Staying the course

Well I haven’t posted anything in a while so this will be a long one. We are still using the fifth wheel, more about that later, and have been camping. We got booted from our first attempt at a 30 day stay because of massive flooding of the Arkansas river and had to go back home. To make matters worse all our local reservations have been cancelled until October because the two local Corps campgrounds we stay at were basically destroyed. This has opened my eyes a little to the thought of living full time in the rv in a fixed location. Had we not had a house to return to it would have been difficult to find a place to stay that is within an hour drive of my work.

We did have a good vacation in Nashville though. We stayed at Safe Harbor RV Resort and it was one of the nicest places we have ever stayed. Great park with nice amenities, short drive to downtown, and lots of nearby restaurants. Some of the sites are small so look at the low numbered A section. The park is located on J Percy Priest Reservoir just SE of downtown. Our week long stay was very relaxing, so much so I forgot how to read a calendar and thought we had one more day before we were supposed to leave. We were an hour out of town visiting an old friend when we got the “why are you still here” phone call. The park host was very forgiving. When we got back it only took me 30 minutes to pack out and hook up. I offered to pay for the new peoples first night stay for having to wait on us but she wouldn’t let me ( She didn’t charge them either).

Now you probably want to know why the fifth wheel. Our DP purchase has turned out to be a lot more work than I anticipated. I knew of several issues that needed to be addressed like tires, roof reseal, engine service, replace house batteries, and the need to build a parking pad at the house. I had budgeted $10,000 to make the needed repairs. What I didn’t know was that there were a multitude of unknown problems that only appeared when you tried to fix something simple. This would be the start of an emotional roller coaster ride where one minute I am ready to tackle the issues and look forward to getting to use the bus to the next where I feel like I was hit in the head with a brick with no hope of survival.

To begin I replaced the aged out rear tires ( dated 2003) with 4 new Toyo’s. The cost was $400.00 each plus $150.00 to mount. In the process of doing that I found one of the leveling jacks leaking badly and on the way home the check engine light came on. I have a friend that runs a truck shop so I went directly there. I had him repair the sensor, remove and rebuild the jack, service the engine, and flush the radiator. Cost $1500 but at least he didn’t charge me for the fence I backed over in his parking lot. I also noticed the dash gauges for oil pressure and water temp aren’t working but since they work on the Aladdin electronic monitoring system I decide to wait on repairing that till later.

When we got home and started looking things over we noticed most of the windows are fogged up between the panes. I hadn’t seen it before somehow. I got an estimate on those from a local place and it will run between 3000 and 5000 dollars to get them replaced with either single pane laminated glass or repair the double pane glass. This won’t keep us from using it but will eventually have to be taken care of.

The next thing we decided was to replace the carpet. First step is to pull the old carpet out. They put this crap everywhere ! It was inside cabinets, on the walls, and under the cabinets. This required removing about 3 times as many things as I had planned on. To make it worse they not only used 1.5 million staples but some type of NASA designed industrial glue. I did a little research and ended up buying an oscillating cutter. Using that with a scraper blade on it was a lifesaver. I don’t know how I would have gotten the carpet out without it. The new carpet installed is quoted at $2200.00 but should be cheaper since we did the removal ourselves.

The discovery that was made upon removal of the carpet was moldy wet floor and many old leaks. You could not tell it had been leaking with the carpet in place and new carpet can not be installed until the leaks have been stopped, another unexpected surprise. I had to replace a couple of small pieces of sub floor and begin searching for where the water was coming from. As it turns out all the wiper seals on the slides need to be replaced. I knew the roof needed to be resealed so I started there. While resealing the roof I found the slide toppers were all trash and were funneling the rain water into the damaged wiper seals. They looked fine from the ground but the back center of every one was shredded. To make it worse whoever had it 2 owners ago left it outside and put the slides in while they were covered with leaves and debris. This caused gaps in the inner seals that let water come in freely. At this point pretty much all I could see was a giant vacuum in my bank account sucking me dry. I called a couple of RV places and estimates were roughly a grand per slide to replace the seals and another 500 dollars for each slide topper. One even said that to replace the inner seals the slides may have to come out (they would) which would make the cost higher. I was completely ready to cut my losses and move on. After a little liquid relaxation and a small hangover I again got out the research tools and scoured the internet. I was able to learn how to do the toppers and order the fabric, replace the seals and order the correct similar replacement, and learned a couple of tricks for removing the old ones. Currently I have two of the slides resealed and two of the toppers repaired and all the seals and fabric to do the other two. It takes me about 8 hours labor to completely do each slide but the cost was only $1100 for all the materials. I did not have to do anything to the inner seals. After cleaning out all the debris they were fine. I am just waiting for the next rainstorm to see how effective the repairs are on that side.

Because it is now summertime, I am limited to working outside the rv in the morning hours. My routine is start the generator and the a/c’s, work outside till I can’t stand it, then go inside. On the interior I have replaced all the halogen lights with LED’s and am in the process of painting. We also decided we wanted new furniture. The questions to be answered are matching or complementary colors, will it fit in the space, and will it fit through the door. After carefully measuring, shopping, measuring again and finally finding what we wanted that met the above criteria we ordered a power reclining love seat ($1200). I began the removal process of the jackknife sofa and got it out after completely taking it apart. Once removed I was greeted with the surprise of a 24″ deep platform that the sofa was built on. The love seat would require 39″ to support it. Not only was I going to have to build a platform that would support our weight but it had to move in and out with the slide and it needed to be removable to aid in the carpet installation. I was able to bolt in a couple of pieces of angle iron and used 2×6’s between them to create the platform. To help support the weight I put furniture movers on the bottom side to protect the carpet. On the other side we wanted an electric fireplace ($200.00) to go with the eurocliner and ottoman we already had. To accomplish this I had to remove a table and cabinet. After taking it out I also had to relocate an outlet and light switch. All in all not to bad right, wrong. In the midst of this the generator is now on the fritz and randomly shuts down and the refrigerator has stopped working.

There are many little things I had to patch and repair along the way and many more left to discover. I hope there is nothing else major. It is very hard to keep my eye on the ball when it keeps getting further away instead of closer but I am learning to stay focused on the project at hand then just move to the next one. At this point everything I am doing has to be done no matter whether we keep it or sell it because it is unmarketable the way it is. I think from a financial standpoint I will still be at least even( value vs investment) and when we are done everything will be working properly. I have saved thousands of dollars in labor costs by doing everything myself. So far the budget is looking a little unrealistic. To date I have spent about $9000 of my $10,000 budget. $2000 of that was for the gravel parking pad and electrical pedestal and another $2000 for the towbar and brake setup for the car which I installed myself. I still have to buy carpet, fix or replace the fridge, service the Aqua hot unit, service the generator and or repair it, and replace the television. I know I will be over budget the question is by how much. The good thing is by spreading it out over time I can keep everything paid for as I go instead of dipping into savings like I had planned to. The downside is I will not have the rv paid off as quickly as I had planned. I am about 40% done with the renovation and will just keep on keeping on. Hopefully it will be complete in time for our next vacation at the end of October. Its ironic that when I posted on the IRV2 forum about our purchase someone responded that I should plan on 20-30 thousand dollars to get it up to speed. At the time I thought they were being facetious, turns out they were probably spot on.

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