The Beetle Box
Revised 11/5/01

Well before I even pitched the idea of buying another Beetle to my wife I had begun thinking about how I might store another Beetle at our house.  We had begun talking about buying another house, or possibly building one, but more or less concluded that we wouldn't do anything immediately (2001).  Nor would we make any large, permanent improvements to our house.  So that set the groundwork for my Beetle storage solution.  Something inexpensive, and not terribly permanent should we sell the house and the buyers didn't like it.

For years I had envisioned all sorts of ideas about expanding the garage, knocking down walls, etc.  But now I needed something cheap and quick, and at the same time, not horrible looking.  I devised a plan to build a box across the back of the garage to house a Beetle.  Only slightly wider and longer than the car itself, with an end and side door to map to the car's passenger door. Thus, the car could be driven in the end, then the driver could ease out the passenger side door.  I designed a plan to build a box a mere 6 inches wider on the inside than the Beetle itself!

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This is partial panorama shot of the back corner of my house, made of a several stitched together pictures.  You get some idea of why uncovered "outdoor storage" isn't an option in New England.  We were getting our due in Feb-March of 2001 for several "weak" winters in the years prior.

The propane tank for the garage furnace is in that lattice box with the snow piles on top.  I clear paths with the tractor for the dogs, and so the propane delivery guy doesn't have to trudge through feet of snow to fill my tank.

August 14, 2001
Ahhh, summer again.  Here's a shot of the back of the garage, my newly acquired '50 sunroof in the background being used for dimensional measurements, the kids wagon employed to shuttle tools to and from the garage.  No, I don't own all those ladders.  I was having a new roof put on my house by a team of 4 contractors.

You can see the dirt on the outside wall from where the propane tank was, as well as the old gas pipe.  My and a friend of mine busted our butts to move to the right about 7 feet or so.

Here you see the old landscape timbers and peastone beds, as well as the new timbers placed to "extend" the base for the box.  That gutter downspout actually drains into a gravel pit under the stone, I had to relocate it for this job.  And I think I might have to move the downspout yet again as it cuts into the available width to enter the box (you'll see later)
Here you see the flooring frame, as it rests on the timbers.  You can't see it too well here, but the joists are doubled up at the points where the Beetle wheels will rest.  I bought a whole trailer full of dimensional lumber and plywood from a retired contractor near me prior to starting this job for $40.  The extra landscape timber cost me $12, and the two 16 foot long 2x4 stringers cost about $15.

Total so far, $67.

The dimensions of the floor are roughly 15.5 feet by 71 inches wide.  All 2x4s secured using 2.5" and 3" deck screws.

You can see here how the '50 sunroof was used to mark off the wheel locations, front and rear end points and door openings.  A '57 Beetle is actually 13 feet, 4.2 inches long and 60.6 inches wide.  My box is about 15 feet by 66 inches wide on the inside.

Truth is it will be the '57 that spends the first winter in this box, as I will do some things to the '50 over the winter.

August 25, 2001
The rafter header is attached to the house by first making some clever supports out of 2x4s to hold it up at the right height.  It is leveled and lagged into the wall studs, siding pre drilled to prevent splitting, and studs pilot drilled.  Note that is spans two siding board edges to keep it vertical (although here it isn't fastened yet and is assuming the slant of the support posts).  Also note that there is a siding board just about 2" above it so aluminum flashing can be slipped up under.  If you don't get this right when you position it initially, the roofing part can be a nightmare later.

A ledger is screwed along its lower edge to give the rafters some support.  The upper edge of the ledger is cut at 20 degrees, the calculated slope of the roof.  I thought given the shallow size of the roof, a 30 degree pitch like the other roofs on my house was bit much and would drive up the material budget.

Unbeknownst to me at this point was that the ledger wasn't positioned correctly on the 2x8 to accept a 2x4 rafter and position its upper edge at the top of the header.  It needed to be raised up.  This is why I like to use screws for everything, adjustments like this are a breeze.

