May 29, 2014

Progress in the Last Eight Days

When I left you last I had two cars for sale, a call schedule to put a deposit on a New Escape trailer and thought I'd be too busy to blog. I'll fill in some updates in this short available window of time.

A few days after my last post, Escape Trailer Industries emailed me with information on a previous buyer that had the same trailer I wanted, only a 2013 model. It was also in the same state where I lived, but a 4 hour drive north. Escape Trailer uses the "Referral Program" for potential buyers to see their trailers as they have no dealers they work with. When you are retired, I am finding out those kind of spur of the moment trips can be scheduled with a blink of an eye. I love road trips and it would not only give me a chance to see, touch and sit inside an Escape trailer before I decide to buy one but also check out my tow vehicle after 8 hours of round trip driving. Both the visit and the trip were a huge success that included an added bonus at the end that was not expected.

When I arrived to see the trailer around 11:30am I thought I'd do a walk around, glance at the exterior, the axles, the top, sit inside, take some notes, take some photos and see the custom features this buyer had Escape build for him and his wife. Well not only did I see the trailer but also had a GREAT 3 hour lesson/orientation plus a great lunch with Bob and his wife Linda. They had backpacked and tent camped many years before moving to trailers. They had moved to an Escape trailer after using an Aliner trailer for a short time. It sounded as if they had done just as much research in what to buy as far as a motorhome, or the truck/trailer combination as I had these past couple of years.

As Bob and I walked towards the building his trailer was parked in, he asked me if I had brought a pencil and paper? I replied I had my iPhone and would take some pictures plus add any notes to the Notes program on the phone. Bob stopped, turned back toward the house and came back outside handing me a clipboard, with paper and a pencil. Orientation had started ... and it was fantastic!!

It gave me a lot of information helping me decide if this was the correct trailer to buy. They had made 2 or 3 long trips out west from Indiana in this trailer, knew what worked, what needed to be changed or added to. A couple of times I kind of moved toward the steps to walk inside but was lead to a different part of the exterior to continue the lesson. We did not move inside the trailer until after we had lunch.

Those first few steps inside, felt different than all the trailers I had stepped inside of before. It didn't shake with each step, everything was quality material, modified to the owners wishes and was easy to see why you do not find a lot of these for sale as used trailers ... people keep them and use them.

On my return 4 hour trip home, that included traffic going around Indianapolis on the most "Famous Weekend in Sport....the Indy500 Weekend", I knew that I had the right tow vehicle and the correct trailer. The only thing of question was the scheduled phone call on May 26 with hopes I could get on the list in time for a January 15 delivery at the earliest.

I am 11 miles from home after almost 8 hours of driving on Friday, windows open, driving though some beautiful scenery on Hwy 67 going south when I thought I had heard my iPhone ring. I glanced at it and it was lighting up with caller ID: "Escape Trailers". I usually don't drive and talk on the phone at the same time but when I saw who was calling I decided I had to pick up. They were calling to let me know that I did NOT need to call on Monday the 26th of May because of a cancellation of a previous order, they had a spot open with a delivery date of October 14, 2014 !!!  If you look back at the previous blog post I had made on May 21, I stated that no matter what I was going to leave Indiana by October 15, 2014 to beat the incoming bad weather. It didn't matter if the house, cars had sold or not ... October 15 was the planned departure date.

Interesting how things work out isn't it.

So with a delivery date of October 14, I plan to drive and pick it up in Sumas Washington, which is their delivery point right across the USA/Canada border. The paperwork process always seems to be changing so I'll be prepared to go to their factory in Canada, hounds and all, if needed. The hounds and I will have all of our paperwork and passport ready in case the delivery needs to be at the factory in Canada.

So the trailer is set.

On to the cars. Both cars sat during the weekdays with NO responses ... not a sniff, a call, an email, nada. On a holiday weekend for some reason the car selling business decided to get started. I had more people stopping on Saturday and Sunday looking, with two of them making test drives and making offers on both cars. One car was paid for and picked up yesterday, the 28th. The 2nd car has an offer $2,500 below what I want for it. What I want for it is also below NADA, USAA suggested retail. They are willing to wait with their only offer to see if I eventually change my mind. I am willing to wait for a better offer.

Even without selling the 2nd car, I am finally down to two vehicles in my possession, while only 3 short months ago I had an old truck I rarely used, an RV I had decided I did not want and a 4x4 vehicle with an ailing engine plus one other car. Three of four of those are now gone.

Today felt like Friday, found out late this afternoon it was only Thursday. This retirement lifestyle is rough .... lol.  So with the trailer situation stable and in process, the vehicle situation stable, I can now turn all of my 'working' focus on the house and downsizing the last of my possessions. I swear "stuff" multiplies by itself, even when you have cut back on spending based on the "want or need" theory this past year.

With muggy weather starting and still having to mow my yard two times per week, I see my decisions to sell out and head west are the right decisions. With the call from Escape Trailers moving my delivery date up to the middle of October like I had planned as my departure date, seems to be a affirmation of the decisions I have chosen.

Progress is being made.

May 21, 2014

I'm Back Only to Update the Latest Plans

I'm back tonight, much sooner than you probably expected and sooner than I had planned on, but there has been some recent developments this afternoon. I thought I'd post the updates and then take a break from blogging ... my future schedule just got really busy today. I chose to, on the suggestion of a friend, to blog about things tonight, instead of continuing to stay away for a month or so and then posting when I got back "by the way, last May I decided and did this while I was away" .... I don't believe that is fair to people logging in to read this blog and have chosen to follow me.

I have spent the last couple of days getting prepared to leave the area for a short vacation. Some of my camping gear is missing. I believe it's one of those "senior moments" you hear about...all speculation I know :) ... but a few years ago camping was more of a regular activity. A younger relative needed some equipment on the trips I did not have time to go on. I believe that is where some of my stuff is. I forgot to get it back or ask for it back. I was pretty job oriented then and was extremely busy with traveling, so I just spaced it. It's not a big deal because it's all replaceable.

I spent more time than I wanted and expected at the local Bureau of Motor Vehicles this morning. Since my plates for the Chevy Truck were just bought a few weeks ago because in this state, my plates expire 28 April every year for all my vehicles ... I was wanting to transfer those plates to the Toyota FJ Cruiser that was just bought. It's a simple process and the lady doing my transaction has shown in the past to be very knowledgeable about her job. I felt good as I sat down up until she started frowning at the computer screen, then her hand went to her forehead and possibly some slight mumbling to herself, barely audible. I knew then I might see many other people sit down, do their transaction and then leave way before I would. I remained calm. It ended up being a successful transaction taking longer than planned but at least I was given a huge credit.

With everything transpiring with the vehicle changes, mind changing on what rigs to buy, etc ... there has been a lot of thinking going on about my plans going on. Those plans have been thought about for a long time but a lot of it just got sorted out the past few weeks and hit loudly today and I feel its all part of the plan starting to come together. The pieces of the puzzle are showing up with the most appropriate timing, something I thought might happen once I was retired.

You probably remember over these past few years I have looked at, blogged about, a lot of different ideas, a lot of different rigs, a lot of different trailers. So what I am going to explain was NOT just something that flashed through my mind and a minute later I decided to do it .... I might be crazy but I'm not insane.

