Sunday, January 22, 2017

Uh oh.... another frustration

Today was supposed to be highly productive but started poorly. After installing the new wiper switch and flipping the breaker to power the batteries on, there was no power. Nothing worked after a brief sounding of the bus horn. Then the idea came to flip the fag lighter socket on as there was a volt meter plugged in. Oops... 9.7V.

The breaker definitely works so it looks as though the problem could be a bad battery or maybe both are bad. That's rather unwelcome at $300 each! It is possible, of course, that I could get away with cheaper batteries. So, the charger was plugged in and charging the batteries began. What I really need to do is to drop test the batteries. That involves a meter that I don't possess.

As the power cord was now in use, there was little else to do other than use manual labor and a hand saw to cut the final strip that will go over the driver's window. Drilling the holes had to wait. Meanwhile I got on an put a 97 cent thermometer in the bedroom and one in the bathroom, using manual tools. These will tell the current temperature just like the fancy atomic clock that used to hang in the bedroom. Costing the earth, that clock lasted a maximum of 5 years and quite probably as few as 3 years before conking out. Like most electronics, it just wasn't good value.
Speaking of electronics, I'm now on my 2nd month of having a flip phone and no smart phone. It must sound really strange to all  my readers that have smartphones but I do not notice any lack from using a flip phone. Indeed, with 217 minutes remaining from 300 and with 10 days left of my 30, I don't think I'm doing badly at all. It works out that I use an average of 4 minutes a day though days can go by when I don't use my phone. Thus far my expenditure has been...
  • $1 on a Trafcone SIM 
  • $20 on Tracfone air time
  • $13 on a Verizon flip phone
  • $15 on Verizon air time.
  • That's all over two months (less ten days). A grand total of $49 or around what I'd have paid Straight Talk for a single month of smartphone service. Thus far I've saved far more than I actually spent. I've supplemented my lack of a smartphone camera by using my tablet camera.
I took down and spray painted two of the bars that go over the driver's window since nothing else was happening today. The bus batteries continued to be on charge. After a while, one bar was dry so another was painted. The first bar was reinstalled. Then out of an abundance of curiosity I checked the batter voltage and it read 2.6v. That wasn't promising.

The bus batteries are humongous things. 950CCA with a 150AH reserve. They seem to go for $300 each which is a big hit. On the other hand, they should last a few years. I have no idea if it's just one battery or both that's bad. In the end though, they were charged enough for me to test my new wiper switch which worked brilliantly. Now there will be no fiddling with it to get the wiper to switch off. The other wiper switch could be at fault. Some of that wiring looks a bit odd. The other wiper switch looks as if it could well have been replaced and replaced with muddled wiring. That might be the problem.

Rain came down and soaked my nicely painted bars. I had to bring them inside the bus to dry before reinstalling them. Basically, not much got done because of the weather.

Speaking back about electronics, milady desired to hear an audio CD. Windows 8 refused to play it or any other audio CD. Milady really wanted Windows 7 but her PC came loaded with the garbage that is Windows 8. As my bus is a silent bus I had to nip out to buy a CD player. Incredible... almost all that was available was multifunction electronics that had built in radios. Milady had already thrown out one CD radio unit that refused to play her CD despite various buttons being poked, switches flipped and knobs twiddled. Her statement echoed my thoughts that she could do without crap electronics that didn't work. Indeed that's my experience of electronics. Half of them just don't work and those that do, work during the guarantee period only. Far better to avoid electronics as much as possible! Indeed, at least one lady I work with has no electronics bar a flip phone. And you wonder, dear reader, why I like my electronics simple and uncomplicated.

For those that know my other passion, I truly enjoy photography. These days that means a digital camera and a computer. In the case of the computer, it doesn't actually work as of now, needing a new battery that reportedly costs a third of the price of a new computer. That just doesn't seem financially worthwhile. Meanwhile, cameras have been getting ever more complicated. I had a Canon 580EX flash at one point. I used it solely as a manual flash and as an automatic flash. I never used the 15 trillion other modes. They were just there making the menu so complicated I needed to carry the blessed manual all the time. In the end I sold it at a massive loss just to get rid of the frustration. It comes to something when the technical advancement of the tools spoils enjoyment of the craft! I look at more modern cameras and hate everything I see. Far too complicated with touch screens and the options to do things nobody in their right mind ever wants to do.

