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Old 03-14-2016, 04:02 PM   #1
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Default Storage solution/hitch rack brainstorming

Short version: I need an external storage solution that retains easy access to the rear door of my van.

I'm doing some long-term projects on my 97 American Cruiser on a Dodge Ram 3500 chassis. An important note is that the rear door is a single swinging door with the hinges on the driver's side. Another important note is that I'm planning on full-timing: I'd like to freelance and spend a year or two rock climbing.

I'm planning on building out some sliding drawers for my climbing gear like the one you can see here: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com...d05c126a02.jpg

I also expect to have to store some things on a rear-mounted cargo platform (my [huge] dog's [huge] crate, a small generator, a storage tub, maybe a little outdoor trash can for [huge] dog poop, etc. etc.).

The problem is as follows: I'll need to be able to have access to the gear drawers, but I don't want to have to remove the cargo platform from the hitch every time I want to open the rear door.
  • It looks like I can get a SwingAway hitch that will swing out with the cargo still loaded, but I'm not super excited to drop $300+. Does anyone have one of these? Thoughts? (https://www.stowaway2.com/swing-away-hitch-frame.aspx)
  • The front-mounted cargo hitch thread also gave me some ideas, so I'm curious to hear your thoughts on those. Should I expect less airflow to my radiator and trans cooler? Will mileage drop precipitously because of decreased aerodynamics, or am I basically pushing a brick wall down the highway even without mounting anything to the front, such that the addition of some other stuff up there really isn't going to make a difference?
  • What kind of extra stress can my spare tire rack (and, subsequently, my rear door) handle? Can I mount a couple hundred pounds of stuff to the same metal bars the tire is on, thus creating a swing-away cargo rack that moves along with the door?
  • I don't get the sense on this forum that roof-mounted storage boxes are particularly useful, especially since I don't have a little roof ladder and my van is super tall with some holes in the roof for fans and whatnot. Am I missing something in this arena? Are roof-mounted boxes the bee's knees?
  • Am I overstating the difficulty of accessing rear door with a standard hitch-mounted cargo rack? Is there perhaps a design of cargo rack that lowers to the ground if I need it to?
  • All other things being equal, I'd rather not have a two-piece setup, but I'm willing to consider a small trailer. Is that a good bet?

All of this is a few months down the line, so...what are y'all's thoughts and experiences?
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Old 03-14-2016, 04:27 PM   #2
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If at the end of the day it costs $300 or less then you'll have done well. I'm into it for multiples of that.

I listed some options here: http://www.classbforum.com/forums/f8...-van-3382.html - My focus was bikes and cargo but you could replace bikes with unoccupied dog crate.

For your van, a swing away or a platform that you can step on to exit the van would seem to be the two best options.

A visit to a weigh scale station and a look at the existing suspension would be useful data to have as a starting point. If already overloaded then a small trailer might be best.
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Old 03-14-2016, 04:31 PM   #3
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Quote:
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If at the end of the day it costs $300 or less then you'll have done well. I'm into it for multiples of that.
That's what I'm learning with all of my research into the realm of such manufacturers as Thule and Yakima...my friend recently posed an open question about bike racks to Facebook, and the only thing I could advise was that she should expect to spend about ten times as much as she's estimating

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Old 03-14-2016, 04:52 PM   #4
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If I go with Sportsmobile, they have some solutions for stashing the spare tire and a storage box on the van doors (with the weight resting on a support from the hitch receiver), while still allowing them to open. I like the ability to open the van doors, especially if there is an emergency.
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Old 03-14-2016, 06:42 PM   #5
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I had one fabricated. Initially I thought about a ‘swing away’ or ‘drop down’ type but the welder was against it saying that if I really wanted to load it up for example with four wheels/tires at tire change over time, that the strength would be compromised somewhat. Anyway, I’m sure it could be done but it would end up costing a lot. I have an aluminum basket that bolts to a steel frame that fits into the hitch receiver. The nuts are tacked on the bottom of the frame so that four bolts taken out from the top of the basket breaks it down into two easy to lift/remove pieces. I figured that if I really wanted to get into the back doors that likely the carrier needed to be empty anyway. So it takes me about three minutes to break it down and remove the basket. Quite happy with it.
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Old 03-14-2016, 07:29 PM   #6
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sheral, do you have a picture hanging around anywhere so I can take a gander? Do you remember approx. what it cost?
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Old 03-15-2016, 01:13 AM   #7
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Will PM a picture to you...stand by.
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Old 03-15-2016, 01:33 AM   #8
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Here’s a picture of the rack. We have a ‘continental tire kit’ on the left rear side of our van so the rack sits on the right side of the continental tire kit. It fits 2 Rubbermaid bins, side by side. We can stack up to six of them on the rack. The rack has multiple tie down spots.

