Oh, the Calamity!

No, seriously.

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What happened? I suffered a blowout on the Right Inner Rear tire at ~60 mph headed south on US85 about a mile north of Castle Rock. Good Sam Roadside Service to the rescue. Sort of. They covered the dispatch, but I still had to buy the new tire, and pay for the mounting. Total cost: $812 + $15 for the roadside pizza delivery from Anthony’s Pizza. 5 hours.

Why did it happen? Man, I hate for this to be Yet Another “The Dealer” Post, and I’m looking forward to just having the RV and being able to own whatever issues it has, but in the end, that’s what this post is. The Dealer told us that the tires were from 2012. And by “told us”, I don’t mean “They said they don’t deliver any RV on tires older than 7 years and we took them at their word”. I mean “They said they don’t deliver any RV on tires older than 7 years, and during the inspection/demo/walkaround, I specifically asked the tech to check each tire where I could not find/read the DOT code myself, and I watched him crawl under the RV to do it, and he told me they were all from 2012″.
Turns out, they were not all from 2012. One (the RF, which I found the DOT code on my own, incidentally) was from 2012. The rest, with one exception, were put on at the Workhorse factory, and are from either the 12th or 19th week of 2004, except the Left Inner Rear, which is from the spring of 2007.

So. Let’s start with 10 year old tires that have seen an average of 4000 mi/year. Inflate to the maximum pressure found on the sidewall. Drive.

Boom.

How do I avoid this?

  • Know how to read a DOT Date Code.
  • Inspect the tires on a new-to-you coach personally.
  • Insist on doing whatever it takes to get your own eyeballs (or camera) on that 4 digit code on each tire.
  • Do not trust anyone else with this.
  • Use your smartphone to look up the correct tire pressures from the tire manufacturer’s website for your new-to-you coach at both the stated empty weight and at the GVWR.
  • Use this knowledge to have the tire pressures set someplace in the ballpark of ‘correct’ – with a little too much being better than ‘maybe not enough’.

The tires were set to 95 in the rear and 110 out front. Since I had PLENTY of time to do the research while waiting for the tire guy, I learned that our smallish 30′ coach with a GVWR of 18,000 pounds would have been just fine with 75 pounds all around, and even that would have given us at 5-10 PSI cushion at our approximate weight of 16,000 pounds. The coach was delivered with the tires about 30 PSI overinflated in the front, and about 20-25 PSI overinflated in the back. Not surprised that one went off like a gunshot. The Tire Guy set them all to 75, and the improvement in ride quality and steering feel was…well, it didn’t feel like riding in a Conestoga Wagon on the Oregon Trail anymore.

What happens next? I called our sales guy this afternoon and told him what happened. He was profusely apologetic, did not understand how the shop could have missed this, apologized again, and they are setting us up to get replacements for the 4 vintage 2004/2007 tires, are setting up reimbursement for the cost of the roadside replacement (I might turn right around and use that money to replace the 2012 and new Bridgestone R250F tire, so I have a matched set all the way around), and are going to check/replace the sensors on the black and grey tanks – On Saturday morning, the black tank read 100% full after I emptied it, and the grey tank read 0% full before I emptied it.

A couple of commenters suggested that bitching about having the dealer fix a couple minor issues on a 10 year old RV wasn’t very interesting, and that they were waiting for some calamity, or tips on how to avoid calamity, or something similar…

Ask, and ye shall receive, gents! =)

The rest of the weekend was good – though dealing with the tire was so stressful, I wound up sleeping all day on Saturday, and I missed out on the 20th Annual Emma Crawford Coffin Races. Damn. Even when I lived there, I missed them. It seems like a festival (along with Nederland’s Frozen Dead Guy Days) that are a damn good time.

The Maiden Voyage of the YarrVee!

We picked up the YarrVee from Camping World in Golden yesterday – for the second time. The chips in the windshield were repaired, and Camping World did install a new stove to replace the one the Prior Owner had drilled a mysterious hole in. I thought that was going to be the case; someone commented that if they ‘repaired’ it, and we decided to replace it instead, it would only be about $400 to do so. That seemed like a small enough number that they’d do it, and I’m pleased to report that they did. On the other two remaining issues, the Passenger Seat is now clicking into place after being rotated – the mechanism seems like it just needed a cleaning and lubrication – and the parts for the driver’s seat power slide mechanism are backordered from Thor, with no ETA. We picked up the coach and will bring the coach back one more time to have the power seat parts installed, presuming we don’t just spring for a complete new aftermarket power seat base. All in all we’ve had a good experience with Camping World.

