Saturday, April 30, 2011

Loose ends on Friday!

The royal wedding has captivated all of our TV time today!  And we weren't even planning on watching it.  But Loyce likes all weddings, so naturally we had to watch this one too.  And I think we must have seen the reruns a bunch of times too.

I'm not up on all the who's who of the royal family, so between Loyce and the internet, I finally have figured out who some of the players are.  It really was very interesting and quite the spectacle.  But then if you had that much money to spend on things, perhaps you could put on quite a show too.  And just look at those women and their hats!!!!!  What's up with that?

Anyway I did manage to get outside and mow the all too tall grass with mr john deere.  Our john deere is a yard tractor, and is probably too big for our modest sized yard here in KC, so it doesn't turn tight enough to trim much of the yard.  For that, I have a older lawn boy two cycle walk behind mower.  It has been the subject of quite a bit of repair lately, so it ran nicely.

I have a gas powered string trimmer, that I usually fight to get started, but today I decided to go get a battery operated black and decker 18 volt small trimmer.  After charging the battery for some amount of time, I went out and made quick work of the edge trimming.  I think it will be a keeper, as it came with two batteries, and was on sale over at Lowes.  Buying replacement batteries will be more costly than the entire tool was on sale, so if it lasts for a couple of seasons, I'm good with it.

Also I went over to the insurance company to turn in the estimate on the motorhome.  They couldn't come up with my adjuster, as it turns out that he was on his last day here in Kansas.  And when they did find him, he didn't remember adjusting the motorhome.  Or me, or any details.  The folks at the office couldn't find my file, or even if I had a file.........

But in talking to the technicians down in Red Bay, this morning, they had the new doors all made and installed on the side of the rig.  Also the dome covers over the skylights and fantastic fan had been replaced.  The coach will now be waiting for its turn in the paint shop.  This worries me that the call to come get it will come before my insurance folks can prepare the payment.

The insurance folks wanted to call and negotiate the price that they are willing to pay.  Uh, folks, its a custom built deal, and its not like you are going somewhere else if they don't give you the price break!!

This evening I went out and rode the motorscooter for an hour or so as it was 79 degrees here in windy conditions.  That is the first time in weeks that it has been that warm.  That allowed me to forget the nutty insurance people.

Retired Rod

Friday, April 29, 2011

Home in KC

We are now back in KC, and the trip took the same three and a half hours that it always does.  And there was no GPS needed.  I can't say the car knows the way, since it is a new car that has only made the trip once before, but it does seem so automatic.

We had to be off by 10 in the morning, because this was another in the series of medical days  for me, and I couldn't be late.  They even called to make sure I was back in town.  So we just barely arrived and got our stuff loaded into the house when I had to take off for the doctor's office.

So that was pretty much the end of my day here in KC.  We are all home and buttoned up in the house for the night, and we are forecast to have a really nice day tomorrow, but since we haven't been here for over a week, the lawn is ready to bale.  So there won't be any rest tomorrow, LOL.

Retired Rod

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A welcome down day!

We spent a quiet day here at the lake home today.  And that is what we really needed after a week of go go go every day.  As retired folks we are not used to a rigorous schedule, and the last week was just that.

Really, we only traveled about 225 miles on most of the days, but it seems like it took a collective toll on us.  Perhaps it was that we took the more rural route this time to Alabama, and we didn't have planned stops or camping reservations.  

We have been part of a world where everything is structured and planned for all of our lives, and just winging it has never been our strong suit.  So we are learning to have much looser plans, but it still causes some trepidation. 

Of course we did have the constraint that we had to be at the repair facility on Monday morning, and we made that with a day to spare, so perhaps we were all planned out just the same.  But without specific times and locations to make every day it just seems all loosey goosey.

As far as our big travel day yesterday, it was always in the plan to do that if we could get away in a timely fashion.  With our new puppy, Biscuit, we knew it would be much easier if we did not have to stay in a motel.  She sleeps in a crate every night, and has since we brought her home, so confining her in the motel room is not an issue.   But, finding that pet friendly place, late at night becomes the problem.  And then we are back to the bit about planning.  If we hadn't gotten out of Red Bay as early as we did, where would we have ended our day?  And since most of the towns along the Northern Arkansas Southern Missouri route would be lucky to only have one motel, we were back to the pet friendly issue again.

This is what is so great about the RV, you can end up where you end up.  Even if that is in a gas station parking lot for several hours.  Well it all worked out, and we are back in our comfort zone.

Today, we did laundry and watched the dark overcast clouds go over central Missouri.  Our high here was only in the mid 50s as we finally decided to go into Wal Mart for a few hours.  I waited in line for the oil change service in the back of the store, as Loyce shopped for some groceries.  

I continue to go back to the Wal Mart for service on the cars, since I have had such exemplary service in the past!!  LOL.  But truthfully, I have never had a problem with the store here in Osage Beach, and today they even allowed me to leave Biscuit in the car while they worked on it.  We have 1500 miles now, and I like to get the first oil change on a new car at that mileage.  It used to be that any metal particles in a new engine would be caught in the filter by then.  But now, with modern manufacturing techniques, I'm certain that a quick oil change is more of a tradition than a requirement.

Tonight we have sat here and watched the circus on the news channels about Mr Obama's birth certificate.  What a waste of time!  Ooops, I'm not supposed to be voicing opinions on here.

Retired Rod

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


The whirlwind day only begins to describe how today went.  I was awakened at 5:30 by my neighbor banging his locker doors as he was packing up stuff around his coach.  That seemed odd, since most things begin around 7AM.  Also it was raining like cats and dogs.  We subsequently learned that they had an appointment for 6AM at the paint booth in one of the factory buildings.  Also they have a crack in their roof, and the rain was coming in, so they wanted to get under cover fairly quickly as well.

The rain had begun around 1:30, and the downpour seemed torrential.  Water was coming in thru our broken fantastic fan and dripping on the bathroom floor.  Loyce had tossed a towel on the floor to help soak it up.  Stepping on that towel with my bare feet jarred me awake, as it seemed very coooold.

We thought we were packing up to move to the runway and head out of town, so we got busy and had breakfast and began the car pack job by moving the car around near the door, where the neighbor had vacated.   We were about half done, when the mechanic from door 15 came by and wanted us in his bay as soon as we could get there.  What? They didn't tell us that!  He was understanding, and we just threw things together in the car.

Once at the door and into the service bay, I went thru the entire list of stuff again with this technician.  He was very helpful and professional.  I explained that we were leaving the coach since the paint process would take longer than we could stay.  He said he would supervise the storage of the rig on the run way, and he knew that Brad the painter would be taking the rig to bay 20 for his part of the job.  We are in good hands, as these guys really know what they are doing.

Brad the painter is the same fellow that repainted the entire front end of our rig last year.  And he remembered doing it too.

By 9:30 we were on the road headed for our Lake place in central Missouri.  It was 500 miles away according to our GPS, so we needed to keep at it all day.  We stopped three times, twice for fuel and potty breaks, and once at a Pilot/Wendy's for lunch.  It was amazing how awful the pilot folks run a Wendy's franchise.  They take the exact same prepared products as all the other stores receive, and proceeded to completely ruin the food in its preparation.  That was in Arkansas just outside of Memphis.

The rain storm that lasted all night, in Northern Alabama had gone thru Missouri and Arkansas prior to its arrival in Red Bay.  We encountered nasty flooding in Northern Arkansas, and at one place had to drive thru water that was over the road.  Luckily it wasn't fast moving or too deep, or we would have had to turn back.  The water in the ditches and the river was flowing in torrents.

When we stopped for gas at the Missouri border, a fellow patron explained that they had received over 12 inches of rain the previous night, and that all the creeks and streams were out of their banks.  We were lucky to have made it thru.

Tonight after 10 hours on the road, we have arrived here at the lake home, with a car full of wet and dirty clothing, and two tired people.  We have decided to stay here thru tomorrow night before moving on toward KC.

Retired Rod

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Plans are made!

