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Category Our Forest River Wildwood

Which RV Insurance and Roadside Assistance Is Best for Full-Time RV Living

The Best RV Insurance and Roadside

We see it asked pretty often – which RV insurance is best and which RV roadside assistance should you get?

When we did our research, we looked for the insurance companies that had “full timer packages”, and insured RVs for full time travel. Of those, it seemed to come down to Good Sam/National General and Progressive. For our RV roadside assistance package, Progressive, Good Sam, and Coachnet were the big players to try.

While many people may love their insurance company, the real test comes down to having to file a claim and that’s where we can pick our winners. Here’s our claims experiences, with two similar issues.


One day while giving the RV a checking over, we noticed a soft spot on the edge of our roof, cased by a tiny slit in the rubber.

First Rubber Roof Damage to Our RV
First Rubber Roof Damage to Our RV

We called Progressive, who had a adjuster out to us in less than 24 hours. That adjuster took lots of photos of our RV, spent some time on the phone, told us ‘you can’t even patch that, it’s too close to the edge, and a patch will not hold up’, and wrote us a check on the spot for a full rubber roof replacement. It was a super easy process, and our full timer package covered a motel/hotel stay and meals while our RV was in the shop overnight.

Progressive’s roadside assistance, however, is outsourced to another company and Progressive’s roadside left us stranded for three days on the side of the road. That was not fun, made us pretty angry, and we decided to switch to Good Sam/National General.

Good Sam/National General

While in California, we were leaving a day at the beach, pulled out of the street parking, and heard a terrible cracking and popping sound. Upon investigation, we saw there was a branch we didn’t notice that lined up with the edge of the parking spot, and it single handedly destroyed our awning and made several punctures in our roof membrane.

Second Rubber Roof Damage to Our RV
Second Rubber Roof Damage to Our RV

We called National General, who directed us to a website, where we would have to take our own pictures and upload them. No adjuster was sent out.

National General agreed to pay for a new awning, then stated that our roof would be repaired “as good as new” by having a patch placed on it. No matter how much we disagreed that a patch was not pre-accident condition, and that a patch would not hold up to our full time useage like a replacement roof would, they still insisted that a patch was all we needed and all they had to cover.

We had the awning repaired, to make our camper road worthy again, and made our way back to Florida, where we would arrange to have our roof evaluated. Our National General rep proved to be often hard to communicate with, receiving no response for long periods of time. Finally, with a shop working with us, National General agreed to cover the roof replacement.

We’ve since switched back to Progressive for our insurance.

What About All The Rest?

We’ve looked in to several of the other larger insurance carriers and, while several are recommended in the Facebook RV groups, they do not cover full timers. No matter who you choose for your RV insurance, make sure they know you will be full time, and have full time coverage. Basic auto insurance and basic RV insurance will not cover everything you will need as a full timer.

What About Roadside Assistance?

While we feel having Progressive insurance is our best bet, as we said, their roadside left us stranded for three days.

When we switched to Good Sam/National General for insurance, we also decided to give Good Sam’s Roadside Assistance a try. We had a minor issue or two with them but, from what we have seen, most people are happy with their service, which is very reasonably priced. In the end, although it’s a little more pricey, we tried and stayed with Coachnet, who has been great. Several of their services are unlimited – which is something that at the time is/was lacking with both Good Sam and Progressive’s roadside services. Their customer service is great, and the providers they have sent out to help us seem to have been far superior to that of Progressive and Good Sam’s solutions.

There you have it. In our experience, the best combination is Progressive Insurance with Coachnet Roadside. Have you had different experiences? Let us know in the comments!

Connection RV Roadside Assistance

Replacing the Stove Vent Cover in Our RV

RV Stove Vent Cover

We recently were stopped in a shopping center during a pretty big storm, when we noticed water pouring in above our stove. After getting the ladder out and investigating the roof, then pulling apart the range hood to trace the water, we determined the issue was with the vent cover. The flap had broken, and was no longer keeping water and bugs out. We made a temporary fix, ordered a new cover and, when it arrived, here’s how we installed it.

Replacing An RV Entry Door Holder Catch With Metal! No more stretched out or broken door holders!


Let’s face it most RV parts are made of cheap plastic. More than likely you will keep your rv for much longer than the life of many of those cheap plastic parts.

Once a part has worn out you have two options. Replace it with the exact same part and hope it doesn’t break again or, replace it with metal.

This time we needed to replace the piece that holds the door open on our 2008 Forest River Wildwood 26tbss le. This would be the second time replacing it in two years. The part that holds the door to the camper stretches out rather quickly and no longer holds in even slight wind.

We went to our favorite local rv place because we happened to be visiting family in Richmond VA. Shout out to Hayden’s RV!

We looked around at all of the options. We had a few besides the style that kept failing on us. They were plastic and most stuck out from the side of the camper enough to hurt someone who wasn’t paying attention, or were a larger latch type that would not securely screw to our metal siding.

The other downside was that the only style that let you open and close the door without leaving your trailer was the style that repeatedly failed us.

We asked the store owner for advice. We wanted metal and low profile. He directed us to these awesome metal clips. They are l meant to hold pass-through hatches in the open position, but work beautifully to hold our door open too. They are very low profile, simple to install, hold the door securely in wind, and best of all should never need replacing again.

  1. Buy clips here.
  2. Remove old hardware from door and camper.
  3. Clean off all old butyl tape, silicone, etc from door and camper wall. If there was silicone used, be careful to remove every speck of it. Its nasty stuff that nothing else will adhere to it not even more silicone.  I suggest using mineral spirits and elbow grease. A plastic scraper like this is helpful too.
  4. Fill any old screw holes you will not be reusing with geocel RV or proflex. (The geocel doesn’t show dirt as much) Just please do not use silicone.
  5. Find a stud and line up you new catch so it holds the door open securely and mark the spot.
  6. Cut a piece of butyl tape to fit the back of the catch.
  7. Position the catch and screw it into the camper and stud. You want to screw it tight so butyl tape squishes out the sides and makes a tight seal. You want to see butyl tape squishing out of the sides and screw holes like in the photos below.
  8. Test that you put it in the right spot and it does indeed hold your door open.
  9. Pat yourself on the back. You’re done!

