Classic (DL) - Other Improvements

Kitchen window awning.  A small, easy-to-make and easy-to-hang awning gives good shade to the kitchen window. 

Materials needed from a fabric store:
awning fabric 2 1/8 yards (or 1 1/8 yard if you make a seam in the middle; allow extra if you need to match a pattern)
2 1/8 yds "half and half" velcro (sticky-back hooks and sew-on loops)
(4) small aluminum eyelets and an eyelet tool
Materials needed from a hardware store:
(6) 1 x 17 stainless wire brads
(2) small screw eyes
(2) 4' x 5/16 wooden dowels
(2) rubber tips for the dowel tips made for wire closet shelves are just right  (see note below)
(2) 5/16-18 x 5/8 T-Nuts (brad hole)  ( see note below)

Prepare a rectangular piece of awning fabric about 74" long x 19" wide.  You can cut 2 1/8 yards in half lengthwise and save one half for a replacement awning later, or you can cut a 1 1/8 yd piece in half lengthwise and sew the ends together; in that case, your awning will have a seam down the middle a "flat-fell" or finished seam is neatest be sure to match your pattern. 

Draw the finished dimensions on the back of your fabric as follows:
Center a 45" line parallel to, and one-half inch below, the selvage (factory-finished) edge.  This is the top edge of the awning.  Center a 72" line 7" below, and parallel to, your first line.  You won't cut or press along this line it's for reference only.  Center another 45" line 10" below the second line.  Now connect the ends of the middle line to the ends of the top and bottom lines.  The finished shape is essentially a rectangle with a triangle at each end.  Add a seam allowance of 5/8" to every outside edge (except the top, which needs no trimming) and cut off the excess fabric. 

Press all the seam allowances under, including the selvage edge, along your pencil lines.  On the bottom edge, and on the lower angled edges, fold the raw (cut) edges under once more and sew the finished hem shut. 

Sew a 45" piece of the loop-side velcro to the back of the top edge of the awning, matching the velcro edge to the fold.  Place 1 row of stitching as close as possible to the fold, and place another reinforcing row of stitching 1/8" to the inside.  DON'T stitch the ends or other edge of the velcro!  It's supposed to "flop open".

In the same way, sew another piece of loop-side velcro to each of the top slanted edges, close to the fold.  You don't need to fold the hem twice the raw edge will be hidden by the velcro.  Again, DON'T sew the ends or other edge of the velcro.

Put an eyelet in each lower corner and 2 more evenly spaced along the bottom edge (avoid going through the hem thicknesses). 

Now stick the matching sticky-back hook-side velcro to the camper side the 45" piece just above the kitchen window and the short pieces slanted down parallel to the roof line.  Attach the awning.  This picture isn't very good, but gives you a general idea.

You will have to experiment to get the dowel lengths right start long and shorten as necessary.  Two short pieces will be about 13" each.  Put a rubber tip on one end (see note below) and a brad in the other (pre-drill for the brad).  To keep the awning from sagging in the middle, you will need a piece of dowel about 45" long with a screw-eye in each end. The brads on the short dowels go through the screw-eyes and then through the corner awning eyelets; the rubber tips brace against the window, holding the awning out.  Lastly, put 2 more brads in the long dowel where they will poke through the other 2 eyelets in the edge of the awning.

NOTE:  I found that the rubber tips didn't grip well enough to stay in place during a stiff breeze.  To solve the problem, I whittled the tip-end of each dowel to fit into a 5/16-18 x 5/8 T-Nut, then glued hook velcro on the base of the T-Nut and put a matching piece of self-adhesive loop velcro on the window.  So far, so good ....

Guest bed.  When we're on the road, traveling from place to place, we like to use the front dinette for meals, and we don't like to carry the extra long cushion that goes across the front hatch.  But twice during such trips, we've had occasion to have one extra person spend the night with us.  The 4 original 22" cushions were way too narrow for a single bed, and we hate to lug along an air mattress or cushion for that rare guest.  As I was looking at the configuration, I realized that we had room for 27"-wide cushions and not interfere with the baskets and buckets we carry on the long dinette bench.  Now I have 4 new 27" dinette cushions that can now be made into a single bed - narrow,  but equal to half of a standard double mattress and good enough for 1 or 2 nights.  It's easy to have linens on hand - they don't take up much room - and with the car pillow we carry, we can offer comfortable accomodations for a visitor.  Besides, it gives a "roomier" feel to the dinette area since we're not perched on such narrow cushions.  Reservations, anyone?

New stove shelf.  Got Coke?  A Coke-bottle crate made a great shelf for the camper-mounted stove bracket.  I wasn't happy with the low-pressure in-out stove that came with the camper.  It took a long time to heat, was very susceptible to drafts and wind, was hard to adjust to a simmer, and was too small for our largest pot.  We finally put it in the attic and replaced it with a Brinkman  portable camping stove.  But I did miss the convenience of hanging the stove outside on the camper bracket. 