There is a ‘tab’ on the rack frame that sits on top of the hitch receiver in order to keep the rack level and square to the RV. The basket part, which is aluminum is extremely light. The frame is steel and is heavier. Both pieces together really aren’t that heavy but a bit awkward, so that’s why it comes apart easily. Very quick to break down, and remove.

It cost us $500. Hope it gives you some ideas.

Regards, Al
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Old 03-15-2016, 03:19 AM   #9
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Here's my solution -
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Old 03-15-2016, 05:34 PM   #10
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Sheral, do you have picture of the rack on your Ascent? We just purchased one and I would love to see how that works. Thanks.
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Old 03-15-2016, 06:33 PM   #11
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We should have the rack on tomorrow so will take some pictures and post.
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Old 03-15-2016, 06:44 PM   #12
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sheral, rjf---thanks, good illustrations.

sheral: looks solid, looking forward to seeing it mounted as well.

rjf: Do you feel like you run into any issues with losing engine power/overheating? I would imagine we run on similar chassis
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Old 03-15-2016, 06:55 PM   #13
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I'm curious as well about the overheating thing after seeing a similar rack on the Sprinter last week.
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Old 03-16-2016, 12:21 AM   #14
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Sheral, Thank you. That looks like a great solution.
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Old 03-16-2016, 02:03 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Straylight View Post

rjf: Do you feel like you run into any issues with losing engine power/overheating? I would imagine we run on similar chassis
I have not run like this in the summer months. My ideal setup is pulling a utility trailer with my golf cart and extra stuff. I only use the front hitch hauler when I can't take the golf cart.

I have to pack the front smarter...I arrived home about 15 minutes after dark last time and I had all but blocked the headlights! Duh!

There is a 6" - 8" gap between the back of the hitch hauler and the grill. I have not seen any change in engine temperatures BUT I have blown a thermostat since I had the front receiver installed. I was not using the front receiver when this happened, though, so I think that was just the fact it's a 1999 chassis and things like thermostats go haywire over time.
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Old 03-16-2016, 03:44 AM   #16
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big dog crate- get one that collapses...ours does- I am guessing that the maker is "midwest"...


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Old 03-16-2016, 05:14 AM   #17
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@4Joey,
I don’t have a Pleasure Way, but MY RT Agile has same continental spare tire carrier mounted on the rear hitch (driver side), same problem when using a hitch carrier, tire carrier is in the way. I made an extra receiver that bolts-on into the side of the hitch receiver arm. It can accommodate any hitch baskets/carrier as long as it does not stick too far out from the side of the van for safety. For now, I’m using a fabricated small hitch carrier; I’m still designing/ looking for ideas on a swing away basket that can also be used to haul bikes vertically. More pix of the build here: Roadtrek Modifications/ Mods, RV Upgrades /Modificatios, Campgrounds, Class B Mods / Modifications.: DIY Hitch Cargo Carrier and Side Mounted Hitch Receiver for Roadtrek Agile
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Old 03-17-2016, 02:03 AM   #18
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here’s a picture of our rack on the van...

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Old 03-17-2016, 08:29 AM   #19
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RT.SS and Sheral these both look like excellent and elegant solutions. I hope our paths cross out on the road very soon. Thank you for the pictures.
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Old 03-17-2016, 04:52 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mlts22 View Post
If I go with Sportsmobile, they have some solutions for stashing the spare tire and a storage box on the van doors (with the weight resting on a support from the hitch receiver), while still allowing them to open. I like the ability to open the van doors, especially if there is an emergency.
Got any pics or links to how they are doing it? I've been thinking about something on the rear doors, with perhaps some of the weight sitting on the rear bumper
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