There are many projects to be had in our RV. A never ending plethora of fun and games is to be had if I look hard enough. That’s not to say there are so many things, that we will be underwater and never complete them. There are just plenty of things to do, some are periodic (maintenance oriented), some are desired and some are unexpected (remember this?). I’ll cover a bit of the first two about what is to come, possibly, maybe.
Keeping the RV in tip top condition also requires quite a bit of monitoring and potential maintenance. I mean, what house doesn’t, right? For us in an RV, it includes many different systems and knowledge needed. That said, I’m researching a lot of different things as they come up.
We have two battery systems, a generator and our shore electric plug in. All these systems need tender loving care. We discovered just how important this is a couple of months ago when our charging system was on the fritz. The terminals on our house batteries were preventing our inverter from reading the ground on the 12V system, and was causing the batteries to drain dangerously low. Lead acid batteries (your typical car battery for example) don’t like a deep discharge, as it can damage the batteries beyond use. We got very lucky, the same terminal issue prevented the batteries from getting TOO low.
The 12V house batteries are comprised of four 6V golf cart batteries. In our case, we have AGM batteries, which are sealed. This makes maintenance VERY easy, just periodically cleaning the terminals. Because they are sealed, no need to add water to keep the chemical soup balanced and functioning well.
Our other 12V battery system are the chassis batteries. There are two of them and they are responsible for starting the engine and running the “truck” portion of the systems when the RV is in motion., These are traditional deep cycle 12V batteries that need water levels checked. That is a coming soon, as we are due to look at the levels and get them up to normal operating snuff.
We have an 8KW generator as well. This is mounted on a slide tray in the nose of the RV. This is useful in two scenarios: while not hooked to shore power and needing 120V AC power to either charge the AGM batteries (since most of the lighting in the rig is 12V) and also when in motion and needing an air conditioning or heating boost. You can run the generator (it’s diesel) while in motion, so, keeping the air in the entire coach at a decent temperature in extreme weather is a good thing. Maintenance is, well, oriented to an engine. So, oil and filter, coolant, ignition, etc. I just did an oil check and we’ll need an oil change on it soon. Been awhile since I did my own oil change, so, I’ll be digging into the old and dusty knowledge base of my own mind. I know, a tall order (especially if you know me). I’m a fountain of useless trivia and spurious tidbits of arcane information, all of which comes to mind fast and easy. Here’s hoping that’ll be the case for the oil change.
Shore power is easy, look at the plug and make sure it is solid. Our cord is in dire need of a new pole plug, so, I’ll get to dust off some rusty electrical work. Electrical has never been my forté, but I can manage. Our current plug is splitting along the face a bit and needs some love to make it safer. This is an easy update and I’ll look to do this when we get to our next destination and have access to better supply stores.
There are some deeper aspects to shore power involving the inverter (for the uninitiated it inverts 12V to 120V through black magic, or converts 120V to 12V for charging). It merrily hums along doing conversions all day long, as we use our lighting it keeps the house batteries charged. Inverters are big and heavy. I’d like one I could put more watts through, but won’t be necessary until we decide to put a residential refrigerator in place of the ammonia absorption model that is the defacto standard in RVs.
There is also a switch that monitors where 120V power is coming from, either the shore power cord or the generator, and automatically switches between the two as needed so that the system is never overloaded. I’m hoping I don’t have to dig into this one, I have no clue.
OK, enough electrical talk, let’s talk slides
We’ve discovered that a couple of our slide outs (we have four, get’s real roomy inside when they are deployed) are a bit out of alignment. Our desk slide out is not sealing on one corner (let’s air and sound in, possibly rain) and the bottom corners are REALLY tight against the RV wall. So…I’m learning a lot about my slide out system (rack and pinion), learning that a 13 year old RV tends to be difficult to find details in the Googlesphere about how to troubleshoot and/or fix the issue. So, I’m bending my brain on what I see in the engineering first hand to “learn” what I might need to do.
This is about slide stops (keeps the motor from pushing the slide all the way out of the RV or all the way inside), about how to adjust the height of the slide out (as system of hex bolts and carriage bolts that need to be carefully adjusted), where the components are that I need to adjust (one is in the storage bay, the other, including motor, is right above my diesel tank). So, I’ll need some time with Julie’s help to move the slide in and out while I observe from underneath just how it all works and where the adjustments really are. I want to get it right and do it myself if I can, as it will save me several hundred dollars.
The other slide out of alignment is the bed slide out. It has an issue where one side of the slide does not extend all the way to the wall so the rubber gasket can create a good seal with the wall to keep sound, wind and dust out. This one, is trickier.
