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It’s the Little Things – Minor Mods that Make a Major Difference

| Updated Nov 1, 2013

My cluttered-up food cabinet.

One thing about fulltiming is that you need to be thinking about how to make everyday activities easier for yourself inside your vehicle. Things that are mere annoyances on a two-week vacation become permanent burrs under your saddle if you have to put up with them on an ongoing basis. Let me show you a couple of small changes we made in out 2003 Chevy 190 Popular Roadtrek that still bring a smile to my face every time I use them.

When we started out, we had the one cabinet under the sink for everything related to cooking – food, utensils, dishes, glassware – it was a mixed-up mess.  Replacing the third seat with an armoire gave us more storage room, but the space in that lower cabinet was still a chore to use.  It was low and the shelves were deep. Often I'd need an item in the back, which involved getting down on my hands and knees in the aisle, taking things out and piling them on the floor until I could excavate the thing I needed, and then shoving everything back into the cabinet, which made it even harder to find things the next time. There has to be a better way, I'm muttering to myself as I'm down on the floor looking for ingredients I need to cook with, while the dinner's burning above.

This is what they looked like before I loaded them up – you can see the construction here.

My solution to this problem was to build some light yet strong sliding drawers that fit into each of the three shelves. These allowed me to slide out everything on the shelf and look at it from above to find and remove an item, rather than tunnel into the contents horizontally.  I needed something that wouldn't use up the space and that didn't add excess weight to my vehicle, so standard box drawers weren't going to do. I ended up with 5 mm three-ply birch paneling, with corner molding to join the base to the sides, and a slat of finish wood for the front.

The drawers were high in the back and tapered down to two inches or so in the front, to ensure maximum content accessibility, with only the minimum side height necessary to keep things from falling out. Tiny wood screws and some Gorilla Glue made them strong, and lots of sanding and a few coats of polyurethane varnish made them pretty. The slides were 75 pound capacity European slides, white in color, that I found at Lowe's, along with all the other materials.  I had to put blocks on the sides to space the slides out to clear the cabinet face, and the plumbing on the bottom shelf, but I made them as wide as possible to maximize storage room.

Here's the fan in place. It's reversible, so it can blow air either in or out.
Here's the fan in place. It's reversible, so it can blow air either in or out.

One other area where a little work makes a big difference in convenience is our second, portable Fantastic Fan, which we bought right before we hit the road. We use it to blow air across the bed area in back on warm days, but needed a way to secure it to the windows.  I had already used the advice over on the Yahoo forum and put a one inch strip of aluminum painted flat black to match the window frame across the width of the window, creating a little storage area for remote controls etc. out of the bar across the middle of the windows, so I had something to attach the fan to.

Here's the bolt sticking through the case with the two nuts on it.
Here's the bolt sticking through the case with the two nuts on it.

What I did was take the two plastic halves of the fan case apart, drill two holes in the top corners of the back of the fan, and put a stainless steel 8 mm bolt through from the inside, securing it with a nut on the outside, and putting another nut on the protruding  portion of the bolt. There's a notch between the two nuts that fits right over the aluminum strip, so the fan can be mounted anywhere along the width of the window.  It stays put as we drive, and provides good airflow across the rear area of the Roadtrek.

RV Lifestyle

Published on 2013-11-01

17 Responses to “It’s the Little Things – Minor Mods that Make a Major Difference”

January 25, 2014at10:16 am, Melanie E Cravens said:

Looks like nice storage area.

January 25, 2014at9:50 am, Debora Goguen said:

Wish I had this

January 25, 2014at9:40 am, Teresa Carr said:

Looks like you have everything you need.

January 25, 2014at7:32 am, Joe Croteau said:

I would think a smaller box of crackers and spices may have helped also LOL

January 25, 2014at10:21 am, campskunk said:

hey! you weekend campers need to realize i’m a fulltimer. the longest i have gone between real grocery store visits is a month, high in the rockies near silverton. after a while i just start making my own bread, etc. i ran up a $200 grocery bill when i did get back to town, though.

January 25, 2014at7:13 am, Steve Nowak said:

Somebody over packed !!

January 25, 2014at7:13 am, Ken Cruse said:

easy to make, I did in mods and add 0n’s

January 17, 2014at9:48 pm, Debbie Haag said:

Love all the ideas.

January 17, 2014at3:25 pm, Thérèse Fortin said:

That my deram to have one like that

January 17, 2014at10:43 am, Lisa Bond Taylor said:

Jeannie Bond For the motorhome?

January 17, 2014at9:40 am, Richardand Gail Rock said:

I have 8drawers just like this. Terrific storage.

January 17, 2014at8:35 am, Kathy RedHat Markward said:

but where would I put my clothes???

January 17, 2014at7:13 am, Shelley Gosselin said:

Great idea I am asking my husband to do this in our truck camper! Thanks 🙂

November 01, 2013at1:44 pm, John said:

Be careful, this guy used science and logic in his project!
Nice job by the way.

November 01, 2013at10:06 am, Sean said:

The pull-out cabinet drawers are a great idea, and my wife asked me to do the same on our last trip in our sprinter camper conversion. It’s nice to hear that you put blocks on the slides so they will clear… I thought I would have to do the same…. So it’s nice to have confirmation…. Thanks!

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