I was up at 6:30, but being over to the East side of the campground away from the repair building has its rewards.  Every now and then a motorhome would pass out front on its way to the service bay, but we didn't have a neighbor starting his engine.

The neighbors on our North side have purchased a new much smaller motorhome and are here to see it being finished up this week.  It is actually finished, but for the last few days there is a lady technician that supervises the final cleaning crew.  They go over the coach as though they are living in it, checking everything to see if it all functions.

In that process, today the new owners joined the clean up crew and exercised all the doors and drawers.  These folks have had three previous motorhomes, and are well seasoned in making things work correctly.  This story is interesting to me, as they plan to follow the new coach as it is delivered to their dealer up in Memphis, 150 miles away.  Once at the dealership, they will trade the old 40 foot alegro bus for the new 28 foot breeze.  A major downsize!  Perhaps they are tired of the motorhome game, and the short new fellow seems much simpler to manage.

We had visitors at 7:30 beginning to understand our problems.  We have an air leak from the engine compartment up into the coach where the dash meets the windshield.  It is mostly outside air, but is really cold in the winter and oh so hot when it is 100 outside.  The technicians were sure that they could see daylight from inside the engine compartment.  One of the guys had his head stuck in the way too small engine access compartment, and was a sight that was a tad humorous.

After that, the body shop fellow that painted most of the coach last year came by and began the hail damage estimate.  That process took about an hour of examination and prodding.  Later in the afternoon, I went over to the office and picked up the final paperwork.  $7K.  I will bet the insurance company won't like that one bit.  Fight to follow.....

Finally the main repair writer came by and we made plans to leave the coach out on the repair row called the runway.  This is an old airport, and the road in front of the coach is actually the old runway. It extends much farther to the South than the campground, but motorhomes are parked along it for its entire length.  Ours will add to the ones needing service.  I wish I could get an aerial view to post on the blog of this facility.  I would be quite impressive in its size.

This town is old, and its infrastructure is tired, so you wouldn't believe that such nice new motorhomes would come from here, but it is a diamond in the ruff so to speak.

So tomorrow we will be packed into the car and headed back North into the rain storms that seem never ending up in Missouri.  It should become a big day for us.

Retired Rod

Monday, April 25, 2011

Settling into Red Bay

From the sounds of the comments, it seems as though it might be some kind of torture to have to come here to Red Bay, Alabama and get some repairs completed.  But to most of us loyal Tiffin owners, it is not like that at all.

We come here willingly because we feel there is no place to get things fixed up like the factory itself.  We  rely upon the folks here to know exactly how to correct our problems in the shortest time possible, with an almost endless supply of parts in the crib behind the counter.

Now the campground is not lavish or plush or even nice, but the gravel parking lot is adequate and has full hookup pedestals between every site.  Last year it was dusty with white rock on the streets, but this year they have added a darker grey rock to the roads that does not seem to have as much dust.  But tomorrow, when everyone lines up in front of a door, will be the ultimate test of the dust.

It is a fact of life that RVs tend to break.  And living in them for long periods or full time tends to stress them even more.  So having a reliable well trained and equipped repair facility is quite an asset.  If there is a drawback, it is the remoteness of this town.  We are in a dry county here and you cannot even get a beer with you supper.  The closest Wal Mart is 30 miles away but there are two groceries and two fast food hamburger places, and a subway.  There is one sit down place that has steaks, and a bar b cue.

Pizza is made in a restaurant that is an old gas station, and then there is always Swamp Johns.  Their specialty is fried catfish and slaw...... with a slice of onion on top.  It must be a local thing, but it doesn't seem nearly as remote to us this year as it did last year.  We are now much more familiar with the surroundings and that makes it all the more tolerable.

Today we decided to drive up to the Muscle Shoals/Florence area, just because we had stayed in the rig most of the morning.  We didn't do much up there other than stop at the Wendy's for me, and go to Wal Mart.  Mostly we just drove around looking at the lay of the land again, since we hadn't been there since last year.  The Tennessee River was particularly inviting this afternoon and was a nice outing at 83 degrees.  I also had on my short pants today, a first for 2011.

We came back here to the campground at about 6:30 because we had to turn in our list of stuff that needed work on the coach.  And the most pressing problem is the hail damage from our April 3rd encounter with the golf ball sized missiles.

This place will come alive tomorrow morning about 6:30 AM when folks get ready to be at their assigned doors for service.  We will be waiting for Norris to come by and go thru our list with us.  Since it will take some time to get new parts made for the hail damage, we plan to leave the coach here and return to KC with the car.

Its 10 PM now and for the most part all of our neighbors have gone inside and the lights are out.  They know tomorrow will come early in this camp!

Retired Rod

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Arrival at Red Bay

The wheels stopped spinning this afternoon about 2:30.  That is when we pulled into the Tiffin Alegro campground, here in Red Bay, Alabama.  Of course it was a Saturday, and all the repair shop doors were down and closed up tight.

But that doesn't stop the campers that remain for service starting on Monday.  I used to know how many spots there are here, but it is well over 100, and most of them are full, most of the time.  The staff routinely works on about 60 rigs at once, and we have an appointment for Monday the 25th of April, but we were informed that they are behind...........  We got a spot on the coveted asphalt runway.  Last year we were in the gravel.  The guy in the office had looked us up and knew we were returning customers........

We have to be back in KC on Thursday afternoon, so we might see our rig get worked on, and perhaps it will just be in line to get worked on after we leave.  But what ever happens, will be how it is.  Since we don't do the full time thing, we can just go home and wait to be called when its over.

I spent some of the afternoon perfecting the list of things to address.  I had it partially done from way back in Arizona, when we were living in the coach full time.  That's when you really know what is broken.

Today's drive was mostly uneventful, except for the drive thru Memphis.  About half a mile ahead of us, we had a small car run head long into a barrier entering a construction zone.  He struck it hard enough to spin completely around backwards and end up blocking the two narrow lanes that went thru the zone.

We waited for about 40 minutes in the congestion with the motorhome in Park gear.  We were going no where, as we were trapped.  May as well just relax and make the best of it.  I turned on the CB radio and listened as some of the truckers began to impress each other with how foul they could be on the radio.  Boy that got old really quick, but we did find out what was happening up ahead, and that they were pulling the car to the side, even though there were no tow trucks on the scene yet.

For me, once I get beyond Memphis, the drive thru Mississippi and its woods and narrow roads, causes me to almost go to sleep.  It seems to take forever and you don't get very far.  But perhaps that is because you can't see over the next hill, or around the curvy bends.  The woods kind of closes in on you.  The trees are very tall, and even though the sun is shining, the shade of the forest prevails.

We left the campground about 9:30 but had to go do the fuel stop thing at the local car gas 24/7 gas and go.  They only allow $75 worth of fuel to be purchased at one time, so you only get 19 gallons.  Our tank holds 80, but it was only about half down.  Still with a slow car pump, we were there a while.

Saturday morning in Memphis had bunches of cars zooming like little bees everywhere.  In and out of the lanes around us.  They assume that you can stop or slow down for them...........well, not exactly.  I was really glad that we had the brakes in the car, when the lanes came to the instant stop for the accident.  I was all over them and they reacted quickly and it was very noticeable when they began to assist.  If you are on the fence about brakes for your towed car, just do it!!!

Red Bay hasn't changed one bit since we were here last year!  This place is somewhat timeless, and things don't move very fast in any direction, but the big change here in the campground is that the price of camping has now doubled!!  It went from $10 to $20.  That ought to keep um movin along when they are done...  hmmmm.....

Happy Easter!!

Retired Rod

Saturday, April 23, 2011

No advance planning!

Its kind of interesting how things work out when you have no plan.  And as I become more accustomed to driving around in the motorhome, the less planning I seem to do.  Last night I had no plan other than to go to the Springfield area, and when I saw the sign for the KOA, I checked into the GPS and found the campground to the West of town a relatively short distance.

Our plan for today was to get most of the way to Memphis.  And tonight we are in the Arkansas town of Jonesboro.  Our drive today was about 220 miles.  Most of that was not on an Interstate, but much of Highway 60 outside of Springfield is four lane road.

