A few winter Alto projects

While I was under the Alto last spring trying to figure out how to lower the spare tire to check its pressure, I could not help but to look at the underside of the Alto from this new perspective. I mean, just how often are you really down there crawling around? My gaze soon fell upon the connections for the propane piping. In this small area, the connections branch off to the cooktop and fridge, then travel on to the water heater and furnace branches. Jutting out from the smooth underbelly of the Alto, they seemed a little exposed to the road elements. Naturally, my mind wondered if there was a little project to be found here...and there was.

Generally during our closing up weekend, I put together a little list of potential Alto projects to work on over the winter. Most never make it off the list, but some definitely do. I remembered the propane connections, and thought that a stone shield, made from thin aluminum, might offer a little protection from road dirt and grime. As well there is the unmeasurably small chance that a stray rock would find its way towards these connections. Of course, how to bend such a piece of aluminum stock became yet another little project.

I have no problem sourcing sheet stock aluminum, as long ago I found a great place for this. I did though, have no way to bend it nicely. The place I source from can only cut, as they have no bending brake. Several attempts to experiment with bending stock resulted in some rather crude distorted pieces. A little You tube research revealed that I was far from alone with this dilemma, and a number of homemade bending brake solutions were soon being viewed. From a collection of videos, I formed my own plan to build myself a little bending brake. At this point I imagine that some of you right now are saying to themselves..."Really???"

multiple holes for the clamp bolts allows the clamp pressure to be close to the stock. Brake bolts to the Workmate
angle piece clamps the stock, pulling up in the two handles bends the stock.

The pictures show you how I solved the bending issue, and I will say that it works beyond all expectations!

In no time I was able to bend and create a little stone shield. It was painted the Alto silver, and then installed. It hangs there unbeknownst to all, except perhaps the occasional chipmunk or squirrel.

exposed pipe and fittings

nicely protected

I also took the opportunity to fashion a little bracket for the new Trimetric monitor. It would have mounted easily flat to the bulkhead under the front table, but I had the sense that it would be easier to use and view if it was slightly tilted up from the bottom. A little measuring and bending…voila!

Last fall while pulling out the door step I heard that distinctive sound of something just not right. Peering under the step revealed that one of the plastic stops had cracked apart. On our production version, there are 3 plastic stops, when working with a band of flexible plastic(?), holds the door step in either an open or closed position. The stops that prevent the door from being pulled completely out had deteriorated to the point of cracking when impacted by the step.

Closer examination revealed that an unusually cheap hollow square plastic tube had been used to create these stops. I was a little surprised at this, given that SC makes prolific use of UHMW for a variety Alto fabrications, and scraps from this other work would be perfect. So I found a scrap piece at my favourite plastic supplier, cut a couple of new stops and installed them. Good as new...well actually, better than new.


  1. I hope to place my new Alto order within the next few months. My husband and I are still trying to figure out which options we want, and whether or not to bite the bullet on an expense like this. Anyway, I was wondering if the hoses really need a shield, or of you could just protect them a pool noodle or a thin piece of insulated pipe foam (like I use on my outdoor pipes (weird in AZ we have exposed water pipes outside, even though it gets below 32 during winter nights).

    1. The shield on the pipes is perhaps unnecessary, and one could use some insulated foam, but to me, it's a project, and I love building stuff and tinkering with the Alto.