Best RV Modifications

Welcome! We’re a fulltime RVing family of four on the road since 2010. You can read more about us, why we ditched the suburbs, and how we afford it. These are the modifications we’ve made to our 2014 Wildcat Bunkhouse Fifth Wheel RV to make it comfortable and usable to live in fulltime..

Exterior Mods

These are the projects we’ve done on the outside:

New Decals

We ordered our fifth wheel without the swoops - but the factory did install their “Wildcat” logos. We replaced them with our own logo.

Internet Antennas

We work online so depend on having internet coverage. To maximize our chances of a good signal I installed an exterior Wifi Ranger router and a 4G antenna on the crank-up TV antenna.

Our external antennas - 4G up top, wifi below.

Read more about our internet setup.

Outdoor Office

Our trailer came with an exterior door for an optional outdoor fridge that we didn’t get. As soon as I saw the size and shallow depth of the storage space I started scheming a way to turn it into an outdoor office.

I installed:

  • A small clip on table
  • A power outlet
  • A second monitor
At work, outdoors, standing up.

More details on the standup desk are here.

Better Stablization

RVs shake and shimmy when people move around in them. To help stabilize our unit we had the dealer install a JT Strongarm system.

We also use a set of x-chocks when parked for more than a day or two.

I’d estimate that between these two items 90% of the trailer movement is eliminated.

Our Second RV : The JT Strongarms

JT Strongarms installed up front.

Smoother Towing

To smooth out the feedback (or “chucking”) between truck and trailer we also had the dealer install a Mor/Ryd Pin Box System.

Ditching Suburbia Sticker

Ditching Suburbia Sticker Sticker up your RV, boat, or water bottle with these Ditching Suburbia stickers from StickerMule.

They're approximately 3" x 3" and made from premium vinyl designed for outdoor use. They can even be run through a dishwasher.

Our newer and heavier trailer tows smoother now than our older and lighter trailer did without the Mor/Ryd.

Our Second RV : Mor/Ryd Hitch

Mor/Ryd Pin Box Installed

Screen Door Magnets

The latch on our screen door broke within weeks of getting the new RV. I assumed that fixing it with original parts would last about as long.

I found this discussion forum thread which linked to this video showing how to use a rare-earth magnet setup instead.

Now we just push on the screen door frame or “bump” the bottom with a foot to open the screen door.

Big Level

To make setting up a bit easier I installed one of these large bubble levels on the kingpin of the RV. I can see it from the driver’s seat in the truck.

Big Bubble Level

Big Bubble Level

It also has a smaller front-to-back level for use once the trailer is off the truck.

Bumper End Bolts

I got tired of losing the rubber end-caps that came with the RV. I drilled out the bumper and use a long 1/4” bolt with a wing-nut to keep the sewer hose in now:

Bumper end bolts

Bumper End Bolts

New Lug Nuts

The stock lug nuts on our trailer were the cheap chrome-capped versions. These have a tendency to come apart during unbolting and jam up your wrench.

I replaced all the lugnuts with some of these full chrome versions that won’t come apart. Well worth the $20!

Interior Mods

Here’s what we’ve added to the interior of our bunkhouse fifth wheel:

Power Outlets

This trailer is short a couple of power outlets. The forward end of the living area only has an outlet for the TV. The bunkhouse has one outlet period.

I added one outlet for a charging center and another where I could reach it from the seating area.

I added this plug - no more cords dangling from the tv outlet.

I added this plug - no more cords dangling from the tv outlet.

Device Charging Center

For the charging center I mounted a surge-suppressed power strip that accommodated all the various chargers.

I mounted another shelf above that spot, carpeted it, and routed all the plugs to it. I secured them with a plastic wire clamp so they stay in place.

To charge a device we just need to find the right plug, plug it in, and set the device on the shelf.

Completed charging center

Bluetooth Connection

I also made room for a Bluetooth receiver and found an unused input to the stereo in the mess of wires behind it so all of the Bluetooth wiring is hidden.

