Equipping RV, Preparing Home for Sale and More

Well it was 10 days ago that I posted we had brought our new fifth wheel home and stuck it in storage. We are committed to spending this month preparing the house for sale and fiddling with the RV while it’s in storage.

I’ve come to grips with the house will not be 100% perfect before it goes on the market. We don’t want to miss the better window to sell it. When we moved in 17 years ago we were a family of three. The folks most likely to buy this house could be roughly the same age we were 17 years ago with one or two children or in other words at the same place in life we were when we moved in. That’s our best guess anyway. So selling while school is out for the summer is the most likely option for a quick sale.  And should it sell quickly then we have our new home on wheels to move into.

It really has helped to have kept a list of possible purchases for our RV. Karen and I are being very selective in how we equip our fifth wheel, knowing we will learn more on the road. Some items are essential and a few items are just fun to have.

We plan to load up the truck if it’s not raining tomorrow, taking a load to the camper. I turned off the main electrical disconnect to prevent draining of the two batteries but know there remains a small electrical draw according to what I’ve read on owner’s forums. So I’m taking the 3400 watt portable generator to juice up the batteries while we are there. For now the batteries are hard to get to as the battery box has a ton of screws to remove to open the cover. I’ll change that later when we might upgrade our batteries.

We had a couple issues develop during our maiden voyage and have the fixes ready to go. Our elderly dogs had trouble coming down the bottom two steps of the RV (Lippert Solid Steps) so we purchased 23″ x 18″ stair rugs for the bottom three stairs.  We are hoping they will give the dogs better footing. We went with the Campco brand with double ribbed texture. I read where others have bought less expense carpet runners and cut them up. They wrapped them around the stairs and used Velcro or wire ties to lock the ends together. Apparently you can purchase longer lengths of carpet runners off a roll at Home Depot but I’ve not confirmed that.

 

When we left the last campground I drained all the water out of the hot and cold water lines and discovered a low water point drain valve was malfunctioning. When we arrived home I sent an email to the Vanleigh RV Service Center where an operator emailed back 20 minutes later with a contact name and email. I emailed the technician who sent a reply 10 minutes later.  The next day a new valve showed up in the mail at home as did another email making sure I received the valve and phone number to call if I want any help installing it. I talked to a factory service technician on the phone and believe I can handle it on my own.

Low Water Point Valve (2) (640x480).jpg

New Low Water Point Drain Valve to Install

A few equipment related decisions have been harder to make then expected. Finally decided on a coffee pot! You may have read the earlier post regarding how important coffee is to us. Finally it struck me I was looking at the decision completely from the wrong view point. I’m not buying a coffee maker for a large house with all kinds of counter space nor at times infinite supply of electricity. We already have a smaller French press but wanted to replace the older large machine we have now.  I considered all the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) certified expensive brands. But after thinking like someone who is going to live out of an RV, decided on – believe it or not – an old fashioned electric Presto percolator.  Takes up 1/4 of the space compared to a machine, uses 1/2 the energy (think batteries at 800 watts) and makes good tasting hot coffee. Yes, it is slower than a automatic coffee maker. And does not have a digital clock that might cause one to have to reset the time when moving from camping spot to camping spot.

New Coffee Pot for RV (480x640)

Still can’t decide on a surge protector – size and hardwired or not.  And if I was to purchase a tire monitoring system, with heat and pressure detection, I’d go with the TST 507 model without flow-through valves for the trailer. Others say the valves with caps take no more time to remove when checking the air then standard valve stem covers.  The larger flow-through valves, which can remain in place when airing a tire, stick out from the sides of the tires and are easier to knock off if you hit a curb or whatever. The only thing stopping me from buying one is I’ve yet to figure out if our 2018 Ram truck’s system can handle add-on sensors rather than having to add yet another stand-alone monitoring device (update, the 2018 Ram does not allow for adding more wheels to the factory tire monitoring but the 2019 trucks have it as an option)

Also decided to skip the RV specific GPS for now. The trucks GPS is awesome and I’m getting a better paper atlas. Finally figured out there is a difference between trip planning and navigation in that it’s hard to find one thing that can handle both aspects. So after we use whatever to come up with a route I’ll just check it against the truck’s GPS. A friend added he has a phone app to check low bridge clearances. I like the Rand McNally Motor Carriers’ paper atlas but am having a hard time deciding between it and the large print standard atlas. Personally I prefer to look at a paper map for local highways when first starting to plan a route. Then use the digital stuff, like Google Earth Pro, Allstays and such.

