Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Wow! The Opportunities Never End!

Throw me a frickin’ BONE here! …Need the info. Can anyone here tell me what I pay you people for? Honestly.

I received this urgent missive just today!

—————————————————————————-

“Thank you very much for your urgent response to to me

“I am Ms. Liza Wong the Head of Accounting Audit Department of HSBC BANK (HSBC)in Malaysia. In my department in the Bank where i work, I discovered a sum of $85.5 Million USD In an account that belongs to one of our foreign deceased customers, a billionaire Business Mogul Late Mr.Moises Saba Masri, a Jew from Mexico who was a victim of a helicopter crash since 2010 which resulting to his death and his family members.

“You can see more information about Saba Masri Mr.Moises unfortunate end accident on the website-link below.
[link deleted to ensure your safety]

“Now our bank has been waiting for any of the relatives to come forth for the claim but nobody has done that SINCE 2010. I personally have been unsuccessful in locating the relatives,Which the Board of Directors are planning to share this funds among them-self. Which i have good heart Read more…

Labor Day

Not clean, but cleaner. On the left is what I started with, and on the right is a relatively clean but not pristine cleaned area.

One task that’s never mentioned with pop-up truck campers is cleaning the flexible fabric walls. That’s probably because there’s no glamor in it. But, it has to be done, and sooner rather than later. Today’s little exercise shows what happens when you don’t or can’t keep up with it. See, weekending with a Four Wheel tends to create minimal soiling issues with the fabric walls, and cleanup is easy using only a rag, water, and perhaps a very mild cleaning agent. A quick once-over does the trick.

In the case of a Four Wheel camper, a lower shroud on the roof closes over the structure below in the same way that a lid sleeves over a box. Thing is, such a large structure is not going to be able to fit the box tightly, or you’d have trouble seating the roof all the way down. The Four Wheel has a gasket along the front edges, but this provides a fit that can only discourage dirt from getting up into the folded polyester fabric. It can’t truly seal and prevent it. Result: protracted travel on dusty dirt roads is going to soil the fabric, and vibration from such roads will tend to grind the dirt into folds of the fabric that contact each other. Most of the soiling my camper shows is from dust collected during travel on such roads. This is unmistakable when you begin a day’s travel with a relatively clean top, and raise it at the end of a day to find it remarkably filthy.

If cleaned on a regular basis, such soiling does not present much of a problem. It’s quite quick and easy to remove with either water, or water and a mild bleach-free dish detergent. Detergent should be avoided if it isn’t required. If you’re on the road for months on end as I am, things get more Read more…

In With the Old, Out With the New

Yep, the water hereabouts is pretty hard.

The photo above shows off the latest essential mod to any boondocking rig, a vintage brass plaque to a motor club. I’ve had it laying around for decades, with the plans to do something with it someday. I assume I picked it up at a garage sale, of which I am a recovering addict. The lack of space to put stuff really helps with that. It has three holes in it for mounting, so some stout copper wire did the job on the Mighty Furd’s grill. I think if I lived in a metro area, I wouldn’t expect it to still be there after a few months, so we’ll see how long it lasts out where I go. I don’t happen to use Triple-A as my Roadgoing Adventure insurance, so this is purely a decorative item as far as the Furdster is concerned.

In this day of cheap window stickers and clubs that exist mainly to generate income and profits, such badges as this serve to remind me that automobile clubs originated to help members with the myriad of problems that presented Read more…

Overland Expo West Tickets

Roughing it has its appeal, but a hot shower has more.

Well, there’s good news, and there’s bad news. The good news is that, as of yesterday, tickets are now on sale for this year’s Expo, if you’re planning on going. The bad news is cost. Apparently, the expenses incurred by moving this event to Fort Tuthill County Park near Flagstaff were higher than expected last year. That’s just a guess on my part. Whatever the reason, the result is that day passes are now $25 instead of $15, and 3-day weekend camping passes have jumped from $95 to $155 in one year. I do not know what the gate cost of day passes will be, but I do know there will be no such thing for the camping passes, since those will be sold out before long. I have mine now, but I can tell you that this will likely be my last Expo attend for awhile. I will make it a point to enjoy it!