The supplies needed are linked in the instructions above. Just click on the blue words.

Conserving Power While Boondocking in Our RV

Mobile Phone Charging on Solar Powered 12V Plug

While parking lots and other areas may not be officially considered boondocking, we still need to conserve power as much as when we are in remote locations and wonderful woods.

Our DIY solar system consists of 4 6V Crown batteries, and 2 110 watt solar panels but, with power conservation, that setup provides us with plenty of power. So, here’s a few quick ways we keep our power usage down.

Our Inverters, and Their Lack of Use

Most of your small devices run off of DC. When an inverter is used, you are taking your DC power from your batteries, and converting it to AC power. Then your device plugs in and converts it back to DC for its use. Inverters themselves draw power by simply being on. The larger the inverter, the more power is needed for it to function.

We have two inverters in our camper, which we have eliminated most needs for. One Sunforce 1000 watt pure sine wave, and one standard, generic 400 watt. The only time our 1000 watt is used, is when we need to print on our laser printer. The smaller powers our networking equipment, only used when we need to connect to public WiFi.

When the inverters are not in use, they are off so as not to be blasting through our power.

DC Power Everywhere

The largest challenge, was having DC power where we needed it. Unlike AC power, DC does not like long wires. Simply put, the longer the wire, the less power you have at the device’s end. This is resolved with using larger wire, which means more expense, and more weight.

Our batteries and bedroom are on one end of the camper, and our factory converter/fuse panel is on the other. To allow DC power in the bedroom, we have a marine style fuse panel in our pass-though to power an LP detector and DC power plugs on each side of the bedroom.

Our office areas are wired with the same type of marine DC power plugs, running the wire through the walls and floors, to the factory fuse panel. Wiring power into the slide for Laurie’s office proved to be a bit challenging, but we managed to do it.

Powering Our Devices

With the DC power plugs in place, our cell phones can be charged in the bedroom using any standard micro USB cable and 12V USB plug.

For our laptops, which were our main power drain, we purchased very inexpensive Universal DC power plugs. There are various types of 12V plugs to choose from. Some people believe these do not make a difference, as the voltage has to be “stepped up” to power the laptop, but we have found our power usage has dropped significantly since switching to these chargers.

Lower Powered Devices

For some items, you can replace your existing with a low power alternative, which was the case with our water pump. We already use low flow shower and faucet heads, so switching to a smaller water pump cut our power usage down for running water.

We Really Don’t Need Them

Throughout our adventures, we have found more and more things we can do without, that can be replaced by something we already have, or something more efficient.

  • TV – Yes, they make 12V TVs, and if you need a TV, I would suggest this as your solution. We, however, watch almost everything on my laptop already. Losing the TV was the easiest solution for us, and gave us a new cabinet in the process.
  • Coffee Pot – For us, making coffee in a percolator is no more time consuming than using an electric coffee pot. And, I feel like it tastes better. That eliminates the power draw of making coffee, and passes it off to pretty inexpensive propane.

As we continue in our adventures, we’ll update this post with all the new ways we learn to conserve our power.

What tips do you have? Share them in the comments!

Quality 1st is Anything But

Just like we praise the things we love, sometimes there’s a need to warn people of what to avoid.

Quality 1st Truck & Trailer Repair

13345 S Preston Hwy
Lebanon Junction, KY
(502) 310-2581

While traveling through Kentucky, we had an issue which required our rear axle to be replaced. We chose Quality 1st Truck & Trailer Repair to perform this service. They provided the axle, which they stated “one of their guys made”. The axle was installed on October 16 2015, and we continued along our travels. On May 5th 2016, we started having issues and, upon investigation, noticed that the wire to our trailer breaks were wrapped around the rear axle. We disengaged the trailer breaks, contacted our GoodSam roadside to help us find the closest repair shop that could help us, and made our way there.

Upon inspection, the shop determined the issue was with the weld job on the axle. The shop informed us that Quality 1st Truck and Trailer Repair had used what are called tack welds. These are welds which hold a part in place, while the real welds are completed. This should have never left their shop, and definitely never been put on a customer’s vehicle. As if this was not bad enough, Quality 1st made it worse.

Previous welder did not weld shackle correctly

Previous welder did not weld shackle correctly

On the morning of May 6th, I called Quality 1st and was told that the owner would call me back “in the afternoon”. As of 4:44pm I had not received a call, called them back, and was told the owner was “out on a call” and would call me back. I pointed out that I had called in the morning, had not heard back, and inquired when I would be receiving a call. The employee stated it could be an hour, could be two. I reminded them that I had an issue, and was told I would receive a call in the afternoon. Mid-sentence the employee said “OK, thank you.” And hung up on me.

I contacted my credit card company, Chase, in an attempt to have their assistance in resolving the issue. Usually, they provide great customer service, and make sure their clients are happy. Chase contacted Quality 1st, and were only told the same information I had received. The transaction was out of Chase’s allowable time for a charge back, but I was provided with information on how to escalate the case.

On May 11th, I contacted Quality 1st again. As before, the employee stated the owner was out of the office. When asked when I could expect a phone call, I was told “5 or 6”. I stated that I hadn’t heard back in around a week, how do I know I would here back today, and told he would call me. I requested they leave a note that told them to call me today, or I would be moving on with the next step in handling this. The employee said “Ok”, and we hung up. I received no call.

At this point, I faxed all of the needed information to Chase and waited. And waited. And waited more. On June 10th, I had still received no phone call from Quality 1st. They have no interest in contacting a customer back, who they put in a very dangerous situation. We received a letter concerning our dispute, Chase bank is currently stating that the charges are valid “Since a significant amount of time has passed”.

We spoke with a Chase rep. and there is a time frame that credit card companies are allowed to perform a charge back. After that point, regulations prevent them from doing anything.

Quality 1st ripped us off, and gets to keep all of the money.

