The New Truck Fiasco

When we began our trailering adventure our truck was a 2006 Chevy Silverado extended cab with back doors that swing out like suicide doors. This truck had been great for us for many years. But, now with two kids and the dog things were a little cramped inside. It’s not exactly safe for a 6 foot 3 inch man to drive with his knees practically in his chest, especially for long distances. And I was pretty much the same way in the passenger seat, car seats don’t make for comfy front seats. So we knew at some point in the near future we would be looking for a new truck. Well, somehow when we aren’t really looking for things opportunity comes knockin’. My Dad was buying a brand new truck and his old truck fit our bill perfectly. The new to us truck is a 2012 Chevy Silverado 4 door Crew Cab with a ton more room on the inside. Sounds perfect!

So all we needed to do was have the gooseneck hitch removed from our old truck and put it in the new truck. Easy peasy right? Wrong! Our current gooseneck model did not fit our new truck. Ok, that’s fine we say. Our trailer is actually a fifth wheel but the previous owner had put a gooseneck conversion adapter on it, so we’ll just remove the adapter and put a fifth wheel hitch in the bed of the truck. We’ll lose some bed space but that’s fine we say. Once again, easy peasy right? Wrong yet again. And there in lies the issue. Chevy now has three different bed sizes, the 8 foot long bed, the 6.5 foot standard bed, and the 5.5 foot short bed for the Crew cab which is what we have. Not only that but even if we could have put the old gooseneck hitch in the bed it would have been a bad idea. Because our bed is super short the front end of the trailer could actually hit the truck cab on tight turns. That would not be good.

After speaking with the hitch installer he says we have only two options. The first is to buy a new truck. Funny ha ha we say. What’s our second option? That would be the PullRite SuperGlide Model 3100. Which is specifically designed for the new short bed trucks. The hitch will actually slide in the bed ensuring that you don’t hit the cab of the truck. Lucky for us it only costs an arm and a leg!! And we’re down to the wire and only have five days to install it. And it has to be special ordered and shipped it. Yikes! Here’s a shout out to Lewis Hitches in Chandler, AZ on Arizona Ave. Great guys and very informative. Kudos to the shop because they got it installed without any major hiccups and we were on our merry way. That was on a Thursday and we were scheduled to leave on Saturday. Whew. In case you’re interested below is a link to the PullRite website where you can see a video of the hitch in action. It’s pretty cool.

http://www.pullrite.com/products/super-glide-short-box-5th-wheel-towing/super-glide-12k

3100

So now we had our new truck and new hitch, all we had to do now was hook up and go. Easy peasy right? Actually, yes it was. Zac got the trailer hitched up Friday night and took it to an industrial complex a few blocks away from the house to test and calibrate the brakes. Our new to us truck has a built-in brake controller so he just needed to be sure everything was good. And finally, something went right! Zac parked the trailer on the street in front of the house so we could pack up the remaining items in the morning. Now our adventure was finally going to happen, or was it? Stay tuned.

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Whittling Away the List & A New Truck Say what?

After an impromptu break from blogging I am back! My three year old daughter decided to help Swiffer the floor and somehow the screen on our laptop ended up broken. I have since learned how to replace laptop screens. Man I love Amazon and Youtube!

As I have mentioned in previous posts Amazon is an RVer’s best friend. Whenever we want to fix or replace something on the trailer we head straight to Amazon. Zac has been replacing light bulbs everywhere and fixing various outdoor light kits. A few of the red and orange running light housings were shot and the light under the fifth wheel area was bad. So out with the old and in with the new. These are what the lights look like that he’s been switching out.

We just look at it as one step closer to our first pull. Safety first of course!

Zac also replaced the toilet gasket when he had to remove the toilet so I could lay the flooring in the bathroom. Surprisingly, this was an easy task. We also had new tires put on the trailer and had the breaks and shackles checked out. Everything was fine we just needed a few nuts and bolts replaced. Somehow this was finally moving along and we could see an end in sight. Which meant we could start planning our first trip.

