How to build a modular campervan box bed from black aluminum profiles for only €250 in 2 days
22. February 2021
In this article you will learn how we built a modular campervan box bed for our T5 “Franzek” in only two days, what we needed for it and how much the individual parts for our new campervan box bed cost.
Everything we use to build our Franzek Box, we link at the bottom of the article.
The article is intended to serve as inspiration. It is not a guide that should be followed blindly. It is everyone’s responsibility to plan, improve and fix their own expansion in the car. We are not engineers and in case of doubt, the decisions we have made in our expansion should be questioned.
Our “Franzek” is a short and normal height T5 Caravelle with originally 9 seats. The rear bench seat is removed and also the right single seat from the second row is with us in the basement. Thus we have a five-seater. In his former life Franzek was used in a home for the elderly and drove 21.000 km in four years. That’s why he has an additional heater in the right rear to keep the passengers warm in winter.
This gives us an area of about 122 cm by 130 cm to fill with our campervan box. Our first box was made of Type I Nut8 40 profiles, which have held super, but were somewhat oversized. We are basically very satisfied with the Campervanbox and were with it already four weeks in Morocco, three weeks in Poland, two weeks in Slovakia and uncounted times in southern Germany and Austria on the road.
Why are we building a new campervan box bed again?
Our old campervan box was relatively heavy and unwieldy. We could only get them out of the car or put them back in with effort in twos
The attachment to the T5 lashing eyes was covered by our heavy duty pullout and was very difficult to reach
And yes – we felt like building something new again 😉
Why do not we want a campervan complete conversion?
We want to have a car suitable for everyday use with at least five seats. Our Campervanbox should be optional and like to stand in the winter even some months in the basement, if it is just not needed. In addition, Franzek, the smallest T5, without high roof and short. Sometime in the next few years will come Franzek II. Maybe it will be a Crafter or Sprinter or even an old Mercedes van.
The requirements for our new campervan box bed
Less weight than our current campervan box
Shall be able to be carried by two people
Must support two heavy duty pullouts
Height (approx. 55 cm), width (approx. 120 cm) and depth (approx. 130 cm) are specified
Assembly and disassembly must take no more than 5 minutes
May be more beautiful than the current campervan box 😉
Type I and Type B Profiles
By and large, there are aluminum profile systems in Germany from two major manufacturers – Item and Bosch Rexroth. Other names for these profiles are construction profiles, assembly profiles or hollow chamber profiles. The profiles of both manufacturers are very similar in structure. However, there are differences in detail. Not all connectors, sliding blocks and accessories are compatible. Sometimes the differences between light, heavy and normal profiles of one manufacturer are greater than the differences between the systems.
The aluminum profiles suitable for the campervan conversion are between 20 mm and 40 mm thick. For us, only 30 or 40 profiles come into question for the bed construction.
There are both I and B compatible profiles in thickness 30, but they have different grooves. The Item profiles have a 6 mm groove, the Bosch profiles have an 8 mm groove. We want to continue to use our existing sliding blocks and tool, and for this reason we are opting for the Type B profiles. The Type B profiles are also available in black, which is very convenient for us.
As always, we do the rough planning on paper. Martina’s drawing skills take us further and we get an idea of what the new campervan box will look like.
Then we take measurements in the car again and calculate the available space to the millimeter. For other cars such as Ford Transit, T4 or a Mercedes Sprinter, the dimensions are of course different.
Dimensions of the Franzek campervan box bed for a T5/T6 Caravelle with additional heater
515 mm + approx. 30 mm plate slat grid
Left box (wide)
705 x 1280 mm, Clearance height approx. 450 mm, Weight: 19.8 kg
Left box (narrow)
505 x 1280 mm, Clearance height approx. 455 mm, Weight: 23.6 kg
The Item Engineering Tool
Afterwards we use the Item Engineering Tool to get the exact measurements and to be able to see and plan the campervan box from all angles. Without this great application from the company Item our planning would be much more difficult.
After planning, you can save your project and, of course, export a parts list of the required parts and even order them directly from Item. Unfortunately, it is not possible to see the prices directly before ordering – you will find out the prices only afterwards, after the company Item has created an offer.
The assembly of the Franzek campervan box bed
We sift the material and prepare the aluminum profiles for processing. Depending on your skills and whether you have all the sliding blocks, screws and tools, the assembly takes a maximum of one to two days.
Order a few additional short profiles to practice in peace and without pressure. This only costs a few euros, but is enormously reassuring.
Step 1 – Cut thread
The inner hole of the aluminum profiles is threaded on both sides. Via this thread and the cube connectors, the profiles can then be screwed together at a 90° angle. For the Type B 30 profiles, we use an M8 tap. We also used this for the Item 40 profiles.
We recommend the use of drilling / cutting oil or WD 40, which makes thread cutting much easier. So just apply a squirt of cutting oil or WD 40 to the drill, get it started and let the cordless screwdriver do its work.
Summary: We cut a total of 16 threads for the cube connectors. If you prepare everything, then it takes no more than 10 minutes.
Step 2 – Screw the box together
This step is quite simple – the aluminum profiles are screwed together to form a box. We have two boxes and eight cube connectors. For the screws you need a hexagon socket wrench. It is also useful to have a second person help and hold the profiles while screwing them together.
Why do we use cube connectors?
No sharp edges
Very easy to remove if you need to get to the groove
it looks professional
thread sheathing is not bad
Step 3 – Slatted frame
We got the slatted frame and disc springs on Ebay without having to pay anything for them. The boards from the slatted frame are attached to a steel angle profile from the hardware store with clamping plate screws. The angle profile, in turn, is attached to our top aluminum profiles with sliding blocks. We do this for both boxes. The boards are approx. 630 mm and 430 mm long respectively.
