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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Failure Is Not an Option... and I Did

Holy Cow!  The weatherman was right, for a change!  He predicted no wind and mild temperatures for this morning.  Not wanting to loose this advantage, Marti and I hopped in the Element and headed to the storage lot to get the Journey.  My plan was to drive the Journey over to the Michelin Truck tire dealer and have the tires inspected.  The front tires have developed tiny, hairline cracks in some spots.

      (You can enlarge the pictures by clicking on them)

  My goal was to get a professional opinion on if there was anything that I needed to worry about, or not.

I have always maintained proper air pressure in the tires, never overloaded them and only used 303 Protectant on them, an anti UV ray spray coating.  It is a non-petroleum based product.  Petroleum based products can cause deterioration damage to rubber products like tires, slide seals and rubber RV roofs.

The date code on the tires (4106) show they were manufactured the 41st week of 2006.  Tire life should be 6-7 years, even up to 10 with annual inspections.  The rear tires are fine.  I think the cracks, which Michelin tires are noted for, are caused by the front tires getting full sun while the rear tires are shaded by the campers parked on either side of the Journey.

For all you sharp readers, yes this picture was taken last summer.  The trees look a little bare right now.

I drove the Journey, with Marti following me in the Element to the tire shop.  Unbelievably, the shop is closed on Saturdays and Sundays!  I failed!  But this is the reason I carry an unmounted spare tire underneath the Journey,  I would not want to sit on the side of the road with a flat all weekend waiting for a tire shop to open on Monday.

So I'll have to find the time during the week to take the Journey over there.  I'm thinking there could be a couple of scenarios that might come out of the inspection.  One would be all normal, nothing to worry about.  Another would be a shrewd tire salesman claiming that I was lucky to get here and the tires wouldn't last for another trip around the block.  A quick $900-1000 sale.

Or the tires may be marginal, but could be rotated to the rear and the rear inner tires that have never seen the sun put on the front.  That way, if the cracks got large enough to fail, it would not be on a steering axle.

All was not lost, however.  I have a Monday morning appointment at my RV dealer to have the Norcold refrigerator recall done.  Additionally, I asked them to change the antifreeze in my generator.  Its an 8KW Onan Quiet Diesel, which has a radiator and a cooling system.  I won't have time to do that chore before we leave in a couple of weeks for Disney World.

The recall is to install an emergency shut down device if the cooling system on the fridge fails and goes into an overheat condition. 

This is a "Before" picture, I'll post an after picture when it's completed.  Basically, there will be a switch attached to the black box circuit board in the upper left of the picture, it has the white and yellow stickers on it.  It is the "brain" of the unit.  A temperature sensor will be attached to the chimney, the silver tube on the right that will tell if there is an overheat condition detected.  The circuit board switch will shut the fridge down before a fire could start.

Hopefully, this will never happen, because that means your cooling unit has died and needs a costly replacement (or even a new refrigerator - Big $$$).

It will be interesting to see how this all turns out, stay tuned.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hoping for a Weather Break

Today the wind blew like there was no tomorrow.  I was glad that I drove my little Honda Civic to work today instead of driving the Journey (not that I'd do that - 8mpg for 330 miles - yikes!) and I was blowing all over the road in it.  I don't know how the truckers were able to keep those 18 wheelers going in a straight line.

If it gets a little nicer tomorrow, I want to take the Journey over to the truck tire shop that is a Michelin dealer to inspect my tires, I notice some little cracks in the sidewall. 

They are not very deep, but I want a pro to look at them for my peace of mind.  The tires are a little over three and a half years old and have 31K miles on them.  The tread looks like new, but Michelins are noted for developing sidewall cracks.  From my research, I have read that cracks are not a reason to replace the tire until they get to a certain size.  I sure don't want to replace the tires at $411 each, (before mounting) if I don't have to.

If the weather cooperates, I will pull off my engine hatch and work on it at the house.  I have an appointment with my RV dealer to get the Norcold refrigerator recall done on Monday, so I'll drop it off when I'm finished removing the hatch.  If the weather whacks again, the hatch will have to wait.

So ends another week.  Another week closer to our dream.  We heard from our realtor and home prices and sales in our neighborhood are low and flat, like everywhere in the country.  Funny, they are building a bunch of new houses about a half mile from us.  If builders are building, somebody must be buying.  So all we need is that one somebody.  

