Saturday, August 24, 2019

Yankton, SD

Lucy and I are now back on the road after 3 months at Hieb Park in Marion, SD. I needed to catch up on my budget, which got blown to bits from buying the Class C in January. But now it's on track again and it's time to begin heading south.

Here is a picture of Lucy and a pibble mix puppy (Wilson) that she wasn't very fond of, because of how overly aggressively playful he gets. Once he calmed down, they laid around next to each other and basically ignored one another. We left Marion later that day.



We stopped off in Yankton, SD for a couple of nights. Lucy LOVED Fantle Memorial Park due to all the ground squirrels. She dragged me all over the park, at least 5 times, during the full day we were there.



In the evening, I stopped and washed some bedding that won't fit into my tiny washing machine. There is no laundromat in Marion and I didn't leave the town for 3 months, so the blanket and sleeping bag needed washing desperately, needless to say. The reason I brought this up is because the laundromat has this beautiful masterpiece hanging on the wall:



The following day, we stopped off at Riverside Park in the morning for a walk, before heading on to our next destination.





Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Avoided paying $100 for a $2 piece of hose

This is a prime example of why it's imperative that you learn to do your own repairs whenever possible, especially if you are a full time RVer in an older RV.

This is a 10" long, 3/8" piece of hose that is used as the return line for the power steering, and it would have cost me $100+ to have a shop replace it.


A shop would have gone by what their computer says and used a new $20+ hose with a metal line fitting on the end, charged several dollars for a small amount of fluid, and charged an hour's labor at around $75/hr.


For just $2.30 including tax, I bought a new 10" piece of high quality 3/8" Continental hose that's made in USA.


It required a small amount of Type F fluid in the power steering pump, due to some draining out when the hose was removed, but I already had it for topping off from the hose leak so that cost me nothing extra. The only other expense was a bunch of paper towels.

The old USA made clamps were still in excellent condition, not chewed up like cheap Chinese ones get almost instantly, so I reused them. They tightened down great, so that saved me a couple more dollars.

It was a VERY messy job, way worse than changing the differential oil, but now it should be good for many years before it needs replacing again. It required laying on the ground and reaching up to get to, as it was almost impossible to reach from above.

So yes, I would have paid $100+ for a $2 piece of hose, if I hadn't replaced it myself.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Don't forget the differential!

Yep, it was just like I thought. I don't think the RV has ever had a differential oil change. Sure, it's only got 70k miles, but it's been 34 years!!

I bought a Lube Locker Dana 60/70 differential gasket since I need to do a bunch of short oil change intervals (ie: 1,000 miles per fill) to clean it up. Differentials don't have filters like engines and transmissions, so clean oil is very important. It lubricates a LOT of bearings and gears. The gasket will pay for itself in RTV savings, since it uses none. It'll also make it super easy to change the oil next time, no scraping away used RTV.

I bought a Performance Tool W54150 pump at the local hardware store to make filling tidy. It's very slow going but it worked great. It fits most 1 quart and 1 gallon oil jugs, so it was a good purchase for future uses too.

I'm running $15/gal SuperTech 80w90 conventional since I don't want to waste money on expensive oil, just to run it for a few months and less than 2,000 miles.

So yeah, that's one of the first things you should do when you buy an old RV or other rear wheel drive vehicle, change the differential oil! Differentials are NOT cheap to have rebuilt, about $1,500! And finding a shop who will even do them can be hard to find unless you are in a fairly good sized city.

Freshly opened. yuck!!


The inside of the cover is nice and clean now!


 Refilling with fresh oil.


All done! (For this time)

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Back in South Dakota for the summer

I'm way late posting... again. Less bad than usual though. Due to storms that were passing through the Kansas City area, where I was about 6 weeks ago I hurried on up towards my destination in South Dakota. A little over a month ago, I got here. I'm going to be in this very cheap RV park until at least late July, if I don't stay until late August even.

In Harrisonville, MO, I had to stop and replace the completely worn out rear shocks. They are super easy and there is enough ground clearance, I just shimmied under and changed them in the Wal-Mart parking lot where I picked them up from site-to-store pickup. It only took a few wrenches and some WD40 to do. The old ones were probably the originals from 1985. They were doing nothing anymore. The new shocks have made a big difference, that's for sure.




A few weeks ago, I had to clean the nasty, dust-caked roof A/C evaporator. It was freezing up after being on a while, totally stopping airflow. It was like a wet blanket of dust. You can see the clean part of the coils at the top where it was blocked by the metal cover. Yes, it was THAT thick. It has been working great since. 


While I was at it, I bought some 3-in-1 multipurpose PTFE lubricant and oiled up the blower motor too, since it has little hoses for doing so. It certainly can't hurt to have some fresh lubrication on a 34 year old electric motor. This upcoming weekend's temperatures are going to be near 100, so I need the A/C in as best working condition is possible.


Today, I changed out the old, original battery solenoid that seemed to be dead. I snagged a NOS Napa ST84 on eBay for $12.75 shipped as a replacement. They are over $40 retail! Now the house batteries can get juice from the alternator again while the engine is running.



Not much else to report. Lucy has been her usual silly, cuddly self. As I write his, she is basking in the sun just outside.



Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Tilting solar panel bracket installed

This is how I decided to mount the Renogy tilting solar panel brackets I bought.

