Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Going to Bed

Everything must go! ...Somewhere.

Everything must go! …Somewhere.

This week was largely comprised of dealing with the Ford’s 8-foot bed. It had to be cleared, including the 140 gallons-worth of Tankmin water/waste system. The one guy who had expressed an interest in the Tankmin, on impulse, regained his senses the next day and thought better of it. No takers. Well, there were three scam artists from Craigslist, but those don’t count. So, having previously checked out whether the local landfill would take it, I cleared all the stuff out of the truck bed and got to work unbolting the Tankmin’s floor mounts. The potential problem is not the tank – it’s that I’m not a resident and therefore do not pay taxes, but that’s another debate. Part of my annual fee is for garbage removal, which winds up at the very same place.

Lessee, gotta keep this, not gonna need that...

Lessee, gotta keep this, not gonna need that…

I had envisioned a heap of frustration for this, since each bolt perforating the truck bed must be held at both top and bottom, and perhaps you may have some experience with what time and moisture do to tight fasteners. The upper freshwater section is bolted to the lower, and the lower to a couple of fabricated frames bolted to the bed. It was required to start at the top and work downward, the only significance of this being that any failure early on would make the later stages very difficult. Fortunately, I found that the manufacturer had used stainless steel fasteners, along with threaded brass inserts in the tank sidewalls. It was a dusty job flopping around in the dust underneath the truck bed to get at the last nuts, but it got done.

out they come. Oh well...

Out they come. Oh well…

It was a rather simple task that went well. It was the kind of job that I’d have found to take not more than a half-hour, start to finish, and thought little of it in former times. Today, I found it to be a reminder of mortality, like when my father, always muscular and fit, expressed to me the shock of finding at the age of eighty that he’d found he could not trot across a busy road to get to shops on the other side. Little things like that press home the reality that, as far as we’re concerned, if time is a rope, then there is an end to the rope somewhere, and no going back. We always know that intellectually, but it remains just an interesting fact until it is accepted in the heart. In my case, I was carefully and laboriously levering myself up from the ground instead of smoothly springing up to get on with it. The big steps needed to get up into the truck bed weren’t coming that easy, either. Instead of striking me as a maudlin thought, this comes to me as a simple reminder to make the most of what I have, in the time that I have. This does not have to mean quest and adventure, but simply to pursue what is of real value to us as individuals, shaking off the distractions that parade before us to steal our attention and energy.

Now all I have to figure out is where to stuff what I don't discard.

Now all I have to figure out is where to stuff what I don’t discard.

How odd Yuma is! The trip to drop the tanks off turned into a mini-adventure, since I had the GPS set for shortest distance. Once out in the boonies, the whole Yuma area is cross-crossed with agricultural paths that produce fields are set within. Plus, there are some old trails and even a stage coach route. Most of the roads are on a grid, and are labeled (or not) with names like E 22nd Street. That continues even when the dirt roads lack signage. The problem turned out to be that the GPS can’t differentiate between a trail/street it thinks is there and one that peters out into nothingness, or has since been crossed over by a 20-foot ridge of canal boundary. And when it turns strictly 4WD because of deep sand, well, it’s time to make some decisions. Much of the problem went away once I reset the GPS for “fastest route”, and I made it there by late afternoon.

I odered and received a plug to seal the big hole, and now three small ones as well.

I ordered and received a plug to seal the big hole, and now three small ones as well.

With the tanks dropped off, figuring out what to do with what was in the bed was and will continue to a be a puzzler for quite some time. The Tankmin-related hoses and fittings headed for the dumpster. My never-needed spare 5-gallon jug of diesel fuel went to a couple down the unnamed “street” I’m on. A bunch of half-used lubes, oddball chemicals and a couple of leaky grease guns went bye-bye. What remains is a bit of a poser as to where they can be best stored, or stored at all. In the meantime, the RV park does not like people’s spaces resembling Hogan’s Goatyard, so there’s that. The Defiant is not exactly bristling with open space, and neither is the Ford’s cab.

