Winnebago table Mk.3 (freestanding)

Another long term project that I think is possibly at a conclusion. The hunt had been on for a table solution that doesn’t require taking part of the bed (I like to sleep in . . . .). It seemed a waste to have this table in the van that couldn’t be used outside of the van.

My Mk2 solution was to replace the old single leg with two off the shelf fold down table legs. These could be used either in the normal way in the van or in combination with some bolt on legs.

I am a fan of the 15mm rod system that gets used for video gear. I discovered it years ago when i used them to make a motorbike stand!

For Mk.2 I created a pair of legs using 2 x 400mm +300mm rods. I added bracing with two 200mm rods and the end caps from the 400mm rods. The legs have generic 15mm rubber stoppers/feet. To start with I used Smallrig tube clamps mounted to a carbon fibre interface plate and mounted to the table.

The end result wasn’t entirely stable, primarily due to the off the peg legs which had way too much side to side movement. I decided that there was mileage in the original idea and worked on MK3. The clamps I had used had a very small contact patch so had movement in them too, so I looked for a better clamp.

I found what looked like a more stable mount in the Smallrig dual clamp (1943), which is designed to take a dual rod but I didn’t let that small detail bother me. It seemed to offer a flat mount and 3 mounting points. When it arrived I found that one mounting point has a recess, so I found 2mm washers to space that out. Another washer to fit in the tube socket for another bolt and hacksaw the dual mount in half! Mounted to the table with bolts and structural adhesive and it seemed more stable but the other end was still wobbly so I ordered up another set of rods and another two dual mounts.

The end result, I put 3 leg mounts on one end, so I can use either a single or dual leg in the van or 4 legs out of the van. 700mm legs with 400/300mm rods joined. Sockets from 1943 clamps cut in half and fitted with stainless knurled m5 knob.

Two side bracing bars from 2 x 200mm rods and Smallrig 1104 90 degree brackets. The 1104 brackets have one of the two bolts replaced with an allen key bolt so that only the clamp for the upright is adjustable. Mounting clamps for all rods fitted to the underside of the table.

Another Eurovan new switch plate.

A lot of the eurovan blogs out there end up having a new switch plate of some sort! Times change and we need new fuctions. After getting mine, I originally modified the original by cutting in a couple of switches for the fridge and fitting 12V, USB chargning and a switch in place of the redundant 110v outlets.

My issue with this set up was primarilly that the USB and 12v cables were by the opening part of the fridge door, which always lead to cables trapped in the door. I could have re-hinged the door but the door was correct as the passenger could open it and get at drinks while we were moving. I also didn’t have a switch setup for my router (which lives under the sink)

The secondary issue is that in these coronavirus times the van is my shed office. To plug in my laptop I currently have to plug in USB-C into a modified cigarette lighter unit and plug that into my 12v outlets. It is not only a bit ungainly but I also keep running out of outlets on this side of the van (using another for wifi link and another for a NUC). I wanted to install a modified USB-C adapter

I started CADing up the plate probably 2 years ago and it got re-picked up every now and again. Everytime slightly different. I wanted to get a proffesionally made plate from the cad made out of metal but getting someone to do it was problematic. In the end I gave up. Something composite and home made is a bit more in keeping with the van anyway!

Made some carbon fibre plate and transfered all the measurements from my cad to the plate by hand. Took my time and tried to get all the holes as accurate as possible with a handheld drill and a dremel. Should really use a pillar drill but I have too many tools for my flat as it is! One of the nice things of composites is they are a lot easier to cut than metal.

Not sure what everyone else finds but my Winnebago framework is far from square. Plate had to be taller on the left to the right. My plate also has a straight line from one side to the other, which shows the bow in the metal work! Its also not flat as they never bothered to sand down the welds. . .

Left to right my plate ends up with

  • 2 x 12v direct power outlets on Lemo 1B
  • Switched Dual USB A power outlets with volt meter. Dual USB-C outlets with top delivering 30w for laptops, lower 18w for phones etc. (Its a pass through connector connected to an Anker charger modified to convert from cigarette lighter to cable input)
  • Gap for future sockets
  • Locking power switch for van 4G wifi router and associated bits
  • Fridge power
  • Livello 9-LED LPG monitor
  • Stock test switch
  • Stock levels board but with LED holes for water only
  • Water pump switch

I was tempted to get rid of the factory meters completly but seemed silly to chuck it away when i would have to recreate its functions for the water. The voltage and LPG are now hidden away as they serve no function any more.

Stereo Power

My weekend task that took a while longer than I expected! Finally got the stereo working from either the starter or the house battery. As the house battery has plenty of solar and I had upgraded all the speakers it made sense and I wish I had done it earlier.

In my case, I don’t have a split charge relay in the engine bay any more, so I have no house power there to split off. My relay is in the back. So running in cable time!

