I fabricated the new tabletop entirely from scratch using 3/4-inch 13-ply birch for the top and 3/8-inch 7-ply for the boxes. The top surface is Formica high-pressure laminate and the interior and exterior surfaces have been finished with a durable satin polyurethane and stain.
For times when the kids are working on projects (or meals) that might get messy, I made a pair of 1/16-inch thick LDPE cover sheets that are fitted to the tabletop. When not in use, these sheets are stored behind the dinette’s back cushions.
The whole family uses this table every single day. We eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner on it. We also do home schooling, craft projects, and practice piano lessons. I even composed this Monthly Mod Contest application on it. In the evening, the dinette converts into my daughter’s bed.
This modification took 36 hours to complete and cost approximately $600 including the MIDI keyboard. In my opinion, this mod was hard because I had to ensure that everything would fit.
The entire assembly was designed in CAD (SolidWorks) before a single piece of wood was cut. Creating the table top and boxes required extensive carpentry skills, especially pocketing the hidden hinges. Specialized tools were needed to apply the Formica laminate and polyurethane finish.
4. Russell and Gretchen Berquam, Livingston, Texas
2014 Ford F-350
2015 Arctic Fox 1140
We don’t like driving around without the tailgate on the truck. When we were out in our truck camper with the camper off of the truck, it was always a disappointment to have part of the truck missing. I wanted to have the truck tailgate on the truck when we took the camper off of the truck.
I figured out a way to keep the tailgate on the truck when the camper is both on and off. Now, when we remove the camper from the truck, it takes about 2-minutes to disconnect and close the tailgate. Then it looks like a complete pickup truck.
I had previously installed angle iron rails in the bed of the truck to keep the camper in place, so a small extension to support the tailgate was a fairly simple addition.
The clear underside area of our camper extends 24-inches past the end of the truck bed, which is enough room to permit the tailgate to fit unobstructed under the camper without braces or tanks in the way. I did not include complete construction details since every truck and camper would require different sizes.
The under view of the truck with the camper on, and the tailgate on and extended
This photography shows the rail extension flipped out and bolted to the tailgate. A bolt plate was added to the inside of the tailgate (not shown). A second cable bolt was added to hold the cables out of the way when they were not holding the tailgate in the normal configuration.
The cables that normally support the tailgate in the open position had to be disconnected since the camper would hit them and the cables hold the tailgate slightly above level. A different method of holding the tailgate up was required.
When the cables are disconnected from the tailgate, it pivots down and rests on the bumper and would damage the tailgate. The cables were disconnected and attached to a temporary bolt to keep them out of the way while the camper is on the truck.
A swing out bracket was added to the angle rails to hold the tailgate in the level position and off of the bumper. The brackets were constructed from 3-inch x ¼-inch flat iron. I made two at 24-inches and two at 17-inches. The metal and bolts were about $30 and an additional $10 for the welding. A short mounting bracket could be used instead of the angles which I have installed in our truck.
The extension pivots out on the bed rails and then the tailgate is bolted to the extensions.