BareNeckers Blog 2017-03-28T15:43:53+00:00 BareNeckers Airstream Renovation: Weeks 23 & 24 - We called in reinforcements! 2017-03-23T05:00:00+00:00 2017-03-23T18:54:42+00:00 Ashley Longnecker

With the bathroom project behind us, it was time to call in reinforcements. We were nearing 6 months on this project and we were ALL ready for it to be done. 

My Dad had been keeping his twin brother informed on the whole process. They talked multiple times a week and bounced ideas off of each other. Well, Fred has some special tools for making cabinets and we were about to that point, so Dad made a very important call. 

Fred was more than willing to come all the way to Indiana (from his home in Oklahoma) to help us. Dad asked if he could stay a week to get some major progress done. Fred said that when my dad tells him it will be a week, he needs to count on two, and he was right.

Fred made it to Indiana on Sunday, Feb 19th and we got a game plan together. We had already scheduled to get our countertops installed on Monday, the 20th so while Jonathan and I hooked up the trailer, Dad and Fred were going to start tackling our dinette table top!

We had not moved the trailer since we got to Indiana in September! We were a bit nervous but crazy excited. 

Hooking Up To Go Get Countertops Airstream Hooked Up On Our Way To Get Countertops

We got to the countertop store a bit early and had planned to unhook the trailer so that we could go grab sushi down the road. (I’m late on the sushi train but you can’t get me off now) Well, we went to raise the trailer off the hitch and our jack crapped out on us. I mean, it is 45 years old and we knew it had issues but it just sucks to keep spending money. But it had to be done. Luckily, the guys at the countertop store had a floor jack and they helped us get it off so we could go grab lunch.

Dad and Fred met us when the countertops were done being installed and followed us to a nearby weighing station. We knew we had added a bunch of weight to the trailer but we needed an exact number so we knew what we needed to do going forward. They brought Dad’s jack so we could weigh the truck and trailer. Now we know that we could only add 1700 more pounds based on the suggested weight of the trailer. Yikes! That will be a challenge seeing as we have yet to install the cabinet doors, flooring, drawers and all of our belongings.

We made it back to the house and got right to work. Dad and Fred planed the walnut for our dinette table top. I just love watching them work together. They fight and bicker like teenagers but have all the respect for each other. It’s really need to watch them figure out all the little details and different ways to get the job done. 

Dad And Fred Planing Wood Dad And Fred Empty Sawdust

Dad was especially excited that Fred brought so many great and useful tools. 13 of these awesome Bessey Parallel Clamps to make our table! Guys, this table weighs close to 100 pounds and has over 100 screws in the bottom of it. (this may be a problem later...)


While Dad and Fred were busy making the table, I tried to stay busy upstairs going through all of our stuff. OVERWHELMING is an understatement. I was ready to just burn it all and start over. Geesh. Why do we have so much stuff? PS. Not all of this is ours, most of this actually my sister’s but, we had quite a bit up there too.

Upstairs Disaster

When the men got the table done, we test fitted it before I started finishing it. With just a few minor adjustments, it fit like a glove and it is stunning. Just wait until you see it finished

Table Top Sanded Trimming Table

Next up was finishing the framing of the upper pantry that sits on our countertop. I’m really excited about how we are going to get use of most of this counter space but still have so much storage! You’ll understand it just a bit!

Making The Top Pantry Pantry Frame Pantry Installed

Jonathan was excited to be done finishing up with the wiring of the last of the lights and switches. I was so thankful that we ordered extra lights because now they don’t make them anymore. I think we have 3 spares! Yikes.

Last Pantry Lights

Dad and Fred continued trucking away all week building our drawers so that I could add a little pop of color before they were installed. How fun is this?

Drawer Color Blue Dad And Fred Making Drawer Boxes

We choose to go with 2 styles of doors so that we could add a bit of contrast. So, we have a total of 7 paneled doors and of course, Fred has a jig for that, too! It really is all about the tools, isn’t it?

Dad And Fred Making Panel Doors

Before Fred came, we had come up with a list of all the hinges, soft closes, and drawer slides we needed. He was able to get them cheap at a local shop in Oklahoma so he offered to pick them up before he came! What a guy! With the jig he has for the hinges, we were able to get them all done extra quick. I can’t imagine what a pain that would have been without his jig.

Drilling Holes For Hinges With Jig

They installed the drawers, I finished the staining of the paneled doors, and then they tackled the duct work, water lines, and pluming before they added doors! 

Dad And Fred Running Water Lines Running Water Lines Under Sink

I think Dad and Fred LOVED working in our ‘master closet’. This 6 inch space behind our shower is where we ran our water lines was a PAIN to get anything done in there. This space is where Jonathan's guitars will be stored.

Running Lines In Master Closet

Once the water lines were run, we added an outdoor shower! I couldn't believe we were finally to the point of having running water and working drainage system! They even got our shower faucet up and working! I thought that day would never come!

Shower Faucet Installed

Now it’s time for the rest of the doors! We got 3/4’ cabinet grade plywood that I would just sand and paint. I love the simplicity of these doors! What really makes the doors look good though is the knobs we found. We decided to go with SeaDog’s Push Button Lock for all of our doors! FORTYSEVEN KNOBS PEOPLE! FortySeven! 

Painted White Doors Bathroom Doors Up Sanding So Many Doors

Check out this video to see how they work!

While everyone else was busy installing the doors, I tackled finishing up the bathroom door. Dad and Fred made this great frame and we put in translucent plexiglass. It lets 50% of the light in but you can’t make out whats on the other side of it! We are thankful for that little bit of privacy!

Bathroom Door In Process

Now that all the doors were painted and hung, Fred had one last day to stay so we tackled the floor. Guys, I looked at so many flooring options when we first started this process and I still am in love with the one we choose. It’s a laminate flooring by Mohawk. It’s called Barnhouse Oak Cottage Villa. I am in LOVE. It looks so good with our Dark Walnut stained doors and really pops with the Simply White paint by Benjamin Moore.

Flooring Feet Dad And Fred Laying Floor Bathroom Floor Finished Dad Laying Last Piece Sitting Looking At Floor

I don't’ want to show you the whole thing just yet because we are still playing around with where everything will go - but look at how far we have come in the last 2 weeks with Fred’s help! 

There are no words I can say to show our gratitude for him taking time to come help us get this done. I mean, I know he had a blast working with dad, but I hope he knows what a blessing he was to our family. We would never have gotten this far, this fast, without his help. Thank you Uncle Fred!! And thank you Rhonda for letting us borrow him for 2 weeks!

Guys, it's down to the final punch list and we are on our way! Exciting times around here!

Spoiler alert! There are affiliate links above. We may get compensated if you follow it and buy the product we've written about. Of course, we only recommend things we genuinely love. Thanks!

]]> Airstream Renovation - Bathroom 2017-03-11T05:00:00+00:00 2017-03-22T20:46:58+00:00 Ashley Longnecker

Guys, we are so far behind. Let me back up a bit and tell you about our bathroom.

We choose to go really functional with the bathroom. Instead of picking designer tile and spending way too many hours grouting said tile, we chose a simple bathtub with a plastic inclosure and shower curtain. 

Seeing that we didn’t have a plan for the bathroom until the day before we started building, I am super happy with how it turned out. 

The day the tub arrived we quickly got it inside so we could measure and make a game plan. We knew we would have to raise the tub due to the P-Trap but we were able to keep our rise at around 3 inches instead of the 5 that we thought we would need. Every inch counts in an Airstream.

