Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the month “January, 2016”

Pleasant Distractions

Ooo! Birdie! Out of little birds, piercing chirps come. I assume that this is a hummingbird, only because of its tiny size and the local encouragement to put up some hummingbird nests.

Ooo! Birdie! Out of little birds, piercing chirps come. I assume that this is a hummingbird, only because of its tiny size and the local encouragement to put up some hummingbird nests. That branch is actually more like a twig.

Unfortunately, the nature of the mods being made to the Four Wheel Grandby are such that something is always holding up appropriate photos on one detail or another, preventing a blow-by-blow account of any one part of a system. Just as well, since time is short and I write slowly. That, and I frequently find that additional parts must be ordered, slowing completion. Just as the solar panel setup has been redone from scratch, so has the battery and wiring setup, for the better, I think. Their time will come. A couple of people have stopped to ask about the Four Wheel. One other passerby volunteered that I was considered to be the busiest guy in the park. Comparatively speaking (and only so), that may be true. So these are a few miscellaneous things that won’t earn their own posts.

Across the drive from my site, this little grapefruit tree is typical of all in the park. They will be stripped by the park February 1 and the fruit discarded. It's now or never, so I helped my neighbor pull all the fruit off and leave it in a pile for anyone to take. I grabbed eight or nine. They're huge!

Across the drive from my site, this little grapefruit tree is typical of all in the park. They will be stripped by the park February 1 and the fruit discarded. It’s now or never, so I helped my neighbor pull all the fruit off and leave it in a pile for anyone to take. I grabbed eight or nine. They’re huge!

 

No glamour for the Mighty Aurora here. It draws a lot of questions, but is relegated to short runs for food, mail, laundry, propane, and trash hauling. With my departure deadline looming, there remains much to do and there's no time to explore.

No glamour for the Mighty Aurora here. It draws a lot of questions – especially the trailer – but is relegated to short, drab runs for food, mail, laundry, propane, and trash hauling. They gawk at the trailer first, then notice the motor. With my departure deadline looming, there remains much to do, and there’s no time to explore.

 

Listening to The Inner Idiot

My '74 was silver with a RED interior, and this '75 has no clumsy split seam down the middle of the urethane bumper, but this is otherwise it! Hard to believe I ever owned one, but I've lived the dream, baby! Or was that a nightmare?...

My ’74 was silver with a RED interior, and this ’75 has no clumsy split seam down the middle of the urethane rear bumper, but this is otherwise it! Sexy, no? Hard to believe I ever owned one, but I’ve lived the dream, baby! Or was that a nightmare…?

You know, it would be nice if the human brain shut down during sleep. I mean really shut down, with only one brain cell glowing just enough to keep the automatic systems like heart and lungs going. That can’t be, of course, since we must be able to hear and react quickly when the hungry saber-tooth tiger enters our cave. We need to be able to scream before we’re torn to pieces.

So, what we’ve got is this gray lump too exhausted to stay awake and too restless to kick into a true, restorative idle. With no tiger within audible range, it eventually begins to rummage through the dusty bins of memory to pull a toothpick’s worth of something here, and a speck of something there, and then entertains itself by piecing those little random bits of electrical energy into a partially coherent story line. This is not an easy task, as anyone who works on “continuity” in the movie industry can tell you. They work desperately to ensure that the appearances of people and places seems unchanging from scene to scene, even when those pieces are shot months apart.

In sleep, our brains can’t be bothered with such trivialities. Basic elements change radically from moment to moment, time shifts, and even the storyline itself flip-flops around like a fish out of water. I think this is due to two factors. First, the brain is improvising, having to work with random impulses, and weaving anything together to create a sequence that makes sense is an impossible task anyway. Secondly, the human brain knows that, in a sleep state, there are no critics around. It can do whatever it likes, and the worst that can happen is Read more…

The StowAway Cargo Box

This cargo box is mounted to the rear hitch receiver. How am I going to get in and out of the camper? Good question!

This cargo box is mounted to the rear hitch receiver. How am I going to get in and out of the camper? Good question!

