Monday, December 09, 2019

Adding a Front Hitch for the URRV

Sunday afternoon, I brought the URRV home from the storage yard to install the front hitch that I bought online from

The URRV is built onto a 2006 Ford E450 Superduty cutaway chassis and the correct model hitch is 65001.

image source:

Etrailer provides a nice instructional video showing one how to install this hitch.  LINK

I pretty much followed the instructions in the video, no major issues except I did managed to break the drive shaft on my 30+ years old electric drill from Black and Decker.  I supposed I did get my money's worth out of it over the last three decades or so.  I was fortunate the breakage occured right as the hole was finished.

Note to self, when the instructions say use a 1/2" metal drill, make sure to do so.  The multi-diameter drill bits I used worked but jammed easy, and those repeated jammings finally broke the drill's drive shaft.

It's quite heavy and unwieldy, this hitch, so I used a small jack to keep it suspended while I secured it with the provided bolts.

A view of the installed hitch, before I put the bumper back on.

Bumper went back on with no issues, it's secured by four nuts so no trouble except when one doesn't have a 21mm socket and has to use a wrench instead for the inner bolts.  I did have a 21mm lug nut socket but it was too long for the inner bolts to allow movement by the socket wrench.

I then installed the motorcycle rack from Harbor Freight, nice and snug fit so I don't foresee much unwanted movement at that point.  Had to use a soft blow hammer to encourage the locking pin into place so I could lock it in place.

 The motorcycle rack installed.

 Yagi on the motorcycle rack

Yep, the headlights are partially blocked.  For now, am thinking that's OK as I don't like to drive the URRV when its dark.  I may end up buying a set of snow plow lights if it becomes an issue.

Took her out for a short test ride, no issues, minimal movement seen.  After I returned from the ride, I thought I'd use some straps to further support the ends of the rack.  Instead, I remembered I'd previously bought a gadget that prevents the slight movement of the rack's tongue within the hitch receiver:

 Much better now, no more "slight" movement

A view of the rack with the loading ramp
attached in it's carrier.

I'll be taking Yagi, the Yamaha TW200 Dualsport with me as shown above on the next camping trip and pulling the Aluma trailer with one of the Ural rigs loaded onto it.  Let's see how that works out.

Update: Added a shot of the URRV with Yagi mounted to show how it blocks the headlights, especially the driver's side headlight.  No night driving if I can help it!

Update Dec 11.  Removed the muffler from Yagi, two 6mm Allen bolts and one 12mm Hex Bolt and pull off, easy peasy.  This allows about same amount of left headlight to show through, as opposed to above picture.  I'll put the muffler back on before riding Yagi of course.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Cooling out at home for a change

Not much going on besides usual seasonal stuff.

Before last week's snow storm, I did get around to re-securing the right-most rear support bracket for the water tank.  It's been loose since we got the URRV I'm thinking.  I couldn't see it until I removed a splash shield inside the wheel well.  I also added some wood blocks to further support the tank.

 The fresh water tank mounted to Uma, the URRV
the red arrow points to the loose support bracket.
The black tape is holding an LED light in place that I use
to shine into the tank to tell me how much water is left.

I had to remove the outer dually tire in order to be able to reach the bracket somewhat easily.  I'll be purchasing an electric impact wrench for the next time to speed things up!  Learned that my 8 ton bottle jack does fine to lift the URRV slightly into the air and the 6 ton jack stands should be here end of this week for the next time I do this.

It did provide me some peace of mind, that I do have the gear to replace a tire, if I have another single blowout while traveling.

 Mocking up the wooden blocks so they'll support
the re-attached bracket and prevent rearward movement
by the water tank.  Everything is resting on the chassis frame.

Above: The blue arrow shows where it supports the metal support bracket portion that's now anchored to the house floor once again; and the red arrow where the bracket should provide support to the tank.

Wooden blocks painted and in place, secured together with thin
metal sheeting cut to fit and screws.

Above, the red arrow shows the wood block supporting the anchored portion of the metal didn't quite work out in terms of adding wooden support to the tank itself but I think I'll be fine.

We did get a pretty good dumping of snow, perhaps 8-10" last week just before the Thanksgiving holidays:

I did finally quit dithering and ordered a front hitch for the URRV, should be here mid-week and I'll see about installing it to see if it'll work for carrying the TW200, aka Yagi.  If it works out OK, I'll probably sell the Pitbull Restraint system to recoup some of the money involved.

Failed another hearing test, proving to the Veteran's Administration that I qualified for VA-issued hearing aids.  I should be getting them on February 10 of next year.  Could have gotten them sooner, mind you, but I hope to be camping in January.

My FIL and some family friends are all congregating in the area the next few days, so that'll be the focus for the Changs.

