Friday, March 16, 2012

Well, a new day, a new project. As I've mentioned earlier, I don't use the 4 person dinette as a table, but leave it set up as a bed. In fact, I've removed the posts & hardware from the table both to save a bit of weight & so clothing baskets can slide underneath the bed.

While the cushions that are supplied with the Escape work well for sitting, they are too hard for sleeping. My solution for the last couple of trips has been to add a 2" Memory Foam Topper. That made it comfortable, but caused 2 minor problems - the folding table hit the topper and wouldn't fold to its normal storage position. In addition, the AC receptacle on the sink was partially covered by the topper.

My solution was to replace the 4" cushions with a gym mat. We used the gym mat under our air mattress when tent camping - it has a hard & soft side & worked well in the tent so why not try it in the trailer? I has to remove 2 sections & add a round to the top rear corner, but it was 4' wide & fit almost perfectly. Another advantage is it folds in sections, so it is easy to roll back the mattress/topper, fold as many sections as necessary, and get into the under seat storage areas. (Sorry for the shadow in most of the photos - I'm using the Nikon D700's built in flash & it doesn't get along well with the 17 - 35mm zoom lens.)

The Gym Mat

Folded in Place

Folded Back to Access Underseat Storage

I also added a raked mattress to make my doctor happy - some stomach problemsI've been having  seem to improve sleeping on a slant. I had to modify the topper cover to fit both it & the tapered mattress, but in the end it works, and is comfortable. That space at the bottom is on purpose - it lets my toes hang off the bottom!

Topper & Tapered Mattress

There is one last project for me to start -

I've given up on the Run Flat tires that came with the RAV4 Sport model.  As I've previously stated, it was a big mistake - the run flat tires are expensive, only last 20K miles, produce a harsh ride, and are completely useless in snow (while we didn't have a winter this winter, we usually get close to 200" each season).

I purchased a rim & 5 Goodyear Assure Gas Saver tires (for just about what I would have paid for 4 run flats). I'm building a mount to store the new spare tire on the roof rack. While it fits inside the back of the RAV4, it takes up too much space. Since I don't want to spend the $2000.00 quoted by the local junk yard for a RAV4 rear door with a spare tire "bump", let along the hassles of getting it painted, mounted, etc the roof looks good. I suspect it will hurt the gas mileage, particularly when the trailer is not attached, but if it is too bad, I can always move it back inside. Who knows, it may break up the air flow and improve things with the trailer behind it!


  1. You've been a "busy beaver" your mods....what I am going to get is your Umbra folding hooks find...seems pretty slick to me, also need to change to led lights like you've done...what make and model are they?....and I need to get a surge protector..I thinks the one you got is the ticket.....saw that you had a D700.....I'm thinking of getting the D7000, though no one has them in stock right now...then I just has the I now will ponder and procrastinate...take care....Horst

  2. I've got a mixture of LEDs - I ordered the trailer with them & most of the fixtures are from Panther RV Products: The double ones I added are these:

    I love the D700. The D800 would be nice, however I think I'll stick with the D700 for awhile. I love its low light performance - works great for shooting theatre shows, etc. You can actually get a good image shooting at ISO 1600 or even faster under the right conditions. I do sometimes miss the 1.5 multiplier the D300 gave me, but I also like the results of a full frame sensor.

    Take care,


  3. Oh, the replacement LEDs I used are the 48 SMD panel units purchased from Hong Kong. They don't have voltage regulation, but are inexpensive enough that if I have one burn out I'll just replace it. The actual companies keep changing, but this is one of them:

  4. Ironically, my husband and I were just talking about building or modifying something like this, when we change cars. Our camping days are over, but a trailer? Could work for us.

  5. Ah, the good old tenting days! While I enjoyed them, I am very happy to give them up. Nothing like a stove, shower, electricity, running water and all the comforts of home, along with never having to fold up & pack away a wet tent!