Our first trip was to be during Fourth of July, which in Arizona is hot. Well over 105 degrees is normal for the fourth in Phoenix. So we needed to find a cool spot. We decided on the Lyman Lake State Park in Eastern Arizona. We would get to higher elevation, cooler weather, and a lake to keep us all busy. We were two weeks out from our first trip so the count down had begun. Yay! And then we bought a new truck! Ugh! You have no idea how many wrenches we just threw at our plans!! In the words of Paul Harvey “Stay tuned for the rest of the story”.

 

WWE- Cassie Vs. The Mattress

Back  when we purchased the trailer it came with a mattress and a topper but we had decided to throw the old mattress out (we did keep the topper though). We had been told the mattress was fairly new, but honestly we didn’t want to sleep on someone else’s eight pounds of skin particles. Ha ha. At least we could wash the topper though and reuse it. So now I was searching for a new mattress and learning more than I ever wanted to know about RV mattresses. There seem to be a million different sizes due to the many different sizes of RVs. I had finally decided to buy the new mattress on Amazon after reading reviews and price comparisons. The mattress we purchased was the Sleep Master Deluxe Memory Foam 8 inch RV Mattress in the short queen size. It arrived a few days later vacuum shrunk and sealed in a box. It was a little heavy but the shrunken size made it easier to maneuver. And thus my wrestling match was to begin. After reading the box I knew I needed to unpackage the mattress in the trailer so that we wouldn’t have to fight getting it in the door. So I heaved the box through the doorway, up the stairs, and put the box in the master bed area. Then I simply unpackaged the mattress from the box and let it “blow up” to size. Because it’s vacuum shrunk it has to fill up with air to its normal size. It really only takes about 5 minutes.  So far so good. And then I realized it was upside down. Nooo0!

I’ll tell you what, wrestling a mattress in the small confines of a trailer is not an easy task. I could get it folded in half but for the life of me I just couldn’t get it to pop the rest of the way over. I tried, and tried, and kept falling. And finally, I got it to flop over the rest of the way. Great! But now I was stuck under the mattress, in the one foot space between the bed platform and the wall of the trailer. Don’t ask me how it happened, for the life of me I can’t figure it out. But now I was on my back, looking up at the mattress, completely stuck. And I know that Rowan, our new baby boy, is going to start crying for me at any minute now. Well that’s just great!

After some heavy finagling, and sweating, and cursing, I was able to lift and slide the mattress so I could sit up and escape. Yes! I was finally free. Now I just needed to put the topper on and the waterproof mattress bag. Man I needed a beer. The topper was easy since it just lays right on top of the mattress. I just had to fight getting it into the trailer, and up the stairs, and onto the mattress. Done. But now, once again, more wrestling to get the bag on everything. It’s in the middle of projects like this that I wonder why I have to be such a go getter. Why take the initiative? I could just wait until Zac gets home and have him help me. But no, that would be too easy. I can do this myself, and then when he gets home we both can have a beer together and laugh about me wrestling the mattress and bag.

So on I wrestle, until I finally get the bag on and zipped. VICTORIOUS!! I’m laid out on the mattress catching my breath and resting, and then I hear the baby monitor yelling at me. As I like to say, and Zac’s Mom too, there’s no rest for the wicked. Stay tuned. Below is a picture of the mattress in all its glory.

Making Grandma Proud, a Whole Lotta Sewing

Back when we were doing the demo work in the trailer Zac had ripped out the jack knife sofa and kick plate, dinette seat cushions, and everything that went along with them. There was also a few pieces on the back of the dinette that were covered in fabric to match the dinette. Our initial plan was to have everything professionally reupholstered in a modern fabric, and have it all match. Sounds good right? Then we started getting quotes. This plan was proving as futile as my floor edging in the last post. We’re not just talking about fabric, we wanted new foam as well because the cushions were 21 years old, sun rotted slightly, smelled like smoke, and were full of dust. Our daughter has bad allergies so we knew the old cushions were a recipe for disaster. Here’s a reminder picture of how dated the old sofa  and dinette was.

We were quoted $700 for new foam and fabric on the jack knife sofa alone, and another $400 for foam and fabric for the dinette cushions. Say what? And this was from multiple companies, so we knew professional re-upholstery was not going to be an option. My frugal shopping skill set was now in full-blown research mode.

