Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's Your Sign

While I was working with PVC pipe for the awning frames, I decided to build a sign for our site at the Quartzsite Gathering in early February.  Last year there were 80 fiberglass trailers there.  A sign would make it a lot easier for internet friends to find us.

The base was  made from pieces of Western Red Cedar 2x4 that happened to be close to the saw.  A couple coats of spar varnish will slow down damage from moisture, just in case it happens to rain in the desert.

The frame was designed so that the fittings were glued to the horizontal pieces while the verticals were sanded so that they would slip together easily. The sign was printed on ledger-sized paper, laminated, and then glued to coroplast backing, making a reasonably weatherproof sign.  Shower curtain rings complete the ensemble.

After I made the sign, I realized that it could actually display two signs.  The second one is asking for personal experience and recommendations for the Alaska trip planned for next summer.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Window Awnings - Part 3

This project has taken longer and was more work than I expected, but it's now complete enough to write the last blog post about awnings. The key to this part of the project was the seamstress.

There's a total of four separate awnings. The left and right sides are the same. The two for the rear window vary slightly, with the left one having a flap that overlaps the right side and connects with velcro. This project confirmed that the rear window and the spare tire are not mounted on the center line of the trailer.

The awning is attached to the PVC frame with loops of strap.  A piece of 1 x .125 aluminum strap is sewn into the lower hem to add a little weight and keep the edge straight.

The lower end of the stay strap is hooked to a 3M Command hook.

The rear frames were much more challenging because of the curve of the belly band. I ended up using a tee and a cap for the outer corner to get the offset so that the bottom of the rear frames lined up straight.

We made the rear awning in two pieces so it would fit in the curbside hatch.  Each awning frame disassembles into four pieces and is rolled with the awning and strap and then stowed in it's individual bag.

Now we can be in the shade even when we're not.

Part 1 and Part 2 of the project were earlier this month.

Updated April 2, 2013: We discovered that the Command Hook would fail in a brisk breeze. Our solution was the installation of metal hooks fabricated from 100 lb. picture hangars. They are seated with 3M5200 sealant and retained by a single rivet.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks!

We’re celebrating Thanksgiving a bit different this year. No trash can turkey, and no big family gathering. Instead, I'll spend the weekend futzing around with Scamp mods.

This year has been different from so many that we've enjoyed. We've had good times with the family including a wedding, meeting new extended family, a river trip with our daughter, paddling with our grandson, and a fairly long road trip in July with visits to several National Parks.

At the same time, we can also give thanks for the changes at work that led me to announce my retirement sooner than I might have otherwise. With just 22 work days remaining, it's time to start packing.

While it’s a bit scary, the calendar is filling with things we wouldn't be able to do with a 40 hour work week calendar. I'm looking forward to time with new friends in January and February and continued planning and preparation for a road trip to Alaska for several months this coming summer.  We're so fortunate to have good friends scattered all over the world and we're looking forward to being able to spend some time with them.

Wishing all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Put it on the Shelf

But first you have to have a shelf. The Wilson Sleek 4G amplifier for the Scamp arrived and needs a home. Since we're slowly turning the top of the cupboard above the closet into an electrical distribution center, it seemed the Sleek and the Novatel 4620 MiFi from Millenicom should be located somewhere nearby but accessible.

I decided to build a small cantilevered box shelf above the bathroom door. Of course, that meant a trip to the lumber store since I had alder, ash, and oak in stock but no birch. Pieces of 1/4" Baltic birch will form the top and bottom of the shelf.

Some glue and clamps and the first phase is done. I left the ends long because they were easier to cut off after the glue dries.

The bottom of the shelf is flush. The top has a lip around the shelf.

The cleat screws through the wall and into the frame of the bathroom ceiling. The caps were popped off the factory screws and then the back side of the cleat was relieved to clear the original screws.

The shelf isn't designed to hold lots of weight. The Sleek and MiFi will go on the left end. The MP3 player will go on the right end, held on the shelf by velcro. Five volt DC for both unit will route from the wall on the left.

