Details, Details

Detailed

The Castaway is a big coach. Particularly when compared to a car. It is so tall that a ladder is needed to reach the almost 13 foot high roofline. With a length over 40 feet, the coach has somewhere in excess of 1,500 square feet of surface area.

I love to detail my car. I have all of the tools and finishing products necessary to deliver an awesome car show shine.

When we took delivery of the Castaway, I declined any form of paint treatment by the dealer. That part I would do myself. After all, I love to detail my car. And I have all the tools.

I am now having second thoughts.

I washed the coach last week. It was a really, really big job that took a couple of hours to complete. And I did not dry the coach. I ran out of daylight and decided to let the water sit, something I would never, ever do with the finish of a car.

I have a package arriving from my friends at Auto Obsessed which includes the following:

  • Griot’s Garage Glass Cleaning Clay
  • Griot’s Garage Speed Shine
  • Griot’s Garage Glass Polish
  • Griot’s Garage Glass Sealant
  • RejeX Paint Sealant
  • Microfiber Premium Dryer Towels
  • Griot’s Garage Micro Fiber Wash Mops Heads

The long weekend is coming up and my task is to detail the coach.

I’ve decided to break it down into 6 phases.

Phase 1. Front Cap

The biggest part of dealing with the front cap of the coach will be the main windshield. With such an expansive area of glass, I need to make sure that I have eliminated any and all water spots etched into the surface and polished out the minor imperfections prior to applying a sealant. I will use the glass cleaning clay to remove surface contaminants. The clay requires a lubricant which is where Griot’s Speed Shine comes into play. Once complete, the windshield should be free from road film, oil, tar, grease, water spots and the remains of splattered bugs.

The fine glass polish will be a second pass on preparing the windshield for the sealant. The sealant increases wet weather visibility as it creates a hydrophobic surface to repel water. It also makes it easier to clean material off the windshield. As we enjoy a wonderful, panoramic view from the flight deck of the coach, enhancing the visibility and clarity of the windshield is at the top of my detailing list. Even for a new coach.

Newmar applies a shield to most of the front cap. Called a Diamond Shield, it is basically a protective film against stones and bugs. The front cap will be hand washed, dried and then treated with RejeX Paint Sealant. RejeX is a thin, polymer coating that protects the paint finish for up to six months. It has a high refractive index so lustre should be on par or better than most waxes.

I think this part of the job will take about 4 hours.

Phase 2. Rear Cap

The rear cap of the coach will probably be the easiest and fastest part of the detail work. 2 hours should be more than enough time to wash, dry and treat the rear cap. The toughest part of this job will be cleaning and treating the long mudflap at the bottom of the coach. It spans the full width of the coach and it hangs below the bottom frame.

Phase 3. Passenger Side Slideouts

There are two slideouts on the passenger side of the coach: the living area and the stateroom. The stateroom is the smaller of the two. Nothing too complicated here. I am going to guess at roughly 4 hours to wash, dry and treat the two slideouts.

Phase 4. Driver Side Full Wall Slideout

There is only one slideout on the driver side but it is a large one. It basically spans most of the length of the coach. This one slideout will take about 4 hours.

Phase 5. Passenger Side

Lots of details to worry about on the passenger side with multiple compartment doors, stainless steel accent trims and a large surface area. I will be happy if I get through this side in about 6 hours.

Phase 6. Driver Side

This side will be a little easier than the passenger side as the full wall slideout occupies most of the space leaving just a small area of the coach to wash, dry and treat. It also holds multiple compartment doors and stainless steel accent trims. Probably a 4 hour effort.

All told, it may take about 24 hours to detail the coach.

I have Accuride wheels with Accu-Shield aluminum wheels. The wheels do not require any polishing or treatment. I will wash them of course but I won’t be spending any time polishing or treating the wheels.

The tires are fine for now. I want to pick up some product for the tires once I have had a chance to do a bit more research.

Wish me luck on this project.

 

Audio Video Tech Stuff

Studio

My home studio. That is one part of our transition to retirement that I will miss. Lots of high tech goodness in that part of the house.

I will have some recording gear with me when we go out on the road full-time with the Castaway and it will be far more modest than my current studio. Although, I think I will still be able to get some good sound even with the limited space and gear. However, that is a different topic for another time.

Today is about how we are approaching the Audio Video technology in our coach.

The current equipment in the coach is okay. In the forward section of the coach:

  • Entry-level Sony STR-DH550 AV Receiver
  • Bell Expressvu 6131 HD Satellite Receiver
  • Entry-level Sony Blu-Ray Player
  • Winegard Satellite Antenna Control
  • Winegard Digital TV Antenna Control
  • Two 120mm Cooling Fans in the Forward Cabinet
  • Two as yet unidentified boxes routing the HDMI satellite feed
  • Two Sony LED TVs

In the back section of the coach:

  • One Sony LED TV
  • One Entry-level Sony Blu-Ray Player

We are adding a few things to make the place a bit more geek-friendly.

