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Itasca Meridian 40U
"Mz Ruby"

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Ron has returned to install a windshield cover

Tuesday, January 8, 2019: Ron has returned to install a windshield cover plus a driver's and passenger window covers. These covers provide privacy during the day but the main purpose is to reduce the effect the sun has with heating the inside of the coach through the glass. All of Mz Ruby's windows have sun shades (including the windshield) on the inside of each window. That offers daytime privacy and does help to reduce the heat inside. Problem is, the sun hitting an inside sun shade has already passed through the glass so the heat is INSIDE. The windshield and other two covers are snapped in place on the OUTSIDE, stopping the heat BEFORE it enters the interior of the coach. The window shades Ron installed previously stop the sun from hitting the window entirely. During daylight hours, we can see out the window but passers-by cannot see in. There is no privacy effect at night. The shades are held in place by twist snaps so a ladder is needed to install or remove them. These are of very good quality so I believe we will be very happy we have purchased them. Click the photo for a close-up view of the shade.

The headboard has been raised about 8 inchesThe headboard must be raised

Installing the new fabric


Thursday, December 27, 2018: We have been wanting to replace the headboard since the purchase of Mz Ruby. The headboard needed to be raised, about 8 inches so that was the first task. Next, we removed several hundred staples holding the fabric to the headboard. That left the support board with only the padding on the board. Gwen did some sewing of the new fabric and we bagan stapling the fabric to the board. These boards are held to the wall with a hook and loop tape (like Velcro) so I installed the tape on the back of the board and secured to the headboard. The headboard now has a new look.

Installed my ladder hangers



Thursday, December 20, 2018: Any time I have a storage compartment from one side of the RV to the other, I hang my CPVC ladder hanger. This keeps the ladder out of the way and frees up storage space on the floor of the storage compartment. So that is what I did today, installed my ladder hangers. Click the photo to see a close up of a hanger.

Removing the cook top Tapping into the existing propane hose All of this is to install the quick-connect for the heater
Installing the stove top, it WORKS!Tuesday, December 18, 2018: Today was the last step in preparing Mz Ruby for off grid parking. Parking off grid requires a source for power (solar), a method to fill the fresh water tank without moving the rig and a method to heat without using power (the furnace uses power for the blower). I drove Mz Ruby to Blythe where I found a propane dealer who could install a "T" onto the existing rubber hose leading to the cook top. He also built a hose leading to the base of the cabinet where I will connect the propane heater. I've done this to the last four RVs. Here is how I installed the propane connection into Miss Dory. Here it is installed into the Lazy Daze. Here it is in the Alumascape. Finally, the installation into the Cameo fifth wheel. I was going to do the same with Mz Ruby but the rubber hose had me confused until I talked with the propane dealer in Blythe. Once the "T" was installed, the hose was easier to install than copper tubing. You can see the quick connect at the base of the photo at the right. Click the photo to see the heater. This is call a "one brick" heater. It is 10,000 btu, not enough for a motorhome this size. We have a "three brick" heater (18,000 btu) in Sutherlin so we will make-do with the smaller heater until we return to Sutherlin. Click all the photos for additional views. Oh! And the photo with Gwen inside the cabinet shows how she got the hose reattached to the back wall. I couldn't do it.
Window awnings installed
Thursday, December 13, 2018: We bought Mz Ruby a Christmas gift, window awnings. Ron, from Shade Pro, is installing the awnings. The awnings help control the inside temperatures and help to protect the windows from weather. Another awning is installed on the bedroom window on the opposite side. It is much smaller, only 3.5 feet while this one is 11 feet. Click the photo to see the finished installation.

It's done except for testing


Tuesday, December 4, 2018: The solar charging system is finally complete. I installed the fifth panel today. The solar charging system is ready to test. That may not happen until January when we leave the resort. In a sense we are starting from scratch again. We have never had to generate enough power to run a residential refrigerator nor have we ever used AGM batteries as our energy storage. We are experienced with four 6 volt batteries which have worked well since 2009. They discharge to about 70-80% each night and are fully charged by the sun before noon each day. I'm anxious to learn how well this system works.

