We had another cool night overnight that was great for sleeping. 7:30 AM found the coffee brewed and the bagels, fruit, muffins, and Danish pastries awaiting the rally participants. This isn’t a “fancy” rally in a fancy place, but it sure is a nice one.
Mike Mullen’s Flxible (on right), the only one at this rally.
Two more buses showed up today; Mike (GLCC vice-president) & Mary Ann Muller and Mark (CCO president) & Diane Reid. Linda took off with a group of the women to search out garage sales, but came back empty-handed. (She is not a garage sale person.) Over the course of the morning bay doors were opened on various buses and small groups of (mostly) men could be found peering deep inside. These sessions are sometimes for the purpose of seeing/admiring someone’s latest handiwork, and sometimes for the purpose of trying to help diagnose a problem and fix it if possible. There was some of both today. On Wednesday, for instance, someone blew a transmission hose just as they were pulling into their parking space. With the help of some of the other participants, a new hose had been custom made by a local supplier and installed, tested, and verified as operational in less than 24 hours. Today several guys worked on diagnosing a severe vibration problem someone in the rear of a GM 4104.
Bill Gerry’s Harley Davidson with Leyman trike conversion. Bill is in the center of the photo, directly behind the bike (dressed in black, of course).
Mid-late morning Bill Gerry showed up on his Harley Davidson Leyman trike conversion. He left the Toronto, Ontario area around 6:00 AM for the 4.5 hour trip plus several fuel stops. As you can see in the picture, it’s a gorgeous machine. Bill is the de facto “ring leader” of the Canadian contingent that usually attends this rally, but he and Karen could not come this year because of a 50th wedding anniversary party being held tomorrow for some of their best friends back home. (Karen stayed home to help with the preparations.) Still, I think it says a lot that Bill thought it was worth driving 9 hours round trip to hang out with all of us for a few hours. Such is the attraction of the bus conversion community, and the camaraderie of those who choose to be part of it. As mentioned yesterday, Dennis and Bernadette did make it to the rally in their Class B, so our Canadian friends were represented.
Late morning conversations in the pavilion.
Everyone was on their own for lunch today, so Linda and I had some sun-dried tomato hummus wraps with onions, lots of onions. Because we knew we would only have a 20A connection, Linda planned the meals we would have to provide for ourselves around not having to cook things. With the way we eat, however, “no heat don’t mean no eat.” It was a bit warmer by lunchtime than the last few days, and the cold dishes were particularly satisfying under such weather conditions.
Since most of the rally participants were now on site, I decided to bring out the copies of the February 2013 issue of Bus Conversion Magazine and the May-June issue of The Gypsy Journal to distribute to those who don’t already subscribe to them. We left home in early June with about 60 copies of the BCM issue and picked up about 100 copies of TGJ in Gillette, Wyoming. We have been carrying them with us every since and passing them out at campgrounds and rallies. After today’s distribution we have less than 10 of each left.
Almost everyone was present for the roundtable discussion, which lasted two hours.
At 1:00 PM (Ed time) we circled up the chairs for our roundtable discussion. This has been a regular Friday feature of the rally since it began. We had 20+ people in the circle, 30 total in the pavilion, and almost everyone participated. Someone was having a problem with a 2-year old leather chair that was peeling, and the group helped problem-solve how to deal with the vendor, who was being very reluctant to make good on the situation. We ended up on speaker phone with them, and made it clear that 30 of us were listening to the conversation. By the end there seemed to be a greater willingness on the part of the vendor to try to make the situation right.
Other topics of discussion included electrical shorepower and how to build/use a combiner box to plug a “50A” connector into two smaller capacity outlets (30A, 20/15A). Some of us indicated that we also carry long, larger gauge extension cords with 50A RV/marine twist lock connectors that have the L1 and L2 pins internally jumpered. There’s no magic to this—20A is 20A—but it does allow power to be applied to both legs of the coach’s electrical system so that everything onboard is able to receive electrical power (except for any 240VAC devices). That doesn’t mean you can run everything; 20A is still just 20A after all.
