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Old 08-03-2021, 08:17 PM   #1
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Flat Screen TV Upgrade

We recently purchased a 2002 Holiday Rambler Admiral 30. One of the first tasks is to retrofit the GIANT TV box in the front to a flatscreen and I thought I would share my journey here.

The idea is to disassemble the current box, cut it down, and reinstall it so it looks like it came that way (and keep costs down).

Full disclosure: I'm doing this at our house with all of the tools I need and lots of experience building, fabricating, etc.

OK so first, the before picture. I didn't take one so I stole this one off the internet. This is essentially what we had:

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The first step was to disassemble the box without damaging the stuff I wanted to re-use. It all came out pretty well except for two screws on each side which came from the side cabinets but were under the "floor" of those cabinets so could not be accessed.

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I ended up just ripping the side pieces off which created the big holes in the boards but since I'm cutting the tops off I figured it didn't matter. I cut the screws off with a saw-all and tapped the stubs with a hammer to make them flush with the wood.

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Looking around up in that cavity I realized what a poor job they had done insulating that area. For insulation to be effective it needs to be in contact with the air barrier that it's insulating against (preferably all six sides as in a wall cavity). You can see that it's not in contact with the front cap at all. This means the insulation up there is actually not functioning. It was like this all the way across the front.

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Using a 2x2 stick I pushed the existing insulation down to each end.

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And then added some R-13 batts I had to fill it in up to the area near where the TV box is. It's touching all the sides without being smashed too tightly.

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More later...
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Old 08-03-2021, 08:38 PM   #2
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We saved the cabinet and built a front with an oak door along the bottom 1/3. The top 2/3 I recessed and mounted a flat screen tv wall mount bracket.

The issue I had with reconstruction the cabinet.
I thought the celing would show the mark and discoloring where the old cabinet was.
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Old 08-05-2021, 09:01 PM   #3
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A 32" LCD TV fits between the sides almost exactly so that's what we'll be installing. The TLC model I picked is 17" high so that meant cutting about 7" off the top of the sides. The intention is for the TV to cover the front frame rather than fitting inside of it.

With everything disassembled it was time to carefully mark and cut the sides of the front frame to fit the new lower profile.

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I was going to just make new corner supports but I realized that the screws would go right back in the same holes if I cut the tops off of the old ones and reused them.

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I used a fein tool to cut the many staples off of those and the bottom as well.

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The corner supports screwed in temporarily to mark for cutting.

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Cuts done & installed. I also cut 7" off the back to match the sides.

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Old 08-05-2021, 09:15 PM   #4
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At this point I started thinking about how this box was going to go back in & wanted to do something about the other cabinets which were not secured very well and were sagging a bit.

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I cut a 2x4 down to fit between the back of the cabinets and the steel support bar, drilled a pilot hole and screwed the wood to the bar at each side, and then pushed the cabinets up to the ceiling and screwed those to the 2x4.

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Test fit. It's clear that the original little clips are not long enough. So close to the edge of the wood. When I removed the original TV the wood was ripped out where these were and someone had installed metal strapping which wrapped over the steel bar. I can't beleive they thought they could hang that heavy CRT TV from these little clips.

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Old 08-07-2021, 10:03 AM   #5
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OK, box done, ready to test fit the TV.

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Uh-oh, I didn't realize the back of the TV had this big speaker box on the bottom. I pictured a nice narrow contour like the sides and top. Dumb mistake. After looking at removing the speaker housing (the plan is to connect the TV to the coach speakers), it became clear that that wouldn't work.

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So time to modify the cabinet by moving the front frame 3" back. I cut the bottom 3" shorter, reinstalled it, then clamped the front frame sides to the bottom piece to align it properly to drill and screw to new holes and mark the wood to cut flush with the top of the sides.

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Box done, again...

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Test fit. The TV looks like a good fit but there are a couple of issues.

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You can see that, even with the angle of the bracket adjusted all the way down (the TV is on the bracket in this image), it's still not enough of an angle to match the cabinet. Also, you can see that the TV is also a little too high (even with the mounting bracket down to the bottom of the rear wall) and would be contacting the ceiling.

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The TV came with spacers so I can use them in the top holes of the bracket which will give me more angle than I need, then tilt it back up as needed with the available adjustment. But the supplied screws are too long for no spacers at the bottom and slightly too short for the big spacers at the top. Also, the heads of the screws aren't much bigger than the holes and there were no supplied washers.

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Finally, with the arm fully extended, there is not much room to get in behind the TV to manage wiring or access any items that may be stored in the cabinet behind the TV

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Old 08-10-2021, 10:32 PM   #6
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The right screws, washers, and some blue thread locker.

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I bent the ears of the mount so they were flat to the TV & spacers. Another test fit and some adjusting and I was able to get the angle to the cabinet just right. I also made a block for the cabinet side of the TV mount and marked and drills holes.

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With the TV mounting details finished it was time to turn to detailing the cabinet. It's hard to see in this picture but since the cabinet angles down and gets narrower as it gets lower, there is a 3/4" gap between the back of the cabinet (removed in this image) and the upholstered trim piece at the windshield. You would see this gap if you looked up from the front seats to where the OUTSIDE of the TV cabinet meets the other cabinets on each side (I should have taken a picture from that angle). I couldn't just move the cabinet back because the front of it would then be behind the front of the cabinets on each side.

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An obvious choice would be to just get a 3/4" piece of oak to put in there but then it would need to be finished to match and I had the scrap and tools to just quickly make what I needed. With the piece I had cut off the top of the back, I cut a 45-degree wedge to provide a bottom that would have the fake oak veneer showing.

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Some clamps, glue, and a finish nailer...

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And I had my new trim board. But there was a problem. You can see the damage near the end (there was some on the other end too) and it was 1.5" short because it was from the back which fits BETWEEN the sides of the cabinet. I needed this to butt up against the inside edges of the cabinets to each side of the TV cabinet.

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So I cut off the bad parts, cut in in the middle, and made a center piece to make the board the proper width. it fits snugly against the side cabinets now with no gap. In this image you can also see that the insulation has been properly filled in as well.

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I put some wrong-color caulk I had on the seams which I think made it look worse! but the front side is tucked up there behind the blue tint at the top of the windshield so it's really not visible from anywhere.

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OK, the box is back in and you can see the block I made for the back of the TV mount and some blocks to screw the inside panels to. This box originally had no top and only 1/2 of the back.

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I got some decent looking 1/4" plywood for this. I could have got oak ply but again I would have needed to finish it to really match and I didn't care about that. I have removed the sides & top of the front frame to make it easier to work inside the box.

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Old 08-10-2021, 10:54 PM   #7
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I mounted the TV, re-installed the front frame, and we have a finished product! It angles to each side for optimum couch-surfing...

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And provides enough access for installation, removal, wiring, and possible storage though I think we'll leave it empty for now.

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Before...

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After...

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This took many hours. Much longer than I thought it would but much of that time was spent thinking and planning. With the exception of the 2x4 block and a 2'x4' piece of 1/4" ply, I was using the old cabinet for all of the material so I couldn't measure 3 times and cut 3 times the way I usually do - ha!

It looks like it came this way, it's very functional, and is SO much better looking than it was! All boxes checked...
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