Monday, April 24, 2017

Knowing when to let it all go… A blog about friends!


Knowing when to let it all go… What does that really mean? Well, to me it means a lot. We always come back to our former home here in College Station Texas. Why? Because it was our former home and we have many great memories of raising our family here.


What makes home,,, a home? To me it is a place that makes me feel so totally relaxed that there is no other place I want to be. A place of comfort, peace and serenity. There was a time that home for me was College Station Texas… but not any more. We have now been on the road for a little more than 6 years and our former home is just that… former.


We have lots of former friends in our hometown who have fallen by the wayside while others have forged stronger friendships with us. We so enjoy coming back home to reconnect now that all our kids are grown and life is not so busy as to get in the way. The month-long stay seems to fly by because of all the social visits we try to fit in. Sometimes as occurred yesterday, an old friend traveled from Houston to drop by for a couple of hours before attending an Aggie baseball game. What an unexpected treat that was!


How fabulous in this huge world we have the opportunity to meet people who become so special along the path of our lives on earth. For Sharon and I who grew up in military families, we did not have have the opportunity to make many lifelong friendships. I think as a result we are so grateful for the journey we are on as it has filled that void for us! We have met so many people on the road over the last six years whom we cherish as new friends.  We are ever thankful knowing we would never have had this chance to know them had we not decided upon this nomadic lifestyle. Although our friends made on the road now far outnumber the friends here in our former home, there are still those here in College Station we consider dear friends for life…


What made me contemplate this is thinking of those who are newly retired and planning to hit the road.  Interestingly the same will probably occur for them in that some friendships will fade while others will rise up to replace those who were once very close. Looking at my partner in crime, the person who sits next to me in the motorhome I realize there sits my best friend. Because of her willingness to try this adventure way out of her comfort zone we have become closer than ever before in our marriage.  I have a feeling that is true for so many of our comrades on the road and it will become so for the newbies as well.


Every year we pass through our old home town it has become easier to let it go.  This town is special to us but it is not home anymore.  We have let that go.  Our new “home” is our 420 square feet home on wheels where we experience that joy, peace and serenity everyday we live in it.   I think that is exactly why we haven’t settled anywhere nor seriously looked for a place to settle yet. We just love this and I am thinking now that we will probably let go of the idea we need to know where we will settle.  We will just cross that bridge when we come to it and in the meantime, just enjoy the ride!

NOTE: We are still in College Station until May 7th. Our flooring project is on hold as our tiles are on back order. The photos in today’s blog are of our family who spent the past weekend with us and of some local friends at a gathering

Friday, April 21, 2017

Sub-Flooring Installed, Waiting for the Flooring…



Before discussing the next steps required in our flooring redo, I thought this would be a good time to explain how the floor in our Tiffin RV was built. The top layer was  composed of engineered tile planks. The engineered flooring rested on top of 1/8” luan hardwood layered panels. The luan panels are on top of 5/8” OSB sub-flooring panels. Under the OSB panels is a layer of aluminum framing members with a thick layer of Styrofoam insulation in between them. Finally the bottom layer is only a plastic vapor barrier.

I mention this to point out that once there is water damage and the OSB layer is compromised the only thing keeping you from going right through the floor is the top layer of engineered flooring! Yikes!!! That is why it is very important to address any major water damage ASAP.


Anyhow after much cleaning of the water damaged area and redundant measuring I finally got some 3/4 marine grade plywood. Notice I didn’t replace it with 5/8” OSB as I prefer plywood over OSB but I couldn’t find any 5/8” plywood. So, on the patch I simply won’t add the extra 1/8” luan layer so it will match the rest of the remaining flooring’s height. After bolting, screwing and gluing the patch in I finally had the subflooring done.

While the subfloor was exposed it gave me the opportunity to investigate some “creaks” we had in the floor. I fixed most of these using one of two techniques. First I removed the self-tapping screws from the flooring that had worked their way through most of the OSB layer and simply drilled a new hole and re-screwed them into the aluminum framing. One creak was repaired by drilling a hole into the OSB layer and spraying a bit of expanding foam into the void below the OSB creating a more solid base for the sub-flooring.

