Category: Maintenance

Breaker Breaker

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

In the afternoon we drove south 20 miles to the small community of Valle to try to find a breaker. Our air conditioner has been tripping a 30 amp breaker to the Inverter. We stopped at the Raptor Ranch Campground to ask where the hardware store was. “Across the road, turn right. It looks like a Tee Pee. 

Going into the store, a nice young lady greeted us from behind a counter and a glass front. I asked about breakers and she took us to the back, where there was a stack of dusty breakers. We found one that was close – not an exact match, but close. 

It was an interesting store, so I started looking around. In a small desert town, it had a little of everything. I asked the lady if she had DEF (diesel exhaust fluid), and she took me right to it. 

Outside, I opened the hood and started filling the DEF tank when a man asked if we needed help. It was hot, about 95 degrees, and he thought we were putting water in the radiator. 

While in town, we thought we should fill up with gas, so we went into a Shell Station. At the entrance there was a restored 1950’s gas station with restored cars all around. It was cool. Around the modern gas station were statues all around – a bear, elk, cougar, cowboy, Indians and more. It was a productive and interesting stop in the little town of Valle. 

A young elk bull came to visit again in our camp. How can you beat that? I cut off all power and replaced the breaker following a great video on the topic. At first I couldn’t get the new breaker to snap into position, but remembering the video showed a new breaker with grease in the catch. Mine didn’t have grease, so once I added some dielectric grease, it went right in. I am intimidated by 220 electric, but this is a pretty easy job.

The Faulty Faucet

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

I had a list of things to fix while in Moab. I had fixed the propane problem by finding a leaky connection on the tank harness. I checked again today with a propane sensor, and it picked up a bit of a leak where the big knob connects to one of the two tanks. I tightened it, but may have to get a new line if it continues.

Faucet clogged with birdseed
Fan-Tastic Vent fan not working
broken wire and dangling reading light

My stuffed up faucet is the immediate problem, so I removed it and went to Ace Hardware. They had a bunch of faucets and a very helpful young lady, but nothing quite matched. We went to another plumbing supply store, Riverside Plumbing & Heating. 

I plopped my faucet on the counter with its three hoses dangling. Debbie said it is likely the cartridge inside that needs to be replaced, and she showed us what it probably looked like. She said Moen faucets are guaranteed for life, so we could send it back (not an option), or they would send a new cartridge. I could have left it for them, but they are very busy, and it might be a day or so before they could get to it. She said to try to get to the cartridge so we could replace it.

Back at the trailer, I tried again to get it apart, and watched five videos, which weren’t the same faucet. Finally, with Martha’s help and a spark plug socket wrench, I removed the top and took out a cartridge. For two hours in the hot sun I tried to remove the inside to get to another cartridge. 

Finally, I took it back to Riverside Plumbing. This time Cindy was at the counter. I retold the mice in the fresh water tank story. She looked inside and saw the seeds. Thankfully the young plumber, Steven, came in, and she asked him to take a look. I told him I couldn’t remove the inside parts, and he said that’s because you can’t remove anything else.

Taking it to a big sink in the back, he flushed it with water, poked at the seeds with an ice pick, blew air into the lines and managed to get a few seeds out. He was able to clear the cold and hot lines, but not the sprayer line. I said good enough for me, and thanked him profusely.

I bought a new top (and only) cartridge for $39 while Cindy told their story. She and her husband grew up in Moab. A good date in those days was to go up to Delicate Arch at sunset or Dead Horse Point. When they got married, she wanted to leave Moab, the small town she grew up in, so they did. Once she saw other places, they finally decided to return home and started the business. Both their sons work the business, and a daughter lives in town. She said she felt very blessed to live here and to have her family here. Steven was a very good athlete and pitched for the Minnesota Twins for a while. Then she showed me a picture of her young grand daughter sitting naturally on one of their horses. With a tear in my eye, I told Cindy she was very blessed and gave her a hug.

I could have bought a new faucet along with three braided lines for maybe $300-400, if I could have found it, but thanks to this wonderful place with great people, I was able to fix it for $39. 

I went back to Ace Hardware and bought a couple of picture wire spools to try to further poke out the sprayer line. Then I went to Radio Shack for some solder and a soldering iron so I could solder a broken wire on a reading light that had dropped down while driving. I thought all Radio Shacks had closed. It is such a handy store! A nice young man helped me find what I needed.

