Tonneau Cover

This is my tonneau cover idea for my 2016 Ford F150 XLT 4×4 short box.

For years now I’ve been wanting to buy a DiamondBack tonneau cover. As far as I’m concerned, this is the best option available on the market for what I would like to use my cover for.

I want a secure cover that provides me with many options for what I can put UNDER IT, and even more options for what I can put ON IT. Two hurdles that I have run into on this product. The price is steep, over $2000 CAD for the black finish. The second, I want the ability to secure items in the best way possible, and have the flexibility to easily change that. So as I normally do, I am making a cover myself.

Why one piece?

In my mind, you only need a cover to fold out of the way because you don’t want to, or can’t put the item you need on top of the cover. So if this cover can hold more than my cargo capacity, I’m not worried about anything I put on it.

What if I need to get another load of gravel or dirt?

I will be attaching the tonneau cover from the under side using these Bessey STC-HH70 toggle clamps. Great strength, and as things may wear, these clamps will auto adjust to make up that difference. And the biggest plus, a very quick and tool-less way of attaching and removing the cover from my truck box.

Now I just need to source my material and begin cutting and shaping. I’ll update when I have some things together.

They are done! Very quick turn around from my local Langley Metal Mart with their new waterjet table. The shape is exactly as I had imagined, although, looking back I would change the tailgate end to match the curve a little better.

Why so many rectangular holes? My thoughts; instead of attaching an e-track on top of the aluminum sheets, why not cut holes to provide a flat surface for many different uses. The sheet thickness (1/8″) is more than the usual thickness of steel e-track (about 0.100″).

I have already ordered the lengths needed for the frame under the checker plate sheets. Once those are ready, I can begin cutting and shaping the channels to match the curves of the box. Then the welding can begin. I don’t own an aluminum welder myself, but I’ve already lined up a rental from a local company for a decent price.

Jack knife sofa supports

The jack knife sofa in our hybrid travel trailer provides a great seating space, and when set up for sleeping, adds a good sized bed to our little trailer. Unfortunately when you roll too far onto the overhang, the whole sofa wants to pivot and dump you off. Yes its funny to see, but it doesn’t work for me. As well, in our case, we set up our playpen (play yard) for our youngest and it sits well within the dimensions of the couch. Once again, depending on where my daughter is sleeping (or jumping), the sofa wants to pivot.

For  the first year I put a couple rubbermaid bins and some blocks of wood under the overhang to provide support. This can work because we were using the bins for storing things, but were creating a problem with walking around the jack knife sofa to get to the dinette or to the queen bed on the end.

I knew what I needed to build, but I wanted to see what other had done. Here is a video that very closely mirrored what I was thinking.

So I stopped by one of my local steel suppliers, bought some pieces that I needed. I then cut and assembled the two supports at work and welded them together. I then took them home and checked to make sure they fit correctly. To finish off, I painted them black and installed them into place after they were dry enough.

After I had installed the two supports into place, I was able to remove a couple wooden supports that were bracing the sofa base from the wall. This gave me a couple more inches in height in my storage compartment under the sofa, which is accessible from a door on the outside. I could now place my BBQ anywhere in the compartment, where I was not able to do that before.

I’ll add more pictures of the supports in place when I get around to it.

April 28th, 2018





New storage space under the washroom sink.

The access panel under the washroom sink was loosely sitting under the cabinet when I bought the trailer. This allowed me to quickly see what was all under there (cables, outside connections, and plumbing) and how I could make a lot better use of the space.

First I needed to replace the dangerous connection of a 120 plug on a 30 amp cable connection.

I’ll withhold comments about the previous owner’s thought process behind this easy fix. I don’t like the idea of hoping this works, as long as we don’t turn on the air conditioner or try to draw full power out of our system. Will we ever use it? Probably not, but that’s not the point.

The previous hole that housed the 30 amp connection was drilled bigger to fit this cheaper access panel. I know because I can see some of the previous mounting holes where the inlet was placed. The inlet that I purchased off was around $30 all in, whereas a local dealer wanted around $120 before tax.

So I’ve left the cheap access panel in place, with nothing behind it, until I can find a better way to patch the hole or use it for something else.

Instead I disconnected the cable connection and drilled the hole bigger to fit the inlet that I purchased.

Note the previous hole size of the cable connection. It didn’t need to be that big for a cable connection, a 3/4″ hole would of been more than fine.

Now that is a close cut. The left side of the hole sits right up against the inside wall. But I’m going to pretend that I meant it to be that close. I did measure the distance I needed to be tight against that wall, as well as clear the plumbing that runs along the floor on the inside.

