Sunday, March 13, 2011

What has Annie been up to? Eh, nothing much (Annie)

First, let me say that being laid off is AWESOME. I told Chilly that I may never work again, it'll be up to her to support me in the manner to which I am accustomed. In exchange, I'll cook and clean and fix stuff. Think she'll go for it?

Here are some of the recent fixes and mods The Duck has enjoyed.

I didn't like our kitchen faucet. It was ugly, old and too short. See?

Much better!

In order to put in the new faucet, I needed to muck around underneath. The old piping is the lovely polybutelyne (PB for short) that was the industry standard when The Duck was built. The problem with PB, it was discovered years later, is that chlorinated water causes tiny microfractures over time. You can't see them, the only indication of a problem is when the line fails and you've got water everywhere and you swear. We wanted to have all of the PB replaced but that didn't pan out, our plumber balked and I didn't feel competent enough to do it all myself, so we've still got mostly PB lines. Anyway, the grey piping you see in this photo is PB. The white and braided metal lines are going to the faucets.

When I put in the new faucet, I left the PB alone but all the torking I did screwing on the new faucet lines caused the bigger grey fitting you see in the right-hand picture above to leak, and that's not a leak I can fix by tightening anything. So, I figured since I have to replace that fitting, I may as well do it up right, replace both sections (hot and cold water) of PB with Pex and add in on/off valves so that we don't have to turn all of the water off to the coach whenever we need to cut off water to the kitchen sink.

Ta da!
You can see that I just tied into the existing PB. Replacing that entire line would mean squirming into the super-tight corner of the kitchen cabinets and in behind the stove then down into the pump bay. I won't tackle that big of a job unless or until the line fails.

No other fingers were harmed in the making of this improvement.

Inside the refrigerator compartment on the outside of The Duck is the line and fittings for the ice maker. It started leaking. This was annoying because we don't even use the ice maker but the fact that we don't use it meant I didn't have to fix it, just stop the leak, so there's your silver lining.
Here's the leaky bastard, the dark metal screwy thing attached to the blue piece. If you look closely you'll see a drop of water suspended from it, mocking me.

And here it is disconnected from the ice maker and capped with a garden hose cap. It still leaked.

So I got serious and toddled off to Fletcher's and Bill put together a fitting with a cap that would seal the hose. All I had to do was take off the end piece of the existing hose at a fitting and tighten this onto it. It doesn't leak now!

We have an Atwood hot water heater that runs on propane. The on/off switch and status indicator lights are on the range hood above our stove. Recently, we noticed it would fire OK but then cut out and the 'Pilot Out' light would come on. That indicator is a bit of a misnomer because we don't have a pilot light, it's an electronic ignition water heater. The indicator is really telling us that there's a problem, it either tried to fire and couldn't or it couldn't maintain the flame. I suspected a problem with the thermostat and went to talk with Bill Fletcher (we LOVE that guy!). He thought replacing the thermostat was a good place to start but if it didn't work I'd be looking at replacing the board (much like the recent furnace board replacement, just much easier to get to). A new board runs over $100 but a new thermostat was under $14, so I went with that. I don't know why but I don't have any pictures of this replacement project. I just blanked on it, I guess. Here, though, is a picture of the final product. The black foamlike square has adhesive on the back and seals the thermostat to the hot water heater. To replace it, I had to peel off the old and disconnect the four wires, pull out the old thermostat and ECO discs then just reverse the process with the replacement parts. It was super easy and it worked! No 'Pilot Out' conditions since the replacment.

Now to the most recent project, our living room floor. This one I just did yesterday.

See this carpet? It's outta here! And what's with those weird swirly stain things? Here's the view looking forward.

And here's the view looking back towards the kitchen.

Told you it was outta here! One of the reasons to go with vinyl from carpet is the guy in this photo. He sheds like a crazy shedding thing.

And he's huge!
Other reasons to have vinyl instead of carpet...

The wood is in pretty good shape, no soft spots anywhere.

Remember the Allure vinyl we put in the kitchen? More of the same here. It comes in 1' x 3' pieces which you can easily cut to fit your space. In this photo, you can see where the wiring comes out of the floor on the right and goes to that wall outlet. I notched out the Allure to make way for it.

And here it is all finished! (not shown was the trip to Home Depot for more vinyl and the transition strip up by the doghouse) This took most of the day, I didn't actually finish until 10:30 last night. Look at Chilly trying to get her feet out of this shot. Cute!