I scoured the internet and happened upon a set of brand new dinette cushions on Ebay from an RV overstock supply warehouse. Perfect! So I snatched those up for $150. Some friends of ours were in the market for new dinette cushions too and couldn’t believe we had found them on Ebay for such a great price. They were now scouring Ebay for cushions for their own trailer.

Our plan to have everything match was not going to happen, as the jack knife sofa was going to be a problem. The price for reupholstering the sofa was more than the price of a brand new jack knife sofa! But then you have to pay freight shipping so that was not an option either. To buy the commercial fabric that was on the dinette cushions was pricey and I needed a lot of it, so on to plan B. Or is it plan C now? Who knows.

I researched the level of difficulty for reupholstering a jack knife sofa for a DIYer and I didn’t find much. Many people had just put sofa covers on them, or they hadn’t done full rebuilds of the foam. I was going to have to figure it out myself! The one tip that I did find though was to take many pictures as you are disassembling the jack knife sofa, so you know how all it goes back together. Smartest thing I’d heard all week! So, armed with my camera and the baby monitor away I went. Note- Before you do anything take measurements of the cushions, that way you know what the finished cushion should be. Below are some of the pictures I took as I was disassembling.

First I had to remove a ton of wire loops that attached the fabric to the bottom of the frame. At that point I was able to remove the fabric. The yellow foam in the pictures is a type of batting used to help round the corners and make the couch fuller when the fabric is put on. It was just wrapped around a big piece of cushion foam which was glued to the frame. It came apart easily in a dusty, rusty mess. So happy we decided to replace the foam! Both the bottom and back of the sofa were disassembled the very same way.

Now that I had everything apart I decided to spray paint the rusty frame. I didn’t want rust getting on the new fabric as I was reassembling so I sprayed everything with some spare spray paint we had in the garage. Below are pictures of the painted frame, it’s two different colors but who cares. No one will see it once the cushions are on. Notice in the picture the frame is back in the trailer. Zac had reinstalled it after I painted the frame. You should have seen his face when he came home from work to find a pink frame. Priceless!

Once I had the old foam and fabric removed from the frames I was able to get a better idea of how it all went together. It became clear that it was going to be difficult to wrap the fabric and use wire again to attach the cushions to the frame. If I attempted using wire  I would have to worry about tearing the fabric with the wire or having it begin to fray. So I came up with a better and easier idea. I decided to make basic box seat cushions like you would for outdoor furniture or a window seat. I had never done this type of sewing before but my Grandmother had been a great seamstress so I hoped some of her skills were in my blood. I found a website that explained how to go about making cushions. Here’s the link:  http://designsbystudioc.com/how-to-make-a-basic-box-cushion/

I took measurements of the old cushions before I annihilated them during disassembly. Off to the store I went. After searching online for foam I went to Mesa Sales & Supply a few miles from our house. I bought the two large pieces of foam I needed (not cheap since foam is a petroleum-based product and can get pricey), and batting to help round the cushions once the covers were on. In the box cushion tutorial they had mentioned using Velcro to close the backs of the cushion covers. That way you could remove the covers and wash them if need be. I didn’t buy Velcro like they recommended, instead I had decided to sew the covers completely shut. If something got spilled I could just pull the whole cushion out and hose it down. Below is a picture of my foam at home awaiting my “passed down from Grandma”sewing skills.

foamAfter pricing fabric online and at a few stores around town, I decided to use some scrap fabric that I had at home in a forgotten closet. The bottom cushion would be leftover denim that my Grandmother had purchased for something and never used. The back cushion would be leftover fabric from when my Mom had made curtains for her kitchen some 10 years ago.  Below is a picture of the denim cover mid sewing. Also, I would like to point out that you don’t need fancy sewing machines to do this type of project, my machine is the $80 Singer Prelude from Target, given to me as a wedding present eight years ago. Sew on my friends!IMG_20160310_142136_838

Once the covers were complete I used spray adhesive to glue the batting onto the foam. I made sure the batting covered the top, front facing, and sides of the cushions. I really didn’t care if it covered the backs and bottoms. Once dry I started stuffing the cushions and this was a heck of a lot easier said than done. Since I was no longer concerned with being able to remove the covers for cleaning, I finished the back seam using fabric glue. I also used the fabric glue to attach a couple tie strings on the backs of the cushions, so I could tie them to the frames and prevent them from sliding around. Below is my master piece!

