Sunday, February 26, 2006

Our First Rally

We signed up for our first RV rally today. This is almost as exciting as our first date. However, the rally will cost quite a bit more than our first date.

We are going to the great big Samboree Rally in Casa Grande, Arizona on March 9-12. Seven was going to have to miss the first day of the rally because she bowls on Thursdays. We are so excited about going she is going to skip bowling that week. We had to get high level state officer intervention to be assured of a spot in the rally camp ground at the Pinal County fairgrounds. Bruce and Wilma Church from Happy Trails RV Resort are Arizona Good Sams state officers and are going down to Casa Grande early to help set things up and are going hand carry our late registration to the proper people at the rally next week. What nice people!!

Bruce and Wilma told us that there will be 500 coaches at the rally and that it is the second largest Samboree in the US.

We am looking forward to watching/participating in the golf car rodeo and a lot of the other activities as well as helping our local Good Sam's chapter, Kactus Sams, with some of their duties at the rally.

There will be a chinese auction to raise money for the state organization's scholarship fund. I had never heard of a chinese auction before so that will be interesting.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Travel Insurance

Since we are taking off on a 16 day cruise around Europe from Barcelona to Stockholm with Oceania Cruises in May we have been looking into getting travel insurance. There are lots of options. We finally bit the bullet and got Travelex's Travel Lite policy. It is going to cost us around $575. We think we needed it. Lots of experienced people recommended to us that we get it. We are concerned most about getting sick or having a family emergency somewhere along the way although there are lots of other unlikely but possible bad things that could happen. We are scheduled to stop in Cartoonville in Denmark and who knows if it will have been burned to the ground by then or, worse, be burned to the ground while we are there. So, hopefully, our bases are covered with this policy although we waited too long after booking the cruise to get it. Since we waited past the deadline to order it we are precluded from the bankruptcy and pre-existing medical parts of the policy.

We are really looking forward to the trip. Almost as much as we are to spending the summer at Brainard Lake. then hitting the road to see the USA.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Putting on the tow bar brackets

Today I put on the Roadmaster tow bar brackets that came in yesterday. There are 3 main bars. Two of them attach to the frame then attach to a cross bar (receiver brace) that connects the two bars from the frame.

It is actually a pretty easy job to do but I ran into problems getting one bar attached to the frame and had to make some adjustments. I was instructed to install everything loose and I did. It just wasn't loose enough. There has to be enough play to pull the bars so that the holes line up. I did not torque them down yet because I still have some minor adjusting to do so that the tow bar will slip onto the plates. We have a Roadmaster 5000 Stowmaster towbar that we are going to use. The owner of our Jamboree gave it to us (we paid to ship it to AZ from Oregon).

I will have to get some locks because I heard that some people (kids probably) think that it is great fun to pull the pins on the tow bars.

Now we have to get a braking system. I am researching that pretty thoroughly because they are expensive.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


We live in Arizona and have about 38.37% more UV than anyone else on the planet. Probably.

So we need sunsceens for our windows. We could put those folding silver screens on the inside against the windows and more than likely the UV would be thwarted, but the heat would be trapped inside the RV and eventually would bake everything inside the RV like a cookie that has been baked in an oven at 450 degrees for 2 hours. These shades are pretty cheap ($2.50 for small ones) in Wal-Mart and come in a variety of sizes and thicknesses. Our local RV store, Orangewood RV, sells large sheets, 4' wide, of the metallic material by the foot. About $3.75 per foot.

We could also put a film on the windows but that would not work on the biggest window we got, the windshield.

The best option we could come up after looking around our storage lot at other vehicles with is to put sunscreens on the outside, covering each of the coach's windows. To tell the truth only about 12.32% of the vehicles in our lot have any type of sunscreen other than their privacy curtain. On the 78.68% of the others you can almost hear the curtains rotting in the sun. We found custom made sunscreens for just about every kind of coach in several different places on the web. All of them are expensive.

I saw a post by sigthor (Bob Will) on about his D-Y-I sunscreen project and became convinced since Seven knows how to use a sewing machine (a vast understatement) that we could D-Y-I some ourselves. The key ingredient, the UV resistant fabric, sigthor told us could be bought at Home Depot. We found a 6'x12' piece precut peice there for around $18. They sell it precut and by the yard in 4 differenet colors. We bought a precut piece and found 3/8" snaps at Joann's Fabrics that would work. They were $4.50+tax for 7 of them and we had to buy a special tool to use on them for another $2.50. We held off on getting those because we were not sure of the size of the snaps already on our coach. After we found out that our snaps were 3/8" we went to Campers World and found that they had some snaps that included the tool for $4.50 (Lord and Hodge #1100 and #1110 (with screw studs). There were only six snaps in their packages however. We bought a couple of packages and today took them out to the lot and started making our front windshield sunscreen. CW had two different packages: one with screws and one without. These snaps can be ordered from Amazon and other places. They also sell refill packages (#1110A and #1100A) for these that do not include the tool. CW only had the ones with the tool.

I will tell you the proper way to make a sunscreen since we did make a boo-boo on ours that is almost inconsequential but is wrong nevertheless.

