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Old 02-25-2010, 08:59 AM   #1
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Eyebrow Bookshelf

I've never liked the tambours on the bookshelf and the whole contraption just seems badly executed. I will give it one kuddo--the original sheet metal version is light weight. Before you start your own bookshelf, be aware that the dimensions here are for a '72 Overlander with a thermoplastic front dome. The dimensions of the bookshelf cutout are different than I found in the fiberglass dome in my '70 Caravel (both are 9" high, but the width and slope of the front face are different)--you can see that new bookshelf installation here. Also be aware that the fiberglass dome is very stiff compared to the flexible thermoplastic version.

The bookshelves are similar in both models, with the Caravel being 52" wide and the Overlander being 51'1/2" wide.

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After removing the old bookshelf cabinet, you find an irregular cavity. It's difficult to get accurate measurements and even after very careful attention to detail, it's hard to estimate how a rectangular box will fit. Any slope in the final fit will affect the angle of the front of the new box. One other thing that is sort of nervous-making is that the old cabinet was held in place with only four screws, two at each end. In the case of my Overlander it was really only 2-1/2 screws, as one missed the plastic completely and one other was through the plastic right at the edge.

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At the back of the cavity you can see the edge of the top of the window frame. This extrusion forms a ledge about 1-1/2" wide, which the bookshelf could sit on, except for the curve of the shell above it. A properly placed block on the back of the cabinet could take advantage of this ledge to support much of the cabinet weight.

You can also see that the underside face (that flat piece under the original bookshelf) of the plastic dome is slightly curved--I found this plastic to be very flexible in the up/down direction, but extremely stiff in the fore/aft direction. You can take advantage of that stiffness to help prevent the new cabinet from rotating downward by screwing through the plastic and into the bottom of the cabinet, which is what that screw block in the drawing is for.

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The slope of the front of the cabinet was 1" in the Caravel and appeared to be 3/4" in the Overlander. In practice this was not quite right, due to the cavity not being exactly plumb and horizontal, which was discovered when inserting the cabinet for the first time. This was corrected by belt sanding about 1/4" off the back 1/3 of the underside of the cabinet. I recommend making a representatiave cross section short box out of scrap and trial fitting it at various places left and right in the cavity. Having a short box would also allow you to measure where to put the support block if you wanted to set it on the window frame.

The optional trim piece (in green) is designed to capture and conceal the forward edge of the plastic below the bookself. This was not neeed in the Caravel, since the fiberglass was stiff and remained snug up against the bottom of the cabinet. The slight 1/4" underhang of the front trim was all that was needed to conceal the edge. That might also work for the plastic if it is attached to the cabinet with screws from below.

The end-on view of the cabinet isn't all that attractive. The actual cabinet box is 1" narrower than the cavity. The front trim overhangs each side by 1/2" to make the full width. This provides an easy way to trim the ends to fit tightly.

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Installation is next, but there's still some varnishing to do today.

Zep
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Old 02-25-2010, 07:34 PM   #2
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Curious to see the install. Post the pictures when you're able.

Thanks,

Kevin
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Old 02-25-2010, 08:05 PM   #3
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Roger,
I’ve got a book for your new shelf, “Shop Class As Soulcraft” An Inquiry Into The Value Of Work, by Matthew B. Crawford. I just finished this book and the author speaks directly to people that enjoy working with their hands to produce craftsmanship that requires creative thinking punctuated by moments of genuine pleasure. Crawford has a Ph.D. in political philosophy, use to work in a think tank and now owns and operates Shockoe Moto, an independent motorcycle repair shop in Richmond, Virginia.
Let me know if you’re interested.
Dan
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Old 02-26-2010, 11:06 PM   #4
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Sheridan, thanks. I'm definitely interested. Especially if there is chapter on waking up at 3 AM and realizing there is a solution to a puzzle one has been thinking about for days, then getting up and going to the shop to make it!

DIVERSION: Finding something unexpected in the Airstream that requires a day or two to deal with, before getting back to whatever it is that you were doing.

Today was a diversion. I really don't like the speakers sitting right by my ear when I'm sitting down up front. So I had planned to move them, just as I did in the Caravel. I placed the speaker templates and cut out new holes for the speakers in the plastic dome. Surprise, there was a plywood backing plate behind the control panel.

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When I found the backing plywood, it motivated me to try something that I've wanted to do for some time--shield the acoustic energy from the speakers from the shell. With the speakers in the walls and vibrating the shell, I always feel like I'm imposing my NPR news on the guy next door who'd rather listen to Rush Limbaugh, ugh. Replacing that backing plywood with a wider piece, wide enough to back the speaker cutouts, would allow me to build some small speaker enclosures right into the backing plate. To be effective, these little boxes need to be air tight (hey, we're not building a bass reflex enclosure here). Even then, they may not be very effective, but they will make me feel better about running the radio late at night (the rear speakers are already in portable outdoor TEAC boxes). So the boxes are built strong and tight.

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There is a lot of room up behind the plastic dome. The smallest space is at the upper outside corner of the speakers, about 4" from the plastic dome to the outer shell. The boxes are 3" deep, with 3/8" plywood back, so there is about 1/2" clearance, minimum. The entire 48" long contraption easily slides up through the 51" wide bookshelf opening.

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Maybe I can get this installed tomorrow and then get back to getting the bookshelf installed.

