Category: Maintenance

Partially Homeless…

By , June 1, 2010 5:33 pm


What you’re seeing is a picture of my office for the next few days…  actually, it’s the drivers lounge at a Freightliner repair shop I’m at.  I may be spending a fair bit of time here.

On the way to Yellowstone, our ABS light came on.  When driving a 30,000 pound RV with a Jeep and motorcycle attached to it on mountain roads with potential snow, I want my ABS system to work!  So, I’m at a Freightliner dealer getting a few things fixed.  I don’t know how long I’ll be here yet, as they haven’t given me an idea of what’s going on yet.  The RV has been plugged into computers for most of the day and heads have been disappearing into various engine bays and hatches every time I’ve looked. 

Unfortunately, all the Yellowstone pictures are on the big computer in the RV, so I can’t finish my entries until I can get plugged back in somewhere. :(  I might be able to get the computer up sometime tonight to transfer all the pictures to my little laptop.  If so, I’ll be spending some quality time typing at a local coffee shop somewhere. 

Unfortunately, that’s a little difficult…  I managed to slice my knuckle open this morning when I was clearing out the RV for the workers.  It’s not quite bad enough for stitches, but it’s close…  it’s my own fault, I wasn’t paying attention when I was cutting something. 

Dasy went back to Northern Virginia for a bit, mostly to visit friends, so we figured this would be the best time to get all our maintenance done.  Hopefully, I’ll be all healed up and we’ll have a lot of things fixed on the Star when she gets back. 😉

Wash Me!

By , May 19, 2010 7:14 pm

That’s what we did, we washed The Star. It needed it.

Texas was very unkind to our vehicles. There were lots of flying bugs (as well as crawling ones) in Texas. We washed the Jeep a couple of times in Texas but after several minutes on the road again, you couldn’t tell it had been washed. On a few occasions, there were identifiable remnants on the windshield. The Star hadn’t been washed since we left Central Florida in early April. So, The Star was screaming “Wash Me!”.

Moab has at least one car wash that fitted an RV. So, we took The Star down and gave her a good washing. Actually, Jonathan did most of the work and I tried to be helpful. 🙂


It’s good to be clean. 🙂

Another day of driving… and fixing.

By , May 8, 2010 9:54 pm

Yesterday we left the RV repair shop (which I will blog about another time) and headed for Moab.  We saw lots and lots and lots of Texas.  It just keeps going on and on.  But, eventually we made it to New Mexico!  It was then that I started to notice that we were having a bit of a hard time maintaining speed going up hills.  Since it’s pretty much uphill the entire way to Albuquerque, that was going to be an issue.

We pulled over at a rest stop and unhooked the Jeep.  Dasy would drive the Jeep and follow me to somewhere we could get someone to look at the rig.  I was pretty sure this was a minor issue, but it was one I didn’t know what to do about. 

A bit of calling around led me to a mobile repair guy who said he’d meet me on the West side of Albuquerque at a truck stop.  That was cool, except that I was on the East side and still had a lot of “uphill” to go through.  I did notice that the Dutch Star was getting significantly worse the entire time we’re chugging along uphill.  I call the guy back to tell him I’m probably not going to make it when he explains to me that I’m calling him from the last major incline.  From there, it’s about 17 miles of downhill.  So, we chug through it at about 25 mph (my apologies go out to pretty much everyone on I-40).  We finally got over the hill and headed down and through Albuquerque.  The Star had no problems at all going downhill, so we made it without any further issues. 

We parked the Star and Jim from Anytime Anywhere 24-Hour Truck Service showed up a few minutes later and started checking things out.  He then ran off to go get us a new serpentine belt, water separator and fuel filter while we grabbed some dinner at the Flying J truck stop. 

About an hour later, he shows back up and proceeds to install everything.  The fuel filters where in horrible shape!


He was pretty sure that would do the trick.  I took a test drive up a three mile long hill on I-40 and had no issues… our Jeep-pulling beastie was back!  We paid everything, gassed up, hooked up the Jeep and headed on. 