Under cabinet LED lights just for GwenBeginning the installation





Sunday, December 2, 2018: This is our fourth RV to have strip LED lighting under the kitchen cabinets. Gwen insisted on more lighting and she loves the LED strip lights. I'm using the same brightness LED as before but using a flexible self-stick style this time. I'm getting the 12 volt power from one of the under-cabinet LED spot lights on the left side of the cabinets. So the LEDs are activated when that switch is turned on. I also used some solder tubes for the first time to connect the four strands of lights together. You simply insert the bare wire from both units into the tube and use a heat gun to melt the tube solder and shrink the shrink tube around the connection. It worked well. Click these two photo and the one below to see the total installation.

Gwen's view of her counter top

Panels are wired and the charge controller shows current from the panelsNew vent covers for the holding tanks

Wednesday, November 28, 2018: The solar installation on the roof is finished with one exception. The fifth panel is waiting for the mounting brackets. The wiring is done for the fifth panel so installation should be easy. In the photo on the right I am standing where the fifth panel will be installed. Since the solar wire is following the gray water vent pipe I decided to change both vent caps to the style I've used before. This style will be helpful in keeping holding tank odors out of Mz Ruby. I've covered all roof wiring with wire loom to help protect the wire from the sun. Of course this plastic loom will slowly disintegrate but it will be protecting the wire and can be replaced in five years. I used Dicor as the "glue" for each of the mounting feet and also to seal the base of the new directional vent caps. Even though the batteries are fully charged the charge controller will allow a trickle charge. I am seeing the trickle charge current reported on the charge controller. Click these two photos for more views.

Charge contoller installed

Tuesday, November 27, 2018: Sad to say, it took me nearly all day to fish the wire from beneath Mz Ruby to the charge controller. I had no trouble running the wire from the battery bank to the base of the gray water vent pipe but from that point on there were pipes, wires and wood supports in the way. I tried several methods and finally got one to work by mid-afternoon. The vent pipe is located directly behind the medicine cabinet so I mounted the charge controller inside. Now all work is completed under Mz Ruby and inside. I still have much work to do on the roof. The panels are not yet connected to the charge controller. Click the photo to see the status of the fully charged batteries reported at the charge controller. At the bottom center of the screen you can see the controller is set for "AGM" batteries rather than the "flooded" batteries of Miss Dory.

Continued solar installation

Sunday, November 25, 2018: I'm still waiting for parts to arrive but I CAN do the roof wiring while waiting. I stood the panels upright to get at the wires under each panel. I ran these wires into the combiner box and connected to the positive and negative posts. The line from the charge controller will enter the combiner box from the bottom of the photo.

Click this photo to see the panel installation on the roof. The combiner box will be under the panel nearest to the camera. It hasn't been mounted yet because I'm waiting for some roof parts and I want to mount all at the same time. The wire on the roof coming toward the camera is for the panel I've ordered. Hopefully that panel will arrive this week and I can finish the solar installation. When that happens, I will have five panels on the roof. The 100 watt panel installed by Winnebago is at the far end of the roof. It is mounted flat and can't be raised. That will be OK from about mid-March to mid-October. The winter months, the sun is so low in the southern sky the panels need to be raised and pointed at the south. Leaving a panel flat in the winter months means the efficiency of that panel will be only about 30-40%. In our previous solar experience our three panels have had our four six volt batteries fully charged before noon. Now we will have a new solar learning curve. We must charge six AGM batteries with a 24/7 draw on the batteries for the residential refrigerator. Both the batteries and the residential refrigerator are new to us. I suspect it will require turning off the refrigerator at night but we won't know that until we try. I'm actually looking forward to the challenge. We DO have an 8,000 watt diesel generator to help out but isn't one of the reasons to have solar to stop using a generator?

