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					    TECH TALK




Boxing clever
The bespoke Beeny Box is one of the unsung masterpieces of motor caravan
folklore. John Wickersham watched their design, build and installation

Y
        OU MAY HAVE HEARD              This problem has yet to be        Boxes, and completed his first           Like many owners of
        the name, but do you        resolved. Even today, Beeny          installation in 1994.                 coachbuilt motorhomes, I’ve
        know the product? Come      Boxes are not made for van              Since then he hasn’t stopped,      always been a bit short of space
to that, do you know where it’s     conversions – and that’s a great     and when reflecting on the 600        for dirty gear. Items like wheel
made? Like many motor               pity. Designing a low-level slide-   or so boxes that he has built,        ramps, a jack, welly boots, the
caravan accessories, the Beeny      out box for a coachbuilt or A-       Paul asserts that every one has       tool box, warning triangle,
Box was invented to meet a          class is much easier, but even       been different. Nowadays they         blocks of wood and a coil of
need that many of us will           that isn’t without difficulty.       all carry a code number and his       top-up hose have caused
identify with.                      Different chassis constructions,     huge collection of photographs        inevitable storage problems. To
   ‘More storage space’ is a        coupled with all sorts of            records the recent ones he has        that list of commonly carried
common cry, and one of the          underfloor obstructions, mean        built. That’s very important if a     bits and pieces I also add
worst ways to satisfy this          that every Beeny Box is model-       box gets damaged in an                muddy walking boots, wet
problem is to install a clumsy,     specific. Each one has to be         accident, especially if it forms      canoeing kit, climbing gear,
capacious plastic box on the        made by hand and no two              part of an insurance claim.           orienteering running shoes and
roof. A roof box can carry a        boxes are exactly the same. It’s        Although Coachcraft &              an array of equipment used in
considerable amount of clobber,     clearly a challenging task.          Leisure, located near Redruth, is     my outdoor adventures.
but if you value your vehicle’s        Individual challenges,            still a thriving concern, Paul sold      Since this equipment is often
road handling qualities then the    however, are something that          the company three years ago           damp, muddy or sandy, I
roof is a dreadful place to carry   have always interested Paul          and now builds Beeny Boxes            certainly like the idea of having
anything heavy. After all, a box    Stimpson, who had set up a           not far away in Camborne. I           low-level external storage. As
shaped like a brick will hardly     company called Coachcraft &          don’t know about you, but             Steve Beeny obviously noticed,
enhance your fuel economy.          Leisure in 1991. Paul is an          Cornwall is a fair old hike from      there’s often a lot of unused
   That’s why an engineer called    accomplished craftsman and           my home, although it’s a place I      space behind a coachbuilt
Steve Beeny designed a low-         was able to call on 13 years of      enjoy for holiday visits. And         motorhome’s side skirts; that
level storage system back in the    working in the caravan trade         that’s how I met up with Paul; it     was certainly the case on my
late 1980s. The idea of a sliding   and four years working as a          formed part of a trip to that         Fiat-based project van. And
drawer idea was fairly simple.      mechanical engineer. Following       wonderful coastline.                  that’s why someone told me to
The hard part something that        on from Steve Beeny’s clever            So what’s so special about         look on the Beeny Box website.
could be universally fitted,        design, Paul officially took over    Beeny Boxes, and what can             Here, you get a clear picture of
whatever your vehicle.              the manufacture of Beeny             they offer a motorhome user?          how the products are made.
                                                                                                                                            ▼




116 MOTOR CARAVAN July 2005
PREPARATION WORK




1   My one-off Mystique was built using
    a GRP moulding. Around the lower
edges, a generous side skirt hid underfloor
                                                2   I opted to have drawers on both sides
                                                    of the vehicle. Measurements were
                                                taken underneath and any obstructions
                                                                                              3    Masking tape was applied to the side
                                                                                                   skirts to protect the surface from the
                                                                                              jigsaw and to allow Paul to mark a precise
areas ideally suited for storage                were noted                                    cutting line