We still have a couple of creaks in the floor which we will just have to live with since I couldn’t solve them. Such is life in an RV! Afterward I had to do another very thorough cleaning before putting down the luan layer. The main reason for the luan layer is to provide a smooth and level surface for the final flooring tiles.


The only real challenge of laying down new luan is the careful measuring required for all the odd cut pieces. It became a puzzle requiring measuring more than cutting if done right. Only one 4x8 foot sheet was able to be used without any cutting and the other three sheets were cut extensively.

I used only a few tools for cutting the luan. Mainly I used my handy Skill Saw with a carbide tipped blade and for smaller more intricate cuts I used a metal straight edged ruler and a sharp Box Cutter. After scoring the wood along the straight edge about three times, the luan will snap off with a clean edge. Each piece of luan was glued down using one of two glues. I used Loctite pl 400 subflooring glue and gorilla glue. The gorilla glue heavy duty construction adhesive was mostly used on the floor patch but when I needed to glue on metal I also used it. Otherwise the Loctite was used the most. It would take about 2 tubes of Loctite for every 32 square feet of luan glued down.


After gluing a luan panel down I would use a rolling pin to ensure that the surfaces were pressed tightly together. I then used the remaining heavy piece of marine grade plywood and laid it on top of the glued down luan panels to ensure they remained flat to the subflooring. After all the luan panels were glued down and dried the next step was to use some Dap Plastic Wood Putty to close any of the larger gaps in the luan panels and to smooth out any knotholes in the floor patch.


With everything ready and cleaned extensively once more time the final step to installing the luan layer was to use some 2.88 inch wide Gorilla Tape to seal all the seams between the luan panels. This creates a barrier to moisture and keeps it from finding an easy path down to the OSB subflooring while providing a flat and even surface for the new flooring we plan to install as the top layer.

So I have done all I can and am waiting for our special order of new flooring to arrive so I can finish this project up! Hopefully Sharon will feel better soon (her cold turned into pneumonia) so we can get out of the RV and do something fun…

NOTE: We are currently in our former home town, College Station until May 7th. Our plan is to replace our flooring and attempt to fit in a little fun along the way…

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

RV Flooring Replacement–The Prep Work…


In our previous blog I talked a bit about tools needed so now I will discuss prepping the floor for our future luxury vinyl tiles. The first step in taking out our old flooring was to decide where to start. Since we had one tile in the hallway that had bubbled up, I started there.


As I mentioned before most if not all RV’s have the flooring laid down before the cabinets are built. I really needed to find a solution to cutting as close to the cabinets as possible without damaging them. After hours consulting Google I came across the “toe kick saw”, a tool I had never heard of.

I decided to purchase one since I couldn’t find anyone who rented them.  I was delighted I did because it did exactly what I wanted it to do. All kitchen cabinets have a small shelf about four inches from the bottom and this is called the toe kick. I assume it was built this way originally because if it wasn’t there the owner’s toes would kick the cabinet.


The toe kick saw accomplished 80 percent of the cutting around the cabinets but another essential tool I discovered was the oscillating multi-tool. A multi-tool with one of its plunging saw blades proved perfect for tight corners to finish cutting the tile perimeter.


Once the perimeter was cut then I had to remove the tile. Our engineered tile was laid over a 1/8” luan subfloor material. What made this a challenge was that the flooring was glued to the 1/8” luan sub-floor and the luan sub-floor was glued on top of a 5/8 marine grade OSB board. This created a solid glued “sandwich” of materials and of course made it very difficult to remove the engineered flooring without damaging the 1/8” luan layer.

I found the best solution for removing the engineered flooring was to use the multi-tool with a scraper blade and with its high speed oscillations I was able to get a few inches under the flooring.  This allowed access for a 6” high quality scraper to be inserted and hammered in underneath the tile. After pushing about 4 inches under the tile I used a pry bar to lift up and break the tiles into pieces. Imagine this process over and over for hours to accomplish removing all of the engineered flooring. Back breaking!


