Tag Archives: Jorge Lopez-Chavez

2015/10/09 (F) All Charged Up

We finished the current batch of granola for breakfast and had just finished our meal when Chris, from Bratcher Electric, showed up at 8:45 AM to service the whole house generator.  He let me watch and explained the various steps in the process.  The trickiest part appeared to be replacing the spark plug on the back side of the engine.  Everything else was fairly accessible.  There is a 1/4 turn valve to drain the oil and a rubber tube to get it out to a collection vessel.

Chris had what looked like a small gas can but it was painted blue.  It had a clear plastic tube attached to what would normally be the air vent.  The tube was sized to just fit inside the oil drain hose.  A vacuum pump was threaded on to opening where the pour spout would normally go.  A few pumps of the handle and the device sucked the oil right out of the engine and contained it so he could transport it easily and cleanly.  It was a very clever device, and obviously very handy for someone who does several generator maintenance procedures every day.

He gapped the spark plugs at 0.028″, checked the air filter (it was fine), replaced the oil filter, noting the date on the filter with a permanent marker, and put ~2-1/3 quarts of 5W-30 synthetic oil back in the engine.  He cautioned me to only use the specified filter and pure synthetic oil.  The engine runs hot under load and regular oil can lead to problems.  He checked all of the settings and changed the weekly self-test to run at full speed for the entire time.  He prefers that setting as it gets the engine up to normal operating temperature and helps burn off any moisture in the oil.  He started the unit manually, let it run for a while, and then shut it down and put in back in AUTO mode.

Linda prepared the dry ingredients for her vegan chocolate cupcakes and then put together a grocery list.  She left to go to Meijer’s while Chris was still working.  He finished up around 10:15.  I worked on the bus, using split plastic wire loom to protect the wires that power the fans on the heat exchangers.  I then worked on reconnecting the wires from the front bay electric heater to the supply wires.

A close up view of the fill/bleeder valve assembly for the heat exchangers in the desk bases.

A close up view of the fill/bleeder valve assembly for the heat exchangers in the desk bases.

The supply wires run inside the HVAC duct.  They originally came out of the duct and went through a hole in the floor into the OTR air-conditioning bay and then through the partition wall into the front bay.  I had to cut the cable and pull it through the floor from underneath so I could install the new floor tile.  I could clearly see where the OTR HVAC supply duct came into the distribution duct but when I tried drilling from below I seemed to hit metal.   The bottom of the duct was clearly plywood so I drilled from above with a 1/2″ spade bit.  I got through most of the plywood but again seem to hit metal.  I knew there wasn’t anything in that location, like wires, pipes, or air lines, so I switched to a 1/2″ twist drill and finished the hole.

I dropped a screwdriver through the hole so I could locate it from below.  I then pushed the electrical cable from the heater up through the hole and secured it to a fastener on the forward wall with a cable tie.  Linda got back at this point so I helped get the groceries into the house.  She then mixed a new batch if granola and put it in the oven to bake.  I gathered up my electrical tools, uncapped the feed wires, checked them with a volt meter to make sure they were not energized, connected the feed wires to the load wires, and tucked them back inside the duct.

We had a choice as to what to work on next—fill the heat exchangers and hoses with antifreeze or hang the wallpaper in the hallway—so we had lunch.  Summer has passed, but tofu hotdogs with mustard, onion, and relish, along with some red grapes, was still a tasty lunch.

When we got back to work in the coach we decided to hang the wallpaper.  The pieces were already cut and laid out on the bed.  Hanging them not only got them off the bed, it would allow us to get the wood trim off the bed as well and back on the lower wall.  But not today.  The wallpaper adhesive needs to cure for 24 hours before we work around it and does not achieve its full cure for 5 to 7 days.  We have one piece of wallpaper to hang behind the forward end of the sofa but the wall prep is not finished in that area.  Once that piece is up, and we have the Corian top for the desk, we can complete the installation of the desk and sofa.

Shawna was bringing Madeline at 4:30 PM to spend the night with us.  It was already 2:30 and I needed to get cleaned up and put on non-work clothes before they arrived so we called it a day.  I had once again accumulated quite a few tools in the bus.  I gathered up all of the ones I was done with, returned them to the garage, and locked up the coach.  The UPS truck showed up with my package from B&H Photo which I set aside temporarily while I took a shower and got dressed.

