Dinette

SAM_4861One of the options when ordering the trailer is a U-shaped dinette configuration, we choose this  arrangement for a several reasons.

One was that the bench at the back provided a good place to stretch out and put your feet up.  It also allowed me to attach a side mounted pedestal table of my design, I did not want the stock table that attaches to the floor.  I also wanted the passenger’s side storage area under the bench for inside storage instead of being taken up with batteries.  In this configuration, the batteries are located on the passenger’s side across the back of the trailer.

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Cushions

SAM_5727The rear dinette has had several things done to it.

The two main cushions had their foam replaced with high density foam as these cushions were going to get the most use.  We also determined that adding foam wedges behind the seat back cushions made our backs are very thankful.  The wedges are 4 inches thick at the bottom.

After a camping season with the foam wedges, we had them covered with polyester material to keep them clean.

 

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Raised floor

Installing a raised floor was not something I expected to do.  During our first camping trips, we noticed that the seating in the dinette was uncomfortable when we sat there for a long time.  After we got back, I did bit of investigating to find out what was wrong.  The existing benches are 18 inches high which is the ideal seat height for the average person.  With the additional 4 inches of seat cushion, the seats become uncomfortable even with the back cushions angled back.

As I can’t lower the seats, due to the hot water tank, I had to raise the floor.  In preparation for installing a raised floor (3.5″), I had to raise the power center/converter panel, move the propane detector to the opposite side and figure out where to position the door into the dinette’s passenger storage area.  While researching this issue, I looked at some photos of a 19 and noticed that the seats seem about 4 inches shorter than ours based on the height of the power center/converter cover.  Their only problem was it made the windows too high for some people.

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Moving the power centre/converter up was fairly easy, there was space above it, no wires were disconnected except that the main ground to the frame was too short, so it was replaced with a heavier gauge and longer wire.

 

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Relocated propane detector to the driver’s side.

 

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Sized the access door to passenger side storage area and framed the opening.  This area is only inside storage and no outside hatch.  We found there is enough outside storage without using this area.

 

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Framed a removable floor and covered it with plywood and left over cork flooring.  The floor is held in place with the oak trim pieces.  The curved  step is because the fridge and stove are close and I wanted to avoid making a tripping hazard, besides, a curve looks better.

 

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Although the cork flooring was factory finished, I add a additional 3 layers on polyester floor finish to it.  To-date, the floor has worked out well.  Sitting or lounging out a rain storm is much more comfortable.

 

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Completed storage access door and finished floor.  The access door works well and I don’t have to fight with cushions to get into the storage space.

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Table

At this point, we don’t foresee needing to turn the dinette into a bed, so I designed the table to fit our needs.  I dislike the posts and holders attached to the floor, I want my feet there.  This table design is a work in progress, this is version 3 so far.  The table is shaped so it won’t get in the way, is large enough for 2 of us, it slides forward and back, top folds back on it’s self, rotates 360 degrees and is very sturdy.  There is also a lock to secure it from moving during travel.  So far, so good.

Support detail – Version 3

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Support is made from a straight section of 3 x 3 inch aluminum tube and is bolted to the back seat wall which has been reinforced.

Version 4

As I can’t leave anything alone and I like to refine designs, the table was next on the list.  Version 3 of the table (above) was to bolted in place to test placement, size and general usability.  Version 4 will allow the table and it’s parts to be easily removed, a better sliding mechanism and a new top.  The fixed table made it awkward to get into the rear compartments.

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The pedestal is made from 3 inch aluminum square tube.

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It is secured on the the rear bench with a V shaped saddle and is secured with a bolt at the bottom so it will not lift out.  The bolt has a large plastic knob on it to make it easy to turn.  The saddle is made from a couple of pieces of 1/4 inch aluminium plate bolted to the bench.  The bench front has extra stiffening built into it to support the table.

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At the front of the pedestal, a spring loaded catch  slips into a slot on the bottom of the sliding mechanism.

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The pedestal top has a notch at the back that captures a bolt on the bottom of the sliding mechanism.

