Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Warm Weather

Supposed to be plus 25 this coming weekend and I am going boating. I go the boat out of the campground storage today, did a cleanup and started and ran the motor, even on last years fuel, it sounds good.

Tomorrow I will replace the battery, as it is not holding a full charge. Also need my safety related items that I usually replace every year.

I got my diesel finished today too, installed a new fuel pump and hoses. Seems to run a little stronger now, more power just off idle. Starts easier too. Won't know till I hook the Jayco whether the power is up or not.

My buddy George brought his trailer out to the shop yesterday and dropped by today to do some small repair work. It will sit here at the yard till the weekend when he uses my truck to haul it to the campground.

Wifes Explorer needs a camshaft sensor, I ordered the part the other day but it ended up being the wrong part. Something said to me, to check to see if the part was correct before I tear the top end of the motor out. Besides i can't have two vehicles down at the same time. Real pain in the ass, having to tear down so much of the top end to change this part, one of Fords better ways.
My buddy Richard is in tomorrow, he is bringing in his truck and boat for some paint work. As you can see, the boat is yellow and we are putting yellow on the truck to match, I will take some more pics of the whole deal tomorrow. What a boat though, custom one of a kind built by his brother. That's what I call a Corvette on the water, 350 chev with the motor in front. Real cool and I drove it two years ago, quite the machine.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Campground

So to carry on from the last post. George and I went in to take a look at the campground. Earlier this spring George wanted to buy a trailer, and I found one for him. He bought it and has been doing some odds and end type repairs getting it ready for summer camping. He will go seasonal with this camper. Went in and talk to the owner of the campground, he wanted to see the trailer first cause the trailer is a 1979. Well the owner seen the trailer today and approved the trailer so I expect maybe this weekend or next, we will be hauling it in.

I have my boat in storage there too and went by to check it out, it all looks good. Thats my little 1968 14 footer that I redid a couple years back. Ken the owner of the campground is likely going to let me move in around the last week of April. Some spots in the campground are a little soft still, and if I go in, then he has to let everyone in.I have this Chev too sitting up there in storage, been there over a year now. It belong to the owner of a transport company and he went bankrupt. So they owed me some money and I ended up with this. My 14 year old is trying to get his dirty little digits on this truck. He turns 16 in a year and a half and is eager to get his license. I would be okay with him having this truck, but has to get his act together, you know teenagers.

Campground looks a little bare without all the leaves on the trees. Ken is going to put down some asphault material to cut down some of the dust from the vehicles. Ken is 71 and still works like a madman, always on the go. Has had the campground for 30 years and made a ton of improvements over that time. He does all the work too, right from re doing all the hydro and septic systems to building decks and add on rooms for the campers.

I just heard back from a buddy of mine that used to rent that shop I looked at, he said the owner/landlord there is a real jerk and advises me not to make the move. So thats done. He also told me he had one of his Peterbilts stolen over the weekend, still have not found it. Alot of theft going on in the area, if it's not locked down it will go missing. I expect things to get worse as the economy tanks even further.

Been welding a headache rack most of the day today in the shop, a little tired out from the fumes as it was aluminum. Gotta get going on the phone tomorrow to get some work happening in the shop this week. I still have that beavertail job, removed the beaver tail but waiting on some pics so that we can build it to the customers liking.

Truck Repairs

Slow day in the shop today, so instead of sitting around looking at each other, we brought in my Ford Diesel, it has had a little fuel leak for about a year now, just irritating, but whats worse is trying to get at the offending part that is leaking. The truck being a van body, makes it all the more difficult. Here is a pic of the motor from inside the cab, with the exhaust and turbo removed as well as the air tubes etc. Looks like the fuel hoses are starting to weather crack and some leakage from there, but the main culprit is the fuel pump. The underside of the fuel pump has two weep holes. Removed the fuel pump and actuated the plunger on the work bench and bingo, fuel leaking.

So while I have this all opened up, its time to check and double check the wiring and any other hoses that are starting to wear. Bear in mind the truck is a 95, but only 220 k on it or 130 miles. Maybe halfway through its life. I don't really use the truck all that much and that is why I don't replace it with a newer unit. My buddies often say why don't you buy a dually, but a dually is no use to me with respect to all the gear I carry while rving. I am thining of a dually Ford project as I have a little deal in the works, see how that pans out.

