Thursday, November 6, 2014

What if: Interior, finishing out the last of the cabinets

This final little bit on the interior layout covers the space from the aft ends of the countertops to the rear wall.

Filling out the space at the aft end of the driver's side or left-hand counter will be a cupboard wide enough to fit a Norcold Model NR751 fridge. This is the new version of Norcold’s 2.7 cu ft 110V/12V compressor drive model.

This fridge is less than 2 feet tall so there’s plenty of vertical room in this cupboard to mount the fridge up at eye level, but even this small version of a ‘newfangled ice box’ weighs in at 50 lbs., and that’s before loading it with food. So in order to keep the camper's all-important center of gravity under control I'm mounting the fridge as low as I can.

The leftover space above the fridge will make a very nice pantry.

By using a track-style adjustable shelf system two or three shelves can be added to the pantry to maximize it’s potential. (Track style allows the shelves to be locked in place which is a good thing in something like a camper that bangs and rattles on down the road. Pin style adjustable shelves don't have any provision for locking the shelves in place, and picking them and their contents up off the floor every time you drive a few miles gets tiresome!)

Natural instinct is to use the bottom shelf for large items and set up the adjustable shelves above that to take the smaller things. Unfortunately that would be wrong. Generally speaking, larger food items are also light weight, such as boxes of cereal and bags of chips, where small items tend to be heavy such as cans of soup. So, back to that center of gravity thing, set the adjustable shelves to keep the heavy stuff low and and use the higher spaces for lighter items.

The space I have to work with aft of the counters is a half inch shy of 30” wide yet the fridge only requires a cabinet 19.5” wide. I've chosen not to turn the remaining 10” into a narrow cupboard but rather just leave it open.  This isn’t due to laziness on my part but rather experience at living in small places.

With a few hooks, a bracket or two and a wire basket, this space will accommodate a broom, wet jackets or rain-gear and damp gloves and hats, all things that can be very difficult and annoying to deal with in an over-engineered, under thought-out micro-space. (What?? You didn’t think the floor was going to keep itself clean and that it was always going to be perfect weather did you?)

The space over on the other side, aft of the right hand counter can go two ways.

First I can use it as an open-faced closet by simply installing a hanging bar. This is the arrangement I’ve used in many of my past RV’s and it works out pretty well. I don’t mind having my clothes on display when it means I can do away with clumsy, heavy closet doors. If I need additional ‘dresser’ space because of a lack of overhead cupboards, as in one of my lift-top rigs, a simple fabric ‘shoe shelf’ that hangs from the bar works pretty well.

Compared to the 18” hanging bar I’ve had in my past two rigs the 30” bar in this camper will seem palatial!

The second option, if additional clothing storage is needed, is to install large, sliding wire baskets in this space. (Along with a fixed shelf at the top where you wouldn't be able to reach into a drawer.) Drawers like this will actually hold more folded clothing than a hanging bar in the same space; but come on! Just how much clothing do I really need!!

So back to the hanging bar version.

Clothes will hang quite nicely in a space as little as 24 inches front to back, but as you can see this closet is almost 30” deep.  The reason for that is the toilet that will store away on the floor under the closet. Remember that the floor isn’t as wide as the sides of the camper shell so in order to tuck the approximately 13” wide toilet (And the pedestal it sits on, but I'll go into more detail on that in another post.) neatly away I had to extend the closet outward a little bit beyond what was strictly necessary for hanging clothes.

The toilet doesn't take up the full 30” width of the space under the closet so there's room left over to store something else under there as well, like maybe a portable space heater.

And before we leave this area of the camper I want to go back to the weight issue. Between the water tank and air conditioner I have about 157 lbs. over on the left, or driver's side of the camper. Between the batteries and the toilet I have about 160 lbs. over on the right side.

This might look like things are pretty well balanced out before adding the refrigerator, but both the batteries and toilet are closer to the centerline of the camper whereas the air conditioner, which accounts for about half the 157 lbs on the left side, is right out at the far left edge of the camper, shifting the center of gravity towards the left despite nearly identical weights on either side of the centerline

What this all means is that from a weight distribution standpoint it makes sense to put the fridge over on the right, or passenger side of the camper rather than the left.  Well, I tried it that way but just didn’t like the way the space flowed.

The plan with the flow

With the fridge over on the driver's side (The left side), as in the drawing to the left, the faces of all the lower cabinets on that side pretty much line up and it’s a straight shot all the way from front to back. 

With the fridge reversed, or what I call the funnel plan

When I put the it over on the right, or passenger side, the fridge cabinet has to extend several inches beyond the adjacent countertop, and over on the other side, the closet cabinet has to extend beyond the sink countertop by over 4 inches to accommodate the toilet.

This layout also requires shifting the door opening towards the right or passenger side of the camper shell by 6 inches. This, due to outside step requirements (Which I'll talk about in a future post.) also requires reversing the door so it opens to the driver's or street side of the camper, away from most campsites and right into the dangerous side of the truck.

Visually, having the fridge over on the left side chops up the space and physically it feels like the path from the front of the camper to the door is now being forced by the two protruding cabinets to funnel down into a narrow gap. Both of these might be acceptable in a larger space but not here.

So I opted for the better flow and kept the fridge over on the drivers' or left side of the camper.
A certain amount of side to side weight imbalance is tolerable but even so, careful stowage of supplies will be in order. For instance the stove, cast-iron pots and dishes should all be stowed in the right-hand cupboards, saving lighter things for the left-hand cupboards.

This ends the detailed examination of the interior layout. Next time I’ll start talking about the various systems that will be installed, and just as importantly, the ones that won’t be installed.

No comments:

Post a Comment