Archive for category RV Repairs

What’s the Hold Up-PART II

 

Rise N Roll

Thinking positive about getting out of here!

I know that the gripping tale of RV modifications in Part I had you sleepless for nights on end until I provided the rest of the story! So before you lose any more sleep, here is the final shop talk of our RV modifications!

Quadra Big Foot leveling jacks

Quadra didn’t have an appointment available for a couple of weeks, so we camped at MorRyde a bit longer, then move to the driveway of some VERY gracious friends.

T-s place

Driveway surfing with very gracious friends

We met our friend Tom a year ago at the Hersey RV Show. Jeff had is bike in our hotel room and just across the hall Tom had his bike in his room. They both noticed each others bikes. Jeff and Tom got to talking and found out that they were both Ironman Triathletes, and an instant bond was formed.

We’ve kept touch in with Tom (who also works in the RV industry) and have made a point to go to dinner whenever we were in Elkhart.

Since we have been in Elkhart for so long Jeff started riding with Tom and his cycling group each morning at 4:50AM. We got to spend a lot of time with Tom, his wife Tera and their 3 girls. It was so fun being a part of their family while driveway surfing. I’m not going to lie…I’m going to miss those girls. I just might have shed a little tear when we left.

We vacated our delightful accommodations in Elkhart and headed over to Quadra in White Pigeon, MI and camped in their parking lot while they installed our leveling system over two days. We thought that Big Foot was just an exaggerated name for their system, but after seeing the plate sized pads of the levels, BIG Foot is no joke.

Big Foot Leveling

It’s a giant saucer perfect for Boondocking in the desert

Bontrager Rv Surplus

White Pigeon is a two stop light town that is home to an amazing RV surplus store called Bontragers. They have axles, thousands of RV windows, RV electric and plumbing parts, lights, windshield wiper blades, appliances, furniture and even the tiniest screw, plug and spring. They even had stuff you didn’t know you needed until you saw it! It’s a very organized flea market feel with great prices.

We found a replacement porch light (the only one it’s kind) for the Domani for $35. We were having a hard time finding it online…and there it was!

My biggest find was the coveted MCD dual roller shades  that every RV’er dreams of owning. We had a quote from MasterTech for $1,800 for ten windows, so pricy that we opted not to get them. I was able to find 9 MCD’s shades out of my 10 windows for $270…TOTAL. The kick is good, SCORE!

Fox RV

Of course, while Quadra was installing our leveling system they informed us that we needed a new underbelly cover. Most RV’s have a covering on the underbelly to prevent water and

Fox RV

Fox RV Mission Statement…they keep their promises

road debre from damage. When Quadra opened up the covering water was dripping out…which meant that it has been compromised.

Quadra recommended driving to Middlebury, IN to have a new covering installed by Fox RV. Of course Fox RV couldn’t get us in until the following week. AND, since we are going to be there we will have them replace our 3 step fold up entry stairs with a 4 step.

Why a 4 step? When we raised the RV with new axles it caused our 3 steps to be raised too high. Plus, the last step was unstable from previous use. The 4 step entry was another bargain find at another RV salvage yard for $65 (reg $299).

Rise N Roll Bakery

Ok. So this was not an RV upgrade, but it was one of the most memorable stops of our trip. This is an Amish bakery with the most amazing pastries we have EVER tasted. After having their famous cinnamon donuts we were speechless. Literally speechless! Pure melt-in-your-mouth gooey dough with just the right amount of sweetness. No wonder the locals call it “Amish Crack”! Instant addiction and I want it bad!

If you ever come to this area you have to make every effort possible to stop a Rise N Roll. Really. YOU. HAVE. TO.

One thing has led to another on our RV project and we have this last appointment to make this week before heading back to St. Louis, then on to Arkansas. By then we will have missed the annual World Championship Squirrel Cook Off ), The Weiner Dog Races and Mule Jumping Competition.

We were supposed to be back in Arkansas for about 4-6 weeks before heading West, but now we are down to less than 2 weeks.

What do we have planned for 2 weeks? ONE MORE PROJECT…I SWEAR!

Solar panels!

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The View From our Window is Finally Changing

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The Domani’s view for 3 1/2 months. Nothing to see here folks!