Last week after looking at the RV in Indy, since I was near one of two large RV dealers in the area, I stopped in to look at used trailers and new trailers. They all had one thing in common, they felt like trailers when I stepped inside them. Nothing impressed me, new or old. They were poorly constructed, it was just a feel I had again about them. When winds out west are up to 50mph at times and I am moving the trailer a little bit just by stepping inside ... I see that as a problem. It wasn't  something I had not thought of before or felt before.

Through all my research there were a few manufacturers that had topped the list. Probably the Nash, Arctic Fox, Bigfoot and Escape (Canadian) always seemed to end up in my "favorites" folder of trailers I liked. The Jayco makes good stuff but it had that feel I described earlier.

So last week I was on a forum and saw "Production Dates" for a specific manufacturer. I didn't think much of it, because I always assumed I'd buy a used one. The problem with that theory was twofold. One, few were available and Two the used ones had retained their value to where there were a few $1,000s difference between a old and new one. The difference was small enough in most cases to make you consider just ordering a new one. Also rarely did I find a used trailer having everything I needed. The thing is with all of these trailers based on my past research and past Excel spreadsheets to compare ... they all ended up about the same total price but they all had different standard equipment and you were going to have to buy options to get what you NEEDED, not what you WANTED.

So a long story short .... {drum roll}

I called Escape Trailers in Canada today, late this afternoon, to place a deposit on a new build for a December 2014 delivery. I found out the last reservation spot sold earlier this morning. So they took down all of my information except my cc number and I am to call back soon for a January 2015 production date.

That is the trailer I am going to buy, no doubts, no changing my mind. Not only have I thought about that trailer before but with my recent change of tow vehicle, that changed the amount of weight I could tow ... it's all good, it wasn't a surprise. I have a close friend that has inspected them for me in real time, stepped inside them, touched and felt them and the trailer came highly recommended. With over 15 years of being on the road, more on the road than off, I felt their knowledge was more valuable than me traveling 2,000 miles to find out for myself on what very little experience I have.

Now that the trailer date has been decided ... and it definitely has ... that changes my plans of leaving  this week or next because based on my other decision I am about to tell you about ... after months, if not years of thinking about it ... Since my retirement roughly 6 weeks ago, I found out some things that I suspected would happen and have. Some of these reasons are personal and will not be blogged about nor discussed with anyone but basically it is something I thought about last year, all through this year and even years before an RV was even part of my vocabulary. I felt that once I retired I would have my answer ... that has come to be true and I have an answer.

I am selling my house.

My two cars are already listed for sale as of today and in fact one was cleaned today and is parked down by the US Highway I live on, that gets a lot of traffic. It will take longer than my 1994 Chevy which lasted about a day down by the highway before it sold. Now before we all go freakazoid about this move, don't look at this decision as if I'm selling out to go full-time rving/traveling, something I have never done but look at it with the perspective of the hounds and I relocating back to the western states where I spent over 20 years of my life. Only this time I'll not be looking to live on the beach in Carlsbad Calif like I did in 1977, nor Whidbey Island NW of Seattle where I spent 10 years before moving back to Indiana for job related excuses. Some where out in states many miles west of the Mississippi River, there is a place that will let me know when the time is right ... that's it. In the meantime, what little I keep will be stored at a friends and small enough amounts that things can be shipped or driven out to me. There will not be much to take because honestly after my downsizing last summer and fall, I really don't have that much stuff to move.

So the new plan is and has already started:

1.  Get down to one vehicle ... my tow vehicle the FJ Cruiser ... Two other cars are currently for sale.
2.  Deposit on a new trailer after years of study.... the time spent searching for a rig or trailer are over!!!
2.  Once the cars and house are sold I will hit the road and will either tent camp on my way to the western states and then find something locally to stay in until the January 2015 delivery date for my new trailer.
3.  Based on weather, I plan to leave Indiana no matter what has or has not sold, no later than October 15. Based on local market information I received last week in a conversation, it is very possible that my house will sell faster than one of my cars.  :) but I have to clean it out and clean it up for it to be shown to prospective buyers.

So as you see there is a reason I am not leaving for vacation or some camping like I had planned a couple of days ago. I cannot justify taking time off from here until I have prepped my house so that it it's prepared for the local Real Estate agent to show it. That also includes a final downsizing of possessions.

I HAVE A LOT of work to do, not only to prep the house for showings but also to get rid of the last of my possessions that I no longer want. It's NOT everything, just a few things that fall into that folder of either selling them online or donating them to libraries, Goodwill or local charities. This is stuff that I have not used or looked at in over a year or longer!! The stuff I blogged about in the past 3-4 months, that I didn't want to get rid of, most of that is going with me.

It's already close to June 1 and October 15, IF NOT SOONER is just right around the corner, so I don't have a lot of time. Currently the vehicles to do lists are all finished, either they are for sale or have been registered and have new tires. The humidity hit today and the hounds are panting on occasion and that's never a good sign. Highly motivating for me to get into action.

As far as selling the house and the moving part, I basically saw that decision weeks ago but put it on the back burner so to speak. Each day forward I could see it was the right thing to do.

So that is my plan update. Everything seems to be falling into place, just like I thought it would once I was in the retirement mode. I'm some of the readers are taking or placing side bets on if this happens ... when it does, I want a percentage of the winning amount.  LOL

I do not plan, as some of the blogs I read a few years ago, do daily or weekly blog updates about the downsizing of possessions, the status of car sales or house sale. I'm going to be off the blog for a while doing what I just discussed. I will finally have to get my butt off this chair and away from this computer day after day to get the things done in time for hounds and I to head west.

Time waits for no one.

May 20, 2014

Do I have ADHD?

You know when I haven't posted in 4 days or longer, things may be happening .... and they

A year ago in June 2013, someone told me that I had to make a choice to either find my comfort level in my tow vehicle or in my trailer.

During my drive home last Friday after looking at the 1984 33' Holiday Rambler I realized I might have to make some changes. I didn't like the longer larger vehicle (rv or truck). I know if I had only one dog that my idea about traveling would be small and off the grid as far as possible. One of the full-timers I follow has a big ole F350, towing a 26' trailer, he is off the grid a lot but has mentioned at times even though the truck is diesel and 4x4, he is in locations that he is hesitant in either approaching or has attempted with things bottoming out. That's not good when your truck is 20' and you have an additional 26-29' behind you. I thought about that for a few miles that I was driving last Friday. I was also thinking about a 33' RV towing the smallest toad ... still limited.

I also started thinking about the older Class A idea and how much that was really going to cost me in the long run for any kind of repairs lurking around the corner. I was sure they were similar to any old vehicle, in my case it was the VW buses I had a few years ago. That was, even though they were in great shape and road worthy, something always needed to be repaired.  Also that 33' HR I looked at was on a different website for sale .. no year listed but shows it was 37'. The paperwork inside that RV shows also that it was not a 1984 but a 1982. I also remembered past and current Class A owners that wanted or want to downsize. Parking something smaller was going to be more comfortable to me. So you can probably already tell that the "brain cells" have been moving, somewhat non-stop at times.

