Converting Ramp to Patio

love2rv

Member
We just purchased a 2018 Cyclone 4005 with a Challenger ramp. Has anyone converted a ramp to serve as a patio? I've learned there is a structural difference between their ramp and patio units. The patio version has a stronger foam core and stronger substrate that is water resistant (guessing azdel). Challenger tells me the ramp I have may buckle or bow if used as a patio and will likely take on water.

Challenger was just acquired by Lippert, but they are a small group, so I was able to talk with their lead engineer. I ran a few ideas past him and he said these would probably work and I'm curious if anyone here has tried something similar.

To add strength, I was thinking of adding a layer of 1/2" or 3/4" plywood on top of ramp to distribute the weight across the full surface. I'm not sure how I would fasten the plywood. One thought is to use self-tapping screws. Another is to insert rivet nuts in the aluminum frame every 18" or 24". Drill holes in the plywood and then use machine screws to fasten into the rivet nuts.

To protect from rain, I'd paint both sides of the plywood or apply a protective coating like flex seal. I could also apply a coat to the ramp before attaching the plywood. Would anything else work better? To dress up the plywood, I was thinking of topping it with cheap outdoor carpet.

To convert the ramp to a patio, I would buy Lippert's cable system or create a homemade version ala Home Depot. The engineer said it would be OK to drill holes in the aluminum frame that borders the patio to accommodate 2 bolts to support the cable brackets. I have the metal flange in the top of the trailer frame for the other end of the cables. I also found patio jacks on amazon that sit on the ground and have wide rubber feet to support the underside of the door. I'm curious if anyone is using them.

To add a fence or rail kit...the best idea I've come up with is a portable pet gate with panels that connect with a rod through a hinge on each end of the panel. My wife would like something a little more elegant....but the Lippert rail kit is 2k. I don't need the rail system to support the weight of people leaning on it, I just need it to keep our small dogs from jumping ship.

For the door, I was going to purchase a sliding patio door from HD and frame it with 2x4s. I'm guessing others have tried this, so if you have suggestions or resources, I'd greatly appreciate it.

The alternative to my homegrown solution sounds very expensive. It would be easier to purchase a Challenger patio door since I've learned Lippert places the springs in different locations. A new door (from either company) is just over 2k, and the patio rail kit and the 3 season door also adds about 2k each and shipping for all three is close to 2k. After 6 years of saving and scrimping, we purchased this Cyclone less than a month ago. It was a dream come true for us. I knew it didn't have the rail system or 3 season door, but I honestly thought a call to my dealer, Lippert, or etrailer would quickly solve that problem. That was a major oversight on my part. So, I'm hoping that my new friends on the forum have good news for me. Has anyone successfully upfitted a ramp to serve as a patio? I only know enough to be dangerous with projects like this so I'm seeking advice from the voice of experience and I'm open to all suggestions :)
 

david-steph2018

Well-known member
Our 2018 Road Warrior 427 has the Challenger ramp/patio setup on it. The rear is setup right now as a patio, we have a Mr. Steak grill, 20lb. propane bottle on it. No issues, we do not have any supports under it.
The side patio is also a Challenger and has 1 support leg. The wife and I sit out there allot.

One thing about adding the 3/4" plywood, how much weight would that be? With the added weight, how do you plan on closing the door? I can open/close both patios by myself, but with the addition weight. How will it fit within the frame, you would need to make sure you have enough room between the ramp and frame to install 3/4" plywood.

As far as a weather coating, I put Durabak coating on both:
It says used in the US Navy on their website, yes, it is we called it Non-skid.

In the forum is an area "for sale" items such as:

Also, there are some RV Surplus places in the Goshen area:

Also, the RV Surplus not only have rail systems, but I have seen several doors up there. It would be best to call instead of just looking online to see what they have in stock.
 

love2rv

Member
Thanks so much for all the leads, David. I will try them tomorrow to see what they have in stock.

Quick follow-up on the Durabak--when I hit their site I see 2 black options for truck beds: smooth and textured. I'm just curious which one most people use. I think I read in another post where someone applied Durabak over the aluminum trim as well. Or maybe they used painter's tape to "paint" over a portion of the trim (like 1/2" of the trim) to prevent water from seeping under the trim and into the ramp material. Just curious if that's a common suggestion, and if I'm missing any other tips that have worked for others.

For the plywood, now I'm thinking of placing a 4x8 sheet below the center of the patio and supporting it with a pair (or even 4) slide stands. I'd store this in the garage during travel, and once at the campground, I'd make a "table" using the plywood and stands, and then open the patio and rest it on the support...adjusting the stands so they took most of the weight, as opposed to the cable system. I was thinking of gluing a sheet of hard insulation to the plywood so it (hopefully) wouldn't scratch the door. The reason for the plywood is I got the definite impression from Challenger that my ramp would sag over time if we used it as a patio. I'm not 100% convinced of this given the weight rating of 1000 lbs. But they said it's not designed to have static weight in the same spot over a prolonged period, and given the cost to replace these doors, I'm erring on the side of caution and willing to deal with the extra measures to protect it.
 

david-steph2018

Well-known member
On the Durabak site, look at the covering for marine application. That is the one I used. I used the texture style, so when loading the Spyder will not spin/slip going up. I painted over the aluminum trim to the edge. But before doing that, check the sealant, if needed add more/rework what is there. They also sell a metal prep spray, to help the paint seal to the aluminum.
On our rig, the rear and the side patios have the same weight rating as 1000#. I do not but any extra supports under the side patio when it is out. It has only one support leg in the center and the 2 cables.
For the rear patio, I have not used any supports when setup as a patio. But I have seen where there are a set of support legs you can get to add to the ramps/patios. These are similar to the one they installed on the side patios.
 
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