Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Project: The Undocumented Projects

I’ve gotten a few requests for the last couple years for pictures and details on several projects that I’ve done to my old camper that were never really photo documented or ever had a post written up for them. 

I’ve individually supplied the pictures and verbal details so many times that I decided to finally write a blog post about it so that I’ve got it archived somewhere Smile

So, thanks to me having a handy little camera in my HTC Thunderbolt, I was able to make quick work of documenting a bunch of “Now” pictures of things that I’ve done for the blog.

Since I didn’t detail when exactly I did any of these projects, I’m going from my best guess based on events when I did these projects, so, the month and year are my best guesses as to when I undertook these projects.

Pantry Cabinet Remodel (January, 2010)

The real project that started the whole remodel of storage in my camper, and also one of my more frequently asked about undocumented projects. 

The pantry cabinet began it’s life as a wardrobe that the previous owner had already decided was a waste of space as a wardrobe and rigged together a very simple makeshift storage rack in.   The previous owner also in his time of refurbishing the old KIT replaced the gigantic original Duo-Therm furnace that was located beneath the old wardrobe cabinet for a more efficient and far smaller Suburban DD-17DSI.

Sadly, he did a miserable job of filling in the opening where the furnace was with various individual scraps of plywood that looked horrible.



Shortly after I took ownership, I did a mild redesign of his storage rack and added a little bit of old wall paneling over the plywood mess to make it less ugly to stare at and it remained like this till January 2010, when I decided it was time to overhaul it all.

First Remodel


I completely gutted the compartment, tearing out all of the 1x1 and 1x2 wood that was loose and barely stapled into anything, as well as the old partition wall between the pantry and the refrigerator enclosure. 

The latter turned out to be a very good thing to have done as the bracing under the plywood floor of the fridge was just about completely gone, having broke and crumbled over the years. 

I reframed everything using 2x2 lumber and 3/4” plywood and made use of the wasted space in the old furnace compartment that wasn’t being utilized by the far smaller tighter clearance furnace. 

Final Product


The upright on the left side is set back on the bottom shelf to to allow for the propane lantern and catalytic heater stored in their cases on that shelf to be slid out past the lip of the pantry opening. 

In the drop down area on the right, I stow my two captain’s chairs and various other long camping odds and ends, like those heavy duty wiener/marshmellow roasting spits. 

I made the top shelf reach fully across in the remodel to better accommodate the storage of bread products, allowing me to stow several loaves of bread, hamburger buns, muffins, etc….

Another thing I did was covered up the old opening for the furnace once and for all using some leftover FRP (Fiberglass Reinforced Paneling) I had left over from my bathroom remodel project of a couple years prior. 


Over Dinette Cabinet Remodel (January, 2010)

This is actually part of a combined project I did of the course of January 2010 while I was spending my downtime between work contracts staying with family (back before I found Island Cove RV Park and found a more permanent home Smile ). 

During that time, I decided to do away with the never-going-to-be-used fold down bunk bed that was wasting a lot of storage space above my dinette.  

The the main shelf of the cabinet itself was fine, but the design which used a double hinged front and fold back extension which held the front in the closed position (and had a habit of bouncing open on rough roads) wasted a full third of the potential storage space. 

Also given its fold down nature, there was a whole section of empty wall space that could have been utilized for storage over the dinette but wasn’t because of the fold down bunk. 

So, I tore it, turned it into an L shaped cabinet, and added newer, larger doors to ease of access and a double level shelf to maximize storage space.





Camper Tub Insulation

After my first winter living full-time in my camper, I discovered that the tub of the camper was made of nothing more than 3/4” sheets of plywood turned on end.  No 1x2 structure, just plywood with no insulation what so ever.

The simply solution was to buy a bunch of inexpensive 1x2s, build a frame up and then glue and screw it into the existing plywood, then fill the voids in the frame with 3/4” Dow Pink foam insulation, over the top of which I secured a single piece layer of reflectix, over while I installed Luwann paneling which I stained with Minwax Pecan combination stain/varnish, the exact same stuff I did the overhead cabinet with.





I tore out the entire frame of the front tank area, pulled the tank and insulated around it and placed it up on a proper 2x3 frame and plywood frame to support it.  Originally, it was simply resting on a sheet of plywood sitting on top of scraps of plywood and the black gas pipe and the old city water main. 

