Sunday, January 29, 2017

The mechanic

As I work for a school district as a school bus driver, I've made the acquaintance of a mechanic. This helpful and friendly fellow has agreed to look at my bus. Really and truly there's very little left to do that needs doing though as with every home, there are always upgrades.

Aside from an all points check over which might or might not include replacing the bottom gasket on the engine, I've asked him to adjust my brake pedal. It's currently several inches higher than the acellerator and I bang my knee on the steering wheel when I switch from one to the other. I've also asked him to sort out my right windscreen motor, switch the alternator belt, check on the hillbilly underbus wiring and check my barrel hangers for security.
The bus batteries seem not to be holding any charge at the moment. I had them on a charger for 8 hours yesterday and probably 4 hours so far today. They have about 200AH each so at a nominal 4A charging rate, they would be filled from zero in 50 hours. If they were truly at zero, they'd be ruined. They could well be utterly dead.

A few months ago, I noticed they were going down and assumed there was a current drain so I used the kill switch that somebody had installed. The other day, the batteries were at zero. I charged them for a few hours then operated a few accessories for a minute or two and they were totally dead again.

I rather suspect the batteries are beyond redemption. Having said that, new batteries are quite reasonably priced. They're special order though as I need two group 31 batteries with studded connectors.

I would have liked to have done more this weekend but as the batteries have been on charge most of the weekend, it hasn't been possible to use power tools inside the bus and has been too cold to work underneath.

The weekend was not without excitement though. On Saturday I went to get a drop test meter from Harbor Freight but they'd sold out. I ended up with another multimeter and a fuse tester. That will also test circuits to see what the draw is though with flat batteries,nothing could be achieved. The good news is batteries with a 36 month warranty are available for $150.

Today's excitement was one of milady's chickens escaped. As there was one of the next door neighbors multitude of cats hanging around I grabbed my gun just in case the cat took an unhealthy interest in the hapless chicken. As it turned out, a future confrontation with mad cat woman was avoided after two of us managed to trap and capture the chicken before returning it to its pen.

I'm probably going to need new batteries for the bus. I'll wait though to see whether I can start it tomorrow after charging them today. If I order tomorrow then I'll probably have them by Wednesday. As you can tell, I do t hold much hope for those batteries. They look old. Age is what kills lead acid batteries rather than usage.

Of immediate urgency, I want to build and install an underbody mount for my ventilation battery, install security panels over the back two windows. These as mentioned before will be plywood for speed and ease. Then there's the main breaker that needs to be installed. Once that's all done, it'll be tidying and upgrades. One possible upgrade would be to tie the ventilation battery into the door unlocking mechanism. That would ensure I would never be out of charge.

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.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

It lives!

Today was cold but not overly so. Last night was bitterly cold. The kind of weather when brass monkeys turn up at garages asking about brass welding while clutching two spherical brass objects! The temperature inside the bus dropped to 18 Fahrenheit or minus 8 centigrade. It didn't seem to bother the 7 gallons of water in my 7 gallon water container though.
A few days ago, a close friend was burgled. She caught the burglars in the act so I was a little surprised since she carries a gun that she didn't shoot them as she was entitled to do by law. They were amateurs who, rather than just taking what they wanted and going, had vandalized the place too. The fridge door had been ripped off, for example. That in turn reminded me that I had a mini fridge from the original bus conversion. Needless to say, I offered it to her but she declined, having fixed her fridge door.
So, mini fridge in mind, I pulled it out of the ramshackle shelter it had been sitting in for the past two years. It has acquired some rust patches but it wasn't in bad condition. Plugging it in, in the yard proved it did actually work, turning a tub of warm water into a tub of ice fairly swiftly.
Looking at the label on the back, it was surprisingly energy inefficient at 1.3A. That means over a day it would use 31 AH or about 3 kilowatt hours. I can't say any of this electrical stuff impresses me greatly. It's expensive, doesn't last very long and isn't very efficient. Primitive cultures just don't know how good they have it. Indeed, looking at modern technology makes me wonder whether the Amish, the Hutterites and other such technology rejecting groups have it right.

