(Formally "Plan V: A Van Dwelling Blog", when I lived in a 1978 Dodge Xplorer 228 Class B motorhome van)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Long overdue update

Kind of a lot has been going on in the past few months. I've been in Texarkana since late January since the climate and weather has been pretty good. I crashed at my mom's house for 2-1/2 months but finally I had well overstayed my welcome so I've just been bumming around town since, using city parks in the day and parking in safe places at night. I finally dragged out the laptop today at a picnic table with a power outlet for creating this long blog post. I don't use the phone plan's 8GB monthly hotspot for my Android car stereo anymore (more on that below) so I may as well use it sparingly on the laptop.

The biggest thing that has happened -- for better or worse, I sold the car. It was too cramped for long term living. I also sold the Yamaha scooter I had stored here when I moved away a few years ago, as well as the roof box I had on top of the car. I kept the hitch box, however.

What I replaced it with is a 1987 Ford F-250 XL extended cab with the 6.9L IDI non-turbo diesel engine with the C6 3-speed automatic transmission. Both of these are considered pretty bulletproof if taken care of. The transmission has been rebuilt by a previous owner. I got this particular setup for buying and towing a travel trailer, but for the time being I have decided against that. I guess I should have gone with something newer and with a gas engine but this isn't a bad setup either. It got about 16mpg hwy towing the Vibe behind it on a tow dolly. It gets 11-12mpg city with a camper shell, the backseat loaded with stuff, all my stuff in the bed and the hitch box.




I've had to put a lot into it already, as far as I can remember at this moment:

  • Front & rear shocks, Monroe Gas-Magnum (about $100 online before $50 mail in rebate; installed by me)
  • All four ball joints, Moog Problem Solver (about $100 online, installed by me)
  • All 4 tie rods & adjustment sleeves, Moog Problem Solver (about $200 online, installed by me)
  • Left brake caliper & hose ($60 caliper in store/$7 hose online, installed by me)
  • Front brake pads ($22 in store, installed by me)
  • Brake booster (About $15 in junk yard, installed by me)
  • Brake master cylinder (About $25 in store, installed by me)
  • Steering rag joint (bought in store, had to have the old one removed by a machine shop, installed by me, total cost about $50)
  • Steering gearbox (About $20 from junk yard, installed by me. stopped a bad power steering leak)
  • Starter motor (suddenly died, free roadside tow, paid a shop $386 installed. ouch!)
  • Fuel injector install kit ($77 in store, installed by me)
  • Oil change (Rotella T5 15w40, Motorcraft ML-1995 filter for the PowerStroke diesel, but it fits and extra capacity, new copper drain plug washer (About $60 with over half a gallon left, done by me)
  • Crappy spray can auto primer job over some surface rust (wire brushed off first) just to preserve the metal for now. (Abot $10 including painter's tape)

I mistook a booster/vacuum problem for a bad booster and then later caliper so that was a bit of a waste. The master cylinder may also have not been bad, but oh well.

I also had to get a spare tire rim, spare tire, and the spare tire carrier parts. All but the tire came from junk yards, about $40 total. The tire itself came from a used tire shop for about $35 including mounting and balancing.

I need an alignment after all the ball joints and tie rods, but I may also still need a NEW steering gear box. The ball joints and tie rods have helped a lot with loose wandering steering, but it's not as precises as I'd like. The alignment might fix it but I'm not sure. I guess I'll try that first since an alignment shouldn't need to be done again just for a gearbox change. But I'll ask and see first. One front tire is obviously badly worn but that was from the old ball joints and tie rods. It'll get moved to the rear in a tire rotation and replaced later. The rear tires are in good shape currently.

One really crappy thing though, the differential has since started roaring, a sign it is worn out and needs about a $1000 rebuild and 3 days in the shop. Ugh. Really? I'm going to try to hold off on that, but I may have to just bite the bullet and have it done before I leave the area. A transmission shop guy said for around town he'd leave it alone for a while but for a long trip, he recommends rebuilding it. So, I guess I'll be getting a cheap motel room for a few nights and getting it rebuilt.

On the plus side, I still have all the money from the car's sale and most from the scooter, so I can afford it. I put most of the truck's $2500 purchase cost on a low interest credit card in the form of cash advance withdrawals, so I'm slowly paying it off that way.

It could probably stand to have a new vacuum pump (although I haven't troubleshooted the hoses yet) since it has poor braking at idle speeds now and then. On this truck it's insanely easy, except for the pulley removal from the old pump. A new one can be bought instead though, so that IS an option.

