Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Freedom!

 The above picture was taken in December 2017, when I went to look at the 1992 fifth wheel that I ended up buying and  weeks later relocating to my current RV lot a bout 60 miles away. In this pic at the RV park where I bought the rig it came with a custom wooden deck. I didn't realize the rig was parked on a slope and the wooden deck was hiding this. So one sees a gentle tiny step from the grass to the deck, then only 2 steps into the fifth wheel. That's my dog Harley who was outside inspecting things. The second step shown in the picture was only about an inch or two above the wooden deck. It was super EASY for me to go in and out of the fifth wheel.

This is a close up of the steps. I thought I only had 2 steps to enter/exit the fifth wheel.  I couldn't move the wooden deck to my RV lot, so I gave it away, ironically to the guy that built it. He was going to disassemble it and relocate it to his mother-in-law's RV lot. 

I met him by chance, he was being a good Samaritan. On the day of the move, which was weeks later due to a mountain of problems, three of us were struggling outside with the fifth wheel. At that point part of the decking had been removed and the steps folded away. We were attempting to pick up the deck and move it another foot because the fifth wheel was on such a tiny tight lot, that we needed the extra room for the RV tires to clear and make a hard turn onto the narrow street.

A young sturdy strong man in a pickup truck, slammed on brakes and jumped out to help us. He worked with us for nearly two hours as we struggled with logistics of freeing the fifth wheel and moving the deck and disassembling even more of it. . He had power tools with him and we had  some hand tools with us. He disassembled some more of the deck in quick order. After the fifth wheel was starting to move, I thanked him profusely and pulled out some cash to pay him, by now he was dirty and covered in sweat.  

The young man  refused payment and said he was just glad to help us out. Then he asked when and how we were going to move the deck. I told him I was forced to abandon it and I was sad about that since it was such a lovely deck. He said he had built that deck just a few months earlier for the man that was living in the fifth wheel (who was now living in a hospice).  So I asked him if he wanted the deck and he was super ecstatic that I would give this to him! 

He said his mother-in-law lived in this park and he was on his way to check on her when he saw us struggling and stopped to help us out.  He said she could surely use this deck and he could disassemble it some more and move it to her place and reassemble it for her. 

After I moved the fifth wheel to my lot which has a strange concrete pad (see picture below) I discovered I needed all three of the RV's fold out steps to enter/exit the fifth wheel. The bottom step was a foot from the concrete. So OOPS, I now had more steps to get in and out of the rig. Traversing these steps  became problematic for me as time marched forward. I explored numerous ways to rectify this problem and due to weird logistics, it ended up I needed custom steps built. 

At some point I tried to buy some old rough looking semi-abandoned steps that might work for me. But that ran into all kinds of snags. I researched prefabricated steps and couldn't find anything to work that included a sturdy handrail. There were plenty of prefab steps but these were designed for mobile homes and houses, not RV's. RV doors open outwards, not inwards. 
 The folding built in RV steps have been giving me fits for the past year. When I sold the old motorhome (January 2018) and bought this 1992 fifth wheel, I didn't realize I would have more steps to deal with. I bought the fifth wheel when it was parked on a sloping lot with a wooden deck that appeared to be low to the ground. There were only 2 steps to go inside and it was easy on me. When I moved the fifth wheel to my lot and parked it on the concrete, I realized I had more steps to climb to the higher elevation. I thought it wouldn't be a problem.

 It's what I had to use and that was that, but getting up and down them was very problematic at times. The steps were narrow and irregular in height.  Due to another condition I won't discuss right now, but for the past few years I sometimes have tremendous difficulty walking and utilizing steps. Sometimes I need a walker or a cane to get around and getting up and down the steps during those times was extremely difficult and sometimes very dangerous. Due to complicated logistics, I couldn't find pre-built steps to utilize and there isn't room to build a ramp. 

Then when I came home from the hospital recnetly, I could only walk with great assistance utilizing both people and a walker and later a four-legged cane. I needed a load of help from others to get up and into my RV because the existing steps were too small to utilize the walker. Even with my four legged cane, it was a huge problem. The foldingg RV steps just aren't big enough for these types of considerations.

The last black step is a foot off the concrete. The wood step stringers shown on either side are sitting there temporarily to see how the new steps will be so different and much easier to use. Sometime over the past year I had drawn up some rough drawings for simple functional steps with a sturdy handrail.


In the picture above, taken in early February, we had placed the wooden stringers by the old RV steps to see how they would look and work for me. I was ecstatic that finally new steps might be reality. I won't go into the boring logistic details, but a ramp would not fit nor work. Besides if I can't traverse steps, I can't live in this fifth wheel, because inside the fifth wheel are two steps up to the bath and hall area and then another step up into my bedroom. Those are gentle big carpeted steps and I have hand holds so traversing those are OK for me.