Sometime in the next two weeks I’ve got to check my vehicle and insurance to see if they cover roadside assistance. And make sure it’s not covered under the factory warranty which is doubtful.  Also for safety I’m getting a pull-over reflective vest and some triangular roadside markers in case we break down in a busy area.

Lastly, knowing this may seem minor, I’m changing out the disposable 3.5 mil gloves I use when dumping the black tank. The ones I bought earlier tear easily. I got with our Evidence Technician at work regarding the brand and thickness we use for touching gross stuff and ordered the same. Adenna Shadow 6 mil are the ones to get!

We have a local camping trip planned for the first of June, then a couple weeks later we are off to central Missouri for a family campout. We are also considering another trip to Michigan and have booked a two week stay in Carthage Missouri in October for the local Escapee Chapter Rally and a festival in Mt. Vernon Missouri. There is a better than average chance come October 4th we will not be returning to “home” but setting a course elsewhere. Karen and I are leaning towards a trip to the Vanleigh Service Center the first of November in northern Mississippi, then on to Tennessee. From there we should be in Texas maybe by December to establish or domicile.  Here in a few months I’m going to setup our mail service so I can start changing the addresses. More on that later.

New camper (640x480)

Still looking to get some photos out of our new home when the time is right.

Advertisements

Taking Delivery of our RV and Trip Home

Here I sit at our dinette table in our new home on wheels with a view of a wonderful state park from every window. On the way from Kansas City to the dealership in Tulsa Oklahoma we stopped at each point we would be visiting again on our return trip. Such as one fuel stop and a campsite. Being new to towing a fifth wheel, especially a larger one, I wanted to help ease the tension by reducing the chances of any sudden surprises. As it turned out, after spending three nights camped near the dealership, we received a sudden call from a Oklahoma Park Ranger that a campsite we planed to spend time in at the Grand Lake of the Cherokees was flooded. Darn, I thought as I’d visited the actual spot we intended to back into during the trip down. The Ranger offered an alternate site which I had not researched. I was ready to find a commercial RV park but rightfully, Karen insisted this is a vacation and we are staying in a wonderful wooded state park near a lake. So blindly I agreed with the Park Ranger we would just find a spot when we arrived at our new destination which was the Honey Creek State Park in Grove Oklahoma.

Continue reading

Truck Bed Cover and Locks

A concern we all share is how to protect our property while traveling or parked. I had no idea spending time in the crime prevention unit would come in handy years later as we prepare for our future in an RV.

Its been awhile since I looked up the statistics. Nationally maybe 26% of property crimes are solved and maybe half of those solved theft crimes result in recovering any of the stolen property. The Sheriff’s Office I work for had been in the upper 40% success rate which is rare. I feel for the victims who might not experience justice  when the criminal is captured and does not pay you back for what they have stolen or escapes punishment.

Perhaps the best approach to property crimes is protecting yourself and not becoming a victim, or at least lowering the chances of becoming one. Two topics come to mind those being target hardening and natural surveillance.  Not to get wordy in this post but I feel the need to lay some foundation, much of which very well could be self-evident.

Target hardening is using such measures as locks, alarm systems, and planting rose bushes below windows to make it difficult for property to be stolen or increase the time the criminal is at the scene, improving the chance of detection.  Natural surveillance is designing a building, city park or whatever to increase surrounding neighbors and visitors view of the area. Or perhaps adding lighting as long as the light does not trespass through the neighbor’s windows. Folks who live in downtown spaces and residential neighborhoods become more territorial and are more likely to notify authorities when someone is up to no good. I suspect in a mobile lifestyle people might pay less attention as they are not vested by “living” in the neighborhood.