I left the carpet around the driver/passenger chairs and over the doghouse because I really don't want to mess with them. I'd have to remove the chairs and I'm sure the carpet is glued to the doghouse. I just don't have that many swear words in my arsenal to attack that job.

I still need to secure this block of wood that is covering up the outlet wiring. I'm not going to screw it down but will glue it instead.

We love how this turned out!

And while I was doing that, Chilly livened up the living room atmosphere with leftover sparklies from a wall light we had at our last house. Which way to the brothel? I kind of love it. Both living room wall lights are thusly adorned.

Still on the To Do list is something I've been needing to do for a while now. When our Bounder was manufactured ('97), it was a code requirement that the propane detector (usually mounted in the kitchen below or close to the stove) be connected to a solenoid at the main propane tank. This solenoid is in constant contact with the detector and if the detector alarms then the solenoid cuts off all gas flow to the coach. Once the alarm is reset then the detector sends power to the solenoid to open the valve.

Here's the current propane detector. They don't make these anymore.
Our detector and solenoid aren't communicating too well these days. The detector will go off for things other than (though hopefully including) gas leaks. Cleaning solvents will set it off, as will using canned air (!). When ours alarms you have to move the switch on the detector to Off/Reset then turn it back on. If the detector doesn't sense the presence of gas then it sends power to the solenoid to open the valve and restore propane to the coach and you're back in business. At least that's how it's supposed to work. For us, resetting it so that we have gas again can take hours of off and on and off and on and off and on. It's not in alarm mode all this time, it just doesn't send the necessary juice to the solenoid to open it back up. No gas means no furnace, no hot water, no stove (no COFFEE!), so yeah, it's a big deal. We were once without heat overnight because of this thing.

And here is the solenoid at the tank. It's the piece with the yellow and white wires attached.

It's no longer required by code to have a solenoid at the tank. Replacing our existing detector and a new solenoid would mean having to run a new wire down to it because this old wiring, I'm told, would present a fire hazard for the solenoids that are made these days. I again consulted with Bill Fletcher (what a guy!) and he said he'd just take out that solenoid if it were his coach. I talked it over with Chilly and she agreed, so it's got to go! I got a new fitting to go between the regulator and line to the coach, I just have to take the solenoid out.

Here's the new detector. All it will do is alarm if it senses a gas leak (or cleaning solvents or canned air...). I can't put this in until the solenoid is out.
It fits exactly in the space where the old detector is and will use the existing wiring coming from the batteries to the detector.

I also bought this little portable gas sniffer ($30 at Amazon).

We're going to have all 8 tires replaced next month so I've been doing some research. Replacing tires on a motorhome isn't like replacing tires on your car, load ratings are of utmost importance. These things are heavy! Our GCWR is 23,000 pounds so we have to make sure to buy tires sufficient to this load, with some cushion built in for overloaded conditions (though we hope to never run overloaded). On our particular chassis, Ford F-53 built in 1997, we're limited to 235 85R16 tires. It's the 16 that's the issue, because ideally we would run on 19.5 tires that have a larger load cushion, but doing so for us would mean having to buy all new wheels, which would add a couple of thousand dollars to the price. As much as I'd like to go bigger, our wallets would be screaming. So, having settled on the size, I went in search for the brand. Looked at a lot of Firestone, Michelin, Yokohama, etc but finally settled on a tire that gets really great reviews and is a nice price. General Grabber. They're rated to 3087 pounds so that will work for us.

So yeah, I think that's all I've got for now. Did I mention I'm loving unemployment? LOVE IT! I was joking earlier that I'll finally get to unclench and boy is that true!

Pin It


The Good Luck Duck said...

Another great thing about the Allure is that you were able to do it in stages, and it still has great continuity. Looks great, you!


Maria B said...

Wow! Annie, you are awesome. I don't understand most of what you wrote about, but I love that you provide so much detailed information for your followers who might understand it. Also, I loved the band-aid photo!

Teri said...

I like the floor, looks great. I need to learn how to do some repairs so I won't be at the mercy of RV mechanics.

giantspeckledchihuahua said...

If Chilly ever wants to rent you out, I have a few projects. The floor would be first on the list (when I get a rig the carpet will have to go ASAP!) Yours looks GREAT!

Glad your enjoying FUNemployment!

Cyndi and Stumpy @ RVly Ever After

¡Vizcacha! said...

That will be my new business - Annie rental! Great idea, Cyndi.


Malone said...

Gotta love a woman with a tool belt. That was a seriously impressive post! and the cat is gorgeous, too.

