Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Hitting the Road After an Eventful Year

Location: Bunk House RV Park, Red Bay, Alabama

It’s been a year since we slowed down for a temporary hiatus in Florida. Little did we know it would take so long to get back on the road. But life continues at it’s own pace and we don’t move as fast as we used to.

We cut our last adventure short because Frank had ignored the pain in his left hip long enough that it was now inteferring with having fun. That just wasn’t going to do. So the first order of business was a new hip.

FP's Metal Hip

Of course that meant lots of this.

FP Recuperating

Then while he was recuperating, he was also searching the internet for a newer RV. And we found this.

Phaeton in Itasca out

Under the roof is our new to us 2012 Tiffin Phaeton 36 QSH. Outside in the rain is our 2005 Itasca Meridian 34H which was going to be for sale.


EJ says goodbye to Big Guy after we move him to Rick Baker’s RV in Green Cove Springs, FL to let him handle the sale. And sure enough, 6 months later he found a buyer and got us our asking price.

in the mean time, we had a load of projects we wanted to do on the Phaeton. Even though it is 2 foot longer, the storage space is not as usable as it was in the Itasca. So we set about to change that.

Bathroon Kleenex Holder and Shelf

We added trim to the window valance to turn it into a shelf. Also added was a kleenex box holder to free up precious counter space. In the dark by the toilet is a wooden bracket that holds the scales. We also added a towel rod with pieces from the Tiffin parts store.

Litter Box Cabinet

The previous owners had opted to not have a TV at this location. We turned the cabinet into a spot to contain the litter box. EJ installed the tile backsplash to give it some pizazz!

Litter Box Cabinet Pulled Out

The litter box is also accessible if the slide is closed. An important feature appreciated by the kitties. This required extending the cabinet by 4 inches which is concealed by trim and a place to hold spices and napkins.

New Pantry

Also a missing feature our Itasca had, was a pantry. EJ said we had to remedy that. So we took one of the overhead cabinets and turned it into a mini-pantry contating 3 pullouts. Much deliberation and mockups went into determining the proper heights for the shelves in the individual pullouts. Syrups, soups, and canned vegetables all have their own spots now.

Removed TV made storage added doors

This location used to hold a TV. Since we don’t watch TV in bed, it was kinda a waste for us. So instead we decided to make a shoe cabinet out of it. When we visited Red Bay, Al we had Chris Berry of Making Sawdust add a pair of doors to cover the opening. Now it looks like it came from the factory that way.

Bedroom Kleenex Holder

EJ wanted a place for kleenex tissues that didn’t involve the nightstands since they are pretty small. So we built a box to hang them overhead. That way the tissues can be easily reached while we’re in bed.

Another idiosyncrasy of the Phaeton is the use of vertical uprights on the shade valances. They take a lot of valuable counter space.


Here is an example. The nightstand on EJ’s side with the wooden covers.


Here is the same nightstand without the wooden covers. They look pretty, but they are really cover up a lot of valuable counter space. EJ also has a place to store her Kindle.

New Faucet, filtered water system, soap dispenser, Paper towel holder

The previous owners had the spray for the sink coiled up and stored under the kitchen counter. We kinda like a spray so we took the opportunity to replace the faucet with one that has a built in sprayer plus added a soap dispenser and a filtered water dispenser.

Old window treatment

EJ thought the old window treatments could use a little jazzing up. We like brighter colors, somehow they just make us happier.b(Even tho the picture shows the upright of the shade valance, all were removed to open up more counter space.)

New window treatment

The result really does make for a more interesting look. Subdued, but colorful.

While all this was going on, there was maintenance that needed attention too.

New Tires and Shocks

The tires were five years old and minor cracks in the sidewall were starting to show up. So new tires were installed and while the wheels were off, we had new Bilstien shocks installed also.

While all these mods and upgrades were taking place we had a couple of failures too.

Step Motor

One morning the steps stopped working. We had noticed they made an interesting noise when retracting ending with a “thunk”. Eventually they ending up just hanging there uselessly. We diagnosed the problem as a failed step motor. A quick replacement and we were back in business.

CO2 Alarm replacement

We got a  call one afternoon from the storage yard where we keep the RV that it was beeping loudly. We went to investigate and found the propane alarm going off. The propane tank was shut off and no leaks were detected. The alarm was 5 years old which is about the maximum life for for a propane detector. A new one was installed.

We wanted to protect our investment against electric faults so we added a SurgeGaurd, hardwired into our shorepower wiring. But installation uncovered a potentially disastrous problem.

Bad wiring

Bad Wiring2

And this was the wiring that supplies power to the whole coach. Needless to say, we remedied this very quickly and got the new SurgeGuard installed.

Our batteries were also 5 years old and we agonized for months over which batteries to buy. We finally developed a spreadsheet containing charging scenarios, battery types, solar controllers and panels. It highlighted a few issues we’d been mulling over and gave us a couple of options to pursue.

So these

Old flooded batteries

got replaced with these.


Yep, 400 amps of lithium batteries in an insulated box to help protect from freezing. In the process we lightened our load by about 240 pounds. I won’t go into the many advantages of lithium batteries, but we think they will serve us well.

Lithium buttoned up

The lithiums are installed and all buttoned up. The wiring, fuses and solenoids are all items to protect the batteries.

960 watts of power

And of course to power those lithium batteries we had to add some solar panels. We have a total of 960 watts which may be a little overkill, but that way we won’t have to tilt the panels so often.

Making some power

Finally, it’s all together, pumping some serious amps into the batteries.

EJ installing Spritzer

Soon EJ is putting the final touches on the motorhome and we get ready to roll.

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