At the same time we were at Camping World of Golden, Audrey’s parents were also at Camping World…in Longmont, however, picking up their new-to-them 1997 Fleetwood Discovery 37V, which you can see at the very end of the video.

Funny story time!

We’ve been researching coaches for months. We’ve been sharing bits of our research – photos, ads of coaches we’ve gone to look at, etc., with Audrey’s parents when we have lunch with them. We stopped by in the CruiseAmerica rental we had for the weekend, and they took a tour. Purchasing the YarrVee was such a moment of serendipity that nobody was expecting it – not even us. So post-purchase, we were keeping the YarrVee secret from *everyone*. Man, was that hard to do! When we finally got our post-slide-repair, this-time-for-real delivery date for Saturday the 11th, Audrey texted her mom asking if we could take them to lunch, and we planned to surprise them with the Big Reveal…

“Sorry! We can’t. We’re going to be at Camping World in Longmont picking up our new RV!”

Cue us both making ScoobyDoo “Huh?” noises.

Audrey’s dad has said for years that she’s not inheriting a house, she’s inheriting an RV – it’s something that’s been on their radar for a long time. When they retire, they want to buy a small piece of property…someplace…to have a “home base” for 6 months out of the year. Our research spurred the thinking, “Hey, maybe we should try this out and decide whether or not we like it before we commit to it, huh?” That makes a lot of sense.

Next weekend we’re going to have a 2 RV Family Shakedown Cruise, and in November we’re planning to drive down to Santa Fe for the long weekend over Thanksgiving.

In other news, thank you to @MotorhomesCom and @connected_uk for mentioning us this morning! Now we’re off to Home Depot to look at paint. Those RV Camouflage Beige walls have GOT to go!

The Maiden Voyage of the YarrVee

The Maiden Voyage of the YarrVee – Golden, Colorado to Littleton, Colorado, preceded by a little walkaround.
The Fleetwood Discovery 37V seen at the end belongs to Audrey’s parents. They were at Camping World Longmont picking up their Discovery at the same time we were at Camping World Golden, picking up the YarrVee. There’s a funny story that goes with that – you can find that at our website, http://www.YarrVee.com

The video was shot using a GoPro Hero4 Silver and a Neewer GoPro Suction Cup Mount.

The music is “Brightly Fancy”, by Kevin MacLeod. This and many, many other Creative Commons Royalty-Free pieces can be found at http://www.incompetech.com
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Updated frequently starting soon!
New videos published 8am Mountain Time.

YarrVee.com
411 Walnut Street #9806
Green Cove Springs

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Tentative 2015 Itinerary
January 10, 2015 – Amarillo, TX
January 11-12, 2015 – DFW, TX
January 13-14, 2015 – Houston, TX
January 15-16, 2015 – New Orleans, LA
January 17-18, 2015 – Pensacola, FL
January 19-?, 2015 – Jacksonville, FL

April 19-24, 2015 – Las Vegas, NV
ServiceNow Knowledge15 – http://knowledge.servicenow.com/

September 4-7. 2015 – Atlanta, GA
Dragoncon – http://www.dragoncon.org/

We did it!

After months and months of research, countless hours of looking at RVs, planning out our budget, and lowering our expectations to fit our budget

We made the purchase!

On the 29th of September, we went to our local Camping World to look at a 1996 Itasca Suncruiser 37RW that was less than $9000. We had (very) low expectations, since that’s about 1/2 what similar coaches cost. When we arrived and asked to see it, the salesman warned us away from it, saying that they’d been told that it needed a new roof, and that there was water damage, and that it was headed to the auction within a couple of days. It was dirty. It was neglected. It had (small) water stains in a half-dozen places in the corners of the ceiling. It didn’t smell like mold – which was good – but the engine also made that “chuff chuff chuff chuff” sound that old Ford 460 V-8s make when they’ve been neglected for years, which was not good. They couldn’t get the slide to run, and the coach batteries were completely shot; but it was the 3’x 4′ soft spot on the roof that turned the deal from “Serious, but Doable Fixer Upper” to “No Sale”. That’s something I’d have been willing to tackle if this were April.

