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 > Our first 365 days in an Open Range 385RLS 5th-Wheel

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bercher

Edmond, OK

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Posted: 08/12/10 03:16pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Our first 365 days in an Open Range 385RLS 5th-Wheel

Well here we are, 365 days later, still living & working full-time in our 2010 (Purchased July 2009) Open Range 385RLS 5th Wheel. Our first year has been a fun and exciting time, filled with "learning" moments, a newspaper interview, floods, ice storms, blizzards, and of course temps between zero and 105F degrees. Its the best that the great state of Oklahoma has to offer. But of course we can't forget the MANY beautiful days outdoor grilling, having ice cold frosty beverages while enjoying the joys of nature and meeting some very interesting and genuinely great people from all over the country and a few from outside of the country. Its only our first year full-timing and we already have other full-timers that when passing back through our area stop by to see how things are going.

Our first weight check
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Lake Campsite
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To recap our story, after doing many months of online research about full-timing in a travel home, we decided that that is just what we wanted to do. We are both 20+ years below the standard retirement age of 65. But luckily for us, one of us can take advantage of collecting a pension after only 20 years of continuous service. We simply have decided to trade in several years of climbing the employment ladder for several years of traveling and living life on a small budget while living in a small movable space.

We listed our brick home for sale on Craigslist and sold it in six weeks. We parked the "new house" in the driveway about two (2) weeks before we moved out. Taking our time moving the "must have" things from our brick house into the new house, occasionally discovering that some of those "must have" items just aren't going to make it in our new lifestyle. After making the "move" we had a three day garage sale to get rid of years worth of "stuff" that we had collected, many of them, things we really didn't need in the first place. After reading so many stories about people who put the "must keep" items in storage only to return a couple of years later to sell everything in storage, we decided to sale everything upfront.

Truth be told, neither one of us had EVER spent a single night in a "travel trailer" before we made our 5th wheel purchase! So yes, we were nervous, intimidated and EXCITED all at the same time. Making the transition from sticks and bricks to a travel home is not easy, but if done with great planning and having an openness to "change and adaptation" it can be a great experience. On the other hand, without good planning, bad things can happen. We will cover one of the bad things a little later.

We are "trained" from a very early age that living in a "mobile home" is not desirable, that a "travel trailer" is not for living but for taking short vacations. So we questioned ourselves at different times during this transition. But in the end, 365 days later, we are very happy with our lifestyle change and can not wait for the next step, hitting the road!

When we started this journey a year ago we were working full-time with no plans of leaving for at least a year and a half, this has turned out to be a great training period for us. It has given us plenty of time to adjust to those changes, learning what works, what we need and don't need, how the systems operate, how to best stay cool in the summer and unfrozen in the winter, and how to set up and breakdown our site.

During our first 365 days We have stayed at a municipal lake RV camping area for about 9 months and at a local commercial RV site for three months. We left the lake after some crazy flooding drove all of the campers to flee the area. Luckily no ones trailer was flooded and the worst that happen is that the owners came to the lake to find that their trailer had been moved to higher ground by some good samaritans. As a side note, the house that we sold in July 2009 also got flooded at the same time we were moving to higher ground at the lake.

Our old house is just out of the picture... being mobile has its advantages.
[image]

Lake Flooding
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Lake after most of flooding had went down
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Twin Fountains RV Park
[image]

We didn't let the ice, or snow, or heat run us away.
[image]
[image]

So you ask, What can go wrong without the proper planning?
A friend we met at the lake was full-timing in the same 5th wheel model that we have. When winter rolled around he moved to a different RV park in the Oklahoma City metro area. Towards the end of winter we contacted him to see how things were going and to our surprise he had abandoned his 5th wheel because he had frozen up a couple of different times, each resulting in the flooding of his 5th wheel. He had left his water running to keep the water lines from freezing up, which worked, but what didn't work was him leaving his grey handles open to drain the water he was running. The water running down the drain hose to the sewer froze up, backing up, flooding his home not once, but twice! A little planning and research goes a long way.

As for our projected budget, we are facing a pension income of about $2802 (Gross) per month. That's IF we leave in March, which chances are will be hanging around a little longer, because we can. [emoticon] We will not leave until we have all of our debt paid off and have at least some cash in a rainy day fund. The debt should be gone before March, but the emergency fund may need a little more work.

Health insurance is of course a really big concern for many travelers like us. We have been using www.ehealthinsurance.com to get some ideas on coverages and costs. We are both in good health and plan on carrying a high deductible plan. We also plan on moving some money from an IRA account to a Health Savings Account (HSA) to enjoy the benefits that type of an account has.