We took a somewhat scenic route and decided to just stop and “boondock” for the night.  We’ll see how well we can sleep and then head on in the morning.  We should be in Moab tomorrow night… Woot! 🙂

Taking Care of Business…

By , April 8, 2010 11:37 am

Today is a “downtime” day for us. We’re doing a little bit of maintenance, some packing, sending out some mail (snail), planning our next stops, etc. We hit the Keys on Tuesday and ran through the Everglades to Flamingo yesterday. We’ll probably track down a decent Internet connection tonight so we can post about those.

I added some tail lights to the motorcycle rack, did some other minor Jeep maintenance and may do some stuff on the roof of the RV later. Dasy did laundry and will be doing some “road food” preparation a bit later. Tonight we’ll sit down and plan out our next major stop and the most entertaining way to get there.

A Day With Wires

By , March 26, 2010 6:04 pm

Note: This is technical wiring stuff and might not be of much interest to those who don’t have an RV and/or flat-tow a vehicle.  I put it up here just to show some of the things we have to do to prepare and just in case someone else ever gets this wiring harness and can’t figure out why it doesn’t work.

I spent most of today running around getting pieces and fixing our towing connector on the RV.  It wasn’t actually broken, it just wasn’t right.


This is our 7-way tow connector socket on the back of the RV.  Whenever you’re towing something, it gets plugged into this.  When you hit your brakes, turn signal or turn on your lights, it sends electricity through the appropriate “prong” and lights up whatever light is necessary on whatever you’re towing.

Since we got a new Jeep, we’ve had to prepare it to be “flat-towed” behind the RV.  I took care of the physical stuff to hook it up to the RV hitch when I got the bumper done.  I installed a special wiring harness from Jeep to take care of the electrical stuff.  Unfortunately, when I plugged it into the RV I got nothing.  No lights at all.  I was just about to run back to Jeep crying like a little girl when I decided to test it on my step-father’s Chevy Avalance (he has the same 7-pin tow connector).  It worked perfectly!

That meant that the Jeep wiring kit was okay (and I didn’t kill it when I installed it), but something was funky on our RV.  I had to wait two days for any of the local trailer shops to get a 7-pin tester in before I could figure out what was going on.  When I put the tester on, it showed that one line (which isn’t necessary for most towing applications) was dead.  Here’s a quick description of the pins in the connector above:

1 – Ground (common return path)
2 – Left turn and brake light
3 – Tail and running lights
4 – 12 volt charging power
5 – Right turn and brake light
6 – Brake controller
7 – Reverse lights

Ours had everything except the brake controller wire (we don’t have a brake controller) and the 12 volt charging wire (pin 4).  The brake controller is generally used for towing heavy trailers and it activates the brakes on the trailer when you hit the brakes on the RV.  The 12 volt charging line is generally used for towing campers and it charges up the battery on the camper when you’re connected.

Unfortunately, Jeep decided to use the 12 volt charging line to “activate” the wiring harness that I just installed.  No charging line, no lights.  So, I got to spend most of the afternoon dissecting the socket and running a power line to one of our six batteries in the RV.

So, if you plan to flat-tow a newer JK model Jeep and you plan to get the wiring harness from Jeep to do so, there are some things you should know…

  • The harness part number from Jeep is 82211156AB.  You can find it on the Mopar Accessories site.
  • Installing the harness is a serious pain.  It’s not worth doing.  Pay a dealership to do it.  You have to remove body parts, pull up carpeting, drill big holes in the firewall and then fit a 2 inch grommet into a 1 inch hole… without crushing the wiring harness in the process.
  • Get a 7-way tester if you plan to tow regularly… no telling when something will stop working, it’s a useful tool to have.
  • Make sure the 12-volt charging line is active.  It should light up immediately when you plug in the tester (it’s supposed to be constantly on).
  • I don’t care what the description says, the harness does NOT include an “underhood battery disconnect”.  Plan on getting a battery disconnect.  If you don’t, the Jeep will rack up miles when flat-towed unless you disconnect the battery manually.

