Frugal RVing In South States - Ebooks

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fête-Accompli :-)

The duelly is now back and is breathing more deeply, and purring beautifully on the down hills :-)  There are 3 new gauges on the dash, and we have stop and go power to suite our needs, brought to us by Bling Performance of Penticton, BC.  

We do have to fix a couple engine issues, but being 8 years old, you can expect a couple minor repairs, and we are grateful that the upgrades revealed them.  So now we have a loose, but not yet unsafe ball joint, and a small leak in the torque converter.  We did get a 1 year comprehensive warranty with the truck, but it apparently applies to road-side incidents.  The sales fellows where we bought the truck are going to try to go to bat for us with the warranty company.

The main argument will be that if it comes to a roadside emergency, the damage would likely require greater expense on their behalf.  (Not to mention if it causes an accident the bill could go much higher....)

As an added bonus, the installers of the tweaks also transferred our slip tank from Mack to Spirit.  That was definitely an appreciated gesture as it is not the lightest of fuel containers.... It holds about 265 Litres or close to 60 US gallons - a bit weighty, you might say.

We are very please to note that even with the tank in the box, we still have room for the new genset to also go in front of the 5th wheel hitch, so some of our ongoing space versus "needs"  issues are being taken care of.

(Caution, woman at the keyboard - subjects may change with little warning!  Be prepared for sudden redirection of thought train......)

On that front..........

 We are getting better at thinning.  This has been partially due to setting up the "Cottage" with things I was sure I would need in the rig, but haven't touched here.  One example is a 6 quart corningware dutch oven that I have had in the cupboards of the 5th wheel.  I used it a lot at the house, but I have a really nice pyrex oval casserole / cake pan that works very well and is versatile, and I have favoured it in baking.  

I also have accepted that the fridge and freezer that I have in either rig or camper is all I will have, so I have dispensed with the chest freezer I had under the nose.  Ken has thinned his tools somewhat, distributing the unneeded to family who might have better use for such things.

We also put the winter weight items in storage (and hopefully never to be seen again.... did I mention we will try Arizona next year?? I digress....)

I have managed to get the living room in order, and am moving on to the kitchen tomorrow.  

I have always liked the scooters, but we didn't get much opportunity to enjoy them before that dreaded four letter atrocious precipitants took hold (snow).  Now, Ken is getting the hang of them, and we are really going to enjoy them this summer.

Now, if we can find a gap in our plans on a good weather day, perhaps we can launch the kayaks.....

So on that happy thought, I bid you,


Monday, April 27, 2009

Overhaulin' The Duelly

It was a decent day, but the wind still had a bit of a bite.

Spirit went in today for his tweaking.  He is getting a chip, a deeper transmission pan, a bigger breather, and pipes, and an engine exhaust brake as well as the appropriate associated gauges.  It should accomplish adding an extra 100 hp for the uphill pull, and better control for slowing on the downhills.

We also dropped the washer off at the RV shop for final assessment of the malfunction, and decision on the resulting corrective measure.

I also bought some plastic sheets and bungees to cover the kayaks so that they don't become waterlogged in the rain.

The only other accomplishment for the day was that Glory took herself to the bathroom and had a successful deposit in the appropriate receptacle.  I feel safe in trusting her to find the right place and right time now which brings both of us relief.  :-)

With that success behind us, I bid you,


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Repair Of Gelcoat in 5th Wheel Nose

I have been itching to fix this hole for quite some time, but rather hesitant at the same time. Having discussed the repair with a fellow in the fall, and running into him again in the spring, I rekindled my confidence and just went for it.

I had a good weather day today, so I dove in and got it done. I still want to use poly-fil on it later as I used short fiber filler to give it strength, and it is still a bit rough. Nonetheless, I am quite content with the short term outcome.

Here is a quick before and after:

As for the process, I have a series of nine pictures showing the process, and I will now attempt to define the steps I took.