I’d think both target hardening and natural surveillance would  be more difficult to deploy when your home is mobile. And surely a few of you have figured out some interesting ways to accomplish this. In my relatively limited RV travel experience I generally have the opinion folks that are camping are good people. And certainly there is a chance of making friends when parked for a longer period.

I’m approaching target hardening, or adding locks, to cover times when we are traveling and when parked. Right or wrong I added a truck bed cover. But still have to secure items in the bed of the truck when traveling which leaves the bed cover open where someone could quickly lift property at a highway rest area.

During my research for a truck bed I narrowed the field of what is available to a soft cover that rolls up, a hard cover that folds over and a hard cover that retracts into a cannister. I kept in mind the mounting rails for the cover could impact with a fifth wheel pin box on sharp 90% turns such as backing in.  Generally speaking, others told me rails and covers that do not extend above the truck bed sides better avoid the chances of the hitch impacting the truck cover rails. But, in some cases you might need a slightly raised bed cover to allow room for your fifth wheel hitch.

The least cost approach is the soft cover that rolls up to the back of the truck. Two popular models are the Truxedo and Access. Depending on construction materials, folding covers and retracting covers can be comparably pricy. Our truck is a long bed so folding covers would be less likely to get in the way of the hitch when open. Popular brands include Bakflip with it’s four folding sections. It’s high dollar and certainly there are less costly brands.  Arguably the best retractable cover would be the Retrax.

My list of wants included a cover where the rails of the cover were relatively level with the sides of the truck, provided some measure of security that would make it more difficult to cut through, handy to open or close and did not require a separate key to unlock.  Keeping items dry under the cover or being able to close the cover half-way were secondary in my list of wants. Some covers are designed with rail locking systems that allow you to open them just enough to attached the fifth wheel hitch, leaving the remaining portion of the truck bed covered presumably to protect the contents from weather.

I was torn between a hard surfaced folding cover and a cannister model which is expensive. That decision became much easier when I suddenly found a manufacturer I was interest in had a 20% off sale.

20190317_111639 (800x600)20190317_151242 (800x600) (2)20190324_095932 (800x600)20190324_100009 (800x600)

Pace Edwards shipped their Switchblade cover to our home in two boxes. Alone, I installed it in about two hours. This cover does not lock half way back, leaving it fully open or closed when traveling. The cover top is not metal but made of a durable vinyl. I’ll use 303 protectant on the vinyl. The underside of the cover consists of aluminum slats. The cover retracts into a box which this manufacturer designed the box to take up the least bed space as possible. The locking mechanism requires you to open the tailgate and squeeze two small handles to open it. Our truck bed is locking and the key fob can be used to unlock it. No extra keys to haul around was important to me.

Yes, it leaks a little with heavy rain but is rated for a reasonable snow load. I suppose had I not opened it with standing water on top, there would have been less water leaking through the cannister where the cover retracts. The center of the truck bed and hitch, even in a heavy rain, were dry.  I should also mention our B&W hitch is at least two inches below the cover when closed.

So we have some level of security for our stuff in the truck bed but I wondered about security with the truck cover open and the fifth wheel RV is hitched up. I’d not want someone lifting something out at a truck stop or campground.  Locks and cables/chains might be the answer. You see, Karen and I decided to go with the shortest fifth wheel we would feel comfortable living in. Our 34’11” trailer has less main basement space than a 40′ model. We are making up for that by anticipating using truck bed space, the trailer has 8′ tall slides and hence taller cabinets and we bought a portable generator rather than a built-in model to free up front basement space.  Our RV as configured is rated for 3,600 pounds of cargo so it’s possible we might be able to make use of it’s storage without going over the weight limit. The frame of the RV is also engineered to handle optional heavier axles for increased cargo capacity.

Criminals will do what is easiest. In the crime prevention profession, we call property left in view, like a purse in a passenger seat or generator sitting freely in the bed of a truck – an attractive nuisance. Criminals will go after the neighbor’s property if it’s unsecured rather than yours if the target is hard to get at. And any security measure is only as good as the weakest link in the system. I’ll also add sometimes expensive security measures, when it comes to personal property, could be more expensive than the property you are protecting. Safes, for example, are rated by how long it takes a professional to break into them. The theory is if it takes someone a long time to break-in then the chances of them giving up or being detected increase.

