Note: This project is not 100% complete but it is far enough along that I wanted to share some of the details (before I forget them).
We ordered our 2017 Aspire 44B with the optional (no cost) 100″ straight sofa instead of the standard “L” sofa. We liked the straight sofa better than the standard “L” because for us it is more functional. Even though the factory sofa was a quality unit built by Villa, we knew at the outset it still had some shortcomings and that we would probably be replacing it at some point.
We lived with the factory sofa for a year and it was ok, but not great. It had 4 sections, three of which comprised a queen size pull out inflatable bed. The fourth section was a very limited mechanical “recliner” – the footrest popped up and the seat back scooted forward a couple of inches. The “recliner” bothered my back after sitting in it for a while, I think because the foam was too soft. The support for the cushions over the bed section was also lacking (as with most pull out sofa beds) and also too “soft” for our taste. We never used the pull out bed and don’t need one as we very rarely have overnight guests.
BEFORE: Photo below is of the Villa 100″ sofa with queen bed pullout and quasi-reclining section on the end (photo right). Note the small drink holder shelf (photo left). Click on the photos to expand.
For some years now we have been eyeing the Amish made Lambright Comfort Chairs built in Topeka, IN (near Shipshewana). Several other Entegra owners have installed their products and were quite happy. We particularly liked the almost fully flat recline capability (perfect for occasional overnight guests) and the wall hugger mechanism, but other benefits include high quality construction and materials with one of the best grades of foam available. They will build a unit with the fabric of your choice and can usually match whatever is already installed on your coach.
So in April of 2017 on our way home last spring, we visited the Lambright factory, decided on the particulars and placed an order. In late September 2017 on our way west, we stopped again and had the old sofa swapped out with the new. The old sofa was donated to a local needy family. Removing the old sofa and getting the new one in was a fairly straightforward process as most of the pieces disassemble making it easy to get thru the door.
AFTER: Here is photo of the project with the end table construction completed, but still waiting for stain and cabinet doors to arrive. The cabinet frames are not permanently fastened into place yet. Note the solid surface top on the left side of the photo replaces and extends the small original drink shelf as seen in the BEFORE photo above:
Following are most of the installation decisions and details that might be of interest to others attempting a similar project.
Order Details: We ordered the 85″ long version of the Lambright “Superior” model. Cost was $2466 including tax, removal of the old sofa, setup of the new and the options below:
- Ultraleather “Putty” fabric which matches the rest of the coach and the “Silver Cloud” interior color scheme we chose from Entegra.
- Full electric recline with the controls on the inside of the armrest
- Front rollers (6) with fabric matched vanity panel to hide them. The sofa is deeper than the slide floor (the old one was too), so the rollers glide across the main tile floor and support the front edge.
Extra Space: Since we were installing an 85″ sofa (actual length is more like 83″) in a 101″ space we had to decide what to do with the extra space. Several installations we saw simply pushed one end of the sofa up towards the kitchen counter and added a ready made 15″ cabinet on the other end. For our install we decided on a more symmetrical look and wanted to center the sofa and custom build end tables on each side. The end tables are 8″ wide and the end table tops are 9″ wide.
Cabinet construction: We built our cabinets from locally sourced materials (Home Depot) and will be finishing them off with parts ordered from an Entegra dealer. The front and side face frames were made from Cherry (American Black) that we found in Home Depot (not all Home Depots carry this species) and the inner frame carcass is a prime grade of pine also purchased at Home Depot. All material is 3/4″ finished thickness. The front face frame uses 1.5″ wide stile (vertical) and 3.5″ wide rail (horizontal) components, the side face frame (which is mostly hidden by the sofa) uses 3.5″ material for both stile and rail. 1.5″ and 3.5″ are standard stock sizes so no ripping (and no table saw) is required. Both cabinets are approximately 24″ tall and 8″ wide overall. The small cabinet (photo left) is 20″ deep overall and the large cabinet is 33-1/4″ deep. The opening in the side face frame will be filled with a thin plywood panel.The front face frame opening on both cabinets is 5″w x 17″h and designed to fit the same factory doors used on the Entegra bedroom side tables (5-3/4″w x 18″h). These doors were ordered from Entegra in “Natural Cherry” finish to match the rest of our woodwork (but haven’t arrived yet). We also ordered the cup hinges, matching door pulls and a can of stain, the part numbers are listed below.