The items I needed for the job were: short fiber fiber-fil, 50 grit sandpaper, 400 grit sandpaper, poly-fil, and spray paint made for plastics.

First I cleaned the area thoroughly. (I used goof-off as the hole has been sealed since it was punched last summer with duct tape) I then removed the rougher pieces of chips around the hole. I left most of the fibrous debris in place to reduce the actual hole needing filling.

I then used the course 50 grit sandpaper to rough the surrounding area so that it would grip the filler. After dusting the sanding off, I inserted a piece of fiberglass patch into the hole and manipulated it into place.

I mixed the hardener into the fiber mix, and applied it to the hole. I made sure to use generous amounts especially in the hole to strengthen the weakest point. I had to move fast, and ensure that all the cracks and weak spots were covered, and I had to move quickly as the filler starts to solidify before 5 minutes is up.

After letting it fully harden, I smoothed off the roughest points, and mixed a smaller batch to fill the deeper gaps and lumpy areas and let that also dry.

I then sanded it as smooth as I could, and applied the paint in even wavings of the can. Like I say, I did want to use the small hole filler, but haven't done so yet, but as you can see, it is still a whole lot better than a hole or duct taping patch. I will eventually get around to the final smoothing. :-)

I also took a picture of the much less elaborate rubber patch just to dot and cross my former loose ends. We have had a couple rains since I repaired it, and it is definitely a successful patch. This if from the roof looking across the back slides.

The final accomplishment is that I got the kayaks fastened to the roof of the fifth wheel in a fashion that has me confident that they will hold in the air flow coming at them when the rig is whipping down the highway.

Posted by Picasa

So, content in these accomplishments today, I bid you,


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Reviewing Our Roving Acre

In the mobile world in which we now live, we have the fifth wheel, and a 2001 duelly 3500 Ram (dubbed Spirit) which we got to replaced the 4 wheel drive 3500. The duel axle and 2 wheel drive improves our ability to handle the large fifth wheel as the extra axle stabilizes the load, and the 4 wheel drive just adds to the gross weight, taking away from what you can actually carry. We are having an engine exhaust brake installed next week, and then we can confidently take on the mountain passes.

We also have a utility trailer (dubbed Peppy) for Ken's pottering in a mobile workshop, and a 2003 single axle 2500 Ram 4x4 (dubbed Smokey).

and a 3500 Ram 4x4 (Mack). 

This one originally towed the fifth wheel, but although it managed the mountains admirably, it truly was overtaxed in the pull. (One should be leary of dealerships honesty about your vehicle's ability to handle the proposed load of your trailers, especially in the prairies. If they think you are only going to traipse over the rolling hills of said terrain, they won't hesitate to over-value your capacity to haul.)

In our case, the dealership did the hitch install themselves, knowing we were taking on mountains. 

However, we have decide that of the 3 trucks, much as we love the Laramie 2500 (the red one), it can't be a back-up if anything goes wrong with the duelly. Therefore, we are keeping the 3500 Rams and selling the 2500.

Then we caught on to the idea of a camper because although we love our fifth wheel, it is 36.5 feet, and it is a bit bulky to pull into casual camping spots, or do frequent relocation. 

It is a more and more common practice among full timers, we have discovered.  (This shot is our camper, on the truck that brought it to the dealership where we bought it) It is a 1995 Explorer (The Cottage) that is 9' (plus cab overhang)

 The camper is currently enduring a last blast of winter in Bellevue Alberta at a friend's house. This was necessitated by the addition of the duelly.  We drove both the duelly and the 2500 with camper to Alberta for the licensing of the duelly, then left the camper and 2500 there before heading back.

We have also acquired  2 kayaks. Even with 2 people, having each our own boat means independant exploration. The 2 are depicted below. Mine is the one thats colour scheme is called fire (dubbed Blaze).  (The red one still wants a name.  Ken will decide after his maiden voyage). They are made by Necky, and are the Manitou Sport 11'.

