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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Funeral and then Southbound and Down

Sadly our family gathered in Bloomville Ohio over last weekend to say goodbye to our darling stepdad, Lowell Hall.  It was a small family prayer service in a tiny country church..... His long time friend and pastor lead the memorial. Both of Lowell's sons sang and played songs for their father.  The sweet ladies in the church hall put together a wonderful meal afterwards.  Cousins John and Laura brought a memorial service flag as Lowell had been in the Marines... along with a lovely display case and a bible for mom.   We gathered in prayer and said goodbye to a man who was a big part of all of our lives.

Lowell Dean Hall Sr., 78, passed away at his residence surrounded by family, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016.
He was born in Jenkins, Kentucky, to Elzie and Norma Catherine Hall (Conn).
Lowell is survived by his wife, Rita Mae Hall; three sons, Michael D. Hall, Rick G. Hall and Lowell D. Hall Jr.; a daughter, Tonya M. Miller; 13 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and seven brothers and sisters.
He was a revered stepfather and grandfather.
Lowell was preceded in death by a son, Gregory A. Hall and his sister, Charlotte.
He proudly served his country as a U.S. Marine following the Korean War.
He was a member of the Adams Township Freewill Baptist Church. Spending time laughing with family and friends, camping, riding motorcycles, hunting, fishing and restoring vehicles were his favorite activities.
According to his wishes, there will be no formal funeral services.
Donations may be made to Adams Township Freewill Baptist Church in his honor.
Lindsey-Olds Funeral Home, Bloomville, is assisting the family with arrangements.

Steve and I hung around for a few more days, helping Mom acclimate, as well as my sister and her husband.  Lowell's kids all helped with adjusting and details and getting things smoothed out for Mom to deal with the loss.  Everyone felt the loss and did what they could to help.

Mom decided to return to their home in Florida, she said it is full of good memories.  We had promised Lowell that we would get her and her car back down to Florida if that is what she wanted. They had left Florida 6 months earlier to seek better health care up in Ohio.  Lowell's daughter Tonya is in the health services field and set him up with better docs and end of life care than he would have gotten from the VA in Florida.  Thank you Tonya for all you have done!

Steve and I dashed back home up to Wisconsin in our car, and started loading the motorhome.  We got hit with a huge damp wet snowstorm that delayed our intended departure date by 2 days.

I stacked things by the door and Steve hauled them out.  He had a few things to finish up at work the next day, and was able to leave work at noon.  By 2 pm, he said the weather looked like dry roads for Wisconsin until later evening when more snow was predicted. So we hit the road before any more snow came down... as long as the pavement is dry, we avoid the corrosive road salt that eats away at the delicate underpinnings of our motorhome.

We did Milwaukee rush hour of 4pm ... and hit Chicago rush hour by 6 ish.  Only one slowdown, not so bad afterall!   We kept handing out the money at each toll stop and did all of the Illinois, Indiana and Ohio toll ways... Towing a vehicle behind our motorhome adds to the tolls for big bucks, we had miles to make up fast before the weather turned bad on us.

We normally don't like driving in the dark, but Steve recently updated our headlights on the motorhome to some that were much brighter.  Our Safari's are notorious for dim headlights... and many other owners did various work-arounds of adding different wiring or a relay to make them brighter, but it would burn out the headlight bulbs faster.  So instead, Steveio found a farm implement light that had a brighter beam, and had to only bend a bit of one prong to make it adapt to our rig.  Voila!  Problem solved and we could see at night!

Since we could see well, we zoomed along until 9 pm upon reaching Findlay, OH.  We pulled into a nice quiet Walmart and settled in for the night.  Tired, but happy that we had avoided the snow and road salt of the north.  

439 miles 

Early in the morning, we called Mom in the nearby town of Bloomville 25 miles away.  She finished putting her last few things in her car and paid her last few bills, and headed out to meet up halfway.  With a round of hugs, we swapped over where I drove her car, she took over the passenger seat, and Steve headed on out with the motorhome.  Off we went, Florida bound! 