  1. Preparation: Drill the 1/8" holes per the instructions on screw-in snaps package (#1110) into your RV (check to see if you will hit wood because the laminate is probably not thick enough to hold the sheet metal screw which is around 1/2"-5/8" long) and screw the male snap part into the holes. There are 4 parts to each snap - the female and male parts consists of two pieces (if you use the screw studs, there is only one piece for the male part). I will use 4 snaps for each of my side coach windows, 5 for the driver and passenger side windows, and 10 for the front windshield (5 on top, 2 side ones, and 3 on the bottom). I will drill, screw and make sunscreens for one window at a time.
  2. Making the sunscreen: Do not sew the fabric at first - the fabric stretches and the windshield is not a perfect rectangle so if you try to do it all in one step there is a very good possibility you will mess it up no matter how careful you are. We did slightly. This is probably the best way to do it: Fold over one corner - horizontaly and vertically. A 2" hem is good for side windows. Use a 4" hem on the top of the windshield and on the sides and 2" on the bottom. Leave the fabric uncut until after you have the snaps in place in the fabric. Cut away some of the fabric in one of the 4 folded layers so that you are only inserting a snap post into 3 pieces of fabric. We cut a small circle in one layer of fabric where the snap was going to come through. Use a sharp object and poke a hole through the fabric about 1/2" - 3/4" away from the folded edge of the seam. Insert the button part of the snap through the hole. Put on the female part of the snap (the button and socket) over the button's post then use the tool to pound the post on the button so it connects the two parts together with the fabric in between them.
  3. Snap the female snap you just created on the RV then stretch the fabric to next horizontal male snap - on a side window that will be just the other horizontal male snap. Mark the next snap's location with a safety pin or marker. Do not pull it too tight. Make sure that you have decent 4" hem for the top of windshield sunscreen. On the windshield sunscreen, snap the first snap in place on the top of the windshield then stretch the fabric all the way across to the male snap on the far side of the windshield. Make sure that you will have enough fabric in your hem to cover the middle and two intermediate snaps on the top of the windshield area because they may be higher than the two on the side. Ours were. Install the female snap. Snap the sunscreen into place using the two snaps you just made, then mark the location of the middle snap, install it and snap the suncreen into place. Mark the two intermediate snaps and, install them then snap the screen back into place. Do the same for the two side snaps and the bottom snaps. This takes two people and some ups and downs on the ladder.
  4. Take it slow and easy and do it one step at a time. We tried measuring it and laying it out but when we tested it against the snaps that were in place before installing female snaps, nothing matched up for some reason. It is not a difficult job except if your windshield is, as the guy in the driveway says about Steve Buscemi in my favorite movie- Fargo, kind of funny looking - or curved. Ours was.
  5. Once all the snaps are installed in the fabric, sew the hem with two rows of stitching - one close (1/2") to the outside edge and one close (1/2") to the inside.

The project will probably cost a bit over $85 by the time we are finished with it and it won't look half bad. Sigthor said his cost around $100. Custom made ones sell for over $200. We have have spent 2 hours not counting shopping and investigating on the project so far. Will spend probably another 3-4 hours on it. As my bro-in-law Mike says "We have the time. We are retired." We already had 20 male snaps in place on our RV so that saved us from buying 3-4 packs of the screw-in snap assemblies (#1100A). Seven is talking about embroidering our names in the windshield screen to make it even more fancy. Pictures to follow.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Out with the Old and in with the New

Our Quartzsite trip turned out to be a fork in the road. We took the jobs with Thousand Trails at Brainard Lake and started thinking - will our Jamboree be adequate for 2, 2 1/2 months while we were working? The answer was a resounding 'no'. We could stand a couple of nights in the Jamboree but after just 2 trips and maybe 400 miles we were ready for something larger.

Next question was what to get? Fifth wheels work best for the long term camping we were going to do in June but we were also planning on being on the road for some time after our job ends in September and a Class A or large Class C is best for nomadic travel. So we had to decide and began looking around Quartzsite at motor homes and fifth wheels. No luck, but we did talk to some nice people and the usual sleezeballs that hang out at RV sales lots.

We left Quartzsite and headed back to Sun City West without a new(er) RV but with a pretty good idea that we wanted to get a Class A motorhome.

Our search for a motorhome began at the usual places: Sun City RV Storage Lot's collection of bulletin boards, the news papers, and Orangewood RV which is right down the street from the storage lot. We didn't find anything we liked. We went to another of our favorite places to look at RVs, Consignment Specialists on Grand Ave. We were shown a couple of models when one of the owners told his wife who was helping us to show us the 2000 Winnebago Chieftain they had just bought from an owner. Love at first sight. We bought it and traded in our Jamboree. The Winnebago has just 31,000 miles on it and is almost perfect condition.

The really big problem was driving it home from the consignment lot. Neither Seven or I had ever driven a big vehicle like this before. I went on to and asked the old timers in the Class A forum for some advice about driving one of these babies. Lots of good information came pouring in. All those tips and a quick around the block drive with the owner of consignment lot and we were good to go. I won't mention how I almost pulled out too far into traffic and scared the heck out of some poor lady. I drove it to the big parking lot in the front of the Sundome on Johnson Drive and let Seven have a go at it. She cruised around the parking lot and wanted to drive it home. That is the last time I drove our new RV. She loves driving it. It is a dream to drive and a lot of fun.