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Log 2016053102

I got to the storage facility with enough time to change the fuel filter, but my ChiltonDIY account didn't want to login on my Tablet.  I just now contacted customer support and I hope that they can do something about it.  But if I remember from when I had it years ago, it only worked on a laptop or desktop computer then, too.  If that has to be the case, then I'll just bring my laptop.  But things are really "pushing it" tomorrow.  

I used a multimeter and tested the cab's battery.  It came back 12V just as it should.  And the motorhome started right up, which is odd because I was expecting that mystery power drain to kill the battery since I haven't started it in 2 days.

I needed to know the procedure for bleeding off the fuel line pressure so I could install the new fuel filter.  Since I'm at my desktop computer now, I'll just study the procedure tonight and bring the laptop tomorrow.

In the meantime, I tested the brake light signal on the trailer hitch and was getting about 0.8V on the multimeter.  However, I was not able to get the trailer hitch brake light to work.  And I forgot to check the turn signals.

I upgraded from a 20 to a 30amp fuse in the new cigarette lighter power port.  But the 4 way splitter that I have plugged into it only runs on 5amps.  The tablet is loosing more battery power than it's charging when hooked up to the USB power on it.  I just found out that my Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 only came built with a microUSB v2.0.  It really should have came with a 3.0.  Unless the USB port in the splitter is only 1.1, there's really nothing that I can do to increase it's power.

Well, I downloaded "Ampre" from the Google Play store for my Android smartphone.  And I've tested it out here with my desktop computer and the tablet's stock USB AC charger.  My computer's USB ports read at 450mA, while the charger comes in at 1200mA.  I bet that the USB ports in that splitter are cheap.  So tomorrow, I plan to test it's ports.  I have a USB lighter adapter plugged into one of the ports for my smartphone.  And I think I can vaguely remember specifically getting it because it charges at a higher rate???  So, I'll test that, too.  If it comes up at a greater power, it has two USB ports and I'll just use that for both.

Now, the splitter actually has a tip at the end of it's adapter.  It's only a 5A.  Seeing that both devices would need 1.2A each, there's still 3 other ports that could have something plugged into them, so maybe a 10A replacement inline fuse might be needed?


Things today are not going according to plan. The VA's community based outpatient clinics (CBOC) are attached to a local medical center. And I showed up to another CBOC to get my blood work drawn. Well the remote CBOC couldn't pull up the orders and I have to change facilities anyways, so instead of working on the motorhome's fuel filter, spark plugs, wires, distributor cab and back-up camera, I'm stuck in the waiting room wasting about 5 hours.

The motorhome is so tall, that it has to be maintenanced outside.  Today, the weather is very good.  All of this has a deadline of the end of the day tomorrow. If it doesn't run like it should by then, I'll fix the brakes on my car and leave for the Marietta Unit of the Wayne National Forest with a sleeping bag and tent.


Log 2016053001

I haven't inspected my library recently, but I carry a copy of every manual that comes with my equipment.  It's stored in the "Library" folder on my tablet.


Log 2016052901

I dissembled the rest of the Cramper's runner boards from it's 1" thick ply deck.  Then I cut the deck into parking pads for my 1988 Itasca Sundancer 25ft motorhome.  I've seen other campers and RV's in the state parks use these.  Even my 1,000lb utility hauling trailer use to sink into the asphalt at Ohio State Park campgrounds on a hot summer's day.

I even have enough 1' ply to create that removable sign that I wanted to fix to the front grill.


Log 2016052804

I started the tune-up for my 1988 Itasca Sundancer 25ft motorhome with a Ford Econoline 350 (E-350) cutaway.  This was a learning experience for me from the beginning.  I don't have my repair manual yet, so I had to rely on the mechanical aptitude that I've gained from my 2008 Chevy HHR LS and building The Cramper.  I also had to find things.

The spark plugs are accessed from the interior engine compartment.  I've never owned a Ford before and have seen very few under their hoods.  Growing up, at least our impression was that Ford produced a lot of bad cars back then, so my family stuck to mostly general motors.  The motorhome's engine is layered differently than I'm accustomed to.  I can't even tell how the fuel injection system works yet.

The spark plugs are one thing.  It's getting it's wires to the distributer cap that's another.  This component is in front of the engine and has to be accessed from the hood.  It's behind the air filter manifold and a couple of engine air hoses that has to all be dismounted.

The new distributer has a number "1" on it.  That probably pertains to the #1 cylinder.  But both the old and the new cap have a 1" wide by 1" tall cylinder on them.  They're attached by two clips.  By the diagram that I've seen, things just weren't matching up today.

Anyways, I realized that I forgot to buy wires.  So I aborted the procedure altogether.  The next step would have been to replace the spark plugs and wires one at a time.  It's routing and feeding of the wires from the interior to the exterior and keeping track of them that concerns me.  Oh well, I'll get through it.

I stopped today before installing the new fuel filter.  I just a tool for a special special connection that it has.  But I've done one of these on a GM car years ago.  And everything I'm seeing for this Econoline suggests that it should be easy to change.

There was mouse activity present in the air filter manifold today.  I used my shop vac to clean it up.  A also tried to run it's tube down the hoses towards the engine block as best as I could.  It makes me wonder what could possibly be down there?

Log 2016052803

After having day hiked over a 1,000 miles on the Buckeye Trail and been a maintainer on 14 of it's sections, I can tell you that at some point, there is going to be fog.  In the warm months, it usually occurs in the morning hours when the temperature reaches the dew point.  But I've been a higher mileage per day hiker.  And waiting for it to pass at 11am wastes 5 hours of hiking time.

One of the benefits of having an older motorhome is that it has old fashioned chrome bumpers.  That's going to make it extremely easy to drill holes and mount fog lights.  Now if I ever have to drive a gravel township road in the forest at night to reach a destination, right now, the overhead sleeping area in my Class C (Ford Econoline cutaway) is in disrepair due to water damage.  It will have to be rebuilt and at some point, by stripping the wood and wall paper off of the sides and ceiling.  When that happens, I'll have ample opportunity to mount auxiliary lights.

