts coming off them.
I wrapped them around the string, and then them on using a bit of linen twine. The twine is tied with a half-knot, then wrapped to the backside, halfknot, back to the front and a reefers knot.

We'll see how they work next time I go shoot! I didn't add a spacer under the carpet, I figured I'd give it a try straight first. I figure the old carpet probably caught somewhat randomly throwing off my shot, I'm excited to see if my aim improves. The silencers should just help take away the "twang" after each shot.


Well, I lost some fuzz off one silencer, apparently I missed the tiny bit of actual rawhide the fuzz was attached to when I tied it on... not a problem.

Otherwise, I *love* the way it shoots now. The silencers did reduce the "buzz" in the string and bow after release, it makes it easier to feel everything else. The squirrel skin seems to have worked extremely well, at least compared to the cruddy carpet I've been shooting off of. After I got to the range I took a few shots dialing in my technique since I hadn't shot in a while. I quickly realized my brace-height was wrong and tweaked that. From then on it was like the bow was telling me what I did wrong. When I shot way left it was my balance, every time, when I missed badly and my arrow didn't hit the target straight it was my release. I realized that I've had such bad whip in the past that I'm used to aiming left-right differently at 10m and 20m... Youch, that was quite a realization.

In any case, this should really helped my shooting. There's something funny in my release that I need to work on... especially up close my arrows always hit crooked, except very occasionally when everything works and it flies perfectly straight. I just need to figure out what that is.