Monday, August 22, 2016

Getting to Know the Little RV Thoroughly

We are in between Lakes Huron and Michigan in St. Ignace, Michigan for four nights. We need get some things fixed and/or taken care of. Our trip so far has been plagued with annoying problems. Some have been self inflicted, some have not. 

I think part of the problems we have had are from the incredibly bumpy roads we have encountered along the way. 

After particularly bumpy travel days we tend to find broken things during set-up. Mostly they are just nuisance things but it takes time to fix them. 

It started with our clothing hanger bar in the bedroom closet completely pulling out of the ceiling. The upside; we did find this a prime opportunity to go through and weed out clothing we just don't need. I folded a lot of the clothes and put them in a stack in the closet. Rob's clothes can stay folded and he wants to leave them that way so I'll just install some light weight shelving to keep things in place. Many of my clothes need to be hung and I have been moving from place to place several times each day in order to function. 

I needed a solution for the closet that would allow me to hang my clothes and not have the bar pull out of the ceiling. I purchased some items at the hardware store the other day to take care of this problem. I screwed all of the parts together and installed it this afternoon. It's working great. Not the prettiest thing ever but very functional and it has some support from below to keep it where it belongs.

Our pantry has pull out drawers but the spacing between the walls and the rails is just a bit too large so occasionally one of the drawers will come off the tracks. One evening I opened the pantry to find two drawers just barely hanging on. I had to add some washers and larger screws to keep the drawers on the tracks. However there is another one that needs a repair now. 

We had the problem with the mouse chewing the wiring harness in our car and causing the power steering to fail. That's all fixed and the car is back in business. 

The unfortunate incident where we tried to level and put the slides out at the same time caused hours of sleuthing and even after I thought we had it all back in order I discovered our inverter was not working the other day. When we travel the inverter converts energy stored in the house batteries to regular 110 power to run our residential refrigerator. As it turns out that was all part of the same incident and there was another breaker that needed to be reset. 

I believe I spent a total of 10+ hours trying to figure it all out but now I know where all of these things are located and how to figure out what and where the problem is. It was all under the stairs the whole time. 

 We also have a section of the body on the exterior of the motorhome that is sticking out on the lower left corner. I noticed this the other day and crawled under the motorhome to see what was going on. 

This area is the exterior where the hot water heater is located. There is a bracket that holds the panel in place but one of the screws is sheared off at the head and the other is stripped and was just hanging in the bracket. 

There is almost no space in there for tools so I found some screws with a hex head so I could use a socket wrench to repair the problem. We checked that one off the list yesterday.

Here's one that has been plaguing me for months. The sewer connection for the back bathroom is inside a bay. However the opening for the hose is only a 4" opening. Each time I set up and tear down I have to dismantle the end of the sewer hose, put it through the opening and then reassemble it. What a nasty, dirty pain. Yesterday I installed a 5" access port. Now I can put the hose through easily and without taking it apart. I'll spare you the photos of that one but it's done too!

The thing is, as annoying and sometimes discouraging as these things are, each time something happens I learn so much and gain more confidence. Rob has been joking that I should become an RV repair person. No thanks! 

If you have an RV, do you know;

Where your converter, inverter, transfer relay switch(s), breakers, fuses and the like are located? 

We have a breaker panel and fuses inside and more outside. Do you? 

Do you know where they are located? 

Do you have extra fuses and a volt meter with you just in case? 

Maybe some extra washers and assorted screws for repairs?

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Little RV Visits the Harley Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Rob is nuts, crazy over the moon nuts, for motorcycles. As it happens the Harley Davidson museum is in Milwaukee not far from our campground so we decided to check it out. 
The museum starts at the beginning of the creation of the Harley Davidson motorcycle. There were exhibits including company stocks.

This particular motorcycle was built in the very early 1900's and is the oldest Harley Davidson in the world. 

There were hundreds of motorcycles dating back to 1903 and moving forward to the present. 

 In 1932 they came out with a Servi-Car used for deliveries. They had several of these in the museum. 

There were police motorcycles and the uniforms worn while riding them.

Harleys were used in World War II by the Army and the Navy. 

 We trooped around the exhibits for as long as we could then took a break and when to the souvenir shop for a new ball cap and T-shirt for Rob. 

If you're ever in the area and you're a motorcycle enthusiast we'd recommend a visit. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

It's Not All Rainbows and Butterflies in the Little RV

Because we didn't have any reservations for our unexpected trip the the Milwaukee area and because it's the weekend we are site hopping. We find a site available for one night here and another site for one night there. Yesterday we were able to secure a site for another night here in the same State park so we only had to move a few spaces down the road. Piece of cake, right? Not for the little RV. 
The Little RV all tucked in.

Once we got the go-ahead to move from the park office we got packed up and started our move. There are only electric hook-ups here so we went to the dump station to empty the gray water tanks and add more fresh water. 

