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Miss Blossom, Lazy Daze

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Water heater repair Tuesday, December 15, 2015: Just as we are ready to trade the Lazy Daze, the water heater will not turn off. It heats the water until the thermal sensor shuts off the gas completely. Gwen suggested I look for a YouTube video for repair and found this. It looked like an easy enough fix so I first went to Camping World (for me, Camping World is a lot like Wal-Mart, NOT a place I want to shop). I waited 15 minutes for the parts man to finally return to say he didn't have the sensors I needed. While waiting, I looked up the part on Amazon and found it on Prime for $11.50. I knew I could have the part by Thursday. The Camping World guy pointed across the street and said "they sell parts too". Yes, they had the part for $20 (Camping World wanted me to order it for $22) so I purchased it and installed it in about 15 minutes. The video shows what I did, click the photos to see other views. Here are the new sensors installed, I connected the wires last. Yes, the water heater is working properly now. The defective sensors

Monday, December 14, 2015: This is an update and my advice for buying a used RV. We have been successful in our search so I have more to say about the process. It is not easy but it can be fun. The Features Checklist most important thing I did was to call a friend in Roseburg, Oregon who manages a popular diesel repair shop. At the time, I was thinking the only motorhome for me would have a diesel engine so he would be a good person to talk with before making a purchase. To my surprise, the first thing he said was, "Don't buy a diesel!" His reasoning, more expensive, triple the maintenance costs, more difficult to find parts and reputable repair. He then gave me the names of some special friends further south in Oregon. They own a truck and RV repair, in the business for 30 years. These folks helped me with valuable advice. First, they ranked the motorhome brands for quality and reliability. Then we focused on engine, transmission and chassis. His number one choices was the 8.1 liter Vortec engine, Allison 6 speed automatic transmission, with the Workhorse chassis. Next, he DID say, if you find the perfect floor plan, don't let the engine, transmission and chassis stop you because the differences can be small. We continued our conversation where I learned more. Last, we talked about extended warranties which he recommended for RVs because of all that can go wrong. He did not recommend them for trucks or autos. Anyway, after talking to him, I changed what I was searching for. We had already come up with a "quality list" of brand names on our own and fortunately they were on the approved list given to me. Newmar, Allegro, Winnebago, and National RV were on top of the list. Fleetwood, Monaco and Thor were not on the list. Gwen wanted a particular floor plan with a separate bathroom (rather than a "hallway" bathroom), a stand-alone dining table, medium to large kitchen, a feeling of an apartment rather than "isle" living, an oven, room for her sewing hobby, dual pane windows, a generator, and NOT the color blue. My list was shorter, the Vortec engine, Allison transmission, Workhorse chassis, plenty of storage and any parts to a solar system. We looked at thousands of photos found on the Internet sites I listed below. We also visited about a dozen dealers and drove three units before we found the perfect unit for us. I'll be creating a separate page with stories of that unit once we take delivery. I created a "Features Check-Off List" so I could compare one coach to another. You can download the list and open in any word processor to modify it to work for yourself. Here is my explanation of the list. There are four reasons to have a list like this 1) for comparison, 2)to immediately reject (deal breaker like no hydraulic leveling system), 3)just for your own interest, 4)to have an idea of after purchase costs to make it right for you. Starting at the top of the list, MSRP - top right. I wanted to be able to compare coaches by the price they sold for when NEW. I got that information from NADA. It is very quick to get and can be done using a smart phone if you come upon a coach you did not anticipate before visiting a dealer. Next, the brand, year and model number of the coach, Fuel (gas or diesel), Odometer reading, dealer or coach location (so you can find it again), length, whether or not maintenance records are available (when was the oil last changed, brakes replaced, etc. ), the NADA average retail value. This number is really for comparison. I was told more than once, dealers use a subscription service issued every quarter of RV values, NOT the NADA. However, my experience was that the sales price advertised was always within 5% of the NADA value. It also helps to value your trade. Next, Asking Price (sticker price) then Negotiated Price less the trade offer. This was always the number I was looking for. The trade offers we got for our Lazy Daze varied from $15,000 to $30,000 but the "negotiated price" (to get the motorhome) varied from $28,000 to $40,000. The dealer only offering $15,000 for the Lazy Daze wanted $30,000 plus our LD to get the motorhome we were looking at. This was well within the same "cash plus LD" price range of those offering us $30,000 for our LD. So you always must look at the difference. The next line was for me to circle the engine, transmission and chassis of the coach. CCC is "cargo carry capacity", the weight you can carry in the coach before it's overloaded. You must be very carefully with the printed information. Don't get fooled by a coach advertising a 4,500 pound CCC compared to another coach stating a 1,450 pound CCC when in reality, they are both the same, the first coach did not subtract water, propane and passengers. Next: the overall feeling of the exterior (you don't want an ugly coach). Now the exterior specifics, exterior rating, fiberglass caps (the cheaper coaches don't have a fiberglass cap like the Winnebago Vista). ladder condition (I probably should have left this off, it really doesn't matter), size generator (not only gives the size but whether it has one), number or size of the air conditioning units (we found that ONE air conditioner will NOT cool something the size of our Cameo fifth wheel back home), roof material (most had rubber over wood or fiberglass, our LD has seamless aluminum), room for solar (none of the coaches we looked at had solar panels, is there room for the panels on the roof?), roof condition (the warranty on a rubber roof is usually 10 - 12 years, you might be taking a chance if you purchase a unit which is already ten years old), windows are either dual pane or 1/4" glass, Power mirrors (very nice to have on a motorhome since the mirrors are very difficult to adjust if not powered), Awnings are fabric or vinyl, manual or powered (we use our awning a lot, many RVers have never used their awnings). Storage box style (some are located UNDER a slide, difficult to access when the slide is out while others slide out WITH the slide), an external propane connection (really for my own information, I should have eliminated this point since none of the units had one and I removed the one installed on the LD so I could install on the new motorhome), Holding tanks heated (almost impossible to know, should have left this point off), Number of batteries (almost all had two but the unit we bought had four), Backup and side video monitors (I believe all we tested had monitors, about half had side monitors as well), Converter size (ended up on my list twice, this came from owning the Alumascape which had a really small converter), Inverter (most did not have one so we would have to buy and install one for solar, the unit we bought has a 2000 watt inverter already installed), Hydraulic leveling (this should have been up top because without hydraulic leveling we would not even look at the coach), Tire DOT (trailer tires should not be used after six years, motorhome tires can be used longer but should be watched carefully for sidewall failure symptoms), Size electrical service (just for my information), Solar (no one had a coach using solar), Damage (a CarFax costs about $35, I ran one on the LD and my mechanic friend ran one on our new purchase).

