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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.

(this is a long one, so I will only do one *C* today instead of 3)

Actually that is a mis-nomer because our rig doesn't really have compartments like most motorhomes or trailers, it's one huge storage basement wide open from axle to axle and side to side. 

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

I thought I would show you what we haul along in our rig. I had taken these pics for insurance purposes because most RV policies only carry $500 coverage on the personal contents, I kid you not!  So please check your policy and ask your agent.  We carry an additional rider for the rest of the possessions we carry above $500. 

There is a huge basement storage area with stainless steel doors all around the rig, which look impressive.  The basement is a wide open space, not separate little compartments.  It is a huge pass through space with doors that open up high on each side.  It is completely open side to side and front to rear between the front and rear axles.  We can load in quite a bit because our GCWR is 32,000 and we are well below that. 
Although we don’t have any slides, the floorplan we have allows for plenty of movement, 
storage and our rig is a “wide body” model which adds extra width.

DRIVER SIDE:  there are many compartment doors all along the entire length of the coach. It's open all of the way through to the other side!

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 latch in the middle. 

I will go down the side from front to back, door by door. 
Here is door number 1. 

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 a "Stinky Slinky"  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…..

We bought an assortment of these gray totes with heavy snap on lids.  They are made by HOMZ 

 http://www.homzproducts.com  and I see that Ace Hardware carries them.  

The large totes measure 30 inches long by 18 inches wide.
The smaller totes measure 18 inches long by 14 inches wide.  

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 or my fiber storage room for now.  

In these matching big silver totes that fit perfectly, each one labeled for it’s contents:  dog stuff, lanterns/propane stuff, picnic table and patio lights, diesel filters oil and supplies, raingear and boots, freshwater supplies, wastewater supplies, etc. and of course my fiber toys!  At the far right is the plumbing compartment with all the manifold fittings for water areas in the rig and an outdoor shower.

In this next photo below, if 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 serving 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 or Paint River Forks in my archives)   I can use these tables for an impromptu craft sale if we want while on the road at a campground too. 

Here it is loaded up,  each one labeled for it’s contents:  dog stuff, lanterns/propane stuff, picnic table and patio lights, diesel filters oil and supplies, raingear and boots, freshwater supplies, wastewater supplies, etc. and of course all of my fiber supplies and toys! When we travel for a longer length of time, I have to have storage for my fiber supplies and inventory.  This is "My Space" for storage.

At the far right is the plumbing compartment with all the manifold fittings for water areas in the rig and an outdoor shower.

This door is kinda a half access on the front, but behind the water manifold section is the water pump, expansion tank and some extra plumbing.  It used to be walled off, but Steveio removed the wall piece for better access.  Nice to have access to that mechanical stuff instead of it being buried behind a wall.   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, which is reachable from the other side. 

The next door behind the axle area is our power compartment... behind this stuff, we have a wired-in Progressive Industries electric management protection system to cover us for dangerous power surges or brown-outs.

We recently replaced the inverter from the old Freedom 2000W Heart (which burned out) over to this Tripplite 1500W. We also have a wired in Progressive Industries unit for surge and brownout protection. 

In front of the things in the photo above, we store the power cords and adaptors for 50 amp to 30 or 20 amp if need be. Sometimes the cords get dirty from being on the ground, and it's nice to have this compartment separate from the clean carpeted center basement of the rig. 

In the last compartment on the driver's side is our generator.  We don't use it often enough because of now having 500 watts of solar panels on the roof. We have to remember to exercise it monthly with a load on it to keep it in tip top shape.  We didn't always do that and had a very costly repair.  Now it's a priority to take care of it.

 It looks a little crooked in this photo because it was snapped when we were putting the generator back into place after having the rotor rebuilt.  Rest assured, it is firmly bolted back into place now and works just fine.  LOL  

We don’t use the generator too often, but we have to run it from time to time under a full load 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? 


Now on to the passenger side compartments:

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?

Someone asked on the blog about how does Steve fix stuff while we are on the road?  Rest assured, he has ALL his tools along, even a vice that can clamp into the back hitch to work on items like an outdoor workshop. 