Rating by Alan Cook: 1.0 stars

Stop The Water Loss – Adding a Shut Off Valve to Your RV Freshwater Overflow

Water shut-off valve on RV freshwater air outlet

When we first started full-timing in our Forest River travel trailer, we encountered one of our first mysteries. We’d stop, dump tanks, fill our fresh water, and a ways down the road notice our water tank was reading 1/3 to 2/3 full. Somehow, our Wildwood was losing water!

Then, one day, we figured it out. There is a hose attached to your freshwater tank, which lets air escape as you are filling it with fresh water. The way things are put together, this hose can start to have water in it while you’re driving down the road, and a siphon is created. Before you know it, your camper has lost around half of your freshwater, dumping your liquid gold on to the ground.

Believe it or not, one solution is amazingly simple, and with only a handful of inexpensive parts. Here’s what you’ll need, in order of assembly.

A simple hose clamp. This goes on first, before jamming the next piece in to your overflow/air outlet tube.
You will need to verify your tubing size coming from your camper. Ours was 1/2″, but your tube may be different. Our tube comes straight down, so we chose an elbow shape to make it easier to reach the next piece. You can go with a straight version if preferred.

To install, simply shove this piece in to your air outlet tube, and tighten the above clamp using a flat-head screw driver.

Elbo tube. This is your handy new shut-off valve. It will screw on to the above installed adapter, just like it would on a garden hose, giving you an On/Off switch to your air outlet tube.

Water shut-off valve on RV freshwater air outlet

The end result. A shut-off valve on RV freshwater air outlet

Once all pieces are attached, you are ready to re-fill your tank. Make sure you open your new valve before filling. If you neglect opening the valve, air pressure that used to escape through the air tube will instead, after a minute or so, force a nice splash of water back out of your tank, soaking you. Trust us. We know!

Once your tank is filled and the water starts running out the overflow as it always has, you simply turn your spiffy new valve and stop the flow. Voila! No more losing water from your overflow line.

Have you tried this, or have another great solution? Let us know in the comments!

Quick and Easy Drawer Covers

RV Drawer Modification to Add Drawer Covers

While we were in the process of removing our booth seats and table we, once again, had mice join our travels. Mice are bad enough with chewing, nesting, and all the normal mouse behaviors but, for some reason, the occasional mouse likes to explore every drawer we have. And poop in it. On our silverware, cooking utensils, plates, bowls. You name it, the mouse poops on it. You can’t really keep mice out of your camper or RV at all times, even though we are trying, but you can keep them from getting in some areas – like your drawers – and keep the mouse poop at bay.

This is where we took the old luan from our booth seats, and re-purposed them (crooked edges and all!) into simple, non-expert, mouse poop preventing drawer covers. Isn’t that exciting?

Here’s how we did it.

Standard Travel Trailer Drawer

Standard travel trailer drawer. In kind of bad shape…

Next, we started our test fit version, which was to cut the lid in the shape of the drawer itself.


This didn’t work. At all. The drawer has to lift on its track when inserting into the drawer slot, and the luan prevents the drawer from raising the necessary amount – so the drawer could not open and close. So, we moved on to plan B, which involved a little more work, but still was pretty easy.

We started to re-cut the boards to the dimensions of the interior of the drawer, which would allow the drawer to function as it always has. We were almost done recutting our prototype, when the battery died on the saw. We plugged in the charger, inserted the battery, pressed the change button, and “click” our 30-ish year old battery charger was no more. No more drill, no more saw, our project was at a halt.

So, it was time for a new drill. After lots of looking, reading reviews, and seeing what could be bought the same day, locally, we chose a Black & Decker Matrix Drill and the handy Matrix Saw Attachment. I love this new drill set. Having various attachments, as apposed to multiple tools, makes it take up less space. The lithium ion battery is a massive upgrade from the old NiCd batteries our old set used. Overall, it’s perfect for a mobile lifestyle. And, it allowed me to get back to work.

The re-sizing of the top was completed to allow the lid to fit in the drawer, the lid was cut into two sections, and we were ready to move on.

The drawer lid needed mounting now, and some simple screen molding – originally planned for support behind our hinges due to the flimsiness of luan – was pre-drilled and screw mounted on the inside of each drawer. These will hold the rear of the lid in place, and provided support for the front opening portion.

Drawer with new lid supports added.

Next, the lids were hinged and fit to the drawers. Each lid was placed in to a drawer and the hinge holes were marked to ensure they would fit when assembled.

AC-Clamp was used to hold the screen molding (for support to the hinge) and hinge in place while holes were pre-drilled and screws were installed.

A C-Clamp was used to hold the screen molding (which would add support to the hinge) and hinge in place while holes were pre-drilled and screws were installed.

With the lid fitting perfectly in the drawer, opening would provide a challenge. For this, we simply cut the corner off of one side, providing a small finger hole to pull from. With the notch cut, and all hardware and supports installed, we had our finished lid.

We were now ready to pre-drill our 4 holes to hold the rear of the drawer in place, and slide our drawers back in to their home.

And, that’s it. We have nice RV drawer covers, which should keep out the mice and their poop, and also double as a quick pullout space to sit items as needed when working in the kitchen. Best of all, it was super cheap to do.

How Progressive Insurance Left Us Stranded for 55 Hours

Progressive Insurance

6300 Wilson Mills Rd.
Mayfield Village, Ohio
(555) 555-5555

You pay, and pay, and pay for insurance. In our case, we pay extra for RV insurance and a “full-timer” package. When things go wrong, insurance is supposed to be there to help out. In our case, Progressive failed miserably.

For those of you who do not like a long story, you can jump to the conclusion/summary at the end.

Our travel trailer had the rear driver side bearings go out and the hub started smoking. We pulled over in a gravel lot and tried making a few phone calls around 10 am on 10/06/2015. Unfortunately, the AT&T dead zone we were in made this a very difficult, and sometimes impossible, process. After about an hour, at 11 am, we called Progressive to inquire what our coverage could do to help us.

Progressive informed us that we had roadside assistance, which is apparently outsourced through a company named Agero, and our policy would “cover towing and labor” to get us back on the road. Awesome! We explained the reception situation, and asked if they were able to line things up for us. They agreed, and the wait began.