I used a Carling double pole single throw (on-on) switch to switch both the main un-switched radio feed and the aux feed that powers it up. Now in one position it works in the normal way, switched on and off with the ignition and powered from the alternator, in the second its on and all power comes from the leisure battery. I would have used some slightly larger, better fit switches but they only came illuminated and were very expensive and the Carling had more options. I got an actuator with a battery engraved on it and a purple one which was on back order but seemed more fun (and arrived the next day)

4mm cable was run in parallel with the Winnebago rear speaker cables, which meant seat out.

I ran in a 4mm thinwall cable between the switch and behind the fridge following the existing speaker cables. To lift the carpet enough the seat has to come out. This then joined onto the old fridge cable that I upgraded in the past.

In my case, my fuse box is behind the rear plate, not on it. Hated that plate!

I have a 6-way fuse board in the back which replaces the original board. I hated that thing, it was heavy, I didn’t like the loom dragging out everytime I needed to get in there, all the screw holes were stripped (wood screws into plastic is not a sensible solution) and the bloody door was always hitting me on the head.

While I was doing a bit of rewiring for the new circuit, I also took the time to modify the rear vents with metal clips for the screws and added a new set in the middle of the largest vent. All mine were stripped and the vents banged about.

End ressult, stereo with no ignition key!

Coffee shelves

Inspired by/ ideas stolen from 1705.net

Was seriously missing surfaces for the evening time, especially if the top is down. Cooker top is no use as you have to move everything when you brush your teeth. There is just the tiny area in front of the cuttlery drawer.

Wanted a small shelf that never got in the way. Although the idea started from the larger shelf on 1705s blog, I wanted something shorter. I had a failed carbon fibre project that was using 5mm Nomex honeycomb so decided to use this with some home made CF sheet to make a small, thin lightweight shelf. Some bits of bent ally with CF reinforcment completed this one. Works well for phone, keys etc.

The first coffee shelf

1705.net also had a reduced clip in shelf, using bracketry from their second unused table. My van only came with one table, so although this looked like a nice idea, I didn’t have the spare bracket to use for it. I searched high and low for an aluminium profile to match with no luck but recently came up with a way of simplifying the bracket using a hook and and a single stopper (the original having a stepped stopper section).

Bent some 3mm acylic to make the hook sections and aluminium corner to make the stopper section. Shelf constructed from 2 layers of CF and aluminium honeycomb (about 10mm thick total).

Has a bit of give in the brackets but then so does the original table bracketry! Could possibly reinforce the angle if it comes to it.

Stereo Upgrade (Pt.2)

Coronavirus upgrade time!
When I got Vanity, she had a severely damaged stereo installation. All of the cab speakers had been blown. Some made some vague noises but the paper cones in the door cards were completely broken and no longer attached. One of the tweeters worked. The only working speakers in the van were the two rear Winnebago fitted speakers. Unfortunatly, only one of the two worked as the stereo had only one channel working!

My initial upgrade path needed to give me a working stereo. Allow me to connect my tunes. Give me a reversing camera screen.

Finding a single DIN stereo that has the screen extending down (rather than up in front of the vents) proved a search. I ended up finding a cheap Android Xtrons unit.

Gives GPS via built in android app.

Gives me internet radio without a phone (I used it initially with a generic USB 4G dongle but it now works on van wifi)

Gives me my music library on a SD card which syncs to my itunes library over wifi when at home (iSyncr)

Can do bluetooth recieving.

Has reversing camera input and can have steering wheel controls

Xtrons TR704L Head unit. Dash also includes ignition switched USB charger with volt meter, Lemo 0B power for GPS and a Lemo 1B power input to battery for solar charging of starter battery (currently plugged in).



Upgrading speakers was a little tricky as the door speakers are somewhat unusual 5″ units. As a stop gap (a 2 year stop gap), I slung some 100mm full range coaxials into the existing tweeter holes (Hertz)

With some time on my hands, I went back to looking at upgrading to a tweeter/mid setup. Was considering going Hertz pro but really meant 6.5″ mids. Stumbled across Hertz’ sister company Audison selling what looks to be a cheaper variant of the Hertz legend tweeter with a 5″ mid so I got these ordered up!

Fitting of course is never quite as simple as one would hope. The holes don’t tally with the old ones and the old speakers used a plastic mounting ring inside of the door card which too small to allow the rear cage of the Audison in. First attempt I removed the door card to work out how the hell I was going to fit them. In the end, just took removing the internal plastic ring, drilling new holes and using the metal clips for the screws (which came with the speakers). for the second door, I didn’t even remove the door card and cut the internal plastic trim out with a dremel.

Arguably they just fit or dont fit depending on your point of view as they are a little deep in one corner. I padded out that corner with foam and it works.