Once that was done we went to the office to pay for another night and then back around the loop to our new site. Once backed in we hooked up the electric and started the process of leveling and putting out the slides. That's where things went so very wrong. 

We have a hydraulic automatic leveling system and our slides are hydraulic as well. Of course there is an electric component to them as well. Part way through the leveling process everything just stopped working. The rear jacks were fully extended but the front jacks were up and the slides would not move. 
Saturday morning about and hour north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the middle of nowhere. Clearly no help would be available so we rolled up our sleeves and tackle the problem.

The first thing that came to mind was to check the hydraulic fluid level. We have had our maintenance done professionally and frankly I didn't even know where to look for the hydraulic fluid reservoir. Shame on me.

In case you're wondering we do have some "manuals" for the motorhome but they are basically useless. They explain routine use, tell you to check the fuses, or suggest a manual override but they don't elaborate or even mention where these things are located. I did pull them out but they were not helpful at all.

Internet to the rescue! After frantic searching online and in the forums for our particular motorhome I was able to find enough information to know I had to remove the cover for the entry stairs to find the hydraulic motor and fluid reservoir. 
Under the entry stairs - The hydraulic fluid
reservoir is the white thing in the lower left corner

To my untrained eye, there appeared to be enough fluid. I did not see a full line but there was a dipstick and it was in the fluid so all was well there.

Now what? A fuse, maybe a breaker? The fuses and breakers are located in the bedroom at the foot of the bed. However, the bedroom slide was stuck in and right up against the wall where the fuses and breakers are located. Armed with a flashlight I crawled over the bed and shimmied as far as possible into the space under the foot of the bed to check the breakers. They were all fine so I moved to the other side and shimmied back under the foot of the bed to check the fuses. Because of the confined space and the angle I couldn't see the fuses so I removed them one by one to check for a blown one. They were all just fine. 

Back to the internet. We were able to find something about a breaker for the leveling system under the stairs. So back to the stairs we went. 
The breakers are in the top center of the photo. 

The breakers don't look like regular breakers. They are black boxes with a red leaver that pops out when they are blown. One of the red levers was popped out!! I reset the breaker, climbed over the missing stairs and tried the jacks. Success!! The jacks were working. The slides, not so much. Back to the drawing board. 

Since this all happened at the same time it had to be connected. There must be a fuse or breaker in part of the slide system that was causing the problem, right?

More digging, more tools, more reading, more greasy hands and arms and then the discovery there are fuses behind the cover of a box down there under the stairs. 

The cover of this box said "do not remove cover without disconnecting battery cables".  I disconnected the battery cables and then removed the cover.  Ta-da fuses! Just what I was looking for. The first one I pulled out from the lower right corner was the culprit. I replaced it and Rob went to see if the slides would work. They worked!! 

It took us 5+ hours to figure out how to get things working again but they are working properly and we couldn't be happier. Today we are supposed to move to the Wisconsin State Fair RV Park in Milwaukee. Wish us luck.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Moving Fast in the Little RV

Oh my goodness, where to begin? This is a long post so I'll throw in a few photos taken along the way. 
Utah sunset with smoke in the air.
We're in Wisconsin already.  A few days ago I went out to start the car and get it ready to tow and the EPS (electronic power steering) light was on. We checked with Honda and were told it was OK to continue towing the car.  

The next morning in Cheyenne, Wyoming, after a ton of online research I set out to try several remedies we found online. First I drove the car around the loop at the RV park and found there was no power steering at all. Next I cleaned the battery terminals, checked fuses, revved the engine for a specified period of time. Nothing worked. We resigned ourselves to the fact we had to take the car to the shop for repairs.  
Murphy cooling off after a long, hot travel day.

The area we were moving through when this happened is very high in altitude, mostly between six and eight thousand feet. With Rob's breathing issues at high altitudes we needed to move on.  The other issue we were having was the excessive the heat and humidity. We had temperatures over 100 degrees and one evening in Council Bluffs, Iowa the weather app showed 92 degrees but feels like 106. Step outside and you immediately need a shower. Yuck!

We decided to make tracks for a lower altitude, cooler place with a big Honda dealer. Milwaukee, Wisconsin here we come!

        We added Nebraska and Utah to our visited state map!

We arrived in Milwaukee on Friday morning. I had called the Honda shop and the said we could drop the car off and they'd take a look at is as soon as they were able.  I was worried there would not be enough space in a car dealership lot to pull the motorhome in and unhook the car but it worked out fine.  

We got the car dropped off and proceeded to look for a place to camp while we waited for the car.  We started making phone calls from the Honda dealer's lot and quickly discovered everything was completely booked for the weekend. The closest site we could find was about an hour north of Milwaukee at a state park. It's a beautiful area but they only have room for a night so we have to move today.  I'm not sure were we are going yet.