The major difference is that the highway is not limited access, and therefore has stop lights for no apparent purpose.  Well perhaps the cross traffic wouldn't hold that opinion.  South of Cabol, Mo, the road becomes even less of a divided highway, with access everywhere. And once you leave the state of Missouri, the road is only two lanes, but does include numerous passing lanes on the steep grades of the Ozark hills.

With several stops during the day, it took us the better part of 6 hours to make this run.  We stopped for fuel in Springfield, and then at the McDonalds in Cabol, and at a highway rest area in Northern Arkansas, just as a break because by then I needed one.

So it was during that last rest area break I began looking for RV parks in the GPS around Jonesboro.  And just at random, I picked this place we are at tonight just because it was along the road.  I surmised that Jonesboro was a fairly large community, and that the park had to be fairly nice............ahh  well...

I got off of the divided highway as the GPS directed and drove along the frontage road.  I could not see an RV park.  But then I did see an old wooden plywood sign.......  and what appeared to be a house trailer park. The place had several old travel trailers that were obviously permanent.

I was tired and pulled in anyway, not wanting to go on.  We drove thru what looked like a dump station, but later learned that those were supposed to be sites along the road.  So we are along the frontage road but several parking spaces away from the actual road.  And we are plugged into the oldest electrical outlet I have ever seen, but it was hot!!  We do have full hookups, and the highway is very busy and only about 100 yards away.  But it is an organized, zoned campground.  The cops will not ask us to move along at 3 AM and we have a paid receipt for rent.  $25 cash!

Outside of the tree we are parked under, there are no amenities except some gravel under our wheels.  But full hookups is full hookups.  Oh, and the guy said the cable tv socket was live on the back side of the ancient  power pedestal, and so it was, had 70 or more channels.  What's not to like.

But this area of town is quite new and very active, as we had a Wal Mart about 4 miles back on the same frontage road, and we crossed over to the North side road and found a Cracker Barrel to fasten a feed bag on for supper.

The fellow running the campground said that this was a family farm many yeas before any of this new part of town was out here, and that his dad had converted it to the trailer park when he got older.  It is now surrounded with all of this new commercial property, and looks soo old and tired,  but I haven't heard any trains, but then how could I the highway would drown them out!

Retired Rod

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Train!

Woo Hooo, Wooooooooooooo Hooo.  And thats the 5th train since we landed here about three hours ago.  The track is about 50 yards from the back end of our rig.  Where's Sam, he'd be in train heaven.

So where is train heaven?  We are just West of Springfield, Mo. in the local KOA campground.  The place is clean as a button, and the people were nice and friendly at the office.  She was totally worried that a fellow that was lost hadn't called her back yet and had not arrived.  Asked me if I was the one that called, and well no we were lost too, but the GPS drove us right in here.

Like all KOA's this one is way more expensive than it should be, but it is right off of US 44 which is old route 66 after Oklahoma City.  We are East of Joplin, Mo that is part of that famous song.

We packed the remaining stuff in a couple of hours this morning, and I was out finishing the washing of the rig when it was still in the 40s outside.  That turned out to be nuts, as it started to rain while we drove over Truman Lake at about 3 PM, and it is still pouring outside as I type this.

It never made it much over 50 all day, but the sun did come out for a while after about 10 AM.  That is when I was hooking up the CRV to the back of the motorhome.  It all hooked up just like the video on you tube.  Put the pins in and back up the car until the arms latch very easily.  But not to be without a hitch, my lights didn't even begin to work right!!!

Remember I had to put the plug on the end of a premade wire?  Well..... the colors of the wires in the harness do not conform to standard trailer wiring.  The only wire that matched was the white one was ground.  So I got to take the tail lights apart on the back of the CRV, and learn how the fellow did it.   I was re taping stuff almost immediately.  And after some time crawling around on the street between the  vehicles, I learned that what was normally brown was really red, and the green one didn't go to the right stop light at all and so forth.  So after about an hour, we were back on track.  That's why you always start a little early on these first time things.  And make sure you have your multi meter along too.

We did manage to get the brake box set in front of the seat and initialized in fairly short order, since we had made those mistakes yesterday.  It found the control on the dash of the motorhome with its RF pairing and works quite nicely.  If I stop nicely or fairly normally, the car brakes do not activate at all.

The gain was set at 5, or middle of the range.  But if you have to stop a bit quicker, the light comes on on the controller and the brakes apply.  Not enough to try and stop the coach, as that would be really hard on the little CRV brakes, but just enough to help with your stopping distance.  I didn't turn it up any, because purchasing brake rotors for a car with 900 miles on it didn't seem like a good idea.

But as I got into the car and shut everything down, it was almost appalling to see that the speedo hadn't changed since we left KC about 175 miles ago.  And it didn't use any gas at all either. It may have effected the motorhome consumption, but only slightly.  So we saved somewhere around $28 in gas today.  Lets see, 20K new car, 24 hundred of hitch parts and installation, saved $28 bucks!!  Gonna take a while to come out on that one!  But Loyce got to sleep in the big passenger chair on the riders side all afternoon....... Priceless!!!

Wooooo Hooooooooo, yet another train moving at about 10 mph, as they are just outside of town, this could be a long night, but the rain is pitter pattering away on the roof, and filling the broken skylights, until they run over and down the side of the coach..................

Retired Rod

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Packing the portable house.

The motorhome is out in the street in front of the house, and today was a day to work on it.  We are still flirting with freezing here at night, but the pink stuff had to go so we could use the rig.  That always seems to take longer to wash out, than it does to install.

After replacing the big drain plug in the bottom of the water heater, the hose was connected and  low end drains were closed.  I usually start by putting some water in the big tank and letting it drain back out again.  There really shouldn't be any pink stuff in the tank, but it doesn't hurt to rinse it just the same.

Then it is go around to each faucet and run it till it comes clear.  And then open the hot water and let all the air out of the heater tank.   I let all of it run for quite a while, with the gray water tank open to the curb.  I had been washing the rig, so the ground was wet all around anyway, so it wasn't apparent that the water was going thru the tank.  Some neighbors may not know the difference between gray and black water, since they come out at the same spot.  I didn't feel like trying to explain it either!

The ice maker lines had to be reinstalled, as I had completely opened them and drained all liquid.  Remember last winter I had to buy a $50 valve because it wasn't drained adequately.  I hope it is OK this time, but we won't know until the fridge gets cold and makes a little ice.

I also set the brake box in the front of the car and after several attempts got it to initialize itself and be ready for towing.  And yes that lighter plugin does go off with the keyed accessories.  So my power cord from the battery will come into play before this is over.  The thing I did learn, is that you must have the car hooked to the tow bar and have it in neutral already, because you can't depress the brake pedal with your foot to get the shifter out of park, once the brake box is installed.  It has to come in a specific order.

When it is set right, the brake box actuates three times applying the brakes full on, and that calibrates the system and it is ready to go.  I also mounted the controller box on the dash of the motorhome.  It just uses velcro on the dash and plugs into another lighter socket.  We do have three sockets on the dash, but I have all kinds of radios and the GPS so I went over to the Auto Parts house, and bought a double adapter to add another socket.  

This adapter was interesting, in that it had a couple of USB plug ins as well.  It evidentially has a 5 volt regulator inside, and you can plug in your cell phone or I pod or other USB device and charge its battery directly.  I thought that was kind of neat.

I don't know if we will be ready to actually leave tomorrow, but we are more organized than we were.

Retired Rod   

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Buzzing the town.

I was out doing errands this morning and that drug out into the afternoon.  I stopped by two different car dealerships to look at vehicles again, and still am not any closer to knowing what is the best for our situation.

I favor doing nothing, but I really should sell some of the cars here.  And if I do the trade thing, I will save the sales tax on the new replacement.  So trade in two and get one newer one, is the plan, but that is all the closer I am with that.

I stopped by Harbor Freight to purchase a different battery charger.  The old one in the motorhome was also from Harbor Freight, but when we were out in Arizona, and I was changing batteries in the coach, I somehow broke the switch that chooses amperages.  Parts, for a chinese charger.....forgetaboutit!