Progressive had us slated to go to a Hillside Auto repair. We inquired with this business as to whether or not we would be allowed to stay in our RV over night, if needed, while the repair was made. The owner sternly informed us this would not be allowed, that the police would cite us, and that “the day it comes in is the day it is fixed is the day that it leaves” and that they did not have the room to have our camper on their lot overnight. He also had little to no idea of the work that needed doing, or that the person who had previously called him about our camper was someone at Progressive. This was our first example of the poor communication, incompetence, and negligence that would continue through this process.

The first tow was arranged. We awaited, expecting to see something large enough to haul our camper to its repairs, and were shocked to see a full sized pick-up arrive. The plan: to remove the rear tires, and tow us on one axle. Yes, the plan was to tow us on one axle. This is an impossible thing to do with a travel trailer, and any competent mechanic should be able to tell you this will not work. The mechanic tried to set us on one axle anyways, and… it didn’t work. The mechanic then proceeded to remove the wheel, bearings, and everything else to assess the situation. Then he left us with our axle propped on a wooden block. Progressive’s first solution had, at that point, left us in worse shape than we were in to begin with.image

After dealing with a large amount of incompetence a supervisor, Dan, was finally brought in. He arranged for our previous Hilltop contact to come out and take a look at the RV that evening. We did not get the message, again cell reception, until it was too late. We called the next morning, this is the end result, emailed to Dan.


We contacted hilltop at 8:43 CST, the person to handle us was out getting parts, and would return in a ‘little while’.
At 10:02, they were to arrive in 30 minutes.
At 11:44, they showed up and agreed with yesterday’s prognosis of a new axle being needed.

None of the locations the mechanic called in the area had the axle in stock. We would still be looking at 2-3 weeks to order.

We called Forest River, they provided us with contact information for the axle manufacturer, and stated they should be able to provide one much faster, when given the needed information.
We have an email contact and a phone number – which, keep in mind, was difficult to obtain with our current phone signal situation.

We called progressive/roadside assistance, the menus do not provide a way to enter an extension. We reached another low level employee, who reviewed the information, mentioned there being no notes of us speaking to a supervisor, and wanted to begin the process again of attempting to locate a tow.

We provided the extension, which he stated was busy. More back and forth, told him we would email you and hung up.

I am going to contact the manufacturer via email and hope they respond concerning an axle. Hopefully you have additional plans in place as well.

Dan’s response:

My apologies, the agent should have at least taken you to the supervisor line. Here’s my phone extension for the day 86180. There should be no issues reaching me here today.

Note… We stated there was no way to enter an extension…

Dan did work with us to locate campgrounds where we could potentially be towed. Of all the incompetence we dealt with, we must say, Dan was the most likely to make things happen. Unfortunately, he was nearing his time off, and we were handed off to other “supervisors”.

We awaited the next Progressive solution, which Dan stated was supposed to tow us out the next morning – on 10/08/2015.

Hi Alan!

Just a quick update. I’ve been going back and forth with a SP in Bowling Green. It’s looking like we may be doing this tomorrow morning so I will update you again when I have everything in place.


Dan O’Rourke

It was not the next morning we heard from someone. The tow was scheduled for 2:00PM CST on 10/08/2015.

Good morning!

My name is Stu and I work with Dan O’Rourke as a supervisor/colleague for Progressive Insurance Roadside.

I have completed dispatch to Doug’s Towing and Recovery out of Elizabethville KY. He should be at your location around 2 pm this afternoon, October 8, 2015.

Doug has received the pictures you provided us by email. They are very helpful! He has more than one approach to a challenge like this. We have worked with Doug before, and have a lot of confidence in what his team can do.

If you – or Doug’s Towing & Recovery – need anything further that we can help with from here at roadside, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us by phone or email. If by email, be certain to copy both Dan and me.

Later in the day, we spoke to Doug’s Towing via phone, and he informed us of his plan – to remove the rear tires, and tow us out on one axle. It was explained this wouldn’t work, that it had already been tried, and the trailer dropped to the ground. This seemed to baffle this guy. He asked what happened several times and still baffled, asked why it happened. We told him “Gravity”, which did not seem to help him understand the problem. He would have to call us back. We later heard again from Progressive, this tow was canceled as he would not be able to tow us out with any of his originally planned methods.

At the moment, Doug’s is no longer poised to arrive with any equipment.

He was very happy to have spoken to you to get additional information. We were not aware that your trailer is loaded (extra weight), and that the tandem axle arrangement is a load-redistributing system that would be problematic even if one whole axle is removed during transport.

Not saying that it couldn’t be moved, with strategic blocks of wood put in place to provide appropriate/usable clearance in the case that one of the axles is temporarily removed. But each added thing that needs to be done raises the bar on potential liability issues, which in any case would be yours to deal with.

The problem is compounded by the overall length of your trailer – including hitch/tongue assembly – being slightly too long for a normal-sized lowboy, and the height – around 12 feet including antenna/dish – makes for a difficult lowboy tow in any event.

Doug concurs with the other opinions we’ve obtained so far: your best bet is to find an axle and have a mobile mechanic put it on where you are.

We realize you’ve looked into this and that it might be a couple of weeks for delivery from the manufacturer, and that type of delay does not lend itself to your need for mobility or relocation to a place with rv facilities in the shorter term.

Have you talked to Camping World near Beach Bend Park in Bowling Green KY how they might be able to help, remotely (by coming to you)? Worse case – perhaps, as Doug has also suggested, they or some other mobile mechanic local to Bowling Green can come to your disablement location and remove the axle, take it back to their shop to grind off any burr on the axle (presuming it can be salvaged temporarily), find and put on a bearing and hub, then take the fixed axle assembly back and re-install it on your trailer. That would at least get you mobile.

We will brainstorm a bit more here at roadside to see what else we can do about a tow.

In the meantime, if you would pin down the repair options that you have – both at any repair facility or, more realistically, at your disablement location – then we can compare notes further in the next hour or two.

