Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Windy Conditions Spark an Afternoon Fire

 Sunny with cold wind conditions.  

I went out in the afternoon to exercise Scarlett, my 2014 Ural Patrol Sidecar rig before I was to load her back onto the trailer.  We're all planning on departing tomorrow morning for a couple of days in Tucson.  I'm getting new tires on the VRRV and Lori and Chris have chores and a "Home Depot Day" planned.

I headed towards Slavin Gulch for a shot of the rock formations there:

As I neared our campsite upon my return I spotted a large cloud of smoke about a mile away nearer the mountains.

photo courtesy of Lori Z.

photo courtesy of Lori Z.

I alerted Lori to the fire and then went back out on Scarlett to see how close I could get to it to make sure no one needed help.  Lori Z. would call 911 to let them know about the fire.

Chris Z. would catch up to me as I neared the fire's location, there were about three campers nearby.  Those campers were soon hurriedly throwing all their camping equipment and stuff into a trailer as they saw the flames approaching.

Chris and I got a little bit closer:

video courtesy of Chris Z.

We left when the fire got a bit too close and then we helped the campers finish packing up their stuff prior to moving their vehicle further away from the fire.

The smoke was thick enough to "shade" the mountains

As we waited near the fire, Chris got hold of the USFS dispatcher for the area and made sure to relay GPS coordinates for the fire.

After a while, Chris and I returned to camp and watched the fire seemingly dying out as we resumed our packing of stuff for tomorrow's displacement.  None of us was worried that the fire would spread our way.

Around 4PM, I headed out back towards the fire and witnessed the arrival of a USFS fire truck accompanied by three trucks from the AZ-FTA.  They turned out to be from the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs from Fort Apache according to Google).  Long way to come for a fire but I figure they saw it as a training opportunity.

I didn't follow them in and unintentionally get in the way or act as a looky-lou.

As the sun set, very little smoke could still be seen coming from the fire area.  I think we'll be fine.

Tomorrow: Tucson, AZ

A Couple of Windy Days...

 Sunday, January 29

Sunny but with gusting winds that reinforced the meaning of "Wind Chill Factor".

I finished the last repair for the trailer, which had been found while inserting a support 1"x1" angle iron next to the crossway strut under where most of the Ural Patrol's tug rests while in travel mode.

photo courtesy of Lori Z.

The new support, allows the trailer platform above to not flex as much when the sidecar rig is loaded.

Oh, I also applied small steel patches to four of the trailer ramp's cross members which had cracked apart, allowing some sagging of the ramp.

We'd noticed before the Machida visit that the front half of the mount for the left side wheel's suspension had cracked apart.

Here's a pic from the previous post of me eyeing the failed welding's crack:

photo courtesy of Lori Z.

Though I failed to get pics of the crack before the repair, here's what it looks like now:

Before, there'd been actual separation....
now the two pieces are in contact again

Here's a clearer picture of the suspension/axle assembly's mounting in question.  Basically, the years of wear and tear had cracked the aluminum welds, leaving the front half of the T-Channel somewhat "loose".

Now, there's two bolts in place, doing the job of the failed welds.

I then hooked the trailer back onto the URRV and did trial loading/unloading of the sidecar rig while Chris Z. watched. I'm happy to report no flexing seen by Chris and no issues riding the rig onto or off of the trailer.

Soon as I was finished with the work, Lori and Chris generously soldered together the cobbled together breaks in the trailer's tow lighting wiring.

I was exhausted the rest of day, so I rested.
Dinner was at the Zs and it was an early night for me!

Monday, January 30

Sunny but windy, again. Leading to us spending a lot of the day indoors out of the wind.

Lori Z. however, found a good time during the windy day, to fly her DJI Mavic 2 drone around the campsite area:

video and drone pics by Lori Z.

Didn't really get much done otherwise.  I did do some planning for some additional work on the trailers but no new cracks were found.  Just will make things "mo better".

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Another Visit from the Machidas at the Dragoon Mountains

A pretty good day today, it would have been perfect but for the occasional winds which brought about some chilling effects.

I spent part of the morning working some more on reinforcing the trailer, got a 1x1" steel angle iron next to a support cross frame to help support the Ural Patrol, with some help from Lori Z., a big hammer and a rotary cutting tool.

