Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Water Pump

Princess Auto has this Honda Water Ace pump on surplus sale for 230.00, I picked one up and have it hooked to my water transfer system. Works alot better but still need to get larger id water hoses, the usual rv white water hose is only 1/2 inch id which is limiting the flow.

Anyone that needs a pump like this should buy this unit, Honda 4 stroke motor comes complete with the pump, Honda pump and motor the same as this is close to 600.00.

The Shop

This is how I make a buck. Heavy truck collision repair, welding of steel and aluminum and custom work.

They roll them over and we repair them. We also do alot of gravel truck dump box repairs also garbage trailers too.

Today we are getting a small fleet ready for the upcoming gravel season. General check over for lights, brake adjust, some welding here and there. Grease and fluid levels check, check tires. Paint a frame on one truck a brake job on another. We are fully equipped for the work that we do and have been in business for five years now.

Do alot of truck frame work, trucks with broken frames, trucks that need to lengthened or shortened. We seem to always have work although the last six months I have noticed a overall slowing down in the workload.

Everything is paid for in the shop, I bought everything during the first three years and cause we live in our rv and have very little personal expenses we were able to invest heavily into the shop. Were just a small shop, myself and two other guys so we really don't need alot of work to keep us afloat. We also buddies too and spend time together away from the shop. I often say, dumb dumber and dumbest thats us. We sort of got our own thing going on and not like how other shops are run, pretty laid back here, alot of laughing and joking.

Were well known in the area and have alot of guys drop in to chew the fat or discuss upcoming work for us. We don't charge a big dollar and alot of small jobs we let slide, we don't nickel and dime a guy. We actually work for the money we make and I believe in a honest days work for honest pay.

We like the hard jobs, the jobs that the other shops in the area refer to us. Thats got Coal all written over it, is what I hear. Keeps it interesting.

I want to work another 3 years and then hopefully move to Northern Ontario and either work for a guy in this line of work or open a small one man shop. My immediate plan is to survive the next couple of years and keep out of debt as I am now.

The last 8 months here in the shop has been brutal, I moved the shop four times till we found the location that we are in now that is suitable, very hard to find a suitable shop. We lost our first shop due to a mold problem in the walls, it was the best shop out of the bunch but the landlord had to do major reno work forcing us to leave.

Sheena and Shilo

Here's the girls, my fulltime companions, where I go they go. Sitting on the back of thier truck. I actually built the truck with the sleeper so the dogs can travel with us with plenty of room. It's pretty much their doghouse, if we park at a mall and the dogs are left in the truck, no one can go near the truck without them freaking out.

They spend their days here in the shop, they are quite social during the day and if I leave them in the shop overnight, at night one cannot get into the shop.

These dogs are very active, all day long they are on the go. Customers play fetch with them and they see up to 50 people a day. So there is always something interesting for them to do.

Living in a trailer with two large dogs can be a bear. Especially during lousy weather, dogs tracking in dirt and mud. My carpets in the trailer right now are so disgusting it is embarrassing. We usually tear out the carpets and put down tile or wood flooring, why they put carpet in a trailer is beyond me.

They are 2 and 3 years old, from different parents but look quite alike. I raised them from 2 months old and they are with me 24/7. Extremely obedient and never tied up. They roam free here on our shop property and even though there is alot of truck traffic, they know to stay out of the way.

At our seasonal campsite, they stay on the site. A dog could be walking by less than 15 feet away and they will not get up and run, they will watch and maybe growl, but they won't move.

This is our seasonal site last year with our old trailer that burnt. The deck is a good size and the dogs can lay about there, but generally they lay on the grass beside the little walkway.

We might move into this site early this year, the campgorund owner phoned the other day and said he might open early. Yee haw looking forward to getting off the shop property.

The campground has 200 plus sites and 90 % of them are seasonal, some people have been there for 30 or more years. Campground is clean and well run. We pay 425.00 per month for this site plus hydro which is metered. The season last 5 months. Inground pool and a rec hall and very close to town for groceries etc. During the week there is maybe 5 campers in the whole park, very quiet, weekends it gets noisy with lots of activity.

