Installing The Engel Transit Slide Lock

 

by John Lee

 

The Engel Freezer Fridge is one of the most useful accessories one can purchase for the well-equipped offroad vehicle. Having an onboard freezer fridge may seem like an extravagance, but after one uses an Engel he really cannot get along without it. Sandwiches do not get wet from melting ice. There is no need to buy ice. Drinks stay ice cold, even on multiple-day trips. There is no need to throw away questionable food after a trip. The reasons for having an Engel go on and on.

The Engel is lightweight for a unit of its size, but when filled with food and drinks, it must be strapped down to prevent the unit from moving on trails and in the case of a collision. A ratchet strap works perfectly well, but is unsightly.

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To obviate the need for a ratchet strap, Engel has created the Transit Slide Lock. The Slide Lock bolts to the vehicle's floor and the Engel clips securely to the Slide Lock, eliminating the need for a separate ratchet strap. The obvious problem with the Slide Lock is that the unit must be bolted into the floor and thus one must drill his vehicle to mount the Slide Lock. This need to drill the vehicle's floor creates several problems. First, the Slide Lock must be mounted permanently and cannot be moved. It is very common to change one's mind about where certain items of equipment should be located. It is natural to acquire more and different items of equipment, and previously perfected ways of storing this equipment can change very easily. Furthermore, the Slide Lock's permanence means that the Slide Lock will always be in the vehicle's cargo area, whether or not the Engel is there. This can be an annoyance if you ever need the cargo area to be flat for a particular application.

Al Cruz has solved these problems with the creation of his cargo floor. The cargo floor is made from a thick piece of plywood that is strapped to the Disco2's cargo area using the Disco2 Tie-Down Loops that are factory-bolted through the vehicle's cargo area. Al covered his cargo floor with black carpet so as to mimic the black rubber factory cargo mat, and then bolted various items like his Slide Lock and Power Tank Power Bracket to the cargo floor. Al's Pelican 1610NF Protector Case is strapped to the cargo floor with a ratchet strap. The cargo floor is secured to the vehicle with ratchet straps. No part of the vehicle is drilled, and Al can change the orientation of his equipment as new equipment is acquired or should Al simply capriciously changes his mind. The result is a very effective and elegant arrangement.

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Here is a view of Al's cargo floor when it is removed from his vehicle. The Slide Lock is attached on the driver side an the Large Power Bracket is attached to the passenger side. Al's cargo floor even has a slot for the passenger-side jump seat.

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Al's Engel Slide Lock is securely attached to the cargo floor.

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The Power Tank Power Bracket is very securely attached to the cargo floor and is strong enough to hold Al's PT-15 Power Tank system.

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Whenever Al is not on a trip, he removes his cargo floor and stores it in his garage. Note how both the Slide Lock and Large Power Bracket are instantly removed when Al removes his cargo floor.

Al's very clean set-up was the inspiration for a similar set-up on Craig Kobayashi's Disco2. Craig also used a plywood floor secured to the factory-mounted Disco2 Tie-Down Loops, but used Bahama Beige colored carpet to match the factory carpet. Secured to the plywood floor is an Engel 45, Slide Lock, and two Pelican 1610NF Protector Cases. Also there but not visible in this photograph is Craig's PT-10 Power Tank system. This is also a very nice set-up. Like Al, Craig has hardwired the factory 12v plug in the cargo area so that he does not have to key the ignition for the Engel to run.

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With Al and Craig properly set up, it was time to build a similar set-up for another Disco2. Al was kind enough to host us for a day at his home for the install and I was fortunate enough to tag along to document the install.

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Because we were going to install a Slide Lock for an Engel 45, it was only fitting that we had a stocked Engel on hand during the install to keep us cool. Always stay hydrated during your installations or while wrenching on your vehicle. You will have more fun and be less likely to put off needed work.

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Begin by cutting the cargo floor to the correct dimensions. The "correct dimensions" will necessarily vary depending on the vehicle and one's personal preferences for how tight he wants the cargo floor to fit. In this case, Al used his existing cargo floor as a template for this cargo floor.

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Mark the cargo floor outline on the plywood with a pencil and use a circular saw to cut the plywood to the desired shape.

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Al used a jig saw to cut the curved portions of this cargo floor.

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Next, mark the floor for the correct location of the holes. You want the holes to be situated right above the factory lashing rings, so measure twice and cut once.

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Be very careful when cutting the holes. It is easy for a hole saw to catch and throw the drill and the hole saw to the side.

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These are the remains of the plywood after the holes are cut.

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If you are going to the effort of making a cargo floor, make it nice. Use a router to radius the edges of the plywood. The radiused edges will make the cargo floor easier to handle and make it more handsome. Al used his Porter Cable router.

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Al first routered the lashing holes.

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Compare the routered edge of the lashing hole to the square edge of the plywood. Routing the edges of the plywood is definitely worthwhile.

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Router all edges of the plywood, on both sides.

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Smooth the plywood. If you have access to a power sander, definitely use it as it will make your life much easier.

