We did it, we've completed a full year in our 2000 42' Grand Design 395M Momentum Toy Hauler RV! Here's the good news, we're still married and we love it! To be transparent, it has been an adjustment, but I truly believe if you are committed to your vision, keep the communication channels open, and plan appropriately, you can have the alternative retirement you are hoping for.
The picture above was taken last year just after we moved in. Bob had just completed the skirting before our first snowstorm rolled in. (Here's a link to a video where he talks about how he skirted the rig.) A winter prep walk around did identify a few things that needed to be maintained before our second winter hits. We found that the combination of tape and paint held up really well, however, there were a few places that needed to be touched up. While nothing was critical in nature, it's important to me to keep our home looking aesthetically pleasing. Living in an RV brings its own stigma, (which I will be addressing in the future), and I refuse to fall into the stereotype others set for our alternative lifestyle.
The backend of our rig had settled just a bit and caused the foamboard to split. Bob dug out a bit of dirt under the boards, added some tape and paint and all looks great now. There were a few other places that needed a little TLC, like the wheel wells that needed the tape to be replaced or resecured.
The next step was to ensure the heated garden hose was working and the holding tank heaters were on and ready for the cold. While rigs differ in the heating systems for their tanks, anyone who lives in areas where you experience freezing temperatures needs a heated garden hose to avoid frozen pipes!
Once a year, you need to replace the Anode rod in your hot water tank. This mechanism allows the rod to corrode rather than your tank. They are inexpensive and fairly easy to change. Look at the difference in ours versus the new one in just a year!
One of the most often questions I've seen on RV forums is whether or not dual pane windows are worth it in an RV.
We chose to have dual pane windows in our build and we are glad we did. They are fantastic sound reducers, lessen condensation issues, and while they don't keep all the cold out, they do help a bit. A couple of things we did this year to help keep the cold out inside are:
1. Use a roof vent insulator or fan "pillow" as I call them. You can easily pull them out and might need to once in a while to ensure there is no moisture getting trapped inside.
2. If you have a Slim Shade on your door window, you know how much cold air comes in through that thin piece of glass which has no insulation. The garage was also an especially cold place last winter. To help keep the warm air in this winter, we decided to put Reflectix insulation in the garage windows and keep the shades over them. I think the silver bubble showing through the window is a bit tacky, so I had Bob paint the window side with black spray paint. It looked great, but started flaking off. I decided to hot glue some dark gray fabric to the bubble wrap instead and it looks great and no flaking!
3. Have you ever noticed the small air holes in the base of your windows? They are there
to let moisture out, but they also let warm air out and cold air in. Another quick idea is to add a strip of the bubble insulation to the inside of your window. If you find you have too much condensation, use a dehumidifier. In the mountains of Colorado, we have fairly dry air so it's not a big problem here. This year we added a small strip of bubble wrap to keep the incoming cold air and outgoing warm air loss to a minimum.
Other ideas to keep you warm:
* Invest in an electric throw blanket. I bought two, one for each couch. It allow us to keep cozy warm when watching movies at night and I throw one over my legs when I work early in the mornings.
* We've also started using an small electric heater to warm up the garage in the mornings and help take the chill off an area that just doesn't get a lot of heat to it. This keeps the cold air from coming into the livingroom and doesn't require the furnace to use as much propane.
* Finally, we will soon be installing a wall of covered Reflectix on the Toyhauler dropdown ramp. We'll be sharing that project with you very soon.