So I just bought a new one.  I'll toss the broken one even though it only has a broken switch.  The switch has four positions, and maybe I can hard wire it to 10 amps at 12 volts were we use it the most.  Nah, just toss it and use the new one.  Not worth it.

This afternoon, I went over to the storage lot where the utility trailer is stored and got the broken tongue jack out of the trailer.  We bent it last year out in California when we drug on the ground leaving a fast food driveway.

I have been using a boat jack for the last year, as it folds up by swiveling, but an actual tongue jack is best for fastening the rig to a pickup.  I went to the trailer store that sold me the base plate and installed it on the CRV, and the fellow had just the one I needed.  It was much shorter on the underside, and won't drag so quickly.

This year, I will not be attending the Ham Fest in Dayton Ohio for the first time in 15 years, due to the ongoing treatments here in KC.  So the trailer is going in my place.  The fellows will be here to pick it up this weekend, and it needed to be ready with the nice new jack.  So that is done.

We will need to go get the motorhome tomorrow and start with preparations for repairs in Alabama next week.  Stay tuned.

Retired Rod

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Installing wiring in the CRV

As I awoke this morning, I began to think thru the installation of the Patriot Brake System in the front of the CRV.  There really isn't any installation, as the box just sits on the floor and is hooked up to the brake pedal.

But the part that requires some planning is the break away switch.  Now we aren't planning to have the CRV break away from us, as she is married and can't leave our company anymore.  But if such a thing should occur, this brake box needs to know it instantly and apply the brakes as hard as it can.  So you need to mount a switch box that is attached to a cable on the front of the car.  The cable hooks to the back of the motorhome, and should the the two come apart, the cable pulls a pin out of the switch, applying the brakes.

Mounting the switch was no biggie, as it is just a small bolt thru the fascia and a nut and washer on the inside.  But then there is the wire, and it isn't long enough to string out onto the hood and over the door jam.  It has to go thru the fire wall somewhere where there is a hole.  Hey there aren't any holes in modern cars, what are they thinking.  There is a rubber panel where the shift cable goes out to the transmission, and I spent about two hours drilling and cutting with side cutters trying to make a hole large enough to poke the wire and plug thru.  After removing the entire piece and cutting away liberally, I finally managed to get it poked thru.  It comes up under the center console where the floor is enclosed.  There are a bunch of wires and what appears to be one of the computers in that enclosure.  I poked the wire out from under the plastic next to the carpet.

I also added a power cable that I attach to the battery with a fuse.  I use this wire to hook up ham radios and other accessories, and that will include this brake box.  By having its own power source, it will not matter if the accessory fuse is pulled so that other remaining items in the car don't deplete the battery.  While I didn't try it, removing the fuse will normally kill the cigar lighter sockets, which will kill the electric brake box.  This new wire will be hot all the time without regards to the key switch.

I messed around under the car for well into the afternoon, and even when the UPS guy brought another watch collection piece.  I never even got out from under the car, he just put the package by the wheel.  This newest item is completely different than any of the others I have, but then I say that about every new piece, so I won't bore you with the details.

Late in the afternoon, I had another medical appointment, so there went the rest of the day!

I'm sitting here with the hockey game on TV.  Watching Phoenix vs Detroit.  What the heck does Phoenix know about hockey?  Do they even know what Ice is?  Oh yea, its in their drink!

Retired Rod

Monday, April 18, 2011

Returning Home from the lake.

Tonight we are back in KC and at home.  We traveled thru the afternoon starting about 1:30 and arriving sometime after 4PM.  We didn't take much with us, so we didn't have much to load back into the house, but the lawn here needed to be mowed.

So after everything was back inside I started on the lawn.  The John Deere yard tractor had been on the battery minder charger for the last week or so, and fired up after it cranked for about a minute or so.  It seemed longer, but I'm sure it wasn't.

The older lawnboy mower that we use to trim out the yard has had a lot of work in the last couple of years, and it seemed to be in better shape than it has been in a long time.  It only took about two pulls and away it went.

At dusk, I went over to the storage lot where the motorhome is parked and measured the height of the 2 inch receiver above the ground, to see if it needs a drop down hitch adapter for the new tow bar.  I was relieved to find that it is only about three inches above the height of the bracket on the front of the CRV. The directions say no more than four inches, so no bracket will be needed.  This came as a surprise, as I had decided that it was much higher than the car.  My mind is dwelling on stuff again and worrying about things that are not a problem.

And also on Friday afternoon, just before we left for the lake, the UPS driver brought a package, a big box that contained the Patriot Brake System.  I just set it in the garage and we left town.  So tonight I unboxed the unit and have been reading the instructions.  I still do not understand completely how to set this box up.

You set it on the floor in front of the drivers seat in the car.  It has an arm with a spring loaded clamp that goes around the brake pedal.  The back of the box is against the seat, and is adjusted by moving the seat forward until the brake lights come on.  Then you back it off until they go out.

Then you set the buttons on the box as the directions instruct with a jog lever and a setup button.  The box plugs into your cigarette lighter, but on these newer cars, the lighter goes off when the key is off.  We will have to see how all of this plays out in the next couple of days.

Retired Rod

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Roof climbing and a Bar B Cue

You know, I don't have any trouble climbing the ladder on the back of the coach.  I am sufficiently strong, and my heart doesn't pound or anything, but where I struggle, is my balance.  Since I am diabetic, I have neuropathy, and my feet have pain in them.  So I can't always feel the ground right.

So staying on the ground is what I usually opt for when it comes to the RV Roof.  And the tarp deal was no different, but, and except, the rain will get into the well between the glass shower and the plastic dome that normally covers it.  And the water will just stand in there until it evaporates, soaks into the ceiling or runs down the walls.  None of the possibilities seemed desirable, so that is when I broke the rules of no motorhome roof.

I have trouble transitioning from the ladder onto the roof.  Where most folks just climb the ladder to the top rung, and step out onto the roof, I can't balance myself well enough to do that, so I have to crawl out onto the roof on my knees and then stand up.  That isn't a problem, until I have to come back down.  Crawling backwards past the A/C unit and the edge of the roof and getting my feet onto the rungs of the ladder when I can't feel them adequately is the challenge.  But I lived to tell about it.

The roof on the Tiffin coach is made from fiberglass, like the walls, and is shiny and slick.  It is not like the EPDM rubber roofs on a 5 ver.  It has no texture to grip with the soles of your shoes, and in the rain it is double slick.  So lets hope I don't have to put the tarp on too many times, especially by myself.

We are here at the lake house, and have spent a relaxing day with the kids and grandkids.  The girls all went to the outlet mall to shop for the afternoon, while us boys went to the jet ski marina to make plans for the new jet ski to be placed in service.

For those of you that were here on the blog last fall, you will remember that we purchased a new ski on the fall close out price.  It is in the garage, but has never been started, and does not have acid in its battery, or gas in its tank.

We hope to come back after the Red Bay excursion and have them do that for us.  They assured us that it can be done in a day, if we call ahead.  While sunny today, this was not the day to put anything in the lake, as it was only about 55 during the afternoon.

Ben, Caden and I went and looked at Ford trucks for a while and then went to the state park to check out how low the water is at the local swimming beach.  We shopped at Wal Mart for soda pop, since we are almost out over the winter.  And by that time we were summoned to return because the girls were hungry.

Tonight we all went back to our favorite Bar B Cue, Bandana's.  We haven't been there since the bowel surgery last fall.  I thought about ordering from the kids menu, but opted for a luncheon plate.  It was way more food than I have eaten in forever, but I am getting along with it somewhat OK tonight.  Still I can't do that as often as I did before.

We do have fun down here in the woods at the lake place.

Retired Rod

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The damage!

I had better quit while I am still in one piece and before  the Jeep lovers of the world come to hunt me down for trashing on their beloved vehicles.   I am sure that every manufacture of automobiles has some models that they would have rather not produced.  And Jeep has some very reliable models as well.