After cleaning the glue and surrounding area, I was able to use four new stainless screws to attach the new proper 30 amp inlet to the hole I had just cut. It is a used trailer, but it feels really weird cutting a hole into it.

The finished product on the outside. I’m happy that I now have an inlet rated for the power that the distribution panel is rated for. One day I’ll patch up the hole from the other access panel or maybe I’ll come up with something else I’ll want to place there.

The reason I chose this 30 amp inlet, over an inlet with a 30 amp cable that can be pulled in or out, is that I did not want to create a way for creatures to get inside the trailer. I’ve read posts on mice and ants walking up cables right into the trailer. This type of connection eliminates that possibility as much as can be.

Here you can see that I’ve boxed in the area underneath. This is space that otherwise would not of been available. In a trailer our size, this is huge for allowing us to pack all our washroom items in our washroom. First I used 1×2 to create a backing for me to attach the 1/8″ sheets to. This provides a solid frame to prevent any items stored in here to damage any wiring or plumbing behind. Then I cut out three pieces, the sides first, to fit nicely into place. Attaching the back sheet last allows me to easily remove it if I need to inspect or repair anything behind it.


New drawer under the fridge

This is what I have under our fridge. A blank plate on the left (access panel if you wish) and the furnace to the right. I’ve previously added space using an access panel under the washroom sink.

Removing the panel shows a twisting mess of cables and water lines. To my surprise, there are teed-off lines in place already to connect to an outside shower. I found this one on that has the hose wrap around the faucet instead of having the hose push through a hole in the faucet box and sit somewhere inside your trailer.

I’m not removing hose clips, so I’m unplugging cables running into my distribution panel. Then I’ll be able to run the cables where I feel they’ll be best out of the way for my drawer and for my future outside shower.

I’ve traced the wiring to the distribution panel and created slack so that I can move the cables out of the way for the drawer slides to be mounted into place.

I’ve decided on these 100lb full extension drawer slides from Lee Valley. 100lbs is overkill, but I’m okay with that. As well, I’m also getting these brackets so that I can mount the back of the drawer directly to the back wall.

September 17th, 2017

So I’ve managed to order and pick up the drawer slides and brackets from one of my local Lee Valley stores. The brackets aren’t sold with the drawer slides as most applications probably have the slides attached against the inside sides of a cabinet. But in my case, the front of the slides will sit on the bottom inside lip and the back will be attached to the back side of the drawer space. I’ll only be using the rear brackets, not the front brackets.

My plan is to mount the front part of the slide to the inside lip of the drawer hole. This way the slide will sit on the bottom of the opening. One screw through to the side of the opening and it sits solidly in place.

After doing this for both sides, I needed to mount the rear bracket against the back wall. It is a tight space for me to work in, as well, I would really like the drawer slides to be parallel from front to back and level, or slightly sloped down to the back side of the slide. Instead of fiddling with measurements and trying to place each slide into place, I cut a piece of wood to go between the two slides and mounted it on one of the last set of holes in the drawer slide.

This now made it very easy to level the slides while maintaining the correct distance between the slides. Then I simply pushed the rear brackets tight against the back side and attached each side with two screws that were included with the brackets.

With the drawer slides easily installed into place, I can now build the drawer box and try to make a drawer face that matches the existing cabinets.

October 14th, 2017

So I’ve found some free time again to finally build the box to use for this drawer. The drawer is roughly 24″ x 10″ x 10″. Using full extension drawers allows me to extend the drawer completely out (in the picture I did not have it pulled completely out) allowing me to take out what I need when I need it. I’m planning on using this for storage for our drinks that have not yet been put in the fridge. This past year we had these items in a Rubbermaid bin under out kitchen table. Next on the list will be making a drawer face that matches the rest of our kitchen cupboards and drawers.

February 10th, 2018

Trailer tongue battery box

This is what my current situation looks like for my battery on my Apex 151.

It works well for one battery, but I don’t have a proper way of securing the battery from theft, as well, I would like to make better use of the space on the tongue of the trailer.

In other posts, I’ve shown how I’ve moved the spare tire to the rear bumper, and how I’ve moved the propane cylinder holder closer to the tongue jack. Now I will remove the existing battery box, and then remove the bracket for the spare tire/battery box.

I’ve managed to remove the battery box quite easily, as well as the cable system for lowering and raising the spare tire into place. Unfortunately I’ve misplaced pieces for my grinder, and therefor I can’t remove the steel bracket yet. I guess I really need to clean up my workbench in my garage again.