Checking Tub

I have said it many times but it is still true...My dad knows how to do everything. He spent so many hours thinking about how to keep the tub as low as possible and we are so thankful for all he knows. This could have never happened without him. None of it!

Dad Plumbing Tub

Once we had a game plan walls went up quickly. Each board cut to different angles on the top. The precision dad has with his tools is just amazing to me. He cut most of these with a hand saw!

Framing Tub Walls Bathroom Studs

Once the studs were up it was time to make the plywood walls. Let me tell you, we are so tired of cutting curved walls. This bathroom had so many curved walls. We're over it. But it was no surprise how Dad was able to master the curve, even in tight places.

Tub Wall Curves Last Bathroom Wall

Now, time to get that tub in on the platform and get the drain in.

Walls And Tub In

With all the walls in place, now it was time to cut the plastic enclosure to fit the walls. One wrong cut and we'd have to order another one. Glad I've got the pro, even when he won't let me help.

Dad Cutting Plastic Bathroom Walls

Ada approves.

Ada In Tub

Jonathan's going to get huge thighs from all the squats he'll have to do in the shower.

Jon In Shower

Now on to the vanity. We wanted to keep it as small as possible but utilize as much storage as we could in this small room. Maybe you remember from our last post that we had already built the 'closet' on the opposite side of the tub. It's getting really crowded to do anything in here. At this point I knew Dad was counting down the days until he was done with this project. It's gone on longer than any of us cared for but we are all really happy with what we have created.

Framed In Bathroom

With everything built in the bathroom it was time for me to step in and paint and stain.  That went quick and now that we have the vanity, it's time to get counter tops ordered!

Things are MOVING and we are so happy to be nearing the end of the renovation!

]]> Angel's Peak Scenic Area New Mexico 2017-02-11T05:00:00+00:00 2017-02-15T16:23:49+00:00 Jonathan Longnecker

Back at the end of August we were driving non-stop from La Grande, OR down to Texas to sell our 5th Wheel and pick up the Airstream. 1,700 miles in 5 days. Whew. We stopped in Bloomfield, New Mexico to overnight. Exhausted and tired of sitting the car all day, we needed an adventure. 

It was late, but Trip Advisor showed this little place about 20 minutes away called Angel's Peak. Nothing crazy - just some cool mountain views. In fact, the reviews even said the main peak had eroded recently to the point where it didn't even resemble an angel anymore. But we decided to try it.

The drive out was beautiful - expanses as far as the eye could see. It didn't hurt that the sun was starting to go down. Desert sunsets are always a plus. 

Heading down a long washboard and gravel road, we finally found the parking area. The remoteness and lack of signs paid off. We were the only ones there.

Angels Peak Truck

Getting out of the car we were struck by the stillness. It was sooo quiet. Almost immediately the edge dropped down into the badlands. Pastel colored cliffs, scattered hoodoos and brush as far as we could see. The silence, the view and the sunset took our breath away.

Angels Peak Canyon 1 Angles Peak Valley Angels Peak Family 2

There were even some insects and wildlife around. This moth was particularly cool.

Angels Peak Butterfly

Now that that gawking was out of the way it was time to explore! The road looped around the basin so we drove until we came across a picnic area. There were 3 of them total, and at this one we found a trail to the side that led us to a beautiful little bench overlooking the canyon. There had to be pictures!

Angels Peak Ashley Jonathan Bench Angels Peak On Edge

One of the coolest thing about this whole area was how undeveloped it felt. The "trails" were really just areas that lent themselves well to walking based on how the grasses and rocks opened up. We felt like explorers, not just trail hikers.

The further back we went, the more fun it got. The kids were having a blast climbing over rocks, sliding down sandy embankments and finding their own paths.

Angels Peak Panorama

Finally we saw this really cool formation of rocks way down in the basin that it looked like a rock castle that we could hike to. The kids were all about it, but Ashley was not. She stayed behind while we climbed down. I'm not sure if it was the sunset, the adventure of it, or the kids' excitement, but it's something I'll always remember. It really felt like an accomplishment to get down there.

Angels Peak To Castle Angels Peak To Castle2 Angles Peak Castle

Even better, there were more hidden formations past the ones we saw after crawling through some tiny openings. At this point Ashley was a speck in the distance and we could tell by here waving and yelling that it was time to come back.

Angels Peak Ashley Speck

Making it back to the truck we headed out just as the sun went down - exhausted and happy to have adventured to Angle's Peak. If you have a couple of hours and are near Bloomfield, NM we would definitely recommend spending some time here. The views, the quiet and the raw trails were a great way to spend the evening.

Angles Peak Outcropping

We didn't notice while we were there, but apparently this is BLM land and there are some campsites available. It would be an amazing place to wake up in the morning, that's for sure. I can tell you that the campground we stayed at in Bloomfield was basically a parking lot and in a pretty sketchy area of town so boondocking in the badlands would have been a much better way to go. Check it out if you're in the area!

Locations in this post


Angel Peak Scenic Area

Angel Peak Scenic Area
Bloomfield, NM 87413

]]> Airstream Renovation: Weeks 21 & 22 2017-02-06T09:00:00+00:00 2017-02-06T14:53:26+00:00 Ashley Longnecker

These last two weeks have been a bunch of little things. While our home doesn’t look a whole lot different from week 20, there are a few odds and ends that needed to be done. Let’s have a look!

We didn’t really *need* more ventilation for our Nova Kool fridge but since the original vent was already there we decided to go ahead and use it. So Dad cut these crazy curves from scrap wood and attached them with some brackets we made out of scrap metal. Then, he bent some aluminum left from our ceiling panels and created this cover so that when air is sucked in from under the fridge, the hot air is released through the vent in the ceiling. Added a little caulk to seal it up and poof! We have ventilation.

Overview Painted

We weren’t too concerned with how it looks because it will be inside our pantry area, but I couldn’t resit the urge to paint it so for now it has a coat of white paint. It may get a fun upgrade in the near future but for now, at least it’s not just dirty metal on there!

We finished up the tops to the trash can and chase area and attached them. We also added another USB plug to the side of the chase. Since the dinette will be where Jonathan and I will be sleeping, we figured it was a good place to add one.

Trash Can And Chase Area

We did get the ducts run from the furnace and we were able to test it out. Man, that thing runs so quiet. You hardly hear when it ignites. Really happy with our choice of the Suburban furnace from Vintage Trailer Supply. We can now heat the airstream with the furnace saving us money from running the electric heater!

Installing Furnace Vents Duct Work

We got our tanks certified at a great little place in Shelbyville. They were so helpful  getting us in and out in under an hour. Thank you, Shelby Bottling Company

We now have our fridge installed and hooked up and running. Jonathan grabbed a few things at the grocery the other day and put some things in the freezer out there just to see if it would fit! Can you believe we can fit frozen pizzas in there now? How cool! We couldn’t do that with our bigger fridge in the 5th wheel. We are super happy with this Nova Kool fridge.

Fridge Installed Pizza In Freezer

While dad and mom were gone to Yellowstone this past week, I got all caught up on painting! I was super happy to get this lower pantry cabinet done. It is so much brighter!

Lower Pantry Cabinet Painted

I was also able to get the bottom bunks all stained and sealed up. We debated if it was worth it but we’ve had kids puke enough times in bed that yes, they need to be sealed so they are able to be cleaned easily. Let’s just hope that never happens again!

