40v13: Garage

Table of Contents

Wheel Chocks

Motorcycles

We are still using the same wheel chocks (Wheeldock brand) that we purchased for use in the Rogue 32v travel trailer – the notes about selecting Wheeldock can be found here.  I don’t have a picture handy of ours, so I borrowed this one from webbikeworld.com :

As noted on the other page, the things I like most about them are:

  1. the heavy duty construction – bike stands solidly upright before even strapping!
  2. Pretty flat construction behind the wheel, so reversing the bike out of it is far easier than other brands I’ve used (no more jerking shoulders out of joint, yay!).
  3. no need to bolt them to the floor, making them terribly easy to move to other trailers, use in the garage at home, etc.
Bicycles

The mountain bikes were a challenge to fit into the garage without scratching up the motorcycles, so we bought these bike stands to help keep them upright.

They are “meh” in my opinion.  I like how you can raise and lower the “arm” for storage.    And the base seems pretty solid for a bicycle.   They don’t hold the bicycles solidly like the Wheeldock chocks hold our motorcycles.  I generally use 3 or 4 lightweight straps to hold each bike upright — one to each side for lateral stability, and one or two fore and aft to prevent sliding with braking or acceleration.  

Tie Downs

Rings

Alliance uses L-Track in the Valor garages instead of D-Rings.

We bought some of these on Amazon but apparently there is a dizzying array of options out there.  I later added some of these as well.

One of the things I appreciated was listing the strength of it based on angle:

Breaking strength 4,000 lbs;  Straight Pull 4,000 lbs; 45 Degree angle 3,000 lbs; Side Horizontal Pull 2,000 lbs.

When strapping to D-rings in the 32v I often was pulling sideways on rings and wondered how strong they were in a nearly horizontal direction!

Straps

We’ve been using ‘standard’ ratchet straps to secure stuff, but I have grown very tired of dealing with these long, unwieldy straps.  This is especially true when we are in a hurry, which happens frequently.  We often pull into a campground where the best place to unload the bikes (due to the surface type, slope of the ground, etc) is with us blocking traffic.  

I bought a pair of these straps to test, I am anxious to see if they speed things up. 

It is still a ratchet strap, but now I don’t have to deal with rolling up long straps or taking the time to feed them through.

capture

Garage Cam

This camera serves a few functions:

  • Watch the vehicles for shifting while in transit
  • Keep an eye on the dogs if we are out
  • Security

It is an Adobe indoor USB cam and we mounted it under the loft, between the bathroom and kitchen doors.

To power it, I bought a 12v converter that I then tapped off the awning power leads.  

I drilled a hole just large enough for the USB cord and fished that up from the power module.  I used the included mounting screw to hang the camera on.  

Dining Conversion

Preamble Ramble

We are really tired of sitting on the couches when eating.  Both of us wanted a dinette in the new RV, but we were reluctant to give up the extra seating space.  Most of the dinettes we saw were not as large as we wanted either.

So we decided to convert the garage (which was largely unused when camping) into a dining room (and then office too, but I’m getting ahead of myself).  

Table

First I removed the HappiJac benches, since we did not use them anyway.

Then I ordered a 30×60 table top for the door side, mounting it on the HappiJac rails so it could fold down for travel.

I put a piece of black tape on the vertical HappiJac rail marking how high we like the table so I could always deploy it to the same height without measuring.

Chairs

The chairs (seen above) are folding chairs but with some good padding on them.  They fit nicely in the under-bed storage for transit.  When we arrive at the campground I pull the chairs out and replace them with the bike chock blocks.

Lighting

The garage in this RV (and also in our last one) is not very bright.   I wanted to add something over the dining room table at least, and I may yet add a gooseneck clip-on reading lamp to the desk.  I chose this light.

I also wanted a dimmer in this light, plus a switch next to the garage entry door.  With the switch located here, I can turn on the light as soon as I enter the garage (versus having to walk in the dark to the “regular” light switches over by the door to the living room).  Note:  This only works on shore (or generator) power, as I did not buy a 12-volt light.  I probably could have, but going with 110v was far easier – I had the option of a battery powered remote control switch and a pretty bright light.  