Yesterday was the day that the insurance adjuster and I finally went over to the motorhome to see just how bad the damage was on the coach.  And it is not nice.  The big sky light over the shower stall, is shattered.  The skylight is made with an inner glass and an outer dome.  The outer dome is in tatters.  The inner glass seems to still be in tact, but we decided that water should not be allowed to enter into the well between the glass parts. Rain was forecast.

So last night as it was turning all dark outside and the big drops of rain began to splat on the roof of the coach, I went up with a tarp and two large lengths of rope.  Usually I don't do the roof of the coach, but in this case I had to relinquish and climb up there.  After spreading the tarp out and climbing back down to secure the ropes, the wind blew the tarp off in my face!  I was by myself over at the storage place and there wasn't a helper anywhere to be found.

OoooK, well then, it was back up to the roof again.  This time before I went up, I tied the up wind line onto the bin door on that side of the coach guessing about the right length.  It began to rain in earnest now.  So back up to the roof, and spread it out.  Then almost running back down to the ground to get the second rope secure, and go tighten up the first rope again.  Then the wind blew the whole thing backwards...... the rain began to pour more.......  Back up on the roof again after tying the third rope loosely.  And respread the tarp over the damaged dome.  This time I managed to get down and tie off the last rope and secure the whole thing before the wind came back.

By now I was soaked from head to foot, and the coach looked like it had a big bandage on it.  I drove home again, as it was now dark and very wet, and the weather man had predicted more hail.  We didn't get it.

Also we lost the fantastic fan in the bathroom too, and I managed to get the tarp over it as well.  We will need to remake all seven of the bin doors on the drivers side of the coach, and that will have to be done in Red Bay, Alabama.  Glad I got that appointment last winter.  I didn't even dream that we would have this kind of a problem when I made it.

Tonight we are back down at our lake place for the weekend, and it is cooool and rainy here as well, but the grandkids and their parents are here as well so we should find something fun to do in the next two days.

Retired Rod

Friday, April 15, 2011

Why I am not considering a Jeep.

When I was working for the Grain company, I and another fellow were in charge of ordering company cars.  And one of the favorite cars was the Jeep Grand Cherokee.  The farther up the corporate ladder you were, the more options you could order.  But many folks wrote a check for the options that they wanted, when they didn't otherwise qualify because of their corporate position.

Mostly they ended up purchasing the cars at the end of the lease life anyway.  Usually two years.  They ordered another new what ever they always got, and bought the two year old one for mom at home.  So adding options and paying for them was no biggie as they would end up having the car for 4 years or sometimes 6 or more as the kids would be in line to get mom's at the end of her 2 years.

Now the reason I am telling you all of this is that we routinely replaced transmissions in a lot of these Jeeps.  They would begin to leave spots on the garage floor and then one day the oil would gush over and  that was the day the tow truck had to be ordered.  It seemed to happen right about 50 or 60,000 miles.  The company might own 20 or 30 of these SUV's at a time, so that gave us some extra experience that the average guy didn't get.  Of course we bought the cars at a couple of hundred under invoice too, and they were all leased thru a leasing company.

My CEO had one of the nicest Grand Grand Super Deluxe or what ever they called it.   And one year in the fall, it was right at freezing outside in Des Moines, and raining like cats and dogs.  An ice storm where the trees become so laden that they break down to the ground.  His Jeep became moisture soaked, where the inside of the vehicle was just dripping wet.  The heater didn't overcome the wet for some reason, and then the electrical system began to short out.  He had smoke and it quit running.

Some of us loyal employees had to go after him at one of the clients offices.  It was after dark and the rain kept coming.  We were using 4 wheel drive in the glaze.  The Jeep would start, but wouldn't run well enough to pull the car along.  Then it would buck and spit back into the intake manifold and then die.  He never got out of the parking lot.  It went to the local Jeep dealer on a tow truck hook.

It was at the dealer's garage for three days, before it would start again.  They never did understand what was wrong with the car.  But the CEO would not take the car back.  He switched to a Ford SUV after that.  We ended up selling the 6 month old car on the auction and took quite a loss on the cash out of the lease.

So it is from this experience that I have decided that a Jeep Grand whatever is not in the cards for us here in Kansas City.  I'm sure he must have had a bad engine controller or bad wiring or something, but the transmission problems seemed to be on every other car.

I just wanted to explain that my Jeep experience was founded on real vehicles and how we did with them, not just some attitude that I have decided to express out of the blue.

With that said, I would get a wrangler in a heart beat, especially if it had biiiiig tires and a stick shift.  But I would be ridding in it by myself!!! LOL.

I spent the day with the insurance adjuster looking at all of our damage on vehicles around here.  Then late in the afternoon, I was copying the tax returns to be filed.  I started to write the checks, but somehow got sidetracked.  Uggg.

Retired Rod

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Taxes and Medical Day

I had to put my head down and seriously work on that tax return today.  I don't have time or the luxury to procrastinate or mess around any more.  The federal due date is the 18th which is Monday, but the state returns are due on Friday.  According to the printed Kansas booklet.  I will have to look up on the internet if that has been changed to align with the federal folks.

So I have now been thru the whole process one time and have a compete filable copy.  But it is my experience, that once you get it to that point, it still takes almost forever to get it all copied and assembled and signed and checks made and all of that.

As an accountant, we never really experienced that part of the process, because we had staff folks that did that part for us.  We got it all back on our desk in the finished format, waiting for our signature as the accounting firm.  Ya we were spoiled, but we justified that our time was too valuable to do the real work part of the process.  But if you didn't stay busy and billable, you could get sucked into the assembly process, so we knew when to hide in our foot well of the desk, so to speak.

The rest of the day here was consumed by going for more medical treatments, over at the local Hospital. That wipes out the rest of the day, as you are compromised when you get back home.

So I have spent the rest of the night, watching another watch show again tonight.  I can't be helped now, I'm too far gone.

Retired Rod

PS: I see I've gone and offended a bunch of folks that have Jeeps and Chevy's and the like.  First of all, with the classic CJ Jeep, I will never be able to sell such a thing to the boss lady.  She is a city girl, and doesn't even do gravel roads.  And there is nothing wrong with Chevy products, but I have attempted to move to higher end products, and that has taken me away from the more traditional vehicles.  The older car that I have to trade in is a BMW, and that has perhaps turned me into somewhat of a snob.  But again you can't pull any of their products either.  Perhaps I shouldn't even think about trading anything.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Off to Lawrence

Today was another day of procrastinating on the tax return, as I went with my daughter in law over to Lawrence, Kansas to deliver their Toyota pickup back to the dealer.  When it was in for service the last time, the dealership somehow managed to break the exhaust manifold.

I know, how do you break the manifold?  But they did, and then a new one couldn't be found all over the US.  It had to come from Japan. I teased that we would have to irradiate the thing when it arrived, but I realize that that comment is in really pooooor taste.

But it was a nice day for a drive at  noon time out in to the country here in Kansas.  Of course, when we got to Lawrence, I headed straight for the local Wendy's for that $3 dollar meal special.  And after we got the truck dropped off we kicked a few tires up in the new car display area as well.

The trouble with Toyota is that none of them can be towed!!!  Or as my friend John Brown put it "they aren't lead broke."  But my problem is that I can not fall in love with the Fords and Chevys that are towable.  And don't even bring up Jeep.  We got the CRV for now, but I really need to get rid of some of the excess vehicles around here, and the best way is to trade in two or three and buy only one.

I had ridden the motor scooter over to Melissa's house, and once we were back in Olathe, it was gorgeous outside and about 70 degrees.  So I had a more leisurely ride back over here to our house.  It was warm and the wind had finally died down from previous days.

Back here at home, I had to get back on the stick and work on that tax return, and it is far enough along now that I know I don't like the outcome.  I still have the states to get started on, and they are done simultaneous with each other.  That would be Missouri and Kansas.  They have to be completed on an apportionment schedule where one is deductable on the other and the other deductable back on the first.

