Search This Blog


Motorhome Shakedown Cruise 02/28/2018

Well, I think that the Internet sucks today and I'm not sure that I'm going to be much better.  The problem with the exhaust headers is that when I purchased the motorhome, the previous owners didn't use any gaskets.  Gaskets are thin and are what's used on the engine, or exhaust when you bolt something metal to something else that metal.

We're working in a driveway, or in the storage unit.  And my mechanic was taking a risk when he did the right bank (during the compression cycle of the engine, the third phase is exhaust and that goes to the header), he was taking a risk that one of the bolts would snap while still in the engine block.  After getting that on, we determined that doing the left bank was not worth the risk.  If one of the bolts were to snap, working with this part of the engine is tight and he would have to remove the block.  That job entails severing every connection and removing the front grill, radiator and everything else in front of it just to pull it out.  He'd need to do that in order to drill out the studs that snapped.

We then had a hose from the vacuum compressor to the air filter manifold that was breached.  I first went to the local Ford dealer and the employee there said that it was obsolete and no longer manufactured.  He recommend that I go to a junk yard.  I then went to NAPA and tried to get them to replace it, but they couldn't.  So, I got creative and and purchased a piece of hose to go over the vacuum pump one.  Then I drove to the hardware store and got some 1 inch wide copper pipe.  Then I went to another auto parts store and got some JB Weld in case we needed to interface that piece of rubber hose that I got from NAPA with copper pipe from the hardware store.  Well, it turns out that the with pipe and stock hose, he got it together with some hose clamps.

This must be shakedown cruise #3 or #4.  He drove it this time and when we got on the freeway, I don't think he liked how it was accelerating, especially when it was already going.  He was stating that it could be that the cable from the gas pedal to the throttle body was stretched?  Or there could be a some sort of tensioner on the transmission that was causing it not to shift right.

Today was my first opportunity to fill up the gas tank.  I don't know what it's consumption was or what it will be until two fill ups from now.  All I remember was that it cost over $50 to fill over 33 gallons.


Trailer Wiring Harness

I installed a new  4-flat trailer wiring harness on my 2008 Chevy HHR LS today.  The mileage on the odometer is as shown.  Now that my X-Cargo luggage carrier is mounted to the motorhome's roof rack, I think that my HHR is getting better fuel economy?


Exhaust Header and Mackinaw Bridge Walk

There's been some trouble today mounting an exhaust header to the engine.  I think yesterday (or the day before) I had to get gaskets for both the right, left bank and throttle body manifold.  I think my mechanic got the right bank somewhat mounted and should finish tomorrow.  The right bank had the EGR valve and tube and there might have been something else different with it?  I know from having  worked inside the dog house and having tried to change the spark plugs and wires that this is a difficult side of the engine to access.

I forgot to bring my Mechanix gloves with me to the storage unit today to see if one of my house batteries has a leak?  My mechanic seems to think that I do?  I'm planning to buy a battery charger in about 3 days.  I tried recharging my portable jump box, but it had a malfunction.  That's the second one in four years that I've gone through.  I'm really leaning on getting a corded battery charger, but they can't go on an extension cord because they draw too many amps.  So maybe, I'll just get another portable unit?  I don't want to get one that's on wheels because it's not very portable.

I just got a notice regarding the walk for the Mackinaw Bridge for September 3rd.  I've scheduled it and considering that we'll have to cross Ohio, probably diagonally to get there, I might pick up others along the way?


Motorhome Speakers

In the motorhome, the front speakers are 6 inches round and in the cab doors.  Currently, there are ports for two 6 inch round speakers in the chassis' cabinetry.  But I'm going to upgrade those ports to 8 inch round speakers.  Today, I just purchased the grills and back covers. 

Those back covers were a bit hard to find.  They have to be there to protect the speakers in case something gets stacked on top of their back sides.

Motorhome Update 02/25/2018

I installed a new crossbar to the motorhome's roof rack.  I used a 3/4th inch ID galvanized steel pipe. Then I attached four 3/4 inch single swivel sockets.   I may make more modifications to it to allow my Xcargo roof carrier to swing up so the bathroom roof hatch can open?

My mechanic was working on the right exhaust manifold gasket today.