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Sliding mechanism that snapped on to the top of the pedestal.  Removal is by pressing the button below the catch and lifting.

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On top of the sliding mechanism is the other half of the slide and the piece that allows the table to rotate.  It is attached using the drawer slides, just slides and clicks in place.

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The hardest part was to find a way to attach the table top without screws, bolts and make it easily removable.  I determined that five 3/4 inch rare earth magnets with cups were strong enough to hold the top, these are positioned and screwed to the table top.  Corresponding holes were cut in the aluminum plate that is attached to the lazy susan bearing.  The holes are used so the top will not shift on the plate.  A non rusting steel sheet was glued to the bottom of the aluminum plate to allow the magnets to adhere.

 

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Installed table.

New table top

One thing leads to another.  I like the size and shape of the table, but I wanted a better made table.

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This one uses a torsion box construction method, 3/8 baltic birch plywood, so it is stiff and hopefully will not warp.  The spaces are filled with expanding foam, then trimmed after it has stop expanding.  The foam is used do the table doesn’t sound hollow.

There is 1/8 inch plywood glued to each both side with Formica on top that.  Hinges between the two sides are SOSS invisible hinges.

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One can never have enough clamps.

 

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The edge is steam bent one piece ash for each side and used a different Formica than the counter.

The table slides easily, but needed a way to be held in place.

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I added a small toggle clamp and mounted upside down underneath the table to stop the table from moving.

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6 thoughts on “Dinette

  1. Beautiful work Chris, you have inspired me to do same soon after we take delivery of our 21′. Like your home made table, very clever. Like you we will get formed cushions to replace he foam slabs then at that time will cover with a nicer fabric. Take care. Santiago and Kim

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    1. Kim, better half, was not keen on the table as we went through the steps and photos. She does not want it there permanently obstructing use of the rear sofa like seating. Then we saw version 4 where it comes out altogether. She yelled, “All right!! Chris is the MAN !” I agree the saddle is a great design, so is the clip to hold it in. Exquisite design and I know of what I speak of.

      Besides woodworking you are good with metal, aluminum at least. What did you use to mill the magnet holes ? Routers too fast, no go. Drill press with straight milling bits ? Don’t tell me you have a milling machine? Assume you band saw the plates then finish off the edges.

      How did you build the torsion box ? looks foam filled. I think Mr Chris stays up at night thinking of these things. Lucky you.

      Santiago

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  2. I did not show the detail of the clip, but it is a made from a Simpson Strong-Tie T strap and the springs are from those heavy duty spring toggles you use on drywall to hold up shelves. Sometimes have to get creative.
    No secret milling machine, although I do have my Dad’s old metal lathe from the 1940s, currently non working.
    The holes are cut with a hole saw and filed, drilled the centre hole first so the saw doesn’t wander. The hardest part was to align the holes with the magnets. Band saw is one of the most useful tools, cuts aluminum like butter. I guess almost any wood working tool can be used to shape aluminum.
    Torsion box is 3/8 baltic birch ply, I would of used 1/4 inch if I had it on hand, it would of been lighter. Cut on the table saw. I filled the holes with foam so the table top would sound solid, not hollow. And yes, sometimes I can’t turn the brain off.

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    1. The torsion box is really neat! I would try using a drill press with milling bit with bearing roller on a guide/template ( if those bits exists ? ) for the magnet holes.

      You know back in the 60’s I played and made stuff with a full size metal lathe that it too came from the 1930-40s. Would love to own one in retirement. Will see how the US economy goes with the national debt we have. The tax give away programs will eventually kill us all down here. We need our saving for travelling that’s priority numbero uno.

      Yes clamps, having as many as Imelda has shoes is always a good thing. I too love aluminum as its just another hardwood, almost. Like brass and stainless too but for people like me a little harder to machine.

      Santiago

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  3. Chris, I love how the table comes off the base so that you have full use of dinette. I am working on a build sheet for our 5th wheel now and would love to incorporate some of your ideas. Especially the table. The Springfield table doesn’t even come close. Where can I find a table like this any idea? Keep up the good work, they should be paying for your ideas, right!

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