Substituting base cabinet for wardrobe in a 17A? - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 03-06-2017, 08:24 PM   #1
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Substituting base cabinet for wardrobe in a 17A?

While I am chewing on your replies regarding the feasibility of removing the curbside dinette in order to create an “office setup” for an office chair (in an Escape 17A), let me run another of my "bright" ideas by the Solons of this forum.

As background, let me describe part of the floorplan of the Escape 17A for those not familiar with it. I have attached a diagram of it to this post.

If one stands in the trailer door facing inward and looks toward the far left corner (driver side), here is what you would see along that wall, from the rear of the trailer to the front.

On the far left is the driver's side dinette bench. Next to it, moving to the right, is the “kitchen” counter which contains a sink; then to its right, a two- or three-burner cooktop. Next to the cooktop is a tall wardrobe cabinet. Finally, to the right of the wardrobe cabinet is the permanent bed.

** I want to replace the tall wardrobe cabinet with a base cabinet. This would in effect extend the kitchen counter all the way from the near end of the dinette bench to the permanent bed.

I have several reasons for wanting to do this:

(a) I like the “opening up” of the interior of the trailer to more natural light that removal of the tall wardrobe cabinet would achieve, making the entire interior of the Escape visible from every part of the trailer – an “open” floorplan, so to speak, with no hulking barriers interrupting it; and

(2) the addition of the base cabinet would expand the limited work area of the original kitchen countertop; and

(3) having a base cabinet next to the bed would provide a needed “bedside table” surface on which to place eyeglasses, phone, book, iPad, etc. at night while in bed. (I have spotted no satisfactory place where I could attach a “fold-down” shelf that wouldn’t be in the way or awkwardly placed.)

Note: as a solo traveler, the loss of some storage area by not having the wardrobe cabinet would not be a big deal to me. On the other hand, not having a bedside “surface” by the bed would undoubtedly be an inconvenience. So . . .

With all of that said, my question to you is similar to that which I posted earlier about the structural implications of removing the curbside dinette bench to create space for an office chair.

Namely: Is the tall wardrobe cabinet structurally indispensable for supporting either the adjacent overhead cabinets (which are probably attached to it on both sides) or for supporting the roof/strengthening the overall trailer structure; i.e., can the wardrobe cabinet be safely removed?

(As a side note, if the wardrobe cabinet is replaced by a base cabinet, an overhead cabinet would probably be placed above the new base cabinet that takes its place.)

What think you all? A bad idea? Feasible?

I have attached the floor plan of an Escape 17A.

Glenn T.
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Old 03-06-2017, 08:30 PM   #2
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Yes, the built-ins in these trailers are often integral to their structural integrity. Some others may have some specifics for a 17'.
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Old 03-06-2017, 08:39 PM   #3
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Yes, the built-ins in these trailers are often integral to their structural integrity. Some others may have some specifics for a 17'.
Yep, my first thought too. You need at least one gable do aid in the stiffness of the trailer, and to stop the roof from "squatting".

Had to look up "Solon". You think we are wise law makers?
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Old 03-06-2017, 08:43 PM   #4
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Absolutely, Jim! To us newbies, the advice of you wise ones is law! :-)

So far, my "bright ideas" are getting shot down by structural impediments! But I'll keep thinking . . . !
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Old 03-06-2017, 08:48 PM   #5
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Absolutely, Jim! To us newbies, the advice of you wise ones is law! :-)
Hold tight. I am off to think up some good laws to enact.

The first bit of advice I would give then, one that didn't take a lot of time to think about, is that everyone owes those who were on here the day the site started a cocktail.
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Old 03-06-2017, 08:51 PM   #6
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Cheers!
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Old 03-06-2017, 09:02 PM   #7
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You might be able to replace one of the walls with a "Stripper Pole" as is used in the 21, 5.0 TA and 19. That would have to come from ETI though.
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Old 03-06-2017, 09:14 PM   #8
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You might be able to replace one of the walls with a "Stripper Pole" as is used in the 21, 5.0 TA and 19. That would have to come from ETI though.
Of course checking with Escape would be in order, but I think you would need a full height gable, as it stiffens the wall as well as supports the roof. This 17 would not have this. On models where the stripper pole is use'd, there is already some wall support on that side.
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Old 03-06-2017, 10:04 PM   #9
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Simplest solution: just ask ETI. It's known that the cabinets in our trailers are structural members, but I doubt if any of us are equipped to say whether that particular cabinet is essential in it's standard form or whether, if it is, an alternative is possible.

I agree with you about the old-timers on the forum, but I would say savants rather than solons.
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Old 03-06-2017, 10:17 PM   #10
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I think it is clear that some sort of supporting structure is required, but removing the closet may still be feasible. I would consider a frame which runs up the wall, across the ceiling, and down the other wall, essentially forming three sides of a picture frame; this could provide useful support without extending very far from the wall. On the door side of the trailer it may need to be inboard of the stock frame around the door, or to be integrated with that structure. The significant step in the Escape roof would complicate the top side somewhat.

The Lil Snoozy has this sort of frame (although in that case it may not be structural):
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Old 03-06-2017, 10:18 PM   #11
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"Savants", "solons" Oh man, this forum is getting unrecognizable.

Sometimes to mostly achieve an outcome a compromise is necessary.

Your goal of opening up the space may be restricted by structural considerations.

If that's the case maybe a compromise such as the gable in a 19. There's still a gable but the width is cut down above counter level and it allows for a more open feeling and more light.

Ron
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Old 03-07-2017, 01:44 AM   #12
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Savant is better!

