Just finished up my first big project for Rover and it only took a few hours to complete! We’ve been in our coach for two weeks now and both of us are surprisingly comfortable in the space. We’ve done a few cosmetic things like adding a magnetic knife block and paper towel holder but those were just a matter of finding the right anchor for a plywood wall (I used hollow wall plastic toggle anchors which can hold over 100 lbs in 1/8″ plywood, and foam two-sided tape for a little extra hold).
One thing we wanted to do, even before we got Rover, was to create a step-well cover for two reasons. First, when we’re inside the coach, that space is completely unusable. A cover would give us that little space back and allow me to reach the overhead cabinets without falling in. Second, Max cannot see well. At night when he is disoriented or if Opie is excited and pushing around, Max has fallen into the step well which just makes us sad.
A lot of diesel pushers have well covers but gas coaches rarely have them. I looked online for images and tutorials but a lot of these look pretty fancy and take a fair bit of work. I wanted something simpler since we no longer have a lot of tools with us. I decided on a more primitive but easier approach.
Step well interior measurements
I measured the inside of our step well (29.5″ x 21.75″). I needed the plywood to be a little larger than the interior measurements so I had Lowes cut plywood (5/8″ thickness) into 34″ x 24.5″. To make sure the cover doesn’t shift around when nudged or stepped on, I decided to secure the bottom with 1×4 boards. I had Lowes cut two 1×4 pieces to 21.5″. At Joanns, I found thick vinyl fabric on clearance for $9/yd so I bought one yard. The materials cost me around $40 but that’s because I had to buy the entire piece of plywood even though I needed only a small piece. Buying a scrap piece from a lumber yard would probably cut that cost in half.
Materials needed: plywood, 1×4 boards, vinyl fabric
I placed the plywood on top of the well and did a rough sketch of where the 1×4 boards should be placed. Once outside, I did more accurate measurements and marked the final area. I drilled 3 pilot holes for each 1×4 board and secured the boards to the plywood with 1.25″ wood screws.
1×4 boards secured to plywood, I hope my measurements were accurate!
To make it easier to lift, drop, and move the cover, I drilled a 2″ hole near the interior edge.
2″ hole drilled as a grab handle
Next I placed the vinyl fabric on the plywood and realized the knots in the wood would be uncomfortable to step on, even with the fabric so I improvised. I used cotton balls spread evenly through the knot and stapled them onto the plywood.
Cotton balls to fill in knot holes, crude but it works!
Then I started stapling the fabric to the plywood. I started by stapling the corners and removing any extra bulk. That way will allow for a nice sharp corner when the side edges are stapled. I had to do a little extra cutting to deal with the 1×4 boards on one side of the plywood. In the future, applying the vinyl, then securing the boards to the plywood would avoid that issue.
Start by stapling the corner first, that will allow for crisp corners
To cut around the 2″ hole, I simply cut the fabric into a pie shape 1/8″ from the edge of the circle. Then using super glue, I glued the fabric through the hole and cut the excess fabric off. Voilà! An easy-peasy step-well cover!
Wrapping fabric around lift hole
Super-glue fabric and cut off excess
It fits great, and the plywood is strong enough to step on. When not in use, we simply remove it and place it next to the passenger seat out of the way.
Nice step well cover….When we had our 36LA, I wanted to do the same thing. Never got around to it. Great Job. I like your website, will be following it. We plan on going full time as so as our house is sold. Hopefully by Aug. We have been living in both the 36LA and our Phaeton every two to three weeks as we live in Phoenix, but the company we sold is in Las Vegas. We are still working untill the new owners get to know the business, but when the house is sold we will be on our way….Have fun and safe travels. Again looking forward to hear about you ventures.
What a great idea with functional and easy to follow instructions. If I had a coach I would certainly make one up for myself too :-) I can’t wait to see your new mobile digs!
I totally did this today. Thanks for the guidance! $20 for the wood and I had everything else.
Excellent! I’m glad it worked out for you. We don’t use the cover for the step-well much anymore, but now I use it as my cutting board/ironing board on the bed when I’m sewing!
Our 15yo little terrier fell into the stairwell over the weekend. She got stuck at the bottom and must have struggled all night. I found her soaked and barely alive in the morning. She passed away later that day.
Im sharing to alert others to this very real and tragic possibility.
Great idea I have the same issue in thirds. Three Irish setters aging rapidly. One going blind. One with arthritis, one the youngest doing great. Falling in the well has happened. Going out to get the materials tomorrow. Thank you. So much.
New gas rv with stair well. Like your simple solution. Going to do the same. I have some black barn paint left over I’ll use that rather than a wrapped cover. Great idea, thanks.
Just got a class C and I’ve been worrying about that with our older York I’ve. My husband will be making a cover before our first trip in two weeks.
What a great idea. This is what I have been looking for. We have an old schnauzer and don’t want her hurt. So we can make one for her. Thank you!!!
I like your easy to follow instructions for this. We don’t have pets, but our sleep sofa lands at the very edge of the stairwell, so making up that bed is harder because I have to “leap” over that “hole”!! I cannot understand why this isn’t a standard equipment item!! Thanks again for your idea!
I am making this today for our motorhome.. I have a 16 year old dog with lung cancer and I do not want her falling in the door well..
Thank you for post this..