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:
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.
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.
Standing at the bottom of the stairs. Waiting for the climb to begin.
I had just finished a full day of touring in London, England, well in excess of 30,000 steps, and the thought of climbing yet another long staircase seemed overwhelming. And so I waited. I waited to start the climb.
I knew it would be worth it at the end of the climb. At the top of those stairs I would only be a few hundred paces from our room at the incredible Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park. There I could take my shoes off and recover from all of that walking.
Just get started. Climb that last set of stairs and get it over with. Although, jumping on the escalator would be so much easier.
What was I waiting for?
Did I want to take the easy way up those stairs?
We’re still waiting. Waiting to really, seriously, finally, and with great commitment take off in our motorhome and see the country. Waiting is painful. My DW has told me that I’m wishing my life away and should live in the moment. But that’s easier said than done. I’ve finally decided to retire in August 2016, and my wife will do the same the following April. That means we’re within 12 months of “taking off”. But after a dozen years of researching RVs, renting them for vacations, and buying our own dream home on wheels late last year, I’m chomping at the bit to hit the road.
I know exactly what he is going through. Right now I am waiting, waiting for our house to sell, waiting for my retirement date to arrive, waiting for our new life to start. And there is really no quick and easy escalator to take. It is a long climb and the end seems so far away.
If I look it this from the positive side of things though, I have learned something really important about myself.
I hate waiting.
There can be no greater joy than detailing a 40-foot motorhome.
Today, my body is racked with pain. And I still have one side left on the Castaway.
Detailing such a large vehicle is back breaking work.
Washing and drying off the driver’s side was pretty straightforward. Spending six hours applying and buffing paint sealant wasn’t complicated. It felt long especially with half of that time spent on a ladder stretching and straining to reach the almost out of reach areas of the coach.
The plan was to tackle the passenger side today.
I am so sore that I may need to defer that side until next week.
Now, where did I put that Advil?
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.
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 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.
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.
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.