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  1. One of the things I asked Oliver to do for me was to install a 12" counter extension to the right of the cooktop that could be folded down when not in use. I figured we could use the extra counter space, plus I wanted a buffer between the cooktop and beds for splatter. This is what they came up with - This was perfectly fine and exactly what I was expecting, and we've really enjoyed using it. The only thing I didn't really like was that the hardware was finicky and just didn't work well. And the top ended up about 9" rather than 12", so it was a little small. And we had asked if they could make a piece of fiber granite to match, but they'd have to make a new mould for it so that wasn't going to happen. It also would have been nice if the extension were flush to the counter. So maybe a lot of problems. But we were happy with it nonetheless. But one day when I was running some wires through the pantry, I had removed the countertop beneath for access and just naturally set it down on top of the counter extension. Well, it fit perfectly; and thus, a new project was added to the list. I asked Oliver if they would sell me an extra top and picked it up when I got my trailer out of service a few weeks ago. I believe they charged $150 for it. Since I was redoing the top, I figured I'd search for better hardware as well. I found several options, but the ones that stood out were these from Amarine. They're super heavy duty and stainless steel. They work much better than what we had, and look nicer to boot. The only problem was that they were about a half inch too long for the countertop, so they'd have to be cut to size. But worth the trouble, so I ground the ends off a half inch. If you don't want to go through that trouble, my second choice was these, which are small enough to fit without modification. I cut a ½" piece of plywood that I could screw into to use as the base for the top. A ½" sheet will sit flush to the lip of the counter, which is what I wanted, but to make the countertop flush to the existing counter, it meant the hinges had to be high enough that I had to grind out a small notch for each hinge to clear. No big deal - btw, a Dremel with a small sanding cylinder works really well on the fiberglass, and leaves a smooth edge and no chipping whatsoever. Wear a mask. Here are the notches - The brackets are easy, just mark the holes, drill, and screw. I used ¾" #10 stainless on the bottom legs and ¼" #8's on the top. And 3M 4200 along each leg and on each screw going into the fiberglass to prevent it from backing out over time. Since none of the surfaces in the trailer are perfectly 90°, I needed to shim something to make the counter level. I considered grinding down the latch that holds the brackets at 90°, but that would have been difficult and if I ground off too much, I'd have to buy another bracket. Instead, I decided to shim between the plywood and fiber granite and then glue the top to the plywood with more 3M 4200, which I'm using so much that I've started referring to it around the house now as Snowball Glue. It's only about ⅛" max to shim - I used some stainless washers that I had lying about and just glued them down in each of the corners. I found that the top was a bit warped, so I had to weigh it down while the glue set - See, I knew lead acid batteries still had a use. I let it sit overnight and in the morning, I had what's in the photo above. Cool. BTW, if you want to do this and have mattresses, then you'll want to check their thickness to make sure the extension will clear when folded. Measure down 12" from the bottom lip of the counter. If your mattress is below that, you're good. If you have cushions, then no problem, but you'll need to move one of the back ones out of the way when raising or lowering the top. More pics -
  2. This, I like - I never cared much for Oliver's sink and faucet choices and I'd actually planned to supply them a sink and faucet to get installed on the line. Unfortunately the one I wanted wouldn't work and I was having trouble getting the proper dimensions from Oliver, so I just let it go and figured I'd replace it later. Well, that was a good idea until I realized that the cutout Oliver made for the sink was way too big for any of the bar sized sinks that I could find. And all of the full sized kitchen sinks were too big to fit. But finally I stumbled across this oversized bar sink from Franke. It's the 17" Franke Vector. Overall, it's the same width as the existing sink, but the lip is narrower, so the bowl itself is a bit wider. Mainly the sink is much longer and deeper. In overall volume, it's over twice as large as the original sink, but takes up no more counter space. Can't beat that. And because it's farther forward and 3" deeper, it doesn't splash all over the place like the original. In fact, I can even turn the faucet up all the way without it splashing over the front of the sink, which is novel. I like the Franke sinks in that they have the straight sides and look of a modern zero radius sink, but they do add a slight radius to the corners so that you can actually keep them clean. Installation wasn't too hard. I'd rate it 7/10. The difficulty was that I had to modify the base cabinet for it to fit. There's a wood brace running across the top front that is screwed to the fiberglass beneath the drawer trim, which had to be cut out, and also a portion of the left side of the cabinet. That sounds like a lot of structural support to remove, but the cabinets are mainly tied in at the bottom and I ran it past Jason beforehand to make sure I wasn't looking at it wrong. I have to say that the cabinets are stoutly built, and I'm not at all worried about it. The second problem I ran into was that my countertop wasn't perfectly flat. It bowed down in the middle slightly which wasn't apparent until I installed the sink. But I was able to temporarily shim the counter against the top of the cabinet while the silicone seal dried and then I glued PVC blocks around the perimeter of the sink to both hold it in place and to level the counter. The Franke sinks have an odd installation clip that wasn't designed with hollow core fiberglass in mind, so the blocks were necessary anyway. It's not going anywhere now. Of course I lost use of the flip out drawer but I hated that thing anyway. I glued a few ½" blocks to the front of the sink and then fixed the drawer front to the blocks with heavy duty velcro, just in case I ever need to remove it for some reason. The sink depth worked out perfectly with the existing cutout on the back of the middle drawer to clear the drain. I thought I was going to have to get a Hepvo trap to make it all clear but Oliver actually places the trap behind the cabinet, so no problem. I did have to get the narrowest profile elbow I could find to attach to the drain basket, so I had to go with cheap plastic rather than PVC, but such is life. At the end of the day, however, I decided to use a different drain basket that was a bit deeper, so I had to make the drawer cutout about a half inch deeper after all. The faucet is a Grohe that I found on sale at Home Depot for about half price, so that was a nice find. It has a really nice feel to it and unlike the sink, was a cinch to install. Grohe has a trick installation method that allows you to work from above so that one person can do it without crawling under the counter a hundred times. Oliver's hot and cold lines are convenient to get to and there's an access panel in the back of the cabinet that can be removed if you need more room to work. The only issue I ran into was that the counterweight for the sprayer was getting caught up on everything that's packed in the back of the cabinet. To fix it, I made a tube from some flexible plastic sheeting that I had lying around and just slid that over the sprayer hose. Now the hose slides easily inside the tube and as a benefit, the weight won't bang around inside the cabinet while traveling. So that's about it. I've learned that I don't have the patience or foresight to take progress pictures Like John does, so my description will have to do. But I'm happy to answer any questions.
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