Monday, March 30, 2009

Seasonal Start-up Snafu Syndrome

I am sure Seasonal Start-up Snafu Syndrome or S.S.S.S. followed by "hit", is very common across the world. After a long winter you want to get ready for the camping season. You go out and begin cleaning up the things that you said "that will be all right, I will have it for next season" and repairing the things broken during last years season. You know the items, the screens your kid pushed out, the cabinet latch that was not lining up right, the loose piece of molding. All minor details, but none the less, things that need your attention. Yesterday was just that day for me. I have have been very busy with work, getting clients trailers here safely, and finishing projects up and I have not gotten Anna ready for the Cherry Blossom Rally that is just a few days away. My first task was to clean up and out.
I opened the pantry to get a flash light out and it was stuck to the shelf. Turns out the Seven Up minis I left in there last fall had frozen hard enough to split wide open and leak from the second shelf all the way down to the bottom shelf. The liquid must have thawed slowly for I had thickened Seven-Up on every shelf and also down one of the walls. All six cans, still in their plastic holders sat there empty. Now if it was November, I probably would have just shut the door and said that is what spring is for, but I had to clean it up. Six buckets of hot water and soap, it was cleaned up. Note to self: Self, do not leave anything including mouse proof cans in the trailer over the winter. It might be below freezing for weeks on end and the items might split. A can of Trader Joe's Turkey Chilli split too but nothing leaked out. Now that is a waste of mighty fine chilli. The rest of the clean up was fairly straight forward after this.

I have been holding off on putting water to her. The weather here is very unpredictable in March. One day it is spring the next it is winter again. I did not want to put water to her and have a cold snap come through. I checked three local weather forecasters and they all say the temperatures will be well above freezing so yesterday was the day. I hooked the hose to the city water inlet and went to the house to turn it on. I turned it on just a little, as to not over whelm things, and walked back to the trailer. Water was pouring out of the belly pan right at the belt line. It was actually beautiful the way it was a solid curtain from bumper to wheel well. I opened everything up and began looking.
In my search the first thing I notice was that the drain line coming from the kitchen sink is not into one of the fittings. Turns out I did not glue it when I put it all together. Nothing like saving a task a whole year. But this was not the source of my leak. My leak was coming from a supply line. I followed the lines from the inlet through the manifold (total waste of money, materials, and time). No wet spots yet. I keep going on down the line into the closet and no wet spots here. I pull the drawers on the vanity and see no wet spots. I am getting to the end of the line now. I open the hamper door (now like the manifold, this is a joke to me. Who in their right mind is going to put their dirty clothes in that little hole and then later try and get them out) and there it was. The union between the copper of the toilet and the PEX line.

A broken Sea Tech fitting. Now as I said a year ago, these things are junk. Luckily I had one left over and was able to swap it out fairly easily. I had opened all the valves just incase water remained in the lines, but forgot to open the toilet fill valve.
So many things to learn, so many years to learn them....

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Icing on the cake

My very cool brother in law Chris gave Anna a gift. He thinks she is hot and when he saw this flashlight at a yard sale he snapped it up and gave it to her. Well he gave it to me, but he stated that he thought it belonged with Anna. It is called an Ash Flash.

Very nice 6 volt flashlight. It uses a big box type battery and looks so very cool.

The tail end has a red lens that flashes and can lift straight up so that if you break down you can put it behind the trailer to warn other motorists. The lens is cracked, but something will turn up to replace it. I love this thing, Thank you Chris.

Over the weekend a small pile of polishing supplies came out. I have changed tactics slightly this time around. I am using the Airstream Polishing kit from Jestco. I was turned on to this system by Uwe at Area 63. It is the big wide cotton wheel and grey then red rouge bars. I am not going to say it is easy. It is just a matter if plugging in the Ipod, putting on your game face, and going at it. An Adult beverage or four helps greatly too as long as you wait till after 12 noon.

I am just looking at it little by little. I started on the curb side which is the worst side of the trailer. I started on the door with in a door and worked out from there. This side had extremely thick oxide on it last year when I did the first cut.

The P.O's P.O. told me proudly that twenty five years ago he and his wife polished the trailer using mineral oil and steel wool. They used finer and finer grits and though it turned out spectacular. He also said he did not manage to do the street side or the ends. I now totally understand why the entire area they did looks like a tangerine skin. There is no amount of compounding or polishing that will fix that error. This is just something I will have to live with.

