Monday, May 22, 2017

Day 17

The big news is Bridget arrived with her two dogs on the red-eye flight into Portland. This is the first time she saw the RV and her initial reaction was "it feels small" but seems to have a lot of storage. Hmmm, we'll see how this goes as I thought it seemed huge especially while towing it. But that's probably a different perspective. I think that the dogs are just happy to be out the the belly of the plane.

It got up to 93°F today and it feels miserably hot. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Day 16 - Oregon Vintage Motorcycle show

Trobairitz sent me an email letting me know that there was a vintage motorcycle show at the fairgrounds where I am camped. It was a beautiful day with a very packed campground last night. Not only the RV spots but the tent camping area as well. The bikes were roughly grouped by continent of origin i.e. Asia, European, American and British. Lots of beautiful bikes, only a couple of sidecar rigs.










The only RV stuff I did today was install the compartment locks and install a different cable clamp in the AC breaker box. I may have identified a potentially serious problem with the RV, I think the black tank and the galley tank valves are stuck in the open position. This would seriously limit our ability to dry camp. This is unexpected.

Today it was in the mid-80s so the air conditioning works. At least at these temperatures. I ran the inverter starting at about 7pm last night. Watched TV, made coffee, charged up everything. The batteries were only down 9% and were fully charged by 11:00am. I think we are in good shape there. The EMS that I installed yesterday shows the AC current. I am surprised that the air conditioner varies between 9 - 18 amps and the microwave is draws even more at 19 amps. Pretty handy.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Day 15

I think that I'm just about done.

The Raspberry Pi is set up and running. For some reason, the Tristar was absorption charging at 15.1 volts. Too high. I restarted the unit and that seemed to resolve the problem. It looks s supposed to be 14.8 volts Hmmm, I'll have to keep an eye on that. Fortunately, that's what the Trimetric is for.

The automatic transfer switch (circled in red) is installed and tested. It's purpose is to switch the outlets in the trailer between the inverter and shore power. Installation was pretty straightforward. One romex to the breaker (hot), neutral and ground in the panel and one romex to the outlets hot, neutral and ground which are isolated from the panel. And a third cord plugs into the inverter output. The breaker is 15 amps and that matches the 2000 watt output of the inverter pretty well. BTW, the refrigerator is on the same circuit so I need to remember to switch the refrigerator to propane if I don't want it to run off of the inverter. The transfer switch is in the same compartment as the EMS so I ran an extension cord forward to the inverter.

If you have an RV, take a look at the keys for the storage compartments. If it says "CH751" then you may want to re-key your compartments. That key is used by many manufacturers probably for the convenience of the dealers. Once I was able to physically measure the storage compartment locks, I was able to order replacements from Industrial Lock and Hardware (ch751.com). They arrived in today's mail so I'll probably install them tomorrow morning. As you can see, I opted for the cylindrical keys just to be different.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Day 14

Two weeks so far… And there is a little bit of moto content in this post.

Today, I installed the Electrical Management System or in non-vendor speak, a surge protector. It is wired into the main power cable that is plugged into a campground. There is a remote LED numeric display showing realtime voltage, current, frequency and any error codes. If the campground pedestal is miswired or the voltage is too high or low then power is disconnected. This is just how it looks when unpacked from the box. The left side is the input from the power pedestal and the right side is the output to the breaker panel.

All installed. There is a coil installed over the hot lead on the output to measure the output current. I'm planning to just install it diagonally on the floor of this little compartment next to the electrical panel The automatic transfer switch will  be installed here as well as there is very little room behind the breaker panel. I needed to pick up a strain relief for the electrical panel on my daily run to Home Depot.

This afternoon I drove up to Tigard, OR, which is a suburb on the south side of Portland. I have been looking forward to a talk by moto-author Sam Manicom. It was a great talk with really cool pictures (made with a film camera) of Africa. He spent a year on the road in Africa before deciding to not return to England to a job that he didn't like and shipped himself and his BMW R80 G/S to Australia on a freighter. If you haven't read his books, I would recommend them. If you prefer audiobooks, like I do, he is the reader.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Day 13

Not a lot to report. I used a level on the floor by the door when I was leveling the trailer yesterday. It was not a good choice. To level the trailer, you use blocks under the wheels. The wheels are then chocked. After raising the front using the landing gear, the trailer is unhitched from the truck. The landing gear is then used to level the trailer front to back.

