Sunday, April 30, 2023

Packing Up

Friday - We went to Black Bear Diner this morning for my complimentary birthday breakfast. It was decent enough though the gravy on the biscuits and gravy didn't have a lot of flavor. Afterward, I finally finished washing and waxing the RV. I had to wait until the driver's side was shaded even though it was pretty warm at 90°F. I think it turned out decent for a spray-on wax.

There was an afternoon test session and I lead one of the teams. After tomorrow, there won’t be very many opportunities to participate as we will be traveling almost every day for over a week. After the test session, I went ahead and packed up my e-bike. With the forecasted temperatures, I don't expect it to get much use before we head out. And, since we picked up a rotisserie chicken at Costco, I went ahead and cleaned up and packed the Blackstone. After tomorrows test session, I'll pack up our table and mat.

Saturday - It's forecast to be a warm one today. A high of 97°F is definitely warm. Before the morning test session, I went ahead and started the engine just to reassure myself that it still runs. I still don't have a lot of confidence in this Cat C7 engine. BTW, it started up just fine, and didn't even smoke much. 

After the test session, I'll check all of the fluid levels including the generator as we will be running the generator and the rooftop A/C during our drive north. Especially the first couple of days. 

One other item fixed is the driver power seat. I figured that it was a broken wire or blown fuse. It turned out to be a crimped butt connection failure probably from the driver’s seat being rotated a bit too far. An easy fix. I did take a look at the automatic generator start and it is running and the communication cable is plugged in. It has two RJ14 connections one labeled network and the other remote. I’m not sure what they are for .

This evening, we had dinner with Dick and Kathy, who were our neighbors across the street last Fall. They knew of a good Japanese restaurant and it was pretty good. 

After dinner, we had sorbet at another stellar location. Tucson really does have some good food locations. After dinner we enjoyed the hot tub. After today, only one more opportunity…

Sunday - The chassis battery charger seems to work fine. Currently, I have it set to turn on when the chassis battery is under 12.6V and the SOC of the house batteries is over 90%. The check is only made at the top of the hour. Shutoff is when the chassis battery is over 13.5V for over 15 minutes. 

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Last Week in Tucson

 - This is the beginning of our last week in Tucson. It has been a nice place to park as we needed a place for Bridget to recover. The initial attraction was the pool and hot tub but the people we’ve met here have been wonderful. Very accepting even though we aren’t residents or even seasonal. 

This morning was our last coffee and donuts provided by the park. It was also the last one for the season. They restart next October. I managed to complete a couple more minor projects today. The pads from the above dash cabinet had come loose. I used a couple of SS wood screws to attach them to the underlying metal frame. The endoscope arrived yesterday from Amazon. I used it to inspect all of the plumbing into the grey tank. It all looks okay. Maybe it was just the one loose shower drain. 

The last task was switching out the battery temperature sensor from the Victron shunt with the starter battery voltage. I will use a 30amp relay between the coach batteries and the small PWM charger that charges the chassis batteries. 

Wednesday - This morning we went to Saguaro National Park as Bridget wanted to take pictures of the blooming cactus. The Saguaro we just budding with a just a few flowers. I forgot my phone so no pictures.

After we returned, I started a task that I’ve been really putting off. Waxing the RV. This product was recommended by several other RVers as a fairly simple way to get it done. And I’ve been really happy with the ceramic car wash I’ve been using on the Jeep so I thought I’d give it a try. 

It works pretty good. I had washed the back with Dawn before putting on more stickers so it really needed some sort of wax. I got around a quarter of the RV done before running out of clean microfiber cloths. We washed them so I’ll continue tomorrow morning. At 86°F this afternoon, it’s kinda warm.

We watched a movie in the activity center this afternoon. It was a Tom Hanks movie about Elvis. Hanks played the role of the evil manager. It was actually a pretty good movie.

Thursday - A morning test session just after another couple took off for the summer. Erik had lent me stuff when I was installing the new batteries. As a full-timer, he carries a lot of stuff with him including quite the selection of tools.

After the morning test session, I finished up most of the passenger side of the RV. My wash brush broke but I’ve had it for over 5 years. This meant that the upper 6” or so of the RV wasn’t washed or waxed. Oh well. It still looks a whole lot better than it did before. I’m pretty impressed with this stuff. 

As a test of the Shelly1 and the relays on the input the the PWM chassis battery charger, I set the chassis battery trigger voltage to be below 12.8VDC for at least 15 minutes. The other condition is the SOC for the house batteries to be over 90%. This is just for testing. I’ll probably use 12.5VDC which corresponds to a SOC of about 80% for lead acid batteries. There is another HomeAssistant automation that turns off charging when the chassis batteries exceed 13.2VDC for 15 minutes. 