When Dad got back, we were able to start on the bathroom this past Friday! We built this massive storage cabinet where we hope to fit everyone’s clothes. Since we’ll all be getting dressed in the bathroom, it just makes sense to have our stuff in there. We’ll probably just keep extra clothes in the bunk room area. Things that we need but maybe aren’t useful at the time. (we’re headed to warmer temperatures ASAP) Hoodies, jackets, warmer clothes, etc. will be put up in the bunk room.

Bathroom Cabinet Bathroom Cabinet View 2

I’m finally able to start trying out where things will be going and I'm so excited about how much room we have in there! I’ve gone through our stuff and gotten rid of so much. Which is weird because I didn’t think we had much to begin with but turns out... we had accumulated quite a bit in the 5th wheel. I’m sure I’ll have another final purge when we start loading up for good.

One thing I’m super excited about is the Meori foldable boxes that we’ve been able to try out. When I went through our kids school books and craft/drawing books, I had a goal to fit them all into the medium Meori box. It worked! I’m shocked at how much these boxes can hold! PLUS, I put it in the bathroom storage area and they fit perfectly where we want to store the kids’ clothes! I’ll be ordering 3 more medium sizes so they each will have their own box of clothes that they will be able to reach and take care of! They also sent us a mini size to try out and they'll be perfect for each of the kids to have a mini size on their beds. Will hold their Kindles, iPods and chargers with room for pencils and paper, too!

Meori Box With Books Meori Box In Bathroom

We ordered our tub, sink and faucet for the bathroom. The tub will be here tomorrow which means we can start building the area it will be going! Our goal is to have the bathroom framed out by the end of this week so we can go ahead and order our countertops. We’ll be using the same countertop in the bathroom and kitchen. We’ll be going with a solid surface countertop. While the price makes me want to throw up, I think it will be a good choice in the long run. Also, that should be the last major purchase for the renovation. Wahoo!

Our goals for this week are...

  • get the bathroom framed out
  • order countertops
  • pick out wood for our dinette table
  • plumb the bathroom and run lines for kitchen

I’m super excited about having a plan for the bathroom. Yes, I believe it will be super cramped in there once we have the tub and vanity and toilet installed but, we are going for function over design in there. We have a plan and that’s more than we had last week.

Oh! I also received a letter from the Amish lady who is doing our cushions! They should be done within the next 2 weeks. I’ll be eagerly awaiting her letter to let us know they are done. It cracks me up that we’re communicating through mailed letters but I’m so intrigued by the simplicity of their lifestyle. Would it be super rude to ask if we could stay with the Amish community to learn from them for awhile? 

Things are moving in the right direction. We’re even getting a bit of plan together for when we roll out of here. We know we have to stop in Knoxville because I have to renew my license, but after that it’s either head to South Padre Island or Panama City Beach. We’re leaning to Texas but not nailing anything down so we are free to do whatever we feel like at the time. Oh, how we’ve missed traveling. But, we’re closer than we were!

Below you can watch our video update on everything that we worked on the last couple weeks. If you'd like to keep up with us make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel. We have big plans for when we hit the road again! 

Spoiler alert! There are affiliate links above. We may get compensated if you follow it and buy the product we've written about. Of course, we only recommend things we genuinely love. Thanks!

Spoiler alert! We were fully or partially compensated for this product/experience so that we could review it for you. Rest assured we don't sugar coat or give favorable reviews just because we didn't have to pay for it. Now you know. Thanks!

]]> How we make money on the road 2017-01-31T05:00:00+00:00 2017-01-31T21:38:39+00:00 Jonathan Longnecker

We get asked fairly often how we make money on the road. And it's a great question. The truth is, many types of jobs don't lend themselves well to traveling full-time. Thankfully without realizing it we started several years ago building an income that was location independent. It was just the first step, though. Read on to find out more.

Start your own company

I started a branding and web design company (FortySeven Media) years ago with a partner. What began as a side hustle turned into my full-time job and before I knew it, I was making a decent living working from home. We kept our expenses low, automated as much of the business stuff as we could and built a strong self-sustaining brand. 

Having my own company that allowed me to work from anywhere (with an internet connection) was a huge blessing and quite honestly one of the most important factors in our decision to travel full-time. 

I see a lot of people who want to travel, but are trying to make the jump to a completely new location independent occupation at the same time. 

That's a lot of stress. The transition to traveling can be pretty expensive. Buying a trailer, possibly a tow vehicle, and all manner of specialty products adds up quickly. We had to buy new mattresses and outfit our new truck with a couple of grand worth of a hitch, bike rack and toolbox. 

Then there are the random emergencies. Like having to replace your transmission unexpectedly - or finding out that your brake controller was bad and ruined the bearings and brakes on your trailer in just one year. There goes another couple grand!

Now imagine adjusting to a totally new way of life (some call it getting your road legs) while trying to upend your occupation at the same time. It's possible, but dang. That sounds like a whole lot of stuff to deal with at the same time.

There are lots of internet based jobs, and they can be great! But make sure you are established in that job before you sell the house and hit the road. 

Possible travel friendly jobs

  1. Web Design
  2. Developer
  3. Remote customer service
  4. Virtual Assistant
  5. Buy and Sell on Ebay
  6. Construction
  7. RV Repair
  8. Seasonal work
  9. Photography

Resources for running an online business

  1. Kicktastic
  2. Freakishly Profitable
  3. Austin Church
  4. Crazy Family Adventure
  5. Remote: Office Not Required
  6. Do Over

FortySeven Media is our main source of income, but it's not the only way we provide for our family.

Work camping

Last summer we decided to try something new. We looked for a work camping opportunity. Basically this means that you get to stay at a campground for a season for free in exchange for a certain amount of work around the grounds. That can be running the office, doing maintenance work, cleaning the bathroom, or helping build stuff. Some places will pay on top of giving you a campsite to stay at depending on how many hours you're working. 

It's a great way to slow down, get to know an area really well and save some cash while you're not driving a bunch and paying for campsites. 

We really enjoyed our time in Oregon even though we were pretty restless by the end of the 4 months we stayed. I don't think we'd want to work camp full-time, but augmented with some other small income you could live pretty cheaply on the road. 

An option for sure.


  1. WorKamper
  2. Work Camping
  3. Camp Host

Product or experience reviews 

This blog was started as a way to catalog our journey. To have a way to look back on our adventures and not forget everything we've done together. 

It never occurred to us that we could use the blog to get in places for free. After meeting a few other traveling families that were doing just that, we decided to give it a shot. 

I'm sure it helped that I make websites for a living and ours looked pretty decent, but I was surprised how many companies were happy to give us free passes to places in exchange for an honest review on our site. 

This can be a great way to save money, especially when you have 4 kids. A simple zoo outing can get expensive quick with that many people. 

While technically this may not be making money it's allowed us to have some amazing experiences that didn't cost us anything out of pocket. 

Well take it!


  1. An example of a product review
  2. An example of an experience review

Affiliate marketing

Hand in hand with reviews and experiences, we started to see that our website could be used to help sell products and we in turn could get a small percentage of that sale. 

Personally, I've been reluctant to do this for a while because it can get squirrelly fast, but as long as we make sure we're linking to things we really believe in I think it's a nice way to help others find what they need and get paid for it. 

The key is to create content that favors both affiliate products you love and regular products you love. If you get too caught up in thinking about how you make money for everything you post then you lose your authenticity. 

We took it a step further than just putting links into posts and built a curated adventure shop. True to what I said earlier not every product is an affiliate link, but it is an opportunity for us to build an archive of great products for visitors to search through and help us earn some side income. 