This one is Steve’s favorite compartment:
Steveio filled one door space with his tool box area… where he carries all of his tools in a handy dandy toolbox he made from an old shop desk.

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

We carry along our two zero gravity recliners, and four folding chairs for company and our two macreme lawn chairs, a few little wooden tv trays for coffee clutching too.  It all fits along with some room for the patio mat behind the chairs. And Steve's big air compressor alongside the chairs.

Yes, Steve puts the large air compressor right into this compartment too. It's used for his air tools, and also in case of a low tire, it's capable of going to the 110 pounds needed for our tires.   It 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, he is in business!    (of course when boondocking, we have to fire up the generator first to get the power to make this run) 

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. 

We also carry a folding table, extra leveling blocks, fishing gear and an air compressor.  Our Safari does not have air bags, instead it has a special suspension on its Magnum chassis, made by BF Goodrich called Torsiliastic (sp?) which is comprised of rubber wedges and rubber fittings that give it a *Velvetride* …. yes, veryyyy smooth.   So we need an on-board air compressor for Steve’s air tools and emergency tire filling.

This door number 3 is located at the left of the entry door.  In here, we have the big solar controller for the solar panels on the roof. There is also a big pull out fuse to disconnect the whole system for repairs.  I like that we have an outdoor tv antenna jack here. Sometimes we carry out the inside tv to watch packer games under the awning.  There are both DC and AC electrical outlets and a little light to see what we are looking for in the dark too. We also stow the 6 large planks for under the tires for leveling the rig.  (not in the pic) 

In this next compartment, we stow the planks we use as pads under the hydraulic levelers, and also sometimes driving up the wheels on to get more level.  Our solar controller unit and breaker box are also in this compartment, along with Steve's fishing poles, pudgy pie makers and the ever-coveted awning pull down rod!

Further down on the passenger side is the battery compartment.  Since we installed the 500 watts of solar on the roof, these four 6v batteries store all the power created by the panels.  link to our Solar Installation blog post   We can comfortably use lights, tv's, computers, coffee maker and other various electrical things and quietly solar recharge again the next day.

 I talked about them more in depth a few blogs back. They are located behind the rear wheels. 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 five 100 watt solar panels that we installed, we may never need six batteries… four might be enough.

Now this last door is the cool stuff that you do not see on gas engine motorhomes.  This is Steve's Control Central! He finds out all kinds of  diagnostic stuff in this compartment. He can even start the engine from in here if the key is in the ignition. Pretty cool! 

For those Techy Kinda Guys, here is the new head piece he re-vamped to fit the newer Fleetgard FS 1212 fuel filters that are available for our engine, now that the Racor Win 200/200 ones were discontinued. 

Now let's move across the front of the rig. 
Inside the front compartment are all the electronic fuse boxes and grounds etc.  
I had to cut and paste a few pics of it, as it won’t all fit in one picture.

In here we also have a large fire extinguisher with access in emergency because this compartment does not lock.  Hope we never have to use it, but it's a great location.  If we are ever needing to help on an emergency on the road, it's easy to grab. 

Yes we carry FIVE fire extinguishers in our motorhome: 

Just stop and think for a minute.  If you are asleep in your bedroom of your camper, and wake up to a fire in the middle of the rig, you probably have to bail out a window or emergency exit.  The extinguisher is usually located up near the door which is locked from the inside.  So even if you bailed out, you can’t even get back into your camper to get to it.  Of course, they do burn up fast and sometimes there is nothing you can do to save it.  But having a few around, plus an external one in an unlocked compartment is a real smart thing to do.  Locating one at the far end of your rig, like your bedroom, where you might be trapped is a good idea too.    Having one in an outside compartment means you can access it and quick blast at say a fire on the brakes or tire, or at a campfire that is spreading  etc. 
(keeping a hidden door key outside somewhere is a very smart idea, not just for a fire but for any time you might get locked out or lose your keys)

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.  We still have 4,000 towing capacity on top of that too.  We currently tow a Geo Tracker that only weighs 2,200 pounds

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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