Oh, the numbers I used for the pins in the diagram aren’t “common”.  If you’re going to wire up a connector or anything, check the diagram that comes with the connector.  Don’t expect my number 3 pin to be the same as everyone else’s. 

Looking Back at 2009

By , January 7, 2010 9:59 am


Now that we’re officially in our RV and the year has ended, we figured we’d post up a recap of the stuff that we did in 2009.  This is the start of our adventures on the road, and we figured some of you might want to see what was involved and the timing of our travels.

  • March 20th – Visited RV showroom
  • Jun 9th-19th – Rented 25 ft RV, drove to Florida for a reunion, stopped at Cheoah Point and the Outer Banks on the way.
  • Jun 22nd – Bought the 30′ Fleetwood Storm
  • Jun 29th – Contacted our realtor about renting our house
  • July 13th – Met up with Chris and Cheri of
  • July 16th-19th – Flew to Texas to pick up the Storm, stayed at Little Black Water Creek on the way back.
  • July 19th – Subscribed to AAA RV Plus coverage
  • July 22nd – "" web site went live
  • July 27th – Announced the plan to most of our friends and family
  • July 31st – Jonathan’s last day of work
  • Aug 3rd – Replace stereo, add surge suppressor, other minor improvements, front brake starts sticking
  • Aug 4th – Towed to shop to fix front brakes and parking brake
  • Aug 7th – House officially listed for rental
  • Aug 13th – House driveway resealed
  • Aug 12th-17th – Drove the Storm to Gatlinburg, TN for a family reunion, inadvertently spent the night on the Blue Ridge Parkway on the way down, replaced cabinet handles while waiting for tow truck. 😉
  • Aug 17th – Had our back deck refinished at the house
  • Aug 17th – Realtor called about possible renter, wanted to discuss price and qualifications
  • Aug 18th – Had new windshield installed on the Storm
  • Sept 9th – Sold the FJR, the bigger of my two motorcycles
  • Oct 15th – House officially rented out
  • Oct 15th – 22nd – Officially started "full-timing".  Stayed at Bull Run Regional Park.
  • Oct 23rd – 27th – Relocated to Pocahontas State Park.
  • Oct 27th – Sold Dasy’s Lexus.
  • Oct 28th – 29th – Stayed at RV Resort on Hilton Head Island (we still have to write that up)
  • Oct 29th – Arrived in Florida, set up in my parents back yard
  • Nov 9th – Became official Florida residents
  • December 1st – Bought the Newmar Dutch Star
  • December 8th – Storm listed for sale
  • Dec 21 – Dec 28th – Went to Sarasota, burned up Jeep parking brake, visited friends and family, stayed at Sun ‘N Fun RV resort.  Met Duncan and Jessica of

Odor Be Gone!

By , December 30, 2009 9:34 am

As with any brick and mortar place (aka house), it may take some time after you have moved in before you can call it “home”. There is always cleaning (again!), some painting and maybe some remodeling. The same applies to living in an RV. 

This RV has the layout and scheme we wanted. It has good “bones”. But it stunk! There was cigarette smoke, stale air, gaseous odor and a “funky” smell we couldn’t put a finger on. It was a challenge!

So we took action to root out the smell. After some time and effort, we finally got the cigarette smoke, stale air and the gaseous odor out. But the “funky” smell was still there!

We have done the following:

Jonathan realized I was going to ‘drive him crazy’ or ‘break his home’ by rooting behind things I shouldn’t if we didn’t find the “funky” smell.

So, he set to work. He removed the tool rack behind the holding tank bay and inspected the area for leakage and cracking. Nothing was amiss, no leakage or cracking. Excellent! There was a seal or caulking around one of the tube that could use some resealing so Jonathan took care of that.