Now to Interior. Power seats (it's nice to have them), Satellite Radio (we like it, but I didn't need this on the list, I'm transferring the one from the LD), Fantastic fan (it's nice to have two, our purchase has only one, it will cost about $225 when I install another), Skylights (can be nice but annoying if you are trying to sleep late), LED TV (you want LED if you will be on solar because they draw little power, most had the old tube style TVs including the coach we bought, they were removed and we bought a new smart TV for the front, none for the bedroom), Couch (how does it make into a bed and are the cushions supportive or worn out), Blackout shades are really nice and more expensive than "day/night shades"), Lighting (for my own interest so I would know how difficult it would be to change them to LED lighting), Dinette (important to Gwen), Chairs (comfortable for reading or watching TV), Oven (important to Gwen, the unit we bought has no oven), Toilet (the better ones are porcelain), Linen closet (just so we know if it has one), Bath faucet (they almost always need to be replaced with something better), Shower door (curtain or glass?), Refrigerator year (they will usually fail before ten years depending upon use and they are expensive, size and whether they are on recall is important), Kitchen faucet (replace?), Condition of the counter (and large enough), Pantry (ease of use), Plenty of storage room, Cabinet quality (solid wood?, doors are usually solid, base unit can be a picture of wood grain on particle board), Drawer glides (the better ones are full extension), Power outlets (the LD only has FOUR in the whole coach), Linen closet?, Place for dirty clothes?, Rooms or hallway living (motorhomes, IMHO, really struggle with floor plans to make a "little apartment" rather than "living in an isle way"), Clothes storage in the bedroom.

My list for after purchase expenses included: solar charging system, replace old fogged headlights, tires (if the DOT showed they were too old), replacing the TV, adding a fantastic fan, replacing faucets, adding LED lighting, replacing old house batteries, a new mattress if we could exchange for the LD mattress, replacing worn furniture, and other items such as blackout shades.

Some of the coaches came with unexpected items such as a tow bar, tire chains, tire covers, etc.

Ready to move in? (what must be done to the coach before you can actually make the trade? Things like carpet cleaning, cabinet latches, storage door gas shocks. and in our case, a carburetor for the generator.

The MSRP range of the units we looked at ranged from $100,000 - $190,000 and all were listed for sale at $45,000 to $65,000.

Once you've looked at several motorhomes you will have pages to compare one to another and you will quickly learn to focus on what is important to you. I tried to leave off items that could be easily added or would not be "deal-breakers", so decide what is important to you and make your own list. You will also notice that important items (which would be expensive to repair) were left off the list such as engine parts, furnace, hot water heater. All the dealers said they would "check every system" before delivery and some offered short (3,000 miles or 3 month warranty) and I chose to purchase the "extended maintenance agreement" which covered most of the important/expensive items. You can add anything you want to my list.

We "negotiated" with four of the many dealers we saw. (We looked only on dealer lots rather than private sellers because we wanted to trade the LD.) Each dealer treated us differently. Two of the four had buyers "coming tomorrow", which they didn't because they were calling me for days after I walked out. All the dealers treated us with respect and patiently showed us what they had and we wanted to buy from all to "give them a sale" because they must work hard for sales. Most of the salesmen actually listened to what we wanted and pointed us toward the best units to match our list. Only one dealer was "high pressure" and would not accept an offer without running my credit card or a having check for $1,000. That dealer was early in our shopping so I had little experience with dealers. Fortunately (because we changed our minds about that coach later) we could not come to an agreement but I was made to wait 5 - 10 minutes for them to give me back my check. Knowing what I know now, I would refuse the $1000 "to be sure I was serious" money, they either take my offer or not. This was one of the dealers who "had a buyer coming tomorrow" yet the next day the salesman called and offered to pay us $20 in "gas money" to return for an "easier manager". We did review the comments on Yelp of each dealer before we visited which was slightly helpful.

With every dealer, I had already reviewed their inventory online and knew which coaches I wanted to see. I walked into the first dealers with my check-off sheets in hand, would fill them out, then staple the salesman's business card to the sheet. After the first few dealers I learned to fill in my sheet BEFORE the visit with all the information I could find which helped to make my visit more focused on the FEELING of the coach. Then I learned that all sales brochures were available online so I printed off the "features" page of each coach brochure and attached to my checklist. In every case, that made me more knowledgable than the sales person. The Newmar was the coach with the highest MSRP of the coaches we looked at so I was most interested in that unit. Here is the sales brochure for the year and model we looked at. I had a brochure for EVERY coach we looked at. Just do a Google search for the brochure to match the coach you are looking at.

Doing all this, you know (before stepping onto the dealer lot), 1) what the coach sold for new, 2) what NADA says is the average value today, 3) all the features and floor plan of the coach, 4) what the dealer will likely sell your trade for (from the NADA report on your trade), 5) the reputation of the dealer (because you have looked them up on Yelp or other business review sites) and 6) what your negotiating points will likely be (for example, "the tires are ten years old, that will cost me $2,400 to replace them ... I must dispose of those old analog TVs and replace them).

