RPOD Camper Upgrades | It's the Little Things

Updated: Dec 24, 2019

Several small upgrades during the first few months of nomadic life . . . I travel in an 18 foot Forrest River RPOD 179, towing with a Toyota Tacoma.



The larger upgrades: Desk Built-In, Bath Remodel, and Floor Recovering, coming soon in separate posts.


I've found it's the little things that make life on the road feel like home. Give yourself time to live with things as they are for a while and then be open to how small changes could simplify or make the situation more convenient.


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Battery Upgrade

I spent the first few months of full time mostly boon-docking, tiring of the unpredictability of the Interstate battery. I decided to upgrade to a BattleBorn lithium battery from Northern Arizona Wind and Sun (NAWS) with a Victron BVM-712 monitor - charging with a Goal Zero Yeti 1400 portable system with the Boulder 200w Briefcase (recharging the house battery using the in-house charger/inverter - not the most efficient but will consider more integrated systems down the road).



Catalytic Propane Heater

I have not used the house furnace since being on the road (due to fan battery usage concerns). I installed an Olympian Wave 6 Catalytic and it does an awesome job at heating and much more efficient with propane (propane supply line is simply running off the grill quick-connect).



Later cleaned up the propane supply line



Storage Mod

A super small mod, but just removed the under-bed support board and replaced with a flat piece of wide solid oak for support - allows much more effective bin/tote storage with this opening height.






Pantry Shelves

I installed pantry shelves (and should've done this much earlier but was still figuring out things as I go) - also mounted cabinet motion activated LED lights from Amazon.















Bike Rack

Jack-It trailer tongue bike mount - this got the bike out of the back of my truck - my garage as I call it (it didn't fit well and took up a lot of space) - also doesn't risk putting extra weight on the back bumper (just needs a bike cover).






Washcloth Rod

Installed a dishcloth drying rod (nicely matches the other hardware, though in hindsight, I should have mounted to the door so I don't have to lift the towel every time I want to open the door).







Storage Shelf

A routine modification from RPOD owners - I Finally installed the Roth Allen (Lowe's) over the bed shelf - I used shower curtain tension rods with half-cup socket holder pockets as the support





See the picture below for baskets (Target) used for the shelf storage



Blackout Curtain

I installed a tension rod and black-out curtain to replace the knit throw previously hung from 3M hooks (using closet rod circular mounts on the end in case there is some give in the walls during transit - this has kept the rod from falling).


As I work night shift, this greatly helps with sleeping during the day (along with Reflectix inserts behind all the blinds - I would love to find some Reflectix covered blinds).


I should also mention that we've have had some warm days and with this area closed off with the curtain, it can get significantly more warm that the rest of the cabin (with vent fan on, A/C, etc.) but if using A/C and all vents closed but the one facing the bed, this works well to force airflow up over the rod and made the back compartment very comfortable.


Also note baskets from Target which fit perfectly on the shelf - hoping the lip on the shelf will keep these from falling off during transit but we'll see (they seem pretty stable) - just storing linens, blankets, etc. up here - I later reinforced with with another tension rod as the baskets kept tumbling off while traveling.



Small Goal Zero reading light and a perfectly-sized bamboo box for remotes, phone, etc. mounted with 3M velcro strips.










Keyless RV Lock

Thanks to Atlas MedStaff for keeping me safe on the road! Been looking at this look for a while - super convenient as you don't have to hunt for keys and able to give others (a trusted neighbor, campground host, etc.) the code in case of emergency (especially hepful regarding traveling with a pet).

RVLock V4 Keyless Entry Handle w/Integrated Keypad & Fob (Amazon $239.99)


Upper Cabinet Latches

Installed push button locking latches to secure the upper cabinets during transit (previously had to use screws when getting ready to go on the road) - the tension rods were not enough to keep contents from flying out (these are pretty much the only cabinets/drawers I've had a problem with not staying secured during transit).

Thought about more roller latches like the other cabinets or magnetic but like the idea of an actual lock vs. trusting to the roller/magnetic tension.


Also using OXO drawer slide organizers between the cabinet supports to keep items from shifting left to right.


Pretty happy with this upgrade, still re-staining the old screw holes - also cracked the far right glass panel as this unexpectedly extended further into the frame than the other two (but no biggie, will replace in time).



Stabilizer Replacements

Replaced the mangled (back) and rusted (front) stabilizers with 24" EAZ-Lifts with Save-A-Jack plates for transit.


