Classic (DL) Storage Solutions

Overhead poles.  The single best improvement I made was to hang poles across the camper.  They reinforce the side walls and provide great storage.  My first attempts to support the poles - relying on tension and velcro - didn't work.  The side walls are also too thin to support screws without drilling all the way through, something I didn't want to do.  The beauty of the solution described below is that the weight of the poles and shelves is supported by downward pressure on a horizontal surface, so it is quite strong.

(2) adjustable aluminum painter's extension poles
(2) pair white plastic brackets for drop-in closet rods (u-end and o-end)
(4) white rubber chair tips (2 each of 2 sizes) to fit both ends of the aluminum poles
(4) small white rubber bumpers with recessed screw hole (National Hardware N117-440 V189)  (True Value hardware store) 
(4) 6-32 stop nuts
(4) 6-32 acorn nuts
(4) 6-32x1/2 machine screws, pan head
(4) 6-32x3/8 machine screws, pan head
(2) 1-1/8x.54x1/8 flat nylon washers
(8) 8x1/2 self-tapping metal screws
3’ of 1x1/16 aluminum stock

Prep the poles by cutting off the threaded plastic and putting a chair tip on each end.  Make pencil marks on the “A” sides where you want the brackets – high enough for the poles to clear heads and doorway and low enough to accommodate a 4’ shelf.  With paper strips, make patterns for cutting the aluminum stock into 4 pieces that reach from each bracket location up to the edge of the “A” panel and across its width (inside to outside).  Crease the paper to mark the angled bend.  Cut the aluminum and bend it in a vice with a hammer.

Sink-side “A”:  To fasten the pole brackets to the aluminum strips, press stop nuts into the bumper recesses.  Use the ½” machine screws to go through the center of the u-shaped bracket, through the aluminum strap, and into the stop nut on the other side.  The bumper prevents the nut from marring the wall.  For stability, add a second bumper to the strap, above the bracket.  Drill 2 holes in the horizontal/bent/top part of the strap where it will screw to the aluminum edge of the “A”.  Use duct tape to hold the straps in place while you level them and mark matching screw holes on the horizontal (inside-outside) edge of the “A”.  Two self-tapping screws hold each strap in place on the “A”.

Door-side “A”:  Because this wall rests on the sink-side “A”, there is not enough space between the 2 walls, when folded, for a stop nut.  In this case, use the 3/8” machine screws to go from the back of the strap and into a stop nut INSIDE the o-shaped bracket (the rubber tips on the poles can accommodate the nut).  To protect the wall from the screws, use contact cement to glue a nylon washer to the back of each strap, around the screw heads.  Now the bracket-straps are thin enough for the “A” to fold down.  Adjust and fasten the brackets just as you did on the sink side.

Adjust the pole length, and install them by putting the smaller end in the o-bracket and dropping the larger end in the u-bracket.  If you’ve been careful about placing the brackets, the poles will be level and you can lay a 4’ wire closet shelf across them at each end.  If you put shoes or other dirty items on the shelves, use a piece of plastic carpet protector to catch the dirt.  For traveling, store poles and shelves on the bed.  The poles are good for all sorts of things – hanging baskets, towels, hangers, etc - and they can support quite a bit of weight.  Add white closet rod covers (use double-stick carpet tape), and the poles blend in with the white wallpaper.

Clothing tubs.  Clothing storage can be a problem, but we’ve found tubs that just fit under the rear bed.  Two taller tubs (from Joanne Fabrics - Akro-Mils part no. 74-027, product 13-014, 11 x 17-1/2 x 12-1/2H) fit perfectly in the center, with room between them for a PVC pipe to support the edge of the bed.  On the sides we use 2 kitchen-type stackable baskets, with the lower lip to the outside to give a bit more air circulation around the converter and the AC outlet.  In the front of the camper, we use Rubbermaid stacking baskets for food and clothing – stored on the long dinette bench, or on the floor if the front bed is made up.

Laundry hamper.  Since we don’t have a sink-side access door to the rear hatch, the corner space behind the water tank was wasted.  After I re-did the bed platform, I made a mesh bag to hang from cup hooks on the framing under that corner piece.  Now we can pull back the corner of the bed, lift the plywood and drop in our dirty clothes.  It holds a good week’s worth of laundry – out of sight and smell! 

Shower bags.  Campground showers don’t always have convenient shelves for shampoo, soap, razor, etc.  We keep those items in zippered lingerie laundry bags (Dollar Tree) with a shoelaces to hang them from the shower faucet.  Back at the camper, we hang them out to dry.  We also use bath sponges instead of washcloths – they dry a lot faster.

