Who needs an alarm clock when you live in a stick-and-tin toy hauler?
The sun rises and our not-designed-for-full-time-living rig begins it’s morning chorus—a snap here and a pop there to start. Then it picks up the tempo and more voices join in as the flimsy wooden frame warms up underneath its thin aluminum skin.
Time to make the coffee and not think too much about the toll this process takes on our rig. There’s no going back to sleep during this daily concert.
Sure, houses go through a similar routine as they adjust to changing temperatures. But in what J calls our “garage on a skateboard,” the implications are far greater.
Our Grey Wolf 26RR toy hauler isn’t made with full-time RVing in mind. It’s a weekend warrior, entry-level trailer. That’s no surprise to us. When we bought it new in 2016, we had no notions of becoming full-timers in it.
But when we set out on the road, it’s what we had to work with. And much like switching homes to suit the changing needs in your life, we figured we could upgrade if we loved the nomadic life and wanted to commit to it long-term.
Cue the pandemic.
Among the many layers of Covid-19 fallout is the impact on the RV industry. Suddenly demand for rigs far outpaced supply as Americans decided RVing was the only way they could safely travel. Even used RVs began appreciating in value for the first time ever. Good luck finding something as specific as we need in that fracas.
A toy hauler is a must for us, so that greatly reduces the pool of options from the get-go. We also have length and weight sensibilities we need to maintain for our own comfort level in towing and for what our new-to-us truck can safely pull. The pool of options keeps getting smaller with each of those constraints. So here we are still in our very basic toy hauler, trying to keep up with the wear and tear—and not succeeding.
RVs are high-maintenance beasts in general. More so if you have something of lower quality like ours. You have to stay on top of everything all the time, lest you find yourself inconvenienced by a minor failure. Or worse, in danger from a major failure that leaves you stranded or in a crash.
So we spend a lot of time repairing and upgrading bits and pieces. We often joke that if we keep this up, we’ll have an all-new trailer at some point. Which always makes me think of the Johnny Cash song “One Piece at a Time.” It’s the song I sing to myself as I go about the endless maintenance tasks. Of course, I have to change the lyrics a bit. This beast has certainly cost us many dimes, unlike Johnny’s Frankencar creation.
Beyond major repairs like needing a new roof or the really un-fun door hinge failure, there are about a trillion little plastic pieces that crack, break, or fall off. When we’re not online searching for replacements of these specialized bits, our days are filled with other joys. Tasks such as retightening the six million screws on the outside of the trailer that work themselves loose with every mile, especially when washboard gravel roads are involved. Or tapping in the infinite, tiny staples that hold together the nothing-more-than-glorified-balsa-wood interior walls and panels after they’ve popped out from the stresses of transiting. Or replacing the tiny, fat-finger-grasp-defying rubber bumpers on the stovetop that disintegrate over time. The list is endless.
So if you’re looking to head out on the road, keep quality in mind and spring for the best you can afford. Research is king on that one. There’s no such thing as a no-maintenance RV but opting for higher quality at the outset will save you time, money, and a lot of frustration down the road.
Now, where’s that screwdriver? Time to get to work.