|Plug-Guard. I mounted a Plug-Guard on the tongue to protect the trailer-end of the wiring harness when it was not connected to the tow vehicle. I minimized drilling through the tongue by using an existing hole for one of the bolts.|
Step. From a Durascrape
mat purchased at Camping world, I cut a piece to fit the step.
I used stainless bolts, nuts and washers to fasten it to holes in the metal
step. The rest of the mat stays on the ground. A thin fiber
mat from Lowe's just fits inside the door so we can wipe our feet.
Together, they do a good job of keeping dirt out of the camper.
Since the roof prevents the door from opening all the way, I needed a stop
to prevent damage from a gust of wind. With wing nuts and washers,
I fastened a u-bolt to the slot in the right side of the step, and slipped
a broom handle through it. Now it serves double duty as a door stop
and flag pole. It's easy to roll up the flag and unscrew the u-bolt
Door Lock. The old latch was not entirely satisfactory.
The inside handle often caught on our clorhing and the latch was not very
secure, catching only the thin aluminum door jamb and causing wear.
I replaced it with a white flush-mounted Fastec lockset.
The installation involved cutting a larger hole in the door - a Dremel
tool was invaluable for this job. Since the lockset was made for
a thicker door, I made my own shims from automotive rubber. The trick
to doing a neat exterior caulking job was to use blue painter's masking
tape around all the corners and remove it immediately after caulking. The
strikeplate provided with the lock was too thick for my application.
Instead, I used a regular residential strikeplate. Screwing the strikeplate
to the thin jamb also presented a challenge, but the problem was solved
when I cut away the styrofoam from inside the jamb and used automotive
speed nuts to hold short bolts through the strike plate.
|Drain holes in bumper. Soon after we purchased the camper, I noticed rusty water draining around the end caps of the bumper. My solution was to drill (6) 3/8" drain holes along the underside of the bumper. It was hard going, but easier when I started with a 1/8" bit, then a 1/4" bit, and finally used the 3/8" bit. I then taped a foam dishwashing mop to a broom handle, soaked it in rust stabilizer and swabbed the inside of the bumper thoroughly. I give it a new coat each season, being sure to protect the driveway with plastic and newspaper - the rust stabilizer is hard on the blacktop.|
screen. Mud-dauber wasps love cozy nooks like behind the fridge
vent panels, or inside the bumper. To seal those openings, hot-glue
fiberglass window screen to the backs of the bumper caps and the vent panels.
It works - look at the bugs behind the screen in the photo below!
screen is available for the furnace exhaust.
tie-downs. We had heard some tales of A-frame roofs coming apart
in high wind. Since we leave the camper set up most of the time,
I made rope tie-downs to hold the roof panels together. I bought
2 ratchets ($8 each) and 60' of nylon rope ($8) from Lowe's. We throw
a rope over each side of the roof (kitchen-side and door-side), catch the
hooks under the front trailer frame, catch the ratchets under the rear
frame, and snug them tight. It's held up well through winter wind
and summer thunderstorms. You know it works when you realize you
CAN'T lower the roof with the ropes in place!
Weatherstripping. The original open-cell foam weatherstripping
(WS) around the door was flimsy, absorbed water, and didn't seal completely.
Problems that made replacement difficult were the curved opening, the variety
of gaps, the split needed at the hinges, the "play" (when closed) in the
top half of the door, and the fact that the curved jamb was not perfectly
perpendicular to the vertical A (the gap size between door and wall was
different at the inside and outside edges).
First, I removed all the
original foam around the door (adhesive remained on the aluminum, but it
was covered up later). In trying new WS, I found that closed-cell
foam was too dense; I needed more compression for varying gaps. After
experimenting, I ended up with a combination of 3 self-adhesive types that
gave me a good, firm seal (all MD brand purchased at Lowe's)::
Top half of the door itself - I applied the tear-drop WS on the door from the top of the hinge all the way around to the end of the latch side, keeping the wide side of the WS even with the outside edge of the door.
Top jamb – I first applied the D profile WS on the DOOR STOP, even with the metal edge – the WS isn't as wide as the stop, but the next step filled the gap; next, I applied tear-drop WS on the JAMB, with the wide side against the D profile WS, stopping at the top of the door hinge. Note in the picture below that the 2 WS are of different lengths on the latch side.
