When I first got interested in a purchasing a vehicle that I could use and practically live in for long cross country trips I looked at every option. The 3 front runners were a Ford Econoline van, a Mercedes Sprinter van and of course the winning choice, a VW Vanagon Westfalia.
I did a ton of research on all three options and had a directory full of products, options and detailed layout photos for each individual van depending on which I decided upon. One item in particular I really liked for my Econoline setup was an Aluminess Galley Box. Aluminess products are widely used on Sportsmobiles which is just like a newer version of a Westfalia, they outfit stock Econoline panel vans and turn them into full pop top campers.
In January of 2014 I was browsing these photos on my phone and came across the Aluminess Galley Box and I immediately wondered if it would fit on my Vanagon. I thought It make a great addition to the van for added external storage so I searched online to see if anyone has had the same idea. I found one other Vanagon owner on TheSamba.com that did exactly what I was thinking (Thread HERE) so I asked the owner a few questions and got a better on how to mount it.
The Aluminess Galley Box is priced in at $495 so with such a big price tag I decided to hold off and not order the box based on a few photos I saw online. I wanted to see one in person. Fast forward to May 2014 I attended Syncrofest just outside of San Francisco and as I was sitting outside soaking up the sun noticed the exact van in the earlier thread I mentioned drive by. I was like… THAT’S THE GUY FROM THESAMBA!
So I finally got to see his box in person and also saw another van with the exact setup as well. After inspecting the box in person I just knew I needed it. I put mine on order the day I got back to Houston. I was SOLD.
Now finding a fabricator to weld up a similar support frame shouldn’t be a problem right? Wrong! I contacted so many shops and truck places here in Houston while waiting the 5 weeks or so for my box to be made and delivered. Everyone I contacted was not interested, it seemed it was too “small time” for them. That or they’re just used to installing bolt-on parts only and not used to actual fabrication work.
Finally after a month of looking, one custom truck shop that turned me down gave me some contact info for a fab guy who builds custom roll cages and rock crawlers. I called and Matt the fabricator said he could definitely build something for me. Score!
I visited Matt and dropped of my Aluminess Galley Box, Gowesty Universal Mount and a few photos of the support bracket that I saw back in California. He asked.. “Do you want it exactly like this or can I tweak the design a little bit?”. I told him to go ahead and do whatever he felt was best in regards to material sizes, layout and design. I trusted him.
I got a call 2 days later saying the bracket was done and everything was attached together ready to be mounted to my van. Sweet! I got there as soon as I could and I was VERY impressed with Matt’s take on the support bracket. It’s a much lower profile than the ones in California which helps keep the box as low as possible. All in all I was very pleased with Matt’s design and work.
The base support along with mounting the back of the box to the vertical spine of the Gowesty Universal Carrier made the entire rig nice and solid. The tie down point at the top of the Universal Carrier that attaches to the top edge of the hatch door is a welcomed secondary contact point. A definite must in my opinion.
One of the things I ordered ahead of time that I wasn’t sure would fit but I thought it should was a lockable Front Runner Double Jerry Can Holder. I stumbled across this cool mount while browsing FJ Cruiser photos on Instagram and I kept seeing this holder pop up. I looked into it and loved that not only was it lockable but that the locking straps went over the jerry can openings themselves so they can’t be opened and siphoned empty while still being locked. I mounted my two 20L Wavian NATO Spec Jerry Cans into the holder and then placed it on top of the Galley Box and it it perfectly! Pheew. Mounted the tray down to the top of the box and now Libby is ready to roll!
The main purpose for me getting this Aluminess Galley Box for my Vanagon Westfalia was so that I can put some of the larger items that take up a lot of room inside. Things such as my camp stove, quarts of oil, propane bottles, shore power cord, solar panel charging cord, tire leveling blocks etc. These items aren’t all that heavy but they do take up a lot of valuable interior space.
One of the best features of both the Galley Box and the Jerry Can Holder is that can both be locked for extra security. This is a MAJOR plus for those long road trips and times when you can’t keep a watchful eye on your exterior belongings.
One of the downsides to this setup is the limited view of my brake lights from other cars in the rear. I am currently working on finding a perfect solution in order to address that. I hope to have a third brake light installed very soon as soon as I can find product that works perfectly on my van.