2016/03/16 (T) Clermont & Orlando
We had coffee, grapefruit, and cinnamon raisin English muffins for breakfast and orange juice to wash down our vitamins. We had not made any specific plans for today but Linda still had her list of six places to visit in Clermont. We decided we would head that way after taking care of several important chores with the bus.
The first chore was checking the water level in the fresh water tank. We still had 1/4 tank so I deferred filling it until tomorrow. The next chore was checking the driver side tag axle/brake. In order to do this I had to start the bus engine, air up the suspension, and lift the tag axles. With the tag tires off the concrete pad (and the tire covers removed) I was able to freely spin the passenger side wheel but the driver side wheel would not budge. I removed the other four tire covers, put the tag axles back down, and moved the coach back and forth about 12 inches a couple of times before returning it to its starting position. I then lifted the tag axles and rechecked the wheel spin. My hope, of course, was that the driver side tag would break free but it didn’t. That strongly suggested that the disc brake was locked up although I won’t know for sure until the wheel is removed and the brake can be inspected. I put the tag axles back down and shut the engine off. After turning off the chassis batteries and engine accessory air supply I put the tire covers back on. I then texted Joe, our mobile mechanic, to let him know what I found and ask him to call me as soon as it was convenient. Joe has been in the Florida Keys for the last month and was planning to move to Ft. Lauderdale today and then move in our direction towards the end of this week, so we were lucky to have him in the area.
The third and last chore was to check the drain lines for the bedroom air-conditioner. I unscrewed the discharge register and removed it, giving me access to the front of the evaporator. The evaporator has an integral drain pan and Royale Coach installed a second one under the unit. The drain line for the integral pan comes straight out the center of the bottom, makes a quick 90 degree bend to the rear, and a couple inches beyond the rear of the extra pan makes another 90 degree bend down. At that point the drain line from the extra pan, which runs out the center rear of the pan, T’s into the down drain, which runs straight down through the cabinet into the driver side of the engine compartment. Just after entering the engine compartment the line turns 90 degrees to the rear until it is close to the rear hatch and then turns down 90 degrees and runs down close to the rear bumper where it ends. If the line is not clogged, condensate from the evaporator drips into the integral pan, flies through the drain lines, and eventually drips onto the ground near the driver side rear corner of the bus.
We grabbed the Kenwood HT ham radios and went outside to open the rear engine hatch so we could inspect the drain line and Linda could observe it. I went back in and poured a little water into the extra pan and noticed that there was some loose debris in the pan. Linda radioed that water was trickling out so I cleaned out the pan and then poured in a larger quantity of water. It came out onto the ground, so I knew the drain line was open at least from the T down. I poured water into the integral pan and Linda reported that it also came out on the ground. Well, alrighty then. I replaced a piece of foam that seals the bottom of the opening and reinstalled the register. I then closed the rear hatch.
The reason for all of this was that we have been running the rear A-C but not seeing any condensate on the ground. I checked the temperature of the evaporator yesterday and it was 10 to 15 degrees below the ambient air temperature so I know the evaporator had to be producing condensate and I was curious about where it was going. Of particular concern was any water overflowing the pans and dripping inside the cabinet as the main AC electrical panel is just below the evaporator and there are AC power relays, DC control switches, and lots of wiring just below that.
With all that taken care of we loaded the camera gear into the car and headed out of the resort and back west on CR-478 towards Webster where we picked up FL-471 south to FL-50 and headed east to Clermont. At US-27 we went north one exit to Citrus Tower Blvd. where the Florida Citrus Tower is located. The Tower was opened in 1956 as a monument (and tourist attraction) to the Florida Citrus industry, which was centered in this area at the time. The citrus groves were decimated by three hard freezes in the 1980’s and the industry in this area never recovered. We rode the elevator to the observation platform which is over 200 feet AGL, and just over 500 feet ASL. It was quite a view even if it wasn’t of citrus groves. The area has, in fact, “recovered” as there are at least 1,442 lakes within view of this tower and the area has become a Mecca for development with Orlando just 15 miles due east and Disney World about 23 miles southeast.
We stopped at Publix across the street for lunch snacks/beverages. Returning to FL-50, we continued east to Orlando to check out the route for Monday. Traffic congestion has us rethinking how we should get to Jetty Park on Cape Canaveral. We stopped at Bed-Bath-&-Beyond, but they do not carry the InstantPot. We picked up FL-408 (Toll Road) back to FL-50 and headed west through Clermont. On the way back to Webster we stopped at the Publix in Groveland. We then continued west on FL-50 to CR-471. I filled the fuel tank at the Shell station, which advertised $1.859 for Regular but had the pump set to $1.999. Arrrgh.
