Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the category “The Intrepid”

Views of the Carnage

Just a few random shots of the Mighty Furd in the shop. These were taken by my intrepid service writer and texted to me. It’s now 5:15PM, so the thing fought tooth and nail on the front suspension. It’s just being finished up now, all work complete once the road test is done. I think we can all agree at this point that this should be the last post of its kind for awhile, eh?

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Tears for Gears

They washed it, and the tires are actually BLACK, not deep grey! The dot inside the cargo box lid is a mini-thermometer so I can monitor interior temps.

Well, among the final prep for departure items on my list is maintenance service that’s due on the Mighty Furd, and I also wanted them to check the front wheel alignment and check the front suspension parts, since the tires have been insistently cupping (wearing in weird and warpy concave patterns). That usually indicates suspension problems, and it’s been going on for a couple of years. The cupping transforms the aggressive Cooper ST/Maxx treads from their normal whine to a sound that closely mimics the harmonics of a blown wheel bearing, just enough to make it unsettling. The maintenance items were to change the coolant (best done every 3 years on this engine), change out the fuel filters (2) along with making sure that the water drain valve isn’t plugged up with sludge, and change the oil and filter. The service writer suggested changing the rear diff oil if not already done, which it has not been, which he said was normally due at 90,000 miles. Naturally, I suspected foul play here to drum up business, but agreed to have that added in. As it turns out, it was due at 100,000 miles and I just reached 105. Missed that one. Total bill when it was all over, $730. I’d suspected $600 going in, not including the diff change, and had braced myself for it. Didn’t stop the hanky from having to come out. The other people in the waiting room understood, but I don’t think the cashier likes to see grown men sobbing into one. She did pat my shoulder and say “There, there, now …Check or credit card?” I suspect she rightfully tagged me as one unlikely to carry that much cash. Ever.

I was in by 7AM and left at about 2:30, the main drag being that you normally don’t want to drop all the coolant out until the motor has cooled down some. I sensed bad news coming when the work was done and the writer was not smiling. He herded me toward where we could sit down. Turns out 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…

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…

Remounting the Four Wheel Camper

Step 2 of the process: get to the motel.

If you’ve been keeping up with the previous fascinating accounts on this blog, then you’re aware that the Four Wheel Grandby camper in the bed of my F-250 has managed to shift to one side, this being the second time. This one occurred late in the game because I hadn’t had much of a chance to hit rough trails until earlier this year, 2016 having included a minimum of “campsploring”. What’s odd is that both front camper mounts were still tight in spite of the shift, while one the rear showed only a small of loss of tension. That’s not good, since it indicates that, as long as the bed sheetmetal itself is not deforming, the mounting points in the bed are not spread out sideways enough to do any more than hold the camper down.

Whining to Adventure Trailers, my camper dealer, netted an appointment and much brainstorming about ways to end this shifting around, because it’s very unusual. In preparation, I bulked up on aluminum rails that could be mounted to the bed to cage in the camper, plus a bunch of different types of fasteners. That’s an undesirable approach for a couple of reasons, but I figured I’d better show up with a Plan B in case the existing mounting points were already as well-located as they could get in the Ford’s bed. Just in case the rails had to be installed as the solution, Adventure Trailers allotted six hours to get me back out of the shop.

Prescott is a 250-mile, four-hour drive from Wellton,  so showing up at the shop by 8AM would require Read more…

It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again!

The Bridge of the USS Defiant as it was in 2013. It’s pretty much the same now, except for a thick layer of paperwork needing to be scanned or otherwise dealt with.

I’ve got this big-screen iMac, circa 2009, and it’s proven wonderful both for critically editing and cleaning up film photographs to make art prints, and also simply to be able to work on one document while another reference source is on the screen right beside it. Its screen sharpness is fabulous, which makes me wonder why Apple later upgraded it to just barely beyond the visual limits of human eye resolution. Apart from being a marketing brag, what’s the practical use for all that extra cost? No matter. I was pleased to be able to concentrate on my workload rather than have to frequently troubleshoot why my computer suddenly couldn’t find my printer.

