Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Out on the BEO

It was kind of dreary out on the BEO (Barrow Environmental Observatory) today. This is the beginning of the boardwalk. I didn't have very far to go to check out the connection at the SledShed. In prior years, I had to venture quite a ways out and the nice boardwalk disappears into the water and mud in quite a few places.

Configured multiple radios including one that will need to be installed out on the BEO. Hopefully, UIC Science will be able to get it installed out there. They moved me into their newest housing unit that was recently remodeled.

There was a community science fair going on at the BARC so there must’ve been a hundred people running around the building this afternoon. They provided hamburgers and hot dogs and had a series of presentations scheduled this evening. Lots of people on the Internet so service is a little slow. This is just a view from the BARC looking north towards the NARL campus.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Up North, Again

I thought that the trip a couple of weeks ago to Utqiaġvik was the last one. I guess I assumed wrong. I’m sitting in the Deadhorse, AK, airport waiting for the next flight. There is a three hour layover. It is a warm 68°F here and I walked over to the hotel across the parking lot for a soft drink. What is nice is that there isn’t a trace of smoke. Nice, clean air.

I scheduled three full days to get anything and everything done to get the network transitioned to UIC Science and their chosen network provider, ACS. So, for now, I’m scheduled to fly back to Fairbanks on Saturday morning.

Yesterday evening, I tried to take the Ural out but the clutch was dragging again. I’m not sure if there is a problem or due to my removing the throw out bearing to look at it. I didn’t not check the clutch adjustment after reassembling it. But, I didn’t have an opportunity to check it as I had a ham radio board meeting last night.

Something unrelated to this is my iPad updated to the latest iOS beta and there is a noticeable change in the appearance. This is the home screen and you can now have widgets on the home screen. Android users have had this capability since inception but it is now available on the iPad only. Kind of cool...

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Ural Throw out Bearing

Felt good enough this afternoon to remove the throw out bearing on the Ural. As expected, it was pretty much toast. If you look closely, you can see one deformed ball from the ball bearing. Most of them fell on the floor when the pieces were removed. This assembly is located at the rear of the transmission and it engages the pressure plate by a rod running through the input shaft into the clutch. Just like the dry clutch on the BMW airheads.

There wasn't much oil there as it is supposed to be lubricated from the transmission. So I should check the transmission fluid level. I did lubricate the bearing and other components with assembly lube which is grease with a high moly content. It actually looks and feels like the Honda grease used on the transmission input shaft splines. I just happened to have a spare throw out bearing as I had ordered the whole assembly when I rebuilt the engine. The old throw out bearing still looked pristine so I used it over. Especially since it is very easy to access when needed. Such as now.

Later - Transmission oil level was fine. Test drive to the university and gas station was fine. Just like before. I still wonder why the bearing failed...

Monday afternoon - I went ahead and removed the throw out bearing again to make sure that it was getting oil from the transmission. Now that I know better, I didn't remove stuff (air cleaner housing, starter, battery, seat) to get access. I simply removed the pivot bolt and pulled out the bearing assembly. Maybe two minutes tops and that included getting out the tools. The bearing was awash in oil. Enough oil such that the assembly lube was partially washed out. So, it looks good for now but I still don't have any idea why the bearing failed...

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Smoke is Thinning

We have had a bit of rain over the last couple of days. Unfortunately, not a lot of rain and it did come with some wind, thunder, and lightning. I think it started a couple of more fires in southwest Alaska. There is a hint of blue sky overhead and this is the first time that we've seen the hills for most of the week. I've had a bad cold/cough for the last week and the smoke was not helping things at all. The rain also helped lower our miserably hot temperatures (my perspective). It is 73°F right now. I can deal with that.

My outstanding projects are finishing the porch, Ural clutch, and the rear fiberglass cap on the RV. A wonderful friend, Tim, offered to help me with the fiberglass as I had never done anything like that before. He said it's like a couple of hours a day and not a continuous block of time. I can probably finish the decking on the porch in a couple of days which includes sealing the cut ends of the board but would not include any benches or railing. The Ural clutch is probably not that difficult but it's kind of hard to justify spending the time. And, it’s looking like I may need to go back north again...

