EDIT: The RV is sold, pending receipt of payment. If anything changes I will email everyone back and update this post, but I would assume it’s not available. The new buyer also has a tricked out Rialta and I will share a link to if he decides to sell it.
I’ve kicked this decision down the road by a year or so because emotionally I don’t want to part with my RV. I’ve put hundreds of hours into it, as well as a lot of money, but I’m spending so little time in San Francisco that it’s about time I admit it doesn’t make sense for me to keep it. So,time to take that leap into the next phase of my life and put it up for sale.
If you’ve been thinking about the RV lifestyle and want to live in the RV that started the Rialta craze, here’s your chance. Or if you just want a cool RV or a pied-a-terre in San Francisco, this could be for you. I’m really hoping that a reader buys it because I’d like for it to “stay in the family”, and maybe someone continues my work on it and takes it to the next level.
Living in the RV was one of the best decisions I ever made. I’ve saved tens of thousands of dollars by having it, it helped me appreciate minimalism, and it was a ton of fun. Many other people who have followed in my footsteps have said the same of their decision.
Also included is a parking spot in San Francisco, if you want it. It’s probably the only good RV spot in San Francisco and includes water and electricity. I also have a waste-dumping system that allows you to dump your waste without moving the RV from the parking spot. You’ll have to negotiate the rate with the owner of the spot (a friend of mine), but he offered that if someone pays my asking price they can have the spot at an artificially low rate of $550/mo. He’s a really nice guy. Location is in a prime area of the Castro with easy subway connection to downtown in 5 minutes. Nearby studios rent for $3500+, so the RV pays for itself in less than a year.
The RV itself is a 1996 Rialta Winnebago. This is the best RV to live in because it’s much wider than Sprinter vans and similar. Mine has the rare floorplan that has a full-sized bed, which makes it very comfortable.
The RV itself has around 85k miles. I’m not in San Francisco so I can’t check currently. I replaced the top half of the engine as well as the transmission, which cost me around $12k total.
I’ve done a tremendous amount of work to the RV, all without regard to price or effort to install. Below is a nearly-complete list of the features, though I’m sure I’ve forgotten some stuff.
I installed maple floors in the main area, and black and white marble mosaic in the entryway. The ceiling is a real metal tin ceiling in gold tone. The curved transition area between the wall and ceiling is real 20k gold leaf, which is lit by LEDs hidden in the molding. Custom curtains were made from antique kimono fabric from Japan. Some of the windows are covered in mulberry shoji paper, but some have small tears now. Easy to remove or fix.
Windows on the driver’s side of the RV are day-night shades custom made to size, with magnets to keep them in place.
I bought tatami mats and sized them to fit the bed platform so that I can roll it up and have a tea room. I now build tea rooms everywhere (Vegas, building island this summer), and you can own the first one I built.
The countertops were custom fabricated from high end Brazilian granite. A deep sink with new faucet was put in. The cabinet handles were replaced with brass and all cabinets were painted.
The desk is a custom made tigerwood desk with a low-profile drawer. Under it is a 100 year old persian rug which I will include if you want it, but would like to keep if you don’t really care.
The closet was converted into a cedar closet, as was one of the drawers.
You get a fully automated light system that I coded, which also controls stereo and fan. The interface is basic, but it has powerful capabilities which you could expand). It runs off of a raspberry pi and GC100 IR/relay controller. I’ve installed LED strips just about everywhere in two different zones that can be independently controlled. I made two little art lights to shine an LED spot on the wall where I hung art. The desk lamp is also controllable. My software allows you to white balance lights, create scenes, fade over time, etc.
There’s also a backup set of lights that you can control just by pushing buttons.
The head unit for the stereo is a Clarion with a flip out screen. It has full navigation with lane changing, is satellite ready, has an installed backup camera, etc. It’s paired with an Alpine amplifier and upgraded speakers. I also built a custom subwoofer enclosure into the bed which has a JL 12″ subwoofer. This system sounds amazing.
Mounted overhead is a small projector which projects onto an easy-to-deploy screen in the middle of the RV. You can turn the captains chairs around and watch like it’s a movie theater, or you can flip the image and watch from bed. The power switch is mounted in the wall.
Over the desk is a 27″ TV that I use as a second monitor. An HDMI switch allows you to output your laptop to either the TV or the projector. The 27″ TV is on an extendable arm mounted to the metal frame of the RV so that it can be fully extended.
The fridge is a Dometic DC fridge which runs off batteries and uses an average of 10W throughout the day. It even has a freezer that’s cold enough to make ice. The range is a household two-burner gas range. I forget the brand, but it’s a high-end unit meant for real cooking and has far higher output than most RV stoves.
Above the range are a bunch of magnetic spice boxes that adhere to the curved tin ceiling that comes down to the wall.