The box looked like it had been treated well in shipment.  I opened the box, carefully removed all of the contents, and compared them to the order/packing list.  Everything was there and appeared to be in pristine condition.  I unwrapped the battery charger and Lithium ion battery, put the battery in the charger, and plugged it in.  The new charger is essentially the same as the one that came with my Sony alpha 100 years ago so I got the old one from the basement.  I bought five additional batteries so I opened one of them and plugged it in to the old charger.  I then found the Instruction Manual and curled up with it on the living room sofa while Juniper (the cat) curled up on me.

The directions with the charger and the batteries indicated that it can take up to 175 minutes to fully recharge a battery and that full charge is not obtained until an hour after the charging light goes out.  So, basically, I need to leave the batteries in the charger for three hours to ensure they are fully charged.  The camera takes one battery, and the vertical grip accessory takes two batteries, so my normal operating configuration will be to have three batteries in the use.  That’s why I have a total of six batteries for this new camera.  I will probably buy another charger so I can charge three batteries simultaneously.

I called Chuck to let him know I got my car back late yesterday but would not be able to move the windshields box until sometime next week.  It turned out that he and Barbara were also busy all weekend.  His daughter, son-in-law, and grandson were in town with more family arriving from Trinidad and Tobago this evening.  Tomorrow is his grandson’s first birthday and Sunday he is being baptized at the church in Ann Arbor where Chuck’s daughter was married.

Shawna showed up just after 4:30 PM.  Madeline had fallen asleep in the car and was slow to wake up, clinging to her mom for quite a while.  Linda brought in the various bags of clothes and toys along with the inflatable bed and got everything situated in the middle bedroom.  When Linda mentioned making cupcakes Madeline finally woke up and became cheerful.  Once her focus was on baking with Grandma Linda Shawna was able to slip away without any drama on Ms. M’s part.

Today was Brendan and Shawna’s friend Jorge’s birthday and the three of them were headed to a new restaurant in Detroit to celebrate.  The restaurant does not take reservations and is apparently very popular at the moment so Shawna was not sure if they would actually get to eat there.

With Linda’s help Madeline mixed the ingredients for the cupcakes and managed to pour most of the batter into the baking tray.  Linda then prepared dinner while I played with Madeline.  We did the ABCs on her placemat, and then colored with crayons.  Dinner was mock chicken tenders, edamame, and steamed carrot rounds with fresh orange segments and sliced strawberries, so it was mostly fresh, whole plant-based foods.

As soon as the cupcakes were cool enough to be frosted Madeline coated each one with the special Halloween orange frosting and the back and orange Halloween sprinkles.  I was summoned to inspect the work and then it was time to eat.  Madeline selected a cupcake for herself and then one for me and one for Linda.  We ate them at the table and they were very good.

After cupcakes we played soccer with two different balls, kicking and throwing them all around the house.  By 8 PM we needed to start winding things down.  Shawna had left her iPad and Madeline selected a Curious George video about Christmas.  Linda and Madeline climbed up in our bed where they could stretch out their legs and watched the first 60% of the cartoon.  I opened two more camera batteries and put them in the chargers and then joined the girls.  We will watch the rest of the cartoon tomorrow morning.

I helped Madeline brush her teeth and Linda got her into her pajamas.  Linda read her several stories and finally got her in bed around 9:15 PM.  During dinner Madeline inquired about having pancakes for breakfast.  (I had made the same inquiry over lunch.)  Linda did not have all of the ingredients she needed so after Madeline went to bed I went to Meijer’s in Howell and bought avocado oil and all-purpose flour.  Linda is trying to use up ingredients rather than stock up on them so I bought a two pound bag of King Arthur organic unbleached enriched all-purpose flour even though I could have bought a 10 pound bag of the Meijer’s brand (bleached and not organic) for only 50 cents more.

Just before going to bed I opened two more batteries and put them in the chargers.  We went to bed at 11 PM but did not turn on the TV to ensure that we did not disturb Madeline’s sleep.  I was basically done with the draft of this post and read some more of the Instruction Manual for my new Sony alpha 99 (SLT-A99V) camera and vertical battery grip (VG-C99AM).  I am really looking forward to using this new equipment but it takes a couple of days to charge batteries, install software, and read manuals enough to be able to configure it for first use.  This class of camera has a lot of adjustable parameters with default settings that may or may not be what any particular user wants.


2015/09/07 (M) Grouted

Linda got up at 6:45 AM to get a shower before Madeline woke up.  She peeked in the bedroom at 7:30 and there was no Madeline to be seen!  She pushed the door open a little farther and felt some resistance.  She looked behind the door and there was Ms. M, playing hide and seek with Grandma Linda.  🙂  Madeline was not fully awake, however, and sat with Linda on the living room sofa and read stories for a while.

