Wednesday, June 25, 2014

As the Sun began to set and the rain started to pour

So last night, just as the Sun began to set and the rain started to pour, I noticed a massive water leak. Rain water was pouring into the RV from the rear doors, soaking the bed. I thought I just hadn't closed the door well enough. I opened it, exposing the bed to even more downpour and slammed it shut. No change. Again, I opened and slammed. Still no change. Frustrated, I kicked the door open it swung out, hit the max and rebounded back. Still no change. I was starting to freak out. Seeing no other option I went outside in the dwindling light and heavy rain to try slamming it shut from outside. I was soaking wet by the time I walked the ten feet toward the rear doors. I slammed the door multiple times as hard as I could. Nothing was working. I screamed and cursed. Even that didn't work!

At this point the bed sheets were soaked and fearing the water would soon soak through to the mattress I figured there was no option but to attempt to repair the door right then and there in the pouring rain and twilight sun.

I gathered my tools and attempted a quick fix, banging the door frozen door latch with a hammer and screwdriver. That had no effect, I had to removed the latch. At this point I knew I was in for a bigger, longer job so I pushed the mattress off the bed frame, further into the RV to minimize the damage already done. I removed the three bolts holding the door latch on and pushed it out of the way. This allowed the door to close, but of course it wouldn't stay shut without a latch. I was already wet so I figured, ok, I might as well take the door panel off and fix it right.

At this point water had pooled up on the bed frame and was running off the bed frame into my under bed storage area, not so bad most of it was pooling on top of the water tank, but my camping gear was also under there as well as some electronics. I had to protect it. I remembered I had a tarp but I couldn't remember where. I searched under the bed frame's rear access, not there. I frantically searched the front, not under the left side. Oh, there it is, in the front center section. I got it out and laid it down, draping it out the back so water would run down out of the RV and towards my feet. Did I mention I had to walk through mud to get from the rear doors to the side doors?

I took the door panel off. Luckily it's not that difficult on this old RV. Just a few philips-head screws, I don't even have to stand on my head or use an extremely long bit holder to get them out. Once it was off I found it obviously hadn't been removed in a long time. the dust and dirt inside started combining with the rain water to make a muddy mess. The greasy door latch came out easily enough and after some tinkering I was able to "unfreeze" it.

Back in it went and horray! the door closes and latches, no more leaks. At least for now. By this time I was working by flashlight and I could clearly see the problem. The heavy 20" tire bolted to the rear door is clearly too much weight for these door hinges, and kicking it open so hard it rebounded probably didn't help it either. I considered taking the tire off right then and there, but one look at the bolts told me it wouldn't be possible without a four-foot wrench for leverage and possibly a blowtorch.

The rain had stopped by this time so I couldn't be sure I had fixed my leak issue. Out came that tarp and I struggled to get it over the roof to cover the rear doors, just in case. It took me a few tries but I got it. Then I went to work on surveying the damage and drying out. I was lucky, water had stayed away from the electronics and hadn't even run off the water tank onto the floor. My camping gear was a little damp but it's designed to dry quickly so I figured I'm ok there. I soaked up the water remaining on the bed frame and removed the bed sheets and mattress cover. In a few minutes I was even starting to dry out. In about 30 minutes I was ready to relax again. I set the bed up again and laid down. This time my mattress cover was in the wash and my bed was a bare foam pad with a mostly-dry sheet draped over it.

Needless to say I was pretty keyed up. It was close to 10pm; about the time I usually like to be feeling relaxed enough to get ready for bed. That wasn't going to happen without some sleepytime tea and a little Comedy Central on YouTube. I was angry, depressed, even considering that I should give up this RV idea and go back to an easier, if more costly, life. Then I remember something a friend told me when I called him freaking out about a breakdown in rural Missouri. I didn't pick something that was easy. I had decided to do something that was difficult. Then I remembered the community of vandwellers and full-time RVers I've met online and decided that things like this were and are part of the lifestyle I've chosen.

It sucked working in the pouring rain by flashlight as my bedroom was nearly flooded, but it was an experience I'm glad I had. It's something that sets me apart from those who would never consider taking up a challenge like living in an RV. I remembered how even though I was "freaking out" I also remained calm enough to consider my options and quickly make decisions. I remembered that I was prepared for this, that I had the tools I need to make repairs and the tarp and bungie cords to protect my investment. I feel good knowing I was able to raise to an unexpected challenge and be able to relax and sleep that same night.


  1. Hi James! TejasThreads here from the Cheaprvliving forum. Tell us more about your rig. Do you have pics? And of course would enjoy seeing / hearing about your traveling companion.

    1. Thank you Margo. I'll be posting more here in the coming weeks. I plan on doing a post about my rig, my dog and all the modifications I've made.

      Next week I plan on posting photos and some writing about a car-camping trip I have planned for this weekend.