Saturday, October 26, 2019

Bryce Revisited

Had to go back to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah... What a place on this earth!
Steve, Gari & Cheryl marveling at Inspiration Point
Just wow for me. Inspiration indeed!
Gari on the trail.
A BC view
Zoom in a bit
Gari & Cheryl at an overlook.
An interesting optical illusion at our National Park.  The roof is absolutely flat, but the cedar shingles were laid in a pattern that generates a look of waviness.  Can you see it in the picture?
On the Queen's Garden Trail.  We spy a tunnel door ahead on the trail.
Steve & Cheryl have both ends of the tunnel covered.
Gari among balancing rocks.
Closer in.
More balancing acts.  Spectacular erosion patterns to be sure.
It looks like mud or dirt, but no it is solid rock.
Even the timber is sculpted.
Cheryl admires the canyon walls from the valley floor, as Gari photo-bombs in from the right.
Gari beginning the ascent out of the valley and up a narrow canyon.
The trail switchbacks go way up the narrow canyon.
Cheryl stands in the narrow canyon and sizes up the switchback trail up and out.
Tall Hoodoos surround the small canyon up and out.
Looking down the switchback trail.... Gari at the top Cheryl right behind.
We made it! That was a long steep way out!
Beauty by beauty.
Love the views at Bryce Canyon.  So many.  So magnificent!
Sinking Ship rock.  Hills sliced off in the background are a nice bonus to this view.
Steve stops to talk to a small elephant. He looks thirsty.
A lone Bristle Cone Pine atop a windowed wall.
Looks like a jester's hat.
 There is the Queen in the Garden, see her?
Now you do.  Might have to use your imagination a little.
And that is Bryce Canyon National Park revisited.  Probably going to have to do that again one day...

Sunday, October 20, 2019

RV Projects

We always take advantage of the fair weather in Sun City to accomplish needed RV projects.  So far this fall we have been involved with a battery bank, refrigerator, a MorRyde IS Axle assembly, and a roof vent fan project.  The 6+ year old batteries one day wouldn't maintain a charge while we were up in Utah.  We had seen some signs of battery bank struggling, but didn't recognize the batteries were near their end, and when they went they went!  The roof fans are an every two years or so, cleaning and lubrication project.  The refrigerator and MorRyde IS Axle projects were unplanned.  The refrig project popped up due to sluggish performance parked here with the hot afternoon sun on the refrigerator side of the trailer.  After dealing with very poor refrig performance in the heat since we have had the trailer, we decided to look further into the refrig situation.  Lastly, while underneath greasing the torque arm on the MorRyde IS Axle assembly, we noticed that one of the rubber torsion springs had begun to delaminate significantly.  We had to do something, because driving on that failing spring would just be asking for more trouble.