So now I need a solution for padlocks, chains or cables. Or any ideas how to secure the fifth wheel from being stolen, items taken from the truck when the cover is open and maybe attractive items exposed at the campsite.

The solution I’m considering is as follows:

Purchase enough padlocks that are keyed alike to secure our 5×10 storage locker we are keeping, the arm of the fifth wheel hitch so someone cannot unhook the trailer at a rest stop, a lock for a chain or cable threaded through the hitch, generator, toolboxes or whatever is in the bed or the truck, maybe a bike rack and maybe a cable at the campsite.  I add “maybe” because I’m not sure yet or in some cases I might wait and see what others are doing.

I’m thinking of starting off with five or six padlocks keyed alike because I don’t like carrying keys or figuring out which one opens which lock. I’ll buy one spare lock as well. I’ve got zero ideas for which cables or chains to use.

In over 30 years of law enforcement I can’t recall but twice where an RV was stolen but I’m still getting a king pin lock that will make use of one of my keyed alike padlocks. The lock type I’ve found crooks pass up the most are ones with protective shrouds making them harder to cut. Although someone with above average skills can pick many of the common padlocks in a few minutes.  And, not to be giving crooks any ideas, we are also finding them using battery operated cutting tools more often than in the past.

King Pin Lock

King Pin Lock – Thank You Rick for the suggestion!

Master is the most popular padlock brand and affordable when you need five or six of them. I’ve been researching the German made brand Abus for something a little more sturdy with better internal parts which are harder to pick and smoother to open with a key as well as having long-term durability.

Snap 2019-04-05 at 12.12.31.png

Again, keep in mind the security methods we select are only as good as the least secure point, such as the cable or chain. And when boondocking in the middle of the desert I’d suspect all beats are off other than having good neighbors or an internet linked trail camera that send images to your phone such as ones offered by Verizon. Those trail cameras really work. I’m hunting down three people on a case right now because of them…

Mark your valuable with something that makes them different such as the last four digits of your social security number. At work when I find items that might be stolen I always call the phone number that some write on the item. Calling a phone number is something a cop can easily do and crooks are too lazy to wipe off the numbers. Write down serial numbers on the owner’s manual or whatever. That way the cops can input stolen items into databases which can be tracked nationally. You would be surprised, and I’m not going to reveal, some of the technology law enforcement have today to find your stolen stuff. But then again who wants to drive thousands of miles back to attend court!  Best secure our stuff and hope the crooks go to an easier target down the road. In my opinion, take the N.R.A and any stickers off your truck or RV that suggests you have a gun aboard. Crooks appreciate the advertising as there is a big market for stolen guns.

Fifth Wheel Order – We Have a Build Date

Note: For those coming to this page from the Vanleigh Owner’s Facebook page, enter Vilano in the search function to get a list of articles.  This link should work as well. – Mark 

It’s getting real exciting around the Seneker’s house.  Because our new RV is to be built starting 4/7/19. Just got the word from the Vanleigh RV factory who as a side note are now a formal subsidiary of Tiffin Motorhomes.   The dealership is in Oklahoma and has been great to work with so far. The factory support during the ordering process is over the top excellent. I’m planning on asking their sales staff to take a few photos while it’s being built. Some owners drive there and watch the six day process.

I decided to write a blog post in the future about the ordering process to include the details up to scheduling the delivery. Then another after we get it home.  I’ve been spending a lot of time downloading pre-delivery inspection sheets so once we arrive at the dealership Karen and I will know 100% what we need to check before taking delivery. I got lucky and found a longer YouTube video where a guy walks you through the features of the 320GK floor plan we ordered. It’s the best I’ve found so far. It’s last years trailer model but does contain some interesting notes.

I’ve also been spending time reviewing an old spreadsheet I’ve kept over the past few years containing RV related accessories. It’s organized by priorities to include what we need on day one of ownership.  I could use some pointers if you have them!