The other night I asked a follower that has traveled full-time in every thing possible, from a cargo trailer to a 40' motorhome with slides. My question to him was what did he think was the best traveling combination. He replied traveling solo he preferred a truck / trailer. With my hounds, I could still to do a truck / trailer. Yet, I was finding out with my recently purchased larger Chevy Silverado 2500HD 4x4 Short Bed, it was feeling bigger than I thought it would be. It was my first larger truck but I was getting use to it, hadn't backed into anything or sideswiped anything. I knew it could basically tow anything that I would want to live in. It would be a great truck hauling down the highway pulling a 30' trailer or even a 5th wheel but that was not what I wanted to do. I knew with the size, even though it was 4x4, it was not like a Jeep, Hummer or FJ Cruiser 4x4 ... that could get off the grid without problems.

Like all shopping addicts ... I had been looking at some particular brand 4x4 vehicles recently .... around my RV inspections ... lol. I've missed my H3 with cylinder problems and I also know that was my 2nd choice at the time I bought it. There is one vehicle I have always wanted and a few use that same vehicle to tow a trailer and it's tow rating is a little more than the H3 I had. It has a bigger engine than the I5 engine my H3 had.

A few nights ago I asked myself if you were down to just one vehicle (my plan) instead of 3 .... what vehicle would you chose for normal travel, off-road trips and still have the ability to tow a 19' trailer???

It's the Toyota FJ Cruiser.

Yes, I know 2014 will be their last model. That's fine with me, parts will always be available. After all, the H3 Hummer was no longer being made either.

Actually I had been looking at the FJ Cruiser online for quite a while....years. I had a price range it needed to fit in, miles? really didn't care but I wanted all the off-road packages..the rock rails, the skid plates, the 17" wheels, tow package, brake controller, transmission cooler, luggage rack and on top of that it should get 15-19 mpg. I'm told around 13 mpg if a trailer is being towed.

Well late, late Sunday night I was poking around online and found one that met all the requirements.  It was not listed on the site I normal doing my searching. A friend had recently bought her new used car from a different site and I decided to try that.....and there it was. A short drive away, all the photos shows it's in great shape. Good enough to call and possibly go see it. I don't mind a little wear and tear in the cargo area.  So I called the dealer first thing Monday morning, a couple of hours away, to get a ballpark figure for the trade in value of my Chevy Truck. The range was acceptable and even if he gave me the lowest number, a deal could be worked. I cleaned up, made a fresh cup of Seattle's Best Coffee and hit the road.

Long story short, he gave me more than the trade in range we spoke of on the phone. In his area, trucks like mine are popular. The FJ was in fact better shape outside and inside than I had anticipated. It sounded great, drove even better and one I knew I wanted after the test drive. At the time I did not know what they were going to give my for my truck. I knew that I was willing to accept even a little below the number we spoke of on the phone, this FJ was that good. I'd make up the difference with cash. Neatly folded and tucked into the owner's manual at different maintenance dates, were all the applicable receipts for oil changes and routine preventive maintenance. Someone liked record keeping just like me. It was a 1-owner, bought new and had all the options that I had been looking for.

Will this FJ be a 'toad'? That is doubtful. I have decided to move away from the old Class A option. I was always going to supplement my rig, rv or trailer with a 8x10' PaHa Que tent for the hounds and I during the day. Maybe something like a screen room. So I am back to a 19' trailer, around 3,500 lbs max. I know this is hard for those that travel in 35'-40' motorhomes ... but it's what I am comfortable doing and basically has been more original plan.

Another thing that got me thinking this way was the drive back home on Friday after the disappointing motorhome inspection. That is .... I need a vacation. I don't want to spend the summer or the next month spending time tracking down a trailer to travel in while time moves forward. I need to get away for at least a few weeks, maybe a month before it starts getting extremely hot and humid where I live. I can handle extremely hot and low humidity. I will probably even avoid places that are extremely hot for the hounds peace of mind.

So I am going to pack up my new to me vehicle, find my scattered camping equipment and buy new what I can't find ... pull out my 2015 Travel Atlas and hit the road. I still plan on boondocking but for the next few weeks to a month it's going to be pretty low key and camping like I use to, only with hounds this time. If it doesn't work then we will turn around and come back, no big deal.

So I have replaced the 7 year old tires on the FJ with Bridgestone Duelers AT's, checked all the belts, fluid levels. I have done tests for the hounds to get in and out of the back of the FJ, either from the side or the back door (seats fold down flat) and they have passed with flying colors....all except Winston. He loves to ride, loves to go ... so he refused to jump out the back , refused to even stand up to let me pick him up and help him to the ground.....because he loves to ride, loves to go anywhere in a moving vehicle.

So there you have it. For the hundredth time I have changed my mind on rigs and combinations. I have a tow vehicle that I have always wanted, even if I wasn't traveling. I am more confident taking that places off the grid than that long wheel base truck. I can live with whatever trailer I buy and so can the hounds.

Like my friend told me last year, whom I cannot remember, you have to find your comfort level either with your tow vehicle or with your trailer. I chose the tow vehicle.

I'll not be around for a while to update the blog. When I say I need to get away from my location, I also need to get away from computers. I'll take my iPad for GPS purposes and email ... but I will not be blogging for a while. I want to live days right now without a lot of electronics ... just good 'old school' daily activity.

I just need a break.

May 16, 2014

It Wasn't What They Said it Was....Lots of Humor Here!!

What makes people that are selling something, not tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth???? I'm confused. (~smiling)

On the phone this morning the seller said it was a 1984, the date wasn't listed on the ad. I ran a NADA to get some idea of the value plus looked at other rigs for sale from 1985-1990 Holiday Ramblers. Once again it was way under priced based on NADA for a 1984 Holiday Rambler Imperial. As the ad said he took it down to TN just last weekend. I looked up that trip on google maps and found it to be a 750 mile round trip. So I felt pretty good about the rig I was going to go look at.

Back in the years 2002-2008, I was buying VW Buses from the years 1961-1967, with the 67's being the last year of the split front window. I learned early from buying them online, always out of state, that most likely they will not look as good as the pictures on the sales ad. That's fine, I have no problem with that. This rig didn't either.

So last night a follower let me know there was another Holiday Rambler for sale in Indianapolis which is only a 1-1/2 hour drive from my house. The photos looked fantastic. The ad had a lot of detail except one ... what year was it? I was so excited about the possibilities, I called him at 8am, hoping it was still available. It was. Arrangements were made to meet today at 1pm to take a look at it. The seller was recovering from knee replacement, so he stayed inside the house while I went over the rig, inspecting it. I was there a total of 2 hours looking at everything and starting it. The rig was plugged into house power.

I started with the outside, yes it wasn't bright and shiny like the pictures, that middle striping was pealing but that didn't bother me. Over all outside was good, small dent in rear passenger side corner. Tow bar and 7-pin plug was good but looked like it wasn't used recently. That was kind of confusing because he kept telling me that he tows a trailer with his motorcycles when he travels. I climb up on top, caulking was old but that wasn't a big deal, I could re-caulk myself. Roof looked in great shape.

I went though all of the bay doors, everything was in good shape, no water damage, no rotting inside, original bay material was still in good shape. The two windows on the drivers side had both window awnings that were in great shape. On the drivers side, the 15 ft awning even included the correct piece in the middle that was attached to the rig as designed. The steps came out when the door opened just like the ad said ... even the doorbell worked. The tires are an off brand name but all are new like the ad said. As I step inside to inspect I am feeling really good so far about this rig. For a 1984 it's in great shape.

