Climb That Mountain

Everest

Or, five things I learned from detailing our 40-foot coach:

Lesson 1: Patience

I had estimated about 24 hours when I first planned our approach to detailing the coach. I’d say I was closer to 30 hours to complete the job. Applying the paint sealant by hand and then buffing by hand takes considerable effort and time. Especially when climbing up and down ladders. I had to reframe my reference in terms of how long it would take to detail the coach and I had to be attentive when on the ladder. No rushing!

Lesson 2: Tools

Getting the right tools for the job makes the experience a lot easier. Still, I missed one very critical tool.

I had all of the requisite cleaning supplies to wash the coach down prior to applying the sealant. I listed all of those supplies in this post. With all of my planning, what tool did I miss?

My Porter Cable 7424XP Variable Speed Random Orbit Polisher.

I have one in my toolbox for detailing my cars. Why didn’t I use it on the coach? I’m a bit baffled. Maybe because I thought it would be difficult to operate high on the ladder. Maybe because I thought it would be difficult to keep my balance and I might drop the polisher, or I might fall. Maybe because I was worried about getting caught up in the power cable.

Whatever the reason, I would not do this job again by hand. I would learn how to safely work with the Porter Cable polisher.

The most useful tool? The water blade. I have a smaller handheld water blade but I am going to purchase the 18-inch blade that I can mount on an extension pole. The water blade literally made drying the coach a breeze.

Lesson 3: Weather

The paint sealant I was using, Rejex, is sensitive to the weather. RejeX should be wiped on, allowed to dry for 10-20 minutes until it forms a haze, wiped off, then allowed to cure for 8-12 hours. Rejex also does not like the heat. 85F/29C or lower. And Rejex does not like the rain.

Weather in our area can be quite volatile. Even though the weather forecast predicted no rain, the day I was working on the driver’s side of the coach, a thunderstorm came rolling in just as I had finished the last section. It poured. Looks like the paint sealant held on though. If the weather is unstable, best to wait for a better day.

Lesson 4: No Pain, No Gain

This type of job does exercise an entirely different set of muscles. When you spend 8 hours or more working non-stop on a motorhome, you will feel the pain. I was unable to finish the whole coach on a long weekend. Day two was the driver’s side and on day three I was too sore to continue. I finished the passenger side the following weekend. If the muscles are too sore, it may be too dangerous to be perching on ladders 10 or 12 feet up in the air.

Lesson 5: Satisfaction

I have to say that when I finished detailing the coach I had this sense of a significant accomplishment. Like climbing a famous mountain, I did it!

Honey Wagon Service

honey

“I’m going to use it to get some honey!”

But not at an RV park.

We are newbies. Actively learning about our new lifestyle but still newbies nonetheless. And this means that we are frequently coming across new vocabulary.

We have been living out of our coach since we brought it home earlier this summer and we intend to keep living in the coach until we have to put the Castaway into storage later September or early October.

Although we try to make as much use of the house for our washroom needs, we seem to be able to fill up our grey and black tanks relatively quickly, even with the infrequent use of the Castaway’s washrooms, shower and sinks.

We decided to camp overnight at our local KOA to empty out the tanks and replenish our fresh water tank. This particular KOA is only a few kilometres from our home and it is a nice campground.

We reserved a 50-amp service with water only.

Our grey and black tanks were full and we needed to dump them before we could set up the coach on the site.

“Can I use the dump station on our way into our site?” I asked.

“You can. We can also arrange a honey wagon service for you later today if you would like.”

“Well, that sounds great but we really don’t need any honey.” I replied.

Confused look from KOA staff member.

What is a honey wagon service? Honey wagon is a traditional term for a wagon or truck that collects and carries waste and it can serve as a sanitation system at campgrounds and marinas.

The honey wagon service at this KOA comes to your coach and empties your tanks for you. They did come later that day and dealt with the tanks without us knowing until I had checked our gauges. Grey and black, empty.