My inner ear got a workout yesterday as it wasn't very level. I re-hitched up and fixed it this morning. It feels a whole lot better now. Since the trailer is level, I was able to set up the LevelMate Pro. This talks to your iOS or Android device via Bluetooth LE and shows how unlevel the trailer is and displays with 1/4" resolution. I.e. You tell it the track and the distance from the rear axle to the front landing gear and it tells you how many leveling blocks are needed. 


Yesterday afternoon, I made a run to an RV shop to pick up some things that I hadn't ordered previously. Such as a 30# propane tank (only one was installed though there was room for two). A sewer hose, some chemicals for the black tank and some wheel chocks. I had ordered some X-Chocks but there wasn't enough room between the trailer tires. Fortunately, the gentleman behind me in line was going to buy some X-Chocks. I sold him the ones I had bought from Amazon. 

Another easy update was replacing 24 inside light bulbs with led replacements. The incandescent bulbs drew about 1.5 amps per bulb while all 24 led bulbs draw 3.2 amps. That's less than 1/10th the power. Plus, they run a whole lot cooler. 



I installed a 31" Samsung TV that we purchased from my son when he moved out of the state. I also set up the Ubiquity Nano and Gateway. To get power to these things, I had to dig into the electrical panel seen at the bottom right. The outlets by the TV (and the ceiling fan?) were on the same circuit as the converter aka battery charger. I rearranged circuits (only 6 duplex outlets) so all of the outlets are on the same 15 amp circuit and the converter is on it's own circuit so it can be easily shut off. 

Yesterday morning, I was seeing 18 amps from the panels and that was without the sun overhead.

The next project is to pick up another strain relief so I can run the cables from the automatic transfer switch into the electrical box. This would allow power for the outlets (mentioned above) to be powered off of the inverter when no shore power is available. And as soon as the RV is plugged into the campground, power switches automatically to the campground.

The main shore power cable runs through the little cabinet next to the electrical panel and that seems to be the logical place for the wired in surge protector. 


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Day 12

Got enough done to get on the road. A huge thank you to Steve and Karen for not only opening up their home and shop but also providing lots of tips from their experiences as fifth wheel owners. Their suggestion to go through Portland between 10am and 11:30am was very helpful to this novice driver. 

 

After getting past Portland, I stopped at a rest area to check tire and bearing temperatures as well as checking to see if anything was loose. 

 

I'm now looking camped in Corvallis for about a week. It'll give me a chance to clean things up on the inside as well as start finding places to put things. The basement storage is a disorganized mess. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Day 11

I used the "special photovoltaic" wire to connect the panels to the combiner box. I had purchased 50' of the 10awg wire and five each of the special MC4 connectors and the tools. The insulation is supposed to be weather and UV resistant. Shown are the plastic wrenches used to assemble the connector. 

 

I ran the wires into the combiner box using weatherproof bulkhead fittings. But I covered the entry with clear silicone caulk anyway. To keep the cables from moving I used a long piece of the 4" wide Eternabond roof repair tape. This was the last task on the roof. 

 

The next project was installing the Trimetric 2025-RV. I opted for simplicity and routed the cable along the same path as the solar cables. This meant that it is installed on the side of the closet. I mounted the remote for the inverter in the same location. 

 

It may make more sense to install this somewhere more central like in the kitchen but this was way easier. With SteveA's help, I disposed of the old RV queen mattress and put in the memory foam mattress that I picked up on. Amazon. 

Since I was done on the roof, I installed the bicycle rack in the rear receiver. And hung the garage sale Specialized RockHopper bike on the rack. I noticed that the front bead of the new tire was coming off so I quickly deflated the tire. Another project but this one can wait. Another item that I seemed to have forgotten was the ibuprofen. Lots of muscle aches today. I think it's from climbing up and down the ladder to the roof. 


