2014/10/30 (R) To Kokomo We Go
Well…sort of. Our actual destination was Maple Grove Distributors in Galveston, Indiana, which was in the general direction of Kokomo, but not as far. (It’s pronounced “gal VES ten” with the emphasis on the second syllable.) The tie rod ball ends that Butch ordered had finally come in and he wanted to get them early this morning so that: 1) We could get back and take advantage of a relatively nice late October day, and 2) He would have them for tomorrow when the weather is forecast to be lousy and thus a good day for inside work such as fabricating ride height linkages.
In spite of the nice weather I spent most of the day working inside my bus, stopping occasionally to help Butch with something. I don’t have a lot of outside projects at the moment, or at least none that I felt like working on, and I really wanted to get the bedroom TV cabinet taken care of. As with the front TV cabinet that I worked on for the last couple of days, the bedroom cabinet once housed a 19″ CRT TV set and a VHS tape deck. I removed those in late 2011 while the bus was at Phoenix Paint and had Jaral Beaty make doors to cover the openings. Once those doors were installed, I mounted 22″ diagonal, 16:9 aspect ratio, LCD/LED flat panel TV/monitors on each door. The power and signal connections, however, were inside the cabinets, so for the last couple of years the cables have come out of the bottom/rear of the TVs and under the bottom edge of the doors and into the cabinets. This arrangement prevented the doors from being closed, even though they had spring loaded ball catches, so we have held them closed with a couple of pieces of bright green Frog Tape. The tape is sticky enough to hold the door closed but does not seem to leave any reside even after being in place for a while.
As with the front TV cabinet door, I created a horizontal slot behind the TV, positioned to allow the cables to come down out of the back of the TV and bend gently through to the inside of the cabinet. I removed some unneeded cable and coiled up other cables and secured them with zip ties that have a mounting tab with a hole for a screw.
My two outside projects were brief. I got back under the front of the bus between the front tires and unbolted the ride height linkage. It unbolted from the ride height valve lever arm easily but not from the axle bracket. Fonda got a can of Cyclo Breakaway and some paper towels for me, but even after spraying the nut and letting it sit it would not come loose. I am not the strongest guy in the bus yard so I put some more muscle into it and broke the bolt off with the nut still stuck tight to it. The other half of the bolt then slide out easily.
As long as I had my wrenches out I slide under the rear end of the bus to see if I could free a couple of wires for the auxiliary braking system that were pinched under a mounting pad for the rear bumper fascia. The stud had a Nylok nut on it that was barely threaded onto the stud. The reason, I guessed, was the stud was at an angle that made it difficult to get a socket and ratchet on it. I was able to loosen/tighten it using a universal (swivel) adapter between the socket and the ratchet. While I was under there I noticed a second stud with a barely threaded Nylok so I tightened it as well. One of the things you have to watch out for on a used RV is all the work that other people have done ‘just well enough’ to get it ‘out the door’ without something falling off in the parking lot. These are always things that are hidden and relatively inaccessible, which is why they were not done correctly or completely in the first place, but the assumption is you will never see them.
My other inside project was to separate the load wires for the lighted entrance handle and the patio light and put them on separate switches. It turned out that the front most switch just inside the entrance door (next to the passenger seat) was supplying 12VDC power to three circuits, the two just mentioned and a third one that, as of this writing, is still a mystery in that I was unable to determine anything that was being controlled by those wires. The first (front) switch now controls only the lighted entrance handle, the second (middle) switch controls only the patio light, and the third (rear) switch controls…well, I don’t know what it controls but it definitely puts 12VDC power onto a wire that goes somewhere.
I assisted Butch briefly in locating their front fan-coil heat exchanger relative to the bay where the coolant lines will go. Later in the day I helped him position the front suspension of their coach to the MCI specified spacing for the air springs so he can fabricate the ride height linkage to the correct length.
I needed a few parts for projects I might want to work on tomorrow so I left at 7 PM and drove to the Home Depot in Logansport. That also gave me a chance to call Linda and chat about cell phone data plans. I got back to Twelve Mile at 8:30 PM. Butch and Fonda were already having their dinner so I went to my bus and made a salad. After I cleaned up the day’s food utensils I installed the 6-outlet surge protected adapter in the AC duplex outlet in the bedroom TV cabinet. That completed my work for the day and I returned to the house, visited briefly, and retired to my room to check e-mail, offload photo files from my camera, and write this post.
2014/10/31 (F) Boo! Snow (Boo)
After a relatively mild October the weather decided to turn more seasonable just in time for Halloween. I was originally going to title this post “Foot Pounds and Gigabytes” but decided to acknowledge All Hallows’ Eve instead, along with the dramatic change in the weather.
A couple of days ago I bought a torque wrench from Butch that is adjustable up to 600 foot pounds, which is the kind of torque needed to tighten and loosen the lug nuts on our bus wheels. It’s a very big torque wrench; over three feet long. I need to buy a compatible socket to go with it. Today was also the last day for the Verizon and AT&T double your data plan promotions, so I planned my day to put me in Elkhart, Indiana while one of the corporate stores was still open.