NOAA - NWS Hydrographic Data

Adventurer's Project's website remains a "works in progress" and is not published yet.  But I continue to add things to it.  The most recent thing is that I found how to get access to data submitted from five Hydrographic charts from the NOAA - National Weather Service.  I'm linking them for the following stations:

Ohio River at Marietta Pump House

Duck Creek Near Whipple (approx 320ft W of the Whipple Section between Pts. 11 & 12)

Duck Creek at Macksburg

Little Muskingum (River) at Bloomfield [3.8mi NE of Road Fork Section, Point 26 (07/2011 Map & Guide)]

-  Muskingum River at Beverly [7.2mi S of Whipple Section, Pt. 22 (10/2010 map & guide]

The Marietta Pump House give a good baseline understanding of what's going on in the area as far as water level is concerned.  The station near Whipple might determine in BT's clockwise direction if Whipple 13 is under water?

  The station at Macksburg is roughly at 672ft elevation.  The ODNR Dam at Whipple 15 is south of that at 644ft.  They are approximately 6.82 miles apart from each other.  What level would the water on the Duck Creek on Macksburg's hydrograph have to be in order to flood over the ONDR dam near Whipple 15 that is only 3 feet above normal the level of the creek in that location?  If we can determine this, then it could alert the hikers traveling in the counter clockwise direction that they'll be on "Dry Boot By-pass," instead of crossing the Duck Creek near Whipple 15 on the concrete ODNR dam.

The Little Muskingum (River) at Bloomfield station could alert hikers that the Road Fork Section near the Ring Mill might be under water?  For out of town hikers, this is the kind of information that they would need in order to know whether they should drive at distance to traverse the area.  And the Muskingum River at Beverly's levels might somehow indicate the creek and stream levels between Whipple 21 - 23.  This area is on higher terrain, but those creeks and streams could bloat?  And one of the roads there can have large holes in it?

I have the flood stage data for these stations.  But in order to make it a custom fit for these sections, I think that digital photographs are the way to go.  They have a time stamp embedded in them that can be accessed with the stock Windows Explorer in Microsoft Windows.  If I could roam the area on a very rainy week, take pictures then compare their times to the ones stated in the hydrographs, then I may be able to say based on the Duck Creek in Macksburg's normal level (for instance), that if the hydrograph shows the creek at a certain level, then the Dry Boot By-pass is definitely in effect and we can spare the hiker from having to hike 2.9 miles down to find out, then 2.9 miles back.


Discount Gas Map

On my end personally, the scenario is that I could be at the Ring Mill Campground, which is at the northern terminator of the Road Fork Section's off-road trail... low on gas.  Well, at last count, the motorhome gets 8 MPG with a 38 gallon fuel cell capacity.  The nearest gas station from there is about 10 miles away.  And the nearest town takes over 20 minutes to get to. 

But, I've made an off-line GPS map covering my Speedway Rewards, MySheetz, Giant Eagle Advantage (GetGo) and Plenti (Exxon/ Mobil).  But then I got to thinking that Adventurer's Project is coming along and it could use the traffic, so I did all this for the entire State of Ohio (and some).  Right now, my Speedway Rewards points are up over 50,000.  $0.50 off per gallon is about 8.750 points for a maximum of 15 gallons.  The last time that I did this, they're computer system wouldn't let me get free gas and I ended up paying $0.08 a gallon.  And at 15 gallons, that's a nearly free 39% of the motorhome's tank.


Motorhome Repairs Continued 02/17/2018

The second cab battery was installed, the left rear brake shoes and were readjusted on my motorhome. The transmission has 17 bolts at the filter pan.  I was airing up the front left tire with my electric pump that plugs into the lighter port. However, I realized the error of my ways when I forgot to turn the motorhome on and run it off the alternator and I killed the battery. 

There was a vacuum tube that was dismounted on the transmission. It's no longer a consideration for something going wrong. My mechanic and I are looking into the tires and suspension. We got it on to the freeway. Yesterday, there was excessive vibrations coming from the right rear side that started at 45MPH.  It still vibrates, but we got it up to 63MPH and I could have held the road at faster speeds.


Odometer Reading and Other Pictures

Motor home Transmission Filter and Shakedown Cruise 02/17/2018

The transmission filter was replaced. Stand by for an odometer reading. I put the motorhome with my mechanic on the freeway today and it had a hard time going above 55MPH. He said that something on the passengers side was vibrating and we're looking into transmission related problems, but I'm braced for replacing the transmission. But the engine sounds good. When I switched from the motorhome to my car to move it, I smelled something. My mechanic said that one of the new brake shoes was rubbing and that he'll have to readjust it later.

There's a ticking noise when it drives. My mechanic said that it's in the exhaust header. And he didn't seem like it absolutely needed replaced, but he said if I want it done that the bolts will likely snap and that he'll have to use a tap and dye set to drill them out.

