Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Storage Space

Despite Jim being considerably bigger than most European motorhomes, the space inside is still fairly small, especially when compared to some of the huge trucks and coaches you see at Teknivals and on traveller sites. I have so far managed to squeeze in seating for five people, a full size double bed, a bathroom with a shower, sink and toilet, and will soon have a kitchen with a fridge, oven, hob, and sink; however one thing that I can foresee a shortage of is storage space.

The garage/boot area under the bed is pretty sizable, but it's only really suitable for items like chairs, spare parts, recovery gear, tools and other general items which are rarely used, or only used outside. I don't think that Naomi would appreciate having to jump out of the truck, walk around the back, drop the taillift, and unlock and open the doors, to be able to get a change of underwear each morning, or get a teabag. I therefore need to find space inside the main body of Jim for all the items we'll use day-to-day.

With the bedroom largely finished, I was left with a space approximately 50cm wide, between the back wall of the bathroom, and the front wall of the bedroom on the offside of the truck. It's not a very wide space, but at 75cm deep, and the full 1.83m height inside Jim, the volume is fairly sizable.

As with all space in Jim, it would be too simple to use it for one purpose. To make my life slightly more difficult, I decided to fit an air conditioner in the bottom of the space. The air conditioner is a Dometic HB2500 and is designed to be floor mounted, discharging heat and condensate through holes cut in the floor. The first job was to cut the necessary holes, giving me another opportunity to play with the plasma cutter.

I then fitted the retaining straps which hold the air conditioning unit to the floor, and ran a mains AC power feed to the back of the space. The air conditioner uses about 900w at full power in cooling mode (more when heating); this means that most of the time it can only be used when plugged into the mains, or running off the generator. The inverter is just about powerful enough to keep up with air conditioner, so in extreme weather, I should be able to run this unit off the inverter whilst we are driving to assist the cab air conditioner in cooling the space down.

I could then install the air conditioner, and run the ducting up the back of the storage space. I had originally planned to use the space as a wardrobe with fixed drawers in part of the space, but the depth would have made it difficult to use, and so I ended up deciding on drawers. This had the advantage of not needing the pipes to be boxed in, as they wouldn't be exposed.

I screwed together a box for the air conditioner; it can be taken apart in a few seconds if I ever need to get to the unit for repairs. The grill at the front is for the intake air and is just a piece of stainless punched sheet fixed to the back of the laminated plywood.

I had originally ordered some 90 degree elbows to help fit the unit in the tight space that I had, but I ended up not needing them. One of the ducts kinked slightly so I may end up using them in the future, but as you can see it worked fine without them.

I forgot to order any clips for the ducting. Not wanting to waste time ordering and waiting for them, I cut something suitable out of plywood offcuts, they work very well and are probably more rigid than anything I could have bought off the shelf.