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.