With enough fabrication, an ordinary car might be able to install these by using removable roof rack bars with mounting straps and pieces that hook to a lip within a vehicle's door shielding.  I suppose that a set of auxiliary lights could be rigged to those bars by some means of fabrication.  And that the electrical wires with a switch could just be shut inside the door and connected to a cigarette lighter power port.

Different states have different laws about auxiliary lighting.  In some, you can have them mounted on conventional roads as long as they're never on.  In other states, they have to be covered, or they can't be mounted at all.

Log 2016052802

I know other volunteers on the Buckeye Trail who might claim that Portage County along the Mogadore Section has the worst roads.  I'll say that these are probably the worst paved, non-highway roads along the trail.  They're rather patched.  The center is too high, while the right of the lanes are sometimes too low.  When I was in my motorhome trying to approach the speed limit, there were times that I could swear that the front end was doing "bunny hops."  I think I could tell because I would apply the brakes in the middle of one and when it came down, the front wheels would locked and screech.

Log 2016052801

My Aquatainer that I've used when camping is 27 liters, or 7.13 gallons.  I just had to convert that because my hiking equipment for water is usually measured in metric.  Now just by looking at them, both of my identical water containers in my 1988 Itasca Sundancer motorhome look like they're about 50% larger.  Since my motohome is in storage right now, I did some calculations based at  I pulled out a measuring tape and made approximate measurements of 30" wide x 15" tall x 12" deep just for one and it came back as stating that it holds 23.4 gallons.  Multiply that by two, it's 46.8 gallons, or 177.16 liters.  Considering the sinks and shower, I believe it, but those containers are somewhat similar to the Aquatainer in volume by the looks of them.

And I did some reading today concerning how long tap water could last without becoming too diseased in a container.  My particular interest was with unrefrigerated water before it needs to be re-purified.  So far, I've seen that unrefrigerated tap water in a container might last as long as 6 months?  This was an answer from a forum and I've been looking at and I'm still trying to find more verifiable, or scientific sources.  It might not be easy to add purification drops to a tank with water already in it because it could be difficult to stir, or bounce.


Log 2016052701

I was at a bar and hotel in Corydon, Pennsylvania in 2011, just across the line from New York State.  And the locals were telling me a suspicion that they had about PA DNR having released some rattlesnakes on Tracy Ridge somewhere south of there just off of the North Country National Scenic Trail  I dismissed it at first, but as I hiked through there, the one thing that I noticed was that the place seemed overrun by chipmunks.  And the NCT has areas of thick, high vegetation that hugs the path (I couldn't see through it).  Sometimes, there would be something that had to be at least 20lbs that would just take off under there about 6ft to the east of the trail.  I couldn't discern any footfalls, so I think that it had to move along the ground.  North of Kellettville, I caught the "cucumber" smell several times out there.

I came through the Tracy Ridge area during a holiday weekend and there were more than a dozen people on trail.  About a day after, there was no one and no cell signal.  I went into isolation symptoms at 2.5 days where I really learned about the darkest side of myself.  It was growing to no end.  I pulled an aggressive 24 miler, running the downhills and flats on the last leg because I wanted to "get the hell out of there."

That trip ended with me loosing my wallet.  And lucky for me, my family lived about 100 miles away and my brother came and got me.  Now I know to store my money and ID cards in two different places.  Because my bank can wire my money, but I can't pick it up without an ID.

What I did was purchased some low grade canvas, Velcro, a hot glue gun and sticks for it from Jo Ann Fabrics.  And I used a card to form it while I hot glued around 3 sides.  On the final side, I hot glued the Velcro in place and that made a little slot to store them in.  It lasted for years.


Log 2016052602

The motorhome was purchased this month and I've already invested about $1500 more into it.  It's pretty much at my "breaking point" monetarily for the month.  As mentioned in my previous log, I aborted my trip across Ohio in the first 50 miles.  And I brought it back home struggling rather than use my 200 mile wrecker service with AAA.  Well, I found some money and spent about $115 on tune-up parts and oil today.  Nothing fancy, just general 3,000 mile interval stuff. I figure that if I one day put iridium spark plugs in it that I'll never change them ever again.  And I'd like to switch to a high mileage interval synthetic oil, too.  But that's something for another day.

I was reading that converting to E85 will make the other 15% that's actual gasoline more efficient, but overall, it will loose about 25% of the fuel range (total mileage per tank).  And the claim was that the horsepower should go up 3%, but Car and Driver states that they're really neck and neck.  So, it all comes to a high price of gasoline at the pump.  That might make it more appealing despite the 25% loss in the range?  And it can always be run on 100% 87/89/93 octane until such a time occurs. At the worst gas price that I've ever seen ($5.35), it would cost about $214 to fill my motorhome's 40 gallon gasoline tank.  It has about a 320 mile range at a 8MPG.

Log 2016052601

Departure in the motorhome failed and my trip across Ohio was aborted.  I got about 50 miles away before the uphill power loss problems came back.  This time, it was even weaker.  From a stop, the automatic transmission in my 1988 Ford Econoline 350 based Itasca Sundancer motorhome needed to be shifted to first gear where it would barely make it up at 8MPH.  And while in motion, I had to anticipate the next uphill by building enough speed on a downhill in the Glaciated Allegheny Plateau.  The area isn't mountainous, but does have it's hills and probably 50 to 80ft, or 120ft (at best) elevation climbs.

I'm living in Lake County for the moment and I was planning a direct trip of about 260 miles using two lane roads and highways to the Lane Farm Campground in the Wayne National Forest near Marietta of Washington County.  As I mentioned before, I thought that with the introduction of mid-grade gasoline and an octane booster, it solved it's problems.  But apparently not.

