I bought a filtering system yesterday, but called the vendor today to ask if it’ll actually address our issues before it ships. The person I spoke with was very knowledgeable and helpful, and pointed us to a reverse osmosis system for the ultimate setup, which can be implemented for anywhere from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand. At the low end we would spend little more than we did on the filtering, and have better results. After a lot of my own research, I decided to mock one up for consideration. To do it to my standards will be way more than I have budgeted for RV upgrades this month, so I’m going to sleep on it for a few days. The install will also be quite involved if we go with this solution.
We’ve stayed at Lake Georgetown several times over the years. It is close to home, inexpensive, and usually relatively sparse. This weekend it was heavily crowded and there was a lot of boat traffic, but we extended our stay a couple days and it thinned out greatly this afternoon.
We’re staying in Site 37. It was relatively easy to back into with only one tree to worry about that only slightly reaches over the pad, but it is on the blind side of the trailer. As far as I know, all the spots on the lake side are on the blind side. Not a huge deal but is much easier when using two way radios and a spotter.
Next time we’re going to try and book site 30, which happens to be a double site, so that we don’t have a slope out the door of the trailer and because it has a terrific view of the sunset. Or site 32, which is a single site right next to it, that has a great trail down to the water.
As for the new roof, we had a strong thunderstorm roll through last night and hang over the lake for a couple hours. We checked the ceiling throughout the entire unit for leaks during and after the storm and didn’t find any indication of moisture coming in. It was a great test and we’re very happy with the results. When the storm came in Violet was extremely upset because I think the last storm we went through (with the roof leak) traumatized her. We’ll have to work on positive associations with the trailer and storms with her, as we experience them.
This is an interesting subject to me. There are a lot of ideas of what preparedness is, what events to prepare for, and even stereotypes for the people who prepare for them. There are a lot of unknowns: are we ever likely to see a zombie apocalypse? Is it all just a waste of money?
I doubt I’ll see a zombie apocalypse in my lifetime. I don’t think it’s completely out of the question to see an economic collapse, widespread natural disaster, or chemical warfare, though. And as someone who tries to plan at least a couple steps ahead for everything in life, I’m planning for these unknowns as well. I don’t make prepping a central part of my life, rather, I add it to the criteria I use when making important decisions. That includes many decisions we made regarding the RV, and the accessories we purchased.
First of all, there are several classes of RVs. You have motorized RVs, classes A, B, and C. Then you have various types of travel trailers and fifth wheels. I ruled out class B and C RVs because they don’t meet our recreational requirements for full-time or extended duration trips. I ruled out travel trailers because I don’t like they way they tow. So that left us with class A RVs and fifth wheels. With class A, if you want to take a day trip, you need to tow a small car or other vehicle behind it. Due to the long wheel base of the the RV, and the short wheelbase of the trailer, you can’t really back up with it. Any backing will most likely require you to disconnect the towed vehicle. Additionally, if your RV has a mechanical issue, your living quarters go to the shop with it. With a fifth wheel, you can put the truck in the shop and have the RV towed to a destination where you can remain until the tow vehicle is fixed. I also decided that in a survival situation, having a pickup truck would be more useful than a small car because it could be used to access more difficult areas, hold more cargo, and is generally more utilitarian in every way. And since we’re planning on buying some acreage in the future, it makes a lot of sense for us to have a pickup instead of a car when that time comes.
When it came to choosing a truck, I chose a diesel for few reasons. They have a lot more pulling and stopping (engine brake) power, diesel is a more stable fuel, is widely available, but there are fewer diesel vehicles on the road. You can run most diesel engines off of filtered homebrew fuels if the need ever arises. Because it’s a more stable fuel, you can keep tanks of it for extended periods of time without worrying about fuel degradation. It’s also legal to add an auxiliary fuel tank as long as it is used for diesel (the same does not apply to gasoline.) In previous natural disasters, like Katrina, there are reports of stations running out of gas but few running out of diesel, and while there were long lines at gas pumps, most diesel drivers were able to fuel up and leave without an issue. My truck has a 36 gallon factory tank and a 51 gallon auxiliary tank, giving me 87 gallons of fuel. It also has some MPG benefits, so I get 10-12mpg when towing a 13k+ trailer and 17mpg unloaded, giving me a range of 870-1479 miles.
When it came for purchasing a trailer, the biggest factor we looked at was floor plan. The floor plan we were interested in was available from a few manufacturers, but only in higher end models, so all of them had the features I was looking for as far as preparedness goes. For what it is worth, those features were a completely enclosed and warmed underbelly, better insulation, protected water hookups, and heated storage. We had the choice between a residential fridge and a slightly smaller RV fridge that could run off of propane, and chose the latter. Some nice to haves that we ended up with were electric heaters in both the living and bedroom to save on propane usage in cold weather, a convection microwave, and a far superior roof through our insurance claim. Our trailer did not come with a generator, so I opted to add a built-in Onan propane generator, for around $5,000. They’re very expensive but fully integrated into the units and capable of powering everything in them, including dual A/C units. They’re also very long lasting and repair parts are readily available.
LP is readily available and I have a Camco 59123 kit that allows me to connect it to external propane sources such as 20# LP gas grill canisters, as well as a handful of adapters that will let me connect it to almost any propane source I can find. There are gasoline and natural gas conversion kits readily available for around $300 that I will purchase in the future. The same propane source can be used to run our stove, oven, refrigerator, furnace, and water heater. We also have adapters for running (with reduced cooling capacity) on 20A and 30A shore power instead of the 50A that our coach is designed for.