Nothing fancy with this post today, but I'll get some good pictures of the Norcold recall fix for the next post.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dancing Shoes

Well, more of a walking cast for Marti. 

Our visit to the orthopedic doctor resulted in positive news for Marti's broken ankle.  It is healing well and now she can shed the wheelchair she's been scooting around her office building in for crutches. 
The best part is she is to start putting some weight on her ankle, a little more each day until she can put all her weight on her foot.  Of course, she has her inflatable walking cast to support the bones as they knit, but it's all good.

The doctor said she will have to continue to wear the cast for the next six or so weeks, which puts us right into our Disney World trip in the Journey.  Marti won't be able to walk all day in the cast around the Magic Kingdom or the other Disney parks, so we will rent a wheel chair to push her around.  She'll be able to get out of the wheelchair and walk on the rides.

When our daughter Heather heard the  good prognosis and the need for a wheel chair she was very happy, but we're not sure she was more glad that Marti's ankle is healing well or with a wheel chair at Disney World, you get to go to the front of the lines waiting for the rides.  ;c)

We're glad things are looking up and Marti will be in Dancing with the Stars in no time.

Now where does one sign an inflatable cast?

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Winter Whacks Again

I woke up this morning to a beautiful day, 50 degrees out, sun shining and a holiday to boot.  I was anxious to do a couple of projects on the Journey, starting with pulling off the engine hatch, cleaning off the old epoxy and re-gluing it. 

If you remember, I used some nylon tie straps to temporarily hold it all together until I completed a permanent fix.

My plan was to completely separate the metal frame from the fiberglass, take a drill with a wire wheel on it and grind off all the paint from the metal frame and rough it up so the epoxy would grab on better.  Then to top it off, I was going to put several stainless steel screws on each edge to give additional holding strength to the hatch.

If I was able to get all that done, I was going to move on to changing out the water separator/fuel filter. 

 I would have done that last fall but I broke my strap wrench.  I recently went to Sears and bought a new one, a Craftsman, just in case I broke that one, I could get a free replacement. 

To be sure I wouldn't be stuck if that happened, I bought a second one, you can't have too many of them.  Actually, if you have two strap wrenches, it helps to take the filter apart easier.

I dropped Marti off at work, unfortunately, she didn't have today off as a holiday.  Bummer, she'd have loved to just spend another day kicked back on the couch letting her ankle continue to heal. 

As I drove away, the sky began to get darker.  By the time I got home, it was raining and the temperature dropped about 15 degrees and a bit of wind kicked up.  Yep, Winter whacked my plans right out the window.  Grr.

I want to get these things done because we have our Disney World vacation coming up in about three weeks.  I don't want to have those items hanging over my head.  I have some other maintenance work that is scheduled to be done this spring.   I have to replace the air filter, which on a diesel pusher motorhome is a major project.  It's not like popping a new filter in your car, the filter, which is about the size of a beer keg is tucked underneath the floor in the back of the MH above the muffler.  Looks to be a two hour job for this alone.  When I do that job, it will be subject of a post or two, for sure.

Also upcoming is the Allison transmission oil and fluid change,

 and the engine antifreeze change. 

 Both jobs I'll have to take the Journey into a shop to do, not because I can't do it myself, but I don't have the place to do that work.  Most stuff I do is on the street in front of my house.  Juggling gallons of antifreeze and automatic transmission fluid is not doable street side.

So, I'm keeping my fingers crossed so that some warmer weather comes along my way.  Forecast for the evening is rain, sleet and changing over to snow, 4-5 inches worth.  Come on spring!

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Marti's Musings: Confession

So............  we had every intention of using my sister, Gail, as an additional pair of hands this weekend. 

But... well, you see...

umm... well?

We kinda have been having some fun... (at least as much fun as I can with a gimpy leg!)

We (or rather, she) helped to clean out some of the laundry room, going through some baskets, washing, drying, sorting (that is kind of her 'thing' - she looooves laundry, [hard to believe she is related to me, on that point]) But other than that, today was just a fun day -

We went to a movie, "The King's Speech" , which - by the way - I highly recommend.  One event is about what I am up to right now, before my leg swells, and I need to get back home to elevate it.... 