After removing the engineered flooring it was evident that the luan layer was damaged a lot from this process of forcibly removing the tiles. So once again I used the same technique I used to 20170413_143503remove the engineered tiles to remove the luan. After all the luan was up the real sub-floor was revealed and as a result it exposed some new problems that I will discuss in the next blog…

Once the flooring tiles and the luan were removed I then focused on cutting out the water damaged OSB board. The long cut in the middle of our hallway was made with my skill saw after making a chalk line for cutting guidance. Then the multi-tool was used alongside the wall to get all of the rotted OSB out. Once I had cleaned it all up I cut a piece of marine grade 5/8” plywood to fit the hole I created. I will attach the patch later but it will keep us from going through the floor!!!

I am making really good progress on the flooring despite the fact my assistant, Sharon, has come down with a really bad cold (her first in years).I am looking forward to her getting better so I can have a bit of help!

NOTE: We are currently in our former home town, College Station until May 7th. Our plan is to replace our flooring and attempt to fit in a little fun along the way…

Saturday, April 15, 2017

RV Flooring Replacement–Tools Needed…



One of the main reasons we booked a month in our former home town in College Station, Texas was that we planned to remove our old flooring and install new flooring. I have experience in laying flooring so I was up for the task even though I knew the RV flooring would be quite challenging due to how the flooring was initially laid and because of all the intricate cuts required.

Why are we replacing our flooring? Well we  are replacing our flooring to address three different issues.

  1. When we first bought the RV there was evident water damage in our hallway because the previous owner apparently left the windows open during a rainstorm. We had replaced the rippled wall covering some years ago with some wainscoting while in Red Bay Alabama. We were certain there was also some water damaged wood below those two hall windows.
  2. We have one engineered tile in our hallway that had “domed or bubbled up” that really needs to be replaced.
  3. We have several places that “creak” when we walk on the floor which needs to be addressed.

Our current flooring has been discontinued so there went my idea of working in only the hallway to replace the flooring with its exact style.. So we will replace all our fabricated wood flooring and while we are at it we will remove a lot of the carpet and convert it to fabricated tile flooring as well. This will make Sharon happy as she hates the carpet. I felt mixed about carpet as I love it in the bedroom but could certainly be happier with less of it in the living space.Phase 1 will be replacing the flooring and phase 2 will be carpet replacement (which we will do another day).image

As most of you may know, flooring in an RV is laid down on the floor before any of the interior cabinetry or furniture is put in. Some people simply install new flooring overtop the old flooring but this would not only add additional weight to our RV it also wouldn’t solve the wood rot or creaking sounds in the sub-floor.Therefore we decided to rip out the old flooring to reveal what lies beneath it…

Accomplishing the job can be done much more efficiently with the right tools and I certainly didn't have all I would need. I figured my options would be to rent the necessary tools or purchase some to do the job right. I will explain how I used these tools later on. I ended up buying the two tools below as rent options were overpriced or in the case of the toe kick saw not an option. .

  • Toe Kick Saw – used to cut flush against the existing walls and cabinetry
  • Multi-Tool – used to cut corners and other difficult to cut areas as well as utilizing it for its oscillating scraper capabilities

Other tools that I have that are going to be needed are:

  1. Rubber Mallet
  2. Pry Bar
  3. good quality 6 inch joint knife
  4. Large Pliers or Capet Staple Remover
  5. Phillips Head Screwdriver
  6. Electric Drill
  7. Specialty bits for extracting specialty screws/bolts
  8. Skill Saw with carbide tipped blade
  9. Extra cutting blades for the multi-tool
  10. 2 or 4 foot level (I had both already) – also serves as a straight edge
  11. Box Cutter with extra blades 
  12. Chalk Line
  13. Tape Measurer
  14. Dust Mask and Safety Goggles

This blog is long enough so I delve into more details in the next blog or two explaining why I needed these tools and how they were useful. I realize it will be tedious back breaking work but I feel it will be worth it in the end!

NOTE: We are currently in our former home town, College Station until May 7th. My plan is to replace our flooring and have a little fun along the way…

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Clunking Sound and It’s Aftermath!!!


