More Storage Racks Installed

New bathroom storage racks

New bathroom storage racks

Today I replaced the old rusted bathroom rack and added a new, taller one that will hold shampoo and other bottles more securely.

I also added a second one to the closet door.  (Some of the things pictured in the closet racks will get moved to the bathroom racks.)

So I’m having a ball in my little camper even though it’s still stuck in the driveway for a few more days.  🙂

The two racks in the closet will help cut down on clutter elsewhere in the trailer.

The two racks in the closet will help cut down on clutter elsewhere in the trailer.

While We’re Waiting….

The curtain is up -- deliberately overlapped in the center for privacy

The curtain is up — deliberately overlapped in the center for privacy

While we are waiting for the air conditioner part for the house to come in, I’ve decided to do a few more little mods on the Casita that will make our next camping trip more organized.

First, the front door curtain is finally up.  It is overlapped in the center, which should provide maximum privacy when we are emerging from the shower.  It blocks a lot more light than you would think from the photo.  In fact, it feels like a dungeon in there with the curtain up!  And the dowel with the cup hook on the end hangs down to the door latch opening and makes it easy to open and close the curtain with the screen door in place.

I riveted standard rod holders to the door, painted white to match the door.  That should make it less noticeable when the door is propped open during the day while the curtain is stored in the closet.

The regular curtain rod I was going to use wouldn’t work.  The finials were so long that they prevented the screen door from latching to the main door.  So I had to use a skinnier rod, without finials, and am temporarily keeping the curtains from sliding out of the rod holder with split rings.  Someday I’ll come up with a better solution!

Tomorrow I plan to mount some more cabinet racks.  I want to add an additional one to the inside of the closet door to hold insect repellant, sunscreen, and such.

The existing rack in the bathroom is rusted, so I’ll replace it.  And if I can find a satisfactory place to mount a holder for shampoo, body wash, lotion and mouthwash in there, I’ll do that, too.

I also need to devise a slim box for  my mushroom reference books that will fit under our clothes baskets underneath the rear bed.  They are frightfully expensive books, and they’ve gotten roughed up a bit on previous trips.   I don’t leave home without them.  🙂

By putting the heavy books in the rear of the trailer, it will also help get some of the excessive weight off the trailer’s tongue.

So I’m just piddling along until we can finally get on the road.

If the air conditioner part takes too long to get here, I may run out of projects and have to start deep-cleaning the house.

I sure hope that part gets here soon!  😀

New Table and Storage Solution

The new glass table with baskets for storage under the rear twin bed

I had planned to build a drop leaf table for the Casita.  But the more I thought of a large expanse of solid wood tabletop and how cramped it would make the area look, I decided against wood.

Then, in searching online for small tables, I found a couple of glass topped ones that I liked.  Best of all,  I loved the idea of how open they would make the space look.

Here the table is slid to the side so we can easily walk past it.

But after pricing them, I wasn’t sure it was such a great idea.  So I headed to the thrift store on a hunting expedition.  I looked in every nook, but didn’t find anything that I liked.  But just as I was leaving, I saw a cute little plant stand and thought I might be able to modify it to make it work.

So I took it home, took it apart and cleaned it.  I gave the metal a couple of coats of spray paint to freshen it up, and discarded the 12″ wood top.

Here the tabletop is placed out of the way on top of a cushion, giving us even more space.

We had thrown out some old wicker furniture a couple of years ago, but I held on to the glass table tops, thinking I might could use them for something else some day.  I’m so glad I did.  The small, oval tabletop is a perfect fit in the Casita!  Best of all, it’s solid as a rock.

I love the small footprint of the table.  When we are not using it, I can slide it to the side to give us walking room.  Or I can completely remove the top and lay it on one of the dinette cushions, giving us even more space to access the storage baskets.  In transit, the glass top will travel on the bed, wedged in with pillows.  And the table base will be wedged between the wall carpet and the mattress to keep it from sliding around.

My beautiful storage baskets!

The wood color of the table base doesn’t match anything else, but I really like it, so I am leaving it as it.

I feel that we have succeeded in making our little 17′ trailer into a camper with the convenience and amenities of a much larger RV.

I also replaced the plastic drawers under the rear bed with pretty baskets.  That was a project!  Those of you who have suffered through descriptions of earlier projects know what’s coming, right?  😀

I found the baskets at Hobby Lobby.  The bases were the perfect size to fit the underbed cubby hole.  However, they had rounded “treasure chest” tops, so they needed some modification to work.