We bought a couple mounting brackets called seawings. They are meant to mount on the cross braces of a roof rack, but Ken mounted them on a 6' 2x4, with a 2' 2x4 cross for stability. This way, we can mount them on the fifth wheel, the truck roof, or the camper. I put weather stripping on the footing to pad the roof of whichever carrier it is on.

Finally, we have the 2 moped style scooters for short pottering about.  These will be especially useful with the camper as it will be more convenient going out on them than it will be to either undo the hook-ups, or unload the cottage any time you want to go for groceries, propane, or just off to take in scenery.  I found a way to hitch one of the grocery carts as a trailer, and a milk crate each can carry small loads.  :-)  I did my first grocery run this morning.  I think I am going to name mine Clarice after the mule from Apple Dumpling Gang, but the jury is still out on that one.

The rack that Ken is beside can mount on the back of the fifth wheel as shown, or be mounted on a front hitch installed on the blue 3500 when out in the camper.

After looking around our pad, I have dubbed the ensemble The Roving Acre.  I think it is an appropriate title ..... wouldn't you say??

So that sums up the makings of our comings and goings.  And with that, I bid you,


Friday, April 24, 2009

Beaver Tree

Two posts ago, I mentioned the beaver tree. Here are the pictures I wanted to take. It amazes me how little trunk is left to support this full and lively plumage.

As for the washer, I should have no problem getting a brand new one. I played this noise for the company service and parts fellow:

Posted by Picasa

He has to run it by his boss, but even over the phone, he stated that it was beyond much contention that something was seriously wrong....

I should hear back by Monday as to how we are proceeding.

I am off to enjoy the sunshine as today is beautiful!!

So to you, I say,


Wash and Go..

We have 2 new matters that are on our hopper right now.  The heavier issue is that the new washing dryer is the lemon in the healthy pile.  The repairman who assessed the problem says that in general, they are a good machine, but this one has a serious defect.

Our progression from here is that Splendide has requested I fax the receipt and I included the assessment sheet by the repairman.  In all, it seems that once they confirm the defect, we seem to be inline to have it replaced, as the repair would not be cost effective.  At this time I am content with the progress.

The "and go" portion of the title is, perhaps whimsical, but purposeful for our needs.
I am in the final stages of training Glory to the use of the toilet.  Currently, her litter pan was as small as possible, but with the acquisition of the "cottage", it is much more challenging to find a place for it to be placed.  To me, the simpler solution was to have her use the toilet like the rest of us.  Then all we need is a pet door on the bathroom.  We already have that in the 5th wheel as that is where the litter box had resided.

I have had 3 cats in the past that have gone through the training.  Generally, it take about a month and a half to complete the training, but Glory had a previous round of training.  The non-completion of the training was in part assisted by the fact that she was training in tandem with her sister who now resides in Victoria.  One of them was somewhat adverse to the training, and evidence was lacking for the conviction.

Now Glory is at the point where she is using the toilet without a training pan, but I am still putting the pine pellets in to confirm the location.  In a few days I will just stop using the pellets.  I am holding off for now as I still have been closing her in the bathroom to assure myself that she doesn't seek out an alternate location.  

When she independently does it a couple times, I will consider it a done deal.

(Minor event later today - the bag of pellets is now in the over the toilet cupboard as she visited the powder room unescorted today, and did a #2 on the floor, and helped herself to the pellets in the bag to bury it....) - well, points for ingenuity anyway. LOL

So for now, I will head into my day and bid you,


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pictures, as requested - Thanks Raven :-)

In the comment of my last post, a dear friend inquired about pictures of the new truck (which has been dubbed everything from Whitey - yuck!! discouraging this one!!! , The White Knight  - better, but a bit wordy... and Spirit - my personal preference, base on the Spirit Bear of BC.  It is a white subspecies of black bear found on the west coast of BC, and to me, represents Power and Strength. )  Anyway, whatever the name, here Spirit is :-)   :

Posted by Picasa
It has also been too windy for me to undertake the repair of the gelcoat on the nose, but I will take before and after shots of it when I do.

