Maintaining the Firefly

Many people have an idealized vision of what living full-time in an RV is like.  Nothing but travel, wildlife, hiking, beaches, sun and fun, right?  Not exactly.

An RV is a house on wheels.  It has plumbing, electrical, carpentry, and furniture.  Unlike a house, it also has mechanical systems like a car.  If you are independently wealthy, you can afford to have someone do work on these systems for you.  Otherwise, it is your best interest to learn things about your specific RV.  Our Winnebago Outlook is a quality vehicle but it needs maintenance.  Rachel describes it as a “rolling earthquake”, which is accurate.  When it is moving there is constant flexing, vibrating, and stress.  Plus, we are learning pros and cons of its stock configuration.

I may not be Kaylee, but I know how to do many repairs and remodels on Firefly. Rachel is equally ready and able to jump in to get things done.

This past weekend, Rachel and I decided to do some maintenance and update the bathroom.  We noticed that there was a small drip coming from somewhere on the toilet fixture.  The commode itself is a Thetford model, which is fine, but it is a small, cheap plastic model.  Neither Rachel nor I cared for it. We chose to replace it with a larger, ceramic model with a full-sized, wooden seat.

After doing a bit of research and examining the schematics that Winnebago publishes online I found that replacing a toilet in an RV is significantly easier than a home toilet.  In a residence you have a wax ring, often a separate tank and bowl and internal seals.  With an RV, gravity plays a much bigger role.  The toilet is largely self-contained and only requires you to seat a simple gasket and two bolts, then connect the water supply.  The whole procedure took less than an hour.

While I was doing that, Rachel (a.k.a. The Caulking Queen) used exterior silicone caulk to seal the outside over-the-cab shell.  She noticed that there was some condensation inside at the front.  Water is your worst enemy in an RV.  When you find a leak or other water-related issue it is wise to handle it right away.  While she was at it, Rachel also caulked around the baseboards in the bathroom.  It gave it a nice, clean look.

Made In The Shade

Our dog, Finn, is an adorable Maltese, but he has serious separation anxiety.  Whenever we leave the RV he gets very upset.  Early on, we made the mistake of leaving all the shades down in the RV in the hopes that not seeing out would keep him and Khaleesi from barking at things outside.  This was a mistake.  Not being able to see out made Finn very distraught.  He pawed at the shade in the bedroom until he broke the tension string.

The window shades in an RV are different from the types of shades in a house.   They use a slightly complex string system that relies on tension to allow the shade to slide up and down.  When Finn broke the string the shade would no longer stay up.

Shade after repair

My background in IT has taught me a very important lesson: Google is your best friend.  Almost anything can be found.  5 second search found a detailed video on how to replace the shade string on my year and model.  Come to find out that the string wasn’t broken, but had simply come off the peg they tie to.  Turned out to be a simple fix.  Google search was also very helpful with replacing the toilet, with a simple demonstration of removal and replacement.

Our first remodeling project went very well, I think.  In our house, any plumbing repairs involved a considerable amount of… colorful words. The only such language involved a pleasant exclamation of surprise when the whole process went smoothly and quickly.

I’ll take it!

Finn’s guilty look.