I haven’t made a lot of progress lately. After having been out out of town for a weekend, it took me a while to catch up, and then the next free time I had was on the following weekend, and it was chilly and rainy, but despite that, I did manage to make a tiny bit of progress. A little progress is better than none, so here’s the latest.

I started with giving some more thought to my eventual slide out tabletop surface. I couldn’t think up any good designs that didn’t require me to give up more of my already painfully limited space below the sleeping platform. The best of those ideas, by far, was to purchase and install a sturdy pair of drawer slides, but like I said, that would take up more space than I was willing to part with. The materials would have cost a bit more than what I ended up going with too, so I guess that’s a plus.

What did I end up going with? Well, that’s a good question. I’m sad to say that my solution isn’t a glamorous one. It’s not just a “slide it out and you’re ready to go solution, but that’s okay. We’re camping right? Camping is meant to be a little work. Sure, we want to relax and enjoy nature, but there’s a reason why they call it “roughing it,” right?

I’m stalling. I know. Okay, so what I did was I bought a three-foot length of angle bracket…the kind of stuff used to build bed frames or hold garage door track in place. I screwed it on to the back of my bed frame. The bracket has holes up and down it meant for whatever screws or mounting hardware your use for it requires. In my case, I used a few self-tapping screws to mount it to the frame, but for the part of the bracket horizontal to the ground, I intended to line up the edge of my slide out tabletop surface and then drill a couple holes through the bracket, and the end of the tabletop. In transit, I will use two carriage bolts with a couple wingnuts holding the tabletop flush up to the bottom of the bracket and underside of the sleeping surface, thus keeping my remaining available space intact. You can see in the picture below that the ends of the angle bracket look pretty beat to shit. Yeah….you caught me. What happened there was that with the curve of my hatchback, it wouldn’t quite close with the whole bar there. I took my Dremel tool to it and cut the corners to solve that. I’ll have to file it up smooth at some point, because it is a little jagged, but hey…the door closes now. Score.

Angle Bracket to Support the Slide Out Tabletop
The angle bracket will support the tabletop surface both while in transit and when in use.

When I want to use the tabletop, I’ll have to undo the carriage bolts and then slide the whole thing out. While in transit, it won’t be attached anywhere other than those two carriage bolts. the other end, near the front, is held up by those couple spare blocks of 2×4 that I installed in Part 4. Once loosened and pulled out, I’ll then rest the other end of the tabletop on the ledge of the angle bracket, and then use the carriage bolts once again to secure the two together, but this time the tabletop sits on top of the ledge rather than hangs below it. It’s crude, but I think it’s a good plan. Also, since the holes for the carriage bolts would be drilled through the tabletop near its edges, I was worried about the eventual possibility of the carriage bolts just wearing through the edge of the wood. To counter that, I got a three-foot length of flat metal with holes spaced the same as the angle bracket, split it in half and fastened the two halves to the tabletop surface where needed. Looking good. Of course, I’ve yet to devise a means of holding up the other end once pulled out for use. I don’t want fold-down legs on the bottom, because again, that will take up precious space. I am considering an approach using a couple pieces of PVC that will allow me to adjust the height of that back end, up or down, depending on whether I’m parked on an angle. I need a level surface for cooking. I’ve got some time to think about that.

Other than that back bracket for the tabletop, I started working on some pseudo-storage ideas for little things. If you recall from earlier posts, my frame design includes a narrow space between lengths of 2×4 at the back, and a couple other similar areas on either side. I got to thinking that these would be great places to put small things such as herbs, spices, and other cooking implements in the back, and for the ones on the sides, maybe a good place to keep your phone at night when sleeping, or perhaps a quick place to store toiletries for easy access. For this, I measured and cut some chunks of hardboard…the same stuff you might see in the bottoms of cheap desk drawers, and then stapled them to the bottom of these areas. I’m not sure if the staples will hold, but I’ve got a long Minnesota winter coming up to help stress test the idea.

Hardboard stapled to bottoms of cubbies
Hardboard stapled to the bottoms of cubbies for extra storage of smaller items

Well, that’s enough for now. Hopefully my next entry comes along sooner than this one did.