A Custom Exterior Storage Box for our Travato!

We’ve been “Zinglered”!!

I wish I could take credit for the idea for this mod, but I can’t.  The original idea comes from another Travato owner and all around nice guy named Dennis.  I don’t remember where I saw it first, but it may have been the Travato Owner’s Group on Facebook (which, for those of you who own Travatos, is a great place to get ideas, inspiration, and help).

Dennis’ original box was a custom aluminum fabrication that mounted to the Fiamma bike rack when the bike trays are in the upper position.

After seeing pictures of this box, and then inspecting it in person (at the Sea Otter Classic), I set out to have one of our own for Lance.

I don’t weld (yet), and I don’t have large brakes and presses (yet), so I had to outsource the box construction.  I eventually wound up at Image West Metals in Salt Lake City.  I took Lance there, gave them all the measurements, and then had to wait.  Waiting is difficult for me.

But eventually it was ready, and here it is:

The box is made out of .10” aluminum sheet (just less than 1/8 of an inch).  It weighs maybe 10 pounds empty.  The exterior dimensions of the box are 27 ½ x 19 5/8 x 9 7/8 inches.  Those weird dimensions are actually nice round numbers when you convert them back to metric.  (Remember, the box was made to fit an Italian rack.)

To attach the box to the rack, I used two ¼” stainless steel bolts on each of the two rack uprights.  Four bolts total.  You need to use a spacer between the rack and the box so that it clears the plastic bits on the rack.  Drilling through the rack was a lot less difficult than I thought it might be.

Inside the box, besides washers, lock washers, and cap nuts, I backed up the holes with 1/8” aluminum bar stock, which should keep the bolts from trying to pull their way through the metal.  Apart from the drilling and torquing bolts, there wasn’t much else to do to install it.

My design for the box does present one issue with the back door though.  It covers up the handle, so you have to reach in from the side in order to get the rear door open.  Like this:

In Dennis’ original box, he had the box open from the end so that he could rig up a cable extension to open the door.

I thought about duplicating that, but decided I really wanted the wide opening door, so I’m just dealing with it for now.  But I admit, it is a pain.

So that’s the box.  What are we storing in it?

Well, Stef has been saying that she wants to bring Mel along on our trips.

But more seriously, I’ve been keeping all the “outside” stuff in it.  Power cords and adapters.  Leveling blocks.  Water hoses.  That kind of thing.  Oh, and our mountain bike shoes because those are usually muddy.

And that’s about it!  We’ve been rolling with it for a few weeks now, and it shows no worse for wear.

Since the initial install, I did add some gasketing around the door.  And then after I took it to a car wash, I realized the gasketing didn’t work all that well, so I drilled drain holes in the bottom.  But other than that, it’s been a peach.

This wouldn’t be too difficult for any sheet metal fabrication shop to crank out, if you were interested in having one made yourself.  But as a one-off, it was kinda pricey…

Anyway, that’s it!  Until next time…



James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling certified coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he’s not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or – that one time – doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.

    12 thoughts on “A Custom Exterior Storage Box for our Travato!

    1. Cameron Day

      Cool box!
      You said that you don’t weld (Yet) Check out this guy’s Youtube Channel if you ever want to take the plunge. Combining your mad woodworking skills with metal fabrication and welding would make you a triple threat!

        1. James - Post author

          Thanks for the reference. I’ve thought about community college welding classes from time to time. I’m just pretty busy these days!

      1. James - Post author

        Interesting and nice looking box.
        We’ve never considered hitch-mount boxes before because we don’t want to make our rig any longer.
        (Plus, I’m sure I’d smack it into something backing up…)

    2. Steven Hite

      James! Love the box! But you are still not making full use of your valuable space! Would you be interested in having OrganizedObie.com do a follow up with your new additions? We can help with the new shelf you put in the back too. (Contacting you on behalf of Jason) Keep em’ on the road!

      1. James - Post author

        Well, I’m always interested in ideas, Steven.
        I’ll send you an email and see what you had in mind.

    3. Paul H.

      Nice James! I want one, but might look for a prefabricated substitue first.

      Interstate, That’s depressing. We have never had to give more than a momentary thought about theft where we are. Naive or lucky maybe. I would think that some of those “outdoorsy people” enjoy firearms as well.

    4. Interstate Blog

      It’s a beautiful job, and hopefully nobody will attempt to obtain a five-finger discount on it at your expense, because that aluminum looks like money waiting to transmute itself into someone else’s pocket. Last year, my husband designed and fabricated a custom hitch carrier for our rig (he does the welding, and I do a lot of the sourcing, cutting, deburring and finishing… eventually I will learn to weld also). About 50% of our design and execution effort went into theft countermeasures. The more remote (and therefore desirable) a travel area, the more lawless it tends to become, at least in our part of the country. Maybe things are different in other geographic areas.

      1. James - Post author

        I’d have to think they’d try to swipe the (much more expensive) bicycles mounted just above first!
        I haven’t been that concerned about scrap aluminum theft. Maybe I should?

        1. Interstate Blog

          Any attempt at a swipe will likely be when you are out on your bikes – that’s the visual cue that it’s safe to move in for the kill.

          Given that I live in a state of 30 million people where only 2% of the land is federally-owned (and probably about the same tiny amount is state-owned), I have to be very creative and persistent if I want to attain any measure of outdoor privacy. There have been times when I’ve gone to local representatives and asked, “Respectfully, why won’t you allow me to boondock down there?” (referencing some restricted area). The response is typically, “Because we can’t get law enforcement back there on any reasonable time frame, and we’ve had too many incidents. It’s just too dangerous.”

          Thieves target outdoorsy people (hunters, fishermen, campers, trekkers) because they are such easy, unprotected targets. My husband and I wanted to build a hitch carrier for our camper van that would accept our Yeti cooler. Well, Yeti theft is so rampant in our area that the theft rings have begun to rival organized crime in their degree of sophistication. Unless we came up with a device that far exceeded the prevailing market options, we had no chance. But it’s been over a year now and nobody has found a way to thwart our measures, so we accomplished that much, at least.

          Like I said, I don’t know how the pressures are in other areas of the country. Most theft is drug-driven these days, so there’s perhaps a statistical correlation with how large the drug problem is in any given area.

    5. Dennis Zingler

      Thanks for the credit. Coming from the king of modifications I am humbled. I like the welded box, very clean. My next project shall be the Dometic Penguin A/C upgrade. BTW can I borrow your pulley system?


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