Wear and Tear

I’ve been browsing craigslist ads recently, looking at travel trailers for sale, and a caveat on one dealer’s ad caught my eye. Travel Trailers, it advised, are not meant to be long term housing. That warning was really about the use of formaldehyde in the construction of RVs, something we aren’t concerned with since our used trailer had likely off-gassed all toxic fumes before we purchased it. Nevertheless, travel trailers aren’t very sturdy and full-timing it with kids and pets really wears things out. We’ve been living in our little 26-ft trailer for about 14 months now and the list of things that need fixing has grown substantially.

The worst thing is the floor which has gone from soft in spots when we purchased the trailer to downright squishy. The duct tape keeps the linoleum down but doesn’t really provide any additional support. The floor really needs to be pulled up and replaced (after the leak has been located and fixed) but that just isn’t feasible while we live in the trailer.

Other interior troubles include blinds bent by inquisitive dogs and a cat; a loose bathroom doorknob that sometimes wiggles itself into a locked position (I tighten the screws and it gradually loosens again); a propane gas leak detector that went berserk and was forcibly and fatally silenced in the early hours one morning; a freezer door held closed by a tired Velcro strap after the plastic clip broke; and a dinette seat that has given in to the strain of daily transformation from bed to seat and the impact of my son leaping onto the seat from the sofa and has literally come unglued. I sympathize.

In addition the oven hasn’t worked since we bought the unit and only 2 of the 3 stove burners work. The cushion covers are looking really dingy, the catch on one cupboard is broken and the screen door is ripped.

On the outside the awning support got bent and the awning ripped in a windstorm but since we don’t have room to extend it at this park that hasn’t been an issue. One tail light is cracked and the door to the outdoor shower which was locked when we received the trailer (no key was provided) is now taped shut with duct tape. I think that’s about it.

We own multiple rolls of duct tape, a small powered drill, a hammer, several screwdrivers and miscellaneous other tools like hex wrenches and pliers, a bottle of wood glue and a tube of superglue. Enough you would think to tackle most problems. My approach to home repair and other DIY projects is amateurish and heavy handed and thus easy to spot. I can follow directions and can visualize the final product but the same flaw that prevents me from cutting a straight line or hanging a picture on level thwarts my ambitions.

Since repair doesn’t seem to be my thing, I searched the full-timer RV forums for advice on preventing wear and tear – sadly the consensus seems to be 1) don’t live in it, and 2) if you do, don’t take pets and children with you!

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5 Responses to Wear and Tear

  1. Kim Fischer says:

    Hi there–

    You can use fingernail polish for the screws on the doorknob. Tighten the screws, then put a dab of polish on the screws to lock them.

    At some point I think you’ll have to hand your pets over to someone else. Pets are bound to contribute to the claustrophobia in the trailer, and cause more wear and tear to boot.

  2. Lynn says:

    Now I understand why you didn’t think you could get much on it as trade in.

  3. Rosa says:

    My parents are fulltimers, and they are in for a week at a time once or twice a year, getting repairs at the factory or dealer. I’m sorry you’re having to live with so many broken things, that’s a small irritation that grows over time.

    • Katie says:

      I am wondering if you could coordinate a chance to house-sit somewhere for a week with an opportunity to take your travel trailer into the “shop” for that same time period and get some of the most irritating or necessary repairs done, using a little of the money you have stashed away for a new trailer. It might make the time you need to stay in your current home a little more tolerable. I know the floor replacement and leak would be the most expensive repairs, so maybe it could be, instead, most of the other things you have on your list. The floor replacement could come next, if you are still living in this, say 6-9 months from now.

      If this “week away” doesn’t sound feasible, I wonder if you could just hire a handyman for 5-6 hours one day while the kids are in school. He could repair some of the smaller things on your list certainly. Again, it would mean dipping into your housing fund, but it could help you stay sane and maybe bring up the cost of what you could get for a trade-in or a re-sell later on.

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