2015 Trip 12: a bittersweet weekend

Cedar Cove Resort on White Lake - Oct 2015

The excitement of getting out again in the Alto is soon tempered with the realization that this is the last weekend of the season. The reality of it in our neck of the woods, it gets colder, the campgrounds close up on Thanksgiving weekend and the season ends. Simple as that. We say we would camp longer if we could, but now we only get the camper nice and warm, then mostly hibernate inside.


Thought it was about time to post the steps that we do to open and close our Alto. It's not really that big a job, and I probably have a few steps in here that are perhaps extra, but I figure while I am at it, why not. So here goes. I've recently updated a few things here.

We always go to a campsite that has full hookups to do both our opening and closing. It is real handy to have the water and sewer, this allows you to do a real good flush of the tanks without having to haul the trailer to a dump station.

1. At one point I was bleaching the fresh water tank before closing, but I came to the conclusion that was probably a waste of time at closing, given that I was following this with a bunch of the RV antifreeze. Makes more sense to only do this in the spring. In my humble opinion as they say...

2. The GEO method. I happened across this cleaning method and it seemed to make sense. It is a combination of Dawn dish detergent and Calgon water softener. The theory being that the Dawn is an excellent grease cutter, and the Calgon is an excellent surfactant, helping get rid of the work done by the detergent. I used this method first in 2015 and it seemed OK, so I will continue with this at closing. Some recipes of this method add in bleach, but I'm not keen on that, so I stick with just the Dawn and the Calgon. I mix up 1 cup of each in a bucket of water, and then pour this into both the black and grey tanks, before we drive out to the campsite. It sloshes around in the tanks on the drive, then just sits there working over the weekend. It then gets drained when we start the tank cleaning on the final morning we are there.

2. Drain the hot water tank. There is a small valve on a tube going through the floor. To drain, move the lever in line with the tube. Open a hot water tap to allow air into the system, which helps it drain faster. Once it is empty, close the valve.

3. Rinse the black tank. We have one of those tank wands which connects to a hose, and is then pushed into the tank through the toilet, and the water jets spray down the tank. We always do our winterizing at a campground that offers all three services. Having the tanks connected to a sewer system helps the whole process, as the rinsing then just flows through the sewer hose.

4. Fill and drain the grey water tank. We throw in one of those grey water tank degreasers a couple of hours before totally filling and draining the grey tank. I think it helps break up any grease or sludge.

5. With all the tanks empty, it is now time for the RV antifreeze to be pumped through the lines. I have been using the propylene glycol based stuff, rather than the ethanol based, as it seems to leave less of an after smell in the tank and lines, and it is apparently easier on any rubber seals or gaskets that may be in the system. It is also non-flammable. It is however, definitely more expensive, but the general consensus is that it is a better product. Be sure to read the label closely though, as there are versions out there with called ethanol/glycol blends. Not the same thing at all.  Pour at least one jug, perhaps even a bit more, into the fresh water tank. Remember to check that you have closed the drain valve, located under the Alto, behind the drivers side wheel. If you have the propane hot water heater, there is a bypass line and valves that are used to prevent filling the hot water tank with RV fluid, which at 6 gallons, would be a huge waste. There is a pipe that connects the hot and cold lines going into the water heater. There are two valves, one on each end of this pipe. Move the levers so that they are inline with the bypass pipe. This prevents the RV fluid from entering the tank. Turn on the pump, and open each of the taps, both on the hot and cold side. As the pump picks up the RV antifreeze, the water in the lines will be replaced by the anti-freeze. You will see it come out the taps, as it is generally coloured fluid. It is important to do this for both the hot and cold lines. Do the same for the shower taps, and the toilet. Don't forget the toilet sprayer. Add more anti-freeze to the fresh water tank if needed.

6. Now pour some anti-freeze down the kitchen sink, and the shower drain.

7. I now empty the black and grey tanks again, to get rid of the water that came out of the lines.

8. I add more anti-freeze to the sink, shower and the toilet. I want all the tanks to have a little anti-freeze in them over the winter. That pretty much completes the job.

9. I also treat all the rubber seals before putting the Alto away. Actually, I do this a few times a season. The rubber seals are a big part of the Alto, so why not keep them in good shape. I contacted Frederic at Safari Condo, and they use a product made by Thetford, called Slide Out Rubber Seal Conditioner. I wipe it on all the seals with a small rag. It works great, as after 5 years, the seals on our Alto look brand new…soft and pliable.

Similar routine as closing, except now we are getting rid of the anti-freeze.

