The DIY Option

DIY-bandeau-1This week we added another upgrade to our Keystone Passport Travel Trailer.  We seem to be in a mode of upgrading some of the little things and some that may seem a bit larger.  As discussed in a previous post I understand why the manufacturers tend to go with “cheaper options” when constructing an RV, it all comes down to cost and time.. so be it.  In talking with a Keystone rep at the last RV show he gave us the “insider scoop” that if you want everything perfect you need to go to the factory and get it made that way.  Well for most of us that is not an option and when it comes to cost I think doing the little upgrades a few at a time will ultimately save you money in the long run.  Besides, being new to RVing I really didn’t know what I wanted until about a year in the RV and seeing other trailers.  So it really is trial and error for a while and then you fall into the get what you want mode.
For us every upgrade we make now is a plus.  The RV is paid off so all the cost now is added value to us and it makes the trailer more suitable to how we use it and meets our needs.  The thing that we have learned in this process is just how much you can do yourself.  Now there are things that I won’t do like drill holes in the side of my rig to install a Slider Topper.. nope.. way out of my wheel house.  But I am finding that many things can be done by myself and at a tremendous cost savings.  The case in point, and it cost me too much for this lesson, is this weeks upgrade.  We had installed (there’s the mistake) a set of Morryde Step Above steps.   We saw them at the RV show and immediately knew we needed them on our trailer.  They replace the existing fold out steps on the rig.  I spoke with the Rep from MorRyde at the show and demo’d the steps and some of the other MorRyde products.  They are fantastic, solid, super stable steps and they are great on the trailer.  I took the brochure home and did all the measuring to find the set we needed to fit our rig and went to Camping World to buy them.  They are running a $59 “We install anything” deal right now…. which is not entirely true after you pay for the parts and labor.. not to mention the item itself.  But I had them install it and came to find out one of my doors is smaller than the other and so only one set could installed.  MorRyde does not make the small door option yet.. I sure hope it’s coming.  The install took a few hours, I’m sure it is because they are installing a ton of stuff with the $59 deal, but what it amounted to was putting the stairs in and mounting them with 6 screws.  Six screws that are easily accessible.  After looking at what took Camping World 2 hours to do I kicked myself in the rear for spending the money on the install.  I could have done it in 10 minutes.  Had I ordered the steps on Amazon

6Exm0vKKTYe50TdyCU7OIgand had them shipped to my house I could have saved about $200 in shipping, labor, and install fees.  Lesson learned, look into the DIY options before you buy.
I have done a lot of little improvements to the RV.  Today I installed a pole in the closet.  We converted our bedroom closets using inexpensive drawers we found at Target so we needed to make the lined closet usable to hang jackets and shirts that need to be hung on hangers.  Took me 5 minutes and it’s done the way I wanted it.  The point is that I am learning to do it myself.  As we take our trailer out more and more and see what upgrades or manufactures are doing with the newer trailers we see things that we like and want.  From now on we will be always be looking at how we can do it ourselves before we jump to the install.  Now if it is stuff that I just not comfortable with then paying for piece of mind is always worth the cost.
So here is a list of the what we have upgraded or changed in our Keystone Passport to date:
New Mattress on bed
Installed cup holders around dinette
Bedroom closet drawers
Hall closet hanger
MorRyde steps
Slide topper
Replaced Door windows with Thin Shade windows
Replaced curtain stays as they have been breaking with zip ties
Replaced Scissor Stabilizers with Eaz Lift stabilizers
Vent Covers on the two vents on roof
Added antenna booster to TV
Lost of Command Hooks around to hang things
Tongue Jack replaced
Kitchen sink faucet replaced
Bathroom sink faucet replaced
Shower head replaced
Started changing our light bulbs inside to LED bulbs
Seat Cushions in Dinette replaced
I’m sure I am forgetting something here, but we are making the RV the best for us and we love it!
What are some of the upgrades that you have done on your rig?  We would love to know heck maybe it will inspire us to do more upgrading.
Let us know!
Have a Happy Day!

Window Up Grade! AP Products Thin Shade

11080005This week we upgraded the door windows of our Passport.  We went with the AP Products Thin Shade.
We went with these windows for a couple of reasons.  First, we love the shade that is built into the window.  The older windows allowed for privacy, but the look was just not what we liked.  The old windows looked like the glass that you find in a restroom.
Second, we love that the new windows match the smoked glass look of all of the rest of the windows on the trailer.  It makes the look of the RV much nicer and the door side now has a matched texture of the glass, it just seems to flow better.
Finally, the price was right.  We got an incredible deal on the set of windows.  We stopped by camping world.  The windows were on sale from $133 a piece to $119.  Then we got to the register we discovered thanks to the associate that there was another price marking on the box.  She told us that she had to charge us whatever the price is on the box.. so we got both windows for $180.
The project took only 20 minutes to install both of the windows, the hardest part was taking the old windows out.  Once I got them out and cleaned up the door the new install was quick and easy.
It says that the windows fit most RV’s.. they fit in our doors like fingers in a glove.  Perfect fit and great look.  Looks like they came installed from the factory… which begs the question… no it actually doesn’t.. I understand why the factory does not do the cool upgrades and I appreciate that.  The money spent later is well worth it because then you have the ability to customize your rig.
So another nice upgrade to the RV.  Glad we got it done.
Heres a video that gives you an idea of the project.
Have a Happy Day!