While Jonathan was working outside, I set to working inside. I found in the washer/dryer manual under "maintenance” about the checking the ‘pump in the pre-chamber area’.  It stated that this area can occasionally get clogged. I opened the pump and it smelled to high heaven! I cleaned the areaimage and wiped it dry.

So, that  “funky” smell was the smell of sour water. I am leaping for joy that we no longer have that “funky” smell. The “funky” odor is GONE! It’s finally “home sweet home”. 

Here is the pump in the pre-chamber area.

 PreChamber2 Pump


For good measure, we have ordered Xtreme Vents from Coiln’ Wrap to replace the old roof vents.  We are also going to replace both vent caps under the sinks (one under the galley, one under the bathroom) with the Studor Mini-Vent cap.

We have already replaced the cap under the bathroom. The one under the galley/kitchen sink will have one soon.

 vent_New Vent_Old 

Here is to an odor free home! Odor be gone! 🙂

RV Toilet and the Geo Method

By , December 28, 2009 11:48 pm

RV water tanks (fresh, gray and black) are critical to the RV house system. The fresh water is self explanatory. The gray water is waste water from your sinks and shower. The black water is water from the toilet. The smell from the black water tank can be quite challenging and absolutely odorous (“I don’t want to go in the RV,  I’ll stay out here”), especially on a hot day. The goal for the black water tank is to have no blockage and no odor… And to keep it clean.

To address the smell from the black water tank, we have used various blue chemical solutions (that we have purchased from both Camping World and Walmart). During our visit in Sarasota, we met up with Jessica and Duncan from Traveling On the Skirts. We asked them what they do to treat the black water for their old fifth wheel. They clued us on the Geo Method for maintaining the gray and black water tank.

After some research, we decided we definitely want to try this method.

The Geo Method uses three basic household products:CalgonDetergent

  • Water softener (some recommend the non-precipitating type like Calgon, White Rain, Blue Raindrops, and Spring Rain)
  • Laundry detergent
  • Chlorine bleach (used infrequently compared to the other two ingredients)

Water softener helps remove the gunk from the tank and prevent it from sticking to the tank. Laundry detergent cleans the tank. Chlorine bleach is used to deodorize, sanitize and disinfect.

Water softener falls into two groups:

  • Precipitating (Arm and Hammer Washing Soda, Raindrops, Blue Dew, Borax, Climalene, Melo, White King Water Softener, and Borateem). This group is not recommended for the Geo Method as it does not work quite as well but you can use them if you cannot find the non-precipitating kind.
  • Non-Precipitating (Calgon, White Rain, Blue Raindrops, and Spring Rain). This group is recommended for the Geo Method.

The Geo Method is not necessary for every time you dump the tank. Once the tank has been “cleaned”, reduce the frequency as appropriate.

Regarding the toilet bowl, the Star manual specifically states:

 Do not use chlorine or caustic chemicals, such as laundry bleach or drain valve opening types, as they will damage the seals in the toilet and dump valves.

So, we will be foregoing the use of bleach in our implementation of the Geo Method for the black water tank. 

Thus far, we have emptied the black water tank and used the Geo Method (minus the bleach) three times. On the way from Sarasota back to Ocklawaha; the black tank had only water, detergent and water softener. It had a good sloshing on the way home.  

It’s still too early to judge its effect but we are hopeful…

New Shoes!

By , December 16, 2009 10:50 pm

Note: I’ve gotten a number of mentions from friends and fambly that the previous post was “too much”.  I’m making this one much easier… and it has pretty pictures!   😉


Our Dutch Star is now sporting a new set of tires… Michelin XZE LRHs.  They’re basically 40 inch tall tractor-trailer tires.  Since the Star is a dually (meaning that it has two tires per side on the rear), that means we had to pony up for six of these monsters.  You might be asking “why?” right about now. Take a look at the old ones…


All that cracking near the rim is what made us get new tires.  The old ones only had 27,000 miles on them and they had gobs of tread left, but they were old.  It wouldn’t surprise me if they were the originals that came on the RV.  Unfortunately, old tires get brittle and start to crack… especially if they’re bombarded by UV radiation all the time (sunlight).  That’s why a lot of RVers buy tire covers.  The old tires would have failed eventually… probably with a blowout.  Not a risk I want to take!

