We Sold Our Camper!

What a whirlwind few days we had.  As you may remember, we had been considering selling our camper.  We decided to give it a shot, and wow!  We sold our camper in record time.

Deciding On A Sale

After I wrote the article in late August, my wife and I had a serious discussion.  We decided that we would definitely be looking for a new camper by next season.  The camper was still great.  Our family had just outgrown it.  We camped 31 nights this season in our camper.  With it being a lightweight camper, there were drawback.

  • The water tank is small.  We always had to fill it during trips.
  • The holding tanks are small.  We dumped dishwater and mostly used the campground bathrooms.
  • The beds are a pain.  Folding them down once or twice a season is fine.  But, we camped over half a dozen times.  It’s a lot.
  • We were sick of the minor problems.  There was nothing awfully wrong.  The annoyances had just grown, well, annoying.

Preparing For A Sale

We had a camping trip planned for Labor Day weekend.  We decided we’d try to put it up for sale after that.  In prep for that, we started thinking about taking pictures.  One thing about our camper is that we always kept it clean. This was true both inside and out.  We knew that some great pictures would help show it off well.

The outdoor pictures we took were done during our final trip.  We normally have quite a few things under our awning.  In order to take great pictures, we set most everything aside.  We took pictures with the awning down, the camping rug out, and our camping chairs.  It looked great.

After the trip, we similarly took indoor pictures.  We took just about everything out that’s visible and took interior pictures.  This made it look very open and highlighted how clean we keep it.  This turned out to be very important.

The Near Mistake Sale

At this point, something weird happened.  We took the interior pictures after we got home.  The camper was parked in our driveway.  Someone driving by saw the stuff piled out and the picture taking and asked if the camper was for sale.

My wife and I couldn’t believe it.  Could we actually sell it just like that?  We said that it was going up for sale.

The person got out of the car and started looking it over.  We told him about it, showed it, and were honest about all the issues.

He offered us cash on the spot.  His offer was for $2,500.  However, it was much lower than I had anticipated.  We went back and forth but his ‘final’ offer was still low.  I had figured we could get around $3,500 for it.

Still, I actually considered it.  I wasn’t sure how much demand there would be at the end of a season.  In addition, I knew that showing it could involve having to make multiple trips back and forth to the storage lot.

We ended up moving on from the guy.  The scary thing is that I didn’t move on because of the price as my primary reason.  He wanted to make things happen so quick that I wasn’t comfortable.  When I asked him to back off, he got upset and yelled at me on the phone.  That was that.

As it turns out, none of my worries were real.

The Sale

We listed it for sale the same evening.  We put it on both Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist.  For the price, we decided to list it for $4,000.  This, we figured, gave us some bargaining room.

Instantly, people started inquiring about it.  The very first people that inquired seemed like great people. They explained that they’d been looking for a used camper.  There were 3-4 that they’d inquired about that they missed out on.  They were pretty excited that we hadn’t sold ours.  But, they were worried that we’d sell it and wanted to come out right away.

We ‘held’ it for them, because that’s the way I sell things.  I’m not one of those that tells everyone that’s interested to come out and the first person gets it.  That’s too stressful for me as a seller, plus I just don’t think it’s cool.  So, we told them that we wouldn’t show it so long as they came out. Which they did.

And they made us a full price offer!  They sent a deposit via PayPal while standing in our driveway.

Two days later, we turned everything over and it was theirs.  We actually took it over to them and dropped it off.  By the time we left, their youngest son had fallen asleep inside!

It was a whirlwind couple of days!

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

As I mentioned, the people seemed like very nice people.  And they were.  My wife and the wife of the family that bought it have been texting back and forth.  The new owner loves to redecorate.  And she started right away!  She painted over the wallpaper.  They put contact paper up over the sink that made it look like a tile backsplash. They painted the cabinets and the doors.  She even made the front of the fridge a chalkboard with that kind of paint.  Finally, they put laminate flooring down.

Top to bottom, they completely changed it, practically overnight!

