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PostPosted: August 13th, 2014, 4:47 pm 
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Location: 1999 Concourse
I removed the microwave oven from my 1999 Concourse and thought others might like to see what is "in there" and how I went about it. This was the original Dometic, and in fine working condition. So why did I remove it? As you know, in a rig as small as a Chinook, there is not a lot of extra room for things that rarely get used -- and everything you do have means there is something else you cannot have.

For starters, I never much use a microwave oven at home, even when there is no (space/power) penalty for having one. I'm just not a "microwave person." I'll use it once in a blue moon, but not for anything I couldn't easily do on the stove or in the regular oven (my Chinook has a propane oven below the stove top, which I really like). Also of course it uses electricity, and I like to boondock. Now, I could run the generator or put in an inverter to run the microwave -- and I would if it was something I valued, no question. But since I don't really care that much about it, that's not my priority.

The other reason this was an easy decision for me is that the microwave is extremely easy to remove, and will be very easy to replace, should I or anyone else ever want to (of course it is stored away, indoors, waiting for that time). So I figured even if a week later I changed my mind, twenty minutes and it would be back in place, as if it never left.

Now on to it:

The microwave (at least in my 1999 Concourse) is held in place by six screws around the perimeter, going through the microwave flange and into the cabinetry behind. I removed those and then just put them back into the holes in the cabinetry, for safe keeping and because I prefer the look to holes or patches. The electrical connection is made by a regular "plug" plugged into an outlet. There is an opening in the left side of the cabinet (as you face the microwave door) and the cord goes through that and then plugs into the face of an outlet, which is in the adjacent upper cabinet. Remove the six screws, unplug it and it pulls right out.

Here is the compartment just after pulling out the microwave (ignore the multi colored strap you can just see in the lower right corner; that was holding my refrigerator doors open before I got the Dometic Airing Position Cards™). You can see four of the six attachment screws back in place around the outside of the compartment (black screw heads).

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Here is another view, showing the bottom of the compartment. The wire loom that is looped around on the bottom is the wiring that leads down and out into to the range hood/command central display.

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I thought about various things I could do with the compartment: Drawers, shelves, etc. Obviously there are lots of options, many of which would involve a "nice finish" to the inside area. But for starters I decided I would store soft things in it (clothing/linens/etc.) which meant I didn't really have to do much to change it while I tried it out. The first thing I did was put some wire nuts on the protruding ends of the refrigerator ceiling vent fasteners, just so nothing would snag on them.

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3 Wire nuts on screw ends.jpg
3 Wire nuts on screw ends.jpg [ 166.34 KiB | Viewed 1532 times ]

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Last edited by Blue~Go on August 13th, 2014, 5:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: August 13th, 2014, 5:00 pm 
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Location: 1999 Concourse
Next, I decided that even though I wasn't going to get too fancy (yet), I did want it to be tidy and to have a nice platform to set things on. I also didn't want the wire loom leading to the range hood to be disturbed. To that end I went to Home Depot and got some alder hobby boards (these are really thin boards, 1/4" if I remember correctly). These are very light weight and take up almost no space, but are plenty strong. I put a few coats of varnish on them and then attached them to the existing 1" x 2" "floor framing" of the compartment with stainless screws and finishing washers. You can't see it here, but I re-routed the loop of range hood wiring so it looped back instead of forward, which allowed it to tuck nicely out of the way (by this I mean I simply picked it up and set it back down the other way, nothing major). Here is the very simple compartment floor after I fastened it in place.

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A closer view:

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In keeping with "do it simply for now, try it out, and then make any further decisions," I didn't fabricate or buy doors for the opening (but may do in future). So I needed a way to keep things from falling out. Wal-Mart (and I'm sure other places) have this double/adjustable tension bar in their camping department that is meant for refrigerators. If I remember correctly it is made by Camco. It popped right in and has done the job perfectly.

Attachment:
6 Wal-mart refrigerator tension bar.jpg
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PostPosted: August 13th, 2014, 5:11 pm 
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Joined: July 31st, 2014, 1:01 am
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Location: 1999 Concourse
A friend zipped me up a curtain by making a few seams in a leftover piece of fabric. Even though I wasn't going to make doors (yet), I didn't want a cluttered look right in front of my face all the time. A single tension bar holds it in place (Wal-Mart curtain department, and I'm sure many other places). Like the "refrigerator bar" shown above, it has springs inside and rubber feet on the ends. You just twist it until it is slightly longer than the right length, and then tension plus the rubber feet keep it in place. The compartment has wooden corner boards that they both rest nicely on. The light fabric suits me just fine for now, and the space feels more spacious without a microwave in my face (plus it is a HUGE storage compartment - there was a lot of wasted space behind the microwave oven). I pulled everything out of the compartment today to take the photos, and I could not believe the size of the pile! The compartment swallowed it all up again easily when I was done :D