I have another shot I plan to take shortly.  For those tagging along on my journey, you will remember my comments about my walk route, and how we suddenly saw thinks that had been there a while.  Walking by the beaver tree the other day, it amazingly enough is in full bud!!

I have one further thought I figured I should mention before I forget.  Again, thanks to Raven, and the fact that I have thoroughly enjoyed the luxury of in- suite laundry, I picked up by online order, 2 devices for the "cottage" (a 9' camper to galavant more freely in the summer months).  We got a wonder washer, and a counter top spin dryer, and I just tested them out today on my sheets.  They are both fast and efficient, and although a bit big, they are comparably smaller that any other options, and it keeps me able to do my laundry without dashing off to Laundromats.  One heads up though, the shipping cost was a bit of a shocker.  Get a quote before you commit, as you need to be aware.  It does arrive with exceptional speed though - about a week, even from the states.

So with all that, I bid you,  


Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I intended to get back to posting as soon as I got back to Oliver ...... In our absence, the resort has upgraded their wi-fi service for the guests, ........ Which, of course, left me worse off than I was before.

After waiting for 5 minutes per webpage to load, I had to forgo connection until I could sort out the issues.  I have lucked in today, but one of the new hosts came around today using terminology outside her ken, relaying them as a possible solution.  I will swing by the office in the morning to decipher the proposed solution.  But I digress...

Anyway, we did pick the new truck on Tuesday last week.  We then  left for Alberta on Wednesday, taking 2 trucks up with us - stopping in Nelson enroute.  Once we got the out of province inspection and plating done, we headed back with just the new (2001, but new to us) truck, leaving the other with my friend.  Now we are back to 2 trucks to return to get from Oliver to East Central Alberta. (BTW, we have an awesome condition 2003 Dodge Laramie Diesel 2500 4x4 crew cab short box that wants a loving home... for detail feel free to inquire... )    ;-)

We spent 3 nights in the camper while on our journey.  It was a bit cool the first night, but we worked things around, and we are quite content with the outcome.  We will be heading back to Alberta in mid to late May (dependent on the weather - we have waited this long for nice weather, we surely aren't rushing back to the end of winter again).  We will spend a couple weeks visiting family, then will be taking the blue 3500 single axle back to my girlfriend's house to pick up the camper.

Then we will attempt to spend some time exploring with it.  Among the planned stops are: Pilot's Cove near Creston, Barkerville, possibly Hat Creek Park, then the must see Banff, Jasper, and Lake Louise, and any other things that catch our eyes on our way through.  Once we finish with that, we will head back to pick up the big rig, and find a nice place to land for the rest of the summer.  Currently, Sundry has some potential for landing as some friends we met here will be manning a campground in the area.

We have decided that we will be going stateside for our next winter.  Now to figure out the details on that plan!!

The reinstating of the feeling of no fixed address is adding a thrill that we had nearly forgotten.

We have been starting to "detrench" ourselves from the site.  The skirting came down and was cleaned and folded, we are preparing a couple transferable carry racks for the kayaks, Ken is rearranging the utility trailer, and I am resorting the home contents in prep for being travel worthy.  

I have also reaquainted with an Autumn neighbour (who went stateside this year, but landed on his way back home) and have refreshed my coaching on how to patch the punched hole in the gelcoat in the nose of the fifth wheel.  Apparently, it should be an afternoon project.  - He would know, it is what he did for a living before he retired.  I'll let you know how it goes, I should be picking up the supplies tomorrow after waving good bye to him as they head out. (I think I got the direction well enough to do it on my own....)

I am also going to take a car wash brush, and a bucket of soapy water to the roof to give it a wash-down, and reorganize the basement so that things a bit easier to find.

I think that sums up the events of the recent past and pending prospective future...

