Tag Archives: Bill Gerrie (ON)

2014/02/10 (M) A Day Of Firsts

It was a near perfect day weather-wise, and a pretty decent day in all other respects.   We woke to clear skies with temperatures in the upper 40’s but by late morning it was 70 and gained a few more degrees by late afternoon.  Winds were very light from no particular direction and there were very few flying bugs.  We had a leisurely morning with our usual coffee and granola.  We took showers.  Linda vacuumed.  I opened the awnings on the coach to let them air out and dry, with assistance from Linda for the patio awning.  This was only the second time we have deployed the awnings since we left home, and the first time we planned to leave them open as rain is predicted for only one day in the next 7 to 10 days.

Linda continued with her cross-stitch project and I dealt with e-mail, website, and technology issues.  Bill was unable to clear the error codes on Pat & Vickie’s DDEC I engine computer so I e-mailed Butch, who also has a DDEC I, and provided some additional guidance.  Bill indicated that they needed wiring diagrams, which Pat did not have.  Bill had them, but they were back home in Ontario.  Doh!  I have the diagrams with us on the Network Attached Storage device.  They are all PDFs I got from Bill on a CD.  I located the lists of drawing numbers, picked a half dozen that I thought might be what Pat needed, put them in a folder in our Dropbox, and e-mailed everyone back.  Dropbox has turned out to be one of the better little pieces of technology in our cyber arsenal.

Around noon we walked to the Grocery Depot to pick up a few ingredients for dinner; a one mile round trip and the closest place to the RV resort to buy groceries.  Linda prepared lunch and we ate outside; the first time the weather has been nice enough to do that since we got back to Williston Crossings on January 1st.  We then sat outside to work; again, one of the rare days we have been able to do that.  Mid-afternoon we went for a longer walk around the RV resort that included our first hike down into the quarry.

We noticed that WCRVR had installed a new sign just inside the new entrance to the resort off of FL-121.  This is where the new section of park is being developed with ownership sites that will be available for purchase.  The sign said “The Reserve at Williston Crossings” so apparently that is how they plan to market these sites.  The sign is framed on either side with a new wood rail fence and plants, all of which looks very nice.  The first two sites have had paver blocks added to the concrete pads to dress them up a bit; presumably as demo sites to show prospective owners what can be done if they so choose.  It will be interesting to see what else they do in this area before of the park before leave.

When we returned to our coach we continued to sit outside to work and just enjoy the day.  Although the park is quiet and peaceful, it is not silent during the day.  We rarely hear other residents (talk or music) but there are always folks walking or riding bikes, and maintenance work being done by resort staff and residents.  We are near the south/old entrance so when we are here we see all of the rigs coming and going that way.  We saw more people out tending their sites or cleaning their vehicles than on past walks.  And there are birds—lots of birds—and with the sunnier, warmer weather they have had a lot to say.

Eventually, inevitably, as afternoon faded into evening it cooled off and we lost our light.  We retreated inside, had dinner, and watched Antiques Road Show on Gainesville PBS while working on projects (cross-stitch and BCM) before retiring for the night.  Linda made a delicious acorn squash stuffed with white rice and mushrooms, and onions and we opened our bottle of Blueberry Rhubarb Wine from Forestedge Winery (LaPorte, MN).  We have been spending time at the resort on less than ideal weather days so we could use good weather days to go exploring.  We enjoyed finally spending a nice day at home.


2014/02/07 (F) Downtime

Earlier in the week we were making plans to go to Crystal River today with John and Marian Hagan but by Wednesday evening realized that being out three days in a row would be too much and put us too far behind on various tasks.  Besides, the weather forecast for Friday was for cold, overcast, rainy conditions; not ideal for exploring and hiking, especially when we had the option of going some other time.  The forecast for Saturday was even worse, but the forecast for Sunday looked much better and turned out to be a better day for them anyway.  We would have had to be back early today anyway as tonight was pizza night and our pickup time was 6:30 PM, so we stayed home today and planned to stay home tomorrow as well.  I did not take any photos today.

