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Modifications

Bunk Mods

Our RV entourage consists only of my wife and I and our dog. We have no need for the upper folding bunks. They can be left down and used for storage shelves, but that makes the RV too claustrophobic. I modified the front bi-fold bunk by removing the rear half of the bunk. The two halves are held together by a piano hinge and come apart with the removal of some screws. With the rear half gone, there's plenty of head and elbow room for one person on each side of the table. And the remaining front half of the bunk still makes a great storage shelf. This modification is easily reversible.

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This picture shows an example of a bi-fold front bunk in the raised position. That's of no use to us. The bunk can be left down and used for storage, but that makes the dinette area below feel too closed in.

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Now here's our front bunk with the rear half removed. I made a new fascia from a 1x4 board. The dinette area is perfectly comfortable for two people and the bunk still makes a great storage shelf.

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Detail showing the inside of the new fascia board. The white metal angle piece was salvaged from the fascia of the removed rear half of the bunk. The angle piece holds the fascia to the bunk and provides structural support. Everything came apart with screws and went back together with screws, so this mod is easily reversible.

I removed the rear upper bunk altogether and replaced it with an L-shaped narrow shelf. The shelf is a single piece of ½" plywood attached to the walls with aluminum angle. The edge of the shelf is topped with spindle rail and faced with pine trim. I reused many of the same screw holes that were for securing the bunk. Again, this mod is easily reversible.

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Here's the equally useless rear upper bunk in the raised position.

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Now the rear bunk is replaced with a narrow storage shelf. Also note the added coat hooks along the wall.

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Detail showing the inside corner of the L-shaped shelf.

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Under-shelf reading lamp.

Closet Mod

Here's an idea I read about on the Internet... From Home Depot I purchased a wire drawer unit that is a perfect fit for the hanging closet. The unit is perfectly deep and perfectly wide. It even perfectly clears the shower plumbing.

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Image of the assembled unmodified drawer unit.

Unfortunately, this perfect drawer unit is just a smidge too big to fit through the closet door opening. It needs to be assembled inside the closet. But it's supposed to be assembled using a rubber mallet. I cannot recommend this modification unless you really enjoy tinkering, but here's what I did to make it fit...

First, cut about 4" (one drawer space) off the top of each vertical side piece. The kit comes with four "L" brackets and four "T" brackets. With hacksaw and file, convert the "T" brackets into matching "L" brackets. Using a rubber mallet, assemble all the "L" brackets into all the horizontal cross pieces (two brackets per cross piece). Using a flat file, carefully thinned down the remaining ends of all the "L" brackets. The idea is to make a snug fit between the brackets and side pieces, but not so snug as to require the mallet. The fit need not be perfectly tight as gravity holds the vertical joints together. Now everything can be easily assembled inside the closet. Screw the unit to the floor of the closet. Use some wood shims and screw the unit to the closet's street-side wall.

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Drawer unit installed.

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Detail showing how the drawer unit fits without disturbing the plumbing.

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I added a hook to the closet door to ensure that the drawers stay contained while on the road.

Table Mod

Our dinette table was supported by the conventional arrangement of pedestals and pockets. I found the pedestals to be particularly difficult to wrangle out of their pockets each night when converting the table to a bed. So I went to an RV dealer and ordered some folding legs. The new folding legs are a tad shorter than the old pedestals so I added some blocking between the legs and table. The arrangement is surprisingly stable. More stable than the old pedestals and pockets, in fact. Converting from table to bed is a snap. As an added bonus, the table is now portable and can be taken outside. For a bit of added stability on the road, I added some hooks inside the floor pockets and secure the table with bungee cords.

Several people have asked where I bought the folding table legs. At the time of this project (around 2009), I was unable to find the legs for sale as a retail item. I went to an RV dealer, found a new RV with folding table legs and then ordered the legs through the dealer as a spare part. As I recall they were about $17 each.

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New folding table legs.

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Bungee cords and hooks.

Plumbing Mods

I added a winterization valve on the input side of the water pump (green arrow) and a small accumulation tank on the output side of the pump. Just having some flexible hose between the pump and the hard plastic plumbing made a big difference in noise reduction.

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Winterization valve (green arrow) and accumulation tank.

I wanted an easy way to drain the water heater without messing with the plug. So I replaced the plug with a metal braded hose and a ball valve. A lot of people warn not to mix metals with the water heater tank, so I used a nylon nipple between the tank and hose. I also cut the rubber coating from the valve handle so it doesn't end up being melted by the burner. Cracking the pressure valve helps drain the tank.

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Water heater with drain hose and valve.

