We have been working on our Compact Jr. this summer, getting close to finishing the 1st phase—maybe the 2nd phase? If adding structural supports to the pop-up lid is the 1st phase, it is still awaiting more attention and solutions before completion.
THIS phase is the refrigerator-wall-phase. When purchased, the "MonkeyHouse" (named in honor of our monkey children) had a 12volt igloo vertical cooler installed as the main cold food storage solution. The PO was not impressed with its cooling capabilities so I was able to locate a used Norcold 323 and started from there. That side of the camper had the original tall closet, the igloo with a lower drawer, and two 'cabinets' with doors.
(I am not sure how to place images within text, I will stick them at the end, I suppose.)
I really liked the warmth of the birch interiors of the vintage Yellowstone campers and wanted to try to get that 'feel.' So that's the direction we've gone. We ended up using a lot of the structural elements of that wall but adding a LOT more! We pulled the original paneling down and replaced with 1/2" plywood. With very limited carpentry experience and tools, cutting out the openings for the various compartments was quite exciting: measure, measure, cut, compensate. The wiring was fun, too! We used the original 12volt to support the original light
and fan on the wall and changed the 12volt outlet that powered the igloo to a 12volt plug for accessories. It is now located on the 'end panel' of the wall. I have run a separate 12volt line that will be hooked up to the refrigerator's 12volt option. But that will come during the next phase — the stove/sink/electrical box side...
We purchased a 4' x 8' x 1/4" birch panel, applied shellac, sanded, then topped with a non-wax poly finish. Then a return to the measure, measure, cut, compensate method of cabinetry. We used the cutouts from the openings for the finish panels on the doors and drawer.
The Norcold was originally a right-hinged black number; it is now a left-hinged, white-framed appliance with a birch finishing panel. When boxing it in, I used 1/2" foam insulation boards glued on the insides of the 5/8" plywood sheathing (I scored a stack of 3' x 3' sheets of this stuff for a great price. Maybe adding a bit of weight
, but cheap!!!!). After nervously cutting holes in the exterior fiberglass for the vents, we followed the instructions for "almost good venting" that has been discussed various times on this site (right now, though, I can't find the original sourcing info). The"pantry" section that sits above the refrigerator
takes advantage of (?) this structure to give us a little more space for tall things — or whatever! Finally (I hope), we wired and switched a 12volt fan behind the refrigerator
to assist with circulation. Right now it is hooked up to 120volt, the 12volt is yet to be hooked up, and a propane
line is probably something I will do in the future.
I am pretty happy with the drawer below the closet. We figured it would be much easier to access items from a drawer than having to drag stuff out of a cabinet. It extends almost full depth — and was also constructed with the such-a-deal plywood. I am also happy with the shelving/bins in the closet. They are Ikea's Trofast bins w/lids (also discussed elsewhere on these forums) but are positioned length-wise. They are supported by 1/2" aluminum U brackets on 5" centers, this yields a mix and match sort of arrangement, they can fit anyway we want! The hanging space on the other side of the closet is rather limited, but there are supports for a closet pole across the front end of the camper if needed.
Trimming the openings for all of these spaces has been another figure-it-out-as-you-go, use-what-you can-find endeavors. White plastic J channels that were designed, I think, to cap 1/2" plywood. Except we trimmed (which means scoring, bending, bending, and bending) one side to give an L cap, mitered the corners, and glued in place. And, of course, are using caulk to disguise any unsightly gaps....
After I finish the final cabinet door this weekend (this one will need to be fabricated, the others have been original with birch front panels) I think I will be turning around to face the other side. Disassembly first, then figure it out as we go. Oh! or maybe I should focus on the lid first! Winter is approaching, best to have the top back on! THEN the other side, cold weather permitting.
In the future, I am considering putting a small bench under the front window, possibly some insulation in the roof?? Suggestions? ideas? comments? These forums have been a great source of information and inspiration. I check daily, post seldom, and truly enjoy 'making it our own.'
over and out jwgeorgen
(final images posted in a "continued" post)