Off of the Grid

Posts tagged “Fulltiming in an RV

On the road again

Well, we have done it again. Even though Winnie is not yet comfortably habitable, we have taken off to try and find nicer (ie. warmer) climates in which to do some more work. LOL – I still have to shake my head over my we will be done in a month! We also hope to hang out with family for the holidays. This brings us to Monterey, Ca where my mom and sister live. Unlike our usual journey’s, we didn’t do a lot of playing on the trip down. We decided to head to the coast since we wanted to avoid any snow driving in Winnie if we could possibly avoid it. Weather forecasts were showing snow levels dropping over the Siskiyous so that reinforced our decision. Coast it was! We did have some fun. We stopped by the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, OR which is the location of the Spruce Goose. We managed to hit it just right on our way to the coast and got to spend a nice hour there before they closed. The Spruce Goose is HUGE and AMAZING! I highly recommend you check it out if you are in the area. They also have a space museum and a theater which we didn’t have time to see but for $5.00 per ticket, it didn’t break the budget and we felt it was well worth it.

I am happy to say that Winnie is driving really, really well. She is super spry and zooms right along. There doesn’t seem to be a problem with wind resistance due to our increased cab-over. We experienced side winds as well as front-on while driving and she did really well. I think her gas mileage has gotten worse but that could also be because Daniel had her cranked up to 70mph all the time. We will have to take her out on a more sedate journey where we travel our usual 60mph and see. The tag axle is pretty funny. We still don’t have enough weight in the rig to make these touch the ground all the time. Seeing them spin while we drive is funny.

We have been in Monterey now for about a week. We have been parked in front of my mother’s house where we parked for a few weeks before without a problem. Since my mother’s house is also undergoing some construction, there isn’t space for us to sleep inside, so we have been camping out in the rig. I can officially say the cab-over is AWESOME! There is so much space up there! I can stretch and my arms or legs don’t touch the roof. For some reason having all the additional space overhead makes things seem somehow wider. Even though we didn’t change Winnie’s width at all, I feel like we have another foot there as well. It’s amazing! We don’t have any ceiling, front or back wall insulation up yet so it’s cold. We make a big nest bed in the cab-over with every blanket we own and then snuggle down for sleep. It’s kind of like camping … but in a big hollow wooden box.  LOL!

We need to get more windows installed. Right now, there are only windows on the front of the rig. It looks like a mobile MRI truck instead of an RV. I joked with Daniel that we will be getting stopped by every border patrol car from here to AZ if we don’t get some stripes or paint on it soon. Right now, it looks like a great vehicle in which to smuggle some illegal aliens. LOL! But in all seriousness – we do need to do something with all that white. I keep thinking local graffiti artist is going to see all that blank canvas and just go to town. While I am not sure I would have a huge problem with that, I would like to have some say in what is being painted on the white. I think I am going to just buy some RV stripes for now from Amazon and put them on. Something to break-up the pristine arctic white.

Interesting developments; When we broke down the rig, we removed the RVIA sticker. OOPS! Without this sticker, we have been refused entry into State run RV parks. We now no longer have this sticker/seal thing and have to figure out how to get one. <Head-Desk> Keep tuned in to see how that goes. I am not going to bother with it until all our interior work is complete. There isn’t a reason to do this before then since I am sure many of the items which would potentially cause us to fail the inspection are things that will be taken care of as we finish the details.

Also fun in-an-ironic-killmenow-kind-of-way is the news that Daniel was laid-off. He is not one to sit on his hands but this is something we weren’t anticipating in any way. I can’t complain about his company laying him off. They just didn’t have enough work for the number of employees. The owner of the company treated Daniel very well and was a delight to work for. No complaints. We are just sorry it didn’t last. As I said, Daniel doesn’t sit around when he receives news like this and he is already waiting for an offer for a full-time position. Xander and I are going to hang out in the RV for several months this time while Daniel goes and gets everything setup. No longer running across the country – we are going sit tight, and wait until all the wrinkles get worked out as always happens with a new job. Then, once things have settled down a bit, Xan, the puppies and I will head out. Should make for a much more stable move than what we have typically done before. It means however, that much of the finishing work on the interior of the RV will fall to me alone. Intimidating. Do-able but intimidating. Daniel will focus on the wiring, plumbing and finishing the interior of the ceiling and walls. Then, I will get to work on the rest. If we can get some of the cupboards and cabinets up before he goes that would be huge but I am not counting on it.