The Mighty Furd Gets a Report Card

The Mighty Furd’s lab test report is in and, on the whole, it’s quite good! Blackstone Labs is located in Indiana, so sending in a sample from Arizona via the Post Office takes a week, plus a couple of days to do the test and write up the results in humanspeak. They are one of several outfits that can test any automotive fluid you send them, and the usual goal in doing so is to evaluate wear status as well as fluid condition. In this case, if my oil’s additives are pretty well used up, then it’s high time for an oil change no matter what the odometer says. If there’s some coolant in the oil (or vice-versa) then it’s likely high time to address a blown head gasket. If trace metals commonly found in cylinder walls, the valve train or elsewhere are found in unusually high amounts, then decisions can be made now instead of during a mechanical crisis.

Since knowledge is power, then the the whole goal here is to become aware of budding problems long before they can wreak their havoc on your wallet. The more of your resources you have tied up in your vehicle(s), the more dependent you are on them for income, or the less financially able you are to deal with major breakdowns in equipment, the more valuable it becomes to know ahead of time what situation is or is not coming up. While it’s normally much cheaper to suffer the costs of regular maintenance than the costs of neglect, it’s also typically much cheaper to catch and address individual problems as they surface, than it is to wait until the damage has been done. Sitting beside the road with a connecting rod sticking out of a hole in the crankcase is a bigger problem to deal with than having to shorten up your oil change intervals. With the 6.4, not all potential harbingers of doom throw a visible warning flag ahead of time, but enough do that it pays to monitor what one can.

Having engine fluids analyzed – in my case engine oil – is not cheap. The base rate at Blackstone Labs runs $28, and for that you get Read more…

It’s All About the Electrons

As the song goes, “…You don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone…”

While the Four Wheel Camper’s batteries and functionality depend on the sun, so does the Evelo Aurora e-bike’s battery – once I’m out on tour. It siphons power off the Four Wheel’s house pack to keep itself charged. All good things come to an end, and the original Evelo 48V 10Ah battery that shipped with the bike has now cycled enough times that it is no longer very useful for anything but the shortest, easiest errands. It actually began to sag a year ago, so this is a belated replacement. The spare battery that I ordered with the bike immediately showed signs of swelling and proved defective, so Evelo replaced it. That replacement broke an internal wire right after its warranty had expired, right at a place that was not possible for me to repair.

Evelo sells its replacements at $700 per – almost three times the market cost of this battery voltage and capacity. They are nice batteries, since they come with a marginal-quality spring carrier rack on top of the case, and they are well-protected against weather except when their spring-loaded charging port covers refuse to stay closed. The Aurora’s frame carries its battery case in a steel tube perimeter hoop, which gives it some protection in a crash and allows it to be key-locked in place, a useful trait in urban environments. It’s a well-integrated system that allows the battery case to be buried halfway down into the hoop, which allows a seatpost carrier to be installed above it if need be. But an average of $233/year for e-bike batteries, especially at this minimal capacity level, is simply not acceptable to me. Time for a change. Many e-cyclists would toss the whole thing and start over with a vintage bike and a gas engine drive kit, which is much cheaper and faster on the level. They don’t do so well at inching up steep, rough trails and I’m not yet ready to start packing cans of gasoline. But it’s a choice.

The Evelo battery with a seatpost-mount carrier above it, which is used to hold a basket.

Since I’m not really conversant in e-bike geekdom, all I knew was that how the battery cells were wired up together was referred to Read more…

Left Without a Scanner to Stand On

Preciousssss! Mine’s perpetually coated with dust, but the touchscreen-style controls across the top surface don’t care. They visibly appear only when they are able to be used for what you’re doing. Otherwise, there’s only an entirely blacked out disc, the main power button, and the display, which folds back flat. A door swings up like a drawbridge to seal off the front.

There’s always something disappointingly inevitable when updates to the operating system on a computer wind up leaving some gizmo that you use back in the dust. You know, some kind of clever device that works great until suddenly it is no longer compatible with your computer. For example, printer manufacturers eventually abandon the high road for their “obsoleted” models, though the computer’s operating system itself often takes over for basic printing functions. Sure, they all kick out some new drivers, updated software or firmware for a few years, but eventually, the party’s over. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.

The party’s over a lot sooner with scanners, especially when a built-in flatbed scanner is built into an “All-in-One” unit. That abandonment happened early in my case, since my 2010 Canon Pixma MG8120 lost its ability to scan 35mm film (using Canon’s software) a long time ago. An update to High Sierra (MacOS 10.13) clinched the deal, with the scanner part being left for dead by Canon. That’s not the best, since I’ve just loaded up on inkjet cartridges for it – it uses 6 of them at a time – and mechanically, it’s been the most problem-free inkjet printer I’ve had since my HP 500 B&W printer back in the 1980s.

