Saturday, September 24, 2016

Opinions Wanted, Skill Set Needed

Today's RV project involved testing my 200 watt crock pot with the 300/700 peak inverter. Now, I do have a great propane stove and oven, which answers the cooking need when boondocking. However, please follow my female reasoning,
I thought, what if I could simmer a soup and simultaneously warm the living area during those chilly spells?

I mean, this thing does throw off some serious heat when its cooking.
In retrospect, that should have clued me in. The longer the cord on a device, I'm told, the more power you lose due to friction. Or something like that.
Bottom line, I gave up on the inverter ever working my crock pot. In order to get a soup for supper, I cheated and plugged it into shore power.
So, is my math wrong or my reasoning? Why can't you run a 200 watt crock pot with a 300/700 watt inverter?

Now, the pure sine inverter was desperately needed to protect my laptop, phone and T-V, so I guess the $38 bucks at was worth it. Tonight, I'm watching a movie to see how that goes.
Stay tuned. There is a 30 day guarantee with this purchase.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Baby Steps

Every day I try to learn something new about my rig. As you can see, last winter I dealt with snow. My water came through a hose, which I kept under an insulated box kept warm with a light bulb.
After I built that, I never suffered frozen pipes again.

Now, as I plan to head south, I'm trying to figure out the fresh water holding tank. According to the owner's manual, these guys need to be sanitized on a regular basis. Hummm, well. I've owned it nearly two years and have not sanitized anything yet.

Wow. So, after opening the side door to the holding tank, I prepared a solution of 1/4 cup bleach to one gallon of water. Got out the funnel and poured it in. As expected, it leaked out beneath the motorhome. You see, I figured there must be a drain at the bottom of the tank, but where?
Turns out, the drain is positioned directly over the spare tire. Stupid, I know.
I crawled under. How do you plug this drain? Now, quit laughing, you experts. My fingers got wet as I felt for a plug.Water sprayed out, no plugs. I considered shoving gum up in said drains.
But, I didn't. Instead I asked my son-in-law, who owns a slide in truck camper what to do. He showed me how his system was rigged then asked me, "Wasn't there some kind of outdoor water faucet thing under the bed?"
"Under the bed?" I replied, skeptically. "I don't remember. How do you remember that? We looked at 33 campers, 2 years ago."
"Try looking."
I did. It was there, sure enough. So, I crawled inside the box that supports the bed, turned the knob until it quit turning and crawled back out. Then, I added another gallon of water to the holding tank.
Voila! It didn't leak.
Holy guacamole. I did learn something today.
Now, tomorrow, I will follow up and flush this system.
Stand back, you might get wet.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Nearly Off Grid

Today has been highly productive.
I turned on my propane for the first time since returning home. Up till now, I've been just enjoying shore power, that is, running my huge electric cord to public utilities. So after turning on the propane, just to keep things real, I unplugged and got to work.

As expected, every appliance was a tad slow to respond, as if waiting for the fuel lines to burp out whatever propane bubbles they formed while vegetating 5 months. At last, the back burner of the stove lit, then the front, then the oven. In spite of a bright sunny day, I turned on the furnace. Perfect ignition, just as I remembered it.
But, for some reason, the fridge kept stalling and I decided maybe it wasn't going to work. I couldn't test the water heater yet, because I'm not hooked up to water. Dry cabin, folks.

I kept flipping the switch. Within forty-five, the Check button popped on. I frowned. It was obvious the fridge wanted its 120 volt AC back. Just as I was about to put fix fridge on my repair list, I tried her again. Held my breath. You can't hear the thing ignite, but it must have taken hold.
I left the GAS mode on, just to give the fridge the right idea. Its still working, even as I write this post and the ice cubes are solid.

Perseverance pays off  when I least expect it,

Next, as long as we were testing off grid systems, I plugged in my 12 volt charger and proceeded to charge the phone at the back port.
While it was making great headways, I plugged my 12 volt /175 watt inverter into the front port. Charged the laptop, sewed on my sewing machine, a as a final test, fired up the flat screen t-v along with the DVD player. All good to go.

Wow! I checked other small appliances and decided not to press my luck. According to their tags, they required way more watts. Things like coffee makers and dust busters generate some heat, so that didn't surprise me.

Guess I'm ready now to order some solar panels.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Reply to Mobiltec, What's the Generator Doing?

Well Larry. November should be perfect weather down there.

Okay, the bottom line on the Generator.
You previously asked me, "What does the generator do when you try to start it?" and I said, nothing. So yesterday, I went to verify the nothing, by pressing the in house generator button. It clicked a couple times, then turned over and started. I stood back, shocked out of my socks...listening. Came to my senses, ran to the shore power and unplugged then returned to the motorhome to assess what the revived thing could do.
The house lights all work...but they did on house batteries anyways. That's no proof a load is being carried by the generator, I thought. So, I checked the outlets and found they didn't work, nor the frig or microwave. But both air conditioners did, as well as the galley fan and stove top fan!
So, I figured we do have something going on.

