Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the category “The Enterprise”

Cibola National Forest

Highway 547 north of Grants, New Mexico affords many more interesting views than this - but I can't drive and take pics when the road goes all over!

Highway 547 north of Grants, New Mexico affords many more interesting views than this – but I can’t drive and take pics when the road goes all over!

The Mt. Taylor Ranger District of the vast Cibola National Park is less than 40 miles from Bluewater Lake State Park in New Mexico. Highway 547 is torn to shreds in town, but once north of Grants, it winds beautifully through the mountains. Up I went, to my present elevation of 8535 feet, according to my GPS. For the geeky, my coordinates are 35.253806, -107.67122. Put those numbers into Google Maps, and you can see where I am. I’m actually on FR193TV, a short spur off of FR193.

I pulled over to get this one - a small cattle ranch in a valley.

I pulled over to get this one – a small cattle ranch in a valley.

Forest Road 193 was my gamble, and since it is a gravel road, I took a chance and just drove in without unhitching. FR193 is washboard gravel, but as there was no sign of Read more…

Winslow, Arizona!

Greetings from McHood Park! McHood Park is several miles south of town, and is quite picturesque. A stiff wind has suddenly come up since I arrived at about 2:30, but that doesn’t affect the view. I’ll be staying here overnight, but could theoretically stay for about a week and a half if I wanted to. At the moment, the thermometer reads 97 degrees, so I may not. The data signal is courtesy of a tall tower I passed on the way out here.

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As far as I’m aware, FR573 is at about 5K feet, and on the way here I passed over the “Arizona Divide” at 7K feet. It’s been downhill from there, probably back to 5k. A modest tailwind netted me 12.5 MPG overall, which was a geeky delight.

The only difficulty was that the cruise control on the Mighty Furd flamed out 1/3 of the way here, making me actually have to use the gas pedal! Once again, the gradual slopes fooled me – I was sure I was going uphill, but the turbo’s boost gauge proved otherwise. Two of the trailer’s wheel bearings were notably warm to the touch, but not objectionably hot. The Ford’s rear wheels were warm, too. There’s at Ford Dealer in Winslow, and I went in to discuss, but they were so busy they could only diagnose it tomorrow for $200, though they would take three weeks to repair it! Seems they’re backed up with Read more…

Livin’ Large

From tent to luxo-motorhome, the views are the same. How you want to get there and stay there is entirely up to you.

From tent to luxo-motorhome, the views are the same. How you want to get there and stay there is entirely up to you.

[This post is one of three related writings created for use on another  blog as a “guest post”. These articles simply explain different aspects of The Enterprise as an improvised dwelling choice. Written for a different overall audience, they veer away from the tedious “I did laundry today” reporting I usually do. Enjoy the temporary break.]

My own interest in small mobile living started a year and a half ago, while web surfing. The Tiny House movement first caught my eye, and I found the comparative simplicity fascinating from both technical and lifestyle standpoints. What a contrast to conventional, cattle-yard consumer living! Then, when I stumbled over Bob Well’s VanDwelling websites, it was like “Tiny House on Steroids” because of its much higher emphasis on mobility and economy.

Oh, this porridge is way too hot!

Oh, this porridge is way too hot!

Having already had many skirmishes with my Inner Packrat, such a simple lifestyle was a smack-in-the-face wake up call. I began to look inward, and to slowly try to figure out how close I could come to the tenets of VanDwelling without exceeding what I felt I could realistically adapt to, long-term. This exercise was just for fun, and the answer was: Not real close.

And this porridge is too cold!

…And this porridge is too cold!

But, decades of typical suburban living under an increasingly bad economy, age discrimination, and jobs moving offshore had left me feeling frustrated. I was now working a minimum-wage job to try to assist with the maintenance, mortgage, and taxes of home ownership. It wasn’t much of a help, and the mismatch of duties and skills was wearing. As a mental escape, I couldn’t help daydreaming about permanent, full-time mobile living. It seemed intriguingly different, and the mindset and values of the people actually doing it was a 180-degree spin from everything I was used to. How were they making it work? I researched hard.

Determining personal goals

To explore this academic exercise, I had to first look Read more…

In the Prescott National Forest

The stairway to heaven. The tiny red sign on the screen door says "Rest Room". It's tin and I suspect it's from the 40s or 50s.

The stairway to heaven. The tiny red sign on the screen door says “Rest Room”. It’s tin and I suspect it’s from the 40s or 50s.

Originally posted 4/19/2013

I’ve noticed that people who are familiar with RVs instantly spot me as a full-timer (and a cheapskate). The service guy never even hinted that I should have the suspension work done there, even though they already had all of the needed parts on display. He talked with the assumption that I’d be doing it myself. Back in time at the Smartweigh, the guy there, George, took one glance and offered, “I see you’ve got a working trailer.” He meant purposed for living vs recreational. Let’s face it, travel trailers and fifth wheel trailers are 99% recreational. Go camping for awhile, and then go back home, put it up on blocks, and winterize the plumbing system. They’re all big and shiny, and look new. Some commercial parks don’t even let in trailers that are over ten years old.