The inside was even better. No water stains anywhere, inside cabinets, lower cabinets, under sinks. No mouse traps were set but at the same time they were using this rig is what I am told and had just bought a huge 5th wheel. Everything from the driver's cab to the back bedroom was fantastic. All the closets were still in the original design, no modifications. The electrical outlets worked for the tv, all the lights worked ... every one. The oven and microwave were in new condition and as advertised the refrigerator and freezer were a new stainless steel unit....both were working.

I turned on the water pump and hot water heater, then went to look at other things while the water heater warmed up. I kept listening for the water pump to kick on but it never did after 30 minutes. I had pulled off the center console of the engine bay between the two front seats. Still after a while I never heard the water pump kick on.  Of course what might explain that, while looking under the rear bed at the water tank valves and for water damage, I actually moved the tank with my hand a little and looked closer .. the fresh water tank looked empty. Hmmmm, thought they used it last weekend on a trip??

Still the inside was FANTASTIC!!  At this point of the inspection I am thinking this rig is soon to be mine. In one of the cabinets I find the large notebook with the original owners manual just like the CL ad showed in the photo ...with one problem. He told me this was a 1984 and all the manuals say 1982. Then I find and take a picture of a manufacturer type title with the VIN and year from the factory ... 1982.  So it's not a 1984 like he said on the phone and there is no year listed on his CL ad.

What do you think about that?  Make me wonder if this is common or not.

While inspecting the inside the rig, two other people drove up and hung out for a bit by the rv. I asked if they were here to see the rv and both gave different answers..."No, I'm here to see the Honda Accord that's for sale, are you ....?" and "No, I'm here to see the truck that is for sale"  I'm looking around, there a huge 5th wheel, a truck, an Accord his daughter drove up in, two cars parked behind mine. I'm wondering at this time what this guy does. I had the wrong impression based on the phone call. Based on the phone conversation I'm picturing a family using the RV I'm wanting to buy, to travel in every summer, they have had it forever and they just moved up to a 5er and a new truck...a new truck is nowhere to be found. Now I'm wondering about this phone conversation and what is going on here.

All that doesn't matter ... the rig looks great, the generator looks great ... I'm feeling pretty good at this time. As we agreed, with the seller recouping from knee replacement, his 2nd in 7 months, I was to come to the house to get him when I had questions. Well I needed the keys to start it up and test drive it. The plate was current. While inside when I pushed the buttons for the pump and water heater, it was the same screen showing they were on as the levels of the different tanks, gas etc. Well nothing showed up for the tank levels nor the gas level. The propane tank showed full on the gage outside.

Before I go back out to start the rig we begin talking about all the trips he has been on but he mentions this "other 30' Class A toyhauler I had" and "the 5er".  No mention of the one rig I'm looking at as being the rig of choice for summer camping trips. A small flag goes up in my I also mentioned to him that I wasn't sure if there was any water in the fresh water tank to test the faucets, water heater and water pump. "Oh no, there's no water ... the rv is still winterized, in fact I have no idea when the oil was even changed last" I replied that I had checked the oil on the dipstick and it look like it had just been changed.

The man checking out the Honda stops us to ask if there is a license plate he can use to test drive the car. The seller says "I have dealer plates you can use, I'M AN RV DEALER" .... I hold back from laughing but I'm thinking to myself "what is going on here???"  LOL....Unbelievable, you cannot make this stuff up!!!  LOL On the inside my laughter is out of control....I am even laughing again as I type this.

I get the keys...I go back out and pull off the center console again so I can see and hear what this engine does. In my first inspection there was heavy oil residue around the valve covers....I'm thinking at the time that's ok, it's easy to get to and I can replace those cover gaskets myself. Well I turn they and it's cranking but not starting. The seller who had walked out to where I was because a truck had arrived to deliver another car with auction markings on I figured it was another car to sell, since he did say he was an RV DEALER....I mean, come on, what did you expect??  lol

He tells me it might take a few times because its a carburetor. I'm old enough to know about those so I keep pumping the gas and finally get it to kick over. Now remember before I tell you what happened...the seller told me in person and on the ad they had taken this rv on 750 mile round trip just LAST WEEKEND!  Well when the engine turns over, there is the highest shrill sound combined with a loud LOUD sound as if the muffler was not attached to the exhaust manifold. I had to cover my ears, it was that loud and high pitched....sounded like a belt or something that turns a belt....???

It finally stops...and the engine is idling with that loud no muffler sound. I checked under the rig when I was outside and would say the mufflers were more to being new than rusted and old...they were shiny silver.  I also hear a loud tapping sound of the valves....a sound I remember with untuned vw engines....the loud tapping sound was only on the right side, not the left. I turned on my iPhone and made a video so I could record the sound. But the whole sound of the engine on the passenger side did not sound normal at all ... not what a healthy engine would sound like.

I saw no blackened area around the headers like was suggested a few days ago. All I saw in question visually with the engine was the leaking valve covers...and those were nothing more than gasket replacement I think. So I rev the engine....the loud exhaust sound gets louder, small race car backfire....NO...I'm not making this stuff up. My Coachmen Class C was quiet, very quit at idle. Even the HR I passed on was sounding better than this one. My impression of the engine....I would be afraid to drive this out of his test drive, I had heard enough. But they did take this on a 750 mile trip just last weekend!!

So I go back inside to let him know that I had made a recording of the engine sound I couldn't identify and was going to let my mechanic listen to it and I would get back with him. I told him I liked everything else but I want to check the engine out first. He replied "that is a great engine, like I said we took it down to TN just last weekend".

So I left, did not give him any money for a deposit and returned on my 1-1/2 hour drive which gave me time to think.

I will not be buying that rig.

A Friday Morning Update

Thanks for all the comments last night, they were  a big help. Some of the comments confirmed my thoughts and doubts, while other comments gave me new things to look at it or think about. I have notified the seller that I will not move forward with the deal.

The good news is a follower of this blog told me about another Holiday Rambler nearby. I called that seller this morning 8am local time. I am the first caller and also will be the first person to see that rig today. He not only has the original owner manual but ALL service/maintenance receipts for the life of the rig. From the photos on the ad, it looks like it is in better shape than the one I just looked at.

The reason for him selling this Holiday Rambler that I am going to see, he just bought a new truck and a 5th wheel to continue his RV traveling.

I think I will have some great news later today.

May 15, 2014

I Need Some Help From the Expert Readers

Thanks for all the comments, they were helpful and very very informative. This is the information I was looking for. Some of them confirmed my thoughts and others were new things to consider.

The skies cleared this afternoon and there was going to be some good weather before it starts raining again on Friday. So after checking the weather radar, I texted the seller asking if I could come back over and take a closer look at the rig since the skies were bright an sunny. I was there within an hour.

I was able to crawl under the rig with my small bright flashlight and check the transmission, back side of wheels, checked for any kind so leaks, etc. The seller showed up from his job about the same time I did. I was able to open both panels in front and spend more time looking at the front part of the engine, hoses, radiator and fluids.

I was also able to go back inside and take a closer look. I also asked him to explain to me where the tanks were, how to winterize if needed. I rechecked places I had checked before for any kind of signs of water stains.

I also asked some repeat questions and received different answers from Tuesday but a more clearer picture about the history of the rig.

What I need to know is, should it be a deal breaker that this rig has been parked and unused for 4 years, no trips, no short trips, not driven anywhere, not even to put gas in the tanks...or from new things I found in today's inspection??

