Friday, September 27, 2013

Do you live in your van?

I went to the store this evening to buy a small desk for the motorhome. I had found it on Target's web site and thought I had to order it online but then I found it at Meijer, the Midwestern version of Walmart.

I was in there for only a short amount of time and when I came back to the van I found this note on the windshield. It made my day, even though I've mostly abandoned the van plans in favor of the motorhome. I've still got the solar panels on the van so it sticks out a bit if you're in that frame of mind.

The only problem being that it looks like a dude's handwriting. Harhar.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Whynter Fridge

Check out my fancy new Whynter fridge that I got from craigslist for less than half the price of a new one. It works great, and so far I love it. It has been used but it's only a year old. Manufacture date on the side proves it. It's the 65qt model, also known as the FM-65G. It runs on AC power and also DC. I believe that once I get the solar panels moved over from the van, and another battery or two, that I will be able to power this unit with no problem. It's pretty quiet too. It can get down to -8 degrees, but I don't plan to ever use it to freeze things so that should help conserve power.


It's nice to be able to have one of these as it's one of the larger expenses for the motorhome that I didn't expect to ever be able to afford. And the fridge that came with the motorhome didn't work. Which, as of purchasing this I got right to ripping the old fridge out. Turned out to be a bit of a Tetris game getting it out of the motorhome but by turning it just the right way at just the right time, it's now out.
.... and I had to take the door off of the fridge. And off of the shower. And off of one of the cupboards. Haha. It's out now, though. Obviously the new chest doesn't fit in the old spot. So far it looks like the new one will be going where I ripped out that dinette part the other day. It probably would be a lot easier if I never did that as now I have to build pretty much the same thing again. Oh well. I can build it a tad bit narrower and give myself some extra inches of space. The old fridge spot will just end up being more storage space, and now it gives me an awesome spot to put the litter box for my cats, so I'm excited about that.
As of right now, I don't think I'm going to put the door back on the shower. It's bowed out quite a bit anyway and makes opening and closing it difficult. It's also heavy. I plan to just put up a curtain and call it good. That should work fine with just me in the motorhome and it's already been nice to have the extra light in the rest of the motorhome from the roof vent in the shower. Whether smells from the waste tank are an issue or not will remain to be seen.
Otherwise I spent the day cleaning the motorhome out and getting ready to put the new flooring down. Sadly  I didn't get that far, and I only have one day off from work. I'm finally really feeling like I'm on the home stretch though and that the end of this project is near. The picture below is before I cleaned it out. It looks much nicer inside now, I promise.

Friday, September 20, 2013

New Showerhead and Possible Fridge

I'm moving into the interior of the motorhome after the recent shocks. The other day I drove it around in a big 60 mile circle and everything went well, even on bumpy back roads that I don't travel very often. Still debating if I'm going to drive it to work on Sunday when traffic is virtually non-existent.

I have some flooring ready to go down, but just haven't had the time to do anything with it yet. I need to move my tools and whatnot out of the motorhome before I can work on the new flooring too. Flooring might be on hold again even still. With the work I did on the shower the other night the next day there was some water on the floor. Not sure if that was from the shower drain, or because it rained hard that night, or where it came from. Need to fix that before I put flooring down and cover it all up.

The shower has always worked, but the water kind of dribbled out. I probably could have cleaned up what I had on there. So I put that fancy new faucet on there as well as the new showerhead. Now it's pretty much like a real shower in a house. So much better. Just need to figure out if the drains or anything are leaking now. Very excited about that.

I also decided to rip out this area above the wheel well. It used to be the base for a dinette chair kind of. I got to looking at it and realized the wheel well doesn't take up as much of that area as I thought and that I may as well just rip it out (and get rid of more nasty, stinky carpet). This area sits directly across from the bed I made and I've planned to put a computer desk and chair over there. I've also wanted to find somewhere to stick my cat tree. I admit it's getting torn up and close to the point where I might just throw it away but it's the one piece of furniture that has gone everywhere that I've gone. Just a little something to keep my cats feeling safe. It also provides an easier way for my cats to reach the area above the cab easily. I had the same type of setup in my travel trailer and they loved hanging out and hiding up there. Either way, taking this box out opens up probably a good 12 inches of space to work with, and I figure I might build some sort of bookcase/shelving  over the wheel well.

