How To: Adding a 110V Outlet to Theater Seat

We will preface this modification by noting that it involves 110V power. Unless you are comfortable working with AC power and wiring up outlets, it is probably better left to someone else to do for you.

Our rig has the theater seating option. One thing we’ve found is that there is a single 110V outlet in the middle of our slide at the area where the theater seat ends and the dining area begins. We had been pondering ideas on bringing 110V power to the other end of the theater seat unit (where Malcolm sits).

The last time we were packing up the trailer to move, our cat went into hiding behind the theater seats and we found her in the hollow center section by lifting the remote tray out of the unit. We started using that area for storage for “stuff” and it led to an idea for the mod described here – adding a 110V outlet to the front of the console.

Our seating unit

Our seating unit

Top of the console

Top of the console

With compartment removed - empty area perfect for storage

With compartment removed – empty area perfect for storage

First, we marked the front of the console piece with the dimensions of the outlet box (fully enclosed box for safety), then cut the outer material in an X pattern so it could be wrapped around the opening later and look nice. We also cut the foam padding out.

Spot marked

Spot marked

X cut and foam removed

X cut and foam removed

Holes were then drilled through the solid wall of the console (1/2″ chipboard) in each of the four corners. Then the hole was cut out with a keyhole saw. The box was mounted in the resulting hole and secured using the two wall clamping wings supplied on the box.

Drilling corner holes

Drilling corner holes

Cutting out hole with keyhole saw

Cutting out hole with keyhole saw

Box mounted

Box mounted

We bought an electrical cord with a low profile plug on it and cut the end off. This was the shortest and cheapest cord they had at the store with the desired low profile plug (though there is room for a standard plug). A multi-meter was used to verify the hot and neutral wires (since only the ground was encased in a colored sheath). We chose our particular outlet because it has two 110V outlets and two USB outlets for charging devices.

Electrical cord used

Electrical cord used

Verifying wires

Verifying wires

Outlet used

Outlet used

The wires were pulled into the box from the back and wired up to the outlet. The outlet was mounted and the plate attached.

Wired up

Wired up

Outlet mounted

Outlet mounted

Plate attached

Plate attached

With everything put together, the plug was plugged into the 110V outlet behind the seating unit. No smoke or sparks came out, so that was a good sign. An even better sign was that Malcolm’s iPad started charging when plugged into one of the USB ports. We later tested the 110V outlets with the vacuum cleaner (cleaning up the sawdust) and subsequently Malcolm’s laptop power supply.

Total cost for the project (minus the one-time purchase of the keyhole saw) was around $45. A less expensive power cord could have been used to lower the cost under $40. The major cost of the project was the particular outlet we chose with the USB connections ($24.97 plus tax).

How-To: Install Under-Cabinet LED Light Strips

We picked up a flexible LED light strip kit from Costco (for $30). After doing some figuring, Malcolm ordered a set of wiring connectors from Amazon (for $18) and had them shipped in. Once those connectors came in, Malcolm installed our light strips under the kitchen cabinets.

LED Light Strip Kit

LED Light Strip Kit

Connector Kit

Connector Kit

The first step was to mount the light strips under the front edge of the cabinets. We had six strips. Three went under the long cabinet on the side of the kitchen, and one each went under the three cabinets at the back of the kitchen.

Three strips under long cabinet.

Three strips under long cabinet.

Malcolm drilled holes through the cabinet bottoms for the various connectors.

Hole drilled for connector.

Hole drilled for connector.

Then he poked the connectors through the holes.

Connector poked through hole.

Connector poked through hole.

Then the connectors were connected to the strips.

Connected

Connected

This continued on for all the various light strips. Here is a before and after test just for the long cabinet.

Long cabinet - Before

Long cabinet – Before

Long cabinet - After

Long cabinet – After

With all the light strips in place, Malcolm removed the two pancake light fixtures from under the cabinets. The wiring from the long cabinet fixture was pulled back into the adjacent cabinet. Malcolm cut the end off the 120V adapter supplied with the light kit and connected it to the wires from the old light. The light kit had a 12V adapter, so we could run the control box directly off the 12V wiring from the old lights (and retain the wall switch).

