How to replace your RV electric cord hatch

On our last trip we added replacing our electric cord hatch to the list of needed repairs.  We’ve quickly found that part of owning an older RV is constantly replacing the weather damaged plastic parts on the outside of it.  Since we’ve owned it we’ve replaced just about everything, but on this last trip we broke this hatch along with the entry door holder, so on our last trip to Camping World we picked up replacements.

Foolishly, I assumed that the electric cord hatch would be a 10 minute job just like most of the other brittle pieces of plastic we’ve replaced.  In my mind it was take 3 screws out, replace the cover, zip in 3 screws and seal.  Well, like so many other times, I was wrong!  The replacement wasn’t too complicated, but the power cord needed to be removed from the converter so instead of 10 minutes it took me about an hour.

Checkout the below video to see us replace the hatch:

 

The electric cord hatch didn’t come with anything, so here are the items and tools needed to complete the job.

  • RV Electric Cord Hatch
  • Screws.  We reused the originals.
  • Butyl tape for between the hatch and side of the RV
  • Sealant.  We use GeoCel ProFlex RV
  • Electric drill
  • 1/4″ nut driver to remove the hatch
  • #2 square drive bit (if you’re RV has a million square drive screws like our does)
  • Flat head screw driver to remove the power cord from the converter

***DISCLAIMER*** Your reading a post written by an amateur, average, non-electrician.  Take everything you read here with a grain of salt.  From here I’m not going to give detailed directions, so if you’re not an electrician and shock yourself or set your RV on fire don’t blame me.  If you don’t know what you’re doing get help from a professional.

Step 1: Disconnect from shore power and disconnect the RV house battery.  If you’re not comfortable working with electric I’d skip this project.
Step 2: Remove the electric cord hatch from the side of the RV
Step 3: Disconnect the power cable from the breaker and pull it out of the RV
Step 4: Install the new hatch using butyl tape between the side of the RV and hatch.  Seal with RV specific sealant
Step 5: Install electric cord through new hatch and reconnect to the breaker.  Connect shore power, connect battery, turn on the breakers, and test.

Do you have an older RV with crumbling plastic parts.  Share any suggestions or lessons learned below.

The best small travel trailers at the 2016 Atlantic City RV Show

On this frigid February afternoon we headed to New Jersey to find the best small travel trailers at the 2016 Atlantic City RV Show.  We had one goal in mind and that was to find some great ideas for our upcoming small trailer project.  We haven’t decided on whether it will be a restoration or a fully custom trailer, but we’re looking for inspiration!  With that in mind we had some very specific criteria in mind when looking for a small travel trailer.

  • Length under 20′.  The smaller the better to see how manufacturers are creative at maximizing space.
  • Hard sides.  We weren’t including hybrids, popups, or A frame trailers in the mix.
  • Creative.  We wanted to see some creative solutions which turned out to be the most elusive requirement.

As a little overview of the show, it is a pretty standard RV show.  For the most part it was local RV dealers showing off units they had in stock.  For this reason there weren’t too many odd or interesting new RV’s on display that I’ve seen at other shows.  I was also a little disappointed in the vendor area and the lack of RV gadgets being displayed.  The vendors were of the typical home improvement variety that can be found at most fairs with a few campgrounds and RV type products mixed in.

After combing the show floor for a few hours we came up with our top 3 list.  Checkout the below video to see our picks.

 

3. Keystone Passport 151ML

This Passport is the least expensive of the three and has a few interest features that the others don’t have.  It’s the only one with a full bath, but you get that at the expense of losing the dinette.  It also comes with a murphy bed which Sandie likes.

2. Forest River R-pod 179TT

The R-pod is the largest of the three and the only one that has a slide out.  The slide makes this 20′ trailer feel even larger.

1. Airstream Sport Bambi 16J

Being a tiny Airstream is still being an Airstream.  This well thought out design makes this tiny trailer feel more spacious and the quality is pretty amazing.  The quality is far beyond what is offered by the other manufacturers, but so is the price tag.

At the end of the day we didn’t see too much at the Atlantic City RV show that we haven’t seen before, but we still came home with some good ideas for our project.  Stay tuned over the next month or so for details on our new project.  If you have any suggestions on interesting or creative compact RV’s leave them in the comments below.

 

 

How to make a USB Charging Station for your RV

With 6 people traveling together, we quickly realized we needed a way to keep all of our USB Charging devices in a single place.  At first I thought it was stupid to add something to help stay connected when camping, but who are we kidding?  We have a microwave, so we’re not exactly roughing it.  When on the road we take along several cameras, phones, and tablets that all charge through USB ports and it made sense to give them a home.

Initially I was going to replace an outlet with one that had both standard 120v and USB ports, but I wanted to be able to charge when not plugged in.  I decided to go with 12v and that started the search for outlets that ended with these Dual USB Power Sockets (affiliate link) that I found on Amazon.

From there we needed to come up with a better place to keep these devices than the kitchen counter.  Plan A to make something that was completely hidden, but bailed on that idea because of time.  We then settled in on re-purposing an Ikea Spice Rack that’s been sitting in the garage for a while, so it became a target.  I was able to cut in into pieces and make it fit, but I think making something from scratch would have been quicker.

Lastly, we needed to find a place.  Now that Plan A was regrettably off the table I decided to add this to the side of the cabinet with the radio.  The area was already ugly and I didn’t think I could make it worse.  Well, it turns out I was very wrong and I’m now dealing with the wrath of Sandie!  Tidying this area up is now on my list of things to do and that’s going to include relocating the USB Power Sockets that I decided should be mounted on the other side of the radio.

Check out our install video and let us know what you think in the comments.

 

I guess not all projects work out perfectly and this was one of them.  It’s functional, but certainly not up to the “beauty” standards Sandie strictly enforces.

How to build shelves for your RV cabinets

If you’re looking for how to build shelves for your RV cabinets you’re in the same boat we were.  After we finished rebuilding our trailer we were in such a rush to get out and go camping we skipped planning for storage.  Over time we began piling things in drawers and cabinets until it began to drive us insane  We don’t plan to start the 2016 season with this problem, so this needed to change fast.

A few weeks ago we added a Coroplast storage compartment and now we’re moving on to the kitchen.  The cabinet above the sink was beginning to look like a junk drawer, so that’s where we focused.

RV Shelves

Our goal was to add a shelf that was inexpensive, matched the existing cabinets, and included a lip to prevent things from sliding off.  We ended up spending about $20 on a sheet of 1/2″ plywood and a 1″x2″ while had paint, glue, caulk, and paneling adhesive lying around that we were able to use for the project.

Check out the quick video below to see how we put this all together

 

After adding the shelf for $20, Sandie spent another $20 at Target for the pretty blue bins that now reside inside the cabinet.  These bins may have blown our budget storage idea, but it’s a small price to pay for a happy wife.

If you have any storage ideas leave them in the comments below.  We still have a few areas that need additional shelving and are looking for some creative solutions.