Another little thing I am working on is with my brother in law. He has pulled his truck off the road and is going to work for a customer of mine. 2001 Sterling, this is a full size highway unit and considering making this into the same deal as Big Bill's Volvo. Rob my brother in law has a 34 foot Newmar fifth wheel and has been using my truck to pull around his unit. He was is thinking of selling it and I would paint the truck for him and safety it so that he could come out with a half decent buck, hard in this economy though. Might be better to keep the truck and use it for a toy fiver hauler, also I could use it around the yard moving trailers that I work on.

His Sterling would have to converted over to motorhome status. Plates and insurance would be way cheaper. I would do the project over a few months.

So I went up to that shop in Acton to have a look at that shop. Been trying to call the guy that has it but no answer. It's right around the corner from my seasonal campground, while we were up there my friend George and I went in to check it out.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday Stuff

Anytime you seen a fish that big, open water and a boat and a guy smiling like the way he is, thats a pretty good day. I caught this one last year, thats my son in law holding the big one, heh I was tired out from reeling it in ha. I catch and release but luckily I had my camera along.

Today my buddy George and I are taking a trip up to where I seasonal camp to check out the campground, he bought a trailer this spring and wants to put it where I am camping. Also there is a small shop up in that area that just became vacant and I might consider moving there along with some other business changes.

Things are slow and I don't expect it to get much better. I heard on the news over the weekend another 200000 jobs are to be lost this year in Canada, alot of them in my area of the country. It already is a bleak situation only to get worse and I am considering this move, for a cost cutting measure. I lost one guy back in January of this year and I might let go another guy this spring, don't want to do it but this might have to happen. If I don't go this route, I feel that I might have to go into debt for the summer months to keep the operation going as it is right now. I would then go into the winter months with approx 50 grand of debt, yea who wants to do that. I am debt free right now, and going into next month if business does not pick up, will put me negative.
Also if I move the shop up to Acton area, alot less driving, the kid goes to school just around the corner too.
So it's up in the air right now, hard to figure out what the economic future holds.

We got a little kitten to scare off the house mouse we got in here. I could put down mouse traps or chemicals, but thats not me, rather scare the crap out the little varmit so he leaves and never comes back.

Update on the water system, it works very well. That little Honda pump is great. I 've been topping up our onboard water tank daily now, takes about a half hour.

Since the shop has been slow, I have been cleaning up the truck, painted the hitch and rear deck, did some wiring for the trailer plug and generally getting it ready to haul the trailer outta here maybe in a week or so.

Big Bill

Yesterday Bib Bill and I went down to London to pickup his Mobile Suites fiver, it was in for some warranty work. I call him Big Bill, cause he got one big truck to pull his big trailer. 2001 Volvo 770 with a automatic transmission. Truck was in our shop last year, and we singled out the rear ends, built a custom hitch and platform system. Bill did alot of the work himself and I helped out with the welding and some of the design work, although not that much cause Bill researched the project to the inth degree what needed to be done and how to do it, helps too, that he is a aircraft mechanic and accustomed to working on mechanical items.

I wanted to experience how the Volvo pulled his fiver, which is a heavy unit, somewhere around 3800 pounds on the pin alone.

I was impressed. Truck pulled the trailer effortlessly, flat ground in a headwind or uphills, she was barely working. Truck was converted to motorhome status and is registered that way, plates and insurance are cheap if done this way. Bill used to tow with his Chev Duramax/Allsion combo reworked with anything to make the truck pull and handle the big rig better, but she is one heavy trailer and Bill never did feel comfortable using this combination, especially braking.
His idea with the platform area to to put one of those smart cars on there with a tilting platform to load and unload. Then he can have a set of wheels to go and check out the local scenary where ever he chooses to camp.

Here is the rig hooked up, hitch is behind the rear axle so to unload some weight from the front axle, that area under the rear of the frame, holds about 1000 pounds of ballast weight to also help unload the front axle.

It's a slick unit overall, works very good and setup for a fulltime rving experience which Bill and his wife hope to do one day.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Power System


We use the fiver off grid for a few months of the year, usually during the winter here at the shop. When we first moved to this shop Feb 1, we had to park at the rear of the yard where there is no power or water. Cold, very cold. Our power system consists of a Honda Eu 3000 generator, 4 Crown 6 volt batteries, 1000 watt inverter.

I mounted the Honda on the pin box of the fiver. I originally wanted to mount it on the rear of the trailer like I had done on another trailer I had. But when travelling, I don't like the extra weight on the rear of the trailer even though I tied the mount system into the main frame of the trailer. With the Honda on the front of the trailer, I can keep my eye on it. Also, easier to service and to fuel up when standing on rear deck of the truck either while hooked up or not.

