Latest update December 28th, 2016 1:27 AM
Apr 17, 2016 Abel Longoria Vanagon 13
Ever since I purchased my 1987 Vanagon Westfalia 3 years ago I’ve always hated camping/traveling with either of my front or rear stock tables. They always seem to get in the way and the rear long table made it difficult to open the rear vertical closet door. On my next road trip, I need access to a table top so I can edit photos and blog while on the road so it got me to reevaluate my table situation.
I knew I did not want to use my stock, longer rear table in the rear so I decided to place my stock front table back there instead. It was a lot easier to get in and out of that area but it was still not perfect. I still couldn’t open the rear vertical closet door. Lesa uses that door often when doing her hair, makeup etc so I knew she wouldn’t like having to move the table out of the way in order to use the mirror.
If you’re one that still uses your front table and doesn’t want to relocate it, you can always source a used front table from TheSamba Classifieds.
Newer Westfalias have a shorter vertical closet door that allow them to open and swing above the table so you can have full access to that area. My ’87 does not have that feature. I figure since I’m using a shorter front table, I can simply relocate the stock mounting bracket underneath the table in order to gain some more clearance.
Once I removed the main mounting plate I noticed that Westfalia used some inserts placed into the table itself. For ease of installation I plan to leave these alone and secure the plate in it’s new location with new screws.
Using a Bostitch 3/32-Inch Drill Bit in my Dewalt Right Angle Drill I needed to make some sort of marker on the bit so I don’t drill the hole too deep and pop out of the top side of the table. That would not be good. I placed the bit along side the edge of the table, guessed a decent hole depth and marked the surface of the table with some blue painter’s tape.
The painter’s tape on my drill bit now lets me know when I’ve drilled deep enough. Drill these holes very slowly and don’t put a lot of pressure on the drill. It doesn’t take much to punch all the way through so be very careful.
I plan to use some #8 x 1/2″ Long Sheet Metal Screws in order to mount the plate down to the table in it’s new location. These screws come in very handy regardless of what projects you’re working on. I use these screws quite a bit in mounting my electronics throughout the van.
Notice the table trim seam where the trim meets. This seam on my particular setup is closest to the rear closet. So in order to gain some more clearance at the rear closet, I slid the metal mounting plate all the way to the end until it bumps up against the trim itself. Once the plate was located, I used a Sharpie in order to mark the center points of the holes. I removed the plate and used a Center Punch in order to indent the laminate so my drill bit has some place to seat into while drilling. The center punch helps keep the drill bit from wandering around just prior to breaking the surface.
Now with the mounting plate being relocated and the table back in position I can open the vertical closet door without a problem. Perfect!
Plenty of clearance. Notice the seam of the table trim, it’s closest to the rear closet which is where I slid the mounting plate towards.
I think the new mounting location of plate makes the front table fit better in the rear table location. It looks way better too in my opinion. Now I’ll have a table that I can blog and edit my photos on while traveling and Lesa will still have easy access to her mirror without having the move the table out of the way. Win-Win!
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If everyone shared such detailed info on their DIY mods, we’d all be more satisfied and happy with our Westys. And we’d have way more -completed- mods and less injury, lol! Nice job, Abel!
Thanks a ton Dana… I do appreciate that!
Very interesting, sometimes it the little things that make all the difference. Have to keep this in mind. Thanks, Ken
Exactly… It’ll be different for me traveling with a table in the van since I haven’t done it in several years. Hopefully this smaller table will make it easier for me to adjust to.
Your website has to be the elecrtonic Swiss army knife for this topic.
Did you add the shelves in the cabinet, or does the 87 come that way?
I added in those shelves… Helps out a ton. They’re 1/2″ MDF board and I plan to laminate them eventually.
What about cutting a slot in the cabinet door so it could open with the rear table in its closed position?
Just thought of that – anyone tried this?
I’ve seen people add a piano hinge to the lower portion of the door before so you can swing it up in order to clear the stock rear table. I just like the idea of not modifying the door, keeping it stock. Plus this way I can always revert this table back to the way it was and place my rear table back in its place if needbe.
Nice mod, and a great, thorough description of how you did it! I like the shelves, too. Thanks.
Thanks Dave.. The shelves have come in handy so far. I tried a soft hanging shoe organizer for awhile and it didn’t work out like I hoped. Trying shelves now. Hopefully soon I can laminate them to match but we’ll see.
Not mentioned here but, the redesign of the 1990-1991 Westfalia’s incorporated a cabinet wardrobe door cut higher that clears the table in the fixed traveling position. Neat little ideas from WestfaliaWerks, huh? PS, The Fulcrum LED light enhanced interior is dynomite! They mount and work as mentioned with wonderful light accommodation. Maybe using more mounting tape to the light base to adhere better to the textured forward cab ceiling interior. I doubled the thickness and still have a flush firm mount. Thanks, Able. Also, anyone out there have a nice 10′ A&E Catalina 2500 awning, let me know please.
I just did this to mine, slightly different though. You can remove the threaded receiver using an allen wrench then re-mount to use all original hardware. Also,I was lazy and just bought a new replacement front table since my van didn’t come with the original. On the new table, the trim is flush with the table top which I don’t like, I see much more stuff falling off of it while driving.