Finally, having said all that ... the coach we bought had been on the dealer lot only hours before I learned of it and we purchased it less than 24 hours after it was on the lot. This was from a consignment dealer located in the Phoenix area with two lots, one on the east side and one on the west side. I learned of this coach from Josh, a salesman on the east lot. I walked onto Josh's lot with my check lists in hand for the coaches I wanted to see. Josh listened to what we were looking for. He immediately telephoned the west lot to inquire about the other units on my list and learned of the new arrival. He gave me the few details he knew and made an appointment for us at the west lot. By the time we arrived the next day, I had my check list partially completed with what it sold for new and what NADA said was the average value. Stapled to my check list was the features page from the sales brochure for that model and year. All we needed to learn were more of the specifics and the FEELING we got when sitting in the coach. It felt like a little apartment!

Many choices!Monday, November 30, 2015: Tomorrow is moving day just across the Colorado River to Laughlin, Nevada. We are spending some time with friends at an RV park. During that short visit, I'm flying back to Oregon to get the title to the Lazy Daze. We have decided to look for a trade in Arizona. The Lazy Daze was an experiment hoping we could "downsize" but we have decided, we really want more space since we spend so much time roaming around. We have learned from the Lazy Daze: 1) It's easy to tow a vehicle, 2) we enjoy a motor home over a trailer and will never return, 3) fuel mileage is no better or worse than towing a trailer, 4) a diesel engine has a LOT more power, 5) It's nice to be able to pee while traveling down the road, 6) the animals like it better, 7) you don't rotate the tires on a motor home, 8) they are easy to drive, 9) The Lazy Daze really DOES have better workmanship than other RVs.

So, while at home in Timber Valley, I'm asked often about buying and selling an RV online, since I've had good success at both. For the answer you need to know a little history first. Our first RV purchased in 2000 was a 21 foot Aerolite. Very lightweight, easily pulled and good quality. We kept it for 4 years, used it occasionally but no trips longer than two weeks. We sold it in 2004 for $1000 less than we paid for it. The reason we sold, we wanted something bigger. So in 2004 we purchased a 2000 King of the Road, 33 foot fifth wheel with two slides. Again, good quality, we made many improvements but traded it in 2007 for a 36' Cameo with three slides. The dealer gave us $4000 more on the trade value than we paid for it. We simply wanted a different floor plan. The Cameo has been the ONLY RV we have purchased new and we still own it. Currently it is permanently parked on our space at an Escapee park in Oregon. In 2012, we decided to downsize to have less to tow around while we traveled. We purchased a 2004 Alumascape travel trailer which had been used very little but was in "rough" condition needing some TLC. It was very comfortable with just the right amount of room for us and only 28 feet long. It was 7,000 lbs lighter than the fifth wheel. I made assumptions when making that purchase: it's lighter, so easier to tow, better fuel mileage, convenient to have Gwen follow in our Prius ... all the assumptions were wrong. So I sold the Alumascape and truck, mid-2015 and purchased the Lazy Daze thinking to "downsize" again. After learning what the Lazy Daze has to teach us, we are ready to "upsize" a bit.

Selling and buying an RV use the same processes, just opposites. Both require a great deal of research and hopefully knowing yourself (as you can see, we are still learning about ourselves). The very best time to buy (especially if you live somewhere other than the south), is the month of December and January. Mostly because RV owners are ready to sell and there are few buyers (like trying to sell skis in July). The exception is in the south (like Arizona or Florida). That's because snowbirds (like us) head to warmer climates in the winter and may be looking to upgrade their RV (like us). We had a really good experience trading in a fifth wheel in 2007 and we are hoping for an equally good experience with the Lazy Daze but we have not found any motor home yet to try a trade so we don't really know. We don't have to be in a hurry and someone is really going to want our Lazy Daze so we can wait for that buyer if we need to.

The first thing to do is to value the RV (either the one you wish to sell and/or the one you wish to buy). Do this by visiting NADA. NADA acts as a "Blue Book" for RVs and lenders pay attention to the NADA values. I look at NADA positively if it gives me a good value for MY RV and negatively if the value seems too high for the RV I wish to buy. So I use the value as a "starting point". It would be of MORE value to know what dealers really sell for and fortunately there IS a dealer which publishes two years worth of actual sales prices. Again, a starting point. So knowing this amount, I price my RV for slightly MORE than I will expect to sell and assume others have done the same for the RVs I wish to buy. In actuality, I've learned that dealers will generally price the RVs for considerably MORE than their value (according to NADA), I suppose, hoping to catch a novice buyer who is willing to pay more than it's worth. Of course they WILL find that buyer depending upon how long they are willing to have the unit sit on their lot. When buying, I will have a fair amount in mind but offer less knowing their is a game to be played. I'll eventually come around to making a fair offer, if not accepted, walk away, there are PLENTY of used RVs to buy.

Buyers are learning to search for RVs online. It's a method to value an RV and also a method of seeing hundreds of floor plans without leaving your home. I found the King of the Road, Alumascape and Lazy Daze online. I sold the Alumascape and Truck online and the Lazy Daze is currently listed online. So where do you look. The easiest looking is a RVTrader. Most serious sellers will list at RVTrader first. Other online sites are RVT and RVUSA. You can list at RVT for 30 days for free. All three of these sites will eventually cost and the fee depends upon your choices when listing. RVUSA promised to show your listing in other related sites. I've been really impressed with RVT because they seem to aggressively market the new listings and follow up with emails to both buyers and sellers. I currently have the Lazy Daze listed in all three with my total expense (so far) of about $130. Click the photo above to see my ad in RVT. The best free location to shop or list an RV is CraigsList. I found the Alumascape on CraigsList and sold the truck on CraigsList. Having said that, CraigsList gets you the MOST scammers but they have always been obvious. If selling on CraigsList, getting cash or going to the bank together to transfer funds from one account to another (I did this when purchasing the Lazy Daze) is the only way. The trick to sales is to have lots of really good photos and stories to go along with the photos. I have struggled a little bit with the interior living space of the Lazy Daze. It came with two "barrel chairs" which we thought awful so gave them away and replaced with two, more comfortable chairs (which are really too big for the space) but we don't intend to give up those chairs with the rig. So I photographed the dining area with folding chairs which work really well for eating meals but NOT comfortable for "reading a book". Buyers will need to have an imagination for that space. If we still own the Lazy Daze next fall, we'll have to replace the "barrel chairs" with something better to make a sale.

