Tag Archive: Improvements to my 1996 LTV


Flying Curls Jeana

Spring is here, after an 8 year drought on the Central Coast of California, it rained!  23 inches or 127% of normal in Santa Barbara!

Nope the climate is not predictable and won’t be, given the rapid climate change we get to witness, but it does mean green grasses and blooms! Animals and birds are breeding, there’s water flowing, trees fondly swaying under dramatic skies.  I just completed my docent training at Arroyo Hondo Preserve on the Gaviota Coast in California. Seems I’m collecting naturalist titles as I completed my California Naturalist Certificate some months ago along with reaching my 2nd year as a volunteer at the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens.

I am loving our blue sphere. I am remembering the days when I wandered freely and the stars literally guided me.  I watched them each night turning around me. It’s different now, I am enculturated by a fancy tourist town in the Mediterranean Climate, more than a little spoiled.

Very soon I will be off, with all my trepidation and longing, all 4 dogs in tow.

Here’s the list of items I’ve adjusted, repaired or added to my camper…  some are for the dogs.

  1. Replace disintegrated gasket in the furnace and put it all it all back together.
    RV Trailer Furnace Burner Access Door Gasket: $14.35
    Interesting note I’ve discovered that the built in RV propane furnace is intended to blow cold air to clear the propane in advance, and only if there is enough power will the heat kick on. So the problem with the furnace blowing cold was due to my house battery not holding a full charge.
  2. Unstick back side window so it opens like the other side to let in the breeze.
    This simply took two people, no my dogs cannot be a person when finger dexterity is needed! One person pulling or cranking on each side of the window released it along with some oiling to keep it functioning.
  3. Lengthen the outdoor shower line so that it’s not necessary to create a huge mud puddle right by the door when cleaning the dogs.
    Likely one doesn’t need to spend as much as I did on this. I bought a Dura Faucet RV Exterior Quick Connect Spray Faucet with a 15 Foot Coil Hose and Multi-Spray Nozzle: $49.95.  I wound up not mounting the faucets. What looked easy in the instructional videos turned out to be too tight and limiting in my LTV outdoor shower box. Instead I unscrew the stock shower head and twist on the 15 foot coil and nozzle as needed!
  4. Add some reinforcement to the insulation curtains.
    I am very much loving the insulated inner curtains I made several years ago. They were made with Fairfield Solarize Liner Fabric. I ought to remake them if I can find where I stored the extra material as they are worn. Likely I will not get to it before I leave as I still can’t sew! I bought some bright orange fabric tape to add to the bottoms of the silver material to hold them together until I remake them.
  5. Fix the leak from the bottom of the Thetford toilet and fix the lack of water for flushing.
    I purchased the Thetford 13168 Aqua Magic IV Water Valve kit for $28.73 however this job turned out to be a nightmare with plenty of money thrown at it.  I had taken the van to a nearby camp host / RV mechanic.  He fixed some things for me which I appreciated. Turns out he was at the RTR so we bonded but then again I didn’t get things fixed at the RTR either.  When it came to the toilet it was discovered that the trouble was in the approach waterline. The inline water valve was solidly clogged with mineral deposits. A new in-line shut off valve with the correct fittings could not be found at the local hardware stores, nor the preferred size water lines. An alternative was mavericked together, the original valves, housing, screw on fittings were all destroyed in the process. When done it leaked and there was no longer a shut off valve, this having been replaced by a simple flow through valve, and thereby no way to run any water in my rig without leakage in the bathroom which pooled at the bottom of the toilet and ran down the pedestal.

    It you look closely you can see the water droplets leaking from the top connector. That fitting with the clamps on it was cracked in the remake and the person working on it thought he could just clamp it and it would seal, he seemed so certain …. ha-ha-ha-ha-ha NOPE

    This was the bulk of the workaround, you can see this is a NO NO.

    I contacted Thetford, both by email and phone, I can say they were useless (although they answered both my call and email) and deserve a bit fat rating of ZERO. For several weeks I was on a wild goose chase collecting all kinds of alternative parts which I am currently rounding up for returns.  Frans reluctantly took on the job. He should get a big shout out and cheer for his expertise. I located the Thetford water hose extension and fittings (made by Thetford!!!) and the replacement shut off value (a way bigger plastic rendition of the ruined original) from a RV supply house. It’s fixed now, the kit I bought was never really needed but was installed for good measure.