Mounting to the fiberglass roofThe panels are on Mz Ruby

Friday, November 23, 2018: Continuing with the solar installation. With Gwen's help, we got the three solar panels to the roof of Mz Ruby. After two trips to Blythe for parts I was able to get them secured to the roof. I set each mount into a pool of Dicor. It is really the Dicor securing the panels to the roof. I can attest to the strength of Dicor since I had to pull the panels off the roof of Miss Dory. I cleaned the fiberglass roof of Mz Ruby with Isopropyl Alcohol to be sure I got a good seal with Dicor. Of course the Dicor also seals around the holes I've made with the two screws at each corner of the panel. I've also decided to add another 100 watt panel to my system to maximize the number of panels managed by the charge controller. That will add 5.3 amps to the system. That panel will arrive next week. So my four panel system plus the (1) 100 watt panel installed by Winnebago should keep the six AGM batteries charged and keep the residential refrigerator running. Note: there are few choices for the location of the panels. I'd like to install them to be able to tip them to the right or left to catch the southern sun in the winter months. These are too close to the air conditioners to be able to avoid a shaded area on the panel if tipped in that direction. So my best choice will be to park facing east then point the panels away from Mz Ruby toward the southern sun. Between trips to Blythe, I worked on my homemade combiner box. Click the left photo to see it. I have not mounted the combiner box to the roof yet. The two posts are for the positive and negative wires coming into the box.

Trying accessThe path to the batteries

Tuesday, November 20, 2018: I began the work today of installing the solar charging system. Mz Ruby came with a 100 watt panel. I was hoping to install my system by connecting to the existing system but Winnebago used a minimal wire size so I decided to leave the existing system alone and install my own separately. The steps are to find a wire pathway from the roof to the batteries. Locate a location for the charge controller along the wire pathway. Install the panels to the roof. Install a combiner box where all panel wires are combined into one wire going to the charge controller. Connect the batteries directly to the controller. Connect the panels to the controller with a cover over the panels. Set the controller to the type of batteries. That's it. I didn't get very far today. I'm still exploring the wire access route. I believe I can follow the gray water vent pipe into the basement and then to the batteries. The charge controller will be installed only a few feet from the roof inside the shower room medicine cabinet. At mid-afternoon I drove to Blythe Ace Hardware looking for the parts I needed. Half of the parts were not in inventory and the other half were priced high. I was NOT a happy camper! I came home and ordered the parts I needed on Amazon. Small town business is critical of Amazon but Amazon generally has the inventory I need and usually only two day shipping. I am willing to pay a reasonable amount more to buy local but the difference of $.83/foot compared to $.15/foot is not reasonable. I DID buy a couple of items from ACE and will likely drive to Quartzsite to get more parts I need. Click the photos for additional views. The single 100 watt panel installed by Winnebago is behind the photo on the right.

Before treatmentMonday, November 19, 2018: Mz Ruby has a couple of orange turn signal lights up front. The plastic lenses on these orange lamps are slightly cloudy. I had already used Meguiar's PlastX on Miss Dory's headlamps so I knew it would work in this case too. The treatment

After treatmentThe cloudy lens is on the left and after the application of PlastX the lens looks like the lamp above. I'll give it a couple of days then do another treatment.

I've also started thinking about the solar installation. I looked at the battery bank today for the first time.

Replace a ceiling lamp




Sunday, November 18, 2018: One of the ceiling LED lamps in the bedroom has been flickering. I found the destributor, ITC in Holland, Michigan. I filled out an RMA form in the hope to return the lamp for a replacement. I was contacted by ITC customer support within a couple of days. When I explained the problem I was told they would ship me a replacement at no charge. Nice. Today, I installed the new lamp, problem was solved. Click the photo to see the replacement lamp.