I figure campgrounds like this are about the last neighbourhood left, all the people are decent and one does not have to worry about your kids so much. We have a 14 year old at home still and he has a bunch of friends in the park and has about 30 acres to roam free on. Everyone knows everyone and they keep a eye out on the kids.

I could'nt move into a house in Brampton and let the kids play outside like we can in this campground. Too much crime and gangs, crazy drivers and trouble always just around the corner.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


I actually slept in this morning, that felt good. Supposed to rain till the afternoon and then the sun is coming out. Good day to stay inside and relax, watch some tv and surf the net.

We have been in this shop for two months now and it is starting to feel like home. Customers are starting to come in and the word is getting around that we are here. The workload has been steady but slower than what we are used to. I am thinking that we are going to have a slow year, a year to just survive.

We will move the trailer to our seasonal site in Acton at the end of April, we will stay there till the end of October. We used to travel to Northern Ontario for many weekend getaways, but last year we did not and this year we may go for one week or ten days, depending if friends of ours want to go with us. I am okay with not travelling, we can go boating at Bellwood Lake which is only 20 minutes from our campsite.

Once I have the trailer at the campsite, we go on full hookups, so all this roughing it will come to a end for the summer months. I have to load water again today as the wife is doing laundry. This coming winter I will move the big water tank to inside the shop and mount a proper pump and run the water direct into the trailer.

Roughing it in the middle of the city. Were still only on a 15 amp circuit that I ran out of the shop. Which is kinda good as it is training the family to watch what they use for power.

The water delivery guy was here the other day and I asked him how much the average family uses for water. He said that when they build a new subdivision, they figure on 4 people per family and 1200 gallons per week water use. I was shocked as we get by with around 200 gallons per week. It was concern for me with property up north and a water system. Would I have to dig a well or be close to a body of water.

Alot of the properties that I looked at had power at the lot line, telephone too in alot of cases. After talking with other people, it could be quite a bit of money to bring the power into your land, one guy told me close to 100 grand. He is going with solar, you can buy alot of solar power for that kind of money. I like solar and want to get into it, but I want a hybrid system meaning for my heavy loads I would run the Honda.

As it works now, I have 4 6 volt batteries on board, they are charged by two Iota three stage converter chargers. Total power of charging is 90 amps. I can recharge my batteries in roughly 2 to 3 hours. I have a 1000 watt inverter that is wired into the bedroom receptacles where I have my bedroom tv and dvd player plugged into. Generally at night, I watch a movie or the news and shut down the Honda around 900 pm. We usually run the Honda from about 500 pm to 900 pm, this allows the wife to have full power for cooking, and we can run the living room tv too. That 4 hours gives plenty of time to recharge and float the batteries.

The batteries run the whole rig in the dead of winter no problem for a whole day. The furnace is pretty much running 65 % of the time, and we try to turn off lights when not needed. It is a very simple system and it seems to work very well. I have had more complicated systems, but in reality we did not need all the glitz. If I add solar, I don't want to mount to the roof of the rig, I really don't like the idea on holes drilled plus where ever I park I like to be out of the sun, so am thinking a portable solar array would be the ticket. I could move it as required for taking full advantage of the sun. Thought tow of mounting the panels on the truck.

The temperature extremes has taught me that in the summer, have the trailer positioned under shade, this will help keep the trailer cool and if I run the air conditioning it will not work as hard. In the winter, keep the trailer out of the wind but in the sun. Wind in the winter time, makes a huge difference in whether your comforable or not. Skirting the trailer so that wind does not blow under the trailer is critical.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Fill er Up

Excellent weather today, was supposed to rain but is holding off till sunday. I ran out of water in the trailer last night so this morning I ran down to crappy tire to get a water pump. Went with a submersible pump that i can drop into the big water tank and then fill the tank on the truck.

