Our Home On Wheels -
Chapter 2

For all of our first 13 years on the road, we lived in our beloved 39-foot 2006 Keystone Cambridge fifth wheel. Details of that rig and our 2005 F450 truck plus all the modifications we did are detailed on that page. Just click on the link.

Then, for various reasons which we discuss in this Journal Entry - Big Changes Coming Sooner Than Expected - we downsized to a 29-foot Winnebago Aspect 27K Class C motorhome in April 2018.

This page provides details and photos of our second home on wheels and includes modifications we have made to the motorhome.

Click here for a detailed photo tour

Click here for length, height, weight, tank sizes, and other statistics

Click here for modifications we have made - Solar Installation, Replacing Dinette With Theater Seating, & Extend-A-Shower Addition


Photo Tour

We'll start with a photo tour of our new-to-us 2015 Winnebago Aspect 27K (28 feet, 10 inches long and 10 feet, 4 inches tall).

Exterior views.

 

 

 

 

Exterior compartments on the driver's side.

 

 

From front to back, between the axles, we have the Onan 4000-watt generator.

 

 

Then the propane tank (18 gallons - equal to our two 40lb cylinders on the fifth wheel).

 

 

Next, in a small compartment that, inexplicably, can only be accessed with a key, is our sewer outlet and a portion of the black tank with TrueLevel exterior sensors.

 

 

In the close-up in the photo below, you can see where the hose from the gray tank comes in through the wall and joins the three-inch PVC pipe.

 

 

In the large compartment behind the rear axle is the gray tank with the TrueLevel sensors.

 

 

And, from this angle, you can see the gray tank is drained using a pump which sends the gray water up and around the black tank where it connects to the sewer outlet pipe.

 

 

It's a strange way of setting up the tanks to avoid having two separate sewer outlets.

The next small compartment is for the 30-amp electrical connection and cord, and the last one is where the sewer hose is currently stored.

 

 

On the other side of the rig, the passenger side, we have the furnace exhaust, the Atwood water heater access panel, the refrigerator access panel, a couple of 120-volt outlets, a 12-volt outlet, a cable connection, and three compartments between the axles.

 

 

From front to back, the first compartment has some decent storage, but it is also has breakers and the access to the 1000-watt inverter (on the left behind the black metal panel). The breaker box and fuse box is at the bottom of the kitchen counter inside.

 

 

Next is the battery compartment with two house batteries on a slide tray.

 

 

UPDATE: In our Modifications section below, you will read that we've already replaced the inverter with a larger model and replaced the two house batteries with four Lifeline AGM batteries - two in the battery compartment and two in the larger storage compartment to its right (along with the new inverter).

And then we have access to the hydraulic system for the jacks.

 

 

Behind the rear axle is a nice storage compartment under the bedroom slide (contains the wardrobe/closet) and side access to the large "trunk".

 

 

Storage compartment.

 

In the back, we have the large trunk area which is a huge reason we went with this model.

 

 

  

View from the side access.

 

 

Another trunk view.

 

 

The hose in the upper left corner is for the gravity fill for the fresh water tank. The outdoor shower is on the left and next to it is the city water connection and the switch for "normal" water usage or "power fill" for the fresh water tank.

Tucked in the corner next to the shower and water hook-up are a switch to turn the water pump on/off (it can be turned on/off inside as well), the button to start the pump to drain the gray tank, a couple of 120-volt outlets, a connection for a portable satellite dish, and a cable connection.

 

 

Oh, and there is the optional exterior entertainment system mounted in the passenger side corner of the trunk.

 

  

And I just realized I didn't take a full shot of the rear of the coach, so I'll have to do that to show the trunk closed and the camera at the top center. Note, there is no ladder on this rig, so we'll have to decide on what we want to do to access the roof.

On the roof is a King Jack TV antenna for over-the-air broadcasts, a King Dome in-motion satellite dish (don't know if it works), and the usual vents. There is room for 2 - 4 solar panels. I have to get my ladder out and get up there to get some photos.

UPDATE: We have already added three 170-watt solar panels. Details in the Modifications section below.

Before we go inside, here is a picture of the very nice side mirrors which also have cameras. Whenever a turn signal is on, the view on the screen in the cab switches to that side mirror.

 

 

Inside, we start in the front.

Of course, I had to take a picture of the federal compliance labels on the driver's door which shows our Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, our Gross Axle Weight Ratings, the original tire sizes, rim sizes, and recommended tire inflation pressures. It's accompanied by the other required weight label that shows our Occupant & Cargo Carrying Capacity.

 

 

Here's a view of the cab and storage area over the cab.