What I found with my 2nd inspection that was more in depth due to the clear weather is as follows:

1.  He used the floor jack that was sitting in front of the rig to raise the rig and change the front tires himself. Both were new Bridgestones.

2.  He said he also changed the 6 rear tires with Michelins where the tread was ok but not new like the front tires. I noticed the side walls showed cracking as in old but couldn't find the 4 digits to tell me how old the tires were. There was enough sidewall cracking that I would install new tires before heading on a 8 month journey.

3.  I asked him like I did Tuesday if he had the rig serviced at the local RV dealer/service. Today he said he never did, that he did all the servicing himself, Tuesday he said they had done some. When I called them on Wednesday to check, they knew him by name but had never worked on his RV.

4. The bottom black color all the way around was stained or delaminated with white stains but had never been driven in the winter on salty roads. I opened every bay, one thing I could not do during the rain storms. EVERY bin door on the back side was rotten. He suggested ways of repairing it, like drilling out the rivets and inserting new 3/4" wood. Still literally every bin door was water damaged on the inside. Each bin had looked like it had not been used in a long time, evidenced by dirt and a lot mice droppings and nests.

5. The generator looked clean, oil level was good and had a new filter but had only a few hours over 100. He said "I think it runs or it should run once there is enough gas in the tank but I ever used it. I always hooked up to campground power when I used it" Later I can explained but he used it the first 6 years of owning it for 10.

6.  The large bin included the water hoses, power cord, a bag of something, a small grill. I would replace everything I saw with new units.

7.  The awning and rails looked fairly new but he said they were changed out before he bought it from his dad.

8.  After going inside he lifted one of the beds to show me the valves of the water system and how to winterize. That area and plumbing looked good as new. I checked again under all the windows to check for water stains, there were none.

9. Lifted the stove unit below the burners and found evidence of a lot of mice traffic.

Things I found today that I didn't see Tuesday did make me feel less confident in my previous decision. The interior was nice but wasn't as impressive as I has seen with the lights on. All the plumbing under the sinks look in good shape with no signs of water damage.

So I am asking the readers with experience, is what I found today enough to change my decision. Are there future problems lurking with the rig sitting for 4 years and never used. From the title he showed me, it is a 1987, he bought it in 2004 so he has owned it 10 years and used it the first 6 years of ownership.

The ground was too saturated today to back it out for a test drive. He also mentioned Sunday as a pickup day not Saturday as originally planned.

Thanks for your help. I will be by the computer most of the night to answer any questions by email or reply to comments.


Two Months of Changes and Ideas

It's another cold rainy day here in the tropics of Southern Indiana. It looks like another session of rain is about 2 hours west of me. So with nothing else to do, I've been looking through notes, old emails, forums, answering emails and making blog comment replies. Remember it's the rain that is holding up the test drive for the rig I left a deposit on. He has it parked on a concrete slab under a portable garage but needs to back it out onto a grassy wet area before we can turn right and take it down the driveway to the country roads. He offered to drive the 4 miles of curvy, narrow, hilly country road until we got to the highway and I will probably take his offer.

Anyway I was flipping through my notes and it was only 10 or 11 short days ago I was all set on full-timing in a truck camper. I had even contacted a couple of people, both were out west. After a discussion with a full-timer about all of the different options, he brought up some very valid points on different options that needed to be thought about if full-timing was ever in my plans. When I did that self analyzing I was able to sort between "want" and "needs". After that it was pretty obvious that the truck camper was not going to work.

I'll go through each option to explain why I did or did not choose that particular rig. Still as usual a two month period brings a lot of changes in my thought process.

Truck Camper
Those crazy boondocking pictures do it. They make you think you can do things that are not possible with a fairly large bloodhound and two short legged bassets, none of the three are great "problem solvers" but their intentions are good. I have the truck where I could slide on a camper and have all I would need if it were just me. A PahaQua 8x10 tent would also be used for a little added outdoor shelter. You could go anywhere and camp where few others could go ... that's the magnetic pull I felt. I realized not only I, but the hounds needed somewhere to stretch out, to be able to move around on those days where the rain is pouring or the wind is howling, even if an unexpected snowfall shows up.

So, even it if was very very tempting and the two campers I was looking at were fantastic I had to pass. Not enough room and when I thought about it, in the three years of reading blogs I had never heard of anyone full-timing in a truck camper.

Fiberglass Trailers
Almost bought a Casita locally last year, and also a Lil Snoozy last September but realized tanks sizes would never work for boondocking. While spending hours inside the Casita talking to the seller it seemed too small for two adults let alone 3 dogs. I would have gone insane eventually, I think. Plus at the time a follower that was living in a Casita with numerous dogs and cats sent me an email in capital letters shouting DON'T BUY A CASITA. That made the decision pretty easy. Another case of "want" verses "need".

Trailers 18'-24'
Just last week I was choosing between two trailers, the Nash 18L and the Starcraft Launch 17FB. Both had similar floorplans, both has similar options but the Starcraft fresh water, gray and black tanks were just too small to boondock for any length of time. The plumbing part of camping is rarely talked about on blogs but if it isn't going into the black tank ... where else is it going?

One thing said recently by someone with experience turned my thinking process in a different direction. What happens when you either pull over to rest or to set up camp, it's bad weather and your home is sitting outside your truck five to ten feet away from you? You are either staying in the truck until the bad weather dies down or you are sprinting (hopefully not in the dark) from the truck to the trailer. Well I know for a fact my 3 hounds are going to say 'no...but hell no'....not doing it. The bloodhound wouldn't care about the weather but the bassets get no further than under the house overhang in bad weather when they have to go out, then a quick sprint back inside the house.  So I could see myself in the trailer and the hounds in the backseat of the truck, pouring rain ... not a good option.

Also, the hitching and unhitching every time you want to head for a new camp. Would that get old? Probably doesn't take a lot of time once you get use to it. I've been told by trailer full-timers it does get old. I will see if that makes a difference towing a toad.

In the past I also asked a few close friends that are on the road "If money was no option, what would you buy". In every case it was a self-contained rig where everything from driving to living was all in one spot. That led me to a Class C last September.

Class C
The Class C Coachmen I bought last fall was in great shape, had a nice new TempurPedic Mattress, new Bilstein Shocks, new Fantastic fan and a new larger backup camera. I thought that was the perfect vehicle. It was 26' long, 22' from the back of the front seats to the back wall, both microwave/convection oven looked like they had never been used ... every thing was good. That is until I went to register it and found out it was not a 2004 as advertised but a 2003. What was a good deal sales price was turned into a I paid too much for a 2003. I did ask when I was inspecting and saw the 2003 label inside the cabinet, but the seller said that was the year of the frame. I knew from reading it was possible to have a frame a year older than the rig. So I believed him. I did match the VIN on the registration to the VIN by the front window but at the time didn't know the 10th digit would tell me the frame age.

So the rig and I were kind of off to a bad start vibe wise. I wasn't happy about the mistake. I had paid more than what I should have. The following weekend when I decided to do a full in depth inspection crawling on my back looking at every inch of the rig underneath, is where I found oil lines dripping. You can read about the repair on the right side of this blog, as it is one of my blogs most popular posts. So that was strike two.

