Palm Springs, CA – November, 2015 There is danger lurking in the desert oasis we have found here at Palm Springs Thousand Trails RV Resort. A local RV dealer displays several new motorhomes in one corner of the park. We were walking around the park and noticed they had a new 5th wheel. We innocently decided to check it out not realizing the risk we were flirting with.
We look at new rigs fairly often. But never find anything that would meet our needs as well as our 2003 Alpenlite. But this particular model was the perfect layout for us and in the right size package, 32 feet from stem to stern, just like ours.
It tempted us. We lingered. We poked and prodded. Worse yet, we started talking options and trade in values. We spent a couple days mulling it over and perusing local dealers’ new and used inventories. We resumed our age old argument: what relationship (if any) does the model number by the door have to do with the size of the rig? Jim says none, and it drives him crazy when I say things like “oh this is 34 ½ feet long because the model number is 3450RSLMK. lol
We decided the 5th wheel that first drew us in to this crazy quest was really a good deal, it was REALLY a good fit for us, but it was REALLY not worth going into debt over. The relief we felt upon making this decision was immense. What had we almost done? How had we gotten to this point?
We sat down and made a list of all the things in our trailer we could change or fix that would increase our satisfaction with it. We spent a couple days, and less than two of those easy payments we almost committed to, and are now newly in love with our home. Here’s what we did from least to most expensive.
Our AC/heat pump had been making increasingly more noise over the last few months. Jim was convinced he was going to have to replace the fan. He spent a couple hours tearing it apart and cleaning it and finally discovered the problem. We had damaged the plastic cover when we went under a low hanging branch last summer and some of the broken pieces had fallen in the fan. Cost $0.
I have a couple large drawers in my kitchen that are prone to rolling out on their own when I open the cabinet door unless the trailer is perfectly level. There were barrel locks on them to prevent this but having to unlock them every time I wanted to open them or holding one drawer closed while I looked in the other if I chose to leave them unlocked was getting on my nerves. Jim came up with the brilliant plan to use these magnetic catches to replace the locks and prevent this. They may not be beautiful but they are preserving my sanity. Cost $5.
I was convinced that replacing these stupid RV style closet rods with standard residential ones to store our hanging clothes would make life easier. I was so right! It feels like there is more room in our closets and I can reach the things stored behind my clothes easier. Best of all I can scrunch all my long sleeved garments together when it’s warm, making it easier to find a t-shirt and vice versa when it’s chilly. I chose adjustable rods which were $7.50 each at Lowes. Cost $22.50
My microwave was the weakest I had ever used and since the turntable stopped working my satisfaction with it was at an all-time low. We looked at replacements and there really wasn’t much difference between the least and most expensive ones (except the price, obviously) so we decided to go with the cheapest. Cost $99
I love having a combination lock on my vehicle and since I saw one that would replace my RV handle I’ve been nagging Jim about it. I haven’t seen another one so we are going to have to order it. I will have it! Cost $200
No matter the age of your rig (or your house if you are into that sort of thing) there are likely things you would change if you could. Here are some of the modifications we’ve made to our 5th wheel in the past that make our life on the road more tolerable.
The majority of RV faucets can be replaced with standard residential ones available at any home improvement store. You are not limited to the paltry selection sold in RV supply stores. Replacing my kitchen faucet with one that has a pull down sprayer and my bathroom faucet with a taller one was a godsend.
We can never have enough shoe storage despite having painfully reduced our shoe inventory before hitting the road. There is always a pile of shoes by the door in our house. And when we discovered that there was no wiring or HVAC going through the step from our living room to our bath it was a no brainer that we were going to create some shoe storage. Jim chose to build a whole new step but often you could just pop the top off and add a hinge or even some blocks to keep it in place and walla.
I was pretty happy with the interior of my Alpenlite when we got it. The only thing that made no sense was the light green (practically white) carpet in the living room which I had my local flooring dealer replace with vinyl plank flooring. But if you don’t like your home’s interior there is not much you can’t change. The most radical remodel of a travel trailer I have seen is when my best friend chose to paint ALL the woodwork in hers with chalk paint. She did an amazing job and really brightened it up.
So don’t be afraid to make some changes. Maybe you will fall in love again too.