Generator Box – Phase I

A new home for the Honda Generator and Mr. Heater Aquacube

After a month, I was delighted when the new upgrade arrived…  I stopped and thought “Man, it’s dam* near sexy.”  To an urban redneck, shiny, welded tread plate metal sculptures are almost a turn-on…

Apparantely others feel the same way!

Before continuing, I thought I would mention that someone recently asked about stealth and the cargo rack.  For my needs, stealth has become irrelevant.  I usually camp in friendly territory (Walmart, cheap campgrounds, the casino, etc.) Should stealth be needed, I can always pull the cargo rack and store it in a garage… Teardown time… twenty minutes?

Anyway, back to the project…

I decided to do this in phases… they are as follows;

Phase I – Install the box to the rack   (DONE)
Phase II – Build a wall to separate the generator and the hot water heater compartments
Phase III – Cut the generator access holes
Phase IV – Install a cooling fan

The box is made of diamond plate aluminum and was ordered from Custom Aluminum Boxes .  They are super nice folks and will take the time to make sure that what you get is precisely what you ordered.  This container is a “shoe box” type, measuring 23 1/2 inches front-to-back x 36 inches left to right x about 19″ tall.  I checked and their measurements were perfect.  The box simply dropped into place with a 1/4 room of designed margin on either side.

Looking at the underside of the rack

For the box to rest on, I screwed three 1″ x 8″ treated boards to the cargo rack.  Each was 36″ long to match the box.  I feel like a dumb ass because I could have just laid several 5 foot boards across and had a base for the whole rack!  Oh well… No biggie.  The buddy at Home Depot didn’t mind cutting boards for another crazy van-deavor. 

The hardware you see is stainless steel.  I figured why not bite the bullet and get something that will better handle the Iowa weather?

The screws [coming up from the underside] are 3/4 inch long… enough to dig into the board without penetrating to the other side and hitting the aluminum.  I made sure there are enough fasteners in the boards to ruin a thief’s day.  I can’t stop him but can make it more difficult!

From this angle, you see the left to right configuration.   If you look at the far side, you can see some sheet metal screws securing the box to the boards from the top.  They are also 3/4″.

I plan to make a small wall (2″ x 2″ boards with aluminum covering them) to divide the compartments.

This will also add some rigidity to the front of the cabinet (where you see the lock).  The span is just long enough to make the front wall flex a wee bit.  Not a problem.  A good horizontal dividing wall will make the box very sturdy.  The wall will also limit air currents to passing mainly from back to front through box.  Eddy currents (little circular pools of air) can kill a generator by causing it to overheat.  Good airflow is necessary!

The bumper sticker in the rear window says it all!

The next step after putting in the wall will be to cut the holes needed for the generator access (choke, pull cord, power outlet, air intake, and exhaust.)  Depending on which way I can orient the generator, one of the long walls will house a cooling fan, the other a hole with louvers. 

At this time I am inclined to use a 12 volt radiator cooling fan as a “pusher” to shove the hot air out.  Such a fan can can be run directly off the generator’s 12 volt output.

That’s all for now.  I’ll post some pictures along the way… There should be a lot of progress next week.

Take care and have a spectacular weekend.

Bradford, the Van Trekker

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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

4 Responses to Generator Box – Phase I

  1. Thanks for the post. I have been considering this. Does the back rack swing out so you are able to open the rear doors?

    • Brad says:

      No, unfortunately, this rack does not move unless I unlock the pin and pull the whole thing out. On the upside, I figure a potential burglar can’t open the doors and kill me… He’ll have to come through the side doors, I guess..

      I never really used the back doors anyway. Anything I need to reach can be gotten under the bed.

      In retrospect, I really do like the folding cargo racks but I couldn’t find one as sturdy and highly rated as this fixed one. I wish this one folded.

  2. gabevarga says:

    Hey there. Been reading your blog for some time now.
    Anyway, looking at this box for the generator, although it looks really cool, I can’t help but wonder how much noisier it will make the generator sound. I’m no expert by any means, but if I imagine a running generator in there with even the slightest vibration, I think that it might sound like a munch of change being juggled around in a tin can. But I’m sure you have more experience with these things.

    • Brad says:

      Hi, thanks for commenting. That was something that occurred to me as well. This morning I ran the generator inside the box with the lid closed for a short time. There was no metallic vibration or loud echos, thankfully. The Honda was revved up pretty good with a small space heater used for a load.

      The generator won’t be run much in the box anyway unless in very remote places where there is no shore power – there won’t be many people around to offend. It is useful, but the solar panel provides most of the needed juice.