Travels and Retrospect

We bought our RV, Sleipnir, just over a year ago. We moved into it last July when our lease was up at our apartment. We took our cats, crammed as much stuff as we could into it, and started to travel. Or at least, that was our plan. As we approach our year anniversary, I’d like to go back on some things and discuss what brought us to where we are, what we have planned for the future, and where we are headed.

Moving In

We moved in at the end of July 2017. We parked the RV in front of our apartment and starting cramming it full of stuff. We had too much stuff, far too much stuff, and we’ve pared it down a lot since then. We have added a couple of things since then, replaced some other things, but mostly its been finding places for things to go and figuring out how to live in a 33 foot RV.

We went to a campground near home to get our feet wet. We had never traveled in the RV before, never spent a night in it, so we stayed close to home and family in case anything went wrong. It took us some time to figure out how to make our water system work, but things like the very first dumping of the tanks went without issue. We learned what we could plug in, what we could run off power, how many things we could run at once, and basically figured out how things worked in here.

Heading out

We headed south and east eventually and ended up at a campground in Michigan. We stayed there two weeks, then went to a boondocking location and stayed with a couple for about six days. Sue was instrumental in teaching us how to make things work since she and her husband had been spending their winters in Arizona for several years in their RV.

Then we headed south and stopped in Indiana. It was here that we finally figured out the combination of valves to turn to get our city water connection to work. This was also our first time with sewer hookups, so we were able to dump the tanks without moving the RV every few days. That was great and something we decided we really liked.

Next we were going south towards Florida for the winter. We had intended to stop in Florida, then go up the east coast to visit my sister in North Carolina. Things did not go as planned. Our transmission went out in Bowling Green, KY, and we ended up getting towed to a campground about thirty miles away. It would be our last bit of travel for three months.

After dealing with a very crappy mobile mechanic, I learned to not trust people and listen to what Tiffany had to say. We did get our transmission fixed though, but it was expensive and ruined all our holidays.

Then we headed south, thinking we were finally on our way to better things. But of course not.

While in Florida, we had a fire underneath our RV. We got it put out before it could do any damage and got towed to a mechanic there. Turned out that when the transmission was being taking out or put in, someone had hit the oil sensor and damaged it. That caused oil to leak onto the hot exhaust, which then combusted. Got that fixed, but needed to repair the exhaust. Went to one mechanic who was recommended by the guys who did the original work, and he basically told us he didn’t want to deal with our RV. Not, “sure, I can do it but it’ll be expensive,” just a flat out “nope, not gonna touch it.”

So we decided to go to Red Bay, Alabama. We have a Tiffin and that’s where the factory is so we figured someone in that town would know how to work on it and be able to take care of it. We went to a campground about 60 miles away and stayed there for a few weeks. When we finally got to Red Bay, we went to Bay Diesel who had been highly recommended. Turned out, they were of no help to us.

The replaced some spark plug wires and that was about it. They put some insulation around the spark plug wires to make it drivable until we could get the exhaust leak fixed, but the “insulation” they put around it was actually just plastic wire loom. The kind of stuff that electricians use to route cables and not at all meant for protecting from heat. Did not know that at the time though.

Despite the fact that we called ahead of time and told them we needed the exhaust manifolds replaced, they had not ordered anything and had nothing available. So we told them we’d go to a different campground nearby, that would give them three weeks to find the parts and we’d come back and get it repaired.

Bay Diesel instead did absolutely nothing.

I gave them the first week to find the parts. Then the second week I called every single day. I left messages with the receptionist. I was able to get someone to talk to the owner, gave him my email, had them relay that I needed to know what the hell was going on. I never heard back. Ever. Not once did anyone return my calls. No one emailed me. They did nothing at all and left us hanging.

I don’t think they ever wanted to do the work on our RV, but never had the gall to tell us that. If they had said they couldn’t do it, we’d have found someone who could. But no, never one word, never one response, nothing at all.

Finally on Friday, the receptionist said she needed my VIN so they could order the parts. I went off her out of frustration. They had worked on our RV, they had the VIN in their files, how could they not look it up and find it again? I hung up and gave up on Bay Diesel.