  6. Replace marine house battery with AGM Deep Cycle 12 Volt 100Ah in preparation for solar.
    Another nightmare, at this point not to be completed until LATTER. I’ve discovered one can’t just swap out one type of battery for another. The Multi battery Isolator found under the engine hood must be able to electronically charge an AGM 12V, Deep Cycle battery during driving and the house charging system must also provide the correct type of charge, a trickle charge I believe. AGM batteries are heavy, the 100 Watt is about 60 to 70 pounds, found a great one for about $200 but did not order it, fortunately most of them will likely fit in the battery compartment. At least one of them. If I go with Lithium this will achieve a lighter, smaller, longer lasting stable battery with more power, but at nearly $900 to $1000. My current Marine battery has a home brewed shut off leading to the cabin for my convenience, this would need to be reworked if I proceed in this direction. For the time being as I’m pulling at the bit to get out of town, I’ve decided to toss in another marine battery for house power; on the way home I’ve heard there’s a great shop in Flagstaff AZ to install my solar system: solar panel, charge controller, inverter, battery and associated cables and mounting equipment. (looking at a Renogy Package ) I might find another such shop on my journey. I would be more than happy if this happens!
  7. Troubleshoot Dometic 3-Way refrigerator: there is currently no AC power and therefor likely no 12V power. really sad about this one as I’ve wanted it fixed for some time.  I have learned that without fully charged 12volt power there can be no AC power. There is at least a chance a new battery will fix, but I really don’t believe this is the issue. When the ‘frig is switched over to electric the under sink outlet pops open. I was told the board I’ve been searching for (most likley the problem, something in there burnt out,) is not located in the rear of the frig though the access panel as I had thought but is behind the control knobs; in my Dometic that would at the bottom of the unit. I do plan to do a test this weekend by plugging the frig in directly to my house current.When everything’s in place I expect the solar system with improved house battery) to run the frig instead of propane which I use 24/7, for enhanced safety and economy. Would love to get this repaired, my mechanic won’t work on it and well, I’m getting tired of repairs; eventually it will be done.
  8. Replace blown wall outlet under sink near refrigerator. Self-explanatory.
  9. Added 2 LED Stick On Battery Powered Tap Lights $12.99. One in the bathroom the other in the overhead cupboard…  yep, no lights in there!
  10. For the DOGS: Bought one package of Clip-On Pet, Dog Collar LED Light – Dog Lights for Collars, Waterproof Safety Lights $12.99 for 6 lights
  11. Finally gave up and have cut the wires for the CO2 and propane alarms which are directly wired into the walls of the van (they tend to go off for no reason which terrifies my boy Jackson.)  Added a portable Kidde Battery Operated Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Digital Display $19.98 <p>
  12. To repair some cracks in the shower flooring am using EternaBond White Mobile Home RV Rubber Roof Repair Tape. I choose the simplest repair method I thought would work.
  13. Finally the old annoying frig fan is dead!!!! Yeah! Have replaced it with a Camco Fridge Airator with On/Off Switch: $18.14. I consider the frig fan essential, keeps everything cold with the benefit of keeping ice in the small freezer no matter how hot it is outside.
  14. New headlight housings, yeah I know you can restore the old ones…. Naught! Get real, they’re old and with the lights on standing in front of the van you can barely see a glimmer. Bought new ones OEM online, my mechanical will install.  Interestingly he told me not to bother getting the LED adapters as, if you want to remain legal, they don’t work so well at night.
  15. I had the 2 side windows tinted with ceramic medium shade by Tint Works in Goleta for $90, he did the front window for me in the past and I’m very happy with the work he does. I had no idea it would make such a difference.

I guess that’s a lot of items, but only the 2 big jobs, the water leak in the bathroom and the new battery (to be delayed) which will be the work horse of the new solar system. Am adding some cosmetic touches and have bought yet another car seat for my problem boy Jackson. Both Olympia and Jackson want to ride in the same location, this journey will likley be filled with the same struggle, but I keep trying! Next stop Bruce’s Auto in Goleta for a trip check.

