Our Setup Episode 1 – A Tour of our RV after Living on the Road for 3 Years

After 3 years of living full time in our rig, we’ve had several request to go into more detail about our RV and our setup so here it is!

Once we started looking into the idea of filming our setup we realized there was quite a bit to tell and much more than we could cram into a single blog post. Looks like its time for a series!

This is “Our Setup” – The Series

This will be the start of a serious of post/vlogs where we talk about our setup, the features and benefits, and if we regret any of our choices.  We encourage you to make comments and recommendations on any topics you would like to know/ learn more about, as the topics we will cover will be highly focused on what you want to hear more about. Now on to the good stuff..

Our Rig – “The Black Pearl”

This is our 45ft Enterga Aspire Motorhome that we’ve lived in full time for 3 years. It is a Class A diesel pusher with 4 slides. We purchased our coach from Motorhome Specialists in Alvarado, TX. After a year of researching several different, types, styles and RV set-ups we decided on the Entegra Aspire 44B even though it was a bit out of our price range. The layout was what we were looking for, a coach that had the durability and function to live and work in full time, while having a floor plan that resembled a traditional home setup for a couple. Even though it was 30% over our budget, once we experienced the Entegra’s quiet ride and superior insulation for ourselves, we couldn’t go back to looking at gas coaches in our budget.  Make sure to subscribe as we’ll be posting detailed videos on our Entegra, the 2 year bumper-to-bumper warranty and all manner of our experiences.

Our “Towed” Toad

For all of our non RV’ers a TOAD, also know as a “Dinghy” is a small vehicle being towed behind a large RV. Our Toad is a 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (4 door), Rubicon edition. We’ve owned the jeep long before we decided to RV full time, but it turned out to be a great 4-down flat-tow vehicle. The Jeep’s off-road heritage actually lends itself really well to being towed. It has no steering lock (yup none) and does not require anything special to tow it with all 4 wheels on the ground. To tow we use a Blue Ox Alpha Tow Bar  . We outfitted the Jeep with a Blue Ox Base Plate that allows our rig to be towed easily as well as a Air Force One Tow Braking System to ensure our vehicle meets all applicable laws for tow vehicle braking.  More on the tow setup later!

Motorcycle & Motorcycle Lift

Our 2010 BMW R1200GS Adventure motorcycle also comes along with us. We have a motorcycle lift on the back of our coach that allows us to carry the bike and the Jeep behind that. We’ve done videos on our motorcycle lift setup which can be found here and we will also post subsequent articles on this shortly!

Storage

Diesel pushers are expensive which is a huge draw back but they can carry a lot of weight as a nice trade off to their price. Pass-through storage and tons of clearance mean you can take it all! Check out our post on  “How much stuff can fit under A diesel Pusher” to learn more.

Sun Powered!

We’ve added 10 160 watt solar panels made by Grape Solar to the roof of our bus and 6 Lifeline 300 amp hour batteries to store all that solar power. We have two 80 amp Outback Solar Flex Max Charge Controllers that convert the solar energy into 12 volts for our batteries and we are very happy with the setup. We utilized the factory solar wiring in our setup which has certain drawbacks that added to the overall cost of our setup (but meant we didn’t have to run huge battery cables down from the room). We will be posting future videos on our solar setup, in the meantime make sure to check out our video on adding cheap solar to your RV.

Come on In! (Entry)

The driving area, which is very important during travel days tends to be a waste of space when you are parked. To maximize the use of our front door area Erik crated a steering wheel table (video). We use this table and area as place where we put our mail/paperwork and leave our shoes to keep the rest of the RV clean. Above the steering wheel is a cabinet that we converted into a charging station for all of our blogging gear. And above the passenger seat is the control center. Where we have the solar controller, batter monitors and other major controls for the RV.

Lets Get to Work

We still work and not just on this blog, we both have full-time jobs. Erik works in technology and Kala in human resources. We converted the Entegra’s integrated dining room areas into a desk area for Erik. For the most part we left the setup as-is but we removed the supplied dinning chairs and replaced them with an office chair. We installed a printer in the under-cabinet and put a monitor, phone, headset and docking station near the window. Our complete internet setup video is here.  Stay tuned for a full post on our work setup coming soon!

Kala will either sit on the couch or use the passenger chair for her office. This nifty table from Camping World allows Kala’s desk to double as a coffee table and is also used quite a bit for eating dinner.

Beside having to stagger some work calls, this desk set up works well as it convert our living space into a traveling office during working hours.

Security

We’ve added a Canary Internet Security Camera that keeps an eye on our bus when we are away. The Canary security device allows us to monitor via video from our cell phone and also provides us with information about temperature, humidity and air quality. You need reliable, unlimited data cellular internet in order to use a system like this, but more on that later as we’ll be providing a complete write up of our connectivity in future videos posting shortly.

Our Kitchen

Our kitchen has a residential refrigerator, convention microwave, 2 propane burners and a ton of storage space. Our rig came with drawers inside each of the cabinets. We tracked down these shelves which are celled “Rev-a-shelf” and think they would make a great addition to any RV providing your cabinets are deep enough.

The only real issue we have encountered in our kitchen has been the kitchen faucet which we replaced twice under warranty. The RV grade faucets don’t seem to be durable enough to handle full-time use so we upgraded our faucet to a touch-less residential grade faucet made by Moen. This one has worked great for us so far, and we love that it is motion sense letting you easily turn on the water when you have dirty hands. 