I built a aluminum cover, and cutout holes for access to the controls and for exhaust. I only have to remove the cover when refueling and or servicing. I get some vibration through the pin box mount, but if I put in a spreadbar from under the mount to the ground, it eliminates the vibration. This spreadbar could also be a tripod stabilizer, which I like under the pin box when parked to take some of the stress off the frame.

This past winter while off grid, we could run off the batteries for the whole day easily, very close to two days before the batteries were at 60 % discharge. Generally what I did, was fire the Honda up around 400 pm and let it run till about 900 pm. This would recharge the batteries and run the living room entertainment system for the evening hours. Sometimes do the laundry at the same time. So with the Honda shut off, I could still watch tv and or a movie in the bedroom, the bedroom receptacles are wired to the inverter. I usually fall asleep while watching tv and prior to this system, the Honda would end up running all night long.

I bought the Crown 6 volt deep cycle batteries two years ago for just under 600.00. I originally wanted the Trojan T 105 as that seems to be the norm that guys like me usually buy but, the place where I bought the batteries carried both lines of batteries, the owner was a avid off grid rver and he told me that he uses the Crown batteries. That sold me. I use the onboard Iota converters with the Iq Smart Controller Modules, to recharge and maintain the batteries, these units also supply the 12 volt dc power to the fiver.

We don't really use alot of ac power. The system worked very well this past winter. For the most part when the Honda was recharging batteries it was just above idle and getting 15 hours per 13 litres of fuel. At a average of 4 hours per day, we could get very close to 4 days of Honda use on a tank of fuel.

Off grid in the middle of a very cold Ontario winter, the furnace ran almost continuously. Also with daylight savings in effect, it was dark at 500 pm, half the lights on in the trailer. The batteries worked very good, we did deplete them to dangerous levels a few times. I mounted the 1000 watt inverter close to the batteries and wired the bedroom receptacles out of the fiver fuse box right into the inverter. Nice simple system, and the inverter is not a high quality unit either, 150.00 made off shore by Xantrex.

I have been thinking of installing another 1000 watt inverter to power the living room entertainment system. I could then only need to run the Honda for 2-3 hours per day. Just for recharging and microwave or washer dryer duties.

I have room for two more batteries in the battery storage compartment, right now those compartments are empty as I removed the original batteries that came with the trailer. They were the cheap 12 volt deep cycle batteries. I like where the batteries are now, all together and easy to service but I do need to vent this storage area, for the time being I leave the compartment door open a bit.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Acton Campsite

I got digging around the puter for more pics and found this one of our campsite in Acton with our new trailer, this was taken last summer. I would like to have the deck raised so that it is level with the entrance door and I might do that this spring. Its a old deck and some of the boards need to be replaced. I got a load of gravel delivered last year so that under the trailer there is no dirt or grass, just gravel, really cleaned up the appearance of the site.


I got the internet up last night, it had been down for a couple of days, after phoning Bell we found out that the tower that our signal comes from was having problems. I am on the Wimax system which is basically a modem antenae that gets its signal from a local tower. Something like a cell tower but it is supposed to be better and faster.

What I like about the system is that it is portable. I can move it from here at the shop to another location, plug it in and it finds the signal and I am surfing. It is supposed to work in alot of Canadian cities and I am hoping that it will work up at our seasonal site in Acton.

I position the modem in my bedroom, directed at the window for maximum signal. The modem gets plugged into a router that provides a wireless signal throughout the rv. This means no wires and the kid can surf via his ipod.

The modem and router are plugged into a receptacle that runs off inverter power. Last night the power went out here in the trailer, which did not affect the modem, router or laptop, pretty slick.
I just kept on surfing.

Here is the pic of the coffee table we got from Derek, it looks good and seems to be about the right size for the living room. Not too heavy to move when the sofabed needs to be pulled out. Seems dumb to post about a coffee table, but living in a rv for so long, having a coffee table just makes it seem more like home.

It sure got cold yesterday and snow too. Starting to warm up today and supposed to be warmer for the rest of the week. I left the awning out and got a load of snow on it. It is a electric awning and there was so much snow that the electric motor would not roll it in. This is a good way to wreck your awning, I removed the snow and then it worked. I have wrecked every awning that I have had.