When exploring an RV dealer lot, you will likely be accompanied by a salesman. Most (not all) only know how to sell, they don't know a thing about RVs but will tell you ANYTHING. That's why you see so many heavy fifth wheels towed by a 3/4 ton truck, "because the dealer said so", when the truck is obviously overloaded. Just to be fair, we purchased our Cameo from Dave Wagers at Wagers Trailer Sales in Salem, Oregon. I consider Dave one of the few honest salesmen, one who will tell it to you straight. AND, Dave owns and travels in a RV so knows something about the product. We have been lucky. Every RV we have purchased has been good quality whether from a dealer or from a private sale. But I have carefully researched before making a purchase. If you are new to RVing, talk to experienced RVers. Some folks will suggest taking an experienced RVer with you when you shop which might be OK ONLY if you want to have an RV exactly like the style they think is best. You will need to look at lots of RVs before you find the one that seems right for you. Pretend to be cooking, sleeping, taking a shower, sit on the pot, eating breakfast, watching TV, or reading a book. (Gwen likes to sew, she looks for someplace to set her sewing machine comfortably.) Can you get comfortable doing all those activities. You will also be looking for something different if you plan to spend only two weeks per year in your RV. We LIVE in our RV 6 - 8 months then move to the OTHER RV for 4 - 5 months. Something else which will make a difference: we prefer to drive a day then stay a couple of weeks (or more) before moving again. If you know you will be moving everyday, you will want a different style RV than what we choose. Getting to know floor plans and prices is so much easier to do online. You can look at hundreds, THEN go to RV shows and RV dealers to get the feel of what you've been seeing online.

As a buyer, your best hope is to find the EXACT year, brand and model you wish to buy (after lots of research). If you know the exact RV, search nationwide for the best unit at the best price. If you are looking for a motor home, then find one 2,000 miles away, you can fly to that location and drive it home. Flying is cheap if planned ahead. My round trip tickets from Las Vegas to Portland, Oregon (to get the Lazy Daze title) were only $112. If buying a trailer or fifth wheel, we have drawn a one-day-travel search area around our location. We found the King of the Road ONE day away. We found the Alumascape 2.5 hours away. In both cases we saved MUCH more than it cost to travel the distance.

When it comes to receiving offers, I've always had a number in my mind which seemed fair to me. When that number is reached, I accept the offer. Having said that, I know NUMEROUS people who have had their RV parked in the driveway with a "For Sale" sign on it for YEARS. Those folks haven't done their homework with NADA. I know it's tough to sell something for $10,000 when it cost you $100,000 but RVs lose value pretty fast.

When it comes to MAKING an offer, again, you've already done the research so you know what's fair. Some dealers I've found advertise a price as much as $20,000 over the NADA value on a $55,000 motor home. I don't know how you justify that nor have I had the experience to have offered such a dealer a "fair" price. So, I don't know what their reaction would be. Maybe they rely on a different kind of customer, if so, move on. If you have the time and want the lowest possible price, find five RVs you consider to be equal in terms of meeting your needs. Make a ridiculous offer on #1. When refused, do the same with #2 through #5. If no one takes your offer, start over with a better offer on each until someone takes your offer.

Last, what about borrowing the purchase price of an RV? Yikes! Maybe if you buy used and REALLY know what you want. If you borrow to buy a NEW RV you will be underwater immediately and likely for the next 10 years, maybe more. Good luck!

Control panel above the stove
New LED lighting above the stove
Thursday, October 22, 2015: The stove light in the stove hood is beyond pathetic. I had the parts on hand to replace this incandescent light with strip LED lights. This would not only provide usable light above the stove but would reduce the power required to power the light. I learned the stove hood control panel was removable so I decided to tap the hood-light switch for the LED strip. I drilled a tiny hole through the hood for the LED wires then protected the wires with a plastic sleeve. Click on both photos for additional views.

Installing LED strip lights to replace flourescent
Twice the light, 1/3 the power
Saturday, October 17, 2015: I've installed LED strip lights to replace the one fluorescent light fixture. The LED lights provide more lumen using about 1/3 the power of the fluorescent Originally I was going to remove the florescent fixture but learned it was in-set into the cabinet leaving a large rectangular hole which would need to be filled. I changed my mind, left the fixture in place and used the fixture switch to operate the LED lights. We still have plenty of fluorescent light fixtures but this one in the kitchen is used more than any except the entry light. I've already changed the entry light to LED. This will help when we are boondocked by conserving battery power. Click both photos for additional views.
Mosaic wall finish in the bathroomTuesday, October 13, 2015: Making the Lazy Daze more like home by adding a mosaic finish to the walls behind the faucet in the bathroom and the kitchen. This was a heavy, easy-to-cut, sticky-back vinyl material in 1 foot squares for about $8 per square. Click the bathroom photo to see the kitchen wall. We had to order the sheets from Home Depot to get the color we wanted in the kitchen but purchased the bathroom tiles off the shelf in Lowe's. It's important to clean the walls with isopropyl alcohol before the application.
The Lazy Daze original bedside lamp Friday, September 25, 2015: Since the purchase of the Lazy Daze, we have not been happy with the bedside lamps. Yes, one of them had LED bulbs but we could not find bulbs to fit the other one (incandescent) but neither of us were happy with the old fashioned look and lack of functionality. So I began a search and found the gooseneck reading light you see at the right. It was perfect, 3 Watt, LED, dimmable and focused to not bother the other sleeping partner. They were very easy to install since the wiring was already in place. The new lamps, dimmable LED
However, Gwen is sensitive to ANY light in the bedroom which is distracting; keeps her awake. These lamps have a "moonlight" mode with a blue LED around the center button. For those wanting a "night light", this feature would be perfect but for Gwen, she had several layers of clothing hanging on the lamp the first night to block the "moonlight" on both her lamp and mine. Click the old lamp on the left above to see what I mean. So, I emailed Rech, the owner of the company selling the lamps. Rech contacted the engineer and learned an easy fix to permanently turn off the "moonlight". It was as simple as unplugging a wall receptacle. No more "moonlight". Gwen is happy and a happy wife makes for a happy life! I really like the lamp features. Just touch the button and the lamp is instant on. Touch the button a second time and the light slowly dims to off. Touch and hold the button and the lamp slowly dims until the button is released. From that time forward, the lamp remembers the light intensity and turns on that intensity next time. If you want more light, touch and hold the button and the intensity increases until released. A new lamp memory is set for next time. I bought my lamps from Amazon. The graphic in the text on the left above is a link to the Amazon page for the lamps. Just point at the graphic and click, you'll be at that page. Click the photo on the right for a larger, broader view of our new lamps.

