Blog 1: Embarking on our Test Trip
February 5th, 2023
Before heading out on the open road in our boxtruck, now converted RV, we wanted to test our luck by taking a test trip. We had seen too many videos where the journey started off badly with things going awry, like smoke billowing from the engine or a flat tire within the first 30 minutes; that being said, we wanted to make sure we were prepared for any eventuality. We made sure that everything was secure and that we had some tools on hand so we wouldn’t have to face any irritation or disappointment during our test trip. The test was key in giving us an insight into which parts of our vehicle would need extra attention when settling in for a long journey and also gave us chance to test out some of the amenities of living in an RV. So let’s dig in to what we learned and our first few nights in our truck!
Taking our truck in for a service before heading out on our cross-country road trip was something we knew we had to do. Even though it was difficult saying goodbye to our beauty, we understood how important it was for the service to be completed for peace of mind. Thankfully, all that was needed were some fuse and gasket replacements – nothing too major! Of course, this gave us reassurance that it was a quality purchase. However, one thing required more attention – 6 new tires! Featuring 4 on the rear and 2 up front, our current ones were already 10 years old and had some wear and tear on the tire walls, which is obviously not ideal for a long journey. As a result, we got them replaced so everything would be in good condition for the start of our trip.
We knew we had to be prepared for any situation and had to get the right equipment. We stocked up on fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide detector, and plenty of tools. Plumbing? Check! Pipe cutters, plumbers tape, extra fittings, shop towel – they were all ready to be used. When it came to electrical work we got a receptacle tester (which looks like a plug with flashing lights) as well as a non contact voltage tester pen, wire cutters, fuses and wago connectors in case of an emergency fix were needed. After stocking up on everything we need, lets not forget the drill and impact driver plus various screws! We were now sure that no matter what problem we faced next – we’d be able to sort it out! Or atleast, have a temporary fix until we get home.
As we bid farewell, the excitement of our upcoming 4 hour drive was palpable. With Josh at the wheel – he having driven box trucks before – I knew we were in good hands! We took off on city roads, and then hit highways and eventually ended up on some dirt roads as well. It was important to test out how our truck performed in all kinds of terrain. Thankfully, our truck acted like an absolute champ; it got up to speed relatively fast on the highways and blended into traffic with ease. While we can’t predict what will happen during future drives, this one certainly panned out better than expected – nothing fell down along the way!
Taking a road trip in a truck can be a novel experience, and it definitely brings up some surprises! We had prepared ourselves for the usual bumps, creaks, and rattles that come with driving a vehicle of this size. Knowing what is typical will help us recognize when something strange occurs in the future. Needless to say, we did not have any music during the drive. We soon discovered one of the closet door swaying back and forth during the turns and curves – not exactly what we had expected! Fortunately, after a little investigation, the fix proved simple; shifting the latch on the inside of the closet closer to the outer edge gave way to a much better latch. What a helpful find!
On our first night sleeping in our truck, we quickly realized that it would be a great life experience. A cozy and snug space perfect for cuddling up after a successful day— what more could you want? We did all the “truck stuff” such as turning on the diesel heater, setting up the carbon monoxide detector, and then went out to get dinner. When we got back, wrapped in a warm interior after weathering the Colorado winter, we were super excited. To test how accommodating our new little home was, we welcomed a friend over and they seemed to fit in perfectly! The mini-fridge kept everyone’s drinks nice and cold while our BMS helped us keep an eye on energy consumption. On top of all that, the table fixed to the floor with a marine table stand was just the right height for some card games and snacks too!
Prior to our upcoming trip, we decided that we wanted to make it feel like a home away from home. We installed a 50-inch tv to get the party started! With our limited space, it took some ingenuity from my husband Josh. He found a tv that was exactly 2.2 inches in width and a mount measuring 1.37 inches in width; that fit perfectly with the 4-inch gap between our wall and bedframe! Additionally, since we had a happijac bedlift, this allowed us more flexibility for entertaining as we can move the bed up and down without taking off the tv – which means game nights with friends or movies in bed. Let’s just say it was worth all of the trouble preparing – Josh is a genius!
I wanted to start my day off right with a refreshing morning shower, which I am actually quite good at given the navy showers I can do. As luck would have it, we had installed a 4 gallon electric water heater (left over from a previous build) – enough for approximately two minutes of hot water – so I thought I was golden. After getting wet and soaping up, however, there was no more hot water available! With me already soaking wet and freezing from the cold, Josh quickly turned on our diesel heater for extra warmth. I waited for what felt like forever for the water to heat up again, about ten minutes in total, before hurriedly washing off and quickly hopping out after that. Needless to say, we ended up replacing the electric heater with a gas one as soon as we were able – thank goodness!
Unfortunately, we also sprung a leak! We soon realized that the leak was caused by the drain not being connected properly to the hose that leads into our grey tank. Without dropping this tank and changing our pipe, it would have been impossible to get a better seal in order to fix this issue. While removing the desk and sidewall of the shower certainly wasn’t ideal, it still made us consider ways to improve serviceability down the line. After all, it’s always important to plan ahead and be ready for issues! This was certainly a tedious but helpful discovery.
When the idea of adding a multifunctional desk space came up, I was over the moon and knew it would be an excellent solution. We’ve got natural light coming in through the window, which is fantastic when getting ready or working in the morning, plus some super useful LED lighting if additional brightness is needed. And let’s not forget about that awesome fold-in/fold-out mirror – now I can get ready with ease while still having enough room to work comfortably. We’ve definitely struck gold with this one – it really prooved to be a success!
During the day, we were hard at work checking our battery management system (BMS) to figure out how much power was necessary for everything we needed – from charging phones and watching tv, to running lights and our two-plate stove. This test was incredibly important as everyone has unique power needs, so finding a balance between comfortably going about our daily business and being mindful of electricity usage was key. Luckily, we found that the battery got fully charged after five hours of sunlight alone; however, we did plug in for an hour in the evenings just in case! Knowing that bad weather can sometimes affect solar charging made us decide on getting a second battery and a gas stove for longer journeys.
Simply spending time in our truck was an amazing experience! We started to take note of several small changes that could make all the difference. An additional coat hook, dedicated space for keys and rug would make our tiny home feel super cozy. Our pup was snuggled right in with her little bed, though she let us know it was getting pretty cold on the floor(as cold air passes below the truck) – we plan to get another curtain to keep more warmth inside (this curtain seperates our living and driving area). We’re planning to follow sunshine around the country on our journey, but puppy will still make sure to join us under the covers every now and then – thankfully our queen sized mattress is ready for a cuddle-pile with her included!
Taking your rig out for a test before hitting the adventure is a must! Not only is it a great opportunity to check all your systems, but if you find any issues or changes that need to be made, you’ve still got time to do them before it’s too late. Trust us, having this extra check on things can save you from unnecessary disappointment down the line. We hope our blog post today has been helpful for you to discover exactly how we tested our own rig and what went into preparing for our journey ahead. Thank you so much for visiting us here on our blog and stay tuned as we plan to share more in the future!
We loved to read your very first post. Planning and taking this test trip proof to be a valuable exercise. All the best and hope to see more posts soon.