XJ Cargo Box
I have had a few questions about the cargo box I built for the back of my 96 XJ Cherokee. I had seen a few designs online before, and I think I actually was prompted to do this after reading about an Isuzu Trooper owner and his storage box back in the '90s. One goal was to keep things out of sight both for security and to reduce clutter. The tinted glass helps, but I wanted to keep things out of sight. Some Cherokees were sold with a factory cargo area cover right at the top of the back seat, but I don't have one and wanted something that didn't scream "I'm hiding something!!"
The spare is an old 235/75R15 AT, but trial fit shows that there is still enough space for a 30x9.50" tire. Some folks on NAXJA claim to have gotten certain 31" and even 32" tires in the stock location. I'm currently on 32x11.50 Mud tires, and will not try to get those or my planned 33x10.50s in there. The wall of the box again holds gear in place under the spare tire, so I keep chains, gloves, an e-tool and some nylon zip ties in there.
My Craftsman 1/2" breaker bar not only serves as a lug wrench, it pulls double-duty as a prop for the lid. The hinge is about 4" behind the top back edge of the seat. This leaves the lid short enough to just barely clear the roof, but still lean back against the backseat when fully open.
The hinge was a 48" piano hinge, available from Home Depot and screwed into place using supplied brass screws. The screws extended just past the wood surface, so after grinding some of them down I covered the exposed portion with duct tape to minimize snagging. Automotive carpet was found at Pep Boys, if I remember correctly. One roll covered the box, although you'll notice my cutting skills came up short on the back edge, where I have a seam on the right side.
Since taking some of the pictures above, I added a brace in the middle of the box to prevent warping near the hinge. The brace extends back several inches past the hinge, far enough to support the lid and keep weight off the hinge. I had to play with the internal loading arrangement but feel the added wood goes a long way toward adding to the strength of the boxtop. There is also a 2x2 running fore-and-aft bracing the center support and the middle of the back wall.
Entry into the box is easy, with a short length of parachute cord as a handle, passing through two holes at the rear of the lid. The parachute cord is tied to a washer underneath the lid. The washer gives it enough weight to pull the loop of cord back flush to the deck.
Part II - Platform
There is enough room beside the forward platform to store a 5-gallon water jug or Blitz can, easily accessible through the back doors. Like the storage box, the platform is sturdy plywood so I can put a load on it without worrying too much about flimsiness. I hadn't picked up carpet for it in some of the pictures, but it is now fully covered to match the box.
What would I do differently?
I'm really not sure, but like all Jeep projects this one's still a work in progress
If I go all-out and build another one, I will probably build one that will let me get into the box from the inside of the Cherokee if needed. When I built the original box, I was making a daily drive from Littleton to Loveland, Colorado (130+ miles a day) and kept the back packed with winter gear. This plan would probably have a top door split the door fore and aft with hinges on the right and left sides, but also build a pullout drawer for the rear.
What have others done?
I got a series of pics from Trey, showing the box he built. One of the gripes I had in the early stages of the box was that a lock would bounce around and make noise on the hasp. Trey's solution was so simple and effective that I'll be doing the same shortly. He glued the 'hook' side of a sheet of velcro onto the lock. The 'loop' side is the carpet, so the lock is held silently.
Trey's box has a little more space between the rear hatch and the box, so he also has a First Aid kit velcroed onto the back. The box itself contains an ammo can, and a crate that contains a quart of oil, ATF, WD-40, carb cleaner, roll of shop towels, some cheap work gloves, a bunch of disposable nitrile gloves, a container of fast orange wipes, and two 1-liter bottles of drinking water. Trey saran-wrapped the package (like a pallet of boxes being shipped), to keep it all from jostling around. The saran wrap is more useful in a trunk where the thing slides around and get flipped over, etc.
Also in there: a tarp, a soft rooftop carrier bag, big duffel bag, small backpack, crappy cheap hand winch, folding shovel, a gallon can of lantern fuel.
Still to come: A "bug out bag" that includes a dual-fuel Coleman stove, a cookset, nalgene bottles, flashlight, food, knife, camp axe, and other survival/camping/emergency supplies.
Modified September 16, 2007