Zep
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Old 02-26-2010, 11:16 PM   #5
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I want the bookshelf to be adjustable to allow for different radios or book sizes, etc. To that end, I built the partitions and the shelves to go together something like an egg crate. The partitions have a 1/4" deep kerf in them that the shelves slide into. The front edges of the partitions are full width (3/4") solid maple, which conceals the kerfs. Likewise, the shelves have a small notch at the front to allow the full width partition.

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The partitions are installed with two screws, one on top and one on the bottom. The shelves keep the partitions normal to the front. If the partitions need to be adjusted in the future, there will only be a #6 screw hole to fill in the top and bottom of the box. You can see the radio panel on the left. The rectangular cutout accepts the standard American radio mounting sleeve. The edge of these sleeves has a 1/16" retaining lip, which on first look says "you can't cut an accurate enough cutout in wood to make this work." Wrong. With some careful trimming and a few minutes with a file you can have a reliable, snug fit. More on that in the next post.

Zep
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Old 02-27-2010, 07:44 PM   #6
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The speakers are in! Yippee. You can see in the photo that I need to do some work on the control panel. You can also see the white fiberglass insulation in the speaker box, which provides some deadening. As it turns out, at a normal volume level I can hardly hear the radio outside. This is a big change from the original sepaker installation.

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The bookshelf is finished, except for the door, which is waiting on varnish. There are only four #6 sheet metal screws, shown in red, holding it in place. There are no screws in the back into the window frame or shell. This has worked fine for 20,000 miles in the Caravel bookshelf. I don't particularly care for the slight protrusion of the bottom edge down past the lower edge of the plastic dome. This was necessary in order to trim out the existing lower skin of the dome.

This particular dome has an aluminum "L" extrusion in the fold just above the bookcase, which makes for a secure screw connection. My '75 Sovereign is completely different--still has a plastic dome, but the underside has a stip of plywood on it and the front lip is 1" high. I guess Airstream had to change something every year.

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Each of the shelves are 12-1/2" wide, which is wide enough for 8-1/2X11" paper tablets and magazines. The radio compartment is 10" wide and has enough room on the face for an XM radio head or HD radio. The larger box on the end is slightly narrower, but is useful for [obsolete] CD cases and other non-flat items.

Mounting the radio using the supplied sleeve is easy. Just cut the rectangular opening very precisely, since you ony have a 1/16" lip on the front of the sleeve. All the sleeves (Sony, Panasonic, Kenwood pictured here) are similar, but are not interchangeable. However, the cutout is identical for all of them.

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I use bullet connectors (sometimes hard to find) as my quick disconnects for the speaker wires and fully insulated spade connectors for power. I reverse the male and female connectors to ensure that power and ground can't be connected backwards and so that the +/- speaker phasing is correct.

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Now back to the dinette!

Zep
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Old 02-28-2010, 09:32 AM   #7
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Great work, Zep!

Can't wait to see the finished door in place. Nice that you made extra effort to consider the aural environment of your neighbors by not announcing your arrival with a BOOM BOOM CHUCK, BOOM BOOM CHUCK.

Sheridan
(I'll bring the book with me at the resto-rally)
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Old 02-28-2010, 10:18 PM   #8
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I am in awe Zep. Very nice setup and craftmanship. I toiled over what to do with our endcap also and in the end, just painted the tambors. They were and are still hard to open so they probably will not get used much. I am now considering tearing the whole box out and re-doing like you have setup. I will probably wait until the rest of the camper is done and check the weight ratio. If I am light up front, there is my solution!
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Old 03-01-2010, 10:08 AM   #9
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I think the speaker box and bookshelf weigh less than 50# total.
That won't change your balance by much. The weight is a bit of a concern, what with the inner dome being made out of thermoplastic. But the whole thing seems very stiff and most of the weight is reacted at the center window frame. Depending on how your dome is reinforced, it might be less of a concern. In my Sovereign, there is plenty of room for a beam under the bookshelf and inside the plastic.

Zep
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Old 03-01-2010, 11:18 AM   #10
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Great work, Zep. I always enjoy reading your detailed, "how to" threads.

I'm happy with my eyebrow shelf, but my front cap has a nice big crack in it and I'm not sure exactly how to go about fixing it. Leaning toward fiberglass tape right now.
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Old 03-01-2010, 08:59 PM   #11
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50# is not too bad. I won't be doing the speakers/stereo in it although I really like the way yours turned out. We will have the stereo inside the base cabinets underneath (I have already put in antena wiring and etc there). I am mounting the speakers behind the sofa (one on each side) since our sofa is on the roadside. The speakers will be on an angle pointing 45 degrees toward the back wall and out the sides. This should give a good stereo balance when seated there/watching TV, etc.

Just the aluminum box inside our endcap is what I would be replacing and, since the aluminum box is in good shape, I may be able to just frame in the face and put doors on to save some of that weight.

Great job on yours!
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Old 03-04-2010, 02:33 PM   #12
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Done! The door swings down. You can see the latch, top center. It's a plastic latch that I've seen only in RV parts places. I like it because it provides an active catch and the release paddle slides parallel with the back side of the panel.

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The wood is finished with an oil-based polyurethane, which will get a little darker and more yellow over time.

Zep
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Old 05-12-2010, 09:11 AM   #13
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Now you just need to replace that old yellow plastic control panel .
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Old 05-12-2010, 10:56 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichHog View Post
Now you just need to replace that old yellow plastic control panel .

As they say in the artillery, "on the way, wait."

Zep
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