 

 

While driving, we were impressed with the cup holders and various little storage nooks in the console.

One of the great things is that the cab chairs swivel to provide extra seating when parked.

 

 

View with center cabinets open, and you can see the sunroof in the ceiling.

 

 

The black panels on either side of the glass door cabinets are speakers.

The cabinet with the black glass on the right contains a CD/DVD player and the video selection system.

 

 

The opposite cabinet has satellite connections where a satellite receiver/DVR would go.

 

 

The sunroof is manual and can be opened to different levels.

 

 

You can let the sun shine in without shade or you can use either of the two types of shades. The transparent shade is actually more like a screen, so it allows air flow.

 

 

I like the sunroof although it does take up space that could be used for a solar panel.

Here are a couple of views with the dinette slide in.

 

 

 

Here's the dinette with the storage above.

 

 

The dinette converts into a bed and there is a lot of storage under the bench seats. However, we will be removing the dinette and putting in reclining theater seating from our friends at Lambright Comfort Chairs. Though we could use the storage space, comfort takes precedence over the storage and extra bed. So, imagine something like the seating below in place of the dinette.

 

Lambright theater seating

 

UPDATE: This has been completed. We have removed the dinette and added theater seating in its place. See the "Modifications" section below for details - Replaced Dinette With Theater Seating.

With the dinette slide out, there is a lot of room in the living area/kitchen.

 

 

And there is pretty good counter space, except you can't store anything like a Keurig or Instant Pot on the counter in front of the TV. So, we are considering moving the TV to above the door. We'll see.

UPDATE: We have basically solved the TV placement issue by cancelling our satellite TV service and not watching TV at all. So far, we don't miss it at all, so we can use that counter space in front of the TV without having to worry about blocking it.

 

 

The TV does swing out, so you can watch it from the cab seats.

 

 

 

On the end of the cabinet in the photo above, there are various light switches as you come in the door, and in the lower left corner is the control panel for the leveling system and controls for the awning. It was far too windy today to put the awning out.

 

 

Below those is the battery disconnect switch.

 

  

Okay, back to the kitchen, Linda's biggest concern.

Here's the kitchen with the sink covers and the range cover off. The counter space doesn't look quite so good now, but she thinks she can work with it.

 

 

Here's a look at the cabinet and drawer storage in the kitchen.

 

 

 

A big problem is that the water heater is under the sink taking up significant room. The in-house water filtration is also under the sink.

Their is no gas oven, but there is a huge Whirlpool microwave/convection oven.

 

 

Next to the stove is the pantry - paltry by Linda's standards (and in comparison to the fifth wheel), but not too bad.

 

 

And next to the pantry is the RV propane/electric refrigerator (Norcold).

 

 

An option in these Aspect models is to forgo the pantry and get a bigger, four-dour refrigerator. It's a tough choice, but one we didn't have to make, and Linda prefers having the pantry.

We will definitely miss the refrigerator and pantry in the fifth wheel.

Next to the microwave/convection are our slideout controls, inverter control panel, and the OnePlace Systems Center. The OnePlace is where we turn the generator on and off and check the meter of hours run. It's also where we turn the water pump on and off, and the water heater on and off. It also shows our tank levels according to the TrueLevel sensors,

 

 

The slideouts are Lippert In-Wall Schwintek Slide-Outs. Fortunately for us, there are few reports of problems with this system on small slideouts. Unfortunately, for those with much larger slideouts, this system has a bad reputation.

In this rig, they seem to be working just fine other than being a little noisy when going in and out, but there is no weight in them yet. What causes me some concern is that the prior owner highlighted the information in the owners manual about manual operation. I hope that's an issue that has been corrected, assuming there was a problem.

The King Jack rooftop TV antenna control is on the ceiling above the microwave.

 

 

This antenna is becoming standard in many RVs. It's not the most durable over-the-air antenna, but it is quite easy to use as blue lights light up as you turn it telling you when you have the best signal.

The small bathroom is across the aisle from the pantry and refrigerator.

 

 

There is a tiny bit of storage under the sink and a decent wall cabinet.

 

 

I figure I may get a half of a shelf.

The shower is, of course small, but at least it is somewhat in a corner making it a little larger than other Class Cs of this size.

 

 

They call the "door" a "retractable, self-cleaning shower door".  It's pretty flimsy, but saves on space and weight.

 

 

UPDATE: It turned out the shower was too small and we both dreaded taking a shower. So, we installed an "Extend-A-Shower" folding curtain rod that expands the size of the shower with the use of a shower curtain. That little change made a huge difference in the showering experience. Details in the "Modifications" section below - Extend-A-Shower.

