Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Few Loose Tools

Here's a few items I find handy along the road.  With me, at times, it's a pretty primitive road. This is an incomplete list.  No doubt there will be followups.

I have mentioned these before, in passing.  The item on the left is a Hawking 8WDD WIFI antenna.  Point the little dish in the right direction, and you can sometimes park a block away from a public wifi source and get a usable signal.  Without it, nada.  Also useful in commercial campgrounds whose wifi setup was installed by the owner's cousin.

On the right we have a Range Star portable cell phone antenna.  It, or something like it, will often give you 3 or 4 bars when without you have zip.  Both these devices have been replaced by models supposedly even better.  Good luck.  Also note low in the back window a little rectangular combo indoor-outdoor thermometer, clock, and voltage meter from the folks at Radio Shack.  Here's what I use for that up front:

Some people perfer all the bells and whistles of a multimeter, shown on the left below, but for a casual daily check I like to keep it simple.  The item on the right below will do that for AC circuits.  I just leave it plugged in.  If it says something is wrong, then I have to consult the manual and decide if it is worth moving.

A couple of years ago I picked up an IR Thermometer on sale at Radio Shack for 12 bucks.  It has been incredibly useful, more than I expected.  For one thing, it tells you how your freezer and fridge are doing.  Then if one of your tires is running hot, it tells you that.  If you wonder if it's freezing outside, just crack the window and thumb the button.  I have checked it against bulb thermometers, and I now trust it implicity.  You can even tell if a stream is too cold for the trout to bite.  Highly Recommended.

Believe it or not, there are folks who could care less for web access, email, even phone service. But even they need something to plant dreams in their heads.  So here's something Santa Bob has for them:

I put together this handy splitter kit at Walmart.  I like it because I can use it sitting down, and split logs up to a couple of feet in diameter.  Just tap, tap, tap, bonk.  It takes a while, but it gets the job done.  Forget Paul Bunyan and his mighty maul.  Of couse the electric chain saw requires a generator.  Besides firewood, I used it once to clear away a large Aspen that had fallen across the road.

Which brings us to generators.  I hate the Onan that came with the Daze.  It's loud as all get-out.  It's hard to imagine a situation where I might be induced to endure it.  Certainly I couldn't sleep through that racket.  Maybe to run the chainsaw.  I have a Honda EU3000 at home that I'd love to fit in that space, but I don't think it will.  In the picture is an EU1000, which is just powerful enough to run some lights, small tools, and the rig's 45 Amp Progressive Intellipower converter/battery charger.  It is whisper quiet.  You can hold a normal conversation standing right next to it.  It only weighs about  30 lb., and I get about 4 hours of use on the 5 pints of gas the tank holds.

That's pretty eco-friendly.  Honda claims 7 hours, but that's when it's not doing anything, just idling along and polluting the air to no purpose.

I carry it inside the rig, because the gas tank has a storage setting on the cap that seals the fumes in completely.  An hour's use a day keeps all five batteries topped off no matter what I'm likely to be doing with them.  If the Fridge is on auto, you have to change it manually to gas, or the electric element inside will overwhelm 1000W, and the generator will disconnect itself.  Just about any electric heat source will do the same, including your water heater.  Turn them off or switch them to gas while using the generator.

But what about that huge gas can beside it?  Isn't that dangerous to carry?

That is not a gas can.  That is a water can.  Walmart used to sell blue 5 gallon water containers in this form factor for little or nothing, but they've gone to a big square thing now that won't fit through my rig's compartment doors.  So I bought the right size gas can, washed it out, and store it empty in the Daze against the eventuality that every now and then I will find myself in a forest campground where I can not get my rig within hose reach of the water source.  Just in case, as happens rarely these days, that water source is a hand pump, I also carry a small collapsible bucket.  Yes, it's an onerous mess, but the shower is worth it.  And of course, if I really, really need to hitchhike somewhere and get 5 gallons of gas, well, there it is.  If I allow that to happen, you may nominate me for idiot of the year.

So how do I carry gas for that little generator?  And what about feeding the Beast, if I am fool enough to let him get Huuungry?

Well, here's where things start getting dangerous, liability-wise.  The conventional answer is a tightly sealed unvented 1 gallon gas can, carefully stored rigidly upright in a vented outside compartment.  But I noticed when I got the Daze that the Obnoxious Onan was furnished with a gas feed line from the 30 gallon tank that serves the engine, terminating right there in a handy place.  So I came up with this:

The valve is a standard boat part, used to transfer the fuel feed from one dual tank to another.  I just plumbed it backwards.  It works on the Daze, and furnishes gas one bulb-squeeze at a time.  Tedious but effective, and I don't have to have cheap leaking plastic Chinese gas cans lying about.

That's about all I and my buddy Forrest have to say about that, except the following:


I do NOT suggest you try this.  It is illustrated here for humorous purposes only.  At the very least it will probably void your warranty.  Perhaps your insurance.  I did it, but I'm crazy.  If you go ahead and try it, against my advice, I will NOT be responsible for the result.  If you get gas everywhere, blow yourself up, need decades of therapy, burn down the whole town, or your engine's fuel system doesn't work right afterward, I WARNED YOU NOT TO DO IT!

And by the way, DARWIN WAS RIGHT!


That said, I doubt you'll find anybody to do it for you.  Life is unfair.  Have a nice day.



akaMike said...

you failed to mention where you are today. However I like the tips you shared and believe I'll start shopping for one of those IR thermometers even though I don't have a RV yet. I believe I can find enough uses around home to warrant the purchase.

akaMike said...

Also, if you pulled the onan out would there be room for your 3kw honda?

Bob Giddings said...

Hi, Mike,

I suggest you take another look at the post. My phone went out right in the middle of posting, and a picture was left out, and another misplaced. I had to finish my ride to Taos to find another internet cafe.

I'm doing lots. Today the Beast and I took the High Road to Taos, and mountainous and fairly spectacular ride from Taos to Espanola and back.

But finding a connection good enough to post is turning out to be problematic. I'm falling pretty far behind, but I'll catch up.

As for your second post, I think not.