From the outside, Jeff Van Damme’s truck looks like any other; there’s a rack and a cap with the usual assortment of doors. It’s only when the doors are open and the tailgate is down that you realize there is something special about the way it is organized.
Van Damme is a painting contractor in the Portland, OR, area so he carries all kinds of small tools and sundries. To make them more accessible he installed a Bed Slide in the back of his truck, but instead of merely using it as a way to avoid crawling into the bed he outfitted it with pegboard, shelves, and a home-made drawer unit. While the truck is set up for painting, there’s no reason something similar couldn’t be done for another trade.
When asked where the idea for the storage system came from Van Damme said, “Years ago, I saw a contractor with a slide-out type bed called a Joey Bed. Although he just had his tools lying on the bed (no organization), I thought how neat is was that he could slide the bed out and reach all his tools. I thought if I had one of those and built some shelving to organize things, it would make things very tidy and efficient.”
This is Van Damme’s second go at the system; the first was installed in an earlier vehicle. His current truck is a 2006 Dodge 2500 4X4 Turbo Diesel purchased new in 2007. As soon as he bought it, Van Damme ordered a bed slide and a custom-made canopy (cap). Custom touches include storage boxes with shelves behind each of the side doors, two lights under the main canopy, and a light in each side compartment. The ladder rack is aluminum. Van Damme built the shelves and the box that holds the drawer units. He spent $1,200 for the bed slide and $4,700 for the cap.
The system has worked well, “For the work we do which mostly consists of residential remodel/repaints/additions, this setup works out great! It keeps us very organized (a place for everything) and saves money because we know where everything is and don't have to hunt for anything or dig in a toolbox or messy van.” When he needs to haul more than will fit in the truck he pulls a small trailer.