New Things for Full-Timers

We aren’t big shoppers or buyers. How many things can you put into a 188sf full-timing house you furnished five years ago? Simply put, for any addition you probably need to eliminate something. Occasionally something wears out or breaks, or we see a much better version that we think will lend far better performance. A few examples include towing mirrors, fridge thermometer, tire pressure gauge, or a back rest for our driver’s seat.

GM OEM mirror

Our truck’s GM original mirrors were very nice looking and functional except when towing. These original equipment mirrors did not extend, so when towing we could not see around the trailer at all. GM promised us we could have real towing mirrors for just less than $1,000. Okay, let’s find another solution.

extension mirror picture

We used clip-on towing mirrors six years. They were never very good because they didn’t extend far enough and the towing view was too small. But they were convenient — just unclip them when we unhitch and our driving mirrors are back to normal. More than four years ago we towed someone’s trailer, using their truck. Their truck was equipped with real towing mirrors, the kind you can extend by pulling out. We loved towing with these and really appreciated the improved rear view. The difference in what we could see behind us was amazingly better.

New towing mirror

We finally got around to buying a pair of real towing mirrors for our truck. Wow they are great! Just as good as we remembered, these mirrors give us so much better a rear view for checking traffic, pulling around curbs, or backing the trailer. We found these for $250 for the pair and they are direct replacements for the original equipment mirrors — just unplug the wires and unbolt the originals, bolt these in and plug them in. Bingo! They are great!

picture of thermometer for refrigerator

We used an electronic wireless thermometer over six years to monitor our refrigerator temperature. A month ago it went on the fritz, but not before consuming over a dozen batteries over the years. Too, it provided digital temperatures to worry us if it seemed to be trending up or down. Finally this week we bought a simple refrigerator tubular thermometer to hang on the fridge shelf. Best thing, it indicates “safe zone” so we don’t even pay attention to the precise temperature — doesn’t matter at all, as long as we are “in the zone”.

Another digression from digital indicators is our new tire pressure gauge. For the past five years we used a small digital tire pressure gauge to check our tire pressures while adjusting them. A year ago the batteries died and we paid almost as much for new batteries as the gauge originally cost us. This year it started indicating ridiculously varying pressures while reading the same tire one minute to the next.

picture of tire pressure gauge
We bought a new analog tire gauge at our local auto parts store. It holds the pressure until we press the release button, and has flexible hose and an easy-to-hold stem. What could be easier? Remote tire pressure monitoring/reading? No, we still need a gauge when we are adjusting the pressures. And this one uses no batteries, is easy to read, and has a more than ample tire pressure range.

picture of mesh back support

Quartzsite offers far more stuff than we need. We browsed hundreds of booths at the RV show and along the roads in Quartzite, plus in the flea markets. But our Airstreaming caravan friend Janine talked us into buying something — a mesh backrest for our driver’s seat.

This is great! It is stretched mesh, so is ventilated and flexible but solid lumbar support. The co-pilot has far more freedom to move around and re-position than the driver. This backrest makes our altogether very comfortable driver’s seat even better. This appears to be the same as sold by office supply houses for over $20, but we found them for $5. Should have bought two?

picture of pin with bail

We also bought four pins with bails to secure our solar panels, instead of using bolts and nuts. The nuts could turn loose from vibration, or we could too easily drop and lose them in gravel or long grass. We use very similar pins for securely attaching (and easily releasing) the bottom of our awning arms from the trailer. The pins are easy to remove but cannot release accidentally.

If you know our house, we don’t have a place to put more stuff. These things don’t take space. The new truck mirrors replace the old ones, which we sold in two hours on craigslist. The pins to hold the solar panels in position live in holes in the solar panel brackets, freeing up four 1/4″ X 3/4″ stainless steel bolts and nuts for which we doubtless will find another use. The backrest sits neatly between the driver and her seatback. And the gauges replace bad ones.

Our home is fully furnished and upfitted the way we like. Sometimes we find new things to make slight improvements in our full-timing house. The things we describe above are no big deal, just small things to make our truck and home a little better for our purposes.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2013 Dreamstreamr


10 responses to “New Things for Full-Timers

  1. Good write-up, guys. Makes sharing the adventure real while reminding us that we need to get on the road ourselves.

  2. cosmictravelgirl

    Exactly what you said. Only necessities, or replacing. By the end of this year, or sooner, I’ll be investing in a Class B motorhome (looks like a van on steroids) and you can read about all that coolness on my blog: Striving For Tiny :D
    Like you, I have everything down to bare essentials. People who live in tiny digs are forced to keep their means low. I’m a minimalist of 4 years now and tell family and friends not to buy me anything for Christmas that I have to hang on to. If clothing comes into the picture, I will sift something out of the picture to make way. I generally suggest food baskets. I can use up the food then recycle the containers.
    I do have a question for you, please. What do you do with your recyclables that you accumulate?
    :D Love your blog <3

    • I think you have a fine mindset for living in a B-van. Sounds like a good fit for you. We like several of them amd can see us in one some day.

      • strivingfortiny

        What is your solution to recycling? I’m not sure what to do when I get my van. Go to a center drop-off sight?

      • We have benefit of over 70 cubic feet storage in the bed of our truck, and some space in the trailer. Although much of the truck’s bed stores our gear, we can tuck a little recycling somewhere until we find an appropriate receptacle. In the trailer we have a recycling wastebasket for paper, glass, and small plastic and cardboard things.

        Some campgrounds and state parks have recycling. It’s pretty uneven though. Recently one provided for cardboard, glass, and plastic, but no paper. Before that one allowed cardboard, paper, and plastic but no glass. You never know, seems like. Sometimes we can’t hold it long enough and end up throwing it away if we cannot find a recycling center, but not very often.

        We generate as little waste as we can. Our magazines and books go to laundromats or campground exchange libraries. We don’t buy newspapers any more, instead getting our news from BBC and NPR on-line and on satellite radio. We do NOT buy bottled water, instead using our own containers for drinking water. We don’t buy soda pop and we have cut back on buying bottled or canned beer. When we can, we strip packaging down while still in grocery store parking lots and return it to their containers before we leave.

      • strivingfortiny

        Wow, what a sensible way to live. I appreciate your reply to my question. I’m going to read more on your blog to see if anything can give me tips on my very future nomadic way of life.
        Do you live in this manor or are you avid travelers and have a regular home?

      • We are full-timing in our 25′ travel trailer, owning no real property. Our property taxes are only on the truck and trailer

        Jim & Deb

  3. Timely post! I was just telling our neighbor here at Voyager in Tucson about you this morning! In town for the Alumafiesta….wish you were here. Safe travels.

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