Monday, April 24, 2023

Pima County Fair

 - The gates for the Pima Fair opened at 3pm. We headed there after the afternoon test session. At 89°F, it’s still pretty warm in the sun but it’s not unbearable. I’m surprised that the fair isn’t in the Fall but after wandering around some, there is some focus on farming and things like that but we never found anything with produce or flowers. A lot of fair food vendors, amusement rides, and some home and school art projects. And even more fair food…

Admission was a very modest $6 but parking was $7. Overall, it was an okay way to spend the afternoon. We managed to leave without indulging on any “fair food”! I’ll call that a win! Not even the donut cheeseburger. A double cheeseburger with two donuts as the bun…

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Warm Days

Friday - The warm temperatures have returned for the next couple of days. The forecasted high for today is 87°F. During the morning test session, the temperature was perfect at 71°F. 

One task for today, look for a grey tank leak. One of the couplings from the shower trap was loose and there was evidence of a slight leak. The other pipes seem solid with no evidence of leaks. I think there must be a leak somewhere so I ordered a cheap endoscope from Amazon to let me look around the entire tank. 

It felt too warm for other projects…

Saturday - It looks like it'll be another warm one today. I'm sitting outside waiting for the first test session and it is a very pleasant 70°F with completely clear skies.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Another Small Project

Monday - It was an early morning for me. I got up to watch the SpaceX Starship launch this morning at 5am. At around T-8:00, they had a pressurization issue on the first stage so the launch turned into a wet dress rehearsal. The countdown was stopped at 10 seconds. The next opportunity is in 48 hours. 

After the morning test session, I did manage to get something done today. This is the small bay where I store most of my tools. Every time I need to get something, I end up pulling out most if not all of the bags. Kind of a hassle. The lower section is mostly hand tools which are pretty heavy. Behind those bags are the rarely used items such as a hand saw and a torque wrench. I ripped a 1x4 using the table saw here at the park. Much easier than trying to rip the board using a circular saw. 

Tuesday - Before testing the slide out, I wanted to make sure there weren't any more screw heads sticking out that could cause problems. Four more showed some evidence of touching the bottom of the slide, so I removed them. Now, I'm waiting for some fabric glue to dry where I glued some shelf liner to some strips of carpet that I had picked up in Quartzsite. These will be put on the floor where the slide skis can slide.

Wednesday - There was a morning test session and we did two people serially since there weren't quite enough VEs.

After the test, I went up on the roof to wash off the solar panels and get rid of some of the yellow junk that these trees are dumping everywhere. It turns out that at least one of the panels is partially shaded during the morning which explains why I haven't been seeing the watts that I've been expecting. Especially since the sun is now much higher in the sky.

Thursday - Another early morning for me. We watched the Starship takeoff and RUD this morning at around 6:40. The second stage didn't separate as it was supposed to so they blew it up from the ground. SpaceX still considered it a successful test as it actually left the ground and the booster flew to main engine cutoff. 

Afterward, there was a test session with a last-minute applicant but since he had tested with us previously, no issues. I applied a Mac update and since I am running on unsupported hardware, the display reverts to the native screen resolution. This is almost impossible to read. Eventually, a message from Open-Core Patcher comes up to re-install the root patches and restart. This fixes the issue. Maybe it's about time to upgrade from this 2016 Macbook Pro to something current...

I finally pulled in the driver's side slide a couple of times to see how well my repairs faired. No issues. The picture is the front of the slide ski as it came in on top of the carpet pieces that we picked up in Quartzsite.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Still in Tucson

Saturday - This morning, the chassis battery was at 13.7V and the charger was putting out 0.8amps. Sounds like it’s working to me and now, I no longer need to mess with the small battery charger for the chassis battery. This will be most useful when the generator is being used. The generator starts and runs off of the chassis battery but doesn't charge it. Something I observed the first time we had the motor home in Quartzsite. I prefer this over operating the generator off of the house batteries, which a many RVs seem to do. If the house batteries are low, then red you may not be able to start the generator to charge them back up. Also, I notice that people are having problems starting the generator after converting to lithium batteries as the heavy current draw from the starter causes the BMS to shut down the batteries.

After the morning test session, I took advantage of the cooler temperature to clean the Jeep. It’s been well over a month and was looking pretty dirty. And there was still a lot of sand from Quartzsite and Yuma. 