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Working on the Truck

Wednesday - Finally got the snowplow mount removed from the truck. Since it was originally installed by TrailerCraft, I didn’t have any installation documents. There were some weird things but I figured it out. The bumper and plastic trim needed to be removed and the intercooler needed to be either loosened to allow clearance for the bolts. Pneumatic impact tools are a wonderful thing when you are working on a project like this. Upon reassembly, I was able to re-install the tow hooks that had to be removed for the plow. I must admit, the tow hooks were missed as there are few places on the front of the truck to hook anything.

Thursday - The heavy smoke from the surrounding brush fires has made working on anything problematic. I had picked up a cold last week while on the camping trip and the smoke isn't helping anything. It's supposed to be raining this afternoon but that comes at a cost. The weather service is projecting wind and lightning, not a good thing

The new problem of the week is a problem with the Ural clutch. I mentioned last week that I needed to adjust the cable. Now, there is no amount of adjustment that can be done and just riding from town yesterday afternoon, I ended up getting home with basically no clutch. I think it is the release mechanism but I didn't feel like digging into it yesterday. Getting the plow mount ready to be delivered to the new owner was more important.

When driving to the coffee meetup, I noticed that the speedometer wasn't working and the ABS error light was on in the truck. I figured that I forgot to connect something somewhere. On the way home, I figured out that there was probably a fuse missing as I had simply removed the odd power connector for the snowplow. It turns out that it was plugged into the ABS control fuse and was tapping power off for the plow. It just needed switched power for its own control module. After inserting a 10 amp fuse, no more ABS light and the speedometer works again...

Monday, July 8, 2019

Smoky Drive to Healy

This morning, I took a leisurely drive down to Healy. Leisurely as I had the snowplow installed and the recommendation is around 45 mph. I ended up pulling onto the shoulder to let some cars and trucks pass but only needed to do that a couple of times. I dropped off the plow at their home and still need to remove the mount and wiring from the truck. They are planning on installing it on a Dodge as well but an earlier year. Hopefully, it's compatible. The return trip seemed much faster and the engine ran a bit cooler. I guess the plow was kind of blocking the radiator. The outside air temperature was indicating 130°F (it was only 75°F) since the sensor is next to the left headlight. Not much air flow. They are coming back into Fairbanks for the RAHI graduation as several of their students have been part of the program this summer.

I offered to deliver the plow to them as it is really the simplest way. And they happily agreed and said that my offer was completely unexpected. Otherwise, they would have to install the mount on their truck after I removed it from mine. If I needed to move the plow, I can't since the mount is removed. To me, delivery was simple enough and around a 200-mile round trip.

The smoke was pretty heavy for most of the trip and even though Healy is quite a bit south of the fires (I think), visibility was still limited. I thought about stopping at the Parks Monument but you could barely see the trees that were 1/4 mile away. No long views at all.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

‘Tis the Season

The season for fires. This was around 8 this morning. It wasn’t this bad last night but since there are multiple fires around us, the wind will always bring in smoke. The picture below is from the interactive map showing current fires around the state.

I still have some work to do on the Ural as I hadn’t done anything since returning from Dawson. Maybe time to do something...

Changing out the front brake pads is pretty straightforward. Remove a couple of small spring clips, pull two pins from the caliper, replace pads. Then put everything back. Maybe five minutes. I also readjusted the clutch cable as I had removed the slack at the lever end of the cable earlier since it was easier.

Tomorrow, I’m taking the snowplow down to Healy to deliver it to its new owner. It’ll be a slow trip down as you want to minimize bouncing. But maybe I’ll get out of the smoke. Since we aren’t really planning on spending much time around here when it’s snowing, the plow needed a better home. 

Friday, July 5, 2019

Campout Wrapup

We got decent solar while driving up to Eklutna Lake but there is lots of shading here at the group campground. We’ll see how we do tomorrow with the morning sun. Instant Pot pasta and microwave veggies. So, a heavy-ish load on our batteries. After dinner, it was 91%. We’ll see what it is tomorrow morning. Given the shading, I may need to run the generator in a couple of days. 

07/03 - This morning, the Trimetric monitor read 75%. This is with the cpap machine running all night and two cups of coffee in the morning. 

07/04 - Today, I ran the battery bank down to 69% before running the generator. And it has been charging at about 50-65 amps the whole time. I’ll stop at around 90% state of charge (SOC) as the charge rate drops to about 30 amps at that point. 