This pic shows the generator powering the pump that is sitting in the green tub, the water drains out of the tank on the truck to this green tub where the pump sits and collects pumps the water into the trailer. Not a ideal system and I need to fine tune it a little better. One thing that i could do is cut a larger opening in the tank on the truck and sit the pump inside the tank when i need to transfer the water.
Here is the tank on the truck, the white hose is just draining the water into the green bucket.

It took a fair bit of time to transfer the 65 gallons this way, too long. Even if I use the 12 volt water pump it takes too long.

Here is a shot of the side front of the trailer, all the propane bottles and the white hose going into the 65 gallon water tank in the basement storage.

Really like the trailer parked in this spot, out of the wind and out of the way. This fall when we move the trailer back here for the winter, I might build some sort of deck, maybe enclosed to keep the shoes and snow outside????


I like Saturdays, the guys are out of the shop and i usually have a couple of customers drop by for small little jobs, make a little cash. I am going to fine tune my water system today, i need a submersible pump to drop into the water tank so that i can fill the water tank on the truck and then transfer to the trailer.

i got up this morning and we were out of water on the trailer.

I picked up a 950 watt inverter genset at Can Tire for 250.00, half price as it was on clearence. I fired it up and seems to run pretty good, a little noisy compared to my honda. I will use this on the truck and around the shop for portable power. i will also try it on the trailer for it to run the converter in case the honda has a problem.

Bought a new laptop at Walmart for 500, they are cheap now compared to a few years ago.

I wish the sub pump would fit into the water tank on the back of the truck, that sure would make it easier to transfer the water instead of using that little rv 12 volt pump. Maybe I should cut the tank so that it will drop inside or I could use a open container??

No pics today as i am on the new laptop and i need to transfer over some pics from the shop computer.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Water Day

I got the 1500 gallon water tank yesterday and spent the afternoon getting the proper fittings and assembling it all together. The water man should be here this morning to fill it up.

There is no water on the property save for the house next door that runs off a well. I don't want to tap into his system cause I can at times use alot of water and don't need the headache.

1500 gallons for the rv, based on my prior consumption would last me well over a month. I still have to truck the water from this tank to my truck tank and then to the trailer tank. So some more figuring to get this system to work well.

I think I will powerwash my trailer this weekend, I can put my pressure washer in the back of the truck along with the Honda genset, the water tank is there already, kinda like a mobile power washing unit.

I moved the trailer from the back of the yard to right behind the shop, there was just enough room to fit the trailer. The Honda mounted back up on the trailer, we are plugged into the shop power now, only 15 amp though.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Truck

I built the truck three years ago, it's a 95 Ford E 350 with the Powerstroke Diesel. I bought it with 160 k and it now has 220 k, roughly halfway through its life.
I installed a sleeper on the truck for added room, I have two german shepherds and while we are in our seasonal campsite, they sleep in the truck during the night. Keeps them out of the trailer and the wife happy.

You can see the water tank mounted on the rear deck, there is also a 12 volt water pump and this is how we transfer water to the trailer. It's a little tricky in the cold weather but we manage.

Truck is a older unit, but paid for. I do all my own repairs save for a transmission last year. Nice having my own shop where I can work on my own projects.

Present Day Thoughts

Survival, preparedness and self sufficiency. I don't think that the world is coming to an end but I do believe we are in for a lifestyle change. I own my own business and I see how the economy is slowing down. Our phones are quiet and if was not for us being established for five years in the same area, we would have no work at all.
All the things that I have done and believed in the last 10 or 12 years has put me into a fairly good position now. I have no personal or business debt, I have mastered trailer living and winter rving is now a breeze. I am in the kind of work where I am always needed and I moved to a shop that has low overhead and in a excellent area. I pay 2500.00 a month for the shop and this also where I live 7 months out of the year. For the other five months we are in our seasonal campground where the cost is 425.00 per month. My overhead for the year is less than 2500.00.
Last year was a very bad year for us and had we a mortgage, car payments, trailer payments and credit cards like the majority of people we know we would have been sunk. Living this way ensured our survival as we did not need alot of money for ourselves to keep us going. We are now getting back on track and even though the economy is crap, I think we will have a so so year.