The longer I would sit in the rig with the hounds during the winter while it was winterized, the smaller the living area looked. Sadie the bloodhound claimed the couch the first day, Heidi the younger basset liked under the dining table next to my feet and Winston the older basset liked between the front seats or in the passenger seat. That Coachmen probably would have worked, it drove great, had 81,000 miles  but very few of those miles were the past 5 years. After the flat tire while sitting for the winter, I began to have my doubts that the rig was "meant for me" ... I kept thinking Murphy's Law had taken residence. I found out it was not the tire but the extended tire valve that was bad. Still, I lost confidence in the rig and had not even hit the road yet. So I sold it, bought a truck large enough to tow more than 4,500 lbs and decided I needed a trailer.

Class A
I looked at these a long time ago but they always seemed too big and too expensive. The repair cost scared me and in a way still does a little. One thing it had though was room, even without slide outs. A few people that travel with large dogs always suggested a Class A 30'-34' long, preferably a slide out. Still the times I sat in them, I didn't see me buying one. The used ones all smelled and showed wear and tear at the RV dealers I visited. The one I looked at locally and almost bought in March 2013 was a great 32' with a slide out but had spent most of it's life sitting with only 8,300 total miles if I remember right and a generator that didn't have 100 hours on it. I passed on it.

The ones I wanted were more than I wanted to pay. I felt the fastest  and best financial way to get on the road was a truck/trailer combo so that was what I was focused on most of the time. I never considered an 'old' Class A. Everyone said if you buy anything old be ready to be handy because there will always be something to fix. I remember that and stayed away from "vintage" anything. With my H3 Hummer I couldn't tow more than a small fiberglass trailer. Until I bought the Chevy truck that could tow 10,000 lbs, my trailer options were limited.

Yet, when I took my 586 mile round trip to Arkansas last September, a large majority motorhomes on the freeway were all towing a toad but were all "older" Class C's or A's. A few 5er's were on that freeway but I didn't see any of the older RVs on the side of the road with mechanical problems. The more forums I read or blogs from the left side list, I found that no matter what you lived in or drove ... there were repairs. New ones, old ones .. it is what it is. So basically what do you want to spend your money on when it comes time you need to fix something. Still I was looking only at trailers, then I started looking at used trailers that were nice, maybe even built a little better than the newer ones. So it even shocked me when I realized I liked that 1987 Holiday Rambler I saw on Craig's List just 50 miles away, this past week.

1987 Holiday Rambler
When I saw the photos, I knew it had just been washed because of the 5gal bucket in the photo and the shined wheel covers. The rig looked in great shape on the outside. I could tell it had been taken care of from comparing it to what I had seen at different RV lots I visited. I thought it was strange the ad would only have 5 exterior photos and no interior ... it must be trashed was my first thought. So I emailed the seller asking for interior photos. Within the next few hours of going back and looking at the exterior photos form the ad,I had the feeling described on this blog a few days ago. My interest was peaked enough that I told the seller to forget about taking the interior photos that I would be over on Tuesday to look at it. While looking at it I realized when they placed the ad they were in the process of cleaning it and de-winterizing it and wasn't expecting a visitor just a week after the ad was placed. It was clean inside as the pictures showed on my blog but they were in the clean up process.

It was storming with hard rain the night I looked at it, so I couldn't look as much as I wanted in the portable garage. Rain was blowing on us at times. With my bright small LED flashlight I could see enough and see quite well this rig had been taken care of. I slide my fingers between the tire tread, they felt like new. Glancing down the sides shows smooth surfaces with zero dents. The roof was in great shape with fresh caulking around the vents but was dirty from sitting inside. As soon as I stepped inside I knew this was the one or I hoped it was because it was better than I had expected, was the right color of furniture but it had not been test driven yet. The engine at idle sounded great, the oil on the dipstick was new, spark plug wires were new but it didn't have enough gas to fire off the generator. It was too wet to back out and take it for a drive, with a chance of getting it stuck in the saturated lawn.

All the solid oak cabinets were in mint condition and close straight and flush, no warping. No water stains anywhere, inside the open cabinets, under the sinks, below the windows, up along the ceiling ... the ceiling was in perfect shape. The carpets were in great shape even though they might come out later. I was impressed with the interior because it was in better shape than I had expected and what I had sat in at different RV dealers these past two years. There were no smells of any kind, nothing to hide smells, it just smelled clean.

I knew the CL ad was only 6 days old when I saw it. I also knew based on the condition of this rig it would not last long at the suggested price. It was below NADA and what comparable rigs were priced online. The seller claimed he did not know what it was worth, so I am not sure how the sales price was decided. My paranoid analytical brain gets in the way sometimes, so I let that low price pass. He was the 2nd owner and had bought it from his dad 8 years ago. The sellers family had rv'd every summer while growing up, making multiple cross country trips. It had not only been used on a regular basis but had been taken care of. One thing that did bother me, the tags showed 2010 so that means it has been sitting for 3-4 years. Yet, he had driven it recently to install new tires, the oil on the dipstick was new and had just de-winterized it. Everything worked as it needed to except the generator would not start even though it tried due to not having enough fuel in the gas tank.

As I looked around the two open garages I could tell the seller took good care of everything. His rebuilt 67 Camero was spotless as well as his Harley. The house garage was full of cars and clean. So I could tell the wheel covers on this rig were not just clean to sell it, they were clean and shiny because that was just the way the seller was.

You may not use all of them but a Class A gives you options that other trailers or Class C's that I was looking at don't. More storage, more room for the hounds and I to co-exist, enough room for a tv if needed and room for a desk to hold my iMac and 2nd monitor if I decide to go that way. Yes mpg is low, probably between 5-8mpg but a Class C towing a toad or a truck towing a trailer isn't going to do much better. I guess those would get 8-10 mpg, so a slight difference. In all my estimates I had always used $4/gal for gas and 5mpg for any rig. I don't plan on driving every two weeks, I plan to stay months at a time if I like the location and am able to stay that long. Racing from campground to campground will not be in my itinerary.

I can still boondock like Paul & Nina or Al & Kelly do with their Class A's. I will tow something, just not sure yet. Tom kind of liked the idea of a small covered cargo trailer with the Mini Cooper inside.

Since I knew the seller had a lot of calls about this rig and had people coming this weekend to look at it, I decided since it was in great shape, sounded good at idling speed and was priced right, that I would leave a deposit to prevent it being sold before I could make it back for the weekend.

I think we are close to finally hitting the road! The test drive this weekend will determine that.

May 14, 2014

That Is One Nice Rig - A Deposit Was Left

When I said I was going to look at this rig between forecasted severe thunderstorms, that proved to be more than I bargained for. When I left my house it was blue skies and sunny after raining for 3 straight hours. By the time I arrived 50 miles away the skies were black, not gray, and was raining so hard that cars were pulling off the road because we could not see. I thought to myself, what a great day to look at a least if it leaks I will no. When not used though it is kept under a portable garage so that made a difference.

Well I had brought my bright small LED flashlight that can penetrate walls if it needs to, it's that bright. I brought my small camera thinking it would take better photos than my iPhone (wrong) and my checkbook which I never use just in case I needed to leave a deposit. I also brought all the knowledge I had read on everybody's blog the past few years, plus the new information on 'vintage' RVs from the forums last night, that I had added to the "notes" of my iPhone so I would not forget anything.