I poked and blew and flushed the spray line all I could, then hooked everything up. Somehow I had the handle on backwards so when I pulled the handle down the water came on. Hey, but the water came on!

New Fresh Water Tank

May 9, 2022

Last summer, while fishing in the Smokies, my fresh water tank started leaking. All the Airstream dealers were busy and booked for months, so I ordered the tank and a new pan, thinking I would do it myself. Finally I made an appointment at Airstream of Virginia in Ashland, VA. Driving up, I could see it was a busy place. Lots of Airstreams were parked in a lot to the right and a bunch were parked in front of the service doors. Inside I talked to a very nice lady, Lauren Holman, who said it might be three weeks before I could pick it up! Whaaat?? She said they are selling a lot of Airstreams, but they haven’t expanded the service center. It is also very hard to find technicians, and when they do find them, they have to go to Ohio for training.

A peek into the busy service area
I had to go look at all the new models
Perhaps we should provide a Virginia Airstream Club newsletter!

When I went to pick up the Airstream, I met a gentleman and his wife with a very cool truck. He told me their names, but now I can’t remember. They were very nice in showing me around their Dodge Ram 3500 diesel dually with a 115 gallon gas tank on the flatbed and a 55 gallon underneath. He has a generator and battery on the back, but I didn’t want to sound too stupid in asking what he used those for. Certainly they can be used to charge the trailer batteries, or the truck batteries. Their job is hauling trailers all around and across the country. They haul 5th wheelers and all kinds of trailers, but they love pulling Airstreams best. They have a bed in the back, so one of them can sleep while the other drives. After someone ran into them last year, they had some back issues, so they installed air-cushion seats, wrapped in leather at $2100 each. They let me sit in the driver’s seat, and man was it comfortable. Then the wife turned on the vibrator and I thought I had gone to heaven. They use a Rand McNally GPS due to the size of some big trailers they haul. He changes the oil every two weeks, and they have 740,000 miles on it. They hope it will make a million miles. While we were talking, a salesman came out and put a “sold” sign on the Airstream they had just brought in. I hope we cross paths again, as I know they have a bunch of stories to tell, but we both had to get down the road.

Now those are comfortable seats!

Cataloochee Campground and The Possessed Truck

I got up wondering about the possessed truck. Martha and I read the owner’s manual about the alarm system. The only thing it said was to unlock the door and start the engine, but we did that last night. We did find out where the horn fuse was, so I pulled the fuse and reconnected the batteries. Nothing happened. Perhaps that solved the problem. 

I put the horn fuse back in and we drove to the viewing area. We stopped at lovely Palmer Chapel Methodist Church. With the windows rolled down and the doors unlocked, the truck madness hasn’t happened. We drove up to the end of the field, but at 10:00 the elk were likely in the forest. 

We drove past the Beech Grove School and the Palmer house. I couldn’t help but think about these poor people living in such a paradise being driven from their land and homes. We are certainly happy to have such a wonderful National Park, but was a thriving community in the late 1800’s, shipping apples and other crops all over. Some stocked the streams with rainbow trout and rented cabins to fishermen. One of the concerns was timbering. There might not be any forest left if something wasn’t done.

We drove the other direction from the campground to find another house and beautiful barn along Cataloochee Creek. We continued across a bridge and up a gravel road toward Big Creek and Waterville. I wanted to see how tough this road was. All of these mountain, gravel roads are somewhat tough, but certainly drivable. I have seen many cars on these roads. A jeep would be nice, however.

Back at camp, we fixed lunch and sat for a bit, and then the truck went crazy again, horn honking, lights flashing and door locks going up and down – it’s possessed! Ginger came out with a sympathetic face, telling me there is a Chevrolet place in Waynesville. I had best go get this problem fixed, so I drove over the mountain and called Autostar Chevrolet in Waynesville, North Carolina to see if they could help. They had an opening at 2:00. It was 12:30, so I just drove to the dealership. I told serviceman, Greg, the problem, and he looked at me funny. He asked if I had put any aftermarket things on the truck like running board led lights, inside lights or other electronic devices. No, I hadn’t. I did tell him about the ditch we drove into while looking for bears, and God knows we have hit plenty of big bumps.