The remaining 1% are construction workers and full-timers like me. Let’s face it, the Enterprise looks like what it is. It’s 19 years old. Its external styling is dated. People don’t keep such old trailers in use – at least in use on the road. They’re usually consigned to sink into the dirt in back of the chicken house because the roof leaked and rotted the walls and flooring, and none of the appliances work anymore. Despite the past abuse and neglect to its running gear, this Innsbruck is still perfectly viable as a full-time home. But people can recognize Read more…

Ahhh, West and Wewaxation at Wast!

Ready for... Laundry Day, don't you think?

Ready for… Laundry Day, don’t you think?

Originally posted 4/11/2013

Well, the process is over. Pull a wheel and hub. Head into Wickenburg to drop off the hub for bearing removal and replacement, and get the tire dealer to swap the rubber donut for new. When a hub is ready, pick it up and return to install it on the trailer and pull another. Rinse and repeat. It took several days because service on the hubs couldn’t be instant. Total, $844.22 for four tires, three bearing sets with seals, and the labor to pound out the old and pound in the new. Plus, a spare bearing and seal set to carry on the road.

See the label still on the rear tire? I'm done, with about and hour and a half to go before sunset.

See the label still on the rear tire? I’m done, with about and hour and a half to go before sunset.

Just for morbid curiosity, I also pulled the new hub that had been replaced in Quartzsite. Expecting to find an abundance of grease, I found everything clean and dry, with just a whisper of clean grease wetting the tapered rollers. That’s not the usual practice. The mechanic here expressed his preference as, “If a bearing fails that I put in, it’s not going to be for lack of grease. These things heat up.” I slopped more in with my grease gun and a weird stem that is handy for reaching into such areas. So I’ve done all I can do, and it’s now merely a matter of hub touchy-feely and watching for tilted wheels once I hit the road again.

But that won’t be right away. I can stay here for up to another week if I like, and I’ve been concentrating on getting the repairs done. I’ll likely do laundry and food shop soon, as well as tour the area and walk around Wickenburg, which is a peculiar little town. Much of it is modern and relatively upscale, and some spots here and there are kind of eclectic Old West in their own way. But, I have yet to climb out of the Furd, apart from the two repair places involved. I can say that the people I’ve dealt with as well as those wandering in for one reason or another are “un-urban”. Low key, open, and they’ll just wander over  Read more…

El Cojinete está Muerto

Umm, the hub is not supposed to droop down like that.

Umm, the hub is not supposed to droop down like that.

Originally posted 4/6/2013

The title to this post means The Bearing is Dead. This is the second wheel bearing to disintegrate, this one 115 miles after being lubed and reinstalled. The good news is that the hub did manage to be able to be pulled off after a few hearty yanks, and the complete bearings (less loose tapered rollers) came off with it. That’s far superior to what happened on the last bearing failure. I wasn’t able/willing to pound out the bearing races held inside the hub, and made my way to Wickenburg to find a shop that could apply the necessary brute force. The automotive shop in Wickenburg wasn’t really open, this being Saturday, but people were there so I dropped off the hub and they’ll get to it Monday. I also need to drop off the rest of the bearing parts so they can try to match up what I’ve got.

While in town, I picked up a 2-ton floor jack on sale for $25, a replacement fire extinguisher for the trailer ( the 25-year-old one registered zero on the pressure gauge), a metal file, an abrasive sponge, and some fine grit wet/dry sandpaper. But let me describe how I got to this point, with the trailer wheel up and hub off. I didn’t want to try to hoist the affected wheel with the crappy scissors jack again, so I figured I’d press the F-250’s jack into service. That didn’t turn out  Read more…

Smartweigh: Geekoid Nirvana

Originally posted 4/5/2013

George and an accomplice read scales and note the numbers on a clipboard.

George and an accomplice read scales and note the numbers on a clipboard.

Originally posted 4/5/2013

Had Dickens been at my Smartweigh at the Escapees North Ranch in Congress, Arizona he would have summarized it as, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” Although the Smartweigh is a safety-oriented number-crunching exercise, with terms like GVWR, GCWR, and GAWR, I’ll try to make the explanation of it as understandable as possible. The Executive Summary: As far as the numbers go, I’m looking good – much better than I thought. The bummer is the remaining three “original” trailer tires themselves, and the weight distributing hitch. Even though I’m not overloading any tires, it would be a real good idea to lose some weight. I’ll show you why.

The Escapees’ Smartweigh system is much better than your typical truck stop scales, which weigh the tow vehicle, the trailer, and then both. All that does is give you a “yes, no, maybe so” result that tells you if the individual units are overweight.

 

A typical North Ranch street. Wide and paved. Housing ranges from park models to modular to conventional.

A typical North Ranch street. Wide and paved. Housing ranges from park models to modular to conventional.

