Friday, January 29, 2010

Glendale RV declares bankruptcy

Very interesting week in the world of RVing for us. Seems that out of left field our trailer manufacturer filed for bankruptcy, and nobody really has much information. From the articles I've read (good one here from The Star) their last quarter stuff was pretty strong - no long-term debt, good cash position, industry on the rebound), but their press release states that they've fired the board, closed the factories and don't see getting back into the business. Very strange.

Well, very strange until I read the following article. Seems like there might have been more going on that people didn't quite focus on (article here from the National Post). What's strange to me is that its been days since the released the info, and there's nothing out there regarding any more information. Bankruptcy must be different in Canada. Here, they file, then usually reorganize in some form, then try to work through it, then if that doesn't work they quit - right? This one seems to be - Monday, everything is fine. Tuesday - we're not answering the phones, everyone is laid off and the receiver's name is Earnst and Young.

I contacted the dealership, but they've been no help. largely I'm sure because they were blindsided as much as I was. They make mention of no more warranties on the in-stock inventory they have. My question is what happens to anything I've got to get fixed? Did Glendale do anything with that? Here, GM shuts down entire brands and leaves warranties in-tact. Seems, once again, that the RV industry is a very different beast.

That brings us to 'what to do', and I think the answer is wait and watch. I have that minor leak in the coach for now, which I can probably fix at some point. Everything else seems to be working ok, and any MAJOR systems I have in place are covered by their own warranties, so - no big deal, I hope. I'm pretty handy, and I'm hoping that the major stuff stays together. if not, then I guess we'll just fix it.

One thing this did bring up in my head is that I should pay more attention to the surroundings - meaning that their denial to fix the A/V unit and the lack of response about it should have told me more about the big picture. They didn't care how they looked to outsiders, or even a current customer, because they knew they were leaving the business. "Trash us all you want, we're not gonna be here in a month". Too bad, from looking at the forums a lot of people aspired to a Glendale trailer.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Filling in the holes

So we found out the breaking strength of fiberglass. It is exactly one hit under a breeze grabbing the door from your hand and flinging it into the door stopper at full speed. You can see the damage caused in the pic to the right. I did the repair at night - sorry for the photos. :)

Anyhow - I wasn't sure the best way to proceed with the fix. Just put fiberglass over it and it would look rough, mismatched and probably would just happen again. there is no way the kids aren't getting the door ripped from their hands on the beach - no way that's not happening. It looks like the problem stems from the fact that Glendale didn't match up the stopper with the plastic piece that has the door catcher on it, though they did on the back door. Regardless, something has to be done here.

So I got an idea about using aluminum in a fair thickness to not only cover the hole, but also provide a base for future problems. The front door will be used all the time and will very easily take the most abuse. If I fix it right the first time, I won't have to think about it again, right? Now, where to get the materials.

First we (I asked Adam to fix it, since he broke it) tried to cut up an old sign I had laying around, but it was clear we neither had the tools, nor the correct materials with this one. I looked at going through the materials shop I used for the desk, but that was a lot of overkill in material, and then I'd still have to paint it and hope that it held up. Something made me look into sign shops, and I'm glad I did.

I ended up going with .08 aluminum signage, which is coated on both sides pure white. I was told if I wanted to do it from fresh stock that they had a minimum charge, per piece (I wanted to do both doors) of $30, and that was just too much - I could buy the material for 1/5 of that, maybe less and while I'd have to paint it, it seemed much more cost effective. The owner of the shop said that they might have material from past jobs in the back since I needed only small pieces (about 3" x 4"). I ended getting them to cut me two sizes - one 4 x 5 and the other 3 x 4. The pieces were a little beat up, but for what their purpose was I didn't mind a little scuff here or scratch there.

To put them on I unscrewed the door holder, then drilled the holes into the aluminum to match it. Since the thickness of the material wasn't that great, I wasn't worried about needing new screws. I covered the back of the aluminum with butyl tape, filled the hole the best I could with silicone sealant, filled the screw holes with silicone and reattached the door holder exactly where it had been, just with a plate of aluminum under it. I also added two screws to the two far corners of the plate to help with any kind of flexion, so no water would get under the tape. In the photo you can see the butyl tape squished out under the screws, and what it looks like after being scraped and cleaned (top right corner).

Overall I think its a great fix. The aluminum is thick enough not to dent or bend, it matches the outside of the RV, and I think it dissipates the energy from a door fling so that I don't have to worry too much about it. I didn't put on the other door plate yet, but probably will before we leave, just in case. Of course, I could just carry the extra with me as a precaution - it'll just depend on how much free time I have before we leave.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Surfwise - a very interesting experience

We'd heard about this film from - somewhere - I can't remember. But, a family growing up in an RV sounded like something we had to watch. Being largely about surfing, I was sure that there would be a focus on that specifically, but wanting to see how a family of 11 lives in a 24-foot rig - I thought we'd be able to work with it. The basic premise:

Legendary surfer, Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz, abandoned a successful medical practice to withdraw from the lifestyle of mainstream America. But unlike other American searchers such as Thoreau and Kerouac, Paskowitz took his wife and nine children along for the ride, all eleven of them living in a 24-foot camper. The family spent their days living by Doc's rules on health, fitness, sexuality, and above all surfing. The Paskowitzs' prove that America may be running out of frontiers, but it hasn't run out of frontiersmen.
The movie was definitely an interesting and in-depth look at how that kind of family works, and provided a few lessons about the later-in-life consequences of our actions on this trip. While we are certainly not idealists in the way that this patriarch was, I think that it showed Jill and me that we do have to provide structure, discipline and education in a very normal sense along the way. I think Jill and I want it to be a very rewarding experience, but still maintain a lot of the normalcy of 'regular life'.

