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Contests

October Mod Contest – Mini-Mods

From clever storage solutions to dinette alterations, pet protections to barbecue buddies, see what a few bucks and a couple hours can do.  Then choose your favorite Mini-Mod, and vote.

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Welcome to the October 2015 Monthly Mod Contest.  This month we are featuring twelve examples of the least time intensive, least expensive, and easiest to perform mods, the Mini-Mods.

Please review the following twelve Mini-Mods and vote for your favorite October 2015 mod.  For more information about the Monthly Mod Contest, including how to enter, click here.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE OCTOBER 2015 WINNER!

October 2015 Mini-Mod Contest Entries:

#1 – John Wells, Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania
2011 Chevy 3500
2012 Chalet Ascent S100F

For years we have suffered a misdemeanor attack by our truck camper at the end of every drive.  I’m referring to the “Assault and Bottle-ry” that occurs the first time you open the medicine cabinet door at the end of a long or short trip.  I’m thoroughly convinced that these bottles of shampoo, deodorant, bug repellent, and sunscreen, to mention a few of the major offenders, all conspire during the trip to leap from the cabinet at the first opportunity.  The really annoying ones end up in the toilet of our wet bath.

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Above: Police line-up of the “Usual Suspects”.  “I saw it all, Officer.  It was that Big Pink guy on the right end!”.  Click to enlarge.

I ruminated over the ideal solution for a few months and I stumbled upon some rigid plastic tubing that spawned an idea in my mind.  Actually, the tubes were bovine artificial insemination pipettes.  TMI?  Hey, I’m a retired veterinarian; you use the tools you have.

You might use one-quarter inch to five-sixteenths inch rigid plastic or polycarbonate tubing available on Amazon and elsewhere.  The tubing is flexible enough to allow bottles to be wiggled in behind it, yet rigid enough to prevent anything from falling out at the end of a trip.

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Above: Sample blind hole in side of medicine cabinet.  Click to enlarge.

Holes were drilled at the appropriate height for the contents of each shelf.  Our medicine cabinet has an outside flange that acts as a stop for the tubing, so the holes only penetrate the inner wall of the cabinet.  If your cabinet has no flange to act as a stop, or you can’t drill the necessary blind holes, drill the holes all the way through and slip a tight fitting O-ring on each end of the tube to keep it centered within your cabinet.

Tubing is about three-quarters inch wider than the interior of the cabinet, and springs into place very securely by just flexing slightly.  After several trips and a couple thousand miles, “Assault and Bottle-ry” has been effectively outlawed in our camper!

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Above: All the violent offenders effectively restrained.  And, the plastic rods can be sprung right in and out for easy cleaning.  Click to enlarge.

It took me an hour to complete this mod, and cost five dollars.  In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is easy.

#2 – Bill Harr, Stockton, California
2005 Toyota Tundra TRD
2013 Four Wheel Camper Hawk, shell custom build interior

On our east coast trip, we put our shoes on the floor under the over hang on the driver’s side cabinet.  Soon we both had two pair of shoes out and the area was getting messy.  The shoes also slid around when we traveled.

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Above: Two 15-inch by 15-inch bicycle cargo nets.  Click to enlarge.

I bought two 15-inch by 15-inch bicycle cargo nets at REI $6.95 each.  I took the metal hooks off and then used zip-ties to join them together making a 15-inch by 30-inch net.

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Above: The two nets were joined together with zip-ties.  Click to enlarge.

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Above: Cup hooks were used on each end, in the middle and on top.  Click to enlarge.

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Above: Cup hooks were used on each end, in the middle and on top.  Click to enlarge.

I installed cup hooks on each end of the over hang area to attach the net.  I did put a cup hook in the middle bottom and on top.  The top center hook has a small bungie attached to it and the net.

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Above: Their shoes are easy to access and out of the way.  Click to enlarge.

This mod used an area that was not being used and keeps our shoes where we can get them.  I have taken a couple of trips and this mod is working great.  The shoes are always out of the way and handy when we need them.

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Above: Their shoes are easy to access and out of the way.  Click to enlarge.

It took me less than an hour to complete and it cost less than $20.  In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is easy.

#3 – Alain Larose, Pointe Aux Outardes, Québec
2011 Ford F-450
2004 Lance 1181

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Above: The shower curtain allows for a changing area – click to enlarge

Our camper bathroom is small for big guy like me.  When I get out of the shower, I need more space to dry in privacy!

We bought a curtain, a telescoping pole, and some anti-skid material (auto-adhesive velcro) at Walmart.  The pole doesn’t move.  The curtain goes in and out with the slide-out.  The left top end fabric of the curtain is screwed with a mini SS-screw.

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Above: Since the curtain is on a telescoping pole, it goes in and out with the slide – click to enlarge

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Above: From the changing area looking to the back of the camper – click to enlarge

This mod has worked out well and is super simple!