Monday, May 15, 2017

Day 10

ChrisL was dropped off at my mom's home at 7:45am and we headed for Portland shortly afterwards. Chris was planning to explore Portland including a visit to the Japanese Garden. I continued north to where the RV was being stored as I was anxious to start the solar panel installation. 

Step 1 was to install the mounting brackets to the four panels. Then haul the panels up to the roof. To install the panels, I first cleaned the roof where the brackets would mount. Then put down a piece of Eternabond tape which is designed for roof repair. I figured that the tape would separate the aluminum brackets from the roof material and provide some protection to the roof material. I used Dicor lap sealant under each bracket to seal the holes. 

 

I then drilled a small pilot hole and screwed in the self drilling screws through the bracket, lap sealant, Eternabond tape into the wood underneath the roof membrane. More lap sealant was put over the screw heads. With eight screws per panel, they are solidly mounted. 

 

Here is an "after" photo of the solar panels. There is still plenty of more room on the roof if I want to install more panels. This is 400 watts of panels. 

 

Now comes the stressful part. I need to install the combiner box. Essentially a waterproof junction box that the panels feed into. And drill a 1" hole in the roof to connect the combiner box to the charge controller in the basement. I found a spot in the corner of the bedroom closet right between the closet wall and a roof truss. I drilled a 1/4" hole through the closet ceiling and then through the roof. After enlarging the two holes (one in the ceiling and one in the roof) with a 1" hole saw, ran the pair of 4awg arc welding cable into the combiner box. The stress is not knowing exactly where the best place to drill the 1" holes. I figured that I had one chance to get it right.  

 

I put down a good layer of lap sealant under the box, screwed the box to the roof with stainless screws. Then covered everything with more lap sealant. Tomorrow I'll run the 10awg wires from the panels into the combiner box. Once I do that, the solar installation is complete. The 4awg wires were run through the floor and into the battery compartment. I had purchased 15' cables and I needed just about all of it to reach the compartment. BTW, all of the bare copper was coated with Ox-Guard before being clamped into place. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Day 8

Yesterday afternoon, I picked up ChrisL, of EverydayRiding.org, from the Portland airport. Quite coincidentally he arrived one the same day I was planning to be passing through the area. We had a wonderful lunch at The Bye and Bye in Portland. I had the BBQ Brussel Bowl w/avocado and it was absolutely amazing. There was a lot of traffic on I-5 down to Corvallis but the company more than made up for it. I dropped him off with Troubadour and Trobairitz before heading over to me mom's home. My sister and brother in-law came up from Eugene to visit.

Today, I went through and inventoried all of the RV stuff that I had sent here from Amazon. All of these vendors said "we don't ship to Alaska, only within the continental U.S.". I don't remember crossing any oceans to get here. Maybe I wasn't paying close enough attention. Fortunately, we had here as a shipping option. I will be doing another post on all of the not insignificant amount of stuff needed after you pick up an RV.

This is the last picture I took of Scooterbob which was at the Princeton, BC, airport. This was last Thursday on the way through central Washington to the Oregon border. 


Scooterbob has been dropped off for more adventures with Troubadour and Trobairitz. It was suggested that we can call this moto-blogger meetup "iMBC 2017". The "international" flavor being supplied by Troubadour and Scooterbob.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Day 7

Slept in until 8 this morning. Really thankful for friends letting me stay there while working on the RV.  Today I took some measurements of the roof area where I'll be install the PV panels. I'm thinking two across the front and two others at 90° from them along each side. This still leaves plenty of walking space in the middle for cleaning the panels. 

 

I installed the RV Lock since I had some time before heading to the airport. This lock has not only a combination but also a wireless remote to lock and unlock the deadbolt. Really simple to install and setup. I had picked this up during their "Black Friday" sale back in November. It works pretty slick. 


