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tlmason

2016 TC XLT LWB Wagon "Weekend Warrior" build

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A couple of months ago, we bought a TC LWB wagon to replace an aging SUV. We test drove just about everything on the market and by a twist of fate, found a perfect TC wagon for sale, used. 

 

After much research, we discovered this post that became the inspiration for our build.

 

Here are the requirements for our conversion:

  1. We must be able to use it for sleeping and storing all of our gear for various adventures. 
  2. The bed platform needs to be easy to remove and store.
  3. The second-row seats need to remain usable while traveling.
  4. The second- and third-row seats can optionally be removed for additional storage space.
  5. The sleeping platform needs to be stable enough to be free-standing without anchoring to the van.

 

Here are the photos of the current build:

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Straight-on rear view with the platform expanded, curtain rod in place, and side window coverings up. 

 

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Close-up of the side window coverings. They're made with reflectix cut to fit in the windows, then covered on one side with a blackout curtain so they don't reflect through the window if hit by a light. We wanted to be able to stealth anywhere in a "sleep emergency" while traveling. The cab curtain is just a curved shower rod with blackout curtains hanging from it. There's a little bit of a gap at the top that allows in some daylight so you can tell when the sun has come up for the day.

 

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The cabin curtain covers enough space that you can't see into the sleeping compartment when walking by the van (unless you bend over or squat-walk past). This photo has the back doors open so any light from behind would be visible in the windshield. The cardboard box resting on the quarter panel contains the window deflectors that haven't been installed yet. 

 

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This is the best shot of the curtain rod installation that I have. It just stays up on the A posts with a little help from the seatbelt adjustments (as a precaution so the rod doesn't fall on our heads while sleeping).

 

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Unlike the inspiration post, I didn't like the idea of supporting the weight of the fore-portion of the sleeping platform on the headrests of the front seats, so it's supported by two legs on the side and one on the center of the front. They're held in place with 1/4" hex bolts into T-nuts on the platform. There's a little bit of shaping and modification to be done on the legs still, but they work pretty well as-is. A majority of the weight is supported by the leg on the front of the platform, the side legs are primarily for stability and to help it stay in place. 

 

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Here's a close-up of the leg assembly. The platform uses the same slotting mechanism to remain stationary and tight against the rear of the platform. 

 

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This is what the platform looks like when it's removed and slid on top of the rear platform. The front leg works as a way to prevent it from sliding forward in the event of an accident if the second-row seats are folded down for some extra cargo space. 

 

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Here's the rear view of the front platform resting on the top of the rear platform. You can also see the easy-up canopy and the curtain rod (on top of the canopy) on the left. On the right are the window coverings.

 

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This photo was taken inside the van just before tearing down the platform. It's pretty dark inside on a sunny day. 

 

(Continued in the next)

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Here are some action shots:

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Here's the rear or our campsite on our shake-down trip last weekend. You can see that the easy-up fits over the top of the wagon. It also has attachable sides to give us a bit of standing privacy behind the van for things like changing, but they also work as a wind-break for cooking on windy days. 

 

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This is how the van looks from the front, doors open, in full camping mode. 

 

I'll also post some photos of the platforms folded and stored; it's raining today, so they're safely stored in a dry place. The side legs of the rear platform fold under the platform (they're on piano hinges) so it can be sored relatively flat next to the front platform, legs removed.

 

The front platform can also double as a table if the campsite doesn't have one. Currently, we're using sawhorses to support it, but I'd like to build some legs that use the same T-nut and bolt combination that the platform supports use. 

 

The next steps: 

  • Some minor modifications to the sleeping platform to increase stability. Specifically, a leg that goes the length of the front of the rear platform to help provide some stability to the side legs. 
  • Removing the third-row seats permanently.
  • Installing an auxiliary battery, battery isolator, and Maxxair fan in the rear of the van for ventilation. 

Hope you enjoyed the post! I'm happy to answer whatever questions you may have!

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Great post!  Love your build. 

 

Got a link to the curved shower tension rod you used?  

 

What are the dimensions of tour sleeping platform?  

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@tlmason - thanks for sharing your build pics. Very nice work. You put a lot of thought into your design.

 

For those rear windows, what holds the reflectix in place?

I might want to do something like that for extra shade protection and to keep people from seeing my gear back there.

 

Looking forward to seeing what else you add. Keep up the good work!

