Saturday, March 30, 2013

More Power

After a year of using a pair of 6 volt golf cart batteries to provide power for the Scamp, I decided the next move was to make it easier to do a fast charge on the battery pack. While the trailer has onboard charging capability, it is at a fairly low rate resulting in running the generator much longer than would otherwise be necessary.

Typically, we'd just attach an external higher rate charger directly to the battery posts, but in this case, the battery is somewhat buried behind the rock shield.

I cobbled up a couple posts to provide points to attach the charger clamps but didn't like the way they looked. I ended up using a set of "remote battery jumper terminals" from Amazon. They're larger than necessary, but come complete with color-coded covers.

Hiding under the covers are large brass posts serving as attach points for the battery charger cables. The connection to the battery is fused.

Someday we'll add solar, but for now we have More Power. Tim would approve.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Singing Hills

I had a chance last week to visit Mom in the Northwet. Rental car in hand, I decided to trust the GPS that was programmed to avoid freeways when possible. Saw towns that the freeway bypassed years ago. Discovered a restaurant in North Bend that serves sausage patties the size of ham steaks. Also found lots of rust, tractors, and barns.

The GPS took me down the northeast side of the Yakima river between Cle Elum and Ellensburg. This area brought back memories of a summer camp that had been located somewhere across the river, a camp that in a very circuitous manner led to me meeting the woman who would become my wife.

My choice for the most photogenic of the apparently abandoned barns.

While I was in the neighborhood, I stopped by Glory Farm to check out the project I'll be working on in early May. (And no, you don't get to see it yet.)

The barn will soon be sporting a quilt as part of the Barn Quilt Trail project. The trail sounds like a great idea for a day of wandering the area.

This was my first visit to the farm and it brought back lots of memories! Old farm houses, while all different, seem to include some of the same features.

Even the swing in the yard had character with the rope grown into the tree limb but the best part was the spirit of caring exuded by Ellen and her family. Great people making a welcoming home as part of a caring community. Looking forward to getting back here.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

War as Theater

While it was interesting to watch, it was perplexing to think about. Why celebrate one of the most divisive, deadly, and disturbing periods in our history? The announcer may have summed it up while describing the action at the reenactment of the Battle of Glorieta, "You'll note not very many of the participants are 'dying.' That's because they spent so much money on their guns and equipment they want to make all the noise they can."

The encampment had grown significantly since early Friday afternoon. It was organized by group with the Confederates camped away from the Union troops.

There were seven cannon in all, each of them a hand-made replica.

I wondered about the bags of peat moss stacked by one of the cannons on Friday. Turns out it is mixed with dolomite for the special effects explosions.

The pyro guy built one of the cannons for his wife for her birthday. I guess that's a thoughtful gift if you like messing with explosives.

It was difficult getting pictures that were limited to the period. Lots of juxtaposition of period with modern, even with heavy cropping.

During this battle

there was some apparent spying going on,

Geico decided it was an appropriate time for aerial advertising,

and one of the shop owners was using some sort of new-fangled device.

I did learn more that helped me better understand why Fort Stanton was handled the way it was. Union troops were recalled for battles in the east leaving the New Mexico territory to be claimed by Texan Confederates, then pushed back by Union volunteers from California. Confused yet?

Interesting, noisy, and still perplexed.

They reenact the two battles that took place in New Mexico as well as the western-most documented skirmish that took place at Picacho Peak.

In addition to the three battles, there's sarsaparilla, kettle corn, and burritos. What more could you need?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Had a Plan, But ...

Every year the Pinal County Search and Rescue (SAR) Posse has a food booth at the annual reenactment of the Battle of Picacho Peak. This year it was scheduled for March 16th and 17th so the team members and a team member's driver showed up on Friday to set up camp and get the kitchen set up.

Some of the actors (re-actors?) were setting up their encampments

and they had a couple cannon ready for action.

The plan was to write a post about Saturday's battles but the plan went downhill when our daughter (also a SAR member) called asking for remote diagnosis of a terrible noise her car started making as they were coming through the town of Coolidge early Saturday morning.

Can't say enough good stuff about Jeremy Yeoman and the staff at The Tire Factory in Coolidge, AZ who determined the cause (a failing bearing on the timing belt idler) and replaced it in spite of being neck deep in business and running with a typically short Saturday staff. Turns out everyone in the area knows that's where to take any repair or tire business from cars to RVs. They draw from Florence, Eloy, and Casa Grande and I can see why. I was really impressed with their attitude, customer service, and quality worksmanship!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Put It In The Trunk

As we continue preparation for our upcoming Alaska trip, I decided that some additional storage space would be beneficial. I saw several Casita trailers at the Quartzsite Gathering that were sporting trunks. One in particular looked especially nice, but was more money than I wanted to spend unless the concept proved essential to us.

The simple solution for us was an ATV load rack from Harbor Freight and a 35 gallon Rubbermaid Action Packer from the world's largest operator of RV overnight parking facilities - Walmart. This combination will normally ride in the 2" receiver on the back of the Scamp.

The ATV rack is not as wide as Harbor Freight's other steel rack, and the main beam is lifted for additional ground clearance. Of course, it's not welded true so it always looks like it's sagging to one side, but for $40 ... I would have straightened it but I'm out of acetylene and too cheap to buy more.