Meantime, I pulled a bunch of auto parts that I don't need and don't have receipts for. I'm going to put them up for sale or auction on eBay.  And I tried tuning the CB, but it has built-in diagnostics and it's antennas came back as failed.  Looks like I'll have to replace a couple pieces of hardware or add a ground wire directly to the body?

I'm getting closer to having the interior remodeled and reupholstered. My mechanic said that he's going to mount the wi-fi/ cell signal booster antenna to the outside chassis at the overhead compartment. When it comes to punching bolts through, the remodeling is the right time to do it.  It's the right time to replace the brake, reverse lights and side markers.


2012 Ohio Valley Derecho

On June 29th, 2012, I was camping at Wolf Run State Park near the Village of Belle Valley of Noble County on the north side of Buckeye Trail's "The Wilderness Loop."  I was there to camp in an electric site.

I was sleeping my collapsible camper that I hand made for the back of my Chevy HHR, which I humorously call "The Cramper."  It was quite improvised.  That night, the nastiest windstorm that I had ever been in (in all my life) came through SE Ohio.  I think it started in the evening and I took shelter early.  It was bad.  But when I got up the next morning, The Cramper actually survived due to the system of bungee cords that mounted a large tarp to the back.

I broke camp and drove down to the Ring Mill Campground on the Road Fork Section, and then another site.  And that's where I found signs posted from NFS stating that the forest had been ordered closed by the forest supervising ranger and that anybody going beyond the signs risked a $5000 fine.  Since NFS was putting sawyers on mandatory overtime and advertising on the radio that anybody certified was asked to apply and would probably get hired, as I understood, NFS was not prepared for the magnitude of this storm.  I have a picture of this closure somewhere.

The Marietta Unit is an 85 year old older young growth forest.  And from what I could see, it took a beating.  When I became the Whipple Section (volunteer) Supervisor about 2 -1/2 year later, I had an indoctrination at the Wayne National Forest Headquarters in Nelsonville of Hocking County.  And they said that trees were down in dangerous ways and that their sawyers were fighting through webs of them.  If the hikers were to try and go through there, it could have been life threatening?  It ended up taking NFS that entire summer to reopen the BT/ NCT in the Marietta Unit of The Wayne.

I was reading a journal for Luke "Strider" Jordan, who was then a thru hiker on the North Country Trail, which are concurrent with the Road Fork and Whipple Sections - BT on The Wilderness Loop.  I was curious how he fared on his way through.  But in reading his log for Sat. August 24, he by-passed Road Fork and Whipple.  That was actually the right thing to do.  According to the closure, only the trails were closed.  But who knows what damage was done to the backcounty?  I wouldn't want be in there then.

Depending on who you ask, the BT/ NCT has about 45 miles of almost continuous off-road in the Marietta Unit of the Wayne.  If you eliminate the forest, there's nowhere else stated to overnight in the area.  I recommended to Buckeye that they put up a trail alert to shut down the Road Fork and Whipple Sections entirely, but that never got enacted.    But I am Whipple's supervisor now and under these conditions and for the record, I'd standby Strider's decision to by-pass it in my official capacity.


NCT Westbound Mock Hiker Completed

According to my 3rd party amateur data, if the North Country Trail was hiked continuously from one end to the other, at generally 24 and 18 miles per day depending on the terrain and zero days at every 21 days generally, it would take 295 days to complete my estimate of a total length of 4,829.4 miles.  That number includes the Arrowhead in Minnesota, the NCTA's current GIS track in the Adirondack Park and a questionable smartphone trace of a map from a jogging app for part of Vermont.  My tracks still contain certain inconsistencies with the NCTA's issued tracks, but not enough to affect the total by more than +/- 15 miles.  That's that best that I can do at this time. 

According to the parameters that I use, North Dakota has two amenity gaps and takes the mock hiker into it's reserve mileage (24 to 29.5 miles) once in this state.  Those amenity gaps mean that no sleeping amenity that I could confirm here at my desk could be found within 29.5 miles of the starting location.  Routing the mock hiker into it's reserve incurs a penalty of a zero day.  It's part of the rules to keep it reasonable and highlight areas that need more support.  But, on several occasions, I routed it in to the reserve because the mock hiker was coming up on a zero day in someplace that was ideal anyways.