Other than that, we have watched marathon episodes of "Trauma: Life in the ER" and "Untold stories of the ER" - after we watched several comedy videos. 

So, this weekend was a bust on getting ready to move/sell the house.  On the other hand, it has been a great mental health day for both Paul and I.

Maybe it was just what we needed.  Ya think?

Thanks, Gail!  :-D

Thanks for visiting.  And welcome to our new followers: Dirty Betty Vintage; Donna aka Froggi and Eriks RV Blog.  For anyone I have never mentioned, I apologize, and a belated Welcome! 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Marti's Musings: Reinforcements

We posted last weekend that Corey and Amanda helped us pack up boxes, took home furniture (as they said, they took our stuff to fill up their house - with stuff).

Well, tonight we went and picked up my sister, who originally was coming for a visit - but has volunteered to help us pack up or whatever we need.  Reinforcements!

Of course, me with my broken ankle, she may actually give Paul a break from his taking-care-of-me duties.  Poor guy - he may have a future in as a nursing assistant - he is doing such a wonderful job (poor guy).

So, it will be a wonderful weekend, I will hop along (or wheel around) as we do some fun things, and maybe even do some things around the house....  woo hoo! 

Gotta love a family who is there, through thick and thin!  (and broken or not, ha ha )  ~Marti

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Inside the Mystery Box

Yesterday I found this box on my front porch.

Inside the item was carefully packed.

Pulling out the packing revealed box number two.

What is in box number two?  My new compass, of course!

On the compass bottom are two dials to "Swing", or calibrate the compass, both in the North-South and East-West direction.

On the bottom of the bracket is an adhesive strip to fasten the compass to the dash or window.

Only one problem, I think I'm gonna' need one of these:

Yep, when the website said it was a "Mini" compass, they were not kidding!

I don't think this is a good fit for the Journey, it is just too small and would be too hard to see on the dash or the windshield.  I'll use it in our toad, but it's back to the drawing board (or Google) to find a better compass. :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Wrapped Up the Weekend

Lots of grunting and groaning as we loaded up the U-Haul.  And that was just me bending over to tie my shoe lace.  Corey, Amanda and I tucked into the back of the truck a bunch of furniture that we wanted to get rid of and Corey and Amanda needed, a win-win.  Sunday morning, with everything done, Corey pulled out with the truck.

Amanda followed behind in their car with Cooper, their Golden Retriever and Madison, their Pug.

Corey and Amanda were a great help and we had a great time together.  They helped us out so much and they have one more huge favor that they are pretty sure they can do for us.

We intend to distribute some more of our furniture to the other kids, Heather and Ryan's families.  Other stuff they can't use we'll either sell off or donate.  Our goal is to not have to store anything and someday when the kids take away our keys and we resettle down to a stix-n-brix, we'll get new furniture.  

One item we can't part with is our piano.  Not something you can easily take in a motorhome.  This piano has been in my family since my dad bought it back in 1958.  I remember the excitement as we carried it into the house.  My dad wanted his kids to have the gift of music and my brothers and I learned how to play on it.  I took 10 years of piano lessons and can barely play a note.  Marti, however is a great piano player.  She majored in music in college.

My dad gave us the piano some years back and Marti taught many neighborhood kids how to play to supplement our income when our kids were small.  Marti taught our daughter Heather to play, too.

Many happy memories are attached to the piano and we just couldn't sell it.

So the good news is Corey and Amanda are pretty sure they have room for it at their house.  They will take care of it while we're on the road.  Hopefully, someday, we'll see Marti teaching our grandkids how to play on it.

We feel so blessed to have such wonderful kids.  They think it's great that we're retiring and are going to fulltime.  It's nice to have their support.  We are so grateful that they are close to both Marti and I and each other, they keep in touch with each other and get together whenever they can.  We've seen so many families that are estranged from each other, we're happy that we all get along so well.  And with out fulltime lifestyle we'll be able to see them more often and for extended visits.  :c)

Now for a totally different subject, I found this box on the front porch when I came home today.

What is it?  Well, that's for the next post! ;c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Marti's Musings: Misery Loves Company.

It sure seems that the adage, "Misery Loves Company" is true. 