All of this was retold to me as I was up late last night working on yesterday’s blog post and did not get up this morning until 8 AM, just in time for breakfast.  Breakfast was gluten-free toaster waffles with real maple syrup and mixed berries on the side (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries); simple but delicious.

After breakfast Linda took Madeline to the Brighton Mill Pond Imagination Station Playscape.  They needed to return a book to the lending library and Linda wanted to make sure Ms. M had an active morning so she would be tired enough to lie down for her nap at 1 PM.

Bruce grouting the tiles in the hallway by the new bus refrigerator.

Bruce grouting the tiles in the hallway by the new bus refrigerator.

I got back to work on the grout immediately after breakfast.  My goal was to be done by noon as it needed to cure, undisturbed, for 24 hours before we could clean it and resume working inside the bus.  I picked up where I left off last night with the area in front of the refrigerator where the kitchen blends into the hallway.  I was now out into the front half of the bus which is much more open than the hallway, bathroom, and bedroom.  Also, most of the tiles in this area are full 16 inch squares so I thought I might be able to work faster.  That was optimistic to say the least.

It was forecast to be hot today with a high near 90 degrees F and elevated relative humidity.  I turned on the front and middle air-conditioners initially but eventually had to turn off the middle unit when I got to the point where I would no longer be able to reach it.  I was a bit surprised that the front A-C alone kept the coach comfortable but we are approaching the autumnal Equinox so the transit of the sun is enough lower in the southern sky that the coach is in shade for most of the day.

It felt like I was moving right along but by noon it was obvious that this was going to be an all-day task so I stopped to have lunch.  Linda served vegan hotdogs with pickle relish and onions and set out a large bunch of grapes.  After lunch I resumed the grouting while Linda and Madeline watched a video.  Madeline laid down for her nap right on schedule.  Linda then took a few minutes to help me move the Aqua-Hot fan-coil heat exchangers so I could grout the area where they had been sitting on the floor.  Linda cleaned up the kitchen and then had some well-deserved and needed quiet time.

I had a call from Butch around 1:30 PM.  I was in the middle of applying grout and said I would call him back later.  They left on Saturday for the southwest U.S. and were planning to spend this evening at a Walmart near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  By 5:25 PM I had one small set of inter tile spaces to grout when Linda and Madeline came out to tell me that dinner was ready.  I had just finished a section so I had already cleaned my tools.  I put the lid back on the grout container and went inside to eat.

Dinner was mock chicken tenders (vegan), green beans, kale chips, sliced plums, and grapes.  There was a little left over “gravy” (vegan) from last night so I had that on my chicken.  Madeline helped make the kale chips and really liked them.  As soon as I was done eating I excused myself from the table and went back to the bus.

I finished grouting the last four grout spaces and then cleaned up the tools and put them away.  I also cleaned up the cockpit area of the bus which is where everything ended up as I worked my way out of the living area.  I turned off the front A-C and locked the bus.  While I did that Linda cleaned up the kitchen and then gathered up all of Madeline’s things.

When I was done with my chores I cleaned up and changed clothes.  The three of us then loaded all of Madeline’s things into Linda’s car which has had the car seat in it all weekend.  We closed up the house and headed for Ann Arbor.  Linda drove so that I could return Butch’s phone call.

Butch had a possible issue with his house battery bank and wanted to discuss it.  He bought eight AGM batteries last winter in Quartzsite, Arizona and finally installed them over the summer.  They are 12V DC batteries and he has them in a series-parallel configuration to make a 24V DC battery pack with a 12V DC center tap.  A 24V Magnum 4024 inverter/charger is connected to the +24V and DC ground and a Vanner Equalizer is connected to those same points and to the 12V center tap, which is where 12V DC loads, like the water pump, draw their power.  In addition, Butch wired three LED display voltmeters to the battery pack; one for the lower 12V bank, one for the upper 12V bank, and one for the overall 24V bank.

His issue/concern was that the upper and lower 12V banks were not reading the same voltage.  They were different by one volt, which is a lot, and the upper bank had the lower voltage, which I agreed was an odd situation.  Without the Vanner Equalizer 12V loads would draw their energy from the lower 12 V bank and as the charge in that bank got depleted the voltage would drop.  The Vanner Equalizer’s purpose in the system is to draw charge from the upper battery bank to make up for this depletion and keep the voltage the same, or equalized, on both banks.  I presumed that all three voltmeters were accurate and that the Vanner was connected correctly, all of which would be easy enough to check.