Down both sides of the bottom jamb, I applied the P profile on the DOOR STOP, with the top/wide part of the P against the jamb. Note that the WS sticks up above the A hinge. To stop drafts at the threshold, I put a piece of P profile on the STOP, with the wide part against the threshold. Water collects under the door, but it's not a problem on the aluminum, as long as the caulk in the corners is good. I tried a piece of Frost King V-seal plastic WS, but it was a little too tight. That's great stuff, though – cheap and versatile.
Before I replaced the WS,
the door would freeze shut; afterwards, it opened easily all winter.
latches. Our standard roof vents came equipped only with little
bungees to hold them closed during travel. They don't work, but I
up with a design that does.
For each vent I used: 1 rubber grommet (5/8" OD x 5/16" ID – $0.87 for 2-pack at Lowe's), 3' of beaded chain with connector ($1.88 for Harbor Breeze ceiling fan chain at Lowe's), and a Dritz cord stop ($1.79 for 2-pack, style 468-1, at Jo-Ann Fabrics).
From inside the trailer,
I opened the vent wide, cut out the screen inside the little plastic circle
at the bottom of the screen frame, and pushed the wire ends back out of
the way. From outside the trailer, I put the rubber grommet in the
bottom (square) end of the slot on the back of the vent lid. I threaded
the beaded chain through the grommet and down through the hole in the screen,
one end on each side of the center bar.
door holders. Velcro didn't hold the hatch doors open.
After I got hit on the head once too often, I bought inexpensive, self-adhesive,
white hatch door holders at our local RV dealer.
Cabinet. The cabinet to the left of the door, in front of the
AC, came equipped with a hinged door above 2 drawers. The cabinet
door was almost unusable because it was hinged at the bottom and would
bind against the drawer hardware when opened. I removed it and found
a plastic 4-drawer cabinet that I screwed in place in the opening.
That gave better ventilation for the AC, and left a small space to the
side that became our “library” for dictionary, field guides and cookbook.
For a finished look, I used a utility knife to cut fake oak trim (from
Lowe’s) to fit, nailed it in place, and filled the nail holes with colored
putty. I added small screw eyes to the underside of the countertop,
where we hook bungees to hold the plastic drawers closed during travel.
The drawers in the cabinet had plastic drawer stops that kept them from opening all the way, making it difficult to use the whole drawer. I cut them off and fashioned new stops from small strips of aluminum screwed to the back of the drawers. When turned upright, the strips catch on the cabinet face and stop the drawer; when they’re turned sideways, the drawer can be removed from the cabinet.
tables. Our camper came with little hinged side tables over the
wheel well storage areas. Very convenient, but we found that they
were too big to put up or down when the rear bed was made up. I removed
them, took the hinges off and pulled out the plastic gold trim, which was
just pressed into a groove routed around the edge. A cabinetmaker
cut both tables down, as narrow as the hinges would allow, and re-routed
the groove for the trim (which I shortened with scissors). Now we
can leave the bed made up, and still have room to raise and lower the tables.
cabinet. The storage opening to the right of the door was BARELY
tall enough to accommodate the porta-potty. I removed the cabinet
door (which was just in the way) and filed the top of the opening as much
as I could. Since there was no room to trim the raw edges with corner
molding, I glued oak-patterned contact paper along the sides of the opening,
covered it with pieces of clear plastic wallpaper corner protector (the
top doesn’t show), and used Lowe’s fake flat oak trim all around the face,
mitering the corners. It looks good and has held up quite well.
We store porta-potty supplies (toilet paper and chemical) in the back of
that space, and a piece of 1” PVC pipe just fits inside the frame to secure
the potty during travel.
Note: We use a water bottle to squirt-flush, rather than filling the fresh-water tank in the potty. It takes less water, and gives a more "accurate" rinse.
threshold. This very nice, finished threshold, purchased at a
rally from another Aliner owner, means we can sweep right out the door
– no edge to catch the dirt!
front shelf. Since we leave the rear bed made up, the shelf that
was originally designed to hold the sofa-back cushions was in the way.