By the time I pulled into the drive, the rain had decrease to a nice solid downpour but I could see. I did a walk around, opened the engine bay outside, looked and felt the tires, moved my fingers over the aluminum siding ... it was as nice as the photos. Maybe even nicer. The rig barely fit in the garage so there was no chance of lowering the patio awning but the rails looked new. I put my finger up on the tire thread ... they felt new. I asked, he told me he just put on a set of tires. He then said I like to keep all of my vehicles up to date with maintenance and I did that with his RV. I glanced around and saw his pick up truck, 3 cars for kids and wife, then in "his" garage a mint 67 Camero along with his new weekend toy, the Harley. Everything around his house was immaculate.

So we have new tires, he said he had replaced all the belts but if it were him he would have everything checked out before a trip west. I agreed. By this time it was back to raining to hard for me to climb the back ladder to look at the roof. We moved inside to get out of the pouring rain. As soon as I stepped inside, I felt this was the one. I was immediately thrilled that the seats, furniture was a tan based color and not the 80's pink, purple or raspberry colors that seemed to be popular back then. All the oak cabinets were flush when closed, solid oak and looked brand new. ALL the furniture was nice, stain free, comfortable including the drivers seat.

Already I noticed it had a lot more interior room than my Coachmen Class C I had sitting here over the winter. This has no slides but it still looked roomy. The dining table had TWO legs holding it up, with 2 brackets in the floor. The dining table, kitchen counter and bedroom night stand look purple in the photos but they were more of a brown color with maybe a tint towards that color. All the carpets were between a tan/white but on the photo it shows the carpet over the engine bay being a little orange??? Not was all tan color and in great shape for carpet. He had laid a darker runner over the isle that looked very clean when I looked closer. He had just de-winterized it so the ice machine was punching out pink ice cubes. Tons of drawers and closet space, more than I need or will use.

I was very impressed. I took my LED flashlight and looked inside every overhead storage, along the ceiling ... it did not sag and everything inside the cabinets and headliner looked brand spanking new. I'm serious ... I was shocked to say the least. This model has two single beds in back. That could work both for me and one for the hounds, although the bloodhound prefers the floor and no blankets of any kind. Or I might take out one bed and install a desk from Ikea to put my iMac and 2nd 27" monitor along with the printer/scanner.

The blinds were in good shape, the curtains will come out because they are not my style. The carpets are nice enough to keep or I can rip them out and install some kind of wood flooring or vinyl.

I turned the key and the engine fired right up and purred like a kitten. The seller lifted off the section between the seats to expose the engine and it sounded great. He said I would love the way it drove. He also said he would not take a final payment until I test drove it and we both knew the weather this week will play a factor on when I can pick it up. It has to be backed out into his yard you saw on the photos yesterday for him to turn onto the long driveway to a country road.

Some history of the rig. As he grew up his family always traveled by motorhome all over the country. His dad bought this 1987 Holiday Rambler brand new. Then 8 years ago the seller bought it from his dad and used it during the summers taking his young daughters and her friends camping. They would tow their pontoon boat and usually camp in state parks, even at 33' long. With his daughters now in college, the seller and his wife turned from RVing on weekends to riding their new motorcycle...thus the reason for selling. It was no longer being used.

I thought he told me the tags were current and it was used but I may have confused him with a different rig because tonight he told me it had been sitting for 3 years with very little use. It has 67,616 miles and no history of any repair work done. The only work performed was routine maintenance inside and out. It is wired for satellite tv, he had a tripod and dish that would come with it if I wanted it.

Some of the features - double sink, full size fridge, ice maker, great water pressure, great condition inside and enough storage outside even with smaller storage bays. More than I had on the Class C. I did not see any signs of leaks anywhere, under the kitchen and bathroom sinks, under the beds, the ceiling and inside the cabinets. Both A/Cs worked, heater etc.

I knew the answer before I asked but I assumed he had a lot of calls on it. He said he was getting calls 15 minutes after he listed it on Craig's List but with his work schedule and their work schedule, most people could not stop by to see it until the weekend. I told him I had no doubt that I wanted this rig and I would leave him a deposit. We both agreed that the weather would dictate when I could pick up the rig, I didn't want to tear his yard up and with the amount of rain we have been getting plus a forecast of 3 more days of rain, I didn't want this rig stuck in his backyard.

We both agreed that a final payment would not be made until I took it for a test drive. He lives 4 miles out in the country on the edge of a State Park and a US once I get it down the narrow country roads to the highway, it should be a good test drive. He did offer to deliver it to me and do the test drive at my house but the problem is ... I have to find somewhere besides my house to park it. The Class C barely made it up here around my house while keeping it on the top of the bank. It is not possible this rig will make it anywhere near my house.

So remember when viewing this bad photos ... the purple tables and counter tops are more of a brown color. ALL of the carpet around the engine bay is tan, not orange. The furniture color in the photos are accurate.

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May 13, 2014

Something Local Has Hit Me Up the Side of My Head

I was looking through the local Craig's Lists Monday afternoon, for any trailers by the name of Jayco, Arctic Fox, Bigfoot, or anything else that interested me. Something unexpected showed up not 40 miles away from me ... one of those moments where you feel a bolt of excitement ... I guess possibly that feeling that people talk about when they say you will know when it's the right one. The problem was, this "thing" was way off course, nothing that I was focusing on or planning to buy. No, I haven't bought anything!! I know that Tom over at Tom and Kathy Retired will enjoy this story today. He is a real professional roller coaster rider and my blog is similar to those rides he does!

Anyway I kept looking at the only photos available on Craig's List. I emailed the seller asking for interior photos because the exterior photos showed it looking pristine, but it's old, now what would I do? The more I looked the more interested I got and it wasn't just about it being near me. I was feeling an excitement I had not felt in a long time no matter what trailer or rig I had looked at or bought. That led me to the forums to read about older Class A's, to read more about the reputable name of Holiday Rambler.....yet I also felt those past fears about buying not only a Class A but an older motorhome. What's it going to cost me to fix this thing when something breaks and something will break eventually.

From those forums I read into the wee hours of the morning last night, I was led to a few new blogs where people had bought these older motorhomes and traveled with much success. Owning that 2003 Coachmen Class C over the winter taught me a lot. It was in great shape, still it had some repairs just sitting here winterized. I did my own repair replacing the two oil lines from the filter to the radiator for cooling the oil. I was able to learn how to winterize it, how all the systems worked, and what was wrong when they didn't work. I also discovered that rig did not have a enough storage even for a solo traveler that plans on traveling light. It also kept look smaller and smaller inside the longer the hounds and I would stay in it.

Even though there have been plenty of times where I said I needed to get way off the grid and I wanted to boondock as much as possible, I would be just as happy staying in places like Paul and Nina stay at times in their big 40' RV or where Al and Kelly have stayed in their previous Class A Damon. I would end up towing a trailer, possibly a small cargo trailer with my Mini Cooper inside or trade that out for a manual Jeep that I could tow wheels matter what I would be towing a toad with this rig.

This rig is 33' and would be 13' shorter than my Chevy truck / trailer combination plus would give me 11' more living space than what I had in the Coachmen Class C. More storage is a plus, room for solar panels on top. It would be within the 32'-34' range I was looking at in March of 2013. It has the Chevy 454 engine, so should be able to get a mechanic when repairs are needed plus being on a Chevy frame. Parts should not be a problem. I have googled images for this rig to get some idea what the floor plan looks like. It is possible, that I might be able to take out one of the beds in the bedroom and installing a nice long desk that would include my iMac and 2nd 27" monitor, plus the printer/scanner. A lot of possibilities with this rig, including getting on the road possibly sooner than planned.