I love watching HGTV. Having been a General Contractor and dabbling in interior decorating, I have to say that I’m addicted to real estate and rehab shows. House Hunters, Fixer Upper, Addicted To Rehab, Property Brothers are all of my favorites.

I guess that is why Jeff and I felt ok about purchasing an RV project. There is a certain thrill and satisfaction that comes from making something out of nothing. But I have to say, this project has been one of those labors of love that is often seen in rehabbing an old Victorian home along some of our countries most historical main streets.

The old dilapidated, leaning home that people thought was a total tare down is resurrected into a magnificent showpiece, lovingly restored back to its former glory. Usually at a cost that exceeds what new construction would have run all in the name of love.

I think that is where we are at with our Domani.

Carriage Domani

Damage only a mother could love!

We should have probably taken a bulldozer to her the day the roof was pulled off. But she had bones, class and character that couldn’t be overlooked nor found in new construction. And now that we are nearing the end and we have had a chance to spend some quality time with our girl, she has made an impression on our hearts. She has become our labor of love!

After 3 1/2  months of pulling our hair out restoration, it’s all finally coming together. And we couldn’t be more pleased with our home on wheels.

Things I love about the Domani:

Counter space: Every RV’er knows that countertops are a premium in campers. Though still small by housing standards, I have twice as much counter space than before. And, they are solid surface rather than plastic.

Lobster Pot Sink: These sinks are popular in Airstreams. Frankly, I have not heard of too many people liking them. But me? I’m a fan! It’s deep, it’s wide and there is plenty of room to wash a pan without mopping the floor at the same time.

Bedroom Door: It’s the simple things that contribute to happiness. Having a door that closes off the bedroom from your spouse watching howling piano playing puppies on facebook at 4:30AM is one of them.

Open shower & sink, enclosed toilet: We have an open shower/sink area to the bedroom with an enclosed toilet closet. Jeff and I are both vertically endowed, so having a sink area that allows brushing our teeth without hitting our elbows feels palatial.

Carriage Domani

Open bath, elbow room and a bedroom door. What more could a 6′ tall girl ask for!

Closet & Cabinet Space: The Domani is only 32’ long so there was some bedroom closet space sacrificed along the front of the coach that typical 5th wheels have. But I do have a tilt out laundry bin and 24 upper cabinets in the living room/kitchen that more than make up for it.

Full Length Mirror Closet Door: I didn’t know that I wanted a full-length mirror until I had one. It’s very helpful when you are putting on a t-shirt, shorts and flip flops to make sure that the fit is just right…. she says sarcastically!

Carriage Domani

Bedroom with Closets, Cabinets, tilt out laundry and full length mirror

Storage Bay: Holy mother of storage! Jeff and I both could fit in there with enough room to roll around in. I’m thinking of turning it into my office.

Larger Frig: Who doesn’t like more refrigerator space. Our frig now has an extra shelf over our previous frig, which is like going from an apartment sized refrigerator to a side-by-side.

Carriage Domani

Big Sofa. Big Windows!

Big Windows: In the Domani we have lots of big open windows and skylights that let the light flood in. We removed the old smelly accordion blinds and are replacing them with MCD roller shades (more on that in the next post). The views are going to be great once we get this baby out on the road!

Sofa and Two Chairs: Before, we had a jack-knife sofa which was adjacent to the kitchen. So when we wanted to put our feet up they ended up on the kitchen counters. (The multipurpose kitchen sink/ottoman). Now we actually have a sofa long enough to stretch out on and two very comfortable chairs. The space between the sofa and chairs is cavernous so no more footsies with Jeff while making dinner.

What now?

We are disappointed that we did not make it to Iowa for RAGBRAI this year. The repairs just kept us stationary a while longer.

We have now moved on to the MORryde parking lot for a new hitch, basement slide out tray and new axles and will hopefully finish up here end of next week.

Carriage Domani

MORryde’s cozy camping lot

We have our sites set on getting our girl back to Arkansas for a wedding in September before heading out west for the fall and winter.

It’s been a long time coming and we are itching to get on the road. I’ve booked our campsites for the Xscapers Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and the Grand Canyon, both in October, which gives us some sense of hope that we will be rolling out of Elkhart very soon. We’ve kissed the frog and she has turning into princess charming. Now lets ride this thing off into the sunset!

Can’t wait!

Carriage Domani

Finally out of that dang shop & riding off into the sunset MORryde’s parking lot.