Starting with the batteries; this is the long view of the finished product.  New working batteries, we are back in dry camping business!  The 5 gallon fuel can in the battery compartment is empty.  We use that to fetch gasoline for our 4kW generator on board.  The generator has a 30 gallon fuel tank at the back of the trailer.
Below is a closer in view of the new battery bank.  We left the cable labels on, in the event we get to do this again down the road.  Note the matching battery vent covers, Master Vents.  These are four Trojan T-105 6-volt batteries.  They are wired in series/parallel.  That is, battery 1 & 2 are in series to produce 12 volts, battery 3 & 4 are also wired in series to produce 12 volts, then battery pair 1/2 and battery pair 3/4 are wired in parallel to provide increased capacity.  The rating of this four battery bank is 450Ah.  That pretty much does everything we need; fans, lights, water pump, coffee maker, and sometimes microwave oven.  We have 400W of solar panels on the roof, and on a sunny day our batteries are back at full charge by noon usually.
In reverse order, a picture of the failed battery bank below.  Two batteries are dead, and the other two were just barely alive.  The diamond plate keeper is removed to expose the batteries and prepare for their removal.  The first disconnection is the ground cable at frame right on the back compartment wall near the battery bank top.  That little device is the shunt, which is a high current low resistance precision resistor which allows for voltage metering to one, one-hundredth of a volt.  It also allows for a State Of Charge (SOC) measurement and inside display value.  You will note that we had mix and match vent covers on the old battery bank.  It may be impossible to see in the picture, but the top of the left front battery is swelling at the positive terminal.  These batteries have been very good for 6+ years, but are now shot.
Next project up is the surprise refrigerator project.  All we knew is that our absorption refrig has always struggled when in summer heat.  Since we do see quite a bit of sun and heat in the south and west we decided to investigate what was going on behind the refrig where we couldn't see.  The first thing we tried was removing the refrig vent cover on the trailer roof to see what we could see down there and determine if we could access the target work area.  Our refrig is not in a slide so the vent is on top of the roof.  As you can see below the vent opening is only about 20 inches long and 6 inches wide.  Not much room to reach into...
We then peered down through the wire mesh to see what we could see.  What a mess!  No wonder the refrig performance has been so poor all this time. What you are seeing below is a view looking down into the refrig cooling plenum.  The top of the picture frame is the exterior driver's side wall of the trailer.  Moving down the picture frame, the metallic area you see ~6 ft down there is the box opening for refrig access on the driver's side exterior trailer wall.  That is where the electric power comes into the refrig and much of the electronics are in there too, as well as the propane igniter and boiler assembly.  The wood looking wall at the center is the back plenum wall for the refrig cooling.  The major problem with that is that the plenum wall only goes up about half way of the refrig height.  It should go all the way up to the condenser coil at the top backside of the refrig.  That was one of the big problems.  That cavernous 2'x3'x6' area just fills with hot air when the sun shines on the trailer driver's side wall.  Then the refrigerator condenser is just bathed in hot air, very bad.  Below the wood plenum wall in the frame you can see the two stock refrig cooling fans.  We were disgusted with the way the manufacturer just strung a mess of wires dangling across the plenum area.  Terrible workmanship.  The second big problem is near the bottom of the frame where the plumbing vents go into that white wall.  That white wall is the back of the over the refrig cabinets.  What you don't see in the picture below is the other big problem.  The manufacturer built the cabinet over top of the condenser coil located at the top back of the refrig.  For absorption refrigerators it is absolutely essential to ensure that good air flow and convection travels through the condenser coil continuously.  No wonder our refrigerator has not worked well since delivery.  We brought our concern to the manufacturer's attention at delivery and were told it was the gaskets on the door and the door latch not working well so they just cranked the temperature down to the max and sent us on our way.  Now that we have opened up the wall to see what is going on we know that the manufacturer was either incompetent or just liars.  Sad.
Shot below gives project approach context.  That shot is taken standing in front of the refrig looking at the cabinet space over the refrig.  The two top freezer doors of the refrig are seen at the bottom of the picture frame.   We have already removed the left cabinet door for better access.
