2015/02/24-28 (T-S) Bus Projects

2015/02/24 (T) Little Bus Projects

I went to bed early (for me) last night but slept in until almost 8 AM.  It was cool in the coach and I had cats snuggled up with me enjoying the warmth of the electric heating pad.  When I finally got up I tended to their needs—food, water, and litter—and then tended to mine; fruit juice, granola, coffee, and grapefruit.  It is Tuesday, which is trash collection day, so I gathered up the trash from the kitchen and took it to the refuse container by the curb.  We will only have one more trash collection while we are here and that will likely occur after we have pulled out on Tuesday March 3rd.

I finished up yesterday’s blog post, got dressed, and got to work on my bus projects.  I started by wiping off the spotting on the windows and body from the recent rains.  I thought the reason I spent 40 hours cleaning and waxing the body was so water would run off if it but apparently I was mistaken.  I had also noticed that the wax on the passenger side of the bus had not been fully rubbed down.  I started working on this but without using additional water it just made it look worse so I quit somewhat disgusted with the whole situation and got to work on other stuff.

First up was the dashboard instrument lighting.  For the turbo boost gauge I made a 5 inch extension lead with red #14 wire and insulated female spade connectors on each end to connect to the +24VDC supply wire for the old gauge.  I made a similar lead with black wire for the ground but only put a connector on one end to attach to the new gauge bulb holder.  I used a crimp style speed connector to splice the free end into the existing ground wire which had a fork connector on the end that I did not want to cut off.  I put one of the 24VDC wedge base bulbs in the holder and snapped it into the gauge.

I undid the retaining ring on the speedometer and pulled the instrument out the front of the dashboard.  I thought I had wired the two light bulbs in series to use 12VDC bulbs on a 24VDC circuit but discovered that they were already wired in parallel.  I pulled the two bulb holders out and the bulbs were discolored as if they had been too hot.  I could not determine the voltage rating on the bulbs so I replaced them with 24V ones.  I reinstalled the speedo into the dashboard and put the dashboard cover back on.  I will test the lights the next time I connect the chassis batteries.

I next considered replacing the MAC valve that controls the air shutters for the two A-C compressor/condenser units in front.  I looked at the existing valve and decided to hold off until I could talk to Butch.  He and Fonda had taken off for the day, so that would have to wait.  The valve has a diagram on it that indicates how it operates but I was not completely clear on how to read it.  When I built the new air panel I used identical replacement valves and plumbed them the same as the old ones.  I searched online for “pneumatic valve symbols” and got all kinds of sites.  One of them had a 25 slide presentation on ANSI standard symbols and schematics so I downloaded and studied it.  With my new knowledge I was able to verify that the valve was, in fact, installed correctly.  I figured it was since it seemed to work correctly (until it failed) but it was nice to know for sure.  I am not certain that the three control switches are wired correctly, however, but that is a different project for a different day.

I really did not want to change the entire valve.    I bought the replacement valve from Hei/Tek in Phoenix so I called them for technical support.  They confirmed what Butch suspected; the operator (solenoid) can be changed without replacing the entire valve.  They had a defective valve and offered to take the solenoid off and mail it to me for no charge.  Deal.  I should have it tomorrow so I deferred any further work on this project until the part arrives.

By now it was time for lunch so I made a nice sandwich with toasted sourdough bread, vegan deli slices, Daiya havarti style vegan cheese with jalapeños, lettuce, onions, pickles, veganaise, and honey mustard.

Next up was mounting the turbo boost sensor.  It was a beautiful, sunny day but rather cool so I put on one of my long-sleeve flannel work shirts.  Hey, who said the desert in the winter was paradise?  Oh yeah, I did.  I knew this was going to be an annoying little project and it was.

The turbo boost (intake manifold pressure) sensor is a small rectangular part about 1″ wide by 2″ long by 1/2″ thick.  It has a weatherproof 3-wire electrical connector and a 1/2″ long tube that the pressure hose from the intake manifold slips over.  The sensor is mounted to a somewhat larger flat bracket with a slight bend in it.  The bracket has an angled slot and is supposed to be secured to the back side (towards the front of the bus) of the engine computer mounting bracket by a single bolt that the slot slips over.