It was really cool to see the transformation.  I think they really will love it.  I truly hope that they do.

Next Steps

Now, we are going to start looking for a new camper for our family.  We have a good idea of what we want.  We’ve been looking on the same sites we put ours up for sale.

What’s working in our favor is that the more expensive campers that fit our criteria seem to be lasting longer.  Ours sold quickly because it was a great price point.  I realize that I underestimated the appeal.  But, I also know that our care of it showed in the pictures.  When we looked at campers priced around ours, many were dirty or cluttered or just didn’t look like they’d been well taken care of.  So yay to my wife and I for keeping it clean and healthy.

There’s a camper show coming into town that we’ll go to.  We are targeting something used, to save money, but the show gives us great ideas on floor plans and models.  Plus, many of the dealers often have a great inventory of used items that they’ll highlight.

If nothing else, it gives us information to use if we decide to wait until next spring.  We’re definitely planning on camping, but because we sold our camper, it definitely won’t be in our old camper.  We’ve got lots of great memories now.  Time to make some new ones!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

How Many Trips To The Hardware For A Small Plumbing Project?

One of the joys of having a nearly 15 year old camping trailer is that things break often.  Recently, we discovered a minor drip from the interior water system.  The drip was from a section of plumbing that was replaced just last year, so I was well familiar with the process.  Or so I thought.  This is the story of how many trips to the hardware it took to fix one drip!

The Broken Part

Near the hot water tank in most RVs, there’s a whole series of valves and connections.  This is so that you can bypass the hot water heater when it comes time to get things prepared for winter.  Last spring, several sections of pipes and valves broke.  This included the supply line into the water heater.

We replaced it with PEX piping and new valves, most of which are called Sharkbite.  These are cool.  It allows you to push the PEX in without clamping or crimping.  When you want to disconnect it, you have a small tool that pushes a lip over the ‘shark’ teeth, and the piping can be removed.  Easy peasy, right?  We’ll see!

Last year, because there were a few sections involved, it took a few hours.

However, this year, I noticed a drip in the supply line into the water heater.  It was just a minor drip but enough to form a puddle, so it needed to be fixed.

So, how many trips did it take?

First Trip – The One Crimped Valve

As I said above, we used mostly Sharkbite valves.  These don’t require any crimping.  But, the one section that goes into the heater requires a crimped pipe.  So, I decided to get this taken care of.  I had some leftover PEX, and drove over to the nearby hardware.  This is an old time hardware, and I love it.  It’s small but they seem to have everything.  Plus, they know their stuff!

I explained what I needed, picked out the valve, and was on my way in about 10 minutes.

At this point, I thought we had everything we needed.  I was wrong.

Second Trip – The Sharkbite That Wouldn’t Let Go

Sharkbite pulls apart pretty easily.  I tried it last year when I was putting it together.  I was smart.  You know how?  I even kept the tool right there with the pipe in the event I would need it.  So when I did, I was proud that the tool was right there.

Except it didn’t work.

We were trying to remove pipe from an elbow, and it wouldn’t come loose.  I probably had pushed the pipe in too far into the elbow, and it just wouldn’t budge.  (Pushing this in too far was probably the cause of the leak, as is my best guess).

After about 15 minutes and some near damaged fingers, we decided to get a new elbow.

Off to the hardware we went.

This time, the salesman showed me a different version that he thought might work.  It was a couple bucks cheaper, and at first glance, would do the trick.  I decided to get it and took it home to see if it would work.

Guess what?  It wouldn’t work.

There’s an electrical box that sticks out just enough that it was in the way.  My father-in-law and I had both forgotten about it.

Third Trip – The Original Elbow

So, off we went to get the replacement for the original elbow we should have gotten all along.

This was a pretty quick trip in and out.  I thought we had it straightened out.

Except.  We didn’t.