I went into the lounge to wait and go through 274 emails, which were almost all junk. I got a message from Sandra that her roof had blown off her trailer on Smith Mountain Lake by a tornado that only hit her trailer. Luckily, no one was there. Danis also left me a message that Dick’s surgery went well and he would be home by now.

After a couple of hours, I walked out front, where there is a beautiful view of the mountains. A young salesman came up to ask if he could help, and we chatted for a while. He apologized for not having much inventory of trucks, but there are just no chips. I walked around looking at used trucks similar to mine. They all looked the same, even the newer ones. I walked around the service bays and saw my truck on the lift, but I couldn’t see what they were doing.

By 4:30, I asked if they knew anything. The technician was in touch with GMC, the question being whether to replace the computer for $1,000. Geez! Greg said to take it home and he would text me tomorrow when they knew something. 

Going over the mountain is becoming familiar, yet still a bit dangerous if someone comes around these blind turns too fast. I honked at all of them. We had an early dinner, then went out for wildlife viewing. We watched the elk, some right beside the car. Two babies laying in the middle of the field were so cute, their heads sticking above the grass.

I got out to take a picture of the barn with the “smoke” on the mountain behind. I noticed something flying close to the grass, but didn’t pay much attention walking around them until they started stinging me. Small yellow jackets were all over me as I made my attempt at running up the road. Every time I thought I was free, another would sting. I kept moving up the road and they kept following. I started fighting back, swatting them, killing my share. One stung me on the lip, and one in the armpit under my shirt. Swat, swat, run. I called to Martha to bring the truck up. A couple got in the truck with me, so I jumped back out swatting away. Finally free, we drove to the end of the road and turned around.

I entertained the idea of taking a Benadryl, but thought I would be OK with a couple of Advil. We went into the trailer and started getting ready for bed when the truck’s alarms went off – horn honking, lights flashing and door locks going crazy. Ginger came over as Martha held the flashlight while I disconnected the batteries again. I apologized for the noise, but she dismissed it. I took the horn fuse out of the fuse box, but we could still hear the door locks. It’s so creepy, especially in the dark. Ginger said there are weird electronic things that happen here. Clocks change time, GPS doesn’t work right and there was something else I missed as I tried not to get shocked.

With the job done, I crawled into bed trying to think of some logical explanation. It doesn’t go off while we are driving, fortunately, and it doesn’t go off if the doors are unlocked. When started it this morning, there was a message to open the driver window and then close it!? What?, but I did it. I have done that twice now… no avail. I have looked for a emergency flasher fuse to pull, but can’t find one. It has been quiet for hours and not gone off, only to start it all over again. Two ways stop it – driving it or unhooking the batteries.

Then I considered that it really was possessed, and I got a chill. I could picture a figure inside the truck, messing with me. Were they trying to make me leave? Did they put the yellow jackets on me? Did I have some ancestor who was in charge of making these 1,200 people leave their homes, their schools, land and way of life? Or did they want everyone to leave?

Carolina Beach State Park

Monday, February 15, 2021

We didn’t have far to go today, so we got some things done in the morning. Martha made some split pea soup while I tried to figure out why the water pump wasn’t pumping water after dewinterizing. I have had this problem a couple of times before, but I thought I had solved it. Could be a cracked plastic strainer in front of the pump. One year that thing froze and just exploded. We were lucky to find a replacement, so this year I had removed it. Second problem was also one I have had before; you have to prime the pump, meaning put some water into the reservoir beneath the strainer. Did that, but still not pumping water.

It’s wonderful to look these things up online, and Airforum is a great place to find solutions. Possible problems: a cracked pump; faulty relay; diaphragm torn; get a new pump (they aren’t expensive); make sure there is water in the fresh water tank! What! I know I filled that tank last night, but when I checked, it was empty. What? Sure enough, when I winterized, I left the drain open so it wouldn’t freeze. I closed the drain located between the tires and filled the tank again. Pump still didn’t move any water. I removed the plastic strainer, and there was no water underneath, so I primed it once again. Bingo! 😊

Since we had plenty of time, we took the scenic route to Carolina Beach. Along back roads, through pretty farmland, I always enjoy the scenery. This is low, flatland with a lot of swamps. All the fields were over-saturated with all this rain. Oddly, we never saw a duck, goose or deer. This would seem to be wonderful waterfowl habitat. The homes were quite modest. I could have spent the day taking pictures of old, deserted houses with wrap-around porches. 

