After some downtime to focus on spending time with the family we are back on the road. We enjoyed the holidays in Memphis, Tennessee with our extended family. We now are now looking forward to a new year of seeing this amazing country as we work towards Florida to begin our tour of the east coast.Continue reading “Back on the Road”
We bid farewell to the grand state of Texas and set our sights and the GPS to New Mexico.Continue reading “Road to Albuquerque – Into the Land of Enchantment”
It's moving day. Our next stop is Lubbock, Texas. We woke up early in the morning and performed our routine to get the bus packed up and ready to move. By this point we have gotten pretty proficient at this routine but we still follow a checklist just in case. These checklists are vital to ensure that some of the more minor items that get over looked could cause some issues. For example, not latching the glass shower could cause it to swing open and shut during the travels and shatter it.Continue reading “Road to Lubbock – Staying Cool About A Furnace”
Since taking delivery of the RV, we pretty much hit the ground running with living in it full time. Any issue that has comes up, we tackle it head on. It has become a bit of a running joke that when an issue comes up, we all collectively sigh and say "What now?" Among the issues we have had to tackle, water leaks have been the most prevalent.
Below, is the list of water leaks we have identified so far, followed by details for each.
- Ice maker
- Kitchen Faucet
- Laundry Hookups
- Furnace Plate
- Shower Drain
Before we took delivery of the coach, we identified an issue where there was water leaking from refrigerator cabinet. Water would move across the floor, down the slide out seal and collect near the driver seat. This issue had to be resolved, even at the cost of the dealer along with repair of any damage associated with the leak. According to the dealership technicians, the repair took 11 hours and looked beautiful once they were complete. The technician also assured me that he took extra special care to ensure the connection to the fridge was sealed. The feed for the ice maker has a valve, so we could always disable it if it were to occur again.
The kitchen faucet hit us on two separate occasions. This was the first leak that we had to triage shortly after living in the coach full time. Items under the sink were getting wet along with the carpet in front of the sink. Shining a flashlight, I found the culprit was the inline connection for the pull-out sink head.
In the picture above, the connection right in the middle is an inline coupler that uses two o-rings and a clip. I wrapped the o-rings in plumbers tape, reconnected it and have not had any issues since.
The next issue that was not as obvious was the cold and hot water feed to the kitchen sink itself.
I continued to find water accumulating in the water bay, below. I just assumed that it was the shower (more on that later). With these two connections, I wrapped the brass portion in plumbers tape, and reconnected the feed lines.
With the leaks under the sink, we have worked to be proactive in fixing these items as they occur as there is a lot going on under this particular area. The electrical connections to all the RV control panels run beneath here along with all of the electrical lines for the kitchen/living room slide. Below is a picture of what it looks like down there.
Also, you may note that when you begin peering your head behind cabinets and hide away holes, you may find a lot of saw dust from the manufacturing process. I understand that there is a RV boom so they are pushing new RVs through quickly to get them in the hands of dealers. I suppose this is probably the same reason we are running into all of these leaks as well.
One of the closets in the master bedroom was designed to accept a washer and dryer. Where the washer would be installed, there is a hot and cold water hookup.
One morning, when I was getting dressed to head into the office, we discovered that my underwear drawer was taking on water. The back of the drawer wall was visibly soaked. I shut the water off to the coach and went off to work. When I came back home, I pulled the back of the closet off to reveal the laundry hookups. Which, was something I had not even realized when this first began as I was convinced that the hot water heater was leaking, as it is also behind the same wall.
I learned that water is constantly flowing to the laundry hookups, behind our closet. I traced the line back further and there was not value upstream to disable this (as was in the case of the ice maker), with no success. The issue turned out that the hot water line fixture was leaking down on my drawer below.
Each laundry nozzle comes apart in 3 different pieces, I took it all apart and re-wrapped it with plumbers tape. There was some plumbers tape there, but installed haphazardly at the factory.
After monitoring the laundry hookups for the next 24 hours with positive water pressure to the coach, I was satisfied that my underwear was no longer going to soak up any additional water. We left the back of the closet off for a few days to ensure that it totally dried out.