Even if the NCTA doesn't recognize thru hiking, I still came out with an important piece of information.  According to the written simulation, only 98.62 additional miles added to the trail's total was necessary to cover to reach an amenity off-trail.  This was in question on Buckeye last year and I sure wish that I had a number for this.

Since North Dakota features two amenity gaps, there is no need to pursue an eastbound mock hiker because the difference between the two would have to start right away. 

This is all a part of a 3rd party review (myself) of the North Country Trail's camping/ lodging capabilities.  You might call it a benchmark test?  The data from this will probably also be used to construct an "Early Warning System" map for the unofficial Adventurer's Project in SE Ohio.  The way it works is that if the hiker reports their location with mapping app or Facebook, we could input their location to our map which will show how far out they are and help predict the date of their arrival at The Wilderness Loop - Buckeye Trail (North Country partial).  I'd say that the North Country Trail at this rate of progress looks pretty healthy.  For a distance hiking trail in the Upper Midwest, it's performing well.

NCT Wb Mock Hiker About 80% Complete

- I finished routing my mock hiker written simulation of the North Country Trail from it's new eastern terminus at the Appalachian Trail to Mile 21.7 of the Kekebabic Trail Club in Minnesota.  The last time that I tallied up where I was with this was for Mellon, Wisconsin and that was over 3,300 miles of about 4,806.  Considering that I just got through the Superior Hiking Trail tonight, I could probably have the westbound mock hiker done tomorrow?

- I've decided that I'm only going to route the eastbound mock hiker to Stockport Section, current day Point 7/ Whipple Section, current day Point 24 - Buckeye/ North Country Trail in SE Ohio. 

- At a rate of 24 and 18 miles per day depending on the terrain and taking a zero day once every 21 days generally, I've determined that a thru hike of the North Country Trail is impossible to complete within a 210 day window.  By my independent review of the trail, North Country's length exceeds that window of execution by about 1,500 miles.  I did hear that this may be the case, but I wanted to test it myself.  Regardless, I'm familiarizing myself with the trail in hopes that I can one day anticipate North Country hiker's arrivals in SE Ohio.  I won't know this until I complete this project, but roughly, off the top of my head, it may be possible for those hikers to start at either terminus and end on Road Fork or Whipple Sections - BT/ NCT?

- What I think North Country needs is a 10 miler study.  But after this project, I'm on to doing some GIS research for American Discovery trail.


NCT MI Tracks Corrected and Adventurer's Project

My North Country Trail GPS tracks for the State of Michigan are now corrected.  The mock hiker written simulation can now continue because the bog just broke.  To bring some of you up to speed, the "mock hiker" is a document that details the daily mileages and camping/ lodging of a hiker who will never see the trail.  It has rules to keep me in bounds.  Buckeye Trail is my "first language," so I'm getting familiar with North Country.  And ultimately, I'm trying to predict when their hikers will arrive in SE Ohio.  I have mapped out a hiker early warning system, but North Country's end of is imprecise at the moment because I still don't know how it flows.

I'm just really through.  This document needs to be done westbound and east bound.  But I'll be doing nothing but it from now on.

I want to take this time to write one thing about Adventurer's Project.  Starting a chapter in Marietta/ Parkersburg is going to be a different kind of challenge compared to what I believe that we're use to on the BT.  That's because unlike other chapters, this area doesn't have a whole lot of existing support in the area.  So the members that it gets are probably (and literately) going to have to come right off of the streets as apposed to Buckeye or North Country Trail Association's roster.   That's probably more from scratch that it's use to.


Correcting NCT MI Amateur Tracks, Tail and Reverse Light Replacements - Motorhome

-I corrected a few of my amateur tracks for a few North Country Trail chapters in Upper Peninsula Michigan.  I think I still have 5 chapter tracks that I still have to correct before I go on with my mock hiker written simulation of the trail?  On Google Earth's imagery, where they got their data from, sometimes the track that GPS's lock to is way off from the imagery.  In all due process, what if the GIS operator that recorded that data arrived during bad weather?  And he came so far that he just wasn't going to go home empty handed and recorded a bad track?

-I purchased new LED tail and reverse lights that mount in to the motorhome's rear chrome bumper.


Two Wi-Fi/ Cellular Signal Booster Antennas and Wiring

I found an SMA splitter.  If I'm right, that means that I can have two Wi-Fi/ cellular signal booster antennas mounted on the mirror bars.  I'll now have to purchase the second antenna and about 20 feet of SMA cable to go from the passenger's side cab door to the table overhead compartment in the chassis on the driver's side.  I'll probably get it at Micro Center when I purchase the second antenna. 

