Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas - Happy Holidays!

This Christmas is a white one this year, here are some pictures taken from inside. (Top) view from the front window, (Left) Ben, (Bottom) view from the side window.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Lofty Thoughts

I just hate wasting all of the heat created while running the engine or generator. The Travco has an electric water heater and I know that it is possible to get one that heats with propane, electric and engine heat. So I think it would be awesome to have a manifold that would allow me to use either engine (coach) coolant or generator coolant to heat the water in the water heater. In the Winter I could also use the return heat from that line to heat the rear compartment area. Then, another thought came to mind. What about using some coils and insulated hose with a pump to convey heat from the campfire to heat water and heat the compartment?

So it looks like Suburban makes a water heater that is direct spark LP, with electric and "motor aid" SW6DEM

Thursday I will be picking-up a used version of the above for FREE... well I may need to provide some free slave labor in return, LOL! Assuming it works and will fit the Travco properly, I will be in better shape! No more running the generator just to heat the water, I can use LP instead. And every time I run the genny, it will heat the water with the motor assist! Plus, when I am at a site with electric, I don't have to use the LP or Genny to heat the water, YEAH!

Update update:
I picked-up the water heater and it is LP and motor assist, no electric. However, it is possible to add an element to control separately. At least it does not have a pilot light, it uses direct ignition.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Replacement Windshield Wiper Blades

I finally discovered that I could get replacement "wide" wiper blades from my local CarQuest, Prairie Grove Auto. CarQuest # 752-200 made by TRICO. They are considered "Heavy Duty." Needless to say, I ordered them the other day and installed them today. YEAH!

Posted are pics of the base of the Driver's wiper arm, close-up of the old clips reused on the new blade, close-up of the wiper blade mount, and of the new wiper blade.

The stainless steel strips that were part of the new refill had clips that would not engage the old stainless steel wiper frames that I needed to reuse in order to reattach the blades to the wiper arms. So I decided to reuse the strips and clips from the old wiper refills with the rubber from the new refill. The frames may be dirty and ugly, but they work! Because they tend to collect leaves and junk between them and the windshield, I am using little blocks of foam to hold the arms out and hence the blades away from the glass. This will prevent the accumulation of crap on them.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Headlight Dimmer Switch Replacement

In the last post about camping at the cabin, I wrote that I had to hard-wire the headlights to low-beam only, just to get them to work. I have since replaced the switch with a GM type switch and placed the switch above the floor instead of through it as to keep it away from the elements of the front wheel well. The bolt-holes in the switch matched nicely to bolt to the floor. The switch is Car-Quest # 53-16973 and the new pigtail is CQ # S72. I assembled them together with dielectric grease as well.

Brake-Light Switch Replacement

As noted in the previous to-do post, I replaced the brake-light switch that had failed. I obtained the switch from Larry at Prairie Grove Auto (Car-Quest), part# ECC-53-54491. Please note that this switch was not a drop-in replacement. The original switch had one male and one female post-type connections. This one has two male posts, which was OK since I needed to replace the old connectors anyway. I also put dielectric grease on the posts and in the female connectors before assembly. Instead of being a plunger type switch attached to the brake pedal, it is a pressure switch attached to the brake master-cylinder output. Brake-line pressure actuates the switch to allow +12V DC to flow to the brake lights.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Heater/Defroster Fix

The Front Heater/Windshield Defroster kept blowing its panel-mount circuit breaker when it was on high for over a few minutes. A PO two-times back replaced all the fuses with push-push (push on/reset, push off) panel mount circuit breakers (very cool to replace the fuses as well as provide a way to switch-off any circuit). Almost all were 8 amp except the one for the heater/defroster of which I could not read any rating. I measured the actual current draw with the fan at Low Speed and High Speed and measured 2.8 amps and 5.5 amps respectively. So I changed the fuel pump breaker to 15 amp (I plan on upgrading the pump anyway) and moved the 8 amp that was there to the Defroster/Heater. I guess the old breaker was bad or might have been rated for 5 amps or less. I also shortened the wires going to the breaker as each wire was about 8 inches too long.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Finally a Replacement Fuel Cap

