Sunday, October 21, 2018

New Rubber all around and a new Generator

Spent yesterday, Saturday, spending lots of money.

Drove Uma, the URRV over to Les Schwab where they confirmed that the tire warranty that came with the tires follows the owner who purchased them so no prorated refund.

Still, their service and timely work proved impressive to me.  I think I'll be giving them all my tire business from this point on.

They let me hang around, as they worked on the RV in back of the tire shop.  The bay was big enough but I guess it was easier and the weather was nice so why not?

Learned a few things.

The tires the P.O. had installed before (also by Les Schwab) were their top of the line tires for the kind of driving I like to do: not only pavement but cross country as well.

The spare tire was too old, showing small hairline cracks so it got replaced as well.

A 3.5 Ton Bottle Jack is OK to use on the front tires.

The rear axle can be lifted using a 12.5 Ton Bottle Jack.

This means of course, the 5 Ton jack I have in the RV comes in handy only for the front tires.

The tires I bought are supposed to be 60,000 mile tires, I think I'll be doing good to get 30,000 miles out of them, what with the loads imposed by RV duty and all.

Air powered tools are really nice.

Tires were last replaced by P.O. at 18,750 miles.  Mileage on Uma as 46,100 so the tires were replaced at 27,350 miles give or take a few.  Not bad, and as I mentioned before, the tech at Les Schwab did say they old tires still had some wear left in them.

Experience at Les Schwab:

On the first visit, I had them replace the two front tires, and the left side duallies along with the spare tire.  Two young techs worked on Uma and were methodical but fast and took no shortcuts.  I like that.

I drove Uma back to the storage yard and realized I should have brought the trailer along to have its tires replaced since they were even more worn than the RV tires.

Instead of schlepping the RV back with the trailer in tow, I removed both tires from the trailer at the storage yard and took them over in Scarlett, my 2014 Patrol Sidecar rig.

The expectation was I would dropped them off, as things were picking up for them in terms of customers, and they'd call me back hours later.

I show up, the guy I talked to on the phone walks up to me, grabs the tires and proceeds immediately to swap in new tires!  He was moving so fast I thought he was being timed by his boss or something!

In less time than it took me to remove the wheels, he was done and I was out of there.....very pleased.

Yep, I'll be giving them my business.

Today, Sunday, spent more money.   I went and bought a replacement generator to replace the ailing Honda 1000 watt generator.  There was a sale coupon for the Harbor Freight Predator 2000 watt generator so I bought one.

Why?  The Honda generator needs (I think) a piston ring replacement job.  I found the spark plug fouled with oil and there was lots of it coming out of the spark plug hole while I was doing some troubleshooting.  Replacing the spark plug did the trick to get it running again but she's definitely burning oil big time and is blowing lots of smoke at startup.

image source: Harbor Freight

It's heavier than the Honda 1000 but then again, double the capacity.  This unit competes against the Honda 2000 unit, and is almost 3 lbs heavier than its competitor. (but half the price).

Peaks at 2000 watts, normal load should be less than 1600 watts.

Supposed to run over six hours on one tank of gas (1.2 gallons) in Eco mode.

Has a fuel level meter, we'll see how accurate.

About as loud as the ageing Honda 1000, much quieter in Eco mode than in full mode.
source: Harbor Freight

I'll be putting this generator through the paces in upcoming camping trips, more to follow to be sure.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Fall Break - Day 7: Tire Blowouts enroute to Colorado

Thursday, Oct 18

Quite the day.

We left Bryce Canyon National Park and through what seems a pretty circuitous route, which included cows on the road, ice and snow at a couple of pass summits, ended up heading east on the I-70 Super Slab.

Icy Summit Road Conditions
photo by Martha

At 1452hrs MTN, we heard a loud bang and repeated banging noises shortly after passing exit 204 on eastbound I-70....the TPMS system alarm went off shortly after the bang and I rapidly pulled over to the shoulder of the highway.

A quick look determined the passenger side, rear inner tire had come apart and shredded parts of itself.  The outer tire seemed OK and had allowed me to pull over in a controller manner.

A call to Good Sam Road Assistance and a dispatch was on the way to help put the spare tire in place of the shredded tire.  (Luckily, no damage to underside of the coach).

As I removed the hubcap, I noticed the air stem hanging loosely for the tire that still held air.  A light pull and the damn thing came off in my hand and the outer rear passenger tire deflated as well!

I called Good Sam Road Assistance back and advised them it was two tires now and that I needed two tires instead of just assistance with putting the spare tire on.

Got a call back from an outfit called TireTransport who arranged for a tech from Green River, UT to come out.  Shortly before 5PM.  the tech arrived, with the new tires and he started to work.

As I watched I realized the futility of even carrying a 5 ton bottle jack with me, no way it would have been up to the task.  Cade, the tech, told me the 20 ton jacks available at NAPA struggle to raise RVs.  Sigh.

