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Monday, September 30, 2013

Maybe We’ll Work, Or Maybe We Won’t

Another beautiful day and another beautiful drive.  Only 71 miles!  It was kind 'a hard to do that short of a drive, the Journey barely warmed up to operating temperature.

We did this short of a drive because we were very close to our goal when we stopped last night.  This morning we headed out and in a little over an hour we arrived at our first workamping job.

There is a special campground for the volunteers that work here at the J. Strom Thurmond Army Corps Of Engineers (COE) Recreation Area in Modoc, South Carolina.


We have a beautiful, FHU site (50 amps).


The concrete pad is huge, giving us plenty of room outside,


and a great view of J. Strom Thurmond lake.


We have to put in 20 hours a week (between the two of us), doing various tasks to help run and maintain the COE area campgrounds and use areas.  No bathroom cleaning required!  :c)

We get to choose jobs and work our own schedule.  Pretty tough assignment.

Our gig here has a very nice bonus.  We’ll be working here with our special friends, Mike and Terri Young.  We’re looking forward to a great time.


However, the question is will we be actually working with the looming government shut down?  We’ll have to see.  The good news is we don’t have to worry about not getting a paycheck!  :cD

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Hills, Headwinds And Hogs

It was time.  Time to leave Branson.  We decided we wanted to get an early start as we had about 850 miles to go to get to our workamping gig in South Carolina.  By Monday.

That gives us three whole days to get there, a huge amount of travel time for us.

We left at the crack of 10 am.  6 am didn’t look as inviting at 6 am as it did last night when I set the alarm clock to it.  Did I hit the SNOOZE button?  Heck no!  I hit the OFF button.  After all, I am respectfully retired and I want to make the most of it.

So we did sleep in a little longer.  And enjoyed every minute of it.

I needed it, too. Because last night we went to a show that took every fiber of my being, every last ounce of my strength, to sit through.  Unbeknownst to me and my bonnie bride, the show wasn’t the play we thought it would be.  Not by a long shot.  It turned out to be….


It was one of those times I’m glad my watch has a light up dial so I could see how many more minutes of suffering I had left to endure.  I’m sure I was suffering more than those guys hopping around on the stage in tights…

What show was it?  I’m not telling because they may have actually captured my face on their security cameras around the building.  I don’t  want to give Rick any ideas of hacking into the hard drives at the show and plastering my face all over the Internet where I can be laughed at in perpetuity.

Away we rolled.  The Journey ran well but we were faced with over 130 miles of steep, Ozark hills and curvy roads, decorated with struggling 18 wheelers that slowed us down even more.  And what would our travels be without the ubiquitous and ever present Headwind?

That distance would normally take us about two hours.  With the hills, the headwinds and the trucks, it took quite a bit over three hours.  Not a great start for a PDD driving day.

Once we conquered the hills, we ended up on some more normal highways in Arkansas where we just had to deal with the headwinds, the 18 wheelers blew right by us.  We just enjoyed the ride.

We called it a day and stopped at a Walmart in Fulton, MS.  420 miles down.  Not too shabby despite all the challenges.  We also got to see that we are not the only ones out on the highways enjoying life.  Check out these folks on this hog (Harley).


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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Testing An LP Leak Detector

No, we have not blown up from a leak in our propane tank.  I know I have not posted in a few days but we’ve been enjoying shows here in Branson, MO.  Unlike Vegas, where everything that happens there stays there, in Branson you can tell everyone what you did here.  With a clear conscience.

Among the shows we’ve seen, we like the musical variety show best put on by the Hughes Brothers, five brothers, their wives and all thirty two of their children perform in a two hour long program.  We’ve seen their show five times now and never tire of “It”.



But I digress.  The last post had us narrowly avoid tragedy (or having to buy a new motorhome) caused by a leaky propane fitting on the Journey’s propane tank.


The interior of the Journey smelled of propane and we had to vent the inside to clear out the gas.  Thankfully, Marti’s nose picked up the smell because our LP detector did not sound.

The LP (propane) detector is mounted down next to the floor because propane is a heavy gas and sinks down.


The green light on the unit indicates the detector is on and has power (12V) to it.  On some units there is a “Test” button to check if the unit is working.  Mine does not have it.

