Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Modifying the Front Table

The front table in the Roadtrek has changed over the years and from model to model. It has been a clover-leaf table supported by a leg that fits into a hole in the floor. It is a table on a tripod in some models. In the 2011 Roadtrek 190 Popular that front table is stored in its own thin cabinet and it slides out on a rail and is hinged to swing up into place supported by a poly support that slides out from the outside of the wardrobe behind the driver's seat. This table is a drop-leaf table hinged in the middle with a spring mechanism to keep it open.

The first time we opened the table I went to sit behind it in the driver's seat swiveled into lounge position. I could not get into the seat behind the table as it was too long. It was slightly easier to get in behind the table in the swiveled passenger seat - but still the seat was just too close. As it was the table was not very usable. To use it I would sit and Meryl would swing the table up and we would both hold it to open it. Then she could get into her seat. I was pretty much trapped. There had to be a better way.

I went out on the forums and learned that a number of people had this same feeling and there were a variety of modifications to the table - in addition to those who just did not use the built in table at all and used a folding table in its place. Examining the table, it did not look hard to remove the leaf which while reducing the table's size in half would make it much more usable to sit at. There are two hinges on the bottom of the table - one with the spring mechanism. I got a screwdriver and removed the screws - and nothing came apart. It was still solidly assembled. Back to the internet and I learned that the hinges are not only bolted on but also glued down.

So now what? I did not want to ruin the table trying to break the glue. I could see breaking the table with the glue. I then had a suggestion on a forum to use a paint scraper slid under the hinge and cut the glue bond.

What you will need -

1) a flexible paint scraper. Buy a cheap one.

2) a phillips head screw driver

3) a square head screw drive (for the usual RV Robertson head - square head - screws)

My table had a combination of both types of screws used on the hinges.

4) a hair dryer (a heat gun will be TOO hot for this job)

5) a mallet or small hammer

How to do it -

First open the table. You will be removing the fold down leaf and not the side of the table that slides on the slide attached to the inside of the cabinet.

Next remove all of the screws from the two leaf hinges on the side of the table that will REMAIN in the Roadtrek.

Now you are going to break the glue. I started with the plain hinge and not the spring hinge. I found quickly that if the hinge was heated with a hair dryer this task is much easier and the glue bond breaks much cleaner.

Slip the paint scraper against the edge of the hinge - on the top of leaf of the table that will remain.With the mallet or a light weight hammer, tap the top of the paint scraper's handle gently. The blade of the paint scrapper will start to move behind the hinge. Start at the point of this hinge. We will call this Hinge #1 and I will label it as such in the photos below. I found that a few taps actually broke the handle of my paint scrapper. I just proceeded by tapping the top of the blade once the handle broke off. If the blade is hard to move deeper behind the hinge heat the hinge with the hair dryer again. DO NOT tap so that the blade is moving into the table top. Just move it along straight down. Once the blade is mostly through the length of the hinge, heat the hinge again and give the handle of the scrapper (or  in my case since the handle broke off - the end of the blade) a slight twist and the hinge should come off. If it does not, just heat it again, and drive the blade a little deeper. In this way the hinge will come of. There will be glue residue left behind on the table bottom.

Once this first hinge comes off you need a partner to hold the table together where the hinge once was or you run the risk now of flexing the table top at the other hinge and the table top breaking. This partner is needed now for the rest of the removal.

Repeat now what you did on Hinge #1 on Hinge #2 - the spring hinge (which will be labeled in a photo below).  This hinge is heavier metal and will need more heat to penetrate than Hinge #2. Heat the blade of the scrapper also. Move it in behind the metal, again careful not to dig it into the table top. When you have most of the blade in give a twist and the bond should come apart and the hinge will be free. At this point your partner is supporting the table leaf you are removing. It is heavy and awkward.

The photos that I have taken were taken after the leaf was removed.

The table leaf removed. Here you see what the hinges look like.

Hinge # 1

Hinge #2 CLOSED
 (I kept the screws that I removed in the plastic bag attached)

Hinge #2 HALF OPEN - this is a very strong spring!

The three holes are where Hinge #1 was removed.
Above, you see the slide that moves the table out of the cabinet.