What was different this time was that I turned a switch from "neutral" to "dual" in hopes of charging the auxiliary batteries as I drove.  The motorhome was full of about 500lbs of gear and I was towing my utility trailer (which was relatively empty) and it weighed about 450lbs.

After searching through some forums, it seems that this is common problem among certain Ford engines.  But I'm with the majority of those that posted when I agree that it's probably fuel filter, or a bad fuel pump, followed by a tune up.  With it being 28 years old, who knows when either one of them was changed?  That can also be followed up by changing the spark plug, wires, distributer and possibly a fuel injector or two?  I'm no wiz, but I did grow up in an industrial, working class environment and I know my way around basic car repair.  We had gravel driveways back then and I we couldn't use a creeper.  So we just laid a carpet on rocks and that's how we did it.

~For those of you who work on cars on gravel, you might be able to dismount the wheels and make a "creeper sled"using steel strips about 3" wide and running the length on both sides.  The ends need an excess to be curved upwards.  Then bend pieces of some strip aluminum to create struts that will mount using the creeper's original bolt holes.  Then fix it all together using rounded bolts.~

Anyways, I got a used motorhome and one of the first things I should have done with it was give it a tune up so that I knew the age of those components (right now, I don't).

The generator turned over today, but it only ran for about 90 seconds.  Under the main bed, there's a over over it.  But I don't know if it dismounts.  I'm hoping it does because there's no way to service most of the engine without lowering with a jack.

The holder that I attached to the new lighter power port and switch came with a 30 ampere fuse.  Since my Chevy HHR only takes a 20amp, I reduced it to match.  Well, the tablet is a USB 3.0 device and since it has cellular signal, it's a
power hungry" device.  In operation, it was asking me that I use the original cable to charge it.  Well, it was the original cable and the whole set up couldn't sustain it's rate of power.  Some of the entries that I've seen online suggest that a 30.  It's plugged into a 5 port splitter as well.  So, I'm going to try 30 and see how it goes.  The question is the 5 port splitter's plug.  It doesn't have a fuse.  Instead, it's faceplate glows and when it doesn't, that's when it's time to change the unit.  If I have to, I might be able to splice in a fused replacement, or by-pass new the power port and wire it directly into to the switch and fuse?

I plan to go back towards Marietta early next month with my car and a tent.


Log 2016052402

The decontamination of inside chassis is complete. Weeks ago, my mom and I found the bag of mouse poison open and I thought I remembered sealing it.  It was quite the mystery.  Today under the master bed, I found a chunk of that poison, which leads me to believe that the mouse may have take it back to it's nest for the other's to ingest.

While in cleaning, I didn't find anymore mouse bodies.  But cleaning up the main nest by the water containers was disgusting. At the moment, there's still a little bit of decontamination to do in two of the motorhome's outer components.  After that, it will be ready to pack and head to the gas station to get filled up.

Log 2016062401

I have some of my trail maintenance equipment in an 8ft x 8ft storage unit. The contract states that I can't bore things into the walls, so right now, everything has to stack up from the floor. And not all of my equipment boxes well.

One of the things I was thinking about doing is using at least 7 - 4x4's to create a self reliant stricture of side shelving that has 2x4 top and bottom borders, except one bottom board missing across the hatch way. I might even have to go with 4x6's to make the other 3 sides weigh more.


Log 2016052301

I went to my outdoor storage and dropped off a 200W power inverter, a 5,000mAh cellphone external battery.  Then I changed the mouse bait in one of the stations and checked another.  There hasn't been a nibble since i set them.  Provisionally, I think that the previous owner killed the one that I found and that the rest were driven out by mothballs.  And if the latter is true, it sure didn't take long for them to leave.

So, with everything pretty much being packed up and ready for loading, I'm currently set in motion for the trailer to be decontaminated and washed tomorrow.  I'm planning on this being an all day affair.


Log 2016052202

I got all of my laundry washed and most of it folded.  I think I'm going to start packing tomorrow.  Right now, about 12 days of non-perishable food is in plastic bags in the back of my car.  I'd really like to get it out of there.  My departure for SE Ohio is scheduled for the 25th.  At this point, I might push it to the early morning of the 26th because decontamination tomorrow is going to wear me out.  I might have to unmount the power converter and refrigerator/ freezer?

Log 2016052201

In the Army, we couldn't have a beard and one of the reasons why is because the Pro Masks (a gas mask) that we use needed to create a seal on our faces.  Now for the mouse decontamination, all I'm using is a disposable mask made by 3M.  But still, I want it to rest against me right.  Secondly, I want my beard to be one last thing to worry about in my own decontamination.  So today, I used my electric hair clippers to get it and my head.  Now I just have to follow up with a razor.


Log 2016052101

The official tally currently stands at 15 of 26 Buckeye Trail sections.  That's how I measure how many places that I've been a trail maintainer in.

Log 2016052002

I cut off the 6 flat connector from the trailer wiring harness on my 1988 Itasca Sundancer 25ft motorhome and attached a 7 round/ 4 flat connector.  Well, after I got the 6 flat connector off, I peeled off some tape and found that the system never had electronic braking control, that wire was cut off shortly after the connector.  But there's a component that I haven't been able to identify in the cab.  It's mounted under the dash, rectangular, about 6" long x 4" wide x 1" tall with a plastic knob on a metal rod.  The knob is similar in size to that of car's cigarette lighter.

So the only things that I didn't wire up were the electronic brake controller and the reverse light.  I didn't have (forgive me if I don't know these proper names) was a wire Y splitter where one clips in the power wire, then takes the wire that they're hooking up on the other side, they bring a door down with a little metal bar and it pierces the shielding of both and makes a connection.  What ever that is, I didn't go out to Lowe's and get some until after the storage unit closed.  So it, putting the wires in conduit and tying them up will have to wait until tomorrow.  In the mean time, I have no idea if they work yet, or if they'll blow every fuse in the block?