I may end up putting additional plating where you see the
break but the angle iron I installed above should suffice

Then, we discovered the left side support which holds the suspension to the frame had cracked.  Not good, but the solution could be quite simple:

The consensus is to install a bolt in the T-Channel
shown above, to secure the suspension mechanism
to the platform where the welds have broken

Around the time we were getting around to installing the bolt to secure the separated section back onto the platform of the trailer, the Machidas showed up and it was time for lunch and some visiting.

After lunch, Chris Z, Bridget and I piled into her Jeep and we drove the five miles to Council Rocks to check things out.

We found the site with no issues and we wandered about, both Bridget and Chris spending some time with the petroglyphs.  I didn't take a lot of pics of the petroglyphs as I've been here before: link


Bridget, replicating a pose by her grandmother
when she went camping back in the day

We returned to camp and chatted some more, as the evening approached and things started cooling down; the Machidas left for Benson and we settled in for dinner in the VRRV.

photo courtesy of BridgetM

Friday, January 27, 2023

Back Together with the Z's at the Dragoon Mountains, More Trailer Work, and One Big Bird!

 Thursday, January 24

Sunny but later very windy day!

I spent the morning doing some light hiking before getting started on some more reinforcement work for the trailer.

There's a learning curve apparently when it comes to drilling on steel and it took me quite a while and a few drill bits to make just two holes in the angle iron I'd bought beforehand!

In the meantime, the Z's had received all the mail and packages they'd been expecting, earlier than expected!  So they drove the same route I did, got some groceries and some supplies for me.  They showed up after 2PM and we were all back together again.

One of the things Chris bought for me was a new drill bit as I'd ruined the ones I had.  Even with the new bit, it took me a while to figure out you have to go slow and through progressively larger diameter drill bits in order to get the job done!

Dinner was in the URRV, Spam and Fried Rice!

Friday, January 27

A warmer day today, though still windy at times after things warmed up.

I rode Yagi, my TW200, quite bundled up, to nearby Tombstone to see about getting some bolts and nuts at the local hardware store.  Damn it was cold with temps in the low to mid 30s!  Still, I got to the store with no issues except slightly numb fingertips.

After perusing the meager stockage at this small hardware store, I got myself some 3" long 5/16ths bolts with lock nuts.  I also picked up a drill bit set made with Titanium portions.  This was to finish the drilling of holes into the angle iron reinforcements for the trailer.

I started working on the trailer soon after my return, while the Z's offered occasional advice and guidance.  

Turns out, you can teach an old dog a new trick!  Finally, after decades of doing it wrong, I learned how to drill correctly into steel, without ruining the dill bit!  Slow is the key, I'd always gone for faster drill speeds and putting heavy pressure on the bit, which is wrong.  Also, lubricating the drill bit's tip with oil is key!

Below three photos courtesy of Lori Z:

Using the correct speed, oil lubrication, and stepping up the drill bit size to largen the hole soon had all the required holes drilled and ready for bolts and lock nuts.

They're grade 5 bolts so Chris Z. commented that the 1/8" thick steel angle iron would bend before the bolts would break!  The angle iron, visible above, is on both sides of the trailer.  They're to help support that last third of the trailer platform which has to support the heaviest part of the Ural Patrol sidecar rig.

The angle iron span where cracks had been created near the rear edge of the fenders where they meet the platform's edge wall.  Not good, I am now pretty confident that further damage won't be an issue.

I also mounted a wheel chock generously given to me by the Z's, onto a couple of 2x6" boards.  The boards will take the place of thinner fence boarding which I'd been using to "spread the load" of the Ural motorcycle tug.

Finally, done for the day, it was time to rest.  There's a bit more reinforcement work to do but that's for another day.

Lori Z. in her natural habitat...enjoying the sun
and doing some crochet work.

After a short nap in the sun, I got out the binoculars to see if I could spot some climbers on the nearby rocky peaks.  I did see a couple of people on top of the rock called Sheeps Head but didn't get the Nikon Coolpix 9900S camera with it's 30X zoom fast enough.

Lori and I use the trailer's ramp to steady our
respective binoculars

More scanning of the nearby rocky peaks, I thought I'd spotted another person standing on a rock, silhouetted against the sky.  I hurriedly got the Nikon 9900S and tried to capture an image using digital zoom on top of the 30X optical zoom.  