DSC_0029

As you can see, I used leftover fabric to cover the sofa’s kick plate. The kick plate was just a piece of plywood, so using a staple gun I first stapled some leftover felt-like material that I had. This gave it some cushion for stubbing toes. Then I stapled the matching fabric over it. I think it all turned out pretty good for my first reupholstering project. This has definitely made me braver for tackling upholstery projects in my home.

My last sewing job was to make a small curtain for the window over the kitchen sink. I used the last of the striped scraps that I had available. Nothing gets wasted here! As for the rest of the windows in the trailer, I found the blue and white lattice curtains on sale at Wal-Mart. I know it all doesn’t match, but in 10 years when everything has rotted I will splurge and buy matching fabric for everything. At least the foam should still be good then. Below are pictures of the finished upholstery work.

Now I just needed to do a few fun crafty ideas that I had churning in my brain. Stay tuned…

Measure, Cut, Peel, Stick, Repeat

Now that all of the painting was complete I could start on the flooring. So off I went with my tape measure, pen, razor blade, and most important, the baby monitor. I would get in a couple hours each morning and then a few more in the afternoon, working around our new babies’ naps, feedings, etc. And of course the progress checks by the neighbors and the UPS guy. I started by laying the first row straight down the center of the long hallway that runs from the front to the back of the trailer. I knew laying the flooring in this direction would help make the trailer feel bigger. After the first row was done it was just a matter of cutting the other rows and laying them. The whole thing was pretty easy, especially since you really only need to score the top of the tile and then flip it over and bend it. They snap apart easily along the cut line. I didn’t run into any major hiccups except for not liking the edging. I didn’t like how the edges were turning out where the tiles met the walls, cabinets, stairs, etc. It just didn’t look clean, if one tile was cut 1/16th shorter than the one next to it they just looked messy. So on to more research. How to clean it up and make it look professional. The pictures below show the progress and the finished paint.

Zac really wanted the stairs to be sturdy and look awesome, so we planned to do a hard wood on them instead of just covering them with the vinyl planking. As for my anal retentiveness regarding the floor edges my research was closing in. I had read online that I shouldn’t caulk the edges because the tiles needed to be able to expand with changes in temperature. No caulking, hmm. So I decided to buy peel n stick edging. I laid it all out, made the cuts and installed it all. And it looked great. And then after a few days it started to un-stick and curl up. My plan had failed, and was unraveling- literally. This was not going well.

On one of my many trips to Lowe’s I got to talking with the guy in the lumber department. I wanted a hard wood for the stairs that we could stain and make pretty. Well, he recommended that I just by pre-finished oak stair treads. Say what, you can buy that? To my amazement Lowe’s carried pre-cut, pre-finished oak stair treads. Wow! So I bought three and went on my merry little way. Zac would need to cut two of them down and use the scraps to make the third (bottom) stair wider. Easy peasy for my wood nymph and this route was also much easier on our wallet too. Below is a picture of the finished stairs that turned out awesome and are sturdy enough to take a beating from both the kiddos and the dog!

stairs cropped

Now our focus could turn to making the trailer feel homie. Decorating and upholstery!!

 

Paint, Painting, & More Paint

I’m a Domestic Engineer aka Homemaker so while Zac was at work and our daughter was at school, the baby and I would stay home and work on the trailer. You have no idea how many times the UPS guy would stop by to check my progress. He too had a trailer that needed updating so he was checking out how our updates were progressing. Anyway, before I laid the new floor I wanted to paint, that way if I spilled or splattered it didn’t matter. I did two coats of Bullseye 123 white primer. I had a little Kilz primer left so that went on first, pretty much covering only a small portion of the trailer. I only switched to the 123 primer because it happened to be cheaper than Kilz at Home Depot. Personally, I prefer the Kilz because it’s the same consistency as regular paint. I found 123 to be more watery, which meant messier. Live and learn as I say.

kilz_original

So I had my two coats of primer on but it didn’t cover the 1990 designs on the walls or the wood grain on the paneling and yes, this had to go. I knew that it would just mean more coats of my finish colors. So, I had a one gallon can of leftover white paint from some other project that I decided to start with. I painted two coats of this all over everything to get the coverage I was looking for. I wanted all the 90’s swirls gone and the the wood grain in the paneling to disappear. This way I knew my new colors would go on perfect. And for once with this trailer my plan worked. My priming was complete.