Again the ledger positioning. You can also see the propane tank in its new position.
Here you can see the downspout drain re-located to outside the box floor area.  But with only 6 inches of total clearance side to side, that down spout might be a problem.
For a moisture barrier, I bought a tarp and stapled it to the floor frame and then trimmed it.  You can also see the header ledger has been relocated upward a bit on the header board.
The floor design was the function of a low budget and trying to use all the dimensional lumber that I got on from that contractor.  With a 70+ inch width, the floor was much wider than a 4x8 sheet of plywood, meaning that it would take 4 sheets to do the floor if I used just plywood.  But I had some long lengths of 2x10s and 2x12s in that lot of wood.  By using 2x12s along the tire tacks (measure the Beetle again...), the remaining open floor width was just near 48".  I had gotten nearly 2 sheets of 3/4" plywood with that lot too, plenty strong for a part of the floor that the wheels wouldn't touch.

The tracks look offset toward the garage wall, but remember that the outer wall will consume 3.5 inches of the available platform width.

The rear section of the outside wall is erected.  Again, the outside wall will have a large door near center to allow the driver (me!) to exit the car once driven it.
And finally, at the end of a long day (Aug 25th), this is what I had done.  The forward outer wall is up and a header across the top is connecting the two.  A single rafter is placed just to get a sense of the roof slope.

I case you are wondering what that purple and green object, being in the background is, it is our 6 year old daughter practicing cartwheels and handstands (she's on her hands).

August 26, 2001
Here the rafters are all in place.  They are 2x4s 16 inches on center.
This is how the rafters are secured from underneath.  A 3" deck screw is in place, driven up from the bottom of the header ledger into the rafter.
From the top, a 3.5" square drive deck screw is in place at a hard angle to the rafter top, to set it into the rafter header.  You can see the head of one of the six, 5 inch lag screws that hold the header to the house exterior wall.  I counter sunk it because at the time I was mounting it, I wasn't sure if the ledger would cover it or not.  A by-product of making stuff up as you go along...
Ok, now "garage sale quality" lumber becomes evident.  This outer wall header is a made up of two 2x4s screwed together, and it is a bit twisted and split on this end.  You can see the notched rafter tail, and the "L" bracket (hand bent to 110 degrees) securing the rafter to the header.  The second hole  in the bracket misses the header wood, so there is only one screw there now.  I will drill another hole in each one, a bit lower, and place another screw later.
Here, the 7/16" OSB plywood is applied to the roof.  Slightly less than 4 full sheets, the roof is roughly 7 x 15 feet.  OSB isn't the ideal material, but at just a shade over $7 a sheet at Home Depot (1/2 CDX plywood is $15 a sheet), the price is hard to beat.  I had considered doing the roof rafters with 2x6s 24" on center, but I never would have used OSB with that rafter spacing.  I was pretty happy with how "square" everything had come out at this point.  The roof pitch is 20 degrees.

I measured the available width at this point, siding to outside wall at this point; 67".  The Beetle is 60.6 inches wide.  You can see that the gutter downspout might be an issue.

A 30lb roofing tar paper is applied to the roof with 3/8" staples.  Something about finally climbing on top of and walking on something that I made like this that is very satisfying.  The roof is very stable, level and firm.  Note the overhang of the garage roof above.
Flashing installed.  Now I would have liked to use a wider flashing, but my local HW store only had a 10 foot length of 14" wide aluminum, so I cut it down the middle and used 7" wide strips.  Didn't feel like making the 25 minute ride to Home D. If you ever do this, two tips.  If you have cedar siding like my house, very carefully pry the siding lower edge away and pull the nails.  I hammered a nail bar up under it and pried it out.  Then tap the siding back and the nail head usually pops out so you can pull it.  Tip number two is heavy leather gloves.  This stuff is rolled razor blade.  With out a good pair of gloves you will look like a Freddy Kruger victim in no time.

This type of construction is very common where I live, in other parts of the world, even the US, things may be different.

