It’s been three weeks since my last post. We have been incredibly busy, but that doesn’t mean I have much to write about. Sometimes busy is just busy. For my part, I’ve been neglecting our website and this blog in favor of designing, testing, and vetting three other WordPress-based websites; two for RV clubs and one for our local ham radio club. That has taken a lot of my time, but I don’t mind. It’s very interesting work that I chose to take on, and I’m learning a lot, which I enjoy. But it isn’t necessarily all that interesting to write about.
I continue to discover useful WordPress plug-ins and learn how to use them. I am using Participants-Database to create online member directories, WP-Members to block them from public view and require a username and password to view them, and Exclude-Pages to create web-pages that do not appear anywhere in the WordPress menu structure. I am also using Meteor-Slides to create automated slide shows. After a long and frustrating search for a good photo album / image gallery plug-in, I finally figured out how to create galleries using the native WordPress gallery function. That was a major victory and I was so glad I persisted in my search instead of buying one. I have also installed WP-Backup-2-Dropbox, which is automatically doing a weekly backup of all four of the sites to my personal Dropbox account.
Steve was over several times to work on the Linux box and we finally got one of the WordPress websites ported over and working! We had to edit a few pointers in the wp-config.php file and set the permalinks back to default, but that did the trick! Porting over the other three sites will have to wait, but eventually I will be able to install and test new plug-ins on my own local web-server and even develop content which I can then upload to the live site. Working on the local web-server instead of the live web-host has a number of advantages. For one, the system will respond more quickly. But most importantly I won’t inadvertently take down one of my live sites.
Bus Conversions Magazine ran another one of my articles in the December 2013 issue. This one was on the construction and installation of the new auxiliary air panel. You can read more about it on our BCM page.
The new owner of BCM, Gary Hall, has faced and met a whole string of challenges since buying the magazine, but I remain confident that he is on the path to saving the magazine and not just making it viable, but making it better than it has ever been. BCM remains a unique resource for the non-commercial bus converter and I am doing what I can to help keep it in business by subscribing and submitting articles. It’s pretty simple really; the magazine needs subscribers, authors, and advertisers. The problem is that each one of those groups wants the other two groups to be in place before they make a commitment. No one wants to read a magazine with no content (articles and advertisements). Authors don’t want to write for a magazine that no one reads and advertisers don’t support. And advertisers don’t want to spend money placing ads in magazines with no content that no one reads. Fortunately BCM has advertisers, authors, and subscribers, but they could use more of each.
If you are reading this blog post and you own a converted bus, are converting a bus, are thinking about converting a bus, or have a business that sells things that might be useful to people with converted buses, please consider subscribing to or advertising in Bus Conversions Magazine. And if you are specifically converting a bus or working on one that is already converted, please consider writing one or more articles about the work you are doing, and take a lot of pictures to go with it. You do not have to be a great writer or photographer. If you provide them with a starting point the folks at BCM will work with you to turn it into a nice article. And I can tell you from personal experience this past year that it is fun to see your articles in print. In fact, your bus could be the “cover” and “centerfold.” Now really, haven’t you always dreamed of that? 🙂
Starting with the January 2014 issue of BCM there will be another staffing change. It appears that they are going to use my article on the FMCA GLAMARAMA 2013 rally that was held in Goshen, Indiana back in September 2013. While the article is specifically about that rally, it is more generally about the experience of attending an RV rally put on by one of the large RV organizations. Assuming the article runs, it will be my seventh article in 12 months and my third cover article. Not bad for a beginner. I have also agreed to “cover” the Arcadia 2014 Rally in Arcadia, Florida December 29-31. It’s called the 2014 rally because it runs through New Year’s Eve with everyone departing on New Year’s Day. This is one of the largest gatherings of converted buses currently taking place in the country, and it will be the first time Linda and I have attended.
The 19th, 20th, and 21st of November saw me back at Phoenix Paint in Edwardsburg, Michigan working on the bus and consulting with Michele Henry on the repair of the body panels and rear bumper fascia. I was invited to spend the night at the house of fellow GLCC members Pat & Vickie’s nearby which saved me the cost of a motel and provide dinner and conversation. Thank you both.