After talking about all of this his plan was to temporarily disable the Vanner by removing its connection to battery ground and see what affect that had.  He also thought the Vanner might have a circuit breaker and would check to see if it had tripped.  I could not confirm or deny whether this would work.  I have looked for information on how the Vanner does what it does and not found much although I have found circuit diagrams for other battery equalizers.  My presumption is that it is a small inverter/charger, taking DC power from the upper 12V bank, creating some sort of AC waveform, and applying it to one side of a 1:1 transformer.  The other side of the transformer sees the same AC waveform, converts it back to 12V DC, and applies it to the lower battery.  The transformer is the key as it isolates the two banks relative to ground.  I wrapped up the call a few minutes before we got to our destination.

We arrived at Brendan and Shawna’s house at 7:45 PM. They had pulled up just minutes before us and were unloading their car.  They had not dropped Jorge at his home yet so we got to visit with him too.  Madeline had me read her a book about what happens if you give a cat a cupcake.  We stayed until 8:15 PM and offered to drive Jorge home as Brendan and Shawna had to get Madeline to bed and then eat something for dinner.  Madeline got out the cupcakes she helped make and offered those for their evening meal.  Tomorrow is a work day for her parents and she has to go to her new school.  Jorge is also starting a new job as the wine department manager at the new Plum Market on the northeast side of Ann Arbor, so everyone needed their rest this evening.

We were going to stop at Meijer’s supermarket on the way home but encountered rain before we got to the Brighton exit.  We stopped at the Shell station instead, filled up the gas tank, and bought two large decaf coffees at the Dunkin Donuts co-located with the station.  Back at the house we each had a vegan cupcake and then sat quietly in the living room working on our iPads while enjoying our brew and the company of our cats.  By 10 PM Linda was sleepy and went to bed.  I was also tired but stayed up longer to finish this post.  Scattered thunderstorms were forecast over a several hour period starting at 11:30 PM.  That is when I turned off the light but they had not yet started.  We could use a good soaking rain so I hope we get one overnight.


2014/07/10 (R) Home And Garden

On Tuesday I agreed to demonstrate the new SLAARC WordPress website at our ham radio club meeting this coming Sunday.  I would like to spend some time working on the site between now and then but it is well enough along at this point to give folks a preview at the meeting, time permitting.  My current goal is to unlock the public portions of the website by the August meeting and then supply each of the members with their username and password shortly thereafter.  My “stretch goal” is to have the site set up so a member’s username and password also allows them to edit their roster record in the Participant’s Database.  It’s a stretch goal because it is unlikely I will meet it unless I really stretch myself, which is to say, I put aside a lot of other tasks to concentrate on this on, or I work more/harder and sleep less.  Yeah, like that’s going to happen.

In fact, it was a nice enough day today that we both decided to work in the yard.  I concentrated on pruning branches, mostly dead, from two fir trees and cutting them up into manageable size pieces for the fire pit.  Linda took some time to weed the plant beds on the east end of the house and the juniper beds behind the garage.  By mid-afternoon I’d had enough of this work for the day and turned my attention towards reorganizing our RV-related computer files.

Steve (Village Landscape Development) showed up mid-afternoon with the excavator and re-positioned several large boulders on the west retaining wall so one of his crews could continue working on the walls first thing tomorrow morning.  He also brought samples of three different color bricks so I could select one for the front sidewalk.  The one I selected is slightly darker than the pre-cast steps and similar to the reddish color mortar used on the main house bricks.  The pavers will be solid, rectangular, and installed flat in a herringbone pattern on a 45 degree bias.  We also discussed placing one or two medium size boulders on either side of the upper steps to keep folks from stepping off of the porch or the side of the stairs.

For dinner we had a large salad with lots of “extras” and then opened a bottle of NV Cesar Florido Moscatel Dorado.  This is a sherry from Jerez (Spain) that our son and daughter-in-law got me for Father’s Day.  It was recommended by their friend, Jorge Lopez-Chavez, who manages the wine department at The Produce Station in Ann Arbor, MI.  We each had a small glass (it is 17.5% alcohol by volume) served at ~50 degrees F and agreed that was very good.

After dinner I finished re-organizing our RV-related computer files, backed them up to our NAS units, and the copied them to my Windows 8.1 laptop.  We watched the last episode of season four of Doc Martin using our Amazon Video account.