Sorry for the silence. A lot has happened in the last weeks. We found a welder, and drove Winnie over to his shop. He and his guys went over the chassis with a fine tipped comb and discovered a lot more welds that had popped. In one instance an entire steel cross support bar was only attached at one weld point. So – … wow. If we hadn’t taken the floor off we never would have discovered the actual condition of the very core of the RV. Scary! They got started a bit later than we were expecting and we have a personal emergency. The friends we are staying with here in WA – she had a heart attack and was immediately scheduled for a quadruple bypass. A lot of last week was spent at the hospital. She came through like a champ and was happy knowing we were here so her husband didn’t have to worry about things like pets, garden, mail, etc. She has been my friend since 1995 – a long time and seems young to have had this occur so we are all feeling our mortality a bit. She came home yesterday and I was sitting up with her. She said, “You and I always believe that everything happens for a reason. This [welding] set you back but in the long run, it has probably saved your home.” My response was, “Ya. And your heart attack could have been so much worse! As it was, you were able to get to the hospital and get help before it became catastrophic. It could have been so much worse!” We agreed that our respective guardian angels have been working overboard these past few weeks and expressed our gratitude. I generally am one to appreciate the little moments but you have no idea how grateful I was to be sitting at the table talking to my friend; savoring that moment. She is still here. She is strong and recovering well. She has a second chance and in much better shape to live healthy. Ironically heart disease runs in her family so her doctor monitors her cholesterol closely. All her numbers were good.
OK – on to RV news now that I have gotten all maudlin and sentimental. This welding bill means we are WAY over budget. We will not be able to afford the filon skin for the entire rig. The average cost of the skin for arctic white at 35′ is about $700.00. Our friends are happy to have us here but don’t want us here forever! LOL! We have to finish paying off the welders next paycheck and need construction money. The next paycheck after that will be mid Sept. Add in the 5 to 7 day lead time we would need and that has us here until October. For now, we will construct the roof and outer walls. The roof we will cover and the rest of the RV we will paint with exterior home paint. We can add the filon later. This will at least get us going. We want to have the cabinetry in place so that we are not bolting things to the walls again and will hit the road with basically an empty shell again. The Tucson weather is gentle in the Fall and Winter and we will be able to finish her off down there. LOL – remember I wanted this all done in a month? BWA-HA-HA! I am so silly.
So, that’s where we are. We are going to go over to the shop today and visit Winnie and see if they have started the work. I will take pictures if I can and post later.
YAY! We finally got the last of the old flooring out. Now there is just the frame and the chassis of the trailer. We have some wood cobbled together in-case we need to make the RV street safe but that is off to the side.
WOW! Just had to get that off my chest. OK. Here is what we found.
- We found both steel beams bent by the passenger side rear dullies. Not sure what would have caused this kind of damage in this spot. Massive over burden? Improperly placed jacks? Accident? These will need to be removed and replaced.
- Rust – a bunch of rust but fortunately less than we were expecting. You can tell this rig was not an East Coast vehicle. I was terrified we would get everything off only to discover that road salt had eaten away the very base of our home. At that point, we would be game over and homeless. There is a reason I haven’t been sleeping very well at night. The rust that we did find is treatable. PHEW!
- The back steel beam going across the rear of the RV is slightly bowed up. You can see from the pictures. Again, not sure what would have caused this damage. We know from the people we bought the RV from there was extensive back end damage from them backing into something. I can’t remember what. This damage could have been caused by that. It looks like something we can hammer back into place but I will defer that to the hubby and a body shop.
- We still have that one steel beam that is broken off the ‘C’ bracket extension. I showed that image previously but will edit the photo to make it a bit more obvious.
Otherwise, things look good! Everything from this point forward is a step towards putting Winnie back together. Stronger, and Better than before. When we are done, we will have a custom brand new 2017 RV. 🙂
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.
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!
This has been a couple of incredibly hard weeks for us. With engine troubles, extreme weather, and exhaustion it brings to light the question, “Who ARE We?” They say that the truest sense of the person comes out at times of extreme stress and challenge.
I hope not.
I would love to say that we rose to each challenge with a hardy spirit, and loving support of each other – but that really wouldn’t be the case. In many things Daniel and I are united at a molecular lever. Pretty much any that affects Xanman and his immediate safety, we are bonded. But lately pretty much everything else has shown we are two very different people who think in very different ways and who respond to stress completely differently. I tend to get more precise, thinking that if I simply make sure there can be no misunderstanding, it will somehow make everything OK. Daniel starts becoming over-literal and starts reading between the lines to answer what he thinks I am really asking instead of what I asked. As you can see, this could cause some problems.