The tweeters I decided to fit to the original tweeter speaker covers. The little pods came with the speakers and I simply drilled holes for bolts and put some foam betweent the two. Foam was also added to the grille undersides to stop them rattling. Of course nothing is simple and one of the tweaters stopped working. Not wanting to deal with the return issues, I pulled it apart and fixed a broken wire.

Finding locations for the crossovers was a challenge in itself. Ended up with one screwed into the side of the fuse box holder and one bolted under one of the airconditioning air boxes (using the screw that used to hold the thermostatic probe (which broke, is unobtainable and I replaced it with a fridge thermometer)

Connected up and as part of testing panned the audio all around the van. . . . to find that one of the rear speakers had now given up the ghost. One of the small wires that connect to the cone was faulty. Not having any Audison options in a 4×6 I put in a pair of Hertz DCX 460.3, which needed a little bit of modification to their plastic mounts to fit the original grilles but otherwise fitment was simple.

Audison Voce AV K5 system installed



Wardrobe

The original wardrobe is much hated. I hated that it had little usable storage. It had doors that were always in the way and clattered while driving.

I decided to go the shelve route and to also change the doors to a tambour door

Completed install. Dimmer for the roof LEDs and a dim/full switch is on the left beneath the one remaining cigarette socket in the van. Plate replaces what was once mains power outlets.

The shelves were mainly produced from the old cupboard doors cut up and repurposed. These were actually quite a nice, light weight hollow construction. The divider was extended at the bottom to prevent items from crossing between the two sections using some home made carbon fibre, double sided sheet. The top shelf is a sandwich construction carbon fibre shelf with aluminium honecomb core!

The brackets for the tambour doors needed spacing out to put them in line with the metal door edges. A top vanity cover is needed to hide the roller and the gap at the top. Purple carbon fibre sheet (one layer of purple glass/CF twill and rest CF). A trim is also needed for the bottom of the metal frame where screw holes were exposed from removing the old track. Access to the top shelf is slightly limited by the door.
I find aluminium corner a really simple, lightweight and flexible way of making shelf brackets.

Winnebago Gas struts in EU

I struggled to find all this info, so hopefully this will help others

Pop Top Struts

Mine was fitted with Nitrolift GS10-22-300-350. This tells you it has 10mm shaft, 300mm stroke and a 350mm body with a 22mm body diameter. It does not tell you about the rod ends or the force. The ends are 13mm ball sockets (which on nitrolift fit an M8 thread). The length of the ball sockets is 30mm from end to ball centre. In the UK SGS sell these and the socket is code B14.

Choosing a force. . .

What I found is that the stock seems to be 100lbf (444N). Heavy duty ones are sold at 110lbf (490N) and 120lbf (533N).

First off I got a standard which was dumb as I have solar on the roof. I had no idea what was fitted to my van initially and they were stronger than 444N.

I probably have about 10kg on my roof so second attempt was a 500N (112lbf). This works out much better but they still struggle to hold in the partially open state. I would go for 533N at least next time.

There are YouTube videos that show how to compress the struts with a ratchet strap and a prussic loop (loop of rope) this is really easy to do. Propping the roof is the bit that takes the longest (just finding something a good length). I used some camera rods with some books to space it all out.

Kitchen unit struts

The original struts had markings:

SPD-4900-40A

Google says this is a 40lbf (178N) strut with a 2″stroke- length between 5.5″ and 7.5″ (140-190mm). Think its 10mm ball ends, 6mm rod diameter, note that length includes ball ends.

At the time I got the van the struts had completly failed and I couldn’t find a direct replacement. I went for some a little shorter that were easily available on ebay and moved the mounting points. These were 80N small kitchen struts. They kept the lid open (apart from on a slope).

Eventually I put a magnetic knife block on the top so up-rated the struts and went back to the longer length.

I can’t find a UK 51mm stroke unit. Closest is under or over (40 , 60mm). Note that lengths of nitrolift units don’t include the ends.

Nitrolift GS6-15-60-100 rated at 160N (160mm long, 60mm stroke)

Plastic 10mm M6 ball end – 18mm length end to cetre. (complete length 196mm)

I managed to install these with the brackets back in the original hole. Took a bit of force to get them on due to the extra lenght. Work fine now, top does not raise by itself but will hold at any opening.

The knife block actually holds the knifes even over bumps etc. The block I bought wasn’t up to the job so I bought some Neodymium magnets of the same size, glued them on top of the existing cheap ferrite magnets and added spacers.

Middle cupboard shelf.

It took more than a year of mulling over this one but I finally worked out a way to make the middle cupboard a bit more usable to me. The issue as many know is that this cupboard as it comes is one of the few that is accessible when the bed is down (making it valuble cupboard space) but it is deep and an odd shape meaning its difficult to get much in it in an organised manner.

