Thursday, November 30, 2017

This & That

While a bunch of my time has gone into doing mods for Jeff's RV, I've taken time out this month to get ready for a geocaching event to be held early next month. In the process, I spent some time talking with the Lost Dutchman, but he wasn't willing to tell where all the gold in the Superstitions is hidden.

I've been out to hunt for a handful of caches, including one First To Find on a wannabe stormy afternoon. The reality was that it was cloudy, but it never produced. I did find the cache, though.

My favorite time of day is to be on the trail at sunrise. I'm ahead of most hikers, the day is quiet, and sometimes the colors are beautiful. I've found I really appreciate the opportunity to wander through the desert watching it come alive.

The biggest  chunk of my time this month has been in the shop, building a series of  'gadget' caches. They'll all be finished and placed before the geocaching event, but it's too soon to publish more about that...

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Just Chillin'

A couple months ago our air conditioner showed signs of distress and wasn't keeping up with our 100 degree+ weather. We called our son-in-law's cousin to check it out. He was able to get it working temporarily while we got a new unit on order.

Josh, and his helper, Josh showed up with a trailer load of new gear.

They started at both ends of the system - removing the old air handler & furnace combination and the really strange angled return air duct.

The pile in the front yard grew taller. It took ALL day for the two of them,

but by later afternoon the compressor was in place and the system was charged with freon. This unit uses a current version of freon which is supposedly safer for the environment.

By 7 p.m. or so they had the new furnace and air conditioning coil in place as well as new transition ducting. This return air box includes a filter at knee level instead of filters at 'top of the ladder' level like the old system. The supply duct is insulated like the old one should have been.

We selected the Goodman system because it is built in the US and is very basic in nature, making maintenance calls much easier. We should be good to go for years to come.


I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We gave thanks for having a new air conditioner as we enjoyed a 90 degree day.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Too Much Ruckus

One of the cool items that was stock on Jeff's Vista XL is a set of automatic hydraulic levelers. So much nicer that stacking up boards or Lego blocks.

The manufacturer requires that the jacks are deployed before the slides can be extended. The engine must be running to deploy the jacks or slides, BUT... they're very concerned about someone driving away with the jacks still deployed.

They installed a warning light, but their ergonomics engineer was absent when they did the design. It's not at all visible when an average height person is in the driver's seat.

You must lean significantly forward to find the light shining brightly, but totally hidden behind the steering wheel.  It's just a light, installed in a hole in the plastic dash. Apparently no one has ever considered moving the light to a position much more obvious to the driver.

Since the light is essentially useless for its intended function, they also include a horn. The horn should have a warning to not use it near a cemetery because it will wake the dead!. It's so loud that it becomes a safety issue because you rush to get everything closed up so you can kill the horn. Of course, the horn is buried just about as deep as possible, forward of all the circuit breakers by the driver's left leg.

Removing the fairing around the circuit breaker panel provides hand access, but it also makes the horn more painfully loud while you try to locate it.

Removing the hydraulic leveler control panel gets an angle so you can get some light into some of the darkest recesses of this corner. It's fair to say access is neither easy nor comfortable.

Yup, it's this little critter that is making so much noise it can be heard 200' away with the coach door closed. We debated about removing it entirely, but decided to try a muffler first. I constructed a housing out of 1/2 inch foam that went over the horn. It's still loud, but at least it's not painful. He's going to use it a while and see if that's enough or if it needs even more muzzling.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Lost Dutchman Testing

It was a first for us. We've enjoyed our Scamp for over seven years, but we'd never stayed at Lost Dutchman State Park. BJ spent many hours in the park and surrounding area as a member of the Search & Rescue group, but we'd never camped there. Too close and usually too full.

Since Jeff is leaving his new rig in Arizona for the winter, they came down for a long weekend and we managed to reserve a couple sites right across the road from one another.

We both had to suffer with this view. In our case our large back window framed the mountain while in Jeff's case the front window provided the best seats in the house.
We did work on a couple mods for his rig, but I also got a chance to go geocaching with our grandson for a while one morning until the heat got to be too much.

Always nice to be young - makes the tree climbing easier!

I even loaded up some charcoal and brought a dutch oven for one of our dinners.

Pot roast - the easiest thing to fix - was excellent. Our daughter and son-in-law came out so we managed to have everyone together in one place. The pot was empty when we got finished!

We enjoyed great weather, excellent time together, and beautiful sunsets. No wonder valley visitors rave about Lost Dutchman State Park!

Friday, November 10, 2017


In spite of living in Arizona for 27 years, I'd never visited Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza until a couple weeks ago. The plaza is essentially surrounded by state government buildings that house civil servants and not-so-civil elected lawmakers.

