I have a nice Wen 2000W inverter generator and since we bought a portable A/C unit that will run on generator power (the main A/C won't), we've been using the generator almost every time we've boondocked this summer. It has been amazingly helpful to be able to cool off the rig instead of suffering in the heat and humidity on the eastern seaboard.
However, retrieving, setting up and re-storing the 40-pound machine has been more than a small headache. We recently sold our motorized bicycles and still had the bike rack installed on the rear bumper and thought we might be able to purchase a generator box that would fit on one of the rack supports, but could find nothing under $400 that would work. Undaunted, I located a steel storage cabinet for garages and patios that locks and decided to make it work. This project cost me $85 for the cabinet and another $75 in wood, water seal and hardware.
I had a lot of options for securing the cabinet and decided to build a shelf across the bike rack supports (pic A). I bought three 2x6x8 boards and cut them to 78" long, which is the distance from the left edge of the rig to just off the left edge of the ladder. I drilled holes in the board closest to the rig so that I could easily place it over the nuts and bolts holding the bike rack to the bumper.
I purchased some water seal and applied approximately five coats on the wood boards (pic B), then let them sit overnight. I wanted to attach the boards using 1/4" x 3" lag bolts but the hardened steel rack presented a little difficulty in lining up the bit to go through the wood and into the 1" steel rails. Instead, I drilled the holes in the rack first, the drilled upwards through the holes and into the wood from the bottom. That worked very well. Pics C and D show the first board placed and the 1/4" holes drilled for the second board.
To attach the second board, I used mechanical pencils as spacers (pic E) similar to building a picnic table, then clamped them to facilitate the drilling from beneath the rack (pic F). The second plank was bolted in (pic G) and the process was repeated for the third board (pic H). The bumper shelf was complete.
I selected the cabinet while considering several factors: price (under $100), steel construction, lockable, adequate inside space, modifiable for venting and height (I didn't want the top of the unit to block any portion of our rear picture window). The Homak SE Series (pic I) seemed to fit the bill at 27"x27"x12", however when I built it, the inside depth turned out to be only 10.75". The generator is 11" deep. But my solution of adding 1" spacers between the sides and the back (pic J) actually killed two birds with one stone -- making enough interior room for the generator to fit and providing airflow all around the generator so that it could run while locked in the cabinet.
I used four 5/16" x 4" lag bolts, washers and nuts to secure the cabinet floor to the shelf, then added some wood board to give a better support for the generator's base (pic K). I used a wide bit to drill out the spots on the wood base that cover the lag bolt heads so it would sit flat on the cabinet floor.
The final result was a storage cabinet that locks and allows the generator to be easily connected and run without dragging it out from basement storage. There is also more space on the bumper shelf for future storage (cooler?) or other use. Since the cabinet is not waterproof, my wife will be making a cover that can be tied down over it for the road.
Jack Huber is a novelist with 5 mysteries published, along with several books of poetry and photography. Now retired, he and his wife, Nadyne, are free to travel the country in their 32' 5th wheel and 1-ton Ford pickup.