Ramblings of a Techno-Viking

Converter upgrade part 2

See Converter for information on what converter I selected.

The old transformer-style converter was rather dusty. The converter was wired to the back of the fuse board, with the unregulated output going to the top front.

On the AC side, there are three dual breakers and no room for more. The converter was on the same circuit as the microwave. After removing the old converter, I added an outlet on the coffee pot circuit for the new converter.

I used #4 wire from the new converter to the fuse panel, about a foot long. Since black was the only color the store had, I marked it with red tape at both ends on the positive wire. The #4 was hard to work with, and since the other terminal has two #8 wires, I should have used #6 or #8 instead. A short #10 wire goes from the former unregulated portion to the same terminal as the #8 wires to get the new converter output to all the fuses. The new converter is currently sitting on the floor under the closet, accessed through what remains of the enclosure for the old converter. Since the screws holding the cover were to the portion that was removed, I'll need to figure out some other way of attaching it.

I'm thinking about using the under-refrigerator cupboard for the inverter, converter, and solar charger. This is much closer to the batteries. I'd also like to get a deeper battery tray so I can use four batteries rather than two.

See little things for how I put the cover back in place.

Posted Tuesday 04 January 2011 23:38 UTC
Last edited Sunday 13 February 2011 00:19 UTC

First Motorhome outing: Lancaster and Remington Hot Springs

Figuring I need to test things before doing a long outing to Quartzsite, I did a two day trip this weekend. After stopping at the Santa Clarita Camping World and WalMart, I went to the LAFA filk in Lancaster. (North of Palmdale, on CA 14.) It was cold (predicted 28 F) and windy, but my RV did fine. Early Sunday morning I continued north on CA 14 to CA 178, then west to Lake Isabella. This was a pretty good test of driving on curvy mountain roads, and I saw patchy snow. There is BLM land south of Red Rock State Park on CA 14 and also on CA 178 where camping is free, but I didn't stop. There is also an Audubon Society Campground off of this section of CA 178.

I was planning on stopping at a nice little park in Lake Isabella, but the parking lot was covered in mud. (It's on Lake Isabella Blvd almost to Bodfish, with a WWII tank and amphibious vehicle in front.)

Kern River Canyon Road was more practice driving on crooked mountain road, this mostly at 25mph. Most of the mud had been scraped off the road, but there were a few wet sections and one place where some of the road had gone downhill. I pulled in to one of the dirt parking areas for Remington Hot Springs and fixed myself some lunch, using the generator and microwave. I also did some forum reading using my laptop and 3g modem.

Remington Hot Springs is in the Sequoia National Forest next to the Kern river, with volunteer built pools to soak in. I'm deliberately not publishing the exact location. The trail to the hot springs was muddy in places, but well maintained. The pools were nice, but no one got in the coolest of the three main pools. The river was running fairly high, and we saw one group of white water kayakers go by. As usual, I hauled a bit of extra trash out but there wasn't much there since someone leaving earlier got most of it. (The picture is from a previous trip.)

Going towards Bakersfield, CA 178 is narrow and twisty, but not much up and down. It is busier than east of Lake Isabella, so I used the turnouts where appropriate. Some drivers don't seem to understand the use of turnouts. I then went south on CA 184 to Wheeler Ridge Road and I-5, avoiding most of Bakersfield.

Since I was at less than half a tank of gas on the way home, I stopped and filled up in Castaic. I went 325.3 miles and 2.6 generator hours on 42.64 gallons of gas, that's 7.62 miles/gallon. Most of the miles were highway at 55-60 miles/hour, but there was about 10,000 feet of climbing and some short hops to avoid parking tickets mixed in there too.

Posted Wednesday 12 January 2011 01:45 UTC
Last edited Wednesday 12 January 2011 01:45 UTC

Chiriaco Summit and the General Patton Museum

On my way to Quartzsite, I stopped for the night at Chiriaco Summit. This is a place with a family owned gas station, cafe, and museum between Indio and Blythe in the desert just off of I-10. They also have an area where they allow free dry camping. Since I wound up leaving late, and getting a lot more traffic because of leaving late, I got there after dark and misunderstood the signs and wound up spending the night in the museum parking lot, but no one complained. I had a hamburger and fries in their cafe, quite reasonable for a cafe burger but nothing special.

The museum is dedicated to General Patton, who had a desert training area for World War Two nearby. A bit over half of it is General Patton and that era, and they have other military stuff from WWI to present. They charge $5 for admission (with some exceptions and discounts), and besides the inside exhibits they have a large "tank garden" with tanks and a few other vehicles on display. I think one of the tanks was a Sherman, but I didn't see the type of tank used early in WWII by the US. Some of the tanks had what looked like shell damage, but they may have been used as targets.

Posted Wednesday 19 January 2011 01:21 UTC
Last edited Monday 10 December 2012 04:16 UTC

Rubber Tramps Rendezvous and Quartzsite

Quartzsite is a small town in Arizona on Interstate 10 near the California border. Its weather is reasonably nice in the winter, and there is lots of BLM land nearby. (Both LTVAs where you can stay for months paying a fee, and places where you can stay 14 days free.) It started out being a place for gem and mineral shows, but when a lot of RVers showed up to attend those they got RV shows as well. Now it is a place where hundreds of thousands gather during January, peaking during the "big tent" RV show. (Down from the peak a few year ago.) Many groups have a rally or gathering, staking out a piece of desert for their RVs and tents.