We noticed that the wall under where the fridge was started showing some darkness. We dismissed it as what looked like adhesive from putting the wall strip back on. We have not experienced too much rain while living in the RV, but when it does, water begins to come out from under the fridge. This of course has the hallmark of a leaky ice maker, but it was not the case.
Beneath the refrigerator is also home to the furnace. The furnace penetrates the outside wall with an exhaust plate. We learned that there was a lack of or no good seal surrounding the plate on the outside wall. Water was slipping in through there, onto the floor and coming out from under the fridge cabinet. This of course cannot be good as we surely do not want our furnace to short out and cause more issues.
The fix here was to use silicone and seal up the plate around the outside wall. This did prevent more water from coming in from the outside and gave us more peace of mind regarding the safety of our furnace and all the other electronics that occupy that same space.
While sitting in the living room watching TV, we began smelling something emanating from the sink area. While continually inspecting under the sink for more leaks, it was not immediately apparent that the shower drain had been leaking.
Eventually, we opened the panel under the shower and found that it was all wet under there. Water was dripping from the 90 degree elbow heading into the p-trap which leads to the gray tank drain. The quarters were really tight, so we called up a mobile RV tech to help us out. I was getting busy and needed a bit of a break from all these RV repairs.
The mobile RV tech, identified that there was a haphazard job of plumbers tank where the p-trap pipe screwed into the gray tank drain. He also checked for other pipe cracks and put it back together and was on his way.
At this point, I figured this was behind us and that was one less leak I had to worry about or so I thought. One morning before church, we all took our turns cycling through the shower to get ready. Amber went into the basement looking for some shoes and came back reporting that our rubber made totes had standing water on them. "Oh no, what now?" I sighed. We shut the water off to the coach, went to church and dealt with it when we came back.
After worrying about the leak through church service, we had returned to look for the source of the leak. Since there were so many of taking a shower at one time this morning, we learned that water was leaking out from the drain, under the sink area, following the slide seal until it drained out into the basement below under the driver's seat.
This time, I went to work and pulled the shower drain apart. The part that connected the elbow to the horizontal p-trap pipe was spinning freely and also did not have any plumbers tape at all. Unfortunately, we paid to have this repaired and didn't get quite what we paid for.
At the time I didn't realize how the p-trap pipe came apart at the elbow. It was not until I saw the part brand new, that I realized that it was held together with a retaining ring. The gentlemen at the RV store demonstrated this to us as well.
With that new knowledge, I came back and rebuilt the drain, using plumbers tape on all three connections. First, I installed the horizontal p-trap pipe back into the gray tank drain, then the 90 degree elbow and connected the elbow to the shower drain.
Thankfully, it's been a few days and we have had no further drain leaks. I've put a towel under the drain to quickly detect any leaks and be a first line of defense to any further water damage.
Our RV was brand new. Clearly, as it seems that our RV did not get a great PDI or Pre-Delivery Inspection before we got it. These leaks were something that seasoned professional technicians should have picked up pretty quickly. For better or worse, these fixes have fallen into our hands and all considered, these are easy. We are blessed that we can fix these issues as they go along.
With under 60 miles of use, the prospect of driving the rig any further brought a lot of worry and stress. I soon realized, it was because our new 2017 Thor Motorcoach Miramar had 26mm of positive tow on the front wheels. After this was corrected, the bus felt more like driving a well engineered machine more than ever before.
Prior to taking the the RV into the shop to get a proper alignment, I did not enjoy driving the rig at all. This was not only first RV, but short of driving a u-Haul truck, this was the biggest thing I have driven. For years, I’ve driven grand touring passenger vehicles, so naturally I assumed that something with less precision would take some getting used to. Just the sheer size of the unit and constantly worrying about driving in between the lines on the road, not hitting anything and braking in time was overwhelming.
My first ride home from the dealership and the subsequent trip to our first shake down at Wekiva Falls was mentally exhausting. These were relatively, short trips and I came out of these with a pale white complexion and an innate sense that there must be something amiss out of this.
Recently, we met up with a group of Thor Motorcoach enthusiasts, I explained the issue I was having and how much I disliked driving. They all responded, practically in unison, “get a front end alignment”. One gentlemen, with a Windsport said that he struggled to get his coach above 50mph on the highway, but once he did the front end alignment he could get to 70mph with no issues. I knew at that point, this had to be on my first order of business.