Kimbopolo said...

Love the mods!

Sherry said...

Boy Annie you HAVE been busy!!!

But now that you've said your carpet was SO terrible it had to be replaced, I compared your pics with my carpet and mine looks worse. I'm feeling the pressure.... would this be called keeping up with Annie? ;-)

What about RV renovator/fix it woman as your new career? Pull into a campground with that sign on the Bounder and you'll be in business for sure. Just show em' this blog post as a reference.


Anonymous said...

Your fixes and improvements are awesome. How do the sparklies do when you're on the road? (Noise?)

Gail Durham said...

Now that's a great looking floor. I like the sparklies as well.

dirtyduck said...

HUUUGE POST!! where do i begin?
i absolutely LOVED how you put all the kities together, great caption too:)lol. and the orange cat is gigantic! id like to squeeze him...hard......

the new faucet looks great. it makes the whole sink look brand new!! arent low faucets annoying? how are you supposed to clean stuff like that?

thats a professional bedazzle job you got there on that lamp!

¡Vizcacha! said...

Malone: boy, DO I!

Sherry: the tipping point was our half-dozen cats. Cats and carpets are bad yakfellows. Don't give in to the pressure!

Ourtake: I asked Annie if it would drive her crazy ... clink, tinkle, tinktinktinktink all the way down the road, but she figured with everything that's going to be clanging and banging and tinking she won't even notice these. :D

Dirty duck: it's funny that you want to squeeze him, because he LOVES to be hugged. He pretends he doesn't like it, like a teenage boy, but then he settles into it.

I Bedazzled the old lampshade! Awesome! I'm like Betty White.

Merikay said...

BEAUTIFUL cats! It's good to know carpeting can be replaced with tile. I think the tile will be so much easier to clean.

Anonymous said...

OK, So I have just two questions:

1. Who's 'dat lazy bum sittin' on the couch while 'someone' else is doing all the work ??
2. When 'da blazin' are you guys getting on the road ??

¡Vizcacha! said...

Merikay, the kitties say 'thanks!' The tile will definitely be easier.

Bennie, tell Sassy she knows FULL WELL who it was. I tried helping(do you want this now? this? how 'bout this? this? that sharp thing?), but she made me write it "helping" with those sarcastic quotation marks. That's when she suggested the brothel-lamp project.

And leaving's a topic for another post!

pidge said...

I love the way your floor looks with the new tiles, but do any slides go over that? I would like hardwood floors on all of our flat surfaces because of Rusty and just easier to keep clean, but hesitate because of the slides.

¡Vizcacha! said...

Pidge, we don't have any slides, so we can't be very helpful about that. Do you have carpeting now?

Anonymous said...

Looove the kitty shots! AND the new floor. Awesome job! Nina

Levonne said...

I knew that being laid off could be good but you make it sound fabulous!! You are being so productive. (Wow! What a big cat!)

Anonymous said...

Chilly Pants LOL

Me and My Dog said...

You've been busy - it's great you can make these improvements yourself. I love the floor. With a dog that sheds a lot, Chihuahuas are terrible shedders, I don't think I'll want a carpet. The squares are a great idea, and look really good. Thanks for all the great ideas.

RV Vagabonds said...

Your tale of the propane leak detector brought back memories of our '94 Bounder--that thing would go off if I sprayed Lysol or ant spray. Many was the time I'd have to stand in front of that darned thing flapping a section of newspaper back and forth to disseminate the spray and make it SHUT THE F* UP! Now we deal with a smoke detector that goes off whenever I toast a piece of bread but was as silent as can be when the washing machine caught fire and spread smoke into the living room area. *sigh*

Julia said...

I know I am a little late to the party, but I really like your blog :-)

I love the new floor did you move the couch? or just cut the rug close to it and then lay the new flooring?
I am thinking of laying the same flooring as I have the same problem, pets!
I just dread messing with the couch ....

Annie said...

RV Vagabonds, You said it! Canned air would set ours off. Crazy. Sorry for the washer fire but the detector description was pretty funny.

Julia, thanks for joining us! I didn't move the couch at all, the fronts come off so I just cut the carpet back in from the edge a little bit. We don't care if there's carpet under the couch.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the information about the couch now I have to figure how to remove the front from my couch so I can do my floor too!!

I love cats like you two and I have always had a cat in my life, not as many as you have though. Right now I am maid/butler to a siamese cat called Pia.
She is a very loving cat, very sweet, a little demanding when she wants something as are all cats :)