Linda concentrated on her cross-stitch, went for a walk, and took a call from Butch, who had another potential buyer for their business (Linda helps them with accounting and tax returns).  I worked on e-mails and blog posts and had a couple of phone calls and e-mails with Pat, who had a relay replaced in their bus and needed someone to clear the fault codes in the DDEC I engine computer.  Unfortunately the only cartridge I had for our Pro-Link was for a DDEC II / III.  Pat had already called Prevost’s Nashville service facility and they did not have a code reader for a DDEC I.  I suggested that he contact Bill in Orange City.  As I blogged in late December, Bill has a newer diagnostic instrument with cartridges for every DDEC version, as well as Allison transmissions, and was camped relatively close to Walt Disney World.  I also suggested Prevost’s Jacksonville service center and Florida Detroit Diesel Allison in Jacksonville, both of which are only an hour from Fort Wilderness.

With the January 2014 issue Bus Conversions Magazine started adding additional content to the digital edition which they send out as a PDF or allow online (registered) users to download.  With the February 2014 issue they began offering the digital edition in two versions; Standard Definition (SD) and High Definition (HD).  The SD/HD editions has expanded content compared to the print edition, most of which is additional photographs with the photos in the HD version being much higher resolution than the in the SD version.  They have also made the advertisements live links to the advertisers’ websites and plan to add video and other expanded content in the future.  I had an old login for Bus Conversions Magazine that no longer worked so BCM set up an online subscription for me so I could access the online only HD version.  My old login did not work for the BBS/Forum either so I also registered for that.

Volunteers at Williston Crossings RV Resort (WCRVR) make pizzas to order every Friday using the clubhouse kitchen, which has a small conveyor type pizza oven.  Orders have to be placed by 4:00 PM on Thursday and are for a specific pickup time.  We decided to give this a try after our neighbors described how it works and told us the pizzas were pretty good.  We ordered one with mushrooms and onions, hold the cheese, and asked for thin crust.

Friday and Saturday evenings are campfire nights at WCRVR so we had a salad at 6:00 PM, picked up our pizza at 6:30 PM, and headed to the fire pit.  The pizza was big enough for two people to split, only cost $6.00, and was partly a social thing.  Kevin, John, and Ali were there along with a few other folks.  Kevin had a nice fire going and John had his guitar.  We ate our pizza and then Linda got us a couple of glasses of Moscato.  WCRVR is not over programmed, but there are plenty of things to do here if you want to join in.  Of all the nice things at Williston Crossings RV Resort, the Friday and Saturday evening campfires have been the nicest, with John, Jeff, and others providing musical entertainment.  And they have been best when they were more lightly attended, which has been the case on these cool, damp evenings, allowing for more and better conversation.

After we returned to our coach for the evening we turned on the TV and watched a couple of interesting shows on PBS while I finished creating the blog posts for the two preceding days.  Such are our days at WCRVR in Florida.


2013/12/26 (R) Our Recent Travels

We left Williston Crossings RV Resort in Williston, Florida at 10:15 AM and traveled to the Turner Agri Civic Center in Arcadia Florida for the Arcadia (Bus’in) Rally 2014.  Our route took us down US-27 to I-75 to FL-70 to US-17 and over to the rally venue, covering 200 miles in 3 hours and 45 minutes.  I-75 had a lot of traffic and a few construction zones, but US-27 and FL-70 we excellent roads with very few vehicles.  I have not been posting maps of our daily travels, so here is the route we have traveled starting on the 19th.  We have traveled about 1,300 miles in that time.

View Larger Map

We were met at the check in station by Bill and Brenda Phelan who now run the Arcadia Rally.  Linda took care of the paperwork while I introduced myself, indicating that I had been asked by the publisher of Bus Conversions Magazine to do an article on the rally.  We unhooked the car and were escorted to our back-in site.  We immediately recognized the bus parked behind us as belonging to Bill and Karen Gerrie.  They always travel with Karen’s sister Katherine and her husband Mike, and sure enough, they were here too!  By the time the rally starts on Sunday we expect there to be other converted bus people here that we know.

We were escorted to our site, backed in, straightened out, and leveled and then went through our usual arrival routine; Linda setting up the inside while I hooked up the electrical shoreline and checked the house battery state of charge and that the inverter/charger was working.  We then deployed the awnings.

