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.
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.
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.
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.
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