No doubt there is an easy (correct) way to mount the bracket, but it probably requires disassembling other stuff to create access.  That was not going to happen, at least not today.  One problem was that there was not a lot of space to get my hands in there to work.  Another problem was that I was working “blind.”  Even though I had a telescoping mirror I could not position it correctly in the available space and I needed both hands to install the bracket.  But the real problem was that the retaining bolt had long ago disappeared and I had no idea what bolt was supposed to be used or if it threaded into a hole or required a nut.

I had looked this up in my engine manual some time ago so I knew where and how the bracket was supposed to mount, but the manual did not call out the diameter, thread pitch, or length of the mounting bolt.  I tried several bolts that I had but none of them where right.  I asked Barb to keep an eye on my tools and bus while I made a quick run to Herb’s Hardware where I bought an assortment of bolts.  None of them fit.

One of my original bolts was “close” but a little loose.  I decided to wrap it generously with Teflon tape to see if I could fatten it up enough to hold.  I reattached the electrical harness, shortened the pressure hose, and reattached it as I would not be able to make these connections after the bracket was mounted.  I finally managed to get the bracket installed and I think my taped bolt will hold it until we get home and I can figure out the correct bolt.  Even if/when I do, there is no good way to get in there and tighten it.  I ended up using a 7/16″ short socket with a swivel adapter and 6″ long drive extension that I turned by hand.  At least it was mid-late afternoon on a beautiful day with abundant sunshine illuminating the west-facing engine bay.

I still have a half dozen projects to take care off over the next four days but it was good to have the dashboard and turbo boost sensor completed.  During the course of the afternoon I discussed with Barb and Jim what I had found about the use of potassium bromide (KBr) to control seizures in dogs and cats.  I really hope they will discuss this with their vet.

I made popcorn for a late afternoon snack and then checked my e-mail to see if Stacy had proofread my Quartzsite 2015 article and deal with any other correspondence from publisher Gary Hatt.  She had called in sick again, so the proofreading was delayed yet another day.  Linda had called while driving home but caught me in the middle of working on the turbo boost sensor mounting.  I called her back around 6:30 PM my time (8:30 PM EST).  She was really tired so we did not talk very long.

At 7:30 PM (MST) I called David Lambert.  David currently lives in a group home in Olympia, Washington (PST).  He has long been the adult best friend of J.C. Armbruster, my best friend from high school (besides Linda, of course).  I met David on a visit to Washington State many, many years ago and we also became friends.  I learned then that David had struggled with bi-polar affective disorder all of his life and it has not gotten better for him with time.  He does not have much contact with people outside of the group home other than J.C., who has really come to his rescue over the last couple of years.  David does not usually have much to say, but I try to let him know that I know he exists.  Tonight, however, he was a bit more talkative and told me about recent visits with his sister Mary Kay from Everitt, Washington and his half-sister Soliel, who is moving to Sacramento, California.  He also like to watch the TV program “Axe Men.”  He is at least a 3rd generation native northwesterner and logging is part of his family heritage.

For dinner I heated up the “Soyrizo” we bought at Albertson’s supermarket.  I diced garlic, shallot, sweet onion, carrot, green and jalapeño peppers and sautéed them is a little olive oil before adding the soy Chorizo and heating it thoroughly on high heat.  It was a filling but tasty dish.  After dinner I resumed working on the photos of Larry and Carol Hall’s GM bus conversion.  By the time I got to bed and turned the lights out it was midnight.

2015/02/25 (W) Another “Little” Bus Project

I was up at 7:30 AM, which seems to be my norm when I’m in bed by midnight.  The local Farmers Market operates on Wednesdays and this would be my last opportunity to buy a loaf of Barry’s Basic Bread.  I skipped coffee and breakfast, got dressed, and counted out enough dimes and nickels from the cup where we store our change to cover the $3 cost of a loaf.

Once I got back to the coach I made coffee and had breakfast and then settled in to finish yesterday’s blog post, which needed a lot of work, and start on today’s post.  Jasper sat on my lap purring and enjoying my attention for quite a long time before moving to the dinette.  Juniper ate breakfast and then stretched out on the passenger seat as she does most mornings.  The cockpit is the part of the bus that gets coldest at night but since we are parked facing east it is the first place to warm up in the morning.  The sun is not coming up due east yet, of course; that doesn’t happen until March 21st, but it is rising more directly in front than it did in late December and much of January.

