Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the tag “Mods”

The Aurora Frankenstein


The stock Aurora, as originally delivered. From here on, it's just a myriad of bolt-on details.

The stock Aurora, as originally delivered. From here on, it’s just a myriad of bolt-on details.

[Boredom alert: This post is an incredible 8,900 words long, which may induce coma in certain persons. The first half consists of much whining, and relates how the various modifications to the Aurora came about, as a methodical ordeal. The second half gets down to the specific parts used, with links. So feel free to skip on down to the subtitle “Modifications Parts List” if you find your eyes beginning to dance around in your head. Or, just look at the pretty pictures. Gearheads will want to saw all the way through, if time allows.]

Turning a more powerful Evelo Aurora into a rough approximation of their more practical Luna model is not necessarily an easy thing. In my peculiar situation, it’s difficult, even if you restrict the types of modifications to the “bolt-on” category. After all, there’s no place inside my dry trailer living space to work on it, and it certainly can’t be left disemboweled outside in Midwest thunderstorms. Tain’t the kind of project that can sit around unused for weeks or months, either. It needed to have new parts grafted on and be put into service, pronto. With just two months to order, receive, and then modify to completion, I was on the clock. It appeared to be difficult, but do-able.

The principal difficulty is certainly not bolting the parts on. It’s finding parts that will both do the job and fit first time, out of the box, sight unseen. The assortment of frame styling oddities that define the Aurora’s unique appearance also work against accepting many conventional bicycle accessories. (And yes, I’m still receiving unsolicited compliments about the Aurora’s appearance.) Evelo Customer Service can help resolve some compatibility issues, but it’s a big accessory industry out there.

If you haven’t been following this series, you may ask why I’d choose this e-bike in the first place, then. You need to go Read more…

Refitting for Battle

Am I not merciful?

Am I not merciful?

Sometimes, life is simplified down to its basic components. In order for one thing to live, something else must die. Sometimes, in order for one thing to be able to sleep, something else must die. I’m the one thing. Mice are the something else. That’s the way I prefer it, anyway.

Rodent infestations aren’t talked about much on RVing blogs, because it’s mundane and reduces the glamour of the lifestyle. Seldom do you read, “We saw the magnificent Grand Canyon today! But we were all so tired from a couple of sleepless nights from all the mice in the trailer that we were too tired to really enjoy it. Merla’s concerned we’re going to catch that Hantavirus if we can’t get rid of them.”

Once inside, mice are quite noisy at night, and basically treat the Defiant as their playground as they search for stray food remnants. Plus, they poop and pee all over creation. Chewing on everything, running along or inside metal enclosures or ductwork, or just doing sprints up and down the kitchen linoleum, they easily wake me even from a sound sleep. Then I wonder, “What are they destroying now?” In the ancient days, when I was Read more…

Time to Re-Tire


It starts like this, a cut from a sharp-edged rock.

It starts like this, a cut from a sharp-edged rock.

I was in Scottsdale whining about the Ford’s tires to my bud Matt when my eyes fell on an even more pronounced tread loss than I had been lamenting all this time. I had been telling him how I need just one more year over the seven that these tires have already provided, since there is still some usable and legal tread left on them all.

Then squirming under load, more impacts and heat undermine the sun-rotted rubber to tear out a chunk.

Then squirming under load, more impacts and heat undermine the sun-rotted rubber to tear out a chunk.

But time has not been kind to the original equipment tires. Looking decent in the upper Midwest, they took on a parched, cracked appearance the first month they spent some time in the Great Southwest. A week or two (or three) of inactivity didn’t help, since frequent rolling usage circulates compounds in the rubber that keep it healthy. Sitting unused in the strong sunlight simply Read more…

Wheezing in Wickenburg

South of Wickenburg. I'm noticing that my campsite photos look too similar. Boots on the ground though, they are remarkably individual. Something for me to work on...