Before removing the old lights, Malcolm did a full before and after test with all the other lights turned off.

Before.

Before.

After.

After.

Note that the far right-hand side of the counter is now very well lit, where it used to be in the dark.

Malcolm removed the old fixtures and tidied up all the wiring.

Wiring from over-sink fixture, pushed up into hole.

Wiring from over-sink fixture, pushed up into hole.

Wiring from other fixture, connected to control box.

Wiring from other fixture, connected to control box.

Malcolm tucked the control box back in the cabinet where we keep our coffee mugs. There was a remote control supplied with the unit that is an infrared control. The control box had a small pickup that Malcolm poked through one of the holes and discretely mounted under one of the cabinet bottoms. Now we can have many colors of lights and can dim or brighten them as desired.

How-To: Replace a Ceiling Fan

Although the ceiling fan installed in our trailer was still working OK, it was puny, didn’t put out much air circulation, was a bit plain looking and the light didn’t put out much light. Since Hunter ceiling fans were on sale at Lowes, we picked out one we liked and purchased it. Here is somewhat of a step-by-step installation. This How-To assumes that you already have a ceiling fan installed and that you are changing it out.

When shopping for a new ceiling fan for your RV, make sure that the blades will clear any nearby obstacles if you purchase a larger fan. The fan our RV came with was a 42″ fan (measured from blade tip to opposite blade tip). The nearest obstacle for ours was a nearby ceiling mounted speaker. The existing blades cleared it by about 6 inches, so a 52″ fan would work (pretty much the largest standard household fan commonly available).

Another factor is to make sure that the fan blades will clear any slideouts. The tops of our slideouts are more than a foot below the ceiling, so even though our replacement fan wasn’t quite as low profile as the original fan, it still clears our slideouts with ease. If your current fan’s blades are close to the slideout top, make sure that the replacement fan is pretty low profile. Worst case, you’ll have to disassemble it, repackage it and take it back.

We started by disassembling our fan. Most ceiling fans are pretty standard in the type of assembly. Removing the globe from the light kit usually opens up the rest of the fan to where you can figure out what to remove next. In our case, Malcolm removed the four fan blades, then the decorative cover over the motor assembly, then the motor assembly from the mounting bracket, then the mounting bracket.

Our old fan with globe and bulb removed.

Our old fan with globe and bulb removed.

At some point, you’ll have to disconnect the power wires from the existing fan. If you feel uncomfortable doing this with power still being supplied to your RV, you can go out to the pedestal and turn off the main breaker. Malcolm untwisted each wirenut in turn, pulled the fan wires off the feed wires and replaced the wirenut on the feed wires.

Wiring-wise, you’ll find a wire with black insulation (the hot wire), a wire with white insulation (the common wire) and a bare wire or one with green insulation (the ground wire). Your replacement fan will indicate how to wire everything back up using those three color codes (this is all standard 110V wiring).

Everything removed, wiring hanging down and capped.

Everything removed, wiring hanging down and capped.

There is a standard fan-ready junction box located above the white ceiling panel, and we found that the mounting bracket that came with our new fan screwed right onto it with no problem. From this point on you will want to follow the instructions that came with your fan to assemble it correctly. We’ll show you how our Hunter fan (the Louden model) went together. After mounting the bracket to the junction box, the motor assembly slides into the center of the bracket and two screws keep it from sliding out, but leave it enough wiggle room to soak up vibrations.

Motor mounted.

Motor mounted.

Malcolm wired up the new motor to the existing feed wires coming through the ceiling according to color code, re-using the yellow wirenuts that were on the wires to start with. The fan came with new wirenuts, but the existing ones were still in good shape and grabbed the wires just fine. If in doubt, use the new ones if they come in the fan kit.