If you have enough traffic affiliate links can be a good way to drum up some spare cash. Lots of traffic can equal a paycheck.


  1. Nomadventure Shop
  2. Example of an article with affiliate links
  3. Amazon Affiliates
  4. Target Affiliates
  5. REI Affiliates


If it's not obvious, we try not to put all our eggs in one basket. We're constantly creating, making and learning new skills. Here's a few other things we have done. 

  • Family photography sessions (Ashley's got an eye for photography)
  • Consulting sessions for downsizing or storage. 
  • Various small handmade products we can create on the road
  • You can get in touch for any of those things on our contact page :).

Wrapping Up

So yeah - there you go! This is currently how we make money while traveling full-time. My guess is this won't be the same list in a year. Why? Because lower expenses and more geographies means we get to try out all sorts of work options as we travel. Having a solid base income lets us do that.

If you have any questions at all feel free to get ahold of us through the comment section below, contact form or catch us on Facebook or Instagram.

Spoiler alert! There are affiliate links above. We may get compensated if you follow it and buy the product we've written about. Of course, we only recommend things we genuinely love. Thanks!

]]> Oh, Crate. 2017-01-26T05:00:00+00:00 2017-01-24T21:43:44+00:00 Ashley Longnecker

It’s not always the grand adventures that gets us excited around here. You wouldn’t believe the little things that make me happy but I’ll tell you one!

Just the other day I found my second abandoned milk crate! I know, some of you may be like, seriouslyBut, yes!! I found my second milk crate....that I didn’t have to pay for!

The first milk crate I spotted was in the Florida Keys while we were driving around Sunshine Key looking for little key deer.  Laying off the road was the beauty. We drove right by a black milk crate and I remember telling Jonathan, ‘We have to go back and get that! We could really use it!' He looked at me with the same look you’re probably having right now. 

We turned the truck around and I got out and ran to go pick it up! I was SO excited. It wasn’t just a couple weeks ago I told him that we should get a milk crate for our leveling blocks that are always just strewn about the bed of the truck. He agreed that it was a good idea to contain them in something. But not just something. I didn’t want to go to walmart and get those cheap looking milk crates. I wanted a real one. You know what I mean, right? A heavy duty milk crate. The ones they actually used to carry milk containers. But more importantly, I didn't want to have to pay for it.

So just imagine my surprise when it’s just laying there...all alone on the side of the road. Waiting for someone to love it. Well, I’m here, my precious. I got you!

Fast forward to this morning when I was on my way to get our windshield replaced and low and behold...out of the corner of my eye, I spotted it!  Another beautiful, black milk crate just waiting on the side of the road for someone to love it. I immediately texted Jonathan, at a stop sign, to get outside and walk down the street to get it since I was going to be late to my appointment. He did! 

Now we have 2 crates, that we didn’t have to pay for! 

I can’t be the only one who gets excited about these little things. So tell me, what unexpected things have you found on the road that you love?

]]> Airstream Renovation: Week 20 2017-01-24T09:00:00+00:00 2017-01-24T13:35:52+00:00 Ashley Longnecker

Twenty weeks! What? Weren’t we supposed to be done 8 weeks ago? Ha! What was I thinking? Anyway, after finishing our bunk beds last week, we’re closer than we were and this week we’ve got several things done on our list! 

You can watch the video below and then read on for more details:

We made and installed overhead storage in the bunk room! Complete with their own reading light. We are really happy with the size of storage we ended up with. It’s not too big and overwhelming but it has plenty of room for blankets, sheets, sleeping bags or whatever else we will put in there.

Kids Overhead Install

We also got the kitchen’s overhead storage done on the curbside! We went with a slightly smaller cabinet because we didn’t want to hit our heads on it when doing dishes or prepping food. We installed 3 lights underneath and looks really sharp!

Kitchen Overhead Storage

In the kitchen overhead storage cabinet lives the ‘command center’ where we have our battery monitor display, our Blue Sky solar charger remote display, our audio deck and the TV antenna booster (with splitter so we can get FM signal to the radio). I can’t wait until I get it painted, it will look so good.

Command Center

A bit of a last minute decision was to create a place for our trash can. We had already planned on building a chase to hide the solar cables and junction box so why not just build a place to conceal the trash can? I mean, who loves to see their trash can?? Not me! We whipped this bad boy up in no time and I’ve got a lot of painting to do next week!

Wire Chase Trash Drawer

We happened to have a really nice day in the 60s so Jonathan and dad ran our propane lines this past Saturday. What a chore. We just have a few more pieces to put on tomorrow and we’ll be done with all of the propane. Other than getting our tanks certified. 

Propane Fittings And Tools Propane Regulator Propane Lines Underneath Water Heater Propane Run

It was a crazy busy week but we managed to get quite a bit done. We are really happy with the progress. Next up is the pantry design, and figuring out what to do in the bathroom. We literally have no idea what we’re doing in there. Such an awkward size to fit so much in there. Hopefully we will get that all worked out this week.

We got curious and counted how many doors/drawers we were going to have to make and we were shocked! THIRTY-SIX and we haven’t even started the pantry or bathroom. Dad wasn’t too excited about that. 

Anyway, so much to do but we’re hoping that we’ll be finished by the beginning of March! How awesome would it be to be done by our anniversary? Maybe we’ll be pulling out by the 8th of March. That would be a pretty sweet anniversary present. Fingers crossed!

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]]> Airstream Renovation: Weeks 18-19 2017-01-15T05:00:00+00:00 2017-01-18T15:26:41+00:00 Jonathan Longnecker

Guys and Girls, we have picked up some serious momentum since our last update. We left off having just installed our lower pantry cabinet, one lower bunk bed and one wall between them.

In just two weeks the inside of the Airstream looks like a totally different place. Let’s see what’s changed.

So right after the last post we drove down to Knoxville to spend a few days with my family for Christmas. The kids had gone down the week before and got to spend that whole time with my parents. 

Ashley and I got a week of non-stop date nights and a bunch of work done on the Airstream and the kids had so much fun. They love hanging out with my Mom and Dad!

Christmas 2016

By the time we made it back, Ashley’s dad had already built the second lower bunk and added the back walls. Whoah!

Lower Bunk And Walls

After that we added the wall in front of the new bed and the framing for the kitchen area. We even got the oven temporarily installed and out of the walk way.

Related - I have no idea why I look like I'm screaming.

Lower Kitchen Cabinet And Wall

Then it was time to finally make our crazy bunk bed plan a reality. A couple of months ago we were talking and planning with Ashley’s sister and she gave us the great idea to make the top bunks fold down and make couches during the day. Great idea, but how in the world were we going to make something like that work?

Well, if Ashley’s sister gets credit for the idea, Ashley’s dad gets credit for making it a reality. We puzzled and planned for a couple of days trying to figure out how to put it together.

The key was making the top out of two pieces. This little piece was our test run for how the hinging would work. The 45 degree angles allow it to fold down without running into itself. 

We could also set the hinges down and notch out around the top piece so that the surface would be flat all the way across. We’d be using poplar for the framing to keep things light and finished plywood for the main surface.

We got the small pieces built and installed into the Airstream’s ribs with self-drilling screws and then into the walls on each side. It was solid as a rock.

Bunk Bed Shelf Piece

Then we set about building the main bed part. It also had the 45 degree angle. For this one we ran the supports longways for added stability and installed massive barrel bolts that would go through the side of the bed into holes in the walls on each side.