For $55 for a truck and trailer weigh-in, the Smartweigh test coughs up individual loads on each tire. Because RVs typically load their tires and suspensions very near their load carrying limits, and do not distribute those loads evenly, it’s common to have an RV weigh in under the maximum limit, and yet be overloading one or more tires. In order to get “worst case” numbers, the RV is supposed to go into the test with all fuel, propane and fresh water tanks full, while all waste tanks are to be empty. This is the normal travel mode.

For the record, the majority of RVs tested so far have overloaded something beyond its limits. That presents a safety problem, sometimes a legal liability problem in case of an accident, and it accounts for many interesting, unplanned road adventures. It’s a fair question to  Read more…

The Last One! No, Really!

Originally posted 3/31/2013

Well okay, since closing down the office isn’t on today’s agenda, here I am again. And, here’s a conundrum for ya. I decided to check tire pressures a day early. So I was looking at the rear trailer tire on the driver’s side, which has had tarp over it to block the sun’s rays from causing cracking. Apparently, I was too late. Here’s what I saw:

This makes tire dealers get all excited.

This makes tire dealers get all excited.

The rubber is splitting pretty good, and the cracks are deep – well into the “we recommend immediate replacement” territory. I’m sure some are down to the cords. A toothpick drops in deep. It kinda looks like it might be bulging a tad, too. Non-optimal condition. Naturally, I got out the cheapo scissors jack, battled it mightily to get the axle up, and removed the wheel. Took off the bike rack and dismounted the spare, which was about halfway worn but in fine shape. Easy-peazy! I’ll swap now, locate a Goodyear dealer or otherwise find a trailer tire the same 205/74R15 size, and swap again to put the new one into service!

Hold on a sec. The spare is 225/75R15. Taller and wider. The wider isn’t a problem, but the taller is. Even though there’s an equalizer bar as part of the suspension, what if this taller tire affects how the load is carried by the suspension, and so ruins the validity of my Smartweigh test? Considering the difficulty of using the scissors jack, a swap back at the weigh site and then back again afterward does not appeal.

I’m not thrilled about going another 100 miles on this thing doing sixty MPH, but if I’m going to follow the Lazy Way, tomorrow I’ll ask if the RV dealer handles such tires. If not, I’ll call some tire dealers in Blythe CA, some 23 miles away. If one of them has my size in stock, I’ll put on my big boy britches, tear the offending wheel off again, and add a trip to Blythe to my busy social schedule. If I hit a dead end, I’ll be going to the Smartweigh stupidly, on that cracked tire. Adventure! Then I can change it out with the wonky spare after the weigh, and hunt for a replacement in Wickenburg or Prescott later.

The Doorway to Heaven

Sometimes even the doorway to Heaven needs repairs, I guess.

Sometimes even the doorway to Heaven needs repairs, I guess.

Originally posted 3/21/2013

I’ve been going through stacked up magazines looking for info, new things worth researching further, and reference articles I’ll need to scan and convert to PDF files. That lets me chuck the pulp versions and helps clear out the clutter. Been doing that since about 9AM, and not letting myself get distracted.

So, when I finally tried to exit the trailer at 4PM, the external door seemed mighty reluctant to open! Hmmm. It’s been pretty moody ever since departing Algonquin. Easy some days, and a PITA on others. When it’s feeling peckish, it just doesn’t want to close and latch, and the lower frames look stressed and unhappy. Once open this time, it became obvious that the bottom of the door was literally coming apart. The bottom frame section had flopped down about a half inch, both side frames had spread, and both inside and outside panel surfaces were exposed at the edges and trying to go somewhere other than where they are now.

Doors on RVs are a big deal. A replacement for this one would have to come from a salvage yard. So, I’d have to do what I could on this one. A couple of corner brackets might be enough to tie it all back together. I could put them inside only, so the trailer wouldn’t look too hillbilly from the outside. I had a bit of sheet aluminum from the water heater vent shield that didn’t work very well, so I broke out the  Read more…

Solar Test Coming Up

Originally posted 1/23/2013

Along with unusually warm weather (highs in the upper 70s) for the next couple of days here in Quartzsite AZ, the skies are expected to be pretty well overcast until next Wednesday. Rain may come Friday and again Monday.

That means I won’t be running the desktop computer much, since it’s the heaviest draw on the office battery pack. The CPAP battery won’t care much, because that device pulls so little power anyway. What will be interesting to see (in a nerdy kind of way) is how the house batteries fare. The house batteries, two ordinary ol’ flooded marine-type “deep cycle” hybrids, are the least robust cells in the place, and power interior lights, water pump, and ignitions for the propane refrigerator and the water heater. I’ll be wanting to measure their voltage as time goes on in order to see what their limit for this kind of prolonged cloudy weather is.

The water pump started acting up yesterday, running nonstop as if it were trying to keep up with an open faucet or a bad pipe leak. It started running on its own for no reason, and kept going, so I turned it off at its main switch. I’m glad I was home, since it could take the house batteries down fairly quickly. After awhile, I turned it back on and Read more…

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