So I will know more about all of this tomorrow. We just had our first of many forecasted severe thunderstorms for today and my visit to look and take pictures inside of this rig will be when the seller gets home later tonight before sunset  and will be in between those storms.

For those that believe in and follow astrology, all of this is not a surprise. There is a full moon tomorrow on May 14, which also happens to be my birthday. Full moons are a dangerous time for me. So those that have read any astrology about this period of time will understand clearly what all of this means. Plans, fears, simplicity, life changes, etc ... it's all there. Should be exciting to see how all of this plays out.

Here is a teaser photo of the potential rig. That includes a new 15' canopy, solid oak cabinets, everything works. From the two decals on the back, this was probably used to travel to and stay in on weekends at NASCAR races and the Indy 500. I know that is 10 tires to change sometime ... but like I said, this monster has slapped me up the side my head!  LOL

May 12, 2014

Trailers Still Being Researched

After more analysis, good blog comments and some emails, I've eliminated the Starcraft Launch Extreme for a couple of reasons. Tanks are too small to boondock and I'd prefer the double axle trailer instead of a single. So I move to other options, but some trailers that were considered in the past. The Arctic Fox is used by many full-timers and is also made by the same manufacturer as the Nash trailer. I like the Arctic Fox 22H model, even though it doesn't have a back window. I have walked through similar floor plans in other trailers here locally so I have an idea what that the Arctic Fox 22H will look like on the inside.

As suggested by a reader, I checked out the Creek Side trailers, made by the same people that started Northwood Manufacturing. I did not see a lot of those trailers for sale online, therefore that is probably a purchase from a dealer in the Oregon area. Traveling to Oregon to pick up a trailer is not a problem for me but it would be nice to find something within 200 miles so I can check them out in person, bring them home to load and learn plus let the hounds become familiar with their new trailer.

The Nash 18L is still under heavy consideration but the only ones I have found available are in Oregon. I would say it's really between the Arctic Fox and the Nash trailers. That they are 4-season trailers are just a coincidence.

After talking to local RV dealers last week there was one common answer among all of them. The reason it is so hard to find the Arctic Fox, Nash, Escape (Canada), Bigfoot  trailers in the Midwest, the camping is not geared for BLM boondocking due to BLM availability. Most camping here is done on weekends in campgrounds, therefore the trailers I am asking them about are not traded in very often and the dealers for those trailers are usually west of the Mississippi River.

Thanks to those people that suggested or sent me links to different brand owner forums. I was able to get and continue to read good information from the people that own and camp in the brands of trailers that I am considering. I do find at times older trailers in great shape that are Nash or Arctic Fox, then I start wondering if that is a better deal then buying something newer.

I look at many sites daily searching for one of those brands nearby but hard to find something close, in satisfactory condition or the right length. One thing I have noticed though, is trailers are not selling as fast as they have in the past. I have a folder for favorite trailer links and its very rare to click on that link to see that it is sold or deleted.

So that is the latest update on my trailer search.

Now as far as retirement and spending all this time at the house after a month ... I still love the schedule, I still have a growing "to do" list and even though I have curbed my spending this past year I keep seeing a lot of things I need to sell to downsize. I downsized a lot last summer and fall, still see more stuff to get rid of. So while I am trailer shopping I am going to increase my efforts to sell sell sell here at home. I want to get down to just one vehicle, my 4x4 pickup truck. I also see the list of things to do continue to grow, that come with normal house ownership, seems that list never stops. From that list alone I can see how people can sell everything and walk away without blinking an eye. Seriously I can find something every day to spend time on and to me, that is just something I no longer want to do most of the time.

The hounds do nothing but sleep. Since I am home most of the day now, I have found they sleep more than I ever imagined. They go on one walk per day and have moved their meal request up from a 4pm feeding time to 3pm feeding time. If the food is not out by 3pm, the bloodhound will come and find me or all 3 of them will stand howling until the food is laid out. Ticks continue to be the worst I have ever seen in the 17 years I have lived here, they are relentless no matter what you spray or use on yourself for repellent.

Thanks for all the comments and emails, your suggestions and comments really do help me.

May 08, 2014

Deciding Between Two Trailers

I've spent a lot of time since my last post going through the different choices of trailers. Last time I said I had it down between two manufacturers, and I did. That didn't prevent me of going back and looking what was for sale in truck campers, Class A's and trailers. It was still hard to back away from the truck camper. I would have had to tow a small cargo trailer with a camper. I looked at older Class A's but the thought of of what it would cost to do any unexpected maintenance, which would have happened at some point in time, kept me away from older Class A's. So that meant I was back to trailers being towed my the Chevy truck I bought about a month ago.

It was still two different manufactures. One was a 4-season trailer the other was not. Two people that I follow on my blog roll use both of these trailers to full-time in as solo travelers. One has two cats and the other travels without any animals. Both have great things to say about their trailers and have traveled with them for almost a year.

I am looking at two Nash trailers, one a 2014 18L and a used 2012 18L. Both of them are 23' long. Both trailers is over 2,000 miles from my house. Both are in great shape with a great dealership to work with. One is one of the trailers I had thought of last year but I didn't know if I wanted to spend that much for a trailer since I am a "rookie". In both of those I lose the big back window I wanted, but they both have queen size bed plus a couch. Both of them will have a WD Anti Sway hitch included. The 2012 has a generator plus a 20 watt solar panel. The 2014 does not have a generator installed but does have the small 20 watt solar panel to keep the house battery charged. I plan on installed 240 watt solar panels on any trailer I buy.

So, Option 1 is 2,000 miles away, cost $4-5K more than my other brand name and a little better material used on the interior. They have much larger tanks. Both the 2012 and the 2014 are in stock.

2014 18L
The 2nd trailer I found just the other night. I almost bought a Starcraft AR-ONE 17RD last year from a dealer about 50 miles away from me. That is the trailer that Gary Ramsey uses over at Gary Ramsey Travels. This year Starcraft made a trailer called the AR-ONE Extreme and the Launch Extreme. The Launch extreme looks like the Nash, has a 15" clearance and 15" off-road tires. I was somewhat interested in the AR-ONE Extreme, liked the color combination and the off-road features. Yet, these Starcraft trailers have extremely small tanks, with the Gray 15gal and a Black 9gal.

The Launch Extreme has dealers 50-120 miles from me but nothing in stock. All 4 dealers I called gave me the last week of June to first week of July delivery date. One surprising difference from the more expensive Nash trailer was the Starcraft Launch Express is made with aluminum frames instead of wood framing. The Starcraft Launch Extreme does not have a couch but does have a back window.

2014 Starcraft Launch Extreme 17FB
Without continued rambling I'll cut this short and say those are the two trailers that I am considering. Yes, I do plan to head west as soon as I buy a trailer, therefor having the Nash 2,000 miles away from me may not be that big of deal. Of course with the Starcraft I'm saving a few thousand dollars, I can bring it home, load it and get to know the trailer before I take off on the long trip. Whereas the Nash I can spend about a week in the area of the dealer, checking all the systems out and having them fix anything that might need repair or adjustment.

Of course I have found out in this RV world that if a rig doesn't work, you can trade or sell it.