So how do you test it for proper operation?  Easy.

You use a butane lighter, click it on and hold the button down but not hard enough to light the flame.


Put it near the detector and hold it there for a few seconds.  The detector should sound an alarm.


My detector did not sound the alarm, even after repeated tests.  It is defective and will have to be replaced. 

I’m glad we found this out now, instead of in the middle of the night by waking up in mid air after the Journey blew up!  ;c)

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Murphy Throws A Nasty Punch

We had a great time with our granddaughters.  Seems like kids nowadays are very electronic savvy.  Even little Rebekah, at 16 months likes playing with things, like Marti’s iPhone.


“Hmm, what app do I want this time?”


“This one!”

We had a laughing good time last night and we tried and tried to get all three girls to sit still for a picture.  This was the best we could get with all the giggling going on.


We left the Pin Oak Creek Campground this morning around 10:30 and did a leisurely 215 mile drive down to the Escapee's Turkey Creek Campground right next to Branson, MO.  We decided to take a few days to rest up and see some shows before completing our trip back to South Carolina.  Grandparenting is hard work!  ;c)

We registered at the office and when we came out, Marti smelled propane.  I smelled it too.  Marti said maybe we should tell the office there was a propane smell, being as there is a large propane tank next to it.

I went and opened our propane compartment to check our tank.  Sure enough it was our tank that was leaking.  I quickly turned off the shut off valve.  On of the brass fittings had vibrated loose and that was where the propane leaked from.

We went inside the Journey and it reeked of propane.  We opened all the windows and put on the exhaust fans to clear the air.

I took out my trusty wrenches and snugged up the brass fitting (the one with the lines on it) and then sprayed some soapy water on it to ensure the leak had stopped.


We did lose a couple of gallons of propane.  It was a quick fix and a cheap lesson to check those fittings.  Murphy threw a nasty punch but we caught it in time before we had our own TV show:  “The Big Bang Journey”!  :cD

Now we’re all good and nicely set up to enjoy the next few days.


             THE END


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Saturday, September 21, 2013

It Ain’t Pretty

But it will work.  It was quite frustrating not being able to fix the broken exhaust pipe correctly the first time, but when you’re on the road, you have to do what you can and make do.

I actually spent more time driving around to find parts that would work than actually making the repair.

The reason I had to make a temporary fix was where the tailpipe broke off.


The hot exhaust gases coming out of the pipe would have damaged the fiberglass bumper.  Plus we were getting some exhaust odors inside the Journey.  And right above broken exhaust pipe is the plastic housing (top left hand corner of the picture) for the engine intake that certainly would have melted.  Sorry the picture is not better.


First step was to hacksaw off the broken, corroded part.


Then I inserted the new piece of pipe into the old pipe.  With some heavy duty exhaust clamps, I cranked down and collapsed enough of the old pipe to make a somewhat tight fit.  Then using another clamp I reattached the pipe to the hangers.  The fit isn’t perfect, there will be some exhaust leakage but the vast majority will go out the new tailpipe.


The pipe now extends out past the fiberglass and should work well enough until we get to our three month long workamping job at the Strom Thurmond Army COE recreation area in South Carolina.  I’ll be able to take my time, order the correct parts that I need and fix it right.


While I was working on the exhaust pipe, the girls were having a grand time with us.  We are staying at the (nearby to their house) Pin Oak Creek Campground here in Missouri.


The girls were having a ball riding around the roads on some bikes we rented for them.  It is a perfect bright, sunny day.



The roads are nice and smooth and flat.


Little Rebekah is enjoying the playground.



Despite the speed bumps Murphy threw at us, it’s been a great visit.  We extended our stay one more day, we’ll leave on Monday and hopefully avoid weekend traffic.

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Redneck Engineering


Strike One:  The promised clamp that went from Ohio to Colorado won’t be in until Monday.  UPS is completely at fault on this one.

Strike Two:  The exhaust pipe that was in stock at the hot rod shop came out to be to be 1/2” smaller in diameter than promised.

Strike Three:  The NAPA band clamp came in as promised but won’t work with the smaller diameter pipe.

Strike Four:  My beloved Dremel tool died.  Fortunately I was able to quickly purchase a new one for twice as much as I paid for the original.

