Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pop-Up Camper Improvements

Vertical Shelf -
View from the "Living Room"
While at the Lake Charles trial, where it was so cold we spent more time inside the camper than usual, I concieved a way to create more storage space utilizing some of the vertical space which is otherwise wasted in pop-ups.  In addition to providing a shelf for a microwave and heater, the upright boards provide vertical walls to hang coats, leashes, mugs, hats, etc.  (Hooks barely visible in this photo)

I bought the lumber (smooth finished pine) and pegging rod from Home Depot. The 4 uprights have 2 pegs in their feet which fit into holes bored into the blue shelf.  The top of these uprights are held in place by the cap shelf, with 2 nails that slip down thru the shelf into 2 vertical holes in each upright.   This keeps the whole assembly together.  Each lower shelf is installed at the back with one nail peg on each side.  The shelf then pivots up, then rests back down on 1 nail peg on each side that hold up the front of the shelf.

Vertical Shelf -
View from the "Bedroom"
The Sterlite drawers (from Walmart) give the shelf side-to-side stability when I wedge a piece of wood between them and the left uprights (seen in next photo).

Here is the completed shelf viewed from the bedroom, held together with nail pegs and completely disassemblable when closing up the camper.  The lower shelves are adjustable at 2" increments.  There is 3rd shelf in case it is needed. Holes are also drilled all along the upright boards for large cup hooks to be installed, wherever I want them.  The whole thing disassembles in a few minutes and stores flat under the mattress, same as the kitchen shelves I built over the sink/stove area last year (photo below).

NOTE TO THE UNITIATED: In a pop-up camper, you can't have anything permanent sticking up vertically since the roof cranks down when you travel. 

Kitchen shelves built last winter.
Thus, even the latest, newest models have NO SHELVES, meager COUNTERSPACE, and very little display space.  It has been my "engineering" challenge since last winter to claim this empty vertical space by designing attractive, sturdy shelves that disassemble and store flat within minutes, beginning with my kitchen counter shelves, which really make the bare pop-up look like a cute little house.  I've sent photos of my shelving projects to local RV Showrooms to maybe spark their interest, but they seem unimpressed.
Yesterday I bought a small Emerson, 700 watt, .7 cu ft microwave from Wal-Mart, $50, which fits in perfectly.  It's small and cute, but has a turntable large enough for a 9" dinner plate, tall enough for a large McDonalds syrefoam coffee cup. Meets my needs.

Lumber:  $46
Microwave:  $50
Total cost:  $96

Our pop-up is becoming more and more luxurious!  The small footprint of this shelf area serves as a chest of drawers, coat and hat rack, additional counter space, bedside table, and when the heater is put away, an entertainment center.  I can watch DVD's on my laptop while lying snugly in bed.

I also bought a queen memory foam pad 2" thick and put it on the master bed.  $100, but OMG, it's just as comfortable now as my king size bed at home!  I had no problem spending the money where restful sleep is involved because let's face it, pop-up camper beds are notoriously hard.
Ah! We have just about everything now to live comfortably during 4-day dog agility trials or any other place we might camp.  Of course, no hot tap water, no shower, no indoor flushable toilet, but when I compare my $4100 investment to $20,000 - $120,000 others are spending on their RV's . . . . . . . oh, never mind, I don't have that kind of money anyway so there's really no point comparing.  My little port-a-pottie works just fine for my middle-of-the-night pee, I empty it in the morning and it stores outside during the day.  All trial sites and campgrounds have showers and bathrooms, anyway, and I feel just as clean heating a pot of water and giving myself an all over scrub with a wash cloth.  For a gal on a tight budget, I'm quite satisfied.

Upwards and onward!

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