New RV Or Repair This One

This question has come up quite a few times in the last year. Although we love our RV, we went against what everyone had said when we researched RV’s 6 years ago. Back then we were not sure of what type of RV we should get. We looked at them all. When we sat down and really looked at what type of RVing we would be doing, the search was narrowed down to a fifth wheel or travel trailer.

A Little Background

Since we planned on workamping and being in areas anywhere from 4-6 months, this made the most sense to us. After many RV shows and long-winded discussions, we decided to go with a travel trailer. To date, we feel the travel trailer decision was a good one with one exception. Back when we researched this lifestyle, just about everyone had warned against buying a Hyper-Lite trailer. Everyone had said it would not hold up because of the lite weight (cheap) materials used in building one.

Picking Up Our New RV

Of course, the trailer we fell in love with was a hyper-lite. After long consideration of pros and cons we decided to go with the travel trailer we fell in love with. It was/is a 2015 Salem Hemisphere 294RK. The rear kitchen and large windows were a big plus for us. The counter space in the kitchen had more room than we had seen in RV’s twice the price. The layout was perfect for our needs.

Soft Saggy Floors Already?

Since purchasing the RV, we used it one season part-time and now four (going on five) years full time. For the most part, it has held up surprisingly well. The biggest issue for us is the sagging/soft floors. In talking to other Hemisphere owners we thought that maybe it was because the floor supports were too spread out. We still think this today but there is also another problem. In trying to keep this unit lightweight, they used the cheapest/thinnest floor available on the market.

Chloroplast Underbelly
Cut off sections of our old chloroplast underbelly after it rolled up in a ball on I-40

We also had the bottom covering (chloroplast) fall off within the first full season of traveling. It appears that when I asked the dealership we bought it from to install tank heaters they left part of the chloroplast hanging. While traveling through Oklahoma in the high winds, the wind caught a section of the chloroplast that was hanging and it actually ripped and rolled almost the entire underbelly up. We wound up cutting most of it off. When it came undone it also ripped those new tank heaters right off the tanks. All but one are somewhere on I40.

Lazy May Be A Little Harsh

Now I must admit although we did hang new chloroplast up the next season we got a little lazy and never completed the job properly. I mention this because of a new problem I will be discussing in a few minutes. One that has definitely come back to bite us in the ass.

It Sits About An Inch Higher Now

About a year after that we noticed the bathroom floor was sagging really bad. Why a manufacturer would place a floor heater vent directly outside the shower where you step is puzzling to me. Anyway, over time the floor fell through. What did we do? Yup, a temporary fix. We covered the hole with screening and heavy-duty furniture plastic and cut a template of the entire floor out of 3/4 inch plywood and fitted it over the hole. That “temporary” fix is still holding up as of today.

Slide Floor Removed
The Slide Floor After Being Removed

The slide was the next thing to go. If you follow us on Facebook you would have seen the pictures of the old and new floor. The floor was separating from the walls. It was at this point we started to think about maybe purchasing a new RV. Although some of the things that were happening to the RV were due to lack of maintenance on our part, a lot was just cheap manufacturing. The problem is that cheap manufacturing runs rampant in this industry. It seems like no matter how much you pay for an RV there are shortcuts and shortcomings in the manufacturing process.

Damn, I Could Have Done That!!!

I should say I am a pretty handy guy. I have been an auto mechanic for most of my life and have taken numerous things apart and put them back together. I am usually not afraid to tackle “do-it-yourself” projects so why I decided to pay someone to do the slide floor is beyond me. But I did and he did a great job. It’s just when I saw how the job was done I thought to myself, I could have done that!!!

Hot, Hot, Hot!!!

That being said, once we invested that money into the slide floor we had already made our decision to do the repairs (and some modifications) to this trailer ourselves and skip the new RV and high payments. We were pumped at the time and even made a few interior changes like getting rid of the old heavy, clunky couch with the bed that pulled out and replaced it with a lighter and longer futon. The problem was we were in Florida in the summer and it was hot, really hot. So we decided to wait until fall.

Nothing!!! A Big Fat Nothing!!!

At this point we were in Milton at a KOA and since we stayed there the previous winter we knew it would definitely cool off enough to perform all the work we wanted to do (and there is a huge list) without us dying from the heat. So what happened? Nothing, we did nothing maintenance and/or repair wise.

I say this for those of you either already living in an RV full time, a weekend warrior, or thinking about getting into RVing please know this. You will always have some kind of maintenance to do. Don’t think that because you sold your house and bought an RV, you will have nothing to do on your RV. Think of it this way. Even if your RV came off the assembly line built perfectly (yeah like that ever happens…lol), every time it’s driven down the road it is the equivalent of it being in an earthquake. Something is always loosening up or breaking.

The Ocala National Forest

Back to our story. As time went on we were offered positions in the Ocala National Forest (where we are currently) and took those positions to be closer to our family members who all live in the eastern part of Florida. Our plans to work on the RV were still to wait until the weather cooled off.

Mice!!!
Just one of a few stockpiles found while removing the old choroplast

Apparently, we waited too long. Remember above when I said our lack of maintenance would come back to bite us in the ass? Well, it did. Big time!!! Because we never sealed the bottom chloroplast correctly when we installed the new pieces we left many “breaches” in sections from the front to the back. Well, when you mix open sections in your underbelly, the forest, and cooler weather starting to come in what do you get? Did you figure it out yet? If you said mice you are correct!!! We now have mice in the RV and they are annoying as hell!!! Not only are they annoying, but they are also starting to do damage such as chewing on wires.

Time To Seal All The Entry Holes

We no longer have the luxury of sitting back and waiting. Hey, maybe this was the kick in the butt we needed to start doing the repairs/maintenance that was long overdue. In any case, the war is on!!! We have started the work. Our first step was to remove the chloroplast and make it a little harder to travel around under there. This step has been completed.

We have a long road ahead of us and will document our repairs, upgrades, and battles with our mice. Even with everything that has happened to this RV, we still feel we made the right choice in keeping it and I am actually looking forward to getting my inner fixing juices flowing again. Stay tuned…

Have you ever had to deal with mice in an RV? What did you do about it? How did you get rid of those pesky little bastards? Let us know in the comments below

2 thoughts on “New RV Or Repair This One”

  1. I personally feel you made the right choice keeping your home!!!!! We have well I have (the wife has different plans) of getting something different but I also have the kids that say….Dad that’s our first fulltime home we can’t get rid of it!!!! Making the repairs as needed and modifications us full timers do it only makes since to keep what we have. Good luck on the repairs and mods in the future and to everyone else that sees this article because damn it it’s got my wheels moving now to!!!!! Thanks Dennis and Chris!!!!!

    Reply
    • Tim- Years ago this would have been a no-brainer. I love taking things apart and rebuilding them. Somehow I lost that spark. After ripping off the chloroplast last Wednesday and looking around under there I started getting re-inspired. I have all these projects I want to do while I have it opened now!!!… Dennis

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