Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Front Bench Mod Fuse 23T

Editors note:  Richard Kozloski has a 2017 Winnebago Fuse 23T and is a member of the Facebook group.    Please comment in the Facebook Winnebago Owners Group so Richard can respond to everyone directly:

We have a guest post from the very creative Richard Kozloski.   A link to the entire article with all of the photos can be downloaded  at:

This document contains explicit photographs of RV carnage. An innocent 2017.0 Fuse 23T was put at extreme risk and could have been disfigured for life. The persons providing this document take no responsibility for your outcome if you should choose to proceed. Continue at your own risk.
When you read this article you might be asking yourself “Why did they buy a Fuse 23T if they hate the setup so much they are willing to hack it all to pieces?”

First let me say that we love our Fuse. But it was made for the masses and we have a few things that we think need a “little tweaking” to suit our needs. This is one of our many upgrades to make “Waldo” our own and fix things we think could have been done better.

The Conspiracy
During our 6 week 9000+ mile to the great Northeast the major complaint we had about our Fuse was the tight, inefficient layout of the front dining area. It was extremely uncomfortable seating and very awkward to eat and/or play games at the table as installed by the factory.

When one person sat on the passenger bench, facing forward, the second person either had to sit very close on the same bench or the drivers side bench had to be pulled out part way so the second person could sit close enough to eat/play facing the short side of the table.

Even when not in use the fixed position of the table blocks a large portion of the useful area making the space feel cramped. Because of the fixed table and bench taking up most of the front area the factory layout also only provides a narrow walkway from the drivers compartment to the center and rear of the coach.

With lots of time on my hands, and an overactive engineers imagination, I began thinking about how to make this area more usable. I finally settled on a plan to rotate the passengers bench seat 90 degrees and position it flush with the outside wall under the window. The table would be removed from the wall mount position and modified so that it could be placed in multiple positions either across the new open area, or in front of either bench. (More on this later.)

The Plot Thickens
With the design firmly in mind all that was left was to get permission from the Chief Financial Officer (my wife). I convinced her that I could disassemble the current setup and rotate the bench so that she could get an idea of what it would look like without doing anything that couldn’t be reversed. This would also allow me to determine what problems would have to be overcome, if any.

With the promise that it could be returned to factory condition I was given permission to proceed. When she saw the improvement in space utilization she gave the go ahead and the rest follows.
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The Start
Looking down into the area under the bench shows the three major problems of the project.
The first is obvious and the easiest fixed. The water heater is located under the seat and moving it was totally out of the question. Measurements showed that there would be almost exactly he same space around the heater when the bench was rotated.

The second was the bolts for the seat belts and the baby seat retainer. It would be necessary to crawl under the RV to remove them, or so I thought. (This turned out to be impossible and they would have to be cut off from the inside.)

The third problem turned out to be the most difficult to solve. When the “little piece of wood” that runs across the floor by the seat belts was removed it revealed a “large hole” in the middle of the compartment. When this is inside the compartment under the bench it’s no big deal. However, when the bench is rotated it ends up “out in the open” and will need to be plugged and the flooring patched.
Fixing the Major Problem
I scratched my head for a couple of hours trying to come up with a plan to fix this impediment to the project. This was the only thing I could see that would keep me from my goal. I didn’t want to disconnect the wires going to the water heater if possible. Crawling under the rig I could not see any easy way to reroute these wires. I was about to give up and put everything back to factory condition.

That is when I noticed that Winnebago had tunneled out the foam between the subfloor and the metal outside plate of the floor for the water lines going to the water heater.
I could cut a new opening for the wires under the new seat location. I could then remove a piece of flooring between the two holes, cut out the foam and stuff the wires inside the slot and replace the floor over them. This could be done even if I had to go back because it would be completely under the bench in the factory setup.

It was necessary to cut the linoleum flooring and peel it back carefully so it would go back together and not be noticeable. (This was necessary as I could not make arrangements to get a piece of flooring scrap so that it could be blended in better.)
Reassembling the box
I decided to put the factory bench wall back into its original position to aid in installing the “box” components of the bench. This would align everything to help get everything squared. The plan was to have the wall at the entry in the same location. All the original components were use unmodified. The center dividing wall as installed at the same location to keep the water heater isolated and to allow the reuse of the two top seat planks. The metal channel for the plastic corner molding on the short wall was removed and reinstalled on the opposite end. The same for the channel strip on the long wall. The plastic corn was then installed. (Use a good carpenters square and take lots of measurements to get everything plumb.)

This is what the setup looks like with the bench seats installed for testing. At this point the process could still be reversed back to the factory setup as the bench back wall has not yet been cut shorter. You can also see the hole in the floor for the wires after modification. It has not been plugged and the floor hasn’t been parched yet.
To Infinity and Beyond (sorry Buzz)
At this point the decision has been made to make this permanent. The bench back wall is cut down and converted to the bench end wall.

Now what remains is the removal of the seat belt and baby seat bolts. These were left until last in hope of being able to access and remove them from under the RV. Unfortunately I could not get access to the bolts as they were behind numerous heat shield items. It was decided to cut them off flush with the floor. To aid this the linoleum was cut carefully along plank lines and peeled back so a Dremel could be used to cut the bolts. (With the luxury of hindsight i would have cut the bolts off before I reassembled the box making it easier to patch the flooring,) Material for patching the floor was cut from under the bench in front of the water heater.
The Result
This is what it finally looks like. The result is an unobstructed open area that is approximately 3 x 4 ft. When the table is not out it feels open and airy and a lot bigger than it really is. Access from the front seats to the rear is now easier as there is not a fixed table blocking your path. We are temporarily using a drop leg table that we purchased from Camping World years ago and have been using now in our last three RV’s. It stores alongside the newly rotated bench just behind the passengers seat. When fully extended it is 42 x 24 inches. The same surface area as the factory table. It can be used with both leafs up across the opening between the seats or in front of one of them. Same with one leaf up. This area also allows a standard 34 x 34 inch folding card table to be used for four person games/meals.
What would I change/do different

  • I would get a large enough chunk of linoleum from Winnebago to cut a one piece replacement. I would cut the seat belt bolts flush with the floor first.
  • I would come up with a way to plug all the holes the table left in the walls behind the cushions. And the most important ...
  • I would have Winnebago build it this way as an option. Richard “Ski” Kozloski


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