Definition of savant
1
: a person of learning; especially : one with detailed knowledge in some specialized field (as of science or literature)

Stan, I agree. Our panel of experts are "Escape Savants!!" ;-)

And I do have my questions submitted to ETI regarding deleting one of the dinette benches and/or the wardrobe. Their production staff will be the ones making the final call. Joldie at ETI told me she will get back to me with their verdict.
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Old 03-07-2017, 01:48 AM   #13
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Yes, Ron, you're right. I'm already formulating a Plan B in case the production guys veto my ideas. Your suggestion of the partition at the end of the counter is certainly an alternative to consider. Thanks!
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Old 03-07-2017, 10:59 AM   #14
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Glenn,
We have a 17A as well, so I poked around a bit. The wardrobe walls are framed with 1x2's with a wood skin on each side, but that is enough to provide a structural shear panel to stiffen the trailer. Something we had considered at build was to have a 6-8" privacy panel on the passenger side of the permanent bed. This, combined with a similar partial panel on the driver's side next to an extended kitchen counter may be sufficient. Discuss this with Reace; he's the one who has every Escape design element in his head.
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Old 03-07-2017, 12:52 PM   #15
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actually thought your Aliner was quite nice and spacious with your office setup...only thing that didn't seem to be there was a bathroom which the Escape 17A also doesn't have...the Aliner has to be setup and the Escape does not..is that the reason for the Escape?
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Old 03-07-2017, 02:20 PM   #16
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Thanks, Don. A discussion with Reace appears to be in the cards. Although I'm guessing he has his hands full with the big move! Thanks for taking the time to "poke around" your 17A!
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Old 03-07-2017, 02:26 PM   #17
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That's a big reason. Putting up/taking down the Aliner really does take me 25 seconds, as advertised. Putting stuff back where I keep them inside takes another 30 - 45 minutes (racks to hold stuff, etc.). But truthfully, I still love the old girl, despite her 85,000 miles of bouncing around America and Canada with me. So its with both excitement and regret that I move to the Escape while trying to duplicate in the Escape the layout that has worked so well for me in the Aliner.
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Old 03-07-2017, 02:47 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post
"Savants", "solons" Oh man, this forum is getting unrecognizable.

Sometimes to mostly achieve an outcome a compromise is necessary.

Your goal of opening up the space may be restricted by structural considerations.

If that's the case maybe a compromise such as the gable in a 19. There's still a gable but the width is cut down above counter level and it allows for a more open feeling and more light.

Ron
Hi Ron,
Thank you for including your photo. It illustrates what I was trying to describe to Glenn on the other thread.

Glenn .... assuming that Ron's photo is of a 17A (post 11)... its very close to what I have been thinking about.... running my countertop to that same bulkhead that shares and separates the bed space. In your 17A that bulkhead runs from floor to ceiling and gives someplace to hang the pantry door. Remove door but leave bulkhead full size for roof support strength. Install cooktop in same space as picture ... I might be tempted to install cooktop / oven there.

In picture, just to left of that cook top is approximately where the aftermost pantry bulkhead is located. Cut this bulkhead back to underside height of countertop but leaving about 3" of bulkhead running vertically along outside wall until it needs to flare out to support the overhead cabinet. This bulkhead (what is remaining of it) may need to be of double thickness for adequate roof support. Doubling or rather adding blocking in a 'wall' is an option offered by ETI. At other end of countertop, just aft of the sink, a 'stripper pole' likely will need to be installed for roof support - a longesh span otherwise. These modifications will give you similar counter space as the 19' has. I'd like that and am looking at same for myself.

You are right ... a new base cabinet, new longer counter top, and a new overhead cabinet.

Another option here. In Ron's picture, about where his cutting board is, I have my cook top in my 17A. I find that Dickinson Marine makes recessed cooktops that are quite attractive. Problem is that just below my present cooktop is the furnace and there isn't verticle clearance for the Dickinson - it requires about 4.75 inches below the top of the counter to fit. If you do this mod and move the stove or stove/oven to the "pantry area" then there will be plenty of room .... just plan the size of your new base cabinet accordingly. Both Jim Bennett and Robert have installed these Dickinson stove tops.

Reace turned me down on this same mod during my build because (and I'm only guessing here) of liability issues and no doubt the interruption to his production line. Now that he has expanded maybe there is more room for more extensive custom work?? My guess is you might need to find a carpenter / cabinet maker / boat builder and/or do it yourself.

If you could make it to the Rally at the end of May, You'd see some 17A's there. I'm not sure if I can come this year (maybe & want to).

Another issue .... you might want to think about is the location of the display screens .... my converter switch and inverter controls are mounted in the faces of my bench seats - a very awkward place to look at them. I wish I had picked out a 'control' center location to make things easier and cleaner ... probably in an overhead cabinet face. Situated so that the display screens won't shine in my eyes while sleeping.

Good Luck,
Tom
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Old 03-07-2017, 03:55 PM   #19
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Cut this bulkhead back to underside height of countertop but leaving about 3" of bulkhead running vertically along outside wall until it needs to flare out to support the overhead cabinet. This bulkhead (what is remaining of it) may need to be of double thickness for adequate roof support.
Tom
That's pretty much what I had in mind. Wish I knew how to draw lines on the photo I posted.

I probably would leave a little more than a 3" width at the narrow part. Even if it was up to 1/3 to 1/2 the width in that area it would achieve the more open look and allow for a longer counter.

I don't think that a double thickness would be required.

Ron
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Old 03-07-2017, 04:32 PM   #20
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If retaining just one panel (corresponding to the forward wall of the pantry), and wanting to keep as open a look as possible, it might be possible to use an alternative to a solid panel.

Here's an example from a famous custom Boler, from the owner's site and a FiberglassRV thread:
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