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Ripping Off the Roof…

We have progressed!

We ended up taking a day or two off just as a sanity break and also to try and find a welder who would come out and weld some additional aluminum supports that will support the changes we want to make. We have called people, talked to shops, shown pictures of our chassis and now feel confident that we are good to go! Our RV chassis was already extended – presumably by Ford when they make it. Apparently our model was designed to be a sporty model with the ability to tow. There are already big ‘C’ brackets in the back of the frame with diagonal steel beams that go up to the bed. These diagonal braces will support the house extension. We are going to add one more steel brace just because we are paranoid and this is our only home but we are told we don’t need to.

We are having some trouble finding a welder. If we can’t get the extensions to the aluminum frame welded, we will have to extend the aluminum frame using bolts and brackets. It will still provide the additional support/strength we want, it just won’t be as clean.

This has been an interesting process. We have experience in general construction, and RV construction. We are paying extra attention to weight, the frame, the design, and the chassis. Every aspect of this rebuild is being closely examined. The conversation never stops about what we are learning/discovering/confirming. We are not taking this rebuild lightly. This is our home. And it will be our home for some time. We are doing what we are doing to ensure our home provides the stability we need for it to last for the next however many years. However, the comments we are getting from some people are incredibly offensive. One welder we called to weld the additional aluminum beams, actually said these words.

You have gone to far! You never should have exposed the frame like that!

He had no idea who we were, why we are doing what we are doing, what our experience level is – the only thing he had to go on way my initial 5 minute call and the two in-progress pictures I sent. “I am not taking on this project. No.” He says.

Another person on a forum we participate in, just posted:

“Holy crap, 3 foot extension!!! Make sure to come back and post pics of your RV when it breaks in half.”

WTF? Really people?

Obviously we are sharing this with the world wide web. Obviously we are going to get comments from people who are going to disagree with what we are doing. I get that. What I don’t understand is the rudeness. The absolute lack of any effort to either find out who we are and what we are capable of.  To what purpose are such comments made?

Moving on – our next steps are to remove the floor. We want to get up close and in person on that chassis. We want to see everything top and bottom before we start rebuilding. We will be putting Winnie up on ramps so we can really get under there. Since our rig came from the midwest, we know there is a lot of salt road damage that we are expecting to find. We know that the aluminum sheet at the bottom of the floor on the chassis is full of pits. That will have to be replaced. So, lots more work to do. I will keep you posted.

 

Sanity Break and Research

We have had to take a few days off as a sanity break. We are keeping our senses of humor during this remodel but sometimes the sheer scope of what we are doing can be intimidating. I tend to cope with this by focusing on the small details. I look at one section and the specifics of what need to be done. Daniel just tends to think of all the work he has to do and stresses out. Understandably. I can help, but he needs to tell me what to do. By mapping out this project in far greater detail than we ever have before, I am hoping this will take some of the pressure of him. I can prep, gather materials, and take care of the tasks I know need to be done so Daniel is free to tackle the big stuff. I am learning a lot about construction right now – obviously RV construction, but I know it will prove incredibly useful in the future as both of us will have bolt-by-bolt knowledge of exactly how our home is put together.

I am busy visiting RV repair shops and talking, asking tons of questions and listening. Lots and lots of listening. I have learned to ask questions I never thought to ask and found answers to things I didn’t think to look for. For anyone contemplating a similar remodel, that would be my best advice. Talk to people! Shop people, sales people, mechanics, fellow RVers – the guy standing next to you in the shopping line. You never know who is going to have a tidbit of knowledge that you need.

I will end for now. I wanted to touch bases and let you know what was going on. We really need to get that roof off so we can start cleaning up the frame and need to take off at least the back half of the sub-sub floor to replace the rot we are seeing. Keep in touch and let us know your thoughts!

Deconstruction almost complete

We have the walls completely off. We disassembled the cab-over yesterday and got all the rotted wood out and exposed the frame. Now we are working on the roof. Yesterday Daniel spent time on the ladder trying to get the roof off from the center out. Sounds weird until you remember that we had a piece of filon tacked up there to patch a leak. So, instead of trying to pull the roof off from one of the sides, we just went to the place in the center where we had already ripped and cut the worst parts of the damage out. Daniel just pulled off that filon strip and got to work on the rest of the roof. Xander and I spent some time picking up the small pieces of insulation off the ground. Our friends are being so incredibly awesome to let us work here, I am certainly not going to pollute their property! We have enough debris for another dump run so we will get that done today or tomorrow. Then we will remove the floor, and check the aluminum sheet on the bottom of the bed and replace the wood that we see that is rotted down there. Bit worried we will have to replace that sheet since aluminum is pricey!