The economy does not seem to be picking up, more and more job losses every month. I think this will be the norm for the rest of the year. Talking to some fleets today and it is getting tougher to find loads. So it is getting worse and not better. Scary.

Here is that beavertail job we are doing in the shop. Cut the beavertail off and build a rear bumper and light panels. It is cutoff already, but I am waiting on steel materials to finish up , post some pics later this week.

I am experimenting with my heating ducts in the rv this afternoon. I have two ducts in the kitchen area, and only one in the living room. The living room is at the back of the trailer and the furnace is at the front of the trailer. So, I don't get a ton of heat out of that duct. I plugged off the two ducts in the kitchen area and this forces more hot air to the living room and also the bedroom area. The thermostat is located close to the entrance door and like most rv's, the entrance door is a heat loss area, usually a slight draft. The other problem I have, is the furnace cycling too often. Caused by the draft from the entrance door, as the thermostat is too close.

When the furnace cycles too much, there is too much heat upstairs.

Although there is a electric fireplace in the living room, I am currently on a 15 amp service and the fireplace consumes pretty much 15 amps. I did put a little ceramic heater in the living room that is rated at 1100 watts and we do use it for extra heating. But we still have to be careful as to what else we are running at the same time. Right now the dryer is going, so the ceramic heater is off. The living room is comfortable cause I have the kitchen ducts off. The furnace comes on, and stays on for a long time cause the kitchen area where the thermostat is, has the ducts blocked. Upstairs in the bedroom is now a sauna, I can't block off those ducts as the heat has to go somewhere and I don't want to overheat the furnace and have it shut down, ie sail switch going off.

In every rv I have had, a mixture of electric and propane furnace heat has provided the best results. The problem this winter, was that we were off grid for two months and could only rely on the furnace for our heat needs. Next year, I will install a 30 or 50 amp service here at the shop, and run two ceramic heaters, one in the living room and one by the entrance door. I need to find heaters that are around 800 watts. Another area that needs attention is the toilet room, no heat in there at all. I got looking under in the basement storage area, it would not be all that difficult to tap into the heating duct tubes. Maybe a project for the summer. In our last trailer, during the winter I put a ceramic heater in the basement. This kept the bathroom floor toasty warm and would help heat the upstairs.

Ideally I would prefer having two furnaces. One to run the upstairs with its own thermostat and one for the rest of the trailer. My buddy George has a furnace out of his trailer and is supposed to drop it off for me. Maybe I will temporarily hook it up and see how that works out???

Friday, April 3, 2009

Spring Cleaning

So we got the carpets steam cleaned today, they did a nice job. So for the rest of the spring the dogs are not allowed in the trailer at night. They can stay in the shop and I will park the truck inside and they can sleep in the sleeper where they usually sleep anyhow. They get spoiled, thats the problem. It has rained since midnight here, the shop is flooded out and so is the yard. You can imagine what the dogs look like, completely wet and full of dirt.

Threatened the mere existence and future of my 14 year old, tracking mud and dirt off his jeans, into the trailer, you know how they have to have the bottom of thier jeans dragging on the ground. Thats the problem with rving full time, there is never a spot to put your boots and shoes without them being in the way. I seen one fiver that did have a large closet at the entrance door and thought that was a great idea, put all the coats and shoes and boots etc. I have a small closet at the entrance door, enough room for a couple of spring jackets and maybe two pair of running shoes.

Washed down the walls and ceiling in the trailer, cleaned all the wooden blinds and windexed all the windows.

We had a mouse in the trailer last night, sitting in the oven, don't know how he got there, the wife opened the oven door and there he was just sitting there, he was'nt even scared. We lost our cat a month ago, likely to the coyote's and we might get a kitten. Was checking the free cats out on Kijiji and there was alot of adult cats for free and I would prefer to get a adult one cause I know if they don't get adopted they will get put down. Problem is, we have a little trailer dog, Shelby, he is smaller than a cat. He would have a better chance of getting along with a kitten than a adult cat.

We have gone through so many cats, we let them roam free. If they want to go outside we let them. Sometimes they don't come back, I feel bad but I believe in letting pets be as free as possible. Can't keep the cat indoors as they see the dogs running around outside and do whatever they can to get out of the house.

Got a couple of hundred pound tanks of propane dropped off today, just in time too as I was starting to run out. Perfect timing for a change and believe me that does not happen too often

My buddy Derek is bringing me his coffee table, his wife redid thier living room and bought new and the one that he had originally I really liked. It is like new anyhow, and will match pretty good in my living room in the trailer, will post some pics later. Tried getting his new big flat screen tv too, but no luck.