The Honda shop called last evening to give us an update.  It seems somewhere between Brigham City, Utah and Rock Springs, Wyoming we picked up a tiny hitchhiker in our car. This hitchhiker (a mouse) proceeded to chew through the wiring harness that powers our car's power steering. Of course they don't stock the wiring harness we need to they have ordered one and we get our car back on Tuesday. Crisis averted! Our 3 year 36,000 mile warranty expired about 6 weeks ago. The total cost of the repair will be $277. 
It could have been so much worse.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Fowl - Waterfowl That is...

Yesterday the three of us packed up and went off to see the sights in and around Brigham City, Utah. We wanted to see some of the beautiful architecture in the city, have a peek at The Great Salt Lake, check out  "Utah's Famous Fruitway" and visit The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

We started with the refuge which is just a few miles from our campground here in Brigham City. There is no charge for entry according to the lady inside the visitor center it's "our tax dollars at work". Of course there are donation collection containers set up all over the building. 

We got our map and instructions and where on our way into the refuge.  The auto tour is 12 miles on a one way, gravel road. There were very few other people there so when Rob yelled "STOP" I could just stop in the middle of the road. 

Murphy thoroughly enjoyed the refuge also. He sat with his head out the window and watched the birds with laser focus, tail wagging all the way. 

After the refuge we drove right into historic downtown Brigham City. 

Of course Utah does their places of worship in a grand way. 

Brigham City Chamber of Commerce is a beautiful, old building.
Next we were off to see The Great Salt Lake!

We went to a nearby State park and had a mini picnic. Murphy had some off-leash play time and did very well. 

Today we head for Wyoming!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Utah

We were up early this morning and decided to get on the road and head for Utah. We pulled out of the campground at about 9:15 am. We motored along until about noon when we pulled into a rest area. We had been seeing high wind warning signs and we could certainly feel the wind hitting the motorhome as we drove. 

We parked and Murphy and I went down the steps to take him for a potty break when a huge gust of wind pulled the door right out of my hand and pulled the strut right off the mounting. 
I had Murphy's leash in one hand and was trying to get the door shut but the rest of the strut was in the way. I finally managed to get the door shut and walk the dog. 

Once we got back I put Murphy inside with Rob, shut the door again and went to get a screwdriver so I could take the strut completely off. The drawer in the toolbox that holds the screwdrivers would not open. All of the other drawers worked fine but I still can't get that one drawer open and I have no idea why.

When I went back to the door with my battery powered screwdriver the door would only open about three inches. Rob and Murphy were trapped inside and I was stuck outside. We discovered the end of the stupid strut was stuck in the door frame and wouldn't come out. Rob and I tried several tools to pry it loose but nothing worked until I found my handy, dandy mini pry bar. Rob was able to get the strut out of the frame and the door opened. 

We still had the problem of the strut hanging from the door and I needed to remove it so we could be on our way. Rob had to hold the door because of the high wind gusts while I tried to get the other end of the strut free without a screwdriver. Finally I was able to get the clip off with a pair of needle nose pliers. The strut came free!

I put all of the tools back and locked the bays. When I tried to get back inside the wind was so bad I had to hold onto the door and the door frame to keep from being pulled off the stairs. When there was a break in the wind, I manged to get the door shut. The whole event was completely ridiculous from beginning to end. 

We were able to get back on the road an hour and twenty minutes later. This evening we are in Brigham City, Utah, safe and sound. I have repaired the door and it's working just fine. 

We did notice an improvement in the handling of the Little RV after the wheel alignment. I think we still have a heat problem but we'll get that worked out eventually.  

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

In the Dog House in the Little RV

We experienced excessive heat coming from engine into the driver and passenger areas of our motorhome during our travels in very hot weather. I wrote about that ultra fun experience here

We received our engine blanket insulation yesterday and promptly tore into the dog house to install it.  

Getting the cover off was easier than I thought. There are two screws in the bottom of the cup holders. They hold the tray on. I removed them, opened the clips on each side and slid the cover off.  

You can see there is no insulation around the inside of the green fiberglass edging and some of the insulation was just hanging from the bottom side. 

I discovered there was already insulation in the bottom side of the cover but it was fairly thin and not installed all the way to the edges. 

This photo was taken after we got the new insulation in place. The new stuff is 3/4" thick. It's also VERY sticky so getting it in the right spot before you let it touch is important. I made sure to leave enough to push it into the space behind the seal. 

I stuck my arm and camera down into the engine compartment to get this picture
showing the newly insulated area about six inches wide around the inside of the dog house base. 

We got it all sealed up and put back together but the test will be today when we take George to get his wheels aligned. We'll be able to tell if the engine noise is better. The heat test will be tomorrow when we move to our next stop. 

Last night I started my next project. I'm making blackout shades and curtains for the windows that don't already have them. It's another effort to keep it cooler in the Little RV.