End of SummerFriday, September 3rd, 2010 – Today my second daughter (left in the photo) is 18. Happy birthday Amit :) Wow. it is amazing how time flies. Another wonderful summer comes to an end, maybe one of the best summers I ever had. So what is for the fall? I am not sure. My two oldest daughters (in the photo on the right) are going to spend couple weeks with me later this month, but I don’t know yet where. We may go to PA and meet some friends, or stay around this area, or go south, or not. No idea. but not worry either.
Later this fall as I mentioned before we will be in TX and stay in the South West until the cold will go away. Days are starting to get shorter, and colder (I actually tuned on the heater today for the first time), but other areas are blooming – since we got laid off in January we could not find a new job, so I have decided to try and revive my own company, and it looks like there are some nice development in this area – so I am very happy about it. Looking for a brighter financial future.
RV RelocationWhat you call when you get a new rig? Relocation? :D in the RV world, the location of your house is not relevant, but still you are moving to a new home… You just park the two homes side by side, move stuff up and down the stairs – and you moved. No trucks, no utilities to reconnect – simple. We are getting ready for such relocation, and hopefully next week we will be in a new (for us) home. We are looking forward to all the new goodies and comforts of our next RV, but this – on the next blog.
Choosing a fifth wheel RV for Full Time RVingSo what did we learn in the last year about RVs? It is a huge difference between an RV for a vacation and the one you actually live in. Assuming you know you want a fifth wheel (choosing which type is a different topic) here is what we look for:
- Length – we think that around 35’ is a good size. It allows you enough room to roam, and place to put all your stuff.
- Weight – Make sure that you do not go over the towing limit of your truck or hitch. Also if you need a towing capability in your RV (for a boat or cargo trailer) make sure you have it.
- Layout / Floor Plan – The next important thing after the overall length is the floor plan. This includes the number of slide-outs and the arrangement of the rooms inside the RV.
- Front: Most RV will have the master bedroom in the front, including the bathroom and shower. We like those that have the isolated all-in-one private room. They usually come with 2 doors – one could be accessed from the hallway and one from the bedroom.
- Rear: The main part of the RV is usually divided into 2 parts – one is the kitchen and dinette, and the other is the living area. We have seen both variations of Rear Kitchen and Rear living. Personally we like the rear living, the one where there is a huge back window with a big screen TV that can pop up at night, and stored during the day – in a touch of a button. although there are advantages to either one.
- Storage: You will have to put everything you need in this RV, so make sure there is enough storage area. Enough cabinets, and particularly, a large basement area with lots of storage. There are units that come with a pull out storage drawer. This allows you to utilize all the space underneath the RV belly. Very nice addition if you find a unit with it.
- Generator – If you are planning on dry camping that can become very handy. If you are not sure – try to get an RV at least Generator Ready. You can always buy a portable one and connect it, but it is comfortable to have it there when you need it.
- Landing Gear – Automatic landing gear can save you time and save your back. If you plan to move a lot, this is a very nice feature to have. Again – not a must since there are many after-market products you can install. So if you find the rig of your dreams but it doesn’t have hydraulic landing gear – get it. you can add the jacks later.
- Shore connection console – the newer RVs are coming now with one compartment where all the valves and hoses are conveniently located. No more crawling to pull a lever or locate a hose. Just like landing gear – if you plan to move a lot – that can become a real saver.
- Insulation – As a full timer – you will be travelling in the winter too. And even in the south there are some cold nights, so a good insulated unit is very important. Make sure all the tanks and pipes are in a heated place or insulated as well. Newer units are 0 F° certified.
- A/C – Just like insulation for the winter – A/C is important in the summer. Coming from a hike on a hot summer day you will appreciate a nice cool home. Many units are coming with additional A/C unit in the master bedroom. We have one, but we never used it, so I guess it is not critical.
- Fireplace – Nice gimmick – but you can better utilize the space. This is basically a fake fireplace that has a heater with a blower behind it. You can get much more efficient space heaters, and the fake fireplace reminds me of Aquarium screen saver on a computer. I would put an office desk of another cabinet instead.
- Central Vac – Yet another feature that becomes more and more popular. We consider it as a ‘nice to have’. We carry our Dyson with us, and it serves us very well. We also have a rechargeable shark – handheld vacuum that can be very handy if something spills.
- Washer/Dryer Hookups – unlike dishwasher, where you can wash the dishes by hand, I don’t think you would take your clothes to the river and wash them by hand. Most campgrounds have a coin washer and dryer – but it is very convenient to have your clothes washed at the privacy of your home.
- Fresh Water Tank – The main thing to look for is the size. If you plan to be in a campground at all times – this is not so important, but the size of your tanks will determine how long you can stay dry camping. We usually do not drink the water from the tank (we buy bottled water) but we use the water for cleaning, dish washing, showers, bathrooms, etc. Other things to look at are insulation, and a pressure regulator in the city water connection (Too high of a pressure can ruin your pump). Winterizing for full-timing is not an issue, but if you are a planning to winterizing – make sure you have the ability to fill the tank with anti-freeze and drain the tank.