Regardless, the iMac has been a real workhorse right up until Apple emailed me in 2013 that too many of the special Seagate hard disk drives (HDD) they use were failing, and would I please take my iMac to one of their authorized service centers for an HDD replacement at no charge. I found this notable because they knew I was several months out of warranty and Read more…

The ARB Digital Tire Inflator

Airing back up after a rough trail has just gotten a lot faster, more convenient, and more accurate.

I’ve mentioned this product before, but it’s worth reviewing again for anyone who airs down tires more than occasionally. This post is more video-centric, but you can get more product details here. Most four-wheelers (day-trip rough trail enthusiasts) approach readjusting tire pressures like many campers approach basic no-frills overnighting. They rough it, and enjoy jettisoning convenience. They poke something/anything into the tire valves to let air out, and periodically check pressure with a pocket tire gauge. Then to air back up at the end of the trail, they monitor the built-in gauge on their favorite air pump. Since their vehicles are light and typically use tires that Read more…

Trail 376A to Buena Vista, Colorado

Chrysler Prowler

What does a Chrysler Prowler have to do with a trail, you wonder? Nothing. I simply came across it at a gas station when I completed my trek to Buena Vista for errands. Prior to Chrysler’s bankruptcy and purchase by Fiat, they blew considerable funds on a few flagship image vehicles, the Prowler being the most notable of them. All short-run products, they probably caused more confusion in the marketplace than anything else and were seldom recognized by media critics as the styling achievements that they are, but they still bolstered Chrysler’s image of its willingness and ability to think well outside the box.

I knew I was going to be moving out of the Buena Vista area as a cold front moved in. At 8,000’ altitude, such an elevation is do-able, but needlessly cool. So my plan in taking this trail was to get to town and accomplish some time-absorbing tasks in order to get them out of the way for what would otherwise be an overly-full moving day. Trying to pack in a shower, laundry, propane refill, water refill, grocery resupply, fuel stop, and Rx stop plus a 3-4 hour drive southward is a long day, especially when finding a fixed campsite at the end of it is up for grabs. So, I figured that it would be worth it to hit Read more…

Spearfish Trail Exploration

Overlooking Spearfish, SD from many miles away.

This is mainly a video post, and the video presented is not for entertainment purposes since, if it were, it would be just 5-8 minutes long. Instead, it’s a punishing 42 minutes in length – all of it dashcam – which means that few will watch it all the way through. That’s okay. What this is for is to show anyone who is interested just what I typically do to hunt for undocumented boondocking campsites along relatively easy trails that do not require 4WD. (Token high clearance is needed here.) This particular hunt is unusual because it happens to be quite successful. Two campsites on two trails, and not all that far from each other!

Why bother watching? Well, if you live vicariously through this blog and dream of getting out there to the kinds of places I do, this video may kick an assumption or two out of place. It might make you want to stick to published and popular campsites, or to RV parks. Or it may add to your wanderlust – I don’t know.  I find the ever-changing scenery quite Read more…

Air Spring Day

After an overnight stay at Escapees North Ranch in Congress, Arizona (a judicious stop to shower, do laundry, take on water and get rid of trash for $7.50), I made my way to Nichols AutoFab in Prescott to have some air springs installed on the rear suspension of the Mighty Furd. Recommended by my Four Wheel Camper dealer Adventure Trailer, AutoFab has a shop and a couple of bays packed into what is the most claustrophobic hole in the wall mixed-use shop mall I’ve ever seen. The limited parking lot for the group was claustrophobic for the Mighty Furd, anyway.

In a repair bay intended mainly for Jeeps, the Intrepid needed a cautious backing up.

Prescott is an interesting town nestled within the Prescott National Forest at an elevation of 5,600′, measured at whatever point they consider this burg’s nexus to be. The general landscape for the town is challenging, requiring either that the roads follow valleys or paths along forested hillsides, or that massive walls be built beside the newer multi-lane roads to keep back the earth and rock that they short-cut through. With a population of just 40,000 people, the terrain turns the city into a genuine sprawler, each home and business finding a Read more…

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