4  Wearing safety spectacles, Paul cut
   the unusually thick GRP using Bosch
T101 AO narrow jigsaw blades and an
                                                5    On this motor caravan there were no
                                                     obstructions ,although Paul has built
                                                ‘top hat’ sections in drawers to fit around
                                                                                              6     To create accurate ‘shut lines’ in the
                                                                                                    GRP, Paul meticulously trimmed the
                                                                                              aperture and lid using an angle grinder and
unwavering hand                                 spring hangers                                a file




7    The first fabrication job is to form the
     hanger brackets from which a drawer
is suspended; these are made up using 16-
                                                8    Now the main sections needed for
                                                     each drawer are cut; the bends and
                                                strengthening flanges are then formed
                                                                                              9     Accurate cutting and shaping are
                                                                                                    crucial if a drawer is to be easily
                                                                                              assembled. No worries; the fit was perfect
gauge sheet                                                                                   first time




                                                                                                         July 2005 MOTOR CARAVAN 117
     TECH TALK

 FITTING THE DRAWERS




   1     A sealant is used to hold each bracket
         in place while its final positioning on
   the chassis is established. Holes are then
                                                   2   This bracket was fixed to the chassis
                                                       and the substantial 19mm, GRP-
                                                   coated marine ply which forms part of the
                                                                                                  3    Different templates were offered up to
                                                                                                       check for ground, chassis and skirt
                                                                                                  clearance, in order to establish correct
   drilled for its fixings                         composite floor                                dimensions for the drawers




   4    High-quality slider mechanisms
        contribute to the load-carrying capacity
   of the products, but they have to be
                                                   5    After temporarily clamping the
                                                        sliders to the underfloor hangers and
                                                   checking dimensions, part of each slider is
                                                                                                  6    Unseen bracing struts are cut and
                                                                                                       shaped. These add further stability and
                                                                                                  rigidity to the underfloor hangers
   accurately installed                            fixed to the drawer




   Though I don’t have the            pay for each one. Let’s face it –   water from seeping into the          heavy road spray that persisted
equipment to make my own              it’s only a drawer! But I was       container along a join.              up the M5 to Bristol. Then I
lightweight alloy storage boxes,      wrong, because this drawer             To stabilise the main             checked the boxes. Incredibly,
I was keen to install one myself.     system is incredibly strong.        suspension brackets even             there were only five marks from
The trouble is that the company       Even in its weakest position,       more, discreet alloy bracing         dried drips in one box; the other
doesn’t supply kits. Customers        which is when it’s fully extended   struts are mounted as well. In       was totally dry.
have to book an appointment           on the sliding rails, a Beeny Box   addition, aluminium deflector           Without doubt, the hardest
and have the product(s)               will carry equipment weighing       shields are installed when a box     part of the installation is to
installed in Cornwall.                up to 45kg (99lb). When the box     is anywhere near the                 shape, strengthen and attach
   Now that I’ve seen two             is closed and locked, this load     motorhome’s wheels. The              the removed part of the side
bespoke boxes made and                is well within its true maximum     reason for this is that the latest   skirt. On some motor caravans,
installed, I understand why this      carrying capacity.                  Beeny Boxes are constructed in       a flexible plastic surround trim
isn’t a DIY operation. Even               Then there’s the structure      such a way that driven water         is attached around the aperture
though my motor caravan               itself. The containers are          from the road doesn’t leave          and the cut-away section. On
doesn’t have an inconvenient          currently fabricated using 16-      their contents wet.                  others, like mine, the rigid GRP
exhaust pipe, a spring hanger         gauge Alochrome, which is              Obviously you wouldn’t store      skirt looks better without this
to negotiate or underfloor            chromium alloy sheet. This is       a laptop computer in one, and I      addition. As explained, every
obstructions, it still took two       folded along all the edges, and     was somewhat sceptical about         installation is individually made
long days to install two boxes.       the flanges add additional          this supposed ability to keep        to suit the vehicle brought to
   I admit that when I first heard    rigidity to the container. A        things dry. However, I left          the workshop.
about Beeny Boxes, I thought          sealant is also applied along all   Cornwall in howling winds and           As regards the installation of
that £395 was rather a lot to         the internal seams, preventing      driving rain, driving through        a Beeny Box on a motor
                                                                                                                                          ▼




