Monday, March 11, 2024

Roadtrek Play Upgrades (Part 1)

    We've been getting a lot of questions about our upgrades to our 2023 Roadtrek Play. I thought that I would just post some of the things that we're done to improve functionality for us....hopefully, some of this information will be helpful to others as well. The posts are divided into 5 parts....

 Upgrade Posts List:

These are the upgrades in this post (Part 1):

  • Bed Coverings
  • Bask-a-Table
  • Aisle Upper Storage Shelf
  • Cup Holders (for table)
  • Rear Corner Storage mini Buckets
    Our RT Play is built on the 2022 (second half) Promaster 3500 chassis. We love driving it and enjoy all of the chassis upgrades, including safety features and the latest U-Connect system.
    Sleeping configurations in our Play can be used as two north-south twin beds, or as a king bed by using boards and bolsters which fit between the twin beds. We use the twin beds....they are more than adequate for us size-wise (they are each 39" wide by 75" long). They allow us to independently make bathroom trips without awakening the other, and also keep the aisle open for a more spacious feel. So....the bolsters that were to be used to make the king bed are stored at home, and we use 6 queen sized pillows and a couple of 18" x 18" throw pillows for backrests and sleeping. 
    We upgraded our bedding by using a couple of daybed covers purchased from Amazon. They each came with three queen size pillow shams and a decorative pillow. By placing the covers backwards (elastic fitted edge in front) there's about a 24" length of the fabric under the mattress on the wall side which keeps it in place. We love the red, black and gray plaid pattern!

    We have a couple of baskets that we keep in the aisle. I purchased them several years ago for another RV, and happily discovered that they fit perfectly in between the beds. Here's the link for the ones I bought (they were not quite so much then). Note that there are a couple of sizes at this link, and ONLY the 15" wide one fits between the Play beds. You may be able to find a similar basket that will fit between your beds. 

    One of the baskets sits on the floor, and we use it to store our electric shore line, our EMS Surge Protector, and our water hose. The second basket sits on one of the boards which was originally to be used to make the king bed. That gives us a sturdy base and we use that basket to store our photo gear and laptops while traveling. Because the baskets wedge securely between the mattresses, it's very secure.
    One of our most recent upgrades utilizing these baskets was the addition of our "Bask-a-Table." 🤣🤣🤣
    The Play comes with a pole that mounts in a floor bracket and which holds a table top that snaps onto the pole. After using it for a year, we felt like the table was always an issue for was a bit wobbly, even when secured tightly.
    At some point we stopped using the pole and just started placing the original table top one the upper basket for meals, and also as a night table. After realizing that this was a better table solution for us, we constructed our "Bask-a-table" which we both like as an alternative to the original table. 

    While we can't place our legs under the table completely, we didn't feel it necessary since we usually sit at the end of the table or sit sideways against the cushions.  I don't think it would be too difficult to come up with a way to raise the height of the table.
Gracie is sitting in about the same position that we like. 

The table itself is constructed of 3/4" pine, which we stained and sealed to match our interior. We glued 1" shims underneath the top extending into the basket to keep the table secure. Because of our placement, the tabletop fits snuggly into the basket, yet easily lifts out for access to our gear. 

     Here's a pic from the rear doors showing how the lower basket is easily accessible when setting up slides out to get our shoreline and water hose. 
    The cup holders in this pic are from Amazon as well. They use a washable sticky pad to secure the holders to the them!

    Another storage solution seen in these pics is the aisle way shelf between the upper cabinets. We weren't certain that we would like them, so initially we used spring tension curtain rods to make the shelf. 4 for the bottom, and one for the rim.     After having them in place and liking the extra storage, we replaced the temporary shelf with a wooden shelf. We stained it to match our table. We cut and screwed a piece of aluminum "L Channel" on each side to hold the shelf. 

Then we glued a 1" lip on the front of the shelf. The cabinet doors prevent the shelf from sliding forward. 

A couple of light weight canvas baskets from Walmart complete the storage shelf. 

One last storage feature for this post....
    These little Hanging Buckets from Amazon make easy access for charging cables, TV controls, and our heated mattress controls. They fit snugly in the slots in the rear van corners. To place them, you need to pull the clip on the back of the cup out a bit and slide one corner into the slot...then the other side will slip in. 

Our heated mattress controls

That's all for this post..