Bunk Bed Main Piece Frame Bunk Bed Barrel Bolt

It should go without saying that there was measuring, re-measuring and more measuring. The hinges were installed and finally it was time to join it all together.

Bunk Bed Hinges

This is a shot from underneath so you can see how the short wall piece and larger bunk piece fit together.

Bunk Bed Connection

It worked! Both sides went in without any problems. We were so excited. We still had a lot of prep work to do on this area, though.

Bunk Bed Install Bunk Bed Install Fold Down

Thanks to our notching out around the pins we were able to detach the main part of the bunk and take it back in the garage for staining.

Then it was time to get to work on the electrical. We wanted the kids to each have their own highly functional space so we installed a reading light, 12v socket with USB plugs and a 110v plug in each bunk. Awesome idea, but man did it take a long time to cut all the holes and run the wire for all that. Geez.

Bunk Bed Outlets Bunk Bed Wiring

While we worked on this Ashley was rocking it staining the top bunks and painting most of our facing frames and walls. All of a sudden our super rough walls and beds started looking finished!

Bunk Beds Stained And Painted

By the time the wiring was done, the final coat of wax had been put on the beds and we were able to put them back in for good!

After tons of research Ashley found the perfect foam supplier about an hour from Martinsville. We ordered our pieces for the kids bunks and the dinette and picked them up this weekend so we could take them out for a test run.

Bunk Beds Installed

Everything fit and the kids are really excited about their new space! While we had it all there we took some time to take pictures and make a few videos explaining how they work.

So yeah, the last two weeks have seen a massive change in here. Next up we’ll be building the overhead storage for the kitchen and kids rooms, the pantry and the wire chase and trash can concealer up near the front.

And if we get a decent weather day, we might even get propane run so we can start using our furnace! Either way, we’re getting much closer. We might even have an ETA on this whole thing soon.

And that is very exciting.

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]]> It's okay to be uncomfortable. 2017-01-10T05:00:00+00:00 2017-01-10T19:00:48+00:00 Ashley Longnecker

It’s no secret that I hate cold weather. When we first set out on our adventure in May of 2015, we decided that we’ll go where we can always wear flip flops! (I also hate shoes) We were living it up touring up north on the east coast the first 7 months. It was summer and the weather was amazing except for that one time in Virginia. We took our time coming back down south along the coast from Maine all the way down south to winter in the Florida Keys. We were on top of the world. We were comfortable in our huge 5th wheel and we were confident that this is the way it will always be. We’d go anywhere we want, as long as we were together...and warm.

Little did we know that when we decided to downsize...again...that we would be wintering in INDIANA. Guys, it’s so cold here. Yeah, I was raised in Indiana and I knew what to expect but I haven’t lived here for 14 glorious years. I got used to Tennessee winters where it’s never this cold and the whole state shuts down with a slight dusting of snow. I actually liked that. I could tolerate winters in Tennessee. But when we started traveling full time, we decided we wouldn’t go anywhere that we couldn’t wear flip flops! We were partying last winter in the Keys with not a thought about snow or being cold. Life got comfortable. I hate being cold but I’m learning some things as we’re hunkered down in these subzero temperatures. 

For instance, I’ve learned that I complain way too much. Like, I tried to go a whole day without complaining but when I got out of bed all my clothes were dirty and the only pants I had to wear had holes in all the wrong places. First thing I thought was, “I don’t have enough clothes!” and “I never have enough time to do laundry.” Complain...complain...complain. Instead of being thankful that I woke up and get to spend all day with the people I love, my first thought was to complain about the circumstances that I could have prevented. I could have stayed up late to go do laundry but I didn’t. 

Then, by the time lunch rolled around I was complaining that I didn’t have what I needed to make something for the kids. Yes, they had plenty to eat but I focused on the one thing I didn’t have, that I didn’t even really need.

It’s so easy to get caught up complaining about things you can’t change, that you start complaining about the things you can. I’m working on that. I’m trying to really think about just how good we’ve got it right now. We’re staying in a warm house, my dad is busting his butt to help us 6 days a week, my mom is helping me with the kids when I’m out working on the Airstream. We have so much to be thankful for. I’m really trying to just pause and enjoy this season we are in. 

Would we rather be out on the road? Heck, yes! But there is a reason for every season we walk through. Right now I’m taking the time to work on the way I see life. Instead of complaining that we aren’t out seeing the world right now, I’m focusing on being thankful for the time I get to spend with my mom and my dad, and my sister and nephews. It’s a humbling experience to uproot your life and get uncomfortable. It brings out the very worst in you, but it can also bring out the very best. Keep in mind that this is just a season, big things are just around the just have to keep on walking.

The last thing I want for my family is to get too comfortable. Any minute things can change. I want us to be able to adapt and thrive when things aren’t going the way we think they should. We need to be ok with being uncomfortable. 

We need to be ok spending winters in Indiana. 

We need to be ok when we don’t know what next month will bring. 

We need to be ok with living on less. 

We need to be ok without the nicest clothes or the nicest cars. 

We need to be ok with not having perfect Instagram worthy lives. 

Sometimes life is messy. But we need to accept season we are in and be thankful for every trial and every victory. Every time we wake up we need to be thankful that we have another day to give it all we have. We have another day with the people we love. We have another day to try to turn our lives into whatever we want them to be. 

Sometimes being uncomfortable is what it takes to give you a push in the right direction. Sometimes you have to be uncomfortable to realize that being comfortable is overrated.  And sometimes you just need to stop complaining about being cold. Pull up those big girl panties, be thankful, and put on another pair of socks! 

It’s cold, but it's going to be okay.

]]> Airstream Renovation: Weeks 14-17 2016-12-31T05:00:00+00:00 2016-12-31T14:16:51+00:00 Ashley Longnecker

I am so excited to look back at the last few weeks and see what we have accomplished. As of our last update, we had just finished putting in the front endcap. Well, so much has happened since then. Let’s take a look!

We insulated and boxed in the wheel wells.

Jon And Jax Wheel Wells Jon And Jax Getting It Done

We put in a sweet dinette/bed structure. It’s 85% complete. We also added storage by adding this shelf/storage/backrest and I wish the picture could do it justice. If you’re around us, make sure you come in and just feel that shelf. It’s so slick! I finished it with dark walnut stain and some polycrylic and then a nice coat of paste wax. I’m super excited about that shelf! It’s the little things for me.


My dad has had to do lots of weird things on this project but this is probably my favorite so far.

Dad Getting In Storage Dad In Storage

When the dinette and storage lids were done, we were able to hook up batteries, converter, inverter and all that stuff that goes with it. This whole set up will require a post but for now, just know it was super complicated but it's now working and we couldn't be happier.

Dad Working On Wiring Batteries

We also put up our battery monitors temporarily so we can watch what happens with the solar panels and batteries. The men can’t quit staring at them. It’s actually really neat to see that we’re just using the sun to run our house. Pretty amazing when you think about it.

Boys Looking At Solar Panel Display

We installed the ‘runway’ (that’s what we call it). It’s home to our lights and makes it much easier if we need to access any wires down the road. We finished installing the air conditioner cover, vent covers and all the LED lights

Jon Wiring Lights Lights Wireed Jon Wiring Lights From The Good Side Lights On

What a difference that makes. We are now able turn our lights on whenever we need them and we are no longer running into wires when we’re walking inside. So nice!

We installed our speakers, too! We made custom speaker mounts out of our poplar and they are so slick! It’s these little touches that are making me so excited about this project. We have put SO MANY hours planning and working on this beast. It’s so exciting to see it start coming together.