I had a look around where I live today.  When I bring the motorhome here, I've always parked it between the street and sidewalk.  But the power lines are on my side of the street.  They run right above the street edge of the side walk.  Since I've never tried to surpass that, I've never had cause to worry about it before.  But the driveway is narrow, the power lines come off the pole and supply power and mount to the house at about 8ft near the garage.

The pole that supplies power to the house is about 12" from the edge of the narrow driveway.  On the opposite side is a small tree.  I might be able to get the motorhome most of the way in the driveway, but it might impede the sidewalk.  And because of the pole and the tree, I'm doubting that I can maneuver it into the front yard to wash it with out clipping one of the lines going to the house with the motorhome's heater/ air conditioner?  I guess the only way to know is to get it here and find out?

And I have another site that I could do it parallel parked on the road, but that city forbids it as per code.  The two campsites that I plan on using next are boondocking only.  So, I might have to pay a visit to the nearby state park again to get it washed?


Log 2016052001

I'm downloading USGS Topo maps onto my GPS enabled 10" tablet.  I have hiking left on the Scioto Trail, Sinking Spring, Shawnee and West Union Sections of the Buckeye/ North Country/ American Discovery Trail (BT/ NCT/ ADT).  As well as various maintenance tasks on the Whipple Section, particularly in the Wayne National Forest - Marietta Unit.  When I'm looking for roadside campsites, or driving around, accessing various parts of the trail, I'm not from there and I really don't know these roads.

My motorhome is 11,000lbs.  But it's top heavy and rear wheel drive.  I'm not sure how it will react on a gravel road on a long, or steep ascent?  So I'm downloading those topo maps to give me an early warning as to what's coming up before I get there.


Log 2016051902

The hazard flasher on my 1988 Itasca Sundancer 25ft motorhome on a Ford Econoline 350 (E-350) cutaway is a 1 - 1/2" round cylinder on the fuse block underneath the dash on the driver's side.

Log 2016051901

The new cigarette lighter, fused with a switch and the 3 power port splitter have be wired correctly and now work.  The only thing left to do with that is just to pin up the wires, tighten the Radio Shack 12V switch to the project box case and screw it's cover on.

With that being said, a new app was installed to the Verzion tablet with a gas gauge that works with it's internal GPS and mileage.  Since I've been keeping records lately, I set the fuel range to 300 miles based on the 7.5MPG that was last recorded when I filled it up two times ago.  The last time I filled it up, it was only after 60 miles, but that one came in above 8MPG.

- My AAA Premier RV+ membership activated today.  I figure that no matter how lengthy of a route I take, my annual 200 mile tow will just about cover most places in Ohio that I plan on going if that driver takes the most direct route back to the storage facility.

I'm getting closer to decontamination day for those mice.  I haven't seen any activity lately on the mouse poison cubes.  To depart, this and wiring up the new 7 round/ 4-flat trailer electrical connector will be the most major steps.


Log 2015051802

A member of the BTA is attempting to assemble a new chapter in NE Ohio.  And I committed myself to leading the first hike in to serve as a demonstration should they ever have a booth at the Great Geauga County Fair.

Also today, I purchased a 6ft by 3/4" brass plumbing pipe with a 90° fit on connector and some adapters so that I could make a wash wand for my 10ft tall motorhome.  I'll be staying at National Forest and State Park Campgrounds.  As far as I know, there is no regulation regarding camper and RV washing at Ohio State Parks.  My goal particularly is to keep the under body as clean as I can.  But there's also the fuel mileage to consider when going from campground to campground to storage, too.

For the next few weeks, I'll be without the car.  Which means that the motorhome in concert with my bicycle will need to be strategically placed as I hike or volunteer.  This will probably be more difficult to do with the motorhome because you just can't turn in around in the road like my Chevy HHR.  There's the scene in the movie "Austin Powers: Imperial Man of Mystery" where he's turning a golf cart around in a tunnel.  And he's going forwards and back a ridiculous amount of times.  That's what getting the HHR turned around is like on some roads near the Buckeye Trail.

I'm going to work on some electric things tomorrow on my motorhome and see if I can get the auxiliary batteries jumped enough to turn over the generator.  I'll want to put fresh bait in my mouse traps, too to see if they'll do anything.  Because a couple days from now, I'm going to sterilize their nests, scat and every surface with bleach water and Lysol.  I plan to Lysol the floors (specifically) first, then everything else second.

On my 1988 Itasaca Sundancer 25ft motorhome with a Ford Econoline E-350 cutaway, I found that my hazard flashers worked after all.  They don't blink if the brakes are applied.

Log 2016051801

My 1988 Itasca Sundancer 25ft motorhome with a Ford Econoline 350 cutaway has a 302 cubic inch, 8 cylinder, fuel injected 5.7 liter engine.

Yesterday I drove to the autoparts store to get a dome light replaced.  It's a bulb mounted to a 1/2" long by 1/4" wide circular copper piece marked C1893 that is mounted to the underside of the generator's run time clock and battery voltage meters.  It's made by Sylvania.  The autoparts will shows the 1988 Ford Econoline as taking their 913 bulb.  This is not correct.

The websites for O'Reilly's, Advanced Autoparts and Auto Zone state that they carry this bulb in stock, but when I was at all three, I couldn't find one that matched it's description.  So, I ordered it on the web to be picked up in the store.  I should get an e-mail from them stating that they're ready for it to be picked up. Let's see how that goes.

I took it out for a spin, probably about 70 miles.  And when I got it out, I topped off the gas tank and put about about 15oz of octane booster in it.  Before the booster, the tank probably consisted of 10% bad gas, 40% 87 octane and the remaining 50% consisted of 89 octane.  Well, when it came to my power problems driving uphill at higher speeds, I use to sputter like the transmission couldn't completely downshift.  Today, it didn't have any problems like that.  So the mixture must have worked.  I'd say that I'm probably one step away from giving the "green light" before trying to haul a 3600lb car on a 750lb tow dolly through any given place in Ohio.

