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 6/21/2003 3:00 AM
Hi, RV-ers! I'm entirely new to RVing, and have just bought my first, used motorhome. It's a '91 Bounder 31'. I'm in the process of making it "mine," with curtains and slipcovers and carpet runners, etc. One project is to mount a TV/VCR combo in the bedroom. My plan is to cut an opening in the top part of the bedroom side of the wardrobe, place a shelf on top of the panel that acts as the "floor" of the top portion which will protrude partially through the opening, mount the interior part to the wardrobe, place finish trim around the opening, and angle the TV on this shelf--part in, and part out of the wardrobe. Here's the thing, for additonal bracing I'd like to add a cleat under the external part of the shelf to the wall of the bedroom. The Bounder info tells me that the interior finish of the walls are a thin membrane, and thus, are probably not strong enough for this. Have any of you experienced RVers made renovations or additions that required fastening things to the walls? What kind of fasteners did you use? Did you look for a piece of the steel frame (the way you'd look for wood studs in your house) to add the fastener to? What can you tell me about this? Can one screw a cup hook into the wall, for instance? Any help or thoughts are greatly appreciated, thanks! Gigi
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 6/21/2003 7:57 AM
Hi Gigi, This has been the problem with RVs of all makes, the flimsy way they're constructed. What you want to do can be accomplished but it requires a bit of innovation. "If" you're lucky enough to have a wall brace nearby that's the way to go, I can't tell you how to go about finding one hidden in the walls. Your walls are made up of a very thin layer of plywood with a vinyl like layer of woodgrain on it, under that is about 3/16ths of an inch of foam and then another thin layer of plywood. I think if I was going to modify something like you intend to do I'd try and make it as decorative as possible and add some wood support to where you want to anchor this brace. Bond or glue this wood piece to your wall in the location you want then screw the brace to it. You'll be effectively spreading the weight more evenly and also the chance of either poking a hole of ripping a hole in your wall. If you can find very short moly bolts those too will sometimes work. I dunno, there's my two cents.

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 6/21/2003 8:44 AM
cat ...
Motorhome manufacturers use several techniques to build walls that weigh as little as possible. My motorhome has two sheets of very thin mahogany plywood with strips of aspen wood sandwiched in the middle (the aspen is just around the edges or at places where they need extra support). Other manufacturers use a foam core between the sheets of plywood.
I have successfully placed hooks to hang clothes and other items on the interior walls by finding the aspen wood strips. I have also been able to fasten things to the walls where there was no aspen strips by glueing a respectable sized block of pine behind the plywood ... letting it dry ... and then driving screws through the plywood into the pine.
A cup hook that I drove into the plywood (without the aspen backing) to hold a flyswatter fell out after 20,000 miles of bouncing down the highway.
Your project sounds like an ambitious one. You have the structural limitation of the wall as well as the problem of how are you going to get the electrical power and TV antenna wire to your new spot. However, I think it is doable. You will need to really understand how your walls are constructed as well as where all the wiring is located for your thermostats, lights, and smoke and LP detectors.
[color=Red]Hints: 1) make all of your "first cuts" on the inside of the closet so that if you need to modify (or abandon) your plan that you are able to recover easily. 2) disconnect your coach from shore power before making any cuts !!![/color] Rules of Life -- be kind, share, pray, listen, wash, floss, flush, recycle, pay your bills, call your mother

Wayne Oshkosh, WI

Wayne and Jeanette we call our rig Ernie the Journey
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 6/21/2003 1:33 PM
Believe the very first thing I would do is call Fleetweed customer service with the model and serial numbers and get THEIR opinion of the same information you provided above. They will most likely gladly tell you the why's and wherefores of the project. Good luck... Happy Motoring, Butch Nancy Lake, Alaska

