Over Sink Cabinet

The cabinet above the sink in the Overlander and Sovereign have always seemed to project too far towards the door. If I’ve hit my head on that corner once, I’ve done it many times. In my Caravel I had to relieve the corner of the cabinet because it projected towards the bench seat. The 30° sloped end on that cabinet worked really well, so I’m going to try it on these new cabinets.

If the bottom of the cabinet has a 30° cut and the front slopes forward at 30°, the end panel will align to the cabinet bottom and front at odd angles. If I was better at spherical geometry I’d compute them, but it’s easier to make a quick mockup (hot melt glue works fast and is plenty strong) and measure them. Likewise, it’s easier to mockup up [in cardboard] a small section of the full size cabinet to get the dimensions correct to make the bottom of the cabinet level (actually, the cardboard mockup started significantly oversize and is trimmed to fit–6 or 7 trips back to the shop and viola, you’ve got it right).

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After some trimming, the first installation looked too large, even though the sight lines down to the counter were fine. However, the reach to the back of the counter was too long without ducking under the cabinet. Note how much room there is around the saltine box.

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With some coaching from the person in charge of this part of the Airstream, the cabinet became significantly smaller, yet still can store the kinds of boxes (cerals, cookies, pasta) that a mouse would love. By the way, this is one of the few places in an Airstream, maybe the only one, that is totally mouse proof. There will be a small, full width shelf about 2/3 up the height of the cabinet.

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What’s more, the reach to the back of the counter is now acceptable.

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It’ll be a couple weeks before the cabinets are fabricated, but I want to be ready for those snowy days when I have to stay in the shop. The angles shown above are accurate, but the dimensions for the bottom and front will change a bit due to the thickness of the 1/2″ and 3/4″ wood, rather than 1/8″ cardboard in the mockup. Full dimensions will be provided in a subsequent post.


I’m usually too lazy to dig my way through the snow to do any Airstream work, but I need the measurements!

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Getting the face frame on at 30° is a challenge, but it sets the dimensions for everything else. You can see the 30° angle at the end of the cabinet. Unfortunately, that interior partition at the 30° end of the cabinet hits the shell right in the middle of the stove ventillation fan.

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It’s nice to see that the consumables still fit as planned.

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The wires for the lights and switch are embedded in the bottom shelf in paths routed out to 1/4″ depth. The switch is actually under one of the partitions. Once the cabinet is done, the shelves are covered with rubber non-slip shelf protector, so the wires are not visible at all. The depression for the switch had to be routed out so that shelf was thin enough to allow the neck of the switch to protrude through.

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The puck lights were modified to reduce EMI (they make noise on the FM receiver–some versions of the LEDs puck lights have a constant current driver, which regulates using pulse width modulation and the resulting spikes on the power line are terrible). You need to cut a small hole in the puck socket surround to allow the capacitor to fit on the back of the socket. The capacitor is 0.1uf, 500V, which is boviously a bit of overkill on the voltage, but they were available in the junk box. The 50V versions are essentiall the same size. I haven’t had a chance to see if the mod is effective, yet.

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It’s difficult to show the 30° cut on the end of the cabinet, but the corner projects down about 1/3 of the way across the stovetop. The three warm white puck lights are more than bright enough to light the entire counter and sink.

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There are six sheet metal screws up through the top rail, so there are no brackets or screw blocks at the top. I used a forsner bit to recess them about 1/2″. The back edge is held to the wall with three screw blocks (just barely visible in the last photo), each with two sheet metal screws into the shell (the blocks are glued to the underside of the shelf). I am a little concerned about the pointy ends of those screws, since I didn’t plan perfectly and the blocks are pretty much in line with the 115V coming down in the shell. But the cabinet is very secure. I await the first trip to see if the screws try to back themselves out.

A note about the lights: three LED pucks are pretty bright. I think I could have done OK with just two. I installed a three-position switch, center off, which was planned to allow for a subdued light setting. I checked the volts/amps this morning and it looks like a 28-40 ohm resistor will provide a nice level of backlight. The puts 8-8.5 volts on the LEDs at 0.13-0.17 amps (for all three), so a 1 W resistor will suffice. I may put a 5 ohm resistor in the bright circuit to take a little bit of the harshness away. A road test with a couple of nights cooking will determine the final value.

The capacitors seemed to do the trick–absolutely no detectable EMI on the local NPR station. I hope the is the case when I’m more remote and the FM signal level is lower.

As an aside, when the LEDs are on the dim setting, they take about 1/2 the current of just one incandescent, so it takes about 6.5 hours to consume 1 amp-hr. You can make a dim setting for all your LEDs by changing to a 3-position switch and attaching the required resistor right to the switch body and still just use the orginal wiring to feed the lights–no need for any additional wires. This isn’t the most elegant solution, but it’s what I call a 90% solution. The only issue with using a simple resistor is that as your battery voltage decreases, the dim voltage may fall below the minimum ignition voltage for the LEDs, so you don’t want to use a resistor that results in extremely dim light when you have 13V+ on the battery.

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There is a nifty constant voltage circuit that uses two resistors, an IC, and a small capacitor, but it would require a 1″ square perf board and a connection to ground (could be a local connection to the shell right at the switch)–hard to mount right on the switch. I may put one of these in for the cabinet lights, but for now I’m going for fast and easy.