What about wheel chocks?  I’m leaning toward rubber ones that I can add a rope to.

What about leveling blocks for tires? I’m leaning towards cutting 1×6 boards that are long enough to hold two tires and the wheel chocks. I assume if you have to use leveling blocks/boards then you still need to chock the tires?

And what about a couple modern products like X-Chocks for stabilizing the trailer so it does not move so much when you walk around inside?

X-Chocks

X-Chocks

Do any of you use Anderson Levelers for Trailers? I watched some YouTube video on how they are used and claims that they reduce the time to level the trailer side to side.  And what about knowing if you are close to level before you let the trailer automatic leveling stands down?  Do you guys with automatic leveling use some type of gauge to see if you really need to add anything under the tires?

Anderson levelers

Anderson Levelers for Trailers

And what about blocks for under the jack stand and leveling pads? Those Snap Pads sure look promising. At first I’m planning just to cut some 2×12’s for blocks. If you are looking into Snap Pads their website has a tool for selecting the model you need based on your specific trailer. And a YouTuber I contacted says Snap Pad is getting ready to release a new product that incorporates the need for any blocks under the pads so you don’t extend the levelers to far, causing the trailer to sway when you walk inside. That new feature presumable replace the 2×12’s folks use at times.

Snap Pads

Snap Pads (feet for leveling jacks)

 

I’m still looking into locks we might need for the king pin to stop someone from backing up and hitching up the trailer. Readers have been giving me ideas – thanks for those!  I also got to thinking even with a truck bed cover (blog posting coming soon) we will still need a cable to string through the hitch, a couple boxes with tools, the generator or whatever – because the truck cover will be open when stopping at rest areas and such. It would be nice to have one keys that fits all those locks so I’m been looking at solutions that would allow me to use keyed alike pad locks.

Lots of other accessories to be purchased before we pick up the fifth wheel. I’ll keep you posted on those individual decisions and of course, as always, asking for suggestions.

Karen and I are real excited.  I came home the other night and she had taken nearly all the artwork of the walls of our current sticks and bricks house.  She has been going through drawers and tells me some of the stuff is now in plastic containers that we might as well start getting used to living out of.  We have a tentative schedule for RV trips before I retire later this year and hope to get the house on the market in maybe July. So far we figure we will be in central Missouri in June then up in Michigan in July for sure.  Lots of small trips in between.

 

new flash Here is a Vanleigh Vilano 320GK video that just came out today. Leigh Tiffin is highlighting what the fifth wheel has special compared to others.

Bought a Hitch

We now look closer to real RV owners when riding around in our truck, having just bought and installed our fifth wheel hitch. I got amazingly lucky one day last week. I wondered if by chance there was a B&W Companion hitch on Craiglist.  Found a brand new one that had already been installed on the same year and model Ram truck we own. The lady selling it used to transport RVs professionally but gave it up after a major accident in the snow. The insurance company replaced her truck and equipment. Thankfully she was not injured.  She never used her new replacement hitch and gave me a heck of a good deal.  Karen and I met her in a Walmart parking lot and moved the hitch from her truck to ours in 10 minutes.

It’s easy to start a major debate on what hitch to buy. I’ll just say my final two selections were the Curt and B&W. And I’ll explain why I went with the B&W simply as it’s beefier, with a 25,000 pound fifth wheel weight capacity and more than a 6,000 pound pin weight capacity.  Compare the locking jaws on hitches and you will see what I mean by beefier.

20190316_183719 (800x600)

You will notice in the above photo how the legs of the hitch attach to the truck bed. That’s the RAM puck system that is part of the fifth wheel prep option. Ford and Chevy have something similar. This allows you to remove the hitch by breaking it down into two parts by turning the handles to lift it out of the truck. The base of the hitch weighs 135 pounds so that’s a two person job. The coupler or head is 75 pounds. Of course you would remove the hitch in case you ever wanted to lay something flat in the truck or hauling large objects.  I’ll repeat this for those that are truck shopping.  Make sure you get the factory fifth wheel prep option with the puck system. The cost of installing a hitch is large without it. 

