Like many of you, we own an older coach that came equipped with analog tube TV's, and although digital converter boxes worked well, we never cared for the placement of the forward TV in a compartment over the dashboard. When we watched it from the couch, we had to turn our heads 90 degrees (can you say "stiff neck"?), and it was really too far to see from the table. A new solution was called for, and we thought we'd share ours with you.
Rather than attempting to cram a flatscreen DTV into the old over-the-dash cabinet, we decided to re-purpose the cabinet for storage and find somewhere else to mount a flatscreen. First we removed the TV cabinet face, then the old tube TV (it weighed a ton), and finally the cabinet itself. Then we shortened the cabinet so the bottom would be flush with the cabinets on either side, constructed a new face and door patterned after the rest of the cabinets (using 1/2" plywood), and upholstered the whole thing with foam, vinyl fabric, and a bunch of 1/4" staples.
(After looking at several fabric stores, we could not match the original vinyl, so we went with a complimentary color that matches our dashboard. We found a pair of locking lift hinges for the cabinet door online.)
When we were finished with the cabinet, we had gained a significant amount of forward storage for things like DVD players, lanterns, and laptops, not to mention a pleasing amount of rectangular windshield space. Then we went shopping for a flatscreen DTV.
Selection criteria for a replacement DTV included enough size to be viewed from anywhere in the forward cabin, excellent picture quality, light weight, and a reasonable price The flatscreen we chose was a Samsung 26-Inch 720p 60Hz LED HDTV (Black), model UN26EH4000. (It's not 1080p, but it's also not a 55" screen, so the picture quality is superb.)
The Samsung only weighs in at 10 pounds, meaning we could mount it on the end of our galley cabinets using an articulating (tilt, swivel, rotate) wall mount.
We chose a full motion VideoSecu articulating TV wall mount that fits most 15" to 27" LCD/LED flatscreen TV's with VESA mounting points. It's available from Amazon for about $15. (Note the white video cable that I managed to snake through a soffit running along the ceiling of the coach. I also installed a 110v power outlet directly below the DTV in the side of the base cabinet, extending a power circuit from another galley outlet. Also note the black 1" nylon straps running between the cabinet and the mounting plate; more on those below.)
As you can see from the pictures, with the mount fully extended, we can turn the Samsung 180 degrees for viewing from anywhere in the forward cabin, front to back, as well as from the side couch. The mount is secured to a 3/4" vertical style in the cabinet end using 3/16" x 1.25 bolts, washers and hex lock nuts with nylon inserts.
The TV is stowed by rotating 90 degrees, then it is secured to the cabinet with the black nylon straps (adjustable) and buckles. Even on the roughest road, this thing doesn't move much, and it's only about 1" deeper that the cabinet itself.
In the bedroom, we removed the old tube TV and mounted a 19" DTV, a Visio, again using nylon straps to hold it in place when not in use. As you can see below, we mounted the bedroom flatscreen using a light duty wall mount that in turn is bolted to a horizontal 3/4" hardwood insert. The latter was fabricated so it can be secured on either side using the face frame of the cabinet, and there's enough room across the bottom to slide in a DVD player.
And like the larger Samsung mounted in the midst of the forward cabin, the bedroom Visio does not move when strapped down.
We have less than $500 invested in this RV TV retrofit project, and we're very pleased with the outcome. No more stiff necks, either, because the only head turning we do is to take in the views offered by our newly unobstructed picture windshield.
Tom and Peggy Ryan