These conveniently detach and are stowed away while in transit so no longer have to worry about scraping these low points.















Drain Cap Replacements

I replaced the low point drain caps with PEX Shark Bite valves (LOVE these - SUPER easy! and much more convenient than finding a pair of pliers to twist the caps off).


SharkBite Chrome 1/2-in Push-to-Connect x 3/8-in OD Compression Quarter Turn Straight Valve (Lowe's 2x $9.98)













Door Window Upgrade Installation was super easy, maybe 15 minutes. Now I finally have a window and view out on that side without having to go and sit on the bed to look out the bed window. It's also VERY nice to be able to see who's knocking on your door before you open 😊.

Only down side so far is that you can't lower or raise the built in shade without opening and separating the screen door from the main door as the screen door blocks access but not a big deal.

Very happy with this modification!


AP Products 015-201512 Slim Shade Upgrading Your Door Window (Amazon $87.52)



Closet Shelving

Finally caved and shelved the wardrobe closet - SO happy with this choice (otherwise kept having to take clothes out of bins) - hanging clothes was definitely a waste of storage space.


This was the shelving I wish I had done in the pantry vs. wire shelving.




Fan Vent Cover

More of a winter upgrade but fairly cheap so went ahead. Covers the bathroom vent fan so still able to use during rain (or for the winter, snow).



Kitchen Cabinet Repair

Repair of the under-stove kitchen cabinet (Instant Pot unfortunately did some damage on the rough BLM roads)

Reconfigured the storage for better space utility - easier to to get to the far back and now have a place to put the dog food vs. out in the truck 😊





Vent Screens

So not really fixing any particular problem - more just prudent prevention - mostly because if I ever find a Black Widow in any compartment (as some have posted), then I will have to move and set the rig on fire - JK!


Black and Gray Tank Drain Pipe Reinforcements

Thought I would jump on some preventative maintenance here, given the issues so many of the RPOD community have already had (in the case of the black tank drain hanger, good thing I did - see pic below). Hope this is helpful for anyone looking to complete this project - tried to include all materials and part sizes in one place below.

Just for aesthetics, purposely wanted to install behind, rather than in front of, the frame. Referenced Steve Martin’s great post (Facebook RPOD Owner's Group) for much of this project preparation. The exhaust pipe hanging parts were readily available at AutoZone (or likely any other auto parts store) but no similar item was available at Lowe’s (just typical construction strapping, etc.).

The 2.5” exhaust clamp for the gray pipe is oversized for me and I may replace with a smaller item in the future (this size was likely used by others securing to the front of the frame as the valve door assembly graduates the drain pipe up a size). Had no issues using a regular power drill (i.e. did not need an impact driver) with the self-drilling bolts. Replaced the nuts that came with the exhaust pipe clamps with nylon lock nuts as recommended (also added lock washers behind these). The 1/4” washers are used for the self-driving sheet metal screws (this ensures the screw heads don’t tear through the strap hanger holes). The 3/8” lock nuts and split washers are used on the exhaust clamp u-bolt ends. In the case of the black tank, left the original hanger in place as well as extra reinforcement, but had to remove the old one on the gray tank due to positioning.

Will monitor for chafing of the pipes against the clamps and deal with as needed but did not address this potential issue for now (I’m doubtful that this will be an issue at all but let me know if you’ve encountered it).





Black Tank Drain Pipe Materials:

Gray Tank Drain Pipe Materials:



Window Blinds Replacement

For the last month or so, the kitchen window blinds have been deteriorating (cords fraying and alignment off-kilter), so finally got around to replacing.

Works pretty well so far and the black-out is great (I work night shift) - also seems to effectively block the heat. Secured at the bottom using 3M Command Velcro Strips. PVC trim used to cover the mounting brackets at the top (replacement the previous valance).

Still working out a way to get the blinds to follow the curvature of the wall but pretty happy with it so far (light leak at the edges is minimal).



a + r Gray Blackout Cordless Cellular Shade (Actual: 58-in x 64-in) (Lowes $75.98)



Ambient LED Strip Lighting

Installed behind cabinet and above bed lighting - super happy with this! Each pull about 18w while in use - would be easy to run off a battery bank with inverter off shore power.


Good Earth Lighting LED Indoor Tape Light 72-in Plug-In Under Cabinet LED Tape Light (2x Lowe's $26.98)




Okay, that's long enough for now . . . the BIG mods to come soon so stay tuned. Thanks for reading!



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