1996 Freedom Wide LTV modifications

Curtains Cont: Using the directions from the video to put lace on the solar material and then hook the top into the already present curtain hooks was easy.  I glued the lace onto the solar stuff, let it dry…  took it out to the RV and pushed the lace through the hooks then pushed the hooks back onto the curtain hanger. Simple. Not so for “training” the pleats however….  I got tired of that part after some struggle and bunched the solar stuff instead….  not so elegant. (I’m better at “training’ dogs!) My verdict: Think Hard Before You take this on.  If you have a talented aunt (like in the video) or maybe you can sew and make curtains yourself …  then go for it! Best would be to use the solar cloth as a middle layer.

Glued to the lace to that solar stuff... Fairfield Solarize Liner Fabric

Glued to the lace to that solar stuff… Fairfield Solarize Liner Fabric

My mechanic, Bruce of Bruce’s Auto Repair,  is trustworthy and does a great job and he’s happy to work on a motorhome, gas, not diesel.  I should mention that Bruce’s son Bruce works there too…  maybe the place should be called Bruces?   Brakes ok, everything tightened, generator serviced, oil and trip check done; front shocks, good, rear shocks fair and he’s fixing the rear window and happy dance, he lowered the shoulder safety belt by adding an extension so it no longer cuts off my carotid.

Re undercarriage insulation; turns out there is foam insulation sprayed on the underside; Bruce and Bruce Jr. could not apply the solar matting on top of that, nothing will stick. So I cut the material and fitted it under the insulation I already have on the inside and laid the carpet back on top. I fitted insulation material as well around the doghouse and will figure out a way to tape it down (carpet tape on its way) stuffed the edges under the carpet

Two layers of insulation under the carpet. I left the white paper on the self-stick Thermo-Tec since I repurposed it for the interior.

two layers of insulation under the carpet. I left the white paper on the self-stick Thermo-Tec since I repurposed it for the interior.

My hallway with carpet down. I cut this long runner so it lays better. Bought it at Ross. The fuzzy stuff over the door step is one of those Doggy Super Absorbent Mats... and the little rug in the back is something I found on Amazon..

My hallway with carpet down. I cut this long runner so it lays better. Bought it at Ross. The rug over the doorstep is a Super Absorbent Doggy Mat, and the little rug in the back is a find from Amazon .

Am enjoying my new Michelin’s  but true to my RVs irascible nature the steering is wonky again. For now am crossing my fingers that once the tires wear a little it will be better, am having Burce Jr. lower the tire pressure by 5 pounds front and rear, so will be 75 rear and 50 front. Fingers super crossed!

I plan to do a walk-through video of my rig showing the modifications I’ve done in the last 4 years and how it all works out traveling with the dogs.

I gave up on the radio for now, it was too confusing or I just didn’t see one I thought I’d like (kinda like dating in my 60s)  The new radios come with itsy-bitsy buttons nearly impossible to punch and long repetitive menus with a display that cannot be read except by Superman with his special vision in daylight….  the current state of more glitz than usefulness…..  hummm….  I did call Crutchfield Audio and they told me that a simple display with larger buttons and being able to read it were “premium” items and I’d pay a lot more! Nevermind, the stock radio fits, looks nice, sounds nice and is simple to operate so I purchased a wireless Anker SoundCore Bluetooth Speaker to sync with my Android cell. ($33.99 from Amazon) I like it. Will put it on the dash, it plays everything that my cell can pick up. 

Here’s some other items I’ve added or tried to add and maybe send back, in no particular order:

Steering Wheel Desk :  I really wanted to like this, I was excited to get it and ripped the box when it arrived. I was looking forward to the extra flat surface for all sorts of uses from lunch, to an easy writing desk, a place to put my little fan …  you get the idea, what I didn’t realize is that it will not go on without damaging my steering wheel cover and importantly once installed I could not squeeze myself into the seat. This seems to be made for a regular car where the seat can go back far enough, not for an RV, darn. My housemate loved it since he frequently eats lunch in his car, so it’s now his.