I had Newmar pre-wire an Ethernet Cat 6 Cable between the forward AV cabinet and the back AV cabinet. For some reason, this caused our dealer to ponder such a custom request. Why would we need an Ethernet cable? Isn’t everything wireless today?

Well, yes and no. Read on.

We will set up a wired and wireless local area network in the coach to allow media streaming to all of our devices and screens. We expect to carry at least two iPhones, three iPads and a laptop. And we want to be able to throw things up to any of our TV screens. We will have a fair amount of technology in the coach.

We will install an Apple Airport Extreme in the back AV cabinet. It will be connected by Ethernet to a Synology DS416play NAS. It will also be connected by Ethernet to Apple TVs in the forward and back AV cabinets.

The NAS will run an iTunes server for all of our music and video content. This will allow us to stream media over the wire to the Apple TVs and, by extension, video content will go out to the TV screens. Wired lines still provide the best performance particularly when streaming high definition video content.

I have already configured our Harmony Elite remote along with the Harmony Hub to simplify the operation in the forward section of the coach. I will configure our older Harmony touch remote to operate the technology in the back section of the coach.

The NAS will hold basically all of our data, documents and media content, so it will be the overall digital workhorse for our coach.

I expect to have most of the technology in and running over the next couple of weeks. I will do a video walkthrough to show you how it all worked out.

Cross Border Expedition

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We have booked our second expedition for the Castaway. This one is a bit more of an adventure. We will be travelling about 1,000 kilometres to Petoskey Motorcoach Resort in Michigan.

Our first trip was very successful and it was also very local. We traveled only 50 kilometres to our campsite. Short drive and a two-night stay.

This expedition will be more of a test. We will be following this route:

Route

We will be breaking the drive down into two segments. The first segment will take us across the border and we will stop for the night at the Port Huron KOA. That will be about a 5-hour drive and whatever time it may take to get through U.S. Customs.

We have never crossed the U.S. border in a motorhome before. And we have never brought our dog across the border.

Tabby is a wonderful golden retriever and very friendly but she has no passport.

What do we need to bring our dog across the border?

Tabby must be healthy, and she is, and she must have a valid rabies vaccine certificate. The certificate has to be issued from a licensed veterinarian and includes the following information:

  • Breed, gender, age colour, markings and any other identifying information
  • Date of rabies vaccination
  • Expiration date of vaccination certificate or date that the next vaccination is due
  • Veterinarian’s signature

The CDC website outlines all of the requirements for bringing a dog into the United States.

What about crossing the border in an RV?

We will need to have our passports.

We may have to prove residency so we will have copies of our Property Taxes as well as some utility receipts.

We won’t travel with any food. We will pick up what we need once we cross into the United States.

We are only staying for a week so we do not have to worry about hitting the 182 day visitor limit. Once we start snowbirding in the United States, we will have to fill out a Closer Connection form and send it to the IRS so we are not held liable for U.S. taxes.

And we will make sure that we have U.S. travel packs for our mobile devices.

The second segment of our drive will take us to the beautiful Petoskey Motorcoach Resort. We have a great site reserved for the week. As we have not yet set up a toad, we will be renting a car. The folks at the resort will arrange to have the rental car brought out to our site.

The trip back will be a full day of driving — probably about 10 hours or so depending on traffic and any delays at the border.

We will be heading out in 4 weeks.

 

Look Up

Tree

A wee bit of trimming by the staff at Thousand Islands KOA.

Although the campground provides sites that are big rig friendly, well, let’s just say that this particular site was very, very tight.

Lorraine was spotting me into the site and she was focused on getting the Castaway cleared left and right. The site had a landscaped patio area with some large rocks on the driver’s right and a number of trees on the driver’s left. There was very little room to swing especially for a pull-through site.

I was focused on Lorraine. She was focused on clearing the sides and back. Neither one of us thought to look up.

The trees. One in particular. We are 12 feet 10 inches at ride height. Likely a touch taller than the lowest branch of this one tree.

I raised it with the roofline at the front of the coach although, once we had levelled the Castaway, the lowest branch was clear by a small margin.

Fortunately there was no damage to the body of the coach.

But there was no way we could pull out at ride height. The branch would have had its way with our various antennas and air conditioning units.

On departure day, two young men came out to our site and dealt with the offending branch. They were very careful and brought the branch down without incident.

Getting out of the site was also challenging although I am beginning to get better at maneuvering this 40-foot coach.

Lesson learned.

Always look up.

One Thousand Islands

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I have not counted them one by one. That said, according to reputable sources, there are 1,864 islands in the thousand islands region.

We are almost at the end of our first trip with the Castaway and, with a few minor exceptions, we had a very successful breaking in of the coach.

Here are a few shots of the campground and the marina directly across the street from the campground.

More on our first experience with the coach in the next few days.

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