Speaker Mounts Speakers Mounted

We were able to clean out our storage unit! It’ll be so nice to not have that extra bill!

Empty Storage Unit

My dad came up with this cool clamp for the solar and antenna wires. He always thinks of the coolest things. Since these wires will be running behind our pantry, we didn’t want them hanging in the way hitting stuff so we put them in a neat row along the back wall and no there are NO WIRES TO RUN INTO! Wahoo!

Solar Wires Clamp

Just this week we have made and installed the lower portion of our pantry cabinet. Our Nova Kool fridge will be to the right of it and the wall to the side of the fridge. We have it installed and primed as of yesterday. We also made our first floor to ceiling wall. Luckily we only have 4 of these partitions because they are a bit complicated to figure out the curve of the wall. 

Lower Pantry Built In Garage Pantry Installed

With this big wall in place we were able to build the bottom bed for one of our kids. (Only 3 more beds left to build!) We were all surprised at the amount of storage we created this week. We're able to keep our tools in the dinette storage and we still have all this pantry storage as well as the four big openings under the bed. 

Wall Clamped First Bed Built

When I primed the dinette and lower pantry cabinet, I went ahead and primed the plastic end cap that is in the bathroom. That thing was so dirty and grimy but now it looks brand new.

Bathroom Primed

We are thrilled with how everything is coming together. I know I've said it before but without my dad's help (and mom helping with the kids), we would never have been able to do this. He is teaching us so much. We went into this with hardly any knowledge of electrical wiring, solar, or general construction. Dad is helping us change that. It's the best feeling to be able to help build your own house. This experience has been life changing for Jonathan and I. We are so grateful for this time of learning. 

I feel like we have accomplished so much these last few weeks. We are coming up on 4 months of this project. My guess of 2 months was way off but I am so happy with our progress. 

We're closer than we were.

]]> Airstream Renovation: Weeks 9-13 2016-12-04T05:00:00+00:00 2016-12-05T01:03:10+00:00 Ashley Longnecker

Five weeks have gone by without an update. Goodness. Sorry about that. So much has happened I’m going to just give a quick update of this last month and let you know where we are now.

According to our last update we had just put the back end back together and put on the new wheels! That was all fine and dandy until it rained and we had water coming in the back end. The back end of the 1972 is just a poor design. Glad they have fixed that issue in newer models.

Leaks In Back

We tried several things. We added caulk, we removed caulk, we took out rivets and put in bolts where the holes were too big for new rivets. The bolts have helped a bit as we were able to pull it tighter. The back, street side of our rig has been replaced at some point by a previous owner and it wasn’t done the best so we’re just trying to fix what they did.

At this point we have fixed most of the leaks except for the back hatch and a mystery leak that we can’t seem to find the source of. The back hatch is just a disaster. It appears that the door is too small for the opening so we have huge gaps between all the corners so water is getting in. At this point we are just taping it off and hoping it doesn’t get too wet as we are expecting rain the next several days. (boo) We have placed an order for one more gasket (we have tried 2 styles from Vintage Trailer Supply and neither of them helped). If this next gasket doesn’t work I’m ready to somehow seal it up and be done with it.

As for the outside...we finished wiring the solar and ran all the wires inside the Airstream. The roof is done! We also replaced all the window gaskets/foam/brackets and all the windows are done!

Clean Window Window Bracket

I removed the old ugly plaques from the side of the airstream and stripped the paint off of them. It was all peeling and the colors were not our cup of tea so now they are plain metal and we love how they look. I also stripped the ugly blue stripe off of the trim around the Airstream. What a difference that made!

Sovereign Blue Sovereign Metal International Color International Metal

On the front and back we had letters that say AIRSTREAM and they were all faded blue so we removed them and painted them a nice matte black. Looks real nice and simple now. We like simple! We also cleaned up and painted the jacks as well as the hitch. They all got a real nice coat of black paint! It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can accomplish. 

The Airstream looks so nice without chippy, faded paint everywhere! Now that the outside is DONE, we were able to get to work on the inside.

Black Airstream Letters Silver Hitch Black Hitch Jon On Roof Taking Picture

Since we had the walls off, we replaced all the bad rivets with buck rivets. With that job being done, we were able to start on insulation! We cut Reflectix to size and put that against the walls. We had originally planned on using spray foam insulation but with it being winter and cold, plus the hefty price tag, we opted for Reflectix and Roxul. Once the inside was insulated, we were able to run wires. Everything is numbered and labeled so we know exactly what each wire is for. That will make things much easier when we start hooking up all the electrical stuff!

Once the insulation and wires were in place it was time to bring in the interior panels! We had been waiting for this moment for what seems like forever. It was such a good feeling when we got that first piece installed. Each one after went a bit smoother, until it was time to put on the ceiling panels which ran the entire length of the trailer! It took 4 of us, and two cleco tools, to hold it up and get it in place to be riveted but we got it done! It’s so nice to see the inside walls *almost* all put back in place. 

First Panel In Ceilin Clecoed

We have yet to finish the very back due to that stupid mystery leak. How long does it take for wood to rot? I vote for keeping a dehumidifier back there when it rains! Problem solved ;)

So, the interior walls are back up and looking mighty fine but we were left with the stupid plastic end caps that we just are not fond of. We made the executive decision to keep the one in the bathroom since it’s not a main focal point, and we chopped up the front one and sent it on a ride to a magical waste land! 

We purchased some new aluminum and concocted a plan! With lots of research and planning, my dad was able to come up with this fantastic way to get these panels in. It’s super complicated and deserves its own post (which we will get to another time) but look at the final product!

Working On End Cap Jon Working On End Cap End Cap Done

We love it! We will be adding a narrow shelf above the window to close the gap from the old plastic window frames that we can’t escape from. It will look really great with some super cute curtains that I have planned in my head.

Other little things that we have worked on have included several patches.

Wheel Well Patch Patch2

Installing the first switch plate.

Swith Plate

Removing water from a leaking window.

Window Leak

Leaving our mark on the floor.

Leaving Our Mark On The Floor

Fixing leaking lights and painting over the blue with a nice black!

Tail Lights

Pulling all solar wires in and making this contraption in the old refrigerator vent so the wires won't rub on anything.

Pulling Solar Wires

Bought and planed 200 board foot of poplar to use for cabinetry.

200 Board Foot

Replaced 500 rivets because *someone* bought steel instead of aluminum! Oops! It's ok though, we got it taken care of! We are getting really good at drilling out rivets:)

We are super excited to be getting close to building the dinette/bed, table and wheel well covers because that means we’ll be close to getting to build the kitchen!

December is all about the inside! Our first thing to build will be the wheel wells. Then we can be done with all the insulation and have that out of the way. Next will be the dinette/bed. I’m hoping I get to take the wheel with the table top! I have a vision for what I want, but I also don’t want to spend too much time on it because we have a lot to get done and Indiana is COLD. We’re not a fan of cold!

So, November was a crazy productive month. On top of all the remodel work, we celebrated Adali’s 11th birthday and Jonathan’s 37th birthday! When asked where she wanted to go for her birthday, we were super bummed that we couldn’t make her beach birthday dream come true! We have made promisees to all the kids that as soon as we’re done, we’re headed south to a beach!

In all or our spare time (ha) Jonathan has built a curated store on our site! Have you seen it? We will be adding to it on a regular basis. We want to have a place where people can buy really great items for their home on wheels (or any home, really). We are putting together some of our favorite things and it’s satisfying my craving to buy things. I can just put them in the store and it feels like I went shopping, but I didn’t spend a penny! Check it out and let us know what you think!