This motorhome has a Class III hitch, but it's rating plate is nowhere to be found.  From what I've seen, this hitch should have a 10,000lb capasity and a tounge weight of no more than 1,000lbs.  But the numbers that I'm seeing for the motor home say no more than about 7,200lbs or so.  From what I've read, a tow dolly's tounge weight should come well within the limit.  Beyond that, it will tow about 4,200 pounds total with my equipment loaded in it.

Other than that, I did use the new navigation today.  I have it's mount suctioned to on a non-slide weighted base that sits on top in the middle of the cup holders area.  I think that I'm going to have to bring it closer and use larger buttons


Log 2016051701

The motorhome fired up today. It was just a loose terminal on the positive battery post. The previous owner replaced the bolt in it with something from his shed and didn't put a nut on the other end. But the generator didn't fire up and that's because the two auxiliary, or chassis RV batteries are dead. The generator uses those batteries for it's ignition. I hear that it takes the better part of a day on shore power (plugging the motorhome into a 120V or 220V outlet) to fully charge them. I know now that there's a switch that either isolates, or connects the two systems. And that it needs to be in the center, or "neutral" position to cut the connection between them. Otherwise when you use the electric, it draws off all three.

I now have a portable 1000W peak battery recharger with a air compressor in it. But it's big and the area under my hood is small, so there's not a lot of space for it to sit when charging the cab's battery. I'm looking forward to mixing in some octane booster and taking it out for a drive tomorrow.


Log 2016051603

I wanted to take this time to write about my former improvised camper, which was humorously called "The Cramper."  To bring you up to speed, I converted my 2008 Chevy HHR with a piece of ply as the floor on 2x4 runners.  It split at 32" so that everything would fit during transport mode.  It was braced with a 4x4.  On that, I attached several pieces of 2x4 in a row and used pieces of aluminum angles to create a slot for some scissor jacks, which I put on cement rectangles as an adjustment in case the car wasn't parked on the level.

Today I want to talk about boon docking power.  This is when you need to power your electric gadgets without an external AC power supply.    It's not good to be attached to your car's battery power without knowing what you're draining from it.  I towed a small trailer, so I had a marine battery encased in a plastic box mounted to it that I could draw power from.  But on occasion, I also used a portable, rechargeable battery jump box.  It has a cigarette lighter power socket on it and I inserted a 120V power inverter into it to get a 3 prong outlet.  That ran my laptop computer watching 2 - 43 minute episodes a day for about 4 nights.  I also carried 2 spare charged laptop batteries that I used before this.  You might be able to get high capasity batteries for yours, but a normal size one like that which comes from the factory lasts about 3 days at this rate.  And that's taking into account that it's charging the smartphone at the same time and you should make sure that your computer's batteries power settings are set conservatively.

Log 2016051602

If you haven't joined them already, the Buckeye Trail Association is on social media and you can find them via this link.

Log 2016051601

I'm always impressed with adjustable blind spot mirrors. On my HHR, they eliminate everything, but I usually back to quickly looking over my shoulder in heavy traffic. In the motorhome, that's nearly useless. And one could say, "well, I'll just stick to the right lane." But pretty soon I'll approach an urban interchange and be in the wrong lane. Under that circumstance, even the turn by turn navigation might not be that detailed. These days that's more of a remote chance. Then there's cities with antiquated road engineering where the right lane becomes a right turn only lane with no warning.


Log 2016051502

I did some tweaking to the "Other RV Overnight Opportunities" GPS data.  I created this file for off-line mapping and I see it as kinda like a "playbook" in athletics in the way that it could give me options, or alternatives.  I uploaded the file to Locus Pro (a mapping/ GPS app) on my Android OS tablet.  But I didn't like the way it displayed the placemarks.  So today, I changed the icons in Google Earth so that the points display something that's the same as Walmart's, Pilot's, Flying J's and Travel Centers of America's logos.  Afterwards, I deleted the old tablet file and uploaded the new one.

And for the Walmarts in Ohio where overnighting is forbidden, I changed those placemarks to display a red tinted logo (the rest are the regular blue).  I can toggle my custom data on, or off in Locus.  If I wanted to, I can drive with it on and as the motorhome progresses, it changes the map and shows me everything on the screen contingent to my level of zoom.  Personally, I prefer Google Maps for my turn by turn navigation, but Locus does other things better.

Log 2016051502

The passenger's outside cab mirror on my 1988 Itasca Sundancer motorhome has been reinstalled with new hardware.  But I have to crank down the clasp and the stainless steel bolt was heating up and was getting ready to snap. If it wasn't, I would have tried to fasten it with the pictured lawnmower side handle.

But they use the same 5/16th bolt that the mirrors Y axis does. The X axis uses 1/4th bolts. I was lucky to find the 5/16ths today. But I'd like both to not take tools to adjust in the future.

Log 2016051501

I have Walmarts and truck stops in Ohio mapped out. I pulled data from various sources and compiled them into one file on Google Earth, then uploaded it to my tablet. But I'm certain that it's not comprehensive. I've been using the Locus Pro app on Android for a while because it has off-line maps and it helps when navigating to some places on the Buckeye Trail. The GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in a smartphone are separate components that are soldered into it's mainboard. It functions whether I have signal or not. The only thing that I need the Internet for is to download new maps.

Well, Locus lets me download them ahead of time (unlike Google Maps) and use them off-line as needed. From there, the GPS displays my position on them. It also stores and overlays any custom routes, or waypoints (such as the Walmart locations) that I create and also works off-line. With Verizon, this usually happens in remote areas of the state that are far from primary highways and interstates. Since the cell phone signal booster only works when the motorhome is stationary, I still need the off-line data.


Log 2016051401

I took my mother to show her my 1988 Itasca Sundancer 25ft motorhome.  And while I had her out there, we also did some height and width measurements.  Mine has a combination air conditioner and heater on top.  That all came out to be 99 - 1/2" (08' 03 1/2") wide by 121 - 1/2" (10' 1-1/2") high.

