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  • Writer's pictureSusan Byers

Some Things Are Required ...

I knew we had to make room for a dishwasher. Two years without one was not something I could ask my husband/chief bottle washer to do. The only problem was, it had to go into a cabinet that only had about 18 inches of depth from back to front at the bottom (while most cabinets have a toe kick on the front, these have it on the back to accommodate the slide when it's closed) and 21 inches total above that. The side-to-side measurement could be adjusted, but not front-to-back. I looked at just about every 18-inch dishwasher out there, all too deep. I looked at drawer dishwashers. Too deep and too steep! After much research, I found the Vesta.

It got very good reviews, was designed for RVs (so it uses very little water), was half the cost of a "house" dishwasher drawer and it would fit. People had been finding ways to build in the countertop version for a long time, and the company finally made one to install. The best price I found was at Dyers RV Parts and Accessories, but it's widely available.

The first step was to remove the doors and the dividers between the two cabinets, which were just partial, double-sided walls attached to the stiles, and another one of those RV how-did-they-build-it puzzles. We carefully removed the stiles at the front and back of the cabinet, because we'd need them later, then began tearing out the shelf.

We built a sturdy box out of 3/4 inch plywood for the dishwasher to sit on, so it would be just below the counter, and secured it to the bottom of the cabinet. We left the box open at the front for storage (I'm looking for just the right basket to fit in there). Then we reattached the stile to the cabinet frame, and to that attached 2x4 pieces on the sides to screw the unit into (there are two mounting holes at the front of the dishwasher, that seal with caps).

The only way to attach them, other than angling screws at the bottom, was through the stiles. We hoped the door of the dishwasher would cover the screws but no such luck, so we countersank the heads that went through the stiles into the 2x4s, and patched with filler. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of that step, because I did it while we were painting and I decided it looked bad and had to be fixed.

Here's the view from the rear (no plumbing hooked up yet), with the second stile reattached . Because this stile wouldn't show--we planned to close the back doors to the cabinets--I took the easy out and left the screw side out ... soooo much easier!

All of this building required investment in a few cordless tools (I love tools, something I inherited from my dad). We didn't have a way to plug in, so I bought a Porter Cable impact driver and drill set with a lithium ion battery and charger. I also bought a small Porter Cable circular saw that would work off the same type of battery, and picked up an extra battery so I didn't have to continually switch. I can charge one and use one, or use both when I'm switching between tools frequently. I have been seriously impressed by what these little tools can do--that little saw cut through quite a bit of 3/4 inch plywood--how long those batteries last and how fast they recharge.

Once the box was built and the dishwasher secured, it was time to do the unthinkable: take the rig out on the road for the first time. The guys in the shop at Holly Acres couldn't do the electrical wiring we needed to add a plug for the dishwasher (it was their busy boat season), so we were going to to drive an hour north to Jim Donnie's RV Service Center in Glen Burnie, Maryland. And therein lies another tale. Cliffhanger: did we make it ... or not?

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