For the pot-luck this evening, I made “Killer Potato Salad” from Flo Lum’s Instant Pot cookbook. Very tasty (assuming you like shrimp and bacon). The cat was very attentive while it was being assembled. 

After one hour and fifty minutes of generator time, we were up to 91% SOC and the charge rate had dropped to 26 amps. 

Gary from Pau Hana Travels, one of the organizers of this get together, was running the generator on his diesel pusher and I had just a few questions about his setup. His batteries are 24VDC. He has two hybrid inverters to power both sides of the 50 amp breaker panel and multiple solar charge controllers. They are set to 24VDC (obviously). Two DC-DC converters are needed. The first is a 24-12VDC converter to operate the standard 12VDC systems on the RV. The second is a 12-24VDC converter for charging the batteries from the engine. I believe the current rating of the DC-DC converters is 70 amps with a claimed efficiency of 98%. The generator was switched to start and run off of the engine batteries instead of the house batteries. A completely separate solar system keeps the chassis batteries topped up. The way it is currently set up, only one of the hybrid inverters is set up to charge the batteries. The current set up is 65 amps. This could take 5-6 hours to charge the 500 amp-hour battery bank when it’s run down to 20%. I believe to use both inverters for charging requires only a software change. The maximum charge rate for the LiFePO4 batteries is 1C or in their case 500 amps. “C” is capacity. I believe that the max charge rate for lead acid is around 0.15C. 

I was really intrigued by his non-standard installation. He said that he would do a 24VDC system again. 

Lots of generators running as even those who have tons of solar aren’t able to charge their batteries due to the shade. Also, it’s 81°F and many are running their air conditioner(s). Our neighbor has an old class C with only one house battery. And a 110VAC only refrigerator so he is running his generator almost continuously during the day. Yesterday while we had visitors, he went out of his way to run it as little as possible but it is hot. It probably has the stock converter (battery charger) which means that it could take days to charge up the one battery and only 2 1/2 hours to discharge it while running off of the inverter. 

What I found interesting is that this couple was not alone having the idea of picking up an old RV just for their trip to AK. They were afraid of ruining their full-time living fifth wheel RV on the drive up. They believed all of the exaggerated myths and tales of broken frames, glass, tires, etc. They mentioned that next time, they would just bring their RV. 

There are also some who thought that the TOW highway was horrible and drove it at 10 mph. That makes for a long, dusty trip. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

 Minimal post due to non-existent bandwidth at the campground. We had a slight mishap. The trailer wheels dropped into a ditch and the corner of the rear cap caught. Fiberglass body damage.

We are here meeting a bunch (38 RVs) of people from an RV to Alaska FB group. We are meeting at the Eklutna Lake group campground. 

Monday, July 1, 2019

Free Lot-Docking - HH

We left Fairbanks around 10 or so. We weren’t quite sure where we would be stopping this evening. Originally I was thinking about one of the Denali viewpoints as they allow overnight parking (for a fee). I then proceeded to make a breakfast/brunch appointment with some good friends so we looked for something closer to Wasilla. I remembered there being a museum around here that was part of the Harvest Host program.

The Transportation Museum of Alaska is in Wasilla and they have room for several RVs in their overflow parking lot. While setting up, I remembered that I had forgotten an electric drill. I use the drill to raise and lower the rear stabilizers. So we’re not very stable today. I do have the hand crank and will use it tomorrow since we will be camping at one location for three nights. It was a longish 312 miles today. 

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Pi Problem

This was kind of disconcerting to see this evening. The Raspberry Pi that is monitoring the Tristar charge controller was down when I picked up the trailer yesterday. I simply rebooted it. Have not had a problem with the Pi before.

We now have a full water tank, empty grey and black tanks, and a full refrigerator. What more do we need? Tomorrow we head south towards Anchorage. Not quite sure where we will be camping. Probably parking in a rest area. 

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Camping Local

This afternoon, I picked up the trailer and brought it to Rivers Edge RV Park here in Fairbanks. It is a full hookup site with 30amp power, water and sewer. I wanted to sanitize the fresh water system as I hadn’t done that for a while. Having water and sewer makes that whole process easier. They also had a high pressure washer so I was able to remove some of the grime from last May’s trip through Canada.

