The Bear – Upgrades

We decided to make a few changes/upgrades to the Bear.  These past few weeks have found us camping in RV shop garages and parking lots getting our “wish list” projects completed.  I can’t tell you how excited I am with these upgrades!!

We’ve known from the very beginning that we wanted solar panels.  Our love of camping in the wilderness, rather than in full hook-up campgrounds, required that we run our generator 4 to 5 hours a day to charge the batteries whenever we camped “off the grid”.  The Bear needs a lot of electricity, especially because of our residential refrigerator.

So our first stop was AM Solar in Springfield, Oregon.  Before I share our new solar panel configuration, I want to talk about our batteries.  We bought 4 new wet-cell batteries at the beginning of the year, but we decided to go ahead and replace them with 4 of the large L16 Lifeline AGM batteries (400 amps each).

Our 4 new L16 Lifeline AGM 400 amp Batteries

Our 4 new L16 Lifeline AGM 400 amp Batteries

We weren’t sure how much solar power we should install.  But we knew that we didn’t want to worry about power all the time.  So we met with “Marvelous Marvin” of Precision RV and put together a configuration that meets (and exceeds) our needs.

The Bear Going In For Solar Panels at AM Solar

The Bear Going In For Solar Panels at AM Solar

Marvelous Marvin Discussing Tilt Bars With Mike

Marvelous Marvin Discussing Tilt Bars With Mike

Our installation included 8 solar panels with 160 watts per panel for a total of 1280 watts.  Yeah!

Eight 160 watt Solar Panels

Eight 160 watt Solar Panels

Has all this power gone to our heads?  You bet it has!  We’re amped!  We freely run the coffeemaker, watch TV, use the microwave, hairdryer, fans, computer, printer, etc. … all without batting an eye.  These are some of the things that people in normal houses don’t even think about, and now we don’t have to think twice either.  We haven’t used the tilt bars yet, because we haven’t had to ‘work’ for the sun.  We’re at 100% before lunch and stay there all day no matter what we’re running.  We LOVE our solar power!

Our next stop was Elite RV Repair and Remodel in Harrisburg, Oregon.  We had a list of little (and one not-so-little) fix-it items that took a couple of days to complete.  Then we got to the fun stuff … my office remodel.  Up til now, I’ve used the dinette tabletop for my computer, and it’s all wrong.  I end up with a back ache and a neck ache and tingling arms.  I’ve spent two years mulling about what type of remodel to do and where to do it.  I was thinking about remodeling the dinette booth into a desk/dining combo.  Mike convinced me that I should use the space that was being occupied by the love seat/jack knife bed.  And he was so right!

Elite RV Repair and Remodel in Harrisburg, Oregon

Elite RV Repair and Remodel in Harrisburg, Oregon

The love seat was a catch-all most of the time!

The love seat was a catch-all most of the time!

Love Seat and Carpet Removed

Love Seat and Carpet Removed

06 love seat pulled out

The Floor Was Extended 10 Inches

The Floor Was Extended 10 Inches

Mark Measures For Topper Board After Marty  Builds and Installs New Desk

Desk Is Installed

Floor Is Prepped for Topping Board

Floor Is Prepped for Topping Board

Desk Is Wired For Electrical Outlets

Desk Is Wired For Electrical Outlets

Carpet and Desk Drawers Installed

Carpet and Desk Drawers Installed

It's Coming Together

It’s Coming Together

Desk Top and Wood Trim Completed

Desk Top and Wood Trim Completed

File Drawer, Printer Drawer, Large Divided Top Drawer, Double Shelf Slim Cabinet, and Electrical Power Strip.

File Drawer, Printer Drawer, Large Divided Top Drawer, Double Shelf Slim Cabinet, and Electrical Power Strip.

Corian Desk Top Matches Counter

Corian Desk Top Matches Counter

My  Stressless Chair with Attached Computer Table

My Stressless Chair with Attached Computer Table

The Computer Table Folds Down; The Chair Swivels and Reclines for TV Watching

The Computer Table Folds Down; The Chair Swivels and Reclines for TV Watching

My Ekornes Stressless Chair is soooo comfortable.  It even comes in sizes, so I got the one that’s perfect for me!

We also had sturdy new shelves built for our cabinets.  The cabinets above and below the large TV are too wide to have such a thin shelf.  They sagged!

We used those purple cups to brace the upper shelf.

We used those purple cups to brace the upper shelf.

New Strong Solid Wood Shelf

New Strong Solid Wood Shelf

Another shelf sagging under the weight of our crap.

Another shelf sagging under the weight of our crap.

Strong New Shelf

Strong New Shelf

I couldn’t resist using the old shelf for some extra storage capabilities.   We turned it over so it arches, rather than sags, and put some light stuff up there.

Old shelf inverted and placed high for some lightweight stuff.

Old shelf inverted and placed high for some lightweight stuff.

Marty, Eric and Mark at Elite RV Repair and Restoration in Harrisburg, Oregon are the greatest!

