Ambassador PLQ, Old Diary, RV Living, Travel

Downs and Ups

Can you tell from the title that there’s been a change in circumstance?

Norcold 1200 Refrigerator

This is what our Fridge looks like

It’s Friday morning and the repair story has changed a couple times since Wednesday evening.  Isn’t that always the way…!

We got  an update call on Thursday morning.  The part was supposed to arrive on Thursday at 11, and they were going to start on pulling the fridge out of it’s place and replacing the cooling core at 1 p.m.  — and they’d call to confirm.

The confirmation call never came.  I heard back from them late in the day to say that the part still hadn’t arrived but that they anticipated pulling us into the shop Friday morning (today) about 9 a.m.
If that holds we could have all our repairs completed by the end of the day on Friday.

Norcold Refrigerator Fire 1

Refrigerator fires are nothing to laugh about.

Norcold Refrigerator Fire 2

Refrigerator fires are nothing to laugh about.

That doesn’t mean we’ll leave Junction City Friday night, or even Saturday Morning.  In fact, the Svc Mgr sat down to talk about 3:30 in the afternoon to say that they usually like to let a new cooling core ‘cook’ for a good 24 hours before returning it to the owners.  With us staying in our coach that makes the burning in time a little dicey, and with the weekend upon us there was a question about just what our travel plans might be.

The two photos attached illustrate the  dangers of  overheated RV refrigerators.  We agreed with the Svc Mgr that we’d stay through the weekend, give the fridge 48 hours to burn in and stabilize on AC power — importantly enough — not on LP — and see how the repair works.  It’s not that they don’t trust their work but there is such a thing as ‘infant failure’ with replacement parts and we want to make sure we are really repaired and not have to spend more time at another shop.  Better safe a day later than sorry on time.

Norcold Refrigerator Cooling Core

A Norcold Cooling Core

Refrigerator fires aren’t all that UN-common.  These two are just examples of many RV refrigerator fires and it’s not a scenario we choose to visit!

The actual part being replaced is quite a chunk of  tubing and sheet metal.  It extends from the top of the fridge pretty much to the very bottom, and most of the width.  The job typically takes about 5 1/2 hours to complete so we’ll have time to do our re-provisioning while they are working on the coach.  After all, we’re nearly out of coffee beans and you can’t start on a long trip without coffee beans!

So, that’s our good news!

Friday (today)  is the day our daughter and SIL close on the sale of their house.  They made the physical move into their new place (with a few livability chores to be completed) and they are eagerly awaiting a smooth closing.  This will be the first time in … almost three years … when either we or they have not had a house in the process of being sold and it will be a relief for us all to be done with real estate uncertainties!

So — there you go.  That’s our day and our plan — (Revision A). Tomorrow may change; but we’ve always got a plan working, even if it’s “Just Hang Tight Until We Know More.”  Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow!

Ambassador PLQ, Old Diary, Travel

It doesn’t pay to gloat

I’m getting my comeuppance!

It’s what I get for anticipating a repair and departure date:  a kick in the anticipated schedule.

Last evening before the Svc Manager went home he came over to check on our progress; we looked at a couple things together and considering that he was to be gone for the next 5 days he encouraged us to ask questions and make sure that we were happy with the finished job before leaving.

Based on that conversation I had a couple questions for the technicians working on our coach yesterday — and one question about our coach that I had not been able to find an answer for in the owners manual.

We talked about what he found about the refrigerator, and boy was I glad we did.  He pulled out his troubleshooting directions to show me the schematic for the version of the refrigerate we have.  He was pointing away and explaining why he re-wired the sensor circuit when I commented on the fact that OUR fridge matched diagram 10 which uses wiring schematic 6B, but he had been pointing to diagram 9 which uses wiring schematic 6A.  So, yesterday he had rewired the fridge over-temp sensor according to the wrong schematic and in fact he had not made any fridge repairs; now it was wired so that the over-temp sensor would not work properly; it had been right when we arrived here.  All of which caused a sudden flurry of activity and a brand new attempt to troubleshoot the recent overheat situation.