I was having no success with the fresh water fill. I'd get more water on me than in the tank. I think there may be a dip in the fill hose and/or vent hose acting as a water trap. In any event, I cut three or four feet off the end of a garden hose and snaked the cut end down the fill hose and right into the fresh water tank. Now I connect my supply hose directly to the garden hose and no more mess. I probably should have used one of those white hoses that's made for drinking water. But we keep the water chlorinated and don't drink it anyway. After a little whittling on the plastic fill housing, I was able to stuff the hose coupling far enough back to close the hatch.

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A cut-off piece of garden hose for filling the fresh water tank.

To store additional sewer hoses I added a 4" storage pipe under the trailer chassis in front of the axle. The pipe is PVC and is the thinner, lighter type used for outdoor landscaping and rainwater. The pipe caps are plastic grates held in place with thumbscrews. The pipe is held to the trailer frame by a pair of galvanized strap clamps and everything is painted black. The grip tabs on the sewer hose couplings needed to be trimmed slightly so they would fit inside the pipe. The pipe can hold at least 30' of sewer hose.

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Sewer hose storage.

Electrical Mods

We normally camp in a spot that requires 200' of 15 amp extension cord to get power to our RV. We never need to unravel the on-board power cord. So I decided scrap the cord and claim the space for more storage. Storage is scarce on a small RV like this. We have only one storage space that's accessible from the outside. Here's how I increased its size by two cubic feet...

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Here's a before view of the storage space. The plywood box is for stowing the on-board power cord.

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Now the box is gone and I've moved the bulkhead to the right. That's an extra two cubic feet of storage.

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I added a new 30 amp power inlet opposite my expanded storage area.

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And here's how it all looks from outside. The old power cord hatch is unused. I cut the end off one of my long extension cords and added a 30 amp plug.

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I also added a 30 amp plug to the original 30 amp cord. We'll use this cord when we go to normal campgrounds. Otherwise it stays home.

When the RV is not in use there was no way to isolate the battery without pulling the main fuse. So I added a battery cutoff switch. I also added a switch to internally power the RV's clearance lights (green arrow).

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Battery cutoff switch and clearance light switch (green arrow).

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More light for those night-time doggy bathroom breaks.

Odds and ends

I wanted still more external storage. So I added another baggage door to access the space under the front dinette bench. Installation is detailed on a separate page. Click here.

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New baggage door installation. Click for details.

We had little interest in air conditioning and usually didn't have the power to run it anyway. I pulled the AC unit off the roof and replaced it with a MaxxAir Maxx Fan. Luckily the roof opening was fully pre-wired with extra 12 volt DC circuits. We liked our Maxx Fan enough to buy a second one for the bathroom. The advantage to having a low-speed reversible fan in the bathroom is that a little positive pressure can be created to "inflate" the shower curtain. Showers are far more tolerable without a clingy curtain.

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AC unit replaced with a MaxxAir Maxx Fan.

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Bathroom vent replaced with another Maxx Fan.

The sink cover wasn't of much use so I turned it into a drop leaf with hardware from Home Depot. Even with the leaf up, we can squeeze in and out of the door. Unfortunately the leaf covers up the monitor panel so we need to be extra careful about turning off the water pump when we leave.

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Drop leaf made from sink cover.

The faucet came with a plastic garden hose adaptor, which tended to explode water everywhere whenever there was air in the water lines. I replaced the adaptor with a standard aerator.

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Standard aerator for the faucet.

A few more odds and ends...

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We have no interest in TV, so I removed the TV tie-down straps from the TV nook and added some hooks and bungee cords to contain other cargo.

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Here's a modified toilet paper holder from Walmart mounted on the inside of the bathroom door.

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More hooks in the bathroom.

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I added a vent to the bottom of the bathroom door for better ventilation.

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Dollar store mirror mounted to the wall beside the bathroom.

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Using a wire coat hanger, I made a lever to open the screen door from inside without having to fool with the plastic sliding hatch. Just push down on the wire and open the door.

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The wire is long enough so the hatch can still be slid open to operate the exterior door latch.

I got a package of Lynx leveler blocks and a Lynx chock. I made the system a bit more versatile by cutting one of the blocks in half. If half-blocks are used then only one side of the ramp pyramid need be built. This frees up a few of the blocks, which can be used elsewhere like under jacks and stabilizers. The half-blocks can still be used as a full block by rotating them 90 degrees such that the seam interlocks with other full blocks.

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Ramp made with half-blocks.

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Cut detail.

My black tank cleaning wand is just an appropriate length of ½" copper pipe with a threaded fitting on one end and a cap on the other. Four holes are drilled though the side of the cap. The wand simply threads onto the end of a hose nozzle, goes down the toilet and sprays off the sides of the tank.

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Black tank wand.

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End cap.