The Adventure Continues!

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Walls are up! Working on the roof.

Hi All –

We have been busy and I have just been lax about updating the site. Seem like we have been running-running-running to get this thing boxed up so we can drive out of here. We had our first snow this past week which put about 3″ on the ground. The temperature plummeted to a mere 15 at one point. Daniel was outside working and the screws were literally breaking. Obviously he had to stop for a while till it warmed up again.

We discovered that there are challenges to building a straight wall when the RV is actually not quite straight. That was exciting. All is good but we ended up having to give the rig a chiropractic adjustment to get the walls on the chassis. Friends from a local homeschool community came and helped us lift the 31′ long walls and put them on the rig. While we were waiting for everyone to get there, I had the kids build a wall section with some of our scrap materials. Every kid had to cut their luan wood, glue the wood to the insulation, and then install the skin. I also handed out a bunch of sharpies and had them decorate the sub-floor with drawings, games, song lyrics – whatever they wanted as long as it was positive and kind. One kid actually wrote out the entire phrase that we all know so well from Mary Poppins. I am not even going to try and spell it – LOL! Love it!

We ordered our new door from Dyers RV – turns out they have the same door as Camping World at the same price but don’t have us pay for shipping. SWEET! Camping World wanted $144 in shipping! Dyers and Camping World had the door with window and screen for about $200 less than all other competitors though. The shipping from Dyers was super fast – 3 to 5 business days. The first door arrived damaged so we had to refuse delivery but they were super prompt about the replacement door. It arrived just fine earlier this week.

We want to have a bit more flexibility with the roof and what it supports so keeping weight in mind, we added an aluminum brace every two feet connecting wall-to-wall. Then we used 1/2″ wood instead of the luan so the roof would be a bit more substantial. We aren’t going to store anything up there, but it sure is nice to know we can stand up there and not fall through if we want. Plus – the braces going across the top make the rig more stable.

I know you all really just want to see the pictures so here ya go!


Yup, I cried like a girl. TWICE!

What a week! When last we left our intrepid builders, we were busy assembling  a wall. Well, SUCCESS! We did it. We finished it off on Saturday. Our intention was to flip the wall over and start construction of the next wall on-top, thus providing the pressure needed to create a nice bond between filon and luan. Ya – no. The wall is 31′ long made of insulation, luan, and filon. Shouldn’t be too heavy right? It’s heavy. We needed to move the wall – I can’t even remember why and it was just the three of us. Our friend Greg, Daniel and I.

Usually I am the crazy strong one of the group, but after a day of inhaling glue fumes, I got sick on Thursday and could not stop throwing-up. I was out for a full 24-hours. I guess that took more out of me than I thought. On Friday, Daniel tried getting more luan glued down and went out and bought me a respirator to wear like the one he wears. Xan stays outside while we’ve been gluing. Saturday Greg, Daniel and I all went out and finished the wall and moved it. I can’t even remember why. Only that we moved it, and then I sat down and cried like a girl. It was heavy. I have zero upper body strength. I generally lift with my legs and core. This wall requires good grip strength and arms which I don’t have. With more people it wouldn’t have been a big deal but with just the three of us – ouch.

Today, we got the second wall completely done. We got in pretty early and worked until 8:00pm. And yes, we had to lift the wall again. This time to get it on-top of the other wall to weight it down. After a day of working, I just had nothing. I could hold it for maybe a few seconds in my hands and then just felt it slipping. I would have to yell, “Down!” Poor Daniel and Greg! Finally we got some cardboard under one side and Greg lifted on the other and he pushed the darn thing into place. I think he is actually superman in hiding. Daniel and I rushed to help but, it was mostly Greg who got it in place. We went through cases of glue, layers of insulation and wood. We’ve all spent the day on our knees applying glue and then pressing down the layers but we did it. And ya, the second time we moved the wall – I cried like a girl. I think perhaps this building thing and all the challenges we have overcome are perhaps getting to me. That and I probably am not 100% from being sick.

I am so excited that we got these done. Snow is on the forecast and we have to close this rig up! Daniel is going to put the exterior back wall and ceiling up but we are not going to build them out like we did the walls. It will be a shell basically to what it should be, just to get the rig closed. We can finish both from inside the rig once it’s sealed.