We inspected one of the mouse traps.  It had some signs that it's bait was nibbled on.  Then there was a mysterious green streak near on the bathroom carpet.  I left the bag of bait sealed on the floor near the back door.  It appears that one of them may have gotten in there?

It was a cold overcast day and I really didn't feel like doing much.  But I got an idea on how to make the bar mirrors moveable without using hand tools.  I might be able to use plastic star knobs instead of a bolts on the ones that fix their forward and back positions.  Since I upgraded their hardware recently, I might as well get them before I fix their positions.

I figured out where I can get shore power.  I'll have to do my work on it 3rd shift, but I have a location at some nearby warehouses.  My 3/8ths corded drill requires 440W of power at the least.  The inverter that I presently own only distributes 200W.  At present, I'm still not sure if there's a setting for the generator and auxiliary power to supply the 120V AC outlets.  But if there's not, I could always install a good inverter, or attach it's lighter plug to a socket which has clip on battery clamps and use that while boon docking.  My fuse box should be an inverter.


Log 2016051301

For those of you who normally read this log for the Whipple Section - Buckeye/ North Country Trail, just know that this is the "Treeman's Adventure's and Volunteerism" logs.  The title sets the parameters to everything conceivable within it.  And it's somewhat generic as a result.  This log does cover gear, which the 1988 Itasca Sundancer that I have become so consumed with lately qualifies.

I mounted the deer whistlers today.

This is now going to be the location of the power splitter.  I was going to try and cram it in between the upper and lower layers, but I discovered that it has gills and that I'd probably overheat the unit that way/

This is 6 pin connector near my trailer hitch.  As far as I can see, it's the only port in sight, but the men at the autoparts store don't know what it is?  I know that this motor home has been used to tow ATV's in the past.

This is the end plug that was in the 6 pin connector.

I mounted the new power port under the driver's side dash.  I didn't have any power to run my drill, so I just bored it in with a screw driver.

There wasn't enough room for the power port and it's switch, so I used double sided sticky foam tape and applied it on the other side.

I used double sticky foam on the power port as well just to hold it up while I put in some "elbow grease" on boring those mounting screws in.

Now, for whatever reason, I was still not able to wire it all up yet.  Why??? I'm not there now, so I forgot.

In other news, I started replacing the hardware in the passenger's side bar mirror and CB antenna.  The CB antenna is done, but when I went to crank down on the 5/16th steel bolt that the mirror's aluminum strip mounts with, it snapped.  And by about then, it was nearing the closing time for the storage facility that the motorhome was in.  So, it wasn't worth going to the store for.

The switch has three prongs: power in, power out and a ground.  Well, I've determined that the new power port and the switch will both have to be independently grounded.  That's no big deal, but I was just hoping to do it all in series so that only one wire has to go to the chassis.  And honestly, I might still be able to do that, too.

The auto parts stores have these nice black vinyl "Ford" seat covers that require the head rest to dismount.  They're pricey as in their sold one per package.  I didn't make any "impulsive" buys, but with the motorhome being new to me, I finally remembered to test it and they do come off.

When I bought the motorhome about last week or so, it came with a mouse trap.  Well, I switched it out today for 3 other units that I'm more familiar with.  And I'll be able to see if they get any nibbles.

Last night, I upgraded my AAA coverage to their Premium RV+ package, which won't go into effect until the 20th.  But it was necessary to get because towing the motorhome requires a wrecker (a tow truck for buses and semis).  And the first tow is 200 miles.  That would just about do it for most parts of Ohio where I plan on being.

In the meantime, I took that stack of manuals out of the motorhome so I can read them.  Maybe I can figure out why I don't have AC power when running the generator?


Log 2016051202

I got eager and purchased some a new mouse trap and bait.  Granted, they might die in the motorhome's walls, but at least, I'll be able to place fresh bait and see some nibbling on the cubes. My experience with mice is that they tend to come in and out of structures, so they might die outside?  Also, the motorhome has been in motion since it was invested.  What if it was one mouse and I disposed of it as dead a couple days ago.  Again my experience with mice is that they make an appearance once every 48 hours.  Gee, wouldn't it be nice if I moved it in between.

Also, the Radio Shack switch that I'm working with has prongs which need "female slide connectors."  The ones in the assortment pack that I purchased earlier weren't big enough for the prongs, so I got some 16 to 14 gauge ones.  If I'm unable to stuff the 12 gauge wires into them, then I'll have to couple 16 gauge wires into it, which I also just purchased.  And I'm thinking that I may have to twist them together?

According to Orkin, they say that I should remove the nests with disposable clothing.  But I wonder if I can soak them in bleach water instead?  They're concerned about highly infectious bacteria in their feces going airborne when I disturb it and recommend a ventilator when doing it.  They advise against using a shop vacuum, but I'm going to do it anyways.  My plan is to remove the mothballs under the master bed.  Then get it, or them out, followed by Lysol, starting with every surface and then spray the air itself.

Log 2016051201

I spent hours shopping today. I installed new bolts, nuts, washers and a 3" x 1/16" x 2" shim on the driver's side exterior bar mirror.  I had the hardware to do the passenger's side, but the replacement stainless steel bolt on the driver's side snapped.  The storage facility closes at 8pm, so I was running out of time.

I also purchased deer whistlers since the motorhome isn't so easy to slow down quickly, or come to a "screeching" halt.  While the overhead cab's interior needs to be replaced, until it is, it would be an excellent time to mount some auxiliary lights (like KC's) on the top forward of the motor home.  But it should probably get some fog lamps under the front bumper first.

I had to purchase a new analog compass today.  My previous one had a built in digital clock in it, but the compass wasn't turning.  And that might be because the very top edge of my 1988 Itasca Sundancer's Ford Econoline dashboard slants downward.

I forgot to get electrical connectors for my Radio Shack switch that's being installed to kill the power to the new power socket.