 

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Very nice.  I like how you can continue to use the passenger wagon for passengers.  You kept all of the seats in.  As opposed to a build which starts by removing the seats.  Some people want an empty cargo van to build with.  I would rather build with a passenger wagon.  You get the AC & heating in the rear.  You get the interior.  You get all the windows.

 

 

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On 8/2/2019 at 11:29 PM, KevinRollin said:

Great post!  Love your build. 

 

Got a link to the curved shower tension rod you used?  

 

What are the dimensions of tour sleeping platform?  

Here's the tension rod we used.

 

I can't remember the dimensions exactly and my sketches and notes are at home. I know it's about 46.5" wide and I'm 6'3" tall and can lay down completely in the fully-extended platform. I'll get exact dimensions tonight and update the post. I might even include my sketches, too.

 

On 8/3/2019 at 4:12 AM, Fifty150 said:

Very nice.  I like how you can continue to use the passenger wagon for passengers.  You kept all of the seats in.  As opposed to a build which starts by removing the seats.  Some people want an empty cargo van to build with.  I would rather build with a passenger wagon.  You get the AC & heating in the rear.  You get the interior.  You get all the windows.

 

 

That was the goal! We ended up taking the third-row seats out semi-permanently. We kept them folded down since we bought the van anyway and the extra cargo is nice. We are keeping them so we can put them back if we need the human cargo space, but that's highly unlikely for us. The bottom line is that we wanted to keep the full passenger functionality while being able to use it as a mini-camper, too. 

 

On 8/3/2019 at 12:12 AM, windguy said:

@tlmason - thanks for sharing your build pics. Very nice work. You put a lot of thought into your design.

 

For those rear windows, what holds the reflectix in place?

I might want to do something like that for extra shade protection and to keep people from seeing my gear back there.

 

Looking forward to seeing what else you add. Keep up the good work!

 

Nothing is holding the reflectix except for the second-row windows (sometimes). I cut the pieces to a  size that would slot into the window and fit snug. When we have the windows open and the tops of the second-row reflectix folded down for ventilation, they don't stay, so I keep four shims to hold the front and have some small velcro strips to hold the back. This last weekend, we camped with our dogs and the reflectix stayed in the whole time without a problem.

 

I'll have another update with the dog adaptations that I built/am building when they're finished, but here's a preview of a second-row removed platform so our pups have a place to be that's safe for their paws while we travel:

20190801_125540.thumb.jpg.6d7690b9fd27a96c8179c327de1daac4.jpg

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On 8/2/2019 at 11:29 PM, KevinRollin said:

What are the dimensions of tour sleeping platform?  

The platform is 75 3/4" long and 46 1/2" wide fully extended. 

 

Collapsed, the back portion is 43" long and 46 1/2" wide. 

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12 hours ago, tlmason said:

Here's the tension rod we used.

 

I can't remember the dimensions exactly and my sketches and notes are at home. I know it's about 46.5" wide and I'm 6'3" tall and can lay down completely in the fully-extended platform. 

Thank you for the link!  That rod looks like the perfect size and shape.  

 

3 hours ago, tlmason said:

The platform is 75 3/4" long and 46 1/2" wide fully extended. 

 

Collapsed, the back portion is 43" long and 46 1/2" wide. 

I appreciate the measurements, both of you and the platform!  I’m 6’2” so being able to sleep on a platform that fits behind an extended driver seat is the dominant factor in my planning.  

 

Cant wait to se what else you cook up! 

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Here are some photos of the dog platform and some slight modifications to the sleeping platform to add rigidity without the third-row seats.

 

First, some modifications to the rear platform to add rigidity and to prevent it from sliding when braking.

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The straps hold the platform on the child seat anchors. The crosspiece is attached to the folding legs with four locking cotter pins, two on each side. The angle brackets are screwed into the crosspiece.

 

There's also a vertical leg at the front of the platform that's held in place with three t-nuts and hex-socket bolts (like the legs on the front platform). That way, it can be removed when the third-row seats are installed since there's no room for it and the third-row seats supply the same rigidity as the leg.

 

You can see the dog platform instead of the second-row seats. Here's a side-view with the bed platform collapsed:

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It's all just scrap wood and a $20 rubber-backed rug from Target. The rug is held in place with bolts at each corner and staples across the sides. The dog platform is tied to the sleeping platform by rope and a ratcheting pulley to prevent it from sliding forward in the event of heavy breaking. 