I have been in need of a fuel cap since I acquired the beast from the PO. Apparently, Prairie Grove Auto has had the cap I needed for some time. I asked him about it on the phone and Larry actually had a used cap in his junk bin. YIPPEE! A FREE CAP! Thanks to Larry. From what I understand it is called a "Saddle Tank Fuel Cap" So there is one more thing off the list of things to fix/do.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Winter To Do List

So, after the last camping trip I have started the following list of Winter to do items:
1) Winterize water system by pumping RV antifreeze into system and sink/shower drain traps. (DONE)
2) Replace brake-light switch. (DONE, see future post.)
3) Repair/replace headlight dimmer switch. (DONE, see future post. Now above the floor and not below, sticking through, where it was exposed to the elements.)
5) Install safety shut-off switch for fuel pump. oil-pressure or starter engaged = on, low pressure = off. Also include an override switch to shut-off pump for engine shut-down to prevent carb. bowl boil-over and also draining carb. bowl for long-term storage. (override-Done)
6) Install gutter over rear window and caulk to prevent further leaks in rear window. (Gutter purchased)
7) Install fuel pressure regulator and set to 7psi. (purchased)
4) Install larger flow fuel pump to allow sustained pedal-to-the-floor "romps."
8) Patch hole in roof from ice storm, "properly" with fiberglass patch. (not duck tape)
9) Install new battery charger/AC inverter.
10) Replace spark plugs on side with different head. (purchased)
11) Make a new cover for the generator and install better sound insulation.
12) Install new commercial wiper blades (DONE, see future post.)
13) Replace gasket for fuel tank sending unit. (leaking when tank is full) (purchased)
14) Replacement fuel tank cap. (DONE, see next post. )
15) Repair RR brake wheel cyl, front diff. seal, LF brake hose
16) Replace LF mud flap.
17) Install time delay relay for furnace & clean-out burners OR replace furnace with modern unit. (DONE, see future post)
18) Replace door dead-bolt.
19) Custom-fit bubble foil as window shades. (some purchased)
20) Install upgraded circuit breaker for heater/defroster. (DONE, see future post)
21) Install separate circuit breaker for fuel pump. (DONE, see future post on defroster.)
22) Weld on another bolt to hold spare tire on rear mount.
23) Install tire covers for UV protection while parked.
24) Install reflective foam board where needed. (purchased)
7 of 24 complete 29% (list continues to grow)

Future nice things to have:
1) Install speakers in a compartment that can be opened for "outdoor" speakers.
2) Install 2nd fuel tank and switch-over for more range or genny time.
3) Install seat-belts.
4) Install front receiver hitch for Hitch-haul or bike rack.
5) Add two receiver tubes for extra support of rear hitch-haul for 4-wheeler.
6) Sand primer off fiberglass.
7) Oil filter for genny. (determine if it has proper holes for hook-up)
8) Connect heater hoses to genny to heat cabin while it is running.
9) Install water heater that uses propane, electric and engine or genny heat.

Holy-cow! I had no idea I had such a long list of things to fix/replace!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Camping at the Cabin in October

It has been a while since I took the Travco out camping... April at the cabin and June at Devil's Den. I took a different route this time, taking Hwy 16 East to Hwy 21 South. I realized a savings of 20 miles taking that route and also because I was driving 45 - 55MPH on the Hwy vs. 65MPH on the interstate, I was able to get 7 MPG over the 180 miles round trip (previously I got 6 MPG on the trip to New Orleans).

I planned on leaving at 5pm on Friday, but was not ready until 6pm. With the engine fired-up and ready to go, I turned on the headlights and NOTHING! Troubleshooted it down to the connector at the dimmer switch not conducting power through. Since I would have to cut-off the old connector, I just cut and stripped the wires for low beam headlights, twisted and taped them together for the trip. OK, so now it is almost 7pm. Started to Fayetteville and fueled-up at Wally world. This was an unfamiliar road the last half of the trip, it was dark and I had no way to change to high-beams to see better.

