Thursday, October 6, 2011

A GEM for Dogs!

Someone emailed me about the dog carrier after reading my GEM Car Stereo Install blog, so I thought I should follow up with a blog on that.  We've unfortunately moved to an area where the speed of a GEM doesn't keep up very well with traffic, so I've sold the car, but still have a few photos.  It went to a nice lady that was looking forward to loading up her dogs in the carrier and taking them for a ride.  I hope she's still enjoying it!  Or at least someone is enjoying my FrankenGEM creation!

Here's what the rear of my GEM looked like originally without the trunk.

I removed the rear fender, which was cracked anyways.  The well nuts used to hold the fender on did not handle the amount of shaking the car was getting on the pot holed streets in my town, and no matter what kind of well nut I used it just resulted in more cracking.  Hopefully the GEM company has come up with a better design.  But because I wanted a replacement for my cracked fender, and didn't want to buy another stock fender that would crack, I ended up thinking about the dog carrier design.  Good riddance plastic fender!  Time to load up the dogs!

I bought some spare diamond plate off of craigslist and used that as the bed of the carrier.  I reinforced it with some ridged aluminum double angle rods going front to back, then ran an aluminum box rod across horizontally to attach steel cable that ran to the frame of the car.  I thought aluminum would be a good choice since it's very lightweight.  In the end I don't think the carrier weighed much more than my stock trunk, and maybe it even weighed less (minus the dogs).

The bed of the carrier is attached where the stock GEM trunk rests.  There wasn't much to work with in terms of length on my standard 2-seater, so I chose to run steel cable to support the bed up to the frame. I also put a hinge very near to the end of the car frame where the bed attached.  I wanted the bed to "flex" with the road a bit.  I figured if I ran a ridged bed from the frame all the way to the end I would risk cracking the bed, or worse, the car frame.  This also allowed the carrier to neatly fold up for those small parallel parking spaces.  In my opinion that's the best reason to have a GEM in a crowded neighborhood!  

Unfortunately I can't find a picture of the dog bed and carrier folded up.  To make it work, I bought a dog carrier that already folded up.  Most dog carriers do this.  Then I cut the bottom frame of the dog carrier in half and strapped it to diamond plate bed so it couldn't move off the bed, but could fold with the hinge.  Strapping the carrier to the bed is also obviously important to keeping it with the car!  

You can see in the photos that about half way up the steel cable I have a carabiner-type hook.  That way when I collapsed the dog carrier I could shorten the length of the cable and lock the bed in an upright position.  There are actually two steel cables on each side, though this is probably unnecessary.  One cable has a spring to provide a little flex to the bed when bouncing over pot holes, and the other is just straight steel cable that doesn't let the bed fold past a set amount.  

I actually drilled into the frame of the car to attach the steel cable on the other end, but in retrospect I wish I had just made a loop around the frame, as I think that would have probably worked just as well, and only scratched up the paint a bit without needing to drill.

I also put a hinge on the end of the bed and attached a small diamond plate flap to hold the license plate, since that would have been covered up.  This also allows the diamond plate holding the license to fold down when the bed is in the upright position.  I bought the diamond plate tail light boxes on ebay to match, then ran the wiring for the tail light boxes and license plate light.

Some of the photos above were when we first had the dogs hop in, so they may look a little wigged out, but they absolutely loved getting and heading down to the beach.  They'd look out of the "sunroof" on the ride and brag to the other dogs that didn't have such a cool ride.  Not having all the sand and ocean water in the back seat of our car after the beach was a big plus for us.  We could easily hose out the carrier on the GEM, which was a big plus for having it.  We miss our GEM!  And so do the dogs!

Other Rojects

Roger + Project = Roject (my wife's equation)