5th wheel insurance. We originally went with Foremost insurance, but it is looking like we will be changing to Progressive insurance after our policy expires. We changed because Progressive offered a little better coverage in a few areas that were important to us.

What additional problems have we addressed and what things have we learned since our last update:

One of the decals on the passenger side of the 5th wheel was beginning to be peeled away. It was being caused by rain water that was running off of the end of awning where it attaches to the wall. It was a very small spot (1/2 inch), but if left unaddressed I am sure it would have become a bigger problem. I simply took a straight pen with glue on the tip and pushed it under the decal, pressed the decal flat, cleaned off any extra glue and let it dry.

[image]
[image]

As reported by a few other Open Range owners, we also had trouble with three cables on the big slide-out. The cabels were showing signs of wear and damage about an inch from the end of the cables. This required our first trip to a dealer to have a problem addressed. We got lucky and had a week vacation trip planned at the same time. So we dropped off the unit at a local dealer. Upon our return +1 day, we picked our home up. Its to early to tell if this is going to be a lasting repair, but they did leave the cables with a little more slack than they had before.

[image]

In the middle of winter we did learn that it is VERY important to keep the freezer defrosted. During one of our cold snaps our refrigerator and freezer stopped working because the unit froze-up. We did have to toss out some of our food. It took a couple of days for the refrigerator to thaw out and return to normal operation. Although we had been defrosting from time to time, it is now a monthly scheduled 5-10 minute task. We take everything out of the freezer, then use a hair dryer to melt the frost away and use a towel to catch all of the water from the melted frost. We have had no more problems since we started defrosting on a regular basis. Some have suggested putting a small light bulb in the rear/outside wall to keep a little heat in that area during freezes, but I think if we keep on top of the defrosting we will have no more problems.

We have had great results with running two small table fans to help circulate the air during the hotter months. We put one in the bedroom and one in living area. At night we keep the living area A/C set to 70 and the bedroom set to 72. We do this because it reduces the number of times the bedroom A/C kicks on and off which we find sometimes wakes us. We do position the fan in the living room to blow towards the bedroom to help push the cooler air back to the bedroom. This works great for us. We agree that two a/c units is a must for a 5th wheel our sizes.

Another area we have seen first hand that needs to be maintained is the cleaning of your A/C units. Where we live now there are periods during spring that the cottonwood trees produce a lot of cotton. So much cotton that the ground is covered in a thin blanket of white cotton. This cotton does get sucked into the A/C units reducing the units efficiency. Once that period of the season is over we removed the covers and found a very thick coating of cotton. We used a compressor with a 50' hose to blow out the units.

What we have learned about the cargo and under belly temperatures VS the outside temperatures:
During our first winter we ran the electric fireplace (1500w), two floor tower electric heaters (1500w each) inside (one is the bathroom/bedroom and one in the living room), and a small floor heater in the bay (1500w turned on low). All of these heaters have some type of thermometer to regulate the temperatures. Between July and December we used one (1) 20lb propane cylinder costing $16 to refill. We used the propane to cook/bake with and only turned the propane heating system on a few times all winter just to boost temps up just a little during some of the very cold days.
We dropped a wired thermometer down into the belly under the kitchen sink, placed a wireless thermometer in the cargo area next to the water connections and one wireless unit outside. The underbelly may be covered with that black plastic sheet, but there is NO insulation in the underbelly period. When the temperature outside is below freezing, you can count on the fact that the underbelly, water lines and tanks are below freezing as well. Between the under cargo area and the under belly there is a wall of plastic that separates the two. We cut a small hole (maybe 10"x10") in the plastic and put a small floor fan up next to it, to push the air from the cargo area to the underbelly. After clearing an area in the cargo hold out, we put a small floor heater a few feet away from the fan. This heater warmed the cargo area which contains the water connections and the air from the cargo area is forced into the underbelly by the fan. We also placed a smoke detector and water leak sensor in the cargo area to alert us to any hazards. A couple of times during the winter season we used the air compressor to blow out the lint and dust that had gathered inside of the heaters. You might be surprised how much lint and dust you can get out of the heaters. If you were wondering how well the ducted underbelly heats when you use the propane heating system, it works great! The temperature really goes up (90+ degrees) when that system is used. But since the underbelly is not insulated, the temperature quickly drops back down to the outside temperatures.