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March RV Upgrades

March is here and we look forward to some better weather.  25 degrees this morning here in Oregon, but we ready the Passport for another weekend adventure.  Last week we did some upgrades to the RV, one that was a must and a couple others that are just upgrades or nice to have.
smartjackFirst, the must item, and the more I think about it… yes it needed to be replaced, but we decided to replace it.. again, with a better one.  I am talking about out Tongue Jack.
On our last outing the Harbor Freight tongue jack that we replaced the original crank jack with finally gave out.  We got a good three years out of it so in Harbor Freight terms, we got our money worth.  It was a serious situation that when it finally did give out and we did a quick $60 fix (removed the urgency from the situation).  Last week however I went down to Camping World and picked up a new Smart Jack from Lippert.  It is a 3500 lb jack and has some cool features like setting the hitch height.  It was a super easy install and it is functioning great.  Lesson learned.  When you raise the Jack for travel and you hear the “Clunk”.  You have gone to far.  Repeatedly raising the jack to the absolute top will eventually wear out the gears and it will seize up.  The fix.  I am adding a strip of duct tape to the drop leg at the point before it reaches the top.  This will allow for some space so I do not reach the top and hear the “Clunk”.  This will keep the gears from seizing and wearing out.  You can see the install here.
faucetThe second upgrade we did was to replace the faucet in the bathroom sink.  We removed the standard plastic faucet which did not fit very well with the sink.  It was hard to wash hands, brush teeth etc.  We replaced it with the 4 inch faucet from Valterra.  This new faucet is higher and has a better reach into the sink.  The single handle is a nice feature that we like and it matches the faucet that we have in the galley.  We went with the nickel brushed look.  It goes well with the counter top in the bathroom, as it does in the galley.  This too was a real easy install.  Literally took about 10 minutes, mostly because I was shooting a video that showed the install.  I really like how it looks in the bathroom and adds to better functioning of the bathroom sink.  I wish we would have done this upgrade years ago.
So a word about things like hardware for the sink etc.  I understand why the manufacturers put in less expensive and lesser quality items like plastic faucets and sinks and hand crank tongue jacks in the trailers.  First it reduces the overall cost.  I appreciate that.  In most cases it cuts down on the weight of the trailer also.  That in the grand scheme of things is not that important to me.  My tow vehicle can handle the weight and the frame, axels, and build the trailer will certainly handle the extra weight of a new bathroom faucet.  So it really is a cost issue.  All of us are looking at ways to save money, but in the long run, if you are going to make your RV something that you love, you will eventually upgrade items.  We have been doing this little by little and one item at a time.  We find the items when they are on sale or when we can.  Little by little we have made the trailer better and better.  Many times its the little things that make a big difference.
57325753895__2428A478-4BF3-41D1-8114-C77E8A873B4DThe other upgrade that we are replacing is our stabilizers.  We bent one on a trip out to Sera and Sand RV resort a year ago.  It has not stopped the functioning of the stabilizer, but it is bent and I don’t like it.  I saw a video of a guy that replaced his stabilizers for beefier more solid stabilizers, again, the manufactures put on stabilizers that get the job done, but are lesser quality.  So we went to our RV dealers store and picked us up some of the EAZ Lift 5000 lb stabilizers.  Not that we will ever need or put 5000 pounds on each of the four stabilizers at any given time, but these stabilizers are …. well…. stable.  They reduce the wiggle and sway and are solid.  The old ones can literally be shaken by hand, the new Eaz Lift stabilizers give a fit and feel of stability.  I am looking forward to getting out and seeing the difference in our RV with these on.
Well, that is it for now.  We are doing some little things inside the RV, adding some personal touches, but major purchases are over for now… oh except the big upgrade.  For those of you that follow us on Instagram you saw it last week.. We paid off the trailer!  A major upgrade in for our financial situation!
What are some of the upgrades you have done?  We’d love to hear.
Have a Happy Day!

The Journey

We just put a video up to talk about our journey.  We are looking at establishing direction with the YouTube Channel and as we study and learn what it takes to produce content for the channel we also are trying to refine our audience.  We don’t know what that looks like yet.  While one of our goals is to share our journey with everyone, we also want to maintain focus on the RV community and helping new RVers discover the joy that it brings.  It is our Happy Place!
So if you have not checked it out yet.. please consider it.  Subscriptions are totally Free!
Thanks for coming along the journey with us!