Steering Wheel Desk

Steering Wheel Desk

 

 

Up-Oh….  interruption. My V definitely needs new shocks! Just returned from Bruce’s with the back window fixed and the tire pressure slightly reduced by 5 pounds per tire and my RV is bouncing all over the place and the road is even rougher than before…  like a party house for kids.  Will call Blistein in the morning to make sure I get the right ones, then see how fast I can get them and who I can get to install them….  always something, wondering if I will meet my first stop deadline.

 

OK I’ll post more later….  need to research the shocks.

 

david bowie – changes

I’ve been diligently pursuing a motorhome upgrade…  i.e. somewhat newer, tad bigger Class B.  It’s not gone well, my eyes starting dropping white streaks, my shoulders curved inward towards the monitor like long ago when I lived in a cubical maze of head tops and clocks from spending too much time on the computer.  Hmmm…..

I cannot believe the price flurry. When did Class B RVs get to be $135,000, $175,000 and more for a non custom rig.  Even with the 20% – 25% off list, it’s insane.

Price craze has caused used Class B’s to become more expensive than what used to the price for a new one!  Am having trouble imagining such a drain on my bank account. Tack on dealer fees, inspection, taxes, registration, shipment and whatever upgrades and changes I’d want…..  oh my.

Every time I find something (maybe) affordable it’s located on the other side of the country. I find I’m really not that brave or I just don’t know for sure what I want.

The clincher is many newer models I’m seeing lack storage that I currently enjoy even with a stretching of length to 24.5 to 26 feet.  I want a Class B is because it’s L I T T L E!  I like the Promasters at 21 feet but the models I’ve seen have too much stuff crammed inside them; nevertheless I do like them and may get one someday. There are small Sprinters, 20 to 23 feet and older Ford and Chevy’s but cost is killer or lack of storage and interior light.

Claustrophobic doesn’t work for me. I require lots of windows and doors. I did see a 2007 Great West Classic Titan for sale (on the other side of the country) that I loved but it was sold before I could even think about how far away it was.

I love that I can sleep in the back width-wise in my current B, with windows all around and a back door that opens onto a beautiful river or….  what-have-you (it could use screens).  I love the open shelf that runs along the inside, the cabinets that have no barriers in-between so I can put long things in there and the fact that other than the pathetic bathroom there is room for everything I need.

So I’ve temporarily given up my search my for next RV….  It will come. There are many new Class B’s coming. Hopefully at some point the prices will level out or I’ll get that winning Lottery ticket.

So…..  I’m revving up my little LT for Spring Travel; maybe I’ll even give her a real name, she deserves one.  any ideas?

Here’s my list:

  1. Have brakes checked…  do I really need a brake job? If yes then find a shop that can do it right the first time.
  2. Tires!  Sure there is tread remaining on the Toyos, but I hate them. I plan to buy 4 beautiful Michelin LTX M/S2 (LT225 / 75R16)  from Costco at $689.96.  I understand they go on sale from time to time.
  3. Am considering replacing the Monroes with Bilstein shocks…. undecided.
  4. Get the back window fixed.
  5. Apply thermal insulation to the undercarriage to stop the exhaust heat from soaking into the cab…  this video sent to me by a friend explains the problem perfectly..  and the solution:  Fix the Hot Floor Problem in Your Gas RV
  6. Bluetooth radio to stream my Note 4 Android Cell Phone instead of the maze of wires I currently have.
  7. Line front curtains with Fairfield Solarize Liner Fabric; clean curtains first!
  8. Craft hanging system for reflectix or more Solarize for other windows.
  9. Install a small 12 volt fan on the wall in the front by the wing windows.
  10. See if I can find a longer sewer hose that can be compressed to fit in tube and be able to reach its target without needing an extension.
  11. Touch up interior paint.
  12. Inspect all screws / bolts. . .tighten as needed
  13. Oil change / trip check.
  14. Service generator….  can I get it to work reliably? If not, (painfully) consider replacing it…  expensive 😦
  15. Awning?  Maybe?? Also expensive.
  16. Electric bike and dog-cart….  maybe? will need a rack if go this route.