Wow spending four nights in Lockhart and indulging in exquisitely smoked Texas BBQ was almost too much. I am sure we both gained a few pounds but it was worth it. As morning broke on the day we were to leave we lingered to do one last walk up the steep hill to enjoy the greenery in Lockhart State Park and then returned to pack up the RV for our day’s travels.


The day started out splendidly but would soon take a turn for the worse. Shortly after leaving we stopped at a mechanic shop that we had scoped out a few days earlier and discovered it was large enough for our RV to pull in for our annual inspection. Since we are registered in Texas we have a short grace period once we enter the state to have our inspection. We passed with flying colors and paid our $7.00 and we were good to go.


All was going well until about ten miles down the road when we heard a very loud banging, clanging sound. We both looked at each other and thought that our passenger side bay door opened and we lost our compressor out of the bay. The loud sound alarmed us but we were on highway 20, a small two lane road with no shoulders and nowhere to pull off.

20170410_165837hole from where piece one was ripped out

About 3/4 mile further up the road we found a driveway we could pull over on and check out the RV. First we noticed the bay housing the air compressor was closed so the compressor had not fallen out.  Then we saw there was a chink of fiberglass ripped off the rim of our passenger side wheel well. A further inspection the wheel well exposed that we almost lost the passenger side fender as the two screws holding in in place on its trailing edge had been ripped out.


Also our passenger side wheel lost its decorative cover plate and several of the lug covers were dented and one was even missing. Further exploration revealed that we had some wiring ripped apart up under the passenger side wheel well as well. Since we now had no clue what had happened  we unhitched the car to go back down to the scene of the crime to see what the hell happened!!!


We surmised that we must have run over a piece of metal and threw it up in the wheel well even though neither one of us saw anything on the road. Less than a mile down the road I thought we were in about the place it all occurred and we noticed some wiring lying in the road. This was about a five foot piece of wiring harness that apparently had ripped out from up underneath our RV!!! We couldn’t find anything else in the road so still had no clue as to what must have actually happened.

drivers side framining intact20170409_104235

In shock we returned to the RV, reattached the CRV and headed on down the road after we decided nothing was damaged enough to cause us any need for worry about our safety. Sharon noticed as we were driving down the road the passenger side fender was flapping in the wind. Worried that it might rip off I pulled over and added a few rubber washers to the ripped out screws hoping to prevent it from flapping in the wind anymore.


Well I had to pull over two more times as each attempt to secure it failed. Finally I pulled out the drill and drilled in two new holes and screwed it back together. A permanent fix! We at last pulled into our park in College Station after our 110 mile drive ended up taking 4.5 hours!

After we set up I began communicating with Freightliner and learned enough to begin  the planning to fix the wiring. I went to a few places in town to buy connectors as well as new plugs for the lights. While repairing the parking light plug I put my hand up on some of the carriage framing and felt a sharp piece of metal. After comparing the driver's side to the passenger side I finally figured out what happened to us on the road! A large piece of angle iron framing had a bad weld or two so it fell out while we were traveling on the rough road on highway 20!

Where piece 4 was attached

Feeling relieved we solved what happened now we had to contact Freightliner and Tiffin to see what we needed to do. After communication with Freightliner they stated that the framing was an add on by Tiffin. I contacted Tiffin who agreed and we were still within the 10 year warranty which covers weld failures and framing malfunctions so it looks like we will be going to Red Bay this summer! Oh boy!!!!

I will, however, fix as much of the electrical wiring issues as I can before leaving here. So my first repair purchases were some assorted heat shrink tubing, a heat gun and some electrical screw on connectors. Hopefully I can at least get my headlights and side camera to work!

Anyhow we are actually relieved it happened before coming to our former home town for our month-long stay where we can take the necessary time to plan. Unfortunately we now we have to change our summer plans to include a stay at Red Bay for repairs… Oh well, such is life!

NOTE: We are currently in our former home town, College Station until May 7th. My plan is to replace our flooring while we are here thus I am not blogging as frequent;y…