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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Are You Sagging? - Reinforcing Interior Storage Floors


The Closet
Last season I noticed a distinct sagging at the floor of my "wardrobe" closet. In the Aero Cruiser (at least my floorplan) there is essentially only one closet. Since I can fold my own clothes and really don't need too many "James Bond" style tuxedos, I decided to use it as my primary food storage area. I measured the width, depth and height and found some suitable plastic drawers to fill most of the space. With a small amount left over on one side to hang a few clothes....just in case.

After a season with this contraption in place I noticed that the floor was sagging. A Lot. Beneath the closet, behind the floor to ceiling door is a storage drawer. After pulling it out and putting it aside it turns out the floor of the closet was only a thin wood paneling veneer that has a 1/2" frame all around with nothing supporting the middle. I guess the manufacturers though most people would be using this as a hanging-only closet. Since I routinely store a whole trips' worth of food (some of it in cans!) I really needed to reinforce this before it failed completely. Below the drawer is the rear driver side wheel well and a bit of micro-storage that contains the Transfer Switch and some miscellaneous stuff I've managed to shoe-horn in there. This process will work on most any storage space that you can access the underside of.

Passenger Pete And The First Try.

Of course, I could see that this was going to require some finesse as it would be tough, if not impossible, to build a brace and then get it through the existing opening. The drawer opening is MUCH smaller than the closet floor. I had to be able to attache the reinforcing frame to the 1/2" existing frame AND not let it hang into the area the drawer goes. Not much choice here. I measured about 10 times to make sure I had the exact dimensions (you all know what's going to happen later, right?) Then proceeded to build two identical box frames that I would insert into the opening, attach to the existing 1/2" frame then screw or bolt it all together. 
The First Frame..(Notice The Feet!)
Sounds pretty good. I'm pretty decent when it comes to electricity and mechanics....woodworking is really NOT my strongest skill. Forget about cabinetry. I see so many folks redesigning and building cabinets for their RV's that are better than the factory. I have NO idea how they do that so well!

Back to the project at hand. I had drawn the plans, cut the wood on a borrowed table saw. Screwed the box frames together and then put them into the opening. It was when I was test fitting them that I realized two things. One, there was a 1" gap between the frames that I was going to have to figure out how to fill. Two, I had used the slightly longer wood for the middle of the box. This was going to prevent the drawer from going back in. Ever. Back to the saw. I cut a very long and amazingly straight cut down the length of both middle pieces and made a 1" (you know...I don't think anyone makes a 1" thick piece of stock wood!?!) wide piece to span the gap between the boxes. Back into the RV. Test fit. (Drum Roll Please!)


Not That Pretty, But It Works!
Miraculously, it all fits! Drill some new pilot holes for the screws (as usual, in contorted positions) then hold the assembly up, while holding the screw in place, while using a battery powered drill/driver in a confined space to tighten the screws. Easy.....NOT! I won't bore you with the insane amount of finagling it took to get it all tightened and in the correct spot. Ultimately, I had to try and fit the drawer in. It does fit...mostly. It's much harder to pull in and out now...I could likely sand or plane the box frame down where it rubs, but the drawer won't rattle now. Have to decide that one later on. Everything is a trade-off.


All in all, this is an easy fix to do. Since it's invisible when done...it doesn't have to look all that pretty, but will get the job done.
Look Ma, No Sag!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"


15 comments:

  1. Why do you carry food for entire trip. Canned goods are sold all over country.Only carry special items and to get to next grocery. I like to go to grocery to see what is sold in different parts of country. Also weight could be a factor.

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    1. My trips are ad-hoc for the most part. I manage to string together a few days and I'm gone. I do not really want to give up relax time, food shopping at my destination!

      Besides, I still need a place to put it when I arrive.