At this point, we were losing our patience. Being we pay Progressive, and the roadside assistance is an outsourced portion, we called Progressive and demanded a supervisor. We explained the situation and were told, still, that we needed to speak to a supervisor in roadside assistance. We informed them that we paid Progressive, not an outsourced company, and that we needed results. The supervisor stated they could only help us with policy issues, and still insisted we speak to roadside assistance. We then proceeded to wait on hold. For 33 minutes. The supervisor who finally answered, then requested that we wait on Stu, who was “familiar” with the case. After a total of 52 minutes, Stu was back at his desk and ready to continue with the negligence.

We posed what seemed to us a simple solution. Since progressive didn’t want to fix us where we sat (or even partially fix us),  put the wheel back on, sans bearings, the one their first guy removed. The parts already need replacing, just put it on. Pull the camper up on a lowboy (a long flatbed pulled by a tractor trailer), and get us off the side of the road. Easy. Done. Right? Wrong. We were told we would need to sign a waver, that any damage done during the process and during transport would not be the liability of the towing company or the roadside assistance. It was all on us. So, if the driver goes under a low bridge, hits a tree, drives off a cliff, we have to sign off on that. All because Progressive sent someone out who removed the wheel. We informed on each mention of this, that we would be willing to sign a waver for damages to the axle, but there is no way we are signing off on all damages. And, back to waiting.

We had called the Property owner and received permission to sit for a day or two, in case repairs needed to be done on site, or in case our location made it take a day or two for us to be towed out. On day three, we called them again to tell them it would be a week before we were off their lot.

The owner attempted to return our call but, no signal… He then came by and asked what was going on. With only a few phone calls, he had a mechanic on site, who cleaned and reassembled the parts Progressive’s first solution had removed, added new bearings and other missing pieces, and had us back on the road enough to get to a campground. We pulled out of the gravel lot around 6:30 on 10/8/2015 . The repair only cost $150.

Meanwhile, Progressive had a plan too. It would cost us $1,600 for a tow – they would cover $900 of it. You see, the “we cover towing” part actually means they cover up to a certain amount of towing. Check your policy, you may be surprised.
And the repair would cost us $2700. A repair which takes 1-2 hours, and is a $500 job, including parts, anywhere else.

We had more correspondence with Bailey from Progressive on 10/09/2015, including a point where, in reference to our cost for the fix, the supervisor we were speaking to made the statement of “$150 is much better” and followed it with a chuckle. A chuckle, to an angry customer, who has received nothing but incompetence over several days.

This process ended with being told we would hear from someone in Customer Care on Monday (10/12/15). We did not. Now, it is Tuesday, 10:30 am local time, 11:30 am our time. We called Progressive, and asked for a supervisor.

Of course, we were required to provide information so our policy could be pulled up. When the supervisor, Tom, arrived on the phone, we were again required to provide our information, so our policy could be pulled up.

Tom started asking all the same questions that we’ve answered countless times through this process. What happened, what damage was done, etc. During the call, we told Tom how Laurie’s mom (in Virginia) called Good Sam, and they were able to find someone in a very short amount of time who could help us. Toms response – “That’s what Good Sam’s Specialty is.” When I mentioned that we had full timers insurance with Progressive, and that should be what its specialty is, I was ignored. Ignored like many of the other things Tom chose not to comment on.

Tom did have a solution, though. He wanted to file a complaint that would go to customer care. The same thing that was supposed to be happening on Friday – four days ago. That would take 24 to 48 hours to have someone get in contact with us… From roadside. Where he now wanted to transfer us.

Laurie asked why everyone was supposed to sit down and figure out what was going on, escalate the case, and provide us with a solution, but now, it’s going to be another 24 to 48 hours. We were again put on hold.

When Tom came back, we were informed that the Supervisor handling our situation was not in. He mentioned several times “it’s good you’re in a safe place now” and mumbling along. Mumbling along with sentences like “I’m still trying to get this resolved. I could potentially get .. to send another truck. Trying to wait on another axle.. What..”.

We were asked what we had planned, going to repair facility and dry camping, or what. At this point, we explained that previous supervisors were willing to send out an on site mechanic to fix the issue, as the situation had gotten so out of hand.

Tom then informed us, in the ‘I don’t really care what you have been through’ way that our roadside covers only towing and if we wanted to be towed, he could do that.

We asked if basically, they were only covering towing at this point, and we’re screwed. Again, Tom’s vast vocabulary informed us “we can cover towing to a facility if you want”.

We were again put on hold to further try to track down information. When Tom returned, he stated no one working on the case at the end of the week was in the office. And, put us on hold.

Once again, Tom the linguist returned, and told us he can’t get anyone from roadside on the phone who can help, that he can’t seem to do anything. A supervisor. Who works for Progressive. Cannot get their own road side assistance on the phone.

Back to mumbling, Tom keeps mentioning what is covered in our policy and stating it is only a tow and 1 hour of labor. This is the first we have heard of 1 hour of labor, and nowhere in our declarations page did we see this information. Another piece of information that no one at Progressive can seem to agree on.

Tom mumbled through more, with incomplete sentences and confusion, and put us on hold again.
He returned, again, from hold and explained they are unable to locate the person handling the case. The next few pieces of information to come from Tom was something along the lines of “Uh. Yea. Ok. This is where, ya know. Basically where we’re at right now”.

That was followed by being told the extent they can do is provide a tow. That we’re safe in a place with power, and things are now our responsibility.

I stated that we should have stayed on the side of the road for another 55 hours, and Progressive would have been able to help us. Tom’s response was simply a robotic repeat of what our policy supposedly covers, the tow and 1 hour of labor.

I explained we were never told this, and that road side previously stated that they were going to send someone to take care of the issue. Again, I ask what we have been paying them for.

Tom’s only response was that the issue has been escalated and someone would contact in 24 hours. They could possibly send a tow truck to tow us, but that may not help us.

Laurie asked if we could have a copy of the complaint he was filing. As of 4:38 EST on 10/13/2015, we have yet to receive a copy.

More mumbling, uh, and yea from Tom. He stated he had “Started receiving responses.” and that he would tell them what happened with as much detail, it would get to roadside assistance group, and that it could be 24 hour turn around time.

At this point, Tom stated he was at a loss, that having them come out and repair is beyond the coverage on the policy.

I’m playing the middle man between you [and laughed].