We drove until about lunchtime, and pulled into a wayside to make some sandwiches.  Rut Roh!  Steve saw leaking diesel fuel behind our coach coming from the engine!!!!  We examined the leak and found it to be the high pressure return line about 3 feet long, had a leak near one end.  We had replaced that same line back in 2007.  It had rusted through again. ARGGHHH!!!!   

We called ahead 45 miles to the Cat dealer in Troy, OH.  The parts guy on the phone just said "Nope, can't get the part till Monday" .  Done.   Gee whiz.....  This was only Friday and a possible snow storm was on the way. So Steveio figured the drip was small and far between, lets limp it down 45 miles to the Cat dealer anyhow and talk with the shop guys. Not just the parts guy.  So we did. Whew... I followed and I sure was tense.  

We pulled into the Cat dealer by 2 pm and Steveio headed off to chin wag with the guys. Hmmm wonder of wonders they COULD get the part, IF we paid a courier fee!   Sure nuff!!!  The part arrived by 4:30 pm.  After taking a hit to our credit card of over $200.00, Steve put the part on in 10 minutes flat.  We were on the road by 4:40! 

 What a guy! 

On the road again....

We were able to zoom along down into Kentucky before too late into the night. Whew..... We found a wayside with truck overnight parking near Lexington KY and pulled into a nice corner spot.  We were emotionally drained and tired.  We settled into bed, while Mom cuddled on the loveseat with the doggers....  Finney and Binney were enjoying all of her attention. 

Finney remembered Mom (and all of her treats) and soon she won Binney over her shyness and she learned that Mom was a good cuddler. 

667 miles

Soon semi trucks were pulling in, and the almost empty lot was filling up fast.  About 3 am a big car hauler jockeyed in next to us and kept it's engine running all night.  Our carbon monoxide detector went off, and we discovered his idling exhaust pipe was right next to our passenger window. We opened windows on the other side of our rig, turned on a fan and reset the alarm.   About an hour later it went off again!  We realized that it was not just the one truck, it was combined with all the other idling trucks in the low-valley lot, we were getting gassed out!   

It was time to move on, though it was the wee hours of the morning.  We could barely work our way out of the lot around the car hauler next to us that had us penned into the corner.  We cleared him by mere inches as Steve swung out to get through the lot.  Back on the road in the pre-dawn hours was not fun by any means.  We stopped for some awful tasting coffee, because we hadn't had time to perk any ourselves.  I sure missed my Blue Mountain Jamaican coffee beans freshly ground and perked!   

We put on some miles into Tennessee to get to some warmer weather.  Since our rig was still winterized, we had only been using jugs of water and a teakettle on the stove to wash up.  We knew the Escapees have a nice campground at Raccoon Valley near Heiskell TN just north of Knoxville. It's only a mile or so off the interstate, and we pulled in to ask if we could fill with water.  For a $10 fee, we could pull into one of the sites, and proceed to rig de-winterize, fill with water, and check for leaks that might have developed over the winter.  (none..whew!)   We told them we would be back in March to spend a few days too, as it's near my friend Linda's house.  We had time to make a little lunch, and even take a little nap before hitting the road again. 

Mom was eager to get home....  so we drove on as far as east of Atlanta .... we try to avoid Atlanta at ALL costs!   We scoot around on route 20, but there was some construction that slowed us down.  We hit a nice quiet Walmart near Sugar Hill, GA and settled in for the night.  It was a smaller Walmart that closed down at night, and all was quiet, serene, and we got a GOOD night's sleep! 

1,048 miles 

Sunday was our final leg of the journey.  The "sitting down" for long periods while driving my mom's car was taking it's toll on me.  I have had some esophageal and stomach surgeries that hamper my ability to digest properly, and sitting for a long time really messes me up.  But we trudged on with only 380 miles to go..... 