Air compressor made useful

Sunday, September 13, 2015: After the purchase of the Lazy Daze, I noticed part of a hatch contained a small air compressor. It turned on every time I started the engine. I later learned it was installed to power a braking system for the previous owners towed vehicle. I didn't have the parts for the towed vehicle and the Samurai has a different braking system entirely so the air compressor was useless to me. Removing it would be a weight savings but I might need this sometime in the future. I decided to make it useful by adding a female coupler to receive the male end of an air hose. I already had a blower attachment and tire inflation attachment, both might come in handy. I also had enough air hose to reach all the tires from the permanent location of the compressor. Now the compressor IS useful to me.

Installing the "Clicky Starter Kit"

Thursday, September 3, 2015: About once every 30 starts on the Samurai, all we get is a "click" as if the battery is dead. After trying several times, the engine starts. I started doing some research and learned this is a common problem with the Samurai and the "fix" is the "Clicky-Starter" kit. It is very easy to install, just redirect the ignition switch wire, establish a ground wire and a direct connection to the battery and hopefully the problem is fixed. Click the photo for the completed installation. In this photo, I'm securing part of the kit to the firewall.

Rotating tires at Les Schwab
New valve stems installed
Wednesday, September 2, 2015: There is no record of the tire rotation on the Lazy Daze and since we have put nearly 5000 miles on it since we purchased I decided to have the tires rotated. Additionally, I wanted new valve stems installed on two of the rear tires. I monitor the tire pressure with a Pressure Pro tire pressure system but have been able to monitor only two of the rear tires because the valve stems on the outer tires have not been long enough. The usual Les Schwab policy is to "make the tires their own if you pay for a rotation when the tires were purchased elsewhere" so I was looking forward to free rotation after paying for the first time. I also learned that to rotate the tires on a motor home, the tires must be un-mounted then remounted and balanced because every valve stem is different. They rotated the front tires to back but did not touch the inner back tires, I was told, "those will be rotated next time". This rotation cost $97 not including the new valve stems. Then came the sad news, it will cost the same next time because they must un-mount, re-mount and balance the tires. So I've discover (another) hidden cost to owning a motor home. Click the photos for other views. Under the photo of the valve stem is a photo of the rear suspension with all tires removed. I might need this some day if I decide to try air bags again.
Installing the shower head adjustment bar Thursday, August 27, 2015: We liked the new showerhead support bar in the Cameo so much I installed on in the Lazy Daze too. This adjustable support bar allows the user to quickly adjust the height of the showerhead. The user can also adjust the angle of the showerhead. The new hose is far more flexible than the vinyl hose allowing for greater mobility. I moved the showerhead further into the corner hoping that would provide for more shower room. The new showerhead has a "trickle" switch to quickly allow only a trickle of water. That may not work well when dry camped, it might be better to have a showerhead which shuts the water off entirely. Time will tell. New hose and shower head too

Another addition to the Lazy Daze


Friday, August 14, 2015: Continuing to make little changes, I saw this in another Lazy Daze during the Lazy Daze rally we attended. The design of the screen door in all the RVs we've owned is the same. To open the screen door, you must first slide the handle access door open. It's an inconvenience, slow and needs a solution. This little handle operates the screen door knob from the inside without sliding the access door. Click the photo to learn how it works.

Cross Bar for the screen doorThursday, August 13, 2015: I worked on multiple, little projects today but will report on one. Another handy item I noticed at the Lazy Daze rally was a cross bar for the screen door. Screen doors in an RV are often difficult to handle because there is nothing to grab hold unless you slide open the handle access door. The cross bar solves that problem. Click the photo to see it installed and you will know what I mean. The screen door on the Lazy Daze is so narrow, the bar had to be trimmed to fit. Other than that, it was easy to install.
Original house batteries Wednesday, August 12, 2015: Since the purchase of the Lazy Daze four months ago we have been struggling with the house batteries while dry camped. They did not hold up under load. They seemed to charge OK but when a load was applied, such as watching TV, they lost voltage quickly. I'm not sure how old they are. I would guess at least 6 years. They are sealed, 6 volt batteries marked "deep cycle" but they do not Interstate standard deep cycle battery
act like any battery I've owned (I've never used sealed batteries for house batteries). Today I exchanged them for Interstate 6 volt deep cycle batteries purchased at Costco. The brand name most RVers trust is "Trojan" but they cost twice as much and these are rated slightly higher in AMP hours. These batteries worked fine in the Alumascape so here they are in the Lazy Daze. I photographed the old batteries to be sure to wire the new batteries correctly. I left off the battery disconnect switch (shown between the old batteries) because it is needed only for storage and we won't be storing the Lazy Daze for long periods. While stored, the solar panels keep the batteries charged too. Click both photos to enlarge. Most RVers have a misconception about solar power. Solar is used to charge the house batteries. The power stored in the house batteries is used to power DC lights and appliances in the RV. The batteries can also produce AC needed to power a TV and small AC appliances when using an inverter. So, for example, our LED TV is plugged into a small inverter which is plugged into a DC outlet. The power to that outlet comes from the house batteries which are kept charged by the solar panels.