Step 4 – Assemble heavy-duty pullouts
We use two pairs of heavy-duty pull-outs. However, you can easily install only one pair of heavy-duty pullouts. This reduces the cost of removal because the price of heavy-duty pullouts is relatively high. First, the automatic connectors must be screwed into the groove. This works best with a cordless screwdriver and a Torx or hexagon socket bit. The screw should be placed in the groove, as it stabilizes the connector when it is screwed in. And don’t forget – be sure to use cutting oil or WD 40.
Before mounting on the aluminum profile box, however, the heavy-duty pullouts must be attached to the aluminum profiles. For us, the “slide-on” technique has proven successful. The pre-assembled sliding blocks are simply pushed into the open groove and then screwed tight.
The angle profiles are mounted on the heavy-duty pull-outs. They will later support the floor boards. The holes for the screws in the heavy-duty pull-outs are positioned so that you can reach them when they are extended. The aluminum profiles can then be reattached in the aluminum profile boxes.
Load capacity According to the store, the load capacity is 90 kg when mounted correctly. We bought the heavy-duty pull-outs 1.5 years ago and do not remember this information. We have always assumed that the heavy-duty pull-outs can carry 130 kg. After 1.5 years we can also say that the pull-outs hold wonderfully. In our version, the maximum weight per drawer is 40-50 kg. The kitchen box weighs the most.
Distance to the ground Care must be taken to ensure sufficient distance to the floor. The heavy-duty pull-outs are 5.7 cm high. If they are fixed in the groove, then the aluminum profile needs at least 1.5 cm of space downwards – the center of the groove must therefore be approx. 3 cm from the floor. Seat anchor Remember the seat anchors. They protrude approx. 5 mm – 10 mm and must be taken into account when determining the distance to the floor.
Base plates for the heavy duty pullouts
We need two bottom plates – a large one (1280 mm x 603 mm x 15 mm) and a small one (1280 mm x 403 mm x 9 mm). There is room for three Euroboxes (600 mm x 400 mm) on the large plate, and only two on the small one. We recycle the large base plate from our old campervan box, even though it is oversized at 15 mm. You can use 15 mm thick plates if you plan to transport menhirs, or 9 – 12 mm for everything else. The weight of the Euroboxes is distributed over a large area – a 9 – 12 mm thick base plate can easily hold that.
Both boards are attached to the angle profiles from below with clamping plate screws. On each bottom board we fix an angle profile at the front and at the back, which prevents our Euroboxes from slipping.
Step 5 – Mounting in the car
We use a total of three floor plates / floor plates for mounting in the car. At the rear in the trunk, the boxes are screwed to the T5 lashing eyes, at the front they are fixed with two turnbuckles. The installation or removal of the boxes takes a few minutes.
Bottom plates for the boxes
Um die Box hinten zu befestigen, verwenden wir eine Platte aus Stahl mit den Maßen 1215 mm x 70 mm x 3 mm. Die Platte wird mit den beiden T5 Zurrösen-Schrauben verbunden. Die Zurrösen und die originalen Schrauben müssen dazu dauerhaft entfernt werden.
The two boxes are then placed on the sheet metal and connected to the baseplate with four M6 countersunk screws. If you want to remove the box, then only four easily accessible screws need to be loosened. The sheet metal can remain in the car or can also be removed after the boxes are removed.
At the front of the car, we use two turnbuckles to hold the boxes in place.
The Campervan Box
The profiles can be cut to size to the millimeter and ordered in the same way.
Heavy-duty pull-outs 1200 mm long, 57 mm high, up to 90/130kg (left + right)
or heavy-duty pull-outs 1168 mm long, 76 mm high (!), 19 mm wide up to 250kg (left + right) * (i) Construction must be adapted
or heavy-duty pull-outs 1000mm long, 53mm high (!), up to 71 kg (left + right) * (i) Construction must be adapted
Sliding blocks for heavy-duty pull-outs *
waterproof plywood 9mm, 1280 mm x 403 mm (hardware store)
waterproof plywood 15mm, 1280 mm x 603 mm (hardware store)
ca. 3.600 mm Winkelprofile approx. 3.600 mm angle profiles for the screen printing plates (hardware store)
Rear bottom plate (sheet to size steel galvanized, 1210 mm x 70 mm)
Front left floor panel (sheet to size aluminum raw, 605 mm x 70 mm)
Floor panel front right (sheet to measure aluminum raw, 705mm x 70mm)
Slatted frame (ebay)
Disc springs (ebay)
approx. 4.000 mm angle profiles for the slatted frame (hardware store)
Screws, countersunk head * (M5 – M8 different lengths), Torx assortment * 3.5 mm etc.
50 – 80
Hammer nuts (among other things, for the slatted frame) *
The parts list for the modular campervan box
In total, our Franzek box cost about € 570. These costs are individual for each extension – not everyone needs, for example, two heavy-duty drawers or a plate slatted frame.
The final result
The videos (German with english subtitles)
Addendum – Problems with the Franzek box
During the planning we did not take into account that our construction sinks in the middle by a few millimeters due to the rubber floor in our T5.
The problem occurs only in cars / VW Bullis with rubber floor. If you have a solid floor in your car anyway, then the problem does not affect you at all. We have simply solved the problem with an additional rubber mat in the middle of the construction.
What is the cost of an aluminum profile campervan box
The material for the box costs about 200 €
What is the cost of heavy-duty pullouts?
The heavy-duty pullouts cost about €150 per pair.
Is the assembly complicated? How long does it take?
Assembly takes between 1 – 3 days depending on skill. The assembly of the Aluprofil Campervanbox is simple.