 The five holes are where Hinge #2 was removed. The routed groove is where the hinge spring slid.

You now have half the table as show above. In this photo you see it hanging from its slide/hinge from inside its storage cabinet. Above it you see the slide that supports the table. To open this table, first slide out the table and pick it up from the bottom to above where the slide support will be. Then slide out the slide support to hold the table securely up. Remember that you now have half the table that you started with and the slide support is made for the full size open table. This is no problem. Just slide the slide out enough now for the smaller table. It will securely stay in place.

Notice in the photos that there is no sign of glue residue. The glue was easy to remove with a little scrapping and alcohol. Household cleaner finished the job to make the table ready for use. 

 Here is a good shot of the table now open. Look to the right front corner and you see three circles. These are the outer caps to the screws that went through the hinge. I returned these caps and the screws that were opposite so that the table would have no holes through it left behind by the missing hinge.

That is all that there is to reducing this table to usable size. We find it most comfortable to eat at this table with one of us sitting in the passenger seat and the other in the third seat as both reach this table nicely. I have used the table while sitting in the driver's seat to work on the laptop. The driver's seat,  when turned around to face the rear of the van, does not slide back very far because of the steering wheel. It still can be a tight fit but with the table in half it is much easier now to get out around it. 

Now you may ask, why not just leave the table as it was, and just not open the leaf. The leaf would hang down and would get in the way. It was also awkward and very heavy with the leaf hanging down like this. 

Here are some shots of the table open. 

If you look into the cabinet in the photo above you will see a blue cylinder. Once the table is reduced to this size it is not half as wide as the cabinet is wide. Before with the full table there was some swing inside the cabinet when the van was moving. I cushioned that with a sponge. Now, with half the table gone there was a lot of movement inside. Once again, a swimming pool noodle float came in very handy. I cut a six inch length of the float and trimmed the foam flat on two sides to fit between the table and the wall of the cabinet. This was pushed into the cabinet when the table was inside - at first. I then glued the foam inside to hold it in place with some stick on adhesive. The foam now prevents any swing and any noise from the table while driving. Swimming pool noodle floats have many uses inside the Roadtrek to keep things from moving around and making noise! Buy them in the summer for a dollar!

ADDENDUM:  It was suggested that the table could be left with both leaves attached and just let the leaf that folds up hang down. We did not find this convenient - you may. Here is a photo of what that would look like (Meryl is holding the table in place where it would be if it was still attached and hanging down).



  1. At nearly 6' tall, I am too far from the table in the third seat to eat there at ease. I have to sit forward. So while I do understand your logic about the driver being "trapped" in that seat when the table is open, I still need/utilize the full size table. I set completely cooked foods on there as I finish up the rest of the meal to get stuff out of the way. I wish RT had a better solution. Of course you could always eat at the back table which you can move around nicely.

    1. In my Roadtrek the back table is just about impossible to use. The post is offset in the floor and the table sits in a position where no one can get to the rear side of it and only one side has enough room to squeeze in behind to sit. There are some Roadtreks - some Sprinters, I believe - that have a front table on a tripod that can be moved around. This seems like the best of the tables - though I have never seen or tried one and am just going by descriptions. We also carry a small folding table that can be see two photos above the comment section behind the driver's seat.

  2. The table system is definitely the weak point of the roadtrek! I hope they find a better solution in the next models.... thanks for the post, you're very handy and smart about those modifications!

  3. Katail- 2013 Pop 190December 3, 2015 at 11:00 AM

    This might be a bit over simplified for most but until I find something better... I've purchased a C-clamp just big enough to insure the "under table" doesn't come crashing down to break my kneecap. I pull out the sliding brace until it stops against that fold out part of table. I am mostly solo but if I need the drivers seat for a guest, they still have to slide in but it's easier without that fold out, folded out. I don't have the third seat so I mostly use the passenger seat to sit down to eat or work.
    I completely enjoy your blog & mostly your clever modifications. Thank you for sharing!

  4. I bought this on the internet and recently installed it in my 2008 RT Popular 210

    Bought an 18 inch round table top at Lowes and it all worked out beautifully!

    1. Where were you able to fit this in? I have seen a portable tripod that fits the table post to put a table anywhere inside an RV and then store it all away.