It's a very small fridge and I took account of its measurements and the measurements of other similar fridges during the construction phase of the interior of my motorhome. Indeed, I even put an electrical socket there, ready for use. I'm of two minds though. I really like my lack of electrical dependency. Solar panels while providing a laughably small amount of power for a mind boggling cost and ridiculous complexity aren't an option I'll be pursuing. I could put the fridge in and use it or I could just use a cooler. A bag of ice in a cooler should last a week. In terms of cost, the fridge would cost probably 100kwh a month. At current prices, electricity is 13 cents per kilowatt hour. That's $13 a month just to run a miserable little fridge! I can buy 20lbs of ice for $1.50! You can probably see why I'm so skeptical about modern technology.
As can be seen, there's the space for my fridge and a power socket riveted to the side of the breaker box. As yet, there's no main breaker. I put power in, thinking I'd be able to use my microwave but found out too late that the microwave was toast. Winding the clock back, rather than spending the money on the electrical system I suspect I'd have been far better advised to put in a small gas hob and a gas bottle. I already have a small cooler.

Running the fridge via a converter would require a battery capable of holding at least 3000 watt hours or in 12v terms about 250AH. Now that's going to be four large, heavy batteries just to run a sodding fridge. It really is not worth the expense, the fuss or the bother. Let's look at costs.... a converter will be about $150. A single battery will be about $100. That's an expenditure of $500 just to run a fridge for a single day. Add in solar, wind or a generator and the costs rack up into thousands just to run a sodding fridge.

Now let's look at coolers. A bag of ice twice a week for a total weekly expense of maybe $10. Over a year that would be $500. Don't forget the fridge could go wrong, the batteries have a 5 year replacement cycle and the converter probably has too. Ice will never go wrong. Coolers are cheap. Then there's heat generation. Coolers produce no heat. Fridges produce a lot of heat. I ask the question... how much heat is it desirable to introduce into an already hot tin can in the summer?

Thus, the fridge lives and works, just like the water heater I removed but are they of practical value? My thought is no. At least though, I know that the fridge works, should I feel the urge to install it though I shall resist all such burgers.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Past time or time expired?

In 2011 or thereabouts I bought a solar powered clock synced to the atomic clock in Denver. It was digital and had the day, date, temperature and relative humidity as well as the time. As I recall, it was expensive at $25. I could have just got a clock with a dial for about $4.

Recently the clock display has been somewhat strange with the temperature, humidity, day and date showing clearly. The time, however, has not been displaying. All I can think is that the clock has broken. I tested the rechargeable NiMh battery and it was at 90% capacity. The clock has never been dropped. It has always been on a desk.
As can be seen, there's definitely something gone wrong with the clock. It's definitely not caused by abuse and not by cold either. LCD displays do freeze but this hasn't frozen. Besides the temperature needed to freeze an LCD display is far below the temperatures normally experienced in South Carolina.

I keep coming back to the same thing, namely what appalling value for money most of this electronic wizardry represents. Over the past decade I've been through...
Two laptops (haven't replaced the last)
Five tablets (the last is still working)
Four wristwatches (the cost of replacing the battery is usually greater than the price of a new watch).
8 phones - they just are junk, which is why I now refuse to spend more than the absolute minimum on them.
A microwave that died after just 3 years use.

When you think of the money blown on all this electronic garbage and on services for it, the amount is staggering. People wonder why I have not put any provision in my bus to charge electronic devices. The fact is so much electronics are complete garbage and not only that but they're expensive; expensive short-lived toys.

I am reminded of my dad's scorn for electronics. When something electronic didn't work he'd say something like. "What do you expect, it's electronics". Really and truly he spoke the truth. I am reminded of this at work with the strange things that the work bus gets up to. Yesterday for example it was making strange beeping noises, the fuel gauge was fluctuating wildly while the vehicle was just ticking over, there was a strange clicking noise and interior lights dimmed then went bright alternately.

I am so glad my bus is fully mechanical. There are no electronics to worry about. Even so, the ABS system has a short circuit. Being largely electronic free has advantages. I pay $15 instead of $50 on my phone each month. I do not pay for TV nor internet, merely using available connections.