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Lake Levels, Trail Runs and RV Repairs

Beaver Lake AR

Catching up on the morning news

It’s been VERY wet here in Bentonville AR. We’ve been hammered with a lot of rain. So much so that Beaver Lake is at its maximum level of 1130ft. It’s been a few years since we have seen the lake this high…and we like it this way.

Beaver Lake AR

Beaver Dam Spillway, the gates are open!

Beaver Lake was created by damming up the White River nine miles northwest of Eureka Springs Arkansas. It was constructed by the US Army Corps of Engineers from 1960-1966 and the lake did not reach its normal operational pool until 1968. It provides electricity, flood control, drinking water and recreation to the area.

With around 30,000 acres, 487 miles of shoreline and pristine clear water, it’s a popular place in the summer for sure.

My 87 year old neighbor, Ellis, told us about when the lake was going in that many cemeteries had to be relocated. He helped with digging up and moving some of the plots and commented that sometimes all they would find would be a pine knot or an old hipbone. Ellis spent many years fishing the white river and still refers to Beaver Lake as, “the crick”. (That’s hillbilly for creek)

The water is so clear on this lake that we have gone scuba diving with 25-35 feet of visibility. There isn’t much to see down there except a couple of house foundations and a school bus that was submerged to give divers something interesting to look at.

Jeff and I bought our first lakefront cabin here in 2000 and then sold the first cabin when we bought the neighboring cabin in 2009.

Our current cabin was built in 1968 right around the time that the lake was filling up. Back then dark paneling and pink appliances were all the rage. Jeff and I gutted the entire cabin down to the studs. And after 9 months of weekends and vacations working our tails off, we finally moved in to one of the cutest cabins ever, with one of the best views on the lake. But then again I may be a bit biased.

The cabin had been neglected for years and was another one of those smelly, dirty, rodent infested projects that left us scratching our heads at times. We had never seen more acorns and mud dauber nests INSIDE a house before. It took me a week to remove the dauber nests from the ceiling beams with a hand grinder. They had been beautifully baked and preserved through the years and were not coming down without power tools. Maybe that’s why we aren’t scared of a “little” RV project (see below).

War Eagle Tailtwister

While home this round Jeff and I signed up for the War Eagle Tailtwister 50k, 25k, 10k at Hobbs State Park (Jeff 50K. Deb 10K) on Beaver Lake. This is the only trail race allowed at Hobbs and is an amazing event run on some great trails through the hills of the Ozark Mountains. This was my first trail race and I definitely want to do another one. My favorite sport is hiking so this, for me, was a hike in the woods…only faster.

The course was a single track trail with around 600 runners. So navigating around other runners was a bit of a challenge. Mix in some poison ivy, heat, humid, drenching sweat, the taste of bug spray and a resident timber rattler at aid station #1, we had us a bonafide trail race in the Ozarks. (Banjo not included)

RV Repair Update

Carriage Domani

Roof still exposed

Jeff and I made a trip to Elkhart Indiana for a business trip and to check on the progress of our RV repairs.

We had little communication from MasterTech RV despite our emails and phone messages over the course of the last 4 weeks, which has been quite frustrating. We had a sense that not much was happening on our rig. But with our announced trip a fire was lit and they managed to get more done in two days while we were there than in the previous 8-9 weeks that it has been in their shop.

The mold has been sanded off the walls and new foam insulation has been sprayed. The top two inches of the walls at the roofline have been spliced in to replace all the rotten wood. Since the entire roof was leaking around the perimeter I noticed other inside walls that were warped. So out they came to reveal more mold and water damage. The smell continues to improve drastically with each removal of anything that resembles fabric or vinyl.

Carriage Domani

More wet moldy walls found

The flooring is now out of the RV, blinds have been removed and the new refrigerator, hot water heater and furnace have been installed. Since our long list of pre-wiring for things like audio video, wi-fi and solar had not been communicated by one of the managers, our roof still has not been installed because no work orders were produced instructing the guys what to do. So everyone moved on to other projects.

So we have met with the owner and have a new foreman who will oversee the rest of our project to ensure that it keeps moving in the right direction.

On a positive note, the work that we did see done is of really good quality and they are committed to doing things the right way.

