Friday, December 6, 2019

Chuckbox 102: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

As I have mentioned in my previous post Chuckbox 101, gear storage is a "continual improvement" process for me.  I'm constantly refining how I pack, store, and use my gear to improve my experience and gain efficiency.  Things have changed enough that rather than simply update old posts, it's time to present a whole new write-up.

Two factors drive the most recent change:  First is that small organizational changes as noted in this post have let me reduce (or at least relocate) the volume of gear in my kitchen kit.  Secondly, I'm on a larger push to put the rig on a diet to ensure we stay under our GVWR.  This involves lots of steps such as the recent roof reconfiguration.

Cutting to the chase, here's the new package.  Read on to see how I built it:

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As you can see, I've continued with my "DIY Trekpak" process to subdivide a small repurposed electronic equipment case.

I've used this case before, as far back as 2013.  Items in the lid are held in place by a large HDPE cutting board I got cheaply and trimmed to size.
High density, low usability

The board hooks under an aluminum bracket on one side.

And a "swivel lock" made from an Ikea allen-wrench secures it on the other side.

 The problem with that early iteration was that there was a lot of nesting and stacking.  Pulling out almost any pot, pan or tool meant moving one or more other things out of the way:

I've previously sung the praises of the idea of "First Order Retrievability".  This concept, which I first encountered from Adam Savage, advocates making all your tools directly accessible whenever possible.  The hassle of moving plates, a pan, and two other things out of the way in order to get the big cook pot out of the above box is what drove me to build the big chuckbox.  This thing is a marvel of efficiency - I have used it to cook meals for as many as two dozen using just this and my Skottle:

Built-in stove attachment included

The downside, of course, was size and weight.  The box is 30" long and when loaded is heavy enough that while I can lift it solo, my wife cannot.  Time to get back to basics:

I started by just doing a general fit-up.  I made sure that I had the space I needed in the case I planned to reuse.  Key items like the Sea-to-Summit Alpha pot set, my marshmallow skewers, mini dual-fuel burner, and standard consumables like a roll of paper towels will all fit.  

Next it was time to fab the reconfigurable dividers.  I had previously suggested that a free alternative source for Coroplast sheets were the ubiquitous political road signs, and the 2018 midterms provided ample supply.  (Rest assured, I collected all my materials after election day - nobody ever recovers those signs anyhow.)  I started by cutting a couple of signs into strips the height of my case sides (just under 5"), being sure to orient the corrugations vertically, so I can insert pins to tie them together.  

Next, I used 3M Super-77 spray glue to laminate the strips to a sheet of 2mm craft foam.  Outside edges only got foam on one side, "interior" pieces got foam on both sides. A box knife makes quick work of cutting both foam and coroplast.

With long strips, one could just wrap-around the inside of the case with folds at the corners (friction fit, with one pin to hold the open corner).  With my short strips (and flanges on the case), it was easier to just cut them all to length and then hot-glue them to the walls.

Finally, the interior dividers were cut to length to fit around my items.  For "pins", I just recycled the original wire that held up the roadside signs, trimmed to ~8" long and bent into "U" shapes in the middle.  As you can see, most items can be easily grabbed directly from the case.  The cutting board that covers the top of the case is usually the first thing that goes onto my work surface, and the paper towels are then hung on the side of the chuckbox with a folding towel bar.  

At the moment, the existing foam dividers seem to be working for my camp stove, windscreen, and spices.  Clearly, there's a bit of wasted space here, so if (when) I need to further organize this space, I have more road signs waiting in the garage!

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