To remodel it as a hinged shelf in the front of the camper, I used:
(2) 30" piano hinges
After taking off the original shelf brace, I screwed the piano hinges to the bottom of the shelf, with the hinge pin butted to the unfinished shelf edge, leaving 3" to 4" in the middle between the hinges. Laying the hinges open flat, I centered the shelf and marked every other screw hole on the top of the trailer box.
For each cable, I threaded
the unfinished end through a ferrule, through the turnbuckle eye, and back
through the ferrule. I hung the turnbuckle on the roof-spring channel,
adjusted the cable length so that the shelf was level, unhooked the turnbuckle
and crimped the ferrules close to the turnbuckle eye (I had to unscrew
the cable from the shelf to take it to the vice for crimping). After
trimming the excess wire, I shoved the screw protector over the end of
the ferrule. The nice thing about the turnbuckles is that the shelf
can be leveled again if need be.
roof ledges. Another clever Aliner owner came up with this idea.
It helps prevent condensation and provides a ledge for holding small items
like glasses, book or watch. I used sheet-metal screws to attach
lengths of 1” aluminum angle to both front and rear of the camper body,
just below the brown roof hinge. In the rear, I notched the aluminum
so that it didn’t pinch the electric wire when the roof was lowered.
I covered the whole area with thin, rubber-backed carpet (the more flexible,
the better), fastening it with double-stick carpet tape. It softens
the camper interior, and the ledges have proved to be very handy.
toilet paper holder. I don't like looking at a roll of toilet
paper, but there was no place to keep it out of sight and within reach
- until I designed a recessed holder to use the wasted space behind our
The first step was finding a small door to cover the opening, without having
to make and finish my own. I bought a small louvered oak hot-air
register from Lowe's, took off the plastic box on the back, and had a perfect
pre-finished door. I cut an access hole in the side of the cabinet
and finished the rough edges with pieces of panel trim covered in oak contact
paper. Notice the mitered corners in the photo below. Cabinet
hinges and a "magic touch" magnetic latch finished the access door.
The toilet paper holder is a white plastic Dollar Tree model mounted on
the underside of the countertop. Recently, I put a glow-in-the-dark
crescent moon on the TP door to identify it for guests!
|Holes in paneling. I'm not handy with woodworking, and found it very difficult to cut neat holes in the thin Aliner paneling. Without a Dremel tool, what worked best for me was to first "perforate" the paneling by drilling a line of small holes, and then cut out the piece with a utility knife. The results weren't perfect, but good enough to camouflage with some fake oak trim and oak contact paper.|
hold-tights. The dinette seatback cushions kept falling over
- until I stuck them in place with a piece of self-adhesive hook velcro
on the window ledge, and a piece of loop velcro sewn to the cushion cover.
bed platform. We leave our rear gaucho sofa made up as a bed,
and last summer the bed platform bit me while I was trying to scrounge
underneath it, taking a sizable chunk out of my thumb. After that,
I sawed the 2 biggest pieces of plywood (back sections) apart and reconnected
them with piano hinge. That, of course, made the platform weaker
I didn't want to go to heavier plywood so I hung a piece of aluminum pipe
across the space with a wood strip to brace the largest piece. It did the
trick. Now it's a lot easier to lift a section of bed than the whole
darn thing! (in the pictures, you see white twill tape glued over the
hinges to protect the mattress, and twill-tape lifts for each plywood section)
The exposed space in the 3rd photo is behind the water tank - where
I've since hung a mesh clothes hamper. It's easy to lift the corner of
the mattress, then lift that lid to drop dirty clothes in. Takes
advantage, too, of space that was wasted since we don't have an access
door on that side.
|Sliding table. Space
was tight around the front-dinette table, especially getting into the the
seat next to the fridge. Swiveling the table on the post helps, but
sliding it out of the way is even better, and the seats can now function
for more than dining. To make our "sliding table" I used drawer slides
intended for mounting under-cabinet drawers or shelves; instead of being
mounted on the sides of a cabinet opening, these slides hang from brackets
mounted on the underside of a surface. They are available in different
sizes from most hardware stores. I purchased 16” under-cabinet slides
from the cabinet-hardware section of Lowes.