Where the desk slide has two rails and a billion (OK, really 20-30, but, I’m a man, I exaggerate occasionally) nuts and bolts, the bedroom slide has only a visible rail track down the center of the slide. This is not helpful, since I have nothing outside to evaluate. I discovered to to get to the mechanism on this one, I’ll need lift our bed (hinged, not via magic or heavy machinery), empty out everything stored there and remove a panel that gets me access to the motor and mechanisms. All while fending off foul beasts (curious cats). This will likely be a project for a couple of weeks from now when I can maybe get my pal Gordon to help me out.
I’m bound and determined to learn how to do much of this myself, perhaps even to go and get RV Tech training to start a new mobile career, who knows?
Chassis “things” and “stuff“
A Class A RV (as well as Class B’s and C’s) all come with the “but wait, Johnny, there’s more!” caveat: there is a chassis, transmission, engine, axles, tires, blah, blah, blah.
So, vehicle type maintenance is needed as well. Oil, transmission, coolant, air filters, tire pressure, tire wear and tear, lights, etc. So, these are things we need to look at regularly. Fortunately, we just had a tune-up a mere 400 miles ago, so most of that is in good shape. Still, it needs to be looked at regularly.
Julie mentioned that the break lights are really hard to see in bright sunshine (never saw that on the other side of the mountains for our first few weeks). So, I’ll likely look at new bulbs, possibly LEDs to brighten the brake lights. I want the “breathe down your neck, no mint on the pillow in the morning” tailgaters to know I’m stopping or turning. I will win in a fight most cases, but would rather avoid colliding with hot shot BMW drivers who like to show off their skills of fitting into the tiny spots between vehicles.
I want to get a tire pressure monitoring system something like this. It is very good at being sure you aren’t running on low pressure in either the RV or the toad (towed vehicle = toad in RV speak). This will require extension stems on the rear wheels so they can be easily reached from the outside of the RV and not having to crawl underneath the rig.
One future project I’m contemplating is the replacement of the tailpipe. Ours appears to have been “squashed” by the previous owner, and I’m sure that it is altering some compression on the exit. Besides, it looks bad.
On the inside track
There are few things we are doing inside. Ok, there are always a few things we are doing on the inside, but there are a few standouts to talk about.
We have a few pictures in frames, which we are using a product called DualLock (really just very strong velcro) that sticks to the wall and the back of the frames, allowing for easy mounting of pictures on the walls. GREAT! Until it isn’t great, the wall is too porous and the picture too heavy. This leads to a physics experiment between adhesion, surface smoothness and gravity. Gravity always wins in the universe, so, we had one drop off the wall and shatter glass all over. No, this didn’t happen while driving, it happened not long after initial hanging. Now every month or so, we take the pictures in to have the glass replaced with acrylic. Much more durable and lighter. We have hopes this will work to prevent crashtering (crashing and shattering, yes, I’m that guy).
We have a mirror project on the wardrobe to do. We have purchased a glass treatment that will convert it to what will look like a shoji screen (see here for details on the process). It’ll soften the bedroom a little, eliminate the “let’s reflect the sun from the front of the coach to the back and then to the OTHER mirror” issues we have. Minor inconvenience at the moment, but as soon as we get the laser and disco ball, things could get crazy (no, not doing that…NO DISCO!).
We are slowly replacing all the antiqued bronze nastiness of the old decor with brushed silver/nickel. We are much more silver/nickel, so very not bronzey. I’ve already replaced a light and we both replaced all the drawer/cabinet hardware.
We still have vanity lights to change out, towel holders, soap dishes, etc. MUST KILL THE NASTY!
Speaking of nasty, that weave. See the above image with the pull? Yeah, that nasty weave. That weave is everywhere, including backsplashes in the kitchen and bathrooms. The backsplashes are particularly heinous and all of it is B…O…R…I…N…G! It must go and we have a plan. We will replace the weave with plexiglass with frosted highlights (similar in vein to the mirrors on the wardrobe in the bedroom) to modernize and lighten the cabinetry up.
We also continue to evaluate the flooring. We’d love to pull the carpet and put in some nice laminate or high-end vinyl…but that is a many days project and spendy. But it is on the list.
Other smallish things include fixing the passenger captain chair so it will rotate (it is a recliner, we want to recline!), getting seat covers for both captain’s chairs to keep the cats from destroying them, replacing the couch with recliners, getting a dashboard cover to also prevent said cats from destroying it, replacing the brassy halogen lighting covers, perhaps some wall treatments.
So, why do all this?
Well, the answer is simple. This is our home. We want it to be OUR home and not what Monaco (the manufacturer) thought home should be. We are mindful that we might sell this someday, so, our choices are keeping that in mind so that we don’t get SUPER crazy and do a lot that other people might not like. We’re making modest changes that improve our living areas and such, all the while the maintenance side never goes away. All part and parcel for the the lifestyle we’ve chosen.
We can be nomads but live in our style. It is all about panache, and we have panache in spades :). No, not the “top hat and monocle panache.”
It’s a different panache. Just trust me…it’s different. And it’s panache.