It took me an hour to complete and cost $30.  In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is easy.

#4 – Robert Morrissey, Savannah, Georgia
2011 Ford F350
2012 Lance 850

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Above: Windy in the overcab, covered tank switches under the sink

Our two cats, Windy and Stormy, have complete freedom while under way and roam about our camper at will.  This mod is to prevent Windy and Stormy from accidentally turning on the water pump and flooding our truck camper while traveling down the road.

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Above: A clear plastic vegetable container was used to cover the light switches – click to enlarge

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Above: A clear plastic vegetable container was used to cover the tank and water pump switches – click to enlarge

I simply took a clear plastic vegetable container, removed the lid, and taped it over the switches.  It works well and gives us peace of mind.  I have also added a cover near the back door to prevent them from turning on the lights.

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Above: Stormy enjoying their Lance 850

There have been no accidents so far.  By using clear plastic we can see if the pump or lights are on or off.

This mod took me a fifteen minutes to complete and it cost nothing extra.  In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is easy.

#5 – Roy Bertalotto, Dartmouth, Massachusetts
2006 Dodge 2500
1998 Palomino Bronco 1200

I needed a simple place to store often needed tools that could be reached without going into the truck camper.

Non-basement truck campers often have access ports along the bottom area to access the space in front and behind the trucks wheel wells.  I simply made a shallow plywood box to cover the opening and then used a magnetic tool holder strip to secure the various tools.  Easy peasy!

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Above: One of the access areas was covered with plywood – click to enlarge

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Above: The plywood was painted – click to enlarge

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Above: The access door can be closed when not in use

It has worked wonderfully!  There is no need to enter the truck camper to get the tools needed.  And because it is shallow, I can still store a small aluminum ladder in the space between the truck bed and the camper.

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Above: A magnetic tool holder strip keeps the tools in place – click to enlarge

It took me two hours hours to complete and cost $10.  In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is easy.

#6 – Joe Dasilva Jr., Ann Arbor, Michigan
2013 Ford F350
2015 Lance 1050S

I own a 2015 Lance 1050S truck camper.  I did not like the fact that every time I had to reach the battery disconnect switch, I had to remove the step below the dinette.  This was especially painful if the slide-out was in.  If the slide-out was in, I had to slide-out the slide, and then remove the step cover to access the battery disconnect switch.

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Above: The battery disconnect was moved from under the step to the back of the camper

I moved the battery disconnect switch to the rear door area where the other switches are located.  To do this, I had to take out the step and drill another hole.  Then, I moved some wire and that was it.

The new battery disconnect switch location is a lot more convenient.  To just open the rear door and have the battery disconnect switch right there is great.  No longer do I have to try to remove the step and reach for the switch.

The modification works great.  My wife even liked the idea and my twelve year old son also thinks it is better.

It took me forty-five minutes to complete and cost $5.  In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is medium.

#7 – Scott Roberts, Isanti, Minnesota
2015 Dodge Ram 3500
1995 Hallmark Cuchara

I bought a new truck a couple months ago and it had a factory back up camera.  My old truck had an aftermarket back up camera.  So, needless to say, I have grown accustomed to the convenience of a back up camera.

The problem is that the new truck has the backup camera located in the tailgate.  Initially I started by researching cameras that I could just plug into the factory harness, but kept coming up empty handed.  The cameras were available, but they were ridiculously priced and none had a harness long enough to reach behind the camper.

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Above: Garmin’s wireless backup camera on their Hallmark

So this may sound simple, and I’m sure I’m not the first to figure this out, but Garmin makes a line of wireless backup up cameras.  All I had to do was wire it up to my running lights.  Now I can see while backing up or see the person who is tailgating me.

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Above: The wires coming from the camera and into the camper where the running lights are located

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Above: Wiring up the backup camera to the running lights

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Above: The backup camera in use

This modification took me two hours to complete and cost $130 plus $100 if you don’t already own a GPS.  In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is easy.

#8 – Peggy Sego, Richmond, Missouri
2005 Dodge 3500
2011 Lance 992

I did not have enough space for clothing in our camper.  There is a small hamper on one side of the bed, and a large hamper on the other that I have to hold open.

I bought two different closet organizers to see which worked best.  The one with the drawers I found in the baby department at Walmart, and I like it best.  These simply hang on the rod and hold lightweight items.

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Above: Left side of the wardrobe; two different closet organizers were used in the wardrobe – click to enlarge

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Above: Right side of the wardrobe; two different closet organizers were used in the wardrobe – click to enlarge

This mod has worked out great as I have more folded than hanging clothing.  The hanger space is not missed.

It took me five minutes – including opening the package – to complete, and cost $10 each.  In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is easy.