The shelf is finished with satin polyurethane.

It was nice to spend some time messing with wood for a change.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What Great Neighbors!

Four of us enjoyed another great Black Canyon trip. More correctly, two of us enjoyed another Black Canyon trip while two others enjoyed their first Black Canyon trip. We left work early on Friday so that we would be ready for the 7 a.m. PST Saturday launch. We even had a chance to enjoy breakfast with Helen before the shuttle to the put-in below Hoover Dam. It took less than 10 minutes to get the canoe and two sit-on-top kayaks on the water.

With the early launch, the river was still in the shadows. Lake Mohave's level was several feet below full pool, and with the morning releases from the dam, current was fairly swift in the shallows of first section.

Willie paddled his "new" Scupper Pro Classic. The boat is nearly 20 years old but in great shape. It doesn't look like it had been used very much.

BJ paddled her "loaner" Scupper Pro because it was faster to drop the barrel in the tank well than to pack a hatch for a quicker launch.

We knew it was going to be a very busy holiday weekend with several Boy Scout troops known to be launching. We weren't surprised to get to Arizona Hot Spring below Ringbolt Rapid and find one troop already in camp and others arriving during the day.

We were grateful to find a group of four breaking camp, leaving our favorite spot available. It didn't take long to set up camp, staking our claim for the weekend. Later in the afternoon, a group of students and staff from University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) arrived after paddling eight miles upstream and set up camp just up-canyon from our spot.

The next morning, the UCSB group had their canoes lined up along the shore and were paying rapt attention to the leader as he explained the techniques needed to safety cross eddy lines and to ferry across the current. After a bit of practice, their goal for the day was to paddle upstream, almost to the dam, and visit the upstream hot springs. Their plan was to return after dark so that the students also got some experience paddling at night.

While the UCSB group was paddling upstream, we elected to take a walk up the slot canyon to Arizona Hot Spring. The route to the hot spring from the beach is not long, but it does involve scrambling over several small "waterfalls" - at least they would be if the canyon flashed.

The route does involve one ladder, complete with water splashing down. It's really not wise to think you'll stay dry on the walk to the springs.

The pools are created by damming the slot with sand bags which occasionally get washed out. This time there were three separate pools. In the past, it has always been configured as two chained pools, the upper pouring directly into the lower. Because of the spacing between the pools, the temperatures in the middle and lower pools were cooler than normal.

As planned, the UCSB group returned after dark and quietly stacked their canoes and made their way to their camp. Unfortunately, their example of quiet didn't rub off on some of the Boy Scout troops, especially the group with the leader who thought shouting louder was more effective communication!

Early Tuesday morning the UCSB group broke camp quietly, but the most impressive part was when the whole group came back after loading their canoes and carefully checked the area where they had camped, demonstrating Leave No Trace principles. To say that we were impressed with the students and their leader is an understatement, and yes, I did send a communication to their Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs sharing how impressed I was.

All trips have to end.  This one ended with a quiet paddle for the eight remaining miles to Willow Beach, Arizona.  I'm hoping I get to do it again this winter, perhaps in the middle of the week with fewer people in camp.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Window Awnings - Part 2

In the first installment, we mounted the awning rail for the window awnings. Although the pictures don't show it, the plan is to make awnings for the dinette side windows as well as the back window.

The awning frame is constructed out of PVC Schedule 40 pipe and fittings. The top rail is constructed from 3/4 inch pipe, elbows, and reducers. The bottom rail is constructed from 1/2 inch pipe and elbows. The elbows are glued to the rails.  The stiles (the vertical pieces) are 1/2 inch pipe and are NOT glued into the elbows. The ends of the stiles have been sanded so that they easily slip into and out of the elbows.

The frame breaks down and will be rolled with the awning fabric for storage.

The frame sits on the belly band and will be held in place by the awning fabric and by a 1 inch strap. For now, a piece of Niteline is filling in for the awning fabric. The 1 inch straps were fabricated from materials and fittings available at a local upholstery and drapery supply shop. It was nice to be able to get the buckles in a color other than black! The lower end of the strap has a ring that hooks to a 3M Command hook to form the lower anchor.