The new ones are NEW!  Sometimes tires will sit in a warehouse for months or years before they finally make it onto a vehicle.  Even covered or in the dark, tires have a finite lifetime.  I wanted to make sure mine weren’t sitting around for two years, so I had the guy who ordered them check the date code…


The important bit is the last four numbers…  “4209”.  That means the 42nd week of 2009.  That puts these off the press sometime in October.  From a factory in Canada to my door in under two months. Score! 🙂

Note: Picture of date stamp above replaced with a better one… the small camera doesn’t do a good job with close-ups.  The Canon xTi does much better.

Perfect Vacuum for the Star

By , December 13, 2009 9:03 am

I believe I have found the perfect vacuum for our RV.

I have owned two Dyson vacuums. I love them, I can’t say enough about their suction power.

I needed something small and reasonable for the RV. It has to work, it has got to suck, and is bag less.

I bought the Black & Decker Flex Cordless when we had the Storm. It is a great little vacuum for the Storm but too small for the Star.

Then I bought the Shark MultiVac ultra slim vacuum for the Star. The Star has more space and carpeting so I needed something that would clean both carpeting and wood floor easily.  The Multivac is a great concept but cumbersome to use and store. The hose wasn’t long enough to reach in certain spot.

After that, I returned both vacuums to Walmart and bought the Shark Navigator. I like it! Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Powerful suction
  • Bag less
  • 15 pounds
  • Brush roll shut off
  • 1 Dust Brush
  • 1 Crevice Tool

Navigator1 Navigator2

I tested it last night. It works great! It sucks in a good way! 🙂

The Star has its Navigator.

All is well.

The best laid plan…

By , December 11, 2009 12:15 am

The plans of the diligent one surely make for advantage…

Proverbs 21:5

The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, Gang aft agley

Robert Burns

Yes, there are definite advantages to planning and being prepared. But life happens…

image When you get sick, you go to the doctor. When your RV is “sick”, it goes into the shop. When the RV is in the shop, (especially for an extended period), you are “homeless” and therefore need to do the following:

  • Get alternate accommodation (friend, family, hotel, etc…)
  • Pack your toiletries and clothing (have a toiletry bag on standby and an overnight bag handy)
  • Put away or secure your “valuables”
  • Expect it to cost you

We have had our share of the RV (first the Storm and now the Star) in the shop.

Knowing what to expect helps.

Homeless again…

By , December 7, 2009 12:07 pm

We knew that there would be some minor repairs needed on any used RV we got.  The Dutch Star is living up to expectation and we just dropped it off at the local shop so they can get started on it.

The main thing we’d originally planned on was having the original roof vents replaced with MaxxAir Turbo/Maxx fans (with thermostat), which we got a sweet deal on earlier when we were in the evil rental. 

What we didn’t exactly plan on was fixing a leak.  A day or two after we got the Star, we had torrential rains for two days.  Water was dripping out of the roof vents near the windshield and our dashboard ended up pretty much getting soaked.  I did a little investigating on the roof and suspected that the front roof running/parking lights were the culprit.  The roof itself and all the seals there looked good.  The lights had cracked caulking and backing pads, some of which were broken down enough that I could see into the light assembly.  To be sure I was right, we taped some plastic sheeting over the lights for a couple days.  Last night, we had another good rain and there were no signs of any water inside.  Success!  :)  So, we’re having the lights replaced.  For good measure, I’m getting the rear ones done as well, since they don’t look much better. 


