Monday, June 21, 2021

Tow Equipment and Solstice

Saturday - I just ordered the tow bar and baseplate for our tow vehicle. For the tow bar, I had seen several installations of the Ready Brute Elite II which has a mechanical surge brake integrated into the tow bar. There is a cable connected to the brake pedal of the towed vehicle which runs to the front bumper. A cable is clipped from there to a lever on the tow bar. When the towed vehicle pushes on the tow bar, the lever pulls the cable which applies the brakes on the towed vehicle. I like the simplicity. For emergency breakaway, you connect a separate cable from the pedal to the front bumper, and a separate cable is clipped from there to some point on the frame of the motorhome. If there is a failure of any part of the hitch setup, the brakes on the towed vehicle will apply and will stop. An emergency breakaway is required in most states.

This is the baseplate for the tow vehicle. the arms are removable and are completely hidden from the casual viewer. If you know what you are looking for, it's still easy to spot. The claimed installation time is only a couple of hours but projects like this seem to take longer than expected. Additional tasks are integrating the lights so the towed vehicle lights always match the RV lights. The normal way to do this is to install diodes. But I think a better way is to install relays in the tail light housings to switch the bulbs between the RV and the built-in wiring. More on this when it's time to install. There is a 0.6VDC drop when using the diodes. Not an issue if the lights are LED but could affect the brightness with incandescent.

Sunday - No chores were done. Nothing to report...

Monday
 - Well, it’s the beginning of the end. We are starting to lose daylight as of today. At first only a minute or so per day though soon, it’ll be seven minutes per day. Winter is coming… 

This morning, I have been receiving alerts on my phone from the thermostat in the RV. If it is over 85°F, I'll receive alerts for when we leave the animals inside the RV while we are galavanting around out and about. I changed the notification to 95°F to minimize the alerts. It's a nice feature as I could, potentially, start the generator and the A/C remotely though I don't have the generator start function wired up to the thermostat.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

A Week or So in Fbks

The task of the day (Wednesday) was a physical. In December, the doc asked when my last physical was. I had no idea and if they didn’t have a record of it so it was before the invention of paper. So, I guess I'm overdue. 

I  filled up the Ural based on the trip odometer and it only took 3.8 gallons. I guess it’s been a while and maybe I don’t remember what the range actually is these days. Based on my Fuelly log, the gas mileage has been in the low 30s during the summers. 

Last Friday, the Ural was used for a quick shopping run to Costco and a stop at the university. My free university parking pass had expired and I needed to fill out a physical paper form to get it renewed. The local copy place, Dateline, wanted $5 to print out the one page I needed to sign so I went to my office and printed it out there. Dateline has closed their self-serve copiers and printers due to Covid so $5 is their minimum charge for counter service. They did suggest the UPS store for self-serve printing. Anyway, now I can park "legally" even though the parking pass can't be displayed on the dashboard.

On Sunday, we had found a Jeep at the BMW dealer in Anchorage. I called them just before closing so I called this morning. The Jeep had been sold yesterday afternoon. I did get a follow-up call from Dave Smith in Idaho and we talked about what we were looking for. He suggested a couple of 2020 models (still new unsold inventory) which were priced attractively but the wrong color (all black w/black interiors) and all automatic transmissions hardtops. It turns out that we may just order a new vehicle and get it set up the way we want it. Lightweight with few luxury options. 

On Thursday, I was the lead VE (volunteer examiner) for one of the amateur radio test. This was the first time I tried it since we have good, stable, fast Internet. I think it went well and the applicant passed. He was prepared.

This morning, there were quite a few errands to run around town. When I left, it was pouring rain but the Roadcrafter Light kept me completely dry. I had forgotten how convenient it was to get in/out of it. One of the errands was to print out one sheet of paper, sign it, scan and email it back to a Jeep dealer in Idaho. Now we just wait.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Good Bye Truck

One of the tasks for the summer was to sell the 5th wheel RV and the truck. The main reason the truck was purchased in the first place was to tow an RV. We did it for several years and had decided that a driveable RV was the direction we wanted to go. I had looked on KBB.com (Kelley Blue Book) and after entering the mileage, accessories, and condition of the truck, it came up with estimates for trade-in and retail sale. There was another tab called "sell it now" where you get an offer for immediate sale. I went ahead and clicked on that tab and within five minutes got an estimated offer from a local dealer. We stopped by there and after they looked at the truck, they confirmed the offer. So the truck was sold. I'm sure that we could've sold it for more as a private sale but we would have to deal with the general public. I was not looking forward to that. 

The 5th wheel was being stored at an RV dealer and they sold it. I had made a crack about selling it for whatever just to get rid of it. And it sold this afternoon. Bridget didn't care for the selling price that I had agreed to but I view it as we got our use out of it. And given the physical damage to the rear cap and the minimal insulation, I was happy to just get something out of it so we didn't have to continue paying storage fees. 

Now, we need to look for a tow vehicle. A manual transmission Jeep would be ideal but I think we need to expand our search as Jeeps don't seem to depreciate. A five-year-old Wrangler is almost the same price as a new one. Most of them on Craigslist seems to be modified to past the point of reliable transportation. So, for now, the Ural is my daily driver.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Back Home

In other words, now the work begins. I removed the rusted Westin step bars from the truck as they were ready to fall apart. I'm disappointed in these as they came highly recommended back then and the powder coating was supposed to last. They didn't last. I also cleaned out the truck, vacuumed the floors, and emptied out all of the compartments including the toolbox in the bed. One of the front tires was only 40psi (minimum is 75psi) but all of the others were still holding.

The four golf cart batteries are back in the 5th wheel and charging just fine from the solar panels. Even with the overcast, they were getting 22 amps. The batteries were at around 30 SOC according to the charge controller so we'll see how they hold a charge. I did turn on the temperature-controlled fan to 80°F to keep it ventilated. I looked around and there is no evidence of water damage or rodents. For some reason, the slide was not in all the way. After I installed the batteries, I tried the slide and it went in/out just fine. I also put batteries back in the RVLock and it worked. It even retained our code. I wish they made a model for Class A motorhomes. 

The Ural started up just fine after putting the petcock on prime for a minute or so to allow the carburetor bowls to fill. 

I rode the Ural to the gas station to get its first fill-up since July 2019. At least that's what I have in the Fuelly app. Sunday's task was to mow the "lawn". Or at least trim back the dandelions. Now on to some Ural maintenance. Valves, rear brakes, tire pressure. I discovered that one of the aluminum angles that I used to mount the top box had cracked. Probably from me pushing the Ural around in the garage using the box. I made a new piece using some aluminum angle that I had lying around the garage. I think it's even sturdier this time around since I used angle instead of flat stock. The picture is from the monthly BMW Airhead get-together. The Ural is last one on the left.