Now we can connect to the trailer stereo from my iPhone for music or from a laptop for watching movies.

Internet Gear - Inner

Inside the RV we have a network-attached backup drive, two routers, and a 4G amplifier for our aircard.

I cut a piece of plywood, covered it in automotive carpet, arranged all the components on it and routed the wires using tie-downs.

Our internet gear. Backup drive on the left in back. Backup router front left. Aircard/amp in the middle. Primary router front-right. All mounted to a carpeted board on top of kitchen cabinets.

Read more about how we get internet.

Couch Out - Ikea Chairs in

The couch that came in our fifth wheel wasn’t comfortable for any of us.

Ikea to the rescue - we had their Poang Chairs in our first trailer and loved how comfortable, light and inexpensive they are.

We ordered some dark wood versions of the Poang with red cushions to brighten up our dark trailer interior. When the chairs arrived we yanked the couch and sold it on Craigsist.

We eventually replaced the dining table with two more Poang chairs so the entire family could hang out in the same room.

Living room version 3 - comfy seats all around.

Living room version 3 - comfy seats all around.

Coffee Table

I bought a “shoe-bench” from Amazon to serve as a coffee table in the living room (also visible in photo above). It has a bottom shelf, about 5” of hidden storage under the lid, and can serve as extra seating if need be.

I ended up removing the hinges - this way we can lift the lid off to access the storage from either side without having to clear it off entirely first.

New Curtains

Just about all of the blinds that came in our trailer broke. We made our own no-sew RV curtains for under $100.

Living room with new, no-sew DIY curtains installed.

Living room with new, no-sew DIY curtains installed.

Fruit Basket

We needed more fruit storage, so I hung a wire fruit basket from our overhead cupboards (also visible in photo above).

Stacking Bins

The kids needed a way to organize their clothes in the bunkhouse wardrobe unit.

I found some stacking storage bins on Amazon that looked perfect.

The bins provided necessary storage and don’t have drawers that like to open themselves while going down the road. They left enough space in the wardrobe to store a guitar and a keyboard stand.

The few hanging clothes Miranda has now get rolled up and stored in the large drawer below.

Stacking bins in kids wardrobe

Stacking bins in kids wardrobe.

Dinette Bench Mod

I modified the rear dinette bench by removing the face boards from the lower bench support. There is a lot of storage under these seats but the rear one you had to flip up the entire seat to access.
I added some metal corner supports to keep the unit rigid and with it open now shoes or a laundry bag can be tucked under the bench.

Modified bench makes this space accessible all the time

Modified bench makes this space accessible all the time.

Keyboard Storage Shelf

We travel with a fullsize keyboard. It needed a dedicated space to live and travel in.

I scrapped together a shelving unit from some spare lumber, covered it all in carpet, and installed it in place of the upper bunk. I installed some marine-type rope cleats so we could rope it all off for travel.

The shelf is only as deep as the keyboard needs, so it allows the kids to sit at their table without having to duck under it.

Finished and Installed

Keyboard shelf replaces upper bunk.

Magnet Collection

We collect fridge magnets to memorialize our travels. I needed a place to display them.

I removed the unused TV mount and cut, fit, clear-coated and mounted 7 lengths of 1.25 strap steel on that wall to serve as a place to display our fridge magnet collection. I also mounted some 5x7 photo frames on magnets to hang here.

We put together a video on making our own collectable fridge magnets you might want to watch.

The collection takes up the entire wall where a TV would have been. Magnets attached to photo frames allows display of pictures mixed in with the magnets.

The collection takes up the entire wall where a TV would have been. Magnets attached to photo frames allows display of pictures mixed in with the magnets.

Digital Photo Frame

While I try to minimize our technology I have a ton of photos from our travels and it’s nice to see them more often.

So I added a digital photo frame to the living room.