I haven't been able to get the fridge in the motorhome to work. I'd probably have to take it out, tip it upside down, and reinstall it all if I had any hope of getting it to work again. But even with that I don't know how much juice it'd use on DC power, and I don't trust propane fridges. I believe I once read propane fridges are the number one cause of RV fires.

There's a handful of 12 volt fridges on Amazon that I've heard people talk about and they work well, and seem to play well with properly sized solar electric systems. Most of them are more or less around $700, which is a ton of money and I don't have anywhere near that to put into a fridge. I'd rather just go with no fridge at that price. HOWEVER, on a whim today I did a little searching and found a guy very close to me selling one of these models for less than half the cost. I am ready to jump on this deal, I'm just waiting for the guy to get back to me. If I don't hear from him tomorrow I'll actually give him a call and try to make it happen. Definitely a worthwhile purchase to me and I'm hopeful and excited about it. Just imagine, I could have cheeses and sandwich meat and other things!

Stay tuned on that one.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Today is Saturday

Pretty impressed that I managed to get all four shocks replaced on the motorhome today. I didn't even start until around 2pm. The rear shocks were a breeze. In and out in only about 15 minutes per side. I didn't have to jack it up, or do anything fancy. Easiest shocks I've ever replaced, and I'm a big fan of that.

Front shocks were more difficult. Mostly due to accessibility reasons. I did end up using the sawzall to chop the top nut off the driver's side. Made things go a lot faster. I got it all done in about 3 hours I think. I do have a short video for youtube that I plan to upload about it but it's really not that great. I didn't get any photos though. Maybe I'll take some tomorrow and add them to this post.

The motorhome still drives and handles like a boat but I think the tires might hold the road a little better, and overall I feel more confident knowing that all the shocks are brand new. The old ones didn't extend back out on their own at all. Completely frozen up.

Did I ever end up mentioning that I replaced the headlight switch? It used to work, but the twist function to dim or brighten the dash lights would cause them to flicker off completely. Also, one day while driving with the lights on there was a weird smell and I noticed the knob for the headlight switch was too hot to touch for more than a second at a time. Now it all works perfectly. I planned to reuse the original knob but it wasn't long enough to snap into the new switch for some reason. So I bought a new knob and rod that I had to cut to length. Looks fine and should hold up, even though the new knob is plastic instead of the nice metal that the original was. I'm one of those people that likes to drive with their lights on all the time, so this was an important fix for me.

I'm running out of excuses to not drive the motorhome on a more regular basis with increasing distances. I have Tuesday off, so I'm thinking I might drive the motorhome to go geocaching or find a trail to hike somewhere.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Now That's a Shocker

If you didn't catch it before, I currently work at an auto parts store. Which, thankfully, makes any repairs on the van or motorhome substantially easier on the wallet, though still costly. I also, very regularly, hear a million horrible puns. (That's shocking, you look exhausted, strutting your stuff, etc)

Today's horrible pun is the title of this post about, none other, shocks for the motorhome. I have four new shocks in my possession, and with any luck I'll have them installed this weekend. To be honest I've done nothing more than give a quick glance at the rear shocks. Other than the likely old and rusty mounting bolts, they should be a breeze. Massive amounts of clearance and space in which to work. Front shocks I haven't looked at ever, and might be challenging to reach, but I'm not sure yet.

Yesterday I took the motorhome for another drive. Around a bit and then to the gas station once more. This time I actually put 22 gallons or so in there. My confidence continues to grow. With the new shocks I'm hoping it will almost be darn near delightful to drive. Right now it's awful on back roads. I learned that on my first trip out with it when I hit a small dip in the road and I pretty much took flight. Now if I see anything that even remotely looks like a dip in the road up ahead I slow down to 10mph. Not exactly a safe driving technique.

