As soon as the fairgrounds and Escapade management had asked those of us parked on the horse track infield to delay our departure until Sunday (with a free night’s stay Saturday evening) we decided to comply with their request. Our friends, Butch and Fonda, are parked next to us and also decided to delay their departure. Butch and I hung out this morning while Linda worked with Fonda on their business accounting.
Butch and I were not having any luck solving all of the world’s problems so we decided to investigate our Aqua-Hot problem. The expansion reservoir had apparently overflowed again so I cleaned up the coolant as best I could. I turned on our Aqua-Hot so Butch could observe the smoke on startup and try to detect if it had an odor associated with it. The unit startup up on the first try and produced a lot of white smoke. The white smoke eventually disappeared, but it took quite a while. Neither of us detected the slightly sweet smell of combusted coolant.
I had hoped to have a definitive analysis of our Aqua-Hot situation, but I ended up with data that was inconclusive, at best, and inconsistent, at worst. Recent experiences with a failure to start, excessive white smoke on startup, needing to add coolant, and failure to hold pressure all suggested a coolant leak, possibly into the combustion chamber. On the other hand, it started fine today and the white smoke did eventually clear up. There were alternative explanations for some of the data and these always need to be considered. Jumping to conclusions about what is wrong with a bus/conversion can be unnecessarily expensive.
The loss of pressure may have been due to our inability to keep the pressure tube vertical because of the tight quarters. The pressure is released by pushing this tube to the side where it connects to the radiator fill spout. The loss of coolant could be due to the undersized expansion reservoir overflowing when the unit heats up. I know for a fact that it does this if I have too much coolant in the reservoir when the unit is cold. To pin down whether or not there is a coolant leak into the combustion chamber I will have to remove the burner assembly from the combustion chamber, pressurize the closed coolant system, and visually check for leaks. Even if I don’t find a leak there that will not rule out a leak somewhere. Ugh. Aqua-Hot units are expensive to replace and the model we have is not longer made, so our only direct replacement option is a rebuilt unit. The unit in the coach is a rebuilt one that was installed sometime between Sep 2009 and April 2010.
We quit working with the Aqua-Hot around 1:00 PM to have lunch before heading over to the Tri-Chapter Rally (TCR). A little before 2:00 PM we drove over to the AG Hall for the opening of the TCR. The TCR is an annual joint event of SKP Chapters 6 (Michigan – Great Lakes), 36 (Ohio – Erie Shores), and 51 (Indiana – Hoosier Neighbor). The TCR is usually held in late June on the same weekend as the ARRL Field Day ham radio operating event so we have never been able to attend. Because Escapade was in Goshen, Indiana the TCR was scheduled at the same fairgrounds immediately following the national rally.
We are members of Chapter 6 and Butch/Fonda are members of Chapter 51 but neither of us registered for the TCR because we had planned on leaving today. Since we were “stuck” here we figured we would make an appearance at the 2 PM opening of the rally and play it by ear from there. It turned out that 2:00 PM was the beginning of registration; the opening social was scheduled for 4:00 PM with dinner at 5:30 PM. The rally organizer said we could come to the social without registering, but wanted us to pay if we were staying for dinner. That seemed reasonable and we indicated that we would return at 4:00 PM to be sociable for an hour.
We never made it back. By the time 4 o’clock came around we were all tired and none of us felt like being sociable. We eventually got hungry and went to the South Side Soda Shop (SSSS). SSSS was featured in an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives (Triple-D). It was appropriately quaint, the wait staff was very friendly, and the food was good and plentiful; exactly what you would expect from a place featured on Triple-D. Linda and I had garden salads with a dressing we had never had before; oil and capers. It was delicious; a new favorite. We split a veggie sandwich, flat bread with pesto and hummus, and an order of curly fries. The fries alone would have been a meal!
Butch bought a WiFi Ranger Mobile and Go2 combo at the Escapade. Earlier in the day he attached the Mobile unit to a couple of pieces of PVC pipe which he used as a mast by securing them to the driver’s side mirror on their bus. He ran the coax in through a window and hooked it all together. After dinner I worked with him to get the WFR Mobile/Go2 configured while Fonda visited with Linda.
I have done a couple of posts this past week that brought up concepts from aviation because I used to fly airplanes and thought there were interesting analogies to be made. Well, here’s another one: RVing, much like flying, is weather dependent, and more so than you might realize. We have had to be pulled out of two different fairgrounds at the conclusion of week-long rallies where we were parked on grass and it rained (hard) most of the week. Unless you only stay at campgrounds with paved roads and sites this will eventually happen. When threatening weather is in your path, you ground yourself; a high profile vehicle with an amateur driver does not belong on the road in high winds, blinding rain, or icy conditions any more than a private pilot should be in the air under those conditions. An RV has no more business crossing a flooded road than a car or pedestrian does, and the reason you have a home that can be moved is so you can get it out of harm’s way; RVs are not designed to be driven into tornadic storms, hurricanes, or blizzards.
We really need to be on the road Sunday morning as we have company coming for dinner that evening, Linda has to go into the bakery on Monday and Tuesday, and someone is coming to the house on Wednesday to discuss our pole barn project. But just because we need to leave doesn’t mean we will be able to. That will be decided by Mother Nature. If we cannot get the bus out on Sunday Linda will take the car and return home and I will return with the bus (and the casts) when I can.