The original Lazy Daze kitchen faucet
Gwen's choice for a new faucet
Thursday, August 6, 2015: Gwen has not been happy with the original kitchen faucet, something which is relatively easy to remedy. This is the fourth kitchen faucet in four RVs, the last one was the Alumascape. Generally, the faucets need to be taller and have a further reach. Click the left photo to see the plumbing under the sink. As is everything else in the Lazy Daze, the plumbing is very neat which made it easier to install the new faucet. Click the right photo for another view of the new faucet.
Hoping to install air springsWednesday, August 5, 2015: This was the day to install the Air Lift 5000 air spring. I expected additional suspension support as well as an easy way to fine tune leveling. I pre-assembled the air springs to save myself some of the installation fee. But it was all for naught. The spring mounting bracket would not clear the exhaust pipe nor the shock absorber. I called the manufacturer who kept repeating, "the springs are made for the vehicle as it came from the factory". Apparently Lazy Daze moved the exhaust pipe (doubtful) and installed shock absorbers where there were none installed by the factory. I took the Lazy Daze to Southern Oregon Diesel for the installation but they reported "no installation was possible without a lot of customization". The air springs were worth the price of the spring and a small installation fee but NOT the fee for "customization". I've returned the spring un-installed. I'm very disappointed. Click the photo for a view of the undercarriage.

Repaired hitch bracket

Tuesday, July 28, 2015: This was another rally day with breakfast and potluck dinner plus lots of talk. We have met many new friends, most with the name "Bill".

On the drive to Pacific City, we stopped in Lincoln City at Wells Fargo for cash. The Wells Fargo parking lot was just a few feet too small so I could not make the tight turn needed to exit the parking lot, I backed up slowly and only a few feet but that was enough to break a weld on the bracket which connects the toad hitch to the Samurai. So I drove the tiny town of Pacific City looking for a "Welding" sign and didn't find one. I stopped at the hardware store and asked the clerk, "see Shane at the auto shop". I found Shane who dropped everything to make my little welding project. It took him twenty minutes and I appreciate the quickness and the charge was only $10. Shane promised his weld would never break. Click the photo to see the bracket reconnected.

Bilstein Steering Damper installed
Monday, July 13, 2015: One of the easiest ways to improve steering performance is to be sure the steering damper is working properly and if not, replace it. I checked the Lazy Daze damper and it seemed a little too easy to move so I replaced it today with a Bilstein (an expensive brand name) steering damper. I chose the Bilstein thinking of higher quality, not sure if I got significant more value. Our next trip begins tomorrow perhaps I'll feel the difference in the steering. Click the photo to see the old damper.

Another possible solution to another Lazy Daze problem

Monday, July 6, 2015: The Lazy Daze has a very small CCC (cargo carry capacity) so almost anything in the storage bins puts us over the maximum weight limit, especially if the holding tanks are full. I discussed this problem earlier when I bought roof top cargo bars. The Lazy Daze can tow as much as 6,000 lbs, we currently tow the Samurai which weighs 2,400 lbs fully loaded. I've been watching CraigsList for months for the right size and price rooftop cargo box. This last weekend I found the exact size I was looking for at a good price in a small town north of Redmond where we were helping Lesa pack furniture. This will add to and organize a few more items I can take with us while we travel. It is large enough to hold three of the containers I already carry plus some other, smaller items. Click the photo for another view. Here is a photo of how it looks on the Samurai.

100 watt solar panel added
solar wire not permanently attached.
Sunday, July 5, 2015: I'm attempting to solve the problem I described a couple of weeks ago. I've added a 100 watt solar panel specifically to charge the chassis battery. I first thought to get a 60 watt panel but found that the 100 watt panel was actually $10 cheaper and would give me extra power if needed. I chose to buy a kit from Amazon which included a small (disappointing) charge controller hoping I need only something simple for the chassis battery. I say disappointing because the charge controller is only sending 13.7 volts of the 20 solar volts to the battery. I'd like to have 14.5 volts. I've mounted the panel on the roof of the Lazy Daze but made it flexible. I can easily remove the panel and set it up on the ground if needed to find the sun. The panel can also pivot on both sides (just like the existing panels) to face the low winter sun. I've not permanently mounted the wires to the roof so I can move the panel to the ground. My plan is to disconnect at the connecter point then store the extension wires during travel. I wanted an permanent but easy connection to the chassis battery so cut an extension cord, permanently mounting the female end to the battery. The male end I used from the solar panel. I just plug the male into the female and the chassis battery is getting charged. You can see the connection here. The hood is open in the photo but need not be. I have a blank female end (black, seen in the photo) used to protect the two male solar leads when not plugged into the battery. The tiny charge controller sits just behind the battery. Click the two photos to see additional views.

Sam is running rough so time for a tuneup, original wires
Replacing wires
Saturday, June 27, 2015: When I was in my teens, I learned to tune up a four cylinder engine but haven't done a tune up since then. The Samurai was running rough on idle, something I had experienced before and a good tune up always fixed the problem before so I thought, I could do it when I was 16, why not when I'm 68? The parts were not expensive so I dove in. The coil wire separated several weeks ago so the rest of the wires may also be weak. I replaced all ignition wires, spark plugs, rotor and distributor cap. There is always a chance I could get the wires mixed up, the firing order must be exact. I'd learn when I tried to start it. It started and sounded like a sewing machine it was so smooth. Now, on to the next project. Click each photo for another view.
Still trying to figure out leveling
Dead battery by connecting the TV to the chassis battery

Wednesday, June 17, 2015: We are still trying to work out some bugs with the Lazy Daze. You'd think it would be easy to level but it's very complicated trying to figure how much to put under each wheel, usually only two wheels. But it's not easy. I've begun to level from side to side then use the bottle jack to raise the front wheels to level from front to rear. It certainly gives me practice for changing a front tire.