The plaza is home to a large memorial to the men of the battleship Arizona. The anchor from the battleship as well as a couple of the gun barrels are part of very moving memorial to men who gave their lives for our freedom.

What I didn't realize until my visit, was the large collection of other memorials at this plaza.

The day was nearly overcast and occasionally spitting a bit of rain. The light made for poor photos, but I enjoyed my time reflecting on each and every memorial. This one was for the Navajo code-talkers who played an integral part in the war in the Pacific.

The spot I'd selected to park was near this gateway leading to the Korean War memorial.

The one that hit closest to home, perhaps because of my age, was the Vietnam memorial. In addition to the sculpture, there was a timeline of the major events and a listing of the Arizonans who lost their lives in Vietnam.

The most colorful memorial was to the people who served in Desert Storm.

In addition to all the military memorials (I've only shown a few,) there was a memorial to slain peace officers and a very large memorial to fire fighters.

It wasn't intentional, but the visit certainly got me thinking about Veteran's Day and all the people who have died in service to their country.


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Nose Job

I've been visiting a dermatologist annually for several years. Last year he punched a hole in the top of my head. This time he decided to take a sample of my nose. Turns out the sample was a basal cell carcinoma so he refered me to a Mohs surgeon. If you get queasy, you might want to just skip the rest and make an appointment with your dermatologist instead.

We managed to sneak in the river trip between the initial biopsy and the surgery so the initial cut had healed leaving just a little divit. The surgeon's assistant marked their target.

The anesthetic was excellent. Quick and easy. I was a bit surprised at how deep they went, wondering how much more they would take if they needed to go back for a second or third pass.

They determined that they got all the nasties on the first pass, so it was time to visit with the plastic surgeon who would do the closing. She drew an even larger teardrop on my nose.

She stretched the skin down the nose and added a whole bunch of little tiny stitches.

The finishing touch was an obnoxiously large bandage. Glad BJ came with me because my glasses sat too high to be very usable for driving. A week later, the incision is essentially healed.

I guess I've become a fan of annual (dermatology) inspections.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Vista Solar, Part 3

With the controller and the portable panel components in place, it was time to install the roof-mounted panel. We'd already determined that our feed cable would pass down the wall the creates the inboard side of the bathroom and serves as a wire chase for all the annunciators, slide controls, etc. The vent pipe is in the forward end of that wall.

A 3/4 inch Forster bit made quick work of drilling through the fiberglass roof without getting crazy with the 3 inches of foam below the roof.

A matching hole was drilled in the center of a 4x4 plastic junction box and then that box was attached with the fiberglass roof with 3M Very High Bond tape, followed by a bead of 3M5200 marine adhesive sealant around the outer edge.

The mounts that we got from AM Solar came with 3M VHB tape pre-installed on the feet. I marked where they were going to go and wiped down the fiberglass roof with alcohol to insure a clean surface before sticking one pair and then the other to the roof. Like contact cement, you only get one chance! A bead of 3M5200 sealant around the edges of the feet completed the installation.

With the feet in place, the cable was run through conduit from the junction box to the panel and then connected to the panel with the same style waterproof heat-shrink connectors that I used on the portable panel. Both panels have an in-line fuse installed at the panel end of the wiring.

I used flex conduit to provide UV protection to the solar cabling. The conduit is attached to the fiberglass roof with 3M5200.

There's lots of real estate left if additional panels are desired.

I left extra cable in the junction box. If extra panels are added, the junction box can serve as a combiner box.

Inside the bathroom at the ceiling is a triangular box. I'd hoped I wouldn't have to open it, but I couldn't get the solar wiring to feed more than 18 inches down the wall so I popped the four staples that held the wall covering in place to make it easier to feed the wires.

The vent pipe that I pointed out on the roof is at the right side of the wall opening. The solar cables go through a pre-existing hole in the floor, across the top of the grey tank*,

over to the corner of the sink cabinet,
and then down through a hole I drilled in the tunnel cover just ahead of the grey tank,

leaving a short run to the terminal blocks.

* The grey tank has inlets from the shower, the bathroom sink, and the kitchen sink. When we went to pull the wires from the electrical chase to the kitchen cabinet, we discovered the top of the grey tank was wet. Turns out one drain had a hose clamp, one had a hose clamp that had never been tightened, and the kitchen sink one didn't have a hose clamp AND WASN'T EVEN ALIGNED with the tank port. Quality Assurance anyone???

With both panels wired, but being too lazy to go back up on the roof and tilt the roof panel, it was time to install the Bluetooth adapter to the controller and see what we had for results.

This was about 9 a.m. with neither panel oriented optimally. Can't complain! I wasn't sure that the Bluetooth dongle was going to be worthwhile, but once I've played with it a bit, I'm convinced it's required equipment.

The solar install has been fun. Time to do some more mods one of these days soon.