Now, I'm only 5'8" and I barely fit in the shower. This unit is definitely more suitable for us short people. Tall folks would have trouble in the cab and pretty much everywhere else.

I will say that the lighting in the bathroom is very good.

Moving to the bedroom. Linda hasn't put her special touches on the decorating yet, but here is the queen-size bed.

 

 

You can walk around on both sides, but it is tight on the right side. Still, it's not in a corner.

The prior owners opted for the optional Nouveau™ by Ideal Rest® mattress upgrade. The comfort level is digitally controlled on each side much like a Sleep Number.

 

 

Personally, I'd rather it had a regular mattress, but we'll give it a try.

Storage above the bed and nightstand drawers on the sides.

 

 

In the slideout is the nice sized wardrobe/closet with a couple of drawers.

 

 

 

 

Some clothes are going to Goodwill, but I think we can make this work.

There is a Fantastic Fan, an emergency exit window, and a small TV.

 

 

All of the windows in the coach have MCD roller shades - solar and blackout.

 

 

Though we won't use it, there is a pleated door to allow some privacy.

 

 

 

In the photo above you can see the air conditioner. It's a Coleman-Mach 15,000 BTU with a heat pump. And the Coleman-Mach RV Comfort thermostat controls it and the Suburban 30,000 BTU furnace.

 

 

Well, that's about it. The coach is in great shape, and considering the full body paint and other upgrades and options the prior owner purchased, I think we did pretty good.


Statistics

So, in our seminars we stress the importance of knowing your RV's height, length, width, and weight.

Well, we did some measurements of our 2015 Winnebago Aspect 27K.

Height

The brochure height is 10'4", and that's exactly what I measured to the top of the tallest accessory on the roof. The roof line itself is only 9'2", but we'll use 10'6" as our number when evaluating clearances.

 

Length

The brochure says our length is 29'6", but our measurement came out to 28'10". The tow bar, with arms extended is 4', and the Jeep is 14'8" from the front bumper to the back edge of the spare tire on the rear. So, that means we are 47'6" in total when towing.

So, we are about 8 feet shorter than with the fifth wheel and truck when hitched, but it feels much shorter than that because the way the Jeep follows behind the motorhome. We don't have to compensate much for it. Pretty much (but not always), if the motorhome clears on a turn, the Jeep will too. We don't have to swing nearly as wide as we did with the fifth wheel.

 

Width

The brochure says our width is 7'11", but our measurement is exactly 8 feet. Except, the fenders and slide toppers stick out another 3"
and the main awning sticks out 5". So, we don't often need to be aware of the total width, but we'll use 8'6" on those occasions where there might be a narrow tunnel or bridge.

The driver's side slideout (dinette area) is 20" and the passenger side slideout (wardrobe) is 18".

 

Weight

As for weight, we weighed the Aspect empty (except for a full tank of water at 280 pounds), and we were 12,540 pounds compared to a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 14,500. Carrying less water, we knew we had over 2,000 pounds of usable cargo carrying capacity.

After loading up the motorhome, we were weighed again, and were happy to find that we were still 1,250 pounds under our GVWR. However, we were heavy on our passenger side of the rear axle, so I shifted weight to the opposite side. Note: Each axle end should weigh no more than 1/2 of the GAWR.

Then, a month later, after having our new solar system installed and replacing our dinette with theater seating, we got weighed again. At that weighing we were very happy to learn that we are about 1,500 pounds under our 14,500 Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). We're 1,000 pounds under on our front axle Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR), and 500 pounds under on our rear GAWR. And, with the shifting of heavy items in our "trunk" from the passenger's side to the driver's side, we're no longer over weight on the passenger's side rear axle.

Our Jeep weighs 4,200 pounds, so the 5,000-pound hitch is adequate as is our 6,500-pound tow bar.

The combined weight of the motorhome and Jeep is 17,350 which is well under our Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) of 22,000 pounds.

 

So, now we have a record of our height, length, width, and weight measurements, and those that might be curious about such things have some real data.

 

More measuring to do.

Tank Capacities

We haven't done anything to officially measure tank capacities yet, but they are certainly smaller than we were used to and we're still learning them.

Fresh Water - 34 gallons (as opposed to 100 gallons in the fifth wheel)

Gray Tank - 31 gallons (as opposed to 90 gallons in the fifth wheel - 45 gallons for the shower & 45 gallons for the kitchen sink)

Black Tank - 34 gallons (as opposed to 45 gallons in the fifth wheel)

We're going to get a cheap, digital meter to determine exactly how much capacity we really have. But, I'm guessing we're going to need a couple of collapsible, portable 5-gallon containers to supplement our gray tank for boondocking.