My truck and trailer is my home but is also my way out. If it all fell apart business wise, my home is still paid for. I have somewhere to sleep. If I need to move to somewhere where there are jobs, I can. Moving all my shop equipment is another thing.

I spent the winter months researching the net on preparenedess and survival topics. There is alot of good info out there and I won't repeat any of it here except what I am going to do. My truck and fiver are complete now, except for a solar system which I am undecided about. The next step is stockpiling supplies. Trying to make a good list from all the excellent info out there. Land up in Northern Ontario is on my radar for later this year. I found a nice little property already, I might start researching it a little more next week.

How bad will things get, this is the big question for me. I think it will be tough, one will have to live a frugal life, work a little harder, make do with a little less. We've had it too good for too long. Getting back to basics.

Present Day

Our trailer parked at our new shop. We moved Feb 1 2009 into this shop and we had to put the trailer in the rear part of the yard where there is no power or water. We had it here for six weeks.
Cold and windy, wow. 100 pounds of propane would last 4 days. Our onboard freshwater tank froze up so I had to install a 65 gallon tank in the basement storage where it is heated, and one night the lines in there even froze.

The Honda worked well except for one night it would not start. I pulled it into the shop and ended up taking the whole thing apart. I pulled apart the motor and I assume what the problem was, the compression release lever on the camshaft was sticking. Cleaned it all up, assemble it all back together, do a valve lash and now she just purrs along. Of course all this happened at 10 pm, I had it up and running at 300 in the morning.

All I am using for inverted power is the upstairs bedroom receptacles. I rewired them to feed from the inverter so when the Honda is off, I can watch a movie or tv. Also during the six weeks there, two of my Iota converters went for a crap, these provide the 12 volts dc for the interior lighting and appliances and recharging the batteries. I ran my truck charger from the shop for about 4 weeks while I search for replacements at a reasonable price, not the price that one gets at the local rv dealer, which is usually double.

All our grey water here drains off into the field. There is no water on the property so we had to load water at my buddy's house down the road and deliver to the trailer. 65 gallons at a time. I just bought a 1500 gallon tank today and mounted it outside, this will feed my hot pressure washer as sometimes I need to wash a truck to work on it. The water delivered is 80.00 a load and he will be here in the morning.

We use 65 gallons of water every two to three days, the fiver has a washer dryer but we have not been using it. The wife goes to the laundrymat, but 30.00 to the laundry, I told her it would be better to do it in the trailer and save the expense and hassle, easier to truck water.

Here is the water tank mounted in the trailer, I have another one the same mounted on the truck.

In the front storage area are the 4 6 volt Crown batteries, along with a toolbox. The black box is the 1000 watt inverter that runs the bedroom receptacles. I still need to vent this cabinet to allow battery gases to escape, for the time being it is always partially open.

Here is a overall shot of the truck and trailer at our last shop, we moved shops four times in 8 months, real hard.

Moving the Trailer

Here we are tryig to move the trailer out of the snow and ice, and I mean thick. The trailer had to come out so that the warmer weather could starting melting what was under the trailer. I pulled it out and parked in the rear of the yard, kinda like boondocking, ran the Honda for power and transfer water to the onboard fresh water tank. It worked out well.

We could run a whole day off the inverted power, as long as we conserved a little bit. The Honda would run and the Xantrex would recharge the batteries in a little over two hours.

The onboard fresh water tank held 85 gallons and would last two to three days.

New Trailer

Fast forward a couple of years and we get a good deal on a large fifth wheel. Here she is sitting next to the shop right smack dab in the middle of one very cold winter.
We got the trailer just before the snow started so never really got it setup proper for winter rving, as you can tell from the makeshift plywood to block the wind.