Zac had told me he wanted the trailer’s vibe to be relaxing and to remind us of the ocean (our true love when it comes to relaxing). So I chose to paint the trailer with two colors. I wanted a bright white for the top half of the walls to help make the trailer feel bigger and I wanted a relaxing blue for the bottom half. The colors are Captains Walk (blue) and the white is just the Glidden Semi Gloss Interior white paint. It’s straight off the shelf from Lowe’s.

Paint Cans

I had to do two good coats of each color to get the coverage I wanted. I used a small roller to do this because it was easier to get in all the nooks and crannies in the trailer. And, of course I had to do two coats of cut in. Man that took forever! But now that it’s done the trailer has been transformed. Who would have thought paint could make such a drastic change in a 1990’s trailer? The after pics will be on the next post as I jumped right into the flooring without skipping a beat.

 

Green is Not My Color

Our first undertaking in updating the interior of the trailer would be the flooring and painting. The old forest green carpet needed to go and Zac was the man for the job. I was adamant that there should be no carpet. He was still holding out arguing that we needed some carpet for the kiddos. I said we would use rugs in different spots. Guess what? Here’s a bit of marriage advice- happy wife, happy life. There’s no carpet in our trailer!

Zac used a razor blade, pliers and brute strength to rip the old carpeting up. And the other forums were right, there is linoleum under everything. And the carpeting does go under the walls! So he used the razor blade to cut along the edges and pliers to rip up all of the carpeting staples. There was so much sand and dirt under the carpet that Zac finally agreed that a trailer without carpet would be so much easier to keep clean.

After research and pricing we decided to use the Peel N Stick vinyl plank flooring. It looks like wood planks, holds up nicely, and I found it on clearance at Lowes. I did have to drive to three different Lowes stores in my area in order to get enough but clearance pricing was worth it. I had to paint the exposed wood floor first with a latex based primer to make sure the tiles adhered nicely. Below are the pictures of the trailer with the carpeting removed, you can see where there are water stains from past leaks.

While Zac was ripping the carpet out he also removed anything that was upholstered in the trailer. These items included the old dinette cushions, jack knife sofa cushions, jack knife kick plate (plywood piece that was upholstered), and the doorway bumper (that’s what I’m calling it). We planned on having all of this reupholstered by a professional. We also demo’d the small bookcase that was next to the doorway as it was built on top of the wheel well and was a rickety mess. Now that the demo was complete, I could start doing my part. Stay tuned for my progress…

Let the Fun Begin…

Now we finally got to start working on the trailer. Yay! First we needed a list/inventory of everything we needed to do. My list making skills must be rubbing off on Zac because he walked around the trailer and made a detailed list of everything we needed to check, buy, or do on the trailer. This would help us stay on track. That is until Zac finished his detailed list that covered an entire sheet of paper and left it in the shopping cart at Home Depot! What did we get ourselves into? Deep breathes. It’s a good thing he had texted a picture of it to my Dad one night trying to earn a pity party from him. Of course he failed, but at least we had a copy! Below is our list with all sorts of good stuff on it. A few of the items were new trailer tires, light replacements, and we needed to test everything, I mean everything. This was going to take a while…

 

 

List

We have learned that Amazon is an RVers best friend. We would continuously check pricing at the nearby big box  RV stores and they usually didn’t have what we were looking for, or they were priced much higher than Amazon. So here’s a tip- just search online for what you need and buy online. We go back and forth between Amazon and Ebay. I (Cassie, wifey that is) scour the internet for what we need until I find it at a great buy plus free shipping. We are frugal after all!