118 MOTOR CARAVAN July 2005
   TECH TALK

 THE FINISHING TOUCHES                                                                                            caravan still under warranty,
                                                                                                                  many manufacturers are fully
                                                                                                                  aware of the high standard of
                                                                                                                  Paul Stimpson’s workmanship
                                                                                                                  and engineering skills. In fact,
                                                                                                                  Auto-Sleepers has given a
                                                                                                                  written confirmation that the
                                                                                                                  addition of a Beeny Box will not
                                                                                                                  affect its warranty at all.
                                                                                                                     As a further affirmation of
                                                                                                                  faith, Auto-Sleepers’ staff have
                                                                                                                  since been trained to install a
                                                                                                                  Beeny Box as a factory-fit
                                                                                                                  option on several of the
                                                                                                                  company’s models. That’s
                                                                                                                  further recognition of their
                                                                                                                  quality; approaching 100 boxes
                                                                                                                  have already been supplied
                                                                                                                  directly to the Auto-Sleepers
                                                                                                                  factory in the Cotswolds.
                                                                                                                     That aside, it would still be

  1   Each drawer is fitted to check for clearance
      and operation before the sliders are coated
  with a film of Ambersil Ejector Pin Lubricant
                                                         2    Considerable time is now spent fitting and
                                                              aligning the cut-out pieces from the skirt.
                                                         Locks also have to be mounted to secure each
                                                                                                                  prudent to get other motor
                                                                                                                  caravan manufacturers’ written
                                                                                                                  approval to confirm that a Beeny
                                                         unit snugly                                              Box wouldn’t compromise the
                                                                                                                  terms of a warranty. If it won’t,
                                                                                                                  this is probably the best
                                                                                                                  solution to storage problems
                                                                                                                  you’ll ever find ■


                                                                                                                    i INFORMATION
                                                                                                                   Beeny Box
                                                                                                                   Station Garage, Trevu Road,
                                                                                                                   Camborne, Cornwall, TR14 7AE
                                                                                                                   Tel: 01209 711093
                                                                                                                   www.beenybox.co.uk
                                                                                                                   The installation of Beeny Boxes
                                                                                                                   is carried out next to Camborne
                                                                                                                   mainline railway station on a site
                                                                                                                   shared with Eden Motorhomes.
                                                                                                                   This is a separate company run by
                                                                                                                   Mike Foster and pre-owned models

  3                                                      4
        Once each drawer is adjusted to be                   Lastly, it’s attention to detail. Touch-up paint      in the £7000-£25,000 price range
        vibration free when it’s locked, a clear             and caps to cover the four bolt heads are             are sold from the compound.
  silicone sealant is applied around all the seams       applied and the results are very smart                    www.edenmotorhomes.co.uk




  BEENY BOX INSTALLATIONS ON OTHER VEHICLES
  The job took much longer than                      together with the products they may              Stimpson reckons he can fit a Beeny
  expected but much more work is                     have to carry, the four illustrations            Box to about 95% of recent coachbuilt
  involved than I had visualised.                    below focus on different installations.          and A-class models. You name it, he
    To show Beeny Boxes fitted to                       These photos show the diversity                can do it – he’s even fitted boxes on the
  some more conventional coachbuilts,                of several previous projects. Paul               back wall as well.




  The asymmetrically shaped           The owner of this Auto-Trail           The rear location for this         The owner of this Mirage 5000
  front to the box was a feature      Mohican used the Beeny Box             Auto-Trail Cheyenne’s leisure      found he couldn’t use the
  on this Auto-Sleeper Pollensa,      for carrying typical items, as well    batteries made inspection          Channel Tunnel with a fixed
  built on a Ford Transit             as a large, red shovel                 difficult, so the owner had them    gas tank, so he had a cylinder
                                                                             moved to a Beeny Box               system fitted instead




120 MOTOR CARAVAN July 2005

				
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