My family has always been a Ranger family. My first vehicle was a 1994 Ranger that I got for $700 when I was 14 years old and affectionately named Calvin. It is a stick shift and had 240,000 miles on it when I bought it. I learned to drive in that truck, and I drove it as my daily driver for years and years. My brother bought a 1995, obnoxiously yellow Ranger Splash, when he was 15 and still drives it. I adore these little trucks. They just last forever, they work hard, and they’re incredibly easy to work on. Calvin retired to barn truck duty when I bought my current truck, and I still use it to pick up hay from our field in the summer. When I have to do it by myself, I put a bungee cord from the brake pedal to the steering wheel, put it in first gear, and drop the clutch. I frantically toss bales into the back while it drives itself down the row and hop back in at the end of the row. I’m sure it’s quite the sight. Luckily, Jordan usually can find time in his hectic schedule to help me.
Calvin shouldering way too much hay during baling season this summer (featuring Jordan’s derpy, adorable face)
These days I have a 2003 supercab Ranger, and I love this little truck with all my heart. I call her Callie, keeping the tradition of naming my dear blue Rangers. I use it for absolutely everything: driving through fields filming new prototypes on combines for work, hauling hay with my trailer, camping, etc. I’ve done several upgrades to this truck, but I’ve already covered that here.
No 4×4? No problem. Callie, equipped with knobby all-terrain tires, does just fine for bean-field combine-chasin’.
As much as I love this truck, one thing I do not love is the lack of space for gear. The truck technically has four doors; there are two backwards doors to access the two fold-down “jump seats” in the back. I’ve driven a Ranger with jump seats every day of my life since I was 14, and I think I’ve used these back seats maybe 3 times total, and I know I haven’t used them at all in the past 5 years. I have a big toolbox in the bed, but since this truck operates as my mobile workshop, that’s already full. I have resorted to tossing a bunch of shit in my “back seat,” and these jump seats take up a large portion of valuable real estate.
I already took both seats out when I made my back-seat doggo spot for Abe. While removing the seat gave me more space, that space quickly filled with a large pile of random shi-I mean junk. So I decided to build a back-seat organizer. Originally I had planned to build a custom set of drawers. Operating under this assumption, this storage design must meet the following criteria:
- Allow my seat to slide all the way back and recline a decent amount (both myself and Jordan are very tall)
- Make use of as much of the space as possible
- Fit everything I currently have in my back seat
- Easily accessible
- Fit below the lower edge of the rear window
- Contain a compartment that can be accessed from the drivers seat, without opening any doors
To start, I cleared out the back seat, took inventory of everything in there that I wanted to keep in there, and took the folding seats out. Then I took measurements and drew up a rough sketch of the space I’m dealing with.
I decided to look into what it would take to build a set of custom drawers to fit the space as exactly as possible. To fit everything I have, I decided I would need 3 drawers:
This would fit perfectly behind the front seat when slid all the way back and reclined, and it will not impede my view through the back window. The sketch shown here is for the driver’s side.
After looking into the cost and time involved with building this, I decided that it was going to take much longer than it’d be worth, in my opinion. I’d have to build the frame structure and each individual drawer, put drawer slides on it, and tweak it during assembly so the drawers would slide smoothly. Then I’d have to come up with a drawer locking mechanism so they wouldn’t slide around and open against the door while I’m driving.
Instead, I bought this:
It’s narrow enough to allow me to fit other things in the space but has enough drawers to hold most of my stuff. The stuff that won’t fit in the drawers will go to the big toolbox in the truck bed, and the small stuff in the big box will come live in the small box.
It fits perfectly. I have rolled towels and a moving blanket stuffed behind it (for protecting delicate cargo, drying off a muddy doggo after a trip to the dog park, etc) and my small hardware kit in front of it. On top is a small extra blanket (again, for doggo) and an ammo box with a few various things in it (pens, markers, etc). My spotlight sits just on the other side of the toolbox, where you can’t see in the photo. This placement allows me to reach back and grab it without looking (useful for driving to the barn when I spot some deer).
This setup allows more than enough room for Abe on the other side. When I have him with me, I put the rolled blanket down where he can rest his head on it and look out the windshield, with his chin on the center console.
“I heard a crinkle… Are those cheese curds??”