Our Safari friends Mel and Paula had been camping nearby in Georgia and decided to join up with us at a wayside and become part of our little convoy!  Mom and I followed in third place until we turned off the interstate to the exit past Gainesville, Fl... Then we moved into first place to go on to Williston! 

Whew! We honked our horns as we caravanned past Auntie Lois and Uncle Sam's house on the corner and turned down Mom's road and into her yard.  I grabbed Mom's hand, and led her to the middle of the front yard.  We clasped our hands, we looked up to Heaven and I told Lowell that we did it!  We brought Da Momma HOME!  Just like we promised him during his last weeks of life, that we would take care of her and get her where she wanted to go.  It was his only concern. Tears streaming down my face, I knew we did what we had to do, even if my gut was twisting in knots most of the way. 

1,427 miles 

Quick as a whip, here came Auntie Lois down the road, followed by Uncle Sam (Uncle Poops to me) .... laden with trays of donuts, bags of cookies and lots of hugs! Friend Paula added the kleenix as we all needed it.   This pic says it all.......

Mom and Lois are the only sisters, no other siblings.  They have lived two houses apart here in Florida for many years now.  They need each other and have gone through thick and thin.  And now Mom needed her sister more than ever.

Uncle Sam came over with ant spray and his hoe, and went to work on the huge fire ant hills that accumulated over the last six months while Mom and Lowell were up in Ohio.  Auntie had pre-loaded up Mom's fridge with food, and got the water on, and brought over the newest mail... and welcomed us all with her famous peanut butter cookies!  The guys got the motorhomes parked in the yard and we all got a well-deserved night's sleep..... 

Now to help Mom to adjust to life without Lowell.  This is hard.  

We will stay here for the remainder of our vacation and do all we can to help. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

REDUX - Motorhome Modification - Replacing The Bathroom Floor in our Rig

Since it's the boring winter months, and we are not travelling yet, I thought I would do some repeats of my most-read blog posts on RV repairs.  This one had over 3,000 views when I first posted it. We installed our new bathroom flooring six years ago and it's still working out great!

In October of 2009, we noticed some softening  to our bathroom floor, along the  edge of the cabinetry on the passenger side.  

So we pulled back the vinyl flooring, only to find our subfloor was rotting !  Upon further inspection, we had three sources of water intrusion. 

  • 1. It turns out that the wheel well area  had a leak from the outside and was exposed and it seems it was kicking up water when driving in the rain.  
  • 2. Our washing machine had never been winterized properly by the previous owners.  We found out it had a cracked pump, and replace it, but not before the damage was done with with leakage over a year or so? When winterizing, you have to not only get antifreeze IN the hoses going in, but also IN the pump for the water that goes OUT. Lots of folks miss that step.  
  • 3. the worst intrusion was along the three horizontal bands of aluminum on the exterior.  The top edge of the band allows water in if the clear caulking has worn away.  We sealed it up again with ProFlex clear silicone, that is UV resistant.  It's a good idea to recheck these three bands of trim around the sides of the Safari motorhomes of our vintage.  We now inspect it and fill in any gaps YEARLY ! 

As we started to tear up the floor, we never realized the damage was this severe.   

Our friends Sam and Donna at :   http://samdonna-5thwheelvagabonds.blogspot.com just went through the same thing, a major floor repair/replacement job! 

This was quite a project! 

First we needed to remove all of the vinyl flooring.  Over the bad part of the floor, it was easy to pull the vinyl flooring off of, but the rest of the flooring was stuck firm with glue!   In the photo above is on the driver’s side of the rig, where it was glued down tight and firm.  So it meant we had to be down on the knees and using a putty knife for a few hours to get it all torn out. 

replacing bathroom floor 5

We did not have to pull out the toilet, we had to just remove the pedestal housing that surrounds the actual base.  That made the job even easier! 

replacing bathroom floor 7  
(did you know RV washer/dryer combos have CEMENT block weights inside to help with counterbalancing the spinning action? So they are MUCH heavier than household washing machines... ack! ) 

replacing bathroom floor 8

Now for the messy part:
replacing bathroom floor 9 replacing bathroom floor 10

We found the wood was more and more rotten, the deeper we dug.  We wore masks and gloves because of the moldy wood we are grabbing and tearing out, piece by piece.  We were finally down to the chassis frame and rigid foam insulation.  From the bottom up, outside, we cleaned and sealed the wheel well with spray-on pickup truck bedliner.  We also resealed the side trim strip on the wall with a new bead of some ProFlex clear silicone, that is UV resistant for outdoor applications.  We will be sure to keep checking it for any future leakage!

