*The below post is a photo tour of our previous 5th wheel. As of April 2015, we have a new RV! Yay! You can find a tour of our new one (stock, still working on lots of remodeling to make it tribe-worthy!) at our new family friendly toy hauler (this link is to a video of it stock, off the lot)! 🙂
Here is a link to our photo tour of the garage, now that it has been modified into the boys’ dorm…toy hauler garage to boys’ room!
First toy hauler:
I thought I’d make a page that gives a tour of our ‘house’ since most people are really curious as to how a family of 10, 8 kids still at home, manages to live in an RV (there are really 14 of us, but 4 are grown and flown). It must be noted though, that our RV is always in a state of continual morphing.
Our 5th wheel is a 2008 Gulf Stream Enduramax toy hauler. While we love the floor plan of our 5th wheel, we would not buy this rig again – the workmanship is poor (typical for entry toy haulers). The main reason that we would not buy this trailer again, is that we would never buy another product from Gulf Stream. Our toy hauler experienced frame failure because the frame is simply not suitable for the size rv they built on it (told to us by several big-rig qualified welders); it was underbuilt to save money and weight. We had to have the frame for the front of the toy hauler completely rebuilt. During the time we were trying to figure out how to possibly fix it, Gulf Stream would not even return our calls and emails about sending us a email/fax/image of the frame schematics so we could talk to welders about the problem (hauling it around the country to certified rv mechanics was not really an option…).
However, it is paid for, and now the frame has been rebuilt, and we have modded it to fit our family; for now, this is our ‘home’, which we do love…
She is 42′ feet long and weighs 14.5k dry weight. We have a 110 gal. fresh water tank, a 50 gal. black tank, and an 80 gal. grey tank. We ‘survive’ with a 10 gal. hot water heater, and 2 roof mounted a/c units. 😉
Hubby (with a couple of co-pilots) pulls the toy hauler with a 2 ton Chevy Kodiak, and the rest of the tribe follows in our 15 pass. Chevy van. We usually travel convoy style, and like to reach our destination at the same time, tho occasionally, if it is a new park, the van will go ahead to scout out the roads/site sizes/best way to get there/in….
We don’t sneak into campgrounds very well. 😉
I’ll start the interior tour from the front of the RV, and work my way towards the back…
The Master Bedroom:
When we built the bunks in the closet up here, they were for Savanna and Molly; they have since grown a bit 😉 and now Caleb sleeps in the top one and the bottom is empty.
In the other end of the closet we keep the vacuum (I have yet to find a built-in one that can keep up with my tribe), and a few plastic bins for socks. (you can find a post on building our little closet bunks here)
Our bed is set on a platform, and underneath is all storage. We keep a few out of season clothes, packages of diapers, and paper products under there; under the very top, up underneath the pillows, where it is a pain to get to, we keep our little plastic Christmas tree and decorations. In the cupboards across the front, above the bed, Vaughn installed wire shelving, and we keep clothing for Caleb, Molly, Vaughn, and I up there…
When we bought this 5th wheel, there was a tv in this same location, but mounted on the outside of the wall, sticking out, and framed (very poorly I might add!). Vaughn made me a built-in area for it which as made the walk-thru area at the end of the bed much roomier…
Well, what can I say…it’s a bathroom.
We replaced the stock toilet with a porcelain bowl one, including a riser to make it a little taller than it came as.
Because there are so many of us, we had issues with bath towels. At first we started out with 2 dozen white towels, thinking that would be best – then it didn’t matter who used what. But with 13 of us, it was difficult to dry them before throwing them in the hamper (so they didn’t mold), I couldn’t tell which child left the towel they used on the floor for someone else to pick up, and we ran out of clean towels long before laundry day.
We installed simple coat hooks along the wall in the bathroom, and now each child has a unique color of towel; because each child has their own color, they can use them multiple times between washes (they are supposed to be clean coming out of the shower, right? 😉 ), I can tell who left theirs on the floor, and because they are hanging in the open, they dry between uses.Even though we have littles, we do not have a bathtub. We have a shower with a shallow pan. The kids learn to take showers early, but the littles can also take a bath in about 6 inches of water if they want to. Our shower has a skylight above it to help accommodate taller persons, and we put in a Oxygenics shower head that helps conserve water yet we can still take it off the wall to hose down littles or just wash hair.
We ended up modding our mirror area to make a built-in television area on the other side of the wall in the master bedroom. Vaughn built the bathroom side of the wall in, we removed the medicine cabinet that stuck out into the restroom, and put in a simple mirror that we found at IKEA (one of the few things we have ever found there. lol). Vaughn added a toilet paper roll holder right above the countertop, and I can tuck bottles of hairspray, lotion, or sunscreen in it and they will stay put even when we move (link to closer pic of holder here).
The main living area…
This is our main living area – the ‘big slide’ on the passenger’s side of the rig has a 9 foot long couch in it. The slide has large windows, and skylights…
Across from the main door into the rv, is the kitchen. In it is a 9 sq. ft. fridge (yeah, that was a BIG (or should that be ‘small’) adjustment from 2 25 sq. ft fridges in the house!!!), a microwave that we use sparingly, but enough that we don’t want to remove it, and a propane stove-top and oven, both which get a work-out!