I still had a list of bus projects to work on, but first I checked my e-mail.  I did not have a communique from Stacy or Gary so I logged in to our WordPress website/blog and replied to a comment Kate had recently posted.  While I was logged in I updated three plug-ins, deleted 80 spam comments, and initiated a Wordfence scan.  I repeated the update process for the FMCA Freethinker and Great Lakes Converted Coaches websites and the South Lyon Area Amateur Radio Club website.  “In for dime, in for a dollar,” and “no time like the present” are phrases that came to mind.

I don’t seem to get started on bus projects much before noon, but that’s OK; nowhere is it written that I have be working on the bus at sun up.  The bus projects still to be done include:

  • Replacing the solenoid operator on the air-conditioning shutters.
  • Replacing the solenoid on the pilot valve that controls the level low front axle.
  • Securing the wheel well body panel just forward of the PS drive axle.
  • Starting the generator and making sure it works by turning on all three A-C units + Starting the bus and making sure everything works, including repositioning the bus and re-leveling it to make sure the Level Low system is working.

Butch and Fonda were gone all morning so I did not know if my operator solenoid had arrived yet via the USPS.  I don’t have time at the moment to sit in a holding pattern so I decided to work on the body panel.  It was being held on by only two screws and a bolt without a nut, so I was able to remove it without too much difficulty.  (When someone says “without too much” it means “with some.”).  Once the body panel was off I could see clearly that it was supposed to be attached at six points plus the bolt that connected it to the next piece of wheel well trim.  Two more things also became obvious:

  1. that the missing screw I had set out to replace could not be reached without removing the splash guard panel in front of drive tires, and
  2. I was going to have to slide under the bus in order to reach some of the screws.

Given that reality, I slid one of my stands under the chassis just aft of the passenger side rag axle.  The chassis was about 1″ above the stand but I was reasonably confident it would keep the bus from falling on me if the passenger side air springs failed suddenly.  I also pulled out one of my large sheets of plastic that make it a lot easier and more comfortable to slide under the bus, especially on gravel.

I had removed and replaced the two splash guards at Butch and Fonda’s house this past fall when we replaced the ride height linkages.  Fonda helped me with that project so we both knew how obnoxious a job it was even with the bus sitting on four chassis stands so I could get under it easily and work safely and comfortably.  But there was no way around it, so the splash panel came off.  We put the body panel back in place but had trouble lining it up with the holes in the chassis.  Where the front top corner attached we could see that an old fastener had rusted into the hole and sheared off, probably when someone tried to remove it.

Someone showed up to talk the Butch and Fonda about their work-camping job for next winter so I continued working alone.  I eventually got the panel secured at all six points plus the bolt and got a nut on the bolt.  I also got the splash guard back in place with the three retaining screws installed.  The fourth mounting point, however, used a bolt with a spacer tube and a locknut and was in a location that made it impossible to install by myself without getting completely under the bus and sitting up by the transmission or pulling both drive wheels off, neither of which was going to happen.  That meant I needed Fonda’s assistance again.

I started putting my tools away and cleaning up my worksite while I waited for Butch and Fonda’s visitor to leave.  He eventually did and Fonda came over to help me with the last attachment point on the slash guard.  Once that was done, again with some difficulty, I put my tool boxes away and locked up the bays and the car.  It took a whole afternoon for what started out as a job to replace one missing screw.  That’s often how it goes with buses.

I washed up (buses can be dirty work) and then worked on this post for a while.  I called Linda a little after 5:45 PM my time (MST) figuring she would be close to being done working for the day.  I figured correctly and we talked for about 15 minutes.  The issue with the generator required a new pressure regulator and some new hoses.  Natural gas operates at 1/2 to 1/3 the pressure of propane and, even though the generator engine is supposed to work on either just by changing an electrical connection, Bratcher Electric said they have seen this delayed failure quite a few times when switching from propane to natural gas.  It is still programmed to self-test on Thursdays at 11AM EST, so we will see if it auto-starts tomorrow like it should.

For dinner I made a mixed greens salad with onion, carrot, green pepper, dried cranberries, honey roasted peanuts, Daiya pepper jack vegan cheese, and Tofurkey brand deli slices cut into thin strips, dressed with Newman’s Own Creamy Balsamic dressing, and a couple of grinds of fresh black pepper.