For water, in addition to the on board 60 gallon freshwater tank, I purchased a 45 gallon bladder that can be filled with water and a Wayne PC2 pump to transfer that into the onboard tank. And for septic, in addition to your usual 20ft RV septic kits that you carry for sites with full hookups, I purchased a Barker 32 gallon portable septic tank with pneumatic tires. The generator, bladder, pump, and tank address everything we need in order to “boondock”, or park and stay at any location without full hookups for an extended period of time.
In addition to taking a few steps to ensure that we can both camp and “bug out” off grid for a while, I’ve stocked the pantry with approximately a month’s supply of legumes, grains, and canned vegetables, and a comprehensive first aid kit in addition to whatever we have in our medicine cabinet. And we keep the RV stocked with flashlights, spare batteries, lighters, matches, fire starters, and other small items of importance. My truck’s toolbox is stocked with a full mechanic’s toolset, gloves, various types of cleaners, greases, and lubricants, jumper cables, and miscellaneous tools I think might be useful. We keep a Eastwing Fireside Friend and Bahco 10-21-51 in the RV. The truck is outfitted with Ranch Hand bumpers front and rear, as well as side steps that double as mild rockers, and H rated tires that increase its utility (bumpers can be used to push/pull items, have multiple tie-off points, can accept tray mounted winches, greatly improve approach and departure angles for off road use; tires increase stability, puncture resistance, and weight carrying capacity).
All in all, if an event ever hits that we need to leave town and stay for a while we can get in the RV and go. We have most of the things we’ll need to stay comfortably without full hookups for at least a month. We can travel nearly 900 miles if fully topped of with fuel.
Last, due to varying state and local laws, we decided not to carry firearms in the RV. Instead, I carry a Leatherman Surge on my person or in my truck, along with a 3″ survival knife in my center console. In the RV, we store a SOG Seal Pup and TenPoint Titan Xtreme crossbow (AcuDraw 50) with a dozen Black Eagle Executioner arrows carrying NAP Thunderheads for defense and hunting if ever required. Hopefully we will never use either, but ultimately they’re inexpensive insurance and a useful knife and fun toy.
In conclusion, we believe that we will be able to leverage our vacation and travel vehicle for emergency situations if they arise due to the careful planning we’ve put into it. We’re always interested in hearing what other people do, so leave comments. Hope this gives you some ideas for your own planning.
We went to install the entertainment system yesterday. I wasn’t really happy with the speaker mounts, not due to the mounts themselves, but due to the fact that they were being mounted in 1/8″ paneling with a 2″ air gap and then another 1/8″ panel. Nothing solid and nothing particularly strong. I don’t trust them to hold while moving, so I opted to leave the monitors unmounted until I find a good solution to reinforce the paneling. One idea I have is to use spray foam to fill the void between the panels and make it more solid, then use pan head 3″ bolts that run through both panels and into the speaker mounts. For now, we’re unplugging them and stashing them on the carpet next to the recliners while in motion. This actually works well and may be a better position, so we may leave them this way. The subwoofer works well with the wireless connection, but I had to put tape over the extremely bright blue LEDs on both the transmitter and receiver. We chose to put it next to the loveseat because it doubles as a table, though now we can’t pull the kitchen table chair all the way out. It still moves far enough to sit down, though.
I like the speakers sitting on the base. I’m not going to bother with permanent mounting.
We finally received the tires and installed them today. I initially installed the Centramatic balancers, spun them around with the wheels hand tightened to make sure everything fit well, set down the truck, and then finished tightening with a torque wrench. Within a mile of testing I began hearing a high pitched whine with every tire rotation and shortly after saw white smoke billowing from the front tires. I pulled over and found shards of metal and fluid all over the front wheels. Assuming that the Centramatics were rubbing on the brakes, I checked that the brake lines were still in tact and slowly limped home. Once home, I pulled the front tires off and found that yes, the Centramatics were interfering with the brake calipers after the wheels were torqued down. They were busted open and leaking fluid, so I remounted the tires without them and sent an email to Centramatic support. It was after hours so I don’t expect to hear back until at least tomorrow, if not a few days.
Other than the initial issue with the Centramatics, the tires ride really well. I didn’t notice a big difference on straight roads when they were running as shipped (75PSI) vs the Toyo Open Country AT2 275/65r20E (65PSI front, 80PSI rear) tires I pulled off. When I bumped the rear tires to 85PSI, to properly handle the anticipated load via the manufacturer load tables, the ride was noticeably rougher, but not so bad that I can’t overlook it, and certainly not as bad as some people online made it out to be. I’m sure this can be at least partially attributed to the sheer weight of the newer trucks, as they have gained a lot of weight over the ones out ten years ago.
Cornering is a lot firmer, as expected. That’s good because the truck was a little washy to begin with, and that was exaggerated under load. They are a little noisier than the tires I pulled off, but not too bad, and Kelly didn’t even notice it until I pointed it out.
I’ll update this post once we’ve put a few miles on them and towed the trailer.
Edit: these are notably noisier than the stock tires, but within reason. You can still hold a conversation at normal volume and wash it out with the radio at normal volume levels.