I'm attending the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, where they had several talks on living cheap in a van, trailer, or RV. Most of the Class C's here are older than my Class A, and I think I've got the only Class A. In the week and a half I've been here, people have come and gone, mostly singles but some couples, with several dozen signing in to the book. There have been talks on solar power, workcamping, traveling in Mexico, a women's only talk, and getting dental, optometry, or drugs in Mexico.

We've had a campfire every night, had community meals, helped each other with various problems. We have had demos of wind power, juggling fire torches, making wind sculptures out of aluminum cans, and gems that can be found. Most of us have gone into town at least once, braving the traffic (not much by LA standards) and picking up various bits and pieces. The view out my windshield is of hills, and from the back I can see hundreds of RVs of various flavors parked closer to the paved roads.

I've done some little projects on my RV, found problems that need to be fixed, gotten stuck, gotten some free stuff and found out about potential jobs at the big tent, and spent bunches of time and a little money at the Tyson Wells swap meet.

Many of the people here have dogs, and there are a couple of cats. The dog pack gets along surprisingly well. (Most have learned to avoid the cactus.) One of the dogs even has her own blog.

Attendee blogs and websites include:

The web site for the 2012 gathering is: http://cheapgreenrvliving.com/Rendezvous.html

Posted Monday 24 January 2011 18:14 UTC
Last edited Monday 10 December 2012 04:16 UTC

Rexhall International "No-Nothing" Rally in Quartzsite

After leaving the Rubber Tramps, I stopped at the RV Pit Stop in Quartzsite on my way to Plomosa Road. There I filled with water, propane, and dumped. The Loves gas station has taken the handle off of their faucet and is no longer allowing people to use it. The pit stop had long lines and high prices: $15 to dump, $5 to fill with water, and almost $3/gallon propane ($2.70 + tax). Since my tanks were almost empty and full, with the exception of the grey tank, this was needed. I wound up driving around in circles in order to do all this, and they don't take plastic, but they do take personal checks.

Plomosa Road goes from AZ 95 north of Quartzsite east to Bouse. The BLM 14 day free area starts at the cattle grate just off of the highway. This is a much flatter area than Dome Rock Road, and the area near the road is flat and graveled, with bushes mixed with parking spots further from the paved road.

Rexhall International is a chapter of FMCA. There are also several other Rexhall owners chapters of FMCA, one of which co-sponsored the rally.

The "No-Nothing" rally was in the area near the road, with a dozen or so RVs in a square surrounding a fire pit, and maybe another dozen nearby. Most were Rexhalls, but since friends and non-members are allowed at this rally there were several other brands. Almost all the Rexhalls were newer ones with large slides, TV dishes, and a TOAD (towed car). I only saw two that looked to be of the same era as mine, and one of those had a for sale sign on it.

When I got there at about 2pm, I only saw one other person with the group besides the two other RVs that pulled in a few minutes later. A couple of hours later, people started coming back from town in their TOADs and gathering for the pot luck. Almost all were retired couples, and most people seemed to know each other. Overall, I did not feel welcomed and did not fit in with the group. I especially disliked being pressured into participating in a religious ceremony (grace at the pot luck). While most of the participants seemed to be having fun, it's just a group I don't have much in common with. The campfire was big and bright, and most people retired early to go to their motorhomes and watch TV, many running generators until late. I left in the morning.

Posted Friday 28 January 2011 19:09 UTC
Last edited Monday 10 December 2012 04:16 UTC

Box Canyon Road BLM

After a little more shopping in Quartzsite, where I picked up some tools for $.50 each and a frying pan for $3.50, I filled up at exit 1 with cheap Arizona gas (groceries are cheaper in CA, gas in AZ) and headed back in the direction of Los Angeles. I stopped back at Chiriaco Summit and bought a couple of BLM maps in the information center. (The California maps are available a bit cheaper from http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/info/iac/maps_pubroom.html.)

My overnight stay was less than 10 miles further west, off of the exit for Joshua Tree National Park. There is some BLM camping near the border to the park, but instead I headed south and west. I drove down one of the dirt roads that looked suitable for my RV, and parked just off of the dirt road not far from the paved road. While I could see a constant stream of cars on the freeway, and one or two vehicles whizzed by every five or ten minutes on Box Canyon Road in the afternoon, there was no other parked vehicle or buildings in sight. The only sign of humans to the south besides the dirt road was a high voltage electrical line.

I played on my computer (good Verizon 3g signal), did some small projects on my RV, watched a movie (first test of the VHS player that came with the RV -- I still haven't tried the CRT TV or TV antenna), and wandered around collecting a bag of trash in the morning. The sight wasn't as level as the ones I had in Quartzsite so I used the levelers for the first time. (As opposed to just testing them.)

Posted Sunday 30 January 2011 04:18 UTC
Last edited Monday 10 December 2012 04:16 UTC