South of Wickenburg. I’m noticing that my campsite photos look too similar. Boots on the ground though, they are remarkably individual. Something for me to work on…

The Yuma area was getting a bit toasty already, and although a cooler front was predicted to move in after a uncomfortably hot week, duty called – I’m hoping to intercept a good friend who doesn’t RV, but who travels out west more than I do! Time to head for Wickenburg Arizona, one of my all-time favorite towns.

At an elevation of 2,100′, it drops Yuma’s 90-degree sweatymans existence to nicer levels. Quartzsite would have been acceptable these days, but once I overnighted there yet again on the way here, I realized that the magnificent Imperial Dam LTVA had ruined me for anything else. In comparison, Quartzsite is simply a baked-out stopover for other places having considerably more charm.

My closest neighbor is too close, but directly to the rear. That's okay, since they can't peep me practicing ballet at night.

My closest neighbor is too close, but directly to the rear. That’s okay, since they can’t peep me practicing ballet at night.

Wickenburg is one of those places. Named as one of the top True West towns in the country, Wickenburg pumps its past pretty hard. It has to, because it depends quite a bit on tourism – which is a bit of a thin soup these days. But, it’s still a fact that the area is still peppered with Read more…

Update to “Spartan Luxury”


Remember this little gem? I talked to the owner!

Remember the recent post Spartan Luxury? I was biking some trash to the LTVA’s dumpsters today and found the above rig parked near the dump station, waiting for another in order to begin a trip. The owner was sitting in the Jeep and was happy to answer questions for as long as his friend was holding up the show.

A former Seabee and electrical engineer, it turns out he was disabled and in a wheelchair for 22-1/2 years. He is now ambulatory but says there’s “still more for them to do” and he occasionally uses either the wheelchair or two forearm crutches to get around.

As for the trailer, it boasts bed, A/C, catalytic propane heater, TV, satellite dish, microwave, and toaster oven. The gasoline generator can run for 13 hours on a single fill. A sink is being installed, as well as an exterior shower head that will pull and pump water from a stream or other source. His RVing friends, a couple, have eight children and he claims they were all packed into the tiny trailer yesterday to watch the TV! He said it was quite a sight. I believe him, and it must have been quite a sanity break for the parents!

The roof rack seen in the photos are now gone. Why? He’s a bit of a sun worshipper and the rack and spare wheels and tires it held were too much like a roof for him, blocking the open air and sunlight. Gone. He doesn’t even own a roof tarp any more, and drives wet or dry. He’s been to 46 of the 50 states so far with this rig, pretty much as you see it. Rain? Jeep dash switches have long since gone normal and aren’t waterproof, but he just lets things misbehave and dry out for awhile, then keeps going. (By the way, he says the best and fastest way to get an immersed cellphone dried and operational is to immediately remove the battery, then throw it all on some uncooked rice for an hour or more.) The oddest part of this story is that the rack was extremely sturdy and cost him about $300 to build. He sold the build plans to J.C.Whitney, and claims that they now offer a greatly whimpified version of it for around $900 or so.

When I pointed out the off-road orientation of his rig, he admitted that camping at the LTVA is not his usual style, but he’s waiting for some special-order tires to come in before he heads into the hills. He mentioned the black rocks that can be seen scattered all over this area, and pointed out that they are volcanic. “They will cut into a tire easier than you can believe it,” he said, “they’ll just strip the rubber right off, and these I got now are worn too thin. When I get the new ones I’ll be camping up in the hills.” It also turns out that the massive front bumper with winch is actually a lockable toolbox, too. Clever, this hardy soul. He says he’ll be back in a few days, so I’ll see if I can spot him again then. Got any questions for him?

RV U.S.S. Enterprise to be Rechristened

The Enterprise being fitted with new, shorter 4'-8' telescopic poles prior to the ceremony.

The Enterprise being fitted with new, shorter 4′-8′ telescopic poles prior to the ceremony.