Now, let’s see how much we can get done in December!

]]> Introducing the Nomadventure Shop - Hand picked gear for adventurers 2016-11-24T05:00:00+00:00 2016-11-25T04:36:07+00:00 Jonathan Longnecker

Hi friends! Ashley and I are excited to share a new project we've been working on in our spare time. 

After traveling for over a year we realized that there wasn't a great place for our fellow adventurers to find the gear they need - or products that they might want. Blog posts are great and full of wonderful information. But sometimes it helps to see everything together in one place.

So we set out to start a curated list of useful, cool and high quality products that lived in one shop. We call it the Nomadventure Shop (get it!?!).

We'll be adding new products on a regular basis, so make sure to sign up for the email list so we can let you know when we find cool new stuff.

And we'd love your feedback. Missing some products? Something not working right? Let us know!

In the meantime, we hope you'll share the Nomadventure Shop with your friends,  family and fellow adventurers so we can compile all the great products we use into one place. 

Go check it out!

]]> Get a Sweet BareNeckers Shirt from Cotton Bureau! 2016-11-19T05:00:00+00:00 2016-11-19T23:15:20+00:00 Jonathan Longnecker

Hello friends! Our buds over at Cotton Bureau are helping us raise a little money for this crazy Airstream renovation

We send them a design and they print shirts and hoodies on demand. But it's only for a short amount of time! As I write this we only have 10 days left.

So if you want a sweet t-shirt or hoodie (they make great Christmas gifts, by the way) go grab one before November 29th.

Buy a BareNeckers shirt now!

]]> Airstream Renovation: Weeks 7 & 8 2016-11-02T08:00:00+00:00 2016-11-03T02:06:41+00:00 Ashley Longnecker

Pardon me while I freak out for a bit! This has been a very exciting 2 weeks around here. I wish I could update the blog more often, but right now we are so busy with homeschool/work and full-time Airstream Renovation that I haven’t gotten nearly enough posts out. So, let me freak out a bit here and tell you what all has been happening...the short version!

Tomorrow marks 2 months that we have been here in Indiana. Honestly, I estimated two months to be done with it but we are pleased that as of yesterday we are almost completely done with the outside. Just a few more places to caulk and a few rivets to set and we’ll be checking to make sure it’s water tight.

So, let me back up a bit. You may recall, at the end of week 6 we were so excited to have everything mounted to the roof! I’m happy to report that it’s all still up there and almost everything is caulked. We just have a few more solar panel feet to secure.

We removed the last of the vinyl from all the interior panels and now we only have one long panel that needs the adhesive removed. Of course it had to be the most impossible panel to work with. We will get it soon, just a lot of extra work hours to be spent on it and right now we have more important things to do while the weather is so nice.

Vinyl Done

I have been a caulking machine. I still have to caulk the roof seam on one side that runs the length of the trailer and around where our awning is attached. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be caulked at the top there or not, but when it rains, and the awning is out, water just pours down the side of the trailer. Kind of defeating the purpose of the awning. So, I’m caulking it! Oh, and I have one annoying vista window that sits under the awning and is causing all kinds of problems to get to in order to remove the caulking and apply new. Just really in a bad place. But, once that’s done we should be done with caulking the outside. I have a few places inside that need some extra attention and then we’ll be able to test it to see if it’s water tight.

Caulking Airstream

My dad removed the plexi glass from the interior vista windows when we were gone one day. They had film on the the plexi glass as well as the inside of the outer glass. So, we’ve read where most people are just removing the plexi glass so, that’s what we did and what a difference it has made. You can actually see out of them now!

Some other big news is we now have a bathroom floor! 

Bathroom Floor In

Before, the whole bathroom slanted down (which evidently this year and model are notorious for) so when we added the floor, we also added an 1/8 inch steel plate onto the frame so that it would raise it to the correct level. Now the floor feels level and we are no longer walking down hill. 

We were able to get both gray tanks installed and plumbed together so we now have nearly 40 gallons of gray water storage as opposed to 19! It's not the 80 gallons we had with the 5th wheel, but we'll take it!

Before Tanks Installed Tanks In

It was such a happy day when that floor went in and the back got fastened back together. My dad was able to salvage the U channel in the back which was awesome because you cannot find those anywhere. It would have cost so much money to have it made and then you’re not even guaranteed that it will be an exact match. 

It was a lot of work to get the back in back into position to get it all sealed up. It shifted a lot without that floor there to hold it in place. 

Getting Rear Put Together

Just look at this sexy backside! The rub rail is back on, the bottom in insulated and rived in. 

Sexy Rear End Put Together

Now that the bathroom floor was back together and the tanks are in place we were finally able to insulate and close up the belly pan underneath. The guys were super cramped under there, but put in tons of rivets, patches and caulking to fill all the holes.

You have no idea how good it felt after waiting weeks on those tanks to come that we were finally able to close everything back up.

Dad And Jon Install Belly Pan

And now (drumroll, please) for the big news! (continued drumroll, because this is big!)

We have axles and wheels on! 

Wheels On!

Holy cow! This is the best feeling so far. We are back on the ground, new 16 inch tires on the new Dexter Axles! 

We only had one minor set back when installing the axles. We needed to make the notch a bit taller in size so that when the axles were installed, the bracket on the inside would rest at the top of the frame. 

Installing Axles

Luckily, my dad has a tool for everything and was able to get that taken care of real quick. You should have seen his face when those wheels were in place. Pure joy!

When Jonathan brought the new 16 inch tires over from storage, my dad said, “Those won’t work!”

Dad Questioning The Wheel Size

We were so worried that they weren’t going to fit in the space. See, when we ordered axles we had an option to have them set at 25 degrees or 45 degrees (the larger degree would give us a bit more of a lift). We chose 45 degrees since we had planned on getting a lift anyway. We questioned that choice the whole time we were waiting for them. Jon was so worried that the trailer would be sitting so high and look ridiculous. I told him that even if it was high, its ok cause we could use extra ground clearance. 

Jon Getting Wheels On

Turns out they fit! But barely. We now have one inch clearance from the tire to the front of the wheel well on the airstream. Shew, that was a close call. We are really happy with the axles we got from Waymire’s here in Indianapolis. Yes, the were wrong the first time, but they were so great to work with and they got us taken care of and the correct axles are solid. So happy with their work. No, we haven't driven with them yet, but so far, we would recommend you working with Grant at Waymire’s in Indianapolis.

Oh, I almost forgot. We removed the AIRSTREAM letters from the front and back of the trailer and painted them a nice matte black. 

Airstream Letters Before Black

I think they turned out real well!.

Black Letters On Airstream

I am also half way through removing the blue trim line around the trailer. We will leave it alone until we decide if it’s worth painting it black. At this point, I vote for leaving it alone. Here's a quick video of how we removed the stripe

I couldn’t leave out the most important detail of all. This past week we were able to celebrate our youngest son’s birthday! Jax Maddox turned 7 and we are so thankful for him. He has been such a blessing to us. He’s so funny, smart, thoughtful and kind. He’s always making us laugh with his goofy faces. That young man has brought us so much joy and we are so very thankful that we were able to spoil him a bit on his big day. Grandpa even took him for a birthday bike ride and he loved it!

Jax  Bday Ride

So, with the outside being almost complete here’s what the next couple of weeks look like for us.