I pulled the Optima YellowTop battery from the Vibe before selling it, as well as the Android stereo. The stereo can't be used in the truck, but I did wire up the YellowTop battery as a house battery for phone charging and occasional, limited 12V fan use. It's only being recharged with a llong 10 gauge wire right now, so it takes a good 30-60 minutes to recharge it fully from about 60-70% but it works well enough. I also stripped out the rear outlets from the Vibe and moved them to the truck. I bought a $50 Walmart battery to sell the Vibe, since the YellowTop cost me $220. A $10 battery box and marine battery terminals completed the installation. I still have the little Yamaha generator for an extra power source if I need it.

As far as travel plans, I wanted to go further east, over to Kentucky or there abouts, then head north up to Michigan; but now I'm not sure. I have gotten delayed a couple months because of stuff the truck has needed, and other delays related to having to take up Arkansas residency again. That's all done now though, so I will be leaving next month sometime. Where? I don't know. The weather in the areas I would have to travel through slowly has been pretty bad... even deadly. So, I think I will have to forget that and head back Northwest, toward CO in the more immediate future. But we'll see I guess.

And now for some misc pics...


Old, fairly rotten rag joint:


Old rear shock vs new:

Towed to shop due to dead starter motor. The towing guy brought a truck that was almost too small!

Starting on the ball joints:

Older pic of my new setup. The ice chest is an old one I left at my mom's. I have since used $45 in Sears/Kmart points (I got from buying a $110 set of a jack, stands and creeper) on a Coleman 5-day cooler. I still have the one pictured, using it for dry food storage since it has no drain and the lid design lets dirt and junk inside too easily.


Six baby Canadian geese! Just had to throw that in.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Tombstone and Texas Canyon rest area

I rolled in to Benson a couple days ago and spent one night in the truck lot at Love's. For those of you on T-Mobile/MetroPCS, data is horrible at Love's, but in the main town of Benson, it's great. It's also very fast in Tombstone, which is where I spend part of yesterday.





I left kind of early and got to the Texas Canyon (AZ) rest area around 3pm and stayed until around 7am.





I'm sitting at the park in Willcox, just killing more time. It's warm and sunny, so Lucy is enjoying just laying in the grass.



Sunday, January 8, 2017

Jim Kortsen West Pinal Park

Spending a fair bit of the day at Jim Kortsen West Pinal Park. It is located a few miles just north off of the exit for AZ-84 from I-8.

It has free day use, as well as $10/night for dry camping. They have porta potties and one trash dumpster. I'm not sure if tents are permitted. The picnic shelters are quite nice and the dirt roads are compacted and well maintained.






Gila Bend, AZ

At the Shell station, just off of I-8 in Gila Bend, you can find large metal dinosaurs. It seems someone local makes metal artwork. You can find smaller pieces for sale there.











Sundance Park

I woke early, headed into Buckeye and had a shower at the 24hr gym. Then I headed over to the nice dog park, spending a couple hours there.



Saturday, January 7, 2017

Goodbye Quartzsite

I finally left Quartzsite this evening. I have been sick of being there for a while, but I couldn't decide if I wanted to continue on or not. Nothing much else to say really. Hopefully I'll have something worth posting soon.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Lazy (and boring) days

I still have been slacking off blogging, but I have a pretty good excuse, the cell data here stinks. I'm amazed Blogger's site loaded. The app is bugged and crashes, so I must use the site. (It has taken over an hour to do this post!!)

Anyhoo...

A couple days after my last post, I have started getting (overly) obsessed with the idea of getting a tiny old travel trailer. This stems from one being here for sale, but that I missed out on.


Something that small can be towed with my car.

However, my car needs rear struts badly first. It looks like it's heavily weighed down when it's not. Rather than pay $650 including labor (dealer quote), I'm going to wait until I get to Arkansas, where I can do the work myself for the $160 in parts. So for now, a trailer will have to wait for sure.

I enjoyed a bunch of Xmas episodes of MST3k and Rifftrax on Xmas Eve.



On Xmas day, I did more camp stove shopping. I have too many now, ha!



The next morning, I made (awful) pancakes. The mix is what's awful. I'll be throwing out the rest, I'm sure. Maybe if I had butter, not butter flavored canola oil spray, they would have been better.


Generally, it has started to get bloody boring here. Part of my boredom is not having much to do. I'm as socially avoidant as ever. I did find the dog park so I go there almost everyday.

Yesterday, I bought a nice little, older Yamaha EF600 generator. I did a short trial run with it this morning and it does just what it should.



Maybe I'll kill boredom easier now, even if it's just offline PC gaming.



I still have too many clothes, so... more need to go!



And finally for now, Lucy basking in the warm sunshine.