I rebuilt the front of the tank compartment with a matching 1x2 structure to the design of the original, but backed it with 1/2” plywood which I glued to the 1x2 frame and then added 1/4” luwann to the front, making it far more sturdy than the old broken thing that was there before. 

I ended up raising the overall height of the compartment a couple inches to allow for the extra height of the tank with it sitting on it’s proper frame. 

Since there was no good way to tear apart and reskin the door frames and finding cabinet doors that would fit size-wise without having to have them custom made, I simply got some very thin door skin and finished it, then glued it over the original fronts on the doors. 

I scrapped the old push button knobs for brass knobs and sliding latches for the doors which did a far better job of holding them securely shut to their new weather strip seals, keeping the cold air out. 

I also boosted the insulation factor of the doors by building out frames onto their backs and filling those with insulation so that the doors still came flush with the outside tub wall.


Replacing the Dinette area roof vent with a Shurflo ComfortBreeze Gold Fan (September/October, 2009)

This was actually part of a project in which I added Camco Louvered Vent Covers to all of the roof vents, but also scrapped the last factory original roof vent assembly over the dinette and replaced it with a Shurflo Comfort Breeze Gold vent fan. 

I had already upgraded the bathroom vent assembly to a Fantastic Fan I’d gotten from Sally and her Husband, fellow NATCOA members from up in Washington who’d removed it from their Past-time Truck Camper a year before, and while I liked the Fantastic Fan, I wanted the Comfort Breeze because:

A.) It had a real Rheostatic speed control vs the 1-4 preset fan speeds the Fantastic Fan had.

B.) It could be run closed with the fan set to exhaust mode to act like a ceiling fan in a home, mixing the air in the camper at slow speed when the furnace ran to get rid of having it be really cold by the floor and really hot by the ceiling. 

My only real complaint with the Comfort Breeze is it has made a sound like something is rubbing since day one, not really loudly, but it’s nowhere near as quiet because of that compared to the Fantastic Fan.





Under Cabinet Coffee Cup Storage (July, 2010)

Another of the little projects that I asked for help for on various RV forums on locating the safety cup hooks, but never really documented.

There’s not really much to this one, a fellow member had left-over hooks from his project that he very graciously gave me, going to the trouble of mailing them all the way from Georgia! Smile 

The cup hooks have a spring flap over the end that keeps the coffee mugs from coming off them while underway, allowing for me to utilize some of the space underneath the cabinet over the kitchen sink to stow a set of barely used and rather beautiful coffee mugs I picked up from the Free Stuff pile in the park’s Laundry Room. 

The mugs are located far enough apart that they can’t impact each other and are placed such that they can’t swing and bang on the wall.





I have roughly six coffee mugs, the other two are actually hanging up in the curved peak of the roof that is over the kitchen area, but aren’t visible because of the cabinet door being low and the cabinet being full.


Well, that pretty much wraps up the undocumented projects, there’s likely some that I missed that I’ll remember at some point later on, but the ones you just read about are the bulk majority of the undocumented ones that I’ve done in the last four years Smile.


Thanks for Reading!


  1. I think you've done a fantastic job! IT all looks very nice. How you liking the Thunderbolt? I've been through 3 of them, hopefully this is my last one! It does take good pictures though I'll give it that.

    Have a good one Matt, let me know if you're ever in the Chi-town area.


    1. I'm still on my original Thunderbolt, which appears to have possibly been an older unit, as I had to do several OS updates to the phone to get it up to date.

      It also doubles as my home internet access as it has an 8 system hot spot built in (I'm one of those folks with the grandfathered unlimited data plans who plans to not buy any new phones any time soon so I can hang onto it).

      Hopefully in the next month or so, I will be ordering an external 3G/4GLte panel antenna for it to install on a pole outside of the camper so I can aim my antenna at the towers (located by the OpenSignalMaps app).

      I should be in Illinois by the beginning of October, or a little earlier this fall. At current my extended stay spot is going to be at the Chebanse KOA down south of Kankakee, unless I can find a better park in the area, I've been there before and the water is nasty because of the sulfur).

  2. Looks good Matt! I like the new cabinet doors.

    1. Thanks, I've had them for a couple years now, they were what I settled on after digging and digging through a barn of cabinet doors off of Portland Road in Salem, Oregon.