After ripping out the rotting wood, we also realized the location in the cabinetry had the washer/dryer combo sitting on just ONE brace of the chassis frame!   That very heavy 150 pound machine plus the weight of water when in use was only centered on one piece of frame?  That meant the four corner legs were not even on any support other than the flooring and vinyl and foam insulation? hmmmmmm

So we beefed that up too with more bracing  on each side before sealing all the bottom up and laying the subfloor and underlayment. 

replacing bathroom floor 11replacing bathroom floor 15
Once we got all the bad wood out, we coated the leading edge of the good wood on the remaining floor with this hardener product, just to be sure no rot would spread any further.  The wood was now dry and ready to lay in the two pieces of wood on top of each other.  The sub floor and underlayment are also both of treated wood.   We coated the two new wood  sections with a waterproof sealer on all sides and edges too. 

replacing bathroom floor 14replacing bathroom floor 13

We worked like a team, (just like when we built our house together)  and it was a fun project, once we got the rotting wood out!  We laid in the two new layers, firmly screwing them down and sealing in between with the layers with construction adhesive.  Now the new boards brought it up to the same height as the old floor, so all was level and ready for the new flooring across it all.  

replacing bathroom floor 16   replacing bathroom floor 17 

Now the fun part starts!  Laying on the new flooring!!  It’s a laminate product similar to the new hardwood floors, but this in a faux ceramic tile design… almost a match for the previous color of vinyl we had in there, and it matches our carpeting very well too. 

replacing bathroom floor 1replacing bathroom floor 18 

It was just measure, cut, click…  what fun!  

The angles around the shower/tub and sink were a bit complicated, but we used paper templates and transferred the angles onto the panels.. Easy Peasy! 

But for extra peace of mind, now the whole washing machine  was put in a heavy duty *drip pan* to prevent any future possible damage too.  The rubbery plastic pan was from the local farm supply store called a "Rabbit Droppings Pan"!    It allowed us to slide it in the cabinet easier without damaging the new flooring too. 

replacing bathroom floor 20 replacing bathroom floor 21 

It sure made a huge difference in the stability of the flooring through that whole area.  It must have been rotting away under there for years, each time we drove in rain or snow! 
PS....  in 2015 we added two bicycle tire inner tubes, one on each side of the washing machine.  Once in place, we inflated them to help add stability during the spin cycle.  It works WONDERFULLY! 

Steve finish-nailed the trim thresholds back into place on both doorways, and added new quarter-round trim behind the toilet and in front of the cabinets.  We put the base-surround on the tub again, and the pedestal to the toilet back into place. 
It looks as good as new!

And here is ...... 

replacing bathroom floor 22

We will be attending the funeral for my step dad Lowell on Saturday. It will be a tough "good-bye" for our family.  I think some time next week we will be gearing up the motorhome to help Mom get settled back in Florida.  So some travelling will be done in future blogs, I promise.  Until then, I will post more modifications for you wonderful faithful blog readers! 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Since it's the boring winter months, and we are not travelling yet, I thought I would do some repeats of my most-read blog posts on RV repairs.  This one had almost 1,000 views when I first posted it. We installed our Progressive Industries EMS Surge Protector in June of 2012 and it works just great! 


