Tag Archives: projects

2017 Project: Bigfoot Leveling System

20170614_150431.jpg We really like our Hitchhiker II LS 5th wheel. However, we’re missing a few extras that the newer rigs have. A couple of months ago we decided that for the foreseeable future we’d like to make a few upgrades and keep our current 5th wheel. The biggest upgrade for us was adding a power leveling system. We found that the Bigfoot Leveling System by Quadra was highly regarded by most everyone. This is a powerful hydraulic system. They make a fully automatic system – just push the button and it figures out what is level by itself. We opted to save nearly $900 and install a single pump, manual, four jack system. With this system you have a remote control and using the bubble levels already mounted on the camper you level the camper. The guys at the factory told me our 5th wheel was a bigger project than many and it took a day and a half to do the install. The good folks at Quadra were nothing but helpful and professional. They even let us sleep in the camper while it was parked overnight inside their facility. This is a new system for us, but we found ourselves on a rather un-level site our first night out with it. It took just a minute or so to bring the camper perfectly level. Jackie and I were both all smiles watching it work!

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2017 – Water Alarms

IMG_0030.JPG Here’s an inexpensive add on that might save some money by detecting water leaks early. We put one of these alarms in the bay of the 5th wheel. The other is under the kitchen sink. Hopefully, they are unnecessary and will never be used. However, just one event in which we are given early warning will make these water alarms worth every penny. We got them at Lowes.

2017 – Project: Replacement Propane Alarm

20170323_134619.jpg About 5:00 AM today we woke up to our propane alarm going off. It seems that propane, carbon monoxide, and smoke detectors are all programmed to die or at least run out of battery somewhere between 2:00 and 5:00 AM – at least that’s been our experience!

Seriously, we change out the batteries on schedule and seldom have that happen. However, the propane detector is wired into the RV batteries so it is generally out of sight and out of mind. That’s my motivation for writing about this now: since the propane detector is wired in it doesn’t start chirping due to batteries dieing it’s easily taken for granted.

Here’s the thing – these vital safety devices have a limited lifespan. Depending on who you ask they are intended to last 3-7 years. Ours was about 10 years old and it still tested okay when we thought to check it or set it off accidentally when cleaning next to it. That is until around 5:00 this morning.

I got up, pulled the ground wire off of it so it would be quiet and closed the propane tank valves just to be safe. Today we headed out to the RV supply store and bought the replacement. They aren’t cheap by any means and if yours is nearing the end of life you might want to shop online and save some money.

In our case, it seemed wise to spend the extra money, support the local supplier, and get the replacement. Swapping the units out took all of 3 minutes. If you haven’t checked your safety devices in a while this might be a good day to do it…and don’t forget the easily forgotten hard-wired propane detection alarm.

2017 – Clothes Line Drying Rack

20170313_170808.jpg I hesitate to write about this because there are so many posts on the internet describing varying versions of this, but here’s our new PVC clothes line drying rack. Our Spendide washer/dryer combo handles only small loads and drying time, being limited to 110 volts, is rather slow. We’ve gotten in the habit of washing the clothes and then hanging them out to dry. On a warm, sunny day they dry about as quickly hanging out as they would in the dryer.

IMG_0028.JPG The PVC is 3/4″ and the cost of the whole project including the glue was less than $9. I cut the PVC to size, used the elbows to form the box, drilled holes, and ran the nylon rope. The “base” which is against the ladder is held in place by a bungee cord. The same nylon rope is used for the “top” of the rack. I looped it up over the ladder and then down to tie it off at an easy to reach level. The whole thing can be put up or taken down in a minute or two. This is an easy project and it will work for people like us who are actually hanging laundry but also for those who just want to hang out swim suits to dry.

2016 – End of the Year Expense Report

doing-the-budgetEvery year since we became fulltime RVers I’ve posted an expense sheet, but 2016 wasn’t a typical year. As I’ve written in previous entries to this blog we took an unexpected break from traveling to serve as interim pastor. That assignment lasted six months. Add to that around five months (January-March and then November-December) volunteering at San Jacinto Battlefield/Battleship Texas and there’s not much of the year left!

Our campground costs this year, as you can guess, have no connection to what anyone else would pay. Also, our F350 pickup has been mostly parked. We have a small car that doesn’t travel with us when we are on the road, but this year we ran the wheels off of it. In other words, our camping and travel costs in 2016 wouldn’t be of much help to anyone.

Basically, our expenditures are just living costs and don’t have anything to do with fulltiming. Because of that I’m not publishing an expense sheet for 2016.

A few months ago I did a blog entry on Second Wave Expenses. This was a terrific year for us to take on several replacements and do some upgrades. We also had a couple of major unwelcome expenses: a new air conditioner for the 5th wheel and a major repair on the car. These two items amounted to several thousand dollars. The fact that we weren’t traveling enabled us to absorb these biggies.

And, as I said, we had some other, more voluntary, expenses. They included stuff like:
• A new backup sewer hose
• Two-Way Radios
• Wilson WeBoost and antenna to replace our worn out Wilson Sleek
• Replaced all incandescents with LED Lights
• Two new Recliners
• Heated Mattress Pad (nice on winter nights)

All said and done, even with the major repairs plus all the voluntary purchases we came out on the positive side of the spreadsheet. Had we traveled as planned, I think we would have been about on budget but maybe a bit behind on the year.

Our plans are to return to touring in the early spring and to make our 2017 Adventure a good one. Stay tuned!