My bus is simple. I had intended it to be all electric but I'm leaning now more toward putting in a gas cooktop and a small gas bottle. Indeed I already have a small gas cooker. All I need is some way of charging my phone. Perhaps there's some kind of portable wind generator I could use since solar seems to be so awful.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The best laid plans

Unfirtunately, when I arrived at Harbor Freight, I found I'd inadvertently left my wallet in the house. All I could do was wander around and drool. That was a shame as it was 26 miles in each direction. Thus, after returning home to retrieve my wallet, I headed out on a shorter trip. This time to Tractor Supply.

I had a small shopping list from last week that I'd not managed to complete during the week. It had not helped that during the week I'd had to deal with a faulty oil pressure gauge on my car. The weather today was no great recommendation either. Thick fog in the morning and a black sky with heavy rain in the afternoon.

Needless to say I got almost everything. I'd planned to get some  plywood but held off on that for the moment. The current plan since the weather is very wet is to complete the bars over the driver's window then to put together the fittings for my barrel hangers.
When I got as far as completing the bolt assembleys I had a surprise. There weren't enough bolts to hang the intended 4 barrels. Then I remembered I'd planned to mount 4 but later decided to concentrate on installing the two grey barrels since I don't actually have a white or black barrel yet.
While in the store there was a small ammunition box on sale. Being steel, it has possibilities. For a long time I've been thinking of a portable power pack built up using NiMh AA batteries. I'm still running ideas around in my head but it just seems to me that a box such as this containing battery cells could easily be attached underneath the bus. LiOn Batteries might even be a viable option, using a charge controller. The output need only be 12v as it'd only be used for small stuff. I'd already discovered cooking from battery power is impossible unless it's Barbie sized cookware.

The big thing about a steel box is its non flammable. I can't say the same about the kooky setups I've seen elsewhere. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

What a depressing day!

After not installing the brackets under the bus yesterday, today was a little cold and wet. Too much so to want to try doing the brackets today. Similarly it was not  not too enticing to check the reversing horn nor the remains of the hillbilly wiring.

Other than that, there were a whole load of things I needed from the store in order to complete the tasks:

  • To secure the back windows each side of the door, more plywood is needed. The plywood available isn't big enough. 
  • In order to complete the bars over the driver's window, more metal strip is needed.
  • Having played about trying and failing to make rivnuts work, it seems it's necessary to get real rivets.
  • Having messed about trying to revive the main breaker box that was situated under the bus with its now inappropriately placed holes, it seems far easier to just get a new one. Of course we're rivets available, it might be possible to revive it.
  • To complete the supplies needed for underbody brackets, more split washers are needed.
  • To see properly, light is needed. The LED lanterns are producing such woefully inadequate light they need to be replaced. (Never bother changing batteries in electronic products, just change the product)
  • In order to fix the reversing horn, wire is needed.
Of course, having struggled unsuccessfully so far, it's now too late to visit the store because by the time the supplies are back here, it will be dark. It's all really rather depressing to be honest.

Crouched under the counter beside the breaker box (which oddly has no main breaker) because there were no rivets, rivnuts were attempted. The first hole was a shade too small but quickly became too big. Choosing a larger rivnut meant a larger hole. Once that was done, it was time to insert the rivnut which is when the rivnut did what rivnuts do best. It started to spin in the hole. That led to a frustrating half hour disassembling the tool in order to get to the rivnut in order to extract it. Having done that, it was time to try something else. Thus, a self drilling screw was tried. That went every which way but the way it was intended and without adequate means to support it while it turned that led to more frustration. Eventually a small hole was drilled as a guide for the self drilling screw. Then the screw went in correctly. Trying to find the hole was a challenge. After the screw had been put into the breaker box, matching the screw with the hole proved impossible. At that point, having wasted pretty much the day, a halt was called to the charade.

Meanwhile, the left wiper motor switch is worn out so one has been ordered via eBay. That, if it works, should solve the left wiper problem. The right wiper isn't working at all. I'm going to suspect the motor there. Other than that, pretty much everything else works and has been fixed.