We like how they trigger questions and conversations about our experiences.

Fixed Sink

The trailer came with the sink hung under the counter by 3 thin sheet metal straps that immediately bent from sink use.

I made legs from PVC plumbing supplies, sized to wedge in underneath the sink. I can then tighten them further by “unscrewing” the shaft.

Support legs for kitchen sink.

Support legs for kitchen sink.

Tree Mural

The rear wall of the living area of our new trailer was this big empty canvas just begging for something.

The challenge is there is little clearance there when the main slide room comes in - I couldn’t even hang framed prints without having to remove them each time.

I remembered seeing different decals for walls and found these RoomMates RMK1317GM Tree Branches Peel & Stick Wall Decals on Amazon.

One looked a bit small so I ordered two and pieced them together for a larger tree.  I used leftovers on the other side of the door as well.

New tree mural

When I go in my bedroom now I feel like I’m walking into a forest.Miranda

Shoe Storage

In our RV, the only place we could place shoes to keep them handy was right in the entryway, along the edge of the cabinet.

I googled around different solutions for shoe storage, I found a shoe rack that had just simple vertical pegs to slide shoes over.

I realized I could build a shoe rack out of PVC pipe to fit the space we had.

I used schedule 80 3/4” tubing and the cheaper schedule 40 connectors. I made all the pegs long enough to get my (size 12) shoes up and off the floor. Once assembled I gave it a quick shot of flat black paint to cover the white connectors.

I initially didn’t glue it together. However - it sits right over a register grate and when the heat ran the PVC would expand. The rack would then get all floppy. I later glued it all together.

Test fit of new shoe rack

PVC Shoe Rack

Shelves

The Wildcat is considered a “lightweight” trailer - which seems to sometimes mean “we left off as much as we can while still calling it a complete trailer”.  With the cabinetry this means hardly any shelves anywhere. I added:

  • A side shelf in each pantry - taking advantage of the “around the corner space” from the front
  • A shelf in the cupboard over the fridge
  • A shelf in the cupboard over the counter - designated for coffee supplies, ect
  • Two shelves in the left-most cupboard, spaced so plates and glasses get a designated space
  • A shelf in the right-side nightstand
  • A shelf in the master bedroom wardrobe
  • Shelves in the entertainment center
Shelves in the dish and glassware cupboard

Hooks

Our trailer is basically a shrine to the Command brand of hooks. We love them because we don’t have to drill holes in the walls. I installed Command hooks for:

  • Coats in hallway
  • Hats over the entry door
  • Towels in the shower
  • Keys and headlamps
  • Jewelry
  • Oven Mitts in the Kitchen
Not totally attractive but we had no other options for coat and hat storage

Command Hooks for coats and hats.

Other Accessories

Some of these items came uninstalled from the factory, others I had to purchase:

  • Mounted the paper towels on the flip-up cupboard door above the microwave for ease of access while using the kitchen, but to keep them out of sight otherwise
  • Installed towel bar in bathroom
  • Installed a towel bar on the end of the counter
  • Installed our wall clock/inside-outside thermometer over the bunkhouse door
  • Installed broom clips in luggage area for broom and other long/skinny items
Paper towels mounted to hide away when not in use

Paper towels mounted to hide away when not in use

Bumpers and Felt Pads

RVs move a lot going down the road. Doors also get flung open carelessy. I tried to stave off damage and:

  • Installed several small bumpers where doors contacted walls, etc
  • Put felt bumpers on the back of the curtain bottoms so they don’t rattle as the trailer moves (when people are walking, etc)
  • Put rubber feet on the bottom of the sink covers so they can sit on the countertop without scratching
  • Installed felt bumper for sliding door where it meets the wardrobe

Whew!

Somehow in addition to doing all of the above we’ve actually had time to enjoy living in our RV fulltime since buying it in late 2013.