What did we do to keep the outside water lines from freezing?
We put my heat cable directly on the hose with nothing between it. I DID NOT twist the heat cable around the hose or metal water pipe coming out of the ground. I started at the ground on the metal water pipe coming from the ground (this is where the thermometer sensor is at) and ran it straight along the pipe and then onto the hose. I then used electrical tape spaced about 8" apart to help keep the heat cable next to the pipe & hose. I ran the heat cable about 6" inside of the access hole into the 5th wheel. I didn't want much of the heat cable inside the cargo area (thinking it might over heat there since the inside temps will not be below freezing and the temp sensor is outside). I then covered the metal pipe with two layers of tubular rubber foam and then covered the hose with one layer of tubular foam. I then used a duck tape and wrapped everything up from the ground to the access point (hoping to keep water out of the hose and pipe area). I then placed a plastic bag over the metal pipe coming up to the faucet as just a little extra safety from water. We never had a problem with frozen lines even in temps down to zero F. I have stuck a finger under the tubular foam and felt the heat cable a few times and it just seemed warm to me. I didn't feel it was hot enough to melt anything if you ask me.

[image]
[image]
[image]

We did have a little issue with our 42" SVA HD TV. The HDMI ports stopped working. We checked and re-checked all of the TV settings and cables. Even went as far as re-setting it back to the factory settings. The HDMI ports still didn't work. We emailed Open Range three times for warranty work, with no response, until a few weeks later when they finally replied that they were having email system problems. Between the time we emailed Open Range and actually got a response, we unplugged the TV and plugged it back in, guess what, the HDMI plugs worked! That was the last thing I was going to try before taking it in for service work.

In the near future we are installing a custom class III hitch on the pin-box to carry two bicycles. The Yakima bike rack is here, we are just waiting on the shop to finish the custom hitch plate.
The below photo is not of our install, but this is the style/type we are shooting for. We read the bike ride very well in this position and have seen a few of them while at our sites:

[image]

We were approached by the Daily Oklahoman News Paper in November 2009 to do a story about us downsizing. The story was re-printed in December because it was selected as one of the favorite stories of 2009. Must of been a really slow news year!
http://www.newsok.com/article/3421378
Daily Oklahoman Story

Although we originally were hoping to hit the road around March 2011, it looks like we may be here for at least a few more months. We MAY stick around to put a little more cash in our rainy day fund. But the great thing about that is, we have that option!

Links to our older updates:

Our First 101 Days of Full-timing in Our Open Range 385RLS
http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fuseaction/thread/tid/23366595.cfm

Day 180 of full-timing in our 2010 Open Range 385RLS
http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fuseaction/thread/tid/23596364.cfm

Overall its been a great experience, something we wished we had done a long time ago. Its a huge money saver and on top of that it is a lot of fun. We are really glad that we made the change before actually hitting the road. It has allowed us to see what works and what doesn't. The stress of changing from a brick & sticks house to this, with the added stress of hitting the road would have been a lot to handle at one time. Doing it this way, we are taking things in phases which is working very well for us.

Best wishes.

* This post was last edited 08/12/10 04:57pm by bercher *   View edit history


2010 Open Range 385RLS
2009 Chevy Durmax/Allison 2500HD Ext Cab
PullRite SuperGlide 18k

seraphim

Ohio

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Joined: 02/03/2008

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Posted: 08/12/10 03:46pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thank you for this. We are planning to retire in less than three years and FT. We just started looking at classes and floor plans, and need to educate ourselves about the tow vehicle, since we are leaning towards a 5 wheel. You've given us many good ideas in one post. Hope you continue to enjoy your experience.


2012 GMC 3500HD Crew Cab LB 4x4 DRW with Duramax 6.6 diesel 2013 Palomino Maverick 2902. [

Note: Due to invalid formatting, all formatting has been ignored.

jamminalong

Pacific Northwest, Wa.

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Joined: 12/22/2007

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Posted: 08/12/10 04:04pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

bercher wrote:

Our first 365 days in an Open Range 385RLS 5th-Wheel

We were approached by the Daily Oklahoman News Paper in November 2009 to do a story about us downsizing. The story was re-printed in December because it was selected as one of the favorite stories of 2009. Must of been a really slow news year!

http://www.newsok.com/article/3421378
Daily Oklahoman Story

Although we originally were hoping to hit the road around March 2011, it looks like we may be here for at least a few more months. We MAY stick around to put a little more cash in our rainy day fund. But the great thing about that is, we have that option!