This morning I filled our fresh water tank. The tank holds about 105 gallons and it was only 1/3 full.

I estimated that we needed about 75 gallons to fill the tank. At the typical city average of about 2 gallons per minute, that would take 40 minutes.

The tank filled in about 30 minutes. I guess I underestimated the flow rate. Thankfully I was checking every 15 minutes or so.

The tank obviously stops receiving water once it fills. There was no overflow or spillage but good to know that it doesn’t take much time to bring in fresh water into the Castaway’s tank.

Mission accomplished and we also had a wonderful evening. We even experienced our first campfire by the coach. Awesome.

Freightliner Chassis Owners Club

FCC

“Driving the best.”

Yesterday we received our membership cards for the Freightliner Chassis Owners Club (FCOC). The club was founded back in 1994 and has over 3,500 members.

Now they have over 3,502 members.

Our membership is free for the first year as we purchased a new chassis and we are the original owners.

FCOC holds two chapter meetings each year and they organize two National Rallies each year — both at the same time. Freightliner brings out a motorhome chassis as well as factory technicians to help with any Freightliner chassis issues.

The rallies look like they would be fun and informative. We won’t catch the one in October but we will definitely think about attending a rally next year.

RV Ladders

Ladders

I need a different ladder.

For when we travel.

The coach is tall and I need a ladder that can get me on the roof as well as allow me to get to the upper areas of the coach, like the windshield. And this ladder needs to fold up into a compact form so that we can carry it in the basement of the coach.

If you take a look at this video, you can see the type of ladder I do not want. That looks like one dangerous way to get on the roof of a Newmar Dutch Star (same model of coach as our Castaway). You can watch the entire video if you wish as it does have some interesting perspectives on risk management and staying healthy. I’ve pointed the video to start at where he gets up on the roof.

At my age, I need a less risky path. The choice of ladder for me will be a telescoping ladder like this one from Werner:

 

WernerLadder

This ladder is available from Home Depot here in Canada for under $200. A similar design, Little Giant Ladder, is also available in Canada at an outrageous price. In the States, it sells for about $250USD. In Canada they want over $500 CAD for the ladder. Ouch.

The Werner can function as a step ladder, up to 9 feet, and it can function as an extension ladder up to 19 feet, more than enough to safely get on the roof of the coach.

I’ll also be able to clean the windshield.

I love a clean windshield.

Water

Water

The Castaway has a 105 gallon freshwater tank. That tank, which we are using on a daily basis, is getting closer and closer to empty.

We have been living out of our coach since we first brought it home. It is parked just outside our house with an awesome view of our forest. It is a bit like boondocking except for the convenience of being so close to the sticks and bricks house.

The only service we have for the coach is 30-amp shore power. We have no other hookups for the motorhome.

When we last needed to dump our tanks, we took the Castaway over to the local KOA, conveniently located a few kilometres away, and used their dumping station. For a small fee of course.

Unfortunately, they do not provide a water service unless we book a site for the night.

So, what to do for water while we have the coach parked on our property?

We could connect our freshwater line to an outdoor faucet except for one little issue. The outdoor faucets bypass our water filtration system. We draw our water from a well and treat the water. The idea of filling our freshwater tank with untreated well water is not too appealing.

We have a call out to our local water person. It doesn’t seem to be that big a job to me, although I am not a plumber, to make a small change to the water supply lines. We need a bypass valve to supply treated water to the outdoor faucets. We already have a bypass valve to shut the supply of untreated water to the outdoor faucets. A small bit of piping to connect the new bypass valve to the outdoor faucet supply line and we would be good to go.

Our local water supply company is another option with “every on site water need supplied.” Although they do not show any RVs on their website, they do show a large sailboat. I suppose it would depend on the cost of the water service relative to the cost of making the plumbing change.

We could also book a night at the local KOA to fill up the freshwater tank and dump our black and gray tanks. That option may well be the least costly. It would also be the most fun.