Motor Home Project: Replace Front TV
Ever since the country switched over to digital TV broadcasts last year, Paul has been eyeing flat panel TVs. Even though we have satellite TV and don't have to worry about digital vs. analog, the more modern-looking, larger flat-panel TVs are very attractive. Besides, replacing our old TV with a new LCD TV would be a good way to save weight. More about that later.
A few months ago, we began researching LCD TVs, and we decided on a 32" Panasonic, which is the same brand used in new Tiffin motor homes.The old TVs in the motor home were Panasonic, and we had a Panasonic TV and a Panasonic DVD player in our stick house. The Panasonic LCD TVs got good reviews on several web sites we visited, and we have been happy with every Panasonic product we have ever owned.
We waited until we got to our winter stopover in Florida and until we got back from our trek north for Christmas to make our purchase. The only problem with waiting until we returned after Christmas was the model we wanted was out of stock at most Best Buy stores by that time. HDTVs must have been popular for the holidays. We ended up having to drive about 80 miles to Davenport, FL to find one.
As soon as we got back to the motor home after picking up the TV, Paul made a temporary setup for the new TV on the shelf on the dash so we would have something to watch while the work progressed.
With the new TV operational, Paul went to work removing the old TV. Paul had some ideas of how to mount the new TV, but he wasn't sure exactly what he would find behind the old TV. After removing the trim and several blocks of wood retaining the old TV, out it came. With a full view of the empty cavern, Paul was finally able to begin planning exactly how the new TV was going to be mounted.
The upper part of the front of the outside of the motor home is painted a relatively dark color; and when we park facing the sun, the upper compartments containing our electronic gear get very hot. Even though Paul installed a cooling fan in the back of the compartment where our satellite TV receiver is located, the receiver sometimes shuts itself down to cool off. So the first order of business was to install several layers of aluminized bubble insulation behind the top of the front cap. Paul insulated the center section and slid layers of insulation behind the side compartments, too.
Although Paul would have probably rebuilt the entire front cabinet if he had all the tools he had back when we were in our stick house, he decided to just close off the existing cabinet and surface mount the TV. In addition to his cordless drill, the only power tools Paul has are a 7 1/4" hand-held circular saw, a saber saw and a palm sander, so he had to make things as simple as possible.
With the insulation in place, Paul installed a vertical 2 x 4 as the main support for the TV.
Metal brackets reinforce the attachment of the 2 x 4 to the top and bottom of the cabinet.
Paul added some furring strips around the inside perimeter of the cabinet, then cut a piece of 1/2" birch plywood to fit the opening. The next photo shows the plywood screwed to the furring strips. The back half of the TV mounting bracket has also been firmly screwed to the 2 x 4 with 3" lag screws.
A couple of months ago when we first decided to replace the TV, Paul knew he would need some maple hardwood to make the trim. Margery did some online research and found a supplier of hardwood in a town near where we stayed at Ortona Locks back in December. At that time, Paul wasn't exactly sure what the trim was going to look like, so he bought plenty of wood. It turned out all he had to do was replace the bottom strip of the old trim frame, so he has plenty of wood left over.
The photo below shows the plywood and modified frame after final installation. The four bumpers help support the corners of the TV to keep it from bouncing as we drive down the road. The black rectangle at the bottom is for the center speaker for our home entertainment system. When watching a DVD, the center speaker carries the main part of the dialog. Tiffin originally installed the center speaker down below the dash by the passenger's feet. This sometimes made the dialog a little muffled, and the sound didn't always seem like it was coming from the characters on the screen. Since there was so much room in the now-empty TV cabinet, Paul decided to relocate the center speaker so the sound would come out from under the TV instead of out from under the passenger seat.
With the plywood and trim installed, all that remained was to hang the TV on the mounting bracket, attach the wires and cables to the TV, put the locking screw into the bracket and remove the protective film from the high-gloss frame of the TV.
Earlier, we mentioned saving weight with the new TV. According to our scale, the old TV weighed 69 pounds, and the new TV weighs 28 pounds. Add a few pounds for the new mounting bracket (it's quite heavy for its size) and the additional wood support and trim, and we figure we saved at least 38 pounds.
We are enjoying our new TV. We aren't planning a complete switch to HDTV just yet because DirecTV requires a very large dish to receive hi-def via satellite, and we don't have room on the roof with the internet dish up there. We'll still be able to receive over-the-air hi-def broadcasts, but the problem with over-the-air broadcasts is we won't be able to record them on our DVR. Standard-def still looks quite good on the new TV, so that's probably what we'll watch the most.
We have more projects and sightseeing planned, so look for our next post.