Compact Jr. Winter rework session - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-21-2007, 08:56 AM   #1
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Well, my sister Cory spent the whole summer using her Compact Jr., and so she had a whole list of desirable modifications. My standard Christmas present to her is labor, so now the Compact is parked at my house and she's collecting her present early.

The big items on her list are to add some sort of positive locking for the cabinets so they don't pop open during flight, add a porch light, install a microwave, and add some sort of sliding platform to the big compartment she keeps her enormously heavy & awkward steamer trunk in. I added a couple items to the list myself: some kind of increased counter space, which would make it much easier to cook, and new curtains, since her old ones are, um, tired. And there are a number of smaller items to do too, little refinements and damage repair.

So far I've got the porch light added:

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Nothing really special about it; it's a standard RV item. I wired it so that it could either be turned on from outside (switch on the bottom) or inside (rocker switch below the sink)--that way she can identify someone knocking at her door before opening it.

And I beefed up the attachment points for a towel bar--it was originally screwed into the very thin aluminum inner door skin, so I built some admittedly-crude-looking plates to mount the towel bar to the door frame instead:

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Strength is important since she uses it as a handle to close the door.

Last bit so far was the addition of a folding countertop. I lucked out; the previous owner had reduced the size of the tabletop, and the cut-off piece (which was covered in Formica matching the existing countertop) was just about the right size. So I built a prop mechanism, and now there's a bit more counterspace for a cook to "spread himself":

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Oops, out of space in this post--more later.
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Old 09-21-2007, 09:05 AM   #2
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...and here's the countertop in the folded position:

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The last thing was the addition of a 110V light to the kitchen area. She found this nice and not-too-far-out-of-period spotlight at Home Depot, and I was able to simply punch through the wall into the back of the electrical box for the existing light, so the wiring was easy:

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The next big projects are the microwave (which will be located below the icebox, eliminating a drawer currently there), which should be a fairly straightforward carpentry job; I'll have to add a 110V outlet for the microwave to plug into. There'll be a big wasted space behind (outboard of) the microwave, which grates on my sensibilities and I'm contemplating ways to make it useable.

And then the positive locks for the cabinet doors. I have a scheme for the door locks which should be reasonably clean-looking--but if anyone out there has any good ideas, I'd love to hear them!
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Old 09-21-2007, 09:08 AM   #3
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..if anyone out there has any good ideas, I'd love to hear them!
My idea is that I'll park my Campster at your house around Dec. 20 and leave it there to get my upgrades done. I always wanted a brother!

I did the microwave the same way, taking out two drawers; it needs a little tweaking as it can't slide out but can slide back the way I currently have it. (Already had the 110.) Actually, my sister did it (she's almost as good as a brother but unfortunately she lives in Alaska.)


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Old 09-21-2007, 09:51 AM   #4
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Steve, you and Cory make a good team. Keep up the good work.
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Old 09-21-2007, 04:50 PM   #5
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Steve, you and Cory make a good team. Keep up the good work.
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Thanks, Tom! Yeah, my brother's pretty special. And no swell head.

About ideas for using the space behind the microwave---how about a cabinet accessed from the sleeping/eating area? I think the bulkhead is plywood, isn't it?

Or even accessed from the outside? At the Oregon Gathering we met those that had put in doors on the outside. (Tom, were you one?)

One thing for sure, from Bobbie's experience--that microwave space needs a back on it, or a jam, to keep the microwave from becoming an accessory to that back cabinet!
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Old 09-21-2007, 04:56 PM   #6
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About ideas for using the space behind the microwave---how about a cabinet accessed from the sleeping/eating area? I think the bulkhead is plywood, isn't it?

One thing for sure, from Bobbie's experience--that microwave space needs a back on it, or a jam, to keep the microwave from becoming an accessory to that back cabinet!
Great idea- I wonder how easy that would be to put in? There is a LOT of space behind the microwave. I put a shelf over the microwave which I really like; it holds odds and ends, keeps them handy, and they stay put when I travel. But the space behind IS wasted. While I don't particularly need the space myself, having a storage compartment handy to the bed would be useful. You'd have to leave some room for air circulation, though, behind the microwave.

