Posted in: Broken/Damanged Things

We Finally Have A Couch! (RV Renovations)

The RV came with a loveseat couch, which could turn into a bed. However, we really missed having a couch that we could lay down in, that could fit more than 2 people, and was comfortable.

The RV couch started off as ok. Livable but not enjoyable. Then a spring broke somewhere in the left seat cushion and we had a spring poking us in the butt. It was not something we could fix either. We lived with it for a while.

We kept putting off taking the couch out because it was a scary proposition. We didn’t know how hard it would be, where things were bolted down, etc. Finally, we took on the adventure of making the living room work better for us. At one campground in Texas, we dismantled the loveseat to make room for a futon or couch. It was pretty easy to take apart once we knew it was really just held together with some screws. No need for a saw or hammer to break it apart.

We also removed the couch side part of the dinette. We bought new foldable chairs at Costco. We had bought similar ones when we had the house and used them for extra seating when people came over. The new chairs were in a darker color, which actually worked well with the existing color scheme for the RV.

We ended up keeping the base of the loveseat, even with the broken spring so we would have something to sit on in the meantime. We moved the bench seat so it was against the window. We then fit one of the camping chairs next to it for extra seating. It wasn’t perfect but it worked ok. We also kept the seat cushion from the dinette that we removed so the kids could use it as a floor cushion.

It took us a while to find something that would fit in the space that also wasn’t very heavy. We leaned towards futons since they were usually lighter in weight and would still give us the extra bed option if we would ever need it. We also didn’t want something with arms, so that when Ben laid down, he wasn’t bunched up and we could fit more of us on the couch.

Costco had a futon that we almost bought, but it was really close on the dimensions, so we didn’t get it. We finally found a cheap futon at Walmart and decided to give it a try. We pulled everything out of the living area and brought the futon box inside in between rain showers. It was easy to put together and fit perfectly.

We’ll see how long it lasts, but right now we are really enjoying the layout and being able to spread out somewhere other than on our bed.

Top Row: Before, Middle Row: Taking it apart. Bottom Row left: After loveseat before couch. Bottom Row middle and right: with new futon.
Posted in: Broken/Damanged Things, Maintenance

Things Fall Apart

In high school one of my favorite English teachers had us read Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (a Nigerian Novelist). It was a short but powerful book that I would still recommend. Although google tells the adult version of me that the novel dealt with how the prospect and reality of change affect various characters, the most vivid memory I have of this book was the delight the high school version of me had at discovering the publisher stamped “Things Fall Apart” on the inside binding of the cover.

Our adventure has a lot of parallels to the book. Each member of our family has dealt with change differently along our journey. We have each had ups and downs as we have adapted to our 400 square foot space and completely different, changing landscape. There have been arguments, tears and plenty of pouting and that was just me. In the end though, the good have greatly outweighed the bad and our laughter carries us through the tough days.

One thing that remains consistent is the amount of things that actually fall apart on a travel trailer as you bounce your home along the road at 60 mph. Going into this experience, I knew things broke easily on a traveling home. We had seen it in enough videos, but I was not prepared for just how quickly things actually broke.

June 4th: Buy RV and get it home. Modified the bunkroom and resealed the storage door. The caulking wasn’t great and we could see gaps. We checked the caulking on the outside and touched up a few spots. Boys slept in their beds and broke the aluminum mini blinds the first time sleeping in them. Sarah later upgraded these from Aluminum mini blinds to custom fit black out curtains that velcro in place.

June 9th: Move RV to Waynesville. After several water dripping, shampoo barely our of our hair showers, we replaced the shower head with an Oxygenics*. This was more of a mandatory upgrade rather than a repair.

July 1st: The kitchen faucet got stuck on the shower/spray setting. This was the second time, but now we can’t get it to go back to the steady stream. Sometimes more features just mean more problems.

