Greetings from our home base in Deming, New Mexico! It’s been eleven days since we returned from our first shakedown cruise in Lizzy 3, and we’ve been busy implementing some of the modifications that we added to our wish list on that trip.
First on the project list was the installation of tire valve extenders on the rear duallies. It’s vitally important to be able to check the air pressure on all the tires and air them up as needed. But the valve stem on the inside tire on the rear dually is almost impossible to reach without removing the wheel cover and going through some intricate contortions. To solve the issue, we purchased a pair of 6″ rigid valve extenders which extend through one of the openings on the wheel cover. This allows easy access for quick pressure checks and airing up the tire.
As you can see from the photo above, Andy had to make a slight “adjustment” to the wheel cover opening to make sure it didn’t interfere with the extender, but that’s a small price to pay for the convenience.
Next on the project list was swapping out the little vent fan over the kitchen area for a new MaxxAir 10-speed fan. There are four overhead vents in the rig, one in the bathroom, one in the bedroom, one over the kitchen and one in the over-cab area (we refer to it as the “attic”). The ones in the bathroom and kitchen have 12-volt fans in them, and the other two are just screened vents for air circulation.
Ideally, we would have preferred to put the MaxxAir fan in the bedroom, but that vent was not wired for electricity, and Andy did not want to tackle trying to fish wiring through the walls and ceiling of the rig, so we decided to put the new fan over the kitchen, which honestly is only a few feet away anyhow.
The first step was, of course, to remove the existing little fan, which required loosening and scraping all the old sealant from the roof without damaging the rubber roof membrane.
That process took most of the afternoon, but before the day was over Andy had the new fan dropped into the opening, wired up, and working. He ran into a snag when he was inserting the screws to attach the new fan to the roof. The fan came with wood screws, but he kept hitting metal when trying to drive them into the roof. He was finally able to make it work with some different screws, and left the rest of the project for the next day.
The following morning, he finished up the installation by installing the plastic flange on the inside of the rig. Before it could be installed, it had to be cut to the right depth for the opening.
After checking the fit, Andy then was able to get the flange installed with no problems, and it looks and works great! Even on medium speed, this thing was creating quite a breeze as it drew air in through the screen door and out through the roof. It should really help the air flow in the bedroom as we can leave the small windows cracked an inch or two to create some circulation on warmer nights.
The next project was a fun one! As you know, we travel with two cats, and we keep their litter box in the shower. This, of course, means that we had to leave the bathroom door open whenever we weren’t actually using the toilet. The layout in this rig has the bathroom door swinging outward from left to right, effectively blocking the entrance to the bedroom when the door is wide open. Additionally, I just didn’t care for the aesthetics of having the bathroom constantly visible to the outside world–it just made the rig seem more cluttered.
We decided we needed to install a pet door in the bathroom door to allow the kitties easy access to their litter box. I went online to do a little research, and found a really cool solution on Amazon. The Kitty Pass is cute, fairly easy to install, and got great reviews, so we decided to give it a shot.
The product came with a template for cutting an opening in the door, but of course we had to remove the door first. The bathroom door is attached to the frame with a piano hinge, which meant there were 36 screws which had to be removed. After finally getting the door outside, Andy used the template to cut the opening in the door, installed the plastic ears and tail along with the support section, and then we re-installed the door. All 36 screws.
After getting everything back in place, we brought Maggie into the rig to test it out. I put her inside the bathroom and closed the door, and then called her from outside the door. She had no problem at all figuring out what to do, and she fit through the opening with no problem, even though we lovingly refer to her as our little “bowling ball”. The Kitty Pass is supposed to work for cats up to 21 pounds, and Maggie is about 14-15 pounds, but we were still a little worried that she might get stuck!
Here are photos and video from the process on my Instagram. Be sure to scroll to the end to see Maggie’s test!
We still have one more major project on the list, and that’s getting our solar system set up. Currently the rig has one lead-acid house battery, which barely gets us through the night when we’re dry-camping or boondocking. We have to use the generator to recharge it when we’re not connected to electricity.
This week we ordered two Battle Born 100 amp-hour lithium batteries to replace the single lead-acid battery. We also ordered a Bluetooth charge controller, heavy gauge cables, and the fusebox for the wiring. It was fortunate that we placed the order on March 31, because the guy from Battle Born told Andy that starting on April 1 they were going to start collecting New Mexico sales tax on online/phone sales. Timing is everything when you’re spending a lot of money! The batteries were $899 each, and with the other items, we’re well over $2000 deep into this investment. Fortunately, we still have our three 100-watt solar panels that we used in Lizzy 1, and Andy will benefit from his experience with that previous installation project. The new batteries and equipment should arrive in about three weeks, so we’re hoping to get the installation done before we leave for our May trip to Mississippi.
In the meantime, we’re getting ready to head out for another ten days, leaving on Monday to visit two more state parks in the area. We’ll have electricity and water hookups at both these parks, which is a good thing since temperatures are starting to warm up around here, and we’ll probably need to run the air conditioner during the afternoons at least.
We’re so excited about getting to travel again! Andy is due for his second COVID shot sometime next week (they haven’t given him an exact date yet). I’m scheduled for my second shot on April 19, which means we’ll be as safe as we can be when it’s time to cross Texas, Arkansas and North Mississippi on our way to visit my parents and the rest of my family. And having our own little house with our own kitchen, bathroom and bedroom for our travels just makes us feel that much safer.
We hope that you’re all doing well, and that you’re also getting excited about getting back out there this year! Stay safe, stay well, and stay happy!!
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