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 – The RV U.S.S. Enterprise NCC 1701, also commonly referred to as the U.S.S. Enterprise, is today having its official name retired. The ship will be rechristened the RV U.S.S. Defiant NX-74205, to be commonly called the RV U.S.S. Defiant. No ceremony is planned other than an evening rechristening which is to include a crew’s supper of “sea varmints” accompanied by red wine, and the traditional custom of breaking a wine bottle on the ship’s hull. Due to Section 3 of the Prime Directive regarding alcoholic beverages, that bottle will be Read more…

Spartan Luxury

Here's a rig that will redefine your concept of "independent living".

Here’s a rig that will redefine your concept of “independent living”.

There was a rig in camp that stayed for a week or so, and caught my attention. You will soon see why. Jeeps are formidable off-road vehicles, but are very limited as to what they can tow. This one was serious without the bravado of glamour pieces: massive front bumper with built-in power winch, four auxiliary off-roading lights, no top, overhead rack holding at least two spare tires and a spare steel wheel for the Jeep, plus the standard spare on its factory rear carrier. The front bumper projected outward far enough that a fiberglass rod was mounted at each corner to help gauge clearance in tight spaces – a sign that the thing wasn’t just there to impress others. Another clue of actual usage: nobody but nobody spends money on this many extra spare tires just for show. Were they there to offer a more aggressive tread design instead? I didn’t notice, but it’s unlikely.

Okay, the sky is pretty distracting here, but it just highlights the goal of what this rig is all about.

Okay, the sky is pretty distracting here, but it just highlights the goal of what this rig is all about.

If the Jeep was notable, what was behind it was arresting – it was a tiny Read more…

What’s Your Angle, Bud?

With support poles at a slight tilt, this has been my only concession to following the sun's lower winter arc.

With support poles at a slight tilt, this has been my only concession to following the sun’s lower winter arc.

Well, I was out admiring the Enterprise again and noticed that the sun at noon was not even remotely perpendicular to the solar panels, which were too close to horizontal to be very efficient. A panel that’s markedly out of position in relation to the sun presents a smaller surface area to it, and captures less light. The limited daylight of the winter sun is bad enough, and so is the inability to physically follow it across the sky. Why waste it further by having the basic panel tilt way off?

I looked up the seasonal data for my latitude, which is just shy of 33 degrees above the equator. Turns out the recommended panel winter angle for my location is Read more…

The Quest for Fume-Free Heat

Thermosyphon_NEWThe photo above might rightly lead you to suspect that this will be the weirdest blog post ever, even on this website. That’s saying something. It was pulled from the 1919 edition of The Gasoline Automobile, which was one of a few efforts to attempt to capture what was a very rapidly changing state of the art. The odd part is that I’ll be referring to it later.

But let me shift gears to the true goal of this post. Heat. Extraordinarily clean heat.

Getting heat in RVs is no problem. You can turn on the built-in furnace for pollutant-free heat (as measured in the interior), or use heat sources that use propane, kerosene, or what-have-you. The square footage of most RVs is usually big enough that you won’t asphyxiate yourself with carbon monoxide, though the unholy stink of kerosene is notable.

Getting heat in a van or truck camper is a little more involved because of the Read more…

Camp Swankie, LLC


Camp Swankie offers amenities found only in the most exclusive homes.

The good life can be yours! The recent fad to spend big bucks for outdoor kitchens and living spaces for sticks & bricks residences has always struck me as odd. Why pay huge amounts of money to regress? You want to go outside – then go outside. Then I realized why as I viewed Camp Swankie, located several miles east of the Enterprise. Camp Swankie is the real thing: a true outdoor kitchen area, with a separate 3-season living area. Seeing this camp made those posh homes seem like they were struggling to get vestigial camping experiences built into them. Actually, I guess Swankie’s screened canopy qualifies as a 4-season room, because it is “location-adjustable”. To be able to comfortably use it in winter or summer, you change altitude.

But these amenities here are not just for show. Today’s exercise was to add Read more…

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