Platform on top of vehicle

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by aaron_rocky, Feb 5, 2005.

  1. Ansel custom made a platform on top of his wagon so he could stand
    really high to take pictures. It's a great way to get rid of
    annoying foreground like bushes and trees. Anyone also did similar
    custom moding on your car/truck/SUV? What kind of vehicle is the
    best to start from?
  2. Any vehicle with a roof rack. You need to distribute the weight evenly over a lerge area and provide a ladder to get up there.

    Use treated lumber and make it removeable with a pully set up from the garage ceiling.

    Rain gutters are another possible support point.

    Some type of wind baffle across the front to keep wind noise down. Look at the design of ski racks for baffle designs.

    Roof racks need to be filled with torpedo sand to keep the noise down.
  3. There are a variety of heavy duty cargo racks designed for SUV types of vehicles, and all you need to use this is to then put a 3/4" thick piece of plywood inside so you have a solid floor to work from. Of course, the biggest problems you will then have is stability, since the soft suspensions will sway in any wind or from any movement on your part.

    I've carefully pondered this but not yet implemented one, but when I do I plan on adding some sort of jacks to the vehicle's bumpers or frame to minimize that problem. It adds to the cost and complexity in settng up, but will certainly make a huge difference in the quality of images taken unless you are just hand-holding your camera.

    Keep in mind that Ansel used a truck-like Travelall for his SW travels, and that suspension was already rock like. Modern SUVs are really cushy in comparison.
  4. I have a Miata with a roll bar. I use a Bogen super do not get really high, but, it is amusing....
  5. Here's a discussion of the topic from a few month ago. CNP discussion
  6. I have a platform that covers the top of my pick-up bed. Frequently I'll set-up on the platform for my shots if practicable. The platform also makes as a perfect cover for the bed (water tight) where I can store my equipment when travelling. It's lockable and I can access the stuff inside through the (lockable) tailgate. It's not dustproof though so, when travelling on dirt roads everything is in the cab with me and Sam (my dog).
  7. "What kind of vehicle is the best to start from?"

    Probably not a convertible.
  8. How do you keep the vehicle from moving on its suspension? A jack stand at each corner?
  9. Try and click on slip on fittings. they make 3 or 4 sizes of fittings
    and the schedule 40 pipe is available in aluminum or coated steel. Speed-rail makes all
    the necessary fittings to attach pipe to anything. You could make your own custom rack
    out of aluminum and it should be cheaper and stronger than buying a yakima or thule.
  10. I too saw that picture of Ansel on top of his Travelall and was inspired to do the same with my '89 Toyota Land Cruiser. I used 3/4 inch Marine plywood and doubled up with four Thule bars on the rain gutters. I had a thule car top carrier on the passenger side and a 3x8 foot platform on the drivers side. I used a piece of lexan in the front as a wind deflector which actually moved the air up and over the back. I coated the plywood with spar varnish and sand for good footing. I put two 5 gallon metal gerry cans on the back of the platform for spare gas (needed the extra fuel with the Cruiser) and containers for water. This sucker would go anywhere and I drove it from New York to Washington state one summer. I got a neat little folding ladder that would hook on to the Thule brackets. The down side is the extra weight of the whole rig including the sleeping platform inside the back with a slide out draw for camping equipment and food. It really could have used either helper springs in the back or better yet would have been adjustable air shocks. It was a fun project, but I used the platform on only a few occasions and got no prize winners out of the experience. I would probably think twice about doing it again.
  11. I just carry a 6' stepladder in my pickup truck.
  12. RVs sometimes include frame or bumper mounted jacks which articulate down using a screw or hydralic mechanism. These probably are not a good choice for stock SUV and truck bumpers but could be adapted to many aftermarket bumper varieties.

    There are large roof racks designed for heavy loads, and thus mostly designed for heavy duty vehicles (and specifically not for ordinary "roof racks". These were common on the old 4x4 such as the 60s and 70s Landcruisers and could feasibly handle hundreds of pounds of gear (although tipping then became a greater risk in serious offroad travel due to the higher center of gravity). Placing a piece of 3/4" plywood on one gave you a good stabile deck to work on.

    IF you want to emulate Ansel's Travelall, I suggest a heavy duty 4x4 truck or SUV with custom hardware added. My ideal system is actually modifying the hydrallic jacks designed for the slide in truck campers, and attaching those to the 4 corners of the roof platform (thus making for a very stabile platform when the jacks are extended).
  13. Best vehicles to start from? Anything custom made for similar purpose. A used fire engine with ladder is about 15000$ or less here in Germany. There are also pretty Mercedes 5t vans with hydraulic arms lifting and moving you around in a basket. Or consider something with a railing on the roof made to fix the wiring for trams. There are also Military radio-shack trucks with well made roofs. (I don't know what the US army had) Used special purpose trucks are cheap.

    Don't break your neck falling down from a platform! Be careful anything higher than a desk is realy dangerous!!!

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