I arrived at the cabin about 9:15pm and scouted-out the driveway for its condition. Not sure what caused it, but there were many trees down across the drive. So, I decided to park at the gas well for the night and tackle the trees in the morning, before the rest of the crew got there. It was a little cold that night, so I fired-up the furnace (original) and the burner worked fine, but the fan did not come on. I tracked it down to the temperature "disc" inside the furnace that tells the fan when to come on. So, I shut it off. To fix the problem in the future I am going to use a time delay relay, like on newer furnaces, to delay the fan on and fan off and tie it into the coil for the gas valve, so the fan comes on when the burner comes on. Ideally, with money, I would replace the furnace with something modern with forced combustion, as it is more efficient.

The gas well guy showed-up about 7:30am, I bet he was thinking WTF is that? Trey arrived around 8am, before I had all the drive clear, Durry arrived about 9am?

We rode our 4-wheelers and motorbike about 56 miles from lunch time to about 4. We fjord-ed the Mulberry river at Low Gap Springs road (D almost made it across w/o getting his boots wet!), stopped at the Oark Cafe, then found a new route back across the Mulberry with a bridge. On the way back we found a few waterfalls, this trip included many, many puddles for sure! Later that evening I checked the spring near the cabin, it was flowing very freely and was not clear, it was a little cloudy.

We had an OK fire that night, the wood was a little wet from all the rain we've had. (it still managed to melt the soles of my shoes...I threw them out today.) I gave Durry the movie pick and he went for SLINGBLADE as he had never seen it! Very funny, even after so many times. I wish I had Zombieland to show that night! BTW, the Travco works fairly well as a roof platform to get a better cellphone signal.

The drive back on Sunday was nice, I could actually see the fall colors by the road in the daylight!
I stopped at WM and got replacement fluids for the Travco and filled-up the gas tank to determine the fuel un-economy.

Until next time!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Luggage Rack and Steps pictures

Here are some pictures of the luggage rack while removed from the Travco, that will be reinstalled after I get all the primer sanded off (if that ever happens).

The side rails are made of aluminum, the middle ribs are made of stainless steel c-channel and the end rods are made of chromed steel. It was attached with 8 screws with a synthetic rubber gasket between it and the roof. Each rib has a rubber strip on the bottom to prevent damage to the roof. The side rails are are 87.5" long and 51.5" wide and about 4" tall (outside dims.). Usable space is 6' long by 47.25" wide (inside dims). I removed it when I got it from the PO as only 3 screws held it down, the others had no grip and were allowing water to enter.

The pictures that follow are of the folding steps that go to the roof. There are 5 steps with a handle at the top right similar if not the same as the ones beneath the windshields.

The fuel pressure regulator has arrived, I need to install it and a higher flow fuel pump to handle heavy throttle positions for more than about 5 seconds. Pics of that after install. I will need to remove the fuel filter on top of the motor, as it boils-off all the fuel in it on shut-down of the engine and is not needed now that there is a big filter before the electric fuel pump.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Two Different Heads

The morning I was to leave for my last camping trip, a discovery was made as he spark plugs were being changed. The spark plugs on the right side of the 440 engine are different than the left. WHAT? Well, so I must have a least one head that did not come with the motor. The right side has plugs with a compression washer, the left has a beveled edge, much like a lug nut. So, the left side did not receive new plugs. This is not horrible news, just an inconvenience. I wonder what year they changed from one to the other?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Camping trip to Devil's Den and fuel pressure findings.