Missouri also requires that income be split between the husband and wife, so you have to look at each income source and decided if it is mine or Loyce's.   A real pain.  But it is me that has retirement from a Missouri based employer, and we don't need to apportion hers, as it make us pay more that way.  So we go thru this exercise.

I was an accountant for years, and know how to do this stuff, but it is still inconvenient.  Most accountants use tax preparation software and have staff members that type in the data to the computers.  In most cases, they only interview the clients and then review the output of the computer software.  And believe me, the computer doesn't always do it right either.

The next thing I knew it was time to watch the latest watch show, but I only ran it in the room while I read the blogs.  The sound was turned way down, and I wasn't even tempted by anything they showed.  HONEST!!!

Retired Rod

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hail claim adjuster

I am no closer to finishing that tax return because I can't stay on it.  Today the insurance adjuster showed up to climb on the roof of the house and look it all over.  He found enough damage to need to adjust the shingles on the house.  I don't know if that is part of the shingles or all of them or what, but I guess that will become more clear as we get into the project.

We also have damage to the rain gutter down spouts where the hail stones hit them and left rather large dings in the aluminum.  Now I need the auto adjuster to give me a call, but I understand that he is a completely different fellow.

Once the adjuster had gone, I got back on the tax return for a little while, until I received calls from the broker that I would be having the FedEx guy delivering another new credit card to replace the one that had a fraud attack.  So I had to be on the lookout for that fellow.

And once he was here, I needed to reactivate the new card by calling the card center and entering all the sensitive information.  And of course once it was activated, I had to jump on the motor scooter and go try to buy a hamburger with it.  Hey it works!

But after a little while of riding around on the scooter, it became a tad cool, since it was only in the early 60s outside.  Then it was back to the house, but by then I was tired of working on anything, so that tax return is still not finished.

Of course tonight I had to watch another watch show, just to see what they had that was new, you know....  Yea I know, I don't have time to mess with the ones I already have.

Another day was gone, and I didn't even do anything, other than convince the insurance guy we needed some new parts on the roof.

Retired Rod

Monday, April 11, 2011

Taxes reduce me to babble.

As I sit here reading everyones excellent blogs, I can't help but wonder what I have to write about tonight.  And the answer is not very much.  I spent the day digging thru our big pile of papers and mail from all winter.  Of course I was looking for all the pieces of the puzzle that will become a tax return.

But that isn't exactly exciting stuff to blog about.  I had papers spread all over the kitchen counter and as I opened all the envelopes, I started a big pile of throw away junk in the middle of the floor.  Biscuit thought that was great, as she began to play in it and chew up all the envelopes.  She made the mess even worse!  I finally had to put her on her leash that is tied to the  counter.

She will begin to eat the paper if not watched.  She will eat almost anything, so she needs to be corralled for her own safety much of the time.  She is becoming a much bigger doggie than our last pure bred bichon Brandy.   So she is now walking around the neighborhood with Loyce twice a day.

They make several miles on what they call the long trip, and it tires Biscuit out so much that she will just sleep after that.

So with nothing to report other than the work I am presently engaged in, I will just end it off and not bore you with a bunch of babble.

Retired Rod 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Justifying wearing a watch, and brakes anyone?

Every time I tell about another watch, all you guys tell me about how awful it is to wear a watch and how the time gods had a hold of you but you broke free, and all that stuff.  But you know, I don't look at it like that at all.

I am a fairly mechanical, and electronical fellow.  If it runs or has artificial intelligence I'm attracted.  Computers, the more complicated, the better!  Engines, the more noise they make and the more torque they generate, the better.

Ham radios, the more dials and colors on their displays with moving needles, and talks on a gazillion bands, the better!!!

Motorscotter with the electronic fairing with digital read outs and temperature and rpms and all that stuff, the better.

So the more complicated the watch face, and feature laden its specs the better!  I didn't buy it to tell time!!  Thats just a side benefit, LOL.

If all I needed to do was tell time, that's displayed on the top line of that new very complicated Android phone that I bought last month.  But it just doesn't have the coooooool factor that a neat watch has for me.  JMHO.


On the brake issue for the Motorhome and Toad deal, I do not need a brake box here in Kansas unless the trailer is over 10,000 lbs.  It is the same over in Missouri as well.  And down in Texas, it is 4500 lbs.  But I might have to cross Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona before next year is over, and on the way to Red Bay, Al, almost all of the states after Mo are 3000 lb states.  The official weight of the CRV is about 3500, so staying legal is on my mind.

Why he!! yes officer, we got brakes here in the Toad!!  Never mind that they are set on a 3 for sensitivity, the law doesn't tell you how to run them.  It tells you that you have to have them.

What I did learn this afternoon in my internet searches, before it put me to sleep for about an hour, was that Blue Ox is tired of folks selling their products for way too low prices.  And that on May 1, they will begin to fair trade price stuff, or you won't be handling their products.

Patriot brake box from Blue Ox will suddenly become $1,150 or some such amount.  Price today from one of the discounters is $894.  Whoa!!  Thats $256 more bucks.  I'm asleep, but not that asleep!

Perhaps that retailer is just telling us that because he wants record sales in April, but do we want to take that chance?  And most of the sites are now falling in line with the fair trade prices.  Thats why I had to look all over to find the discounter price on the tow bar.

So the patriot brake system is on order!  It is electric and does not use compressed air.  It has an on board battery to run the actuator arm, and is radio controlled from the motor home dash.  And it has good reviews.  If you folks have a dozen reasons why I shouldn't have done that, ooops its too late.

Otherwise I rode the bike over to Wendy's this afternoon, and purchased a new land line phone system from Panasonic at Wally World in the process.  Maybe it was the instruction booklet for that phone that  put me to sleep this afternoon, hummmm..........

Retired Rod

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Tow Bar here!

I ordered the Blue Ox 10,000 lb steel tow bar from a company up in Minneapolis, Mn on Wednesday, and tonight, Friday at 5 PM, Brown stopped in front of my house.  He tried to deliver a book from Barnes and Noble, but it wasn't ours.  Then he said I know you have a package and ducked back into the truck.  He came out with a 4 foot long 9 inch square package with the end knocked out of the box.  The tow bar was hanging out a few inches.

Blue Ox Aventa-LX

It had all the parts, and I think it is hard to damage powder coated steel!  He put it in the garage for me, since I am not to be lifting things.  I saved about $300 ordering this thru an Amazon partner over purchasing it locally.  I will have to see how far off of level the bar is once I get it hooked up and perhaps will have to buy a drop down receiver.  They drag on the ground if you go thru any kind of a depression or deep curb, so I am not excited to get one.

But Randy over at the RoadRunner Chronicles towed his CRV without one and thought that his tire wear was excessive from the un level tow bar.  These drop down receivers are about $130 here locally and I have not priced them on the internet.  Randy if you happen to read this, comment on your drop down, OK?

Short of purchasing a brake buddy, which is expensive, I think I have most of it now.  I need a locking pin for the receiver, so someone doesn't help themselves to a tow bar, but otherwise I should be good.  Can you believe 2nd day shipping on a 50 pound package thru Brown, even if the box was destroyed?

Have you heard about Tritium gas tubes?  No they don't go on an RV!  They are very tiny little vials of radio active gas that is an isotope of Hydrogen.  For the Chemists, they are hydrogen molecules that have two added neutrons. So they are unstable and radiate small amounts of neutrons, but are harmless to you as they are not powerful enough to penetrate human dead skin layers. They have a half life of 12 years.

Now if the inside of these tiny vials were filled with florescent powder, you would have a miniature florescent bulb, and that is were my interest comes in, because they have begun to use them as hour markers in watches.  And also on the hands.  They glow without being charged from an external light source, and do not become faint after several hours, or days in the dark!

Invicta Luminary

 If you look carefully at this watch, you can see the little tubes on the hands and at the stick markers for the hours.  This thing glows in the dark quite nicely and is noticeable in any reduced lighting situation.