We will be here for a couple of days and on Monday, we head south towards the Anchorage area. Lots of stuff to haul back from the house including two dogs and a cat. Yes, we are trying the cat out on a short trip. We’ll see how the cat likes travel. She’s a completely indoor cat so it probably won’t be an issue.

One but of the nicest benefits is the trailer has A/C. Especially on a hot, smoky day like today. Being able to retreat to cooler temperatures is nice. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Only a Day

The weather here up north is great. Last week, they said that it was in the mid-70s (°F) but not today.  The high 40s (°F) will probably be about it. There is still some ice on the ocean but it is mostly gone at least to the horizon. Upon arrival, I came to the BARC to start messing with the network again. They were having a barbecue when I arrived. Of course, it was the tail end so I had a black bean burger and a hot dog. Actually, the black bean burger wasn't bad at all.

One of the groups just received some supplies and it was packed in dry ice. Of course, the best way to dispose of the dry ice is to toss it into a puddle. This was pretty entertaining.

There is a conference going on here in the large conference room. They had a Subway lunch brought in. So I sort of jumped in line. I know many of the participants so it was easy to do.

The morning has been somewhat hectic. With a lot of phone calls and running around the building and NARL.

For the conference today, someone brought in some muktuk for the group to try since a common question for anyone who visits Barrow is "did you get to try whale?". 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Heading Further North

Heading north to Utqiaġvik for a short trip. Possibly my last one. And one of the few summer trips. The 34°F temperature may not sound much like summer, but at least it’s above freezing. ACS, the network contractor for UIC Science, has had their network running for several weeks and the challenge is to move the science experiments over one by one from the legacy network to the new network. The trick is, no one is actually there to do it.

I made a suggestion (again!) to simply bridge the two networks and have two layer 3 broadcast domains on the single Ethernet network. As it is, several VLANs already have multiple layer 3 networks running. So it’s nothing new but not what is normally done. So that is now the plan.

The first picture is the Fairbanks airport and the second is Deadhorse aka Prudhoe Bay. The airport is packed with people headed home after their shift. That’s why I just took a shot out the window. Once that plane left back towards Anchorage, I have a three-hour wait until my flight to Barrow.

Monday, June 24, 2019

More Broken Stuff

I guess I was wrong. The other casualty from the trip was me. I got home and was extremely tired and sore. Not too unusual I guess but I was feeling even worse 12 hours later. Since I am the only one at the house last night, I took myself to the emergency room before it became a problem. Very high blood sugar levels (for me) and severely dehydrated according to the doc. And I must’ve drank 3 quarts of water on the relatively short 4 hour trip.

I stopped at the Birch Lake turnout again as it really is a nice view. Had some snacks and more water before continuing on home. I arrived home a bit after noon and all I wanted to do was sleep. Anyway, at that point, I had sort of decided that I don’t want to do any long motorcycle road trips. At least in the near future. I don’t plan on going to the sidecar rally in Coeur d’ Alene, ID, since I don’t think I can take the multi-day, long distance ride. 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Stuff Breaks

There seems to be at least one casualty from the Top of the World Highway. The aluminum angle that I used for the steering damper mount broke from fatigue. I thought that may not be heavy enough but it’s lasted for quite a while. I need to look for some steel and possibly put in some gussets.

I took off this morning around 7:00 and there were dozens of RVs waiting to cross on the ferry. Fortunately, they have a separate line for small vehicles and it was only about a five minute wait. The border didn’t open until 9:00 PDT (8:00 AKDT) so there was almost no oncoming traffic, which was very nice. I arrived at the border about 15 minutes before they opened. Pretty quick with only a couple of questions.

I stopped  in Chicken for gas and some breakfast/lunch. The daily special was biscuits and gravy. With the five gallon gas tank, the Ural just doesn’t have enough range to make it all the way to Tok. And I filled up in Tok as there wasn’t quite enough gas to make it to Delta. I’m back at Thompson’s Eagle’s Claw motorcycle campground again. The Dawson City to Tok road took around six hours or only a 30 mph average. So I’m taking a break.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Dawson City, YT

Today’s D2D activity was a poker run. I believe the intent is to get people out and about seeing the area around Dawson City. I decided that I have too many aches and pains for that. I’m really out of shape to go riding everyday. Especially on the gravel roads. Yes, they are a blast but you really end up moving around a lot on the bike. There is a pretty good group from Fairbanks, and Trails End/Outpost sent up quite a few items for the drawing later today. Tonight, is the dinner put on by the local fire department as a fund raiser. The food is usually pretty good.