Right now, I have a bowl of mothballs sitting in a compartment that's underneath the master bed.  Later, I hope to purchase a mouse trap with green, rectangular bait.  That way, I can determine if there are any more mice on board.

The plan for tomorrow is to continue upgrading the mirror and CB antennas hardware.  Then take off the interior cab cover for the engine and have a look at it and see if there are any immediate needs.  If not, then I might try to make the Buckeye Trail's "TrailFest" in Zoarville of Tuscarawas County.


Log 2016051101

I drove my 1988 Itasca Sundancer 25ft motorhome to West Branch State Park near Ravenna of Portage County yesterday to get some shore power.  The outlets at it's storage facility were dead.  The engine was having the same power problems going up hills at speeds greater than 35MPH.  But it also still had the old gas mixed half in half with 87 octane.

Back at the storage facility, I jumped the auxiliary batteries with my car.  Afterwards, my auxiliary generator fired right up, but it was only giving me DC power to the lighting only.  Because I thought that I had some drilling to do, I needed AC power.  And that's what led me to get a electric campsite.

The first thing that I wanted to do was bore a hole underneath on of the breakfast nook seats for coax communications cable that would escape around the propane gas tank, then bore a hole into the side of a compartment where it would store wound up when not in use.  This cable is for a cell phone signal booster.  Well, I just ran the cable out the door to it's suctioned cup antenna and I simply plan to get a rubber strip for the floor so I don't trip over it.  But the right way to do this is to upgrade the lines and couplers for the present analog coax system so that the exterior line just has to screw in and everything's  just nice an clean.

I then got to working on the new cigarette lighter power socket.  Yesterday, I stopped at Radio Shack and purchased a 12 gauge - 12V DC switch.  But it connects with flat prongs and I didn't have those in that size.  Since the motorhome was parked and on shore power, I really couldn't get to the store to get the right ones. so, it is further along, but not complete.

And totally forgot about this when I built my utility hauling trailer three years ago.   O'Reilly Autoparts doesn't sell crimping electrical wiring parts.  Instead, they sell parts that need a heat gun and I've never really had the facility for that.  I've always used crimped.  So, I accidentally got some and I was trying to crimp them.  And they're really hard to push down.  But once I'm at the wits end of my gripping power, it still doesn't collapse the metal cylinder over the bare wires.  And that's how I know that I've got the wrong stuff.

After I unscrewed the bench cover in the breakfast nook, I found a dead mouse today.  It seemed like it was recently dead.  I poked it a few times with an empty caulking gun to to make sure.  Then I used it to scoop it up and toss it outside.  I'm not sure if it was surrounded by some ultra light insulation, or whether that was it's nest?  It was like handfuls of some kind of wooden like shavings.  So, I'm not sure if I should dispose of it, or how to replace it if I even have to?

- I used my new ultra light vacuum today.  I felt kind of silly using it because it's so small.

On the way back, I filled up with about 23 gallons of 89 octane.  I didn't try to get the motorhome to down shift when going uphill, but it seemed to run better.  But also, it wasn't going against the wind on the way back like it was when it usually has trouble.  There are some vapors seeping into the cab.  But, it has engine access inside there.  And after 28 years, maybe the seals aren't what they use to be?  But if I remember my car correctly when it had a misfire, there was reduced power and some vapors. I have yet to inspect that part of the engine.  And since I have mice problems, if they nested in the engine, they could have chewed some of the wires.  But if that's the case, even with a motor that old, wouldn't it trigger some kind of check engine code?  Who knows.. maybe the addition of the 89 octane dilute and the (finally) burning off of that old gas might be the improvement that it needs?

The side view mirrors are something of concern.  They're bar mounted to the cab doors.  And I can replace the mirrors themselves no problem.  It's the hardware between the mirrors and bars that could use replacing. The nuts and bolt holding it together are very rusty and if I try to tighten or loosen them, they will probably snap.  Then this piece of hardware wraps around the bar and has a shim.  Both shims are dry rotted and that's why they're not holding the mirrors in place.  The problem is, I have yet to find any replacements.  So, I'm going to have to replace the nuts and bolts, probably right in hardware store's parking lot.  But as for that shim, I need a rubber strip at least 1/16th of an inch thick x 2 inches wide x 5 inches long or more.  However, I just thought of this as I was typing... I may be able to shim with recycled aluminum from soda cans?  I've done it with a bicycle when adding componentry to them in the past.

Anyways, the motorhome has dual CB antennas mounted there.  I'm considering keeping them there in case the Buckeye Trail ever has a project that requires communication in a remote area.  But the mirrors are mounted for somebody who's 5'7 and I'm 6'6.  On the bars, they only have two dimensional movement.  In order to get the 3rd dimension (up and down), the mirror and mount need to be physically moved up the bar, which means that they and the CB antennas need to switch places.

The driver's side does not have a blind spot mirror.  Well, when changing in to a left lane, I can look over my shoulder quickly and see out of the breakfast nook's window.  But I'm not entirely confident with it because I can only imagine that there has to be so much that I can't see along the final 5ft of the motorhome.


Log 2016051001

Auxiliary batteries were jumped with my car. The auxiliary generator now works with the push of a button from the cab of my motorhome.

Log 2016050910

I'm gonna start with bad gas.  Like I mentioned in a previous post, I purchased an older motorhome.  The fuel gauge doesn't work and I was told that it only had about 5 gallons in it when it got it.  After I went to the gas station, the pump filled a half of a tank.  I'm not much of a mechanic, but I am a computer repair guy.  It has a method that says execute the solution starting with the simple things first.  Let's assume that it's spring now and that gas sat in the tank since last summer.  Gas goes bad after 90 days.  So along with that assumption, there's 20 gallons of bad gas and the other half is 87 octane.  Had I known that that there was this much gas to begin with, I would have filled it up with 91, or 93 octane and bounced on the bumper a few times.  But maybe I could do an octane booster instead and see how that goes?