0253911 STAIN,NCHRY PT CAN $14.95 DROP SHIP QTY 1
0243361 DOOR,SDSM NCHRY 05.75X18.00 + $17.85 EA SPECIAL ORDER QTY 2
0253468 PULL,DR SNKL BAR 6″ OAL 96MM $1.27 EA STOCK AT ENTEGRA QTY 2
0226939 HINGE,CAB HIDEN 6 WAY CUP .5 $1.68 EA STOCK AT ENTEGRA QTY 4
If I had timed things correctly I could have avoided the need to finish the woodwork myself. Chase Mfg. (also in Indiana 574-546-4776) provides most of the interior wood stock for Entegra in pre-finished form. I could have bought my face frame stock and side panels from them already finished in the Natural Cherry that matches the rest of our coach and picked it up at their plant. By the time I realized this we were far away from Indiana and the shipping for the long pieces would have been prohibitive. Also, Chase doesn’t normally deal in retail and doesn’t want to deal with the shipping process.
Tools: The cabinets were assembled using pocket hole joinery at our RV site. Tools needed are just a chop saw (with a good quality fine tooth finish blade), a pocket hole jig (Kreg brand is popular and they are stocked in Home Depot and Lowes), a drill/driver and some clamps. If you want to cut a rabbet in the back of the side face frame to accept a thin panel, a router will also be needed.
Countertops: Since we were building custom end tables, we also decided to make custom solid surface countertop sections for them that matched the solid surface material used throughout the rest of the coach. We contacted A1A manufacturing in Topeka, IN who makes all the countertops for Entegra (and many other RV builders) and had then fabricate custom tops for us. Amazingly the cost was only $53 for each piece custom built to our exact specifications! My contact for the project was Andrea Hatfield at the Syracuse, IN facility.
We were able to determine the brand and color of the factory installed solid surface material from labels stuck to the bottom of the existing coach countertops. In our case the solid surface was Hanex brand and the color was Twister Light. We specified both pieces 1″ thick to be compatible with the factory drink holder shelf that came with the coach originally. In length and width, both pieces are about 1″ larger than the cabinets to provide for an appropriate overhang.
Window Treatments: The original Villa sofa was about as deep (front to back) as the depth of the kitchen counter cabinet, about 39″. The new Lambright Superior sofa is about the same – when upright it’s about 35″ deep but must be installed proud of the wall by about 4″ to account for the recline motion. The seat back height (off the floor) on the original sofa was 35″, the new Lambright is a more comfortable 38″.
The window behind the sofa on our 2017 Aspire 44B is taller than on previous models and the bottom edge is 32″ off the floor. The bottom edge of the window valance side panels (wood) are 30″ off the floor and protrude about 4″ away from the wall making them too long to get a proper fit with the taller Lambright seat back.
If nothing is done to deal with the window valance side panels that are too long, the Lambright will need to be placed 4″ proud of the valance side panels or 8″ away from the wall so it can fully recline. That would extend it 4″ further into the room than the old sofa and to us that was not acceptable.
We considered cutting the window valance side panels to shorten them but because they include a wood cutout design, that would not have worked. The solution was actually quite simple. It turns out the valance side panels used for the mid and rear bathroom windows were 6″ shorter and just the length needed, so we simply swapped the sofa window side panels with the bathroom (the side panels attach to the horizontal valance with four screws). With the shorter side panels installed, the bottoms perfectly clear the seat back on the Lambright sofa so it can be placed 4″ away from the wall and will not protrude into the room any more than the original sofa did. The longer side panels relocated to the bathroom window are not objectionable to us.
The short video below shows the recline action of the sofa and how it clears the valance side panels and just barely kisses the wall when fully reclined:
Sofa Installation: The old sofa was thru bolted to the slide out floor with 7/16″ bolts. After removal we reinstalled most of the bolts rather than fill the holes. We did need to remove some of those bolts because they interfered with the frame of the left side cabinet. We filled the holes with silicone. We also had to move the two most outboard seat belts because they ended up inside the cabinets.
The Lambright has fewer and smaller mount points in its frame and the Lambright factory will usually just lag the sofa into the 1″ thick plywood slide room floor. Instead though we thru bolted them across the back rail with six 1/4″ carriage bolts (three for each of the two recliner sections) adding fender washers on the outside and lock washers on the inside. While the center section is a separate piece, we did not feel the need to thru-bolt it as it is locked in to the recliner sections on each side with a slot and pin system.
Other Info: By the way, there is a ton of space behind this sofa. For now it’s where our cat Sparky hangs out when we are driving. On the two recliner sections the seat backs are fairly easily removed (once you know the trick) and make it easy to access anything you might want to store back there. Also, while the seat back on the non reclining center section does not remove, it has a bunch more space underneath it. A future project will be to utilize this space with a pull out drawer which should be a fairly easy mod.
Click here for more pictures of the project.