Fourth Trip – The Wrong Right Angle

Once we got back and started getting to work on cutting, my father-in-law noticed a problem.  Remember back in the First Trip when I got the part crimped to the pipe.  Turns out, I’d gotten the wrong one.  I got a valve that came out and then bent at a 90-degree angle before it was crimped.

It was supposed to be straight.

Oops.

By this time, I was getting frantic.  It was 5:50 and the hardware closed at 6:00.

Lucky, it’s only a few minutes away and we made it in by 5:55.  They were laughing by now.

After getting the right piece and getting it crimped, we were out by 6:01.

I made a joke that the credit card company would start declining the purchase.  He said that they wouldn’t, because they would be coded as Plumbing purchases.  And he then said that the average number of trips for any plumbing project was 3.5.  He said that there was always three, plus usually one thing you remember in the parking lot for the ‘half’.

I guess I was only off by a half.

Install – A Breeze!

All of that took us about 1 hour and 45 minutes.  This was a lot longer than I’d anticipated.  Once we got back, cutting and installing the pipe took about 15 minutes.

Yep, it took about 7 times longer just to gather the materials than it did for the actual install.

I guess that sounds about right, too!

In the end, the leak is no more.  For now.  Let’s hope that it doesn’t return.  And, if it does, well at least I know what to expect!

Readers, what’s been your highest trip count to the hardware for a simple project?  Tell me some of your favorite DIY stories in the comments.  Thanks for reading.

 

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

How To Winterize Your RV

Is it time to winterize your RV?  If your season is done, as is ours, then it’s probably time.

End of Season

Our camping season is finished.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to finish out as we usually do.  The state park we go to does it up during weekends in October.  There’s a haunted house.  They arrange a parade and trick or treating.  They organize arts and crafts centered around Halloween.  The campground is always full and our kids look forward to it.  It’s usually our last trip of the year.  We had it all booked for the year but decided last minute to cancel.  What had been forecasted all week to be a few showers suddenly changed to weekend long rain when a front shifted a bit south.  We were bummed, but we knew that a whole October weekend in the rain wasn’t for us.

We have never cancelled a trip before.  We’d brought it home and got it prepped and ready to go, so some time and effort was wasted.

But all was not lost, because we needed to winterize.  We normally would have done it after the end of the trip, so at least the tow home wasn’t all for nothing.

Here are some of the things you need to know to winterize your RV.

Empty All Tanks

Make sure that all of your holding tanks are empty.  This includes your fresh water tank as well as your gray and black tanks.

Empty Your Water Heater

Most RVs come with a six gallon water heater.  You want this empty for the year.  Turn your water pump off and open up the hot water faucets.  This will depressurize the lines.  Then find your water lines.  Near the water heater will be three valves.  Switch the position of each of them.  This will cut off the water supply to your water heater.  Next, go outside and open the drain valve to your water heater.  This will empty out the water that’s inside.  We leave the drain valve off.

Empty Your Water Lines

Get rid of as much water as you can.  If you have an air compressor, get it set up.  There’s a connection somewhere on each camper.  Open up all your faucets (don’t forget your outside shower if you have one).  Make sure your pump is off.  Turn on your compressor.  This will push water out of the lines.  You can also look for labels for your low point valves.  Open these up to drain them.  Close them when you’re done.  Go inside and pull the flush on your toilet to get that water out too.  Remove the air compressor.  Turn off all of your faucets.

Note: Some people skip the emptying of the lines, and just move to the next step.  I’ve done this and have never had any problems.  It’s personal preference, though many in the RV world have strong opinions.

Run RV Antifreeze Through The Lines

Next you want to fill your water lines with antifreeze.  You want the kind that’s safe for RV.  It will be pink.   Locate

image from morguefile courtesy of xololounge

your water pump.  There will be a hose that runs to the water holding tank, and another that you can pull out to the camper.  Each will have a valve.  Reverse both.

Then, take the hose that you can pull out into the camper and stick it in your jug of antifreeze.  Turn on a faucet and then go turn on your pump.  This should start drawing the antifreeze out of the jug and through your lines.  When anitifreeze starts coming out of your faucet, turn it off.  Then turn on every faucet and repeat.  Make sure you get your toilet as well.