1. Drain all the tanks. Again, being at a full service campsite makes the routine a lot easier.

2. Fill the fresh water tank, about 1/2 full, to give it a bit of a rinse.

3. Turn on the pump and run water through all the taps, until the water runs clear, including the toilet.

4. Drain all the tanks again.

5. Mix a couple of ounces of Clorox bleach with some water, and pour it into the fresh water tank. Then fill the tank. Now pump this bleached water through all the pipes, and let the water system sit untouched for a couple of hours.

6. Drain the fresh water tank, then fill it again. Some people put a 1/2 cup of  of baking soda mixed with water in a bucket, into the tank to try to clear the bleach smell. I have never tried this, but do find that if you fill and pump the fresh water, perhaps even a couple of times, the bleach smell does go away. Now pump this clear water through all the pipes to give them a good flush.
Update: I found the bleach smell seemed to stay in the fresh tank most of this past summer, so I will be definitely giving the baking soda a try next time.

7. Drain the fresh water tank and refill if needed.

8. I now switch back the hot water heater bypass valves to where they should be, which is inline with the supply lines, and fill and flow some water through the hot water tank.

9. I once again do the rubber seal conditioner treatment, just to start the season. I will treat the seals a couple of times over the course of the season, it is easy and fast to do, and pays off in the long run.

10. Generally at this point, I crack a beer and then clean the windows. We clean our windows a lot, given that they are the focal point of the Alto, and provide such a positive vibe to the whole Alto. Why not keep them at their best!

2015 Trip 11: raining acorns...

Sharbot Lake PP - Sept 2015

Back to Sharbot Lake this weekend, as we have snagged another site on the water. It would seem that the quest for water sites is now our number 1 priority. We are hooked on them, as they change the whole dynamic of a weekend away.

2015 Trip 10...toasty swimmin'

Rollins Pond S.P. - Sept 2015

Heading to Rollins, one of our favourite parks, mostly because almost all of the sites are on the water. If you are lucky enough to snag one in what we call the beach bay, then you will have a site as good as it gets.

2015 Trip 9: I really like this site...

Bonnechere PP - Aug 2015


From the amount of traffic, it feels like a long weekend, the roads are jammed up. Took us forever just to get a little outside the city. Oh well, at least the weather is good, and the weekend looks good. We may drive through a few isolated showers, but the forecast is lookin' fine.

2015 Trip 8: a spectacular weekend

Sharbot Lake PP - Aug 2015

Off to Sharbot Lake this weekend, where we have not been to since our tenting days, what feels like and is actually, many decades ago. Scooted home after work, grabbed the Alto, and picked Dale up at work, a little routine that easily saves us a half hour or so. Little traffic on Hwy 7 this evening, so we made great time to the park.

Water Pump Replacement

Based on the amount of racket coming from the water pump, it was clearly time for a change. I had replaced the pump head portion last spring, to solve a problem with the check valve, or at least that is what I think it was, although it may have been a diaphragm issue. It was fine after this repair, but then late last season, it started to make a fair amount of noise. This got worse as this season went along, to the point where it became very annoying, and clearly something was screwy with the motor.

I found a good deal online for the Shurflo 4008 Revolution pump, which is what goes into Altos now. This pump incorporates a bypass valve, which is supposed to reduce the rapid on/off cycling of the pump, providing a smooth steady flow of water. This will be an improvement, as the constant cycling of the pump can be quite noticeable. The installation instructions also make it very clear that they do not recommend the use of an accumulator tank, which suits me just fine, as the plan was to remove this when I changed the pump. The accumulator was of no real benefit, mostly because of its minimal water storage capacity.

The first step was to figure out how to rework the Pex tubing to make the connections. The inlet/outlet connections on the pump are at a different height, but this is not really an issue as I am also going to use flexible hoses. More on this later. As I have not invested in a Pex crimping tool, and investment is the correct word to use for that purchase, you then have to rely on another method to tie into the existing tubing. There are a number of fittings out there, such as the Flair-It compression used now in the alto, but they can be very difficult to install, pressing them onto the Pex requires almost super-human strength. My neighbour told me about the Sharkbite brand of Pex fittings, and the great success he had with them at his cottage. I looked into them and they seemed a good choice.

I wanted to reposition the new pump a bit, as well as move around the water filter to be more accessible for easier cleaning. now was the time to do all this planning. I also planned to use flexible hoses to connect to the pump. This is recommended by Shurflo, and is mentioned in all sorts of DIY forums. Currently, the Pex connects directly to the pump, which can allow any vibrations to travel along the Pex, these vibrations are then transmitted to the Alto body, increasing the potential for rattles and noise. Flexible hoses absorb the vibrations of the pump so they are not transmitted to the hard Pex tubing and beyond. You can use any sort of tubing, applicable to the pressure of course, but I prefer the braided stainless with integrated fittings.