The shot below is looking into the over the refrig cabinet area.  You can see the left side of the back cabinet is removed.  We first drilled a 4" hole in the lower right corner of that back panel.  We looked through that hole and felt around to make sure we could cut that back wall away without getting into a wire nest or some other disaster that may be back there. This picture was actually taken later in the refitting process.  The metal duct tape you see is in two places.  It is on the inside of the exterior driver's side wall.  It holds the top insulation batt where we filled the cavernous plenum area with insulation.  Our theory was that the insulation there would help in keeping much of the sun heat transfer on the trailer side from reaching the refrig back cooling plenum and condenser coil.  The other metal tape was used to contain the insulation where we cut through on the back cabinet wall.  We just ran the metal tape all around the back wall opening edges sealing the cut insulation in place.  By the way, that back wall was ill fitted and only fastened, unevenly and loosely on two sides. It was like a chair with one short leg.  A fine mess.  We added some 1-5/8" screws to stabilize that wall.  A really awkward position to work in now that it is all built out.  The time to do it correctly had long ago passed during the original fabrication.
Our solution to the short plenum wall was to extend it up to the condenser coils helping to convect the cooling air up the now tight area behind the refrig.  Steve spent a couple days on top of that ladder.  In this shot he is holding one half of the plenum wall extension.  That was all that would fit through the hole in the back of the cabinet.  So this fix would have to be accomplished with two pieces of wall extension.
The shot below is peeking through the back of the cabinet wall opening, looking down into the newly extended cooling plenum.  The larger space at the top of the picture is what we filled with the 6" x 16" faced batt insulation.  We completely filled that space up to the top of the newly extended plenum wall.  The insulation has made a tremendous difference in keeping the sun heat away from the back of the refrig.  What you see at the bottom of the picture frame is the condenser coil tucked under the cabinet bottom.  At least now the plenum is continuous to the condenser coil and produces a tight little area that will aid the natural convection.  It is difficult to see in this angle, but the top of the plenum wall extension stops right about at the bottom of the condenser coil.  We ran the refrig this way for a day, and it was an improvement, but the air was mainly just going right by the condenser coils and not through them as it should.  The coil being tucked up under the cabinet presents a real stop to the air flowing through the condenser coil.  What you see at the very bottom of the frame is the insulation that we cut through when we cut the cabinet back wall. That is what we taped to the wall opening edge with the metal duct tape to secure the insulation.
The next picture below shows another day of evolution in the refrig modification.  What you see at frame left is the top of the batt insulation that goes up as high as the new plenum wall extension, which is near the top of the refirg.  The metal tape at the right of the insulation adheres the insulation to the top of the extended plenum wall.  That top insulation batt slopes up and away from the top of the plenum wall and ends higher up on the outboard exterior wall stopping more sun heat transfer.  Just to the right of the first line in the metal tape is a sheet metal air deflector that we made which is now attached to the top of the plenum wall.  It deflects the rising air right into the bottom of the condenser coil.  Now that was the ticket, the refrig is now operating as it should and can.  That deflector forces the rising air to travel through the condenser coil in order to get out of the plenum.  The metal tape at the right of the sheet metal deflector is where we taped the cut insulation to the edges of the cabinet back wall opening edges.  Then you see the cabinet stud/bottom plate and farthest right then you see the finished bottom of the cabinet area.
Now you can see why we didn't get all the best pictures on this project.  The positions were very awkward and difficult.  Below Steve is hanging over the back or the refrig and reaching down into the plenum opening to accomplish the mods we have described above.  There are those white socks and rubber Walmart sandals again!  Hahaha
The last mod feature that we added were two additional muffin fans for more cooling air flow.  We mounted one to the cabinet back wall so it pulls air up through the narrow plenum area, and the second sits in a custom stand in the box opening at the trailer side.  That second fan draws outside air in through the vented box cover and is pointed to blow the air output up into the bottom of the narrow cooling plenum.  We even switched both fans and mounted the switches inside the over the refrig cabinet so Steve doesn't have to plug or unplug the fans in the access box outside  We have been turning fans off at night and on during the heat of the day with excellent results.
We mounted the switches right behind the door hinge thinking that would be out of the way, but still easily accessible.   We reloaded all of our stock back into the precious cabinet space and it worked out perfectly.
Steve can easily reach the switches, Gari can just  reach them with out a step stool.
Now the roof vent fan project... The first fan is off of it's mounting flange.  We will use the plywood and blue tarp to cover the hole in the roof while we work the fan assembly over.  The area light on the 2x6 block is a weight for the tarp so it doesn't blow away.
Hole covered, and we notice the solar junction box to the right at the end of the white cable loom.