First I used my Dremel to cut through the fat globs of solder that secured the hinges, chain and latch to the basket frame.  After I figured out where not to stand to keep hot metal sparks from flying up my sleeve, the job wasn’t bad.  Just tedious.

Next I ground down all the sharp solder edges until they were smooth and rounded.  Then I rubbed black paint on them to tone down the shiny silver of the solder and to cover the small gouges I put in the surrounding metal so it wouldn’t rust.

Then it was time to make the muslin lining.  EXCEPT there are dozens of very tiny, very sharp little wires protruding into the basket…. and they poked right through the muslin.

So I am going to have to build 1/4″ plywood liners for the baskets.

But that’s a project for another day!

A Beautiful Home-Built Camper Van

The new kitchen

My sister Gail and her husband continue to improve their van.  Gail has tweaked the insulation and done a lot of interior upgrading since I last posted pictures of their project.

The photo to the left is the kitchen Mike built in time for their Labor Day camping trip.  It has a hand pump water system,

Storage unit at end of bed

small gray water tank, microwave, refrigerator, and a 15″ round, deep sink.  Their stove is a camp stove that can be used indoors or outdoors.

They also built a new shelf unit at the end of one of the beds to hold shampoo, soap, and other supplies.  Clothes and other necessities are stored in bins under the beds.

The ledge above the cab is a storage area which also holds and supports their solar shower when in use.  They can let the sun warm the water, or they can fill it with warm water from the stove.  Because the water bag lies flat on the shelf, it’s well supported.  And water pressure is higher than if the bag hung down on a hook.  They clip a shower curtain to hooks on the ceiling, stand in a plastic pan, and can enjoy hot showers inside!  The pan is small enough to easily pick up and carry to dispose of their gray water.

Another view of the kitchen.

I am in awe of all they have accomplished, starting with a used cargo van.  It suits their style of camping perfectly.  And best of all, they don’t have to worry about potential plumbing problems associated with a a pressurized water system.

The van's twin beds

They have a small, free-standing air conditioner/dehumidifier that vents out the side.  It’s so efficient that they were able to nap and sleep very comfortably in Texas heat last weekend!

[on edit — click here for full details of Gail’s camper van build.]

If we are able to get our next camper before Thanksgiving, they plan to meet us at Mom’s in Florida for a family campout!

Now back to my mundane little world.  The doe and two fawns that Ron saw in our yard yesterday morning sampled the toy garden’s lima beans and collards last night. 🙂

New Water Heater, Storage & Tatted Cat

Aliner under bed storage

Aliner underbed storage. The three drawer chest was taken out to allow easier access for the new water heater installation.

We got the old water heater out of the Aliner and the new one slid into place today.  That part was an easy job.

The difficult part was prying the mounting collar off the old unit and getting the old sealant off it.

We ran out of daylight on our project, so Ron taped plastic over the hole in the trailer.  And we are taking turns scraping the old sealant off the mounting collar tonight.  We are almost to the stage where GooGone spray gel will work.

View of right side storage

This photo shoes the shoe space in front of the converter, a clothes basket, with additional storage beside it.

Then tomorrow I’ll prime and paint it, and we can finish the installation.

I thought you might be interested in seeing a picture of our under bed storage since we have the bed boards and mattresses out until the water heater installation is complete.

All the space on the left is storage, except for the small area where my three stage smart charger and solar controller are mounted.  The controller is on that side because the plugin for my solar panel is on the exterior on that side.  The smart charger is there because that’s where the RV shop put it!

The rear right houses the water heater and water tank.  Next is the converter, which has space for shoe storage in front of it.  Then there is space for Ron’s clothes basket and a plastic box that holds toilet chemicals and such.  And in winter, the little ceramic heater fits in front of the plastic box.

tatted cat

Tatted kitty kat

Last night I worked on tatting an angel.  I started over four times before finally recognizing that the pattern was too advanced for me.  So I switched to a kitty.  The original pattern is by Nancy Taylor at Be-stitched.com.  But her pattern was for an elegant Aristokitty, and I wanted a more ordinary looking cat.  So I used the body and tail part of the pattern, eliminated the chops, and made the head a little bigger.

The fan and kitty will be used on a purse for my granddaughter.  I need to tat one more motif, then I plan to make some pretty beaded edging for it.  I’ll post a picture when it’s completed.

Packing the Aliner – Part 2

In order to enjoy the Aliner and pack it successfully, you have to think like a backpacker.  There’s not room for “just in case items.”  You can only take what you really need, and you need to maximize usage of the items that you do take.

Think like a backpacker!

One large pan doubles as a frying pan and stew pot. A one quart stainless steel camping pot with folding handles nests inside its 2 quart mate.

