Thanks to Tom P. on the Airstream forums for posting his idea to install drawer sliders on the Basecamp silverware tray.
Normally, the tray sits on the shelf in a recessed area that is 1/2-inch deep and sized to the tray’s dimensions which keeps it from moving while being towed. It works well to keep it in place while traveling but it makes it inconvenient to pull the tray out to get silverware when not traveling. Drawer sliders are a brilliant solution! I finally got around to doing the same today on our Basecamp and assumed it’d be straightforward and easy.
I bought the 22-inch version of these Amazon Basics drawer slides ($17). Mounting the slides on the bottom of the tray, rather than the sides, makes it work since the silverware tray is not a drawer and there are no vertical walls to mount the sliders to.
There are two complications to install them. The first is that the tray has a 3/16-inch thick bottom and, if you aren’t thoughtful about where you install the rails on the bottom, the screws that come with the rails are long enough that they will go through the bottom of the tray. That would look bad and be in the way of the silverware (and probably cut you when you grab silverware). Fortunately, there are vertical dividers in the tray that, if you line the rails directly underneath them, you can use the included screws and screw them through the bottom and into the vertical dividers. I was quite lucky that it just worked out.
The second complication is that the tray normally sits in a recessed cut-out on the shelf to keep it in place. The sliders make this recess unnecessary. However, the mounting holes in the slides do not extend past the recessed area so there’s no way to mount the slides above the recessed area.
I removed the lower support piece that is mounted to the underside of the shelf, made 6 half-inch tall blocks out of scrap wood, positioned them where the mounting holes are, glued them to the support piece, lined up the holes and pre-drilled holes in them. Then, I could reinstall the support piece and, with a short screwdriver, reach in and put the screws in to mount the sliders to the blocks. If that’s not clear, note the wood blocks below the sliders in this photo: