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Class A Basement Storage, Manual or Power Trays?

November 23, 2008 by Lug_Nut · 15 Comments 

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The basement storage in a class “A” coach provides a great volume of space in which to can carry the equipment and personal needs that we all have.  In addition, on some coach models, the basement also houses outside entertainment centers, slide out freezers, washers and dryers and pass-through access.  Much of this is dependant on the coach size and basement height.

One of the challenges faced when using this storage area is accessing the center of a pass-through area or the close-to-center rear of the compartment.  Inevitably, this center section will be empty, or at the least, scattered unless you are willing to climb in each time you put something away.  Still another issue is loading or unloading a heavy item.  It is difficult to lift out a heavy load from a basement compartment, given the relatively low ceiling.   This has led to the design and offering of “Joey Beds“, or roll-out trays.  These trays are much like a drawer, allowing easy access to even the items in the far back.   There are half trays, for non-pass-through applications, and full coach width units that slide out on either side.  Both these provide full access to all items stored on them.  Heavy items also can be managed far easier when you can stand directly over them.

Slide out trays are available in a manual pull-out model or a push button electric powered unit.  The manual are the most commonly used type as they are less expensive.  Many people do not see the need for having them motorized.  More about the justifying of power trays, later.

So, other than the cost of these, are there any other drawbacks?  Yes, there are at least two more.  They can weigh a hundred or more pounds each, depending on the model.  This weight adds to the overall empty weight of your vehicle and equally reduces the net cargo capacity.  This may be important to look at closely, as some motor coach makes and models may have limited room for this extra weight.  The other possible drawback is the loss of basement height that the rail and rollers require. This amounts to about a 3″ to 3 ½” loss of height, not a big deal, but may more affect coaches with lower basement height.

Basement slide-out trays also somewhat reduce the head bangs normally associated with accessing the compartments beneath a coach slide out.  I say, “somewhat” because you still need to get under it, open the door and pull the tray.  But at least you do not have to sort through and lift out items while still beneath the slide.  The power models only require that you get under and open the door.  The tray moving is controlled with a door mounted switch or remote, both of which can be activated standing by the slide.

So, why would someone want a power controlled tray?  Well, as well as being pretty spiffy, there are some advantages.  First, as discussed, it alleviates the need to be under a slide while pulling out or pushing in a storage tray.  Another advantage is found when the need to access items in the storage bays while the coach is on a lean, such as the shoulder of the road.  For example, if you were to require accessing your tool box while on the side of a highway or roadway that had a fair shoulder angle.  A manual tray will be difficult both to slide out and push in, particularly one that contains a tool chest.  The power handles it with ease.  The electric controlled units also self lock when retracted.  This eliminates the possibility of not completely locking a manual tray and having it damage the door and more.

Most power trays are equipped with switches located on the top of the end of the door.  These are probably more desirable than the remote controlled type.  The problem with the remote control type is the need to always have or locate the remote control device.

Anyway, that’s my thoughts and views on basement slide out trays.  I’ve had motor homes with them and without.  I currently have two powered ones in my pass-through’s and one manual in a half bay.  I would not want to be without them now, or in any future coach.  But, the choice on your rig is up to you.

With Both Slides of the Story     -      Lug_Nut      -        Peter Mercer

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