I got 1/8" thick, 1-1/4" wide, 36" long flat aluminum from a big box home improvement store and cut it into four, 6" strips. (Actually, I cut it into six but I found that only four were needed.)

I lined them up with the solar panel with the brackets, drew lines around them with a marker, then put 3M VHB tape on them and applied them to the roof.

After the strips were stuck on, I lined up the solar panel brackets and drilled holes for the screws.

Then I went back and sealed around the bars with Dicor, screwed down the brackets and sealed over the screws with Dicor too.

So it's all night and watertight, but totally removable except the flat aluminum, whuch was less than 1/3 he cost of the brackets, so they can be removed if the RV gets wrecked, and I don't lose them. And it's super secure. Oh, the roof is fiberglass with a very thin layer of aluminum on top, by the way.





Here is the final result, from ground level.


For the wires, I drilled two holes in the metal fridge roof vent, which is sloped downward with the mid way of the roof, and ran the wires down the vent shaft. I put in rubber grommets and they fit almost tight. A little silicone next time I have a tube open will seal it, though the way it's facing and with the overlap of the vent cover lid, I doubt water can get in very easily.



I put more cable clip things further down after I took the picture above. I still have to run the wires from the solar controller to the battery bank, but that's no big deal to do later.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Now in a motorhome!

I have changed my living quarters again (twice). I got a (pretty rotten) motorhome a couple months ago. The diesel engine and newer fridge tempted me. I have been pouring too much money into it. Same ol' story.

This is the best picture I have right now. I was rebuilding the door and had to replace the door's glass, hence why it's missing. That picture was a while ago, I just haven't taken a better one.



Long story short about the trailer, I sold it and went back into the truck camper last summer. I kept and moved the solar panel, batteries, Fantastic vent fan to it. Now they have been moved to the motorhome. I also kept the LP tanks from the trailer, sold one and kept the other for a camp stove and instant hot water heater shower. I will probably soon sell the LP tank though, since the motorhome has a fixed tank. But maybe I'll just keep it in case I want/need it again. I stayed a few months in SD then came back south, a long round about way.

The truck is getting stored for free at a relative's house, where the motorhome was parked in the picture above.

I will soon be heading out on the road again, planning to spend the summer in New Mexico.

I'm honestly truthfully gonna try to blog more. I still have the hotspot plan and I have a dinette in the motorhome, plus it has a big generator built in and I am going to also carry the small generator since it gets 5x the fuel economy.

For the solar panel, I bought a tilt mount this time, so I can try to capture every ounce of sunlight .

Here are the tilt brackets vs the cheap fixed ones:


That's all for now.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Ice isn't nice

While in Missouri, I bought a bigger generator (1400W/2000W peak) and a 2 door mini fridge, rather than constantly buying ice. At the time, I only had one battery so it didn't do so well overnight. I also had to buy a bigger inverter for the fridge. I got one from eBay, since I had General Delivery mail access at the time. Well, I ended up returning the fridge. I bought a second battery instead, in case I got a cheap fridge again later on.

Well, I did. A few days ago, I got an old Sears Coldspot fridge for free. Well, actually it cost about $12 in fuel to go get it, but yeah. It pulls more amps than modern fridges but it works nicely. A new $60-80 1.7 cu ft fridge would pull less power, so I might bite the bullet later on and get one. For now, I'm honestly trying to minimize costs at this very moment.

Unfortunately, my generator, batteries and charging setup can't keep up, even with 100W solar panel tossing in a few amps here and there between the clouds. My 90s Yamaha EF600 generator is on my 500W/600W peak, so it can't start the fridge. It has a built in 10A charger, but the fridge just consumes that. I need a way to power the fridge separately from the battery bank while the batteries recharge, so I'm debating ordering that same generator again while it's still cheap.

I might have to try to sell the Yamaha generator, even though I'd rather not. It's a great little generator. But, it's just too small for my power needs. I'd REALLY like to have the Harbor Freight 1600W/2000W peak inverter generator ($450+tax with coupon) but, I can't justify spending that kind of money right now. The cheap generator is about $160 with tax. Quite a difference in price.

In the meantime, for free power, I bought a $19, 14 gauge, 100ft extension cord (10A max) so I can use an outdoor outlet at this park. I figured it was a good investment right now and for the future, anytime I see an outlet in a park that's far from the parking lot.

The reason for the big push for a fridge? I spent probably $50 on ice just this month. It has been warm mostly, so 20lbs of ice at $4 to $5.50 lasts me all of 3-4 days. When it's 82 out, it gets up to 90+ in here, without shade.

The fridge being off the battery bank has helped a lot in just a little over an hour, so yeah. I need that bigger generator I guess, as much as I hate to spend the money. I hated spending on ice just as much. Yeah it'll cost more in gas than the Yamaha and makes more noise. (The noise travels much further) I've considered a second solar panel, which costs only a small amount more, but on a cloudy day like today, I'd be in the same boat: not enough power.

I'm debating just hanging around this city for all or most of next month. It seems vry doable based on what I have observed of other local RVs hanging around. That would actually allow me to buy the generator, rather than spending on fuel to drive 500+ miles. Plus I have access to that power outlet. Using it a few hours a day would probably be all I need. After 2 hours, my batteries are looking good. Yeah, I'm supposed to be in this for traveling, but at the same time, I can't disregard mundane, day to day existence. So we will see.