Sunday - After grinding down a small bump on the grill surface, I decided to completely re-season the surface. I hadn’t done that since it was new almost a year ago. After thoroughly cleaning the surface, it’s heated up on high. I smeared on some Blackstone branded griddle seasoning then let it burn off. This was repeated three times. 

This afternoon was 88°F and it was on the warm side. I walked to HomeDepot to pick up a piece of pine for a shelf in the tool bay. With all of the tool bags stacked up on each other, I figured that some organization would make it easier to find and access what I’m looking for. HD didn’t have 6’ long 1x2 so I picked up a 6’ long 1x4 and need to rip it down. Hopefully, the wood shop will be open tomorrow.

Friday, April 14, 2023

Slide Repair - Part 2

Thursday - It’s cool enough to work outside. It’s still 80°F but much better than the mid to upper 90s (°F)! I hope this helps though I can see where the heads of large screws were used to hold down the edge of the carpet. I managed to remove the worse offender and it was a thin head screw about a #8. So not structural. 

This side of the slide was a bit easier. It would have been difficult if I didn't have use of the wood shop here at the RV park. One of the last tasks on this project was simply caulking the seam on the side of the slide. The last bit is to test the slide. I'm almost afraid to do that...

Friday - I'm going to be using this cheap, PWM solar charge controller as a DC-DC charger for the chassis batteries. It is only designed for lead-acid batteries but has bulk, absorption, and float charging modes. The input source will be the lithium house batteries which are almost always at a higher voltage than the chassis batteries.

It didn’t take long to install the charger and the input circuit breaker. The output is running to the circuit breaker for the Renogy DC-DC charger. 

The downward spike is when this device was turned on. It didn’t take very long to charge the chassis batteries. The chassis battery voltage was 12.7V before and it’s sitting at 13.2V right now. And the new charger is in float mode. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

A Short Hike

Monday - Around 8:30am, before it got too hot, we went to the Broadway Rd trailhead. We walked a nice 2 mile loop. It’s been 3 1/2 weeks since Bridget’s surgery and she wanted to try out a short hike. It’s not the same as walking around the RV park as there are some up and downs. I believe all went well. 

When we returned, I noticed that the door to the wood shop was open. I went in and ran my piece of birch through the table saw and a couple passes on the router table to round the corners. Then a little trimming on the band saw and I was done. At least what I couldn’t do without the shop tools. I think I’ll wait for cooler temperatures before finishing up. 

 - A bit of excitement across the street. A broken water line from being run over by a motor home. 

It's 97°F this afternoon. I am putting off the slide work until we get some cooler weather. That side of the RV is in full sun during the morning so I would like a cooler afternoon.

I reversed the direction of the fan on my battery box. It was set up to blow air into the box but since the fan is mounted to the lid, I reversed the fan to pull hot air out of the box. It seems to be working better.

Another task was grinding down a small spot on the Blackstone griddle. I've been meaning to do it for almost a year and finally got around to it. After grinding down the high spot, I turned on the burner and re-seasoned the area by heating it to smoking-hot after adding oil. This was repeated several times. 

Wednesday - Another warm day today so I probably won't be doing much work on the slide this afternoon. Tomorrow, it's forecast to only be in the mid-80s. That sounds much better to me. Right now, I'm sitting outside enjoying my coffee and waiting for the morning test session to start. It's 76°F and feeling pretty nice.

At 1pm, they showed a movie in the activity center. An action movie that I had never heard of before. A Fast and Furious movie called Hobbs and Shaw. Not too bad, lots of chase scenes with cars, trucks, motorcycles, drones, and helicopters. 

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Easter Weekend

Saturday - Today is supposed to be warm with highs in the mid-80s (°F). The wood shop won’t be available again until next Wednesday as many volunteers have headed north. I will probably start on the other side of the slide but not until it’s shady. I suspect it’ll be easier since it's not as messed up as the other side. 

Fry’s had a good sale on pork shoulder, 8# for $11, seemed like a good deal. I cut it into 4 pieces and vacuum-sealed three for the freezer. I made carnitas with the fourth piece, one of my favorite Mexican dishes. It needed to simmer on the stove for several hours but we had the A/C running due to the warm temperatures. The Instant Pot version would have needed to be finished under the broiler and took almost as long.

Later - The carnitas turned out very tasty. As good as I’ve had anywhere else. We had tacos for dinner. I’m sitting by the pool right now enjoying the 75°F temperatures and light breeze. 

Sunday - Happy Easter!