Need more RV info?  We’ve got a list of what’s in a fulltime RV’ers toolbox, what stuff we need to live fulltime in an RV, and a rundown of places to get camping discounts.

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37 Comments Best RV Modifications

  1. Picture of JenniJenniMarch 21, 2016

    We too had a Command hook shrine going on as well as some IKEA bins and copious deployment of felt pads because I loathe the sound of cabinet doors banging.  We also had, as you know, the huge USA laminated wall map that we used to trace our route as we traveled.  That now hangs in our home and everyone who comes in likes to look it over and ask us all about the places we went.  Like your digital frame, it’s a great conversation starter. 

  2. Picture of AdamAdamMay 21, 2016

    Love the magnet idea. We were just talking about this the other day as we have a bevy of magnets that we have collected throughout our travels. With limited magnetic space in an RV magnet strips are the perfect addition.

  3. Picture of PaulaPaulaJune 01, 2016

    Great article and pics.  We’ve been full time 6 years.  No end in site. 

    I cannot imagine standing outside to work.  We are in Key West a lot.  If it’s not hot, it’s raining or bugs are out. 

    Our 5er came with curtain rods and fabric grommet valences (instead of the usual upholstered valences).  Replaced with printed sheer DRAPES from walmart, cut and stitched (by hand) to fit different window/ceiling height in DR and LR. 

    Also have the wall stickers, and “phrase” stickers from Dollar Tree. 

    We have a coffee table similar to your Ikea, but it opens on hardware which raises it up and over so it is perfect working height for the sofa, storage inside and shelf below (printer). 

    LOVE your Ikea chairs, but we often have guests so need to keep the sleeper/sofa.  I am open to options to upgrade that. 

    Sorry I can’t add pics.  I am not a “home” right now.

    Regards.

  4. Picture of AudreyAudreyJuly 17, 2016

    This site is awesome! I was looking for a good place for info on what trailer to get and what truck for when we go RVing for a year. I have to say that each post of brilliant info is linking me to the next post of more amazing info! Keep it coming!!! Thank you for all the info!

    Oh and yes I subscribed to your email list :)

  5. Picture of  GLORIA DARLING GLORIA DARLINGAugust 30, 2016

    Love the article and got several good ideas for my RV. Hope to read all you have. Please add me to all your information for RVs

  6. Picture of KatyKatySeptember 24, 2016

    Great ideas. We too are looking at a Wildcat to move up to a larger RV.

  7. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkSeptember 24, 2016

    Thanks Gloria & Katy!

    FYI - we don’t add anyone to our mailing list manually. You can add yourself - the sign up form is on every page of the site. Then you can unsubscribe at any time as well.

  8. Picture of Bill DayBill DayNovember 06, 2016

    just add me to your newsletter.  Great stuff Michael.  very inspirational.

  9. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkNovember 06, 2016

    Hey Bill -

    I prefer to let people manage their own subscriptions - you can enter your email address on any page where you see the budget promoted.

    You’ll then get a confirmation email and will be on the list.

  10. Picture of JackieJackieDecember 05, 2016

    Great ideas!!!!

  11. Picture of Darlene PalmerDarlene PalmerDecember 10, 2016

    Where can we get the supplies to set up your internet system. We don’t need a tv but my husband is frustrated with the hot spot service.

  12. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkDecember 10, 2016

    Hey Darlene -

    This page links to a more detailed post about our internet gear, but it’s all several years old at this point. I don’t remember where some of it came from and I know some of it was from Amazon..;)

    Best to see what http://technomadia.com/ is currently recommending. Buying their book is well worth the investment.

  13. Picture of LydiaLydiaJanuary 08, 2017

    Any step into master bedroom ideas for Fifth wheel Camper

  14. Picture of Ellen RumpffEllen RumpffJanuary 31, 2017

    Terry and I have camped our entire marriage-47 1/2 years. Now we’d love to just live in it full time so I’ve loved all your info. I’ll be following you.