The only thing I'm going to have to get real help with is putting on a trailer hitch. As this vehicle does not have air brakes, some kind of servo assist on the brakes will be needed.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Getting under the lady

The first thing done today was to slide underneath the bus. The barrels secured in the old way are pretty darned solid. I looked into changing out the brackets but really wasn't feeling like it. As a semi justification, the white paint isn't yet fully hard and I don't have sufficient split washers. I'd spent quite some while putting two split washers, a standard nut and a lock nut on bolts. I'd got enough bolts and nuts but ran right out of washers. The lot for one barrel looks like thus.
The big problem with Rustoleum is that it takes forever to fully harden. It might be ready by next weekend. In the meantime it's a case of leaving it out in the sun as much as possible.
It shouldn't rain for a few days and the brackets are fully painted so I have few qualms about just leaving them out to dry. I looked at my previously welded barrel hangers and the paint was protecting most of them well. One had a little rust showing. Perhaps coverage wasn't complete there or it could be the slightly porous nature of Rustoleum showing itself.
Temperatures today were excellent. It was 73 inside the bus about midday. Later the internal temperature rose to 79. It seems elsewhere in the area, the temperature rose to an almost unheard of 80F. Quite a high for January!
Sorting out stuff on the driver's seat in order to make space for the next plan, 3 clothes hooks leapt out at me. One was put inside the front closet, one was put in the bathroom (shown) and one in the galley. Clearly I need to put one in the bedroom. Another thing needed is a towel rail or perhaps two. I did look at towel rails but they all seemed ludicrously expensive for something that could easily be constructed from two triangles of wood and a piece of dowel.
Looking around I noticed two strips of steel. Cutting them to exactly 31.5 inches long, they were easy to fasten inside the driver's window. An extra length is needed but that's a trip to Tractor Supply. They also need to be painted before they rust. I'd like to have had the bars closer together but there had to be enough space to put my arm through in order to beckon on motorists or to use toll booths.

Thinking about tomorrow, it could be a good day to put some of the brackets under the bus. It could also be a good day to make plywood panels to fit inside the rear windows. Then of course there's investigating the strange wiring under the bus and identifying the strange object connected to the drive shaft. If it's an external speedometer, it's probably worth removing and fixing the original speedometer sensor in the transmission unit.

I'll have to get some wire in order to get the backup horn working and I'll have to mount the battery for the ventilation system under the bus. There are lots of little projects to be done. The major projects are now all underneath the bus. I'll be so glad to get that done as my knees really are complaining when I get up and down.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Antics of the neighbors

My painting of yesterday was still mildly tacky so I moved everything into the bus to paint the other side in the thought the bus would get warm and bake it dry. After painting it, outdoors got warmer than the bus so I had to transfer it all outside, getting pretty painty in the process.
Anyway, it all got transferred outside and at the last inspection seemed to be drying nicely.

All my work was overshadowed by an entertaining spectacle down the lane. Some flashing lights piqued my interest so I wandered to the mailbox to fetch the mail. It seemed there was a tow truck pulling a red sports car out of a neighbors driveway. This just didn't look normal and things seemed to be getting somewhat involved. I settled down in the driver's seat of my bus with a steaming hot mug of tea, my tablet and a pair of binoculars.
By the end of quite a while, a pickup truck with a trailer had been and gone twice, loaded high with stuff. A flatbed truck with a tilting platform had the red sports car loaded on it and then a red pickup truck was put on tow behind it. 
It's not that visible and I've done my best to make it more visible. I was trying to remain inconspicuous and out of the way in case somebody started shooting at whomever. By the end, the flatbed truck returned but didn't seem to take anything away. The pickup truck returned and left loaded and with the trailer loaded. All very puzzling and curious. It could have been repossessions.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday the Thirteenth and no Jason!

Instead, after painting the brackets last night, I decided to paint the unpainted parts today. That plan changed slightly. I'd been expecting my new drill bits to arrive this afternoon but when I checked the eBay tracking number, I found they'd been delivered yesterday.

Yesterday, work ended quicker than normal as I didn't have to deliver children to outlying areas. Instead I was off at 4:10 as opposed to my normal 4:45. That meant that instead of being home about 5:30 I was home about 4:40. Ironically, I'd checked the mail at 4:40 on my way into the trailer. Then I'd gone to feed the chickens which must have been where I was when the mail arrived (at 4:52, according to the tracking website).