I asked “You think that’s funny?” and received no response.

Again, Laurie asked why no one did what they were supposed to do, and why no one did anything they stated they would do.
Tom only provided more mumbling and “don’t know’s”.
He then followed up with random questions about who did what and was the Good Sam guy the one who could fix the issue, and more repeating about how he can get a tow if needed, and how we should wait for road side assistance.

We were now going in circles, with the representative of the company we pay to help us when we have these types of issues. We moved on, again at 12:30 pm EST, to roadside assistance.

Oh. Not so fast. At 12:40 PM EST, Tom brought us back from hold to apologize for the delay and that he would “get us right over with customer care”.

At 12:42 PM EST, we received Vernita in customer care at road side assistance. I don’t know why we were shocked, but we were. She knew nothing of why we were calling or who we were. We were, again, starting from the beginning. She began reviewing the notes and, after a few moments of silence, also stated she was reading through case.

She stated a case manager had been provided, but she can cover what has happened and that several providers came out and one made the repair.

We corrected her that someone we found made a band-aid repair to get us to a park.

She informed us that she cannot see Progressive’s notes, and asked exactly what our request was.

Laurie re-explained everything, and how we were supposed to receive a call. She stated that she needed the synopsis, that none of the information was in the notes, and that none of this is what is included in their service, and that all of this is new to her.

She needed time to investigate calls, read notes, and review everything. She verified our phone number, and would contact us back.

Laurie asked if she needed names of supervisors who handled the case, which she did, and Laurie provided them. The rep verified the supervisors were from Agero, which they were, and again stated she would review the information and call back. Laurie asked if it would be today, and we were told it would be today or in the morning before we would hear anything. We received more of the standard “understand your frustration” talk.

Laurie verified the rep would actually be working tomorrow, as everyone else we had dealt with was not there the next day.
Vernita stated she worked Monday through Friday, would be there, and would call before 10am tomorrow.

Laurie asked if we should go ahead and have the work done, since we have been waiting, and was instructed we should go ahead, and later submit invoices if it would be covered.

Our phone call, this time, ended at 12:55 am EST.

Vernita from Roadside called back at about 3:30 PM EST on 10/13/2015.
SHe, of course, apologized for everything that had happened. And, offered us a whopping $100 to offset our costs, as a “goodwill gesture”. Yes, $100. Being stranded on the side of the road for 55 hours, and spending $150 to get yourself un-stuck, is worth $100 to Progressive’s roadside assistance. I wanted to tell Vernita where they could put there $100, but Laurie was the one handling the phone call this time…

Laurie did inquire about the $150 we had to pay for the quick fix. Vernita stated we needed to contact Progressive, that they would be the ones to handle a reimbursement.

Again, at 3:35 PM EST, we called Progressive. The rep we received very near refused to do anything for us until we provided our policy number. We normally do not have this information handy, and they always look up my account with other information. Finally, after going back and forth with the person, they stated they could not look up the account. They instead decided to transfer us to roadside assistance. We hung up, and tried again.

This time, we spoke to a standard, low level rep, who refused to transfer us to a supervisor. This one stated that we have coverage, in some circumstances, for towing. Any claims for reimbursement would need to go through road side who, mind you, just sent us back to Progressive. This person’s solution, was to start the claims process. They started a claim, and we should be hearing from an adjuster the next morning (Wednesday, 10/14/2015).

The claims adjuster called a few times, out of Virginia (we are in Kentucky…) on both our phone lines. We have not had the patience to talk to him, and assume nothing will be done as this isn’t a claim type of situation.

On 10/15/2105 we received a phone call from roadside regarding our complaint. The individual on the phone requested a copy of our invoice for the band-aid fix to the camper, and provided an email address where it could be sent. Laurie emailed those invoices, as requested, on xx/xx/xxxx. As of 10/18/2015, we have received no response.

On 10/18/2015 at 11:16 AM EST, we called and cancelled our policies through Progressive. The first rep, of course, wanted to transfer us to Roadside. After stating a few facts, we were transferred to the rep who was able to, and began the process of canceling our policies. On our auto policy, we would receive a refund. For the travel trailer, however, they wanted to charge us additional money (a little over $30) due to the policy being “done differently” and being “pro-rated”, basically, they were charging us a fee for canceling. We reminded them of the reason we were canceling, informed them we were making the entire RV community aware of this situation daily, and asked if they really wanted to try and charge us more money. We were put on hold at approximately 11:24 AM EST, while the rep spoke to a supervisor. The rep returned and told us they would not be able to waive the fee. We informed them we would be paying them nothing, due to the situation and were transferred to a supervisor.

The supervisor stated that we would have to pay the fee and it cannot be waived due to “how the policy is written with Virginia” and that “because we are canceling early” we have to pay the fee. We stated to set the policy ahead, so it wouldn’t be canceled early, and be done. At that point, we were told that we would then owe a premium. What?! Laurie demanded at this point to speak to someone else and, again, we were put on hold at approximately 11:35 AM EST. The “Supervisor” came back on the line several times to “thank me for my patience” and tell me “one moment”.

At about 11:40 AM EST, a “customer care specialist” came on the line. The rep stated they could waive various fees and take the balance owed down to $7, which if ignored, would not go to collections – it would be written off. We informed them that we just want this over with. The policies were canceled, we were left with a $7 balance, which we will ignore, it is finally (we hope) over.

To Sum It All Up

Our Progressive full timer package is supposed to cover roadside assistance, in the case of a breakdown or emergency. Instead, we were on the side of the road in a gravel lot for 55 hours. The only solutions provided by Progressive either didn’t work, or made things worse. We ended up having to solve everything ourselves, while spending hours on the phone with incompetent supervisors who did nothing.

In the end, Progressive tried to charge us a little bit more, for the privilege of being frustrated when we canceled our policies.

Progressive offers Full Timer insurance and Roadside Assistance for RV’ers. Our travel trailer, however, is tiny compared to some of the 5th wheels and class A’s some many other full timers live in. If our simple little travel trailer causes Progressive to keep us stranded for 55 hours, and they have no idea how to coordinate a tow for something our size… How are they going to handle the rest of the RV community?