  • Finish caulking the solar panel feet
  • Finish caulking the vista window on top
  • Fix the few marked rivets on the outside
  • Reattach the AIRSTREAM letters and caulk 
  • Reattach the lights on the front and caulk
  • Check to make sure it’s water tight
  • Start adding insulation
  • Start wiring
  • Possibly start installing interior panels!!!
]]> Why we sold our 5th Wheel and bought a vintage Airstream - Part 2 2016-10-27T10:48:00+00:00 2016-10-27T13:14:19+00:00 Jonathan Longnecker

In Part 1 of our deep dive into why we sold our brand new 5th wheel RV and bought a really old Airstream that needed to be renovated, we talked about simplifying, learning to do our own repairs and cutting down on our length, height and weight so that we could boondock and camp off the grid more.

After a year on the road we realized we wanted even less of the mainstream camping experience - and more secluded and sustainable adventures.

Part 2 explores in detail the final reasons we decided to go down this path.

Boondocking Towing

6. Towing

Driving forwards with a long rig is actually pretty easy. Our 2002 F350 didn’t feel like it was even trying most of of the time. It was easy to forget it was back there. Turns are tricky because you have to take them really wide or you’ll hit a curb (or something worse) with the back end of your rig. That 37 feet behind us caused quite a few close calls over the last year. 

And of course, backing up something that big with an older truck that has a poor turing radius and a long bed meant lots of frustration getting into spots. 5th wheels move in their own special way and even 16 months in I still didn’t feel like I had quite nailed it.

Now, I knew that bumper pull trailers were more maneuverable, and though I’ve only backed the Airstream up a couple of times I could tell a big difference. It’s much easier to push where you want it and make small tweaks and corrections on the fly whereas with the 5th wheel you almost had to start over if you didn’t get it in the right place the first time.

What I didn’t expect was how much better the Airstream pulled and turned going forward. I was consistently surprised how well it followed us around tight turns and just barely even felt like it was there. Add to the fact that it weighs half of what the 5th wheel weighed and - let's just say it tows like a dream. For fun we took it through some parking lots and crazy turns and it performed admirably. I’m going to be a lot less stressed about getting this one stuck somewhere.

Solar panels on vintage airstream

7. Solar Power

If you’re boondocking, power is a major concern. For those new to the wild and wonderful world of RV electricity, your rig has two types of power. DC (12 volt) and AC (120 volt). When you’re plugged in at a campground you are powering your whole rig with 120 volt power. It’s pretty much like at home. Outlets, lights, fans, air conditioners, big appliances all run off that power. But when you unplug the system it switches to your battery power and converts to 12 volt. You’d be surprised what you can run off 12 volt. All the lights and fans work - and appliances like your water heater and refrigerator switch to using 12 volt and propane. What won’t work are big appliances like your Air Conditioner - or any of your regular power plugs. 

Our huge 5th wheel came with one tiny deep cycle marine battery. We could barely make it overnight running a few fans and lights before we needed to recharge it. This made boondocking difficult to say the least. We ended up buying a pair of Honda EU 2000i generators that chain together to produce 30 amps of continuous power. This let us run our electrical outlets and charge the batteries. But the hum of a generator isn’t very awesome when you're in the pristine wilderness. And they’re a pain to get out, setup and keep running for long periods of time.

We knew if we were building our own off-the-grid traveling home, we needed something more powerful, eco-friendly, manageable and quiet. That something was solar power. It’s a lot more complicated to setup than buying generators, but having a system that is constantly recharging itself and giving you ample power is pretty amazing. 

We’ll have 500 watts of solar panels on the roof and a 400 amp hour lithium battery bank inside. We may add a ground deploy panel at some point if we feel like we need it. Lithium batteries have numerous advantages over the old lead acid deep cycle marine batteries. I won’t go into great detail, but basically they are smaller, lighter and you can actually use the amp hours you have. We’d have to get double the amount of marine batteries and they already are much larger and heavier. Basically, they would have been to large and heavy to even fit in the Airstream.

With a large lithium battery bank we can store up energy for cloudy or rainy days. And the 500 watts of collectors on the roof means we can fill up that battery bank as quickly as possible. We’ll be able to run our electrical outlets, work on our computers and watch TV without any problem. Some appliances like the Air Conditioner still won’t work, but with the smaller Airstream, better insulation and plenty of windows for air flow we should be just fine.

Even more exciting, we should be able to do all this in the middle of nowhere. We’ll always have power no matter where we are. Whooo!!!!

And of course, if we are stuck somewhere with no sun and lots of rain for too long we can always get the generators out and charge up the batteries, too.

Composting Toilet

8. Composting Toilet

Sewer hookups were another issue for us with the 5th wheel. We could go about a week before needing to dump our waste tank. And man did it get stinky near the end of that week! Flushing toilets use quite a bit of excess water - so not only were we filling a black tank we were depleting our fresh water tank, too. Finally, we had to “flush” the black tank every week. This involved filling up and dumping it at least 4-5 times till water ran out clean. It took quite a bit of time (and water - 40 gallons x 5 each time!), and I was always worried about overfilling the tank and spraying poo out our roof vent.

Composing toilets are a little controversial, but they are great for boondocking. Did you know that sewage is only created when your poo and pee mix? I didn't. Composting toilets separate this for you - and they don’t flush so you’re saving your fresh water. Urine can be disposed of safely and it turns your poo into compost that you can dispose of just about anywhere. And best of all, you don’t need a blackwater tank ever again! 

Another benefit is that we are going to be able to convert our black tank into a gray tank so we can hold more shower and dish water before we need to find a dump station. 

Composting toilets are a great way to simplify your tank and water usage - and allow you to stay off the grid longer.

Airstream Gutted

9. Renovation

Initially our plan was to buy a newer used Airstream and add solar and composting. We spent months trying to find the right one and had no luck. The used market prices started skyrocketing and we really wanted to use the money from selling the 5th wheel and break even on the whole thing. Also, we wanted to love the Airstream and not end up with one that had carpet on the walls and looked stuck in the 90’s.

After much deliberation we decided to get something significantly older (and cheaper) to do a custom renovation. In all reality, even a newer Airstream would have issues and by doing a full reno down to the studs we could replace everything inside and know that it was done right for less than what even a 10 year old Airstream would cost.

Having 4 kids meant we’d be modifying heavily either way. Might as well make it exactly the way we wanted it.

Plus, we had an ace in the hole. Ashley's Dad, master of all things construction agreed to help us through the process at their house. So we would have an expert guiding us and a place to stay while doing the renovation. This never would have happened without Ashley's parents. They rock!

10. Value Appreciation

Finally, you should know that RV’s don’t appreciate in value like a house does. Since we don’t have a house anymore, we weren’t gaining any equity in anything. That brand new RV we bought a year ago? If we hadn’t done a ton of extra customization to it we would have sold it for a lot less than we paid for it.

But a vintage Airstream that’s been fully renovated and remodeled? Turns out they do appreciate in value. And they appreciate quite a bit. We know a couple that had theirs appraised at triple what they put into it. Say what?!?

We don’t know for sure how ours will appraise when we’re done - so we’ll follow up with more details when we can. But for now we feel like buying vintage and fixing up will give us much more equity than any other RV we could have bought.

Finishing Up

Whew! This turned out to be a small novel didn’t it? This is why it’s hard for me to give people a straight answer when they ask us why we sold a new RV and bought an old one to fix up. So many reasons! So many moving pieces and stuff to explain! See we’re not that crazy after all :). 

I’m sure you have questions, so feel free to ask in the comments!i

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