We remain skeptical that it will all be completed by the first week in July. There is a pile of work that remains. We are still hoping to hit the road around July 6 to kick off our summer travels with RAGBRAI, the bike ride across Iowa.

Until then we remain cautiously optimistic.

Carriage Domani

Does this foam make my butt look big?

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Major RV Repairs Commence

Sam

We’ve got a hot mess on our hands!

While in Elkhart last week we got our first look at the full spectrum of our repairs at MasterTech RV for our new-to-us RV.

MasterTech RV

MasterTech RV mega workshop

This will be a costly process, so I thought I would include costs on our project for those of you who may be considering an RV renovation yourself.

We purchased our 2009 Carriage Domani ($25,000 + $688 AR sales tax) from an individual in North Carolina and had an inspected by a local dealer. The inspection (shipping, inspection and some repairs $1,688) revealed a substantial roof leak and water damage to the interior. We were able to renegotiate the price on the Domani in order to help offset the cost of the repairs. Then we shipped the RV to MasterTech in Elkhart, IN ($1,220)

We were given the heads up that the full extent of the damage wouldn’t be known until they started to pull the roof off. That’s where we started last week and the news was not good.

The entire rear seam at the end cap had been leaking for quite a long time. The roof decking was rotted so badly that the wood was reduced to toothpicks. And because of deferred maintenance on the rest of the roof it was leaking along the sides as well.

Carriage Domani

End cap removed

Removing the roof was just the beginning that led to removing the end cap, which led to pulling out the interior cabinets, which led to the removal of insulation in the roof and rear wall, which led to removing the interior walls in the rear, which led to removal of furniture and carpet. Do you see where this is going?

Nothing like seeing the entire rear end of your coach exposed to send a wave of regret over your senses.

The walls and insulation were soaking wet, which also led to the spread of mold. Once the roof was opened up the smell was overwhelming. Jeff and I both woke at 3AM one morning thinking out loud, “Oh crap. What have we gotten ourselves into!”.

This led to a panicked conversation with MasterTech about whether or not we needed to stop the project, cap our losses and move on. But cooler heads prevailed and the guys assured us that we have a quality rig on our hands and that everything is fixable.

I have to say, that as most of the fabric, flooring and wallboards came out the smell started to improve rebuilding our confidence to keep moving forward despite some reservation.

So (deep breath) here is where we are going with this project.

Phase I: Remove roof, replace roof decking, insulation, replace the rear end cap. Run new pre-wire for solar & audio/video & technology. Cost: $10,000

Phase II: Replace all appliances, toilet, roof vents, AC’s, and awning with Dometic & Atwood products.

These are items that would not have necessarily needed to be changed as they were still in good condition. However, since we represent Dometic/Atwood and their aftermarket products we felt it was important for our rig to be a showpiece for their awesome line. I am not including cost here since this was purely optional.

Phase III: Replace halogen lights with LED’s, flooring, blinds, mattress and possibly furnishings.

There was carpeting in the living room and bedroom. We new that we would like to replace the flooring with linoleum throughout the coach, but thought we could wait for a little while. But with the smell, water and mold it was impossible to wait. Cost: TBD

Additionally, we were going to make-due with the lightly used furniture that came with the coach since it was high quality and super comfortable. But once again, the smell may be too much to overcome. MasterTech is planning on running an Ozone treatment on the entire coach, but since we are talking about fabric, the smell may not come out. Cost: TBD

We removed all the pleated shades and would like to get MCD shades. This is a pricy consideration, so I will be waiting for one of their big sales to order. And after seeing Wheeling It install some MCD shades themselves, and knowing that my husband has skills, we will install ourselves. Cost: TBD

Carriage Domani

Our girl with her rear exposed

Phase IV: Installing optional items…solar system & batteries, MorRyde stabilizer jacks, hitch, garage trey, outside & inside speakers and other misc items.

This will all depend on what transpires with Phases I-III, the costs involved and where we are on the budget.

Our goal is to have our projected completed by July 6 so that we can take it to RAGBAI (Bike ride across Iowa).

I have to say that it’s been a roller coaster of emotions so far with this project and I have not bonded yet with our Domani. When I can hug my RV (yes, actually hug it) I know I’ve fallen in love.

But since she is currently flashing us the moon with her exposed rear end I will wait until she pulls up her pants before going in for some love!

Till next time…

Inspiration

Loving “someday”!

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