We camped near ChrisR and his wife at Long Beach, BC, in May, and were impressed with all of the mods he had made to their 5TA. This inspired us to change some features of the dinette that had bothered us on our trips to date.
1. We have the U-shaped dinette, but found the sitting position in it to be uncomfortable.
2. We did not like having to slide the table east-west whenever one of us wanted to access or exit from one of the dinette seats. We also found that full beverage cups and electronic devices next to each other on the table to be a poor combination when sliding the wobbly table back and forth.
3. As ChrisR points out in his excellent blog https://escape440.wordpress.com/2016/04/11/dinette/
the thickness of the seating cushions and their depth from wall to table makes the dinette ergonomically incorrect for sitting. This is because of the compromises needed to design a space that works for both sitting and sleeping.
4. It was impossible to sit comfortably in the rear side of the stock U-shaped dinette because of the too-straight back cushion, the closeness of the table, and (again) the height of the seat cushion.
ChrisR had the design abilities, building skills, and tools to take on the major renovation he did on their 5TA. I don't, and therefore we hired a friend who is a retired finishing carpenter to help us for a reasonable hourly rate. Because we were paying for labour, though, we decided to stick with the stock ETI table. We also chose to retain the ability to turn the dinette into a second bed. We'll never use it, but it could help resale value for the next owner to have the bed option.
Here's what we did:
1. Turned the table and its rails to slide north-south so that the table can be left in a position that allows either of us to sit down or get up from the dinette without disturbing the other. Sliding the table closer to the fridge end of its range also enables access to the seat under the back window, especially for one person to get comfortable in there with a book and a beverage.
2. We also changed the position of the two table supports so that they are not blocking the room that my size 13 feet require under the table. I can now get in and out of "my" side of the dinette without kicking anything.
3. As ChrisR did, we've raised the floor under the dinette 3.5 inches. To save labour costs we just built it to go around the propane detector and the electrical panel instead of relocating them. We can move either of those items higher if any problems occur later.
4. We will soon add the triangle-shaped back support cushions that Chris has, and might replace the foam in the sitting cushions with firmer material for more sit-bones support.
Here's what the dinette looks like now, except that the metal strip on the leading edge of the raised floor is now black instead of chrome. Like Chris, we made the raised floor removable, but did not add the elegant curve to its front edge that he did. The three bottom photos of the table show it in the north, south, and mid positions of its range of movement. It no longer wobbles on its slide, and stays put after being slid to the desired position.
Although we did the utilitarian version of ChrisR's elegant mods, we greatly appreciate his inspiration, and admire his vision and craftsmanship.