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Old 01-09-2019, 09:18 AM   #1
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Double-duty seat back org plus outdoor table

I'm working on an efficiency upgrade for our passenger seat back organizer. I want the resulting invention to also serve as a utility shelf that attaches magnetically to the side of our Interstate when needed for off-grid use (no picnic tables where we go!).

In other words, just lift the organizer off the back of the seat, stick it on the side of the Interstate under the awning, flip it down, and use it to hold all the things that our existing aluminum table is too small to hold - drinks, condiments, serving bowls, phones, etc. That way we are free to use the small table for our dinner plates, without having to set the rest of our foodstuffs on the ground, which is what we currently do.

I will tell y'all one thing - the off-road community has us Interstate owners WHOOPED on the issue of small space maximization. Those hobbyists take it to entirely new levels, the Jeepers especially. This is a well-developed concept space for them, much less so for us.

The collages below will attest to that. I've borrowed some of their ideas for possible adaptation in the manner that I've just described.

But I'd like the feedback from other people on this idea as well. In the Before Time, years ago before there were many other serious DIYers on this forum, I tended to just invent stuff, and throw my final product out there. Now we have more people who are interested in this kind of DIY hobby, so I thought I'd appeal to the hive mind on this one.

Here are my storyboards - my need is much better described in pictures than words. Ideas? Elaborations? Alternatives? Suggestions? Thanks.





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Old 01-09-2019, 01:18 PM   #2
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INTERBLOG - my current seatback setup addresses the flexibility (tabletop, coat hanger, bag hanger, etc. options), quick release, and movability to outdoor use. It was lifted off of my MB sedan accessories. But it does not come with larger table you want (any competent DIYer can fabricate their own). I personally do not use it outdoors but can be adapted for outdoor use or attachment to van exterior. I just did not want to do so to minimize scratching paint. I like to give tables & chairs a fair distance from van paint (at least few inches).
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Old 01-09-2019, 03:09 PM   #3
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I am shooting for something a bit more elaborate. The T1N has a very ergonomically-challenged cockpit. Only two cup holders, and they are situated almost on the floor. No use-able dash area. Basically no option to mount a phone. I am hoping to seize on the MOLLE capacity to add a soft-sided large drink holder, and an open-topped pouch for my bag of potato chips (because no road trip can happen without potato chips). Plus other items that one's right hand might reach for without taking eyes off the road.

I ducked into the grocery store today and a guy had put one of those grippy phone octopus devices on the handle of his shopping cart. He was watching some daytime talk show as he was pushing his cart through the store. The future is upon us.
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Old 01-09-2019, 05:45 PM   #4
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Let's look at this another way.
What do you want to keep there? How accessible do these items need to be during travel?

With the seat rotated facing back, and the dog platform in place, what other voids are available? It appears that the step-in, and area under the dog are empty. Also possibly the step in well by the second door entrance.

Do you need the ability to swivel back and forth without moving the set up? (I can envision a rear facing travel during boring hi way miles, and then popping around to co-pilot in busy areas. Is this the case)

More info please.
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Old 01-10-2019, 05:25 AM   #5
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Interesting question. I started thinking along these lines when I realized that, over the years, I had inadvertently accumulated multiple MOLLE-compatible accessories as follows:

- Small flashlight
- Police baton (telescoping self-defense weapon)
- Bear spray (the real stuff, big container)
- iPhone 6+ case
- Logbook strap (currently on sale at 5.11 for five bucks but not online)

Most items designed for MOLLE platforms can also be attached to a simple waist belt, which is why I ended up with that stuff in the first place.

Anyway, some of that stuff I do not *have* to put on the back of the seat, but it's currently buried where I can't get at it quickly, so maybe I WOULD strap it there.

Plus I would add at a minimum:

- 30 oz drink holder
- Snack pouch
- Pouch for small lap blanket or shawl (legs get cold while driving)

But what I put on the back of the seat is negotiable - the need for an outdoor utility table / shelf is not. There are numerous products I could use just for that application, but they are single-duty products, which is out of the question. A device like what I'm describing has to serve more than one purpose.
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Old 01-10-2019, 08:12 PM   #6
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THIS.
https://babychangengo.com
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:58 AM   #7
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That gets an "A" for originality. Hangs on bathroom stall doors - brilliant. Too large for an Interstate but someone had their thinking cap on.
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Old 01-12-2019, 07:06 PM   #8
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Like many good ideas, this one needed to be re-thought. As in, DUH, my bad - the passenger seat back is inflected. It's not a planar surface as I originally assumed. There's no way I can double-duty a table plus organizer there.

I ended up going with a 5.11 Tactical Covrt organizer insert in size large (12" x 19"). It is flexible, so it can be made to conform to the shape of the seat back.