Here you can see my extremely professional job of taping the plastic sheeting down. ;)  For those who attempt this on their own rigs, here are a few tips…

  • Leave a space with the tape at the bottom of the plastic sheeting.  If any water does manage to get into the sheeting, it need a space to run back out, otherwise you will end up with a water balloon until it gets to the level of your lights.  It’ll then all come into your lights, down your windshield, onto your dashboard, etc.
  • Use painter’s masking tape.  3M makes a 2 inch wide “medium adhesion” masking tape that works perfectly.  If you use packing tape or something like that, you’re likely to either leave “sticky goo” behind when you remove it, or you will take some of your paint off with the tape. 
  • Replace it every three days of rain.  Masking tape will hold when it’s wet, but it’ll eventually fall off or allow the water to soak through.  Pull it off, wipe everything down and dry it well and slap on some new tape.
  • Don’t expect it to hold when you’re driving.  I shouldn’t need to explain that any further. 😛

We’re also having Dave install tire valve extensions on the rear tires so I can check the pressure without crawling around under the RV.  Finally, he’s going to re-tension the awning on our living room slide, as it’s sagging a bit and can get stuck when retracting the slide (that’s generally a bad thing).

After we get the Star back, we’ll have one more big piece of work to do…  new tires. :(  I was expecting this, but hoping I was wrong.  I was about to ask Dave (the repair guy) about the tires, but he beat me to it.  When walking around the RV to check a couple other items, he said “Dude, get those tires replaced”.  When we get it back, I’ll take some pictures of the tires before we head to the shop for new ones and will explain what to look for then.

No longer homeless!

By , November 25, 2009 8:35 pm

Our house is back! 🙂


We had to send the Storm into the shop for a while to get some work done and have been without it for a while now.  We just got it back yesterday and are getting “resettled”.  Here’s the quick rundown on what we had done…

  • New suspension airbags installed
  • Water tank fill hose replaced
  • Water tank breather tube cleaned
  • Exterior propane outlet installed
  • All tank level sensors replaced
  • New engine air conditioner compressor installed

I’ll give a longer post on some of those later.  It would have been about $3000 worth of work if we hadn’t gotten the extended service plan when we bought the RV.  That plan just paid for itself a couple times over. 🙂

Sorry about the bad picture, but I didn’t feel like setting up the good camera and tripod in the rain.

Details, details…

By , October 21, 2009 11:58 am


We’re still in Bull Run Regional Park and will be for a couple more days.  We’ve been taking care of all the little details needed for us to actually get “gone”.  Here’s a quick idea of what we’ve been up to…

  • Jeff at Adrenaline Offroad installed new ball joints in my Jeep – I’m now comfortable towing it long distances, but still need a new front drive shaft.
  • We installed a new battery charger in the RV, as it still isn’t charging the engine battery when we’re plugged in – this is a hack until we can track down the real issue, but it works.
  • We dumped the waste and refilled the water tanks – I’ll probably write an article on this later for those who don’t know what’s involved.
  • We re-arranged almost everything in the basement storage areas.  We got a bunch of bins from Costco that allow us to stack much more in the basement.
  • I installed the TV, Playstation and HD antenna – We get a handful of very strange channels on the TV, so I’ve clearly got to figure out something there.
  • We bought a new radiator heater for our long-term wintering in Florida…  It should do a better job than the small forced air heater when we’re parked.

We’re going to be re-arranging quite a bit more as we settle in, but it’s getting there. 

I added a new tab up above for the parks and places that we’ll stay at.  There’s not much there now, but we’ll fill it in as we go.  My sprained ankle is slowly on the mend, so hopefully I can do some exploring in Bull Run before we head out this weekend.  I’ll update the page for that once I can.

Other than that, we’re just muddling along…  saying goodbyes to friends, remembering last minute things we need to put into storage (or reclaim from storage), last minute maintenance, etc.

Almost… ready!

By , October 9, 2009 12:43 pm


Whew!  That pretty much sums up everything since the last update.  Sorry for the lack of updates, but we’ve been really busy and that has pretty much left us in a state of perpetual exhaustion.  The result of which is that I’m now kind of under the weather.  Nothing major, just a lot of flu-like symptoms that I won’t go into. 