With the brakes out of the way, we're on to more cosmetic things in the chassis.  Since we're going to tear apart a lot, this is the point where we'll have access to the analog coax cables and get to replace them.  There three ports in the motorhome.  One is outside to jack in cable TV.  The other two are inside.  One is above the table and the other is in the bedroom area.  The SMA cables will have simiar routing, so we might as well do it then.

Mock Hike Written Simulation & Motorhome Antenna Parts

It turns out that my North Country Trail tracks for the State of Michigan are going to need more work than I originally thought.  I'm probably going to have to re-merge five chapters, this time without taking any shortcuts.  But I just took a look at what I need to do and it seems like the bog is waiting to break when I get past Michigan.

The problem with the NCTA's mile markers is that you can only see what the mileage is if you click on them.  It comes up in a bubble.  That's not good for what I'm doing.  I have to see labels, so I'm going ahead with getting mileages off of my tracks for Michigan and North Dakota since I've recently found out how easy they are to do.  With all that said, my mock hike written simulation for the North Country Trail will continue.

I ordered a new N type coupler for my wi-fi/ cell signal booster.  My plan is to drill a new hole right near where the bar mirrors mount and screw it in.  Then run the line inside the door to some shielding between the door and the cab, then under some plastic shielding and up into a set of cabinets where my cable and antenna TV couplers are.  The CB antenna cable is running through the side crack in the door, but computer equipment is usually more sensitive to kinks and breaks.

The motorhome has old ports for special tube screen low, DC power tube screen TV's.  But, even if I do get an LCD, or LED television, they're so easy on power these days that I'm never going to use those special ports.  I'll probably use a digital TV tuner card on my laptop anyways.


Wi-Fi/ Cellular Antenna and USB Cable

I just purchased an outdoor antenna for the Wi-Fi and cellular signal booster with 15 feet of cable to connect to a port over the table.  I also got some USB cable to connect a headlight that I got from a Chinese bicycle company that my bikes don't need. It's mounted on a light that has a swing arm on my desk.


NCT Mapping Project Complete

I just found the easy way to make digital mile markers.  I used and in the "[+] Show Advanced Options," there's a field for "Add equal-interval tickmarks as waypoints."  It can do it distance, or time, so I just loaded my chapter tracks one by one and set the interval to "0.1" and it gave me mile markers every tenth of a mile.  I'm several days ahead of schedule now.  That was ridiculously easy.  It took about 7 years to to finish reorganizing the NCTA's data.

I'm now heading into the final phase of my project, which is to create a mock hiker written document.  That will simulate a thru, end-to-end hike on the North Country Trail by the minimum daily mileage needed to cover it within about a 7 month window of execution.


Final Brake Shoes Replaced

My mechanic finished the final brake shoes replacement on the rear left side wheel. Then we got the new CB masts working. Apparently, I have some homework to do I can tune it.

The mileage for this is the same as it was yesterday.

Wheelbase Measurement

The motorhome's wheel base from the center of the front axle to the center of the rear measured 160 inches.  Apparently, that's 22 inches longer than the lengthiest Econoline.  Again, I own a 1988 Itasca Sundancer IR24C motorhome with a Ford Econoline 350 cab.


Motorhome Update 02/03/2018 - 01

Three of the 4 wheel's brakes are replaced.  We'll be replacing the left rear ones tomorrow.  The odometer remains at 70,954 miles.  Afterwards, I drove to O'Reilly Auto Parts and purchase new front struts and springs. My family mechanic did the work and I spent about an hour taking measurements of the compartment doors and windows.  I have a file that I keep on the motorhome and I just keep adding things to it.

Mileage: Motorhome

This is the reading on the motorhome`s odometer. Front brakes and discs were replaced today. Rear brake shoes replacement in progress


Digital Mile Markers - NCT Pennsylvania Complete

I re-labeled the digital mile markers for the Allegheny National Forest Chapter of the North Country Trail Association's span.  That completes them for the NCT in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


ADT GPS Tracks, Wayne National Forest Data

I made some alterations to my American Discovery Trail GPS tracks today.  Then, I collected roads and trails information for the Wayne National Forest for anything connected to the Road Fork, Whipple and New Straitsville Sections.  I have a few things for those with campers and motorhomes on the Buckeye Trail.  But until today, I've never stopped to consider if RV's could camp at Lamping Homestead Recreation Area in the Marietta Unit of The Wayne.  Now that I look at the imagery, I just don't see how they can.