Much has been written bemoaning the quality of the construction used in recreational vehicles. Quite often those complaints are justified. But considering that we subject our rigs to what can be considered a perpetual earthquake, it is amazing they don’t end up a pile of parts in the middle of the highway. If a person were to put a set of wheels under a traditional sticks-and-bricks home and tow it down the interstate for any length of time, that would most likely be the result.
Below is a list of posts we published that deal with repairs and modifications we’ve done to our rig. We will add to this list as new issues pop up, so please check back from time to time. Our 2007 Colorado was 4 years old when we purchased it, so things are bound to need repair as the unit ages. Considering the fact I am handy and not afraid to dig in and fix something, buying an older RV made sense for us. We saved a bundle right off the bat, and we don’t need to worry about voiding a warranty by repairing something ourselves. When we buy a newer RV, we will add a new heading for that unit.
2007 Colorado 31RL-BS Fifth Wheel
2011 – 2014 Modifications
Main Trunk Rebuild
We did very little to the rig during this time period. The few modifications we did had to do with getting the rig ready to full time, of which two stand out. The first had to do with the limited space we have in our main trunk under the raised front bedroom of the fifth wheel.
This is a top view of what our trunk layout was (not to scale). There was a wall that extended completely across the trailer (indicated in red). Behind it was plumbing and electrical…but only towards the outside of the rig. The center was entirely empty. I removed the wall and used the unnecessary center portion to create the areas indicated in green. That protected the plumbing and electric areas and left a huge area of reclaimed space in the middle. It’s actually large enough to store our biggest suitcase, which contains our other suitcase and a duffel bag.
Dinette Table Top Replacement
Our second modification was to build a new tabletop for our dinette.
The top that came with the rig was too large to comfortably sit at. It was designed to drop down and act as a base for the cushions when the dinette was used as a bed. Since we had no intention of ever using it for that purpose, we decided on a new, smaller top.
I built the new top to be narrower in both directions. Less width means it is easier to get in and out of the dinette. We reduced the depth to make it easier to access the back of the rig when we are traveling and both slides are closed. Even though the new top is thicker, it actually weighs less…as I built it similar to a hollow-core door.
The new top also has a smooth laminate, which is easier to keep clean and provides a better writing surface. The wood edge was stained to match the existing woodwork.
2015 Repairs and Modifications
The first repair we had to do was caused by winter camping in Michigan. The weather became so cold in January of 2015, the coolant in our refrigerator actually turned to gel. When it quit working, I ended up causing more problems than I originally had by simply turning the refrigerator off and back on before I warmed the coolant back up. Confused by how a RV refrigerator works? Evidently so are a lot of other people, as our post about this event ended up being our most popular ever. The thing we find interesting is that the views on this post pick up in January through March in the Northern Hemisphere, and July through September in the Southern Hemisphere. Here is the link: The Mysterious RV Refrigerator.
Shower Floor Replacement
In February, Diana noticed a crack in the shower floor (or pan) near the drain. If there is one feature of our rig that is not made to withstand the rigors of fulltime RVing, it’s that floor. It’s made from a flexible plastic, instead of a more rigid Fiberglas. Not wanting to totally change the configuration of our plumbing, we opted to replace the floor with an identical piece. While it was torn apart, we beefed up the platform beneath the shower. I had determined that the flex in the platform was the main culprit in the failure of the shower pan. That mid-winter repair took a couple of days. Since the campground bathhouse was closed for the winter, we used our YMCA membership and took our showers there. 🙂 Here is a link to our post about this repair: A Cracked Shower, a Cute Doggie and a Prized Pig!