Last Sunday Ben and I went to Devil's Den in the Travco to visit Gigi and Grandpa Shertzer. This was Ben's first overnight camping trip, now 2 years and 10 months old. Ben had a wonderful time and since Mommy was not there to tell Dad to put him to bed, we stayed-up about 90 minutes past his bedtime to see the fireflies and nightfall. I used the generator to run the air conditioning on the way there and back. That night was the first time I used the A/C overnight while camping, normally I dry camp out in the boondocks without any plug-ins. The RV slot was not all in the shade, so for Ben to take a nap, I put a tarp over the back window to try to block more of the light and heat. I think I need to make a custom foil on foam insert for the windows to block light and heat. I suppose I could use the foil bubble wrap stuff, but I like the idea of a firm insert for the back window. I will try both methods and see which I prefer.

I had installed a fuel pressure gauge as I was still having problems sometimes with it running well. What I found was that on heavy acceleration after a few seconds the fuel pressure would start to drop, and at about 4psi, the engine would start to fumble. So, obviously I need a pump with better flow, but to do so I will definitely need a fuel pressure regulator. I have read that the fuel pressure should be between 5-7psi. VoyageVixen, I want to know how the 6-pack works-out when you get it installed. I need help finding a gas cap, as the PO lost the cap for me. I am using a "test-plug, but it doesn't seem to fit tight anymore. Any suggestions? It has a pipe thread, but I think it is less than 2", but more than 1.5"?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Poor Engine Performance

Ok, so I have an electric fuel what. Well it builds too much pressure and fuel begins to leak out of the carb. I added an electronic fuel pressure gauge to be able to watch what the pressure was doing, still waiting for the pressure regulator to come in. After reading a post to the Travco digest, I was directed to a link of a site with info on the Carter Thermoquad carb. Good timing as I wanted to see what the correct port for the vacuum advance was. Pretty sure I need to replace the spark plugs, wires and reset the timing. I would like to go faster than 10 MPH up certain hills on the pig trail.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ditching Over-Priced Cox Cable! Saving $600+/year

Warning: Not a Travco related post.
We have dropped our cable as a cost-saving measure, and WOW, we should have done this long ago. I never had cable for myself, but Amanda had it when we got married, so we kept it. $50+ a month, $600+ dollars a year, for at least 3 years! Digital over-the-air TV is incredible! We still have cable internet of course, and with an antenna, we have ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW and when I get a bigger antenna and put up the pole and rotor I already have, we should be able to get more.

So save some money and DITCH CABLE! (use the money saved to buy a new flat-screen with digital tuner for your Travco!)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fuel System Fixes

As the Memorial Day Weekend approaches, I decided that today would be a good day to check and make sure the engine started, as last time I tried to start the 440 for Benjamin, we had no luck. So trying again today, it would try to start with spray start, but not stay running. When triggering the accelerator pump on the carb, I would not see any fuel squirting in. So I checked the filter (I have a big one that is really for a fuel injection set-up) and it had no restrictions. So, with the filter disconnected, I cranked the engine, and still no fuel. The generator would start and run, and the tank has only one pickup line (I could see the fuel flowing in the filter when the generator was running) so I knew that there was enough fuel in the tank and at least the pick-up was not plugged. Calling around for a fuel pump, there were none to be had locally, but I could have one in the morning. Why don't they keep parts in stock for a 30+ year old carb? (LOL) Instead, I decided to purchase an in-stock electric in-line fuel pump and pre-filter. I installed them and bypassed the mechanical pump (to be removed when I can get to it). The engine started and ran fine after fuel filled the carb bowls, so I closed the cover and started clean-up.

Note the filter on the right is the PRE-filter to the pump. (left is toward the front)

After a while I started smelling gasoline in the cabin. Upon opening the engine cover, the problem became apparent. There was A LOT of gasoline leaking out of the gasket on the left side of the carb. If I had taken it out on a test trip, chances are it would have caught fire.

Ok, so it is time to rebuild the carb now! I already had the kit, so I removed the carb (lots of built-up pressure remaining in the lines now, hmm, may need a pressure regulator or better yet, a high pressure cut-out for the pump?)....The carb is clean now, just waiting on the two new carb bowl floats on order to arrive on Thursday morning. Let up hope that the new rebuild can handle the pressure, if not, I will have to resort to the measures listed above.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Upcoming Trip

Well, Memorial Day is coming up and I plan to take the Travco out down by the Mulberry River to enjoy some camping with friends. Fun, fun, fun!