July 5: The left hand small drawers in the kitchen came loose and were hanging crooked. When we took the drawers out to see why, it looks like they were only held up by the drawer tracks and two screws at the top. There was no bottom support at all. I got it reattached at the top and also put in a bottom support. We discovered some more storage space when we removed the access panel to reach the back of the drawers. Repurposed the panel to protect the water lines, but it is now moved back and attached to the new bottom drawer support. We have our bread in a storage bin under there now. (The cupboard was too warm and the bread was growing mold quickly.)

July 9th: After traveling to our first stop (boondocking), the trim around the main door was popping loose. Reattached it with the staple gun. We also learned that normal highway driving knocks the half moon shower doors out of their track. We close and lock them, but the left side keeps popping loose.

Not really broken, but maybe forgotten? All the blinds in the RV have some sort of hold back (cords attached to the wall, or hooks to attach the bottom of the blinds). The master bedroom blinds by the bed do not. We have gotten pretty level, but the RV still makes small movements when someone walks/turns in bed. Sarah attached sticky velcro to the wall and to the bottom of the blinds to keep them in place. It is now so much quieter when we are sleeping!

July 18th. One of the small kitchen cabinet doors ripped out. I reinstalled it, but it ripped out again. Problems of having short people (aka kids) putting away dishes. They are hard to open cabinets and I think he was just pulling downward too much instead of outward.

August 11th: Upgraded to a fancy new bike rack over the trailer hitch jack, the Jack-It*.

August 12th: Realized we damaged the passenger side rear stabilizer strut while installing the new bike rack. Still not fixed for lack of the right materials. Need to source materials not found in normal hardware stores.

August 12th: New bike rack also reduced the truck to trailer turning radius resulting in damage to one bikes tire rim and dents to the truck while backing into a tight RV space. Touch up paint and a new bike to the rescue (benefit of a cheap Walmart bike).

September 12th: Trim around main door popped off towards bottom again but on both sides this time. Closet door in master bedroom, left door fell off/screws came out. Learned from the kitchen cabinet doors and was ready with the upgrade and better installation. Based on the design, I bought enough bolts, washers and nuts to replace every cabinet door hinge in the travel trailer.

October: We didn’t move and coincidentally nothing broke. Easy living in California! We did finally upgrade the CO2 alarm to a less sensitive model. The model that came with the travel trailer would alarm daily (normally at 3:00AM, 4:00AM, or 5:00AM). The sensor sits immediately outside the boys bunkroom and the alarming frequency increased based on Mom’s dinner menu (strong correlation between beans and alarming). Once we upgraded to the Kidde Carbon Monoxide & Explosive Gas Detector Alarm* our late night wake up calls went away.

November 7th: Barely clipped gas station bollard while turning out of a tight Diesel refueling area pulling the travel trailer. Luckily just cracked the electrical cover plate. This could have been much worse. Until we get a new cover, we have resorted to a makeshift plastic bag and have been blessed with very little rain.


The finish on the bathroom door is peeling off by the doorknob.

The floor grates are not designed for everyday traffic even though they are in high traffic areas. Sarah sourced and replaced the most offensive grates in the bathroom and master bedroom with a heavier grade.

Command strips are strong enough to pull off the wallpaper. We have had to do some cosmetic repairs when the Command strips won the battle.

Although things continue to inevitably fall apart, we are grateful it hasn’t been anything significant. On the positive side, we have had many opportunities to practice our engineering, visit hardware stores and my apprentices have started to learn how to repair things on their own. Things change, we can either go with it or let it break us. Maybe I have spent too much time with my surfing buddies in California, but we are just going with the flow dude.

~ Ben

*Affiliate link

Posted in: Broken/Damanged Things, Sightseeing

Advice If You Are Moving Your RV From Arizona To New Mexico

This post is a little out of sync, but I wanted to put it out there.

If you are traveling from the Tucson, Arizona area to Carlsbad, New Mexico, you may go through Texas! Geography is a crazy thing.