September 17th, 2017.

Ok, I’m back at it again.

I still couldn’t find the parts for my grinder, so I ended up borrowing my dad’s grinder. I’ve removed the steel bracket without too much trouble. Next I wanted to visualize my idea, so I placed my newly acquired generator from my brother-in-law and one of my batteries in place with a plywood sheet supporting the bottom of where the box will be.

Building a box that is counter-sunk and not just sitting on top of the a-frame gives me an extra five inches of height, which is very helpful if I want a lid that can be opened to provide some access while the front canvas bed is set up. As you can see in the photo above, I’ve placed the generator back to where the propane tank cover will be sitting. The front of the trailer is curved out, so I’ll need to be creative when I design the top sides of the box.

For now, I’m focused on building the bottom of the battery box which will sit in-between the a-frame and and be shaped to sit on top of the a-frame. If you note on the picture as well, I will need to cut out a spot for the equalizer bar mount that is connected on the a-frame.

So this is the shape I’ve decided to run with. It’ll be cut out of a 1/8″ sheet of 5052 aluminum. This cost me over $100 from Metal Supermarkets for a sheet 57 3/8″ x 31 1/2″. Not the best price per square foot, but I just want to move forward with this project.

Luckily I found a great way to simplify the process of getting the dimensions on the sheet. I ended up printing on a scale of 1:1 the top corners and then the bottom corners of the shape. Then I taped them to the sheet, measure to make sure placements were correct.

Yes, my wife would like to know why I’m using the kitchen table to work on something like this and not my workbench. That’s the way I roll sometimes.

I’m using a 1″ aluminum square tube to check for alignment between the top corner and the bottom corner of the box shape. with regards to the bend lines that are printed on each sheet.

Once I’m confident in my placement, I’m going to drill a small hole in each corner or bending point so that I can remove the sheets and connect the dots for me to follow for cutting.

That’s all for tonight, I’ll try to finish drilling the holes tomorrow and begin cutting out the box shape. I’m pretending that I’ll be able to easily bend all the angels that I’ve envisioned.

September 30th, 2017.

So now I’ve drilled the intersections that I want to reference on my aluminum sheet.

Then when I remove the sheet, I’m left with just the holes.

Then, to make it easy for me to cut in a straight line, and to cut in the right spots, I had my daughter help me with connecting the dots.

As you can see, even at this point I made some mistakes, but I’d rather make mistakes with a permanent marker, than with cut. And after completing this on both sides, I then used a jigsaw to follow the lines and give me my final shape before I begin bending.

Now I just need to simply bend this on my predetermined points and the lower part of my box is getting closer to being completed. Unfortunately I have a lot of over-lapping between the four sides, so a sheet metal brake isn’t the best option for me at this time.

Once again, I’m out of time today, and I need some more time to figure out how I can do this all in one piece without cutting it apart and stitching it back together with a welder.

October 1st, 2017

Here I’ve already used my friend’s sheet metal brake to shape the bottom plate to fit into place between the a-frame. The corners aren’t as tight as I would of liked, as well, because of the shape, it was more difficult to put the bottom plate into place than I was expecting. But I got it in.

February 16th, 2018

Here I have the sides bent into shape. The sides and the front is all one piece, as well, the taper on the back is bent inwards towards each other to provide a surface to attach to a separate back piece.

June 10th, 2018

First trip with the box done. This is in a parking lot behind the McD’s in Merritt. I have the trailer nicely leveled and the truck isn’t sitting too bad considering I have two dirt bikes, one jerry can, three water jugs and a couple other things that I don’t want in the trailer. A future plan for the truck will be either an overload leaf that I can add or remove as I feel the need, or a set of air bags.

June 29th, 2018

Propane cylinder placement adjustment

In order to add a box on my trailer tongue with the maximum size between the trailer and the propane cylinder holder, I’ve decided to eliminate the gap between the holder and the trailer tongue jack.

The image above didn’t have the cylinder cover on, but there is about a four inch gap between the holder and the jack. The propane line to the holder had enough slack to move the holder forward. So I simply unscrewed the four self tapping screws holding the holder in place, moved the holder forward, centered the holder both north-south in reference to the tongue jack bracket, as well as east-west in reference to the a-frame. Drilled four new holes, used four new self tapping screws, a little black spray pant, and it’s done.

