Clearance

Note to self: always check clearance.

Packing Lists

Packing

I like lists. Especially packing lists.

I love creating packing lists.

Actually, I love what packing lists represent: freedom. Freedom from having to remember things. Freedom from the worry that something important was left behind.

Over the years, I have continually refined packing lists. Because we travel frequently, travelling light — and hopefully carefree — does take a bit of planning. Packing lists are a big part of that planning.

I’m still getting used to the idea of an RV packing list. It is a bit different when traveling around in a house on wheels. There is already a fair amount of stuff in the coach.

I have built a packing list that spans three pages. Here is page 1:

Packing List

I broke the packing list down into the following categories:

  • Documents
  • Electronics
  • Household
  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchen
  • Linens
  • Pet Supplies
  • Tools
  • Miscellaneous
  • Clothing

As the forthcoming trip will be our third expedition with the coach, I will be vetting the list to ensure that we have all that we need, and nothing more. As we get closer to the travel date, I will finalize packing list and use it to check that the items are on board and ready to go.

This takes a lot of the stress out of preparing for a big trip. And, if we have forgotten something, it gets added to the list. Or, if we really did not need to bring something along, it gets dropped.

Who knows. Maybe in a few years, the very idea of a packing list becomes obsolete as we travel around full-time. But for now, it helps me to be prepared.

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!

Masterpiece

Masterpiece

The Newmar Full-Paint Masterpiece Finish is one of the most stunning and durable in the industry.

It is also one of the more demanding finishes to detail because of the overall size of our motorhome.

I started to detail the Castaway yesterday. I was able to complete the rear cap, the front windshield and the lower front cap. The rear cap turned out to be fairly straightforward.

The weather has to cooperate. It is always best to wash and detail a vehicle when it is cool and there is no direct sun.

I used a two bucket system for the initial wash. Both buckets have a capacity of 5 gallons and both buckets have a grit guard. The grit guard fits in the bottom of the bucket and extracts grit from the wash mitt. The dirt settles at the bottom of the bucket so your wash water stays clean.

One bucket holds the wash. I use Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash and Shampoo and Conditioner. Terrific product.

The second bucket holds rinse water.

I have a microfiber wash mitt and a microfiber wash pad on an extension pole. Given the height of the Castaway, I have to use a pole to reach the top areas of the vehicle.

I gave the area a good rinse and then washed the rear cap from the top down. I refreshed the wash mitt and the wash pad frequently. On the top area of the rear cap, six times and on the bottom area of the rear cap, six times. I refreshed  by rinsing out the pad or mitt in the rinse water bucket and then loaded new soap from the wash water bucket.

Once washed, I gave the area another good rinse. And then it was time to dry.

I have a lot of microfiber drying towels. They absorb so much water that I was able to do the rear cap of the Castaway with three towels. For the upper part, I had to be on an 8-foot step ladder, barely high enough to reach the very top of the coach. I carried two towels with me. One to absorb most of the water and the second to lift off whatever water remained on the surface.

Given the width of the rear cap, I had to reposition the ladder four times to cover all of the top areas.

Now that this area was clean and dry, I could apply the paint sealant. I am using Rejex for the coach. From their website:

RejeX is a water-clear, thin film polymer coating designed to provide an ultra-high-release surface. RejeX is commonly used as a paint sealant providing a high-performance alternative to conventional wax-based products to maximize protection and shine on vehicles of all sorts, including aircraft, cars, motorcycles, boats and RVs.

Very straightforward product to apply. Just like a wax, a small amount of product gets applied to the surface and, once it dries to a haze, buff to a high-gloss shine.

Rejex wants 12 hours to cure so I had to check the weather to make sure I would get those 12 hours. And I did. The rear cap looks great. I spent roughly 2 hours on the rear cap.

The front cap was a lot more involved because of the windshield.

For the windshield, I clayed the glass, I polished the glass, and I applied two coats of water repellant followed by a lengthy buffing session. The water repellant was challenging to buff out. I used Griot’s glass treatment products all around.

Because the windshield is so large and so high, I had to use the step ladder for the entire process. I divided the windshield into four zones and went to work. All told, it took about 4 hours just to do the windshield.

As I started to run out of time, I could only apply sealant to the bottom half of the front cap.

The water repellant is impressive. I could see the morning dew literally run off the windshield.

My mission later today? Complete one side of the Castaway. I am planning to tackle driver’s side.

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.