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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Exploring our basement storage compartments on our motorhome

Some folks have asked me about how much storage we have or how we organize our basement compartment.  It seems their rigs never having enough room, or they are worrying about cargo carrying capacity weight issues.   When I tell them that is not an issue with us, they have a hard time believing it. 
While newer rigs have multiple slides, which are very weighty by themselves, they also have storage issues with the slide mechanisms taking up valuable space.  We don’t have the slides, so we have more than enough storage area in the basement of our rig, and weight is not a problem.  Even with all our tanks full, (propane, fuel, fresh water and waste water) we have almost 6,000 pounds of cargo carrying capacity.   Being  aluminum exterior construction instead of fiberglass makes a big difference, plus wall and roof supports are all aluminum too.   We weigh in with full tanks at 22,000 pounds without our gear when we first bought the rig.   Our rating is  GVWR- 28,000    GCWR-32,000
The basement of our rig covers a large open area and is all carpeted space open side to side and front to rear from axle to axle.  We are only limited by the width of the doors as to what we put inside.
 our floorplan with highlight basement space

Let’s start on the driver’s side.  All of our stainless steel compartment doors rise upwards on struts and when shut, they lock securely on both ends instead of one lock in the middle. 

I will go down the side from front to back, door by door.
Whoda thunk of that space above the tank as a good spot to put a long tube for stowing the stinky slinky!   For those of you who do not know what that is, it’s the flexible 3” hose used to dump the grey and black tanks…ewwwwwww   We don’t want to keep THAT hose in our carpeted storage basement area.

On to the next door…..
compartments6 We bought an assortment of these gray totes with heavy snap on lids.  We like them because they have a full handle on each side, not just a lip edge that you carry by the fingertips.   Also the lid fits firmly over the top and comes way down on the sides, which does not allow anything to get into the tote.   We have more than enough totes, and keep swapping out sizes back and forth as we determine our needs in the future.  The extra totes we keep in our garage for now.  When we are ready to full time, we will have it all figured out.  (right?) 

In this next photo of you look close to the center of the rig, you will see a white poly 2x4 Cosco table and a larger 3x6 heavy black folding table.  Both tables slide in nicely under the space under the suspended fresh water tank.  We use them for eating and seving food when boondocking at places without picnic tables.  Also good for extra table space when working on crafts or doing some crazy things like canning pickles (see Runkle Lake campground review a few posts back)

In this photo you can see the insulated ductwork and some small vents from the main LP furnace which keeps these compartments from freezing in the cold temps.  We don’t often use the big furnace,  (we now use a Catalytic Wave 8 heater)  so the easy solution is that in the winter, we should go south where things don’t freeze!

This next door is kinda half access on the front, but behind the water manifold section is the water pump and some extra plumbing.  Nice to have access to that instead of it being buried in a wall somewhere.   You can see the daylight from right through to the open compartment on the other side of the rig. Steve usually lays his fishing rods in this area, plus the awning rod, reachable from the other side.  Deep in here he stashes extra tackle boxes, life jackets and oars for the boat. 

Ahhhhh the power stuff!

And the generator is located in the far back compartment by the engine. 
compartments 16 We don’t use the generator too often, but we have to run it from time to time to exercise it.  Great to have in an emergency, or to run one of the roof AC units as we are driving down the road if need be during hot summer temps.  But we really appreciate the peace and quiet when camping and don’t like to run it at all.  So if you are a genny-fanatic, please park far far away from us?
Newer rigs have it located up front, which makes more sense to evenly balance the weight.  That is why Steveio decided we needed more weight on the front passenger tire, so he moved the tool boxes up there.  Plus we are adding a spare tire on a rack to the front of the exterior soon.  We have the rack, the winch, the rim all set, just need to buy the actual tire.   And then I am sewing a silver colored vinyl cover for it.  Watch for that to be completed soon. 

spare tire project 8spare tire project 11

Inside that front compartment across the rig is all our electronic fuseboxes and grounds etc.  I had to cut and paste a few pics of it, because it won’t all fit in one picture.
wiring in the front run bay

Now on to the passenger side photos on the front half of the motorhome:

These are the two most used doors near the passenger front between the side entry door and the front of the rig.   We kinda packed them full, huh?

