Not Your Average Home

When we talk to people who are thinking of taking on the full-time RV lifestyle, we tell them the one thing we weren’t expecting: that Bob wasn’t really retiring but was going from one job to another.

“If you ain’t fixin, you ain’t RVin,” wasn’t a motto we’d heard before we were in full-timing up to our broken Fantastic Fan and furnace, leaky shower and sink…. and those were the days *before* the quality of RVs generally took a tailspin.

“Well, if you had a sticks-and-bricks house, you’d still have to fix the furnace, patch leaks, make repairs,” we were told.

And of course that’s true.

But anyone who thinks getting something repaired in an RV is the same thing as getting something repaired in a sticks-and-bricks (SAB) house hasn’t been RVing for very long. I’ve posted about this before (see especially “Shhh… Things About Full-Time RVing Nobody Talks About”), but just after that post went live we were handed a perfect example of how an RV is not like a SAB.

We have two RVs — the original fifth wheel we started with, and our travel rig, a Class C. The fifth wheel is at an RV park in a town with limited shopping, which is normally where we want to be. Except when something goes wrong.

When we bought this RV more than ten years ago, we had a washer and dryer installed. They’re Whirlpool products (most of the Whirlpool washers are made in my Ohio hometown, as a matter of fact, so I was happy to be giving them some business) and have given us thousands of great laundry experiences.

We stop at the Mothership (fifth wheel) once or twice a year. It’s a great place to perform maintenance on the Class C and clean it from top to bottom. And we launder all the blankets, the towels we use to blacken the windows… things like that.

We were doing just that when the washer quit. The water pump suddenly refused to drain, and we knew, after all these years, the appliance was done.

If This Had Happened in a SAB…

…it would have been pretty simple to get a new washer and arrange to have it installed. Most residential washers are about the same size, use the same power, and you can find one on the showroom floor.

The stores selling them generally offer delivery, installation and removal of the old unit for an additional small fee ($20-$50 was what we were told).


But Because This Happened in an RV…

…Bob spent hours reviewing the manual for our Whirlpool washer: dimensions, amperage, wattage, cubic feet capacity. We need it to not only fit into the small converted closet space, but it also can’t pull more juice than the rig is wired to deliver. He printed pages of options from the web sites of the two stores in town that sell appliances.

Neither store could help us. One store could order one but the backlog meant we wouldn’t get one until mid-April (we’d be long gone by then). The other store didn’t have anything the size we needed — residential appliances only.

We came close when we found a new but banged-up Bosch washer that had been incorrectly installed at a fraction of its original cost, but because it’s European, the electrical specs were out of whack for us, and we had to pass on that.

The sole RV store in town found exactly what we needed, and we ordered it. We dropped the thousand dollars in cash on the counter for it, and set an appointment with the service department to have it installed about a week after the washer is expected to arrive.

Whew, right? Not so fast.

Nothing Easy-Peasy About This

Early the next morning it occurred to us: did the RV store expect us to take the Mothership over there for the installation?!? They’d given us a 9 a.m. appointment, which is usually how things go if you’re expected to drop off a rig and wait a half day or more for it the job to be done there.

So Bob called the store and found out they do all their work on their property. Aargh!

I alluded awhile back to our having had a terrible ordeal moving the RV, and without getting into that here, I will say that once we got the Mothership anchored at this park we weren’t about to move it again. Especially not to unhook it, hire someone to tow it across town, then tow it back, get it all lined up again on the site (the park has very specific rules about how the RV needs to be situated), hook everything back up, then what if there’s trouble with the washer after all that?

(Are you starting to see how getting a washing machine installed in an RV is different than getting a new one in a SAB?)

The helpful woman who’d sold us the washer had the name of a man who can best be described as an RV handyman. Bob called him and he agreed to pick up the machine at the store when it comes in, bring it to our rig, install it for us, and take away the old washer.

I have no idea what this will cost us, and how it all turns out is yet to be revealed.

For now, we *think* we’ve ordered the right replacement, and we *believe* we’ve hired the right person to do the labor (stay tuned!).

Having Said That…

If we were still traveling in the Mothership we could drive it to the RV store for the installation when the time comes, so a single-rig full-timer would have a very different experience (at least for the installation) than we’re having…

…which is still a much more complicated path from broken washing machine to new one when it happens in an RV versus a sticks-and-bricks house.

Part of the adventure, right?

About Ellen

Fiction writer and photographer, I travel the country with my sweetheart of a husband as a "full-time RVer."
This entry was posted in Interesting Stories, RV, RV Parks & Lifestyle and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Not Your Average Home

  1. Ugh, I feel your pain. Karen and I have a 2000 Realto (Winnebago body/frame, VW six-cylinder engine). We used it a lot years ago while we were looking to move from our hot & humid Florida home (Mexico Beach, by the way, absolutely destroyed by Hurricane Michael). No washer and dryer to worry bout. A few repairs here and there, but nothing too serious. Problem is, we’ve kept it sitting in our garage and have only taken it out of it’s barn and driven it a few times in the past decade.
    I’m reminded of many years ago (1971 – 89 or so). We traveled in a Volkswagen bus I had converted into a camper of sorts. Later, a Chevy van, same scenario. We mostly used laundry mats along our route whenever the need occurred. Along the road we took “sponge baths” and shampooed our hair using water stored in gallon jugs. We really upgraded when we bought a solar shower to hang up and let the sun heat the water. Ah, a warm shower. Of course this didn’t work so well when the weather was uncooperative. I wish I had a dollar for every shower I ever took in parks and other campgrounds. Still, we were young and adventurous and had a blast while it lasted.
    Hope all goes well with you two AND the repairs. As always,

    • Ellen says:

      Hi, Mike! Sounds like you really enjoyed your adventures on the road. I can see a camper van or truck camper for short trips…. just like my creature comforts, I guess! Hope you and Karen are well!

  2. I am in total sympathy for your challenges with mechanical stuff. We have been on the road with our deisel pusher for 4 years. I say there are always at least 3 things broken at any one time. Today it is my kitchen faucet and bath room faucets that needs attention and an oil change on the pusher engine. I do all repairs and feel sorry for those that cannot. The good thing is there are so many RVers willing to help you via the Internet or in the park you are staying.

    Mark; the

    • Ellen says:

      Mark — Thanks for stopping by and commenting! My hubby’s very handy — but this is supposed to be retirement…. and of course no one gave us the heads-up about how he was really going into a second career when we went full-time. (Back in our research days there weren’t as many full-timers blogging or posting… and the few online resources were all “everything’s hunky-dory” rather than a realistic look at this lifestyle. For those who enjoy tinkering and fixing stuff… this is a great way to go. The rest of us just consider it the price of admission, you know?

      Take care and safe travels, Mark!

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