At the bottom of our list was to fix our roof leak. Of course this should really be at the top and so Zac tackled it first. We had checked the trailer after a good winter storm here in Arizona and there was water on the kitchen table, floor, counter, and the ceiling was wet. Water had pooled in the ceiling so it was sagging a little too. Not good. After much research we decided to coat the roof. Zac climbed on top of the roof and rolled two layers of Henry’s Elastomeric Roof Coating to try to seal the leak. My husband, god bless him, is a perfectionist when it comes to handy jobs. So this took a couple weekends. Plus the weather in AZ was heating up so he could only roll in the morning hours. We thought we were golden! Until it rained and we were proven wrong yet again. We had leveled the trailer when we did the roof coating and when it leaked this time we noticed the water was coming in around the AC. After more research we thought it was the AC gasket, so off to the big box RV store where we procured our new gasket. Zac spent a Sunday morning removing the ac unit, and installing a new gasket. With our Sunday afternoon now free, we were quite pleased. That is until Zac climbed on top of the trailer with a garden hose to test for leaks. It still leaked. Ugh!!

In my frugal ways I also peruse Craigslist for great deals. So I happened upon a guy that did RV repairs. He came out and took one look at our roof and said the reason it leaked was because the coping around the AC was gone. Well that made sense to us but there wasn’t any coping when we purchased said trailer so how were we to know it was missing? So he fixed it up and the leak is gone for now, knock on wood. Live and learn is what I say. We still have a few questions about this fix but oh well, on to the next project…

She’s a Beaut Clark

Our friends and family always give us hell for how cheap we are. I prefer the word frugal of course but, they are right. We never buy anything unless we get a deal. In this case, the trailer was the deal of the year. While my father was helping Zac install a new window in our master bathroom (we were remodeling our master bath) they got to talking about traveling. Zac mentioned that at some point in the future we would be looking for a travel trailer. Low and behold, that night my parents went to a barbecue and found out their good friends were selling their ’95 Jayco trailer. After a few text messages back and forth and emailed pictures, we bought the trailer sight unseen. This was not like us at all. My husband has to know everything about everything before he shells out cash. But in this case the deal really was too good to stall on. The following day my parents and their friends delivered the trailer to us. I think Zac and I both looked at each other with the same expression”What the hell did we get ourselves into?” We are in the middle of a master bath remodel and the last thing my husband needed was another project. Now the work would begin.

First things first, we had to have a gooseneck hitch installed in our truck (the trailer had a fifth wheel to gooseneck adapter on it). Rather than change it back to the kingpin we just rolled with it. After install, we were finally able to back it into our driveway and start the demo/updating work. At this time we had a 2006 Chevy Silverado 1500 with a 6 ft 6 inch bed. We had the B&W Turnoverball Gooseneck Hitch installed. So we could still use our truck bed when we weren’t pulling the trailer. These are the before pictures of the trailer in all its glory.It’s really not that bad, it just needs new tires, breaks, shackles, new flooring, paint, new blinds, new upholstery, drapes, and a lot of Thomason love (we are not a family that is scared of a little elbow grease).

And so it begins…

After flying home to Arizona from a Savannah, Georgia getaway with our two and a half year old daughter, we decided we wouldn’t be flying for a while. Airplanes are not conducive to children that age or the sanity of their parents. They like to wiggle, and run, and laugh out loud and cry when they don’t get their way. And well, you can’t really contain all that on a plane. Plus, we were expecting our second child so we knew flying would only get more difficult. So we decided we would have to eventually break down and buy a trailer to “see the world”. The world being the United States and Canada for now. If we get really brave maybe Mexico and beyond.

And so, in August of 2015 we purchased our 1995 Jayco Eagle 253RK from some family friends. It was in pretty good condition, just very dated, smelled, and needed a lot of TLC. Which is great because that’s just what my husband and I are good at. Oh, and did I mention it had a major roof leak? We found this out the hard way of course, by walking inside after a good rain in Arizona and finding water everywhere. But more on that later as the flashbacks are killing my mood. Anyway, this is our story of fixing, updating, maintaining, and traveling with our trailer. We hope to help out any other newbies like us and maybe teach a few new tricks to some old dogs. Either way we hope you enjoy learning and joining us on our RVing adventures.

The Thomason’s

Zac, Cassie, our 2 kiddos, and Red our dog.