For a year I just had a soft box that I shoved in over the pans and it was super annoying. For ages I mulled over how to get a usable shelf. This is what I came up with.

Shelf shaped to allow a higher level storage. Shallow enough to allow pans into the bottom. Upstand to keep items in and hinged to allow easy access to the top shelf.

I formed it all from carbon fibre using a aluminium honeycomb core. Something similar could be done in wood with a metal door. Composites are something I am accustomed to working with.

The two halves of the shelf sandwich. The shelf actually lost about 20mm in order to get the pans in
Completed shelf before trimming
With hinged upstand added.
In place with DZUS 1/4 turn fasteners opened ready for loading
Fully loaded

Roof Vent

Another of the Winnebago Eurovan issues. . .

Like many others I had issues with a broken roof vent. When I got it, the roof leaked like a sieve and the mounting points for the middle chair used to fill up with water. Inspection showed many issues. The hinges had rusted completly through in some places, so it didn’t shut at the front. The latch at the back was also repaired and so it didn’t shut at the back properly either.

First thing was to fix the hinges

At this point it was kind of usable, but still leaked, just at more managable level. It still had to be taped shut most of the time, which was a pain. Sometimes would start coming off driving, couldn’t open without removing etc. etc.

I hunted for a replacement. Tried everywhere to find something of the same footprint without luck. I had seen posts from others where they had fit larger, RV style hatches. I even had one delivered but returned it because it was a) really plasticy and flimsy (not that the original is sturdy) b) would add about 100mm which further limits what carparks I can get into.

There are things that are nice about the original vent. Its lightweight (I measured at 1.3kg with trim)and its low profile at about 20-25mm high.

Roll forward a year and I found a new contender. The Lewmar Low Profile marine hatch, size 20. This is roughly the same size, claims a 25mm height (which is only partly true as it doesn’t shut flat by design) and has a stated 2.3kg weight. It is much sturdier than the old one and has a 8mm thick acrylic top. I am sure you also hear the difference in sound transmission but perhaps I imagine it. It has a nice locking position partially open and then a friction hinge that holds it at any position (it goes a fully flat). It has a tinted glass so lets more light into the van (both a good and bad thing!)

Due to the thickness of the trim on the old one, the Lewmar actually presents more open area but its thinner, to such a degree that the bolt holes are not covered by the roof plastic, as such it takes an interface plate to mount it.

First was to take the old one out, much easier than I expected, gentle pull and out it came (remove internal trim first)

First created a temporary wooden interface plate out of scrap ply. It was basically the same size as the old vent with a cutout for the new. It allowed me to drill the 4 holes in the roof and do a test fit. It was a good idea as I decided it was too small, made it about a 10mm bigger on front and back to give a reasonable bonding surface. The original vent had only 10mm or so.

The final plate, constructed out of carbon fibre at the larger size. It is bolted on left and right and bonded all the way around to the PSA roof using Plexus MA310 structural adhesive. The vent is then stuck and bolted to the interface plate using Sikaflex.

My struts for holding the roof up are currently at 500N (112lbf) which work fine for opening the roof but still struggle at holding it open at the safety strap height.

2020 update, finally made an internal trim for it. Basically an interference fit and a carbon fibre plate as normal.

Roof Repair- The dreaded Cracks

So when I got the van it had the dreaded roof crack on one side. As others have discovered and I repeat here, roof is an ASA plastic. My first attempt was to plastic weld the crack shut using some ASA plastic rods and a soldering iron.

I have experience doing plastic welding on motorcycles and the issue that I have found (with my technique at least) is that I can make a bond by welding from one side and can sometimes get a decent weld but for a structural bond, you need to weld from both sides. On the van there is no access to the inside of the ASA shell. . . .

My first weld actually held up for a decent amount of time, 6 months- year.

When it opened up, it did so at an awkward time, I did a rush re-weld that didn’t stick. After this I started considering adding reinforcement material to it. I had seen people drill holes and bolt metal supports in. I decided that bonding carbon fibre sheet to it would give me similar results with no penetrations.

First attempt produced some freaky results. I used non-structural thickness of CF but as I was sticking it on when the roof crack was shut it would be in tension and strong enough in this manner. Unortunatly, that wasn’t how it played out. I didn’t strap the roof crack shut, used a 48hr cure adhesive and the roof opened up over night and it cured in an open state. The sheet ended up bent in a way I wouldn’t have though possible!

After this, I added a second piece but used a structural thickness and researched for better structural adhesives. The advise I got was Plexus MA310 which is quick setting and advised for difficult to bond plastic surfaces. The second time I also held the roof crack closed with a ratchet strap!

Not had any movement since adding the last reinforcement. I believe mine was cracked as the previous owners were closing the top on the roof bedding and it wasn’t closing at the back adding extra strain.