I was starting to run low on the lightly flavored/carbonated water that I enjoy and we were almost out of raisins which I use on my salads.  I was also out of hummus and Snyder’s Sourdough Pretzel Nibblers both of which are unacceptable things to be without.  I had checked the Road Runner Market here in town a couple of days ago but they did not have any of these products.  Our supply of small paper bowls and plates was also getting low.  The forty mile round trip to Albertson’s in Blythe, California would take 75 to 90 minutes and two gallons of gasoline, costing $5 to $6, but I decided to make the trip after sunset rather than work at my computer.  The left side of my neck and left upper back were bothering me more than usual as a result both of long hours at the computer and working under the bus on the body panel today.

As long as I was at the store I picked up a few things that were not on my list including:  Ken’s Steak House salad dressings, several different fruit preserves, another bottle of honey mustard (with real honey), another pack of Tofurkey peppered mock deli slices, some black grapes, extra chips, and two bottles of Goslings Ginger Beer.  It was an easy run over and back, a nice drive over the small mountain range that separates this part of Arizona from California.  We have not driven around much at night since we have been in the southwest and I discovered that both Blythe and Quartzsite sparkle like gems at night.  On the drive from Blythe back to Q I could easily see all the way to the other side of the valley once I was clear of the pass.  Not only were the lights of the city spread out before me, I-10 was a ribbon of white and red light snaking up the KOFA Mountains until it disappeared over the next pass.  It was quite a sight.

Back at the coach I got all of the groceries moved from the car to the kitchen and put away.  The plastic bags often end up with holes in the bottom because they are so thin so I sorted them according to whether they had holes or not and ended up with five of each.  How convenient.  I put one holy bag inside each unholy bag creating five ready-to-use double bags.  Sometimes I amaze myself.  But I can only bask in the glory of my accomplishments for so long and then I have to get back to the processes of daily life. Tonight that meant cleaning up the dishes from dinner and checking e-mail.  I lose track of time when I am working and it was well after midnight by the time I turned off the lights.

2015/02/26 (R) LiveStream

For some reason I was awake at 7 AM.  I can function on only six hours sleep but I do better on seven.  By eight hours I am uncomfortable and need to get up whether I am rested or not.  Even before I got up I heard engine noses and voices outside and looked to see what was going on.  It took me a moment to recognize Larry and Sandy’s motorhome and then remember that they were taking it to Yuma for a long weekend.  Larry had told me yesterday they were going to do that so they would be in a good position to watch an air show at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma.

It has been getting cool overnight, dropping into the upper 40’s, so I put on my sweat pants and shirt.  We bought these not long after we got to Quartzsite so we would have something easy and comfortable to wear on mornings when it was cool in the coach.

I fed the cats, refreshed their water, cleaned their litter tray, bundled up the trash, ground up some Sweet Seattle Dreams coffee beans, and brewed a pot of coffee.  I got out the two blue blankets and put one on the dinette seat and one on the passenger seat.  Jasper immediately curled up on the dinette blanket and Juniper curled up on my lap while I sat on the coach working on my blog posts for yesterday and today and enjoyed my first cup of coffee.

I like the start of the day; it is one of my favorite times.  I am usually rested and generally relaxed and have the comfort of my small morning routine.  The whole day is in front of me and it is still possible to accomplish something, anything really, but not everything, and sometimes not much.  The end of the day is always more variable.

I only have a few repair tasks left to do on the bus plus one or two on the car.  Bus-wise, I need to:

  • Replace the solenoid operator on the air-conditioning shutters.
  • Replace the solenoid operator on the pilot valve that controls the level low front axle.
  • Replace one of the driver side headlights (it has a small hole in it).

Car-wise, I need to:

  • Replace the two auxiliary tail lights in the car.
  • Wash and wax the car.

Although I have most of the parts I need I was expecting another solenoid operator for the shutters to arrive in yesterday’s mail.  It did not, so I hope it arrives today as I really do not want to replace the whole valve nor do I want to disassemble the new one, even though I’ve been told that it is OK to do so.  I think the headlight can wait until I get home, but I need to see if I have one with me.

The other things I have to do are not maintenance/repairs, just routine checks to make sure that we, the car, and the bus are ready to roll on Tuesday.  These include:

  • Starting the generator and making sure it works by turning on all three A-C units + some additional load(s).  That will also verify that the air-conditioners work.
  • Starting the bus and making sure everything works, including repositioning the bus and re-leveling it to make sure the Level Low system is working.

The things that will wait until Monday include checking/setting all of the tire pressures, which I will do on Monday morning, and making sure the hitch and tie bar are ready to go.