The back window awning will be fabricated as two separate units to keep the lengths short enough to fit in the curbside hatch.  The lower rail will take a bit of extra  work to adapt to the greater curvature at the back of the trailer.

Part 3 will follow but it's time to pack up for another weekend canoe and kayak trip, this time to the Black Canyon on the Colorado River below Hoover Dam.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Cleaning Up Behind People

I was delighted to have our daughter ask if we could go kayak/canoe camping on one of the local lakes for an overnight. Looks like the Green River trip rubbed off. Now she wanted to introduce a friend to this mode of camping.

We decided to camp at "Beer Can Point" on Canyon Lake since it is only about 2 1/2 miles from the place where you can launch hand launched boats, making it an easy first trip. As we approached the point, we observed a boat loading and leaving the dock.

This sign is the first thing you see when you land.

Apparently the people that just left couldn't read.  Beer bottles in the fire pit, Pepsi cans scattered about with the bees have a party. Not only did they leave their trash, but they also left a log smoldering as well.

In addition to the trash in camp, there were several bags of trash stacked in the men's toilet and others on the sidewalk outside. Seems if you could carry your trash to the restroom you could just as easily carry it to your boat! Rumor has it that the Forest Service no longer services the restrooms but they still charge the access fee.

We got camp set up, taking advantage of the shade shelter to provide some protection.

Turk came with us this time and was a well behaved camper. He was the only one who intended to go swimming!

The Dolly "steamship" tour paid us a visit twice - once during the afternoon on their two hour cruise and again in the evening with their four hour dinner cruise. Quite a few boats out cruising as well as water skiers and some fishing but we had the camp area to ourselves.

Dinner was veggie & beef packets on mesquite coals. The seams were done well enough that the packages plumped up nicely.

Twenty-five minutes later dinner was ready. The paper plates were good kindling to get the rest of the mesquite we'd hauled in burning for fresh coals for s'mores.

The weather was wonderful - up to mid 85's during the day, mid 50's at night. The morning sun was lighting up the canyon walls before people were stirring.

On the way back we spotted a Desert Bighorn Sheep about 20' from us as we turned a corner. He was nice enough to stand there and let us take pictures as we drifted past.

The Great Blue Heron were out looking for breakfast as well.

We hauled out five bags of other people's trash leaving the site much cleaner than when we started.  Too bad people don't clean up behind themselves!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Window Awnings - Part I

The window awning project was waylaid a couple weeks ago by a leaky drip system in the yard. Since then, I've made a bit of progress. Thanks to Borderbrae on the Casita forum and her experience with a similar project, I ordered PVC awning rail, awning rail insert, and Sunbrella fabric from PerfectFit in Seattle. I started by laying out where the awning rail would be mounted above the windows.

I decided to mount the PVC rail with 3M Very High Bond double faced tape. It's available in various widths and colors. In this case, we're using 3/4" clear tape.

Most of the area above the side windows is straight, except for the last three inches. No sense putting tape on that last three inches.

The awning rail goes in place using the blue tape for an alignment guide. The VHB tape is much like contact cement - you need to make sure it's lined up correctly before pressing it in place.

I considered several options for dealing with the area where the round corner of the trailer departs from the straight line of the awning rail. I could have fabricated a wooden wedge attached with VHB tape. I could have poured a permanent fiberglas wedge, but decided to use 3M 5200 which is a very slow curing product. The largest wedge took over a month to cure - clearly not a product you'd want to use for this "off label" application while traveling.

The back window was more challenging. The rivets were positioned low enough that I needed to trim the awning rail to fit around them in several places.

Of course the left side and the right side of the back window were molded differently but we approached the solution for supporting the end of the awning rail in the same way.

Since my friend, wife, and seamstress (that's one person, not three) was on her annual Christmas Card making junket last week, we haven't started fabricating the actual awning. You'll have to wait for that. Meanwhile, we're going to go out an enjoy a canoe & kayak camping weekend.