The Big 5 List – Christmas Wishes

This weeks Big 5 list is all about our Happy Place.. I hope Santa and his Elves are reading this.. oh and they should Subscribe and Like the post too…
These are the Big 5 things that I was Santa to bring for the Happy Place.
anderson1.  Anderson Levelers.  I have been looking at these for two years now and am finally at the point where I want them.  They will make leveling the trailer a lot easier and reduce the time we spend checking the level and making adjustments.  We use your standard yellow leveling blocks now, and while they do a good job.. I think it is time for an upgrade.
Anderson Levelers on Amazon.
levelmate
2.  LevelMatePro Bluetooth Vehicle Leveling System.  Ok.. so this one confirms me a gear geek, but I gotta tell you.. watch the video on this product and you will want one too.  Showed this to Teresa.. who has to get out every time to check the level and I think I have her sold on this idea.  This handy device makes setting up super easy.  We live in the Pacific Northwest, so rain is always an option.  Having this will make it a lot more comfortable setting up and quicker taking down to with the cool feature that remembers the height to your ball hitch.  It’s a tad bit spendy, but in the long run I think Santa would get his money back in convenience.
LevelMatePro Bluetooth Vehicle Leveling System
compressor3.  3 gal. 1/3 Horsepower 100 PSI Oil Free Pancake Air Compressor.  This item has a bunch of uses, namely keeping air in the tires and blowing out the water lines.  But I am certain there are more uses than that.  The reason I want this one is the size.  It is small, light, and stores in the RV with ease.  A friend of mine has this little gem and it actually saved my bacon on our last outing when I realized that our tires were a little low.  Saved possible blow out on the way home.
chalks
4.  New hard Rubber Chalks.  I have been using the typical yellow chalks that you get when you first buy your RV.  Well I started with four of them and have run over two of them.. totally flattening them.  They have done their work for the last two years, but again, time for an upgrade and something more secure.  I worry about the trailer stability at times, especially since more of the campgrounds and RV pads are uneven and you never know what you are going to get.  It never hurts to be a little safer than not.
5.  New memory foam set cushions for the dinette.  This is something that is a DIY project, but something that needs to get done.  As you know, the padding is not always the greatest.  From the bed mattress, to the dinette the cushions are less than desirable, especially after two years of sitting on them.  We replaced the bed mattress with memory foam and it is fantastic!!!  Now we need to replace the dinette cushions.  Looks like Santa might have to do that one himself.. err.. or bring some memory foam.
Well.. that’s the BIG 5 for this week.  With Christmas just a few days away I hope the list is not to late in getting published for the Jolly Old Elf to see.
Enjoy the Holiday!
Whats on Your List?

First Frost

lowpointWoke up this morning to a little frost on the windshield.  Yep, it’s getting cold outside.
First thought was “Glad I drained the water from the Trailer”.  I don’t completely winterize my RV as we live in Oregon and our temps in the valley rarely get too cold.  That and we use our trailer all year round.  What I do however is make sure that I drain the water for December and when we are not using it in the colder months.
Last Friday I got under the trailer and opened the low point drain plugs and pulled the plug on the water heater.
2 years ago, not thinking about the heater, I drained everything except the water heater. $900 later I had a new heater and a very expensive lesson learned.  The water heater not only froze, but cracked almost in half and the valve split also.  A total loss.  So now I drain the heater, open all the faucets, and drain the water using the low point drain.  Then I pour RV anti freeze down the sinks, toilet, and shower.  Just enough to put some in the tanks and leave some in the P-traps.  We have not had any issues with freezing since.
In January of this year we went to Bend, Oregon for the weekend.  We decided to take the trailer and camp at Tumalo State Park.  It snowed like crazy and we woke up on Sunday to sheets of ice.  I was glad that I had put a bit of anti freeze in the tanks and we filled our fresh tank so we didn’t have to rely on the city water hook up.  I was not sure if the hose would not freeze.  I did know that the fresh tank would stay above freezing just because of the heater being run in the trailer.  We stayed perfectly warm in the RV and everything was alright.  I was happy that our trailer has an enclosed bottom and the pipes are not exposed.  Running the heater kept the pipes warm as they run next to the heat ducts under the trailer.  When we got back home the temps were back up in the low 40’s.  I checked for leaks and cracks and all systems were fine.
So this morning, when I got up to head to the gym and saw frost on the truck.. I looked over to the trailer and didn’t have a worry.
An expensive lesson a few years back sure was a lesson learned well.  Along with tinkering we do in and on our rigs, it’s always important to stay ahead of those things that can really put a damper on your fun.
Keeps the Happy Place Happy!

Cabinet Support Install

Today we spent some time out in the Happy Place doing a little upgrade.  I found a solution to a problem that most people with over head cabinets have.. not enough hands.
For two years now we have been talking about installing cabinet supports, I finally found them at a local RV shop.  The RV Designs H277 Cabinet supports are the answer to the problem.  Easy to install and they work like a charm.
While I was out in the trailer, I also got a few other odds and ends done.  There seems to be a never ending desire to make the Happy Place … Happier.  It is fun to get in there and tinker around.  There is something special about our RV.  Because it brings us so much joy it is fun to spend time upgrading and doing those little things that make it that much better.
What are some of the upgrades You have done to your RV?  Big or small, share with us you favorite upgrade.
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