We drove through El Paso on our way. If you have a larger RV/Trailer, especially a diesel, stop to get fuel right by/in El Paso! There is literally nothing for over 100 miles (no bathrooms, no diesel) once you drive out of town. There were maybe a few small gas stations, but no diesel and nothing we would fit into. Please make sure to fill your tank completely full and also fill a back-up container of fuel.

After passing the salt flats, we stopped at a picnic area to put our emergency 8 gallon diesel container into the truck. I am so glad we kept that filled. I don’t think we would have made it into Carlsbad without it. There were several fuel stations that had diesel, but most of them are tight for larger rigs. We filled up, but not after I cracked the outdoor electric cover on the RV by not clearing the last ballard.

We did see a really neat informational sign at the picnic area though, so you never know what you will find when you stop!

Posted in: Broken/Damanged Things, Costco, Newbie Mistakes

Moving Day: Goodbye Moab!

It’s moving day!

We had a good start, finished packing up inside and worked on the outside. I went to line up the truck and bumped the hitch into the trailer. It wasn’t raised up with the jack yet. I obviously needed coffee and to not rush. Luckily nothing happened, but not a great start to my morning.

The drive was uneventful (thank goodness) to our next campground in Hurricane, Utah. We checked in and they led us to our campsite. It was a back-in and they helped direct us in. We set up the RV. It was pretty hot out (104 degrees F), but at least the site had some shade! I am so glad we had a 50 amp site and could run both A/C’s.

The town was bigger than I thought it would be. There were several restaurants and grocery places close by. The one grocery store was within walking distance!

We ran into St. George (about 10-15 minutes away) to go to Costco. This Costco was not very different from others we have seen, although they did sell ice and had diesel at the fuel station. It was very crowded. It was the least amount we had ever spent: $34, including a pizza!

Yes, I do get a picture of Will at every Costco 😉

We unpacked the groceries and Ben took the boys into town to try to find a replacement cup and forks. I got to read for an hour by myself! It was so relaxing. The boys came back, but didn’t have much luck at the nearby store. We called it a night and settled in.

Posted in: Bike Rack, Broken/Damanged Things, Newbie Mistakes

Let’s Not Move On A Wednesday Again

Moving day! The boys and I got a lot of the RV ready to move while Ben worked. When he was done we finished packing up and got on the road. We were still going to be in Colorado and it was going to be a pretty short drive to our next campground (just 1 1/2 hours).

There was a lot of construction on our way down. The RV park only had a back-in spot when we booked and I had called down a few days before to see if they had any pull-throughs available. They said they would see what they could do.

Unfortunately, our site was a back in. The plus was it was a little shaded! It’s been pretty warm and dry so far in Colorado (getting to 90 most days), so the shade was really nice. We had just enough room to put up Ben’s tent.

That was where the decent day ended.

The new bike rack made the turning tighter. I didn’t notice right away because I was paying attention to the RV back up camera and truck side view mirrors. I knew when to stop when it was just the RV and the truck, but hadn’t accounted for the bikes. I thought (stupidly) that they wouldn’t be in the way. The bolts on Will’s bikes tires ended up scratching the paint on the truck and the truck cap. It also made the rear wheel of Will’s bike now rub against the frame. There is no visible big bend in the wheel. We’re going to see if anyone can fix it, but it is the back wheel with the gears.

We have some extra paint for the truck, if I can find where we packed it, so I can help fix the truck and the cap.

Now the next part is not so easy to fix, nor do I have any idea of how it happened.

The rear passenger stabilizer arm bent. We didn’t have it down yet. We had leveled before putting the stabilizers down. I really can’t think of what we could have done to have caused this.

On the plus side, it’s nothing that is integral to the moving of the RV. (I don’t think.)

It was just not a good day and very stressful. Tempers were high and there was some arguing. Having loud neighbors up until long after quiet hours probably didn’t help anyone’s mood.