- Grey/Black water Tanks – The same rules of size and insulation apply here too. In addition – in the black water tank it is nice if you have a hose connector to wash the tank, This is something you need to do from time to time, and it makes it so much easier. As of size – our first tank to get full is the kitchen sink. so make sure you have those tanks plenty big.
- Water Heater – This is very important feature, If you don’t want to get stuck with soap and no hot water. The standard size is 6 gallon, but 12 gallon water heater is not rare find. Make sure it works with both LP and electricity, and it has a bypass for winterizing.
KitchenThis is the one area where there is a big difference between a weekender and a full timer. If you live in the RV you need enough room to prepare meals beyond hot-dogs and s’mores. So here is what to look at:
- Counter Space – Make sure there is enough space beside the stove and the sink for prep. In many units with rear living area, there is a kitchen island. If kitchen space is important to you – consider a unit with rear kitchen – those are usually bigger.
- Sinks – In a normal life schedule this is the area where dirty dishes are stored until washed. In most units you do not have (and probably do not want to) have a dishwasher – so make sure your sinks are big enough for preparing and washing. High faucet, and a rinsing hose (the one that detaches) are very helpful when washing big pans.
- Storage – You don’t want to run to the grocery store every day, and you want to have more than couple pans, so make sure you have enough room to store all the dishes and dry food. Very important is the area around the stove where the counter space is – you need comfortable access to spices and ingredients while you cook.
- Refrigerator – This is the toughest part, since most RV’s don’t have big enough refrigerator for full time living. Whenever we come back from the store we need to solve the puzzle from scratch – how to organize it so that everything fits in. And then, after you finally put the last piece of grocery in, and close the door – you feel like a yogurt – but to get to yogurt is not so easy. Try to get a big refrigerator (4 door if possible).
- Appliances – the only other think I would mention is the Microwave. Some units comes with a convection/Micro combo – that can become very handy since the oven is propane only, and not always easy or comfortable to work with.
EntertainmentUnits are coming nowadays with all kind of gadgets and options. From TVs that pulls up and down, through full surround system with subwoofer on the ceiling. Most of it could be added later as you go. After market additions that if you find them can add value and comfort are:
- Satellite Dish – You like the one that auto-lock. You do not need the one that lock in-motion, since in a fifth wheel – most of the time no one os the unit when you drive. The stationary one is great – once you park, you push a button and you are done.
- WiFi and Cellular Antennas – Those can boost your reception of either satellite signal, or Wi-Fi signal – when you use the campground fast internet.
- External TV Hookup – some units have special hookup for the TV in the storage unit, so you can take the smaller TV from the bedroom and hook it up outside.
Furniture and DesignHere the designs and styles are very individual, and should match your preferences. It is not easy to paint an RV from the inside so just make sure you are not choosing anything you won’t be able to look at. The furniture that come with the RV are pretty standard and usually include couple recliners, a couch, a dinette and a mater bed. Here are few things to pay attention to:
- Bed Size – We love King Size bed. It may give you some smaller walking area in the bedroom, but for us it is more comfortable. This is one of things that are very hard to change, and you have to make sure you get the size you like from the start.
- Hide-A-Bed couch – very nice when someone stays overnight and you don’t have to use air mattress on the very small floor area.
- Leather or Fabric – You will usually pay much less upfront for this addition when you buy the RV, compare to aftermarket proces of RV leather furniture.
- Den – You will probably need a place for your computer and to file some paperwork. Many RV’s offer a small den and a computer desk in their layout. If it is important to you – make sure you get a unit with the right space.
- Cabinets – Just like storage in the kitchen you will need enough room to put away your clothes, your crafts, and practically everything else you own and need to carry with you. Make sure you have enough room.
MechanicalIn addition to the living aspect of your unit – you need to make sure that it is durable, safe and in a good condition. Unlike a motorhome, there are not that many things to look at, but still there are some very important points to consider:
- Tires – make sure that the tires are in a good condition, not dry and safe to drive. Those tires carry a lot of weight, and if explode can cause a lot of damage. Consider installing a pressure monitor.
- Number of axles and suspension – The standard is 2 axles, but 3 axles can carry more weight, That means bigger water tankd more storage and generally safer. Also make sure that the suspension is maintenance free. I am not a great mechanic – but there many types out there and you should learn the differences.
- King Pin Box – This is the big pin in the front that connects to your vehicle’s fifth wheel. There are units that provide smother rides which means less mess to clean when you get to your camping place after riding this gravel access road.
- Leaks – Look at the floor for wet carpet signs or rotten wood, and look at the ceiling, esp inside the cabinets for leak marks.
- Frame – Iron frame could be very heavy. Aluminum frame is strong and light. make sure the frame is strong enough (Some are enforced).
- Exterior – Coated fiberglass is the most popular out there. Some units have front and back fiberglass covers as well which makes the unit look nicer. Look for cracks in the fiberglass, especially around the slide-outs and in the corners.