Happy Motoring, Butch & Sharon Nancy Lake, Alaska OR Mission, Texas
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 6/21/2003 1:49 PM
Thank you, Neil ,Wayne, and Butch, for your insightful comments. The cleat I propose to use is a strip of hardwood affixed horizontally to the wall to add support to the shelf along one side. The shelf will primarily be affixed in many places inside the wardrobe; resting on the floor panel of the upper compartment. The part of the shelf protruding from the wardrobe will be cut off at an angle to allow people to walk around the bed without hitting their heads. I will finish off the 'front' of the shelf with a horizontal piece of hardwood that will end above the shelf, which will also serve to keep the TV from sliding (or 'walking') forward and falling down. I also plan to hold the TV down in other places. I am a woman, but have substantial carpentry skills (not to mention a complete wood shop in my basement). I'm also a contract interior designer (meaning I design corporate offices), and I've done drafting for architects, both of which have required me to think through the support and finishing of many custom furniture projects. So I'm quite confident of my ability to complete this project, except for the fastening of the extra cleat. Neil, I will have to find out how to find the steel frame supports, and hopefully attach the cleat in at least one location to it. Wayne, I think your rig probably has a wood frame, which is why you are so fortunate as to have those aspen "studlings" for your attachments. As I know from designing offices, unless in a converted home, most offices are framed out with steel studs nowadays, and I NEVER hang shelves or flipper cabinets from them, unless I have the studs reinforced with wood before sheetrocking. This is why I'm not happy that my frame is steel. It may be strong and light, but it's nearly useless for attaching additional furnishings. Would either of you recommend construction adhesive ("Liquid Nails" maybe) for gluing? I think I'd be gluing to vinyl wallcovering. Butch, your idea of contacting Fleetwood is a very sound one, and I think I'll do that. Thanks again, and if anyone else has any information, I'm happy to hear it. Gigi
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 6/21/2003 5:19 PM
i can't vouch for the 91 Bounders but later ones use a vacu-bond wall system which puts a fairly thick insulation between two panels and bonds the whole thing together with glue in a vacuum. Fleetwood often says with this system to use only pop rivets to fasten things to the walls. Pop rivets work well in these conditions and will hold better than screws. I would glue the stringer to the wall and then either pop rivet the stringer to the wall (via some well-placed holes that penetrate the stringer just enough to enable the rivet to hold) or use several small L-brackets beneath the stringer, screwed up to the header and riveted to the wall, to make sure it stays up. Fleetwood will be able to tell you if riveting is the way to go with the 91 Bounder structure. Good luck. dutch souder Hebron, MD
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 6/22/2003 12:06 AM
Catwoman, I really admire your experience and qualifications for the modification you are planning. I had a '94 Pace Arrow that had Luann paneling walls with 1"x1 1/2" interior studs laying flat. Try to find them to attach your shelf cleat to with wood screws. For steel studs, I suggest self tapping bolts with washers under the heads.
When glueing to the plastic covered wall paneling, I have found that the yellow woodworkers glue is best. Outline the glue area with tape or a pencil line, then scrap through the plastic to the wood of the panel. Cover the cleat with glue and wedge the cleat in place overnight. Then you can hang your hammock on it.
Any support under the cleat will help, of course. Try to use light weight shelf materials too. Good luck and I am confident you will make it work and look good. Mr. Pace said that!

Mr. Pace said that!
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 6/25/2003 9:22 PM
Final note--I contacted Fleetwood, and the essential part of their response is: "The best way to secure the shelf to the wall would to use short butter fly bolts. These can be purchased at any hardware store. Be careful when drilling into the wall. Go just past the wall paneling. We also recommend using a strap to secure the TV." No discussion about finding studs/framing members; not even a mention of glue... I gotta tell ya, I'm happier with the responses I received here. I like to over-engineer everything; it makes me feel safe. Do you suppose he means toggle bolts? It's not very reassuring when company representatives don't know the correct terms. I'm going to use a bit of everybody's idea--find frame, scrape off the vinyl wallcovering under the cleat (I'll score around it's edges with a razor blade), glue & clamp (sort of), drill through cleat (or ledger board, if people understand it that way better) in three or four places, use self-tapping metal screw into steel frame, and short toggle bolt where there is no frame. I have one more possibility of securing the shelf--fashion a metal "Z" brace, and suspend the end of the cleat off the top of the end of the window valance board. Of course, most of the shelf will actually be resting on a horizontal panel in the wardrobe, and will also be attached to that. I'm sure, after this is done, that I'll be able to hang from it. But I won't, I assure you! One more thing: There already is an electrical receptacle, as well as an antenna (or satellite) outlet in that part of the wardrobe. It's perfect for it. I guess I'll have to take pix when I'm done!
Thanks for all you input, everybody! :)
Gigi, aa.k.a. catwoman!
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