This RV park lies alongside I-8 at its southern edge. One day before breakfast this week, there was a heavy truck-like skid, a brief pause, and then a weird BANG. I shuffled into my slip-on sandals, popped the telephoto onto the Pentax and went outside into the 45-degree air. A truck towing some kind of skeletal steel trailer had come down an entrance ramp and was now facing back the way it had come. The trailer was further down the ramp, and on its side. My guess was that some bolts holding the trailer’s axle subassembly were for one reason or another only partway in, or missing. The time had come for the subassembly to pivot around on one remaining bolt, steering itself off to the side and coming right around the truck. Essentially, the trailer became the tail that wagged the dog. I’d be surprised if the driver didn’t need a change of underwear. He was on his cellphone in an instant.

The adventure! This is an entrance ramp that actually goes from left to right.

The adventure! This is an entrance ramp that actually goes from left to right.

Notice how wonky the axle subframe is?

Notice how wonky the axle subframe is?

Thursday finished up with trying to clean up the Ford’s step-up tailgate so that the junkyard in Yuma would give me top dollar for it. The guy had emailed back in July that he’d pay $400-$600 for it, depending on condition. I figured that must be a come-on just to lure me in, right? After all, the tailgate with the optional step feature had cost $400(!) new from the factory in 2008, and the newer version tucks out of the way better. My goal was to scrub three years-worth of dust out of the bed interior, and serious consideration of the textured urethane Line-X coating made it obvious that a pail of water and a scrub brush weren’t going to cut it. I’d need to head for a self-service car wash tomorrow. But I could tackle the molded black plastic panel covering the back of the tailgate. I broke out a tub of car care products and found a spray bottle of Meguiar’s Ultimate Protectant for interior plastic surfaces, then started in with a pail of dishwater and an all-plastic scrub brush that was in the tub. That was helpful because of the texturing, as well as to reach down inside the many deep strengthening grooves in the cover. The years of heat had apparently gotten to the brush, since it shed its white plastic bristles aplenty as I scrubbed. But the dust was coming off pretty nicely.

In twenty minutes, the panel had dried and was looking much better, but still not quite dust free in some corners. A brief second round done, there was no improvement, and the plastic itself could stand to get rid of the slight grey tinge. On the Meguiar’s went, and the panel looked like new, pretty much. Just spray on, spread around, and then wipe off. This last part was a challenge because of all the deep, narrow valleys, so I sacrificed a toothbrush handle to push a rag along each one. I wiped down all polymer surfaces on the tailgate, and that looked so good that I realized the the bed’s black polymer top rails would make it obvious that I had restored the tailgate and ignored everything else. Not a good presentation. So out came the bucket again, and I sponged and wiped the rails down, finishing with the protectant there as well. Very nice. Once the bed was power-washed out, it would appear as though I had actually maintained the Ford every now and then.

Then came Friday morning. Off came the front bike carrier, a liability in any automatic car wash. While getting ready to leave, I deployed the tailgate step to retrieve something, and exposed its still-filthy cavity. Oops. More water, more sponging and more brushing. Then I noticed that I’d forgotten to sweep the bed out, a noticeable lapse because I have no broom, just a mini-dustpan and brush. But it worked. A large plastic plug to seal off the Tankmin’s drain hole through the bed fit nicely, and the smaller ones were due to arrive that day. Off to Yuma I went, to a self-wash. That worked well at cleaning off the bed dust, and the next step was to use the automatic exterior wash to positively clean the rest of the truck. Presentation. But this place’s auto-wash looked pretty sad, so I drove 3 miles to a so-called soft cloth wash. Didn’t sound like it once I had the truck in there, but I considered that I already had significantly scratched the paint on bushes, so what the heck. The result was fab, so off I headed for the junkyard.

They were pretty busy, but I found the guy I had corresponded with, he walked out with me to the Super Duty, and lamented that it wasn’t white, which apparently the most common color. He asked me what he had offered in July, so I told him the range and offered to show him a print of the email. He said, “Nope, that’s okay. I’ll give you the $600.” So much for schemes. I was handed a check by their clerical young woman, but walking out, I saw that it was made out for $800. Hmm. Back I went, and she had a replacement ready in no time. When I told her I’d had the urge to cut and run with the bigger check, she said, “Well, that would have been okay, but then I’d be knocking at your door tomorrow looking for a job!” Considering that I couldn’t possibly afford the solid two weeks of 14-hour days it would take her to clean up the interior of the Defiant, I decided that I’d made the proper choice.

It looks like something is missing, only because it is.

It looks like something is missing, only because it is.

