Category Archives: projects

Another Win for the Humans

Today started with more brute force. Our BG friend could only come in the afternoon today, so Richard and I did what we could with the cabinet project without him. This was everything up to removing the microwave. For that we would need our buddy, because I have back issues and cannot lift 75 pounds. Yes. I said 75 pounds. Our Samsung convection-microwave weighs 75 freaking pounds. That’s good to know.

After breakfast, Richard took another look at the situation. He figured that maybe we could force the cabinet wall past the attachment block and back into place using the stair support we’d worked into it yesterday. We used a screwdriver to guide it past the block, and inserted a two pieces of 2×1 placed on the top and the bottom of the stair support to protect the bottom of the cabinet and the counter-top.

With much grunting and effort, we managed to screw it up into place. The cabinet was more or less in the proper position, and we’d managed to wedge it past the attachment block. Now we had to wait until our BG friend was available to help, because the next step in the process was to remove the microwave.

Once our buddy arrived, we prepared to move the microwave. The guys decided that they could lower the microwave onto the counter (we placed a piece of plywood on top of the counter so that we didn’t damage the range cover), but that they didn’t want to have to move the microwave any further than that. We found a box in storage in the bays that was just the right size to lower the microwave enough to be able to access the attachment block. It was my job to get the box into place once the microwave was loose.

Getting the microwave loose was no easy task. It was installed by tipping it forward and hooking it on a bracket in the back, then levering it up into place and securing it with another bracket on the top, with the weight distributed with two wooden trim pieces on either side below the microwave.

First the trim pieces needed to come off. There were attached with trim nails as well as glue. The tricky part of this task was to get the trim pieces off without breaking them, since they were going to go back on after everything was finished (with brass screws so that they could be removed easier if we ever had to take out the microwave again).

We were prepared for the contingency that the microwave might drop or need to be supported once the trim pieces were removed, so we placed our Firehouse Subs pickle bucket below it just in case. The guys carefully pried the trim pieces off the cabinet cases. The microwave stayed in place. Then we removed the bracket on the top of the microwave. It stayed in place. At this point the rear bracket was supporting the entire weight of the microwave.

With that much pressure on the bracket, it was impossible to tilt the front of the microwave down so we could lift the back off the bracket. Our friend from BG came up with the solution – to use a screwdriver (the same we used that morning to wedge the cabinet past the attachment block) to bend the attachment points towards the wall, freeing them.

This approach worked, and the guys lifted the microwave off the rear bracket while I switched the bucket out for the box. The box supported the weight of the microwave, which allowed Richard to access the attachment block.

The block was full of ten staples, and was splitting where the staples were inserted. After another trip to the hardware store, the guys came back with a new block for attaching and securing the cabinet (this one made of oak, a denser wood and therefore less prone to splitting), brackets to attach the cabinet to the back wall behind the microwave (for a second attachment point), and various screws.

They removed the attachment block (which had been held on with one screw — one screw, folks, that’s all that was securing that side of the cabinet to the ceiling), replaced it, then secured the cabinet to the new block. After installing the brackets where the cabinet met the wall behind the microwave, the cabinet felt rock solid in its position.

Returning the microwave to it’s position was easier than removing it, and the trim pieces went back in, this time with screws that matched the rest of the fittings in the coach. With the microwave freshly secured, and all the trim pieces back in place, everything worked as advertised: the microwave door opened all the way again, and the annoying sound the fan used to make when the microwave was placed on convection also stopped (bonus!).

We celebrated our triumph over cabinet and microwave with fabulous Myles Pizza. This place was awesome! Highly recommended, but I’m a little tired tonight so I’ll write about it’s glory tomorrow.

Slide 1, Lost Ramblers 3, We Have a Winner!

Today, we witnessed the triumph of men (a one woman, who admittedly did nothing but hold the ladder and hand folks things) over slide. It was a tough battle, but we managed to get the slide arm replaced! Cue trumpet fanfare.

Above is an image of the slide arm after Richard and our BG friend got it off. As you can clearly see, it was super bent. Those slide mechanisms are pretty strong to do that kind of thing.

Image of an acorn nutThe first step was to remove the bolt at the bottom of the arm. This proved to be a little tricky, and the bolt sheared at the acorn nut (for those not up on their ‘nut’ terminology, this is like a hexagonal nut with a little dome on the end). Tapping the bolt out from the other end solved this problem.

With the arm now free and Dave from Florida on the phone helping the guys through it (Thank goodness for Bluetooth headsets!) the menfolk took the tension off the spring through muscle power.

Then commenced the search for the right hole. Now, from what I understood witnessing the issue, there are two holes drilled through the anti-billowing device sprocket and into the shaft around which the awning is wound. Richard needed to insert a pin (such as a hex wrench) through one of these two holes, and then our friend from BG could stop physically fighting the spring’s tension.

Well, these holes could not be found. We weren’t discouraged, however, because Dave told us that sometimes he couldn’t find the holes, and he’s a professional. So Dave told us to drill a hole, and leave the drill bit in to serve as the pin. That worked great.

With the tension off the arm, it slid out of the shaft relatively easily. The new (old) arm slid in just as easily. We removed the drill bit carefully, and the arm took up the tension again.

At this point, a trip to the hardware store was in order to get a new bolt and furnishings.