The ONLY other thing after the shocks that I could see myself replacing are the front brake shoes and rotors. Once they warm up there's a decent amount of shaking. Warped rotors, I'm sure. Another $100, but when you think about it isn't bad. A brake job on a motorhome with parts and labor could easily be 5 times more, I'd imagine. However, I plan to hold off on the brakes until I drive it around more and get a full grasp on the situation.

I really want to drive it to work a few times but it's a rough 25 mile, one way, journey. Lots of stop and go, lots of traffic. Lots could go wrong, so I'm fearful to take the plunge. Maybe the next time I work a Sunday since the traffic is so light.

I have a soft goal in my mind of the end of October, but I don't really see it happening. Unless that goal is simply to live in the RV and stay around the area, but then it will be cold and snowy. I actually find that the easier condition to deal with, especially with pets. But ice and salt and rust are my real concerns with driving the motorhome around this area in winter.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Past Part 2: Iowa

I spent 5 months back in Michigan after I went to Kansas.  I don't remember a lot about the 5 months I was here. I had my 'previous life' to tend to and a lot of loose ends to take care of. Some, like my storage unit, are still loose ends even now. Anyway, I took the above picture when I was finally far enough from Chicago that the land flattened out, the trees decreased in numbers, and the traffic vanished. I've always been drawn to the plains. So empty and vast. They speak to me, but I've never listened enough to hear exactly what they're saying. It's good, I'm sure.
My next destination was Iowa. Just outside of Des Moines. I spent the summer working at a small amusement park named Adventureland. The pay was terrible and that summer there were about 11 days in the 90s. I was a rides operator, and a pretty good one if I do say so myself.
I operated a number of these smaller rides. The first picture being the Scrambler, which I operated my very first day. The second picture is the Der Flinger. I had more people throw up on that ride than any other ride I operated all summer. Biggest rides I operated that summer were the 'Giant SkyWheel' or whatever they call it, and the Sidewinder. The Sidewinder was a popular ride and I felt like I was running a big show on that one. Haha. Oh, but actually.. The river rapid ride was incredibly popular. They had me operating that for WEEKS.
I just remembered I even found a Youtube video with me in the background as I was operating the Scrambler, but I've long forgotten the link. Haha.

You know, it was actually a fun summer. It definitely wasn't the bounty of appropriately aged women that I was hoping for. It was mostly middle schoolers, maybe some high schoolers, and then co-workers were usually of retirement age. I met a lot of great people and had fun.

The worst part of the summer was being plagued by car troubles right from the start. My gas tank had previously had a leak and I repaired it with JB Weld and it held up great until I was in Iowa for a little while and the ethanol in the gas out there ate through my repair. Nothing I tried to fix it could stand up to the ethanol. You can see in the pictures above the gas leak on the pavement. It sucked and I hated it but I was in a bind. I was working open to close most days, doing double shifts so I could pay for things. No overtime either. On top of the gas leak, one day as I was driving back to my campsite in the campground one of my tie rods broke. Another day I was at the gas station (putting in only a gallon at a time, due to the leak) and my starter gave out so I had to be towed. Shortly after getting that squared away I got a knock on my door in the middle of the night by one of the campground security guys telling me I had to IMMEDIATELY remove my car from the property due to my gas leak. This was towards the end of the season anyway. I was going to stand my ground and wait to talk to his supervisor but I decided it wasn't worth it and parked it at the McDonald's across the street until morning. I ended up playing a game of 'where to park my car' for a week. Ranging from the Walmart a mile down to the road to the casino across the other street. But enough was enough, I told the HR guy they kicked my car out of the campground and I was leaving.

I had the new gas tank and everything but I didn't have the time to do it myself, or the money to have someone else do it. And all the shops in the area wouldn't install customer supplied parts. I wasn't going to spend another $200 on a new tank that I already had.


I could have persevered, taken care of the issues at hand, and continued on. No doubt. But I let circumstance and negativity get the best of me. Now I've been living with my parents for the last year and a half. Even with all the car problems, I do not regret going to Iowa and working this horribly paid job for one second. If anything, I regret leaving the way I did.