Upgrade Posts List:

Roadtrek Play Upgrades (Part 2)

Upgrade Posts List:

Here's a few more of the upgrades we've added to our 2023 Roadtrek Play:
In this post:

  • Cab Blackout Curtains
  • Bathroom Door Latch
  • Bathroom Floor Mat
  • Bathroom Door Kickstop
  • Shower Head
  • Bathroom Motion/Light Sensing Puck Light

Cab Blackout Curtains

We learned pretty quickly that the cab window covers included with our Play are not very easy to place and store. They were quickly relegated to the "things we don't need" area of our basement. Like many other Roadtrek owners, we found that it's better to add a curtain between the cab and the house area. 
We used a double-layered blackout curtain. In addition to ensuring privacy, the curtain insulates the living area and keeps the hot air from the windshield and windows in the cab. 
To place the curtain rod, we used these curtain clips from Amazon.  They are "self stick" but we ended up gluing them in place. I used E-6000 glue, and they aren't going anywhere! Bonus....they come in a couple of colors and the black blends in nicely with our Play's trim.
The trim where we attached the curtain rod has a very slight arch, so I bent the curtain rod slightly to fit. It's important to make sure that you leave room on both outer rod clips for the curtain rod finial if there is one. 

Bathroom Door Latch

It doesn't take long to get tired of dealing with that rod used to keep the bathroom door closed during travel. We added this Barn Door Latch from Amazon, and the door is much easier to keep closed. 
Tip: install the latch so that the hook fits snuggly in the catch to keep it from rattling. 

Bathroom Floor Mat

The Play bathroom floor is a tad cold, and can be slippery if wet. 
I used a template from a wooden floor to make a paper template and then cut flooring out of a Non-Slip Poyvinyl Loofa Mat. It's easy to pull out and shake out, and insulated the floor. The mat is porous and so far, we love it!

The Template and the Template Instructions are here for download.

Bathroom Door Kickstand
The bathroom door (particularly the left one) never stays open. This Kickdown Door Stop from Amazon works well for us. I initially ordered the 6" model, but ended up returning and getting the 7" model which is great! There are two in the package, but we haven't had the need to install on the right side door (yet). 

A couple other bathroom improvements.....

Shower Head

The OEM shower head does not have a means for shutting off the water without turning off the faucets. 
This Camco shower head has an on/off switch, and it's an easy upgrade.

Battery Operated motion Light

The light in the Play bathroom is VERY bright....blindingly so if you're up during the night. And...the switch is hard to find in the dark. I picked up these Motion Puck Lights (3 pak) and one of them in the bathroom is a game changer! They stick well, and only come on in the dark with motion. Plenty of light for a quick night-time visit. I put this up well over a year ago and just last week changed the battery. 

That's all for Part 2. Thanks for looking!

Upgrade Posts List:

Roadtrek Play Upgrades (Part 3)

 Upgrade Posts List:

In Part 3 we include:

  • Under Bed Storage Access
  • LED Headlights
  • Rear Door Spare Tire Mount

Under Bed Storage Access

This upgrade has been a game changer!  
The Play has a large, open storage area under the passenger side bed. It's great....except that in order to access it, you need to lift the bed frame lid....including the mattress. That's a lot of weight to hold up while reaching into the storage compartment. After accessing it a few times (and having bruised arms to show for it) we decided to see if there was an alternative. 

Our solution was to remove the partition between the rear door small storage area and the large under bed area. The red line in the pic below shows where a partition was located. We used a jigsaw to remove the partition, thus opening up the entire space. 
It took us about 3 hours....mainly removing all of the screws that were holding the hinged top of the bed so we could access the partition that we needed to remove.

In order to access the entire space from the rear door, we added two metal carts with wheels. They can be pulled out for easy access to stored items. 

LED Headlights

We didn't have our Play very long before deciding that we couldn't tolerate the dim and yellowed headlights. We looked at LED bulbs, but most required making an adaptor our of gasket material or gluing the bulbs in place. 
We instead decided to order the OpenGlass Ram Promaster LED Kit. A 3D printed ceramic bulb holder and high and low beam bulbs are are included. This kit was worth every cent. The installation instructions were clear and the video helped guide us through.
The difference is amazing and well worth the extra money for the OpenGlass Kit. 

Rear Door Spare Tire Mount

We are in the mindset that while we will likely rely on AAA or other roadside assistance to change a tire, we don't want to sit waiting on a busy highway while a service truck tries to find a tire (and rim if damaged). We looked at the under-vehicle kits available to store a spare under the Promaster, but were turned off after reading reports of the cable snapping and bouncing the spare along under the chassis....destroying water lines, propane and more.
After researching, we decided on the Landed Gear Right Rear Door Mount. We wondered about how easy it would be to open the rear door with the spare in place, but Landed Gear's video relieved our concerns. 
It arrived and once we got over the frightening aspect of drilling holes in our new Play, we had it installed in a little over an hour. The kit included a template and a door hinge limiter strap. We purchased an OEM tire and rim and we're in business. 

Upgrade Posts List:

Roadtrek Play Upgrades...Part 4

 Upgrade Posts List:

In Part 4 we'll cover a few more of our Roadtrek Play upgrades, including:
  • Slider Door Handle 
  • Exit Step Down Handle
  • TV Mount
  • Stove & Sink Covers
  • Utensil Drawer Storage

Slider Door Handle Upgrade

The slider door OEM handle always felt like it could snap off. When we saw that an upgraded handle was available from 3D Tech we installed this one. It's a big, beefy handle and is easier to grab and there's no feeling that it will break off in your hand.   

