Whip Your RV’s Basement Into Submission, Plus a Panama Canal Teaser!

TheRVgeeks Cleaning, Miscellaneous, Quick Tips 46 Comments

Our RV is a black hole. It can suck all manner of things into its clutches, only to laugh at us when we beg for the return of our stuff. Even a modestly sized RV can swallow your gear, making things really hard to find. There are just so many little nooks and crannies.

RVs with basement storage can be even worse, with that many more places to store, and therefore lose, just about anything. Add to that the fact that our rig is pretty big…. and we’re full-timers… and DIYers… (and anal retentive!)… and we have that many more places, and that much more stuff, to stash… and therefore to lose.

Back in 2012, we made a video about how we organize our RV’s basement to make it easier to find things hidden away in its deepest recesses. But something was still lacking.

Our new technique may seem like a minor update, but the difference it’s made has been nothing short of amazing. We can now step outside, walk directly to the correct basement compartment, and put our hands on just about any part, supply or piece of gear in moments.

Check out the video to see how such a simple trick can make you the master of your RV’s basement, and show that black hole who’s boss!

If you’ve got an organizational or storage tip that works great for you, be sure to share in the comments!


Panama Canal Prep

We had a lot to learn about sailing, and Captains Bligh & Queeg were only too happy to oblige!

Panama Canal Transit Videos On Deck!

Many of you know that we flew down to join our friends Jason & Nikki Wynn in Central America a couple of months ago. We were there to help sail their catamaran Curiosity through the Panama Canal.

We’ve been getting lots of questions about if and when we’d have a video about that. We can now announce that not only will we have one, but it will be released next Sunday, at the same time as Nikki & Jason’s.

In the meantime, the Wynn’s “prequel” video, released today, is the first episode of the canal transit. They introduce their three line handlers (that would be us, and Jason’s Mom, Mary), and show the preparation required to get them, the boat, and all of us ready.

Check out their awesome video here. If you want to see us on Curiosity, we’re featured in today’s video right up through the credits, so be sure to watch all the way to the end. Leave a comment and tell Jason & Nikki we said “Hi!” smile


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We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

We sometimes receive products for evaluation at no cost, and The RVgeeks are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. But our opinions are our own, you won’t pay an extra penny, and we only link to products we personally use, love and can recommend to friends with complete confidence.


Comments 46

  1. Thanks for the speedy reply!!
    I did post the question on the MCD site (shamelessly referring to your site I might add), so hopefully they might get enough interest to consider manufacturing them again. Pity – I would’ve thought it was a good complimentary product to the awnings…

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  2. Hi Peter & John,

    Some time back when you were being asked asked about your wheel covers, that were discontinued from MCD, you alluded to a new wheel cover that you found interesting and would possibly post about later. From this video it looks like you’re still using the MCD’s? Is there anything else out there that is comparable?

    Many thanks – Pete Mac

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      Hi Pete! The new wheel covers we mentioned still aren’t ready… they’re being perfected and we’re hoping it will be out sometime this year. But we can’t be sure. And, unfortunately, we’ve never seen ANYTHING quite like the (discontinued) MCDs we have now… so we’re babying them to be sure they don’t fall apart on us! LOL!

      The only thing we’ve heard about that is similar to the MCDs (but haven’t seen ourselves) was from friends of ours who were in Quartzsite last year. They said they saw a vendor at the show who was selling something almost exactly like ours… just not 100% the same quality. Unfortunately, we don’t have the name of that vendor, and since we haven’t seen what they were selling, we can’t be sure it’s actually a direct replacement.

      Sorry we don’t have better news to report! We’re actually hoping that now that Airxcell purchased MCD, MAYBE there’s a chance they’ll resurrect the wheel covers. But we’re not holding our breath. 😉

  3. What is the mat material you have your bins sitting on? Looks like bamboo. I was thinking of hallway runner material. The very thin, cheap stuff that has very small spikes to protect the basement lining material.
    Thanks

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      Hi John! Those are indeed bamboo mats. They’re great for so many uses, and we’ve featured them in many of our videos, mostly for lying on the ground under the RV or car! In the basement, they protect the carpeting, and make it easy to slide the bins around, as shown in the video. Ours are now 15 years old, and we have no idea where we got them. Unfortunately, they’re getting pretty long in the tooth, so we ordered replacements several years ago. Sadly, those were such poor quality, we ended up sending them back. We really do need to find a good quality replacement at some point, and of course we’ll post about if we do. Your idea of runners is a viable one, and if we can’t find replacement bamboo makes of any quality, we may end up going that route.

  4. Hi Peter and John –

    As always I learn a great deal from your videos. We are getting our RV in April and going full time! Haven’t owned one and drove one around the lot for 1/2 an hour. That’s the extent of our RVing experience!! What scares me most about this video is not the effort to organize, but all the STUFF and accessories etc. that you have in them bins!!! You guys should do a video called “What’s in our bins and why!!” I’m guessing it would a few hour video, but I would love to know what all that stuff is for and what it all does!!!