Below is another picture showing how the new steps will fit. The old RV steps will be folded up and stored with the fifth wheel as is common for moving and traveling. I don't plan to travel with this fifth wheel. I can't pull it with a bicycle. I have no car or truck. I used to drive my old motorhome when I needed to go somewhere but it was sold. One day I will work out buying a used vehicle to drive. Just no idea when that day will be. Life keeps happening. 

By the way, that outdoor patio mat reminds me of my brain! It's foggy and confused some days while I recuperate. The rug prevents mold and is self draining and super safe. A few months ago, last fall I think, I slipped on nearly invisible mold on the concrete and well that's another story, I think I wrote about it already.

Harley took a liking to the patio mat and outfitted it with his toys. Outside I have a walker on wheels I use when needed.

Harley dog is shown below and even though he is over 9 years old, he still plays like a puppy. He moves his toys inside and outside and play fights with them. He also likes to play fetch and toss and Frisbee and ball and is just a handful of energy at times. He was taking a break and I was laughing about the "mess" he had made playing with his toys.  Why he needs so many to tussle with I don't know, but he doesn't tear up anything of mine like some dogs do, so if he has toys to fight with and occasionally destroy or unstuff his toys, we are both plenty happy. He has toys and I never ever have to worry about him destroying any of my stuff.

 He sometimes pretends to nurse his big teddy bear. When I or someone helping me puts away his toys, he doesn't mind. He knows where to find them and he eventually fetches them one at a time to play with until many are scattered around. 

Harley also has trouble with the old RV steps. Matter of fact, when I mentioned this one day while the guy was working on the new steps, he said THAT little dog has trouble with the steps too? You are kidding me!"

Hardly a moment later, Harley ran up the old steps and managed to slip between them and fall down. I think it's because the height of the RV steps is uneven between each step and they are narrow front to back.



The new steps are almost finished and this is a picture of how they will look with the rubber treads added and before the handrail was built. Shown on the right is an old handrail that I was using on my motorhome then I moved it to this fifth wheel RV. However, as you can see, it's way too short for both the old and the new steps. There wasn't a stud where I needed them installed so the handrail wobbled. I gave it to someone else who is disabled and they installed it on their fifth wheel which is much lower to the ground than mine. It works well for them. Their RV had a stud where they needed them. Magic!



Above the steps are 98% finished. The steps and handrail are sturdy enough for a circus to do elephant tricks! They are a work of art, far nicer and sturdier than I ever dreamed possible. They are built of treated lumber, plus primed and painted. 

Walking up and down them is a dream. Freedom! 

That little leaf blower is in the picture cause the trees seem to rain down non stop leaves which magically end up on the steps and patio.

The handrail is thru-bolted with a coat of fresh primer. It just needs the final painting. The rubber treads are laying in place and need the final  glue (or double stick tape)  will be attached (so they don't blow away in a stiff wind or move around when blowing the leaves and dirt off of them).  The black rubber treads I found at amazon are perfect for added safety and as a bonus easy to keep clean. Both puppy and I love the way they feel on our feet and paws. These are sold for indoor or outdoor use. I was super lucky to find them as I had no idea that such a nifty product existed. 

Fun facts:

The steps had to be built "free standing" and could not be attached to the RV in any way. (Park rules etc.)  

The man  (shown above) did all the carpentry with hand tools including sawing by hand the wood treads, the spindles and the railing. 
The stringers for 4 steps were bought ready made (per previous picture) but everything else had to be sawed. He used glue, screws, bolts, nails and yet none of this shows.
He planed the handrail he designed so it is smooth with rounded edges instead of hard edges.
He sanded it by hand so it is super nice to hold.
The only power tool he used was my cordless drill for the screw and bolt holes. 
The steps are a sturdy work of art that will probably outlast me and the RV.
He is 73 and did this in his spare time.
He had never built a set of steps before.

Amazing!
It's a miracle. 
I am blessed. 

Thank you for stopping by today. I read and enjoy your comments.
If you had insomnia... I might have cured it! 

Life is goof.

 

4 comments:

  1. Stepping up in the world !! So glad to see these steps ... looks very nice and I'm sure it's much easier for you and Harley. Been fighting the weather since I left GA. Safe and snug for a few days and then move on. Glad to see your improvements.

    Lynn in GA

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  2. Very nice job on the steps and I know it is much safer now for you and Harley. Steps can be so dangerous, I had to have 2 sets remade here at my place because who ever built them didn't have a clue and each step was a differnent height and non under 8" high.

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  3. RV's tend to have erratic steps and that was giving me fits and unintentionally injuring me and the dog. I hope you got safer steps made. Thank you so much for reading my blog and making a comment.

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