The dimmer (and remote) is this model, which is an outdoor model.  I chose it because it had the 90-degree low profile plug (to not interfere with the bed raising or lowering), had the battery powered remote, and it has the three prong plug which (I think) is necessary for the dimmable light (requires a ground wire).  

I drilled a small hole in the side of the light housing and used this lamp cord with it.  There is nothing special about the cord except that it is a three prong and has a nice cloth covering.

Carpet

It is an 8′ x 10′ area rug (Luxe Weavers Marble Abstract) that fits well and reflects the natural tones we wanted to use as a theme in the RV.

Happijac Bed

Lower Height

I was not crazy about how high the Happijac bed rode.  It seemed to restrict a lot of the air flow from the AC, which in turned dripped a ton of condensation as a result.  It also made storing anything up there difficult.

This simple mod was drilling holes lower down and inserting locking pins to hold the bed there.  I first lowered the bed to where I wanted it (level with top of the 3-season doors), then marked that spot with tape on all four posts to ensure equal placement of the pins.  I drilled a pilot hole first because it is challenging to align the bottom of a 5/16″ drill bit with the top of the tape.  Much easier to use a smaller bit right at the top of the tape, then follow with the 5/16″.  I used 1/4″ pins.

The lower Happijack arms (where the couches used to be) will not pass the pins, so I lower the bed to the proper place, then lift slightly to insert each pin.  

Ladder

I don’t much like the ladder that came with the RV – the steps are narrow so not comfortable for feet, it doesn’t feel sturdy or strong to me, and it’s the right height for the loft but not the HappiJac bed.

So we bought this step ladder for getting in and out of the bed in the garage.  I was unable to find one that had the wide/deep steps and also clipped onto the side of the bed, so I opted for a folding A-frame step ladder instead.

Our bed lowers to about 61″ (from floor to underside of the bed), and about 65″ to the top of the side rail.  I wanted a five foot ladder to just barely fit under the bed, with steps as high as I could get on it.

This model seemed to meet all the needs and was on sale at WalMart for $20 cheaper than Amazon.  Time will tell if this will replace the step ladder we normally travel with to get into tall cabinets and such, or if we’ll use it strictly for the bed.

Office

Desktop

The “office” is simply a desktop screwed to the HappiJac arms, just like the dining table.  

The monitor stand clamps to the desk so it can be easily removed for travel.  It has dual arms to hold the monitors, and those just slide into place using the VESA mounts.  To save money, these are the same monitors I use in the house when not camping.  

I’m using a white power strip with a 6 foot cord to drop power from the outlet above the window down to where the monitors and laptop plug in.  It also has a low profile 90-degree head on the cord so it does not snag when the bed is raised or lowered.

 

Likewise, I ordered two short (3 foot) monitor power cables that also have that same low profile plug, to avoid snagging on the desk if raised or lowered.

3-season door insulation

This seems really odd to me.  Perhaps its a structural thing (allowing the walls more flex in transit)?  Whatever the reason, there was a gap of about an inch or so(?) between the top of the 3-season door frame and the garage ceiling.  

To avoid heat/cooling loss and to prevent bugs from entering, we added some U-shaped foam up there.  I think this foam came from the shipment of the desktop, and it fit perfectly.  I used fingers to push one leg of the “U” through the gap so it straddles the top of the 3-season door frame.  

I tried another foam before this, a stiffer packing foam that I cut to size.  Even though I intentionally went large on it (to compress it and hold it in place), it still came out when traveling.  This new foam has not budged.

Locking bathroom door

Funny how the simplest of projects ends up being complicated! 

This one actually didn’t present too much trouble.  I wanted to  replace the back bathroom door handle with this locking version because it could be especially handy when traveling with young kids or guests.  The style is pretty close to the original and simply adds the twist lock on the inside.  

I thought it came with a key (it shows one in the manifest, but that is only for handles built for outside entry use), but instead it uses a depression on the outside that I guess you can use a screwdriver to unlock it from the outside if need be.

I had to enlarge the hole for the latch mechanism, as it is a little larger than the stock one.  I think I used a half inch drill bit (the hole saw style, not the bladed kind).  

Very happy with it overall, though I need to do something about it sticking.  As you can see in the picture, the latch itself gets stuck in the retracted position.  Fortunately its not bad – I barely touch it and it pops back out.