The Challenge:  Finding a way to fit the two different diameter pipes together for a tight seal.  This is going to take a whole load of Redneck Engineering skill to make this work.


Stay tuned.  I’m as interested to see how this temporary fix is going to work out as you are. 


Once we get back to South Carolina, I’m going to order all new parts from the factory to make the repair like new.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Still No Progress

It’s not fun being stuck in neutral.  Or having to rely on other businesses to help you out.

I ordered the exhaust pipe clamp to repair the Journey’s exhaust back on Monday.  It was supposed to be in yesterday.  Seems the Ohio warehouse that sent it out, sent it to Colorado.  Okay, things can happen.

It was supposed to arrive today.  After checking the FedEx tracking number, it seems the part was never picked up in Colorado this morning.  A few more phone calls were made by the business owner and it is supposed to be in by noon tomorrow.  Fingers crossed.

Since I’m not ready to rely on the clamp arriving tomorrow, I went to a NAPA auto parts store to see if they might have a clamp.  Nope, not in stock, but a NAPA store in a nearby town does have one and it should be here tomorrow morning.  I’m hedging my bets, and if I end up with two, so be it.  I’ve got to get this done, we want to be back on the road Sunday.

If neither clamp shows up, I’ll execute Plan B, I found a shop that will weld the new piece of exhaust pipe to the old one.  That will involve a couple of hours labor at over $100/hour, so the $13 clamp route is pretty attractive.

As to the inverter problem, because there was so much confusion about a rebuild, or a new replacement having to be rewired, possibly rendering the Journey unlivable, I decided to postpone that repair until we get back to South Carolina.  That way we’ll have three months to deal with the problem and if we need to vacate the Journey while the repair is ongoing, we can stay with our daughter.

The inverter function is not something we need because we very rarely ever boondock.  We almost always have full hook ups.  The times we need power (like overnighting at a Walmart) we can use the generator.  Thankfully, the battery charger circuits in the invertor work fine, so that buys us time.

To borrow a phrase from one of my good RV blogging friends:

‘Tis life on the road.  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Nuns And Cans

Nope.  Not these kinds of Nuns.

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And not these kinds of Cans.


It’s these kinds of Nuns and Cans.


Today while I’m waiting for parts for the Journey, I went down to St. Louis and visited my son, Ryan’s Coast Guard cutter, the Cheyenne.  Ryan is the Chief Engineer on the cutter, responsible for all the machinery, running gear and equipment.


Many folks have asked what is the Coast Guard doing on the Mississippi River?  Well, the rivers of the United States are used for all kinds of water borne commerce and the Coast Guard is tasked with providing Aids to Navigation, also known as buoys.

The red buoys are called “Nun” buoys, sort of from the shape of the buoy which resembles a Nun’s habit.  The green buoys are called “Cans” again because of their shape.

You can see the front of the cutter’s barge is loaded with buoys to get underway on another trip to service and replace missing or damaged buoys.


The Cheyenne is a 75 foot long tugboat that has a barge attached to its bow.  There is a lot of equipment on the barge.


The buoys are held in place by concrete “Sinkers”, which are attached by a chain.


The barge carries two small boats to access buoys and other navigational aids that are in water too shallow for the cutter to reach.


There is a crane on the barge to lift the boats in and out of the water as well as lift buoys.  It is the tan colored structure on the barge.


The Cheyenne is powered by twin large CAT diesel engines.


It has two smaller Cat diesel engines that drive the cutter’s generators.


One more diesel powered generator, this one a Detroit Diesel which powers the barge equipment.


The cutter is controlled from the bridge.  It looks like something from Star Wars.  It is unusual because it does not have a wheel or helm.  Steering is done by the handles on each side of the chair.  There are two handles on each side which control two sets of rudders for maneuvering in tight spaces.


This is the view, where all the work can be observed on the buoy deck on the barge.


The cutter was built in 1961 and despite its age it is in top shape and excellent running condition, a credit to its crew.


The crew takes great pride in their ship.


It may not be a very glamorous job, it has lots of dirty  and dangerous physical work servicing the buoys, but it is very important to American commerce. 

Just a little view of some of the unsung workers of the Coast Guard.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.