You have to keep a sense of humor in all this, so Daniel has been having some fun with Gimp and editing our progress photos. Check ’em out!

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Here are in-progress photos of the rig, the frame and where are at with this project.

Here are our ‘To-Do’ tasks for the day:

  1. Go talk to more service shops about the frame and our ideas. We don’t think we will need to do any additional extending to the frame with out 3′ addition based on our discovery of the ‘C’ bracket extension already there but we want to ask as many shops as we can before building.
  2. Start calling welding shops and metal supply shops
  3. Do the drafting to get the placement of the changes to the frame we need, and finalize the floor plan with the measurements.
  4. Get to dump (maybe – if we have time)
  5. Remove more of roof this evening and get that back section that is hanging removed.

There ya go! We will keep you posted. Would love to hear your comments – other than ‘You’re Crazy!’ – we already know that. LOL!

Rot! One word you NEVER want to hear

We knew that there was a leak in the cab-over when we bought the rig. We taped it up, put it on our ‘To-Do’ list to fix and would re-check that the super sealing RV tape was covering the spot.

When we finally got to the cab-over yesterday to rip apart, we were shocked to see that the rot was much worse than we ever knew. If Daniel had not reinforced the cab-over we would have fallen through a long time ago. The wood disintegrated to dust when touched. Apparently there was also a leak in the seam of the curve of the cab-over that we never knew about and rot all around the front window.

Our remodel will NOT include windows in the cab-over. Ugh…

And so it begins…

Ok. We have made it to our construction destination – now it’s time to break everything down. These are our goals in breakdown:

  1. Take a good look at the metal frame that is supposed to exist and make sure it is in good condition. We plan to stabilize/repair/or replace what we need to.
  2. Start from scratch so we can build what we want. Ripping the walls and ceiling off will give us a better idea of the space we have to work with.
  3. Finalize our floorplan based on what we find and what we want.

Our needs for living in Winnie long-term are as follows:

  • Have space to live and not feel like we are living in 176sqft of space.
  • Have room for Daniel to work.
  • Have homeschool room.
  • Have a usable, workable kitchen that will support our love of baking and visiting.
  • Have room for Xan to play and mom to craft.

BIG goals considering our space! However, we think we can do it. It took us about two days to get the RV empty.  I have a large tent that I purchased last Fall. We set that up and discovered in the manual that the tent has an interior that is 200sqft. That is more space than our RV has! Needless to say, everything we had to move easily fit into the tent. I posted pictures of that earlier.

We started breakdown about four days ago and it’s going well. The frame is MUCH less substantial than we were expecting. Kinda scary when you REALLY see what is between you and the rest of the world. Not much. However, I am supremely impressed by Winnebago’s wallpaper. What is that stuff? While the luan wood broke easily, that wallpaper held on so tightly I am convinced it was part of the construction design to keep everything held together. Thus far we have one whole wall removed and the back is unattached. The filon on the back wall extends onto the roof so although the back is unattached, it’s still dangling there until we disconnect the roof. We have been doing this as a family affair and I am so proud of Xan. He knows how to use a power screwdriver like a pro, uses his own hammer (it’s real) to help break down the walls and is our pro screw picker-upper (we are using this cool long magnet thing on a pole). I tell him often, we couldn’t do this without his help and input.

We each stated what we really wanted in the rig.

  • Xan wants a gypsy pull down bed, and he wants Internet antennae on the roof. He says they will make us look like a robot transformer.
  • Daniel wants some private office space so he can close himself off if he needs to and he wants a real kitchen where he has the counterspace needed to really cook!
  • Paula (me) really wants to add tile to our design in the bathroom and a bathtub, no matter how small. (I think this has more to do with the fact that Xander has some cool Playmobile and Octonaut bath toys that I just can’t bear to give away.)

For Xan’s bed, we have found the space and can reinforce the wall to make sure his gypsy pull down bunk bed is as he wants. I mapped out the painted interior of the bed and gave him a few designs on how we can paint it (gypsy beds are always very decorated) so he is pretty stoked.

