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.

Garmin RV 760LMT First Impressions

Standby

I ordered the Garmin RV 760LMT from Amazon last Friday. It arrived earlier this week. I have had a chance to work with it for a few days, enough to form a first impression in case you are thinking about buying this unit.

What’s in the box?

Open the box and you will find a GPS unit, a docking station, a windshield mount, a 12V car adapter and a very short USB cable. If you want the detailed manual, you have to jump online. You can download a pdf of the manual from the Garmin site here.

What did I like?

That 7-inch colour monitor! Very nice indeed.

I also liked BaseCamp.

We have used a number of Garmin GPS units over the years so the interface itself is very familiar although the integration with their desktop software, BaseCamp, is a new experience for me. Here is a sample screenshot of BaseCamp:

BaseCamp

BaseCamp is software that you run on your computer. It is free and you can download it from the Garmin site here. To use it, you really do need to pair it with a Garmin device.

Like any new software, BaseCamp does have a learning curve. I found that it took me several tries to plan a trip with two stopovers. But, once I gained a bit of mastery over the software, it was very easy to plan and export a trip back into the GPS. Under Garmin’s main menu is an icon for Apps. And under Apps is an icon for Trip Planner. There it was. My trip to Petosky Motorcoach Resort. All ready to go.

I liked Garmin Express, another software app that runs on your computer. Garmin Express manages the firmware and map updates for the GPS. The updates are free for the life of the device. Free updates? I liked that as well.

You can tell that the unit has been designed for the RV community. It has an extensive database of over 20,000 RV parks and service locations coupled with information about campground amenities.  It also allows you to enter the profile of your RV to identify any related restrictions.

What didn’t I like?

Two different USB connectors. A mini USB connector to the main unit and a standard USB connector on the small docking unit that connects to the back of the device.

Mounting. Garmin only provides a suction cup mount. I was able to make mine work by attaching the mount to the Driver’s side window just in front of my line of sight to the Driver’s side mirror. I was able to get enough of a pivot to provide a good view of the monitor. But the mount is fussy. Very easy to pivot just a bit too far and the unit literally drops out of the mount.

Overall First Impressions?

Very positive. I am glad we bought it. I’ll have better insight into the unit once we have completed our trip to the Petosky Motorcoach Resort in a couple of weeks.

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.

 

Garmin RV 760LMT

RV760LMT

The above image is from the Garmin RV 760LMT product page here.

I ordered this unit today so that we have an RV specific GPS before our next major trip with the Castaway.

The Castaway is equipped with an onboard GPS, part of Clarion’s NX405 in-dash system. I found the Clarion’s GPS frustrating to use. The NX405 is a capable head unit and the GPS software is powered by TomTom however using the touch panel for programming basic trips was a very poor experience.

We would like an RV specific GPS to help us plan our trips and stay away from things like low bridges and restricted roads. Preferably a unit that allows us to plan the trip in advance on a laptop.

The Garmin RV 760LMT looks like it will meet our needs. It features software, Garmin BaseCamp, that can be downloaded to a Mac or PC. The software pairs with the GPS and should allow us to do all of our detailed planning on our Mac and then download the plan back into our GPS.

I will provide a more comprehensive review once the unit arrives and we have had a chance to test it out.

Cross Border Expedition

JungleCruise

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.