Classic (DL) Body Improvements


Exterior Interior

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. 

Carpeted 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.

Doorstop-Flagpole.  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 for travel.

New 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.

Mud-dauber 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!  A commercial screen is available for the furnace exhaust. 

High-wind 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!

New 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)::
1) All Climate Door & Window Premium Weatherseal 5/16" thick, D profile, #63628
2) P-Profile Extreme Temperature Weatherstrip, 7/32" thick , #02576
3) Tear Drop Profile Ultra Weatherseal 1/4" thick, WS 108, #68676
I suspect every camper is different, so that others would have to try different combinations fort a good fit.

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.


After replacing the door weatherstripping, I tackled the A's and roof, replacing all the old stuff with closed-cell foam that won't absorb water.  Because the closed-cell was denser and less compressible, I used several widths and thicknesses, layering it in places to get a good fit.


Vent latches.  Our standard roof vents came equipped only with little bungees to hold them closed during travel.  They don't work, but I came 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.

Back inside the trailer, I squeezed the cord stop open and threaded the ends of the chain through the holes.  I shortened the chain about 4" and fastened the ends together with the little chain connector.  To fasten the lids for travel, I just close the vents and slide the cord stop up until the chain's tight.  Lots more secure than the "bungee doohickey", and lower, too - now I don't have to climb on something to fasten the vents.

Remote control.  Reaching the handles to open or close the vents was also a problem, since I am "vertically challenged".  My very first Aliner improvement was a piece of PVC pipe, slotted on one end, for opening and closing the vents.  It's been dubbed a "solid-state remote control."  Add a rubber tip on the non-slot end, and it qualifies as the deluxe model!


Hatch 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. 

AC 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.

Side 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. 

Porta-potty 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.

Door 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!

Hinged 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
3' of 1/16" wire cable
(4) 1/16" ferrules (metal thingies to fasten wire cable) 
(4) flexible plastic #10 screw protectors 
(2) 16-14 AWG ring terminals (electrical supplies)
(2) small turnbuckles with hook & eye
(1) butterfly catch (see photo below) - I think they're kind of old-fashioned; we had a couple in the basement.  I don't know what they're called, and Lowe's doesn't carry them.  If you don't have" butterfly thingies" in your basement, you can probably improvise with a piece of aluminum
(1) 8x2 flat-head metal screw for the butterfly catch
misc nuts & washers to raise the butterfly catch

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. 

Wire Hangers: 
I cut the cable in half, and drilled a 1/8” hole in the end of each screw protector.  I threaded 2 protectors on each cable, so that the pointy-ends met in the middle.  I threaded a ferrule on one cable end, looped the cable through the shank of the ring terminal (shank end first) and back through the ferrule.  I clamped the ferrule with a vice or crimper AS CLOSE AS POSSIBLE TO THE RING TERMINAL.  Then I trimmed off the extra wire and shoved the screw protector up over the cut end and ferrule.  The screw protector covers the cut wire and protects the shelf edge.  I did the same with the other cable.  I screwed the eye of the ring terminal underneath the side of the shelf, toward the front, and close enough to the edge that the screw protector pads the gold trim.

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.

When unhooked, the shelf hangs straight down, but I used a butterfly catch (on one side only) to hold it farther back out of the way.  I was able to remove the middle screw of the trailer corner bracket and use that hole.  NO DRILLING!  It took a 2" screw, 3 nuts and a couple of washers before I had the butterfly at the right height to grab the side of the shelf.


Carpeted 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.

Built-in 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 "library".  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.

Cushion 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.

Hinged 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.

I put the drawer slides along the sides of this smaller piece by screwing the tabs underneath it.  The slides are even with the front edge, with the gold trim, and they extend beyond the back edge.  I reattached the post mount to the underside of this piece, about 1 ½” from the front edge and centered between the rails.  Finally, I fastened the 4 brackets to the slides.  The height was adjustable, but I set the screws to make them as short as possible.  The small sliding piece was now ready to attach to the table. 

With the table upside down on a protected surface, I centered the sliding piece on the underside, but toward the rear so the slides extended to the rear edge of the table.  Holding the unit in place, I slid the post mount forward until I could mark screw holes for the rear brackets.  After drilling starter holes, I loosely screwed those brackets to the underside of the table.  Pulling the post mount farther forward, I marked holes for the front brackets.  When all the screws were loosely mounted, I adjusted the brackets until the slides moved smoothly without binding, then tightened all the screws.

Finally,  the table slid freely ..... a little TOO freely!  Help came in the form of a "Euro-hinge" from Lowe's,  Screwed to the underside of the table, just in front of the edge of the sliding section, the hinge can be flipped down to stop the slide, or flipped up out of the way.  Easy and effective!

The table post was never as secure as I would have liked, and the floor mount was in the way.  The problem was partly solved when I fastened 2" conduit hangers to the bench which extends across the front of the camper, using wood reinforcement behind the thin plywood wall.  I replaced the "clamping" carriage bolts and nuts with shorter bolts and wingnuts. The wingnuts are easy to tighten for a secure grip on the table post.  The bottom of the post rests over a rubber stopper and the floor underneath it is protected by a thin plastic disc.  While this is an improvement over the OEM structure, I'm still uneasy about towing over bumpy roads with the table set up; we usually put the tabletop in "bed position" for traveling.  With the post tightly fastened, lifting off the tabletop is easy.  And it's also easy to loosen the wingnuts to remove the post for stowing.


Sliding 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.

Supplies:
DOLLAR TREE: 8" x 12"  white plastic silverware tray
LOWE'S: 
1 strip of white plastic L-shaped angle (from the suspended ceiling dept)
1 strip of white plastic inside corner molding (used for trimming out paneling - photo below)
1 magnetic cabinet catch
(1) 10-24 wood insert nut (brass threads that are inserted into wood)
(1) 10-24 x 1/2" thumb screw (to fit the insert nut) 
(6) 6x32 1/2" machine screws (cut them to about 3/8" long)
(6) 6X32 acorn (cap) nuts
(12) 2 x 1/2" brass wood screws

Cut two 11" pieces of angle.  With small tin snips or utility shears, trim about 3/8” off one leg of each piece.  Round the corners of those narrower legs and sand smooth.  Use machine screws and acorn nuts to fasten the wide legs inside the tray’s long sides.  The narrower legs stick out over the top of the tray to form the flanges.  Use more screws and acorn nuts to fasten the magnetized part of the cabinet latch centered inside the back of the tray; position it so that the magnet is just a bit higher than the tray edge.

Cut two 14” lengths of the paneling molding to serve as drawer rails.  Use the small wood screws to fasten the rails to the underside of the table, right next to the pole bracket (so the drawer clears the fridge cabinet) and starting at the table’s front edge.  (Use an extra screw at the front edge to reinforce the rail when the drawer is pulled out.)  Attach a 2” piece of paneling molding, centered between the rails, about 13 1/2" from the front table edge, to serve as a rear drawer stop.

The metal plate for the magnetic catch is centered between the rails about 31/2" from the front edge.  The wood insert nut is centered between the rails about 3/4" from the front edge.  Keep the thumbscrew in the drawer and screw it into the insert nut for traveling.


Insulated 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.

Front 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.

AC 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 travel.

Corner 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 up well.

Refrigerator 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 HERE for details.

Window 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.

   Front Bubble               Rear Window
 


Convertible 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.