Travels with Gertie travels return


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Improving Gertie: exterior

Locks at a glance

 Lock One of my biggest RVing fears has always been of driving off with one of the outside storage compartment doors unsecured...and spilling the compartment's contents all over the highway. The doors hang in such a way that they look closed even when unlocked, and the locks are so small that it's almost impossible to tell without getting down on your knees whether they are in the locked or unlocked position. I solved this problem with a black Magic Marker by coloring half of each lock black, so that when they're locked, the black half is at the bottom. This makes it easy to walk around the coach and ascertain with a quick visual check that all the locks are secured.

Gas cap holder

On my very first trip in Gertie, I lost my gas cap when I left it sitting on top of a gas pump in Oklahoma. Fortunately, Gary had provided a spare cap in the kit of extras he bequeathed to me. And I was able to get a second cap (so I'd have a spare!) at an auto parts store along the way. But it was an embarrassment just the same, and I could easily imagine it happening again.

Gas cap

My Honda Accord has a grooved bracket inside the gas filler door that can hold the gas cap while you're filling the tank. But Gertie has no filler door. What could I make to hold the cap? The next day I stopped at a "dollar store" and picked up a cheap chrome-plated rack for (what else?) a buck. I didn't care about it as a rack...but it was made of nice shiny wire that was just the right diameter for me to use as raw material for a gas cap holder.

I used a couple of pairs of pliers to shape the wire into a sort of horseshoe, with legs that would hold it away from the surface it was mounted on. My inspiration was a wire rack I'd seen on an old Air Force 1 (a DC-6 in a Tucson museum) that Lyndon Johnson had used. The rack held LBJ's trademark Stetson hats, and a similar shape was perfect for holding my gas cap. I screwed it to the outside of the rig with sheet metal screws, right next to the gas filler where I could conveniently park the cap while filling up. I gave the holder a little extra curve so that the cap actually snapped into the holder—that way even if I did drive off with the cap in the holder (I've only done it once so far!), the cap wouldn't bounce out.

A step up

It's always been a struggle cleaning the front windshield, even with a long-handled squeegee. And for a 5'8" fellow like me, getting to the overcab bedroom window was impossible.

Bumper step

So I added a Fold-A-Way step to Gertie's front bumper. It was easy to bolt on, using the existing license plate mounting holes. (The license plate mounts to the front of the step itself.) And when I'm standing on it, it elevates me 20" off the ground. That puts my eyes on a level with the bottom of the overcab bedroom window, giving me easy access to anything on the windshield and well above. When not in use, the step folds flat and looks like an ordinary license plate holder.

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