Road repair.  On the way home from an early trip, we stopped to check what seemed to be a wheel heating up - and realized that all our manuals were in a cabinet inside the camper.   We also realized that we didn't have a list of dealers or RV repair places.  The wheel turned out to be fine, but the experience exposed our need to have roadside repair stuff more accessible.  Now we keep a plastic envelope, with all of our manuals and instuctions, inside the porta-potty cabinet, where we can reach it easily by opening the camper door.  Less-used tools and equipment like the tire iron, jack, large wrenches, hammer, extension cord and battery charger are kept in the center of our front baggage compartment where we can reach them through the exterior baggage door.

Setup equipment for campsite. We keep our basic setup equipment in the front baggage compartment.  Inside the passenger-side baggage door, we store the stabilizer crank, the tire chock (velcroed to the frame), a lynx block for the tongue, and our detachable power cord.  Inside the driver-side baggage door (added later, and a real asset), we have a bin to hold all our water supplies (hoses, filter, sponges, teflon tape, washers, sewer-hose cap in a sealed container).  Between that bin and the door, our tongue-twister is velcroed to the floor.  We also keep a small Rubbermaid Roughneck tub inside the camper to hold the polarity checker, electrical adapters, small bungees, TV cable, extra tire gauge, 8' utility extension cord, wind ropes, and extra rags.  After setting up at the campsite, the Roughneck tub fits under the camper.  We keep our in-out thermometer sensor on the lid where it's out of the weather.  Each baggage door has a rag velcroed to the back - helps keep them handy!

Mini baskets. Three small Rubbermaid baskets stack perfectly in the tall sink cabinet.  They hold (1) entertainment – DVDs, cards, games, TV cable; (2) batteries, fan, hairdryer, (lamp) extension cord; (3) tools.  The top tool basket is filled only partway, so we have room to set a different basket inside it to serve as our wastebasket (dry stuff only).  Five of the Rubbermaid baskets also fit nicely across the overhead kitchen shelf.  Drawer knobs screwed to the front of each basket make them much easier to lift and move.  A different kind of basket slides in the space underneath the furnace to hold baggies, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and other odds and ends.

Kitchen storage.  A many-years-old plastic cabinet, intended for use over a toilet tank (can you even buy them anymore?), makes a perfect kitchen cabinet for cooking utensils.  It fits next to the kitchen sink, on the picnic table, or hanging on the rack of our folding camp kitchen.  A lipped drawer organizer with small items can hang on the back, the edged top is good for little items, and the side handles are handy for drying dishcloths.  Our "hanging pantry" is really a closet shoe bag from Lowe's.  The trim even coordinates with our upholstery.  I often use 2 of them, shortened to fit.  Appliances.  A single electric hotplate comes in handy.  It's well protected in a insulated lunch bag which stands behind the clothing tubs on the left front dinette bench.  We also use a small crockpot (especially for cooking while traveling) and store it in a basket in the rear bagage area.  A tiny Foreman grill, big enough for 2 hamburgers, fits inside my "imagineered" stove shelf, and we keep a 1-quart electric kettle on the overhead shelves. Pots and pans.  Along with our appliances, all we use is set of nesting stainless pans and a folding frypan.  The large kettle also doubles as a dishpan.  Food.  We manage to keep all of our dry goods and condiments in a set of Rubbermaid stacking baskets (from Lowes) in the dinette area.  When we have the dinette made up as a bed, everything that's stored on the long bench fits on the floor underneath the table area. 

Dishes.  With storage space at a premium, we keep all our dishware in a rectangular plastic bucket in the dinette area.  When we eat at a picnic table, it's easy to carry all the dishes outside, and we can even set the bucket on the ground if need be.  Looking for lightweight square dishes, and bowls that are shallow enough to stack compactly, was a long-term project.  I couldn't resist the flag platters and watermelon plates (our grandsons' favorites!), especially since they were on a season-end clearance sale, and that set our patriotic red-white-blue theme.  The big white bowls (Dollar Tree) stack well and are great for cereal, soup and stews, but I had trouble locating smaller bowls.  I finally found the perfect thing in the Dollar Tree baby section - sets of 3 feeding bowls with lids.  We use them for fruit and dessert, as well as leftover containers.  The bucket, with all of our dishes, weighs 8 lbs.  Since everything was purchased at budget prices, I stocked a second bucket which we take when we camp with extended family.

Paper towel holder.  Our paper towel holder is a Dollar Tree model.  instead of mounting it permanently, I added white safety cup hooks to the back, securing them with plastic anchors.  The towel holder just snaps onto the wire shelf.  Easy to put up and take down.