The first step was to remove
the cone-shaped post bracket from the underside of the table. It
was both screwed and glued to the table. I needed another piece of
wood to which I would reattach the mount. Since this piece would
show when the table is slid back, I wanted a finished surface. We
no longer use the matching wheel-well lids, so I cut one of them to the
size I needed - 9” wide and 11" long. Now the exposed piece has the
same formica top and gold trip as the table itself.
silverware drawer. We've always kept our camping silverware in
a divided tray and thought it would be convenient if we could mount that
tray underneath the table. Input from other Aliner owners led to
this model of a sliding "drawer". It's lightweight, removable, and
shallow so that it doesn't interfere with knee-room or under-table storage.
bubbles. The plexiglass bubbles are great for headroom and light,
but they sure collect heat, even when the camper is folded. I bought
a roll of Reflectix (insulating
foil-covered bubble wrap) at Lowe’s and cut it with scissors to fit inside
each bubble. It helps tremendously, and the pieces can be stored
under cushions when not in use. I also cut pieces for the vent lids,
which I leave in place.
dinette bench. Our front dinette is designed with a seat across
the front of the camper that covers the front hatch. Taking out that
long cushion, when it's not needed for sitting or sleeping, adds storage
space. It's also easier to reach the plywood lids for access to the
front hatch. Like the rear bed platform, though, the 2 plywood pieces
were very big and awkward to move. I replaced them with 3 smaller
pieces of 3/8" plywood, which I covered with vinyl sheet flooring and edged
with paneling trim. The finger holes for lifting each section are
lined with brass closet-rod brackets.
drain drip. Condensation from the AC dripped from the drain hole
and splashed by the step, making a muddy mess. We thought of using
a piece of string to act as a wick, but how to attach it to the AC?
The answer was to use a spring (available from Lowe's in a box of assorted
sizes) that we "screwed" into the AC drain hole. We tied a string,
weighted with a stainless steel nut, to the spring and eliminated the messy
splashing. The string and nut are wadded up inside the AC cover for
drip-edge. We've had minor leaks only a couple of times, but
other owners have complained about water getting in around the roof corners.
For extra protection, I cut narrow flaps from heavy white vinyl garage
door seal and fastened them with weatherproof double-stick carpet tape
around the inside corners of the roof edge. Although they only reach
as far as the hinges, they act as a drip-edge to direct water down the
side of the camper instead of around the corner. The flaps don't
interfere with raising or lowering the roof, and the carpet tape is holding
vent. We found that the exhaust fan in the rear of the
fridge cabinet was noisy and inadequate. The countertop over the
refrigerator would get quite warm and the fan cycled frequently.
I copied the design of another owner and installed a plastic dryer outlet
in the upper vent door. The process involved several steps; click
shades. We had the factory add the new window shades behind the
curtains on our bubble windows. They're neat-looking, give privacy
with light, and are easy to open and close. We kept the curtains
since removing the track would have left unsightly screw holes. On
the front bubbles, I split each single curtain in half and hemmed the cut
edge. The half-curtains slide to each side of the window, giving
a bit of color and softening the edges of the shades. Since the shades
aren't hung in a vertical plane, they tend to droop just a bit as the cords
stretch, and the curtains help hold them back.
Note: As I was working
on the curtains, I found that the "buttons" on the top and bottom track-tape
were not aligned and the resulting pleats were crooked. When I took
off a top tape and resewed it so that the buttons were directly opposite
the buttons on the bottom tape, the curtain pleated nicely.
rear twin bed. We don't want to fuss with converting the rear
gaucho bed into a daytime couch, but leaving it as a double bed meant that
we had no place to sit except at the front dinette. The solution
was to use our front "guest
bed" for me and remove a piece of the rear-bed plywood, converting
it to a twin for Forrest. This arrangement left space over each wheel
well for a folding floor rocker. The original wheel-well benches
were too shallow for seating, so I made deeper plywood platforms, covering
them with with carpet and supporting the front edges with 1x2 "legs" that
are screwed to the cabinets. With a smaller rear-bed platform, I
was able to add gas struts to the plywood, making the under-bed storage
easily accessible. The disadvantage of having to make up the guest
bed each day is outweighed by the extra floor space, more convenient storage,
and extra seating that this arrangement offers. For travel, we simply
turn the blue chairs upside down on the platforms. Importantly, it
is not a permanent change; the seating platforms can be removed and the
extra rear-bed plywood put back in place. This reverts the rear bed
to its former double size.