20190316_160915 (3) (600x800)

I was happy to learn the top of the hitch is below the bed rails of my truck. Although I had studied photos before and expected that. Because – in my garage is a truck bed cover that I’ll report about after it’s installed. This hitch is very adjustable up and down by a few inches and front to back over the rear truck axle.

It also has an articulating head that twists and turns with the trailer. Something very important to note when you go hitch shopping is to make sure the hitch works with whatever king pin you have on your trailer. Some king pins also articulate and can work against the hitch head with opposing forces. Maybe easier described as if the king pin moves one way and the hitch head moves another it could place unnecessary pressure and wear on both. I learned that by joining the Facebook users group for our particular trailer. I talked to friends who own this hitch and claim it’s easier to hitch and unhitch when the trailer is at slight angles.  It does not bind up as easy, if that make sense.

20190316_183813_LI (800x600)

I should also mention the professional RV delivery person I bought this hitch from has a word of advise. She says there are parts of the country where if you leave your rig unattended a trucker might just pull the arm and release the hitch from your trailer when parked. I circled the area in red above. She says replace the pin that holds the arm closed with a locking pin. She said the issue is more common in… well I’ll say it, the west and east coast.  She says in some areas of our country there are professional drivers that don’t appreciate sharing the road and parking spots with us RV people.

Update: 3/31/19 – It took a long time to figure out where I needed to apply lubrication for this hitch.  I bought a 10″ king pin Teflon disc rather than having to keep adding grease between the pin and hitch.  You also will need spray white lithium grease for the black plastic “saddles” where the hitch head sits on the lower stand.  And finally you will need some automotive lithium chassis grease, with a grease gun. There is a grease zerk under the hitch head. And use some of the same chassis grease inside the jaws.   I decided to go with anything NLGI #2 certified.  The Lucas red tacky is what I bought because I can use in on the truck as well.

Tools

Selecting what tools to hit the road with has been a harder decision than I expected.  Watched all the YouTube videos as to what others are using and talked to a lot of friends in the process.  It became apparent that until we are on the road we may not have a great idea of what tools will come in handy. For sure, the types of tools one keeps depends on how much of the truck/RV maintenance and modifications one plans to perform on their own compared to hiring it out. For me, I plan to learn as much as possible and do as much as possible.

For me, the starting point is taking inventory of what tools I already own. I sold off some of the larger items in our first garage sale, keeping for sure what I know I’ll need to finish home repairs before our house goes on the market.  Then I looked around at all the boxes and bags, sorted by tool type, and wondered how to consolidate all those into just a few bags for the road.

After years of reading other’s blogs and the Facebook users group for our trailer brand I’ve got a reasonable idea of what to expect. For example, common problems where bolts were not checked and may have led to mechanical failures in the suspension systems.

As our 35′ fifth wheel has a smaller basement than a 40′ model, I suspect the bed of our truck will someday include a larger container for whatever will fit in it.  Here are a few of my tool decisions and what I’m wondering about keeping or not.

Tree branch trimming and wood cutting:  This is a hard one for me. Do I keep the battery operated Sawzall, longer axe or hatchet, buy an electric chain saw or just keep the ratcheting  loppers?  I suspect, but am not sure, there will be times when we at least collect small dead tree branches to start fires and for sure there will be those times when low hanging tree branches may need to be cut from the roof of the fifth wheel before we back in?

Hand tools and electrical stuff: This was an easy decision. I took my two boxes and consolidated what I thought I would need into a single bag. I should have done this a long time ago because more times than not I ran back to the garage for yet another small tool that happened to be stored in a different bag than what I had with me.  I kept a couple extras of some tools, such as a screw driver, for a drawer in the fifth wheel for quick work and a spare set of pliers to store outside with the RV water hose connection rather than having to get the entire bag of tools out. I ended up buying this bag to consolidate everything into:


