Savings & Sanity My Mobile RV Guy

The Sandy River meets the Columbia River not far from here. We explored imagining Lewis and Clark exploring this very spot back in the day.

This entry is not jazzy or pretty and I’m not going to post maintenance pictures of falling cupboards and a leaky water inlet. Instead I’ll tell you how using a mobile rv guy saved me thousands and hiking and creating art kept me sane through some of the stresses of Fulltime RV Life. I’ll share photos of my gorgeous views that I have enjoyed since sitting still for the last several months problem solving and some of my artwork I have had the good fortune to create and sell while sitting still. So in other words…. you may enjoy the photos and captions more than the actual blog. Just a heads up. 😉

Whimsical Dreamer, Love Letters In Paint series, 24 x 24 Acrylic on Canvas

The combination of the fixes my trailer needed and the dishonesty of the two major dealerships I had dealt with (Los Angeles and Portland Airstream) left me feeling quite paralyzed as everything happened one right after the other and I am not a techie mechanical type person. When I had a house, I could do the basics and I’ve learned a few of the basics on my Airstream over time. Like a house there are lots of things that break down, and systems to understand. Unlike a house it is all different than a house so it’s like learning a new language. You know how they say a little knowledge is dangerous. I felt like there was so much I could mess up. I was feeling a bit defeated and didn’t want to take my trailer over the mountains to a better shop in the winter when I would have to deal with chains and ice. I’ll tell you a little about the doom and gloom that hung over me, but if you want to skip to the last paragraphs which are much more cheery… there I will share what I learned… now that I finally found resolution.

Bridal Veil along the Columbia River Gorge is a lovely day hike. There is a bit of a climb so I took it slow.

The Ohio Airstream guy, who will remain nameless, was great and really tried the best he could to help me over the phone but couldn’t. I ressigned myself to down and basic “camping” in my trailer through the winter as one of my issues was a leak and I didn’t want to run water through it and have the leak area freeze and get worse. In other words, no running water, everything was hauling in jugs. Some people I discovered do that anyway to avoid freeze issues. It was not too bad since there were park showers. I found some answers in all of the usual online places but everything seemed to challenging. I did not feel sure that I could do them. Even getting to my water pump (one of the things that wasn’t working) was a challenge as Airstream basically told me I wouldn’t be able to reach it the way I needed to because of the year it was built and how it was placed under my closet. I figured I would tear the inside of my closet out and figure out how to rebuild it when warmer weather came. Airstream thought they would have to take the black tank down to figure out where the leak was unless we could figure out if it was the water inlet (where the hose meets the trailer on the outside.) But the way they told me to check was looking for water leaks inside back in and behind the closet that was covering everything. That was kind of like a house. In a house you get a leak, then you follow the water marks, typically in the attic to where it actually comes into the roof. I also found a You Tube video on what kind of water inlet piece to get and where to get it. But I still did not feel confident in putting everything back together.

Then there was the recall with the falling down cabinets. LA said they didn’t need fixing and then sent in to headquarters for reimbursement. Portland said they fixed it. They didn’t. They never sent in for reimbursement. It looked exactly the same and the ohio people confirmed Portland did nothing. I was planning a trip in warmer weather to a dealer with a better reputation but dreading it with gas prices going up and 10 mpg towing. I had started thinking of hiring someone who does vintage remodeling and having them help me build something under the cupboards that would hold them up, since the original design of floating cabinets made of pressboard and held up with a couple of screws was a poor design.

Today I can happily say everything is fixed and it didn’t cost me thousands. Along this journey I learned, there are many ways to live in my Airstream. If something doesn’t work I can make due until I have the ability to take care of it. I learned how helpful the Airstream folks in the Ohio Headquarters are, even over the phone. I also learned even though its a brand new Airstream, it’s ok to eventually treat it like a vintage and redesign some of the interior. Most of the new Airstreams are not built like the old ones. The old ones had cabinets actually made of wood instead of press board that falls apart and laminate the peels off in desert weather. The designs back in the day were smarter and more suited to trailers rolling down the road rather than trying to look glamorous with things like cabinets that float from the ceiling.