Today I checked and replaced two burnt out 12 volt fuses, and now have 12 volt adapter (cigarette lighter type thing). My 175 watt inverter now works, which is very tiny but will recharge a phone or laptop. Sadly, I have learned those small inverters deliver 'unclean' electricity and could damage sensitive equipment.

My goal is to write this winter, so being able to charge my laptop daily is essential to my mental well-being.

I got the name of a generator guy today. New tires installed. My Les Schwabb guy said brakes both front and back are great, and the wheel bearing are fine as well. Ready to roll.

I posted this here so my readers can learn as well. I've quit saying I'm no good with mechanical things.I guess you've proved even I can get comfortable under the hood.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Free Today-Living the Dream

Today you can get a  Free Download of Living the Dream. Just click on the buy now and you'll see the invoice of zero cents. Read it on your PC, mobile device or Kindle.

I'm offering this book free today so you can take a look at the seasonal lifestyle. Included is a fun quiz to get you going, stories and tips. Hope you like it.  

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Successful Electrical Problem Solving

Today, I fixed my motorhome. For some reason, the main battery would not crank the engine so I couldn't get it started. The place we bought the new battery checked the battery and proved it was charged. They suggested it was my starter getting sticky, and that's why the AAA guy could give me a jump and it start. Battery experts at Interstate Battery told me my rig needed that extra umph to start my rig. Bottom line, a serious mechanic was in order.

I groaned. I need new tires before I can even get a jump start to move the thing.
I met Larry in 2012 while camping up in Colorado. Seeing what a nice guy he was, I subscribed to his youtube channel.. Mobiltec does amazing restorations of RVs. He lives in the southwest, so I emailed him I'd be heading town to Quartzite. He recommended I hang out here another month because the weather is stinking hot down there in the desert now.

One email thing led to another and I eventually lamented my RV blues. He said, send me a photo of the battery terminals. Below is one of a dozen I sent. He said, clean those until they shine.
 "I'm all thumbs around and engine.":
"Don't worry, I'll walk you through it."
"Larry, I'm sorta scared?"
"What? You? Naw you can do it. Besides, you got me. Just keep me posted."
"Okay, I'll do my best." I worried. "I'll get out the tool box."
"One thing. Wear eye protection."
"I'm not going to blow up my engine, am I?"
"Nope. Disconnect the negative first, then the positive."

Over the next two hours I kept  Larry posted via phone photos. He encouraged me and told me, no, I did not have to unwrap the positive cables clear down to the wire.

The final photo I sent Larry showed clean cable connections, but one rusty nut I couldn't remove. However, I'd scrubbed the fire out of it, so it was no doubt greaseless.
 "Now hook it up the way you took it apart."
A dozen minutes passed while I tightened every thing down. The phone rang. It was Larry. "How are you doing?"
"Good, I think. How do I know if I got it right?"
"You hooked it up the same way, right? No sparks?"
"Right. No sparks."
"Go crank that baby."
I felt trepidation as I inserted the key. What if I totally wrecked my engine by instigating a wide ranging explosion? I turned the key. Volia! We have lift off!

Oh my god. I was so happy. "Larry, you're a genius. I'm so happy. Listen to that." I held the phone to the engine. It purred.
"Good job," he said. Not one bit of bravado or told you so.

Thanks Larry. What a pal.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Back On Track

I left Boise for Atlanta on March 23, 2016, determined to do another thru hike of the Appalachian Trail. On August 3, I summitted Katahdin. It was my second successful thru hike. Why a second hike? To figure some things out. Sometimes you need to get off the grid to get your life back in focus.

A bit overkill, you might say. And you're right. There are a ton of adages that should help a gal figure things out without having to resort to living in the mountains, hiking alone doing twenty mile days, then sleeping on ground after a supper of ramen and gorp.

You can't teach an old dog new tricks. Stick with what you know. Live the life you've imagined. Jump and the net will appear.
What? Seems contradictory.
Bottom line, all I knew for sure was that I was a burnt out seasonal cook/adventure writer who wasn't ready to retire and had no idea where to call home.  So, after a two stop flight and subsequent shuttle to the trail head, I totted my pack (a base weight of 12.5 pounds plus 6 pounds of food) up to Springer Mountain. I signed in and headed north.

Now, I'm back and feel the urge to write again. Over the last five  months, I met a host of great people, gained a vast array of insights and decided this rolling stone indeed gathers no moss.

Next adventure? Arizona winter. A snowbirder's paradise of  eccentrics, crazy trails and desert living. Check out my friend's video of the great expansive Mojave at:

That's going to be my seasonal back yard.
Google Quartzite, Arizona and you'll see my target zone.