I got up around 8 AM and spent 45 minutes doing some preliminary packing after which I went out to my coach and had breakfast. We had snow flurries around 9 AM this morning and did not work outside today save the few minutes I spent adjusting the air pressure in the tires of my Honda Element. Today was mostly about shopping.
I got a cup of coffee from Small Town Brew and then we headed to Logansport where we did most of our usual circuit: NAPA Auto Parts, O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, Rural King, Aldi’s, and Walmart. (The only regular place we did not go was Home Depot.) My only purchase was a 12VDC dual outlet with a mounting flange that I found at O’Reilly’s. I plan to use it to create power connections for the GPS and TPMS receiver. (I realized later that I should have bought three of them as I also need to supply power to the DVD camera/recorder up front and the TPMS repeater which I plan to mount in the rear TV cabinet.)
We got back around noon and I spent the next couple of hours straightening up the inside of the bus and packing everything that was going home with me. Around 2:45 PM I finished packing the stuff I had in the guest bedroom and began loading the car. I wrote up a list of things we owed each other money for and, as I expected, I owed Butch more than he owed me. (He tends to order things we need on his accounts and I pay him back.) I bought a Variac from him, added it to the list, and put it in the car. Fonda has been working on a wedding dress for their daughter Gene for quite some time and was done except for some trim, so I got to see it before I left, which I did at 3:15 PM. It was very nice.
I had located a Verizon corporate store on US-33 just south of US-20 which was on my normal route home. I arrived at that intersection around 4:45 PM and first stopped at the Burger King next door for some French Fries. The Verizon sales associate, Hector, claimed to know nothing about the double data promotion and insisted there was no such thing available. I called Linda from their parking lot and we discussed what to do as today was the last day for the promotion. She had checked our account online last night, and although we could change our monthly data allowance online (for a price, of course) there was no information about the promotion available there either. Very strange considering how much this has been in the media all month.
Linda was stuck in traffic coming home from the bakery so we chatted while I made my way over US-20 to CR-17 (IN) to I-80/90 (Indiana Tollroad) to the I-69 exit where I had to pay my toll. Traffic on her end had also loosened up by then so we ended our call.
My entire trip home was in some form of precipitation; mostly rain but occasionally sleet or snow, with very strong and gusty winds from the north that made for somewhat more difficult driving. It also made it difficult to judge the effect of the adjusted tire pressures on handling although the shimmy seemed to be gone. I stopped at the Michigan Welcome Center on I-69 and unpacked some of the food I had with me. I stopped again at M-60 for coffee at McDonald’s and fuel at the TA/Shell station where Regular gasoline was $2.929. It’s been a long time since we have seen gasoline prices below $3/gallon. That was my last stop before arriving home at 8:45 PM. The last few miles were through moderate snow and the strong winds had coated the north facing side of trees and road signs.
Linda helped me unload the car and get everything into the house. I gave Butch a call to let him know I had arrived home safely and we chatted briefly about bus projects. I took a shower and went to bed where I finished this post before 11 PM and went to sleep.
2024/11/01 (S) Words
Although we were both very tired we did not sleep well last night. We awoke early to find a thin covering of snow on our rear deck and over parts of our yard with the temperature in the upper 20s. We went to our SLAARC ham radio club breakfast this morning anyway, the first time in several weeks for Linda, and there was a good turnout. Those members who came from east or south of us did not have snow on the ground.
When we got back to our house Linda worked at her desk on our personal finances while I worked at the dining room table on e-mail, websites, and bus project documentation. Our son and daughter-in-law showed up around 3:30 PM with their daughter. They had a baby shower to attend in Detroit and Madeline was spending the night with us.
Linda had given me the heads up that Madeline’s vocabulary had increased significantly since I last saw her and that certainly proved to be the case. She finally had understandable words for many things including the counting words from one to ten. She is now 22-1/2 months old and is a very active and busy little girl. We played with lots of different toys, including a new little Thomas The Train locomotive that Grandma Linda bought for her.
We had dinner between 6 and 6:30 PM. Madeline had mock chicken tenders with broccoli, cauliflower, mandarin orange segments and sliced strawberries. Linda and I had yummy homemade chili that she had been cooking in the crockpot most of the day. I played with Madeline after dinner while Linda cleaned up the dishes and then joined the fun. Nighty-night is her current pre-bedtime game, but by 7:15 PM she was tired enough let Linda get her into her pajamas and then sit quietly while I read a couple of story books to her. As always, she went to bed without a fuss.
Once Madeline was asleep Linda read and played online word games with friends and relatives and I continued working on my bus projects list, light bulb inventory, and reconciliation of purchases that Butch and I have made for each other. By 10:45 PM I was tired and ready to do something else so I climbed in bed and worked on this post.