Another fun little thing we did was install a Hella fan.  We had 12 Hella fans throughout our sailboat and we loved them.  Sometimes all you need is a little air blowing on you.  This fan articulates in any direction and we had the perfect spot for one.  The Bear came with a wall light that had a broken light socket.  We never used that light anyway so we didn’t bother to repair it.  Replacing it with the fan made a lot more sense for us.

Installed Hella Fan

Installed Hella Fan.  From the looks of our weather station, we should turn it on!

Next stop, Henderson’s Line-up in Grants Pass, Oregon for a Road Performance Assessment.  We had them install new Koni FSD Shocks, Safe-T-Plus Steering Control, Motion Control Units, and upgrade our air dryer system.  Mike really likes the improved control and I love the smooth, comfortable ride.

Henderson's Line-Up in Grants Pass, Oregon

Henderson’s Line-Up in Grants Pass, Oregon

So, that’s it, folks.  Pretty close to everything on our RV wish list.  We’re very grateful that we get to live this lifestyle in such comfort.

Cheers!!

Cheers!!

 

 

 

 

26 thoughts on “The Bear – Upgrades

  1. Whoa… Solar panels galore! And, the desk is gorgeous, not to mention the chair. Where did you have the work done? The cabinetry even seems close to the kitchen cabinets.

    My husband has been computing on the coffee table in our fifth wheel, bent over and sitting on the loveseat. He also has shoulder problems and tingly hands from it. His pain is a lot better since he recently moved his laptop to the dining table. (I now use my laptop in my lap, comfortably reclined in my chair.). There must be a lot of RV owners out there who experience similar pain for the same reason. Wonderful upgrades and a post with food for thought!

    • Marty at Elite RV was the one who built the desk. He and I sat down and talked about what was important to me. I gave up the keyboard pull-out shelf for the large divided top drawer. I love storage! And anyway, the computer table on my chair is more comfortable for me than pulling a chair up to a desk. I also needed a printer drawer that was specific to handle MY printer. I can’t have one of those tiny printers because I use printable DVDs for my video projects. I also needed the slim cabinet against the wall to store my DVDs, back up drives, etc. It was so much fun to be involved in the design. Marty spent a lot of time matching the wood stain. Eric is the Corian master. He created the desktop, then buffed and polished my entire counter top and also repaired the burn marks on my stovetop cover plates. It looks beautiful.

      • They did a beautiful job. How much time did you spend sitting down with them to figure out what you guys wanted? Was it all done in one visit? The whole process is just amazing to me. I didn’t know one could really change the spaces in an RV and still have the work look gorgeous like that. It totally makes sense there are businesses who do this… I just didn’t know anyone who had done something like this unless they did the work themselves. And, yeah, you could always tell in those instances that it was a DIY job.

      • Holly, I talked to Marty about what I had in mind and he showed me a few pictures of other work they had completed. He looked at my space, took measurements, then he made a sketch of a desk for me to consider. We made a few changes and then approved a plan. All of that didn’t take long at all. We scheduled an installation date for two weeks later because these guys are so busy that was as soon as they could get to us. I don’t know how much time he spent building the desk while we were gone, but the installation and finish work took two days. We continued to make tweaks and decisions during the build-out .. it was a total collaboration and it was so much fun! The invoice for the total job came in less than the estimate, so it was definitely a win-win!

  2. Love all your upgrades. Since it’s your home why not be as comfortable as you can be. Your new office space is so neat. I need think about the fan idea. That’s all I need sometimes is to have moving air blowing on me. We have a great fan for sleeping, now I need one on the living room:)

  3. The last pic is the “best” young lady!!!! That’s relaxin in style…. I know that you are glad to get these behind you and isn’t Marvin something else? Now you have to keep posting about some of those “off the grid” places so that we can use them also…..

    Maynard

  4. Cool upgrades guys, when are you fitting a keel and mast 🙂

    Are you still heading up this way? If so we are in Gig Harbor, Wa.

    Hoping not to miss you!

    Take Care Alan & Joan

    • Hi Alan and Joan, We are so disappointed that our plans changed and we had to miss Washington this year. We wanted to see you two! We still have not properly explored the Pacific Northwest, so it remains on our travel plan. We’ll be back!

  5. Wow, that desk turned out great. I can’t wait to finish a few of my own upgrades 😉 Hmm, I see drinks, poo poo platters, and sunsets over a lake in our near future!

  6. Whooa, we went to the same guys you visited, and yes thanks to Nina. But I think it must be a new business for Elite to do remodel/upgrade work. We had them fix our slide issues in no time. We also had the same things you have installed at Hendersons Line up. And no we don’t have solar panel yet, maybe one day.
    But my little office upgrade was done at LJs in WA.
    All your upgrades are too cool! Yup agree a little upgrade to make our rolling life a little better.

    • Referrals are certainly important to those of us in this particular slice of life, aren’t they! Elite doesn’t advertise at all. They are totally booked by referrals only. That speaks volumes to their quality.

  7. Great e-mail/blog. I can’t wait to use some or all of your ideas on our own RV, especially the solar panels. Of course, we have to find just the right RV to buy first. We hope we’ll join you on the road sometime this fall/winter, at the very least next summer. Abby is looking forward to seeing Lucy again.

    Joy

  8. Pingback: Remodeling and Debauchery | Live Laugh RV

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