It turns out that our heating core is failing.  It  needs to be replaced, and our warranty will cover all $2380.00 worth of repair.  At present we are likely to be here in total a week — till Tuesday the 19th. (Though we won’t know for sure until tomorrow morning when we get a call from the Svc Mgr to tell us exactly when the parts will arrive.   The warranty is also covering the cost of the water pump repair; we lucked out with our warranty purchase this time.

The second question got me an answer I’ve been looking for (haphazardly) since taking delivery of our Ambassador.  PLQ cockpitOn my left side there’s a panel of rocker switches.  And the furthest back and furthest outboard is a rocker switch labeled:  ATC.  Nowhere have I found a reference to that switch — and it turns out  it’s an Automatic Traction Control — a feature of the Allison transmission which applies braking to one drive wheel in case it begins to spin, slowing it down to the same speed as the wheel still gripping.  Not sure I’ll ever use it — but nice to know what it is (the button).

See the Air Dump switch?

See the Air Dump switch?

We don't have 'automatic' leveling -- we have to do it ourselves.

We don’t have ‘automatic’ leveling — we have to do it ourselves.

There were two other items on our list:  a question about one of the slides — turns out my expectation was wrong — the slide is ok.  And another about our leveling system which we jointly concluded may have been happening because of something I was doing (should stop dropping the air in our airbags when we are leveling).  Always something new to learn.

So…. at the end of the day we moved from behind the shop where the technician has our coach up on the leveling jacks to the other end of the Travel Center parking lot where we are plugged in for 4 or 5 days.  Just knowing we are here for the next few days makes us feel a lot  better.  Knowing is always better than not knowing.

And so it is, as the sun sets gently in the Western sky…..

No, seriously…. thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow. 🙂

Ambassador PLQ, Old Diary, Travel

My Liesure time reading…

Magnum RemoteMarvin (the solar tech) took me through our Solar Paces on Tuesday morning.  I now have 5 owners-manuals to read, two new remote sensing stations to consult and a big headache from trying to grasp everything in a single explanation.  (Not literally, but I can see myself a few months from now wondering, ‘Now what was it that Marvin told me about that….?’)

Even though all things electric scare me, my first reaction to seeing the whole kit and caboodle installed and operating is:  “This isn’t so bad.”  And the fact of the matter is that knowledge is power; so the more I learn the better it’ll be.

We have Seven of these on the roof.

We have Seven of these on the roof.

The panels occupy the rear of the coach — we could get a couple more on the roof if we chose.

The remotes are easy to program and the manuals contain fairly explicit directions.

true sine wave power

true sine wave power

With the new solar panels, we’ll have to do some things differently.  For example:  whenever the inverter senses the presence of ac power, by default the inverter will start the battery charging system.  What we’ll want to do is to turn that off and let the solar do it’s job, unless we’re parked in a place where the sun won’t hit the roof.  That means when we pull in to a site with ac power, or when we start up the generator. Just a little something to remember.

I also need to put power-strips in place, or switched 110V outlets.  The Lounge TV, BlueRay, DISH receiver, Satellite Dish module and the entertainment selector box all power-on whenever there is 110V power.  I won’t want them all to turn on all the time.  In short we’ll get smarter about our use of electricity just by living.

All of that happened before 10 a.m.  That’s when we left AM Solar.  About 10:30 the UPS man delivered our Sleep Comfort bed!

Travel_Center_1270x778Not knowing, we popped over to Guaranty and went over the repair items that needed evaluation / correction and as I write we know we’ll probably be here a couple days so we’re relaxing in the travel center  lounge.  Once the technicians install the fuse bypass we’ll be free to run some errands — including picking up our Sleep Number bed from AM Solar — it was delivered about 90 minutes after we left Springfield.  (Isn’t that always the way?)