Today, I was installing the positive lead to the new cigarette lighter power port to a bolted cluster just outside of the positive battery terminal.  I was about to mount it under the dash on the driver's side in the cab.  But I realized that I didn't have a Phillips screw driver, or a bit for my 3/8th drill.  And I also didn't have an extension cord to get power from a nearby building in the storage facility to get power from.

Why don't I have proper equipment... well, that's another story.

So without power, there's was no way to charge the auxiliary batteries to get indoor power.  Without the batteries, there's no way to turn the generator on.  And with all that said, there was no power for the drill to bore a hole so the coax cable for the cellular signal booster could escape.

But I did install my new bike rack to the hitch today.  It installs around the bar of trailer hitch ball mount so I can still tow something.  From the ball hitch mount, it has a 2" square tube that goes up and then curves perpendicular.  The rest of the mount sits on that, but there's an open end at the top of that curved tube.  I don't like that it's open.  This thing is pricey and I don't like the idea that it could rust from the inside.  So what I did is get a trailer hitch mounted brake light.  But since it doesn't need to come off, I just want it to always be connected.

Well, I spoke to two employees at the local auto parts store and one of them told me that I would have to install an entirely new wiring harness.  I'm not ready to do that yet, so I use what I already have.  And when the trailer is hitched, I'll just switch the plug and drive with the brake light mounted to the bike rack unpowerd (it's not legally necessary).

Buckeye TrailFest starts on the 12th.  When I registered, I didn't have the motorhome, so I didn't reserve a space for one.  But I made a call today and I'm crossing my fingers that they might be able to accommodate it.

Note to self... a set of jumper cables from my car (which I have) might be able to charge the auxiliary batteries.


Log 2016050801

The uninterrupted power supply (UPS) that The Robot is attached to failed about 36 hours ago.  I wonder if it could have caused power failures in some of the computer's expansion cards?  Well, I'm getting close to taking off in the motorhome, so I'm just leaving it off.  One day when I replace it, I should have a spare battery.  And that's good because I can get 3 extra nights with movies on the laptop with it.

So, I've done a lot of shopping.  And I still need to do a little more.  But for the most part, I have about an entire day's setup to do.  I purchased a Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 with a 9.7" display and carrying case.  While I also have a dashboard mount for it, I'm not entirely sure that it will fit?  I hope it does because unlike my other tablet, this one has a line with Verizon Wireless and it's own cellular signal.

I placed a tarp over the nose of the above cab sleeping area.  It's severely damaged by water.  When putting it on, I noticed that the exterior shell was easy to push.  And I also noticed that some of the windows need to be re-sealed.  I have yet to make a proper inspection of the motorhome because I still have yet to understand it's systems.  I have a packet of manuals that together are about 2" thick that I need to study.

What I'm doing now is I transferred the microSDXC card from the old tablet to the new one.  And now, I'm attempting to back the card up before I try to transfer files from my smartphone to the new tablet over my laptop.  If I have, I might need for format the old tablet's microSDHC card to make it all work.


Log 2016050601

The scenario is that years ago I purchased an Acer Iconia Tab A200 tablet with a 10 inch screen to test the Ohio Transit Hiker's Resource on.  So far, that's really been all that it's done and it hasn't been used much.  It didn't come GPS capable or with a line of cellular service.  It could be a simple matter of getting a USB GPS and cell service.  But from what I'm told, Android has no natural way of reading a GPS position from a USB port.  Nor does my cellular carrier sell a USB stick that would work with an Android OS.

Rather than purchase a new tablet with Verizon, I'm attempting to see if my smartphones GPS signal could be transmitted over bluetooth to old tablet that I have.  And if so, I found a backup camera that transmits over Wi-Fi.  I'm considering installing that onto the rear bumper.  It's old fashioned metal.  If a cowboy was riding his bike and broke his chain, he could lasso around my bumper and get a ride :-)).  That's from a joke that I once heard.

1988 Itasca Sundancer in 2016

This is a picture of my 1988 Itasca Sundancer motorhome that I purchased in May of 2016.


Log 2016050505

I'm writing this one particularly for those who are more familiar with the Appalachian Trail.  And it has to do with hiking other distance trails.  These trails are separate and have their own incorporation.  While it might be true that they took a couple pages from the AT in the beginning, the fact is that most of them are no longer in their infancy.  What I mean is that their internal operating environment (or culture) has been in constant evolution ever since and sometimes they've tackled the same problem in different ways.  Also, the subculture in the surrounding area and the conditions on the trail's various surfaces will also lead to some differences in how things are run.  It's not right for everybody to conform.

Another difference between them is resources.  Not all of them have public/ private partnership like the national scenic trails, which means that besides grants, they're "going it alone" so to speak.  And not all of them are located on one feature on land that no one wants, either.  By annual number of hikers, the Appalachian Trail typically has the others beat by a long shot.  Without looking, I bet it's dues paying membership base also has it just as beat.  I wouldn't think of the AT as the rule, but the exception.

Non-concurrent North Country Trail (as far as I know) does not have enough paper maps on the market to cover it.  And the situation in the Adirondacks is settled as far as routing is concerned.  But actually building off-road trail trail there seems to be an ongoing process.  In some part, paper mapping for this agency needs to be done by making prints from Google Earth.  When concurrent, North Country does not map.  So you'll need to do business with the parent agency in order to get those.

With the American Discovery Trail on the other hand, their map maker went out of business some time ago.  Their navigational materials now consist of GPX waypoints that you'll need mapping software to make the prints from and it's various guides.  If you still find Google My Maps, you might be able to reconstruct it's roads.  Then if the guides mention something in a off-road area, like a picnic shelter, compare the park map to the one on your software and place waypoints/ placemarks on them.  When off-road and in-person, you'll just navigate from one waypoint to another.

And you might need this technique for the International Appalachian Trail - Newfoundland & Labrador.