A Railroad Tycoon’s RV

February 21st, 2009

Jay Gould's Exquisite Railway Car

What do you get when you combine one of Jenn’s favorite games (Railroad Tycoon) and the RV lifestyle? You get a railroad car fitted out for fulltiming! That’s just what we found as we were passing through Jefferson, Texas a couple of weeks ago. The Garden Club has acquired the personal car of Jay Gould, a railroad tycoon, and restored it to something close to it’s original splendor.

The car had four staterooms for passengers, two of which were adjoining with a bathroom, including tub and shower between them. The others all had their own plumbing, even if a bit primitive by modern standards. There was a couch as well as a pullman bed in each of the staterooms. The car would be able to take on water at the same water depots that the train used. We didn’t ask, but I assume the black and gray water would have been simply dumped along the tracks as soon as it was generated.

There were two rooms devoted to cooking with a pass through between them. Based on the layout, I would assume that the car originally had bunks for two servants, but only one of the kitchen cars still had a pullman berth at the ceiling. The icebox had something I think we could all use today, a glass door. How often have you opened the fridge and stared at what was there while deciding what you wanted?

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Sorry about that butt shaped divot in your couch!

January 24th, 2009

After two months sitting around in a house and sinking further and further into the couch, we’re finally back on the road. Don’t get me wrong, we had a great time with Jenn’s aunt, uncle, cousins and the grand kids, but we made the mistake of hooking up the idiot box. Now, I can pretty easily sit in front of the tube all day if there are enough movie channels to keep me interested. I KNOW it’s dumb and not the best way to spend my time and have spent most of the last ten years without TV or without cable at the least. Still, when it’s available, I think ‘well, it’s temporary, so I can indulge’.

Somehow, we finally got motivated and winterized the house, moved stuff back to the camper and hit the road. However, we’d lost some hobo mojo and things went wrong the moment we tried to leave. First we got enough snow to make driving a bit hazardous for two days, then we developed a leak in the camper (probably from the thaw/ice cycle of the snowfall), broke a PVC pipe while disconnecting the house water and the camper fridge went on the fritz.

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Winchester RV Repair

November 13th, 2008

Spice rack built by Winchester RV Repair

A couple of months back, we posted about three guys that got laid off from the Northwood of Virginia factory and have gone into the repair business. Well, we still needed a few things fixed because of problems with our appliance vendors and had a few days left on our warranty, so we figured it would be a good time to visit Bruce, Jerry and Roger again. I’m happy to say they had about a half dozen RVs in for repairs – primarily insurance claims and warranty work. Fortunately for us, everything they had sitting was because they were waiting for parts to arrive, so they had some time to work on our fan and air conditioner without having to wait.

We’ve been working on their website for a few days and instead of trying to figure out how much to charge a start-up that we really want to see succeed, we talked them into doing some customization on the camper. You’ve seen my oh-so-humble efforts on the liquor cabinet, so let’s just say I was thrilled to see what they made of my request to add a spice rack. And here I was about ready to buy some wire and plastic contraption from Wal-Mart!

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Home Improvement

October 1st, 2008

I posted back in April about our table upgrade that has saved my sanity, but I figure it’s time to cover a few more minor modifications that have improved our enjoyment of the camper. Also, we’re about to be engaged slinging fried chicken for a couple of weeks and we’ll probably be rather quiet in the blogosphere.

I’ve really got to say I’m still very happy with our choice of camper and options. We’ve looked at quite a few both before and after we made a decision and I still haven’t seen one (yeah, I know Paul will tell me to look at his Snowriver) that I would be happier with for fulltiming.

Added shelving to main closet

We had a couple of things customized on the camper that have made life a lot easier. One was getting a wet bath instead of a dry bath. For starters, it’s very easy to clean a wet bath. The only thing you really sacrifice is having a dry place to store towels and toilet paper. It’s also a good idea to buy a squeegie to swamp out the bathroom after your shower. But what we got in return for a dry bath is a wardrobe that’s two and a half feet deep, three full length drawers and a shoe cabinet.

After we quit work, I found I didn’t need hanging clothes anymore and built a cubbyhole system inside the wardrobe. Now, I have four shelves for clothes, a liquor cabinet and a handy place to store our bows which we previously had to squeeze behind the backseat of the truck. Rene has been asking me, for months now, where we hide the booze and I finally have a good answer. With some wiggling, I can get roughly eighteen liters of booze in the liquor cabinet. Just right for a couple of unemployed, homeless folks, right?
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Tech Specs

July 23rd, 2008

Edited 10/20/2012. Blame Blars.

The Van:

2003 GMC Savana 2500

  • AWD. When we get stuck, we’ll be really stuck.
  • Positraction. I mean REALLY stuck.
  • Pro package. Next best thing to a tent, but with lights!

The Truck:

2001 Ford F-350 Lariat

  • Dual rear wheels
  • Crew cab
  • 4×4
  • 7.3L Diesel (International)
  • Timbrens
  • Front and rear receivers

The Camper:

2008 Arctic Fox 1140 (poorly constructed, no… really poorly)

  • Wet bath
  • Couch seating
  • Full-wall cabover wardrobe
  • 9k BTU Air conditioner
  • No oven or microwave (more storage!)
  • Thermal pane windows
  • For sale. Cheap.

The Bikes:

  • Trek RST 3700
  • Roketa MC-17-50T (Sicily) RIPieces!
  • Custom, ancient and venerable road bike. Because we spend our time on dirt roads?

The Internet: Ubiquitous

Sprint EVDO service (for now you greedy bastards!)

  • Novatel U727 EVDO card Fancy mini sd to USB storage adaptor with potential for alien technology. For sale.
  • Cradlepoint CT350 Wifi router
  • Dual-band Omni-directional external antenna
  • Wilson. 3 Watt Bi-Directional Dual-Band EVDO amplifier. How cool would this be if we were using alien technology? For sale.
  • Unix on a phone. Verizon. Google. Hey, almost time for a new wifi only camera/storage/gps/pocket gadget! Penny phones!

The Network:

  • Fujitsu Lifebook 1510
  • Dell Vostro 1500 Jenn smashed it lots of ways. I recommend bondo. For sale. Some parts still good!
  • Asus 1005pe. I love Moore’s Law. I still do all the really important stuff on the console. I mean, I have more spare crunch time on my old router than it takes to run a fair sized company. This is so much more CPU and memory than I really need. I bought it for the battery. 14ish hours. Very solar friendly.
  • Asus 1215B. Jenn can do some fancy graphics with this. I don’t understand her alien technology, but she seems to be happy.
  • ReadyNAS 600 (700GB RAID5)Massive power requirements for more performance than we need. Outdated drives. New drives and firmware would make it even more overpowered for us. Runs linux and is massively hackable. Might still have a wifi card stuck in it. Used this for storing captured video from MythTV network. Might be for sale if it can still be found. Firmware is modified stock. Warranty voided professionally.
  • 2 Cowon A2’s for random movie/music access. Still use these daily! I wish these were more hackable.
  • One of the most hackable linksys routers. Currently acting as a hotspot hijacker and repeater with automated p2p file sharing. Rarely use this, but just too many knobs on it to let the aliens have it. Would trade for even more unobtainable linksys router with an external antenna jack and at least 1 USB port.
  • Toshiba external drives. 2 x 1TB.
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