Monday, April 16, 2018

WTF am I doing?

Honestly I'm not sure anymore.   I've made so many changes, I'm not even sure how things are going to turn out.  With about a month left for me to get to my work camping job over 3000 miles away, a used truck I'm not familiar with, and a rather tenuous living space situation; I am a little nervous to say the least.  A lack of a decent safety net or disposable cash too.

Will you fail me new friend?   Will you make it?
My original plan was to get a cargo trailer and build that out, but that kinda went the way of the dodo as my funds dwindled.   I still plan to do it, but ill have to re-save up some money.

So I moved onto plan B.

I had bought a very old and cheap pop up camper.  How cheap? $300.    But it is banged up and the canvas is rotted and not salvageable.   My plan was to somehow fashion hard sides on it that could pop up or failing that, just permanent hard side.   Id have to cram a shower in it somehow too. It would need new tires and more worriedly for me, it would probably need new bearings and grease.    It had small wheels which I have read are very prone to overheating and failing if they aren't changed often.   The popup wasn't my favorite idea but it was better than nothing and I was running out of time and options.

But then came Plan C

8 x16 ft, single axle k-160 RV by Dutchmen/Thor/Scamper. I don't know lol. 
About 2600 lbs dry with lpg tanks.  
Now, as circumstances would unfold, I got a deal on a small 'hybrid' RV.   The size is about what I like in an RV (though actually a little bigger than I'd like).   But I didn't need or like the pop out beds, so I will get rid of them (dinette makes a bed, or ill build one).   It was much heavier than the pop or dreamed cargo trailer, but the pickup I had, in theory, will pull it fine.   I did pull it from the seller to my family's property, but I could feel it back there.   Part of that is probably the poor gravel and dirt road they live on though.

Since the front part needed to be rebuilt/reframed anyway,
I decided to just remove the front bunk that folded down.
The catch of course, is that the trailer is in need of a lot of repair.   It has water damage.   Yes I know, you should never buy something with water damage, unless you are getting it for free and are a masochist.  Well I got it for nearly free, about $600 bucks, plus trade for the little popup I mentioned earlier.  I estimate about 150 in lumber etc, and maybe another 100 on miscellaneous.    I'm hoping i can just transfer the tags from the popup trailer and save that way.

This front side from ceiling to floor is trashed from a leak.  The dinette has been removed...
the floor was disintegrated to this state under the linoleum. 
Even though I have to basically rebuild the front part of the trailer from ceiling to floor, value wise I still made out way ahead.   If I deconstructed the rv down to the trailer and sold the frame plus  appliances and parts, I'd probably double my money.

But that is all irrelevant, because I'm not looking to flip it.   I need a place to stay for the next year (or however long it takes for me to get another solution).  What it does cost me is precious time.   I need this to be both road safe, and sleep safe (no mold) in a very narrow period of time and for practically no additional money beyond some lumber costs.

Possible?   Yes but it is gonna be tight and a lot of work.   Bad weather here isn't making it easier, sunny days are still interspersed with snow for Pete's sake!  On sunny days I'm working non-stop from morning to sunset, deconstructing it.   Luckily I have a carpenter in the family who is gonna be giving me advice and help supervise me with the building aspect.   I will, of course, supply most of the grunt work.

One the bright side, one of my main wishes for my rig is there, a shower.    And it is back behind the majority of the water damage, as is the kitchen. Whether it works or not is the question.   Despite being only 16 feet long, it has a shower, toilet, 3 way fridge of decent size, ducted heat , stove, microwave and an AC.  I have no idea if any of it works yet. 

The original source of the problems?   My favorite is how they went OVER not only the molding with this crappy sealer,
but over the awning molding and brackets as well.  

The electric I'm dubious about because it has a plug on the outside like most campers, but there is a converter box just sitting on the floor hard wired into the breaker/fuse box thing in the wall.  The battery hookups on the outside are three unlabeled wires, 2 of them are white with red ends and one is all red....so not sure wtf that means.   Red usually is positive, sometimes white does too, so where is the negative?

I really don't want to remove this water heater, piping and furnace,
but I need to rebuild the floor underneath them :(   
The plumbing has been redone I think, as it looks fairly new and done with plex.   There is a fresh water tank and 12volt pump, and there is a city connection too.   A hot water tank.  Im reaaaaaly hoping that the water heater, at least, works, as does the sewer system.   Well see I guess but right now I am focused on the framing and sealing it all up, I can probe the other stuff at my host site.

To seal it, I am going to use Eternabond Tape on the roof seams and down the seam on the sides.  This stuff is supposed to be a miracle worker for RV leak repair.  I used it on my old popup and it held up well.

I removed the molding already on one side.   I am going to tape it, then butyl caulk over it and then replace the molding.   I also got some self leveling lap sealant, and will go back over the roof features like the vents, AC, some old antenna, etc.  I will coat the roof and new exterior wall with elastomeric paint too like what I used on the van roof, which held up for 3 years so far.

Removing the old molding and caulking is extremely hard, but I discovered that a cheap oscillating tool with the smooth blade is amazing at getting the stuff off initially.   One of the few things I've bought lately i had no regrets about.   Ill use a wire wheel to clean up the metal before applying the Eternabond though, as it will not stick to silicone.  And the last idio..err...owners of the RV loved that silicone crap.   Ill post another blog post about the actual progress of repairing this thing.
So worth it, buy brand name blades though.
Road worthiness aspect, I had to buy some new tires, as expected of a new to you RV.  At least they were ridiculously cheap through amazon.  It is a lot newer than the popup and has larger 14 inch wheels, so I am hoping I can get away without having to get the bearings done. I just don't have the money or time for it now.  If i cant get to the host site, this too can be something i work on there.   I have 5 months to work on it then.

I bought a cheap taillight for it and a trailer plug adapter for my truck from amazon.  I also bought mirror extensions, because unfortunately my little trucks mirrors cant see around it.  The clip on extensions are cool, as replacing the mirrors will cost me way more time and money.   If they work as intended, I'll report back after I took them a few hundred miles.

I might have had more money if i did sell the van.   I am still kind of tempted.   But I am nervous about my rig having so many unknown factors going into this long trip, I wanted to keep the van as an absolute fail safe, fall back measure.  If this all goes to crap, I will make my way back home somehow and move back in the van to start over.

Lets hope that this doesn't happen though, and everything goes smoothly from here on out.



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