How We Work From Our Rig While Full-Timing – Part Two, The Results
Yesterday, we shared our drawings and designs for a two-person office space on board our RV in which we work and live full-time. With two kids and two cats. So, our options were somewhat limited…IF you think inside the box. However, we’re used to optimizing our spaces and we could see the potential when we first looked at our 1998 Foretravel U320 4200 with the cavernous rear closet: office space!
As you might recall, this is what our space looked like before – everything – forty square feets worth of space – behind those louvered doors was closet space. We had a motorized, ceiling-mounted closet carousel, a 24″ wide and 24″ deep and 24″ tall TV Cavern with a pull-out shelf with a swivel and a 5 1/2″ deep cabinet for…VHS tapes? Who knows…it was 1998 and HUGE space-wasting closets were in. (Read Part One: How We Work From Our Rig While Full-Timing)
Two Work Stations Back to Back
Our design allows us to have two bench seats that sit back to back against a console on top of the engine hump. For each of these two work stations, there is a flip-up wall-mounted desk on adjustable brackets and a wall-mounted monitor on an arm. Inside the console/shared backrest is a file storage box, a removable office supplies storage tray, a deep storage section with a surge-protector and power strip, a specialized surround for our storage array, dedicated 12V outlets to power our laptops directly off the battery and even a whiteboard on the inside of the lid.
In the photos above you can see the console while it was being built. The shallow tray is for staplers, tape, adaptors, markers and other office supplies typically stored in a desk drawer. The deep file storage box is removable and there is still substantial space inside for extra stores of sticky notes, pens and pencils, notepads, our electric pencil sharpener, business cards, label maker, index cards, etc. When placed between the two bench seats, it forms a shared back rest!
Shared Shelves for Office Equipment
Along the back wall of the bus is a shared space with two shelves which are supported on cleats on the sides of the two upright closet spaces that were built abutting either side of the engine hump. The bottom shelf is repurposed – it was previously our headboard! We drilled a largish hole and installed a divided brass floor outlet cover that we picked up on the cheap at Habitat for Humanity to allow electrical cords to run down to the array stored below and to run power cords up from the surge protector to the office equipment. Eventually, we intend to install a large monitor on the back wall but for now, it’s a useful shelf for our inbox, chess board and a few decorative pieces.
The lower shelf houses our ScanSnap scanner and our Canon Pixma ip110 portable printer and below that shelf, on top of the carpeted engine compartment, we keep our compact shredder, reams of paper, and binders with our rig information, finances, trip planning, etc. The array sits in the middle in the back in its own box which provides ventilation for the drives and support for the shelf above. All the electronics are connected to a surge suppressor inside the console. Read our office equipment reviews and recommendations here: Portable Scanner and Printer for RV Living and Working.
Louvered Doors Provide Closed Storage
We also installed a hinged set of louvered doors to allow the top shelf to turn into a closed space if desired. The set of louvered doors are also repurposed from the old closet as are the narrow upright pieces between the closets and the louvered doors (these were previously shelves inside the shallow cabinet underneath the former TV cavern!). The louvered doors are hinged together and attached by another hinge to a narrow mounting strip at the ceiling height so that when folded, they are perfectly horizontal. They are held in place with a metal fitting that was originally part of a slide lock we picked up from Lowe’s. The doors are secured upright and can be folded down to provide closed storage if we choose to use it that way. Stays put in travel!
Engine Service Under the Office
One thing we had to plan for was the eventuality that the engine will need to be serviced from the topside, and we’ll have to remove this entire lovely office. Easy peasy! The console is attached through the bottom with one heavy duty screw into the top of the plywood engine compartment. The bench tops are literally that – tops only, open on the inside – are installed on cleats that allow them to be lifted off (plus they provide hidden storage underneath!). The two shelves lift off their cleats. The entire engine compartment lid can be lifted, the engine serviced and the whole thing put back together in short order. No problemo!
How have you solved the work office dilemma on board your RV? We’d love to hear your clever solutions!