Motor Home Project: Replace Day/Night Shades
Are you noticing a common topic for our posts lately? It seems like we had a bunch of motor home improvement projects planned during our winter stopover in Florida. Our motor home is approaching five years old; and while it's still in good shape and we're not ready to replace it yet, we still like to stop in Red Bay, AL, to tour the Tiffin plant and to occasionally visit an RV dealer or an RV show. This lets us see some of the improvements that have been incorporated into newer RVs. Since we'll probably be hanging onto our motor home for at least several more years, we decided it would be a good time to make some upgrades.
Replacing our old tube-type TVs with LCD TVs was first on our list, and we're enjoying our new TVs very much. As we said, most of our viewing is still in standard-def, but we did appreciate watching over-the-air broadcasts of the Super Bowl, the NASCAR Bud Shootout and the Daytona 500 in hi-def.
Another improvement we noticed a few years ago in Tiffin motor homes is an upgraded type of day/night shade. Almost everyone complains about traditional day/night shades. While the idea of having a sheer privacy shade to let light in during the day combined into one unit with an opaque shade for night is good, the old-style day/night shades are troublesome. The strings are constantly breaking. Paul has re-strung all of our shades at least once, and some four or five times. We buy the string in 300 foot spools, and we're on our second spool. The traditional shades require two hands to raise and lower, and they are difficult to keep clean. The photo below shows one of our original day/night shades.
The new shades we started seeing a few years ago were made by MCD Innovations. American Duo shades by MCD are roll-up shades that can be raised and lowered with one hand. The American Duo shades combine a shade for day that makes it easy to see out (but hard to see in) with an opaque shade for night. The American Solo shade is available with a single shade for either day or night. The shades are also available in motorized versions that are controlled either by push button or optional wireless remote.
The roll-up speed of the MCD shades is slow and controlled, and the speed can be adjusted. To raise the manual shade, just give it a tug and let go, and it will raise by itself. The stop can also be adjusted so they won't roll up too far and disappear behind the valance.
We placed our order shortly after visiting the MCD booth at the Tampa RV show back in January. All MCD shades are custom made, and our order took about three weeks to arrive. MCD has representatives in various locations around the country that will do the measuring and installation for you, or you can go to the factory in McKinney, TX, to have the installation done. Since Paul has removed all the valences and original day/night shades to repair them in the past, he was comfortable doing the installation of the new shades himself.
The installation is straightforward provided your valences are at least 2" deep. If they are less than that, some modification will be required to accommodate the shades. Fortunately, our valences are deep enough, so we were good to go.
Both the old and new shades are held in place with clips. Once Paul removed the valences with the old shades attached, all he had to do was remove the old shades and clips, screw the new clips in place and snap in the new shades. The next photo shows the old shade ready to be removed.
Installation of the valences with the new shades was a little harder than the removal because the new shades take up more space inside the top of the valence so some of the clearances were a little tight to see and reach the screws that hold the valences in place. Paul needed a flashlight and a long screwdriver, and he still had to stand on his head to reach some of them.
One risk of doing the measuring and installation yourself is the custom-made shades are non-returnable, so if you make a mistake measuring, you will have to bear the cost of correcting the error. There is an exception if there is a defect or error on the part of MCD, but given the level of quality we see in this product we're guessing an MCD error or defect is pretty rare. Fortunately, Paul measured and checked each valence several times, and all the blinds fit. There was one that was a little snug because the cloth covering the valence was bunched up inside the valence, but Paul removed some of the excess cloth and made it work.
The photo below shows the same window as above with the MCD shades installed. Left to right: both shades open, day shade down, night shade drawn.
We are very pleased with our new MCD shades. They are much easier to raise and lower than our original day/night shades, and the appearance is neat and clean. One thing we especially like is how much more open it makes the motor home feel. The MCD shades raise to a higher level than the old day/night shades which results in more open window area. That will take a little getting used to because we feel somewhat exposed with all the blinds wide open, but all we have to do is pull the day shades, and it's just about impossible to see in unless it's almost totally dark outside and the lights are on inside.
Valentine's Day is pretty low key for us. Margery regrets that we did not keep the cards we sent to each other our first Valentine's Day...we had sent the same one to each other. We kept those cards for a few years and sent them back and forth to each other, but then they were put away and eventually became victims to downsizing. E-cards have made card giving much easier. We no longer stand at the greeting card display picking out each other's card, giving it to each other to read, then putting them back. LOL
Paul's tradition of giving Margery a single red rose for Valentine's Daywent by the wayside once we went on the road, so you can imagine her delight when flowers were delivered to the motor home this past weekend. For Margery, fresh flowers NEVER grow old.
You've got to love these on-line flower sites like From You Flowers that make it easy to spread a little cheer.
Another thing we have been doing while hanging around the motor home is planning our summer travels. While gas prices remain stable, we want to travel out west as much as possible. Because our first visit to Zion and Bryce in southern Utah was when Margery's knees prevented her from hiking, she wanted to return. Paul regretted we didn't stop in Salt Lake City two years ago, so this year our farthest point will be Utah.
In the past, we have purchased travel books published by Moon. However, friends of ours put us on to the AAA travel books which seemed to be better suited for our needs. Just a couple of Moon books can cost $50, so this year we invested our money in a AAA membership instead. We'll be able to get whatever travel books we want at any AAA office. Here's Margery after picking up tour books at the AAA office in The Villages on one of our rarer sunny days this winter.
For those who enjoy solving jigsaw puzzles and are looking for a momentary distraction, we've included the picture below. Just click the arrow, and you will be taken to the Jig Zone web site where you will be able to reassemble the picture with your mouse. You can even change the shape and number of pieces. We tried the puzzle with a picture of a fishing boat in Tarpon Springs, and several people liked the idea so we thought we would do it again. Your comments are welcomed.
Our travels this year will include spending sightseeing time in at least 13 states. We'll be taking a southern route out across Louisiana, Texas, and New Mexico before we stop in Tucson then head north toward Utah. Our return route will be a northern route across Wyoming and Nebraska to hit the Escapade (Escapees RV Club rally) in Indiana and then go on to Pittsburgh in the fall. It sounds like a lot of traveling, but it will be a much slower pace than we had going to the Pacific Northwest last year.
With all the projects we have done so far this winter we are looking forward to some sightseeing, but will the weather cooperate? Like the rest of the country, we've had lots more cold, rainy and cloudy weather than we've come to expect when wintering in Florida, but we're grateful our precipitation doesn't need to be shoveled, and we're hoping for an improvement.