We have friends, Mike and Terri, who are going through the same transition we are, in a nearly identical time table.  We occasionally meet for dinner, but more often will shoot emails asking about different aspects/decisions that we face during this transition, along with the emotional tugs.

They chose to utilize a company  "Caring Transitions" to help them sell the house and belongings.  We are using our kid's energy, strong backs, organizational skills, and savvy in selling homes. 

This weekend our son, Corey, and his amazing wife, Amanda, have come to lend their help.  Corey helped move heavy items of furniture (some to take to his house - yeah!), a load to the dump, and setting up/taking down beds. 

Amanda, I delightfully found out, is a master at organizing - and has helped weed out the living room - where all the movies, game systems, music etc etc etc were stored. 

With boxes labeled for each child, give away, to RV, and to store for our final home - it actually is beginning to look like we are moving.  YIKES!

It surely has helped being able to save irreplaceable heirlooms and sentimental items - to use in our next sticks n' bricks house.  Furniture will be replaced new, and our sentimental items will make it feel like home. 

The most frustrating thing for me?  Being laid up with this doggone broken ankle.  Paul and the kids have been wonderful.   Of course, phone calls from my office never end and interrupted me on and off all day. Grrr!

 Amanda would give me boxes of things to go through.  She is a wonderful woman, beautiful inside and out, and a blessing to our family.  Corey has been a huge help to his Dad, providing the help,  and calmness that is perfect during this time.  We are blessed!

So, this has been one very successful Saturday.  One more step to full-timing! Yeee haw!!!!  :-)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

We're Heading in the Right Direction

A follow up to my compass post.  First of all, thanks for the comments and email suggestions on what compass to buy (or steal off a Coast Guard boat - not too crazy about that idea, I do want to enjoy my retirement). 

A few suggestions were to use a GPS.  My GPS doesn't give me accurate compass headings, all it does, in a woman's voice, is hen-peck me to make the next legal U-turn.  My GPS usually is muted, I have enough people in my life telling me where to go...  ;c)

I did some research on suggestions and I'm going to gamble on this compass.  For $22 it is worth a gamble, it is adjustable so I can "Swing" it to track accurately.

I ordered it and it should be here in about a week.  I'll have to road test it and report back.  In the mean time, if you see a Winnebago Journey driving around in circles, you might deduce the compass isn't working out too well...

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, February 7, 2011

How Do You Swing?

Did you know that a compass is affected by ferrous metal placed near it?  I notice that when I'm using my hand held compass to get the correct direction for my portable satellite dish, if I get too close to the tripod, the little needle points towards the tripod instead of North.

On a boat, a compass is very important, because, for some strange reason, there are no traffic signs in the ocean.  To navigate properly, you need a good compass.  On our Coast Guard boats, there is a good compass located on the dash, right in front of the helm, for the helmsman (helmswoman?) to steer a course by.

However, a boat is loaded with all kinds of ferrous metal, the engines, reduction gears, framework, etc, that can throw the compass off.  So to correct that you have to "Swing" the compass. 

Basically, you have to set out on a known course, looking at a nautical chart and place little magnets around the compass until you get its needle to match the direction on the chart.  A few circles around in the water to confirm you have swung the compass accurately and then the magnets are locked down.  Until such time as an engine is changed, or the compass is removed for maintenance, then you have to do it all over again.

Probably by now, you are wondering where the heck I'm "heading" with this (pun intended)?

Our Journey does not have a compass.  Even though most modern cars and trucks (and our last motorhome) have installed compasses, for some reason that technology was left off, probably by the Winnebago Bean Counters.  I want it install a compass that is reasonably accurate and adjustable.  I don't mind spending money, but so far the compasses I've looked at don't have a way to calibrate (or swing) them to get line up with the Northern direction.  And there is a lot of ferrous metal in our Journey.

I'd hate to be tooling down  what I think is a west heading highway only to see the sun set off my left shoulder as my left ear gets sunburned.

We intend to install solar panels on the Journey roof for those times we anticipate boondocking in the wild Western deserts.  I'd like to be able to look at a compass on my dash and see which way is East so I can park with the solar panels pointing South to get the most energy from the sun

Now that you know what I'm talking about, a question:  If you've purchased an aftermarket compass for your RV, what did you buy and do you recommend it?  I'd appreciate your input so I don't get lost wandering around in the desert with my little cheapo handheld compass.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.