curtains. I knew from the start that I wanted to replace the
original curtains. The valences were too heavy and fussy for my taste,
and the door valence had to be un-velcroed in order to close the camper.
Down they all came, and I made new ones the slide on wall track.
I detailed the process in a DIY article I wrote
for the Aliner Owners Club newsletter.
I'm very pleased with the results.
curtain. The OEM curtain was made from ordinary plastic shower
curtain, cut roughly to hang from cup hooks in the frame of the bubble
window. It was stiff, hard to store and easy to mildew. After
using an old sheet to make a pattern, I cut a new 3-piece curtain from
white rip-stop nylon, using a DIY
hot knife which sealed the edges as it cut. On the advice of
another LXE owner, instead of hanging the new curtain from the cup hooks,
I wedged a small tension rod along each side of the bubble. Small
plastic rings, sewed to the side curtains, slide up and down these rods.
Each side panel has an extension that goes a little more than half-way
across the back of the shower, where they hang from a cup hook and overlap.
Velcro keeps the curtain in place around the door opening. Above
the folding shower wall, a small panel hangs from the top of the bubble
window and overlaps the side curtains. The nylon provides good coverage
and dries quickly after use. In the photo, you can see the toilet
paper holder hung on the outside of the bathroom wall (the black strip
is 2-sided velcro which keeps the TP from unrolling during travel).
For storage, each side curtain can be slid to the bottom of the tension rod and stuffed into a small mesh bag. The curtain is held out of the way between uses and it doesn't interfere with the folded shower wall. When the shower is not being used, the TP hangs on the inside of the bathroom wall.
window awning. A small, easy-to-make and easy-to-hang awning
gives good shade to the kitchen window.
Materials needed from a fabric
Prepare a rectangular piece of awning fabric about 74" long x 19" wide. You can cut 2 1/8 yards in half lengthwise and save one half for a replacement awning later, or you can cut a 1 1/8 yd piece in half lengthwise and sew the ends together; in that case, your awning will have a seam down the middle – a "flat-fell" or finished seam is neatest – be sure to match your pattern.
Draw the finished dimensions
on the back of your fabric as follows:
Press all the seam allowances under, including the selvage edge, along your pencil lines. On the bottom edge, and on the lower angled edges, fold the raw (cut) edges under once more and sew the finished hem shut.
Sew a 45" piece of the loop-side velcro to the back of the top edge of the awning, matching the velcro edge to the fold. Place 1 row of stitching as close as possible to the fold, and place another reinforcing row of stitching 1/8" to the inside. DON'T stitch the ends or other edge of the velcro! It's supposed to "flop open".
In the same way, sew another piece of loop-side velcro to each of the top slanted edges, close to the fold. You don't need to fold the hem twice – the raw edge will be hidden by the velcro. Again, DON'T sew the ends or other edge of the velcro.
Put an eyelet in each lower corner and 2 more evenly spaced along the bottom edge (avoid going through the hem thicknesses).
Now stick the matching sticky-back hook-side velcro to the camper side – the 45" piece just above the kitchen window and the short pieces slanted down parallel to the roof line. Attach the awning.
You will have to experiment
to get the dowel lengths right – start long and shorten as necessary.
Cut one of the dowels to 45". Put a small screw-eye in each end.
From the other dowel, cut two pieces about 13" long. Put a brad in
the one end of each short piece (pre-drill for the brad). Whittle
the other ends to fit into a 5/16-18 x 5/8 T-nut and glue hook velcro on
the back of the nut. The brads on the short dowels go through the screw-eyes
and then through the corner awning eyelets; the T-nuts stick to matching
loop velcro on the window, holding the awning out. Lastly, put 2
more brads in the long dowel where they will poke through the other 2 eyelets
in the edge of the awning.
shades. Several years ago, I purchased some "Aluminet"
shadecloth, but never got around to using it. When temperatures
hit the upper 90s in July 2010, I decided it was time to get serious about
creating some sun protection. The rear bubble takes a real beating,
as it faces west while the camper is stored setup in our driveway.
The challenge lay in holding a cover held above and off the bubble to avoid
scratching the plexiglass. At each rear corner of the roof, I have
a 2' length of 3/4" conduit. At the bottom of each pipe is a threaded
male connection, and at the top is a cap drilled to hold a small stainless
eyebolt. Each pipe screws into a female connector (lengthened and
reinforced by adding a 1.5" piece of 3/4" pipe and a slip connector) that
is attached with brackets to the roof extrusion. Stainless 1/2" screws
go into the roof cavity to hold the upper bracket. The lower screws
go through the aluminum roof edge as well as the plastic "ear", barely
projecting inside. All screw holes are well caulked.
The shade is a 2' x 4' piece
of aluminet, with a grommet (purchased with the Aluminet) in each corner.
Through each grommet is a ball bungee. S-hooks on each of the upper
bungees hook to the underside of the roof extrusion, above the wide black
weatherstripping. The short ball bungees on the lower corners are
looped around the eyebolts in the top of the poles. This all worked
fine, except that the Aluminet tended to droop in the middle, nearly touching
the bubble. What to do? "Lift and separate", of course!