We’ll be camping out on the premises here until we’re all wrapped up.  There are electrical hookups here at the travel center and there are also sites further on into town — behind the other RV service area in town.  They really are set up to make a good attempt at caring for their customers.    Like anywhere you hear good things and bad things about service departments, about dealerships, about any business you choose to patronize — but thus far all of our dealings with these people have had positive outcomes — whether or not it started out that way.

We chased back to AM Solar to pick up the bed. Chased back to Guaranty to check in with the mechanic at the end of his shift and find out what time we have to be ready in the morning.  (8 a.m.)

The Bed was assembled in less than an hour; I’m looking forward to our first night on it — may not be a perfect night’s sleep until we get the sleep number correct, but we have a good starting point from our session in the company store.

All in all I’m feeling better than I have in a couple weeks.  I like having the list of things to be taken care of down to 1 — the repairs here at Guaranty.  OUR life is just about back on track.  The kids close their house on Friday.  We should have adequate time to make the trip to Wisconsin — all is good.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Old Diary

An Unplanned Road Trip

Everything I wrote about Wednesday:  forget.  It turned out to be even less than intended than I expected when I wrote on Wednesday morning.  (sigh.)   I think I better go back to writing at the END of the day instead of the beginning otherwise I’m gonna get y’all confused.  I had myself in a rut while on the Forest and I can see I’ve got some bad habits to break!

After pancakes for breakfast on Wednesday we headed to Guaranty RV thinking we’d get some answers and then do more of our shopping.  Well, we got our answers.  But on the way over the weather was so nice and our mood so mellow that after our stop at Guaranty we headed East on OR 126 and OR 242 as far as Sisters where we stopped for a late lunch and then returned via US 20 and OR 126.   It was a perfect day for a Road Trip!

Wednesday's Day Trip

Wednesday’s Day Trip

OR 242 is a scenic mountainous route complete with twisty roads and forest obstructed views — open only during good weather.  The first half of that route is quite twisty but by the time you reach  McKenzie Pass the rest of the trip is duck soup.  (McKenzie Pass / Santiam Pass Scenic Route)

We were surprised to find a great deal of lava rock near the top.  We have been similar places (e.g., Craters of the Moon) but this really took us by surprise.  And there was a CCC corps constructed observatory and viewpoint to climb.

Los Agaves

Try their “impossible cake” — flan on top of chocolate cake!

It would be wonderful to be able to spend some significant time in the area; however there is NO Verizon signal to be had at all and I’m not sure how long I’d last with my InterWebs. :-\

By the way — if you ever stop in Sisters, Oregon — give consideration to having lunch at a little place called Los Agaves Mexican Grill.  They have a nice indoor dining area, as well as a nicely umbrella’ed patio (even in 90º heat it was comfortable).  The prices were ok, the food was good and it was a very nice stop in mid-afternoon.

Enough Interesting Travel, Back to RV’ing

I did get some answers on our leveling system.  Based on that, I think I’ll wait until we have some other repairs needing doing so that we can take advantage of our deductible once and get the rest of the stuff done for free.

These FuseMasters from Roadmaster are the slickest thing since sliced bread if you have a toad with fuses that need to be removed before long distance towing.

These FuseMasters from Roadmaster are the slickest thing since sliced bread if you have a toad with fuses that need to be removed before long distance towing.

I decided to schedule a visit to the shop there week before our Solar appointment. You may remember that last summer we were having problems with our toad battery going dead on long tow-days.  Part of the problem was mine  — I admitted at the time that I had been turning the ignition key to the wrong position.  But the other part of the process is removing a difficult-to-remove fuse in the Honda CR-V.

I recently learned that Roadmaster makes an auxiliary wiring harness which precludes all need to physically take that fuse out of the fuse holder each trip.  You mount a small switch on the dashboard through a 3/4″ drilled hole.  Then flip a switch and the fuse is electrically removed from the circuit. Flip the switch back and the fuse is back in the circuit! Voila! I can’t wait.  That isn’t a horrible job in good weather; but it’s a pistol in the rain or cold.