So I was excited to have an opportunity to pick this guy up on a close out special from Invicta this past Sunday.  It is a full 12 hr chronograph with day and date and a 1/10th of a second hand.  That's what I need, another watch!  It's a disease, this watch collecting, but with sooo many neat pieces, the affliction is beyond knowing what time it might be....  The case is Titanium with stainless running thru the center of the band as an accent. Tritium, titanium, stainless, chronograph.  Say that three times really fast!

I know my watch thing is not of interest to most folks, but it is a part of what I do here, and thought you might find the glowing part interesting.  If I begin to glow here, you'll know why!

Retired Rod

Friday, April 8, 2011

Changing my mind on the wiring.

Ya, I know that I can check the credit card on line, but this card is issued on my investment account with my brokerage firm, and not on the bank.  Consequently I don't use the card as much as the ones on the bank account.  So, I don't think about checking the transactions on this card.  It is also paid automatically from the assets in the brokerage, so it isn't necessary to look it over and then pay the charges.  But with that said, I'll bet it will be reviewed more carefully in the future.

Today I got to looking at the coiled cord that the lady sold me over at the trailer place to hook up my CRV tail lights.  Even completely uncoiled, it was only three feet long.  On the web sites they advertise cords that are 7 feet uncoiled.  So I had the slow epiphany that the cord wasn't going to reach.  So I went back over to the store and returned the short little fellow.

And I soon learned why she had sold it to me since she didn't have a 5 foot or a 7 foot coiled cord in stock.  So in order to complete this hookup with a minimum of stress, I decided that the cord didn't really have to be coiled.  People end up weaving the cord around the tow bar arms anyway, so I purchased a straight cord that was 7 foot long.

This is the same cord that a fifth wheel has to reach down to the plug in on the back of the truck.  Then I purchased the end that plugs into the car.  She was trying to sell me an installation of the plug at their normal hourly rate, which would take about a half an hour.  That would have more than doubled the cost of the parts, so I said I could do it myself.

Of course, I had to look up the pin outs of the wires and decide where they all went here at home.  And it did take me over an hour to do it, since I don't have lots of experience.  but I got it after a while, and took it out and plugged it into the car.

Using a starting battery, I hooked up the correct wires to the plug to try out the new lights in the CRV.  The lights worked nicely.  The bulbs that they installed are very close to the original bulbs, so it is mostly impossible to tell that they are add on lights.  The tail lights look just the same as if they were the stock bulbs.

The thing that adding these separate bulbs does, is just that "remain separate."  With all the computers and logic on today's new cars, introducing electricity from another vehicle that the computers do not control is suicidal!  For the car's computers that is.  The Honda doesn't even know that these bulbs are there, from the electrical stand point.

The rest of the day was spent messin around here somewhere, as I didn't get back on that tax return.  But that procrastination had better be eliminated from my attitude fairly quickly!

Retired Rod

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Taxes begun!

I was a bit slower about getting out on the town today, since my appointment over at the local doctor's office wasn't until 3PM in the late afternoon.  Still having to go to the office seems to take over the entire day, no matter when it is that you have to be there.

So I spent all morning working on all our papers and mail that was collected while we were in Arizona all winter.  I am looking for Tax documents to start that project.  And of course we had to discover some fraudulent charges on one of our credit cards that debits directly to our bank accounts, and that took quite a while on the phone with the Visa folks.

They think you are just trying to get out of paying for your charges, and I had the darnedest time convincing them that I was not in White Plains New York during the winter. And in the suburbs of Chicago on the same day.  Still they can't guarantee that I will get the money back, and it is over a thousand bucks!  Account closed now, but it was back about Christmas time when the hackers struck.

This is why it is bad not to get all your mail during the winter.  If I could have reviewed it several months ago, I would have had a better chance of getting it back.

Anyway, the work has begun on taxes, until I had to go to the doctor's office.  When I got back home, I didn't feel like starting back into the project.

Oh and this morning I ordered a tow bar from an business partner.  It was $579 plus about 21 bucks shipping.  Since it didn't come thru amazon themselves, there was no sales tax collected.  It is just shipped to me and it is up to me to declare it at the end of the year.  And we know how that will go!

They wanted $830 and tax over at the hitch store here in Olathe.   We will see how it comes along , but it is to be here in 5 to 7 days. We will have to see when we get tracking numbers.  I was kind of amazed that a heavy box with a tow bar in it could be shipped for $21 but perhaps that is standard ground.

Last year I had a trailer hitch shipped for the Camry, and it came right on the brown truck just like a smaller package, but the guy kind of struggled to get it up to the door.

No call from the insurance company again today, so perhaps I will have to inquire  again!

Retied Rod

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Doing it Professionally

This fellow is adding the base plate to the Honda CRV.  It doesn't look like a car without its front fascia, which is laying on the floor behind me as I took this.  I can never hold the phone steady, and there is no shake correction like in a real camera, so the Android picture is not clear, but you get the general idea.

He quickly told me that the saws all that is suggested in the instructions is impossible to use, and that most folks that attempt to do this at home have to seek professional help.  He is using an air compressor powered cut off wheel grinder.  I have an electric model of this tool, but my wheel is 5 inches around.  Again he indicated that he was using a 3 inch wheel in order to get back into the frame material where he needed to be.

He said that he had disconnected the air bag sensors before he started all of this work so they wouldn't accidentally fire off.  The sensors are on the back and bottom of the bumper that he is grinding on in this picture. Setting them off would be a bad day indeed!

Experience, there is no replacement for it!  He has done these all day and knows exactly what problems he had last time, and more importantly how he solved them.  Since the car was over there at starting time this morning, as we took it last night, by 9:30 when this picture was taken he was about half done.

I decided to have them install the light kits in the tail lights and wire the car from the back to the plug in on the front of the base plate.  They have all the parts and again have solved exactly where to drill the light assembly and not get themselves into trouble with having room inside the housing.  Of course all this expertise didn't come cheap, as my bill was over $800 when we checked out.

They were done by about 1 PM with the wiring and all.  I removed the front arms from the bar, and put them in the back of the car.  You could hardly see the tow bar as it is below the front bumper fascia.  But by getting down on your knees and it was right there to hook up to.

I didn't order the actual tow bar from them, as they were over $200 higher than drop shipping it on the internet.  But I did buy a coiled connector cable, which I think is too short after I have thought about it.

Anyway, we are that much closer to having a Toad!

Later in the afternoon, I went to my favorite computer store, Hyperteck here in South KC and purchased a cheap laser printer for under $100.  It has a fairly small foot print and can be used until it requires a new cartridge.  At that point a new cartridge may well cost as much as another new printer.  I think they quoted $65, which was within 20 of the entire machine.  We have a throw away society now, and laser copiers and the like are labor repair intensive.  This is just a black and white printer without any bells or whistles.  It runs from your Windows operating system, and had drivers for both Mac and Linux.  It is a Samsung product.

We are spending money like crazy here, and that always makes me more than nervous, but Uncle wants a Tax Return, and I need to get busy and at least do an extension.  That requires a working printer!

And then tonight I went over an purchased a Turbo Tax disk from Office Depot.  This is a curiosity as the basic program is $39.95 on the internet and you have to download it to your machine.  But purchasing the disk and packaging for future use in a carry home package like a DVD movie is $29.95 at the store.  Once loaded, it went right out on the internet and downloaded another 16 meg of additional upgrades. I knew this from doing the returns last year, so I included the stop at the store in my other errands.

That's enough productive work for one day!!!  The insurance people never did call me back, so I am thinking they will be very backed up for a long while here in KC.

Retired Rod

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hail Damages

I appreciate everyone's well wishes on hail damage, but such was not to be the case.  The Camry car has fairly small little dents in the rear deck lid and in the bright trim work around the windows.  The pickup seems to have alluded most of the carnage, but I haven't been on top of the roof yet.

Now the motorhome is an entire different story, as all of the bin doors on the drivers side look as though they were beat up with a two pound mall.  They are made from aluminum, and are fragile on a good day, and last night was not a good day.