Part of the fun of this event is seeing the different setups that people have such as this BMW GSA with a Freedom Sidecars custom setup.The sidecar is huge and designed for hauling stuff. They have two rigs and just returned from Tuktoyaktuk, NWT, and they were looking for a car wash with a pressure washer.

This evening, they are having “biker games” and at midnight, assemble all of the bikes for a group picture. At the dinner, there were drawings for a lot of donated stuff. I won a shirt and picked up a tool roll in the silent auction. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Tok to Dawson City

I took off from the campground at around 8:30 this morning. It was a quick ride to the community of Chicken. Topped up the gas tank and headed out on the dirt and gravel. It took a bit but eventually I got re-familiarized with the handling of the rig on loose gravel. No issues and the Ural hummed right along. Interesting that I was going with the flow of traffic and even passed vehicles. From Chicken to the Eagle turnoff is all gravel then the road changes to wonderfully smooth pavement until you get to the border.

This was in near/in the community of Chicken. I don’t think the place is actually incorporated or has any form of government. There must’ve been twenty or so bikes there. A couple of people commented that they were impressed with the Ural’s performance and handling through the windy road. I think they’ve heard that the performance and handling was dismal. That’s not what they observed. I think I was in third gear for most of the trip.

The first picture is while I was waiting for the ferry to cross the Yukon River. Dawson City is on the opposite shore. The border crossing was a none issue. A couple of questions, show them the passport and got waved on. The buildings just to the right of the top of the windscreen is the border crossing. The road in the background is the Top of the World Highway. At the border, the road changes to a much wider, mostly gravel road. Some potholes and a lot of washboard. The temperatures dropped to the low 60s (°F) but when you got within 15 miles of Dawson, you drop into a valley and the temperature shot up into the 80s(°F)! I’m glad I’m in a room with air conditioning.

Upon arrival, I picked up a t-shirt, a pin, a dinner ticket and a raffle ticket. I had stopped at an atm and picked up some Canadian currency. I had some from our road trip but I forgot it at home. BTW, this trip is on Spotwalla. I’m using SWConnect on the iPhone for tracking. If you don’t have data service, the data is buffered on the phone until the Internet is available. The gap was from not turning tracking on within the iPhone app.

Tok, AK

I left at about 10:30 this morning headed to D2D aka Dust to Dawson. With the Ural, 200 miles is a reasonable day. I stopped at Birch Lake for a short break (2nd picture), Delta Junction for gas, and filled up again in Tok. I then headed for Thompson’s Eagles Claw motorcycle campground located a little south of Tok. I didn’t make reservations so I’m overflow camping between campsites. I have stayed here a couple of times before in 2015.

In addition to campsites, Eagles Claw has a wall tent, a bunkhouse, an ambulance and a school bus that you can rent. Supposedly, everything is booked up tonight so I snagged an “overflow” space. Set up the tent anywhere on the moss and park along the road. It’s about 180 miles to Dawson City tomorrow including the Top of the World Hwy. Looking forward to it. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Almost Ready

One last oil change before taking off was the final drive. It only takes 135 ml of oil so the quart of 75/90 full synthetic that I have on the shelf will do many oil changes. The drained oil had a trace of moisture and very little swarf on the magnet so I think it's still doing fine. On the Talkeetna trip, I was missing the throttle lock that used to be installed so I dug out the pieces and re-installed it. I'm amazed that I still had all of the parts and pieces including the tiny set screws after all these years. I had removed it when I put on heated grips as they were slightly larger than the stock grips. I'm now on heated grips version 3.

I decided to bring the iPad Pro so I can blog while in Tok and maybe in Dawson City. Assuming that there is any Verizon signal or useable WiFi. Other stuff that made it into the rig are several light jackets as I'm not sure what the weather will be like. The weather apps don't agree. I charged up the Sena for the first time in at least a year and synched it to my phone. It's been at least a year as I've had this phone for about a year.

In case you can't tell, I'm anxious to get on the road. Tomorrow...