Exit Slider Door Handle

I was a bit insecure stepping down out of the slider door, and the OEM handle on the right side is great for entering the van, but it's on the wrong side for me to step out.
We installed this great handle  from Amazon on the sink cabinet from inside the cabinet and it's made the step down much more secure. It's almost like that corner of the cabinet was made for a handle....LOL. 

TV Mount

Our Play did not come with a TV, so we purchased a 24 inch Roku TV and used this Rotating Mount from Amazon to install. The TV can be rotated to use in vertical position if desired. 

Stove and Sink Covers

One of the first realizations with our Play was that without covers, we would quickly drop something on the glass stove & sink lids and shatter them.
I looked at a couple of solutions, and ended up buying a molded foam kitchen mat and cutting it in half. Because the inner foam is "crumbly, I sealed the cut edges with some silicone. The mats are sturdy enough to hold our induction burner or coffee maker, and they provide great protection for the glass lids. When not in use, they slide into the "Pizza Oven" shelf. 

Utensil Drawer Storage

I really like keeping our cooking utensils protected. We haven't had rodent issues so far, but I worry about the possibility of one breaching our Play and contacting utensils. A Rubbermaid 4.4 Liter Take-Along fits nicely in the under stove drawer. The outer edges of the container need to be trimmed with utility scissors a bit to allow the contain to sit down into the drawer and allow smooth opening and closing. 

That's all for Part 4!

Upgrade Posts List:

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Roadtrek Play Upgrades (Part 5)

Upgrade Posts List:

In Part 5, we cover:
  • Battery Disconnect for the Chassis
  • ScanGauge III
Battery Disconnect (Chassis)

We had the misfortune of depleting our chassis battery. Once, I inadvertently left the rear door light on. 
After it was depleted, even with fully charging, it didn't seem to hold a charge. 
We winterized the van, and even with everything turned off (chassis) the battery was still dead within a week. The battery tender didn't even keep it charged. 
After exploring reasons for this, we found that there are several Promaster components that can cause a parasitic draw. The U-Connect system is one, and another is the door locking system. 
Our battery was replaced under Ram warranty, but we were concerned about further draws. To resolve this issue, we looked at a chassis battery disconnect. 
We chose one which had been used by a fellow Roadtrek owner and which seemed to be working well for him. 
We ordered and received the next day from Amazon . Within a few minutes it was installed by removing the negative battery cable, adding the disconnect, and attaching the negative cable to the device.
Now, when not using the van for a week or more, we have no worries. We simply lock the van and use the provided remote to disconnect the battery. There's minimal (5milliamp) draw from the device itself, and it performs flawlessly. 
Our Promaster chassis is the second half chassis, which has the upgraded U-Connect radio and navigation system. Even when using the disconnect, the U-Connect immediately synchs upon turning on the battery. I've read that older chassis need to be re-paired. 
We'll add pics soon. 

ScanGauge III

We wanted to be able to monitor some performance gauges in our Promaster. After researching, we decided the ScanGauge III was the best option for us. With it's bright screen and touch interface, it's easy to view and edit as needed.
We are currently monitoring the variables listed in the image below, but they can easily be swapped. 
It can be mounted with the shown suction cup mount. The mount has a silicone sticky pad under the suction cup and is super secure. The ScanGauge attaches to the mount magnetically and can be lifted off easily to hold if adding or removing gauges. 
We purchased ours at Advanced Auto Parts with a 40% off coupon. 
More info on the ScanGauge site.

Upgrade Posts List:

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Short-eared Owls at Killdeer Plains

     Monday was a gorgeous day! Beautiful sunshine and best of all....NO WIND!
That made it a great day to watch and photograph Short-eared Owls. "Shorties" usually begin hunting about 30-60 minutes before sunset. They don't prefer to hunt in windy weather.
    The Shorties begin moving north to their spring and summer locations around early to mid February. Some years they stay a bit later depending on weather conditions. 
    Last year, we skipped Killdeer Plains in favor of visiting Pickaway County. We had amazing opportunities there, but hadn't had an opportunity to go there. We've also watched them at Huffman Prairie....and watched as 7 Shorties launched out of the prairie within seconds of each other.
    I saw that the owls were still showing at Killdeer so we made the trip on Monday.
There's so much to see at Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area! I'll add a separate post on our other views.
    Here's some of our favorite Short-eared Owl images for this visit, and a clip of David's amazing capture of a Shortie Dive for prey. 
    I've included a map as well....our favorite area to see the owls is on Township Highway 108, along the two ponds. The area is boxed in red. While the Shorties can be seen almost anywhere at Killdeer, TH 108 offers the most reliable looks.