I hope to be going camping again (am tied with last year's total camping days at present) soon after December 11.  The goal is to head south where its hopefully warmer than hereabouts.

Friday, November 22, 2019

The trailer is back to original configuration (mostly)

The proof of concept which led to the modifications:

Extend the tongue of the Aluma 638 Trailer by two feet to: Prevent trailer hitting corner of URRV when backing it up in tight terrain; add room for the carrier rack for the TW200 Dualsport to be mounted in front of the trailer's cargo area.

This allowed me to bring along, during Glamping Trips, both one of the Ural Sidecar Rigs and the Yamaha TW200 Dualsport.  

More info/pics here:  LINK

This worked for a while but then I noticed "flexing" where there'd not been any before.  Not a good thing usually for a trailer.

Found cracks on the longitudinal aluminum support beam onto which the trailer's tongue is attached.  So I had it reinforced by a local welder.

More info/pics here: LINK

The extra reinforcing seemed to work, however, during my recent trip, I noticed that the weld joining the extra two feet of aluminum to the trailer's tongue had cracked apart.

I consulted with the welder who'd done the work, he said he'd fix it for free if I brought the trailer to him.  Trouble is I was near home and he's in Hotchkiss, CO close to the western border of the state!

Further thought and discussion, he agreed I should be able to separate the two foot extension and remove the aluminum "bars" which held the coupler assembly to the original mounting point of said assembly together:

I was at a campsite but with my tools was able to take things apart and put things back together the way the tongue was....repositioning the support wheel and spare tire mount.

 No more flex.  I think my options now are:

1.  Longer trailer, or similar sized one but made of Steel.

2.  Install front hitch on the URRV and mount the HF moto carrier rack onto it.

3.  Decide whether I really need to bring two motorcycles with me on camping trips.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Lotdocking at the Vogel Canyon Recreation Area

Tuesday, Nov 19:

Lotdocking: To camp in a parking lot.

I drove Uma, the URRV with Fiona in tow about 20 miles to the Vogel Canyon Recreation Area intending to camp in its parking lot.  The place is designed as a picnic area with about four metal roof shelters with concrete picnic tables.

There's about 4 hiking trails in the area and nothing for motorcycles so Fiona stayed tied up on the trailer as I explored the area on foot.

In the morning after setting up camp, I started off on the Canyon Overlook Trail (1 Mile) and segued onto the Canyon Loop Trail to check out the petroglyphs area.

 View of the canyon and the cliffsides where the petroglyphs are
from the Canyon Overlook

 Looking back towards the Canyon Overlook

 All I found was the vandalism left behing by dipshits

 Maybe a petroglyph?  Doubtful

 You can see the steps leading to the cliffs where the petroglyphs
were supposed to be

 At this point, I found none!

 Some colorful rocks on the way back to the parking lot along
the Canyon Loop Trail

Side view of the Canyon Overlook, it apparently used to stretch
out further back in the day

In the afternoon, after a late lunch, I went back to the petroglyph area to try and find the darn things.

 Glampsite in the parking lot

The afternoon sun light lit up the rocks rather nicely I thought:

 The cliff face where I finally found some of the petroglyphs

 A wider view of the cliff face with the petroglyphs, you have to get
really close to see them.

I decided to check out the Mesa Loop Trail after leaving the petroglyph area, it basically runs along the bottom of the canyon, headed towards the west.  

Along the way, I saw what appeared to be stone ruins, it looked like old walls of rocks stacked together:

 Old ruins?

 A peculiarly shaped rock formation that caught my eye on the
way back to the Canyon Overlook

By 4PM, it had cooled off quite a bit as the sun was hidden behind some low clouds, so I climbed back to the Canyon Overlook and took the trail back to the parking lot.

After putting away the solar panels, it was time to catch the sunset:

Headed home on Wednesday, there's snow forecasted for the Denver area on Thursday.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Boondocking in the Picketwire Canyonlands

Sunday, Nov 17

Drove from the Queens SWA near Wiley, CO back along the US 50 highway towards La Junta, CO.

From La Junta, it was about 30 miles, 20 of them dirt, to the Withers Canyon Trailhead and its campsites.  There was only one other camper there, a fellow with a VW bus.  Two other cars were there but they were day users with mountain bikes.

The canyon from about 150 feet from my campsite


I liked the colors of the rocks

Sunday's sunset was pretty good:

 Monday Nov 18

After it had warmed up to 50°F (10°C), and with a clear sky and strong sun shining down upon the canyonlands; I went for a short hike along the Picketwire Canyon Trail.

I didn't go far, not much of a hiker these days and my left ankle is still healing from the big sprain I inflicted on it weeks ago.  I went as far as the ruins of an old homestead, at least, that's what it looked like.

We had us a pastel colored sunset tonight, no riding so Fiona was in the same spot as last night.