We found our way to Carolina Beach State Park and settled into site #8. With big, generous sites and a huge area for the fire pit and picnic table with concrete pavers. The cost was $24 with all the hookups. I removed the galley sink and tightened the back connection to the water filter, and our little drip leak stopped.

Ruff and Sandra Wheless are joining us for this trip. Ruff was one of my roommates in dental school until he and Sandra. married between our junior and senior years. They pulled in and got settled in time for cocktail hour around a nice fire.

New Tires


Our 25 foot 2014 Airstream Flying Cloud had the original Goodyear Marathon tires on it. This much-maligned tire has generated many posts on the airstream forum, We certainly had our issues with our first Airstream, a great 2005 30′ Classic, but I now realize those tires were 8 years old at the time we bought the trailer. All of the tires blew, one taking out the sewer line. Through those experiences, I have learned that 4-5 years is as long as trailer tires should be used. They will rarely wear out because you don’t ordinarily drive enough miles to wear out. As one tire salesman told us, tires are a petroleum product. If you don’t pull the trailer regularly, the chemicals settle out in the tire, and they lose their strength. Most trailers sit all winter and for extended periods in the summer.

Most experienced Airstream people recommend going from a 15-inch tire to a 16-inch Michelin LT tire, which has a great record, but Martha Jean rejected a larger tire. That tire requires replacing the wheels, so it gets a bit expensive, but there is little argument about it being a great choice. For a while Michelin made a 15″ LT tire, and I bought one as a spare last year. For some reason they changed it to an LTX, which is not strong enough.

I have had great luck with this set of Goodyear Marathons for 5 years, only blowing one tire, and our tire-monitoring system immediately alerted us. You can’t feel it like you would on your car or truck because the trailer’s axles are right next to each other, and you still have three tires working. In the last year or so Goodyear came out with the Goodyear Endurance, which is a much better tire. There has been a lot of discussion on the forum, and a number of people have put them on with good early results, so that’s what I bought yesterday.

I have worked with Settle Tire in Charlottesville before and like them, but there is nowhere to park a trailer in their crowded lot. I took the wheels off, two at a time, and took them in for the change. For safety sake, I used two bottle jacks in case one slipped. It’s a good thing to change tires every now and then so you get more comfortable with it. I couldn’t remember where to place the jack. Fortunately there is a big plaque pointing to the spot, but I had lay on my back looking for it. I had bought a new, larger bottle jack with a safety lock on it, but had to reread the directions to see how to release the lock. Putting heavy wheels back on and lining up the screws can be difficult, especially after doing four. It seemed easier for me to lift the tire from the top rather than lifting from the bottom. After getting the first two changed, I replaced them and jacked the other side and removed those wheels. When I drove up, they were great about coming out to help me unload and later reload the wheels. They said two of the tires were separating. I should have gone back to see what that looked like, but didn’t think about it until I was halfway home.

As I spun the last tire to tighten the lug nut, I noticed a gravely sound of the wheel turning. Did I get some gravel or sand in the hubs? I spun the wheel behind, which generated a similar sound. Geez, now what? I went to the other side, jacked it up and spun both wheels – similar sound. $$ rang in my tired head. Wheel bearings? Axles? Things I know nothing about. I did notice the shocks, which get a lot of discussion also. Bouncing is a big issue that leads to loosening screws and rivets and pillows going everywhere.

Later that evening it suddenly occurred to me what the sound was. I put Centramatic balancers on the wheels last fall. They have BB’s that circulate as the wheel moves, keeping the wheels in balance:} Whew! I think I’ll take a wheel off anyway just to be sure.

It’s a comforting feeling to have new and better tires with a higher speed rating. Although these are rated for 87 mph, the consensus is still to keep it at 65 mph. It would just be nice to keep up with the tractor-trailers on interstates. Going through big cities on interstates is gut-wrenching, and you have to be able to keep up. I am pretty conditioned to staying in the right-hand lane and taking my time, but the merging traffic can be an issue. Anyway, I can’t wait to get back out there. The plan for this year is for fishing the northeast and then on to Newfoundland.

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