I bought a length of matching stove-side bracket from our RV dealer, then looked around for material to use for an outside stove shelf.  I wanted something lightweight, strong, and weatherproof ... and I didn't want to build it from scratch.  A Coke-bottle crate, left over from a school fundraiser, was perfect.  Using stainless-steel screws and acorn nuts,  I fastened the aluminum bracket to the top edge of the crate.  A piece of pine corner molding screwed lower on the crate fits between the bumpers on the camper bracket, and keeps the shelf  from sliding side-to-side.  Short slots cut in the side and front edges of the crate fit the legs of the stove and hold it in place.

Even with the old in-out stove, I was wary of the cantilevered weight of a full pot of water on the stove and had reinforced it with a piece of PVC pipe under the front edge.  For the new shelf, I improved on this idea, making an adjustable PVC leg.  The new leg is made of two 18" pieces of PVC pipe of different diameters, so that one fits inside the other.  I drilled ¼" through the larger (bottom) pipe at several different levels.  A small cotter-less hitch pin goes through a set of those holes, and the inside/smaller pipe rests on the pin.  Rubber feet on each end of the adjustable pole help keep it in place.  If the ground is uneven, I can lengthen the pole by using the pin in a different set of holes.  Because it was easy to knock the leg out of place accidently, I later modified the top tip by setting a screw from the inside of the top rubber tip into a plastic wall anchor on the outside.  (Note the matching red color!)  This anchor "peg" fits up into one of the holes in the bottom of the shelf, making the leg more secure.

We run the stove from a 5# propane tank which is secured wi th a velcro strap just inside the rear storage compartment.  When the stove is in use, we run the hose out the floor of the compartment through a hole trimmed with a laundry-sink drain.  The $5 drain assembly, purchased from Lowe's, has a stainless steel rim and a plastic tailpiece with a large locking washer to screw it to the camper floor.  With the plastic strainer pieces drilled and sanded out of the tailpiece, the hole is a perfect fit for the hose.  When traveling, the hose stays coiled inside the compartment and the drain hole is sealed with a rubber stopper.  We can also use a 1# disposable propane canister for fuel, since a couple of S-hooks hanging from the side of the A/C support the stove regulator and take the weight of the canister.

The system works well.  The side of the camper doesn't overheat, and the shelf is stable and level.  We can use the shelf and stove inside the camper, too, with a 1# canister.  And the crate makes a perfect place to store hot pads, butane lighter, and frypan.


Flower box.  I admired the flowerboxes at the rally and was all set to make one and attach it with velcro.  But after I found a $2 10x4 flowerbox (on sale at Dollar General - very lightweight) I thought of using a suction cup to hold it.  It has an arched back, so I drilled a hole at the top of the arch and stuck in a large suction cup (from a WalMart bath basket - they have VERY good flexible suction cups; we use them on the windows inside for "stuff").  I drilled drain holes in the bottom and sprayed it with exterior paint, then added styrofoam and silk flowers.  Sticks great to the window surface or sidewall and I can put it wherever I want.  DH thinks a flower box is a bit much, but is willing to tolerate it.  Nice to have flowers we don't have to water ;-)

Tip - Make sure the suction cup extends above the flowerbox. I wanted it completely hidden, and now I have trouble getting behind the cup to release the suction. It really does stick!

When the weather's bad, our flowerbox comes inside and brightens the "dining room."

Christmas decorations.  The Aliner was set up in the driveway in December, and our across-the-street neighbor said he was disappointed that we didn't have any Christmas lights on it.  When I found lighted, animated reindeer on sale at Home Depot, I couldn't resist.  "Rudolph" came home with me.  His nose is a replacement window-candle socket  with a red globular Christmas tree bulb.  We picked up some rope lights at Sam's and looped them over the sides of the roof as reins (no holes drilled - where necessary, we used a small clamp to hold them).  For a final touch, I put ribbon on a large artificial wreath and hung it around the Fantastic Fan.  Another Aliner owner called it proof of the camper's light weight - it can be pulled by one reindeer!

With all the gingerbread houses on display, I thought why not make a gingerbread Aliner?!  Actually, it was a matzo Aliner.  The matzo was easy to cut with a razor blade, and I cheated on the construction - glue gun instead of icing.  Hot gluing the chocolate-bar windows and door DID give me a bit of a problem, however ....  The wheels are mini-oreos, the bumper and tongue are licorice, the propane tank is a marshmallow (of course!).  I iced all the seams and added "party lights" of tic tacs.  A unique holiday centerpiece!

A/C cover reminder.  It was the last night of a great trip.  The campground was clean and quiet.  In spite of the cool temperatures, there was a light mist and the air was muggy.  So we turned on the air-conditioner ... perfect!  As we sat reading, there was a loud cl-THUNK as the A/C compressor shut down.  We hadn't taken the outside cover off of the unit!  We turned the A/C off immediately and removed the cover.  As our tempers cooled, so did the compressor, and the unit started up again.  It's velcro to the rescue again - great stuff!  I put one self-stick loop piece on the inner side of the on-off knob, and an identical piece on the side of the A/C unit.  A piece of sew-on hook velcro fastens over the knob, which then can't be turned without loosening the velcro ... reminding us to remove the cover from the outside!