2014/11/02 (N) An Extra Hour
At 2 AM EDT this morning it was suddenly 1 AM EST so when Linda got Madeline out of her porta-crib at 8 AM, according to the clocks in our house, it was officially 7 AM. We all slept well last night and Madeline woke up well rested and in a pleasant mood. She enjoys her meals so before any playtime we had breakfast of toast and juice and fresh fruit. Brendan called around 9 AM to see if we could keep her until after her afternoon nap as he and Shawna had professional work they needed to concentrate on. I suggested they come for an early dinner and they agreed. Linda checked her ingredients on hand and then agreed to make her seitan stroganoff served over rice. This is one of my favorite vegan dishes and a standard ‘go to’ when we are having non-vegan company for dinner.
We played with Madeline all morning and she was a very busy girl. She has understandable words for a few things and a much richer, if somewhat secret, vocabulary that she takes great delight in using. She knows the names of her basic colors and has started to get the idea of counting. She enjoys building tall structures with her Lego blocks and is still fascinated with the organ. Running around the island in our kitchen is another favorite activity; sometimes chasing, sometimes being chased, and sometimes holding someone’s finger.
I got a TXT message from Chuck asking if I was back in town and had time to talk. Linda let me take a break from playing with Madeline so I could call him back. He has been working on their bus and wanted to bring me up to date on his projects and get caught up on my projects and timeline.
Our other grand-daughter, Katie, is up in the U. P. with Chris (her dad) and Meghan (our daughter) visiting Northern Michigan University in Marquette. They visited the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore yesterday and made it out to Castle Rock. This evening they had a banquet to attend and tomorrow she has an interview for a scholarship. Katie is interested in animals and wants to study zoology. NMU is one of the few universities that offer a true zoology major rather than a biology major with an emphasis in zoology. It may sound like a distinction without a difference, but it is an important distinction to Katie. Katie is a serious young lady who has done well in school and will certainly represent herself as such during the interview. We are excited for her and hope she is successful in obtaining this merit-based financial support.
By 11:30 AM we were anticipating lunch and Madeline requested pizza. We happened to have an Amy’s Roasted Vegetable pizza in the freezer (our favorite) so Linda preheated the oven and baked it on our pizza stone. We sat down at noon and enjoyed our pizza accompanied by seedless red grapes. We were all full by 12:30 and Madeline was showing signs of being ready for her nap so Linda helped her wash her hands and face and then got her settled in her porta-crib. Madeline enjoys sleeping almost as much as eating and went to bed without any fuss.
The cats, who had retreated to the basement this morning as soon as they heard/saw Madeline, are keenly aware of when she is eating and sleeping. Once we have her in her high chair at the table we usually open the safety gate at the top of the basement stairs so they can come up. Both of them did and walked around under the dining room table, apparently aware that she was not mobile. They eventually went back downstairs but came back up once she was asleep. We decided to leave the door to the middle/blue bedroom open about six inches to see what the cats might do. Jasper immediately turned around and went back downstairs but Juniper stuck her head in the room, probably got sensory overload, and also left.
Linda needed a few grocery items and went to Meijer’s in Brighton where she topped up her gas tank for $2.919 a gallon. If only the price of diesel fuel would pull back to corresponding levels. It has dropped but not by the same amount. I stayed home and worked on my bus projects spreadsheet. When Linda got back with batteries I changed all of the clock batteries and reset the time.
Brendan and Shawna arrived at 3 PM just as Madeline was waking up from her nap. She was thrilled to see her parents, of course, as they were thrilled to see her. It was a beautiful, if somewhat chilly, day and they got her coat, hat, and mittens on and played in the yard while Linda started preparing dinner while I cleared the table of my computer and papers and set it for the meal. We sat down to eat at 4:15 PM and started with a nice salad of chopped greens and cabbage, an Asian dressing, and crispy Asian noodles. The main course was the seitan stroganoff served over white rice and accompanied by roasted Brussels sprouts and a sliced multi-grain baguette. The adults had a small glass of the Leelanau Cellars Witch’s Brew, a seasonal mulled (spiced) red wine.
After dinner Brendan and Shawna began the process of getting ready to leave which includes delay tactics on Madeline’s part and their response to them which is always gentle but persistent. They were out the door at 5:30 PM and by 6 PM we had cleared the table, rinsed the dishes, loaded the dishwasher, and picked up the few toys that were left out in the living room. Although the clock said 6 it felt like 7. As hard and as long as I have been working on bus projects, I am surprisingly tired after spending a whole day with Madeline. I opened the safety gate and Jasper came upstairs right away, eager for our company and attention. He curled up in my lap while I worked on this post.
We watched Inspector Lewis (streamed), the first TV program I have watched in quite some time. Part of the PBS Masterpiece Mystery series, it is a really excellent production. I did some online research on 2m/70cm ham radio antennas and dual (co-phased) CB antennas but did not come to any conclusions about what to get. The problem remains the same; I cannot put anything tall on the roof of the bus and even if I wanted to I have little-to-no access to the underside of most of the roof. The fact that the lower roof sections in the front and rear are part of the front and rear fiberglass caps just complicates matters even more as they do not provide a conductive path or ground plane.