Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the category “Miscellania”

Horseless Carriage Welcomed With Open Arms…NOT!

Years ago, I was speaking with a nice lady who had no wild idea that the first automobiles were met with disdain rather than glad acceptance. Maybe you assume the same, since they are so indispensable to modern life in the U.S. I mean, who wouldn’t like the automobile, right? Most folks didn’t, and their responses ranged from disgust to anti-automobile legislation. Their reasons for their dislike came from a web of factors.

This steam-powered horseless carriage was made by John Einig of Jacksonville, Florida.

This steam-powered horseless carriage was made by John Einig of Jacksonville, Florida.

To understand where people were coming from then, you need to know that gas buggies didn’t suddenly pop out of backyard sheds, shaking noisily and making horses rear up. Steam-propelled roadgoing vehicles were chuffing about decades before Benz’s acclaimed Patent-Motorwagen of 1886. In reality, the entire second half of the 19th century was a seething cauldron of interweaving inventions.

An indicator that self-propelled vehicles were already on the roads before Benz’s effort is that the first recorded automobile fatality took place in Read more…

Action Trumps Sentiments

Last evening, I was watching Expedition Overland’s set of videos about touring down into Central America (Season 2). I had downloaded them earlier on my DSL Internet service at Rancho Begley, to watch later. This is a bunch of guys who know how to get sponsors for their overland voyages, let me tell you! They got contacts! I had seen them at Overland Expo West last year, but didn’t know much about them except that they were working hard to produce and promote videos of their travels. The first couple of episodes are little but gushing praise for the various sponsors who donated equipment and installation services, but along the way there is also some insight as to what true overlanding involves, as opposed to Campsploring, which is what I do.

At any rate, I hit Episode 6 of the series, and the tenor changed from antics and coughing up tainted food to Read more…

Equipment Follow-Up

The Evelo Aurora, fitted for an errand run.

This here’s a minor post on the e-bike and the printer, just to indicate how things are working out for those who might be considering adding these items to their Squandered Resources Arsenal.

The indications of a fading e-bike battery is becoming confirmed. I rode the 4 miles to town and back yesterday, although the total mileage actually expanded to over 14 miles. The principal casualty was of course my posterior, since it takes regular outings to condition same for longer rides. That hasn’t happened over the last 9 months or so. I’ve been walking. Despite the special Ergon grips, my Read more…

Hoo Boy…

Somethin’s happenin’ here. What it is ain’t exactly clear…

I just discovered that Four Wheel Campers has been sold to a San Francisco-based private equity firm, Salt Creek Capital, as of September of last year. That is ordinarily the death knell of a company where the assets are perceived as more valuable than the operating business and its potential profitability. Most such firms basically gut the company, selling off assets and laying off employees until the business is no longer viable and is forced to either close or merge with another firm that can use the name for token goodwill. It seems that Tom Hannigan, owner of Four Wheel for some 15 years, began to give some thought to retirement and, being a businessman, decided to cash out. I’d met him in May of 2016, and he struck me as a sincere and stellar individual. He as owner has been responsible for taking Four Wheel Campers from an okay Read more…

3:10 to Wickenburg

Ahead, some nice hills. Off to the right, a mild drop-off into a valley. Above, a beautiful sky.

Since the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge was going to be too hot for my tender sensibilities, I decided to stay the one night and the next morning, and then move on to my principal stop at a higher, cooler elevation. I was surprised that the overnight low at 60 degrees felt cold to me, and realized that I’d need to break out a wool blanket or two when I camped in cooler Wickenburg. The warm sweats and flannel sheet weren’t cutting it in the way I’d expected. Maybe it was just me.

I had noticed some guy in a new Toyota pickup wandering up and past my site on the trail to Queen Canyon fairly early in the morning, and was pleased to find him driving past on his return just as I was finally wheeling out in late morning. See, I knew I’d be going back down the trail much too slowly for anyone following, and areas large enough to pull the 27′ Intrepid over are far and few between on this trail. As predicted, he quickly put Read more…

Clod on a Hot Tin Roof

Well, the sweat continues as preparation for departure approaches. Hopefully, today is the last day of the brutal stuff. Due to the unusual heat (94-98 degrees ever since my last post) not much has been accomplished. The heat also affected my route planning, since I had to start over twice as the situation changed…or didn’t. Now, it’s just plain late departure, which also dictates elevation changes. The Pima Air Museum is out now, and a more or less straight trip to trusty old Wickenburg and beyond is in. The rest will be common to many, but new to me. But that’s not the Big News! Read more…

When a Photograph Leads The Way

D. McCall White, prominent automotive engineer, circa 1920. (The limitations of the photographic film most widely used at this time included an inability to capture blue eyes well.)

