Monthly Archives: May 2012

A big leak resolved

Full-timing includes performing maintenance on an along-the-way basis. But some jobs are so much easier with tools we might not have in the truck. We borrowed a creeper, great for sliding around under the trailer. We used my father-in-law’s heat gun to remove old caulk and to shrink tubing and wiring connectors. And he has tools I lack and a great work bench. It is really great to have a place to stop a few days and work on things before we hit the road again.

We removed and reinstalled the stove vent and caulked it, a window, and two awnings. Replaced three missing large-head 3/16″ bottom pan rivets. Cleaned and silicone-sprayed the flagpoles and awning arms and spindles. Rebuilt the hitch head to increase the tilt on the hitch ball. We need this to compensate for the increased hitch weight from adding two batteries — we weren’t getting enough weight transferred off the hitch. We’ll re-weigh in a few days and see how we did.

The big deal, though, was to find the leak from our fresh water tank. Yesterday we ruled out the hose clamps and the petcock, but the leak continued. Today I started by increasing the access hole size under the fresh water tank at the petcock location. Cutting an access hole in the fresh water tank’s outer pan was pretty easy. I used a cordless Dremel tool with a carbide disk and sliced readily through the thick plastic. Very helpfully, the water tank doesn’t occupy the last four inches of the pan, so I had no risk of cutting into the water tank.

The final size is less than three inches by three inches, and the access hole is at the end of the tank immediately under the petcock. I was able to more easily see and operate the hose clamp on the petcock’s barbed end, immediately inside the tank cover’s curb side. Removing this clamp and the adjacent clamp on an ell from the tank, I easily removed the petcock and vinyl hose from the ell.

The petcock was broken right at its flange

We examined the petcock yesterday but thought the clamps were our problem. New clamps didn’t resolve the leak though. Looking more closely at the petcock, we found a fine crack between its flange and barbed fitting. Aha! This must be the leak we’ve been suffering for over six months.

A couple of phone calls later, we found a matching petcock at the Tom Johnson Camping Center only ten miles away. We paid $3.82, including tax, for the petcock, 30 cents for six inches of vinyl 1/2″ tubing (we only used three inches), and the clamps were $3.00 for four (we used two). Refilled the tank and the leak is resolved. Cut a piece of 1/8″ aluminum to cover the hole, attached it with three self-tapping screws, and the job is complete.

Two big deals from this experience: one, do NOT unbolt and lower your fresh water tank. It has nothing to do with arranging the tank drain petcock; and two, it’s purely amazing how much faster we can drain the fresh water tank if we open not only the petcock but also the two plumbing system drain valves under the fresh water tank and turn on the pump. Instead of over four hours, we drain the tank in under 1/2 hour this way. Awesome!

Our list is getting shorter. It’s a good thing, too — we’re planning on hitting the road early next week if we get everything done.

Jim and Deb

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©2007-2012 Dreamstreamr

One more busy day

Returned yesterday from a unit rally in the NC piedmont near the mountains. Only a week left before we plan to leave for our long trip to Dawson Creek B.C. to meet the airstream caravan to Alaska. So this morning we broke into our final countdown list. We’ve beat the list down over the past couple of weeks but still have plenty to do in just a week.

Full-timing includes maintaining our truck and trailer periodically so they are reliable down the road. We’re fortunate to have a level paved driveway for working on the trailer. Deb’s parents have an area perfect for my maintenance efforts, but we don’t want to use it too much. They like to park in the same space so I want to get my stuff done and get out of the way. I hoped to get it all done in one day, two at most.

Today was to be the big one. We adjusted the trailer’s brakes, wrapped the trailer’s gas lines in 1/2″ insulation, replaced the flange seal between the sewer pipe and the banana panel, caulked several openings at pipes’ entry points, found a couple of bottom pan rivets needing replacement; removed, cleaned, and re-installed the black tank level sensor; and dropped the fresh water tank to the ground.

Four large metal hangers and two long straps support the tank in place against the bottom of the trailer. I hoped to correct a leak at the poly petcock on curb side between the wheels. The leak went on for several months without self-correcting, we gave it every chance.

Not knowing how to get at the petcock attachment and lacking an access panel under the tank, I loosened and carefully lowered the tank with a floor jack. Except it wouldn’t lower on the curb side, it was hung on the fresh water lines for the trailer, the fill tube, and who knows what else.

I returned inside where Debbie was researching several other items: our foam cushions for the sofa seats and dinette seats are due tomorrow to the shop for glueing, cutting, and radiusing. The black tank sensor replacement is over $50 with shipping (what a bunch of crap!). LED lights for the vanity and reading lights are on their way from (thanks Dan!). The Dinosaur brand replacement refrigerator control board is on its way from BestConverter.

Deb and I researched again replacing the petcock and finally stumbled onto the right thread — mookiedog had done just as I did and I failed to read his warning in time. He’s correct — the only benefit in removing all the bolts supporting the fresh water tank is the physical exercise.