Replace bedroom reading lights Is this the location for the router? Behind is securing a loose wall. Replace the ceiling exhaust fan
Removing 2 of 3 wall lamps to replace with pictures and shelves. Behind: baskets in the bathrooms. Adjustable shower head rod Connecting an external propane tank
Wednesday, November 7, 2018 (and November 6 and November 5): The little things and some big things continue to happen to Mz Ruby over the last three days. Top left, the bedroom reading lamps had to be changed. We moved the LED spot reading lamps we have had for several years. The existing lamps were controlled by ONE switch so both had to be on or off. With the spot lights (click the photo), they turn on/off individually. Additionally they dim individually. Next photo: I'm testing an area for the modem and weather station, it's a mess for now. Click that photo and you will see we had to adjust a bathroom wall. It was not secure to the tile so the door would not close correctly. I used E6000 glue to hold the wall to the tile then used a strap to hold the wall in place while the glue dries. Top right, the biggest job so far is to remove the existing high speed exhaust fan and replace with the variable speed fan I installed into Miss Dory last year. The existing fan has an on/off switch on the wall but the three speed fan control is on the fan itself. Additionally, the three speeds are all very similar so the fan is noisy and very annoying. The new fan is totally controlled with a hand held remote control. It has ten speeds from 10% to 100% and is very quiet even when on 100% speed. It also has a rain sensor. Bottom left, I'm removing two of the three accent lamps in the living area to replace with pictures and a small shelf. I've already moved our bathroom baskets from Miss Dory to Mz Ruby (click the photo). Bottom center: in each of the last three RVs I've installed a shower head rod so the head can be moved high or low. The existing shower head mount points the water at the door which makes it difficult to turn on the water then step into the shower once the water is warm. I mounted the rod on a side wall. Bottom right: Since owning a motorhome I've always had the pipe adjustment to have an external propane tank. With an external propane tank I rarely have to fill the onboard tank. I must drive the motorhome to the propane source to fill the onboard tank. With an external tank, I take the tank to the propane source, no need to move the motorhome. Mz Ruby came with a quick-connect on the onboard tank. I found a propane dealer in Blythe who custom made me a hose to fit the quick-connect and connect to my external tank. Click all photos for additional views. This is NOT everything which has been done over the last three days only the things I remembered to photograph.
Screen door crash door Soft landing toilet seat New towel bar

You can never have too many hooks.

Sunday, November 4, 2018: There are lots of little things which must be done to make Mz Ruby just RIGHT for us. And she will need a few BIG things too. We spent much time and money making Miss Dory just right so we have begun to remove from Miss Dory and install on Mz Ruby. The little things today were the screen door crash bar, the soft lowering toilet seat, a new towel bar in the shower room and lots of hooks in the bedroom. There is much to do and some jobs like moving two of the three solar panels will be major.

Ms Ruby is now ours

Tuesday, October 30, 2018: We have met with Mary and Mike. They are from Texas and have owned Ms Ruby from new for the last four years. They have done some REAL touring, putting 52,000 miles on their Itasca Meridian 40U. We found this motorhome to be perfect for our upgrade. We met them last night for dinner at a nice Mexican restaurant in Las Cruces, New Mexico (click the photo). We spent today learning how to use the systems. This is a diesel pusher, our first diesel motorhome. We did own a diesel pickup for eleven years. I will show much more of this motorhome as we learn more ourselves. A word about the search: We first thought the 36M was for us but after seeing it switched to the 40U. There were very few in the US, about half a dozen. La Mesa RV had one in San Diego and we were interested. I read the Yelp reviews of four of the La Mesa dealers which frightened me away from dealing with them. I am aware that some of the reviews may be from competitors but enough seemed legitimate to look for an alternative. That's when I contacted Mary and Mike. They had exactly what we were looking for. We made arrangements over the phone and they agreed to meet us halfway. What a wonderful couple. We hope to remain friends and meet them again.

Winnebago Itasca Meridian 40U


Monday, October 29, 2018: We have searched for three months and thought the Winnebago Journey 36M would be our new motorhome. After walking through a 36M, we decided it would not be for us. We had also marked the Winnebago Journey 40U as top on the list. Fortunately, while parked at the Elks Club in Lake Havasu City we were able to tour a fellow Elks unit. It is an Itasca with the identical kitchen and living area floor plan as the 40U. Gwen came out of it saying "that's the one". The Itasca is made by Winnebago and equivalent to the Winnebago Journey. The Journey and Meridian are identical in every way. We have a meeting with the owner of this unit this week. Perhaps we will be the new owners soon. More about our search if we get this one. I mostly followed my advice from November, 2015. After reading this article, scroll up to December 14 and finish reading my advice.



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