While I was working on this post I got a call from Joe Cannarozzi, the mobile mechanic who has maintained our bus chassis, generator, and some aspects of our main engine for the last four years.  He is still in Mississippi but starting to arrange his spring service calls enroute to his summer job in upstate New York.  Unfortunately it looks like he will be in Michigan in early April and we will miss him this time around.

By the time I finished breakfast it had warmed up enough in the coach to take a shower.  I then started a load of laundry and settled in to upload some blog posts from early January.  I decided to keep doing consolidated posts and started pulling together the ones for January 1st through 7th.  I selected nine photos from these dates and processed them.  My work was frequently interrupted by the three loads of laundry I was doing and some necessary housekeeping.

The water level in our fresh water tank was indicating below 1/3rd so I checked it visually.  It was at 1/4 so I filled it, which took about 90 gallons.  I tested the water coming out of the softener for total hardness (TH) using a test strip from each bottle as I wanted to make sure the strips gave me the same reading.  They did, and it was somewhere above 0.0 and below 1.5.

As the tank was nearly full I noticed water on the floor of the bay and determined that it was coming from the fresh water tank drain valve.  I soaked up the water that was there and tried moving the valve quickly open and then closed to see if that might clear a small piece of debris or somehow “seat” the valve.  The leak was not coming out the drain pipe onto the ground.  It was seeping around the top of the valve housing but I could not determine if it was coming from a seam or around the metal rod that comes out the top and attaches to the knife blade inside.  This is a 1-1/2″ diameter valve of the type used on smaller RV waste tanks, especially grey water tanks.  I will check in the morning to see if it leaked overnight and probably make a trip to several of the RV stores here in town to see if I can locate a spare valve.  I won’t be able to attempt a repair, however, until the tank is almost empty so I only have to dump (waste) a small amount of softened fresh water.

Interspersed with my blog work I had some pretzel nibblers and sun-dried tomato hummus and eventually ate a grapefruit.  I did not feel like fixing anything fancier so that constituted lunch.  Butch and Fonda left at 1:45 PM to check the P. O. Box and then go to a meeting of the Quartzsite Gem and Mineral Club.  They stopped at the post office on the way hone but there was no package for me.

Linda called at 2:45 PM my time.  She had wrapped up her year-end work at the bakery and was back at the house making a cup of tea before settling in for one more evening of tax return work.  She was fairly confident that she would have everything wrapped up tonight or tomorrow morning.  There was a tentative plan in place for her to babysit Madeline Friday evening so Brendan and Shawna could go out.  Plans were also in the works to attend a women’s gymnastics competition at the University of Michigan on Saturday and then go to dinner.  She did not mention whether Meghan would be joining them.

Sometime during the afternoon I got the last load of laundry out of the dryer and put away.  I took a break from working at my computer around 6 PM to sit and chat with Butch and watch yet another gorgeous Quartzsite sunset.  In spite of a cooler air mass the sun was very hot today, but once it started to set the air temperatures asserted their presence and we eventually retreated to our coaches for the evening.

I continued working on my blog post, checking e-mails as they popped up.  I had one from Gary with my Quartzsite 2015 article attached.  Although Stacy had not made it into work she was feeling well enough to edit it at home.  I had planned to view a live Technomadia chat on “Making Connections on the Road” at 7 PM but forgot to tune in.  I realized my oversight around 7:30 PM and joined the event in progress, but first I had to create an account with the LiveStream service which involved the usual e-mail verification process.  But it was quick and I got to see/hear the last 20 minutes of the event which was mostly Q&A.  The whole thing was archived, however, so after it ended I nuked a vegan hot dog for dinner and then replayed the part I had missed.

I had not yet made the bed so I took care of that and then resumed working on my blog post.  I finally uploaded the post sometime around 10:30 PM and by the time I uploaded and captioned the photos, created all of the tags, and clicked the “publish” button it was after midnight.  Rather than wait until tomorrow, I went through Stacy’s edits of my article, accepted most of them, and rewrote a couple of awkward sentences.  I uploaded it to the BCM folder in my Dropbox and then e-mailed Mike (editor) and Gary (publisher) that it was there along with all of the photos.  I also e-mailed it back to Stacy and Gary so she could compare it to the one she sent me.  I got to bed at 1:30 AM, later than I like but with some things accomplished.