The only new piece of MOLLE I bought for this was a radio pouch, into which I placed the two aluminum spray bottles that will hold Windex and the acetone-based 3M Crystalline film cleaner.

I already had MOLLE-compatible:

-- iPhone pouch
-- flashlight
-- bear spray
-- self-defense baton

My husband said that he likes this upgrade. He doesn't always like my mini-projects, so that's something.

There's room for more equipment on the Covrt panel but I'm going to live with it for a while before deciding what else to add.

I am still planning a side-mounting magnetic outdoor table. That will come later.

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Old 01-12-2019, 07:50 PM   #9
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Looks good.

As for the tables, have you seen the tire-mounted tables? I saw on Pinterest, I believe an add-on option for the Tab trailers
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Old 01-12-2019, 08:47 PM   #10
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I am still planning a side-mounting magnetic outdoor table. That will come later.
Magnetic mount may not work as well as you need. Even strong magnets don't have a whole lot of holding power when attached to the thin sheet metal of a vehicle's side panels. Not well enough to really be sufficiently load-bearing to support a table.


However, something like this might be doable, using brackets like you find in department stores…
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Old 01-12-2019, 10:58 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
However, something like this might be doable, using brackets like you find in department stores…
PROTAGONIST - I have to give the owner of that solution an A+ for making sure the wheels, fender flares, brackets, shelves, support arms, & stove top base are color-coordinated in bright white. And would definitely support more weight than any magnetic solution I can fabricate.
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Old 01-13-2019, 05:12 AM   #12
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I have my Duluth Cab Commander on the floor behind the passenger seat, and one of their back seat organizers hanging above it.

I also have small carry bags hanging from brackets from that same seat, storing assorted small things, reminding me a bit of a traveling tinker/salesperson from back in the day.

Lots of valuable vertical space to be used in that area.

Maggie
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Old 01-13-2019, 06:19 AM   #13
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For anyone who needs to hang ANYTHING off the van's sheet metal, inside or out, I recommend this particular $7 sky hook (Amazon description; they are also at Home Depot):

Master Magnetics Magnetic Hook Organizer | Rotating Swing Hook | 65 Pound Pull Force | 1.47” Diameter 0.54” Thick | Black | 07580

I haven't actually measured the force needed to remove them (65 pounds is advertised), but when I need to shift one of them from place to place, I often ask my husband to do it. They are almost impossible to remove; he is much stronger than I am, so it's easier for him.

I use them as coat hooks (for the heaviest coats) on the inside back doors. They are also the main anchoring points for the awning surround screen I sewed. Sometimes I hang my entire backpack on the back door.

The technical issue I'm facing in my design is not attachment but rather flexure of the table itself. I know how I'd prefer to design this little table, in a perfect world. I know where I'd like to store it. I also know that I would like to be able to set two 30-ounce Yeti cups on it, among other items. I'm trying to figure out how to reinforce it laterally while still keeping it as thin as possible and still using my preferred materials. I don't have that part of the design worked out yet.

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Old 01-13-2019, 10:56 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by InterBlog View Post
The technical issue I'm facing in my design is not attachment but rather flexure of the table itself. I know how I'd prefer to design this little table, in a perfect world. I know where I'd like to store it. I also know that I would like to be able to set two 30-ounce Yeti cups on it, among other items. I'm trying to figure out how to reinforce it laterally while still keeping it as thin as possible and still using my preferred materials. I don't have that part of the design worked out yet.
INTERBLOG - That is not a technical issue. There is no absence of solutions to mitigating the lateral re-inforcement concern. The technology already exists - 2 materials used in high end bicycles have easily & consistently solved this lateral re-inforcement issue for many years now (at least since 1994 for me). The holy grail for long distance & mtb alike is to have the lateral stiffnesss without sacrificing vertical compliance and still support a minimum rider weight of 195 lbs. My lightest carbon fiber frame custom built by Calfee Designs in Santa Cruz, CA weighs in at 900 grams (2 lbs.) and can support a 200 lb. rider. I have 3 of these frames. Carbon fiber & Titanium are your best bet. Another material worth fabricating for your need is Kevlar.

The real question is are you serious enough in your quest to pay for the fabrication to make it as thin as possible without sacrificing strength?

A Dobreff Design design carbon fiber coffee table tray is 15" in. x 10.1" in. and razor thin. Actual Item Weight 236 grams (8.33 ounces). Cost $420.

My AX Lightness carbon fiber saddle is only 69 grams. Cost $350.

This carbon fiber blank license plate is only 130 grams & 1.9 mm thick. This is not the plastic faux/imitation CF carp you find in AutoZone. These are same ones you see on exotic cars in car shows & car auctions. Cost $75.

And the marriage made in heaven - a combo carbon fiber & titanium plate by Carbon Weaves. A 12"x12" plate of 1/4" Titanium Carbon Fiber plate for $449.00
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