Do you have laundry machines in your bus? Some people love them and some people hate them. Some people would rather use the space for a closet or other storage as many remove a perfectly good set of machines to obtain more storage. Some say any machines that will fit in a bus are too small to do all of your laundries. In this article, I will discuss the Splendide washer/dryer because that is the combo unit I am familiar with and I am on my third machine.
I have had two buses with the Splendide washer/dryer combination unit in them and I love these machines. I like them so much, I just had one installed in my Eagle which came with a dishwasher (which I never use) but no W/D unit because the previous owner only took short trips, generally less than a week as he primarily used the bus for two to three-day business trips.
I dislike Laundromats because most people that use them are low-rent kind of people and you never know what was in those machines before you put your clothes in. They may have just washed a load of dirty diapers or greasy clothes in the same machine you put your white dress shirts in, you never know.
I have had a couple of bad experiences in laundromats in my life. One time I came back to find my clothes taken out of the dryer and thrown all over the floor. I never did figure out why, but my roommate and I suspected it was a disgruntled neighbor, but we never discovered what his problem was.
Another time, I put my clothes basket in a small laundry room on a table to be queued up for when the machines were finished and came back a very short time later to discover someone else had put his clothes in the washer before I returned, completely ignoring the fact that my laundry was next. Thankful-ly, I had some diesel fuel in my apartment so I helped him out by pouring about a cup of this great cleaner in his load. Then I took my clothes elsewhere. I suspect he had a hard time getting that smell out of his clothes if he ever did. But I’ll bet he never butted in front of the line at a laundromat again. He gave me the hairy eyeball for several months after that for some reason. I never admitted to doing this, but I think he knew.
You can, of course, find laundromats in many camp-grounds and in almost any city where you will be traveling. Some folks don’t mind laundromats and they take a book (or phone or tablet) to read while doing a few loads of laundry. Laundromats also have the advantage, if they are not too busy, to do several loads at one time. You can do all your laundry in a couple of hours if the machines make it through both cycles without any problems, which I find does not always happen with some of the machines I have used.
I have seen many commercial washing machines stop halfway through the cycle and when you come back 30 minutes later, your clothes are all waterlogged and sometimes must be put in a different machine and started all over again. Some of the low-rent laundromats are not well maintained and many have machines that are out of service much of the time. This happens in many budget RV parks. Also, laundromats are generally hot and sticky during the summer and not the most comfortable place to have to hang around while waiting for your laundry to finish.
Some folks prefer the stackable units on their bus which is fine. I agree they are a better option than the Splendide washer/dryer combo especially if they are 220V machines. The wash cycle time will be about the same but the dry cycle time will be about half of the Splendide machine which is nice if you have a lot of clothes to wash. I had stackable units in an apartment where I lived and I use them in my timeshare and they work very well. Not as well as full-size household machines, but good enough for one or two people. The Splendide machines take a looooooooooong time to dry clothes. One load can easily take three hours to complete. They only use 110V so they cannot get as hot as a 220V machine.
Splendide has two basic models, one vented and one non-vented. The ventless model removes the condensation to dry the clothes and it does not require outside venting. However, it does require five gallons of cold water per hour of dry time so, you had better be hooked up to a freshwater source to use one of these. It also takes about twice as long to dry as the vented model.
Therefore, the vented model is preferred if you can install a vent to the outside of the bus. I have had both, and much prefer the vented model even though the vent sometimes clog up with lint. The vent-less mod-el is acceptable if there is just no way to vent it such as if you live in an apartment and you have plenty of time to wait for clothes to dry. I had a vented model installed in my Eagle.
The Splendide WD2100XC is a relatively small unit, smaller than most apartment models. They measure 33-1/4” High x 23-1/2 Wide x 23-3/8 Deep. You can only wash about a half load of clothes (if that) compared to normal household units. But the good thing is, they only take up about half the space as the stackable units. If you have a family to do laundry for, this machine could run practically full time and it may not be feasible. Because I travel alone most of the time, capacity is a non-issue to me.
In the past, I have put in a load of laundry before leaving for work then remove the dry clothes when I get home. This worked fine with me. I generally do laundry about two or three days per week under normal conditions with these units. Because it is in my bus, I can be doing other things while the unit is running.
Now that I am traveling full-time and working on my bus most days, it is easy to toss in a load after break-fast and remove it about lunchtime. If necessary, I could toss in a second load after lunch and remove it just before dinner for example if I just returned from a trip with a lot of dirty clothes. It is recommended that you remove the clothes after the wash cycle and shake them out so they will dry better and won’t be all clumped in a tight bundle which results after they spin in the drum. So, that does involve some intervention but it only takes a couple of minutes to do that and not absolutely necessary if you are away during the cycle.
The only problem I have had with Splendide machines is that the door latch is made of very weak plastic and I broke two door latches. They do not make replacement latches so, you have to buy an entire door if you break the lock to the tune of about $180. If you use one of these machines, be sure you treat the door gently as this the door latch is poor design and has not been improved in several years as far as I know.