We decided to add an additional 3′ onto the back of our RV. Our Minnie is a rare, diesel 28′. We have heard so many people say that it can’t possibly be a diesel and that Winnebago didn’t make a 28′ rig. Well, they did and we have one. But – it gave us the idea. Since most of the longer Minnie Winnie’s are 31′ – why not just extend ours? Voila! Daniel will have a hidden room at the back of the RV 3’L x 7 3/4″ W where we have extended the rig. In the back, there will be a floor to ceiling cabinet to help stabilize the RV. There will be two other floor to ceiling items that will form a triangle in the RV to provide equal support to the frame as a whole. His desk will be behind the wall of the shower. We will add a small opening window to the space so he has some airflow and natural light. This fulfills his major need to be able to work separate from the family. We have designed our kitchen to have a nice work space by the stove and convection over, with the refrigerator near-by and a place for his spices. It will be an ‘L’ shape with an extendable counter on one side and he wants a double sink where before we had a single. We will use the traditional RV design where we have a cover for the sinks to turn the space into workable counter space.

The bathroom and my vision. In a small space, every opportunity to be alone is a treasure. The bathroom is one of those places where you can satisfy a bodily function AND get some alone time. In our old bathroom, it was so small, it was hard to use, impossible to relax in and dark. YUCK! In our remodel, we will have a real bathroom. How are we planning to do this? We are rotating the toilet so it sits at an angle on a raised platform (think squatty potty). We have to have the platform to get over the wheel well. Before, only the toilet was raised so high your legs would dangle cutting off circulation to your feet and was very uncomfortable. You were not encouraged to linger. The solution, a nice rounded platform to support the height of the angled toilet and our knees will no longer be hitting the door as we sit, and our legs won’t be dangling anymore. Our knees will be at the appropriate height for comfort. There will be a nice sized small vanity where I can put bathroom things. Our hand hammered copper sink will go there. This was something from the original time we remodeled. Then, the shower/tub. Originally I was thinking a walk in shower where we tile the floor and a wee bit up the wall. They frown on tile in a rig because they don’t think the tile will adhere to the wall with all the driving vibrations and bumps. However, I am seeing tile on counter-tops on newer models so we are going for it! We will tile the floor of the walk in shower and treat the heck out of the walls to ensure they remain waterproof in as many ways as we can find.

I have been brainstorming different ways to get a tub of any shape in there until I did the math. Originally I was thinking we could extend the height of the shower rim to something a bit bigger. Maybe 8″ to 12″ high? This wouldn’t be a soaking tub but would be enough for a kid to play, to wash a dog or rinse something out. Weight is always a concern. The volume of our walk in shower if we go to the full foot in height for a rim would be 12 cubic feet which works out to about 89 gallons of water. That’s 742 lbs. And that’s just the water. Not the weight of the tile, person, supports, etc., etc., etc..   Hummm… Nope!  No tub for us! I HAVE found another person who tiled their shower and kept the weight down by using alternative materials. I was very excited to find that! So I can have my tiled shower, just no tub.

Here is a rough – not perfectly to scale floorplan. We need to go out and measure everything again so I can start the different view plans and we can put in the electrical and plumping details. Under the master bed we are building a lazy susan dresser thing where our clothes will go. The cabinet you see in the back is a floor to ceiling as is the pantry you see by the door and there will be a cabinet thing on top of the bookcases.

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Looks like we will be able to get almost all of our ‘WANTS’ in this remodel. We have started breaking her down. We have the back wall disconnected and dangling by the skin. One whole side is off and we are almost ready to pull off the other. We have discovered how little of a frame there is which is a bit disconcerting and have plans to beef it up a bit. Check out the pictures and let us know your thoughts.

Here is a quick video of Daniel driving Winnie to bed. She has a nice covered shelter that she goes into. Night Winnie! More pictures to come and everything is down. Woo-Hoo!

Goodnight Winnie!

Playing on the CA Coast :-)

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We had a wonderful time visiting my mother in Monterey. Lots of time at the beach of course and lots of wonderful time visiting. My sister also lives in Monterey and Xan worships her! Just mention that we are going to see Auntie Janie and he will start to squeal, hop around with a big smile on his face and say, “When? Really?! When?” A day with Auntie Janie means kayaking in the bay, or fishing on the wharf just like the real fisherman. No wonder he gets so excited. LOL!