D. McCall White, prominent automotive engineer, in a marketing shot for his new Lafayette automobile for 1920. Clicking on the picture will allow view of a larger image. (The limitations of the photographic film most widely used at this time included an inability to capture blue eyes well.)

While I anticipated being carved up like a hapless captive at a Mayan religious offering last summer, I found the above photograph heading up an article in Traces, a magazine published by the Indiana Historical Society. They culled it from the photographic collection of one Robert Hamilton Scrogin, who was the principle driver of The Hoosier Motorist, a publication of the Hoosier Motor Club. Scrogins’ name was somewhere on that publication’s masthead from before 1919 to 1952. At that time, the rag served up club news, hotel and garage directories, trade news and travel articles.

Traces notes that the Hoosier Club’s origins evolved from a group that called themselves the Flat Tire Club, a collection of “automobile enthusiasts” in Indianapolis. This was an apt club name in that era, since the club formed in 1902, when the horseless carriage was an adventurous hobby for members of the upper class. (In those days, wealth alone didn’t cut it. You had to be considered to be of good breeding, the standards for which were judged by those of…good breeding.) 1902 was a bit of a milestone year for horseless carriages. Ransom E. Olds was the first to build his almost-affordable and very successful Oldsmobile Runabout on an assembly line, no doubt noticed by Henry Ford, who was still struggling unsuccessfully to build and market more upscale vehicles. Prior to that, these conveyances were built one at a time, on one spot on the floor that was surrounded by parts bins. It might be rolled closer to other bins along the way, but that was about it. This earlier method was hardly crude, since the market for automobiles was exclusive to Read more…

Trip Routing

 

 

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This post is definitely more about describing how I work out where to go and where to stop than it is about how you should do so. There is a right way to do things, and then there’s my way. I’m now seriously behind in routing my trip for the upcoming commute/touring season of seven or so months, but that won’t stop me from delaying that task further with this post. Procrastination comes in many forms and with many faces.

Assuming – and that’s a big, pending assumption – that the local medicos do not seriously interfere with my departure schedule or make it necessary to closely monitor dosage results in a way that is incompatible with living on the road, I should be able to clear out of here somewhere in the last half of March, when the temperatures ramp up.

The primary goals are just two: get to Illinois in time to plague family and show up for pre-scheduled annual appointments in that area, and hunt for cooler high-altitude air along the way, at least until the true long-distance commute begins. Secondary goals are to visit the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, and then steer counter-productively back northwest to Prescott to see about installing rear air lifts on the Mighty Furdster. Then, according to plan, I hope to attend the Overland Expo West once again this year, not so much because Read more…

Gags, Humor, and Solar Power

The Morningstar Sunsaver MPPT.

The Morningstar Sunsaver MPPT.

I recently managed to replace the misbehaving Outback SmartHarvest 20A MPPT solar charge controller with a proper Morningstar controller, and now all is right with the world. The Outback was exceptionally naughty right out of the box, and its replacement was no better. The USA office of Outback appeared to be manned only with sales types and customer service reps, with no technical staff on board. The sole solution seemed to be trying another unit. So I did, but opted for the Sunsaver. Since I could not in good conscience sell or even give the SmartHarvest away, it is now residing in the local landfill, where it belongs.

With Morningstar’s remote temperature sender attached to one of my batteries, the Sunsaver now operates in tandem with their TriStar MPPT 45A. The Tristar handles everything coming in from the 360W roof panels, while the Sunsaver serves to feed power in from the 200W ground panels via the external rear wall plug that comes standard with the Four Wheel camper. (A simple internal wiring harness change was needed to feed both of these units to the same battery pack for my installation.) Four Wheel uses the less expensive Read more…

The Corvette Returns

Oh, the adoration just blooms in this 1974 photo.

Oh, the adoration just blooms in this 1974 photo. “I can’t believe I OWN this car!!!”

Awhile back, I wrote a post about the unhappy days I had with my special-ordered 1974 Corvette Sting Ray. It was a mix of wonderment and poor labor practices all rolled into one. It was the last of the all-fiberglass bodied ‘Vettes, the last of the 454 V8s, and the next to last year for convertibles (of that era). It was one of the last Corvettes to come off the 1974 production line. You can read about its checkered past in Listening to the Inner Idiot. I loved that car, and also loved getting rid of it in 1976.

Turns out that the “poor bastard” who then bought that car recently contacted me, not to curse me but to Read more…

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