Meet My Camper – Part II

If you haven’t already, you may want to read part one of this series.

My water system was quite a challenge. I have been through a couple of incarnations already. I have a 50 gallon external freshwater tank that is entirely exposed to the freezing temps. A solid block of ice is very difficult to feed through a pump. I installed a smaller tank inside, and replaced the pump. I still had concerns of the water line freezing, so I reconfigured the system again. I will document the details in post dedicated to the water system.

The wood in this thing was in rough shape. Being an older camper, the wood is actually wood, not some cheap laminate. Refinishing is certainly an option, but being a purely cosmetic endeavor, I had it low on the priority list as a ‘next year’ project. I often spew the ‘function over fashion’ credo, but badly wanted to do something to make the wood ‘prettier’. I guess its my feminine side, which I am quite in touch with :). The truth is, there is a psychological element at play. When something looks better, it feels better. I discovered Minwax Polyshades. It’s a stain and polyurethane in one, so one coat does two jobs pretty quickly. I spent a day coating most of the wood, and the results were frankly astonishing. It really does make the place seem much less of a dump.

Insulation is an ongoing affair. I have the bulk of it done. Many windows are simply sealed shut with foam panels. It gets dark super early, so blocking out light was not a big deal. I used to live in a darkroom, so I am part vampire anyway. I left 2 windows open to light. They are both shrink wrapped, and I built a storm window on the larger main window. The cab of the vehicle is walled off with foamboard. I plan on banking all around with plastic and straw bales. More on that later.

I detected a new leak one day after we moved the camper to its winter resting spot. It sits differently, and water found a hole it hadn’t gotten to before. I patched the roof, but to be safe I tarped it as well. I’ve heard arguments for and against this practice, but I’m taking the chance.

I replaced all of the lights with LED’s to lower my power consumption. The ones I got are cheap. I had to exchange the first set due to many lights failing, and my second set is not looking so hot either. The LED’s I have are cool white, which is nice for doing work, but the warm white balance of the incandescent light is cozier. Right now I have a mix, so I get the best of both worlds. The old lights might draw more current, but they also give off quite a bit of heat. That heat is helpful right now.

I had a minor electrical issue. One of my two breakers (a GFCI which runs everything except 1 outlet) was tripping all of a sudden. It was an intermittent issue, so it was hard to solve. I blamed a shoddy outdoor outlet, but removing it changed nothing. I ruled out everything else on the circuit, I switched out the breaker, and it has not reoccurred.

Being that the camper is a Class C (i.e. drive-able), I am frequently asked how many miles are on it. That’s a bit of a mystery. The odometer claims 10,300 miles. That’s next to impossible for a 1977 that’s obviously seen use. The registration says 103,000 miles. It seems to me that the odometer was misread, and the tenths digit was mistaken for the ones digit. My guess is that the odometer has rolled over, and it’s 110,300 miles. Unless it’s rolled over more than once, but evidence seems to suggest otherwise.

The final topic on my list is the bathroom. I have saved it for last, because it is a topic many find uncomfortable. We poop. Get over it. In our society we pull a lever and it’s gone. In this lifestyle, you have to interact with it a bit more. Since my blackwater (i.e. sewer) tank was cracked, the toilet was useless. It would have been anyway, since the tanks contents would freeze (which is likely how it cracked in the first place). Even with ample anti-freeze, I had no solution for emptying the tank. I removed the tank and toilet, and put in a porta potty. There is much to be discussed about this matter, and it’s future, in posts to come.

There are many details left out here. Look for more detailed posts and pics regarding every aspect of this journey coming soon.