I’m making some slight changes to the projected timetable for the trailer build. Due to the RV budget being used up on non-build-related items (travel, truck maintenance), it’s become apparent that I’m going to be using the truck camper for a while longer than I had originally planned. I had planned on being able to start really using the trailer by spring 2018, but with the planned expenses of the trailer build versus the available budget for it, it’s not going to happen that quickly. As a result, I’ve started putting a small amount of money into the truck camper to make it a more comfortable rig for me.
The October/November/December RV budget has been pretty much all used up with my October travels and a brake job on the Great White Knight. The rotors on the truck were getting warped and needed replacement. After doing some research I found that these rotors were not nearly as easy to replace as most sedans, and required a technical skill level that was well beyond what I was comfortable with, so the truck visited my local mechanic to get taken care of. It looks like the truck was on its original rotors (214,000 miles), so these new rotors should essentially last me the life of the truck, which is good to know.
Since I’m using the truck camper for up to the next year, I’ve decided to give it a few upgrades. Additional shelves, USB outlet, swivel-mounted TV, digital thermostat, replacement clearance lights, and a small generator.
The closet and cabinet spaces in the camper are pretty generous, but without some kind of shelving, they ended up being a lot of wasted space. I’ve added two shelves so far, and I’m thinking about a third, and that’s really helped make things more organized and better use the available space.
The camper, like most RVs, works on a 12v DC-based power system. It’s amazing then that there aren’t more car-style power outlets, since they’re really handy for charging phones and using small inverters to handle laptops and so forth. In fact, to charge my phone, I had to power on a 2,000-watt inverter (not that it’s actually using all 2000 watts), which was quite silly. To avoid doing that, I’ve installed a dual-USB port, right where I wanted it, above my right shoulder when I’m sitting down at the couch. The install went smoothly and I’m quite pleased that I’ll be able to keep my phone charged up without running the inverter.
Something else that I’ve learned about myself is that I use TV as my “escape”. Some people drink beer, others read books, but everyone has some way of unwinding at the end of the day, some way to recharge their batteries so to say. For me, Netflix really is the tool of choice, and I was viewing that service on my phone while in the camper. That worked, kind of, but not really all that well. I figured it was time to install a TV since I was going to be using this camper more than intended, so I put one it. It’s on a swivel mount, and I’ve routed all the cables so that they’ll move with the mount and be out of the way. I have an HDMI cable connected to it and routed behind the couch that will hook up to my phone so I can use the TV as a second monitor on my phone and watch Netflix, youtube, whatever. Also, just for amusement, I hooked up a digital TV antenna. Might be amusing to occasionally watch the local news at wherever I end up at.
The built-in thermostat (which controls the furnace only) had an on/off switch and a hot/cold slider. I don’t like anything with hot/cold sliders, especially if I have multiple settings I like to use. When I go to bed at night, and it’s going to be very cold out (below freezing), I like to set the thermostat up so it’ll keep the rig at a reasonable temperature to keep the tanks from freezing. During the day, I like it warmer when I’m doing computer work. Having a hot/cold slider, I’m constantly guessing at where it should be and making adjustments. It was always too hot or too cold. So I installed a digital thermostat. Installation was quick and easy and now I can set the temperature (and change it) just like in a house.
I also think I’ve figured out the source of the leaks in the front of the camper: the clearance lights. I’m betting the seals on them eventually gave way and that’s where water was coming in. Since the lenses on two of the five were broken completely, and I couldn’t find replacement lenses, I decided to go ahead and replace all of them with new LEDs. I haven’t seen what they look like at night yet, but they’re visible in the daytime, and I know they’re not going to leak!
And finally, the generator. This is something that would have been really helpful on my last trip up to MN/WI when I was getting a lot more clouds than sun and the batteries were really starting to get lower than I’d like. Thanks to the CRVL site where someone noticed a sale on a small inverter generator, it was finally cheap enough ($150) for me to pull the trigger and get it. It has enough power to charge the main batteries, my laptop and run the fridge all at once. It’s also basically the same noise level as the Honda eu2000, which is the benchmark for quiet RV generators. It arrived yesterday and today I got it all set up, did the initial 1-hour run, and then changed the oil. I’m set up and ready to run it for 100 hours before it’s due for its next oil change. I’m planning on using this as a backup for the solar system when it’s been a good while since I’ve had good sun and the batteries are getting low. I’m guessing I’ll use it a couple hours a week, at most.
And how do I know when it’s been running for 100 hours? I installed an hour-meter of course! Why generators don’t come with them standard, I don’t understand. It’s like a car without an odometer.
Oh, and I finally fixed the dually-lights on the Great White Knight too. One of them had fallen off (plastic fatigue), so I went ahead and replaced them with new LEDs. Since I had LEDs on the dually lights, I put LEDs in the brake lights too, that should help make it more visible at night and not be blinded out by the dually lights.
I’m sure you’ll notice that there were no upgrades or installations done in the trailer in today’s post. That’s pretty much because nothing has been done to the trailer. All of the upgrades/updates/installs I’ve done on the truck and camper have costed less than one month’s RV budget, and have had a large “bang for the buck.” My plans at this point are to hang around in TX until after Christmas, then I’ll be gone for a good while as I travel to RTR and then wander with friends afterwards. Sometime after I get back, and the RV budget has had a chance to recover, then I’ll get back to work on the trailer.