The Bedroom

Our 2015 Entegra came with a Sleep Number bed.  While the Sleep Number was very comfortable and gave us more flexibility for firmness control, it also proved difficult when traveling at elevation. The bed would change firmness when the coach changed altitude and many folks have reported popping their mattress when climbing mountain passes. To prevent that from happening we replaced our mattress with a Tempurpedic and have been happy every since. There is quite a bit of bedroom storage in our RV and we think its plenty for two people. With seven drawers in the vanity, three large & deep cabinets above the the bed and storage under the bed we’ve got plenty of places to put things. That said, during our 3 years on the road we’ve figured out a bunch of organization and space saving tips.

Links for Items Featured in This Article

Thanks for Coming Over!

Thanks so much for coming on a tour of our home. We hope you enjoyed learning about our setup, and hope you stay tuned for future videos that go into much more depth on a variety of topics on all things mobile. Make sure to comment below on what you’d like to see us cover in future videos and see you on the road!


Kala

Comments

  1. Ron & Cathy Says: February 11, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    Excellent video with enough teasers to keep us coming back lol. In respect to the Cummins 450, assuming that you are now “out of warranty”, what are your anticipated preventative maintenance costs (based on engine hours or mileage) as we attempt to determine the annual cost of operation (excluding fuel of course)? Also, with a 45 foot coach aside from some limitations with camp site access, do you find there is additional expenses/camping fees attributed to larger site requirements? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Ron & Cathy,

      Glad you liked the series. Lots of questions here. For maintenance i’d say $1000-$1500 per year is a safe budget number (and probably high if you make friends with a nice local diesel mechanic or Cummins dealer). The larger RV dealerships charge on the upper side of that range but local shops are much cheaper. We had an annual service done by Spartan at their factory and it was 1200 dollars but we had one done at a local Cummins Dealership in Phoenix that was 450.00 big range. Spartan did more to the RV itself (oiled hubs etc) but still a local shop is likely much cheaper if they are fair and in a lower cost market. Diesels are more expensive to service but they require service much less. Our ISL9 motor is recommended to have the oil changed every 20,000 miles for example. Our Alison transmission is recommended to have a service at 12k miles in the first year, then every 75,000 miles thereafter i believe. Service details for the motor are here: http://community.fmca.com/topic/2886-cummins-400-isl-oil-capacity/ and transmission are here: https://www.rvtechlibrary.com/transmissions/3000_4000_operators.pdf

      As for campgrounds. We haven’t found we need to pay more due to our size very often (maybe 5% of the time). For the most part if a park accepts 40ft we can make it work and we ask the management “if we can find a spot can we stay” and they are usually fine. You should look into a Thousand Trails membership. We are TT elite members and we purchased our membership on the used market. We can stay in their parks nationally for up to 3 weeks free of charge (annual dues are around $550.00). This has been huge as we can stay 3 weeks then jump to another park immediately inside the network for another 3 weeks for free. This allows us to spend more on other parks when we are out of network and still keep our cost per night very low. Check out this article from our friends at RV Love, it explains everything. https://rvlove.com/2015/01/28/thousand-trails-membership-upgrades/

      Let us know if you have any other questions. We’ll be heading to Texas to have a service done by a friend and will be sure to film so you get more details from the experts!

  2. Deborah Shaffer Says: February 11, 2018 at 11:11 am

    Great tour! Thank you! Your rig is gorgeous! I do have two questions, though, if you would be so kind. What was the item in the right side of your kitchen sink?
    Also, what is the brand of your bicycle rack on the back of your Rubicon? We are avid bike riders and we’ll definitely be shopping something sturdy and secure when we get out on the road, in 2019.
    Again, thanks for the awesome tour!

    • Hi Deborah, the bike rack is made by Thule and it can be purchased on amazon. The rack states it is made by Mopar (Jeep’s parts division) but its really just made by Thule and sold by Mopar. Here is a link: http://amzn.to/2BRMwBY

      I’m not sure what you are referring to right of the sink. The smaller faucet? Thats for purified water. The silver thingy up on the ledge is our toaster? If you tell us where and what color we’ll get back to you! See you on the road!

      • Deborah Shaffer Says: February 11, 2018 at 11:28 am

        Hi, Erik. Thanks for the incredibly swift response. I’ve since figured out what is in the right-hand sink. It is a Prepworks Collapsible Over-the-Sink Dish Drainer, and it turns out we’ve already purchased one! Yay!

  3. I’m really wondering how you guys drive this huge piece of machinery. It seems like it would be very difficult to maneuver and control on the highways especially with all the stuff you have on the back as well i.e. the motorbike and towing the jeep. What kind of speeds can you go in it and is it easy to move around inside the bus for one of you while the other is driving?

    • We had to pass a dump truck yesterday that was shooting rocks all over the place and we got up to 80 pretty easily but we would never travel that fast unless it was an emergency. The coach rides fine and feels nice at those speeds but the gas mileage would probably be 3 miles to the gallon lol! We travel comfortably at 55-65 for the most part however we get much better gas mileage at 55 than 65 (about 9mpg instead of 7.5) so we keep it slower most days. Moving around is easy, very similar to being on an airplane in terms of how it feels and how much room you have in the isle of a normal commercial plane. Come for a ride next time we are in CT Susan!

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