With the motor wired up, Malcolm installed the decorative cover with the screws provided. Tightening the set screws was a job for a pair of pliers since the top of the base is inset up into the plastic bezel in the ceiling. Next, the fan blades were mounted on the motor.

Motor, shroud and blades all mounted.

Motor, shroud and blades all mounted.

The light kit mounts up to the bottom of the motor assembly. The motor assembly and the light kit had matching plugs to connect all the wiring together. That was mounted and tightened down, the lights installed and the shade put on. Make sure both the pull chains are fed through anything needed to get them down where you can turn things on and off.

Completed assembly

Completed assembly

The first test of our fan had the light working fine, but the fan spun about 1/4 turn and stopped. Malcolm found that he had mounted the light kit a little bit askew and one of the screws holding it together was protruding into the path of the fan blade mounts. He fixed that (a little disassembly and reassembly) and the second test was a success.

Our fan is just a tiny bit out of balance. It came with a balance kit that Malcolm started to play with but decided to put off for another time. It’s not so far out of balance to cause any immediate issues.

How-To: Rubber Landing Jack Pads

We ran across rubber landing jack pads in Camping World and were taken aback by the prices. However, we went ahead and bought some anyway. They only had two pairs of 12 inch pads in stock, so we compromised and bought those and two more pairs of 8 inch pads. We’ve always wished we had held out for more 12 inch pads since the hydraulic landing gear pads are 8 inches around, making lining up the rubber pads a somewhat hit and miss proposition at times.

Shortly after we had spent a fortune on the landing pads that we did purchase, we happened to accompany our good friends Erika and Tony Dorsey to Tractor Supply so that they could buy food for their cats. Malcolm was also in search of a jug of DEF for the truck. As we were walking in the front door, Malcolm stopped and looked at some large rubber horse stall mats and realized that the rubber in the mats wasn’t much different than the rubber in our landing pads. We filed that away for future reference.

Fast-forward to today and we decided to take the plunge. We stopped by the local Tractor Supply and picked up a horse stall mat and 100 feet of nylon cord.

Rubber mat

Rubber mat

Once back at the campground, Malcolm set to work in cutting the mat into six 1′ wide strips. He found that the circular saw didn’t like cutting rubber. It did it, but grudgingly and making a lot of burnt rubber smell in the process. A different blade may have made the difference, but Malcolm set the circular saw aside once the battery needed charging. Pulling his hacksaw out of the trailer, he found that it sliced through the rubber rather handily, though it tended to sometimes leave a rougher edge.

Last couple of strips

Last couple of strips

With six 4-foot by 1-foot strips cut, it was time to start cutting one of the strips into four pads (12″ x 12″). The other five strips went into the front of the pickup bed for later processing (it was extremely hot and humid outside and we only needed four more pads for now).

Tools gathered

Tools gathered

Once the four foot strip was cut into 4 one-foot squares, it was time to assemble additional tools. A pair of wire cutters was used to snip the rope into approximately 28″ lengths. A butane torch that we happened to have on board was used to melt the ends to keep them from fraying (a butane lighter or match would suffice). A 3/8″ drill bit was used to drill a hole near one of the corners of each mat.

One of the lengths of cord was threaded through the drilled hole and pulled through until the two ends were even. Then, the two ends were looped around into a single knot. This was done for all four pads. Here is the result:

Finished mats

Finished mats

We’ll see how these hold up long-term. If nothing else, we have enough material to make 20 more pads.

Cost breakdown for the project:

4′ x 6′ Horse Stall Mat – $39.99

1/4″ x 100′ Poly Rope – $12.99

Total cost, with tax – $57.35 (for materials to make 24 pads)

Cost per 12″ x 12″ pad – $2.39

For reference, the current (sale) price for a pair of 11.5″ x 11.5″ mats like we purchased at Camping World is $47.77, or about $24 a pad.