Today winter arrived. There was a light dusting of snow that covered the ground. That melted fairly quickly. It was bitterly cold. Trying to drill holes was no fun and I gave up. The carbide drill bit arrived yesterday and made no impact in the steel I was drilling. It's almost as though the steel is unusually hard. Still, I have just 10 holes left to drill. After that its drilling into the steel of the bus which is a known quantity. I wish I knew what grade of steel I'm dealing with from the hillbilly bed frames. It could be time to cut two new angles rather than keeping blunting drills on stuff that seems impossible to drill through.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A good hard spanking

That's what Lowes (hiss, spit) needs. Their selection of drill bits is utterly miserable. I've had two of their 5/16 drill bits burn out on me. The first I thought I overheated the but. The one today was used at the slowest speed on the drill and I made sure not to press down on the drill, letting it cut under its own weight. The drill bit failed after 3 holes. The previous one failed after 50 holes.

I give up on Lowes (hiss, spit). The quality of their tools is low while the prices are high. I've had to order a bit from eBay. Not only was the but cheaper, it was also carbide.
Despite the problems, I have 16 of my 18 barrel hangers done. The next stage will be to paint them with rust-killing primer. I'll probably dip them in the primer rather than painting them. I'll likely do the same at the painting stage.

I spent most of the day trying to drill as slowly and carefully as possible yet Lowes (hiss, spit) sucky drill bits ensured an unsuccessful end to the day with two hangers left to drill. That's 14 holes short of being able to proceed to the painting stage.

Once the barrel hangers are installed and the existing barrels hung, I'll make up the security bars for the drivers window and the back windows. Then I will be in very much a position to retitle the bus as a motorhome. I'm not so bothered about retitling from a driving point of view because I can drive any single unit vehicle of any weight, with or without passengers and even haul a 10,000lb trailer, according to my commercial drivers license. I'm more interested because it means cheaper insurance and that's always welcome!

The missing photos

These are the missing photos from the last post. Being an astute reader you should be able to work out which is which.

HughesNet is still out so I had to head out in my car to find some free wifi, which I found beside the county jail. I guess the inmates have everything... free healthcare, free food, free wifi.... all the stuff the rest of us live in poverty.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Rain stops play 2

Yes, you've guessed it. Today as yesterday it was raining and so no work was done on the bus. I have steel that needs to be drilled and painted. I have to attach things underneath the bus. The trouble is with rain and wet ground that's not possible either. I can't work with bare steel in the rain or it will rust. Mind, I'm expecting to have to deal with rust on my car. Nissan, it seems, cannot be trusted to do decent paintwork on their vehicles.

At this point I would have inserted a photo of peeling paintwork on a vehicle that has been looked after fir all the time I have owned it. Then I would have uploaded another photo of which more later. The vagaries of satellite internet though mean that I cannot do this. For some unknown reason the images were resolutely up,oading to 90% then just stopping. HughesNet is not used because it's good but because it's the only alternative to cellphone data. There just are no cables to the area in which I live.

I did head out once today. If you remember, following the demise of my smartphone I pulled out my trusty Blu phone and put a Tracfone SIM in it. That turned out to be an interesting experience. My previous provider had been Straight Talk. Both ran on the AT&T network. That's where it gets really interesting because I never ever had a problem with Straight Talk on AT&T. Tracfone by comparison was terrible. In the month I had Tracfone I made one moderately successful phonecall. I placed the call and after plenty shouting repeat that, say it again and can you start again, about 20% of the message was actually understood. I tried placing another call and had some ridiculous message about the network being full. Then somebody tried calling me and couldn't get through. And that was my lot for Tracfone. Today the month prepay expired. I'd used maybe 200 texts and 1 phone call. I don't know about you but Tracfone just seems to suck, especially when a fair few texts just never arrived.

So, today I headed out and picked up a Verizon flip phone. It's pretty good and even has a built in alarm clock. Unlike my smart phone which needed at least daily charging, the flip phone could keep going for a week or more. Thus far it looks pretty good. I would have inserted a photo of it but for HughesNet being somewhat useless today.

Have I missed having a smart phone? No. I have not. I'd like to take photos of bus construction with a smartphone but my tablet does just as well with its camera. I have seriously not missed being played by the phone companies. There's a huge difference between paying $50 a month for a connection and $18. I'm going from unlimited talk and text to 300 texts/minutes. Last month I made one two minute phonecall and sent about 30 texts. This is why Tracfone appealed so much to me at $20 every 90 days. Really and truly I don't even need to be paying $18 a month. If I could get a phone where I paid for only what I actually used, the phone company might make $5 a year!

I'm pleased to say that despite the torrential downpour there has been no water ingress into the bus.