The Lazy Daze has NO AC outlet in the overhead cab where the TV and/or entertainment center is located. In 2004, it came with a DC powered TV so no one thought an AC outlet was needed. The TV has been removed and replaced with our LED TV. It's AC powered so I've installed a small inverter to power the TV from the DC outlet in the overhead. I also need to power the DISH satellite receiver. Each of these units requires little power but enough that I can't plug both into the overhead DC plug without drawing the voltage down too much from this low powered DC plug. So one of the units, in this case, the DISH satellite receiver must be plugged into the dash DC outlet with another small inverter. So this draws power from the chassis battery with no way to charge that battery without starting the engine. It was drawn down so far, I had to start the generator, run an extension cord to the front of the Lazy Daze where I plugged in my battery charger to bring the chassis battery back up in voltage. I'm considering a small solar charger specifically for this battery but need to learn if a small charge will be enough. I'm still experimenting.

Splash guard Thursday, June 11, 2015: On our trip to Boise we had to drive 24 hours in rain, snow and hail. Once we arrived in Boise, the Samurai was so covered with road grime it could not be driven until washed. I learned the "Splash Stop" was not expensive and is advertised to help stop the road grime reaching the toad. Additionally, it was easy to install. Click the photo on the right to see the right side installed. The right side is installed
Thule bar rackWednesday, June 10, 2015: This was a day with an unusual mission. To start from the beginning, our Lazy Daze has a very poor CCC (Cargo Carry Capacity). I knew this when I bought it but felt it could be managed. It means we can't carry much in the coach without going overweight. The storage compartments are mostly empty or filled with light weight items and the Lazy Daze is very close to maximum weight, 14,050 lbs. But the Lazy Daze can legally tow enough weight to equal 20,000 lbs. The Samurai weighs only 2000 lbs so items we can't carry in the motor home could be carried in the Samurai. However, the Samurai has precious little storage space but that's why they make roof top cargo boxes. To carry a cargo box you need a bar rack. I've been watching Craig's list for a month for bar racks to fit the Samurai. They are very expensive if purchased new. This set was advertised from a town near Salem but I learned the owner worked in Eugene so we made arrangements to meet the owner today in Eugene to get the rack. I use to own one just like it in a previous life. This one is at least 35 years old but perfect for a 28 year old car. Click the photo to see a view of the bar rack. Now I must continue to watch Craig's List for a cargo box to fit. I just missed the perfect box by 24 hours. To make the trip to Eugene even more worthwhile, Gwen and I got passport photos taken at the Eugene Costco. Our passports will expire fall of 2016 but we will not have a chance to order the renewal passports except for right now.
How the 2004 Ford e450 headlights look
A yellow bulb had to be added, tapping the power to the running lights for the LEDs
The LEDs are a disappointment, click to see the AD for these headlights and you'll understand
Wednesday, May 20, 2015: The Ford chassis hasn't changed much in the last 15 years except for the headlights. I don't plan to have Miss Blossom look like a 2004 motor home if changing the headlights will confuse admirers into thinking it's a later model. The project was actually easier than I was expecting. I first watched a YouTube video of how to do it on a Ford F250, not exactly the same but enough similarity it was helpful. I picked my new headlights from Amazon so they weren't expensive. I also had to purchase yellow bulbs for the clear signal lights. I also had to buy "quick connects" to connect the LED's to the running lights. I have two disappointments with these headlights. Click the photo on the far right to see the AD showing the LED's and compare with reality, the LED's are ON in the photo, nothing like the AD. We have LED's on our Prius and they are bright in daylight. So the LED's are a joke. The second disappointment was the top connector on both headlights had to be trimmed with a saw to fit the connector. This is a mistake by the manufacturer. Both the headlights and side lights are made in China but I believe even the more expensive lights were made in China as well as the original Ford equipment I removed. One of the original side lights was partially full of water after the Boise ran storm, so it needed to be replaced. One of the headlights was obviously newer and must have been replaced for some reason. Click all the photos for another view.

Grab bar from the shower

Wednesday, May 13, 2015: Gwen wanted a location to hang the floor mat outside the shower. I knew it would end up used as a grab bar so decided to purchase a grab bar to be used as a towel rack as well as a grab bar. That way, it's safe to use with body weight hanging on the bar. I used a backing board otherwise, the 1/4" door material would not hold the weight. This is a simple improvement but one needed to enter and exit the shower.

Gwen likes "peach".

Tuesday, May 5, 2015: We are on the road to Boise, Idaho tomorrow to visit Gwen's son, on the way, we are picking up Gwen's daughter in Redmond so this will be a family reunion. Before leaving, Gwen wants to test some new colors on the egg shell white wall of Miss Blossom. Gwen says, it gives Miss Blossom a "warm" look. It's just another way Miss Blossom is becoming customized for us.

First Miss Blossom gets tinted driver and passenger windows. Monday, May 4, 2015: Today was an exciting day for Miss Blossom and Sam. I took them both to TintPro in Roseburg for five window tints in Sam and two in Miss Blossom. While the tinting was being done, I walked to several auto supply stores looking for pin stripping thinking I would do it myself. I learned none is stocked so I checked Amazon and learned it would be very difficult to choose the color I was after. When I returned to TintPro, I met my friend Troy and learned he was working for Autoworks located at the same location as TintPro. It was Autoworks who did the pinstripes on our Prius. So I worked out a deal with Troy to do the pinstripes on Sam. Troy has hundreds of colors to choose from. I chose Metallic Sea Foam. It was a perfect match to the lighter green on Miss Blossom. Sam gets tinted windows and metalic green pinstripes to match Miss Blossom
Privacy film on the shower window Saturday, May 2, 2015: It amazes me that someone could own a Lazy Daze for 9 years and not make changes to make it their own. We could not find holes made for hooks. You can never have enough hooks. There is a window in the shower. I'm not sure why, except to let the steam out, maybe. Anyway there was an ugly vinyl curtain over the window. Gwen shopped for "privacy film" and found what she liked at Home Depot. She worked hard to install the film and did a professional job. It looks and works great. Note: I'm marking this as a special day ... today is the day we sold the Alumascape. You can never have enough hooks
The original TV must go The mounting holes don't match so I must drill holes that match
Behind the switch are all the wires and DC controller
Friday, May 1, 2015: The Lazy Daze came with the original Sharp Aquos TV. This was an excellent TV in 2004, we actually owned one back then. But now it must have a converter because all TV signals are digital. This is a DC TV which would have been nice but probably pulled a lot of Amps (we actually got rid of our Aquos because it was such an AMP hog). So I must remove and replace the Aquos with my LG digital TV which we purchased several years ago because it uses such little power. The case is very close to the same size as the Aquos but thinner so the side walls Lazy Daze built to encase the Aquos must be reduced in size. I took them off and trimmed using my tablesaw. The mounting hardware and TV case design is the best I've ever seen, I'm hoping the rest of the Lazy Daze has been built as well. The screw holes for the mounting hardware does not match the LG so I drill holes which DO match. The hardware holding the TV flips up for access to the cabinet behind. I decide to put our wireless printer behind the TV. It's a nice large area for the printer and close to the only power source in the cabinet. The LG is a 110 volt AC TV, not a DC TV and only DC is available in the cabinet. The Lazy Daze has plenty of solar power but no main inverter. Apparently it was intended we use the many DC outlets to power whatever is needed when no shore power or generator is used. I can also plug in smaller inverters to use on something like the TV, printer and DISH network control box. None of those draw much power so I purchased a 300 watt inverter and plugged into the DC power outlet in the cabinet. All the Aquos wires must be removed, only a power wire and HDMI cable are needed for the LG. So the LG installation is complete but the top cabinet door won't close so I'm removing the hinges and changing door to snap in place. Click the photos for additional views.