#9 – Janet Carter, Dallas, Texas
2006 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
2001 Sun-Lite

I am a travel writer, so the lack of work space in my six foot Sun Lite truck camper was a serious problem.  This dinette table was 16-inches by 44-inches, which was too narrow.  The table has to be used for cooking and eating as well, so the work surface has to be removable.

I bought a remnant of plywood 24-inches by 31-inches from Home Depot and four 3-inch L-shaped shelf supports.  I slipped the shelf supports between the back of the dinette seat and the wall, and then I laid the plywood between them and across the dinette table.  My printer sits on the dinette seat beside me.

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Above: The four shelf supports – click to enlarge

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Above: The four shelf supports are put between the back of the dinette and the wall – click to enlarge

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Above: Plywood is laid between the supports the dinette table – click to enlarge

This desk works just fine.  I store the four shelf supports in a drawer and slide the plywood underneath my mattress to travel.

This mod took longer to design (after several ideas that didn’t work) than it did to put together.  It took one hour to complete and cost about $12 .  In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is easy.

#10 – Chris Takach, Steubenville, Ohio
2013 Ford 250
2014 Arctic Fox 811

I made a stove shelf when I saw another stove shelf from a previous TCM mod contest.  I decided I needed a spice and beverage shelf while I was cooking.  The spice and beverage shelf fits over a ladder rung.  It works very well when I’m frying fish.

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Above: Chris made a spice and beverage shelf that fits on top of the camper’s ladder rung – click to enlarge

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Above: The shelf in use – click to enlarge

It took me two hours to complete and cost $3.  In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is medium.

#11 – Dave Ruane, Windsor, Colorado
2008 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD
2006 Northstar TS1000

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Above: Car DC Digital Voltmeter/Dual USB 2 Port/DC12V Power port installed – click to enlarge

You cannot have too many USB chargers these days.  Also, a lot of the low cost or even give-away USB chargers for the cigarette lighter output less than one-amp.  Most phones and other electronics need at least 1.5 amps to charge properly.  In fact, I have a Garmin Handheld GPS that won’t charge at all with one of these low-output USB/cigarette lighter adapters.

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Above: AGM battery near my house batteries exclusively for this port

I looked online and found a nice USB Charger port.  As a bonus, it came with an extra cigarette lighter socket and a voltmeter.  I installed a small 12-volt AGM battery near my house batteries and run this charging console from it exclusively.  I rarely take this battery down to less than 12.5-volts after multiple recharges, and it looks tidy, too.

The install was fairly easy.  I just cut large enough holes through the paneling in a convenient cabinet.  The panel has large threaded nuts that secures the panel and the fascia gives it a clean finished look.

The wiring was a little trickier.  There are three sets of wires.  I used a 12-gauge wire set for the USB and cigarette lighter ports to ensure good voltage throughput, and a smaller jumper wire for the voltmeter.  I also installed a connector set on the battery side that matches my battery charger.  This makes the battery easy to remove and charge, and then reconnect as needed.

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Above: Google “Car DC Digital Voltmeter/Dual USB 2 Port/DC12V Power” to find online sellers of this USB charging panel.

It’s fantastic, and looks and works great!  Fewer accessories are needed to charge those small electronics now.

It took me an hour and a half to complete.  It cost $18 for the panel on Amazon, and $12 in wiring and connectors.  In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is medium.

#12 – Audrey Ruccio, Clarkesville, Georgia
2008 Ford F450
2008 Host Everest

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Above: Circular dinette seating without the table, before the modification

The circular dinette seating in our 2008 Host Everest is very nice and comfortable, but the small free-standing table is supported by a single post in the floor.  The small table did not have enough room for dinner plates, serving bowls, condiments, and water glasses without the danger of something getting knocked off and landing on the seats.  To avoid this from happening, we had to jump up and down during dinner to get things from the kitchen counter.

By removing the middle seat and back cushions of the dinette, we were able to install a large plastic tote topped with a one-inch thick piece of styrofoam and a quarter-inch plexiglass surface to create a 16-inch by 25-inch table extension.  As a bonus, the large plastic tote gives us additional storage.

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Above: A large plastic tote was placed in between the table and the wall – click to enlarge

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Above: The tote box/table extension is topped with a one-inch thick piece of styrofoam and a quarter-inch plexiglass surface to create a 16-inch by 25-inch table extension – click to enlarge

The tote box/table extension has worked beautifully!  There is still plenty of seat room for sitting or lounging.  The extra storage, with its easy access, has been really helpful, and we love the extra table space.

An added tip: The little basket on the table holding silverware, napkins, and salt-pepper, frees up a large amount of precious drawer space.

It took me less than one hour to complete and cost under $20.  In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is super easy!

Disclaimer: The modifications above are submitted by Truck Camper Magazine readers.  It is your responsibility to make sure that any do-it-yourself modification project you undertake is safe, effective, and legal for your situation.

 

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