We had an extended discussion about supplemental braking systems. While everyone present indicated that they use one, there were several different types represented, and questions about each of their methods of operation, and opinions about their relative merits. Like any other vehicle, buses have brake systems designed to safely stop their GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating). This is the maximum amount of weight the bus is designed to move and stop, including anything it is towing. Most states and provinces require supplemental braking for anything being towed that weighs over a certain amount, with 1,500 pounds being a common specification. A major consideration is break away situations, in which the toad breaks loose from the bus. Many supplemental braking systems are designed to apply the car brakes hard and keep them applied in this situation.
Several discussants had issues with their pneumatic systems so those were put forward and discussed. At lot of things on buses operate on air, including suspensions, brakes, accessories, and even engine throttles. The universal reality about air systems seems to be that they leak, so the issue is never IF, but HOW BAD? Many air leaks are small enough that you can live with them, but not always.
The subject of Coach-Net came up. Many FMCA motorhome owners have Coach-Net emergency roadside service policies. What the policies cover is actually fairly limited, but does include towing (a huge benefit for a bus or large motorhome owner), fuel (if you run out), and telephone technical support. If you need a roadside repair they will try to get the right person to your location to do it, but the cost of the repair is not covered. Several of our GLCC members had recently had their service canceled, in spite of not having made any claims. The reason they were given was that Coach-Net had changed their policy and would no longer cover buses (specifically?) that were more than 40 years old. Pat indicated that he had talked to Jon Walker, a member of GLCC and the recently elected FMCA National Vice President, and that the contract between FMCA and Coach-Net had ended as of July 1 and not been renewed. The rally participants who were affected by this had no problem signing up for Good Sam Emergency Road Service.
There was a question about solar panels (photovoltaic). The question generated a lot of comment, but no definitive recommendations. It was a systems sizing question that was simple to ask, but not simple to answer without specific analysis and calculations. Finally, several rally goers reported on recent, successful service experiences and gave positive recommendations for the service providers.
After the roundtable ended around 3 PM Bill said his farewells and left for Toronto. Folks returned to their coaches, resumed their conversation groups, and returned to their “bay watch” patrols and repair work.
L-to-R Gordy, Marty, and Glenn cooking up the burgers and hotdogs for dinner.
Dinner this evening was classic summer fare; grilled hotdogs and hamburgers with the fixins’, potato salad, baked beans, and potato chips. Some raw veggies were left over from the other night as well. We supplied our own tofu hotdogs, which Glenn grilled up for us very nicely. We garnished them with fresh raw onions and mustard. Potato chips and raw veggies rounded out our meals, which, while not exactly whole-food, plant-based, were definitely vegan.
Prepping the buffet line. There were a few young folks at the rally, although not as many as in past years.
Not long after dinner Bill Foley stopped by. Bill is a CCO guy who lives nearby but was not able to attend the rally with his bus. Bill has a bus barn that Don has been trying to arrange for some of us to go see. I ended up at Ed’s coach and had a long chat with Ed, Bill, and Don. We discussed bus barns, but we also talked about the situation with our driveway at some length.
I eventually returned to our coach to sound of the nearby race track. We have heard these vehicles at various times most days, presumably making practice runs, but we assumed tonight were actual races. Some of the rally participants started playing bingo in the pavilion around 9 PM. They were done by 10:15 PM, after which conversation continued along with the racing. RVers, or at least the ones we hang out with, tend to be up early and turn in early. This particularly rally, however, tends to keep folks up a bit later, especially on Friday and Saturday evenings. We are gathered out in the country, not in a commercial campground or state park, so we have only our fellow rally participants to answer to, and no one objects to conversations extending into the evening. Eventually the rally site quieted down and the only thing that disturbed the nighttime silence was an occasional train. (For those who don’t know, it is a requirement that wherever two or more RVs are gathered, there must be an active rail line nearby. If there isn’t, I think there are special crews that get dispatched in the middle of the night to quickly build one.)