Putting My Drawers On

I’ve been waiting for the weather to get better, so I could finally put in a few hours and install my IronMan4x4 twin drawers and Dometic CFX3 35 fridge. A few months of calculating, measuring, and planning. Today was the day that I dove in and got it done.

I love the American Adventure Lab (AAL) platform, I was able to schlep stuff and tie things down so easily. Love the L-Track design! I knew I’d end up bolting the twin drawers onto it, but I decided not to remove the platform, even though I could have. The twin drawers offer two floating cross members that I could have lined up to the cargo floor holes. But I wanted the ability to strap stuff down to the exposed edges of the platform.

Based on some calls I made to both AAL and IronMan4x4, I bought some M10-1.5 x 25mm stainless steel bolts and some steel M10-1.5 nutserts. These were needed to bolt the IronMan4x4 twin drawers onto the AAL platform.

Once the 8 nutserts were installed, I reinstalled the AAL platform. This time I took the advice of some Cumberland Crawlerz buddies. Stainless steel bolts and steel nutserts require some anti-seize so I won’t need to use a blowtorch to disassemble after the June trip! Using an impact wrench set to medium, the reinstall of the AAL platform went smoothly.

I started removing the twin drawers from their frame. Then positioning the frame onto the AAL platform, and marking where I needed to drill the 8 holes. I then removed the AAL plate, and used a 1/8″ bit to start the hole, then a 1/4″, then a 3/8″. Eight holes later I installed the nutserts using a threaded rivet tool. Man it was so easy! I wish I knew about these kinds of solutions, so many opportunities lost!

I bolted the twin drawer cross members in eight spots. That bad boy isn’t going to come loose. Then I slid the twin drawers into the frame, and reinstalled the drawer stops. Given the limited space on left and right sides of the twin drawers, I came to the gunfight properly equipped with a right angle racheting screwdriver. Confirmed the drawers don’t hit the tailgate frame lock (1/2″ clearance) or the tailgate joint arm (1/2″ clearance there too!).

There are a couple inches room on the left/right sides of the twin drawers, Not sure what I’m going to do with that space yet. There’s plenty of space between the twin drawers and the tailgate. 3/4″ on the left, and 2″ on the right.

The next step was to install the two carpeted plywood lids. I installed the one on the right, and snugged it down. Then I installed the one on the left, but I didn’t tighten the screws, since I need to calculate/mark the spots where I need to bolt the fridge slider. I planned to use M6 bolts and 1″ washers, this way the carpeted plywood lids would not suffer stress cracks. That went a lot smoother than planned!

I had a choice to make regarding securing the fridge to the fridge slider. The fridge slider came with four bolts to attach the fridge permanently to the slide. I didn’t want to go that route, since there may be times when I spend more than a night in a camp spot. If so, I’d want to move the fridge to a table. So the alternate option made more sense, use the four straps that came with the slider to tie down both handles on both ends. Very secure, but easy to unmount when needed.

Throughout these past weeks of planning, I kept in mind that my stove would sit on the tailgate table, so the fridge would be mounted on the left side of the twin drawers, and that while I’m cooking, the right drawer would not open. So I have to be careful what I put into the drawers. Kitchen stuff in the left drawer, and tools/recovery gear in the right drawer.

I went with twin drawers, as opposed to two stacked drawers, so I could avoid having to put stuff on the fridge. I realized tonight once the drawers and fridge were installed, that there’s plenty of space for my Expedition 134 storage box, the tent, sleeping bag, a Pelican 1535 for storing my clothing, the Dometic PLB40 battery, and more. Since I ruled out the roof rack (at least until 2022), I plan to secure some stuff behind the seats as well.

Speaking of seats, of course the rear bench seat got removed the day I drove the Jeep home from the dealer. 🙂 One of the concerns I had when I ordered the twin drawers, was whether I’d be able to move the seat all the way back and recline. As it turned out, both seats go all the way back, and they recline enough for naps. When the seats are in their normal position, I’m able to store the tent, sleeping bag and mattress behind the driver or passenger seat.