Fortunately I was able to rehang the tank quickly and restart working on the leaky petcock. I cut a two inch by three inch hand hole and replaced both clamps on the small line between the petcock and the tank. No good, the petcock still drips constantly.

Tomorrow I’ll cut a larger access hole, remove the clamps and tubing, and figure out what the leaky part is. And recaulk the stove vent, windows, tail lights, and awnings.

Not all that is busy is good. At least the brake adjustments went well.

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©2007-2012 Dreamstreamr

Our Trailer Passes NC Emissions Tests

We couldn’t buy the truck’s annual registration yesterday. NC dept of motor vehicles told us the truck wasn’t inspected this year. Which was odd because Deb had just had it inspected one week earlier. The mechanic pledged it would be immediately into the state’s computer system. We waited a week in case the electrons took a circuitous route.

Returning to the mechanic, we told him our woeful tale, the DMV could not find the inspection. We gave him the DMV registration and off he went to look it up on his records. Five minutes later he returned and said he didn’t inspect it.

Debbie asserted, yes he did. She described the big red truck, I chimed in, “With N5RTG license plate”, and he brightened and said, “It had out of state tags!”. Debbie and I realized at the same time I had said the wrong plate, the truck’s tag is different entirely although NOT out of state.

But the mechanic’s memory was stirred by the N5RTG tag — now he remembered inspecting our truck but not with our license plate. He looked it up in the records with the N5RTG tag and found it immediately. He said, “you gave me the trailer’s registration, and I inspected and entered it into the DMV system with your trailer’s tag number.” He had entered it as out of state because the state’s computer wouldn’t accept a NC N5RTG license tag – probably because the computer recognized it was a trailer and couldn’t be inspected.

Then he told us to bring the truck back and let him inspect it. He would have to connect it to the computer and run it through the tests again so it would register properly in the state’s computers. In just a few minutes he finished, we returned to DMV and were able to register the truck for another year.

What a relief to know, though, our travel trailer passed all the required emissions tests for 2012-2013! Wonder how he connected the exhaust sensor to the black pipe?

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©2007-2012 Dreamstreamr

Vote NO on North Carolinas’s Amendment One

Thoughts on Amendment One
[from weekly Reflections shared by Ben Devoid, pastor of Dilworth United Methodist Church]

Throughout our history, Methodists have engaged in social action and from time to time have entered the political fray. The Church’s allegiance is to God alone: Our role in public life is to hold accountable all elected officials in light of the gospel’s call to be in solidarity with those on the margins of our society. We cannot be true to this calling unless we are willing to speak to contemporary issues of justice and mercy.

In its earliest years, Christians active in the Methodist revival spoke before the British parliament to ban gambling, to enact laws that protected children in the workplace, and to end the Empire’s slave trade. First-generation Methodists questioned capital punishment, worked for decent housing among the poor and for safer working conditions among coal miners. It is with this heritage behind me that I speak to Amendment One.

May 8 is a big day in the State of North Carolina. Our citizens will vote on a Constitutional amendment that declares traditional marriage as the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in the state of North Carolina. At first glance it sounds like a simple decision to make. We are all for strengthening the institution of marriage. Yet, if we take a closer look, it becomes apparent that this amendment holds the possibility of doing great harm to families and children of our state.

The fact is, approving this amendment will do nothing to benefit my marriage of twenty-eight years or anyone else’s in North Carolina. If it fails, nothing in present law changes.

On the other side of this issue are the nearly 90,000 couples living together by domestic partnership and civil union, with children as dependents. Because these families will not be legally recognized, many of the poorest children in our state are at risk of losing health coverage. This amendment also creates legal entanglements with some parents and child custody.

The amendment may harm unmarried women by invalidating existing domestic violence protections, resulting in domestic violence convictions to be dismissed or overturned. And the Amendment would keep unmarried couples from being able to visit one another in the hospital, and possibly stop them from being able to make emergency medical and financial decisions. It could revoke legal protections and invalidate trusts and end-of-life directives.

We don’t know what Amendment One will do. It seems to be cold legislative wording.

I am a strong supporter of the institution of Christian marriage. I take to heart the wedding liturgy that reads, ‘the covenant of Christian marriage was established by God.’ Marriage secures a family’s future, by binding a couple for better or worse, rich or poor, and sickness and in health, with the support of the Christian community. Today, church doctrine does not allow me to do this for all couples living together in fidelity and honor of one another. Neither would all unions be recognized by the state. One day that may change.

But left as is, what good comes from harming those who live together outside the marriage covenant? It seems only to increase the acrimony in our society. As people of faith, what is our responsibility to our neighbor, whatever our differences? John Wesley believed there were three simple rules that should guide our lives.

Do No Harm.
Do Good.
Stay in Love With God.

Thanks Ben, for this faith-based essay on how we practice loving our neighbor as ourselves, bearing no grudge and not seeking revenge (Leviticus 19:18).

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