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Here is the routered and sanded plywood board in in a Disco2. Note how the plywood's edges mimic the contours in the cargo area and how the lashing holes sit right on top of the factory lashing rings.

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The routered holes will also prevent abrasion to the carpet and the ratchet strap that will be fitted later on.

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With the plywood routered and sanded and dimensioned properly, it is time to mount the carpet.

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We chose black carpet for his cargo floor.

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Use spray adhesive on the plywood before applying the carpet. The spray adhesive will create a bond between the carpet and the plywood and create a more finished appearance.

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Place the carpet on the glued plywood and spread out the carpet so that there are wrinkles. Cut off any excess carpeting. You will fold the carpet over the edges of the plywood, so leave enough carpet for this.

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Flip over the plywood and spray some more spray adhesive onto the carpet.

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Then fold the carpet over onto the plywood.

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The spray adhesive helps but is not enough on its own to hold the carpet securely. Use a heavy-duty staple gun to secure the back of the carpet onto the bottom side of the plywood.

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Be sure to use heavy-duty staples and have enough staples on hand for the job.

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Try to fit the carpet as tightly as possible on the plywood. Pull the carpet tightly and tack it into place with the staple gun.

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When you reach the corners, fold the carpet to make the carpeting as thin as possible.

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If you have to, cut portions of the carpet away to keep the carpet as flat and thin as practicable.

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Here is a view of the bottom of one of the lashing holes. Note how the carpet is folded in the very corner and trimmed so that the appearance is as clean as possible. While the bottom of the cargo floor is not visible during normal use, it is still important to do as nice a job as you can. A lousy cargo floor is probably worse than no cargo floor at all.

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With the folding, cutting, and stapling done, turn over the cargo floor and double check for imperfections in the carpet. This carpet is very smooth.

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Use an X-Acto knife to cut the carpet above the lashing hole.

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Trim the carpet very carefully to keep a neat appearance.

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Here is the cargo floor back in of a Disco2. We are now ready to mount the Slide Lock to the cargo floor.

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The Slide Lock comes with everything necessary for its proper installation.

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The Slide Lock comes with four feet for the Engel. These feet differ from the feet that come with the Engel. The Slide Lock feet are both taller and waisted to interlock with the Slide Lock's steel receptacles.

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Here is a close-up view of one of the Slide Lock Feet.

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Installing the Slide Lock Feet is very simple. The only tool required is a screwdriver, like this ratcheting model from Snap-on.

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A ratcheting screwdriver is not required, but it will make the job go much faster. Note how in the left photo the ratcheting driver's handle is held stationary while the user spins the shank like a speeder on the mounting screw. In the right photo, the shank is held firmly against the mounting screw while the ratcheting driver's handle is turned to tighten the screw. Nice tools make the job go much faster.

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Here is what the Slide Lock Feet look like when mounted on the bottom of the Engel.

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With the Slide Lock, you will not need the feet the Engel came with. Nevertheless, do not discard these feet. You may need them in the future.

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With the Engel ready to accept the Slide Lock, it is time to assemble and mount the Slide Lock. The Slide Lock comes out of the box in two pieces. Simply push the two pieces together.

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With both halves of the Slide Lock interlocked, it is ready for mounting.

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Place the Slide Lock on the Cargo Floor and get a vague idea of where you want the Slide Lock and Engel to be located.

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The Slide Lock will be much easier to fit if you have on hand the equipment you want to use on your cargo floor. In this case, having the Engel 45 and a Pelican 1610NF Protector Case on hand ensured that the Slide Lock would be properly situated.

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Make sure the Engel will have the proper amount of airspace around it for proper cooling.

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Mount the Engel to the Slide Lock and locate the Pelican 1610NF where you intend to have it on trips. Again, measure twice and cut once. If you have the slightest hesitation about your measurements or orientation, stop and begin once again. This is only plywood we will be drilling into, but making the cargo floor into Swiss Cheese from multiple attempts is the mark of a duffer. This cargo floor will be able to accommodate a 1610NF Protector Case mounted sideways, or a 1650NF Protector Case mounted lengthwise.

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You will need a drill to mount the Slide Lock to the plywood. Al used his Bosch drill.

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Drill pilot holes into the plywood.

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The Slide Lock comes equipped with the proper wood screws for securing the Slide Lock to the plywood.

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Screw the wood screws into the pilot holes. Again, the job will be much simpler with a ratcheting screwdriver than with a conventional screwdriver.

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If your carpet is dirty from the installation, use your shop vacuum to clean the carpet.

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With your carpet clean and your Slide Lock securely mounted to the plywood, you are all but finished.

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The owner of this Disco2 had previously removed one of his cargo bins and mounted his PT-10 Power Tank and PB-10 Power Bracket to the cargo bin area. The owner was happy enough with this location that he did not want to mount the Power Tank to the cargo floor.

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With the Slide Lock affixed to the cargo floor and the Engel 45 locked to the Slide Lock, the job is almost complete.

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You will have made lots of sawdust with the circular saw, hole saw, and router, so use your shop vacuum to clean up your tools and work area.

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That's it. You're done. Enjoy your Engel.

 

 

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