Ahhhh a whole Saturday in front of us with NO plans other than working on our own projects.  Wheeeeee

First up on our list of items was installing our Progressive Industries EMS LCHW50 which is an Electrical Management System.  It protects our sensitive electronics inside of our motorhome from spikes, surges, low voltages or even mis-wired posts in campgrounds.  (which happens more often than you think!)

In the past, we usually didn't camp much in places with hookups, instead we rely on our solar or at last resort, on our generator.  We did have some smaller Surge Guard portable surge protector units that just plug onto the cord. These work okay for spikes, but have no protection for low power, (brown outs) which can be just as bad.  The little units do not reset either.  So we decided to go with a hard-wired inside unit.   They are more expensive, but worth it. 
You can buy a 50 amp surge protector EMS that just plugs onto your cord at the post, but we hear of those walking away.... even with the little clip locks. Sad that people in campgrounds steal things.  So we decided to get the one that gets hard wired inside the compartment, as safe as we can get it.

We ordered the EMS unit from Camping World where they were having a sale for $250.00 .. that was the best price around when we placed our order.  This is a hard-wired unit that needs to installed carefully, with attention to each little step.  One mishap and we can ruin our electrical system.

We read the directions from front to back, and Steve set up his work area.  I was his "gopher" for fetching tools, as his knee is giving him grief again.  Love his stool, eh?  He already attached another section of 4 strand heavy wire to the unit in preparation to install.  (I think it's number 6 wire)

First, we made sure the power was unplugged from the rig! ...   then Steve removed the cover from our Automatic Transfer Switch.   He decided to install the EMS on the upside of the Transfer Switch to protect that, rather than downstream of the Transfer Switch (which would leave the switch vulnerable, but would protect the input from the generator)   We don't often run the generator, so didn't think it was as important to locate it there. 

Careful connections were made, with me double checking over his shoulder as he attached each wire.  Sometimes it helps to have two sets of eyes on a project as important as this.  Once the connections and ground was made in the Transfer Switch, then we wired up the connections and grounds in the EMS unit.  

Once the connections were made in the EMS, the actual digital readout device gets plugged into place.    We also had to determine if our air conditioners had a "delay" in restarting if they ever get turned off mid-cycle (they don't have that built-in feature) ...  so the EMS has the option of either a 6 second delay (default setting)   or a 2 minute delay (by removing a jumper pin from the control board)   to allow a delayed restart to protect the air conditioners if a shut down and restart ever happened.   Now we are all set. 

We doublechecked everything again and compared it against the diagrams in the instructions.  We stood back to admire our work.   Now it was time to plug it in!  We ran a "test" ... sure enough, it worked!   It read each leg of the 50amp connection and tested for any errors.   All is fine and our garage power is clean.  (we already knew that)

We mounted it up into place on the side wall of our electrical bay.    Don't it look "purty"????   (the black box on the left is what we are gabbing about)   It had to go to the left of the Transfer Switch, as the wall on the right had incoming and outgoing wires for other items.

We put all of our other electrical gear back into the compartment.  We carry our main 50 amp cord --- a.k.a. The Snake.   Then a 25ft 50 amp extension, and a 30ft 30 amp extension, and even a plain old orange 10 gauge longer cord to use in a pinch.  Also a few dog bones (recognize that one, Dee and Jim?) and some adapters for various campground hookups.
There... all back together, good as new.       Or better than new!!!

We are comforted by the fact that we have done what we can to protect our electronics.  Having everything in your rig blasted out by incorrect wiring is NOT fun, and has happened to two people we know of.  Mis-wired power posts and outlets can destroy everything in your rig.  When you start adding up the cost of replacing tvs, laptops, cell phones, control boards in all the appliances, light fixtures, etc. It is not something we want to ever have happen to us. 


Sunday, January 24, 2016

RIP Lowell Hall - Cancer Sucks!

Sadly, another family member has been taken away by the awfulness of cancer.  My mom's wonderful husband Lowell has passed away from pancreatic cancer.  He fought a great fight, and his heart was strong.  But he was comforted and and secure in his faith, and has gone to Heaven to be with God.  He was surrounded by his loving children and my mom, all holding his hands and praying.