This edge won't see too much water anyway, just 5 feet above is the main roof soffit that sticks out a full 12 inches and is guttered.

This was how I ended the day on the 26th.  I used the left over OSB pieces anyway I could to sheath the outer wall, until I ran out.  I will eventually find some kind of low cost siding, and do the walls and paint it to match the house.  Of course I still have to make the end wall as well as the 2 big doors (yes, they will be locked, don't even think about it).
September 1, 2001
I completed the end wall.  The side of it is screwed to the garage exterior wall with foam insulation sandwiched in between to close up the narrow triangular gaps left by the siding.  I realized about now that another vertical board will need to be fastened to the near end to provide either a hinge mount or latch mount for the door on this end.  Not sure how I am going to pull that off, I have 6.4 inches of clearance left to play with.
I finish the roof with shingles.  It wasn't all that bad of a job, but I ran out of shingles with about 2 rows left to go.  So I called the guy who owns the roofing company who did my house just the week prior.  Left him a message asking if he has any leftovers, he lives right around the corner from me.  I offered to pick them up and pay for them.  Well 50 minutes later a truck pulls up in my driveway and Dave drops off a stack for free.  Highland Roofing in Marlboro MA, to put in a good word.
A closer look at my roofing skills.  The same "Architectural" shingles they used on the house. Pretty proud of my work, but not about to quit my day job to work on roofs in the summer heat.  The last row (upper) is glued on with roofing cement.  As my consultant John Willis in TX warned, "that stuff is nasty".  It is.  I thought I was in control but within a half hour I looked like an industrial accident. That siding still needs to be nailed back, I have a fascia board to cover the rafter tails and will install a gutter.
September 22, 2001
Some pressure to get this thing done before the cold weather kicks in sends me on a hunt for a cheap siding alternative.  I want something looks decent (no painted T-111 plywood!), but don't want to spend a fortune.  Literally a day away from going to Home Depot to break down and buy red cedar (for about $90), I spot an ad in the local trader under building materials "Masonite siding, 500 l.f., $75".  Ok, I'm neighboring with a co-worker helping him build a huge garden shed, he is looking for cheap siding too, he'll buy whatever I don't use.  I calculate I only need 300 l.f.  So I hook up the trailer, and hook up with this guy selling the stuff.  Turns out he grossly underestimated the amount he had, it was actually over 1000l.f.!!

Now masonite siding isn't nearly as good a cedar, but keep it painted and above ground, and it will do fine.  I used the exact same stuff on my shed some 7-8 yrs ago, one coat of stain and it is still perfect.  The good thing about this stuff too, was that it was not beveled (same thickness all the way across) so it can be butt-nailed vertically to make doors and looks more like barnboard or T&G that way.

So I get some "1 by" for the trim pieces and go to work on a weekend.  You can see the little screened vent that I framed up in the upper corner of the wall.  30lb tar paper stapled to all of the sheathing before the siding goes on.  And the roof fascia board is in place, I'll probably be putting a gutter up there.

Quite a trailer full of siding for $75!!

Here's the upper part of the wall on the door end being constructed.  Note that I can't apply a big stud on the left side as a door latch or cripple as I can't give up any width!  I put a 1x4 up there, and am down to 65.25" of entry width!

Don't pick my wife's tomatoes, she'll kill ya!

Siding is complete on the outside, I was pretty happy with the way it came out.  The siding is primed with a light gray, almost the exact color of my house, but I'll paint the whole thing with stain anyway.
Here's the door end with the upper wall nearly complete.  I was just about right here when I realized I needed to put a vent up here too.  The trim board used there is pre-primed gray too.
September 23, 2001
The upper door end wall is done, complete with vent.  I still need to trim off the shingles.  You can also see that the gutter downspout has been redirected to dump out on the box roof.  Oh, and you can see that the side door is done.  Just OSB on it now, will be covered with vertical siding later.
Here's the side door inside (and my son holding it open).  Let's hope I got all those Beetle measurements right.
A shot of the inside.  You can see the vent on the far end.

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