Making it look easy, Cade used what looked like a big sledge hammer with an angled tip to break the bead on the old tires, used large tire irons (figure at least five ft in length) to pry the old rubber off and put the new rubber on along with new air stems.  He made it look easy but am sure the sweat I saw him work up even in the cool afternoon air was not fake.

As he was finishing mounting the tires, another tech shows up, this one from Moab and said he was there to help put my spare tire on!  Some kind of SNAFU at Good Sam level I figured.  I think it was caused by my calling the option (I have a spare) for the first call, then choosing (I don't have a spare) for the second call resulted in the double dispatch.

Felt bad for the second guy but he said, no worries, he was already paid by Good Sam.

I kept the old tires, hoping to get some prorated refund as they had a warranty from Les Schwab, as the outer basically suffered a torn air stem, I'm thinking it might make a good spare tire as I rotate the existing spare into production.

So, the cost of two new Michelin tires, and labor to install them later, we were back on the road shortly after 6PM.

We drove the few miles to the Colorado border and setup camp in the Rabbit Valley BLM site I'd used before.  We did manage to catch the last of a nice sunset as I parked the URRV:

So, I guess we got a pretty good spot for the blowouts...not on an icy summit or among a herd of cows!  Good signal to call for help, good weather, and no major issues.

Looks like I'll be replacing the other tires on the URRV soon just to keep everything about the same even though the remaining tires do pass the penny test for now, but barely.

On another plus note, we'd obtained replacement spark plugs for the Honda generator at Green River, UT and the generator is happily working away as I type this.  Still going to buy a new one from Harbor Freight soon as it goes on sale though.

Beer Time.

Friday, OCT 19....we drove home on I-70, under good weather and no issues except for work crap.  

Thanks for following along, I see new tires all around for Uma the URRV and the trailer too.

Fall Break - Day 6: Bryce Canyon in the Snow

Wednesday, OCT 17.

We woke to about an inch of snow on the ground.  The whole area was covered in the white stuff and it looked quite nice.

 Waking up to snow at the Sunset Campground

We bundled up and walked the half mile or so over to the Sunset Point Overlook to see what we could see.

Turns out, we couldn't see that much.  The snow was still falling and there were foggy conditions throughout the area where the hoodoos were:

We chanced going down via a mostly snow-covered dirt path that leads one to the hoodoos but didn't really go very far before turning back.

 This is near where we turned back, you can see folks
kept going further down.

We walked back to the URRV and had a nice breakfast.  After breakfast, we geared up once more and this time rode Scarlett out to the town of Bryce Canyon City to look around and get gas for Scarlett.

Note: the Honda generator isn't starting, I think the spark plug is fouled but don't have the right spark plug wrench to remove it.  Sigh.  Used the onboard 4KW generator to charge up the house battery and our electronics.

We then rode over to Sunrise Point and parked near the park's General Store.  Then we went on an almost five mile long "death march" aka hike.  Conditions on the trail were not bad, slippery in some spots but you just had to take it slow and steady.

Visibility at this time was much better.

We went down into the valley and turned around when it joined with the Queen's Garden Trail.  Not having a map with us and unsure where it went, we turned around and huff and puffed our way back up to the Sunrise Point Overlook.

We were warm throughout, but definitely almost working up a sweat by the time we made it back to the top!

While Martha made lunch, I took a short ride towards Rainbow Point to see what I could see.  Didn't get very far, they'd closed the road just past the turn for Bryce Point!  Oh well.

Spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the URRV.  We'll head out tomorrow and start making our way back to Colorado.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Fall Break - Day 5: Bryce Canyon National Park

Tuesday, Oct 16:

We left the vicinity of Virgin, Utah area where we had boondocked and were on the road towards Bryce Canyon, electing to use I-15, instead of traversing the tunnel on AZ 89.  It was 24 miles longer but we figured less delays.

We got our first close look at Hoodoo Rock formations while going through Red Canyon Park.  

Not many pictures came out from our ride through Red Canyon, sorry.  We got to Bryce Canyon and found ourselves a nice spot to camp at the Sunset Campground right inside the national park.

After gearing up and some camp setup, we headed out on Scarlett and rode all the way to the end of the park: Rainbow Point and then worked our way through the overlooks back to our campsite.

Lots of pictures taken, but after a while, they all kind of started looking the same so here's just a selection from the several vista overlook points in the park:

 The ride started a bit "brisk" as you can see, Martha
was bundled up though and stayed mostly warm.

 Heroic poise with Scarlett

 One of two large crows who were acting like 
guardians at Ponderosa Point.
photo by martha

The sun did come out from behind the clouds for the rest of the afternoon so that was good in terms of warmth and lighting up the rock formations.

Natural Bridge
photo by martha

 Martha at Natural Bridge

 Piracy Point Overlook

 Bryce Point Overlook
It was full of Hoodoos!

photo by martha

 Paria Point Overlook

  Sunset Point but no real view of sunset....perhaps
in the summer months?

Having no chance of a sunset shot at Sunset Point, I left Martha back at the camper and rode over south a ways until I found a good spot to get the clouds as the sun set to the west.

Boy it got quite brisk again once the sun went down.