After doing more research, I found that this is not the first thing that motor home owners are doing. Most people have come to know that when you buy a vehicle, that the alignment is something that is already done before you drive it off the lot. What I have learned time and time again, is do not make any assumptions with the RV. In the Ford manual, it states in the book that the alignment was performed before leaving their factory. When the chassis makes its way to the body builder, they put the house on top and modify the chassis without any further thought to the implications of how this impacts the suspension. Many new owners are quicker to jump into adjusting or replacing their swaybars, swapping springs first.
When the bus came out of the shop after the alignment, I was surprised by how much adjustment was needed. It was 26mm of positive tow, which means the wheels were pointed outwards from the center line of the RV. No wonder I was having so many issues with the steering wheel fighting me for 60 miles and how unpleasant of a drive this was. After the proper adjustments, the wheels now slightly point inwards. The result is nothing short of spectacular!
I’m happy to report after driving from Orlando, FL. to Ashburn, GA. or about 300 miles, the front alignment made a significant difference in how well the rig steered, handled and drove.
My recommendation to new owners, get a front alignment out of the way first.
We made it, one week down as an full time RV family. This has been quite an interesting week.
We came out to the campground on Sunday, where we intend to stay for a month until we sort out what is left with our house closing. Also, this gives us time to get acclimated to the RV and understand all the ins and outs of it. Hitting the road right away in an RV has its own challenges and compound that with learning and shaking out the bugs could make things worse.
Driving from our house to the campground was a white knuckle experience to say the least. I was hit with what seemed like tropical storm level rains where I could barely see the road ahead of me at certain times. Add the wind whipping against this giant bread box careening down the road and it took quite a bit of energy to get from one place to the next. By the time I got the bus to the camp, it was still raining and was excited that they had someone there to back me into the spot. I’ve driven some big uHaul trucks, but this is truly a unique driving experience. My daily driver is a 350z, and I’ve had sporty cars most of my life. I have not owned a truck or was even licensed to operate any heavy equipment while being in the military.
Once we were lined up in the spot, I left the engine running and began to setup camp. Our first procedure was to take 1×12 boards and slide them down where the jack pads would touch the ground. Since we were not parked on concrete pad, we certainly did not want to get the jacks stuck in the soft soil and run into issues when are ready to leave.
Once the rig was level, the next step was to put the slides out. Our Miramar has a driver side living room slide and bedroom slide out. When these slides are extended out the RV becomes unbalanced. This requires a tweak in leveling. It’s advised to level the coach prior to putting the slides out to put any undue stress on the slide mechanisms.
Next, we turned our focus on the water situation. I unfurled the 25 foot 5/8″ clean water drinking hose out. It just happened to be the perfect length from the faucet, through the lower deck hole into the inlet hole. I added a brass 90 degree elbow and a 50psi water pressure regulator onto the inlet and screwed on the clean water hose. I used plumbers tape on all the connections, to ensure no leaks. I decided to just hold off the sewer hook ups for later when I had more day light.
That night, we just ended up going back to our house. The RV came with a Denver mattress. It’s a bit stiff and we were not super excited to start using it. I needed to work the next day so I wanted to ensure I had a good internet connection as the one here at the camp site has not been super reliable. As a remote worker, the internet connectivity is something I’ll be wrestling with quite a bit.
Over the course of the week we began integrating ourselves more into living in the RV full time and a host of new opportunities for learning came at us pretty fast.
First leak – One night after checking our sewer hookups in the water compartment, I found that there was a waterfall coming from up above. After a quick inspection, I realized the water was coming from inside the house right above the water bay. I thought for a moment, “what could be above the water compartment?” Based on the proximity of where the slides where, it was either the shower or the kitchen sink. Since no one has taken a shower yet, I wandered back topside to check the kitchen sink.
Too my shock, I found that the a coupling under the kitchen sink had a slow leak. The sink we have is one of those where the sprayer hose pulls out with the head. Follow that hose under the sink and it has an inline coupler that connects it to the rest of the system. Despite the connection using two o-rings, it still insisted on leaking on us. I wrapped it in plumbers tape and fixed that issue. I’ve kept an eye on it ever since and the intent is to at least replace those o-rings. What concerns me a bit more is that beneath that area on the sink is a band of electrical connections which runs up to the control panel on the all in the hallway. Not that there are any exposed connections but this could be a recipe for disaster down the road if left unchecked.
