The Coachmen Crossfit/Beyond comes from the factory with about a foot of empty space behind the drivers seat. On our first trip, we simply piled random stuff in that space. That didn’t work too well, so I built a small cabinet with flip-down panels that I hoped would make that space more usable. The cabinet didn’t work very well. Getting stuff in and out was a pain. We needed another plan for that space.
For round two, I decided to fabricate a triple-decker pullout cabinet. The cabinet is fabricated from aluminum, HDPE, and pop-rivets. The choice of aluminum and HDPE (High-density polyethylene) was because I figured that with only 7 to 10 inches of usable space, the width taken up by typical wooden panels and framing would make the cabinet too narrow to be useful. I also wanted to practice working with HDPE – in case someday I decide to outfit a van from scratch. 😎
To support the cabinet and keep it from wandering around the camper, I used 100lb self-closing drawer slides fastened to 2″ aluminum angle, which in turn is screwed to the camper floor. The self-closing drawer slides seem to keep the cabinet from opening while driving, even when whacking turkeys.
The entire cabinet pulls out into the isle – there is no space wasted by an external frame. It’s sort of like the pullout pantry found in other campers, but shaped to maximize the odd-shaped space.
My original idea was to use part of the cabinet interior as a wastebasket by attaching a trash bag inside the front partition of the cabinet. That ended up being sort of clumsy – it was hard to stuff garbage into the wastebasket partition. I tried to solve that by cutting a big hole in the front panel. Getting the trash bag out was a pain no matter what. Instead I found a hanging wastebasket for the outside of the cabinet & will try to use the front partition for recyclables.
The combination of HDPE, aluminum and rivets turned out to be easy to work with. The 1/8″ HDPE can be scored and broke or cut with a tin snips. The 1/16″ aluminum can be cut with a tin snips or if you have a carbide blade, the same type of cutoff saw that you use for wood. I could easily build out a campervan with this combination.
White HDPE and aluminum pop-rivets don’t look nice next to the natural maple cabinetry. If this concept works, I’ll consider making a maple face for the cabinet. Or maybe just dab some white paint on the rivets.
We’re getting ready to head out on another road trip, & should have a good idea if this one is a keeper or not.
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