Archive for November, 2005

Tragedy – don’t let it happen to you

TULAROSA, N.M. (AP) – Carbon monoxide apparently caused the deaths of a Michigan couple whose bodies were found in their recreational vehicle in southern New Mexico.

Parked overnight in the telephone company parking lot Wednesday before Thanksgiving and were found Monday when a locksmith was called to help get the stabilizing jacks up to tow the RV to the salvage yard. The locksmith noticed the odor and the dog first …

Carbon monoxide also was blamed for the deaths of two elk hunters whose bodies were found in their tent Friday in the nearby Sacramento Mountains.

This one was from a “small propane-fueled heater inside the tent.” The cause of the RV incident, however, has yet to be determined.

Police were trying to determine the source of the carbon monoxide. “The sad thing is they had a carbon monoxide tester in their vehicle. It just wasn’t hooked up properly,” Rupp said.

The lesson here is to use a furnace to heat small enclosed spaces. The furnace uses outside air and keeps combustion separate from the inside air. Avoid using catalytic heaters overnight and make sure that you have good ventilation when using them. Also ventilate when using the stove or oven or any other combustion inside the RV (or tent). Make sure all your equipment is properly installed, properly maintained, regularly tested, and properly used. This includes alarms and furnaces and ovens and stoves and LP systems.

Don’t let this sort of tragedy happen to you. Take care.

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Mike and Shelley’s 1973 Airstream Overlander

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Locating truck stops

GoComCheck bills itself as “the most comprehensive truck stop and travel guide on the web.” It is geared towards the commercial trucking industry. You can find truck stops using a large number of search criteria along major highways and freeways. Each listing has fuel prices and other information that may help in trip planning.

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Air bags for leveling

Warm Creek Manufacturing LLC appears to be a garage business with an interesting idea. Folks who have bought the $70 air bags – “LEVEL-AIRtm inflatable leveling device, inflate the bag to the desired height and in seconds your R.V. is exactly level” – seem to be happy with their purchase.

The idea is to use a heavy duty rectangular air bag under your RV’s low side tires. Pump up to 50 psi of pressure to get up to near 4″ lift. Some folks connect two with a Y so bags under each tire can be inflated together. Others like to customize the lift on each tire.

It looks like an interesting compact solution to most RV leveling needs if you have a decent air pump on hand, – and $140 spare change.

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Star shadows

Maybe not a star but a planet – Venus is bright enough and the moon isn’t in the early night sky until December 3 – you might just be able to see shadows cast by Venus. See the NASA article Shadows of Venus.

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Winter storm warning

Not quite December and there’s a big winter storm warning issued by the weather bureau. Flakes of snow are visible outside.

Are the vents and windows in your RV closed? Have you provided for some ventilation to reduce condensation?

The Reno paper had an article about shoveling and driving tips from last year that has some good advice.

And what about the roads?

Oregon has a good trip check site for finding road conditions. You get construction and other delay information and even web cameras for a lot of places. For Northern California, try John Rabold’s site. It has links to the DOT and weather reports and provides important telephone numbers. The Nevada DOT site listing winter road control information has a complete list for Nevada. Its parent page has contact information for all surrounding sites including web site links.

Driving when the winds in front of a storm get going or the roads get slick should be avoided if at all possible. Find a good spot to camp and wait it out. Most storms will pass within a few days. Always carry chains for both the tow vehicle and one trailer axle just in case you have to do some traveling in snow or ice.

Traveling in bad weather adds stress but there is nothing like a slick road to make you feel really are pushing yourself to limits. If you absolutely positively have to get your rig out in such conditions, keep the speed down, don’t make any sudden moves no matter what, and keep as much leeway between you and anyone or anything else on the road.

Drive safe. Drive smart. Enjoy the winter weather from inside.

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Winterized yet?

Right after the Pyramid Rally in early November the temperatures took a dip. Nighttime lows went from chilly (thirties) to downright cold (teens). Taking a day or two to dress down the rig becomes a big risk in these conditions. Pulling the plug on the water heater and draining the system is a start but the water pump and valves are still at risk.

It is not only how cold but for how long how cold that counts towards freeze damage. Your RV is insulated and has a lot of stuff in it that holds heat. This provides some protection from cold for short periods. One way to guess how long is to average the daytime high with the nighttime low. If this stays above freezing you are probably not going to have inside the RV freezing.

Draining the lines and even blowing air through them will not remove all the water from the plumbing. Take apart the sink faucet after doing this and you’ll see! This is why running potable anti-freeze through all fixtures both hot and cold is the best protection against freezing. For this, a hot water heater bypass and a second feed to the water pump are a significant convenience.