Today, Thursday is going to be devoted to finding shoes, and testing Sleep Number beds.  We are considering replacing out RV mattress — but we can’t go with a mattress thicker than about 9″ — really we’d like to keep it to 8.”  The  foot of the bed has to slip under the overhang on the closet slide — and there’s only about 9″ of free-space to play with.closet ledge

I’m not sure what we’ll do.  It all depends on what we find when we look at what Sleep Number has to offer.  Right now Camping World is offering special pricing so it would be a good deal — and no sales tax in OR.  Let’s see what happens!

None of which gets us closer to accomplishing the OTHER jobs on our list…. sigh.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.  And now I should get back to my list of things to do…. Wait a minute… I’m retired!  I don’t need to listen to my lists! 🙂

Old Diary

Wednesday – didn’t go as planned

We’re here until Sunday at least, and there’s a good deal to be done. He says that even though we are trying to lolly-gag around and get caught up on our rest:

Clearly, we aren't enjoying the seclusion of our Forest Service compound any more... but it's short term and has us where we need to be.

Clearly, we aren’t enjoying the seclusion of our Forest Service compound any more… but it’s short term and has us where we need to be.

  • Address changes to be made (now that Mike & Katy have a moving date)
  • Check in with our RV dealer about our leveling system (on today’s hit list)
  • Look for a pair of shoes for Peter (New Balance runners, please)
  • Bring some organization to the basement which is a wasteland at the moment.
    I spent the better part of a day working on just getting everything INTO the basement shortly before we left Siltcoos. But my search on Monday for my external water filter (which I found after about an hour) proved that there is nothing intuitive about where supplies, tools, and miscellany are stored.  In this heat I’ll have to do that early in the morning — assuming I can get GOING early in the morning, or that I actually get around to this chore.
  • find / make a cable lock for our surge suppressor.
  • AND bring some order to the office.  I have gotten sloppy and there are too many little bits and bobs to be cleaned up every time we move.  On the way to Eugene a stapler fell onto the floor behind the closet slide. When I tried to extend the driver’s-side rear-slide the stapler jammed the mechanism.  NO significant DAMAGE but it’s not a good thing to be doing…. :-\

I felt better yesterday than Monday.  A few thoughts crossed my mind about the forest and volunteers during the day — which is only normal. But I’m still hyper.  I have not yet fully let go of what we WERE doing now that we are not doing it.  All that time investing so much energy…  and my system just doesn’t shut off that fast.  They were dear, dear people and  it’s not easy letting go of our care for them.  Give me enough time and  I’ll ‘recover’ from being human.  🙂

Peggy was outside yesterday basking in the heat while I was hiding out in the A/C.  She needs more warmth than we were finding in the Forest and she’ll be happier for a while.  I’m sure that in a while she’ll be saying it’s too warm but for now it’s good she get all warmed up.

Running East from Springfield, when we leave, is looking more and more like the plan.  It’s beautiful country out there across the Malheur valley.  Not a lot of traffic (although I don’t remember driving that route during tourist season, but I probably have — might be different this time of year — NOT) Malheur country

I’ve done the Interstates so much over the years that this is a really appealing alternative.  We need to make time on the way back to WI, now that we’ve locked in some dates for September. We’ll be on the Big Highway longer than I prefer on this trip, but between here and Bozeman Montana we’ll have a chance to enjoy the trip differently.

I finally broke my out-of-bed before 4:30 string of nights — staying in bed till 7:30 was wonderful.

And, I have to say that the coach heating/cooling system is working marvelously.  Our Journey DL had a single heat pump mounted underneath the bed to handle the entire coach — it worked well, but it was too small for the size of the coach and made a lot of racket when you are laying on top of it.  The Ambassador has two roof mounted units that to a better cooling job AND are quieter.  Summertime cool was a big concern of ours after the two summers in WI;  we’re specially happy with this aspect of the new coach.