 

I also took inventory of all the interior 12 v light bulbs and will be ordering LED bulbs. A huge difference between 1.1 amp per bulb and 0.1 amp. I also plan on doing all the exterior lights but that may have to wait a bit. The replacement locks for the storage compartment doors have been ordered. They still had the CH751 generic lock that just about all RVs share from the factory. 

I also lowered the hitch in the truck to its lowest position. This puts it 6.5" below the bed rails and the bottom of the overhang of the trailer about 6" above that. Hopefully the trailer will be approximately level. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Day 6

Well, the title could be "Blah, Blah, Blah". I stopped at where the trailer has been stored so I could off load stuff brought from home. I took the opportunity to finish part of the installation. This is the front electrical compartment on the RV. The two circuit breakers on the lower right and the 6 awg wires is the stock DC system. I connected the two positive leads to a new shutoff switch and the two ground leads to the ground bus. The plywood fit easily behind the driveshaft for the front landing gear though I had to trim about 2" off the bottom of the plywood to fit the lid onto the battery box. I drilled a 1 3/4" hole in the bottom of the battery box and the lid for ventilation. The black hose on the right connects to the hose fitting on the lid.  Getting all this installed took most of the afternoon. 

Since this is no longer a "test", I used an anti-oxidizing paste on all of the electrical connections. So far the only thing I forgot to bring were 2" screws to install the shutoff switch feeding the existing 12 volt system. I also need to pick up some eye bolts and ratchet straps so I can anchor the battery box to the floor. At 280 pounds, I want it firmly fastened down. The extra openings in the box will be covered with some Eternabond tape before the lid is locked down. 

 

Day 5

Another 500+ mile day. I stayed at the Toll Bridge County Park south of Hood River, OR. I heard about the campground on a YouTube video and it is as nice as it was described with a noisy river to dampen out any noise. If there was any. The place was pretty deserted. Plus the shower were free with plenty of hot water. It started to rain at about 10 so I headed off looking for some coffee. One thing that I didn't pack. 

The camp hosts were Tom and Lori. A retired couple who travel full time in their 5th wheel with a dog and cat. They were the ones who posted the video. I'll post a link to the video once I can use my laptop again. Another limitation of the iPhone app…

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Day 4

No pictures today as my current Internet connection is really, really slow. A relatively short travel day today. About 370 miles down to Merrit, BC. This afternoon, I stopped at the Williams Lake visitors center to use the fast, free Wi-Fi. Combined with Wi-Fi calling, I'm able to pick up text messages and make phone calls with no roaming charges. Very convenient. There was an Indian food truck in the parking lot of the visitors center so I had a tasty veggie samosa with some sort of spicy dipping sauce.

Fuel prices seemed high when filling up the truck. I guess the 35 gallon tank doesn't help. But after applying the very favorable exchange rate, it comes out to $3.89/US gallon. That's in British Columbia. In the Yukon Territory it was about 15% higher. One thing that has caught me by surprise was all of the Provincial Parks being closed. At the visitors center they told me that the opening day is May 18th (a Thursday? Odd.).

Tomorrow is border crossing day into central Washington. On Thursday I will be stopping at the RV to drop of most of the stuff in the truck as I'll need the space for the stuff I had shipped to Corvallis. And maybe I'll start installing some of this stuff. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Day 3 - 2017 Road Trip

After the last couple of long days, this was supposed to be a more relaxing day. It didn't turn out that way. I left Fort Nelson around 9am after unsuccessfully trying my debit card in the local ATM. And just like yesterday, it came back "unauthorized". So I continued on down to the other end of the Alaska Highway to get a ScooterBob photo. And picked up some more items for the collection at the visitors center. I had never actually stopped at the visitor's center here though I've been through here numerous times.

While in Dawson Creek, I stopped at a Tim Horton's for some coffee and use their free WiFi. I sent a message to the credit union explaining my problems with their debit card. They must've fixed something as it worked at the ATM in Chetwynd. I continued heading west then south towards Prince George with no intention of going that far. I passed four provincial parks all of which were still closed. Three of them with locked gates. And the one that didn't have a gate had fallen trees all over the roads so I assumed not yet open. I eventually found myself in Prince George at 8:55pm after a very long 885 km. I should've picked up a donut as Bridget suggested.