      Rich "The Wanderman"

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  2. I too had this problem, but under my washing machine. The floor was chip board and no joists to support it. Under the washing machine was the vacuum flush apparatus for my toilet. I added joists and and vertical supports as well as 3/4 inch plywood for flooring. Now an elephant can sit on it. lol

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  3. Walt,
    I am SURE this is a common problem with interior storage on many RVs. The manufacturers rush a bit to get to market and skip some important design and engineering elements. Usually Common sense based.

    How long have you traveled with an Elephant?

    Rich "The Wanderman"

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  4. Mine storage cabinet had a pieces of particle board for the floor, roughly 1/4" thick at best.

    It had sagged quite mightily in the center, so when I was doing some work to re-engineer the refrigerator enclosure to improve cooling and efficiency gutted out the entire cabinet and it's floor (Front was all that was left).

    Reframed the structure holding up the fridge platform and the closet using 2x2 lumber, utilizing a big hunk of dead space next to the furnace (original furnace was twice the size of the current one) which allowed me a drop pocket to stow my two folding captain's chair's in, and a set of stacked shelves up the left side.

    The floor base and side between the fridge and the pantry was sheathed using 3/4" plywood and glued and screwed into place.

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    Replies
    1. Matt,
      That sounds like good engineering and great use of space. I'd love to see a photo. How is your existing furnace so much smaller than the old one?

      Rich "The Wanderman"

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    2. The original furnace was a vintage 1974 Duo-Therm all mechanical furnace that could be run with the blower being optional. The original furnace box was 24" x 24" for it's outer housing.

      The last owner pulled the Duo-Therm as those old furnaces had a bad habit of rusting holes in the diaphragm fast and leaking Carbon Monoxide into the rig, and installed a modern Suburban DD-17DSI furnace in it's place.

      The DD-17DSI produces around 17,000 BTUs of heat and draws 2.4 amps when running, and does a rather nice job of heating the camper, at half the size of the original gigantic heater.

      Since the pantry cabinet was directly above the furnace compartment and the clearances on the new furnace were fairly minor, I had plenty of space left to build a drop compartment for stowing my chairs.

      There's a picture of the pantry in question before I remodeled it available on my blog at the "Bringing it Home" entry back in 2006.

      I'll need to snap a picture of the remodel of the cabinet, it's one of a few major projects that I never documented.

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    3. Matt,
      Way cool! I like the idea of upgrading to newer tech and saving space for re-use. Obviously, I am a incorrigible tinkerer...most of the time with a purpose.

      I've been looking at adding a wave 3 catalytic heater to reduce power use from the blower fan. They use lots of power and the propane use is much higher as well. So much of the heat is lost overboard. I can stand near my furnace when its on and stay toasty in the winter.

      What's your blog address?

      Rich "The Wanderman"

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    4. http://redneckexpress.blogspot.com

      Enjoy :).

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    5. Thanks Matt...

      Rich "The Wanderman"

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    6. Just a little update for ya Wander, I've got a new entry up called "The Undocumented Projects", which has post remodel pictures of my pantry in it.

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    7. Matt,
      Very nice! I just wish you were closer to the east coast!

      Rich "The Wanderman"

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    8. Closest I'll be is Indiana, Illinois and Michigan this fall :).

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  5. Does anyone use the shower as a storage locker? We found some plastic tubs that can fit side by side and stackable. We have about 5 high and you can put anything and everything in them. Mostly clothes and odds and ends. We like shopping when we need food items since we find some stores have very unusual items that we do not see at home. I think our shower (in a class C 28ft RV) is pretty strong. Oh right, how do we keep clean....camping baths in the bathroom and when needed a truck stop or RV park facility to get the old body clean. Besides we have been together for 45 years and I guess have gotten used to the smells....LOL

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    Replies
    1. Bill,
      I know of quite a few people that use the shower for travel storage. Just like the issue I had with my "pantry" many showers are not supported properly (Especially since the drain has to extend below the floor of the shower) If you were oing to carry a heavy load in there, make sure it can support the weight without cracking AND make sure they are secure enough not to fall. That would be a really unpleasant surprise while underway!

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete

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