The next step is to actually lift the walls onto the rig. I have made some amazing friends here in Eastern Wa and I put out the call for help as soon as we finished the second wall. These awesome families will be meeting us as the build site to help us get these walls installed. YAY! WOW! That is so cool! Since we all are homeschoolers, I am putting together a little construction activity for them with some of our scrap. They can construct a mini RV wall. 🙂 Should be fun and the glue that we will use is the low ROV stuff, not the glue that made me sick. It’ll be a fun lesson AND we will have the help we so desperately need.

Here are some of the latest pictures. We haven’t trimmed the new wall yet, so you won’t see the correct shape but you get the idea. It’s a wall. It’ll look like its neighbor. 🙂

And the final moment! Caught on video:

Unrolling the Filon


Aluminum is Down! (This means we have a floor)

The generator has been serviced, all the spot welding has been done. It was time to finally lay down the first level of the floor structure. We found some great aluminum at a trailer truck shop. It’s thicker than what was there before and more affordable. We got enough to do the entire floor and the cab-over. It is wider than the chassis so we are folding up the excess to give the base layers more stability and offer some additional protection from water. 1/4″ plywood is the first layer of wood. Next comes the insulation, 3/4″ plywood and our floor. At this point, I am fairly sure that we are just going to put in a wood floor and poly it. We will see as time progresses though.

I am going to stop talking and just post the pics.  Here ya go.


Waiting, waiting, waiting…

Daniel and I find ourselves nesting with no nest. We are so anxious for our home to be done already! We were out and about yesterday looking at various painting styles we want to incorporate onto some of our furniture. We were talking about curtains, and checking out different sofas. We were picking up various nick-nacks we wanted to use to decorate. LOL – now all we need is our home.

MLW is doing a great job. They had some setbacks this past week that were pretty serious! One of the techs was in a car accident – he’s OK from what I understand though! And there was an emergency delivery – again, reports we got was that everyone is OK as that was our first question as well! So, stuff happens. You just have to roll with it.

Looks like other things in our personal situation are potentially changing as well. No worries – our little family is secure, but other things are in flux. We shall see is all I can say for now.

I am so stressed out about not having a home to call our own right now, I have stated to break out in hives on my hands and wrists. LOL – how to tell if you are stressed 101! To compensate, I am drinking tons of water, trying to meditate and adding more exercise in my day. The air quality up here in Eastern WA isn’t that great right now. The smoke from the Utah, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, BC, and Washington fires are apparently hanging out here in Spokane. Yay. The other day it was so bad, you could really smell the smoke.

We hope to start putting the floor on this weekend pending the pick-up of our rig newly welded and with a new rear axle.  Like I said above, we will see.

Thank you for checking in. Hopefully soon, I will have actual construction pictures to show you.


MLW Welding in Action!

Not much news, we are still just waiting on the welders. Here are some pictures they sent of Winnie!

We should have her back on Friday and can start construction!  Woo-Hoo!


Waiting, waiting, waiting…

This is always the hardest part of any remodel I think. It doesn’t seem to matter if it is traditional home based or a home on wheels. At some point in the process, there is a period of time where you are just waiting. You fill your hands with busy work that needs to be done but honestly you are pretty much just waiting.

We cannot move forward until the chassis repairs are made. We have had trouble finding a welder. Turns out, this area is a bit old fashioned about welding and no-one would respond to my calls all last week. Over the weekend, I told Daniel that he would need to call since I wasn’t getting anywhere. It was probably a combination of luck and timing that he made one call and was able to immediately speak to a mobile welder (I sent him the number) who will be coming out later this week. Arg. I am very glad we finally have someone coming out to take a look at the job but so very frustrated that it took Daniel to get someone out here. Regardless, the important fact is we will be able to move forward.

During this slow period Daniel has been treating the steel with rust reformer. We didn’t have any terrible rust but a significant enough amount that we wanted to treat it. With the entire undercarriage protected against water, salt, and grime, our home will last that much longer. Xander and I have been spending time scraping off the old butylated rubber from around the windows. Talk about a thankless task! We don’t want to use a chemical solvent since Xander is helping with this task, so we are doing it the old fashioned way. A flathead screw driver and patience. First you scrape with the screwdriver and get the sticky black stuff to release. Then you just grab it. Turns out, once you get a nice sized ball in your fingers, you use that to ‘grab’ the rest. Lifts right out and leaves the metal as clean as can be. Your fingers are stickier than all get out, but it does the trick and no chemicals needed. Thank heavens for goop hand cleaner!

Next week I should have more news for you but for now, we are just keeping busy. Thanks for stopping by!