Class A Basement Storage, Manual or Power Trays?

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November 23, 2008

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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  1. I just purchased a new Tiffin Alergo Bus with manual trays, I hate them, I’m 73 and do not like to crawl under to pull them out. When they demo them they are empty and easy to move, when loaded, they are difficult to say the least. Does anyone know who sells powered trays? I have looked and do not find any yet.

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  3. Gerald, Great to hear of your love for your basement slide-outs. Yes, to my knowledge you can not retro-fit the power option to any manual units. It must be originally built as powered ones. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us and your input.

  4. Gerald Zieg

    I’ve got manual slide out trays in my 42′ Monaco Camelot. I wouldn’t be without them. Whatever room is sacrificed is completely worth it & truthfully you probably have more usable room due to being able to access the center as easily as the ends. I’m trying to find if I can add electric motors to my existing manual trays. If not horribly priced they would almost double the convienence to be able not to have to crawl under slides to roll the trays out. (How spoiled can we get?) My dealer tells me they can’t come up with the add on motors, only completely new trays.

  5. John

    You’re right, it is the XCP they have in the brochure, must be a misprint on the weight.
    I intially thought it was a bit on the heavy side. Should he interesting to see the end product.

  6. John, I had not heard of the new Triple E model. The 47,600 lbs. GVW, I believe is incorrect. The largest Freightliner chassis is 44,600 lbs. It is a XCP mpdel. Thank you for the heads-up and the input.

  7. John

    Sounds like the trays are quite sturdy with the steel rollers. I think you’re right about a hydraulic system. I just got word from Triple E that they are building a 43′ tag model for 2009. I just received a brochure via email, not sure how I can post it here. I’d like to see what type of slide trays they will be using. This new model will use an XCP chassis from Freightliner (47,600 GVWR), so new it’s not on Triple E’s site yet. They claim 200 cu. ft. of storage space.

  8. John, To my knowledge, no one offers a hydraulic powered slide. I don’t think the energy required would warrant a hydraulic actuator. Thanks for bring it up though.

  9. Joe, That’s a good point, however there are several makes which may vary in the lost width size. Thank you for your valued input.

  10. John, I don’t have the weight capacity specifications, but the roller bearings are steel ball bearing type. Great idea to prevent head knocking on the slide. Thanks for the great input.

  11. William Andersen, I’m glad you found the article of interest. The power units are not really that expensive. Well, you can check out the pricing when you are ready to buy. Thank you for your input.

  12. John

    Thanks Joe,
    Valuable info I will consider for the next coach in 2009.
    That’s a lot of lost space to lose. I wonder if they make hydraulic slide trays?


  13. FlyingDiver

    One additional drawback to the power trays, at least on some coaches, is the width. We considered them for our DP, but the power units were narrower than the manual trays, by 3- 4″. That was the space needed for the motor mechanism. Other manufacturers might put the motor below the tray, so you need to look at that closely.


  14. John

    Hi Lug_Nut,

    Do these trays have a maximum weight rating? I see you have you tool chest on one tray. I have one that may be a bit larger than the one pictured and is quite heavy. I may have to place my tool chest in the centre of the tray.
    Also, are the rollers for the power slide out tray made of metal or nylon?

    I like the idea of power trays since I have a back injury. Another great use for a power trays would be to store an unruly kid in if they don’t behave.
    You also mention about knocking your head on the bottom side of a slideout edge, ouch! I just thought of a possible preventative measure for those that don’t have a power slide tray and have to crawl under at times. Purchase a piece of water pipe insulating foam and press it over the edge of the slideout corner. These foam pieces come in 3 foot lengths and have a slit precut the full length.
    Fairly inexpensive too.


  15. Thanks for the info. The storage compartments on my Classs C are small enough that no drawers are necessary, but I want them when I buy a Class A (next year). I didn’t know powered drawers were available, and don’t think I’d spend the money for them. But, now I know I need drawers for at least a couple of the storage compartments.