I have not been on top of the rig, as last weeks medical procedure precludes any climbing on ladders, but I would assume at a minimum we are talking new AC shrouds, and if they are broken completely, then the condenser coils might be damaged also.   The windows do not seem to be broken, and the fiberglass end caps seem to be in tact.

But driving over to the storage lot where the utility trailer is parked, netted another damaged vehicle as there are dents all over that rig as well.  It just wasn't our night.  In addition many of my neighbors are talking hail damage to their roofs as well.  Asbestos shingles can't stand golf ball sized hail as it knocks off the shingle sand and cracks the shingles as well.

I called the insurance company, and they indicated that they are overwhelmed with calls from our area, and I'm sure that is truly the case.  I have a thousand dollar deductable, but we will exceed that on all of the vehicles.  The good news is that it is once per occurance, and not per vehicle.

The other cars were in the garage, and were not damaged.  And that includes the new Honda that we just purchased.  Tonight it is in the garage over at the trailer place waiting for its new towing base plate to be installed in the morning.

They were all over me to purchase a tow bar and lighting and the like, when I delivered it this afternoon.  They haven't worked with me before, and do not realize that I will take my time in purchasing each item, once I determine what the price should be and which piece I want.  I don't head off in a shotgun manner, with my head down in the getter done mode, like some folks.

I didn't run right out to look at the cars today, as I couldn't bear the thought of what I knew I would find.  But by about 5 PM I had seen enough to call the insurance adjuster and make sure I was on his list of stuff to do.  They are in a small shopping center, and I had the darnedest time explaining that I couldn't just pop on in in a 40 foot motor home, as they had no place to park such a vehicle.  He was still working on that one in his mind when I last parted company with him on the phone.

So that's the news from here in KC today, other than my printer is also broken and won't communicate with either of my computers.  Aaack!!!!  What else..............

Retired Rod

Monday, April 4, 2011


This is one of those rare nights when we have no cable tv internet service, as I had to get out the air card and plug it into the Cradle Point Router over on the counter.  But it appears that Verizon is up and running.

We had the hail storm from heck here a few hours ago, and it drenched us with golf ball sized hail.  My truck and the Camry are sitting outside, and the motorhome is over in the storage lot about three miles from here.  Not to mention the shingles on the roof of this house and all the other houses here in the neighborhood.  The ground looked like it had snowed.

The hail was hitting the windows of the house but luckily at a glancing blow, so none are broken to my knowledge.  I am certain that the cars will not have faired as well but it is dark outside so impossible to see until morning.

Just have to wait it out to tell how bad we did.  And perhaps that might be the reason that we have no internet on the cable as well.  We do have cable tv so maybe not.

That's OK because we hung around the house all day and read the internet and a book.  It was 87 outside this afternoon, and that was driven by about 30 mph winds, so we have had unsettled weather all day.

Just hope stuff isn't too wrecked!

Retired Rod

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Studying the phone!

I downloaded the 340 page owners manual for the HTC G2 phone from the HTC web site today.  I'm certain that if they included that monster with the new phones, most folks would ship the thing back to the phone company.

The smart phone is much like a laptop computer, in that there are many included features and many add on programs that can take each phone in the direction that a user requires.  I was looking for some very specific adjustments that might be made to the operation of the phone, and after looking at the manual most of the afternoon, I only succeeded in putting myself to sleep!

Well that nap was a good one, but I never did get the answers I was looking for.  Rather than blog about all the phone specific stuff I learned and bore you all to death, since your phone is different, I will end by  saying that we got up into the 70s this afternoon, and folks were outside doing all that outside stuff.

It was a gorgeous day!

Retired Rod

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Rod's Taxi

I shuttled my son Chris out to Lawrence, Kansas to his Toyota dealer, that had his truck held hostage this morning.  They didn't have the part, and it had to come from Japan, so it will be a few weeks on that one.  I teased him that he would have to de radiate the piece when he got it, but then I thought that was probably in bad taste.

But then I have never been noted for being politically correct and this would again prove that fact.

Back here in KC, I went over to the Honda dealer, and did some investigation on whether a Honda Pilot could be towed with an RV.  Not that I was going to buy one, since we had just purchased a CRV, and it is the right size to tow with our front engine diesel rig.  But some people do pull a pilot, and the Remco guide says it is ok to do so, but to follow the manufactures emergency towing guide lines in the owners manual.

Well, if you get the new owners manual out and read it, it says to tow the pilot on a flat bed trailer.  Period, no questions asked!  So I came away with a new understanding of what couldn't be done with a Honda Pilot!  Pilot is a mid sized SUV, and I still need to trade off some cars around here, so I am still in the sell trade or negotiate horse trade mode.

But I spent a lot of the day and didn't accomplish much except being the ferry service.  Back here at the house, I found that my little keep the battery up trickle charger had failed me while I was gone, and one of the cars that I had stored had a completely flat battery.  So I spent the rest of the day charging and starting that car.

Tonight was catching up on the blogs and internet and some more of those darned angry birds.  Part of the bonus rounds require that you get a perfect score on all the levels.  Not just clear the screens but get all three stars on all the levels.  I guess they just want you to spend a lot more time with it.  Since it flashes advertisements while your doing it, I would bet it is tracking how much time folks are spending with it .  Add revenues I'm sure.

It was much warmer here today, as we were in the mid 60s and the sun was out all day.  But it was nothing like the 100 degrees that Phoenix and central Arizona reported this afternoon.  Like my friend Rick out in Palm Springs calls it,  that's Fryin Pan Hot!!

Retired Rod

Friday, April 1, 2011

Analysis Paralysis!

I didn't mean to be way too technical with my post yesterday, but it is the process that I usually go thru when I want to spend money on things.  And far too many times I have missed the boat all together by purchasing some big ticket item not realizing how wrong it will become in just a few short months.

In 2007, I bought a new pickup truck, a F150 in February thinking the four year old one had a bunch of miles and needed replacing.  I really never gave an RV a thought, when I purchased the truck.  But by July, I was actively searching for a camper of some sort, in order to go out with our kids on some of the weekends.

Because I had made the mistake of purchasing the F150 and not the F250, I had to go with an ultra light bumper pull camper.  Not enough truck to pull a 5ver, and it was only 5 months old.  I still have that truck here now, but it isn't used much any more.  Except it pulls the utility trailer when I need to use it.

Then that winter we headed out with the camper to become snow birds, and quickly found out that the 29 foot Jayco wasn't suited to live in full time.  Too small and too tight.  Mistake number two!

But we have thought through this business of pulling the car for two years  now, and we have analysis paralysis.  We have studied and studied the alternatives.  We have used up the mileage on the older cars so they are ready to trade off, and I think we are not making mistakes.  But with my health problems, even the Honda might be a mistake.

But we are forging ahead like we know what we are doing even then.   So today when I received the call that the base plate had arrived from Nebraska and to come on over, I wasn't prepared.  We made the appointment for next Tuesday!

Today was spent taking the Toyota back to the dealer and having them buff out the scratches from last week when they wound up the magnetic mount antenna in their car wash.  We had to follow each other over in the morning, and then come back home and wait.  Then in the afternoon we followed each other back home once we got it picked up.

And, since some of the scratches were somewhat deep, they touched them up with touch up paint.  Then they buffed the paint smooth.  Heck, I could have done that kind of job here at home.  Scratch off that dealership as a place to get further repairs completed!!  I didn't feel like fighting, so I just sit here tonight all resigned about the whole thing.  It looks like poo, but I don't have the fight left in me to raise the devil.

I fell asleep in the chair tonight, anyway, so it must not bother me too much!  They said I have a week to decide if it suits me.  The alternative is to repaint the entire quarter panel, but then you have non factory paint, that is never as durable as the original.  Wouldn't it have been easier if they hadn't torn it up in the first place?

Maybe I should begin shopping for that tow bar to go with the base plate.  The guy wants to sell me one over at the trailer place, and I will listen to his sales pitch, but I am sure I can drop ship one to the house here for a much better price.  Amazon even sells that sort of stuff!

It is supposed to warm up a bunch this weekend, so that might improve my sullen attitude some, I hope!

Retired Rod