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7 Curtain on tension rod.jpg
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Obviously someone who uses the microwave a lot is not going to want to remove it, but if you are like me and don't really use it... here is one potential use for the space. If anyone else has removed theirs and done something different with the space, it would be great if you could post it here. I'm sure my "mod" will evolve after more time with the Chinook (does one ever figure out the best place for everything? :D). I could see putting doors on the compartment to match the rest of the cabinetry, and maybe some dividers or etc. inside.

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PostPosted: August 14th, 2014, 9:07 am 
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Or just store stuff IN the microwave! haha (kidding.. kinda)


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PostPosted: August 14th, 2014, 9:12 am 
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Location: 1999 Concourse
Manitou wrote:
Or just store stuff IN the microwave! haha (kidding.. kinda)


That is another option, although it's about 1/10 the space and the microwave adds a lot of weight to the compartment (it's amazing how much space there is there without the microwave). However, I do similar with my propane oven (below the cooktop). Although I really like having an oven (use it much more than I would a microwave), it's not like I use it every day. Thus, I store pots and pans in it (easily removed to use oven), plus my coffee press. I'm sure if I did remove the oven there would be an equally "amazingly huge" storage compartment gained. But for now at least, the "real" oven is staying.

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PostPosted: September 19th, 2014, 4:00 am 
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I too have removed my microwave but as I do not have the oven it will be placed under the stove top.

I need a favor, can you measure the cabinet above your refrigerator. I can't remember if the distance from the ceiling to the top of the fridge is uniform (ie, square) with the ceiling or not. I tore the cabinet out completely and in order to rebuild it need to know if it is square with the ceiling or floor.

Thanks


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PostPosted: September 20th, 2014, 10:41 am 
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Joined: July 31st, 2014, 10:56 am
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Location: Whidbey Island, Washington
The cabinet front above the refrigerator is not square. The top angles down about 1/4 inch from the rear to the front across the top of the refrigerator unit. Can't get an exact measurement because of the refrigerator top trim. Is that enough info to help?

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2000 Chinook Concourse
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PostPosted: September 20th, 2014, 7:51 pm 
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Location: 1999 Concourse
I'll measure mine just to compare. I take it you mean the measurement from the top of the refrigerator compartment where it hits the ceiling (where the "beaded" wooden trim strip is) down to the refrigerator trim?

Okay, mine is similar to Jeanie's. Perhaps because the roof/overhead angles down/forward slightly. I get a slightly larger measurement (slightly being less than 1/4") at the rear (i.e. hinge side) of the refrigerator than at the front. I get about the same discrepancy if I measure from the top "bead" trim to the top of the refrigerator trim as I do if I measure from the roof carpet to the floor carpet in the same area.

On the other hand, the amount of wood "wall" running along the top of the microwave compartment is the same fore and aft. Maybe they figured there was no need to worry about that, whereas the refrigerator needed to be level even if the coach angled slightly?

Let us know if you need anything more specific.

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PostPosted: September 21st, 2014, 4:27 am 
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Thank you both. Right now the distance from my fridge to the ceiling has a 3/4 inch difference. I will have to bump the right side (when facing fridge) up.


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PostPosted: May 14th, 2017, 1:03 pm 
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Another one bites the sawdust…… just finished re-purposing my microwave cabinet following safe footsteps through the minefield others kindly left here. I used a piece of 3’ x 1’ oak-veneer shelving from (where else) ACE hardware, cut short to 24 1/4” to fit lengthwise. The offcut was used to cover the AC junction box for the microwave as you can see in the “before” picture.

My inner perfectionist visualized a Chris Craft mahogany deck finish but the lazy practical side won out. Oh, the refrigerator bar - kudos to BG. I chose not to utilize the full depth owing to the convoluted ceiling. The back air space is sealed off with a thick slab of styrofoam pressed in place for insulation to the outside behind the fridge.

This roomy cabinet will be perfect to set out my morning tea kit above a kettle on the stove. I usually get up around 4am and need a strong brew of English Breakfast to get going. I daren’t turn on lights to rouse "she who must be obeyed" so it’s nice to have a cabinet at head height and not grope around clattering through congested kitchen trapdoors. Naturally my wife has other ideas involving linens, towels, flower arrangement and suchlike :roll:


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"The Blue Chook" 2002 Concourse Dinette on 2001 E-350 chassis w V10
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