Lowell was a character, with a glint in his eye and silly joke on his lips.  Teasing (in a good way) with a lot of sass and energy.  And he loved our mother, with all his heart.

Lowell and Mom had traveled to Ohio a number of months ago to get better treatment than what he had been getting at the VA in Florida.  They had rented an apartment in Ohio to stay close to his three grown children. We had been there a few weeks ago to say goodbye, and assure him that we would help mom afterwards to get where she needed to go. Maybe she will spend some time with us, or maybe get her down to their home in Florida.  We made him comfortable and at ease, knowing she would be taken care of.  His biggest worry was about her, and how she would manage after he is gone.  

He brought a lot of love, laughter and happiness to my mother. We were so glad when he joined our family and gave our mother the respect, love and attention she deserved.  Mom needed him as much as he needed her.  They make such a great pair. 

I love these two pics below.  We were out riding around Florida, doing some sightseeing on a visit with them.  I was trying to take a "nice" picture of them together.  Suddenly he said something, only Mom knows what he said... but look at her expression in the pic on the right!!!!  Yes, that is LOVE!

Mom's life was filled with his crazy ideas--- new vehicles all of the time and changing homes a number of times. Always on the go, this guy would find great deals on this or that... and soon mom was either packing, unpacking or getting used to driving a different vehicle.  From motorhomes or campers, to trucks or cars, to lawnmowers or tractors, to summer homes or winter homes and anything in between.  He was always finding something to do, buy, trade, fix or sell. 

Every time we got a motorhome, they went and got another motorhome.  We teased him that his was always a year newer, a foot longer, or 4 inches taller etc than ours.  They loved travelling, and Lowell had many years of being a truck driver under his belt.  He used to always want to know where we were travelling, not by town, or county, or park, but the ROAD we took or the highway number! LOL 

Steve and he were like two peas in a pod... always working on something together.  Our vacations to Florida mainly consisted of those two dabbling in projects, while Mom and I did our own silly little crafts, or canning, or cooking or shopping thrifts and rummage sales.  But Lowell and Steve loved the rummages too, and rushed to join us to go rummaging.

Best memory of rummaging was with Lowell, tracking down a rummage sale in the country, following signs, and saying "this will be a biggie, no kids stuff, just guys stuff, no J-U-N-K"  (he always spelled it out)   Finally we get to the place, and guess what?  It was a quilting museum shop that was having a rummage sale!!!  hahahahahah He got hornswaggled into going to a quilting museum and shop!  LOL ...we gals got such a kick out his expression!  But he did come in and oogle the old machines and interesting displays along with Steve.   By the next rummage sale, we found him a set of very expensive torches for cutting and welding for only a few dollars, so he was in a better mood by then.  LOL

At family gatherings, Lowell was an accepted part of the family, even with our father whom they got along just fine.  We never liked using the word "step" in our family.  Both my dad Steve and Lowell were "My Parents" and that is how we liked it.  He fit in well, don'tcha think? 

From the very beginning, upon meeting Lowell.... Mom warned me that he doesn't like dogs, especially BIG dogs.  Never did.  Hmmmmmm  Well, I tell you, he latched onto our dogs, and constantly was sneaking them treats.  All of the time!   He would make up nicknames for our dogs, and called them his made up nickname and not their given name.  Duke was "Rochester"  and Ducky was "Elizabeth" and Finney was "Beauregard" ...  and the dogs listened to him and came when called by their new nicknames, because they KNEW they were getting treats! 

He would feed them whatever he was eating, breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks.  Finnegan loved his cheese puffs sooo much that we were figuring he would start emitting out bits of orange poofs from his butt! As soon as my back was turned, he was opening up another treat and sharing with the dogs!  "Don't like dogs" yah.. .right.

Well, dear Lowell...  
please feed my doggies up there in Heaven,
until we can come and join you. 

--- and I will bring you an apple pie---