One Down, One to Go
Originally posted 10/30/2012
The night at the local RV repair place went well, and by early afternoon today, five hundred dollars later, I gots me a shiny new hub, drum, backing plate, all brake internals, both bearings, and retaining hardware. They also removed, looked over, and lubed all the other wheel bearings, for what that’s worth. The wizened codger who did the hard part volunteered that if I’d gone much further, I’d have been in for the spindle or stub axle, too.
This may not mean much to you, but a gigantic motor home showed up at the repair place, apparently having some kind of minor electrical issue. It was impressed that it had air brakes. Sounded like a semi when it slowly maneuvered around.
On the way back to the LTVA, since I had the trailer on the road anyway, I made for the nearby dump station to empty and fill. Because I antied up for the seasonal pass, there’s no $5-$10 fee typical of other places like truck stops or campgrounds where you’re not staying the night. You’re limited only by how often you like to deal with poo.
There was a guy with a converted box van there who told me his own Bad Trailer Bearing Story, only his was a motorcycle pulling a small trailer. He was coming down a mountain, and one wheel bearing locked solid, causing the tire to come to a halt. It momentarily threw him into the opposing lane, but he made it back in time to avoid a semi. The tire was shot from being dragged, and the inner tube was bulging it out. He was close to a nearby small town. He disemboweled the bearing and left the trailer there while he went searching. There was a local auto parts place which just happened to have his bearing in stock. The local tire dealer just happened to have a motorcycle tire just one size larger than his own. He was able to put it together and continue on. I should have brought the camera – that’s another thing I need to learn.
The other financial disappointment is that – I have to admit – by talking to a more educated sales guy at Alt E Solar, it seems I bought 18 volt solar panels at a fantastic price. The bad news is that 18 volts is kind of an in-between nominal voltage. I can’t use a traditional (cheaper) controller with it. I require a much more sophisticated MPPT controller able to “downconvert” 18 volts nominal to a 12 volt battery system. The one I need, at my panel output level, is over twice the cost of the usual fare. I ordered one just to test it on the house battery system, and I must admit, perusing the spec sheets, it looks like it will work fine. It converts the extra panel voltage to pump up charging amperage to the batteries – a good thing. It absorbs almost no energy on its own, and the features are wonderful, I’m sure, but I just need it to work. If it does work, more will follow in quick succession.
How does one send mail to a guy who is parked out in the open desert, and has no address? Why, general delivery:
Quartzsite, AZ 85346-9999
It goes to the Quartzsite Post Office, and they hold it for up to 30 days, waiting for me. I drive to the post office to pick it up, and show some ID. Joy! Now you can send me money, beer, whatever. Just kidding. The controller shipment is more complex because that vendor only ships via UPS. But UPS can drop it at the post office if they have the street address. I’m told that it’s no big deal. I hope so! I need that first controller to get the first solar system up and running!
At any rate, I now have the trailer parked in My New Location deeper inside the La Posa West camping area, and positioned so that the solar panels will get maximum exposure (someday soon). They’ll also act as a mediocre sunshade to limit heat on that side of the trailer. The stabilizers are down so it doesn’t rock when I stumble about in the trailer. I unhitched the Ford, and I don’t expect to have to move the thing for months unless I choose to for some reason. The view of the hills is nice here, too. I’m a bit farther away, but then I’m also farther from the highway noise of I-10 and 95. With axle repairs done and the trailer settled in “final” position, I’m looking forward to sifting through more crap and setting up house. By continuing to live in Energy Conservation Mode (no DVD watching), my battery power should last fine until the controller shows up Friday, and I either get it rolling or short it out on Saturday.
Speaking of which, did you know that reading a book requires no electricity, or at worst hardly any at all? I read through a book that Matt L. leant me, The Medic by Leo Litwak. It’s a book of his remembrances, many gritty, of serving as a medic in the last years of WWII. It’s a good one, I guess – I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it. Made it up to the last chapter in one evening, then polished that off the next day while waiting for the bearing repairs to begin. Thanks, Matt. I have a ton of other books to read here as well – many will be read and given away or dumped, mainly to lose some trailer weight! They do add up.