I have replaced the door latch with a locking handle, so the door will have two locks instead of only the deadbolt. I also plan to add a receiver hitch to the front under the bumper (if I can get a good deal on one) so I can carry a hitch-haul on the front for a 4-wheeler or firewood, while towing a truck or trailer from the rear. I have so much firewood now (ice storm and so many downed trees) that I darn well could have a very big-ol' bonfire at the campsite!

I have purchased one 12v compact fluorescent bulb with a stardard medium base from and am in the process of adding a new 12VDC circuit. With this new circuit I will be changing the 120VAC track lights over both counters (where the dinette and couch would be) with 12V CF lights. Basically 60W incandescent output from 15W, without the need for a source of 120VAC. So to add the circuit, I am in the process of mapping-out the 12VDC system and making changes to remove interior 12VDC loads to use the Perko battery selector switch output instead of being directly connected to the coach battery. This will allow me to use the house battery (four deep-cycles) for all of the loads and keep me from worrying about draining the coach(engine starting) battery. Basically, I will run a new 6AWG cable to the front circuit breakers to supply separate power to those loads I want to shed from the coach battery. Only driving related loads will be supplied by the coach battery. I will then add a new switch at the door to control the new front 12VDC track lighting. For now, the other 120VAC lights in the galley and bedroom will remain as is, with their 120VAC LED bulbs. Later I will change them over to 12V as well, so only the microwave and A/C (or other toys) will need 120VAC. Later, I will convert the 120VAC LED bulbs I have to 12V and use them instead of the CFs for added energy savings.

When someday the RV gods drop an AC inverter/battery charger on my lap, I will connect it to the House batteries directly (through a 150A breaker) to supply power to the 120VAC systems, and charge the batteries through a isolation set-up when connected to the grid. Don't forget my 40W solar panels that are connected to the DC mains to offset usage by the fridge and charge the batteries when in full sun.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fuel Economy?

I recently returned from a ~1400 mile round-trip to Louisiana and have the MPG calculations for the trip down south, pulling a compact pickup truck (Ranger) with a 4-wheeler in the back of the truck, traveling an average speed of 65MPH. Well, I got 6MPG with the 440-3 and the 3-speed 727-3 transmission. I have 16" 6-lug rims with 7.50x16LT load D tires. On the return trip, I aired-up the tires to 65psi, on the pickup truck to 35psi, and tried to drive 60MPH. I have to fill the tank on the beast back-up to get the return trip MPG, but my guess is about 7MPG. I know it gets 8MPG if I am not towing something and driving 55-60MPH.

I lost the cover to the generator on the return trip, so I will need to have a new one manufactured soon... add it to the list. I did get to try-out the new custom mattress, and it was not to bad (not a pillow top for sure!). The custom sheets came in, I need to wash them and put them on for my next trip. I discovered that West Marine has the water heater I would like to replace (or add in series to) my water heater. It is 120VAC with a heat exchanger for the engine coolant. So, as you drive down the road, you heat the water...I also want to connect the generator coolant (through a series of valves) to allow the generator to heat the water as well. I hate to waste "all" that heat! Also, in the process, I can add an air heat-exchanger to allow the rear of the cabin to be heated from the engine or generator heat as well. I have also toyed with the idea of installing an electric fan for the 440's radiator and eliminate the radiator on the generator to reduce weight, but the return would be only in the fun of making the change, not much weight savings there after the piping and such.

I also see that West Marine has some LED dome lights, I have one dome light that needs replacing (cracked lens), so I could use their "economy" LED dome light in place of the drivers dome light, as it has a switch to use white or red LEDs for the light... cool!