The changes within High Sierra are significant enough to throw a wrench into a lot of third-party software, Canon’s included. But the only market that Canon pays attention to are the Read more…

Gratuitous Gunplay

A marauding pack of gun-totin’ crazies gathered in Yuma, Arizona over the weekend for a three-day competition. It was run by the Yuma Matchmasters, a local club which scores the time for each competitor in each category according to SASS (Single Action Shooting Society) rules. The main match consists of 12 stages, each of which varies slightly around the commonality of having to show proficiency with three very different kind of firearms, one right after the other: dual six-shot single-action revolvers, a carbine rifle, and a shotgun. The arms used can be new, but must conform to being replicas of early designs. This annual match is sold out, with a waiting list.

The garb? It’s required.

The serious competitive nature of firearm timed target or combat competitions pretty much evaporates here because of two requirements. The first is that Read more…

A Punch in the Solar Nexus

My thought diversion for today is an update on the Intrepid’s solar system. I mention it because, it now being January, the sun arcs low enough in the sky to starve the flat-mounted 360-watt roof panels. This is not a surprise to me nor too many other people. Since these panels are trying to recharge some 420 amp-hours of battery capacity while a 12VDC compressor fridge is running for unusually long periods of time in hot weather, this power drain and poor panel aiming tends to prevent the pack from reaching and holding its 14.4V peak for its intended 3-hour span. So, the 200-watt ground panels were deployed everywhere I camped, when practical, and re-aimed throughout the day. In a cloudless sky, this combination can get the pack fully charged by 2 PM. Partly cloudy skies slow or prevent that, obviously. The main culprit is the inability to aim the roof panels toward the sun, but a close second is the unusually long runtime of the Dometic compressor fridge. In a marginal charging situation, it pulls enough power and runs long enough to prevent a full charge, and that can be a battery killer. Combine that with clouds, and you have an undesirable situation, even with the ground panels deployed. These were my thoughts as of last fall, anyway.

None of this is a problem over the winter months in Yuma, since the fridge is off and nothing else is pulling power, either. However badly oriented, the roof panels alone can easily recharge the pack then. Were I to have to keep the camper in service over the winter, some changes would be needed because that fridge would be on. The first impulse was of course to increase panel wattage, but this is not a practical option for me. There’s no more space on the roof for additional panels. While I could theoretically add another 100W ground panel or two to pump 300 or 400 watts through the separate Morningstar 200-watt charge controller (a good way to increase charging in poor sun conditions), my storage rack is maxed out and, as far as space in the truck cab and camper goes, there’s no room at the inn. I’m already panel-heavy. Enough with more panels, already! Important note: Don’t try this at home. Don’t exceed your own controller’s Read more…

The Glock Model 23

 

A Glock Model 23 in .40SW.

A Glock Model 23 in .40S&W. It’s considered to be mid-sized.

Part of my opportunity to evaluate three different pistols, one after the other, while at the Silver Island Mountains near Wendover, Utah included an Austrian-made Glock Model 23, a semi-automatic (self-loading) pistol in the .40 S&W (Smith & Wesson) caliber. (It is common for a given caliber of ammo to include a qualifier after it, since multiple purpose-driven variations often follow which are not interchangeable.) This Glock was a Gen4 (Generation 4) version, which is the latest. Apart from an internal spring change for longer service life, the Gen4 is mechanically similar to previous versions except for some ergonomic improvements. Those include a size-adjustable grip assembly as well as equal adaptability for left-handed people. That may make me yawn, but if I were a lefty, I’d suddenly think it was a very big deal.

Glockoma

Glock, as a brand, is heavily used by military, security agencies, and law enforcement agencies throughout the world, including about 65% of U.S. law enforcement agencies. It initially gained publicity in the 1980s as the infamous “plastic gun” that would surely sail through airport metal detectors and jeopardize the lives of thousands of American citizens, according to the popular press. It garnered lots of attention and sold a lot of newspapers by hyping fear and chaos, but the truth is that the frame itself is polymer, while the barrel, slide, and internals are steel – because they have to be. Glock sidearms have become so popular not because of misleading articles, but because of Read more…

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