Successfully climbing mountains and hiking trails gives one a new sense of umph when it comes to standing up to big corporations. Plus it’s just simply breathtaking. It allowed me to get real quiet, contemplate what is important and go for it. “Into The Quiet” 100 Small Paintings. 9″x9″ (archival mat 12″x12″) Acrylic on watercolor paper $240

I learned to get more assertive with mechanics as well as opinionated people who seem to just accept poor workmanship as “that’s the way trailers are”. That’s not the way Airstream trailers used to be. The name Airstream had a quality reputation attached to it and therefore held its reslae value. Airstream is living on that reputation of quality. The old trailers were quality and you knew you got what you paid for. If Airstream is now pumping out massive numbers of trailers for profit and forgoing quality, it is ok to point that out, speak up and demand better. During this time I saw Airstream put out a letter actually saying they were cutting down on production so they could go back to focusing on quality. They are a big business with big money so that is no little deal to share a letter like that. It makes me think our voices are not going unheard. We are not just whining.

I have made lots of new friends here in Oregon and across the world who love trailer life. That sisterhood has provided an important network of support for all of us as we venture through the ups and downs of living this lifestyle. I mirrored that sisterhood in my art life which has also helped catapult my art to the next level. “Sandy And Friends” Femininity Defined series 30 x 30 Acrylic on Canvas

I also learned that several things that I need to maintain on my Airstream are generic to all RV’s. When I got my trailer it was implanted in my head that only AIrstream folks could work on an Airstream. In some cases that is an expensive myth. Granted there are certain things I would only have Airstream people do because it is true that if you aren’t familiar with Airstreams and how to work on them you can damage them. But, my issues… the water pump, the water intake leak (which is what it turned out to be) and the falling kitchen cabinets, were all fixed by a well recommended local mobile rv guy. We didn’t need to tear out the closet or drop the black tank for a grand to figure out where the leak was. The inlet on the outside of the trailer had four simple screws to unscrew. After that there was a seal so we pried the inlet off of the trailer and pulled it out a little. We got the water going and put a paper towel under it and sure enough there was the leak.

The town of Troutdale was a hop, skip and a jump away. It is quite the artist destination, which for me was like waking up in fairyland. I got to explore being an artist in shows and galleries which has been a real treat. “The Town” 100 Small Paintings series 9″x9″ (archival mat 12″x12″) Acrylic on water color paper $240

The pump, the mobile rv guy could reach. Turns out it was clogged. The light bulbs went on in my head. Everyone on the Colorado River was always clearing out the faucets of the gunk that came up with the water there. So of course, my system would be clogged. It’s clear and ready to go.

Long hikes through the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts when the pandemic first broke out, gave me an appreciation for how isolated and thus safe I was and gave me time to reflect on my life. “Inner Silence” Acrylic on water color paper 9″x9″ (archival mat 12″x12″) $240

As for the cupboards, with two of us, I was able to push them up and my mobile rv guy was able to add several screws through the cuboard to hold them up. We just had to figure out where the real support was. I may still put an elbow support under the cupboard next to the stove vent but for now they are up, and they are staying up. I have running water, everything is fixed and a big load has been lifted. I’m feeling light and ready to hit the road. Although with 10mpg and a tank that today costs $170 to fill and rising….my next adventure will be another Truck Trip I’ll be heading back to the Canadian Rockies and going off the beaten path to explore some tent camping.

Oregon is gorgeous wherever you go.

7 thoughts on “Savings & Sanity My Mobile RV Guy”

  1. Read the whole thing. Your story resonated with me because I was and am not a handyman and have had a similar learning curve. My old work friends smile when I posted my replacement of our kitchen faucet as a small victory; they know I can barely follow a schematic. But just like you, I have found YouTube to be an incredible source of information and comfort, and finding a good mobile RV tech is like gold. Nobody knows the shoddiness of recent Airstream craftsmanship unless he or she becomes an owner; it’s really embarrassing and typical of corporate vs family run businesses; profit over pride.

    I had to replace several screws and sometimes couldn’t get them driven in straight, and so added stability with L-brackets where possible; you make do. I, too, replaced the water inlet and took satisfaction in the smallest victories. I’ve also removed and readjusted the ball seal on our toilet – all with the help of YouTube. For some, repairs can be easily paid for, but for others, there is great satisfaction in finding a different way outside of corporate Airstream. The Airstream Life is really two parts: one part living the dream, and the other part problem-solving. Both make it all the better and more satisfying. I guess that’s why you call it an Adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! You said it well Jeff! There are so many varieties of folks and ways we fulltime. I’ve never seen a movie or book that actually captures the diversity of the lifestyle. I definitely clicked with you and Coffee coming from a similar space.

      Like

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