You may know that we reworked that solar junction box last year because the original was about as sealed as Steve's rear end.  It stayed full of water and was lousy with corrosion.  While we are up here we may as well look into the new box and see if it is dry...  It was bone dry, a much better watertight box.  The bandana is a homemade desiccant pack.  We will check it again in another year or maybe two.
OK back to the vent fans... first patient on the disassembly table.  The following pictures were mainly taken to make sure we could get the fans back together again once we took them completely apart for cleaning and lubrication.  We have the operating table set up in the shade of the front cap.  A nice spot to work during the heat of the day.
Dirty fan actuator assembly at corner of fan frame body below.  The dust/dirt, mold and mildew does accumulate over time in these fan assemblies.  Without taking them down and apart, it is just not possible to  get to these areas to clean them.
Gear drive end of the lid actuator.
Gari cleaning small tedious parts.  This fan is completely apart now, we see the fan motor and lid actuator motor sitting at the end of the critical care table.
This was a well managed project.  We took pool breaks as necessary!  Thank you Gari.
Gari washing, then disinfecting with a mild bleach solution one of the three fan frame bodies.
Fan #1 completed and replaced.  Fan #2 off of the flange and ready to go down to the operating areas.
Fan #1 and #2 both in the bathroom/shower area have smoke colored translucent covers and the mold and mildew is not so visible.  The white fan cover below is from Fan #3 which is in the family area of the trailer.  The white really shows the mold, mildew and dirt.
A fan frame body, a fan lid and a fan lid front baffle all cleaned, bleached, rinsed and sitting on the tool chest to dry before reassembly.  This is all the after pictures we have.  It was less important to get the after pictures until we try to share the project results on the Pullin' Chocks blog.  We can tell you that the fans all went back together without much fiddling and reinstalled in their respective locations uneventfully.  The fans are looking great and working nice and smooth just like new again.
After a long travel south from Washington State to Sun City, we like to grease the MorRyde IS Axles.  There is a grease fitting on the torque arm tube of each of the six IS spindle assemblies.  We also take that opportunity to look at brake rotors, pads and brake lines, in addition to the tire wear and the torsion springs on the MorRyde Axle IS assembly.  The torsion springs are a large block of rubber laminated onto a steel plate.  These torsion springs replace the leaf and coil springs on other more conventional suspension systems.  They really give a great and smooth ride, but the torsion springs being rubber are nowhere near as durable as the steel springs in other systems.  Long story short, we noticed one of the torsion springs beginning to delaminate.  The manufacturer says the springs last for about 5 years.  These had only been on 5 months!  The shot below is what we saw on the center axle torsion spring when we were underneath greasing.
We contacted MorRyde immediately and they were great.  They immediately recognized the failure as a part or material defect and told us to find a repair service and they would ship a new spring and pay for the installation.  We were very happy with that.  We found a company that would come out to our lot and replace the spring on site.  That was On The Road Again RV Service out of Scottsdale, AZ.  We prepared the work area the morning of the appointment by moving all the water and sewer hoses, removing the rodent rope lights and the shade screen for the tires.  Then we pulled in the slide and removed the wheel that we would be working on.  Gari inspects our readiness.  She gave her "Go" call on it.
Jared arrived on site right on time.  Steve opens the new spring that Jared brought with him to our service call.
Jared had the defective torsion spring off in short order.  That is the torsion spring below.  You can see the separation at the lower left corner.
Steve got to help Jared by passing tools and even putting in a bolt or two.
Jared finishing up the last bolts.
All back together; water and sewer back in place.  We just need to pull out the galley slide and hang the tire shades.  It was still a lot of work preparing onsite, but much easier than having to pull to a repair location off site!

Now for a special surprise for those of you who are still reading this far down in the post... Gari cut off her long hair!  Gari has been growing her hair since we moved into the trailer 2013.  She was just getting tired of it and wanted something that would stay out of her face, eyes and mouth.  She said it always grows so she can change her mind later.
Gari researched where she could go and make a donation of her hair to a person in need.  She found Fantastic Sam's salon and was serviced by Linea.
The donation will go to the organization, Children Without Hair.  Linea prepares Gari's hair for cutting.
She gathered Gari's hair in groups and pretty soon will make short work of it literally!
Gari completes the donation paperwork just prior to the scissors coming out.  No turning back now!
Linea transfers a hair cutting over to the collection area.  We estimate about 12" came off the bottom.  The minimum donation length is 7".  Gari is still smiling!
Wonderful Gari in her new short hair.  Happy days!