 

How-To: Updated Living Room Flooring

Another post in our modification series. This project involves replacing the carpet in our living room with vinyl plank flooring. We saw another rig at the national HOC rally a couple weeks ago where this was done and we were sold. Plus, the carpet in these units is never the best quality. Ours was already showing a bit of wear. For reference, here is a before picture, showing our living room before we started the project.

Before.

Before.

The first task was to pull up the old carpet. We started near the front door and worked our way toward the back. The carpet also had padding that we pulled up as well. The carpet was stapled down around the perimeter, so we had a lot of little staples to pull out of the floor as we went. It also made removing the carpet from the corners behind the slides a bit tricky.

Carpet partially removed

Carpet partially removed

As we got to the back of the living room (near the kitchen), we worked on removing the step up into the kitchen. We had originally debated on leaving it carpeted, but decided to strip it down and rebuild it without carpet. The carpet pad was glued down on the step, making it fun to find the screws holding the step onto the box.

Finding the screws

Finding the screws

The step was removed from the box and it was found the box was screwed down to the floor with four screws. Once those were removed, everything was stored away. The only things left to do were to remove the linoleum from the front half of the living room and then pull all the little staples still sticking out of the floor.

Step removed, linoleum left to remove.

Step removed, linoleum left to remove.

Once the linoleum and staples were removed and all the edges and corners cleaned up as good as possible, the entire floor was swept a couple times to remove all the dirt and debris possible.

Floor ready for flooring.

Floor ready for flooring.

We started the first run of planks along the front edge of the door side slide frame (flipping up the carpet lip to get to it). To keep the slide rollers from pushing the planks when the slide is retracted, we used some Liquid Nails adhesive to stick down that row of planks. Another plank just fit between that row and the front door. Here’s the first two rows down.

First rows down.

First rows down.

From that starting point, it was primarily a tedious job of interlocking planks from front to back, left to right towards the other slide. The rows between the slides were not glued down but left to float.

Two-thirds done.

Two-thirds done.

The last row in front of the right-hand slide was cut lengthwise to fit and glued down, as well, to keep that slide from pushing the planks. Our friend that did his floor said he’s never had the floor buckle since the sides don’t float.

Completed floor

Completed floor

With the main floor complete, it was time to rebuild the step. We started by screwing down the cleaned up box to the floor.

Cleaned up step box

Cleaned up step box

We glued a plank lengthwise along the front and side of the box then screwed down a new stair tread (basically a 5/8″ x 12″ particle board cut to length).

Trimmed sides and new stair tread

Trimmed sides and new stair tread

We debated between putting kitchen tile on the step or wood planks. We decided on wood planks. Two were locked together and glued down onto the tread.

Wood on the step

Wood on the step

We used some bullnose (batten) in the same color and tidied up the front and side edges of the step.

FInished step

Finished step

With the carpet removed from the step and the box, we found that the handrail sat about an inch above the step where it used to sit right on the step. We used a piece of the particle board we cut off and shimmed it with a couple pieces of the vinyl plank and used it to fill in the gap so that the handrail could be solidly mounted. We trimmed it all up with quarter round.

Completed step and handrail

Completed step and handrail

The rest of the project involved running quarter round trim around the base at front and rear of the living room and trimming up the corners next to the slides. Here is the finished project.

Completed project.

Completed project.

We decided to leave the carpet on the slides as it is in good shape and the overlap helps to hide the slide mechanism. We’ve seen a few installations where people have put the plank flooring in the slides and used some creativity with trim molding to finish the front edges, but we think the carpet will hold up better in the long run.

Here is the flooring we used – Shaw vinyl plank flooring in Gunstock Oak.

Flooring used

Flooring used

Total project costs:

Three boxes of vinyl plank flooring – $163.80

Liquid Nails, one tube – $7.63

Five sticks of quarter round – $51.50

Outside corner trim – $6.97

Bullnose trim – $2.97

Total, with tax: $252.08

Note that we had a one-time charge of $101.69 for a air-driven brad nailer, brads, miter box and saw. All of these items can be reused for other projects.