I think what I mean most about that is keeping them prepared to rejoin society in the way that everyone else does - not to give in to the 'RV Lifestyle' that some live -- cheap lifestyle, no schedules, constantly on the move, no boundaries and some kind of hippie-like existence. I think the basic philosophy of our plan is solid, that it will allow us to remain grounded and at the same time experience everything in the country first-hand.

One of the most interesting things from the movie (I'd put them all in here, but I don't want to spoil the laughs and gutchecks) was Doc's personal mantra. I'm going to say that it struck a chord with me, making me think about it since then, and probably incorporating it into my personal beliefs. From seeing his website (http://www.alohadoc.com/) it appears his philosphy takes off on a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt:
"Health, is more than the mere absence of disease..."
His take:
"Health is much, much more than just not being sick. Health is the presence of a
Superior State of Well Being-a vigor, a vitality, which must be worked for each
and every day of your life."

As far as the movie itself, what a fun watch. We've got 15 new inside jokes, quotes and funny lines that we have in our heads. The movie itself was very revealing about large family dynamics, idealism, and the effects of dictatorships. The cinematography was great, as was the storytelling. The movie followed a very straightforward formula (feel good start, tell a little background, reveal the demons, go deep into the demons, make it all come together in a nice little package with a bow, the end), but even with that obvious formula (not sure you could tell this particular any other way and keep it watchable) the film was a really enjoyable evening. It really did give a great insight into another way to live off-the-grid, out of the norm, completely being true to your beliefs - and the consequences that eventually come from that.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Conversation - and why I think RVers talk a lot

So the other day I was reading this article about how to start a conversation - and it rang some bells. What I found most interesting is how it made me think of why people that 'belong' to groups seem to get along so well. Groups of people that share a common interest - RVs, Classic Cars, Sports Bars, Knitting Clubs, Chess tables at the park - seem to find an easier time of meeting and having conversation - and this article really pointed out why.

"So I have developed a theory -- the theory of the third -- which says that neither person should start a conversation by talking about himself or the other person directly. Instead, you have to find a third subject, a third person, or an object to begin the conversation around."
According to this tidbit, the key to starting a conversation is to have a third party for a topic. All those groups have the party already established. They all like it (or why would they be there), they all know a little bit about what they are talking about, and they know the same about the other party - making approachability much easier. I don't know - maybe this was an obvious concept for some, but I'd never put it in specific terms before. It has really opened my eyes to the fact that we really will be more accepted on the road, and will probably not have any trouble starting conversations out there.

"The theory of the third explains why the weather is such a common resort. Unfortunately, it's so common as to be clich├ęd, but at least it's an attempt at neutrality -- like commenting on the interesting color of the wall you're standing next to. And that's the best way to start a conversation, with an attempt at neutrality.

This sounds like lame advice, but it's not. What you're saying is "I'm not going to invade your privacy, and you're not going to invade mine. We'll test each other out by talking about something that seems inconsequential and see if we want to deepen this a bit."

Overall, I really enjoyed the persective of the article, and I think it says a lot about why people in groups talk so easily (favorite team, talk sports, puppies in the park or kids at the mall) - clearly "an attempt at neutrality". --'We have a common like. I didn't get too personal, and you can stay non-personal until you want to get more personal.'-- Welcome to small-talk. :)

Full article: http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/personal/01/13/o.breaking.the.ice/index.html

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Inspiration and Information - comes from everywhere...

In wandering the aisles at the public library, I came across a book that looked interesting, so I picked it up - Horatio's Drive, America's First Road Trip.

The book really discussed how it was back in 1903 - no paved or improved roads (gravel), no maps, nobody had ever done anything like it. In fact, there were towns along the way that had never seen a car. It discussed the circumstances surrounding the trip, what it took to undertake it, and how lucky we all are now to be where we are.

After reading the book we decided to check out the film that Ken Burns did (the book was a companion to the film). The film gave me so much more of an understanding as to how bad it was out there. The visuals were well done (especially the Horatio-cam), the audio was done by big-names (Tom Hanks, Tom Bodette, etc.), and the information was really well presented.

I won't go into detail about the entire story, because if you're interested in Road Trips, its a must-see, and I don't want to ruin it - the film and book basically show what happens when somebody has vision, drive and a wallet to support it :). BTW - if you rent the film, be sure to watch the outtakes. It'll give you a little more perspective as to the background of the film, and the trip! More information is available here: http://www.pbs.org/horatio/index.html