Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Camping Table

Years ago, I bought the interior from a '79 westy to replace the interior of my '72. The old interior was shot, and it wasn't nearly as ergonomic as the later westy or the Riviera. Today's post covers how I finally figured out how to make use of the table that came with the interior.

How I Got Here
The '79 Westy came with a table which rode on a swing-out arm. The arm attaches to the sink/stove unit where it meets the little Dometic fridge. There have been numerous reports about the usefulness of that tiny fridge. A few years ago, I switched mine out into dry storage instead (See From Fridge to Storage). Later, in fact just about a year ago, I finally gave up on the old sink/stove unit and sold it to a car club here in Portland. It should give refreshed life to many westy's with broken bits in their kitchens. I sold off the headbanger cabinet then too, since the later westy depended upon a full-length cut-out roof (that the '72 didn't have), so it didn't fit my bus. This left me with the rock'n'roll bed, the closet, the storage fridge and the table. I had been using all the other parts, but the table just moved around the garage.

Table Top
The table has a large round metal bowl attached to it's bottom, applied with screws so the underside of the table acts like an oversized lid on the bowl. From the center of the bowl is a short (~4" long) 1" diameter post. This post is supposed to fit in the swing arm, making for a nice table in the camper, but without a use outside the vehicle without custom brackets from BusDepot.

Without the kitchen, and without the brackets, the table had no purpose. So, I hit Home Depot and bought some galvanized steel pipe from the plumbing section: 2 10" long 1" diameter pipes, 1 1" coupler, 1 1" to 1-1/2" adapter, a 3" long 1-1/2" diameter pipe and a 1" pipe wall mount. These bits form the leg. Combining all of the parts together (mount | 10" pipe | coupler | 10" pipe | adapter | 3" pipe) net a leg that's over 2 feet long, making for a nice counter height when the base is added. By removing one 10" pipe and the coupler, the table is cocktail / coffee table height when the base is added. So, all this is great, and it's been the plan from the beginning, but a 1" leg holding a 2-foot by 3-foot table in the air won't work without something at the other end of the leg to hold it upright. This is where the pipe wall mount comes in.

Love That Bass
Pretty much every car comes with a spare tire. From when I first started thinking about this little project, I figured that the spare tire that sits on the bus' nose would be the base somehow. I intended to use an old rotor, but in digging through the garage, I didn't find one. Instead, I found a wheel spacer / adapter for 5x100 to 5x112 (so a Subaru can run VW rims). This has 5x112 lugs already, making it all the easier. To form the base, I set the 1" wall mount under the spare rim, and put the adapter underneath that, with the lugs pointing up. With extra lug nuts I had lying around, I torque the rim to the adapter, squeezing the wall mount between. The 1" threaded opening is available through the centerbore.

Top to Leg
The last piece is getting the post coming out of the table to stay put in the 1-1/2" pipe. I drilled a hole just below the upper (nearest table) threads larger enough to fit a 1/2" head bolt. Within the 3" pipe, opposite the hole, I JB-Weld'd a nut. It took a couple of tries to get the nut to weld well, but now it holds the table.

Pudding Proof
I tested the assembly in the driveway with increasing amounts of weight, starting with a cup of coffee. Held firm. Tried the Coleman stove and it held. Tried a tire from the MG and it held. I decided it was ready for some real-world testing, so we made it central to the camping at 4Peaks. All weekend it held the stove, supported our cooking and other activities. It had stuff on it all the time.

The leg parts break down and fit under the rock-n-roll bed. The wheel adapter with lug nuts fits under the rock-n-roll bed too. The spare tire goes back on the nose, and the table slides onto the rear deck with the rest of the gear. Ultimately, it takes up very little space, and makes use of a table top I've been carrying around for years.

That's it for today. As always, thanks for following along. 

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