Now that this is done, all of your lines should be filled with antifreeze.  Walk around and look at every single point where water comes out.  Shower hoses, toilets, make sure you’ve had pink come out of them.  Miss even one thing and you could be in for an awful surprise next spring.

And, remember earlier how you flipped the valves around your water heater?  That means that you just saved yourself six gallons of antifreeze from flowing into the tank!

Flip the two valves back into their normal position.  This way, in the spring, the pump will draw off the holding tank as you’ll want it to do.

Put Some Antifreeze In Your Tanks And Traps

Pour a couple of cups of antifreeze down one of your sinks.  This will get it into your gray tank.  Pour some into your toilet and flush so that there’s a little in your black tank.  You shouldn’t need any in your water holding tank if you’ve emptied it completely.

Now, make sure that you pour a little in every sink so that there’s some antifreeze in each of the traps.  Finish off by pouring a little bit in the toilet.

Clean Out All Food

If you leave any food in your camper, get it out.  During the season, we’ll leave some stuff in a storage bin.  But, for the off season, everything comes out.  Also, anything that might have food particles should come out.  Camping stoves and camp pie makers.

Get Rid Of Potential Rodent Beds

During the winter, rodents will look for somewhere to stay warm.  We take out any towels, paper towels, kleenex, etc.  There’s no need to make your camper any more attractive to them than it might already be.

Remove Cleaning Supplies and Liquids

We take out all cleaning supplies and liquids just to make sure nothing freezes and breaks.  You can put a lot of the stuff from the last few categories into a bin that you can unpack in the spring.

Check Your Caulk And Seals

Take a look around places where water might get in.  Chances are you won’t be seeing your RV all that much during the winter.  A small leak can add up to big problems.  Fix any areas where things look cracked or rotting.

Remove Your RV Battery

Once you have your RV in place, disconnect and remove the battery.  We put ours in the basement.  First I check the water levels, and fill with distilled water if needed. Then we keep it connected to a trickle chargers.  RV and marine batteries should not be allowed to fully discharge.  It will dramatically reduce their longevity.

Remove All Batteries

Your main battery isn’t the only one to remove.  I find that it’s helpful to take all batteries out of the camper.  Remote controls, flashlights, smoke alarms.  I take them all out and put it in a storage bin that goes in the basement.  Leaving them in during cold weather seems to shorten their life.  Not to mention, they often leak if they’re left in.

Open Your Fridge

Make sure your refrigerator and freezer are not sealed.  Otherwise, if there’s any moisture, then you’ll end up with mold and mildew.

Consult Your Owners Manual

These are the steps that we take, and that I know are pretty common.  You’ll want to take a look at your manual before you’re done.  They might have something specific to your model.

Keeping your camper safe and snug over the winter is important.  It doesn’t take that long to do.  By following the proper steps, you’ll ensure that your RV will be ready to enjoy next spring.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

10 Thoughts On Our First Week Long Camping Trip of 2017

We generally do a week long camping trip twice per summer.  One is always over the 4th of July week.  We wrapped up our trip and it was a success.  I thought I’d share some of our (mostly) ups and downs, as well as a few laugh out loud moments.

The Popularity of Outdoor Activities Is Increasing

Driving on the freeway to get back and forth to the campground showed just how popular outdoor activities have become.  Michigan is always home to great summer activities and always has been.  However, even versus a few years ago, you can see a tremendous uptick.  The number of campers and boats shows that more and more have climbed out of the hole of the Great Recession.

Fireworks Don’t Work At 11:30

We’ve stayed at this campground before, but this was our first time staying for the 4th.  We were pretty excited when we found out that there was a fireworks display scheduled.  Everybody headed down to the lake shortly before dusk, which was around 10pm.  We waited, and waited and waited some more.  We’re quite a bit north and it was clear sky, so it didn’t get pitch black until past 10:30pm.  We figured they’d start then.  Nope.