But, I did see numerous deer (on the road!), four black bear and one large brown bear. The brown bear was sitting in the middle of the lane and slowly ambled off to the side as I approached.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Day 2

After an wonderful overnight stop in Whitehorse with some friends of friends, I headed out for the next long-ish day. Until I get over the Canadian Rockies, the Provincial campgrounds and most of the tourist services are closed. Fortunately, the truck is getting over 23 mpg which gives me a range of around 800 miles. So gas stops aren't very frequent but expensive. Fuel is around $1.25/liter. This rest stop looks over Teslin and the longest steel grate bridge on the highway. 

 

After this beautiful, sunny stop it started to rain. The next stop was Muncho Lake. Still very frozen with lots of caribou running around (and across) the road. Traffic has been very light so far. 

 

Day 1 was 588 miles. Day 2 was coincidentally almost the same at 587 miles. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Launched

I'm finally headed down the road. I think that I have what I need. Lots of plastic bins, action packers and cardboard boxes full of stuff for the new-to-us RV. And the tools needed to install things. There was a lot of running around today looking for the last couple of things. This picture was taken right before the toolbox was locked and the tonneau cover was rolled over everything. I then installed the bike rack in the hitch receiver and had to dig back into the toolbox for a 7/8" socket and breaker bar.

Here are a few phone pictures from the trip. They aren't "clickable" due to limitations of the iPhone app used for editing. As you may notice, Scooterbob is on the road again. BTW, the Spotwalla link on the right sidebar is active. 

 

 

 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Almost Ready

I think I'm mostly packed for the road trip. The in-bed tool box is full as well. The list is almost endless as it includes tools and supplies to install stuff on the RV plus stuff for the RV road trip plus stuff for the initial road trip south without the RV.  The tonneau cover should keep things reasonably dry and most things are in plastic containers or action packers.

Stuff in the cab that I didn't want to get wet which includes the solar charge controller and inverter. I don't want the stuff to go above the level of the seat backs. The tan "cover" is actually the pet seat cover that I had picked up earlier. I figure that I can just drape it over the stuff in the back seat to kind of cover it.

I just switched tires on the bicycle and doing some minimal maintenance on it. After some thought, I decided to take the old Specialized Hardrock that I had picked up at a garage sale. Today (Tuesday), I dug out the receiver mounted bicycle rack from the storage shed. I think the last time it was used was over ten years ago. Surprisingly, I still had the key for the cable lock built into the rack. The trailer has a sturdy 2" receiver to hold the bike rack. The tires were just street tread tires with kevlar beads from Walmart. I almost didn't even need tire tools to get them mounted on the rim. Things have really changed since the last time I worked on bicycle tires.

One of the items purchased for the trip that I haven't mentioned is the Travel Berkey water filter. It holds about 1½ gallons of filtered water and is sufficient for two or three people. I've had it set up in the kitchen for the last couple of months and the water produced is very good. Not tasteless like distilled or reverse osmosis. Supposedly it qualifies as a water purifier and not simply a filter. As part of the setup process, you put red food coloring in the upper reservoir and check to see that none of it makes it through the filters. I've heard a lot about this system. Now I need to figure out how to transport it. Maybe I'll just set it up in the truck and use it to make drinking water during the trip.

One more item that I have been sort of waffling on is an RV specific gps unit. The one I ordered was the Garmin RV 770 NA LMT-S which was just released last month. BTW, that was one of the reasons for waffling as the older unit may not continue to get updated maps. The RV specific units allow you to enter height, width, length and weight so you can avoid things such as low bridges or tunnels and has predefined points of interest such as truck stops, dump stations, propane sales and campgrounds. The other reason for waffling was that I didn't think we would need it in the western states. From what I hear, most of the RV routing issues are in the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada. But after talking to some other RV owners, I went ahead and picked one up.

And, yes, ScooterBob is going to be travelling down the Alaska Highway. Look for pictures and posts early next week whenever I can get WiFi.