Links to our older updates:

Our First 101 Days of Full-timing in Our Open Range 385RLS

http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fuseaction/thread/tid/23366595.cfm

Day 180 of full-timing in our 2010 Open Range 385RLS

http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fuseaction/thread/tid/23596364.cfm

Overall its been a great experience, something we wished we had done a long time ago. Its a huge money saver and on top of that it is a lot of fun. We are really glad that we made the change before actually hitting the road. It has allowed us to see what works and what doesn't. The stress of changing from a brick & sticks house to this, with the added stress of hitting the road would have been a lot to handle at one time. Doing it this way, we are taking things in phases which is working very well for us.

Best wishes.


Thanks for sharing! We're moving to a Class A as soon as the youngest is out of the house...[emoticon]

fixed the clicky too!


98 Dodge Landscape


bercher

Edmond, OK

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Posted: 08/12/10 04:30pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Glad you enjoyed!

Just trying to give back to this great community on RV.NET.

It was AND is a great spot for information.

doodaadame

Everywhere USA

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Posted: 08/12/10 04:38pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thank you for this great post. I learned a few things, especially about winter survival. We have traveled for the last three years in a 38' Forest River Work and Play. We have slept in it every night for three years, as we are constantly on the road plying our trade. Even when we manage to get home once in a blue moon we don't bother moving back into the house, too much to get lost in transition and our good mattress is in the Trailer. We tow it with a 2006 Ford F350 diesel dually.
We have our own business which is contained in the 14' garage, and have living quarters up front. We have two homes, one of which I sold last month and the other we are keeping until October when the lease is up.
We had an auction to sell everything we owned and ordered a custom Heartland Road Warrior 3614. This model suits us to a "T".
We'll have a storage unit or just this year as we are super busy this season and we just don't have time to deal with everything!
We haven't had cold weather issues since we have moved with the seasons, Minn, Wisc. Illinois, Iowa in the Summer, Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma & Texas in the Winter. Our current trailer is a self contained car hauler actually, so there aren't many freeze up problems, but we hadn't considered the true challenges of cold spells in a Fifth Wheeler, (albeit the RW has a Winter package build), and you writings have helps immeasurably.
We also loved the pictures of Oklahoma, we have a special place in our hearts for the country, we stay at Lake Durant Campground on Lake Texoma, quiet and beautiful.
Look forward to more of your posts, you can peak at my Travel Blog if you like, it be nice to get together when we are "Down Home".


Traveling the Country Full Time With a Dog and Two Cats
in a 2011 Heartland Road Warrior Fifth Wheel Toy Hauler
Pulled by a 2006 Ford F350 Tow/Haul Tonner 4X4 Dually
Our Travel Blog


bercher

Edmond, OK

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Posted: 08/12/10 05:01pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

doodaadame, with our current jobs we can't work out of our trailer, but after we hit the road, we hope to stumble across something we really enjoy doing and can do on the road!

SooperDaddy

Southern California

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Posted: 08/12/10 06:57pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for the excellent review! I think the jury is still out regarding the BAL cable slideout systems...mixed reviews and some issues. I know a few folks here on RV.Net have become "certified experts" on repairing and replacing cables on theirs!

Open Range will take care of you guys with their 2 year warranty! Good company, great rv!


My posts shouldn't be taken for factual data, and are purely fictional, for entertainment purposes, should not be constituted as related to scientific, technical, engineering, legal, religious, spiritual, or practical advice. After all it's FREE! Amen. ">


fatmanobx

Russellville, Ar. Home Base

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Posted: 08/13/10 07:12am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great start to a great life. Enjoyed the story and pictures...Happy Trails..


2011 Lance 855
3.5# Minpin named Darcy RIP
Ford F250 Super Duty

bercher

Edmond, OK

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Posted: 08/16/10 08:46am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

fordsooperdooty wrote:

Thanks for the excellent review! I think the jury is still out regarding the BAL cable slideout systems...mixed reviews and some issues. I know a few folks here on RV.Net have become "certified experts" on repairing and replacing cables on theirs!

Open Range will take care of you guys with their 2 year warranty! Good company, great rv!


Yes, at this point, my biggest concern is the slide system. Failure of the slide system in the middle of no where could be a huge problem.

Oshow

Wisconsin

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Posted: 08/19/10 09:04am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

With the cable fray problem, would soldering that portion of the cable prevent the fraying? That should prevent the fraying, but it would render that section of the cable from being flexible. Just wondering if that section of the cable needs to be flexable.





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