Our gray tank is weird anyway. It can't be drained traditionally. There is a pump that pumps the water out of the gray tank over the axle and then into the sewer outlet pipe. At some point, we'll probably modify how that works.

 

Fuel Economy

We're in the early stages of driving the motorhome, but we're pleased that we are averaging over 9 miles per gallon, very similar to what our diesel pick-up was getting towing the 19,000-lb fifth wheel.


Modifications

Solar System

With our increased ability to get into places we couldn't with the 39' fifth wheel, we wanted to get solar installed as soon as possible. And the system was completed within a month of purchasing the coach.

Bill Murray with RV Solar Solutions did the install. Bill and Greg Young, the company owner, are full-time RVers that understand RVers' needs. They do clean, meticulous work and don't cut corners. They aren't the cheapest, but I have great respect for them and trust in them to do things right.

So, with the motorhome, we were limited on roof space and compartment space to add equipment. The Lifeline GPL-6CT 300ah AGM batteries that we had in the fifth wheel wouldn't fit, so we went with the Lifeline GPL-4CT 220ah AGM batteries (10 inches tall vs 13 inches tall). We got four 6-volt batteries with two pairs wired in series (to effectively make each pair a 12-volt battery).

Bill installed two of the batteries on the tray where the prior pair of 12-volt batteries were, and two in the storage compartment next door.

 

 

We now have 440 amp hours of capacity as opposed to the 600 amp hours we had before. But, we won't have as much need for the extra capacity AND we'll actually have more solar wattage. We had 4 100-watt panels on the Cambridge, but we now have 3 Zamp Solar 170-watt panels, so 510 watts as opposed to the 400 watts we had before. That should be plenty.

Two panels are on the rear of the coach ....

 

 

and one is on the front.

They are wired into a combiner box and the cables are run down through the refrigerator vent/flue.

Pretty much all of our wiring connects in and around and under the kitchen sink and cabinets.

 

 

 

That's where our converter, breakers, and fuses are, and the 1000-watt inverter that came with the rig was in the storage compartment on the outside in the same area (where the second pair of batteries and new inverter are now installed).

I thought we would be going with an inverter/charger like we had in the fifth wheel and eliminating the converter. But in order to save space and cost, we decided to retain the Progressive Dynamics power converter with the "Charge Wizard" (Model PD9200). I verified with Progressive Dynamics and Bill and Greg that it would safely charge the Lifeline AGMs. It's very important that battery chargers are programmed for the type of batteries you are using - incorrect charging parameters can result in killing the batteries.

We kept the converter (i.e. battery charger), but we replaced the Xantrex 1000-watt inverter with the Xantrex Freedom Xi True Sine Wave 2000-watt inverter. Bill installed it on the ceiling of the storage compartment to conserve space. It takes much less power when running than the Xantrex RS3000-watt inverter in the fifth wheel which is one reason we don't need the additional battery capacity.

 

 

The blue thing to the right of the inverter is the Victron Energy BlueSolar MPPT charge controller. A solar controller basically keeps the solar panels from over-charging the batteries.

This photo shows the catastrophic fuse (bottom) and the solar disconnect (red) and DC breaker (black & yellow).

 

 

A shunt was installed behind the batteries .... 

 

 

to send information to the Victron BMV-712 Battery Monitor. But the system has bluetooth, so I can monitor the batteries with my cell phone using the Victron app. It provides more information than the small monitor mounted inside our coach.

Now, in this installation, we did not use a sub-panel since it is only a 30-amp rig, and we know what we are doing.

A sub-panel is basically a separate breaker box and is recommended to isolate only the appliances/circuits that should be running on the inverter/battery bank. Air conditioners, washers/dryers, and often convection/microwave ovens are eliminated from the sub-panel which is wired to the inverter. This keeps you from accidentally running your air conditioner or washer/dryer using battery power through the inverter and discharging your batteries too far or overloading the inverter. It's an extra level of protection that comes at a cost and extra labor that we didn't feel was necessary.

Okay, this next part may be confusing.

Now, because we retained our converter (which charges batteries when plugged into a pedestal or running a generator) AND because we didn't put in a sub-panel (which would not include the converter), we have to remember to turn the breaker off on our converter when we are boondocking and using the inverter. Otherwise, the converter will try to use the battery power through the inverter to charge the batteries and it creates a problematic circular issue - inverter uses 12-volt battery power to power the converter which is using the inverted power from the batteries to charge the batteries. This is just a waste and is another good reason to have a sub-panel that eliminates the converter so this potential problem doesn't occur.