In some ways, cooking in the RV is much the same as it was in the sticks n’ bricks, but in some ways, it takes a lot more effort. Because our pots and pans are oversized, they don’t fit in the cupboards well, and I can only do one UNDERsized pan of whatever in the oven at one time (inside of oven is 14″ x 14.5″) , and there is only room for one of our sized pots on the stovetop at each meal. We usually tote a grill with us, but we didn’t this year and have only wanted it a couple of times, so not sure if we will bring one again in the future or not.
This past summer, across from the couch, we ripped out the stock entertainment center, which was an eye-sore, and Vaughn and the boys built a new, more open one….
(of course we HAD to make a new one – where else would we put the dolly bunkbeds???)
Between the kitchen and the entertainment center, on the driver’s side, there is a small slide that houses our dinette.
We have a custom built kitchen table. It is the exact depth of the slide without leaves, but we had 2 12″ leaves built with it so that we could expand our table. It stretches out over 5 feet, which is huge for an rv table. We love the versatility it gives, and we use it a ton for schoolwork, games, and computer time, and even occasionally eat at it. 😀
We had a cabinet maker, who is a friend of Vaughn’s, build us dinette benches. I love that they have doors in them (no handles, and soft close hinges); now I have access to items stored on the ends without removing the cushions. He made rounded tops lengthwise, so the bench doesn’t cut into your legs (we had it held up a little to pressure hold in the cushions. He also trimmed it out in maple to match the expandable table he built us a few years ago.
The Girls’ Loft…
Most 5th wheel toy haulers have what is called a ‘loft’. The loft is a sleeping area that is located above the ‘garage’, but accessed through the living room via ladder. Ours has a queen size mattress and a set of cupboards. The little girls found some vinyl wall clings that they wanted, and decorated the loft with them. The 3 girls sleep the wrong way on the mattress, and they have quite a bit of space!
The little girls love their little hide away, and they retreat up there to play and read, and they stay up late giggling together. <3
The Garage – aka The Man Cave…
The following pictures are of the ‘boys room’ or the garage section of our 40′ toy hauler. The door leads into the main living area of the t.h., and the boys room is the last 12 feet of our 5er.
The cupboards came in the toy hauler, and we use them for groceries; mostly boxed items, toaster, hand mixer… and have some stacking baskets in there for odd items that don’t stack well. (the ceiling above the cupboards is actually the bottom of the girl’s loft) The white drawers store the kids’ clothes – each child has a large drawer and a small. Some of those drawers sit on a set of shelves that Vaughn built so that the furnace can still vent out of the corner; we store a few canned goods on those shelves, but most canned goods get left in the van in shallow plastic containers that fit under the bench seats.
Behind the door (leading out into the living area) are stacked laundry hampers which we use to both store dirty clothing, then wipe out with bleach wipes and use as laundry baskets to bring clean clothes home from the laundrymat in. We can fit about 4 days worth of worn clothing in them before we have to bring out the cloth laundry bags, which get filled up and stacked in the back seat of the van. There is also a single, vertical row of coat hooks behind the door. The green drawers are blocking the backdoor leading outside (which we very seldom use anyway) – and are supposed to be there temporarily until we put the schoolbooks somewhere else (another one of those mods in the making 😉 )…
Next to the back door, to the right, are a few coat hooks – each kid has one double hook for the 2 jackets that they are allowed (tho I often find myself saying, “where did all these coats come from???? Pick two and the others are going to goodwill! LOL!)
When we built the bunks in our master closet, we moved the ‘closet’ to the boys’ room, and are able to store a few things underneath, like the itty bitty chest freezer (because you can’t buy decent meat everywhere and there isn’t nearly enough room for ice cream in our little RV fridge!).
We also have a second couch in the ‘garage’ – it is a special couch for toy haulers, which can fold out to a bed, or can be folded up flat, against the wall. We can’t do either with the chest freezer in, but we sure appreciate the extra seating it provides! RV living rooms aren’t exactly designed with the space for a dozen people in mind! LOL!
The only thing that I didn’t care for was the cluttered look, so I picked up a fabric shower curtain to tone down the busy-ness. It is about an inch too long, and needs to be hemmed to hang around the couch cleaner, but I will have to wait to sew it up until I get back to MT as I don’t keep a sewing machine in the RV.Underneath the couch are several laundry hampers that we keep shoes in. Each child is assigned a basket to place their shoes in (they share), and if it’s too full, then I guess we start tossing shoes! LOL! Down at the far end, under the couch, is another, larger basket, that is full of playmobil toys.
We try to utilize every available inch for obvious reasons, so there is a shelf hanging from Daniel’s bunk (which the clothes hang off of). The shelf is currently used to store the keyboard and music books, but has seen multiple uses over the years!
To the right of the couch, along the driver’s side of the rear of the toy hauler, are the boy’s bunks. There are 3 up the side wall, and 2 others running across the ceiling of the ‘garage’. The top 3 make a U-shaped loft where Daniel and Joel sleep (and we even have any empty one for guests! lol).
Jake’s is on the bottom with Thomas’ the middle. So even tho we live in 400+ sq. ft., each person has their own space. 🙂
Yes, we have modified our RV quite a bit, and believe it or not, there is still a lot that we would like to/plan to do! We love having a home on wheels, and enjoy making it fit our family!
If you see us around, stop on by – we’d be happy to give you a tour! 🙂
In the meantime, if you’d like to keep up on where we are and what we are up to, hop on over and like us on facebook – you can find us at The Ticknor Tribe. 🙂