  15. Picture of MarcyMarcyJanuary 31, 2017

    Really like your sire and look forward to more

  16. Picture of MarcyMarcyJanuary 31, 2017

    Really like your sire and look forward to more

  17. Picture of DavidDavidFebruary 15, 2017

    Love reading about all the upgrades to the RV. Thanks

  18. Picture of Beverly SwiftBeverly SwiftFebruary 22, 2017

    Great ideas, recently purchased new camper smaller than last one, so need these ideas to accommodate all our stuff.

  19. Picture of Jeanette SudanoJeanette SudanoMarch 14, 2017

    Hello, love seeing the idea of storing the bikes on top of the truck…what system are you using? Is it difficult to load and unload? Pro and cons please… thank you.

  20. Picture of Lorraine UtoLorraine UtoMarch 30, 2017

    I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
    Thank you!

  21. Picture of Loren UnrauLoren UnrauApril 01, 2017

    Plan on rving next fall, looking forward to receiving your newsletter. Loren Unrau.

  22. Picture of RichRichMay 04, 2017

    You have some great ideas that I will use.  Thank you for posting them.

  23. Picture of TeresaTeresaMay 12, 2017

    How did you get the tree to stick to the wall. I have tried several of these stick ons and they never stick

  24. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkMay 12, 2017

    @teresa - nothing special. They just worked.

  25. Picture of ThereseThereseMay 30, 2017

    Darn, you are a very handy & informative person! Thanks so much!

  26. Picture of Mike schaeferMike schaeferMay 30, 2017

    Great tips and suggestions

  27. Picture of Bruce GilbertsonBruce GilbertsonJune 11, 2017

    Would love to get your newsletter

  28. Picture of Bruce GilbertsonBruce GilbertsonJune 11, 2017

    Would love to get your newsletter

  29. Picture of EricaEricaJuly 08, 2017

    My fiance and I are looking into full-time rv living in the next couple years!  I can’t wait to get started and greatly appreciate your info!  Now, if we could just decide on what kind of rv. . . .

    Thanks!

    Erica

  30. Picture of Larry LarryJuly 22, 2017

    Great article. Keep the ideas flowing by buying a new fifth whell and organizing it!

  31. Picture of Gloria BensonGloria BensonAugust 09, 2017

    I’m looking forward to your news letter.

  32. Picture of JimJimAugust 12, 2017

    Add to mailing list. Thank you

  33. Picture of GregGregAugust 15, 2017

    Enjoyed the upgrade article

  34. Picture of Florence D TeterFlorence D TeterAugust 25, 2017

    Love your ideas

  35. Picture of LeeLeeAugust 29, 2017

    What an incredibly well done article. Your tips and modifications are so well thought out and executed, with much appreciated links.  Just curious, did you modify your tow vehicle interior or mechanically? Thank you.

  36. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkAugust 29, 2017

    Hi Lee -

    Thanks for the comments.

    Our truck was an ‘02 Chevy Gasser (8.1L) with Alison transmission. I think of all the vehicles I’ve owned I loved that truck the most. It had plenty of power for towing, needed very little in the way of repairs, and was just old enough to still be “just a truck” - no loaded up with a bunch of digital gizmos like the new ones.

    I added:

    -  Auxillary lights on the rear bumper for after-dark hitching and unhitching.

    - Traditional truck toolbox for tool storage.

    - A 12v air compressor for easy tire pressure maintenance.

    - A 12 - > 120V inverter for charging laptops while driving (mounted in where the truck had CD storage).

    - HID lights in the stock fog lamp locations.

    - A wiring hack that made the low beam lights stay on with the high beams.

    - A Yakima roof rack for our bikes.

    - A fifth wheel tailgate (after we dropped the trailer and ruined the stock tailgate.

  37. Picture of Trey RogersTrey RogersOctober 03, 2017

    Great article. You have setup your email perfectly. I hope to read more about how your adventure is progressing.

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