Consider what is most expensive to repair. First is likely the hot water heater. Pulling the drain plug and letting it completely drain is what is needed for storage. Otherwise, keep the pilot lit.

Next is the water pump. You can disconnect the plumbing on both sides but then you’d need to tilt it back and forth to get the water out. Antifreeze through it is probably better.

Third in line are the valves. These are the toilet rinse, faucets and tubs. Again, getting antifreeze through them is the only sure way to protect them from freezing.

Water filters, ice makers, and other special fixtures need special attention. Antifreeze is often not good on them so draining and bypassing is necessary. This often means taking them apart to get them completely drained.

Also don’t forget the traps and the waste tanks. Running antifreeze through all the faucets will usually get enough antifreeze in the traps to protect them. If the waste and supply tanks are near empty, freezing a layer on the bottom shouldn’t cause harm.

See the article on winterizing and the photo gallery about how to find valves and what can happen if you don’t succeed in protecting your water system. And keep in mind that plumbing isn’t the only thing you need to protect from cold weather.

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Weblog software updated

Notice it looks different? The software behind this weblog has been updated to the latest version. This should make it less vulnerable to spam and other attacks. The hope is that comments can be turned back on without getting a lot of crud about gambling and other obnoxious off topic stuff.

Registered users will also be gaining privileges for commenting and adding their thoughts to this weblog.

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Update on the Sierra Nevada Unit of the WBCCI

Update on the Sierra Nevada Unit of the WBCCI

  • The December 2005 Newsletter has been posted. see the link.
  • Plan to attend the SNU Luncheon December 3rd in Gardnerville.
  • An article in this newsletter describes a project initiated by Rick Laborde. His idea was to give all SNU members and opportunity to vote on the rally schedule for 2007. To cast your vote, hit this link
  • See the November Pyramid Lake rally pictures and some other new additions to the website.
  • We still want your input on dues payments and an optional annual rally fee. To provide your input on dues payments and to provide your input on an annual rally fee
  • Special luncheon February 18th. Mark your calendars and plan to attend our special 30th anniversary kick-off luncheon in Carson City at the Silver Oak Golf Club. We plan to invite some special guests and have some special celebration activities. Save this date and don’t miss the celebration.

  • SNU Folks

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    DREFPFP – Build your fire

    Patrick Chicas has a description of the “Desert Racer’s, Enviro-Friendly, Portable Fire Pit” or “DREFPFP” for short. The basic origins are a recycled, metal washing machine tub. The idea is to use the tub from a defunct washing machine as an above ground fire pit. The tub can also be used as a firewood carrier en route. The problems would be finding a place to stow the tub in your rig for transport and the need to clean it after use to avoid making a mess in transit. But it would make for an interesting, safe, and convenient fire pit.

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    You Send It

    YouSendIt is an advertising supported service to “email large files quickly, securely, and easily.” They also have a means to send a collection of pictures or “Allow visitors at your website to send you files with just one click! FileLink provides you with a personalized link to YouSendIt. Your address is automatically passed as the recipient address to the public YouSendIt service. When the YouSendIt homepage appears, the email address of your choice is already filled in.” (we’ll have to try that!). Files can be up to 1 GB in size. Fill in the recipient email addresses, select the file, type in a short message, and that’s it. The recipients will receive a link to your file so they can download it with their web browser. Files will stay up for 7 days or 25 downloads.

    At the bottom of the page are links to the privacy policy, terms of use, and DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act ) policy.

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    Clockworks

    Educated Guesswork has an entry about escapement mechanisms used in mechanical clocks. These are the gear and stop start mechanisms that will use the motion of a pendulum to control how fast a gear turns.

    Escapement mechanics

    One of the most difficult parts of designing a mechanical timepiece is the escapement, the interface between the regulation system (e.g., the pendulum) and the drive system, and to a great degree the history of clock design is really the history of escapement design. Unfortunately, I always find it pretty hard to visualize the operation of an escapement from the static diagrams in books. I was therefore very happy to find Matt Headrick’s Horology Page, which not only has an 80+ page eBook on escapement design but also animated simulations of the operations of a number of major escapements

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    Tire opinions

    Tire Rack has a rather extensive customer survey results report for highway all season tires by brand. They have similar survey reports for other tire types as well.

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    One Pot Cooking

    Huckleberry Finn seemed to have his preferences this way. Now there’s a web site called One Pot Cooking

    One-pot cooking used to be the exclusive domain of bachelors, campers and college students just moved away from home. Meals were quick, simple and often right out of the box. The concept was great – just one pot to wash, but the meals could be quite uninspired. Here are a few variations on the “one-pot” theme, which broaden the possibilities for creative cuisine, while maintaining the simplicity and energy savings of one-pot cooking.

