Off of the Grid

Posts tagged “Washington

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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The Wind is our Nemesis

We have been blessed over the Summer here in Eastern Washington with beautiful sunny weather. There was a record number of days of no rain. Bad for the crops – perfect for rebuilding the rig. Except we had record fires this year as well which meant even though the weather was perfect, we couldn’t breathe. At one point Spokane’s air-quality was worse than Shang Hai. The winds blew smoke from Oregon, Idaho, Montana, British Columbia and even here in WA into the area. My heart goes out to those who lost their lives, and their homes to these fires. I can’t imagine. Another effect was that we couldn’t work outside and lost a month. A month of hot sunny weather.

Today there is a high wind advisory. Gusts up to 55mph. Daniel and I were outside tying down a tarp over Winnie when the winds started. To our horror, the carport tarp structure we have been storing Winnie under literally lifted into the air. I grabbed a corner post and held on for dear life while Daniel rushed around cutting the ties to the tarp. Poles were becoming disconnected and the tarp was acting like a big sail. If we didn’t want 10′ poles flying through the air, we needed the tarp off quickly. Daniel risked life and limb climbing on ladders to cut away the tarp from the roof of the pole carport. As I watched, visions of the structure flying away, poles going everywhere played in my head, followed closely by visions of Daniel flying off the ladder which was on the rig – plummeting 15′ to his doom (bouncing off sharp metal and wood on his way down.). We got the tarp off and wrapped up. When we had a moment to look around, we found Winnie’s aluminum frame we had on hanging precariously on/off on one side. If we had the walls up with that wind, they would have been ripped off.

We got a wake-up call today.  Now I don’t know what we are going to do. The weather might be coming in faster than we can build the box.


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!


Welding

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.


Teardown Complete!

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.  🙂


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.

 


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!