We are living in our home in very trying circumstances. It’s not done. Imagine if you will that you started a kitchen and a bathroom remodel at the same time. It’s all broken apart but you have to live in it…no running water. No sink. No stove. No bathroom. No privacy. Not only do you have to live in it but you have to figure out how to thrive in it and be ready to break down whatever you have setup so that you can move again without your shit breaking.
That’s what we are living in.
I keep organizing hoping that it will somehow help and make things more manageable. Thinking that it will lessen the amount we have to shift every time we need to move the rig. Well that’s great until Daniel decides he need to move whatever item someplace else for some reason only he knows. Does it make sense in the moment – probably. Like when we were being brushed by a tornado in Kansas and the hail whipping into the rig punched holes in our ceiling. Rain pouring through meant anything directly underneath and beside was getting wet. EVERYTHING moved then, but when that crisis is over; what then? Can’t things go back to where they were? Does everything need to be a debate or conversation?
Someone asked me near the beginning of this journey how I was feeling. I answered at that time, “Excited! Hopeful!” and “Needy.” She flagged me on the ‘needy’ response and I struggled with how to answer. There is much on this rig that I do not currently have the skills to fix. I am not savvy in electronics, nor in plumbing. I can wack a hammer with the best of them but what about when hammers are too much and more finesse is required? Like an intimate understanding of exactly where the frame members are and how they are connected. Daniel knows that – I don’t. This isn’t a regular house where you can find the studs every 16″ or something. I am utterly dependent on him for the literal day-to-day integrity of our home. I need to see Daniel close-by. I need to see him addressing things I cannot. I need to see things being fixed – not patched – fixed so I can trust that they will work and that our home won’t fall apart. In this way, I am very needy right now. I am sure Daniel is stressed beyond imagining; this is a lot to place on one persons shoulders. I am doing what I can – organizing. Making some type of a home for us instead of living in a pile of stuff. Bringing order. Managing finances and route. I lead when we drive so he doesn’t have to worry about navigation. I try to make sure the rig is clean (a nearly impossible task with 2 dogs and a 7 year old and a husband who doesn’t seem to care what critters are attracted by the cooking mess he has left outside. ***NOTE TO SELF: NEVER go camping with husband to grizzly country or we are most assuredly dinner!).
If that same friend were to ask me how I am doing right now, my answers would be very different. This could be that we haven’t really gotten any sleep since our lovely brush with the tornado so are sleep deprived. This could be that we are both just at our breaking point in trying to make an almost impossible situation work. It could be a combination of both plus whatever other baggage we have decided to bring to the front now, who knows.
We know we can live in the RV fulltime. We have done it before. We know we can work it out – our stubborn determination will not allow anything else. We know it won’t be easy but then that seems to be our way. “Take something impossible and make it work.” should be our motto…perhaps we should add, “And don’t kill each other in the process!”
We are very fortunate in that neither one of us is a mean person. When we fight, there are no rants about past faults or name-calling…usually. I think I did call him a name this last time when I was so mad pretty much every word out of my mouth was the f-bomb. I guess I should qualify that we are not trying to hurt each other. We are just super frustrated and angry.
A recent post on FB seems to be helping. I know, right?! Something on FB helping! It is a list of suggestions to help you organize and focus your thoughts/life/work – whatever. Here ya go!
DO ONE THING AT A TIME!
So much to share on another night. I need to finish writing about our time in NE and then our time in Kansas (which has forever earned its place in tornado alley as far as I am concerned)! We are currently in Texas hanging out with our grown-up kids. Did I mention that we have a 29 and a 26 year old and that we are grandparents in addition to having out 7 year old? LOL! Surprise!
In Peace and Hope and Love…
YAY! It’s official! We are finally dry! After a snowstorm which dumped about a foot of snow onto our recent roof repair we can safely say we have plugged the leak. PHEW! Not to pretty inside but it works for now. We are replacing the whole thing anyway. I will get some pictures up in here soon.
Daniel has about half the sub-floor in. The hot water tank and white water tank have been moved to the belly of Winnie, leaving our floor space clear. The walls are pretty rough right now, hopefully we will have time to slap some paint on them at least before we move in. I might have to paint on the road. Time is ticking and we only have two weeks! Daniel was stuck in a project at work that exploded. He had no time to work on the RV for about two weeks. Precious time lost. At this point, I am focusing less on our remodeling goals and more about how to make it livable till we get to WA in June.
I will keep you posted.