What will happen when you get stranded?

Rating by Alan Cook: 1.0 stars

Adding a Remote Control to Our Inverter

We use our smaller inverter almost exclusively, and save a lot of amp hours on our batteries because of it. After becoming spoiled by our Sunforce 1000 watt inverter and its remote control we really disliked having to reach to our smaller inverter’s location to flip an On/Off switch.

For some reason, it seems the 1,000 Watt Sunforce is the only inverter with a remote. But, it’s not us to give up. This is where a bit of Google’ing came in to play, and this handy little device was found.

Photo of FImco 12 Volt Remote On/Off Switch

Fimco 12 Volt Remote On/Off Switch

The Fimco 12 Volt Remote On/Off Switch can handle up to 20 Amps of 12V current – more than enough for our inerter, or just about any other device you may want to add a remote to.

Installation was pretty simple. We hardwired the switch in, as apposed to spending time trying to locate plugs that would fit. Which made the process:

  1. Cut off the original Fimco plugs
  2. Butt connectors the “in” red wire to the hot on our 10 AWG leads from our DC power panel, and the “out” to the wire running to our inverter.
  3. Connect the blue and black ground wires in the same way.
  4. Add electrical tape for extra precaution, and mount the Finco remote switch using the provided sticky velcro.

That’s all there is to it! We now have a remote On/Off for our inverter.

Pure Sinewave Inverter Hooked up to Remote On/Off Switch

Pure Sinewave Inverter Hooked up to Remote On/Off Switch

Lastly, if you’re impatient and do not want to wait for this to come in the mail, it’s also available from Farm and Fleet and Cabella’s.

Our Basic DIY RV Solar Installation

Mounted and Connected Solar Panels

We knew once we started full-timing, that we would need power in order to boondock as much as we planned. Doing this with a generator would both burn through a lot of fuel, and add to the noise and smoke puffing out into the area around us. We decided our best bet would be to install a solar setup that we could expand and improve upon as needed.

As usual, Laurie shopped around and found great deals on all of the needed parts. We then installed everything ourselves, giving us the knowledge of the system we need to make our future additions and to correct issues, should they arise.

Installing the Panels

Update: The price of new solar panels have dropped since we did our initial install. We have added an additional two panels to our system, using 100W Acopower Panels purchased from Amazon for only around $100 a panel.

In the process we also added a long overdue MC4 inline fuse.

The panels are connected using 4 to 1 MC4 branch connectors.

For our panels, we went with two used Kyocera 120 watt solar panels purchased from eBay for a great price. We also used Fat Wallet and received cash back on the purchase. These are mounted to our roof with standard Z Brackets, screwed down and using butyl tape between the brackets and the roof for extra help in preventing leaks and for extra stability. The brackets were then covered in Dicor to keep the rain out.

Running the Cable

Our first step was running the 8 Gauge cable with MC4 Connectors and MC4 Branch Connectors (needed for more than one panel) to the location we would be mounting the panels. We chose the front of the camper as the location for our new panels, as it is a location we access the least, and it would give the shortest wire run to the rest of the equipment. There is also a wall we could fish the wire through in the entertainment cabinet below. We used larger gauge wires throughout the setup, to reduce resistance and make the system more efficient.

We ran the wires through the roof by drilling a large hole and installing a water tight junction box.

A hole was then drilled inside of the entertainment cabinet, to allow network cable from the NanoStation to route to the in-house router, and to allow easier installation of the solar wires.

We then used Fish Tape to run the solar power cables through the wall, and out another hole drilled in the bottom most cabinet.

At this point, the tough part was done. We now simply ran the wires out another hole in the rear of the cabinet, into the pass-through under the bed, then into the compartment where we would be mounting our charge controller.

Charge Controller

Our charge controller is a basic, inexpensive Coleman 30 Amp, which is actually a rebranded Sunforce. While this isn’t a fancy charge controller, it does the job.

Batteries & 12 Volt DC Power System

Or camper originally came with the standard 12V battery on the front. We have removed this battery, and upgrade to two 6V GC2 Crown batteries, which will be upgrade to four batteries in the near future.

The wires exit the camper via two holes drilled through the floor, plus one bonus hole that taught us how the floor was assembled. A second set of wires then return from the batteries, to provide us the ground and power connections for our new 12 volt system.

Our batteries provide power to a Blue Sea Systems ST Blade Fuse Block, providing us with 12 new hookups for DC power. Our ground distribution block is a temporary solution, but gets the job done for now.

The power center powers our Sunforce 1000 Watt Pure Sine Wave Inverter with Remote Control, main 400 watt inverter with custom remote on/off, DC connections for cell phone charging, and we can easily expand to more in the future.

Adding a Simple Hitch Receiver to Our Travel Trailer Rear Bumper

Rear Cargo Area added to Our Travel Trailer

Between the van and the travel trailer, there really isn’t any great place to keep all of the waste hose parts. Sure, the rear bumper can hold the hose, but there are the extra elbows, rubber donut seal, spare parts we keep around, and so on. And, we really do not want it all in our living space.

We really like the idea of having a hitch mounted cargo carrier, but, our camper did not come with a hitch and installing one would require more time and cost than we wanted to part with at the moment. This is where we found another solution that fit our needs perfectly.

Enter the Universal Bumper Mount Hitch Receiver. This handy little item mounts to your RV bumper and, in some cases, only requires moving your spare tire over, or finding an alternate location for it. Just to be safe, we contacted Forest River via email concerning the weight rating of the rear bumper. As always, they were quite helpful and responded within a couple of business days informing us that the maximum weight capacity of the rear bumper on our Forest River Wildwood is 125 lbs. While that’s not a lot, it was enough.

Photo of Mounted Universal Hitch Receiver

Install the Universal Hitch Receiver, using the provided hardware.

Photo of Cargo Carrier Mounted to rear camper bumper

The cargo carrier can then be mounted to the Universal Hitch like it would to any other vehicle hitch.

What’s Behind the Microwave? Removing Our RV Microwave Because We Can!

