Alite Improvements
BODY
WATER
ELECTRIC
STORAGE
OTHER STUFF
Fresh Water
  • Grey Water

  • Sink.  The first time I saw an Alite, I had visions of installing a sink, and it was the first mod I tackled.  It was also the first time I'd worked with an electric saw.  A small jig saw and a workmate were all I needed for the basic carpentry.  The doorside bench became my kitchen counter.  I sawed the bench lid in two, and put a residential bar sink, purchased at Lowe's, in the rear half.  Before I attached the sink to the "countertop", I had to drill a new hole for my folding faucet (see description below).  That was definitely the hardest part of the job!  Stainless steel is not easy to work with, but persistance and a good hole saw got me through.  The sink came with a template for cutting a hole in the countertop.  Drilling a hole at each corner made it easy to cut with the jig saw.  After the plywood was cut, I covered it with strips of self-stick vinyl oak flooring that closely matches the cabinet finish.  Before setting the sink in place, I attached the strainer/drain and put a standard cover over the hole that was not needed for the faucet.  The brackets that came with the sink were intended for a 3/4" counter, and I was attaching it to 1/4" plywood.  If I were to do it again, I would put 1/2" shims around the underside of the hole.  As it was, I fiddled with the brackets to get the tightest grip I could.  Before I tightened the brackets, I added a rope of plumber's putty under the sink edge for a watertight seal. 

    Faucet.  I had installed a Shurflo folding faucet in our Aliner Classic and knew it was what I wanted in the Alite, as I was planning for hot and cold water.  Unfortunately, the pre-cut holes in the sink did not match the holes needed for the folding faucet.  I put a cover on the left-hand hole, used the existing right-hand hole for the left faucet stem and cut a new hole for the right stem.  This put the faucet to the right of center, which is what I intended.  The next challenge was to find something to use as a base plate under the faucet - something inexpensive, easy to work with and attractive.  I'd expected to use a blank stainless electric faceplate, as I'd done in our Classic.  This sink rim, however, was too narrow.  After prowling the aisles at Lowe's, I found what I needed in the electrical department: a cover from a rectangular grey plastic electrical "conduit body".  I cut off the tabs, ground it smooth on the back side, and drilled holes for the faucet stems.  I sealed it with a rope of plumber's putty.  The plastic was easy to work with, fits the space, and looks good.

    Water line.  Switching to an AGM battery meant I didn't need the battery vent and could use that hole for incoming water.  The vent hole was bigger than the city-water inlet, so I patched it with a square of white vinyl cut from a gutter cover,   I'm a fan of quick connects for hose fittings and was fortunate to find a quick-connect elbow to use on the outside of the water inlet.  It's protected by a black plastic chair tip to which I screwed a tether.

    The water line from the inlet to the sink is a braided washer hose.  The battery-vent hold was so large that I had to cover the area with a piece of masonite, visible in the picture below, to brace the inside connection to the washer hose.  A hinged plate screwed to the masonite holds the fitting in place.  The hose runs from the water inlet, across the framing ledge on the rear wall, and down a hole in the front right corner of the sink countertop. The wire for the water heater follows the same route.  The hole in the countertop is trimmed with a plastic pipe ceiling/floor plate which is flexible enough to slip over both pipe and wire.  Under the sink, the incoming line connects to a garden-hose "Y".  From one leg of the "Y", a braided supply hose runs to the cold-water stem of the faucet.  The other leg of the "Y" is connected to the inlet of the tankless water heater under the sink.  A braided supply runs from the heater outlet to the hot-water stem of the faucet.  I like the braided hoses because they look good and the hose-thread ends can be finger-tightened to a watertight seal.  The faucet stems were the last water connections I made, and the hoses were long enough that I could raise the sink counter slightly while I attached them to the faucet.

    Water heater.  From another Aliner owner, I learned about the Eemax 120v 20amp tankless water heater.  The size and electrical requirements are perfect for the Alite.  It required adding a separate circuit, another first for me (see Electrical Improvements).  The heater is mounted to the inside of the cabinet wall under the sink, just to the right of the framing in the middle of that bench, where it just fits.  The mounting bolts go through the cabinet from the front, but are camouflaged with brown plastic screw covers (brown dots seen in the kitchen picture at the top of this page - I couldn't find screw covers in a lighter color).  The plumbing was a snap - the top water connections are standard compression fittings - one hose in and one hose out.  You can see from the picture how close the fittings are to the top of the cabinet.  The in and out hoses flex enough that they just fit.  Water flow triggers the heating element - too little and the heater won't come on; too much, and the heater can't keep up.  I can hear the switch click when the heater comes on, and I try to keep the flow as low as possible.  The heater will raise the water temperature 33 degrees, which doesn't do much for really cold incoming water, but in summer weather it's fine for hands and dishes.

    Sink drain.  Once the sink was in, I had to figure out how to construct a drain line.  I didn't need a trap, nor was there room for one, so the sink drain is simply two connected 12" flexible extensions, one screwed to the threaded sink outlet and the other to the outside drain which comes through a hole in the camper floor. 

    The exterior fitting is part of a tub drain.  It has threads for the inside drain line and a flange that is screwed to the underside of the camper.  The outlet is threaded, so I can close it with a tethered PVC cap.  Because of the limited space, all these connections had to be made in a certain order.  Before setting the sink counter in place, I finished all of the water and drain connections, except screwing the flexible drain nut to the sink outlet.  Once the sink counter was in place, I could make that connection by reaching under the sink.  To be sure I don't ignore any unseen leaks, I added a battery-operated water monitor with leads stuck to the floor under the sink (Home Depot, $10).

    Bucket.  When no sewer connection is available, the drain empties into a collapsible bucket which I keep in a plastic shopping bag in the front storage bin.  With a "J" trap screwed to the outside drain, I can direct the water to the bucket which is slid partway under the camper, out of the way.

    Sewer line.  It seemed pointless to be emptying a grey water bucket when sewer hookups were available, so inventing  a sewer line became the next project.  From the "J" trap on the drain, a slip nut connects a length of 1.5" PVC pipe. (I used an adapter that connects PVC and standard slip-nut drain fittings like the "J").  The PVC runs through the stabilizers which hold it up.  If I twist the "J" slightly clockwise, it raises the near end of the pipe, making it slope nicely toward the rear.

    But wait ... there's more! The other half of the sewer line is a standard flexible RV sewer hose.  In one end of it is a RV sewer-hose coupling and inside the coupling is glued the larger end of a 1.5"x2" PVC slip coupling.  At the campground, it's a simple matter to slip that PVC coupling over the open end of the PVC pipe, completing the sewer line.  And that's not all! There's always the problem of the droopy RV sewer hose, and the Alite is no exception.  Those expanding supports are bulky and hard to store.  A wonderful solution is the Easy Slider Sewer Hose Support that I got at Camping World.  I removed the support chain, and simply fasten it to the sewer hose with a velcro strip. 

    For storage, the PVC pipe goes inside the RV sewer hose and they both fit, along with the Easy Slider, in the drain-pipe storage tube bungeed to the rear bumper.