Moving forward to October of 2015, we decided to purchase TerraTrikes to replace our bicycles. Figuring out how to carry them required us to think outside the box a bit. We came up with a two-fold solution that had me falling back on welding skills I had learned in college. To see this modification, follow this link: Hauling Our New Trikes
Drawer Glides and Tot-Loks
In November, I put my woodworking skills to use and modified our cabinet doors and drawers. We wanted stronger full-extension drawer glides and we also wanted travel latches, as the cabinets and drawers were coming open as we moved down the road. What we came up with for latches were Tot-Loks, and we are happy to report that they continue to work as advertised to this day. The post that covers these modifications can be accessed here: Working on a Few Projects and Upgrades
2016 Repairs and Modifications
Shackles and Wet Bolts
In April, as we were returning to Michigan from our trip to Big Bend National Park in Texas, we noticed that we weren’t able to get the X-Chock wheel chocks between our wheels on the passenger side of the rig. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that one of our spring shackles had broken. Turns out that this is a common problem with conventional axle trailers, and one solution is to use heavier shackles and greaseable bolts. We had the broken shackle replaced in Effingham, Illinois and then had MorRyde install their heavy duty shackles and wet bolts in Elkhart, Indiana. The post that deals with that experience can be seen here: Northward!
From there, we move on to June of 2016, when Diana noticed rust on our frame. To clarify, our frame is powder-coated and pretty much rust-free….so rust indicated a failure of some sort. This led us down a path where we found out our frame had stress cracks in it from making sharp turns in and out of campsites. The solution was fairly involved, but not too terribly expensive. We had 2″ square tubing welded between the spring shackles from side to side, thereby eliminating the stress on the frame. We then had a angle plate welded to the bottom of the I-beam to strengthen the frame. Total cost was a little less than $700. Details of this repair can be viewed on our post, A Solid Foundation.
Leaf Spring Replacement / Kitchen Countertop / Carpeting
Later that summer, we took care of a few more modifications. Our springs were sagging, so I upgraded them to 6000 pound springs. I did this job with my neighbor Tom in one afternoon. Total cost was a little over $100. I also replaced our kitchen countertop and sink, drawing from my years as a cabinetmaker. We also replaced the carpeting, as there was a local installer who was good at carpeting RV’s. All three of those modifications can be seen in our post, A Very Busy Summer.
Lessening Our 12-volt Load / Shower Head / Wax System
In anticipation of doing more boondocking, while wintering in Florida we began an effort to reduce the amount of electricity our rig used by replacing the 12-volt lights. At the time our rig was built, LED lights were not in use in the RV industry.
We also switched our shower head to a low-flow model, so as to not fill our waste tanks as quickly.
In addition, I switched to a wax system from Meguiar’s designed specifically for boats and RVs. Details on all of this can be found on our post, Recharging in Florida.
2017 Repairs and Modifications
While still in Florida, we noticed what we thought was excessive play in our Pull-rite automatic slider hitch. Not remembering what it was like when it was new, we ordered some new parts for it. Turns out what we were seeing was normal. One part, however, was much heavier than the original; the main roller. Read about the differences between the old and new on our post, Busy Winter in Florida.
New Axles, Wheels and Tires
Our most expensive modification to date was the upgrade of our tires, wheels and axles. After hauling the rig completely around the United States with these modifications, we are pleased that we did it. To see what that project entailed, check out our post: February and Future Plans.
Refrigerator Door Hinge Repair
We discovered a design flaw in our Norcold refrigerator door hinge when opening it. By sheer luck, I managed to grab it before it fell on my feet. Norcold’s fix was to replace the entire door. I came up with a much cheaper (and stronger) solution. You can read about it in our post, Norcold Hinge Repair.
This particular upgrade is more of a ‘good customer service’ situation than anything else. Our 2011 Stromberg Carlson folding step gave up the ghost on us, even though it had a much higher weight rating than even double our combined weight. Find out what the company did about it in our post, Further South in Michigan.
2018 Repairs and Modifications
Screws, Roof Vent, and Trunk Locks
Everyone, at some point, compiles a list of things that need to be done around the house. Ours had gotten a bit long. While most items were small, a few were upgrades that are worth noting. To read more about those, check out our post, The ‘To-do’ List.
As stated at the beginning of the page, we will be updating this list as time goes on. We hope the information we’ve shared is helpful in any repairs or modifications you may have on your RV. As always, happy and safe travels to all!