Friday, May 25, 2012

RV Improvements and Observations

Here's the floorplan of my new RV, a 1999 Four Winds 5000, 28A, which hasn't changed much in 13 years. Even without slideouts, it's roomy and feels spacious:

There is so much I like about this unit.  For one, the layout is attractive, and convenient in every way -- very well thought out.  The woodwork is beautiful.  The cabinets close securely. The color scheme throughout is attractive, with nappy gray/brown fabric on the couches and seats that will wear well and won't show dirt.  I like that it's carpeted, and the carpet is clean.  The couches are comfortable.  The couch bed flips open with one flick of the wrist, and there's still room to walk around.
I love my kitchen, complete with vented stove, oven, microwave, double sink, and window blinds, and there is plenty of storage.  Both the hot water heater and refrigerator operate on both AC and LP gas, and the fridge gets plenty cold.  And it's plenty roomy.

The windows have screens which are all in perfect shape, and they all have these very cool pleated fabric blinds that pull up and down, one for shade, the other for privacy.

L to R, Willow, Maxie, Lucky Lucy, Pepper
The bedroom delights me so much, I've taken several naps out there.  Not much walking space, but the queen mattress is  7" of memory foam, extremely comfortable. I need a soft bed.   There's plenty of storage in that room, and a form fitting bedspread and throw pillow, in colors that won't show dirt!  My dogs have already claimed this space!  They know it's all for them.
There's a side table by the bed, which many RV's don't have (even the fancy ones), with convenient electric plug placement for a reading lamp and fan, and I bought myself a little radio, casette/CD player so I can listen to radio, music or Books On Tape.  I keep it going even more than the TV. Very cozy.  After a hard day of trialing, I'm looking forward to kicking back in my plush bed surrounded by snoring dogs, and being read to sleep.  My friend Joy donated me several Books-On-Tape casettes that she buys from the Library for $1 each, then passes along to friends.

It's hard to find things small enough to fit in tight spaces, but soon after I got home I found a little wooden medicine cabinet at Lowes, for the bathroom.  It looks like a built in, a perfect color match, and was on sale for $24. I installed it immediately. It's a bit tricky finding wooden beams behind the thin interior walls, but I did. Also installed a paper towel rack inside the door of the cabinet under the kitchen sink.

I noticed right off that the shower takes up a lot of space, which goes un-used most of the time. So I measured the cavity and went searching for some stackable Sterlite drawers in which to store everything from dish towels to paperwork to small tools (stuff that clutters up the surfaces if there is no place to put it).  I found these drawers at Wal-Mart, and they turn the space into a useful dresser/closet/counter. I can remove the drawers to the bedroom whenever I want to take a shower, then stack them back in. When travelling, I secure the drawers in place with bungie cords. Along the sides I have room to store my Hokey, broom, window sun screens, etc.
I also purchased a one-piece unit for the outside compartment, very convenient for storing the myriad items of hardware one carries -- from small tools to bungie cords, duct tape, wasp spray and other things that would otherwise rattle around and make a mess.  This unit is easily removed as well when loading and unloading the rear compartment with all the porch furniture.  It fits in snuggly enough that it can't tump over, and I hope is sturdy enough that it won't break apart on the road.

You can see straight through to the other side, and the
back of the Sterlite drawers from the previous photo.
All my chairs, table, coolers, barbeque pit, fans, rugs, wagon and such forth fit in the two outside compartments. The back compartment is 2' wide x 9' across, a near perfect size for the bigger stuff, but there is absolutely NO wiggle room for our 2'x4' folding table, our 2' x 4' Xpen segments, and Lucky's large crate. These RV manufacturers need to get hip to the fact that many items that need storing are exactly 2' wide.  We need at least an extra 2-4 inches for clearance.

Most of the equipment I had purchased for the pop up camper (table, chairs, lamps, extension cords, clamps, pots, pans, dishes, etc.), work perfect in the RV.

I purchased 32' (two 16' units) of 48" high xpen to make a yard for my dogs. Ebay had a great price on these. I also built 15' of plastic lattice skirting along the bottom edge of the RV, to keep the dogs from escaping under the vehicle.  I was pleased to discover that the same edge pieces designed to cap off and strengthen the lattice, also slid on top of the x-pen segments to keep them more stable.  X-pens segments are, I've found, pretty flimsy unless you set up an octagon.  I still need to rig up, or invent, some sort of stabilizers at ground level.

Some would consider it a minus that my RV has no built in entertainment center.  Instead, there is an empty overhead bed.   However, for about $400, I designed my own.  With luck, I scored a $200 22" flat screen 1080 HDTV from Best Buy for $119 (their last unit), and a $79 BlueRay player on sale for $49, $80 for a swivel arm wall mount, and a Surround Sound Sound Bar from Target for $79, which looks/sounds great. (The regular TV speakers could barely be heard over the full blast air conditioner.) John already had a box to convert analog antenna signals to digital, and we plan to upgrade the antenna to receive signals from over 50 miles away. Of course, we expect mostly to use TV for local news, and to play DVD's and training videos. We also investigated Direct TV for our whole house with a portable box included to take on trips, but that option collapsed when they came out and told us we have too many trees on our property to receive clear satellite signals 24/7.  So we're stuck with cable. Bummer!

John and I spent all day yesterday, tearing out false walls and bottoms in the pictured overhead cabinet, to mount the TV on a swivel arm.  What a job, and we still have to hide all the wires!  But it looks great and I'm satisfied with my little "entertainment center".  And I still have all that overhead storage at my disposal.

I've repaired a bunch of little things too numerous to mention like a small tear in the drivers seat upholstery, a loose doorknob with stripped screws, etc, and added several little features like a 12 volt plug, an outside thermometer, a wall clock, driver and passenger window sun blockers, rugs on the steps, and so forth.  I love my little engineering projects, and am pretty good at problem solving.  It's heap good therapy, and I ain't finished.

When I am finished, I plan to make a list for RV developers to consider that would make their product just a wee bit better. 

I'm also getting the pop-up camper ready to sell, leaving in it all the improvements I've made. I'll be real proud if someone comes along who appreciates all the work I've done on that unit, especially claiming the vertical spaces with removable shelving.  To tell the truth, it's about as comfortable as the RV once it's set up. No kidding. Setting it up just takes too much time and energy when I have to run my dogs the same day.

So, I'm keeping busy.  Even though my vision is skewed and my Mom's health has me worried and my hip hurts so I'm not practicing agility and have yet to sign up for my next trial, at least I'm dreaming about competing again and preparing for it in what ways I can.

Upwards and onward!


nikki said...

Thank you for all of your husband and i are fixing to move into our rv. Iv been searching everywher trying to figure out a " yard " idea for my 3 girls...i have 2 chiweenies and a chocolate lab. They dnt run off but i wanted to be able to give them a " yard " they will enjoy.
Thanks agin for the tips.

Anonymous said...

What brand of xpen did you use? Does it have a full size gate for a person to be able to walk through

Anonymous said...

What brand xpen did u use? Does it have a full size gate that a person can walk through

Anonymous said...

Our rescue uses xpens for adoption events, and we use the small "single hole" or half cinder blocks to stabilize the bottom. You put a bungie cord through the hole and then Up onto the fence so the fence is held down to the ground.