However, we’ve gotten a lot done and are almost ready to switch our living quarters to the RV.  The FJR is sold and done.  The Jeep is in relatively decent condition, but still needs some minor front-end work (new drive shaft and ball joints).  I’ll get that done fairly soon.  All the wiring and stuff needed to flat-tow the Jeep are done and she should be good to go.  The RV is in pretty good shape.  All the mechanical stuff that I’m aware of is taken care of.  I still need to install the TV and computers, but it’s otherwise livable.

Also, we have a renter!  It turns out that a bunch of circumstances all lined up and we found a friend who needed a place quickly.  All our other potential candidates bottomed out, so everything is good for our friend to move in.  The lease is signed on our part and there are only a few minor details to take care of before we’re out of the house.

The consolidation of our “stuff” is nearly done.  We have two piles of stuff we want to get into the RV, but I’m pretty sure we’ll have to cut them in half before that’s going to work.  There are some minor things in the garage that will also have to be sorted out, but the majority is complete.

We have to be back in the area for personal and family events by the 15th, so there’s basically not much point in us going anywhere.  However, we have to be out of the house before then, so we’re probably going to move into the RV and get a site at a local regional park I found.  It’s big, not too far away and peaceful.  :)  We’ll probably be there for about two weeks before we head off. 

The good thing about that is that it will give us a chance to actually live in the RV and determine what we need to fix or change before we really get out on our own.  I’ll still have tools and friends in the area so I can hammer out whatever needs to be done before I have to “give up” everything and make do with whatever we can fit in the RV.

We’ll post again if anything odd occurs, or when we actually get into the RV… whichever happens first. 😉

There used to be a table there…

By , August 25, 2009 4:46 pm


I’m not going to bother showing the other rooms, but we’re now rid of a table, a couch and loveseat set, a bed, a bunch of lamps, a weight set, a treadmill, a patio furniture set, a bunch of pictures, a couple hundred DVDs, and a bunch of other stuff I can’t remember right now.  We’ve got more friends coming over to get some more furniture and rugs and we’re well on our way to emptying out the last ten years of “gathering” we’ve done in our house.

We’ve done some other necessary fixes as well…  deck has been refinished, tile ordered to replace a few cracked ones in the bathroom, problematic electrical sockets rewired, screw holes in drywall respackled, wood repainted and sealed, etc.  Nothing major, just a lot of little stuff to get done before we roll out.

Of course, there are some bigger things that still need to get done…  The huge and heavy bedroom set has to go to Dasy’s brothers’ place, along with the dining room set.  I have at least one motorcycle to sell, maybe two (I’m still waffling on the second one), a camper trailer to find a home for, a set of off-road Jeep tires to get rid of (and probably a ton of other Jeep parts), piles of computer stuff to get rid of, etc.  Oh… and the fish tank.  :S

And finally, we’ve still got some RV stuff to take care of.  There were some issues with the title, so we’re still on temp tags and aren’t registered.  We need to get inspected, install some new vent fans, fix the plumbing (done!), wire up some more electrical bits, clean out the black water tank, replace the black water drain valve (leaks – ick!), replace the screen door handle, etc. 

I did find out one of the sources of our dead batteries though…  someone installed the battery charger backwards, so it was constantly draining the main battery whether it was plugged in or not (that’s now taken care of and the battery is charging as I type). 

So, not much exciting stuff going on, but plenty of work. The goal is to be on the road by mid-September, which is rapidly approaching.  We’ll let you know how it’s working out.  Expect a post or two a week until we actually get going.

The long way to Gatlinburg

By , August 15, 2009 12:44 pm

We’re currently about 20 miles outside Gatlinburg, in a log cabin on the side of a mountain.  SANY0022 We’re here for a family reunion and to just get away for a bit before we have to get back to managing the house and RV. 