Monday, June 17, 2019

Packing the Ural

This is actually a pretty easy task as there is plenty of room. It’s more a matter of putting stuff where you can find it again. The tool roll now has all of its tools again plus a few more. I had picked up another set of ball-end metric Allen wrenches at the last “Black Friday” sale at Lowe’s so the older set was added to the tool roll. The battery on the jumper pack was recharged, tire pressure checked and the mix of camping and hotel stuff was packed. I plan on camping in Tok Junction both going to and returning from Dawson City. It’s roughly half way. I’m even bringing a small ice chest to keep drinks cold and even have an 8-pack of sugar-free Gatorade as I tend to get dehydrated when riding. While in Dawson City, I’ll be staying at the Downtown Hotel since TomK made reservations last winter. It’s kind of expensive but I suspect that I’ll appreciate the good nights sleep. Otherwise, I was planning on camping.

Non-ice chest food, tools, spare parts (clutch cable, throttle cable, donut, bulbs, fuses, final drive oil), cooking utensils, and the heated gear (just in case) is in the sidecar trunk. My camping gear: Tent, ground cloth, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, cot, coats, water, drinks and the ice chest are all in the footwell of the sidecar. The under-sidecar ammo box has a quart of oil, funnels, extra fuel line and a spare tube. The small ammo box between the sidecar and bike has my registration, passport, camp stove, and visor cleaning stuff. The top box just has an extra visor, extra gloves, flashlight, and first aid kit. It’s pretty empty so I can easily stick my helmet and gloves in there when stopped. The Roadcrafter will easily fit on the sidecar seat under the tonneau cover. The mini tank bag will just have my phone, some snacks, and earplugs. Water will be on the sidecar seat under the tonneau cover. I think I’m ready to go. BTW, the grease remover actually did a decent job of cleaning the gunk from the engine. I don’t think it’s looked this clean in years. None of the compartments or boxes are “stuffed” so I don’t think I’m bringing too much junk.

I must admit that I can’t wait to be heading out again. I plan on leaving Wednesday morning...

Saturday, June 15, 2019

A Busy Saturday

I finished the one section of the porch so at least the front door is useable again. I need twenty-eight more deck boards or fourteen twelve footers to finish it off. Then I need to start on the railing or bench. I haven't decided which would look better. I'm leaning towards a bench with the backrest functioning like the railing.

I also continued working on the Ural. Checked the front brake pads, new ones have been ordered but there is enough material left on the pads for the Dawson trip. The air cleaner has been cleaned and re-oiled. Valve clearances have been checked. All were within the 0.002" - 0.004" range but I set all of them to 0.003". And I re-installed the blow-by catch can. Raceway had a fancy name for it. Essentially, the crankcase vent pipe is routed to an aluminum container mounted to the frame above the left cylinder. And another hose is run to a small air filter behind the battery.
For the last couple of years, I had simply run a hose along the top of the engine so the left side of the engine is very dirty. I sprayed it with a degreaser and after letting it sit for a bit, I rinsed it off with water. It looks better but there is still a lot of built-up grime.

Also ordered with the brake pads is another oil filter, a Heidenau K28 for the pusher for the Idaho trip, and another tube so I'll have a good spare.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Not Procrastinating Any More

Finally getting the porch put back together again. The stringers were ready-made ones from Home Depot. The original steps had only four stringers spaced around 5' apart. I am using four stringers but they are on 16" centers. The original ones were held on with 3 16d nails each and I'm using 5/16"-3" galvanized lag bolts. Hopefully, these will last another 30+ years like the last porch. The stringers and decking are pressure treated wood so the "staining" is just more of the treatment applied to wherever I needed to cut.

Just like the original porch, the decking is 2x4. I'm considering using some of the original 2x10 for the steps but I may just pick up some new pressure treated material. I will pick up some cedar lattice to cover the opening. Mostly to keep out the leaves so maybe something with smaller openings.

Between porch tasks, I changed the engine and transmission oil as well as the oil filter on the Ural. I used Mobil 1 full synthetic 15w50 oil as I wasn't able to find any 20w50 synthetic oil. The filter came from Amazon. I still need to clean and re-oil the air filter as well as adjust the rear brakes. I should check the front pads as I do rely on the front brake for most of my braking. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Looking Forward to Summer Solstice

The Weather Underground app, Wunderground, is a bit confused with our sunrise/sunset times. First and last light both say 2:00 pm since there is no “dark” at this time of year. Between sunset and sunrise, it's sort of dusk/dawn and never really getting very dark. And there are still ten more days until the Summer Solstice.

