Words by Angus Boswell
Drawer systems are a great invention because, as every overlander knows, packing and unpacking is such an integral part of travelling. Adding a shelf midway helps to separate items that would otherwise have to be moved about. The drawers make for two secure and contained packing zones for items that need to be used frequently; you always know where they are going to be – even after a pummelling on a long corrugated road. And the space on the side? That’s where you stash the fixed items and things you will not need to get to every day, like battery boxes, water tanks, and some recovery gear.
There are lots of examples of drawer systems out there. DIY types are inclined to build their own versions using plywood, aluminium square tube, a pile of Connect-Its and a dash of ingenuity. But, if you want a professional fix, you’ll be looking for one where the developer has sorted out all the bugs in the prototyping phase.
Having recently fitted a Rhinoman all-aluminium gullwing canopy, I was delighted to try out a drawer system from The Bush Company, owner Ferdie van der Merwe’s parallel business which services both domestic and export markets. This was a brand-new product, so I would be one of the fitment guinea pigs.
Fitment was done by the superb workshop at Safari Centre N1 City in Cape Town, in around two hours, under the guidance of manager Morne Rossouw: not bad considering this was a first for the team there. The drawers were lifted into place, centred, and holes drilled through the lower framework and the bakkie’s loadbin for the securing bolts. Then it was a simple matter of bolting the side wing supports in place and laying in the plywood wings, which are all covered in automotive carpeting and have sensible finger-sized holes drilled into them so you can get these lids out.
The drawer construction is excellent: a single-section framework of laser cut steel, bent and riveted in place, then black powder-coated. All wear sections on the drawers are galvanised, and they run on a series of roller bearings – smooth as butter and likely to last. A good feature is that the drawers can be removed, to clean beneath, behind or inside them. This is a feature you are going to need one day.
Quality is the order of the day here. The drawers are not only very robustly constructed, they are fully carpeted (prevents damage to packed items) deep (25cm), wide (41cm) and run almost the length of the doublecab (115cm). This is a good size for packing both high and long items. Also, since the drawer frame is bolted down through the centre, the side packing sections are free of clutter, and of a generous size.
The locking mechanism is a stroke of genius. It’s a proprietary design from The Bush Company, and made of super-strong stainless steel, with a positive locking action when closing the drawers.
Three lines of special laser-cut slots for O-Ring tie-down nuts run the length of the drawer frame, in the middle and on two sides. This provides plenty of flexibility to place the tie-down points exactly where they should be for each packing event.
This particular double cab unit carries a retail price of R12 900 (excluding fitment, which would be in the order of R750-R1000). It is a one-sizefits- all product, the difference being the shape and size of the side lids, which are altered to fit most bakkies sold locally, whether it’s a Ford, Isuzu, VW, Nissan or Toyota.
The Bush Company drawer systems are available through Rhinoman retailers, and are shipped with full fitting instructions, suitable to both the DIY enthusiast and most 4×4 fitment centres.
Tel: 010 010 0060