On the trip I discovered that the seal on the input of the rear differential is leaking fluid, the transmission is leaking fluid from everywhere (probably the "front seal" ...where the torque converter goes in), the RR brake slave cylinder is leaking brake fluid, the LF brake hose was rubbing a hole in itself against the tire, and there is a water leak in the floor when I take a shower...whew! Hey, at least the roof is not leaking, now THAT would be bad. I will start with the brake items and go from there, hopefully before my next real trip.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Power Restored, Generator Info

(Pics from Ice Storm)
Power was finally restored yesterday about 3pm, which makes it exactly 8 days w/o power. Here are the tallies from the experience:
The generator ran 192 hours (8 days, 24/8, haha)
It used 90 Gallons of Gasoline.
.46 GPH consumption average.
At $1.79 per gallon, that is $161.10 (ignoring the .9 cents)
Prep. was $126.00 for 8AWG SO flex cable, $32 for electrical plugs.
Maintenance was $8 for spark plugs, $17 for a fan belt.
Total of $344, or $43 per day.
It will be cheaper if it ever happens again, as the materials have been "paid for." Although, let us hope it doesn't!!!!

I am very pleased with its performance, but for our almost all electric house (the furnace is gas), we needed more oomph than 6.5KW. I am thinking 10KW would be nice, with no concerns except when running the clothes drier, but 13KW or 16KW would be grand! Of course, I would not have that in the Travco, just for the house. A solar water heater would also relieve some of the load as would a Natural Gas on-demand water heater.

Another thought, over the course of 8 days, filling the tank with gasoline and the transportation of such, gets a little old and smelly. The exhaust is smelly, and the gasoline on your hands from the filling is smelly. So, a propane and Nat. gas kit would be a nice addition to the genny.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ice Storm in Arkansas

We were hit by an Ice Storm here in Northwest Arkansas and lost cable/internet around 2pm and power around 3pm on Tuesday (1-27-2009). Well, let me tell you how nice it is to have a Travco with a heavy-duty Kohler 6.5Kw Genny to keep everything as it should be. Especially nice is the big gas tank, so filling is just once a day, but could be every other day actually. We are consuming about .5 gallon an hour, which is about $25 a day (we run it 24hrs/day). Hey, sure beats paying for a hotel, or staying with friends, or freezing. When we get broadband again, I will post pics/video of the damage to the trees, etc. The Travco did end up with a 2" hole in the roof from one branch. Better than a window, for sure.

We still are without any services except natural gas and water.

Laundry is fun, haha. The Travco has its "generator's windings full" just with the electric water heater, washing machine (w/water heat) and the rest of the house. So the electric drier must be run from a second generator, but what sucks is that the drier load is more than the circuit breaker on the 2nd genny will allow. So 7 mins on,*trip* 7 off, reset breaker. But, when you are outside cutting wood, it does not take much to go press the reset button every now and then. I am just glad we have what we have, we know quite a few people without power still, and many in apartments, tough luck if they tried to run a genny, huh? (tomorrow is the 6th day now). Many of the nearby schools still do not have power. I am also glad to have the 2nd genny when the fan-belt broke on the Travco's Kohler genny.

So, stock-piling gasoline was not such a bad idea after all. One local gas station was w/o power, and the other was constantly running out of gas, and had long lines! I know someone who had to drive 2 hours out and 2 back just to get kerosene to heat his house, as all sources nearby were w/o stock.

So, I have only had my Travco since last May, so the day the bad weather started its way here, I high-tailed it up to the hardware stores to get supplies I needed to connect the Travco to the house. The power cord I have for the Travco is 120V 30 amp, and I bought a 53' 240V 4 conductor cord and plugs and the receptacle to connect it to. I had it all connected and ready about 20 minutes before we lost power, WHEW! Close one! I had to drive 40 miles away to get the 8AWG 4 conductor flex cord to connect between the plugs, but it was time and money well spent.

OK, enough already! Supposedly we will have power by noon tomorrow (Monday), so about 5.75 days on the genny, 138 Hrs that is. Time to change the oil!