The other problem with the Splendide machines that I have experienced, is that the exhaust vent tends to clog up about once per year, and will no longer dry clothes. You have to remove the top of the machine, then reach down in the back, remove a rubber boot, which is part of the exhaust vent, and clean out the lint.
I was told that if you run a cycle of one cup of vinegar through the Silk cycle monthly, it should prevent this problem. This is a very involved procedure since you must stop, reset the machine, and start it three times to ensure the machine fills up to about half full. I believe this helps, but it has been a couple of years since I have had one of these units on my bus. For the full procedure, contact Splendide and they will send you instructions that will help flush out your vent of the built-up lint to hopefully prevent you from having to do it manually.
If you must manually clean the vent, it is quite a chore since it is very difficult to remove the vent, clean it, put it back in again, and it is easy to get cut on the sheet metal during the process. I cut an access hole in the back of my previous unit to make the job easier, but it is still no fun to do because again, it is a poor design when you need to clean the vent as it is so inaccessible.
There are times when I just want one item washed such as when I step in a mud puddle or I have to get my crawl suit out to work on the bus. I don’t want to hang it up dirty or put it in the clothes hamper and potentially get my nicer clothes all greasy. When I am done working on the bus, I can toss it in the laundry machine, remove it three hours later, and hang it up ready for the next repair or grease job. Because the machine goes from the wash cycle to the dry cycle automatically, you can also toss in your laundry before going to bed and remove them when you get up in the morning which is nice for a crawl suit you removed at the end of a day. You can’t do this with the separate washer and dryer machines.
So here I am at Leisure Coachworks in Fontana, CA having a new (to me) Splendide washer/dryer unit in-stalled in my Eagle which I bought last year in Quartz-site. I will be spending a lot of time in my bird now that I moved my office in and it will be very convenient to do laundry while working on the best bus magazine out there.
Leisure Coachworks did the complete installation. They removed some drawers and cut them into a cabinet in the kitchen. They removed an ice maker, which I never use, and relocated an Aqua-Hot radiator. They cut out the cabinet a bit bigger and slid the unit in under the kitchen counter where it will be very convenient to access. They estimated it would take three days, start to finish, but once they cut into my bus, they discovered it was overbuilt compared to many of the stick-n-staple units (no surprise there) and they could not run the water lines and vent where they had originally planned so it took them an extra day to complete the project.
This was no big deal since they provided me with a conference room, in their office, where I set up my computer and big screen monitor and worked on BCM whilst they were working on my installation. Each evening, they moved my bus out of the shop to the front of their building where they have several 30A service hookups for overnight guests. They also provide dump service for folks who would be here for longer periods of time. They do everything they can to make your stay comfortable while they are working on your coach.
They also clean your coach at each end of each day so you can comfortably stay in it at night. While I was there, there was one customer that had been there for several months since it took a long time for the insurance to approve all the work he needed done.
Now that my laundry machine is in, I am so happy. I can wash my dirty clothes that I have been queuing up for a couple of weeks now a few at a time. Even though I dislike going to laundromats, schlepping my laundry around town, carrying it into a laundromat, stuffing a pocket full of quarters in a machine, having to haul detergent and static eliminator sheets around, I find it quite fulfilling doing my own laundry in my bus. Each load is about a three-beer job so I don’t feel that is too unreasonable.
I also like the ability to have the capability of doing a load of laundry while driving down the road. There have been many times I have tossed in a load, started my genny, headed down the road, and arrived with fresh clean clothes. It does use up some of your freshwaters, but if you start out with plenty of water and if you have a fresh water source where you are headed, you can generally do a load or two on your way to your destination (depending on the size of your water tanks). I feel it is a good use of my time, especially with the washer/dryer combo as it works unattended.
I also have allergies, so I like washing my sheets and towels a bit more than the average person. The other nice thing about having your own machines while on the road is you can toss in a single shirt or towel any-time to wash them if necessary without having to wait for a full load to justify a trip to a laundromat. Many RV owners travel with just a few combinations of clothes so you may have to do a quick load of laundry before going out for the day.
If you need any modifications done to your bus, such as a washer and dryer installed, be sure to contact Leisure Coachworks as there is nothing they can’t do. They currently have 22 employees that have been working on motorhomes for several years and if they can’t complete any project you need to be done on your bus, nobody can.
Phil Lyons, our Forum Moderator, purchased 1995 45’ MCI DL3 bus. They tore out the inside and they are completely rebuilding the inside and painting the outside. His bus remodels will be in a future article.
Hope to see you on the trip next year.
Since July 2012, Gary Hatt has been the Publisher of Bus Conversion Magazine. Gary does most of his own work on his bus with the help of mechanic friends. He has owned tents, truck campers, travel trailers, and stick-n-staple motor-homes until he bought his first bus in 1997 which was a 1972 MCI MC-7 Combo. When he had a chance to buy a 1983 MCI MC-9 Log Cabin bus with larger windows he jumped at the chance. On Thanksgiving of 2014, Gary bought a 1967 Model 08 Eagle and has since been living and traveling fulltime in that.
You may reach Gary Hatt at Gary@BusConversionMagazine.com