Friday, May 21, 2010

Here she is! Meet Big Bertha the Land Ship!

I want to post some pictures of Bertha so everyone can see how lovely she is! I feel like I got a pretty good deal at $3300 for her. These are only interior photos, but I will post photos of her exterior in a few days when I pull the tarp off the repair the roof.  

Looking forward toward the driver's area.

The jack-knife sofa which makes into a nice comfy bed. I am very happy that I actually like all of the original 1979 upholstery and that it is in really good shape!

Both of these chairs are microsuede, and the darker chair on the right is a Spring Steel recliner.

The kitchen, obviously. Notice the icemaker in the foreground, and the eye-level oven underneath the microwave oven.

This is the Dometic Americana Plus refrigerator that the previous owner put in a couple of years ago that has never been used. I removed the manufacturing tape before taking this photo, but it was intact when I bought Bertha. It has 2-way operation (110v/LPG), and has 6 cu. feet of storage. Sticker price for this lovely alone is over $1100.

Bertha has a 4' cedar lined closet across the hall from the bathroom. It was hard to get a good photo of it, but at least this shows how nice the cedar is.

The bathroom is done in "beautiful" harvest gold, ala 1979. It features a short set-down tub/shower combination. Check out the size of that medicine chest!


The bedroom area, which has two twin size beds with like-new mattresses and bed covers which match the sofa, the pilot, and the co-pilot seat.

My groovy 1970's window treatments. They are in pristine condition, and are actually growing on me (although the tassells are going to have to go!)

Big Bertha has a Dodge 440 chassis with a new carburetor. She has under 39,000 original miles (which I subjectively verified based on the wear and tear around the drivers area -- or lack thereof).

I feel that I bought Bertha for a fair price based on the NADA guide book value( If you are wanting to buy an older RV, this is a tremendous bargaining tool. Most people seem to price their RVs based on emotional value. I understand the value of blood, sweat, and tears, but at the end of the day the unit still has a roughly established book-value. (I talked to several people who were asking two to four times the amount listed in the book.) I used the book value to talk the previous owner of my motorhome down from $3850 to $3300. I bought her knowing there was some water damage that had to be addressed due to the roof being inadequately repaired in the past, and that I would want to do some cosmetic updates. I am limited in that respect due to finances, so I am grateful that Bertha's interior looks neither worn nor "extremely dated," though that aspect is in the eye of the beholder. This blog is going to follow Bertha's makeover from being an "old motorhome that never gets used" to being an "off-grid micro-mobile home" that can be moved without having to hire someone to do it for me. Thanks for looking!


  1. Hey, Jen! Cool project. How is it progressing?

    You posted on the composting toilets forum about the holding tank stuff (, but I just don't want to get into another forum, so am answering here.

    I think that there are no chemicals which will reduce scent, but the only thing you will lose by trying it now is a trip to the dump station. According to a friend of mine (who has tried this), leaving urine in a container for a time allows for the breakdown of urea into ammonia and causes the PH to skyrocket, thus killing any pathogens...and increasing the pungency of the aroma. I can think of a few options for getting rid of urine, but would probably tend toward getting rid of it more immediately (easier for me as a guy) or using it in a constructed wetland (this could be in containers as in aquaponics (

    I don't know what you are planning to do with your RV after constructing a home, but have you checked out the house built for the last solar decathlon? The pic is not very clear, but they used an airstream as their kitchen/bathroom part of the house. They can go on the road with it, or dock it to the cheaper part of the house for more expansive living.

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