2015/02/27 (F) Granola Express

In spite of going to bed so late last night (early this morning, actually) I was up at 7:45 AM.  That was mostly because the cats do not care what time I went to bed.  They have their routines and by 8 PM they figure breakfast and fresh water are way overdue.

Linda called around 9:15 AM my time to ask me about a bucket full of water in the furnace room. The double wall stainless steel flue pipe for the furnace runs horizontally under the floor joists through the furnace room and then through my office above a suspended ceiling and finally out the east side of the house.  Moisture tends to condense inside the pipe and drip out of it at the joints between sections if they are not sealed.  The bucket is there to catch the drips and it was full.  It used to drip on the furnace but Tom from TOMTEK HVAC sealed that gap so now it drips somewhere else.

Linda checked the status of the UPS delivery of the “care” package Linda shipped to me.  It was in Blythe, California at 5:15 AM this morning and scheduled for delivery by the end of the day.  It will be nice to finally have my pillow and once again be able to enjoy Linda’s homemade granola.

After breakfast I checked my e-mail, updated my water usage spreadsheet, and finalized my FMCA Freethinkers 2014 financial statements.  The statements are now ready for Linda to audit, which will take her all of 10 minutes (at most).  I then took stock of my BCM articles that are “in-process” and decided to finish the one on the Turbo Boost Repair and move it to the proofreading stage.  With that done, I started pulling together the next consolidated blog post for January 8 – 14, 2015.

For lunch I made a sandwich with sourdough bread, salad greens, vegan deli slices, vegan cheese, pickles, veganaise, and honey mustard.

The solenoid operator from Hei/Tek in Phoenix was not in today’s mail so something obviously went wrong.  I called Hei/Tek and talked to Brie.  She checked with her shipping department and called me back to let me know it got sent UPS ground to our P. O. Box.  UPS does not deliver to P. O. Boxes so it was sitting in Blythe, California in an undeliverable status.  I gave them our P. O. Box number because she told me on Tuesday they were going to mail it (USPS).  Brie gave me the number for UPS, but it was a national 800 number.  I looked up the local Blythe UPS center but it had the same national number listed.  It also indicated their Will Call hours were M – F, 9 – 10 AM.  I called the 800 number and Jose fielded my call.  He changed the status to “hold for pickup” and we will have to drive to Blythe on Monday to get it.

Somewhat ironically I had a UPS delivery scheduled for today and it arrived around 4 PM.  My part could have been on the truck had I done something about this on Wednesday or Thursday.  The box contained an envelope for Butch and Fonda and a small envelope for me.  My envelope contained license plate tabs and registration cards for both vehicles, and dues check for our FMCA Freethinkers Chapter.  The box also contained my pillow, which I have missed, and four bags of Linda’s homemade granola, which I have really missed.

Since I could not get my part until Monday I decided to take the operator solenoid off of the new valve and put it on the old valve.  This was certainly a faster, easier job than replacing the entire old value/operator with the new valve/operator.  I put air to the shutters and used the low voltage control circuits to test the new operator solenoid and it worked as designed and built.

I settled in at my computer to work on the next consolidated blog post, stringing seven separate posts together and selecting/processing photographs.  I worked on a detailed e-mail reply to Gary at BCM and then worked for a while on another article that has been “in-process” since January.

I was finally hungry around 9:30 PM and heated up an Amy’s frozen Sweet and Sour gluten free noodle dish.  Much to my surprise it was not very good, which is unusual for Amy’s products.  I needed to get up and adjust tire pressures first thing in the morning so I made sure I was in bed with the lights off by midnight.

2015/02/28 (S) Out With A Roar

I got up at 7 AM and debated whether to go ahead and adjust the tire pressures or make coffee and eat breakfast first.  I was a short debate and I won.  It was 8 AM by the time I finished my granola and my first cup of coffee.  The sun was well above the horizon but partially obscured by clouds and the temperature was 57 degrees F.  I put on my zip front work hoodie (sweatshirt jacket) and went out to take care of business.

I turned on the TireTraker Monitor and stuck it in my pocket.  As I removed each sensor it triggered a brief alarm on the monitor.  Most of the bus and car tires were close to correct according to my air pressure gauge, with some slightly over-inflated and some slightly under inflated, except the driver side steer tire on the bus which was four pounds low.  When I put a sensor back on the valve stem it reestablished communication with the monitor.  This is supposed to trigger a new/current reading on the monitor but it appeared to me that all of the displayed pressure values were off, reading high in most cases by 3 – 4 pounds.  I am not convinced yet that this system works the way I was told it does.