I’ve found that one large skillet that can double as a stew pot, and two small nesting stainless steel camping pots are all the cookware I need.   We also have the little Weber gas grill for steaks and hamburgers, grilled veggies, etc.

aliner kitchen storage

Shows counter when we are camping, and then where we store the countertop items when the trailer is folded down for travel.

Kitchen countertop items are stowed in the sink and on the bed for travel.  Paper plates and plastic utensils are stored in the microwave.

Blankets and sheets are stored behind the pillows on the bed.

clothes storage under bed

Clothes are stored in baskets underneath the beds

Clothes are kept in baskets underneath the beds for easy access, and underwear and toiletries go in the little 3 drawer chest.  Shoes hide in a cubbyhole in front of the converter.  The electric heater by Ron’s clothes basket hides a tray of toilet chemicals.

3 drawer chest

The little drawer unit is for underwear and toiletries

A propane catalytic heater and laundry supplies, along with a plastic drawer unit for first aid supplies, water filter, duct tape, etc. all go in the rear of the camper by the little drawer unit.  Behind that are setup items like the stabilizer jacks crank, adapters, a tire repair kit, a small manual pump, etc.

Aliner linen closet

Storage for wash clothes, hand towels, and TP behind shower

Our linen closet is the long, narrow cubbyhole behind the shower.  We keep wash cloths, hand towels (used instead of bath towels), spare toilet paper in the back, and the roll in use up front.

Odds and ends like scissors, paper, pens, glue, small tools, clothes pins, needle and thread, etc. are also easily accessible in a tiny plastic drawer unit by my clothes drawer.

Finally, the TV tray is bungied to the chest for travel.  That keeps it from flying around, and also keeps the drawers from coming open.

We could use the shower for storage if needed.  But I don’t like having to drag things out of it if we stop for a bathroom break.  I like to be able to lift the wall, slide the latch, and have it instantly accessible.   So we just don’t bring items that would need to be kept in there.

Properly packed and kept neat, the little Aliner seems a lot bigger than it is.  With its high ceilings, skylights and windows, it can feel really spacious.  But if you let it get cluttered,  it will feel cramped and claustrophobic.

(See also previous post on packing the pantry.)

Aliner bathroom folded

The shower is available for storage while in transit if needed.

shoe storage

Shoe storage in front of converter

more storage in rear

More storage in rear

table bungied for travel

Table bungied to drawer unit for travel

Packing the Aliner Pantry

I have heard people complain that they are only able to pack 3 or 4 days worth of food in their Aliners.  So I thought I’d share some of my secrets of easily packing food for a week or more.

Packing the Aliner Pantry

Aliner pantry drawers packed in house then brought out to camper

I use plastic drawer units from Walmart, and have one drawer for each type of food.  I pack them inside the house, then carry them out to the camper, ready to slide into the drawer unit under the cupboard.

Aliner pantry drawers

One drawer for each category of food

There is one drawer for canned meats and hearty soups.  One drawer is for spices, one for starchy side dishes like grits, rice, instant potatoes and dehydrated potato dishes (scalloped potatoes), couscous, etc., and one for canned vegetables.

There is also a drawer for our supplements, and a plastic basket that sets on top with cooking oil, flour, corn meal, hush puppy mix, honey, salt, and whatever odds and ends I can stuff into it.

One week's worth of meat in Aliner freezer

I can easily get one week's meat for the two of us in the tiny freezer. If space gets tight, I take the meat out of its original wrapping and put it in zip lock freezer bags.

The freezer easily holds a week’s worth of meat for us.

Aliner refrigerator door with most of the essentials

I still need to add more bottled water to the door shelves

The refrigerator door holds mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, salad dressing, juices, small bottles of milk, pickles, etc.  It’s not completely packed in this picture.  Will add another picture later.

Also I have discovered a way to keep fresh vegetables fresh for a very long time in the refrigerator.  I originally stumbled upon it while trying to keep my vegetables from freezing.  First, I bought a refrigerator fan that keeps the cold air from settling and creating cold and warm pockets of air inside.  Next, I wrap the vegetables in a paper towel, then wrap them in bubble wrap and tape them shut.

The way it extends shelf life is amazing.  I have kept iceberg lettuce for 5 weeks like that, and when I unwrapped it, it looked as crisp and fresh as the day I packed it.

I took a photo, but it turned out fuzzy.  So when I get better pictures I will post them.

We keep most of our sodas and drinking water in a cooler in the back of the truck.  If we have room in the refrigerator, we also keep some handy in there, too.

Next time I’ll show you how I make the most of the rest of the space in the Aliner.

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