Richard and I went to the Ace Hardware in downtown Bowling Green, which is a lovely college town. The Ace Hardware on Main Street was pretty complete, and the workers there were knowledgeable and helpful. It wasn’t the usual trip to the mega store with lots of walking around feeling lost, trying to find the right fitting. A Santa Claus looking gentleman helped us with what we needed right away.

Back at the coach, we replaced the screwdriver we used to secure the arm with the new bolt, and everything was hunky-dory again with the living room slide.

Unfortunately, now the menfolk moved on to the cabinet. They removed all the trim and examined the situation. Some attempts were made to move the cabinet back by brute force, but those failed. The idea to use some mechanical aid was brought up, and I suggested the little stair support we have. It is two metal plates with a screw lift connecting them. This approach lifted the cabinet a whole 1/4 of an inch.

I’ll take this opportunity to say some thing about the way our particular cabinet was secured to the wall. Although I generally follow the rule of, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” this was so egregiously stupid, I’ve just got to say something.

The cabinet was connected on the side next to the range by one piece of pine (!) 3/4 of an inch by 3/4 of an inch by six inches. It was stapled on from the microwave side by about 10 staples reached less than a 1/of an inch into the side of the cabinet. Not only had all the staples torn out, but the piece meant to secure the cabinet to the slide frame had cracked through where it had been stapled.

Now, I’m going to proceed to give Holiday Rambler the benefit of the doubt because we really like their coaches. I’m just going to imagine that maybe the worker in charge of our particular cabinetry was either a) having a really bad day or b) hurrying to finish the job because his wife was in labor/her family was in trouble.

After examining the cabinet, we all decided to tackle it in the morning, especially since it was clear the microwave would have to come out to properly re-secure the cabinet. But! I consider today to be a great win in the history of human’s struggle versus slides! Yeah humans!

The Slide

For those of you who have read my first post and already know about the problem with the living room slide, please bear with me a little while I exposate, expositionate, uh, while I provide a touch of exposition.

Day before we’re supposed to leave: Massive failure of slide including yucky grinding noises, a thunk, and a bent Omega Slide Topper Arm. Slide goes in, but slide does not go out. Day we leave: On the road with no slide, much “excuse me,” “no, excuse me,” and “get the f*$! out of my way!” (Not really.)

Image of new (to us) Omega slide topper armsWe detoured down to Indy to pick up some used Omega slide arms from a guy Richard met on iRV2. He gave us four of them so we can change the both arms on the slide and have at least the pair match. We could also change the arms on the bedroom slide to match, which is another set of Omega arms. Nothing has gone wrong with them, though (yet).

Okay, now that that’s over with, we get on to fixing the darn thing. One thing that we’d been kind of putting off was getting a ladder. We he-hawed quite a bit on that, trying to decide if, yes, we really did need some kind of light-weight aluminum one that expands (a la the Little Giant Ladder) or no, we could get by with the aluminum 8’ that is currently in storage. There was a lot of angst in this decision on both our parts, only heaven knows why.

Image of Werner Multi-Purpose Ladder
Optimus Prime
This event forced us to make a decision, and we decided to get a light-weight Little Giant-esque ladder. Richard and our BG buddy went out to our friendly all-things-construction store and purchased a Werner Multi-Purpose Ladder on sale. It’s pretty nifty. It can go from a step-ladder to an extension ladder and be used as two ladders or a scaffold base. Its, like, the Optimus Prime of ladders.

When Richard got the ladder home, he went up and took a look at the problem. Yep, the arm was bent. Yep, the bent arm was keeping the slide from moving appropriately since it cocked the awning and made the slide hang up at the top. Yep, we were pretty well screwed.

But Richard, ever the premiere problem-solver, decided to give Carefree a call and see if he could talk to someone about it. At the very least he’d be able to talk to someone who’d recommend a shop we could go to. So Richard called and waited on hold to speak with someone. Turns out, Carefree no longer offers support for the Omega Series. (sarcasm)Great(/sarcasm). But they did know someone in Florida we could talk to. (oh yeah)Awesome-sauce!(/oh yeah)

So after speaking extensively with Dave Jones of Florida (Dave, if you’re reading this, let me know the name of your awning company so I can update), Richard confirmed that this was a three man (or two men and a woman) job. Richard got up on Optimus Prime and described the situation to Dave. There were a lot of “yeah”s and “uh-huh”s.

The complicating factor in this project is that the arm in question is the slide right arm, the one that’s spring loaded. So, someone would have to hold the arm while the tension would be released by the second person so that the arm could be removed and the new (old) one put on.

The light was fading and all four of those involved (Richard, me, Dave and our BG friend) decided it would be best to tackle this beast in the morning.

But now we had a game plan. Tomorrow Dave would call Richard and walk him through the procedure. How awesome is Dave?

Richard, our friend, and I went inside for some homemade chili and to discuss the secondary issue with the slide. On the surface, this one seemed not as bad, at least to me. The cabinet to the left of the range and microwave, over the sink, had displaced itself about a half an inch downward. This caused the microwave door to not be able to swing open all the way. And Richard and I were concerned about the cabinet suddenly dropping while we were traveling.

As the guys discuss this issue, we discovered that this problem may be more trouble than I thought. We can’t just manhandle the cabinet back into position because it has wedged itself below it’s support (more on this little gem of engineering later). So now we have two problems: the slide that won’t budge and the cabinet out of whack. Fabulous.