We We managed to fix the front roof-mounted remote-controlled searchlight and get it re-attached to the roof. We also undid the temporary mounting (zip ties) of the WiFiRanger-MT (mobile titanium) and mounted it behind the front TV antenna to the driver’s side using the permanent roof-mount bracketing. I removed the covers from the front and rear over-the-air TV antennas and was finally able to determine and map the direction they point to the numbers on the controller box. That will finally allow us to know where we are aiming the antennas.
My last little project was to install the Critter-Guard. There is a hole in the floor of the utility bay with a ring installed around it that is threaded to accept a screw-in cover. The Critter-Guard consists of a circular piece of high-density foam, a two-piece plastic cover, and small latches to hold the cover in place. I was not able to remove the old screws that secure the ring, so I drilled holes for new ones halfway in-between the old ones. The product came with two sets of slightly different latches to accommodate just this situation.
With the latches installed, the electrical shoreline and fresh water hose were routed into the bay through the hole in the floor. The foam is split along most of a diameter and has two holes in it (along the diameter line), one for the electrical shoreline, and the other for the fresh water hose. The foam fits snuggly around these lines and into the hole in the floor. The two-piece Critter-Guard cover plate is also split along a diameter and has two holes to match the holes in the foam. The plate has a tongue on one piece and a groove on the other. It is fitted around the shorelines on top of the foam and the latches are turned to hold it in place. The net result is that “critters” cannot get into the bay through the utility line access hole. I plan to submit this little project to Bus Conversions Magazine as a short article / product review.
As long as I’m talking about buses, I found a major air leak in Chuck’s Prevost H3-40 Liberty conversion. As with all older buses, he has been plagued with air leaks. Our mobile mechanic, Joe Cannarozzi, has fixed a lot of them by replacing air valves and tightening air lines, but leaks remain, and Chuck’s auxiliary air compressor was still running more often than it should while parked. I was poking around in the bay under the driver’s seat—looking for the check valve that is usually installed in the air line from the auxiliary air compressor to the air system—when I heard a distinct hissing noise. I heard it clearly, but it was at a frequency that Chuck did not hear. He had a plastic tube stethoscope and I used it to clearly locate the leak as coming from the pressure control switch. This switch (also known as a well pump switch when used in a water system) monitors the pressure in the auxiliary air system and turns the auxiliary air compressor on and off as needed to maintain the pressure between two set point limits. Once I was able to place the stethoscope at the loudest point, Chuck was also able to hear it clearly. He removed the old pressure switch, got the specs off of it, and I found an exact replacement in stock at Northwest Plumping Supply in Howell, not far from my house. Chuck picked it up, installed it, and … no more air leak, at least not there. The auxiliary air pressure is holding much better than it was before so the auxiliary air compressor is running much less frequently and Chuck (and Barbara) are much happier. They things that make “bus people” happy are different from what makes most people happy. You would probably have to try living in an RV to fully understand.
When Linda went in for her annual physical exam in early November she was able to talk to the nurse and find an opening for me. I was able to get my lab work done a few days in advance, and the results were available in the Henry Ford Health System MyChart website that same afternoon. I like having the lab work done in advance so that I can discuss the results with our doctor. Everything was within the normal range, so I was pleased. I got a new prescription for my nasal allergy medication and had to mail it in to our mail order pharmacy provider as this was the first prescription either of us has had filled since we switched our health coverage to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System on July 1st.
We went to our daughter’s house for Thanksgiving with family. Linda and the two kids did all the cooking and we had a nice assortment of dishes, many vegan-friendly. We got a Tofurkey for the two of us and it was very good. (Everyone else had real turkey; boo.) We had fresh grapes, fresh cranberry-orange salad, roasted Brussels sprouts, candied sweet potatoes, regular mashed potatoes, home make Parker House rolls (thanks Meghan!), some yummy cookies, some nice wine, and other things I can’t remember. Both of our grand-daughters were there. It was nice.
My friend and former co-worker, Kate, got back from a week+ trip to Berlin, Germany just in time for us to take her out for a birthday dinner; not exactly on her birthday, but close. We went to Nirmal in Ypsilanti, an Indian restaurant with a health conscious attitude. They had a buffet style setup designed for carryout, but you could also have it dine-in, which is what we did. Linda and I got two vegan entrees (green beans and okra), yellow rice, garlic naan bread, and a small dessert for $5 each plus tea. Kate ordered Makhani with chicken off the menu. We adjourned to the closest Starbucks for coffee, photo viewing (on an iPad, of course), and conversation. Kate had selected 30 photographs to show us, and they were wonderful, as usual.