Whether you live full time in an RV or in sticks and bricks, issues have a way of popping up when you least expect them. We’ve certainly had our share in both circumstances.
Things have gone incredibly wrong for some RVers, forcing them to hang up their travel hats and settle down. We’ve been very fortunate in our RV life. Although we’ve had plenty of challenges, we haven’t encountered anything we couldn’t get through — even though some things took many months to resolve.
Some of the simpler incidents in our fourth year of RV living included separating trailer skirting and losing a hubcap off the truck. An Amazon order remedied the hubcap issue, and some screws and bolts fixed the skirting problem.
We also had a loose window in the trailer that would occasionally open on its own as a result of travel over bumpy roads. Closing it required powering open the dining room slideout part way.
The last time that happened, while driving through Canada, I went to close the window and discovered a loose screw in the control mechanism. Since tightening the screw, we haven’t had any issues with the window. Who knew it was such a simple fix all these years!
Here are some more significant excerpts of things gone wrong in RV life from the past year:
Right before setting out on the Alaska Highway, we noticed a puddle under our kitchen slideout — the last thing we wanted to see before hitting a notoriously rough road, especially after all the water problems we had already dealt with. Upon examination, Bob quickly found the culprit: a plastic, instead of brass, tee joint connecting the pipe to our ice maker.
Yes, you read that right. Our rig came equipped with an ice maker. We used it early on but quickly realized its ineffectiveness for boondocking, with no water connections. So, we stopped using it and resorted to a couple of silicone ice trays, which also save precious freezer space.
Bob bandaged the pipes and made a point to keep an eye on them until he could replace the tee with something more effective, which he did when we were in North Pole, Alaska.
For our first overnight stop on the Alaska Highway, we pulled into a downward-sloped rest area. We had learned from other leveling challenges that for best operation, our refrigerator couldn’t be at a pitch more than 3 degrees. Knowing that and not wanting to sleep so that we rolled off the bed, we attempted to raise the rear of the truck to make the front of Tagalong more level.
This involved driving up on some stacked plastic leveling blocks, which we use for the trailer all the time. With the dually wheels on each side of the truck and the weight of the trailer on top of them, the plastic crunched and broke into pieces as soon as Bob drove onto it. So much for that idea.
We ended up disconnecting the trailer from the truck for that stop so that we could get the trailer even from front to back and enjoy our evening there.
Upon arrival at an overnight stop, I attempted to go inside the trailer to open the dining room slideout. But I couldn’t get in. Although the main door opened, the screen door attached to it wouldn’t budge. That meant we couldn’t lower our stairs, which fold up inside the door, to get into the rig.
Bob grabbed his cordless drill and removed hinges from the screen door to allow us in. That worked temporarily but didn’t correct the underlying issue. After much scrutiny, we realized that one of the brackets on the stairs was bent, catching on the screen. Bob successfully straightened out the bracket and filed it down, fixing the problem.
Missing Smoke Detector
After arriving at a location and setting up camp for the week, I looked up and noticed two screws hanging from the ceiling above our kitchen island. As I stared at them, I racked my brain trying to identify what used to cover the screws. Then it dawned on me.
I asked Bob if he had moved the smoke detector. He said no. A search high and low for the device didn't uncover it. I suddenly remembered I had been having difficulty opening the dining room slideout. I pulled it in a few inches and, sure enough, the smoke detector sat atop it. Bumpy road conditions must have rattled it loose from its ceiling perch.
No Hot Water
Our rig has two ways to heat water: with propane and with electricity. Upon arrival at Fool Hollow Lake Campground in Show Low, Arizona, Bob noticed the lack of hot water coming out of the tap, despite the electric water heater being on.
He tried to heat the water with propane, but that didn’t work. We had encountered a similar issue another time, so after some troubleshooting, he pinpointed the problem: a faulty thermal cutoff. It’s a safety device that prevents melting if the water gets too hot. He happened to have a spare, and replacing it produced warm water out of our faucet.
It’s not uncommon to accidentally leave possessions at places and have to return to fetch them. When that act of fetching involves driving a tall, heavy fifth wheel through traffic in Portland, Oregon, it’s downright nerve-racking.
That’s where we found ourselves after I realized I had left my purse at McDonald’s north of Portland, about a half hour away. With white knuckles, Bob graciously drove back through the city — and then through it a third time after retrieving the purse to get to our destination. I try to double-check that I have my purse with me now before we hit the road from anywhere.
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This is the travel blog of full-time RVers Bob and Lana Gates and our truck, Gulliver, and fifth wheel, Tagalong.