Having returned before the end of the day, I called the Prescott dealer holding my Granby, and made an appointment for this Tuesday to have it installed in the Ford’s bed. Don’t look for a post about it Tuesday night! I’ll be pooped! Actually, it’ll be awhile before anything meaningful shows up. This isn’t Facebook, after all.

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7 thoughts on “Going to Bed

  1. Linda Sand on said:

    Whew! You wore me out! Good job, though.

    • Thanks, Linda. Share the joy is my motto! I’m lazing about today, merely doing my laundry in the facility here. Tomorrow starts with putting the remaining solar panels into tied-down Storm Mode so I can remove the pole-lifting hardware, since keeping the office pack topped up doesn’t require any panel angling at all. Then, dig around the pile, the Ford’s cab, and the Defiant’s storage to do some soul-searching for space.

  2. I will be waiting with great anticipation to see what happens next!!

    On the topic of getting older – it’s just as well that you are doing this now while you still can. I see the advice “don’t wait” often when I read people’s accounts of their long term traveling adventures.

    And regarding the arctic package – the vendor I talked to says it helps to reduce noise transmission from outside too, a big plus in my book. Whenever I see a Palomino ad on Craigslist that has photos of the inside, I can see the daylight shining through the canvas walls. That does not inspire confidence for inclement weather camping.

    • Anticipation? You an me both!

      While I believe that “don’t wait” has its place, life priorities, commitments and values should override it. Yet at the same time, once I picked up on “If you wait for the perfect time to do something, that time will never come,” I found that it can apply to many, many things. In the end, I suppose it comes down to recognizing and deciding what to do with the various opportunities that come up along one’s path, and one size does not fit all.

      Although I was initially offended by the Arctic Pack’s cost as an option, once I saw it, it became obvious that it ain’t cheap material made in China by prison labor. I could begin to see where the cost comes from. I hadn’t considered an effect on noise transmission, but that would be nice. I was critically concerned about fabric durability on the Four Wheel models, since so many polymers quickly go to pieces once subjected to direct sun in the Southwest. It came down to asking the factory point-blank about my concerns, since the cost of having them replace it is nothing to shrug off. Given full-time deployment (no top-down storage), they estimated a 10 to 15-year minimum. For me, that’s do-able, equating to setting aside $100/year. They can’t really know degree of exposure in use, and most units are not used full-time, but they do know what they’re seeing coming back in for fabric replacement, and its age. With this kind of material needing to be thin for flexibility, I wouldn’t be that concerned about light transmission, myself – unless the fabric is black color. It’s going to tend to sweat from condensation anyway. I think a more common concern is how the attachment points to rigid walls or roof are holding up for allowing leaks. My only comfort on fabric durability is that Four Wheel is not building to or competing on the basis of low price, so whatever material choices are available, they are not likely to choose the cheapest.

  3. yes, it did look like a good, sturdy fabric was used when I went to check FWC’s out in person. I would have no hesitation to use it for a number of years. If you were concerned about UV damage, you could always McGyver up a white tarp curtain on the outside with the proper window openings…

    I did come across one such DIY solution on the Wander the West boards – someone had cut up a quilt and sewn up a fluffy version of the arctic pack. I’m sure that it worked just fine, but I don’t know if I have the patience to make my own version when the time comes. I did make my own ultralight tent once, before they became common on the market, but I was housesitting my parents’ large house and sewing machine back then (lots of room to lay out fabric). That being my first sewing project, my tent did end up a few inches smaller than intended… but hey, it was still ‘just’ long enough to serve me well for some years.

    • Seems like several folks have rolled their own liners, since it seems that FWC units all come with Velcro tape along the headers these days, making it easier to add an Arctic Pack later. It seems easy enough at first, but as you note, the windows so vital to ventilation complicate things quite a bit. Material choice is an issue if you’re in a situation where condensation transferred to the liner is unlikely to quickly evaporate. There’s one guy who unwound a 2′-wide roll of Reflictix along the outside to battle heat in summer, which is another problem of the fabric. It was held to work miracles, but I shied away because it is one more thing to extend the pack-up procedure, and Reflectix has poor durability for direct exposure. The white tarp that you mention would certainly last longer. In general though, I saw spending the money for the factory choice as the lesser evil, since I know my own energy, concentration and workspace limits.

      • I will likely end up doing the same thing, I am getting to the age where I have more ideas than energy for projects! Good luck with getting the camper on the truck!

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