I then placed my two tanks onto the holder, placed the cover on, and am more than happy with the results. You can see that the black tank cover is just touching the end of the jack handle on the back end of the jack. The end is nicely rounded so I’m not worried about it cutting through the cover, as well, I can push back on the cover when I’m using the jack if I really don’t want it to touch while I’m setting the front jack height.

Spare tire relocation

This idea is a small part of a bigger idea.

With my previous cargo trailer where I wanted maximum ground clearance, I relocated items that would get hit with off-roading and backwoods camping ‘access roads.’

With this travel trailer, I have no intentions of doing any crazy 4×4’ing. That’s not to say that I won’t relocate a low hanging spare tire or do a spring over, but the second is for another day.

Great system in place for mounting this spare, and easy to lift and drop with the crank handle that is used with the corner scissor jacks.

My next step is to buy some steel and weld together a bracket to mount the spare tire onto the rear bumper. Lucky for me, my local Princess Auto happens to have a sale on heavy duty spare tire mounts for $12.99 before tax. That’s cheaper than I can buy the steel for, so that step was rather easy. Unfortunately the mount is designed for trailer tongues more so than rear bumpers, so I need to purchase longer bolts (only about 3/4″ longer) to bolt this onto my 4″ square tube bumper. Easy fix though and it still is easier and quicker than my original idea.

I managed to pick up some bolts after work today from Alder Auto in Port Kells. That’s all done, now I just need to get a tire cover.

Cutlery drawer size adjustment

Okay, I understand these trailers would cost a lot more if they would be built the way I want them to be, but is it really that difficult to make a cutlery drawer deep enough for…cutlery?

As you can see above, our cutlery is placed east-west, instead of north-south as I want it to be. Now some of it does fit north-south, but not most. Two factors limiting any change to the size of this drawer without changing the entire cabinet are the sink drain pipes and drawer slides. Simple answer first, drawer slides. To simplify the install of the drawer slides, Coachmen has used over-length slides that reach from the face of the cabinet all the way to the wall that the cabinet is attached to.

The image above shows the long length of the drawer slides, as well as the piping that is behind the drawer. Lucky for me, there was enough of a gap between the back of the drawer and the pipes that I did have room to lengthen my drawer. So detach the drawer face and reattach it to a deeper drawer box and it’s a done deal. Well, that was the plan until I realized that I still had a couple long knives that I’d like to have in the same space. Looking again at the image above you can see two vertical sections of pipe. The one in the center of the drawer is the right sink drain, and the right vertical pipe is the one way air valve that sits just below the counter height. Lucky for me the air valve sits farther back, which gives me the space I need to fit my longer knives on the right side of the drawer.

So you can see the odd drawer shape I’ve made. Both depths are within an 1/8″ to the pipes. This allows me to maximize the space for this drawer, which allows me to have my cutlery in the direction that I wanted originally. I’m still bouncing back and forth on whether I want a plastic tray to hold cutlery or if I’ll put in dividers for the forks/spoons/knives.

External Water Jug Holder

I modified this idea from my uncle’s (he loves tinkering with different things) to make it work best for our trailer. We don’t have an external water outlet, as well, 99% of our camping is without hookups. So we can either bring our own water to wash with, or fill up with lake water to wash our hands without having to run in and out of our trailer all day long. Using the existing steel tubing for the battery and spare tire holder, I used two 22″ long pieces of 1 1/4″ aluminum square tubing. I used a grinder to grind off some of the material that would extend into the steel tubing. The main problem was the weld line inside the square steel tubing, but it was quick and easy to grind down the aluminum to fit.


Note: Yes I am very well aware that two 1 1/4″ aluminum tubes are over-kill for the weight of a blue water jug, my thought was to create a more stable surface with the least amount of possibility of it being broken one way or another. (I have three young kids, they will find a way if there is one)

On top of these two aluminum tubes is a roughly 14″ x 16″ piece of (I can’t remember now if it’s 1/8″ or 3/16″) checker plated aluminum. I may switch to bolts with a lower head profile, but for now I’ve used very short 1/4″ bolts and lock nuts to attach the sheet to the tubes.

To cap this project, I’ve added a stainless steel towel holder (yes it’s a cabinet door handle). Previously we would just hang the towel over the water jug, but it always ends up on the ground. Here is a picture from our trip last weekend at Hicks Lake near Harrison BC using our new holder. Unfortunately, our 14 month old daughter has forced us to keep the soap on top of the jug this time. Hopefully on the next trip she’ll learn to leave the soap alone. I’m still bouncing back and forth on whether I should leave the aluminum as is or if I should paint it black. The holder fits nicely into our front compartment along with the many other items we have.