Instead of going back south to Red Bay, we went north to Kentucky to a campground we’d stayed at when we got the transmission work done. I tried calling the mechanic that had done our transmission correctly to see if they could do it, but they didn’t get back to me either. So I asked around the campground and was told of Chris’s Auto Tech in Cave City, KY. Chris saved our asses. They got us in quick, it took two days of solid work, and they repaired the exhaust leak. And they charged us half what I thought they were going to charge us. Hopefully in the future when we need work done, we’ll be able to get to Kentucky to get it taken care of and have Chris’s team do the work. His dad, Glen, did the work on our RV, kept us updated, let us know what was going on, and worked on it all day until it was done. Stellar job on their part and they welcomed us into their office and waiting area, let us stay in their lot overnight with electric, and did more than they needed to in order to prevent future problems.

So we left there and headed south again, back to the campground in Alabama. The engine though was misfiring a lot. I think its a fuel filter which is hopefully easy to acquire and replace and I’m hoping that is the end of our mechanical issues for awhile.

We also are getting the black tank drained and cleaned when we get to Florida next week. It has thirty years of buildup inside and is probably a disgusting awful mess. They will come to us and clean it out though and its affordable so hopefully they can get all the residue out and we can be back to a clean tank to start fresh and prevent it from happening again.

We also have to get the windshield replaced. It got a crack in it that spread, but I found a place close to the campground in Florida that does RV repairs and can get a new windshield in about a week. I’ll call them on Tuesday when I know everything is good to go and we will set up a time to have them replace the windshield.

Other than that, its mostly minor things. We need a new air conditioner as ours has never worked. We also need a new water heater as again, that has never worked. We need to replace the vents on the roof as well. I’ve replaced one that was completely broken, but I’d like to replace the other three as well. With the AC and vents done, then we’ll tear off all the Eternabond that is keeping the rain out, lay down a nice thick layer of Dicor, and then cover the whole roof in a sealant meant for aluminum roofs. That should make it nice and watertight, prevent future leaks, and hopefully with a white roof, we’ll reflect some sunlight and it’ll stay a bit cooler inside.

And other minor things

I’m getting an old Nintendo Wii that I will be modding and turning into a retro gaming machine. I have an Xbox 360 sitting at my sister’s house that I’d eventually like to pickup and play some games on that. We have a satellite dish I need to buy the box for and setup the service so we can watch live TV for once. Eventually, I’d like to get a new TV since we can get a slightly larger, higher definition, and much lighter one for only a few hundred dollars.

I’m working with a company to get a film that is designed to cover and repurpose countertops, so we’ll be adding that as well and putting together a walkthrough of how to install it. It’ll probably span over a few articles though as we first do the bathroom and then the kitchen. It’ll be part experiment, part tutorial to see how it works and how it holds up. Our countertop is far from uniform though, so going around the sinks, the curves, and the edges will surely be an exercise.

I’m also going to be adding ethernet around the RV so we can plug in some of our devices and not have them relying on wifi all the time. With that, I’ll probably add a few 12 volt DC outlets so we can plug in some DC devices and add USB ports for things like iPhones and tablets.

I do have a few reviews to write up as well, namely the Winegard ConnecT 2.0, Ova Easy egg crystals, Neon cat litter, and the inverter. The inverter is taking far longer than expected because of all the mechanical issues we’ve been having which have redirected money we could have used for upgrading the electrical system into things like making sure we can leave our campsite. When we can afford to get more batteries, we’ll install them with the inverter and then we can also run AC power to various devices we’d like to use while not on shore power like the TV and media server and have an outlet so we can make at least a cup of coffee for Tiffany in the morning if we are boondocking without power.

That should be it really. We are headed south now and will be in Florida next weekend. We will probably head up the coast this summer then to my sister’s place and stay at a campground in NC for three weeks before heading back to Florida for the winter. We will probably bounce around campgrounds in Florida this winter, making sure we have everything working and saving up some money for the projects we want to work on for next summer.

Thanks for reading!

Leave a Reply