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Dealing with an Older RV

The Old Girl is no spring chicken;  17 years old this year. Seems like there is always some little chore to look after and I don’t mind. Comes with the territory I guess. Over the years I have replaced some things that were just slap wore out, upgraded out of date stuff like electronics and generally just kept her in a good enough shape that I felt like I could pull out and hit the road whenever it struck me.

You know what foreshadowing is? In a movie or book, it is a hint of things to come. In the movie Jaws, remember that music they played? Da dum. Da dum da dum. They played it right before that old robot shark would swim up and snatch somebody’s leg right off. Well, yesterday morning I got a hint of things to come.

I walked by the shower and the carpet was wet…. just a teeny bit. WTF? I got to remembering the previous night I had taken a shower with the water turned all the way up and it had sorta gotten away from me and probably sprayed out over the top of the shower enclosure. Yeah, that’s it. Whew! Human beings can rationalize anything you know. A few hours later, the wet spot had spread nearly to the center of the hall. Believe it or not, I was still in denial. I rationalized that the water had just spread out a teeny (not really) bit more and it was bound to stop pretty quick. I blotted up the water best I could with a towel and turned a fan on it to dry it up.

Just before supper, Miss Kathy came in and said “You know the carpet is wet in front of the bathroom sink?” My heart sank. Once someone is on to your procrastinating/wishing/silly rationalization the jig is up. You gotta man up and deal with the problem at hand. The Old Girl had sprung a leak. It was getting close to dark so I decided to put the problem off until the next day. How bad could it get, right? Besides I needed to formulate a plan. This was going to be a bitch and I knew it.

Here is the deal. RV’s are plumbed with Pex fittings that you clamp together with steel bands and a special tool. I did not have a Pex tool — I should have one and I don’t.        ” My name is Andy.  I procrastinate. …..   Hi Andy! “ Pex fittings and plumbing are not the most reliable means of transporting fluids. I seriously doubt they would use them on the Space Shuttle. Over time, their reliability plummets in an inverse curve. I was dealing with 17 year old fittings and I was screwed.  Plus,  water pressure affects the fittings. I have been running off my onboard tank and 12v pump for years. In the last month I have been in RV parks exclusively with city water at higher pressure. I use one of those regulators but I bet the city water pressure was easily double what my 12v pump provided. The Old Girl had been stressed out and was hemorrhaging.

So I went to bed, not even looking forward to the next days’ events. As is my habit here of late, I had to get up about 4am to pee. I swung my legs out of bed and SQUISH! The soaked carpet now extended from the bathroom vanity well in to the bedroom. My OCDness kicked in and I was not able to go back to sleep. The remainder of the night was filled with half-awake disaster scenarios, rotted carpet and buckling floors.

In due course this morning, I put Plan A into action. Everything out in the floor.  There was some plumber's butt as well but nobody wants to see that.. I went out and shut off the city water and turned on the 12v pump. I was hoping to gain an idea of the severity of the leak by how often the 12v pump ‘hit’. I didn’t have long to wait. And then it hit again and again. Crap, this is starting to suck really bad. Next step was to grab the flashlight and inspect the underbody luggage bins to see if I could find the leak or at least narrow down the location. I was hoping against hope it was in an easily accessible location. No luck there. I had plenty of evidence of water leaking but it was all running down from the floor above. Rotting carpet, buckling floors. It is a cruel world folks.

Now it was time to get smart and quit being stupid. The bus was leveled so the rear is slightly lower than the front. That is the reason the water was running back into the bedroom. I had no wet carpet forward of the vanity. I

Vanity access. The bottom board came up with some effort. Beats pulling the vanity out.

was hoping the leak was not in the shower stall area which was totally inaccessible. I pulled the shelves out below the closet next to the vanity because I know I could get access into the maintenance area around the furnace from there. I couldn’t get my head in there to look around but I could reach way around the corner with my arm and trace the water lines going to the vanity. Ding Ding Ding! Moisture detected! I was so relieved. Finding the leak was 80% of this battle. I was able to pull the floor of the vanity up with some effort and gain direct access to the plumbing and there it was — the leak. That bastard!

That bastard of a leak revealed.

It was a pretty substantial leak too; no wonder I had 20 feet of wet carpet. Since I had no Pex tools or Pex components I had to improvise a fix. You better believe I will lay in a supply of Pex stuff when I get back to the Land of Lowe’s.  I had some JB Weld in the toolbox and decided that was my best chance of a good fix.  JB Weld is amazingly versatile stuff.  It is quite a bit stronger than regular epoxy. You can drill it, grind it and heat it up to almost 500 degrees and it still hangs tough.  I turned off all the water and opened the lines to relieve any pressure.  I got busy and mixed me up some of that JB Weld and slathered

JB Weld - ready for the mixing

it on the leak location . A couple of hints about JB Weld or 2 part epoxy for that matter.  I always mix it on a piece of cardboard and I cut up a medium cable tie to use for the little applicator paddles.  They are just wide enough and flexible enough to work real well.  The JB sets up in about 30 minutes and hardens in 5 hours or so.  They recommend letting it set 12-15 hours or so before you use it.  If I was repairing the Space Shuttle or somelike, I would wait.  After about 6 hours I was getting hungry and needed to turn the water on to fix supper.   The JB worked like a champ.  I will cut that T out and repair it properly when I get back to Calvert.  The JB Weld will hold till then.

End Note: Going to the Country by Beau Jocque and the Zydeco Hi-Rollers. Mojo hexes and black cat bones.  You know I like me some of that zydeco time to time.  I am actually glad it is not that widespread.  If it was,  it would turn into a bunch of pretty boy CMT music whores.   Old funky ass swamp slide and Gabbanelli squeeze box.  Real stuff.

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