So with that, I bid you,


We will be taking the scooters down, freshening the fuel, and giving them a run.  With any luck, we might even be able to launch the kayaks when the water is calm, in a local puddle.  

Friday, April 17, 2009

Quick Update From Afar

Well, I am borrowing a friend's computer to tag in as I won't be home for 2 more days. When I return, I will tell you all about finding the truck that will easily pull the 36 foot fifth wheel, dealing with getting the now 3 trucks to Alberta, and what the dickens I have been up to in general.

Stay tuned...... :-)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spring Has Sprung...Yeah!!!

I have experienced for the first time in months, the ability to go for a simple walk wearing a light shell jacket (which is tied around my waist by the end of the walk) and the sun is brightly shining.  Our temperatures are at or around the 20 degree mark in the daytime.  

In honour of this fantastic change, we have now started the process of detrenching, and organizing for departure.  We are down to only a few of the hardy folks who weathered Oliver's worst winter in 50 years, according to the locals.

Among the tasks we are dealing with, Ken and a local pal spent the last 4 days trying to straighten out the confusing maze of messed up wiring on the truck that tows the utility trailer.  It is now reassembled.

Meanwhile, I finally was able to patch the roof tear - an extremely quick and simple matter, but due to the cold and wet of winter, had to be duct taped until the weather was more accommodating.

I also discovered an untended minor leak in the pipes connecting the washing machine.  It simply required tightening a screw on the hose clamp, but as it was undiscovered for a fair while, the entire basement of the rig had to be emptied, and dried, not to mention drying out the contents that were in contact with the floor....  The drying took 2 full days.  Tomorrow I will be putting the last of the contents back in.

We are also sorting out so that we have a tool kit in each truck, and each rig so that we can deal with any repairs that may be needed when away from the tool trailer.  

In general I intend to have both the camper, and the 5th wheel set up so that things don't have to be transferred back and forth, allowing for less forgotten items when going from the "home" to the "cottage" and back.

The biggest push on getting this done is that in theory, we pull out on or around May 1, and we have to reinstate a mobility that we had only just started when we set out for Oliver back in October.  You might say that the newly learned is already rusty and needing renewing.

But we will get there......

So we prepare for another day of sorting ..... Perhaps this is a good time to introduce a new set of 2 e-books a friend of mine has just launched, "Sorting It Out" and "Sort It Out" about getting organized.  It definitely has some ideas and resources I will be looking into. (Thanks Rae)

So with that I will bid you,


Friday, April 3, 2009

... And Life Continues...

The day directly following Max's passing we had to slip into gear, and pretend that nothing was out of the ordinary.  It was challenging, but in a way, it delayed the immediate affect of the hole he left.

We had it arranged that we would be going to Bellevue to file taxes, drop off some unneededs and pick up some neededs.  In all, we were gone from Monday to Friday, and when we go on such trips, we have found a wonderful kennel where we were always comfortable leaving Max. This provided the illusion that we would simply return home, pick him up and life would be back to normal.

We arrived home today and the fence was down, and the excited greeter was absent....

The trip went well.  We went to Nelson and visited Ken's daughter and her kids for a night, then went on to deal with the main business in Alberta for the next 2 nights.  Then we stopped again on the way home, and came home today.  We has sun, rain, snow, blizzards, and in general, a full mixed bag of weather.  Spring is trying to break through, but Winter is still fighting it off in the south provincial border area.

Back in Oliver, it seems that the day at least has been in the above 0 zone.  It is anticipated highly that we will see the tail end of night slippage below 0.  You can tell that it is getting close to snowbird departure time.  We are slowly saying goodbye to the hardy folks that we spent the winter with.

It is interesting to observe, especially to those considering this lifestyle, that we have become closer to a lot of the people we have met in this 6 month period than we had to a lot of neighbours in previous fixed addresses.  This is a common occurrence, I have found.  Even in relatively short landings can create connections that last a lifetime. - especially in the cyber age.

Anyway, I have more to put away from the journey, so I will bid you,


Back here,