Mechanics Set of Tools:
  Over 30 years ago I purchased my first set of 3/8″ sockets. Over time I bought a small 1/4″ socket set and had amassed dozens of miscellaneous sockets which I kept in a box, bought more than likely at yard sales.  I would purchase a wrench here and there.  It was time for something more substantial and all inclusive.   Something in a single box I could grab and run with.  Adding a mechanics tool set, along with my new single bag of hand and electrical tools, brings together 90% of what tools I think I’ll need.  Keeping weight in mind, or something reasonable to carry around, I researched a new mechanics tools set. I decide on a 1/4″ and 3/8″ set.  I just do not think I’ll need a full 1/2″ drive set so why add the weight to the box.  I discovered mechanics sets after watching a YouTube where a guy was changing fuel filters on his diesel truck. This is what I purchased:

20190212_120550 (800x600)

Dewalt DWMT73802 142 Piece Mechanics Tools

20190212_120624 (600x800)

Lifetime Guarantee

 

Tool 1 (800x600)

No One Builds Better Latches than Dewalt

Power Tools:  Of course I’ll take along a cordless drill. But what about the remainder of the set I already own that include even a small skill saw?  I’m still undecided and might just keep what I don’t take in our 5’x10′ storage unit until I see if I miss them.

20190308_183530 (800x600)

Not Sure If I’m Keeping These?

Other ToolsFor More Specific Usage: Following the Facebook user’s group for our brand of fifth wheel has netted some great advise. Folks provided specific recommendations for various tools and sizes of wrenches. Adding a torque wrench and one single 1/2″drive deep socket with 6″ extension is apparently all I’ll need for the major suspension components. I’m hoping to avoid bolts backing out while bumping down the road by keeping them tightened at the manufacturers recommendations. Of course take a caulking gun and make sure to have tape and caulk for repairs. I’m also wondering if it’s worth keeping my electric buffer for waxing the trailer? And what about a small shovel, maybe a folding entrenching tool would work. I’ve got a heavier 25′ extension cord which will work, especially as I can pull out the generator if I need to be closer to something. Here is what I bought:

20190308_182245 (800x335)

Tekton 24335 1/2″ – 10 to 150 Pound Torque Wrench

Air Compressor: I own a pancake model with a small tank that is capable of the air pressures I would need. But it’s heavy and takes up space. I’ve looked at the popular Viair portable brand, but they are expensive and slow to inflate. I might get a smaller pancake model that has a tank now that I’m not running any air nailguns nor plan to use air tools. Finally figured out how to air up dual wheel tires and have the basic chucks for that, along with a quality air gauge attached to the air hose. Might write a blog post later on that. I’m not concerned with having a model that hooks to a car battery because we have a generator if needed. I’ll be taking another look at the hoses that are available, especially the space saving type. Although it makes since to go with what I have for now.  I also have a gun attachment that blows air which is invaluable for cleaning dusty parts and even blowing out the garage floor. Wonder if that might work for blowing off the tops of slides?

Gas Powered Equipment: Figure these are not coming along but not sure yet.  We have a 3500 Watt gas generator already so will already be hauling around a few gallons of gas.  What about keeping my gas leaf blower and collapsible weed trimmer?  These two items come apart for storage. The leaf blower could come in handy for blowing off the slide tops or outside mat. I’ve stayed in more than one camping area that needed weeds trimmed.

Ladder and Stool:  Not technically a tool but something to consider. We have a two step folding stool to be used to reach high shelves in the RV and I use it to get in and out of the truck bed. Really thinking about keeping the two step stool in the camper and buying a shorter three step model to keep in the back of the truck. I also have a 12′ heavy folding Werner ladder. I’ve considered going to a collapsible ladder in place of the folding ladder:

Two steep

 

LadderLAdder 2

 

I’ve got a place at home we are storing tool and camper accessories we are not using right now. We plan to take several boxes with us when we pick up our fifth wheel from the dealership. There is time now to put all this together.

Karen and I were talking yesterday about pricing items for sale. We both agreed although we had paid X amount for something new we had, for lack of a better word, joy in using it. That joy cost something and the item is now worn. For me, some tools are harder to dispose of because even after years of usage they are not even close to worn out.  So when you are downsizing it might be helpful to keep in mind you had joy in owning and using something. You can always buy the same worn item again later at a yard sale or any of the same places you used to dispose of them.