So much for Wednesday.  Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow. 🙂

Old Diary

An Embarrassing End to A Successful Day

Let me tell you the embarrassing part first.

You will remember that we are here because of electrical problems.  When the technician showed me the burnt out circuit boards I’m surprised we didn’t have a fire!  But, they finished up the repair in decent order yesterday. Because we are living 80 miles away we decided to stay the night and give the parts a chance to burn in overnight.


Always make sure you battery disconnect switch hasn’t shut off power!

This morning they started working on the Satellite antenna install and finally finished up about 4 p.m..  Given the timing, and the fact that there are often 3 or 4 squad cars/pickups parked at the compound on a Friday evening, we decided to hang out one more night, leave in the morning, and avoid the traffic and any impediments to negotiating in our compound.

When we moved the coach to the overnight parking area we got settled, leveled, were ready to extend the slides — and the last thing we do before extending is to plug into shore power when we have it.

We did.

And nothing happened.  There’s a power monitor that displays incoming power and it didn’t light up.  The climate controls were dead.  The 110 volt outlets in the bedroom were dead.  And none of the circuit breakers had blown including the main, or the ones on the power inverter.  Go Figure!

After a little panic (it WAS 4 p.m. on a Friday) we finally got someone to check it out and boy did I feel foolish.  Either the mechanic or we had inadvertently hit the battery disconnect switch at the door and as soon as we turned that on all was well.  Sigh.  Still learning about our new coach, right?

2014062712211102At lunchtime we tried a local place called Boss Hawg’s.  In spite of a #2 rating and good reviews the meal looked better than it tasted.  It arrived barely warm and a bit bland.  But it LOOKED good.  I don’t think we’ll try them again even if we are back at the dealer for some reason.
2014062719121103Talk about looking good.  Our coach isn’t bad,  when it was new it was close to top of it’s line.  But sitting here amid all these new luxury coaches makes one a bit self conscious.  2014062719123004There isn’t a coach in either of these two shots that’s priced below $225,000.00!  If we had an inferiority complex we would feeling really envious. As it is I’m glad we have the coach that we have.  Our first fuel fill — which might not have been full in the first place gave us an initial mileage around 8.7 mpg and in talking with the mechanics here they were saying that the more recent Caterpillar engines are lucky to et 3 mpg.  YIKES!

Traveler 1000I think I mentioned that our old coach took with it our Winegard Traveler antenna.  That antenna is probably the best antenna around — as far as what it does.  But like any permanently mounted antenna there is the issue of whether you can SEE the sky for your antenna to work wherever you are parked.  We thought a lot about replacing it with a portable antenna.  There are several that are pretty good.  But none works as well when it does get a signal and there is always the theft factor — someone can walk off with your portable in the middle of the night — that doesn’t happen with a roof mount!
2014062719132207So the new antenna is now mounted, the control module is in place on top of the DISH receiver and we are live.  It’s amazing how simple it can be to ‘find’ three different satellites — thousands of miles away — without the assistance of … anyone!  So, here’s a picture of the Ambassador with the Traveller installed.
You will remember that we are here because of electrical problems.

Peg hasn’t been sleeping well lately.  We have no one waiting on us tomorrow.  We have no where to be until Monday morning.  We’re going to get a late (for us) start in the morning, get back to the compound and get re-hooked up and settled in.  I’m tired of messing around at dealerships.  I’ll be glad to get back to normal life.

Thanks for stopping by.  I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Old Diary

Lightification! Or “Let there be LED’s!”

JC 10 originals

My old JC10 Halogen — HOT, HOT, HOT to the touch and 10 WATTS!


My new JC10 replacement — cool operation, similar light output and 1.2 watts!

While I was whiling away time in Junction City I found another task to tackle.  Replacing Halogen bulbs with LED’s.