I called Chuck while Linda fixed dinner and we discussed the tag axle brake problem. I then called Butch but did not get an answer. Dinner was salad and open-faced pan-seared BBQ tofu slices with caramelized onions. We had fresh strawberries later for dessert. We eat well regardless of bus problems.
We tried to watch NCIS, NCISNOLA, and Limitless but TV reception was spotty all night. Butch called me back and we chatted about the brakes and battery charging. I needed to be up early to call Prevost and then text Joe the names and phone numbers of RV parks in Webster and Bushnell where he might be able to stay. As the name says, Florida Grande Motor Coach Resort does not accept pull-behinds. For that matter, it does not accept anything other than “Class A” motorhomes. Many of the units here are Prevost conversions, but certainly not all.
Linda checked the weather forecast for overnight and saw that there would be a period of about five hours with 100% humidity so we left the A-C units on all night. We don’t care for the noise but we like high relative humidity even less, especially when it comes to sleeping.
2016/03/16 (W) Braking News
I did not sleep well last night knowing that I had to be up early to research the parts I needed to order and then call Prevost’s U. S. Parts office in Elgin, Illinois to place the order. I got up at 5:30 AM and opened the Prevost CatBase Viewer software and found the diagrams and parts lists for the tag axles on our bus. I also researched RV parks for Joe. I found two in Webster, less than three miles away, and two in Bushnell, about nine miles away.
I ate one of the apricot bear claws and then called Prevost U. S. Parts and got connected to Gary. He spent an hour and 15 minutes working with me trying to figure out what tag axle we actually had. He also informed me that the disc brake calipers were no longer available; Prevost did not have any in stock and could not get any more as Meritor had discontinued production. That was not what I expected when I got up this morning and set the stage and tone for the rest of the day. I ended up ordering a “Left Side” major rebuild kit, a slide pin kit, and a set of brake pads, but not with complete confidence that they were the correct parts or that we would be able to use them.
I was on the phone when Linda got up so she made our morning coffee. A little while later she blended frozen strawberries, bananas, oatmeal, flax seeds, vanilla almond milk creamer, and a couple of other things into very thick smoothies and put them in the refrigerator.
In the course of the day I spent time online researching possible alternate sources and made phone calls to ABC Bus Co. in Oakland, Florida and American Frame and Axle in Tampa. It was not a positive experience and by late morning decided to shift my attention and effort to other tasks.
First up was filling the fresh water tank. The level appeared to be about 1/8th (15 gallons) and I decided to drain the tank before refilling it. The last time I drained the tank was in November just before we left for the winter. I have usually waited to refill the tank until it was down below the 1/3rd level, and usually down between 1/6th and 1/8th, but that means (hypothetically) that some of the water from the original fill up in November remained in the tank. Being a hot, sunny day, and being parked on a concrete pad, I figured it was a good time/place to dump the tank.
I refilled the fresh water tank to the top with 120 gallons of softened water and checked the hardness of the water coming out of the softener at the end. As best I could read the test strip it was somewhere between 1.5 and 3.0 gpg. That meant it was probably time to recharge the softener. I entered the data into my spreadsheet and it confirmed that I have removed about 8,500 grains on the current charge. The tank claims to be a 10,000 grain device.
Speaking of water softening, Mark Schumaker (from A-1 water Conditioning), was at the Webster Flea Market on Monday. We bought our current portable water softener from him in Gillette, Wyoming in the summer of 2013. I have always found this unit difficult/awkward to recharge, but he now has a newer system that involves a special valve assembly for the softening tank and uses a separate brine tank. That is exactly what I am looking for, so I may have to give Mark a second chance.
My next task was doing the laundry. As long as I had to go to the laundry room we decided to use the showers at the clubhouse. I put in a call to Chuck but caught him on the golf course and we agreed to talk later. I started two loads while Linda showered and then she kept an eye on the machines while I showered. When I returned to the laundry room Linda was using the resort Wi-Fi to Facetime on her iPad with our daughter. I added the towels to a third load of laundry and joined the conversation. When we were done talking Linda walked back to our rig while I stayed to finish drying the laundry. I called Pat Lintner to discuss the best route to get to Jetty Park. He and Vickie suggested FL-91 to FL-528. Both are tollroads, but it’s the easy/breezy route. Joe called me in response to my earlier text messages. He was wondering if the rebuild kit required any special tools and asked me to check on it.
