Wednesday, December 30, 2015

I'll just leave this right here ...

This is a satellite photo of the Venture Out RV resort in Mesa, Arizona.

It has everything.  About $900 a month in the winter.  Not my "RV lifestyle" but I see the appeal.   The image was used as album art by Modest Mouse.

Monday, December 28, 2015


Good thing I didn't follow through on the idea of going over to New Mexico between  Christmas and New Years.  Blizzard over there!

Back home, I'm about done with my "insurance" project of preparing for the necessity of changing a tire on the road.  My latest project has had to do with winter storage and travel.  It's not Minnesota, but it seems like a good idea to do some degree of cold-proofing the Beast when it's stored here in Tucson. I want to be able to freeze-proof the rig quickly, and put it back in service easily when I want to hit the road.  Here's what makes sense.
  • Turn off water pump.
  • Drain the fresh-water storage tank.
  • Drain the hot water heater unless it was already empty. 
  • Put the hot water heater plumbing in "bypass" mode.
  • Connect air compressor to external water input using a "blow out" adapter. Limit air pressure to 25-30 psi.
  • One by one, open faucets and let the air pressure force water out of the lines: kitchen, bathroom sink, bathtub/shower, external "shower." 
  • Drain holding tanks.
  • Pour a cup or so of RV antifreeze (non-toxic; pink) into each drain for the P-traps.  Pour a larger amount into one drain so it goes through the trap into the grey holding tank. Pour some antifreeze into the black tank via the toilet, mostly to keep the seals from drying out.
That sounds elaborate, I grant you.  It involves a short trip to the nearby (free) dump station.  And the drain on the fresh water tank is currently painfully slow: it uses a very small-diameter rubber tube.  If the tank was full it would take well over an hour (I did this last year). So:  I'm going to ask the good folks at Merrigan's to put in a larger-diameter drain pipe.

To undo all this, I need to put some water in the fresh water tank: enough for washing and flushing and that's all.  Then I turn the pump on and "burp" the various water lines.  I may or may not put the water heater back on line.

Once I get the routines down, and assuming I can drain the fresh water tank in a more reasonable time, I'm guessing each of these procedures will take about an hour.  Maybe less.

I actually enjoy figuring things like this out!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Itchy feet in the winter

I've been really wanting to get out for a while. No particular destination in mind, just ... out.  One of the things I leaned on my short trip to Buenos Aires sanctuary a while back is that short trips are a bother.  The "overhead" of getting ready to go on the road and packing up after I get home is pretty much the same whether I'm going out for a few days or a few weeks.  And for a few days, it's just not worth it.

I've felt like I want to get out for a few weeks now.  But there have been just enough things here in Tucson which demanded attention (like, for example, at the moment: Getting the hot tub fixed!) that it's been hard to see how to clear anything like a week.  And then there's the where to go issue.  My thought was to go over to the Quartzite area near the AZ/CA border. Every RV'er in the world goes there right after Christmas, near as I can tell, and this is not an appealing prospect:

The Really Big RV show in Quartzite, AZ in  January

So I'm considering options.  Factors are temperature, crowding, relative closeness. And it would be nice if the scenery was attractive. I'll share my thoughts when I have them.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Still here, still home

Progress reports:

The refinishing project for some of the kitchen area cabinets is done. I didn't take a picture, but when I do I'll come back to this post and edit it and the picture will go about here:

[insert picture]

Progress on the tire maintenance/repair project:  I resolved the questions about a compressor.  The only 12V air pumps I could find were really expensive.  So I opened for a small 120V compressor, which was on sale at Amazon.  I've been playing with it on and off and it does the job, although it does take a long time to take the rear tires all the way up to 80# like they want. This means I do have to run the generator in the rig to make AC for it, but I figure that's OK.  The genset should get more regular use anyway. So the only remaining part of the tire projects is a log wrench.  The universal problem is that shops use pneumatic impact wrenches and almost always put the lug nuts on way to tight.  The rated lug-nut torque for my Ford E450 Superduty chassis is about 150 foot-pounds, and apparently it's not unusual for tire guys to put them on with something like 400 foot-pounds.

So I'm picturing myself in a pouring rain, trying to remove one of the inside tires on my dually  rear axle.  Yuck!  There are lots of alternatives, ranging from a monster lug wrench to a breaker bar to my own pneumatic lug wrench (I've got the compressor, right?)  Some of these are expensive, some not.  This project has consumed a chunk of travel change already, but I'm almost done. With the compressor, it should be easier to keep the tires properly inflated, which will keep them happier and last longer and make it less likely that one will fail on the road.

It's looking less likely that I'll get on the road before Christmas.  Scattered appointments and holiday social events and some damn cold weather are interfering.  We had a stretch of nice warm weather which I talked about in the previous post; now we're having a stretch of record cold, with overnight temps in the 20s. And there's no place much warmer closer than, say, Florida.  Not going there.

So maybe it's time for ...

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Still in Tucson. Good weather for maintenance chores.

In Tucson, enjoying the great late Fall weather.  After a cold snap when the overnight temps got down below freezing for 4 days in a row, we're in a stretch of above-normal temps: mid- to upper-70s during the day.  Cloudless.  Calm.

I finished the task of re-finishing cabinet drawers and doors in the kitchen area.  Sure looks all shiny bright!  When I was installing them at the rig in the storage lot, I decided to listen to some tunes.  Nope!  Radio -- new, shiny, feature-filled radio -- was dead.  Dang!  So I added a trip to the guys who installed it to my to-do list. (I did check the fuse; was OK)  A day or two later, I decided to move the rig over a couple of feet to give me some more space between me and the TT which had just parked next to me. Nope!  The real problem was a dead starter battery.  WTF?  (If you know what that means you won't be offended.  The rest of you, don't ask!) I pulled the little Hyundai over to jump-start the Beast.

It started immediately.  Nice!  Two added "extras" when it did:  the 4-way flashers came on, and the radio lit up. I figure I'd left the flashers on for some inexplicable reason, which is what depleted the battery over several weeks.  And it turns out that there are two power supplies to one of these modern "car stereos."  One is the actual power for the unit, the other is to maintain the unit's memory for various settings.  BOTH must be connected for the unit to work.  In my situation, the main power is connected to the 12V system in the coach, and the memory power comes from the front starter battery.  So when the starter battery gave out, no tunes.  Live and learn. I ran the engine for a couple of hours while I was doing other chores, which charged up the battery enough so that it started right up the next day.

I'm making slow progress on the tire repair kit project.  I got a bottle jack, which turned out to be the wrong size. Returned it to Amazon, got one that's the right size.  Got a lug wrench.  Wrong size.  Returned it and I'm pondering alternatives.  Thinking about how to get the spare tire off its rear-deck mount when there's stuff on the adjacent storage rack.  Thinking about a more powerful air compressor to air up tires (and air bags -- remember??) when I'm out.  All of this is a considerable expense which (aside from maintaining air pressure on a routine basis) is by way of insurance.  Money I'm spending on things I may never use.

Almost ready to hit the road, and the most likely destination is still Quartzite.  Late next week?