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Old 09-22-2007, 03:04 AM   #7
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Wow, some great mods there, I'm VERY envious of the porchlight!. That's a mod I've been wanting for a while... Im curious, was it very difficult to run the wiring for it? Did you have to disturb the wall padding stuff very much?
I THINK I could handle the install myself, I'm usually fairly handy with stuff, but I don't want to mess up something that can't really be replaced/repaired easily...
Hey, while Im thinking about it, my Compact has the original tail lights, and the housings are getting a little weathered and cracked. Has anybody found OEM replacements for the Monarch types? I've seen several different retrofits of other styles, but I'd like to put the OEM stuff back if I could.
Well keep the GREAT mod pics coming, they're great motivation for us fellow Compacters! hehe
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Old 09-22-2007, 06:26 AM   #8
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Cory,
The bulkhead between the kitchen and sleeping area is plywood. That was not me with the outside hatches for access to under bench storage. That was Chuck Hagen. On his Compact II, he installed a hatch on each side.

http://albums.photo.epson.com/j/ViewPhoto?...&p=75763966

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Old 09-22-2007, 06:42 AM   #9
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Joseph,
The tail lights on my Compact Jr. were Reflect O Lite 650. I think they were original and were in poor shape with many cracks and repairs to the red plastic.

http://albums.photo.epson.com/j/ViewPhoto?...&p=70959861

On a trip this spring I lost one lens. I searched the net, but was not able to locate replacement lens. So I purchased a pair of Bargman 92 and replaced the entire tail light assembles. They were the closest in size and shape that I could locate. I'm happy with the brightness.

http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/parts/r...ts/55-8245.htm

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Old 09-22-2007, 09:33 AM   #10
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I've been thinking about the behind-the-microwave space. Does anyone know how much space is needed behind the microwave for ventilation? I think it would be more in a completely enclosed space like that than in a kitchen where it is sitting against a wall but open to the room. But one option that I was thinking about last night was just a narrow vertical slot that would hold my laptop, accessible from the other side of the bulkhead. I'm not going to cut a hole in the bulkhead, though, the wood is thick and I think it needs someone with more woodworking skill than I have to do a neat job.

I'm going to pull the microwave today because I need to take it back to Target- the glass plate moans and rubs as it turns and I have the exact same model at work which does not do that. Once it is out, I'll put a stop behind it so it can't keep sliding backwards. I'll also get a measure of how much space is behind it.

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Old 09-22-2007, 09:45 AM   #11
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I'm going to pull the microwave today because I need to take it back to Target- the glass plate moans and rubs as it turns
Mine does that if I don't get the glass plate sitting on the turntable properly. But since it has to come out to get cleaned once in a while, I've finally figured out exactly where on the turntable it has to sit. You'll see grooves on the bottom of the plate, the turntable portion has to sit in those grooves. Mess with it a bit, you might find your own solution.
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Old 09-22-2007, 09:46 AM   #12
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I've messed. I even brought the plate home from the one at work and tried it to see if it was the plate, and the new plate did the same thing. I'm going to pull it out, set it on the perfectly level floor, and see what happens. If it groans, it goes back. If not, it may be something to do with how it sits in the trailer.

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Old 09-22-2007, 12:42 PM   #13
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Wow, some great mods there, I'm VERY envious of the porchlight!. That's a mod I've been wanting for a while... Im curious, was it very difficult to run the wiring for it? Did you have to disturb the wall padding stuff very much?
I THINK I could handle the install myself, I'm usually fairly handy with stuff, but I don't want to mess up something that can't really be replaced/repaired easily...
The wiring wasn't much trouble. The wires for the porchlight run down between the outside shell and the fiberglass kitchen enclosure. There were 12V and ground wires already present in the undersink cabinet for the electric water pump the trailer used to have, so I tapped into them using side-by-side crimp connectors.

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The light is just screwed to the fiberglass trailer shell using sheet-metal screws. It may sound a bit half-a$$ed, because repeated removals and reinstallations would eventually mess up the holes, but I figured it'll probably never be coming off.

The inside switch was purchased from an RV store, and it's a standard automotive rocker switch in a nice chromed mini-panel; it's mounted with two screws through the panel. The two switches are in parallel, so either can turn it on.
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Old 09-22-2007, 12:45 PM   #14
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I've been thinking about the behind-the-microwave space. Does anyone know how much space is needed behind the microwave for ventilation?
I think a good rule of thumb is that any household appliance needs a minimum of 1" of ventilation space next to each surface. Hopefully, the 1" of space behind it is contiguous with 1" of space on top and to the sides, which in effect will vent it to the front. One idea I can think of would be to plumb in a 2" in diameter vent thru to the outside with a louvered cover on it.
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