The grey bar works very quickly at the surface and moves a lot of aluminum around. This is one pass and about three minutes of time. Not bad, if you ask me. The red bar is like turning on a light bulb. The cotton wheel does create very fine vertical scratches. A little Nuvite "C" on the cyclo with an orange foam pad and the marks are gone. Very clear, very clean shine, with no scratch or swirl marks..

This was the result of about six hours total. I have done the door the outer door and the refrigerator door.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Who loves ya Anna?

All the women in my life know I love them, even the inanimate ones. The eyebrow over the door has been bothering me for a while now. It was very beat up. The front edge had a few tears and looked more like a line drawing of the ocean surface than a smooth graceful curve like it should be. Yesterday, I took it upon myself to change that.

I drilled out all the rivets and took the old one off. I then used the cast iron table of my saw and dead blow hammer to revert it back to a flat sheet. The flattened eyebrow was then traced onto some new 2024 T0 That I bought from my one and only Aluminum supplier, Hope you all caught that "T0" for that is an important part of this project. "T0" denotes the hardness. If "T3" is used, it will be too hard and as you bend the flanges the possibility of breaking is huge.

I just marked it all out and started bending the front edge first. It is straight, but a very small lip. It just takes a little time to work the hand brake back and forth until it is going 90 degrees to the surface. I bent it 1/8" which is slightly larger than the original, but still looks good. The hand brake only has so much grip. Next I did the 3/8 flange on the curved edge. Lots of little bends are required here. This edge should not be rushed. Slowly the eyebrow will begin to curve all on it's own. Only a small amount of forming over my knee was needed to take it the rest of the way. Patience is the key. If you rush, it will crease over.

I only used two original holes. They were the two lowest down. I made certain to miss all the rest in my layout. Drilled, clecoed, and ready for vulkem and rivets.

Nice huh? I am very pleased with how it came out.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

I am a convert

Being an old girl, Anna has some obsolete parts. Her black tank valve was the original Thetford and it would not fully hold in the tanks contents. I had taken the valve apart last winter and rebuilt all the interior trying to revive the valve, but all last year it was dripping and a blueboy had to be hooked on. Fixing this problem has been on the agenda, and due to some help from a good friend, it has taken place.

The first step was removing the old valve. I thought there was going to be issues with the last screw holding it in, but it decided to come out. The hole in the floor was not big enough either, so out came the Dremel with a straight bit and I free hand cut some of the plywood back. That is why the line to the right looks so wavy. Hey, you look into the eye of the tank and try and cut a straight line free hand with a Dremel.

Now here is where the help of a friend comes into play. Steve Klohn( ByamCaravanner on the Airforums and the nicest republican I know, he really is a super person. Hell, he is a super dude) made this plate for me. It is 1/2" aluminum and was machined to fit the screw pattern in the Thetford plate which is fiber glassed into the bottom of the tank. The other set of holes are machined for the new Valterra valve bolt pattern.

Only 1/8" separated the bolt pattern, so the whole valve needed to be rotated a few degrees to miss the bolts going into the tank. But there it is. All installed and ready to hold back the tank contents.

And there it is again, mouth closed...

And again even more enclosed. I might fashion a round door, but it is really not necessary in my eyes. Just to nip this before it becomes a comment... If you actually think you can stop, hamper, delay, alter, impede, or change the desires of rodents and reptiles from coming in... well, if you believe that, you had better hit the crack pipe again. If they want in, they are in no matter how well you close off the belly pan. The best course of action is to first not give then reason to enter. This means keeping the trailer clean. Keeping all food put away. This means emptying the trash can frequently. This means keeping the scene clean. The second line of attack is to feed the critters. Nothing says yum like a nice pile of Decon.

The belly skin had a bad rip in it from snagging the handle in a fence post. I made this simple beauty ring to dress it off. I think it actually looks intentional instead of a patch job.

The handle will still need some work. Valterra is not a sponsor. I will not advertise for them for free. The name will be getting ground off soon, but it was getting late and my wife was making me a margarita so I called it a day.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Anna got new keys.

I have been waiting to buck the new water fill door on until I installed the lock. There is always some waiting involved. This time it was waiting for a stainless steel cam lock to ship out from California. No, not Corona, California, Northern California. Eureka, I think that is Humbolt County. I wanted to make sure everything fit just right incase some kind of adjustment was needed. It all worked perfectly, and I was able to use my bucking bar and my Brown Tool rivet gun. The real kind of rivet gun, the kind that sets solid rivets.

I am very happy with how this door came out. It actually closes tighter and now can be closed and locked so it does not flap in the wind. No more aluminum tape while on the road.