Winter Projects, 2017

When you get home from being elsewhere there are always things that need to get done, things promised, things left over and things that need to get started. And then there are the things you don’t even know about yet. Lots of those.

Coach Projects

Not much here that is new. We had a small radiator leak. I started noticing a drip here or there after the Tetons on our way to Oregon. Some driving days there was nothing, other days there might be a wet spot 4-5 inches across. I had part of a gallon of antifreeze along and added that to the 11 gallons of coolant in the engine and radiator. We never leaked enough to need any more.

I took it up to Cummins and they thought it would be a simple repair, they ended up rebuilding the entire radiator. It was a couple coach bucks (thousands) plus the oil change (38 qts) and transmission synthetic fluid change. Pretty much burned through that year’s and some of next years maintenance budget. It is all well and fixed now. It was due for a coolant system flush and clean and fill and new filters again anyway.

Shop Work

When we built our house we left a shallow recess along one wall of the short hallway between the master bedroom and the master bath. The opposite side of the hallway opens into the walk-in closet. We like a few shows on HGTV and this now called the “en suite”. French for a room with a ceramic shrine connected to a bedroom. We never heard of that when we built the house. Anyway, the idea was to build a cabinet of some sort into that space to store linens or clothes. After many years of thinking about it work commenced two years ago on this project about two weeks before I fell on the ice and tore up my shoulder. Six months of recovery and rehab meant no shop work. I got back at it in a disjointed fashion, some here and some there. The lower carcase (internal framework) and face frame, the doors, and all of the drawers got made a year ago. When we got home I started up again, promising to get it finished before we left for TX. The center and upper sections were made and assembled. All three parts came into the house for fitting into the recess which was pretty close to plumb and square but not exactly. The cabinet has to fit in with a very well fitting edge on one side and a bit of room for expansion on the other.

Back to the shop for final mounting of the drawers. The slides have to be in just the right place so that the drawers fit into the openings and flush to the face frames. 3/64″ allowance all around the drawer to the face frame (that is less than 1/16″). There are three doors on the upper section, they all fit with the same tolerance. I added LED lighting to the middle section and to the interiors of the upper section.

Six coats of a catalyzed oil finish leaves just the right color, sheen and feel to the birch. And then back into the house, positioned just so, locked into place and it was done.

102″ tall x 60″ wide. 13 drawers. A lighted center section and more storage behind the upper section drawers.

Now I can finish the door trim. It passed Susan’s approval (two thumbs up!) and mine too. The drawers are filling up. I really enjoy working in the shop, it is soothing, methodical and detailed work that for me is quite pleasing.

Solar Panels

No, not more on the coach but for the house. We looked into getting solar panels on the roof of the house. Did it make sense? What was the cost? What were the benefits? Would it pay for itself? The answer seemed to be Yes to all. There are significant State and Federal tax benefits to help pay for the installation, very substantial rebates from the local utility company and State law requires the local Utility to buy back excess power at the current retail price of electricity.

We can put in up to 120% of our average annual use. Than means almost 13,000 watts for solar panels on the roof. On average we will generate 100% of our usage and sell 20% back to the utility. At night we will buy some power but most of that is off-peak power at a much lower rate much less than we sell back during the day. The savings from not buying power from the utility and selling the excess back means that it should pay for itself while we can still enjoy it.

So we are going to move forward with it. Engineering, design and permitting are in the works. If it all meets our final approval work begins in late May.

Planning for the Next Trips.

We thought about going to a South Carolina beach State Park this winter. Either Edisto or Hunting Island. They are nice parks, right on the ocean and 1/2 price for snowbirds. The weather there this winter was terrible, glad we didn’t go. And then we were considering the Gulf Shores are east of Mobile. We started checking on places more than six months before we wanted to be there and there was nothing available anywhere for any length of time.

We are heading for Texas Hill Country in winter 2018. South of Austin, north of San Antonio. Livingston, Georgetown and Fredericksburg. Lots to do down here, the Hill Country should be a place we can go if we just want to go south. And over time we have met lots of nice folks down this way.

We are going to Michigan (upper and lower) in the summer of 2018. Maybe Gulf Shores in Alabama for winter of 2019. Maybe the Canadian Maritimes for summer of 2019. The way the travel world is today a year of lead time is needed for many places. 44 years ago when we started our RV life reservations were almost unheard of and almost never needed.


More later,

Roger and Susan

3 thoughts on “Winter Projects, 2017”

  1. Your cabinet making skills are shockingly fabulous. And this with a messed up shoulder? Do you, by any chance, know how we can “kill” our Trekmate security system so it doesn’t kill our engine batteries whenever we are away for a few days and have locked the door. We return to a high pitched squeal which stops when we put the key in the ignition and turn it to the “on” position. We have tried removing a fuse, to no avail.


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