    Ian

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      Hi Ian! Congratulations on your upcoming RV! We’ll add your idea to our list of potential videos. Might be a good one for a live Q&A. Figuring out what you need to keep on board happens over time, and of course everyone is different. A year from now, you’ll be an old hand, looking back at how green you felt in the beginning (that’s what we still do)! LOL Safe Travels – Peter & John

  5. We are getting ready to tackle our basement and LOVE your organizational ideas! Just one question…how do we go about this exceptional organization with no slide outs? Also, most of our compartments are under our slide-outs, making it more difficult. Ideas?

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      Thanks Joy! The process is the same for RVs without slide trays… setting up lists of bin contents and keeping track of where the bins are located. You could number your basement compartments something like this: The first compartment on the curb (right) side could be “R-1”, the next one behind that “R-2” (not to be confused with the Star Wars character! LOL), and so on down the right side of the RV. Left side basement compartments from front to rear could be the same: “L-1, L-2, L-3” etc. That would bring you to the right basement compartment, and each bin in any particular compartment could be “L-1-A” L-1-B” etc. Or maybe draw a diagram with color-coded labels!

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  6. As usual great stuff. Question for you as we have sold our house and are going to be living full time in our RV officially the 28th, where are you storing all your other stuff? Tools, Viar, patio stuff (chairs,mat etc…) Do they fit in the slide out tray on top of the bins and you were showing post setup? I know yours is a 43′ LA. I have the 40′ Ventana with one pass through tray and 2 1/4 bays and peg board

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      Thanks! And congrats on the big plans! We know how busy (but exciting) all of that can be. Downsizing to be full-time is a process! And yes, everything else that we have fits onboard our RV. Other than some sentimental stuff (old photos, etc) stored in a few small boxes at my mother’s house, we don’t have anything else in storage. Being 43′ does give us a slight advantage with basement storage, but not as much as you’d think (since so much of that extra 3′ of length is eaten up by the extra tire/axle). So, starting from the front (passenger side) going backwards, here are our storage areas:

      1. A 1/4 depth compartment: we store a couple of those Sterilite bins (with items like Utility Blocks, wheel chocks, Viair compressor, etc) along with our folding camp chairs (the kind that collapse down into a bag) and the rolling cart for our Weber Q grill.
      2. A full-depth, but narrower width, compartment (no slide tray): we store several larger sterilite bins here for stuff we don’t use as often (winter clothes, etc) as well as some taller items that won’t fit on the slide trays because they can’t pass under the chassis rails or out through the door openings on slide trays.
      3. A full-depth, normal width compartment (WITH full pass-through slider): Lots of bins, our folding step ladder, wash poles, etc. This is the single largest storage area in our basement and it’s being used to the max.
      4. A 3/4-depth, normal width compartment with slide tray: more bins, tools, and Weber Q Grill.
      5. Peg board compartment: small stuff hanging, folding step (for off level sites), California Duster, etc. Not much storage here, but it’s easy access.

      We generally don’t put anything on top of the bins… since even if it would fit due to ceiling height, it causes problems when sliding out through the door (our ’05 door openings aren’t as tall as they are on later model Newmars) OR because of the chassis rails (in particular, the full pass-through slide tray… can’t put anything on that that’s taller than the space under the chassis rails… or you can’t slide it out one side or the other).

      It takes some time to get things arranged… and often means you may have to jettison items you just don’t have room for… but we’ve continued to pare back over the years. Less is definitely more! But, regardless, it’s still a bit of a game of Tetris! LOL!

      Hope this helps!

      1. Yes that does help. You have an extra narrow full bay that would be great. I also have the tag axle on a 40′.
        I have
        1. The same 1/4 depth first bay with my Weber Q Grill, chocks, tire covers, propane tank for grill, mechanics rolling seat
        2. Full pass through with slide tray with some bins, 4′ folding table/patio mat/camping chairs
        3. 3/4 full width (no tray) that has 3 ladders (why 3? Just in case) /Weber grill stand and some camping chairs
        4. Drivers side last 2 bays in the back I keep my emergency def, some oil, distilled water, On the Go water softener, garden hose, stinky slinky extension

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  7. oh my… when I lived in a 1500 sqft condo I seldom had trouble finding stuff, but I have lost track of how frequently I am shaking my head, stomping my feet, forced to delay a task and finding myself on an easter egg style hunt for something in my 40′ class A. Often I hear myself saying… “why isn’t it here”. “why didn’t I put it back where I found it”, “where else would it be”, “I am sure I saw it here”, and “it doesn’t make sense for me to put it elsewhere”. How ironic that I am currently still searching for my blood pressure monitor… lol. Clearly I am living too foot loose and fancy free and need a system like yours. Thank you for sharing.

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      LOL! We totally feel your pain! For the first couple of years in our Newmar, we would constantly be looking for things in the places that they used to be in in our first RV! Which was really embarrassing when you are standing in front of a cabinet that doesn’t exist! 😉 We can honestly say we haven’t had to do it any more since starting this! Hope it helps you, too!