This one is Steve’s favorite door:
tool drawers0tool drawers1


Stacked on top of the totes are our camping sign, picnic table cloth, kneeling foam pad  and whatever else don’t get stowed away properly as we break camp the time before.

Now we can move to the rear half of the passenger side.

The two interior entry steps into the rig to reach the main floor are the only things taking up any square footage in the basement storage area.
compartments 6
This door is located at the left of the entry door.  This is where we are working on the solar panel controller installation.   Once it is done, Steve will remount this temporary panel too.

This slides in and kind of curves back underneath the stairs in an open space usually not accessible.  By just reaching in to flip the lever on, and grabbing the long air hose, the  compressor is useable for either topping off a tire or using the air tools.   (of course when boondocking, we have to fire up the generator first to get the power to make this run)

This next compartment is for the batteries.  It is open around the sides and bottom for ventilation.   There are 6 batteries in there now, but we can later move the 2 chassis (driving) batteries into a new rack in the engine compartment that Steveio made.  Then we could increase the bank of coach (camping) batteries to a total of six 6volt golf cart batteries if we wish.  Although with our new solar panels we are installing, we may never need six… four might be enough.
compartments 2

compartments 3
(and for those Techy Kinda Guys, here is the new head piece he re-vamped to fit the new filters that are available for our engine, now that the older once were discontinued)
compartments 4

So.. that completes the tour of our storage compartments and how we organize them.  In the future we see ourselves adding a few more totes of clothes (in vacuum sealed space bags)  some supplies of my craft stuff, and perhaps my table loom when not in use. The loom folds up somewhat and fits in drivers side number 3 quite well.  Otherwise we are pretty well set for full timing, and more than adequate space inside the rig for the personal items we take along regularly and keep our kitchen fully stocked as well as the clothing and bathroom gear.   So our weight load will not change much, right now fully loaded we are about 3,000 pounds under our CCC limit, so that is a good thing.  and we still have 4,000 towing capacity on top of that too.
Not sure if we are going to tow a vehicle or not.  But for now we put the scooter on the back rack and that is about 400 extra pounds right there.

Well, enough of all that , next up is the rest of the solar panel installation and the spare tire on the front.  And soon….  CAMPING!


  1. Great post & very informative on space useage. Very well organized indeed. I find that once on the road & traveling it is imparitive to return everything to it's exact proper place....every time!! Do we do that? No, we don't, so that is how I know it should be done to avoid a lot of unnecessary headaches. I even numbered our bins the first year with a written inventory of each bin. Great idea but it only lasted a couple of weeks before I forgot to keep the list up to date with constant changes:((

  2. Okay there is quite a difference in storage between a 5vr and your home!! I want your storage!!

    Where did you find those clamp down tubs? And I love Steve's use of the metal cabinets.

    Thanks for sharing. I tell you when we all get thru sharing..camping with each other..will be like camping with family..

    Hugs..Cindy and Walker

  3. Boy do I need to take a lesson from you and Steveio, As we are planning our adventure I keep wondeing where all the stuff we need including clothes will be going in the 5th wheel, I like the totes, where are they available with the handles? Be safe out there.Sam&Donna.

  4. You guys are such a wealth of information! Our Beaver doesn't have as much storage but enough. And like Al, said it is smart to always return things to their original home and Steve looks like he might be one of those guys that does that! Looking forward to the day when you guys are out there with us!

  5. Nice, nice job with this entry. I do envy you all that storage as well as living space. Living in a 25' travel trailer, even though it's an Airstream, is a claustrophobic affair on a rainy day. If it weren't for plastic totes in the PU my wife would have divorced me long ago.

    BTW. Maine is another place where it is 75+ one week and 20 and blowing a blizzard the next.

  6. Hi - I've seen a lot of your posts on Safari friends and just found you blog. Our rig is nearly identical to yours so this information is wonderful to find! I'm really excited to get going on some improvements and I just wanted to thank you for all of the work you have put into this site. And all of your involvement in the RV community. Happy trails, and will chat soon :)


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