You can see that I mounted a Honda Inverter generator on the pin box, also in the front storage area is a Xantrex 2500 watt Freedom Inverter Charger along with 4 6 volt golf cart batteries. Finally my own power system.

This trailer was 42 overall feet long, triple slide and triple axle. It was okay for the winter but we did have big problems with condensation. So bad that the carpets were soaked. Single pane windows and walls would sweat where ever there was a aluminum frame upright.

We lost this trailer about 4 months after this pic was taken due to a washing machine front control panel going up in flames. Luckily no one was hurt. I woke that morning and the wife and kid had already gone, as I was leaving the trailer the cat wanted in and for some reason I said, if you can stay outside all night you can stay outside all day.

We lost quite a bit of money on that trailer and the fire. We owned it for 8 months but had redid the whole inside with new leather furniture, stereo equipment, computers and new mattress. I also clearcoated the whole trailer in my shop, as the decals were fading. Insurance would not cover any of that. My Xantrex system got fried as well.

Fine Tuning

So the last post took me to about the year 2000. Around that time I gave up truck driving and went back to heavy truck collision repair. Got a job in town, actually about three miles from the campground. This was ideal, but the winter was coming and I did not want to travel 40 minutes out to a campground that was open during the winter months. So I parked behind the truck repair shop.

The boss was okay with this too, during the winter is when we do the bulk of the work. Snow and winter conditions create alot of work for our trade. Long hours and alot of 7 day weeks, no problem for me, cause I live 50 feet from my toolbox.

Now living in a small fifth wheel in behind a truck repair facility can be a little weird. The guys at work thought I was nuts but I had a plan.

Because my overhead was nil. I made a decision that one day I would open my own small truck repair shop. I bought every tool that I could think of as well as the shop equipment. I did this for four years. During that time I met the wife I am with now. Try meeting someone when your living in a trailer out behind a truck shop.

So I decided to open my own shop and moved out to Milton Ontario, the other half wanted me to open a shop and I told her that I did not have quite enough money, but threw caution to the wind and now were in business.

That same little 24 foot fifth wheel now holds me and the wife and her 8 year old son, beside the truck shop. Summertime, up to a campground about 15 minutes away.
That first year in business was tough, but we got through it.

Here is the fifth wheel beside our shop the first winter we opened. Tucked in there nicely, I ran the hydro and water from the shop. Our propane furnace gave out so we ran a couple of ceramic block heaters for the winter. Luckily there was a drain close to take in all the grey water. Bathroom in the shop.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Up and Running

Okay never did a blog before but here goes. I thought I would do a blog so that I could have a record of my daily events, kinda like a diary, mostly for my own use but if others find it interesting than all the better.

My interests are varied. I live fulltime in a 38 foot fifth wheel rv up here in Ontario Canada and have been doing so for 12 years. Started off in a truck camper and decided that I liked this way of living and moved up with bigger and larger units to the one that I have now.

I originally decided to move into the truck camper cause I was tired of paying rent on a apartment where I had no life. Limited to the things that I could do. I moved into the truck camper and lived here and there for the first month. Mostly at the trucking firm that I was working at. I worked alot of hours so camping out in the truck parking lot was ideal. The trucking firm had showers for the drivers.
A buddy told me about a campground that was just up the road, I went up and was dumbfounded that such a thing existed in the city. I moved in and set up camp and immediately felt at home. I stayed there till the end of the season and then found a campground that was open for the winter.

That same winter I found a older fifth wheel unit which was affordable. Still not sure if this lifestyle was going to be fulltime and permanent. I moved into the fifth wheel and although it was only a 24 footer, I had a ton of room compared to the old truck camper. I settled in for the remainder of that winter and every day I learned something new about this lifestyle.

I got into generators and inverters/battery systems. Outfitting the pickup truck properly to haul the trailer. Got familiar with all the onboard items such as water heaters and fridge propane systems, furnaces and electric heaters. How to keep warm through a cold Ontario winter. Keep water lines from freezing up etc.