Some of my previous resources have not been very helpful as the part number for the replacement bulb has very often not been the same as the part number for the original.  LED manufacturers (or job lot sellers) are getting smarter — if you make it easy to find your replacement bulb you’ll buy more!  Duh!

And we’ve got about 11 of these babies!  But the way they are wired into the coach we may leave some of the halogens in place for when we’re plugged into shore power — and replace others to be used when we run on battery! All of these are in recessed fixtures and I found that the fixture I had purchased a couple weeks ago on spec is a more expensive option by the time the entire job is done… so I bought three of them for now, (at $12.00 a pop) and I have some old LED’s I’ll try to give to friends when the occasion arises.

921 bulb

Then there are my 921 bulb replacements — 1.6 watts and cool

921 originals

Another 10 Watt hot running bulb

We also have other fixtures that provide MORE light and these two I wanted to replace as opportunity provides and I can find the bulbs.  I bought a couple to put into the fixtures Peggy reads by, and over time I’ll replace the other 9 bulbs!  Now I  KNOW what bulbs I need and I can shop around for more of these in the future.

All in all I’m happy with another step forward towards Boondockification!  Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Old Diary, RV Living

The No-Heat Pump


The Guaranty RV Travel Center from the South — what you can’t see are the 12 service bays here for their customers — plus additional bays at other nearby buildings.

We’re off on another adventure.  We left Siltcoos for Junction City to see if we can sort out the cause of our misbehaving rear heat pump.  Might as well get it sorted while we’re still here near the selling dealer.  In the end we concluded that our heat pump circuit breaker kicking out is not a fault of the coach but a fault of wonky line voltage in the forest.  The heat pump works fine on powered by the Genset and line voltage here in the valley — just not in Siltcoos.

Surge Protector

When we get back to Siltcoos our new surge suppressor should be there.

I had some fears about this before we headed to Junction City.  We had a Surge protector that we purchased from Camping World  last year.  It worked OK but specifically said it needed to be installed vertically.  That has been a problem on the Forest seeing as our power post is very low to the ground and we could never really get it VERTICAL.  We have ordered a new one — from a different manufacturer that is designed to set on the ground.

Not to have made the trip for nothing, while we were at the dealership we decided to address our lack of 12 VDC outlets2014061819463304. We found one that had both a cigarette lighter AND a built in USB charger port and that rests now right at a convenient place in our dashboard.

I thought I had given all the keys to the coach with the service writer when we arrived.  But at lunch time  — seeing as they had our kitchen and we couldn’t make a lunch for ourselves we drove a mile up the road to Tin Sing Chinese Restaurant. 2014061811362002 They had the zippiest Hot and Sour Soup that we’ve had since arriving on the coast.  The meals were tasty and ample — but wouldn’t you know — just about the time our meals were brought to the table the service writer called to say that they needed another key… so we wolfed down our meal and got back to the dealership. 2014061811362403

While we were hanging out at Guaranty RV I checked my email — using the dealerships free WiFi and I finally got my email telling me I could pickup my LincPass — evidently I passed my background check.  Checking the online scheduling through GSA I discovered I could get an appointment for the next day in Springfield so we decided to hang out here at the dealership overnight — plugged into 50amp power and chillin’.


The ambassador in the evening’s light.

We had burgers for dinner and settle down in front of the TV for an evening of honest to goodness Air-TV.   In the morning we’ll do some shopping before we head over to the USDA for my LincPass and then back to Siltcoos.

We’ll hit Camping world to look for a better bug-off-the-windshield-scraper.  I’ve seen some with what is basically a poly pot scrubber and I’ve been looking for something similar.  I’m not in a hurry to spend money but I’m tired of looking between bugs — and this new coach has such bigger windshields!

We’ll hit Home Depot to look for some storage tubs that fit the new basement better — now that we have significantly more basement to fill.

And then back to the Forest.

Thanks for stopping by an I’ll talk with you tomorrow.