Replacing a roof isn’t difficult if you can haz YouTube, it is somewhat time-consuming if you’ve never done it before, but,

  1. I haven’t done it before.
  2. It’s October, not April.
  3. That soft spot indicates that I’d likely be replacing joists in addition to plywood and roof material.
  4. The roof on the ’96 Suncruiser is fiberglass, not EPDM or TPO. This complicates the repair based on YouTube Research.

We were overly frank with our Sales Guy Extraordinaire, Chris Donovan, and told him that we could afford to buy the Itasca for cash, but if that fell through we didn’t have too many other options, since the inventory at the various local Camping Worlds usually has a few ‘beaters’ in the 8k-14k range, then they jump up to 40k and up.

Chris suggested we go up the hill to the back lot (where they keep the clunkers) to look at a 2005 Four Winds Hurricane that they had ‘out back’ that he thought there was a decent chance we could get into if we loved it.

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Chris told us that a customer had brought it in as a trade-in, and while that deal was happening, a different customer managed to sideswipe it in the parking lot, sort of sealing the deal, and sticking Camping World with a unit that was a good coach, but wasn’t up to snuff for the front lot anymore. They were kind of sour on it. All fixed up, with all the options tallied (Optional Dual ducted A/C, 50A hookup, 19″ LCD vs. CRT, Bedroom window awning, fog lamps, 40k miles, etc.) it books at $34,172 – $41,169, but with the damage down the curbside they had it listed at $29,999, lowered to $26,999. We spent 20 minutes in a light drizzle going briefly over our checklist. The damage down the side was almost entirely cosmetic – two small pieces of trim missing around the wheel wells, one bent storage latch that still functioned, some light paint scrapes at the rear of the coach, and one storage area door that had two ugly gouges in it.

Oh, and they couldn’t get the slide to go in.

We offered $25,000.

Being that it was the end of the month (The Wisdom of the Internet says *always* shop at the end of the month, right? Apparently, the Sales Manager agrees…) They accepted. We put down $1000 ‘earnest money’ with the proviso that we hadn’t driven it yet, or been able to perform a thorough inspection on level ground, and if it failed either, the deposit was refundable. We arranged to pick the coach up on Saturday, October 4. That week was the second longest week I’ve ever had at work.

We got a call from Chris on Thursday the 3rd. The slide was going to require parts, and they wouldn’t be in until the following week. We rescheduled pick-up tentatively for late Friday the 10th or early Saturday the 11th. THAT week was the longest week I’ve ever had at work.

Friday afternoon, I did the walkthrough with Wally, our service guy and learned about all the systems. I’m really happy with the attention to detail that Wally brought to getting the coach ready for us. The bathroom faucet is new, since the existing faucet was leaking onto the countertop. He put new parts in the Hydraulic system as part of the Slide repair, and did a complete fluid flush. New 50A shorepower cord. Documented for us that all 6 tires had been replaced in 2012.
10 two-sided pages of my checklist later, there were only 4 things that still needed addressing, which I was pretty amazed with, considering the exceptional complexity of something that is both an automobile and a house at the same time.

Once those were documented on the Owed to Customer sheet, we paid the rest of our down payment, and signed the rest of the paperwork to make it ours. We drove it away Friday night, and Saturday morning, our plans to go to Saint Vrain State Park overnight fell through (but that’s a story for another post…)

The coach is currently at Camping World of Denver having the 4 outstanding issues addressed.

  1. One chip in each windshield. At something like $1200 each to replace them, the chips need to be addressed before they become cracks.
  2. The power driver’s seat moves up and down, but not forward and backward.
  3. The passenger’s seat will unlock and swivel, but will not re-lock once unlocked, and the plastic tab to unlock the swivel is *extremely* stiff and tight – to the point of having to use the secondary rod to unlock the swivel action.
  4. I’ve saved The Big Deal for last… The oven will not light at all, and one of the burners (right rear) will not light consistently. Wally and I managed to fill the coach pretty good with unburned propane at one point trying to get them to go. Part of the cause for this seems to be linked to the fact that the stove/oven control panel has an obvious hole “DIY” drilled by the Prior Owner next to the gas knobs. There’s apparently a small grub screw inside that hole, and nobody knows what it does. Obviously, I’d like the stove and oven (and all of the included safety features) to work exactly as described in the Gas Range user’s manual and that, generally speaking, means that the range should not have ragged holes of an unknown purpose drilled in it by a former owner.We’ll see how that goes.

That said…here, have some pictures!

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We’ll have more pictures once we get the coach back, for sure.