We did about 40 miles on Skyline Drive, then about 5 miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Apparently the RV really liked the BRP because it decided to spend the night.  The rear caliper started sticking, so we pulled into the visitor center and checked with the rangers.  There wasn’t much they could do and no tow trucks were available until the morning.  The rangers were fine with us staying the night, so we settled in and had a nice, peaceful night on the BRP. 🙂

The next morning we got towed back to Waynesboro. IMG_1378 Rice Auto took excellent care of us and spent most of the day either working on the rear brakes or finding replacement parts.  The mechanic eventually drove about 40 miles to get a new caliper for us.  Mr. Rice was nice enough to put up with us asking silly questions, poking around his shop and generally being underfoot. They’re really an excellent shop that would rather do something right than to do it fast.  If I’m ever in the area again and need work, that’s where I’ll stop every time.  I can’t recommend them enough!

We got underway around 6pm and headed south on I-81.  We eventually stopped at Fort Chiswell RV park.  Power, water, wifi…  was good for tired drivers.  The next morning we made it the rest of the way and parked at the bottom of the mountain where the family had the cabins.  We were pressed for time and didn’t know if we get the RV up the mountain in time for to make it to a family event. 

The event was zip-lining!  It was pretty cool, but I would have preferred some longer runs.  IMG_1430Still, it was time well spent with family we don’t see very often.  It was a new experience for most people there, but everyone had fun and screaming was at a minimum. 😉

We headed back to the RV, and I hustled it up the hill.  No problems, just toss it into a low gear and step on the gas.  Getting down will probably be slightly more interesting, but I don’t expect any problems.

We’ll be here until Monday, then we head back home so we can do more to get the house ready and to fix a few more things on the RV. 

‘Till next time!

Two steps forward, one step back.

By , August 3, 2009 8:40 pm

I guess it’s actually three steps forward…

First, I took the beastie out to a friend’s in Leesburg today.  I needed to run the engine for a bit to get the batteries charged back up and to see if the engine charged the coach batteries.  I found out that it does.  That’s a good thing. Of course, I think it should also charge when plugged in, so I’m still working on that.

While in Leesburg, we managed to get quite a bit done.  We junked the old radio and installed a new one.  We also replaced the front speakers and added rear speakers.  Much better now. 🙂

Another friend who also happens to be an electrician stopped by (mostly to check out the beastie), but we convinced him to tackle some electrical work while he was there.  He quickly and easily installed a new surge supressor for the RV.  Considering that it’s a 30 amp 110v circuit, I’m glad he did it and not me. 🙂

Unfortunately, on the way home, the front brake started overheating.  It’s probably sticking and needs to be replaced.  Unfortunately, since it now overheats (quickly), we can’t drive it anywhere to get it fixed.  So, I’m going to take a look at it tomorrow and see if I can noodle through it.  If I can’t, then I guess we’ll be making use of that new AAA plan real quick. :S

Starting on the list…

By , August 1, 2009 3:31 pm

…the list of things to be fixed.

There are a number of small issues with the RV that need addressing.  Some need to be fixed quick, others are on a to-do-in-the-future list.  The first one I tackled was the plumbing. 

We had a rather nasty surprise on our first night in the RV on the way back from Texas a few weeks ago.  We turned on the water pump (which provides pressure to the shower and faucets when we’re not connected to city water) and found water gushing out of the bottom of the RV.  Needless to say, we turned it off and used city water instead.  We had an outside sprayer (like a sink spray nozel) installed in one of the bays and I suspected that was the culprit.

I crawled under there today and found out that the installer had used a bypass valve instead of a cutoff valve.  The bypass wasn’t hooked up to anything, so it sprayed all over the place the minute the water was turned on.  I simply capped off the bypass and all is now well. 🙂  The pump pressurizes the system, water stays where it’s supposed to and the outside sprayer works.

One job completed successfully!

The second job was just discovered today and it pretty much trumps everything else.  Our house batteries don’t seem to be charging.  More on that in a future post when I figure out what to do about it. :S

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