I used 4 U-bolts to attach the box through a piece of 1/4" Baltic birch that was glassed on both sides to make it easy to clean.

If needs be, I can also mount the box in the receiver on the front of the Tacoma unless that's in use hauling a stack of boats.

Based on the first short trip, I think this is going to become a permanent addition. It's handy for the contents and in some situations makes a nice extra tabletop in camp.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tractor Pulling

On the second weekend of March in the shadow of the Superstition Mountains, the Arizona Early Day Gas Engine & Tractor Association holds a meet each year. Last year the temperatures were in the 80's, this year it was overcast, drizzle, and cool but there was still a good turnout.

This year they were featuring John Deere tractors so green & yellow was much more prevelant than red, orange, or gray. There were even a few crawlers at the meet.

One of the highlights of the meet is the tractor pull. This club uses a percentage derived from the tractor weight divided by the total weight on the drag plate to rank the tractors that enter the pull. The steel wheel tractors ran first and this LP fueled Ford proceeded to dig a hole before getting the sled to even move.

The sled has a weight box that starts at the back behind the axle and moves towards the front, progressively adding weight to the drag plate the further the sled is pulled.

This Oliver 1950 was my favorite because it was powered by a four cylinder GM diesel with its instantly recognizable 2 stroke high pitched exhaust. (The tractor in the back is used to pull the sled back to the starting position.)

There weren't many Farmall tractors, but there was one Super M, several years newer than the M that Dad had.

One of the strangest (and rarest) tractors was this Power Horse, controlled with reins like a team of horses.

In addition to the tractors, there were lots of small (to not so small!) engines. Some were static displays but many were running.

This is a British engine that powered a grain elevator in Canada.

A few of the engines were powering tools such as this corn sheller. The disappointment was that there weren't any Lister engines,

but there was a beautiful B model Mack truck and lots of fun for $5 admission.

And a Big Welcome to folks stopping by from HitchItch. I noted the traffic and was amazed to see we were mentioned on the front page. I hope you enjoy your visit and decide to stick around while we continue Finding Our Way.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Countdown Gets Shorter

If all goes well, one month from today we'll be departing on our Alaska road trip. These three resource are very helpful for planning purposes. The Milepost is updated annually and covers just about every single possible route to get to Alaska and to get back.

The Alaskan Camping book is often mentioned in the same sentence with The Milepost. It's been interesting but not as much help - it talks a lot about RV parks with full hookups and not so much about little niches with space for a single unit desiring to dry camp near a creek like we prefer.

Marianne Edwards' A Frugal Shunpiker's Guide for the Sierra Nevada Mountains has impacted our trip planning. Because of her book, we'll spend nearly a week wandering through the California gold country, checking out buildings and museums related to the California gold rush before jogging over to the coast for some of the Oregon lighthouses. Our first reservations are for the Northern Oregon Gathering (NOG) - a meeting of fiberglass trailer owners held this spring at Champoeg State Park near Newberg. After the NOG, we'll spend time with family in Olympia, fix windows at Glory Farm, and spend a few days with Mom before continuing further north.

Monday, March 11, 2013

More (is) Better

In September last year I installed five Philp-It latches in the Scamp. With a few months use, we found we really like the latch so recently we installed them on all of the upward opening cabinets as well as all of the drawers.

In the original installation, we installed the latches six inches from the corner of the door, wanting to avoid any conflict with the stock pull knob. That six inch measurement didn't work so well with the drawer design. If I'd been smart, I would have just positioned the latch to take advantage of the drawer recess created for the original latching mechanism.

Instead, (with a suggestion from a fiberglass trailer friend) we removed the front of the drawer,

extended the recess with a trim router, reattached the drawer to the drawer front, and installed the latch. Now all the upward opening doors and all the drawers use the same latch system, positioned in the same place relative to the drawer or door face and I'm happy.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

New Mexico Museums

Along with all that has shown up in the blog this past week, we visited three other museums. I wanted to visit the Walker Air Force Base and the UFO museum in Rozwell. Walker was built at the same time as Williams AFB in Arizona and it looks like they used the same plans for much of it. In spite of having nearly 50 years to convert to civilian use, it's still very obviously a former base with lots of it desperately needing a match and a bulldozer.

The UFO museum wasn't worth the drive. It mostly consisted of clippings from publications, laminated in shiny plastic, tacked to the wall. They did manage to have one group of animatronic aliens

but at least Ruidoso's aliens were green and "everyone" knows space aliens are green.

The New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo seems to go by several different names, but Suzy Garmin couldn't find any of them. It didn't really matter since the building sits up on the hill and was easy to spot from a long way away.

Inside they had displays covering the history of space flight, pictures of all of the people inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame and a Space Shuttle simulator - I blew the tires on landing. Outside they had several rockets including the remains of this V2.

In addition to the museum they had an IMAX theater (separate admission) showing several aviation and space related films. We watched one about the Hubble telescope that was very good. The museum does a good job of connecting international space exploration to research and development efforts in New Mexico.

I think my favorite was the Hubbard Museum of the American West in Ruidoso Downs. In addition to collections of firearms, saddles, kachina dolls, Native American pottery, and pictures of early New Mexico, they had a wonderful collection of wagons and carriages.

Conestoga Wagon

Restored lightweight stagecoach

and a surrey with a fringe on top.