So, there you have it. That's our new solar/electrical system, and it's working beautifully. When boondocking, the electric is not the least of our worries since we have plenty of battery power and more than enough solar watts to keep them charged.

Replaced Dinette With Theater Seating

From the time we started considering the possibility of getting a small Class C motorhome, we both agreed we would rip out any dinette and replace it with recliners or theater seating. And that's what we did. Vernon Lambright with Lambright Comfort Chairs built us a great unit to fit in the slide-out right where the dinette was. Below is the transformation.

Lambright Comfort Chairs is just south of Shipshewana, Indiana. Their address is actually 1150 S 700 W, Topeka, IN 46571, but they are closer to Shipshewana than the town of Topeka.

When we arrived, Vernon came out and showed Linda where to to park.

 

 

Our theater seating, Lambright Luxe Theater Seating, was ready today, May 30, as promised to us over a month ago.

Vernon went right to work, taking our dinette out. This is the "before" picture.

 

 

One bench out, and getting ready to remove the other.

 

 

Vernon and his son, took the benches and table out the door rather easily (after temporarily removing the hand rail by the door).

 

 

Under the benches were seatbelts bolted to the floor and wiring for the slideout.

 

 

The new furniture would cover all of that, so we didn't have to re-wire, and we didn't have to remove the seatbelts. In fact, we'll be able to use two of the seatbelts with the recliners, so either of us can safely sit while going down the road.

They brought the unit in in pieces - first the bottoms of the recliners and the console that fits in between.

 

 

The recliners are electric, and the center console has a pop-up USB charging station with two ports.

 

 

So, Vernon connected the base pieces and hooked up the electric. We turned on the inverter and made sure everything worked so far. Then, after making sure it was positioned where we wanted it, he secured it to the floor with screws.

Once that was done, he put on the backs of the recliners and connected them to the electric. The headrests are also electric, so they can be adjusted with the push of a button. Again, we tested them to make sure they were working. Power headrests are a recent addition, and I'm a big fan.

Finally, we added the tables to each recliner. They are optional fold-down tables that we will use for eating and for sitting our laptops on when we get up. They can be swung over the seat, moved to the side, folded down, or removed completely.

The next several photos are the various configurations.

Console in the "up" positions with tables swiveled to the sides.

 

 

Console "down" with tables swiveled over seating.

 

 

Console down with drinks in cup holders and console drawer open with laptops on the tables.

 

 

The inside front of the drawer has pouches for three remote controls or remotes and glasses cases.

One recliner in full recline position.

 

 

Full recline with table folded out of the way. 

 

 

We'll likely remove the tables completely for travel.

The new furniture is a great match to the bucket seats. There is a little lighting difference in the photo, but they are almost exact in color.

 

 

You may have noticed that the controls are on the inside of the recliner arms. Knowing we wouldn't have much room between the chairs and the walls, we opted for the inside control position.

So, there are two buttons for the recliner control and two buttons for headrest control. 

We set the seating on the front edge of the slideout platform, so we still have some good storage space behind the unit. And they can be fully reclined with the slide in.

That change made a world of difference, and we're quite happy.

Thanks to Vernon Lambright and Lambright Comfort Chairs. 

Again the contact information is:

Vernon Lambright

Lambright Comfort Chairs

1150 S 700 W, Topeka, IN 46571

(260) 768-4820

 

And you can click on the coupon below, print it, and take it into the showroom for a little discount.

 

LambrightComfortChairsRVDreamsCoupon

 

Here are a couple of photos of the showroom.

 

 

 

They have a lot of different options in sofas, loveseats, chairs, recliners, theater seating, and more. Top RV manufacturers like Newmar, Tiffin, and Entegra have been offering Lambright Comfort Chairs furniture, but Vernon recently decided to discontinue supplying to all manufacturers because he prefers to deal with his customers face-to-face.

He does sell through a few retailers, but I prefer to work directly with Vernon and his family. If you call or stop by, tell him Howard & Linda at RV-Dreams sent you.



Extend-A-Shower

I tried to get used to the small shower in the Class C motorhome, but it just wasn't happening. Based on the advice of some fellow RVers, Linda ordered this extend-a-shower contraption to give us more room in our tiny shower.

 

 

It's a folding shower curtain rod that extends out when showering to allow more room, and then it folds back into the shower to get the shower curtain out of the way. I was skeptical and didn't think it would work, plus I hate shower curtains and didn't really even want to try it. But Linda was persistent, and we managed to find a way to get the rod screwed into the wall.

And, I have to admit, it makes a big difference. There is now elbow room without having to turn our bodies at a very precise angle. The trade-off of having to have a shower curtain is worth the extra room.