I won't be in Fairbanks for the solstice as I'm planning on going to Dawson City in the Yukon Territory for what is known as D2D or Dust To Dawson. It's about 380 miles from Fairbanks so I plan on taking two days to get there. I'm planning to stop at Thompson's Eagle's Claw Motorcycle Campground in Tok Junction which is a bit over half way. From there, you go through Chicken, AK, over the Top of the World Hwy, across the border into the Yukon Territory, cross the Yukon River on the ferry, and arrive in Dawson City.

The last time I went to D2D was in 2015 during my Ural trip to the Pacific Northwest. This trip is simple there and back again. Still on the Ural. I probably should do some maintenance before leaving but today's effort was removing the steps and stringers from the porch. The existing porch had only 4 stringers over the 15' length. Probably not enough especially in front of the door. I'm thinking of only installing four stringers just in front of the door and not have the steps go all the way across the front of the porch.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Debugging Trailer Electrical Issue

Sometime near the end of our last RV trip, most of the electrical outlets in the trailer stopped working. Most but not all. And just about all of the outlets are on the same breaker. But some that are on that breaker still worked. This means a wiring problem. When I pulled the breaker panel, there was only one cable which went to the automatic transfer switch. And only one cable returning from the transfer switch to the electrical panel. From here, it branched out to two cable runs. One went to the TV, which worked fine, and one to the outlet that we plugged in the heater, which also worked fine. Also, the outlet on the ceiling of the bedroom worked fine. But the other outlets in the bedroom, the GFCI outlet by the sink, the kitchen convenience outlets, and the outlets on the rear wall of the trailer did not work. The refrigerator outlet, which is also on the same breaker, continued to work. It turns out that the outlet on the bedroom ceiling was a "hub" as it had three cables. Ont to the bedroom outlets, and one to the refrigerator. The bedroom outlets continued on to the GFCI outlet. From there, it daisy chained its way through the kitchen, the external outlet, and the outlets on the rear wall.

RVs use these odd outlets that are kind of designed for retrofitting into walls. Here is an image of the rear. Unlike regular household outlets, these are designed to just lay the Romex into the three slots then force the rear cover on which pushes the wires into metal slots which cut through the insulation and make contact with the copper wire. Convenient but not a lot of load carrying capacity. It worked fine with the kitchen appliances but when I plugged the electric heater into the last outlet on the long chain, that's when it failed.

I knew that it was a bad connection somewhere as I was still measuring 118VAC between hot and ground but only 12VAC between hot and neutral. Between neutral and ground, I was measuring about 95VAC. So things haven't completely failed. I pulled a couple of outlets including the refrigerator, one of the kitchen convenience outlets, and the bedroom ceiling. I think these weird RV outlets are only designed for two cables and not three. I used wire nuts on the ceiling cables and a short wire for the hot, neutral and ground for the outlet itself and all of the outlets are working once again. The 12VAC is still a bit confusing. Where is that coming from? I removed the GFCI outlet, no difference. Odd.

Of course, working on the RV is just an excuse to not work on the front porch...

Thursday, June 6, 2019


I started tearing out the deck last week and finally got back to it. We finished pulling out the rotten deck boards. The ones under the eaves were in pretty good shape and replacing them seemed silly (to me). I just need to remove the stair stringers and pick up a couple of replacements at Lowe’s before installing new deck boards. I will probably prep and paint the support beams as they don’t seem to be in bad shape either. Just the deck boards themselves or more specifically, the ends of the boards not under the eaves.

Last night, I put on the sidecar windscreen and took off the screen on the motorcycle while cleaning up some wiring. This morning, I rode to coffee at Sunshine Health and, honestly, I don’t see how people can ride without a windshield. The wind pressure meant that I needed to hold on the grips much tighter than I do normally. To me, it was tiring. The wind noise in my helmet was slightly lower but it wasn’t enough to make me want to leave the windshield off. So it’s now back on. One of these days I’ll try one of the smaller ones.