It was a full hour after that before they started.  By that time, our kids had enough and were already in bed.  Our son was half asleep and enjoyed listening to them, anyway.  But, really, who in their right mind starts a fireworks display at 11:30pm?

A Bigger Gas Tank And Engine Saved A Stop

Most of our longer trips seem to be around 250 miles away from home.  With the old Buick towing, we would always have to stop for gas.  It was around a 20 gallon tank, and generally got around 10 MPG when towing.  I got a truck with a 26 gallon tank, and we averaged 12 miles per gallon, so we ended up saving a stop.  When towing, finding a gas station that’s RV friendly always adds another layer of complexity, so I was happy to avoid that part!

The Unlucky Made The Best Of It

Remember above how I said camping is more popular than ever?  This is especially true on the 4th, when just about every site in the state is booked.  We were able to snag two adjacent sites for our entire time, and they had a lake view to boot!  Others weren’t so lucky, but made the best of it.  Many people were able to get a stay at the park, but had to move sites at least once.  I saw one camper in at least three different spots.  Yikes!

Saving $80 Was Cool

We got a note a few weeks before our trip that the campground had been having sewer troubles.  They had a line break on three separate occasions.  During these, people that were camping couldn’t use the bathrooms or showers.  They had to use port-a-potties or pit toilets.  They allowed people to either cancel their reservation or offered a $10 reduction in fees to take the chance on staying.  Since we knew everything anywhere else was booked, we took the chance.  Thankfully, the bathrooms worked perfectly, so we saved $80 by taking a chance!

It Finally Got Easier With The Kids

When we started camping with our trailer, the kids were 3 and 1.  That was tough. Someone was always napping or eating or melting down and both needed pretty constant supervision.  The kids have grown, but even last year, neither was riding a bike without training wheels.  We always knew it’d get easier where they could be more independent, and this year it hit us that we were finally there.  Nobody needed a nap, they were flexibile with the meal times, and were able to do a lot on their own.

4th of July Trips Are Bad For My Awning

During the first year we had our trailer, the awning broke during a freak thunderstorm.  It almost happened again.  This time there was no thunder or rain, just wind.  We were sitting at the beach when it got really cloudy and dark and the wind started picking up.  In the five minute walk back, it was so bad that when we turned around, all we saw was a cloud of sand.  We ran back to the site and my in-laws and wife (who had walked back a few minutes earlier) were holding down the awning as it was bouncing around furiously.  Through the wind, we were able to get it rolled up, but it really seems that thing is cursed on these 4th of July trips!

Staying Healthy Worked….Sort Of

I wrote a couple of months ago that I knew these trips would put my fitness success at risk.  Between exercising less, eating more extravagent meals, and indulding in more alcohol, these trips had potential of derailing a lot of the success I’ve worked for.

Well, while I didn’t do great, I don’t think I did half bad.  I definitely found I was more strict at the beginning and

Image from morguefile courtesy of kzinn

less so at the end.  Still, I did pretty good on portion control and cutting back on my liquor intake throughout.  Snacking was the only area that I lost a little willpower on, but it was still better.  Plus, I ran three times during the trip.  Overall, this wasn’t perfect but it could have been a lot worse!

We Need New Meals

We’ve developed some pretty cool meals.  We have a good mix of campfire, grill, and comfort food meals.  But, many agreed that we’re starting to get a bit repetitious.  We never had a bad meal that I can remember, but very little of the dinners were exciting.  It’s time to shake things up, I think!

Tomato Plants Can Double In Size In A Week

We bought two little tomato seedlings at the farmers market back in May.  They grew quite a bit in the weeks before our trip.  Still, we were shocked when the doubled again in size in just the week or so that we were gone.  And it didn’t even rain!  The watering all came from our neighbors who helped us out.  Now, we have lots and lots of tomatoes on the way!

Readers, have you done anything fun so far this summer? What fun have you had or do you have planned?  Let me know in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.