  8. Thank you for the helpful tips. I just got home a week ago from going through the Panama Canal. Very educational to say the least!

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      Glad to help out, Terry! Hope you enjoyed the video. And isn’t the canal cool?!?! Stay tuned for next week when we’ll be simultaneously releasing our canal transit video with Nikki & Jason’s! It’ll all be fresh information for you! 😉

  9. As always, your videos are informative and well done.
    DW retires in October. That is when we hit the road for years to come.
    If it took you two a couple years to get things in place, I hope I can get a good handle on it by October.
    Thanks

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      LOL! Fear not, John! We have no doubt that you’ll be in great shape by the time your wife retires in October! And don’t let the pursuit of perfection stop you from getting out and enjoying! We like to take pleasure in the pursuit… but always temper it with the knowledge that life is short! 😉

  10. Peter & John

    I really enjoy all of your videos and especially the details in them, understanding I’m a recovering perfectionist. This is the way I keep track of a lot of things. I think I have it all figured out, then I receive one of your e-mails and you have improved on all different situations. I do believe there is always room for improvement, the more ideas put together the better the results.

    Thank you,

    Terry

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      Thanks, Terry! We’re firm believers that there’s always room for improvement! And we tried to overcome our perfectionist tendencies, too. But no matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t get it “just right”, so we gave up (in?)! LOL!

  11. I was just telling my wife today that I need to clean out the basement and start over. I usually do that once a year but it ends up a mess before the next year comes around. I do have bins labeled but things get taken out and never seem to get put back where they belong. Enjoy watching your videos.

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      On the bright side, Dave, re-doing things every year gives you the chance to do a thorough cleaning out and re-organizing! Putting things back where you found them is definitely the key to keeping the system working. Often times, after completing a project, we’ll stash stuff in an open space in our most-used slide tray… and put things back where they belong the next day. But it takes a conscious effort to do! 😉

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  12. Great idea to input storage item lists into computer. I believe that will be my next step for my plastic totes. Years ago, I purchased two metal storage chests (ones that sit on top of the roll around units). I bolted the bottom chest to the front compartment that only has about 24″ depth. Then I bolted the second chest on top of the bottom chest. The drawers lock and you have to raise the handle to unlock. That way they do not open while traveling. I filled both up with all my tools (hammer, wrenches, ratchet sets, electrical supplies, nut and bolts, etc.) and it is easy now to locate when I have a small or large job to perform on the motor home.

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      Being able to search the lists was definitely a big upgrade, Rodney! Hope it works for you, too! And great idea with the storage chests! Love hearing (and seeing) how other people engineer solutions for organizing things in small spaces!

  13. I’d recommend putting a label on the bin cover as well – don’t have to have the contents list, just identifying the bin like ‘Misc Parts’ or ‘Electrical’. Then you can see which bin you want from the top in case they get re-positioned on the slide.

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        1. Interesting, I’ve never used lids, and don’t have a dust problem. I figured out that getting in and out of the boxes is much easier without the lids.

  14. I need to do that for my basement in my sticks and bricks! Then, the other disciple that I’ve yet to master is keeping the lists up to date with changes!!

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  15. Hi Peter, Hi John,

    I have adopted some of your system but am still struggling with basement organization. On one slide out tray I have ladders, washing gear, shovel, outdoor rug, and other ‘long’ items that we use somewhat often and don’t fit in a bin.

    On the other slide out tray I have my boxes, bins and tool box. I keep the heavy tool box in the center of the tray (to keep the weight on the rollers) and find that I’m usually having to move or re-stack a plastic bin to get what I need.

    Also, one thing I did right was to purchase several plastic parts organizers: two hold my electrical bits & pieces, two hold screws, bolts, springs & fasteners and one for ‘other’ such as pex clamps. They work great. (https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=HDX+13+in.+34-Compartment+Double+Sided+Small+Parts+Organizer)

    I started to label what’s in each bin but gave up in frustration as I found I was re-arranging the contents with almost every job. But it’s getting better now with one bin more or less dedicated to plumbing, another to all things electric, another to cans and spray bottles, etc.

    Would you be willing to share your computer file of bin contents? Making editing changes rather than starting from scratch might give me the motivation to make the effort to get it really done.

    Take care,

    John

    P.S. Watched the Wynn’s crossing teaser video this morning as well. Happily excited looking crew! Really looking forward to next Sunday’s posts.

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      Hi John! We feel your pain… it took us a couple years (at least!) to get everything settled into “permanent” places! 😃 And even now, things still shift around a bit. We’ll have to take a look at those organizers… although we may end up spending the rest of our lives using them to organize every little bit, nut and bolt! LOL!

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  16. I was literally watching you guys on Curiosity when this was posted. Are you stalking me??? :P

    As for this video…loved it. My RV basement is a complete disaster and I’ll be making use of many of these ideas as I go around and clean up/organize. Thanks for all the info!!! <3

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