Why Full Time? – Audrey’s Tale

Jon posed this question to me, which he picked up from a facebook group that we both belong to – Why did I want to go full time in an RV? Why drop the comforts of home for a life on the road?

And the answer? Well…there are a couple of reasons. Curiosity is one. I’ve had a deep love for retro Americana for as long as I can remember. Westerns, diners, route 66, no tell motels with kitch out their ears, roadside oddities and attractions – it’s all held a special place in my heart since I was a young girl. I don’t wax nostalgic for things that were, so much as I really enjoy looking at them in the context of today. There’s really something that appeals to my inner scribe about riding off into the sunset with my love at my side. I want to see all there is to see out there on the back roads and the main thoroughfares. I’m as in love with Manhattan as I am small town Jasper, Georgia. Every part of this country has something to learn from, and I just….want to learn it. Partaking in local culture, which is just so unique to each individual town, fills me with so much joy. If I could spend the rest of my life covering local festivals, I’d do it.

I’ve always been kind of a minimalist. I don’t need a lot to be happy. Give me an internet connection and a griddle, and I’m content to live pretty much anywhere. While I don’t share Jon’s incredible need for independence from a job, I do share the longing for the ability to travel anywhere I wish when I want to. And if location independent businesses are the way to do that without a magic windfall of money, then I’m all in – ready to go at the drop of a hat to sell my wares, ply my trades, and get funding where I can.

Road trips have always held a special place for me. There’s something magical about getting in a vehicle and just going. You stop where you stop and you’ll sleep when you get there. I don’t have a strong need to be tied to one place. Home is people. If your people move, so does your home. I have friends in the Bay Area and Atlanta, family in St. Louis, Atlanta, and California, people all over the country. I’ve got homes all over the country. I’ve a home with Jon, wherever we may roam.

Also, I blame Sam and Dean Winchester. I’ve never been so jealous of fictional characters with their ability to just toddle off and go. Jerks.

Why Full Time? – Jon’s tale

What made us decide to live in an RV as our Primary Residence?

* Pat Flynn’s SmartPassiveIncome podcast with Jessica and Cliff Larrew.
* Sean Ogle’s LocationRebel community, which I joined at the start of 2012.
* The Tropical MBA podcast – These guys are great, and hugely inspirational to me.
* Receiving 3 corporate emails over a 6 month period mourning the unexpected death of retired coworkers…
– they were all between 55-62.
– they all died within 18 months of retirement,
– one of them retired, and then kicked it within 8 weeks.

EFF. THAT. NOISE.

I’ve got 7 more years here before I could retire at 55 with a retirement of about $32,000/year. ¹

I am the Captain of my own life. It’s my journey, and not anybody else’s.
I’ve been ready to stop trading my time for a fixed pittance of cash while working for someone else and work for myself since I was 19 years old. I lacked the technology and the know-how, and to a certain extent, the chutzpah to do so before now.

I *could* stay here at this City Job, comfortable apartment, etc. It’s quite a nice life I have here…and I could warm the chair I’m sitting in for another 7 years and be rewarded with $32,000/year until the day I die.

Which might be 6 months after I retire.

No thanks.

That’s not to say I don’t have fears…

* I’ve still got debt – that scares me, and is why I’m keeping The J-O-B (for at least part, if not most of) 2015.
* I’m still spinning up the side business(es) to something more than “poorly paying part time hobby” – that scares me.
* I’m still trying to figure out how to run a proper business, but “poorly paying part time hobby” doesn’t really cover the services of an accountant or other advisor-type professional. That scares me.

But I also don’t want to be my mother.
She’s always dreamt of traveling around the country, seeing the sights.
She’s 71, and will probably not ever get the opportunity to do so. She doesn’t trust herself to be able to handle the physical aspects of setting up and breaking down a campsite, so she wants to do it with a Full Time Travel Partner – which I don’t know that she’ll find…presuming, of course, that she can afford a reliable RV with the sum that she could get from selling every other thing she owns.

I’m really hoping she can – I think she’d love the hell out of life on the road. =)

So…that’s the (quite long) explanation of why I, personally, have made the decision to get out of this chair, leave the safety and comfort of an apartment, and figure out how to make money on the road – until the day I drop dead.

-Jon


¹ Adjusting my current salary for 7 years of predicted inflation, by looking at inflation from 7 years ago; presuming I don’t change job title in a manner that results in a substantial pay increase between now and retirement, and multiplying the total by the “40% of the highest average pay in the last 3 years” that I could retire with at that point.