Thus, today I started drilling the remaining 10 holes. After going very slowly with the first 5 I remembered what one of the rednecks in my circle told me. He'd suggested oiling the holes and drilling at any speed. After a long hunt it was down to gun oil or wd40 so I chose the wd40, squirted it where I needed to drill and started work. What a difference. I'm a convert! The drill went through the steel like a hot knife through butter.

So, having finished the drilling and wiping the oiliness off on my overalls (as all good mechanics do, I'm told) I slapped on some more primer. Today being a very hot day at some 70F outside apparently, the primer dried quickly.
Inside the bus, my digital thermometer read 93F and my charge controller read 27 centigrade. So, quite warm. Sadly my expensive fancy atomic clock updated digital clock, temperature, hygrometer thingy committed suicide so now I only know temperatures in some sections of the bus. Indeed, given the way these electronic things fail, I might go for an upgrade and get some real thermometers. I gather they cost about a dollar and it would seem they last longer than the $10+ fancy electronic garbage.

After taking a break to do some more demolition on an old trailer extension, I returned to my brackets. The paint was now dry enough to take topcoat so the very first coat of topcoat was applied. I'd bought a can of white paint but remembered a small can. Having located that, I set to work. It was sufficient for today's task and quite possibly for tomorrow also.
Tomorrow should see the painting done. If the weather holds, Sunday could be the day some of these brackets get installed. The paint is white in contrast with the black of the underside of the bus in order to show up rust if any dares to show its ugly face. 

There are definite signs of progress. In an about face, I rethought my plans for steel bars over the back, side window panes. I believe with a small baton and some plywood, I could do the job with plywood. That would be faster and easier to work with and would render extra insulation. The drivers window, however, needs a different approach. I'm not sure how I'm going to handle that yet.

I'm thinking about putting a plumbing inlet so I can connect a fresh water supply. It need not be any more complicated than a floor level faucet supplying water to a hose with a gun on it. That would allow me if I was plugged into water and electricity at a campsite to refill my jerry cans without stepping out of the bus. For the moment I'll stick with jerry cans for water. I don't need more than I have which is about 19 gallons. On a road trip that should last a week. A new U-Line 15 gallon barrel would be $40 plus shipping etc. I certainly would not want a used barrel for fresh water.

I've been noticing some tiny ants in the bus. Not many but where there are a few, there are many more. Time, perhaps to fumigate the bus again. I also need to reduce the quantity of stuff in the bus, much of which is probably irrelevant trash. Receipts from 10 years ago fir things I no longer own, for example. Clothes that no longer fit since I'm not as svelte as I used to be. And of course, construction debris. Lots of construction debris.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Happy Slapper

No photo today. It was dark before I finished doing what I was doing.  The painting project wasn't even due to start until tomorrow. By happy coincidence work ended early today due to my nit having to deliver children to outlying areas in the schoolbus I drive.

As the next few days are forecast to be dry and warm, painting rust killing primer of the brackets made recently to hang my waste barrels seemed a good idea. Two brackets still need holes drilled. The problem there is the drill bits sold by Lowes (hiss, spit) are of extremely poor quality. They burn out incredibly quickly. Thus I did order some online. Those should arrive tomorrow if the postage prediction is correct.

Meanwhile the plan is to slap primer on all faces of the brackets. I've done the backs and edges today. Tomorrow I'll slap primer on the insides and touch up where I missed. After the primer has dried I'll put white topcoat. That should in theory all be done tomorrow.

The plan for Saturday, assuming the drill bits arrive is to drill mounting holes for at least 6 and preferably 12 brackets. I'll need to slap some protective paint on the newly cut steel then Sunday I hope to be in a position to install the brackets that will be supporting barrels. The brackets intended to support future barrels can be installed at leisure.

Another thing needing to be done is to install a mount for my small fan battery. That will be under the bus. That and the security bars for the drivers window. Both could be challenging to build. Rethinking the bars I was planning over the back windows, a sheet of painted plywood now seems a more appropriate idea. I'll have to investigate that further.

Today was just a few brief moments of happily slapping primer onto my freshly made brackets.