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We had a great week in Monterey. For our journey to Spokane, WA we are taking the 101/1. Going over the Golden Gate bridge is always fun. It’s so pretty all lit up at night! We decided to boondock for most of the trip up to Washington. There are many places to stop by the side of the road, especially on Hwy 1/101. The trip itself went really well. We allotted four days to get to Spokane. Highlights of our trip include stopping for several hours at Seaglass Beach. We had a lot of fun playing in tide pools.

Going through the Redwoods are always a must when heading up the California Coast. We stopped and explored a bit. As always, the Redwoods are awesome, impressive, humbling, otherworldly and so much more than can ever be captured by word or film.

Going up the coast is like driving down memory lane. I spent 20+ years in Washington State raising my first two kids. I have done this trip between California and Washington so many times, it’s beyond count. My daughter and I used to make speed runs from Bothell, WA to mom’s house. We would do it in a day. Did you know you can get from WA to the Central Coast in about 21 hours as long as you only stop for gas? I wouldn’t advise it, but it can be done and I used to do it often. I love taking Highway 199 between Grant’s Pass & Crescent City. It takes forever, and the road is super windy but I love driving into the Redwoods this way. We found some fellow RVers at a rest stop stranded right on the Oregon border. They had a flat tire and there was zero signal for them to use to call for help. Fortunately they were Good Sam members and after taking down their information, I was able to call for help. They are new to fulltiming it and I reassured them to always ask for help from a fellow RVer if they need it. We have all been there so generally we will go out of our way for each other.

We drove down the gorge between Oregon and Washington on Hwy 84. It’s a beautiful drive. The landscape goes from gorgeous and green to desert dry.  The river runs with barges, boats, parasailing, and dams – I counted at least four. We stopped to hike by Multnomah Falls and to play in the river beneath. We went to visit the Washington State version of Stonehenge; a WWI and WWII memorial for the young men of the community who served and died in the wars. It’s a special place that I used to visit at least once a year.

We arrived at our friends house in-time for dinner. Now comes the hard part. The remodel must begin. We have had a great journey thus far and we look forward to many adventures in the future. This time in our brand new remade home! Look out for updates on how the remodel is doing. I can’t wait to post!

And so it begins (dun-dun-dun!)

Just a quick interruption of  the story of our travel’s to say we have started the remodel process on the rig. We are in Spokane right now. It took us two days to empty the rig. Turns out the tent I bought to use at Standing Rock actually has more square footage than the RV so we were easily able to move tons of stuff into the tent. The rest we had to bring inside the house we are staying at. WE HAVE INVADED! Ever tried to fit your stuff – like bookcases, your clothes – all of them that you have with you, books, toys, home-office and various misc into someone elses already furnished home? It’s a bit cluttered right now but my goal is to really try and get that organized today so it doesn’t look like an explosion went through down here!

Once the RV was empty, Daniel and Xander started initial break-down. This means removing all the exterior & interior lights, the flashing, screw pick-up (you will be hearing that a lot) and the most fun – RIPPING THE WALLS OFF! So – here we are folks. The beginning! We are going to rip all the walls and ceiling off the metal frame of the rig. We will have the floor of the rig and the metal cab of the truck when we are down with tear-down. When we are finished, we will have raised the roof by a foot giving us more head-space. We will have a fully enclosed full bathroom, possibly with a small tub if we can work out the logistics. We will have a nice ‘L’ shaped kitchen space with good counter space,a double sink, a convection over and an induction stove top. There will be seating space on the other side of the island with the option of a flip-up table to provide additional seating as needed. We are removing some big windows so we are no longer a gallery on display to the world (YAY). We are squaring off the angle in the front of the RV in the cab-over so that we are no longer squishing our feet or banging our heads. Plus it will mean we can sit-up in bed which is something we cannot do now.

WANT LIST (but haven’t quite figured out how we are going to do it):

  • Xander would like a gypsy bed that folds out from the wall. Not a murphy bed to the floor kind but one that is like the top half of a bunk bed.
  • The tub. Hummmmm….
  • A place for a grow tower so we can have our garden with us.
  • More space

For additional space, we have come up with some ideas. A loft, a pull-back vrs pull-out, or the over used pull-out idea. So, if some clever person has an idea, make a comment and let us know! Otherwise keep tuned during the demolition process to see possible floor plans. Enjoy!