The sink is deep and includes a pullout faucet. It also has a cutting board that fits into it. Beside the regular sink is a second tap for filtered water which goes through a large three stage filter.
On the roof are two 200W solar panels with low profile mounts. The solar controller is a Blue Sky 3024i MPPT controller with a monitoring panel and a shunt for measuring the power. The inverter and battery charger is a Xantrex Prosine 2.0. I custom wired everything so that you can use all of the outlets on either the inverter or shore power. This system is ridiculous overkill that would be more appropriate for a cabin than an RV.
The batteries are both dead and should be replaced. You could go really cheap if you don’t plan on being off-grid, or you could get lithium ion batteries that would last a week without sun.
There’s also a SeeLevel monitor which shows battery charge, LP gas levels, and fresh water levels down to the exact percentage.
The RV comes with an Olympian Wave 6 propane heater with auto shutoff. This feels like a fireplace and gets really hot if you put it on high. It has a flexible house and a quick-detach mount point in the kitchen.
Also installed is a 400W ceramic panel. Unless you get lithium ion batteries, you should run this only when you’re plugged in. It’s silent and located under the desk so you can be toasty while you work.
In the ceiling is a MaxxAir vent fan with variable speed control and reversible direction. It can be controlled by remote with thermostat or by my system. For some reason it’s very hard to close now, so I just leave it open all the time.
I think that the AC in the car part of the RV might not work. I haven’t used it in a long time so I don’t remember.
I replaced the old plastic toilet with a porcelain RV toilet with wooden seat and cover. It was virtually impossible to find one that would fit. The shower was modified to eject water outside (it used to go into the gray tank which would fill very quickly). The showerhead was replaced with a high-pressure low-flow oxygenics head.
Also included is a propane water heater that I never installed. The built in one uses electricity.
The skylight was recently replaced with a brand new one, but it doesn’t have trim around it.
There’s a viper alarm with window break sensors and extra remotes. A friend tried to test it for me and said it didn’t do anything, which I believe is because the remote batteries are dead.
I replaced the RV door with a brand new one with deadbolt and extra key.
Installed is a wireless router that can pull in other wifi signals and rebroadcast them within the RV.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten a lot of things about the RV as well as things that I’m throwing in because I bought them for the RV. Maybe there will be some cool surprises for you.
Registration + Smog
The RV is owned by a Wyoming Corporation and registered in South Dakota. I am actually selling you the Wyoming Corporation, not the RV. The practical implication of this is that you don’t have to pay transfer tax since the owner of the RV is staying the same. South Dakota is the most common place to register RVs because you never have to get them smogged or inspected, and annual registration is low.
I basically never drive the RV anymore because I have such a good parking space. I move it around a bit to dump the tanks and it always runs just fine. A year or so ago I drove across San Francisco to fill up the propane. But even though I don’t know about any issues, it hasn’t been seriously driven in years so I’d personally get it tuned up before any long trips.
I think the tire treads are low and that they should be replaced, especially since it hasn’t been actively driven lately. The front left one leaks slowly (air compressor is included). I think the spare does too.
The drawers are a little busted. I have a repair kit but haven’t gotten around to installing it. The driver’s side door doesn’t open from the outside for some reason.
The RV is pretty dirty on the outside, but clean on the inside.
I did a lot of the work myself and while I’m competent, I’m not a finish carpenter. So maybe just decrease expectations for fit and finish by 10% and be pleasantly surprised in some cases.
The Nitty Gritty
I’d like to get $30k for the RV. I think it’s pretty easily worth that, and even more so if you factor in the cheap RV parking. It cost me $18k and I put in $12k to overhaul the drivetrain, so you’re basically getting all of the upgrades and my time for free. I’m confident this is the best Rialta/small RV out there.
Because I haven’t driven it in a long time and I want to make sure you have a good experience, I will cover the first $2500 of repairs needed outside of specific things I’ve mentioned here. So if there’s a surprise and the alternator needs to be replaced or something, it’s on me. This deal is good for the first 12 months you have it and only applies if you pay the asking price. Hopefully this also makes it easier for people who aren’t in SF and want to buy it sight-unseen as I did.
I’m open to offers and will likely sell it to the best offer I get from a reader. If I don’t get any offers I think are reasonable I’ll just keep it and go on road trips or something.
I’m not in SF these days but a friend has graciously offered to show it for me. If you’re a serious buyer I can schedule a time for you to see it, but I want to respect my friend’s time so please only do this if you’re at the “sounds good and I’ll buy it if it looks like it should” phase.
If you have questions or want to buy it, email me at my name at my name dot com. I’d really love to see it go to someone who will appreciate it as much as I have.
Photo is a fisheye of the RV. It actually shows everything pretty well!