The frame for a coffee maker must be removed
The microwave is replaced
Monday, April 20, 2015: Miss Blossom came with a factory installed coffee maker which apparently stopped working before I made the purchase. I've been following the Lazy Daze forums and there has been quit a discussion about how to remove the coffee maker frame. It was obvious to me, the microwave must be removed to access the screws holding the coffee maker frame. The previous owner used the frame as a paper towel rack. With the coffee maker frame gone, there will be more room on the countertop for tall appliances. After removing the microwave, I discovered the previous owner had installed an extension cord to the microwave circuit and made it available through the hole made for the coffee maker power cord. That will be helpful to provide power to the corner of the countertop. Click the left photo for a view of the microwave cabinet with the microwave removed.
The original bathroom faucet Sunday, April 19, 2015: Continuing with the changes we are making to Miss Blossom. We changed both the kitchen and bath faucets in the Alumascape but only the bath faucet in the Lazy Daze. The original faucet works just fine but it is very difficult to get your hands under the stream because the faucet is low and the bowl is small. We chose a new faucet at Home Depot for less than $60. This is a high profile faucet making it much easier to wash hands or face. We love the new faucet. Click the photo on the left for another view.
The new faucet, much better
The propane tubing is very well organized, I simply add a "T" to run an additional tube
The propane connection must go through the wall of a cabinet
Lazy Daze wrapped many of their exposed tubes with wire loam, so I did the same.

Saturday, April 18, 2015: Gwen and I do a lot of boondocking. Miss Blossom comes with three solar panels so is setup pretty well for power. One thing we have learned to do is to provide for heat without running the furnace. The furnace in an RV uses lots of power so drains the batteries quickly. We've also learned that the Empire propane heater is superior to all others. The Lazy Daze propane tubing is the best I've seen of the three RV's I've added a heater and two I've helped with others. It was very easy to add a "T" and extend another tubing for the quick release to fit the Empire heater. Lazy Daze wrapped many of the exposed tubing with wire loam so I did the same. The Empire heater is 99% efficient compared to 60% efficiency of the furnace. The Empire uses only propane, no power. Click each photo for additional views of the installation.

Satellite Radio installedFriday, April 17, 2015: On the return from Sparks trip, I stopped in Grants Pass, Oregon where one of my students from a past life lives and works for a music shop. He installed the radio in my Dodge pickup 10 years ago so I'm having him install a radio in Miss Blossom. I was going to have him install a radio with built in XM satellite reception but learned that my external receiver has more features so I had him install my external receiver. It was a difficult installation which took more than two hours but once completed, looked great. This is the only sound system in the Lazy Daze and works without the need of the key in the ignition. One of the features of my external receiver is the ability to "rewind" a program. I'm often listening to public radio programs. I can stop for a lunch break when driving (for example) then return, hit the "rewind" button and pick up the show from where I left off. The radios at the music shop would do the same for and extra fee but they would NOT pair with my Bluetooth headset while by external receiver WILL pair so I can listen without disturbing Gwen. All wires are mounted under the dash so I did not lose any DC plug-ins with this radio installation.

Chuck is handing over the keys to Miss Blossom
Thursday, April 16, 2015: Gwen and I are beginning a new chapter in RV travel. As much as we like our Alumascape, Great Blue Heron Edition, we were traveling as if the combination of the Alumascape and our Dodge tow vehicle was a motor home. Gwen was driving the Prius in our travels so when we parked, I often did not unhitch and if I did unhitch, the truck was never driven, We began looking a motor homes and I fell in love with the concept of the Lazy Daze. I think smaller is better. Lazy Daze has the reputation of the best Class C motor home. They are all custom built and must be ordered a year in advance. Lazy Daze does not make slides because they feel a slide gives too many chances for things to go wrong. We have had our problems with the slides on the Cameo but not with the Alumascape. Miss Blossom is actually 30 square feet smaller than the Alumascape since it has no slide. Like the Alumascape, the Lazy Daze is in high demand because of the quality of construction. This was the only 30 foot Lazy Daze available on the west coast and there was only one other available nationally. I was lucky to find her in Sparks, Nevada while we were visiting with my children and grandchildren. Chuck and Sharon delivered Miss Blossom to me on Monday morning, April 13. I drove her as far as our favorite boondock location at the base of Mt. Shasta where I spent the night. Click the photo to see my parking location. Yes, there was snow on the ground and it snowed overnight but not enough to cause any problems. Now, as we did with the Alumascape, we must turn Miss Blossom into an RV comfortable for us. Oh! We are selling the Alumascape and the Dodge pickup, both in perfect condition.
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