With the tires taken care of I disconnected the air hose from the air-compressor and stored it in the tray over the driver side drive wheels along with the air pressure gauge and air chuck.  I disconnected the power cord and rolled it back up on its reel and then put the air-compressor back in its travel compartment in the car.  I then went back inside to have my second cup of coffee.

A wind advisory was in effect for today and through the overnight hours.  Winds were forecast at 25-30 MPH with gusts over 40 MPH and that is what we got.  The temperature barely reached 70 degrees F while the sun played peek-boo with partly cloudy skies all day.  The combination made for a brisk day.  The forecast for Sunday morning through Tuesday noon is for rain, with possibly an inch along and north of I-10, and a flash flood watch from 5 PM Sunday until 5 PM Monday.  February was definitely going out with a roar.

I spent the central part of the day cleaning out the front bay of the bus and re-packing it.  We acquired a few things while we here, most notably supplies for cleaning and waxing the bus, and they had to be stored someplace for travel.  We had kept several cardboard boxes from UPS shipments and I used those to organize the new cleaning supplies and stow them in the back seat of the car.

Butch and Fonda put their mats away yesterday and I should have done the same but was busy with other things.  Jim L. stopped by to use Joe and Connie’s WiFi DSL gateway.  I gave him about 30 pounds of solar salt for his water softener and he helped me fold up our large patio mat.  As I have written here, the solar salt is simply not effective in recharging our portable water softener.  We could use it at home in our residential water softener but it is a heavy, bulky, and inexpensive commodity so it made more sense to leave it here with someone who could use it than to transport it over 2,200 miles.

Jim L. suggested that I pull out by pulling forward, cutting my front tires hard to the right, and angle out between a concrete pad and the Palo Verde tree (bush) by the light pole.  The Palo Verde was hanging out far enough that I decided to trim a few branches so as to avoid any possibility of scratching the passenger side of the coach.

My one little repair project today was to try building a “retaining pond” on the floor of the water bay underneath the leaking fresh water tank drain.  I used self-stick weather seal formed to circles, one inside the other.  I had noticed that there is a small gap where the discharge pipe turns and goes through the floor.  My solution was to contain the water that is seeping from the drain valve in the little retaining pond and give it a chance to flow down through the gap.  We are going to pick up some inexpensive bath towels on Monday to soak up the water.  We can ring them out, line dry them in the dry Arizona air and brilliant sun, and re-use them.

The only outside chores I have left to do to get us ready to leave are to:

  • dump the waste tanks.
  • clean and stow the dump hoses and fittings.
  • top up the fresh water tank.
  • recharge the water softener (maybe).
  • check the engine oil and top it up if needed.
  • check the hitch, tow bar, and cables.

Mid-afternoon I called J. C. and left a message.  He called me back a short time later and we talked for almost two hours.  J. C. was my best friend in high school (Linda had her own special status) and is one of the only people from that period in my life with whom I am still in contact.  J. C. works at Boeing Aircraft as an inspector in the 737 production facility.  He is only a few months younger than me but is looking at age 66 as his earliest possible retirement point.

I also had a call from Pat Lintner.  Pat is the National Director for our FMCA GLCC chapter and is also the Senior VP of the FMCA GLAMA.  He wanted to give me a heads up that Jane Roush, the GLAMA President, would be sending an e-mail later today to all of the GLAMA chapter presidents and national directors regarding a recommendation that the Midwest and Great Lakes areas be merged.  The Great Lakes Area consists of Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario and has 21 chapters, the smallest number of any FMCAA area.  The Midwest Area is made up of Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan and has 24 chapters.  All of the other nine areas have more chapters.  I did, in fact, receive Jane’s e-mail a few hours later and forwarded it to all of the GLCC members for whom I have valid e-mail addresses along with a few additional comments.

The rest of the day was spent doing this and that.  Linda called and brought me up to date on her day.  She went with Brendan, Shawna, and Madeline to Crisler Arena at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor to watch part of a women’s gymnastics competition.  Meghan and Chris met them back at the Fay-Lee house for dinner.  I cleaned up the dishes, mostly silverware that had accumulated over the last few days.  I checked and replied to e-mails, mostly from Gary at BCM.  I worked on my consolidated blog post for the second week of January and had it ready to upload by 11 PM but was too tired to start the process at that hour.

 

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