When I got back to our coach I called Prevost Parts again and was connected to Eduardo. He took my number, did some digging around, sent me a couple of e-mails, and then called me back. Yes, it appeared that I might need a couple of specialized tools, and no, Prevost did not have them in stock anywhere. He did, however, give me the name of the manufacturer (Kent-Moore) and manufacturer’s part numbers (J-34064-51 & J-34064-52) of the two tools.
I searched online for these tools but mostly found listings for the Kent-Moore J-34064-B Rockwell-Meritor Dura-Master Brake Tool Set – Complete.” Many of the listings were on Ebay, were very used, and prices were all over the map. By this time I was wishing it was Wednesday last week rather than Wednesday this week. I had hoped to upload more blog posts today but that was clearly not going to happen.
I took a break for lunch, which was hummus, pretzels, and carrot slices. We opened the caramelized onion hummus. It reminds me of California Dip made from Lipton’s Onion Soup mix. Yum.
I had a reply from ESET a couple of days ago with some additional suggestions about how to get Smart Security 9 to properly synchronize with Windows 10 Update. We fiddled with ESET Windows 10 update notifications on Linda’s computer and realized that her machine is still running Smart Security 8 and needs to be upgraded.
Joe called back and I brought him up-to-date on what I had (not) accomplished today vis-a-vis the tag axle brake. Chuck called back as well and we spent quite a bit of time going over the brake situation. We did not necessarily resolve anything, but there is great comfort in being able to discuss such issues with friends who are fellow converted bus owners. They get it, and their empathy is genuine and informed.
Around 4 PM I logged in to the FMCA website and went through the registration process for the FMCA GLAMARAMA 2016 rally. At the very end the website said an error had occurred and to call the office. So I did. Bridgett took all of our info and passed it over to accounting for processing. Linda noted a short time later that the credit card charge appeared to be pending twice. Linda won’t know if that is actually the case until it posts to our account. FMCA is a big enough organization that they should not be having these kinds of eCommerce issues with their website.
We got a couple of Yuengling beers out of the refrigerator and went outside to sit in the shade. The midday sun was brutal today but as soon as it got lower in the western sky it was lovely outside with moderate breezes and comfortable humidity. We were just getting ready to relax and enjoy our brew when Joan stopped by with her dog Toby. Toby is a very friendly miniature Schnauzer and we appear to be his new best friends. Joan had barely continued on her walk when a couple stopped at the end of the pad (by the street) and the man held up his right hand, Palm facing us, and pointed to it. That is the universal sign of greeting between Michiganders (or Michiganians) and we was pointing to where they were from in the Lower Peninsula. It took me a moment to realize that I recognized them from Williston Crossings where we were parked next to each other in December. It was Ken and Pam from Grand Rapids. They arrived yesterday after spending the winter at Williston Crossings. We chatted for a while and then they continued their walk. We got the impression from a distance that they were not very friendly and so we did not interact with them much at WCRVR. Our loss; they were perfectly wonderful people. I think Pam was just shy. Shame on us for not reaching out; we certainly know better.
The light was fading and we were not hungry for dinner yet so we drove to the CVS store in Bushnell. We bought a Florida SunPass transponder to use with the bus as our only good route from Webster to Cape Canaveral is via the Florida a Turnpike and another tollroad. The transponder can be moved between vehicles and used with the car in tow behind the bus.
When we got back Linda made vegan grilled cheese sandwiches with deli slices for dinner along with fresh strawberries. We watched a PBS program on WW II British military intelligence. Linda went to bed at 11 PM and I stayed up to watch Charlie Rose. I then went to bed and worked on this blog for a short while before turning out the lights at 12:30 AM. It had not been an easy day and I went to sleep tired and discouraged at the turn of events regarding our rag axle brakes.
2016/03/17 (R) Linner at Papa Joe’s
The last few days have been hot with daytime high temperatures in the mid-to-upper 80’s. The relative humidity has been moderate, leading to clear skies and intense sunshine, but there has been a persistent breeze which has helped keep things comfortable, especially in the shade. The coach is not in the shade, however, and we have kept the awnings in because of the wind, so we have been running our air-conditioners all day. By late afternoon, with the sun lower in the sky, the air temperature moderates just enough, without a significant rise in relative humidity, to be very pleasant; the kind of weather conditions that are perfect for just sitting outside with a cold beverage and relaxing. As the temperature drops after sunset the relative humidity rises and approaches 100% for some period of hours before and during sunrise. That does not make for good sleeping so we have also been keeping the air-conditioners on all night.