(Remember those old bra ads?) Two straps of poly webbing (Joanne
Fabrics) go diagonally from corner to corner underneath the shade, criss-crossing
in the middle. A slit in one end of each strap (cut with a hot
knife) slips over the screweye, under the shade bungee; hook velcro
sewn to the other end fastens to oop velcro I had already stuck to the
roof extrusion as a spacer (where the original nylon spacers fell off long
ago). The black bumper seen in the photo is part of our awning attachment;
you can see that the bubble shade connections don't interfere.
The resulting shade is easy
to store - wrap the Aluminet around the poles and slip into a 2' sewn storage
tube - and easy to erect:
The side windows are also
protected by pieces of Aluminet, cut to fit and simply hooked on suction
cups. Note: as any fabric does, the Aluminet stretches on the
bias, so I stabilized it by sewing a strip of "Stay Tape" (Joanne Fabrics)
to the diagonal edge. An additional benefit to the Aluminet is
its open weave. It won't collect water, and will protect an open
widow from sun while allowing air to flow through.
box. Just for fun, I made a flower box from a Dollar Tree suction-cup
shower caddy. I cut green styrofoam to fit tightly inside the plastic
and filled it with artificial flowers. It's a friendly, bright spot
on the outside of the camper.
decorations. Since we store the camper popped up in the driveway
year-round, Christmas decorations are a must. On our old Classic,
I was able to put a wreath around the Fantastic Fan. This doesn't
work on the higher LXE, with its long bubble windows in front, Instead,
I wrapped the propane cover in red plastic (actually, a Christmas Tree
disposal bag) and added ribbon to make it look like a large package.
Before we hired Rudolph, he was a standard 4' lighted deer at Home Depot.
Now an electric-candle socket with a red globular bulb makes his nose gleam,
and he's equipped with rope-light reins.
table. A $20 lightweight folding table from Walmart is perfect
for inside dining. The height is adjustable and it's easy to put
up and down. It's small, but fits well between the twin beds. When
not in use, it stands along the bathroom wall, wedged upright by the paper
towel holder. For travel, I lay it on the floor between the beds,
on top of a non-skid mat.
TV cable. We like our 9" widescreen 12v TV with built-in DVD
player. The camper came equipped with a 12v outlet and cable connection
in the front, but it's not a convenient location when we want to watch
TV from our beds. I removed the exterior cable inlet, added an extension
to reach through the wall, and reinstalled it with fresh caulk and stainless
screws that reach all the way into the interior paneling, not just into
the exterior fiberglass. Inside the camper, I added a 90-degree elbow
and a cable splitter. One leg of the splitter is connected to the
original cable and the other leg connects to a new cable that goes into
the rear cabinet. Outlets in the side of the cabinet are a problem
because any projection interferes with mattress and bedding. Instead,
I installed a standard RV power-cord "mousehole", painted tan. The
mousehole has a flat profile, but contains the TV cable, the 110v plug
for the TV transformer, and the 12v plug that goes into the TV. It's
a simple matter to pull all 3 cords from the mousehole when we want to
hook up the TV, and they're out of the way at other times. The TV,
by the way, travels on the top shelf of the rear cabinet, held in place
by our plastic drawers.
Microfiber sheets have been great in the camper. They're lightweight
and dry quickly. I bought twin sets, which are wider than our mattresses.
I use sheet clips on the bottom sheets to pull them together under the
mattress. For each top sheet, I cut extra width from a flat twin
microfiber and a jersey sheets and hemmed the edges. I also cut the
jersey sheet short enough that it just extended beyond the end of the mattress,
then matched the top edges of the two sheets and stitched the bottom of
the jersey to the microfiber sheet. Now I have only the microfiber
sheet to tuck in at the bottom, and it holds the jersey sheet in place.
It's hard to tuck the sheets along the wall side of the mattresses, but
folding that side under is a lot easier and it looks good.
For blankets, we use a lightweight fleece throw on each bed, with a small lap blanket for extra warmth. We also have two fluffy blankets for use in cold weather, but have found that the furnace usually keeps us warm enough without them.
Antenna. We enjoy listening to public radio, but don't always
get good reception in the camper. Standing inside, holding the radio
over my head, was not an acceptable solution! I'd heard that I could
use an automotive antenna, but I had trouble finding one that would work
and would look good. At CarQuest, I finally located a $10 Metra
Universal Rubber Antenna, side mount, with a 14" removable mast.
The installation instructions, intended for a car, were to drill a 1" hole
to accomodate plastic tabs on the mounting base. Instead, I cut off
the tabs, leaving the base flush with the camper skin. I decided
where to place it so that the inside projection didn't interfere with storage
and the outside mount was in a good spot. I drilled a single screw
hole all the way through the side of the camper. I replaced the original
short mounting screw with a 2.5" screw that goes through the ball mount
and base on the outside, through a fender washer on the inside, and into
the base of the antenna wire. The rubber mast is removable for travel
and stores easily. A rubber screw protector covers the outside threads
to keep the mount clean.
Because my favorite battery-operated clock radio doesn't have an antenna jack, I added an antenna extension cord with an alligator clip on one end. Now with the antenna mast in place on the outside, and the inside wire clipped to the radio antenna, we get a good signal.