We have been in this trailer since last July, and we really have not put up any pictures or plants flowers that kind of stuff. Once we get up to our seasonal site, I think we will make it homey.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Around the Shop

Typical day around the shop, a little bit of everything going on. Wash truck for some welding repairs the rv truck and a service and light repairs on the Kw, still have a drop deck beavertail outside to have the beavertail cut off and make a rear bumper nice with all the lights etc.

Still getting the dump trucks ready, one went out yesterday and the Mto nailed the guy for improper tarp, 800.00 in fines. His tarp had so many holes it should have been replaced last year.

A little Hauler

Here's a truck we built a number of years ago. Little Chev 3 ton with a cat motor, alison auto transmission and air ride with juice brakes. The sleeper is custom built and has a sink and shower, bed and sound system inside. There is also a fifth wheel hitch built into the rear deck for pulling a trailer, when not pulling a trailer, there is a enclosure made out of tent material that mounts on the rear deck. The sidewalls at the rear are removable so a trailer can be hauled.

I repaired the vacuflush toilet system, the 12 motors needed to come out and be taken apart and cleaned up as the brushes inside were stuck with corrosion and dirt. We had to cut a access hole. Beside the access hole is a electric hot water tank and a waste holding tank. We installed these items last year.
Were doing a water test too, I loaded him up with water to his onboard 40 gallon fresh water tank, I transferred the water from my truck tank with the Honda pump, worked very well.

The truck has been a ongoing project for years, customer changes his mind with what he wants to do with the truck. He has a mobile hearing test company and we built some specialized trailers for him a few years back. He hauls this around to companies and checks the hearing of the employees. Kind of a neat little business, he is feeling the economy pinch right now as companies are cutting back.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

More Pics

So here is the downstairs, the living room is separated by the french doors, inside the living room there is alot of room and right this minute we 5 adults and two german shepherds sitting in here watching tv and having coffee. That round kitchen table has been replaced by a square one, the round one just did not work out plus we rarely ever sit at the table for dinner.

I like the layout of the trailer as the kitchen area is wide open, and the living area is separate and one can close the doors and keep the noise separate.

One of the dogs just farted, so the living room has cleared out now.

Electric fireplace in the living room and surround sound system factory installed along with the dvd player and large tv that swings out and tilts.

The two chairs at the rear of the trailer are made by Lazyboy and are real comfortable, leather too, behind those chairs is a big bay window. Lots of windows and indirect lighting, ceiling fans and ducted air conditioning throughout the trailer.

The Homestead

I figured I would post a couple of pics of the interior of the fiver. Here is the bedroom, king size bed and i got my tv and dvd player there. Lots of storage in the front behind the mirror closet doors, even got a safe in the floor, they think of everything.

Here is the bathroom area, shower stall and sink, also the shitter room and the washer, I have a dryer mounted on top of the washer now.

More Water Pump Stuff

I was not happy with the flow coming out of the gas powered water pump. Also the supplied pickup tube was difficult to use, I would drop it into the tank to pickup the water but it would float.

So I plumbed the pickup hose right into the fitting at the bottom of the tank on the truck and also installed a valve. The water now flows from the bottom of the tank to the pump and then out through a rv hose to the onboard tank on the trailer. She pumps fast now, if I want more flow I will have to change the output hose to 5/8 or 3/4 id.

I am really impressed with this Honda gas powered pump, especially for 240.00. A real deal. The motor fires up easily and runs smooth, 4 stroke overhead valve design. It being a Honda should last a long time.

I am still using a sump pump that I submerse into the big tank and run the little inverter generator for power.

Even once I get to the seasonal campsite in probably two weeks, I will still use my on board tank to supply water to the trailer. The park water on the weekends loses pressure due to the campground being full, sometimes to the point where there is no water at all.

Steady in the shop this week, getting gravel trucks ready for the season. So rv work tomorrow on my buddie's truck I built for him a few years ago, will post some pics tomorrow. Looking forward to that.

Been reading alot of the blogs on survival and preparedness, seems like there is more and more info every month. I think this coming month we will start with putting some supplies away, I've gotten alot of info off the net the last six months.

I don't think there will be a total collapse, but for me could be a very slow period/bad economy and in my mind that would be the same as a collapse. Implement a more frugal cost effective lifestyle now so that when it does slow down we are better prepared.