    Rice or potato or pasta – these are the most common base for the single pot chef.

    The host for this site is eartheasy, “Ideas for environmentally sustainable living.” There are sections on the site called live, grow, eat, play, and wear. The Live section has articles such as 25 ways to save water at home, cheaper heat, and Fuel-efficient Driving which might have some RV useful ideas. Other sections have articles such as campfire cooking, birding, and tencel clothing.

    Lots of good stuff be beware the enviro syrup. It can get a bit oversweet at times.

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    Stroke: When is help needed?

    There is a story going around, often in the form of a chain letter, that is about recognizing stroke. Here from Chris and Clara:

    During a BBQ a friend stumbled and took a little fall – she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics) and just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food – while she appeared a bit shaken up, Ingrid went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening. Ingrid’s husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken
    to the hospital – (at 6:00pm, Ingrid passed away.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ – had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke perhaps Ingrid would be with us today.

    It only takes a minute to read this- Recognizing a Stroke – A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke…totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed an getting to the patient within 3 hours which is tough.

    RECOGNIZING A STROKE

    Thank God for the sense to remember the “3” steps. Read and Learn! Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke. Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:
    1. Ask the individual to SMILE.
    2. Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.
    3. Ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently) (i.e. It is sunny out today)
    If he or she has trouble with any of these tasks, call 9-1-1 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher. After discovering that a group of non-medical volunteers could identify facial weakness, arm weakness and speech problems, researchers urged the general public to learn the three questions. They presented their conclusions at the American Stroke Association’s annual meeting last February. Widespread use of this test could result in prompt diagnosis and treatment of the stroke and prevent brain damage.

    This test is called the “Face Arm Speech Test” (FAST) test and was developed in 1998. When a person smiles you look for whether or not they can smile with both sides of their face in a normal manner. The raising arms is looking for both arms being raised the same way and to the same height. The speech test is looking for the ability to express a cogent and meaningful sentence without slurred words or special efforts. Its effectiveness for an untrained person is described in Stroke Journal Report (04fb18) Just a minute: Bystanders may identify stroke symptoms in 60 seconds

    See also the National Stroke Association or the American Stroke Association.

    The new methods for treating stroke can significantly reduce long term damage if they are applied promptly. This does not necessarily means a Lights and Sirens Ambulance as that doesn’t typically gain more than a few minutes (if that). It does mean that, if you find someone with good indication of a potential stroke, getting them to a facility able to quickly diagnose and treat strokes promptly is extremely important.

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    1964 Trade Wind

    See the ‘before’ pictures of Fran Reid’s 1964 Trade Wind
    1964 Airstream Tradwind

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    71 Globetrotter Photo Gallery

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    Pyramid Lake Pictures!

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    Light

    The subject of light came up in a lot of different ways out at the Pyramid Lake rally. The response to the idea of putting 30 watt flourescent lighting in the trailer was that it was an awful lot of light. Mike brought a telescope with a very large mirror that collected enough light to see Venus in phase (partially lighted by the sun) despite a bright sky. A morning photographer was advised to wait until the sunlight put the features of the mountains across the lake into stark relief.

    Light is one of those things that is difficult to measure. Unlike electricity it isn’t confined to going down a wire. Instead it can spread out in all directions. We don’t use how much light is going towards something. Instead we use the light bouncing off something. And light has color.

    A standard measure of light coming from something is a nit. See nit: Information From Answers.com. A computer display puts out a few hundred nits. A bright sign for a store might put out several thousand nits. This is essentially a measure of power for a given surface area. See Light measurement. Exactly how much light is enough has also changed over time and there is still quite a bit of debate on the matter. IAEEL newsletter 1/98 describes the history. You can get more about measuring light from Technika: Light Meters General Info

    For those trying to convert battery energy to light in flashlights, see Materialism: Flashlights. It has energy ratings for common alkaline batteries as well as a rundown on light sources and some whiz bang flashlights.

    Daniel Stern Lighting Consultancy and Supply is into automotive lights. They have some good stuff about marker lights, headlights, and regulations.

    Office Lighting Investments: Payoffs for People and the Environment – NRC-IRC gets into some of the architectural standards for work lighting. This is what you’d use to figure out if that 30w flourescent in your Airstream was appropriate for what you want to do.

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    Lightning deaths down by a factor of ten

    A Discovery Channel report says death from lightening has decreased over the last century. Back before 1900, many of these deaths were inside the house, in bed, even. Without wiring and plumbing and such things, a lightning strike tended to go through residents because there weren’t more convenient metal paths. This particular statistic is born out in data from undeveloped countries even today.

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