 

Here's how the sleeping platform extends over the dog platform:

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There's a hole front and center to allow the front leg of the sleeping platform to slot into place. That way I didn't have to have a different front leg for when we travel with dogs. The platform gives us some storage underneath for their accessories (mostly food and bowls/backpacks) and it gives them a nice flat place to travel that protects their paws from the second-row seat bolts. Needless to say, they loved traveling on it. There was plenty of room to stand, sit, lay, and sleep. It also doubled as a place to store some things while we slept. One dog slept in the front seat, one on the platform with us. There was plenty of space.

 

We also have a travel water dish that we attach to the legs of the rear platform with bungee cords so they have some water while we travel:

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That's the primary reason for the rubber-backed mat. It also protects the particle board (remember, it's built with scrap wood) from wet, muddy paws and sloppy drinkers.

 

The dog platform, during storage, sits over the platforms. The legs on the dog platform don't fold and are cut to size to make the platform level. There are three short legs on the back of the platform, near the sleeping platform's legs that let it sit over the oddly shaped attachments for the second-row seats. 

 

I still haven't had a chance to get some photos of the platform folded and stored; it's not been out of the van long enough.  

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Thanks for the update!  I like the flat floor in the cargo van, but with a platform like yours and a half-width bed, there’d be a lower surface when seated on a chair or bed.  

 

Great photos, very helpful as I’m designing!  

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Nice upgrades. The platform for dogs is definitely  a good idea.

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@tlmason This is awesome! I'm in search of my perfect TC, LWB passenger wagon right now - to do exactly this, keep the second row bench but build out as a conversation. Your original goals listed in your OP are the same as mine. 

I'm thinking we will want a little more head room than your conversion shows - you have a lot of height on the platform from the floor of the van. Do you think you could have accomplished something similar with a bench built in the back (removed third row), with an additional top with a hinge, where you could easily fold it over the second row when the seats are folded down and forward? I'm thinking through what our design will be and this is my goal. However, I'm thinking that I will need support on the front platform of the bed so it's not resting on the folded down second row. Using your support leg solution or perhaps adding an additional leg that is removable in the center - maybe screw on and off?

 

Anyway, I'll going to continue to follow this thread for more ideas. Thanks for sharing your conversion. 

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I like your build - looks like we had relatively similar goals but took a different approach.  I'm jealous of your doors - I would have much preferred those to the hatch but was limited by availability.

I started with a TC LWB Titanium Passenger Van, and removed all the rear seats to build a platform bed.  The reason I went that route is that I needed the full cargo height to carry bikes inside the van.  However, last week, when we had our 2nd time where carrying a 3rd passenger was needed, I modified it to allow a third seat.  It takes about 10 minutes to switch between the full platform bed and having the seat installed.

 

MVIMG_20190309_154454.thumb.jpg.124c499b9d968727302eb90176436425.jpg

IMG_20191009_190403.jpg

Edited by mgordon

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For any kind of build, the stripped down cargo van offers the most cubic volume.  But once it's stripped to cargo.....well, it's stripped down.  Hard choice to make there.  

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On 10/27/2019 at 10:59 PM, mgordon said:

I like your build - looks like we had relatively similar goals but took a different approach.  I'm jealous of your doors - I would have much preferred those to the hatch but was limited by availability.

I started with a TC LWB Titanium Passenger Van, and removed all the rear seats to build a platform bed.  The reason I went that route is that I needed the full cargo height to carry bikes inside the van.  However, last week, when we had our 2nd time where carrying a 3rd passenger was needed, I modified it to allow a third seat.  It takes about 10 minutes to switch between the full platform bed and having the seat installed.

 

MVIMG_20190309_154454.thumb.jpg.124c499b9d968727302eb90176436425.jpg

IMG_20191009_190403.jpg

May I ask: Did you build the bike rack in the top photo yourself, or purchase it from somewhere? Thanks!

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On 12/4/2019 at 5:43 PM, fitmannj said:

May I ask: Did you build the bike rack in the top photo yourself, or purchase it from somewhere? Thanks!

 

Sorry for the slow response!

Those are 1UpUSA Van Trays - https://www.1up-usa.com/product/van-tray/ - plus some Superstrut from Home Depot (and a tiny bit of sawing).

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@fitmannj Just tagging you in case you didn't see!  Happy to answer questions if you have them.

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Just saw this, MGordon. Thanks for getting back to me. I’ll post-up if any further questions come to mind.

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Hello @tlmason this build is great, thanks for the inspiration! 

 

Did you end up installing the Maxxair Fan? If so, how did you accomplish it with the upholstery in the ceiling? 

 

Thanks!

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