With the day I had yesterday I needed a good night’s sleep. Still, I went to bed discouraged and frustrated and did not sleep that well even though I was very tired and fell asleep quickly. I was up this morning at 7:30 AM and made coffee. Linda was up by 8 AM. We had cinnamon raisin English muffins for breakfast. Linda’s focus this morning was tax returns. I had a long list of things I wanted to get done and knew before I started that I would not accomplish all of them.
I started by putting a call in to Billy at American Frame and Axle regarding the brake caliper rebuild but had to leave my name and number. I got a text from Joe and replied to it. I heard back from Billy a short time later. He does not have a mechanic working on Saturday mornings so the earliest he could rebuild the tag axle brake calipers would be Monday morning. He seemed to think, however, that we would not have a problem doing the work ourselves. I texted that information to Joe and then turned my attention to other things.
Linda texted Linda Whitney (K4YL) regarding getting together for dinner. Linda W suggested we meet for linner (a late lunch / early dinner) at Papa Joe’s which is in between their house and our resort. They agreed on 2:30 PM as the time, which avoids the lunch and dinner crowds.
The wind was light-to-calm today so we deployed the awnings on the coach to shade the windows. We configured the water softener for a brief backflush and then set it up for recharging. With that process underway, Linda went into work on tax returns while I dumped the waste tanks. Once the waste tanks were drained I added TechRx to the toilet and sinks and updated the spreadsheet I use to track water usage and softener capacity. I then settled in to work on updating the MS Outlook 2013 address book entries for our FMCA GLCC chapter.
Updating records like that is slow, tedious work. I set a timer on my phone for 20 minutes to check on the water softening process. I did that repeatedly over a two hour period, so that further slowed my updating work. The softening process was all done by 1:15 PM and I checked the hardness coming out of the softener. It was higher than 1.5 gpg but closer to that number than to 3.0 gpg which is the next color patch on the scale. That reading was both annoying and discouraging as it was essentially the same reading I had before I started the regeneration. That is not the first time this has happened and it may be the case that the salt brine was not completely flushed out of the softener. I will check it again after the next fresh water tank fill.
At 1:30 PM we started getting ready to go to linner at Papa Joe’s in Brooksville. It was an easy 30 mile drive to the restaurant, which is just north of FL-50 (Cortez Blvd) on Spring Hill Highway. We were there at 2:20 PM and got a table. Bruce (W8RA) and Linda (K4YL) Whitney arrived a few minutes later. The food was good and we all ate too much. We lingered past 4:30 and finally went our separate ways.
We were back by 5:15 PM and decided to go for a walk. It turned out to be a long one as we followed the paved road that runs through the Phase 2 part of the property to the maintenance and construction building way back in the woods. In sight of the building we followed a wide path to the left that had been mowed through the grass. It turned out to follow the road system for Phase 2 with all of the infrastructure clearly visible. We were almost around the last dry “pond” when the mowed path ended. Since we were wearing shorts and sandals we chose not to hike through the brush and had to turn around and walk back the way we came.
A fairly dense cloud cover had developed and the wind had come up from the NNW so when we got back to our coach we put all of the awnings back in. Nick’s R.V. Detailing is supposed to be here tomorrow so Linda pulled all of the tire covers off, folded them up, and stored them in the car. We will remove the new windshield covers tomorrow morning.
I had hoped to update my e-mail addresses for current GLCC members and create a set of new, smaller e-mail groups but I did not get that far. (I also need to investigate creating an e-mail group in QTH cPanel.) I need to have an efficient and accurate way to send information to the chapter members and my immediate need is to notify GLCC members to register through FMCA for GLAMARAMA16 and then let me know if they want to park with the chapter.
I had also hoped to take care of some computer update issues today but did not get them done. These included upgrading ESET SS8 to SS9 on Linda’s computer and resolving update notification synchronization issues between ESET SS and the Windows 10 Update service on both of our laptops. It’s also possible that we might have to manually update drivers on both computers. I did manage to edit another blog post from December 2015 but did not get any posts uploaded.
Linda thinks she is coming down with a cold and but is running a fever and developed chills. That did not sound like a cold to me. She put on her denim shirt/jacket and got Juniper on her lap. I put on the PBS NewsHour but she fell asleep before it ended. She woke up later and stayed up until 10 PM to take more Tylenol and then went to bed. I stayed up and watched a program on PBS about the Battle of Gettysburg followed by Charlie Rose and then went to bed. I did not have any more communication with Joe this afternoon or evening so I presume he will not be here first thing in the morning. Nick’s R.V. Detailing and Pressure Washing is scheduled to be here tomorrow, however, so we will have to be up and ready to go before they arrive.