Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Return from Bueva Vista and a mystery cleared up

Last night was expected to get down to 10°F (-12°C), I figured the Olympian Wave 8 Catalytic Propane Heater was up to the task and went to bed early, anticipating a 4 hour drive back home in the morning.

I woke up around 4:30AM feeling slightly cold, couldn't get back to sleep so I got up and did a check of the heater and to see what the temperature of the water from the fresh water tank was at.  I did notice the thermometer on the dinette table to be 48°F (8.8°C), this was lower than the 61°F (16°C) that I'd gone to sleep with.

I turned on the water pump, opened a faucet but only a little water flowed out.  Hmmm.  I didn't hear the water pump kick in as usual.  Hmmmm.   I used the touchless thermometer and found the piping under the bathroom sink to be in the low 20s!

Went into a bit of a panic and without taking a reading from the battery (dammit) I turned on the generator so I could run the tank heat pads.  I also kicked on the coach furnace and blower, running both on high to bring temperatures up.

I thought, you see, that something had frozen and worried the pump had failed due to frozen water.  Or worse, the water in the fresh water tank had frozen (it was 10°F (-12°C) as forecasted) and had cracked open, resulting in no water.

While troubleshooting I verified no big frozen puddle of water under the fresh water tank.  The fact the pump wasn't working was worrying.  After about an hour and half of mucking about, I tried removing one of the two power leads  to the pump, checking for power with a multimeter, and reconnecting it.

Whether it was me removing/re-engaging the lead or things had warmed up enough by then, the pump kicked on when I tried it next.  Hurray!  Still, barely a few drops of water came out.  Hmmm.

At this point it was after 6AM so I decided to pack things up, tie Scarlett down in the trailer, and get setup for travel, hoping that as the day warmed up, water would start flowing again.  I decided, in contravention of safety practices, to drive with the propane valve open so I could run the coach furnace as I drove to help things heat up.

Here's the view as Uma and I, with Scarlett in tow, exited the area along county road 375:

Dawn along the Collegiate Peaks

I drove down towards Salida, the idea to take US50 East towards Colorado Springs via CaƱon City.  The CDOT site,, reported that route as dry vs US285 which was shown as "frozen".

At the Chalk Cliffs Overlook, I pulled over and posed ScooterBob for at least one picture for this trip:

ScooterBob with Mount Princeton (I think)

The rest of the drive was just highway driving with no weather issues.  I checked the water flow when I got home and it poured out of the faucet, under the water pump's impetus, just fine!

So, that's the mystery that had been puzzling me since the first boondocking trip Martha and I had done where we'd seemingly run out of water unexpectedly.  It was then, as it was this time, that water had frozen somewhere in the fresh water plumbing!

I am lucky that nothing froze to the point of bursting!  

Next time we go boondocking, I now know that neither the coach furnace nor the Wave 8 Heater keep things warm enough to keep the fresh water flowing.  We need to "winterize" the fresh water plumbing and use pre-stored water inside the coach for washing, cooking and flushing.  The grey and black water tanks can be used, with periodic addition of RV Antifreeze deposits as liquid levels in each tank grow.

If we're in an RV Park with electrical hookups (which allow the running of tank heat pads and perhaps a small electric heater aimed at the plumbing under the bathroom sink); then it should be OK to keep water in the fresh water tank (disconnecting the city water hose at night).

Monday, November 28, 2016

Boondocking in and near Buena Vista, CO

The snow won't come to the cesspool that the Denver Metro Area has become, I would have to go to the snow.

In this case, I picked the area around Buena Vista, Colorado.  I wanted to see the Collegiate Peaks once again, hopefully with some snow covering them, and explore the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) camping that I'd read was in the area.

The local RV Park, Snowy Peaks, was the only one open still and it was full each time I checked.  I think it's their online booking system but couldn't find something that worked for me.

I left home Sunday afternoon and less than 3 hours later Uma and I had ridden over some sparsely snow/ice-packed roads on US285 and arrived in the vicinity of Johnson Village where US285 junctions with US24.

As I wanted to boondock, I headed towards Salida as it appeared "warmer" down that way from Buena Vista.  The Collegiate Peaks were hidden behind wind-driven snow "fog banks" and were not visible.  I saw the sign for Hecla Junction with a camping sign and after getting turned around, went down that road.

The road turned out to be twisty and winding, with some snow/ice patches, and ended in a compact but seemingly nice camping area by a raft launching site for the Arkansas River.  I picked a spot and darkness descended as I setup camp.

Weather reports called for snow and I didn't want to be trapped by snow at the end of a narrow twisting hilly dirt road.  So I left after only sitting there an hour.  Once back on US24 I headed north and I tried two other RV campgrounds and they were closed for the season.  What to do, what to do?

I spotted a Loves Travel Center/Gas Station and dimly recalled they let you boondock in their parking lots.  I pulled into a spot in the empty RV parking section, went in and asked to park there overnight. The young lady at the desk said "Sure!".  Got myself some dinner and so spent Sunday night in a brightly lit RV parking lot.

