Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

In Tribute to Rube Goldberg

Do you know what this is without reading below? Neither do I.

Do you know what this is without reading below? Neither do I.

On the way back to Illinois last Spring, I was looking at passing traffic in the side mirror of the truck, and noticed the main side window of the office seemingly trying to open. It’s configured as an emergency exit, and has a long hinge at the top with two inside catches or releases at the bottom. The forwardmost catch had released, throwing all the strain of vacuum caused by sidewind and trailer speed onto the sole remaining catch at the rear.

A prompt stop at the next roadside parking area showed that it now barely caught and was easily released, so I broke out my trusty duct tape. Its grip and the needed surfaces were good, but further driving still tended to loosen the tape and allow the window to flex with its forward edge bending outward. It was disconcerting, but there was nothing else to be done at the time.  Strapping the catch closed would make no difference, as its edge would still slip off the corresponding bracket on the window itself.  A fix would need to be made by experimenting to find out the exact cause of the problem, and possibly breaking out the 110V grinder or Dremel at the commercial campsite in Illinois.

Playing with it in Illinois showed that the top hinge was fine and had not appeared to allow the window and its catch bracket to drop even a little. The catch itself was not deformed at all. And unfortunately, there was no way to modify the catch so its working tip could be lowered, which was what was needed. Inserting things to increased tension and try to get it to bind were ineffective, too.

I seemed to have two practical choices. I could superglue the window shut along its forward edge and end that window’s function as an emergency escape hatch. I didn’t care for that option. The only reason these things have been added to campers (at extra expense) is because they have proven to be necessary, on occasion.

My other option was to hold the window closed with a suction device, and use a wood slat to pull that device toward the inside, using the permanent window frame as the anchor. Not pretty, not especially safe because it slows the process of bailing out, and who knew if it would hold? Northern Tool offers a 4-cup suction grip designed to lift and carry such things as window glass and solar panels. I ordered one, and when it arrived grabbed and cut a length of 1×2 scrap from the bed of the truck. Voila!

It’s overkill but effective, maintains its grip (so far for 2 months), and everything seems to fit just right. It’s removed by releasing the levers on the suction cups, or by simply knocking the left end of the slat upward or downward to let it slip out of the window frame. Yank the stick free, unlatch the rear catch, and swing the window out. Not great, not attractive, but cheap and effective. It’s only in place while I’m on the move, since there’s no need for it to stay there while parked for extended periods. Then I can have my office picture window back again.

I’m not proud of this one but hey, it’s good enough for who it’s for.

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4 thoughts on “In Tribute to Rube Goldberg

  1. Virginia on said:

    Ah, the grace and versatility of duct tape. I’m impressed at the James Bond approach of the fix!

    • I figured you’d like that touch as the interim fix. Actually I do feel like I’m supposed to have a glass cutter to cut a circle around the suction cups and break in from the outside. “Q” might like it. Too many movies…

  2. Hey, Hey!!!! Now that’s using the old noodle! Clever!

    Its one of the many reasons I like your blog. I’m not particularly creative, but have gotten ideas from you. For instance, I no longer have an awning on my 24ft Coachmen, but certainly want one. I’m thinking of using your painter poles to support a canvas one I can sew up myself.

    • Yep, amazing what you can accomplish if you have no sense of decency or aesthetic taste! Looks weird from the outside. Perhaps I can tell people who ask, “What the heck is that??” that it’s a WiFi booster antenna or something.

      An improvised awning? Clever! I rarely get to use my careworn built-in awning due to wind and the fact that the awning side of the trailer (almost always pointing north) already casts a shadow large enough to lawn chair in. I am way too lazy to deploy a canvas one and stow it away, let alone fabricate it. You have my admiration for even thinking about it!

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