While opening and securing the main patio awning the front rafter arm started to come off of the awning shaft.  Closer inspection revealed that there was supposed to be a retaining pin or bolt holding these two pieces together, but it was missing.  Yikes!  I looked down and there was a black bolt of approximately the right diameter and length on ground in front of me.  Was it possible that this had just fallen out?  I looked at the other end of the roller tube and there was the matching part, but with a Nylok nut on the end.  I went back to the other end and looked for the nut, but didn’t see it.  It probably fell off a long time ago, if it was ever there in the first place.  No one has worked on these awnings since they were installed by the Zip Dee Factory outside of Chicago, Illinois in October 2012.  It would have been very, very bad if these two parts had separated while we were traveling on the highway.

I managed to get the bolt back through the mating holes, but I did not have a Nylok nut of the correct size in my parts kit.  The Gerrie’s have a 1965 GMC bus that they converted.  Bill is a very knowledgeable and resourceful guy when it comes to buses, but he did not have an 8-32 Nylok nut either.  I did have some regular 8-32 nuts, however, so I double nutted the bolt and snugged it up nice and tight.  We added 8-32 Nylok nuts to our growing list of supplies we needed to buy and things we need to do.

With that chore out of the way, we pulled up the chairs and settled in for a chat.  I mentioned the Check Engine Light issue and erratic speedometer problem we’ve been having, and quick as a wink Bill had his ProLink/NexIQ engine diagnostic tool out, hooked up to our bus, and we were reading codes.  The DDEC II engine computer did not have any active codes set and only one inactive code.  The inactive code was for a fuel temperature sensor high voltage.  Joe Cannarozzi (our mobile mechanic) and I had replaced the fuel temperature sensor back in the spring but I never got around to hooking up my ProLink and clearing the old code.  That little oversight has caused me way too many anxious moments.  My bad.

Bill also had a special card for his diagnostic equipment that allowed us to look at the error codes from the ATEC transmission computer.  No codes were set, indicating that the vehicle speed sensor was sending a good signal at least as far as the transmission computer.  We assumed that was the case as the transmission was working great and the cruise control was working as it always has.  The erratic speedometer appears to be either a wiring problem between the computer and the dashboard or the speedometer gauge itself.  The easiest/cheapest thing to do would be to clean the connectors on both ends.  The next easiest thing would be to replace the speedometer and hope that’s the problem, but that will not be the least expensive solution if turns out not to be the gauge.

Although I had stopped worrying about the Check Engine Light, it was a great relief to know that there were no active error codes being generated by the engine or transmission computer.  One of the great things about rallies in general, and converted bus rallies in particular, is that many converted bus owners have done their own conversions and have a special sense of community about their machines.  They know their way around buses, travel with tools and parts, and are usually willing to help each other when there’s a problem.

With a potential awning disaster discovered and averted and the Check Engine Light issue resolve, we finally settled in to our chairs for a long, well-deserved, chat.  While we were talking four Sandhill Cranes walked by about 50 feet away.  These magnificent gray birds have a distinctive red cap on their heads, and can stand almost 4 feet tall.  Although they tend to spend summers much farther north in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Canada, we have them on our property in southern Michigan during the late spring to early winter.  We also saw kildeer, and several other birds we did not recognize.  On the drive down today we saw pelicans and egrets plus the usual raptors that can often be spotted along highways.

By 5:30 PM it was getting dark and mosquitoes started to appear so we wrapped up our conversation and headed inside for the night.  With all of the activity and socializing we had managed to skip lunch.  Rather than take an hour to prepare something, we had the chickpea salad Linda made the other day.  It’s one of our favorite cold dishes and reminds us of egg salad.

Linda turned on the TV and scanned for channels.  We are parked facing west with the front OTA TV antenna pointed slightly north of our nose.  That’s somewhat in the direction of Tampa St. Petersburg although they are actually northwest of our location.  The scanner found 60 digital stations, so she flipped through them to see what was there.  We had the PBS trio, a weather station, the usual commercial offerings, and lots of Spanish language stations.  Impressive really; if you look at a road atlas Arcadia is 40 miles east of I-75 and appears to be in the middle of huge swamp.

We could not find a usable Wi-Fi signal so we turned on our Verizon Mi-Fi device and got online.  If you need to be online while traveling, you need to have more than one way to get there.  (Technomadia has the definitive book on the subject for RVers.)  We checked e-mail and I worked on this post.  We took a few minutes to have vegan chocolate cake with fresh strawberries.  We finished up our online work and went to bed early.  Although the rally does not start until Sunday, I have to start acting like a reporter tomorrow so I can write a really good article on this event with lots of good photographs.