This morning, Sam the Cooking Guy had a YouTube video showing how he made a carnitas smash burger. That turned out to be a great lunch.

I started working on the other end of the slide and it’s in much better shape. I picked up a piece of birch for the wooden filler but the wood shop won’t be open again until Wednesday.

Easter dinner was very non-traditional. Lemon-garlic bucatini w/scallops. The scallops were on sale and the Meyer lemons are still being given away around the park. It turned out very tasty…

Friday, April 7, 2023

Slide Repair (Part 1)

Thursday - After one of the work campers mentioned that the section of the park we are in has horrible internet due to the directional antenna moving in the wind. I aimed the Ubiquity antenna in a different direction and locked it to another access point with a lower signal. I can now stream in HD of the no-additional-cost Internet. 

The current project is working on the living room slide. When the carpet was removed and replaced with vinyl plank flooring, we didn’t realize that the slide actually slid on the carpet. Without the carpet, the bottom of the slide scraped against the edge of the flooring and started to damage the bottom of the slide. 

This is the “before” picture just after removing the slide trim and what is essentially tape. The steel angle which supports the slide looked rusty but it cleaned up easily and was mostly glue holding a piece of something that is no longer there.

Friday - After cleaning with a wire brush and a little paint, it looks better. I picked up a piece of oak and after a little work in the wood shop here at the park, it’ll be fitted next to the angle iron and screwed into place. It was good to see that there was no water damage on the wooden floor. Fiberglass reinforced waterproof tape will be run from the sidewall, over the oak support, and onto the wood on the bottom of the slide. I’m thinking of adding a layer of Eternabond tape on the bottom of the oak, the edge of the angle iron, and the bottom of the slide. The tape is extremely tough. 

The oak piece is to support the side and bottom of a plastic slide ski. It is fastened into the floor with 2 1/2” screws. 

Here are the layers under the slide ski. Fiberglass reinforced tape, Eternabond tape, another layer of the fiberglass tape, the slide ski, and another layer of the fiberglass tape. There is normally 3M VHB tape under the slide ski but I didn’t have enough. I could always add it. 

All that’s left now is the caulk on the painted trim. I can’t really test it until I do the other end of the slide. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Tucson, AZ

Tuesday - I went for a windy bike ride this afternoon. At 58°F, which was today’s high temperature, it felt pretty cold when heading into the wind. Not a long ride maybe 10 miles or so but enough to get some fresh air. The group shown is just part of what meets many days for “AA” which stands for Attitude Adjustment. I think it’s just another term for happy hour. Last fall, we were across the street from many of them and have enjoyed meeting them. One couple headed north this morning, others are heading out in about 10 days or so. 

This is not what I expected to see in April in Tucson. This is for tomorrow early morning. I guess I’ll just turn off the water and drain the water hose tonight. We’ll just use water from our water tank. We can try out my new water pump controls. 

After getting out of the hot tub, I turned on this propane heater to warm up before heading back. Usually, the propane bottle is empty but this one still had some. It was nice!

BTW, even though it was 48°F, I was not the only one at the hot tub. There are plenty of Canadians here…

Monday, April 3, 2023

Tucson, AZ

Saturday - A few days ago, I found something I had misplaced in the RV over a year and a half ago. In July 2021, I ordered TPMS sensors for the Jeep that works with the EezTire system we use on the RV. By the time we picked up the Jeep, six months had passed by and I didn’t know where to put the sensors. They are now installed on the Jeep. This is the same system that we originally used with the truck and 5th wheel.

It’s turning out to be a pretty warm day with a high-temperature forecast to be 83°F. It’s time for A/C for the first time in months. I was planning to make some more meyer lemon bars today as someone in the park had a whole bunch available outside their home. 

Later - The lemon bars turned out pretty good. 

 - A walk around the RV park was good for 2.12 miles. Not a lot but a chance to get outside in the beautiful weather. It was a very pleasant 73°F and it started out as a walk to drop off some recycling (at the green dot) and I just kept walking.

We had dinner at Black Bear Diner since I had a coupon for a free breakfast. Afterwards, I came out to the hot tub and soaked for a bit. My back was aching this afternoon. I doubt it was from my walk this morning. 

 - As we travel, I tend to pick up stickers from locations and fellow RV travelers. Over half of these have been waiting for an opportunity to be put up. When we had our oil leak, the rear cap always had a layer of oil and some stickers didn’t survive. I washed the cap with Dawn detergent followed by alcohol in the sticker area. Later today or tomorrow, I’ll wax the cap over the stickers.