Of course, doing it without a tripod, it was quite blurry and fuzzy.  Below photo revealed the object I'd seen with the binoculars as a very large bird!  Yep, 1.4 miles away and 1700 feet higher in altitude, yet clearly a bird. (according the the Peak Finder App)

Below photo of the zoomed in photo was post-processed to sharpen it and add contrast.

Then, I went to get the tripod to try to get a sharper picture.  During the interval I was setting things up, the bird flew away.  Further proof it was a bird.  Here's the peak's top, followed by  a closeup using digital zoom and post-processing to show the now empty perch branch.

Can you see the perch?

A more overall view of the peak for perspective

As the sun set, we all retired to our respective RVs for dinner and get out of the growing cold conditions.

Quite tired from the trailer work.  It's supposed to be in the low 60s tomorrow!  

Here's a YouTube video I found later which shows the proper way to drill metal.  It's what I learned from Chris Z. today:

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Last Day at Indian Bread BLM and now Boondocking near the Dragoon Mountains

 Tuesday, January 24

Warmer day due to bright sunlight.  We did wake to 24 degrees Fahrenheit, which revealed the metal supports beneath the roof of the VRRV:

Once things warmed up enough, we returned to basking lizard mode:

While Lori Z. and I dozed in the warmth of the sun, Chris decided to do his basking up on the nearby rocks:

I did some packing up in the late afternoon, such as loading Scarlett back onto the trailer.  The ramp's new hinges held fine and no issues encountered.

Dinner was in the VRRV with the Z's providing chicken and veggies for my fried rice.

Wednesday, January 25

Pretty good day overall, with nicely sunny weather conditions.

I left Indian Bread BLM and the Z's shortly before 8:30 AM.  I was slightly delayed in my departure due to a recurring blown fuse for the trailer lights.  It turned out to be an exposed wire connection for the license tag light.  Lori spotted it as I worked to find it, and she secured it out of the way.  All good.

The Z's are waiting for some items and mail to be delivered in Willcox and have to delay their departure for a couple of days.

I drove over to Mountain View RV Park in Bowie and dumped tanks and took on propane and water.  I had consumed 5.7 gallons of propane over the last week, lots of heater use due to the extremely cold temperatures at night and during the snowy days.

Next stop was the town of Willcox where I got some more hardware to reinforce the trailer, oil for upcoming oil changes for the motorcycles and the generators.  I also got groceries nearby at the Safeway while there.

Next stop was Benson where I met RichardM at the Texaco station near the RV park he and Bridget are staying at.  He's letting me borrow his sawzall you see, just in case it's needed when I bolt on the angle iron reinforcements soon.

Finally, I arrived at the Dragoon Mountains Dispersed Camping area, I think it's run by the USFS.

There were more campers than I like to see and the two sites I'd hoped for were taken.  Site #3, which I'd seen but not used in previous trips, was available and I claimed it for the Z's and myself.  

Here's views of the campsite, during the Golden Hour, with the Dragoon Mountains in the background:

A sunset with no clouds, but still, it provided a nice back light for the VRRV:

It's supposed to get into the mid to low 20s again tonight, still testing the use of Reflectix, packing blankets (to isolate the driver compartment) and such to retain heat.  So far, the changes have caused the temperature differential between the outside and inside from 31 degrees (on average) to 37 degrees, not too bad.

I might try closed foam board insulation on the big windows later on, not sure.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Different Weather Days

 Sunday, January 22

A warmer day today, with clear skies allowing the sun's warming rays to cause us to just bask in that warmth for most of the day.

Sure, some small chores were done, but really, just picture three human lizards basking in the sun to know what we did today!

Today's sunset was pretty good too:

Monday, January 23

Woke to overcast skies but a nice sunrise:

Soon after the sun was up though, the weather changed.  It snowed on us at least three times today, with one brief period of partly cloud skies allowing the sun to shine through.  Mostly though, it looked like this:

Snow in Arizona, go figure.  It didn't stick, mind you, as the temperature was above freezing (barely).  I don't think it got above 38 degrees Fahrenheit the whole day.

There was, no basking in the warm sun today!

Needless to say, we all stayed in our respective RVs the whole day, mostly snoozing or reading, staying warm.

The Z's did invite me over for a nice dinner and drinks session.