RV Toilet – Toilets in RVs as we have quickly learned require a more careful approach to using them than the ones we have at the house. Let’s just say that we were not aware that the toilet needed to be filled with a bit more water when passing solids. This resulted in a situation where I needed snake the pipe within a few days and wash out the bottom of the black tank beneath the toilet.
We also learned that in this RV that the bathroom sink drains into the black tank. As you can imagine we were quite surprised when the black tank filled up past the 2/3 mark in about 2 days.
Power Outage – Within the first few days of staying in the RV full time, we lost power at 2am in the morning. We learned later that a car had hit a transformer outside the park which caused the outage to the entire park. We did not get power back until about noon the next day.
There I was at 2am in the morning wondering, why we have no power at all in the RV. We have four 6v batteries but I wasn’t sure how to pass that back into the outlets. We have a residential refrigerator, so running on LP was not an option. After quickly browsing the internet and found someone with a similar situation, they suggested to make sure that the cutoff switch was on “use” and the inverter was on. I had a notion that the inverter was on all of the time as long as the “use” switch was in place.
We have a Xantrex XM1800 inverter wired in the basement with a digital display right at the door. There is a green button with a power symbol on the digital display that I pressed and viola, the fridge kicked on right away. Lesson learned the inverter is not on by default.
Water Pressure Drop – As if the loss of power in our first week was not already traumatic of an event, we also lost water pressure as well. One morning, I went to take a shower and the water just came dribbling out of the shower head. I went out and began investigating the situation outside. Our neighbor has a fancy water pressure gauge on their hose that read 10psi. When hooked up to water at the camp ground, the dependency for pressure comes from the hookup itself. Otherwise, if you were dry camping (without hookups), you would use the pump. With about 10 gallons of water in our fresh water tank, I was able to take a shower. The take away with this lesson, is to keep some water in your fresh water tank similar to keeping juice in your batteries just in case.
No matter how bad it seemed to be at the time, we are sitting here at the of our first week still alive and in one piece. Hindsight being 20/20, these issues really were not that big of a deal, especially once you are aware of the pitfalls and what your options are to react to them. Let’s see what the next week of full timing brings us .
We are leaving our home of 9 years to live in an RV full time. Beginning this week, we picked up our RV and beginning loading it for the road ahead.
For many years now, we have lived in a home firmly built on the ground. No doubt it has been a blessing to have a roof over our heads and give our kids a stable life. We became wrapped up in the American dream and bought into the idea that bigger is better. For years now, the mortgage of the current home we live in now has been like ball and chain and we’ve been looking for the market to return for many years now.
After nearly 5 months having the house on the market, we were blessed to enter into a contract with a great family who is going to buy our house.
While selling the house is one challenge, we were soon faced with the realization that we could not find anywhere else locally we want to live. We have spent most of our lives in the Orlando area, and looking for a change. After evaluating housing markets out of the area, we have quickly realized that traveling and staying in hotels is expensive.
Now, we are going to go on the road in search of our house while living full time in an RV for one year. Many believe that this is a dream and some think we are crazy. We believe that taking this journey in this way will serve our needs the best and give us the opportunity to spend the last few precious years with our daughter before she heads off to go live her own life.
For nearly a year now, we’ve been preparing to make this transition. We’ve had countless garage sales, donated quite a bit and carefully examining precisely what all that we really need. I would like to think that I’m a bit of a minimalist by nature but it is amazing how much stuff you still accumulate over a long period of time.
Last Friday, we brought the RV home and we loaded up for our first shake down trip to Wekiva Springs, a resort north of Orlando. This is our first week of full timing in an RV. The intent is to spend some time locally getting acquainted with the RV until we feel confident to start putting some miles on it.
Go into just about any RV shop, you’ll find “Home is Where You Park It” on all sorts of merchandise. At the end of the day, it’s the familiar place you retreat to from the worries of the day and recenter your soul. Now we enter a new phase of our life where our home is wherever we park it.