One of the big laments about using a Four Wheel pop-up camper for anything other than traditional camping is the limited storage space for long-term live-in arrangements. Traditional camping with these things involves enjoying the great outdoors, which in turn typically involves propane stoves and/or BBQ grills, lanterns, chairs, table(s), canopies, propane cylinders, showering equipment, and what-have-you. That’s a good thing, but imposes a regimen for the FWC that does not appeal to me: emptying out the floor of the camper before you can enter and use it, and then packing everything back inside in order to leave a campsite. It’s fun in the short term, but wearing for extended trips.

Since the FWC alone can technically be fully set up for camping in maybe three minutes and accommodate a furtive quasi-stealth sleep-only overnight with only a rearrangement of cushions, it seems a shame to clog up that inherent ease and speed with the need to scatter equipment all over the ground at every stop. So, many people who are going to be out there for awhile will add dedicated storage space, whether that may involve Read more…

What Goes Up, Should Come Down

This is a Coyote automatic tire deflator, which does the same thing a puncture does, but without a repair being needed.

This is a Coyote automatic tire deflator, which does the same thing a puncture does, but without a repair being needed. 😉

…or vice-versa, when it comes to tire pressure. One could call tire pressure control “the poor man’s winch”, since lowering tire pressure tends to elongate its contact patch or footprint on the ground. That increase in gripping surface area increases traction on difficult surfaces. Airing down tires in off-road situations is old hat to 4WD enthusiasts, but new to me. It is considered at least as effective as jamming traction boards under the tires, if not more so.

I normally wouldn’t consider it because of its drawbacks:

  1. While you’re airing down or pumping tires back up, you can be sitting beside the road for considerable periods of time.
  2. If you hit a perfect patch of ground for making time in the middle of badness, you cannot pick up the pace on it to gain time – going too fast on a deflated tire can cause overheat and handling issues.
  3. Heavy vehicles on high-pressure tires benefit less from lowering pressures – but do still benefit.
  4. Play Baja Racer, and the doughball handling can put you in a ditch or over an embankment, pronto.
  5. Go too far with lowering pressure, and you can unseat the tire bead, effectively dismounting the tire.
  6. There is a risk on rocky ground of compressing a sidewall enough to pinch it, resulting in damage or puncture.
  7. Overall, operating a vehicle on underinflated tires is a direct trade: increased traction in trade for increased odds of tire failure or vehicle mishap.

I have to admit, I’ll occasionally be lowering my tire pressures not to conquer new trails, but as a last desperate act when I’ve underestimated a trail’s traction difficulty or roughness. Roughness? Yes, and I’m not talking about climbing over grapefruit-sized rocks. Idling over Read more…

Revenge of the Catch-22

IMGP1983

Per my last post on the topic of solar panels for the Mighty Intrepid/FWC Grandby, I had a decent planned setup with a 100W solar panel at each corner of the roof, each panel being held with a 20.5-inch long ABS adhesive mount fore and aft, for aero and dependability reasons. I figured that would be long enough to catch a couple of structural roof ribs under each one, and apply an abundance of adhesion to hold to the roof securely. The only real limitation was that I could come only so close to the roof edge because of tapering of the roof’s thickness.The panels would be held to the mounts with horizontal screws. The panels might be closer to the start of the taper than I liked, but it seemed promising.

As for using ground panels to add solar power, stowing a solar panel in slides mounted under the Grandby’s bed overhang has been done for awhile. After all, that platform is engineered to carry a heap of weight, being a 7″ or more vertical aluminum extrusion wrapped around the bed perimeter. Plywood forms the mattress platform, and a 20-pound panel hung under it should be no big deal, right? Given that the camper is now installed and that drilling holes from underneath is hit or miss because of its closeness to the truck cab’s roof, I thought about attaching a panel-carrying set of rails underneath, held by 3M VHB (Very High Bond) tape and supplemented toward each end with screws, since drilling there from underneath is not a problem. But what was the facing surface under this platform? There are a few different versions of VHB tape, each tailored for certain surfaces. I emailed Four Wheel Campers to ask.

This is what holds the bed platform, so there's no concern about hanging some weight under it - as long as it's done properly.

This is what holds the bed platform, so there’s no concern about hanging some weight under it – as long as it’s done properly.

What I promptly got back was a reply saying, “If you could please call us at ___-___-____, we can discuss a number of issues at the same time and wrap this up for you.” Say what? I’d expected Read more…

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