Well it’s not new but a 2004 Ford FreeStar I purchased from my neighbors son-in-law. I’ve been around this van since he purchased it. I know he also has taken very good care of so I should get some good service out of it.
Stealth is important, always! This van is one of millions. It is non-descript, unassuming and doesn't stand out in a parking lot. Parking lots may be some of the places I’ll stay if I must evacuate my home due to hurricanes or worse. The van offers shelter from the elements, some security, food & water storage and storage of camping and bug out gear.
My plans are to remove both rear seats. Then build a platform 10 inches above the floor. The platform will measure 4x6½ feet which will be where the mattress will go, there’s nothing like sleeping warm, dry and soft bed at night.
The platform will be divided into two, 2 x 6½ foot pieces and hinged together down the centerline. This way no matter which van door I’m using I simply lift up one side of the platform to access all that is stored under there which will be all the camping, fishing and hunting gear as well as all the survival food and equipment.
I intend to add a 2 inch receiver hitch cargo platform for some firewood, bicycle, water, and maybe a small Honda generator for charging batteries.
The first thing I had to do was get the van on a known level surface. From that I could using a level cut and trim the two 2x8’s to clear the contours of the floor while keeping the top edge of the 2x8 where the platform will rest, level with the ground. You can see I had to add another 2 inch tall block to the front bottom of the 2x8 to get it level and clear the uneven floor.
The black hoop sticking out of the side wall is where the rear seat latched onto to secure the seat. I decided to make use of it by slotting the 2x8 to fit around it. This way the entire platform can’t shift fore of aft and if the roads are really bad it will hold the entire platform frame in place.
Here I used 2x6’s to span the four feet between the two rails. More than strong enough for me to sleep on and anything I decide to carry. Everything is screwed together so if I change my mind I can undo everything.
For the plywood platform I used a birch veneer ½ inch thick cabinet plywood. This cabinet plywood is stable and will not warp like standard plywood.
When looking for hinges I spotted a 6 foot long piano hinge for $11 so here it is. I do intend to find some carpet (when on sale) to glue and wrap the plywood platform in.
Found some carpet and glued it on. Adds a little finished look. View is through the rear door
One half of the platform lifted up. I just started loading my stuff under the platform. Much more to go in there, virtually all my life sustaining gear will be stored there.
This is my 6 foot air mattress on the 4 x 6½ foot platform.
I am happy with the way it turned out. It’s very strong and I expect years of service from it. Total cost was just shy of $100.