The Olympian Wave 8 Propane Catalytic heater got a workout and kept things nice and warm inside the RV so I didn't engage the furnace and its blower fan at all.  The only things on were my electronics (0.5A draw) and the refrigerator (0.74A draw) for part of the night.  Very sparse use of the LED lights as well as I was trying to see if not using the furnace = lower drain on the coach battery.

Dawn came and alas, I'd drained the battery down to 11.85V again.  Dammit.  Not sure what's causing this as the Killawat device reported .5A when devices where charging off the inverter.  I turned off the fridge and lights with very sparing water pump usage.  Sigh.

After tanking up Uma and doing a recon of the BLM camping area with Scarlett, my 2014 URAL Patrol, I found a spot and after filling up with propane in town, setttled UMA onto this camping spot at what I believe is the Turtle Rock Camping Site.  More info on this site here: LINK

There were only two other vehicles/campers on site, with UMA being the only RV.  Got some work done via cellphone Internet and the weBoost device and then lunch time came along.

I geared up again and Scarlett and I went riding to get pictures of the Collegiate Peaks:

 View of the Collegiate Peaks as one descends along Chafee County Road 375

 A set of neat tunnels along CR 375

 The view after the tunnels of the Northern Collegiate Peaks

Scarlett and I then cruised through the main part of Buena Vista (currently choked by traffic cones and construction) and rode towards the southern Collegiate Peaks:

Sorry, I forgot to get ScooterBob out for pictures but in retrospect, it was so windy I am not sure he would have remained upright!  The last two pictures were taken in high winds and biting cold as temperatures dropped into the low 30s Fahrenheit.

It was time to return to work anyways so we headed back through town, up to the BLM campground and spend the rest of the afternoon doing work and fielding a couple of calls.

I also ran the generator a collective 5 hours to charge up the coach battery using a "smart charger" I'd recently bought.  It does the three stage charging: bulk, fill, float but it's acting a bit wonky.  It seemed to be fine but when I went to check near the end of the charging period, it had reverted to pushing 15A into the battery and calling it only half full when it had been close to full just an hour before.  Weird.  I'm thinking now perhaps not use it when using generator for AC power?

Started on battery at 1640hrs, 12.67V reading after shutting off generator...yeah, there's some surface charge there.

Sunset proved disappointing from my camping site, so no pics.  However, I did get some visitors:

Saturday, November 26, 2016

RichardM on Fiona

Doing a bit of cleanup on the phone's collection of pics and videos.

Here's a short one of RichardM, during his recent visit to Denver, riding Fiona.

Monday, November 21, 2016

New and Improved Starter for Fiona's Beemer Engine

Due to careless wire placement on my part, the starter button on Fiona, my '99 Ural Patrol with the '84 R80 Beemer engine was activated several times with the engine running.

I at first thought it was gearbox problems but realized it as I rode home that the power cable going to the right handgrip heater pad was touching the starter button.  Dammit.

Of course, it ruined the pinion gear assembly on the starter to the point where it would jam up when engaging the engine's flywheel.  Sigh.

Note how the pinion gear's teeth were worn off by the
flywheel's gear teeth.

I checked the teeth on the flywheel and they were not damaged.  I lucked out there.

This was all yesterday, Sunday, and I spent the rest of the day (mostly) removing parts to get at the ruined starter which is located on top of the engine case.  It proved a big PITA to remove by the way, due to the two small 8mm nuts supporting the heavy starter.  Arrgghh.

I hate self-inflicted repair needs the worst!

Anyways, finally got the ruined starter out and yeah, the pinion gears were quite munged.  After consulting with RichardM, he sent me a link to the starter he'd recently bought while in Denver for a business trip.  The company is Euro MotoElectrics and they're pretty much a one stop shop for Beemer and some other motorcycle electronics!

I got a tour of their parts offerings and it's quite extensive.  It also includes filters for oil changes, batteries, and cables for the repair of our beloved Airheads and I am sure other motorcycles as well.

It's the EnDuraLast Starter - BMW R Airhead 9-Tooth which Replaces VALEO D6RA7, D6RA15; 12 41 9 062 425 / EnDuraLast.  Link to the item on EME's website: LINK

Image source: Euro MotoElectrics

A trip to Denver and I had the new starter which spins faster, draws about 20% less Amps and weighs about three pounds less than the Bosch unit that the engine came with.  As a bonus, the new starter is shorter and so one doesn't have to worry about remounting the small 8mm nuts!  

It was a tight fit but I finally got the new starter in the right position to secure it with existing bolts.  The new starter has threaded mounting holes so I reversed the mounting bolts accordingly.  No problem.

Did a test crank and all was well.  Sigh.

I buttoned Fiona back up, replacing the engine cover (which I didn't really need to remove based on the way I got to the rear nuts, and after making sure the negative ground cable on the battery was disconnected), the cover over the starter, the airbox, the battery standoffs to allow clearance for the end of the clutch cable, the negative ground screw to complete the circuits again and finally the sidecovers.

Fiona is "mo better" now.