Tag Archives: adjust brakes

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 LED4RV.com (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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We Only Wanted To Adjust The Airstream’s Brakes

We’re leaving today for a Carolinas Unit of NC airstream club rally in Mt Airy NC then Sunday for points west and way west. The preparations for today seem to have snuck up on us although we’ve known all summer we’d be leaving this week. We forget how much there is to do when you unpack the trailer and move out of it for a little while (like all summer, off and on).

Jim planned two not-so-major tasks for yesterday afternoon, having already lined up almost everything else. He only wanted to refill the fresh water tank we drained last night and adjust the Airstream’s four drum brakes. Neither job is complicated and neither takes much time, maybe an hour total for both.

We’ve been clicking along really well this week, marking things off our list each day and feeling pretty good about everything. Wednesday Jim thought he should run the little Yamaha 1kw generator an hour or so just to keep it happy. Unhappily, it wouldn’t start. Seems Jim has fallen down on monthly test runs on the poor little genset and the gas just went bad.

Happily there is a new outdoor equipment place only one block away from where we’ve been staying all summer. Time passes so quickly on some things — we had no idea we had been using (mostly carrying around) this generator since 2006. It has worked so well, always starting right away whenever Jim pulls on the cord. And Thursday afternoon Kannapolis Power Equipment gave us the generator with an oil change, a new spark plug, new gasoline, and a cleaned-out carburetor.

But back to the breaks. I mean, the brakes. Jim adjusted the two street-side brakes and started on the curb-side rear wheel brake when he saw he needed to reattach the water heater’s propane gas line under the trailer and replace a missing rivet in the belly pan nearby. He completed these and adjusted the brake without incident.

When he prepared to adjust the front curb-side wheel’s brake he noticed the shock absorber was missing the washer and nut at the top mount. Jim tried to reach over or around the tire and just couldn’t get access to the mounting with the tire in the way. But also cannot remove the wheel while it’s in the air because cannot break the lug nuts loose on a spinning wheel.

Jim lowered the trailer to the ground, loosened the lug nuts, raised the trailer, and removed the wheel. He used a thick washer and a nut from his junk box to refasten the shock to the mount and realized he would need to check all three other wheels for the shock absorber mounting. Guess what he found?

The other curb-side wheel’s shock also was missing the washer and nut at the top mount, although the two street-side wheel’s shocks were fully attached. Again with the loosening of lugnuts, removing the rear curb-side wheel, installing another washer and nut while again busting knuckles in the tight clearance of the wheel well.

We don’t know when these shock absorber mounting nuts came loose or why. Jim used Loctite threadlocker blue on these two repairs so they will hopefully be good until time to replace shocks.

And we’ve added another inspection point on our trailer’s annual brake inspection and bearing lube job — check shock absorber mounts, top and bottom. We might encounter no surprises when we only want to adjust the Airstream’s brakes, eh?

Jim and Debbie

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