Since we moved in to our camper, there have been six screws mocking me.  Telling me I will never have the time to remove them. That the space they hide is a secret, never to be seen by my eyes. Poppycock, says I. We removed them, and pulled out our microwave. Because we wanted to.

For those vertically challenged folks, Laurie was very happy to see she could now reach it to clean it. I’m tempted to install quick release screws for future easy removal, but I digress.

There wasn’t really anything fantastic behind the microwave, just space. It does surprise me however, with each item I take apart, how much space RV manufactures waste. From the vast chasm that is the top of my pantry, to this newly found area above the microwave, there are countless areas drawers and cabinets could be added. Just look at all this room above the microwave hole.

That’s it, nothing more. What have you been itching to remove?

Mouse Droppings: A Tale Of Cooking Gluten Free In My RV Kitchen

Buying a used RV is a crap shoot. So far it does not look like we have any roof leaks(knock on Luan), but we think the hot water heater may have leaked at one point causing some crumbling wood along the front of the sink and under the entertainment center. The floors seem very solid so we hope that no real damage was done. Overall I think we got a solid camper at a fantastic price.

On this blog I will be talking alot about being gluten free while living fulltime in an RV. I have celiac disease an autoimmune disease that has no cure. A gluten free diet is the only solution to the problem until science advances and finds a real cure. I also stay away from corn as it causes me problems too. So cooking is always on my mind. Alan set me up a blog where I post gluten free recipes, product reviews, and rants. I like blogging there but want to focus more of my efforts here since this will be my life.

I thought cooking in our RV kitchen would be a pain because of lack of counter space, small sinks, ect. I have cooked my first full meal here today and found ways already to manage and enjoy cooking in my new home.

Our first meal was tasty. We had spaghetti squash with tomatoes and onions and Bilinski organic Italian Sausages with Porcini Mushrooms (the sausages were sent to me by Bilinski for reviewing purposes). Clean up after the meal was going smoothly. We filled the big pan with soapy water and used it to wash all of the smaller stuff in. Rinsing was done outside with the hose so as not to fill our grey water tank up as fast.

I am a messy cook and despite my efforts to not spill anything on the stove top while cooking I did drop some onion and splatter some tomato. I took off the grill piece that covers the gas burners to wipe the stove top off. That is when I caught a glimpse of the inside of the stove top. You know that part of the stove that everyone forgets to clean, right; the part where you have to lift the lid and cringe at all of the spilled food you have been neglecting for weeks. I caught a glimpse of that part and spotted tiny dark brown pellets… mouse poopy!

I do not know if Alan has mentioned this in other posts or not. We first found mouse or squirell turdlets when we removed the bunks to install Alan’s office desk. I thought it was squirell doo because there were also remnants of chewed up acorn scattered around. I immediately grabbed a vacuum and cleaned up all of the doodies I could get to.

I did not expect to find these gross little balls of excrement in my stove! I had just finished eating a meal cooked on that stove. I had thought to clean all of the exposed surfaces before cooking because cross contamination from the previous owners crumbs or spills could make me incredibly sick. I felt kind of dumb for not thinking our RV stove would have a lift off lid to clean under as well.

I immediately grabbed gloves a vacuum and a mega sized tub of Clorox Wipes. First I vacuumed up all of the visible caca (Alan supplied that word, thanks baby) then I went to town on the stove with Clorox Wipes until I was satisfied that all of the previous owners spilled food and the rodent crap was as disinfected as possible without actually disassembling the stove.

Thankfully the oven escaped the feces bombing as far as I can tell. It still needs some cleaning before I use it in case it is contaminated with gluten. My next project will be to remove the built in knife block that is silicone caulked to the space behind the stove. That will allow me to clean that space properly, and I may be able to convert the space. The knife block is set up to hold knives . I am hoping to turn it into a space for holding all of my kitchen utensils. I need to see how it is put together first. That will be its own post though.

I am constantly learning new things about my new home and our new RV lifestyle. Some are exciting and others, like the mouse stool, could put a damper on your evening. Don’t sweat the small stuff even when it is tiny and brown. Smile, remember why you chose to be a nomad, and blog about it!

We Bought a Used RV, and Found Mouse Poop

We recently bought a great used RV. Our Forest River Wildwood 26BH is a 2008. We love this travel trailer. It does not show signs of leaks or rot. We recently pulled out the triple bunks to make an office. When we removed the bottom bunk we immediately saw small brown poops all over the floor. Since there is a storage access door there we assumed that it had been left open and a squirrel had gotten in. We hoped that the poops were contained to that area, but a quick look showed us large holes cut by the manufacturers for tubing to go through. These made great places for squirrels to explore as well unfortunately. If you encounter animal feces in your trailer there are many places you should check for additional deposits. This is not the end of the world and is hopefully a process you will only have to go through once.

Take off any removable panels, under the sink, under the oven, under the refrigerator, any access panel to the water supply for the tub, and any floor vents. Also lift the lid to your gas range there may be poops there too. I know that is the ultimate in ewwiness but remember this is your home or vacation home and you love it. An old vacuum worked wonders in this process. Our other favorite tool was a mega sized container of Clorox Wipes. Vacuum out all of the feces from behind all of the panels you have removed. If the vacuum attachment won’t reach put on some rubber gloves and grab a small brush or hand broom and sweep the mess into a position that can be reached by your vacuum hose. After vacuuming wipe down any surface you can reach that had poop on it with a Clorox wipe. Some areas may have insulation that can not be vacuumed. In this case do as best you can to pick out the acorn remnants and poops from the insulation. There may be ways to replace the insulation and to access deeper areas of the RV that a long hose on a vacuum can not reach. We have decided to not worry about the poops that may be hidden in the walls and places we just can not access without ripping our beloved rv apart. The virus that lives in animal poop dies after the poops dry out according to the CDC. We are comfortable with that knowledge and feel like we got the majority of the mess cleaned up.

The next step we will take is to crawl under our rv and seal with silicone caulk any gaps around pipes and any openings bigger than a quarter inch that don’t need to be there. Mice and squirrels are similar to ferrets in that they can flatten themselves out enough to fit through amazingly small spaces. We will keep you updated on this issue if we need to do further repairs or cleaning but for now we fell much cleaner.

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