Thanks for following along and providing comments. I’ve been shopping for a new truck hitch and still considering a truck bed cover for all the stuff we want to secure. More on all of that later.

Trailer Selection – Boondocking With Our New Generator

Last post I left everyone out in the open regarding what Karen and I have selected for what will become our new home.  I’m still working on the post regarding our fifth wheel selection. I’ll later attempt to bring together about four years of research which will explain our selection and perhaps give you something to think about during your own search.

Our trailer will be a Vanleigh Vilano 320GK fifth wheel. Here is a link to my 2016 blog post about it for those anxious to know more. The unit with options has changed over the years. I’ll highlight those later.

Vilano 320GK – Stock Photo

One of reason I delayed making this announcement was to get in touch personally with a few readers whom I’ve been corresponding with for a long time. Many have already bought their trailer. I wanted them to be the first to know. I’ve always tried to preface my research that it’s based off what is important to Karen and me. Other’s choices will be different. For those who have decided on their new fifth wheel or those still shopping, I hope my research has been usable and never misleading. We purposely waited years to make a final selection because each model year there are changes in what trailers are being built. The 35′ floor plan we selected, for example, came on the market last year and is now duplicated by four different companies. More on the trailer decision in next months blog posts.

Items we might use on the road which are influenced by technological changes for me are targets for delayed decision making. Perhaps even more than a new fifth wheel, which can often just be a revamping of an old floor plan, electronics change rapidly. Generators are in that group. There was no better time to buy a generator than before a trip to southern Missouri to spend time with my sister, boondocking in her wonderful new to her camper. I delayed the decision until it could wait no more.

Pull Start Generator

I’ll spare you the winded version of why I went with this generator.  The Champion pull start 3400 watt inverter generator is what I bought.

In short, I decided I did not want to take up any more room in the camper storage area than necessary, I did not want to spend $5500 on a self-contained unit that drains propane when in use, being able to operate a 15,000 BTU air conditioner was a necessity and I wanted the weight to be as light as possible. Of lessor concern for me was dual fuel (gas and propane), having to carry around a small gas can and having electric or remote start. I’ll add I was not particular fond of the idea that you could get two smaller units and hook them together for increased electrical capacity. That would mean taking care of two engines rather than one. It’s also an expensive option.

It’s worth noting some air conditioners, to include bedroom AC are 13,500 BTU. Ours will be 15,000 and the Champion 3100 Watt version of this generator may be borderline for running a larger AC.

It’s also worth noting if you decide on a remote start model it’s suggested you not start it with anything plugged into it. That’s in the Champion generator manual.  In other words, the remote start feature, where you can start it up to 80 feet away, will require you kill the main shut off in your camper before starting. Or not…

The dual fuel version may be more popular as well as having an electric start or remote start. I lifted all three models and the 3400 without the electric start is considerably lighter.  Other brands I considered were the Honda, Yamaha and Harbor Freight’s Predator.

The Honda 3000 inverter generator is a beast. A friend brought his over and I needed help lifting the 130 pounds. Another friend bought his Predator 3500 on sale as Harbor Freight frequently runs adds. The Predator is an economical choice.  I preferred the 3 year warranty that comes with the Champion.

We ran the Champion gas generator over-night to power a larger heater for three nights. I would not want to have to make the several trips that would have been required to re-fill a 20 pound propane bottle. Although had I purchased the dual fuel version there would have been the option to use gas.

I most liked the handle the 3400 Champion has. It’s like pulling around a cart. I could lift the 78 pounds in and out of the back seat of my car. Other models are heaver with their battery and push button start. It ran quiet and even comes with a 30 amp RV outlet.

Boondocking During Annual Festival

Mary has her trailer all decked out.

Karen still has a smile on her face after being able to decide between four trailers. She picked a version of the Vilano out four years ago and kept quite about what she wanted. Her happiness is priceless. I’m personally satisfied with the trailer which would not have made the final four had the new floor plan not recently come out.  I’ve read glowing reviews of Vanleigh’ s after-sales service. Most important!