Once I determined how I wanted to plumb it to the existing, it then just became an exercise of selecting the Sharkbite fittings needed, attaching the flexible hoses, and then pressing on the Sharkbites. I loosely put everything into place, then fastened the pump to the floor, with an additional bit of cushioning to help absorb the pump vibration. The Sharkbites are real easy to use, they slide onto the Pex with little effort, and have the ability to be removed if needed. Wired up the pump and then turned it on. Always quite satisfying when it comes up to pressure and all the joints are tight.
The pump is quiet. Real quiet. I believe the combination of the bypass valve and the flex hoses make a huge difference. Under constant demand, the pump simply does not cycle, but maintains a consistent pressure and flow. The cycling on and off, which our previous Shurflo (2088 model) did, added a lot of noise to the process. You can see the flex hoses absorbing the movements of the pump while it is running. Given the recommendations to use flexible pump attachments, I'm surprised SC has followed this. From a production perspective, I can't see it  making that much of a difference in the assembly process. The bypass seems to be a great addition to the function of the pump. Perhaps that's the revolution they are referring to when they named the pump. I would have to agree.

2015 Trip 7: the weather funnel called the Ottawa River

Long weekend, and this should come as no surprise, rain is in the forecast. We have had a week of hot humid weather, where sitting at the water would be perfect, yet come the weekend, it has cooled off a bit and rain is on the away. Typical of Mother Nature this summer.

2015 Vacation: Saturday...and so it comes to an end.

Not too far a drive today, so we just sort of sauntered along getting stuff packed away to head out. Not surprising that we have a bit of a linger mentality going on, as we have effectively finished our vacation for this year. An easy drive from Syracuse, probably no more than four hours.

2015 Vacation: Friday...finally, a classic summer day

No pallets visible this morning, not surprising as I heard activity across the way go on till quite late. Loud was up early though, getting breakfast and starting to tear down the camp.

We are hiking around the lakes today, anxious to get a good look at the wonderful colour the lakes

produce. It will be a nice day, so we want to grab a swim and some solid beach time after our hike. It has been such an unusual summer, here it is mid July, and we have had far too few opportunities to enjoy a nice swim in a lake.

2015 Vacation: Thursday...a bit of city tossed in

I have no idea how late that Loud went. He did seem to tone it down a bit, but I remember waking up at some point to the sound of pounding and muffled bellowing. In the morning though, there was nary a wooden pallet to be seen. That's a lot of wood to burn.

Just a couple of things on tap for today, very city like activities.
There is a huge mall in Syracuse, which seems to be a destination for Canadians doing some cross border shopping. We are going to go and see what all the fuss is about. The highlight for me though will be our plans for dinner...Dinosaur BBQ. Apparently home of some great tasting smoked ribs, and other assorted delicacies. Our friend Sandra has been there and raved about the place, not only for the food, but the atmosphere as well, a classic smokehouse bar.

The mall was just that...a big giant mall. We did manage to find a few deals, and it was a nice way to wander around in coolness, on a stinking hot day.

Spotted a great tow vehicle...definitely unstopable

2015 Vacation: Wednesday...there's loud, then there's Loud

Heading to our last campground of this vacation, Green Lakes S.P., just outside Syracuse. We have been slowly circling back towards home, and this park will put us a nice drive from Ottawa. It is not a long drive today, so we took our time getting ready.

A woman wandered over who was quite interested to see the Alto, so Dale gave her a bit of a tour and a brochure.

2015 Vacation: Tuesday...a low key day

Overcast this morning, and they are calling for isolated thunderstorms. Today is low key after the excitement of the gorge trail, so we are heading into Ithaca to have a look at this little city. Along the way we stopped at Enfield Falls to see if we can grab a quick swim.

These falls empty into a pool below, and apparently the swimming is quite nice. Unfortunately we learned as we arrived that the swimming was closed for the day as the water did not pass the daily testing. Now that's a nice thought, I guess all that flows out of the forests is not pristine.

2015 Vacation: Monday...a walk on the wild side

A big storm rolled through late in the night, lots of thunder and lightning, and pounding rain. It passed quickly, and fortunately there were not any high winds. Today we explored the gorge, using our bikes to travel to the top of the trail.

There are many hiking paths, so we decided to follow the upper trail down to the base of the gorge, then hike the gorge trail back up to where our bikes were.

2015 Vacation: Sunday...moving on

On the road by 8:00am this morning, making our way to Watkins Glen S.P. in New York. A bit of a cross country trek, through upper Pennsylvania and into NY state. Quite the drive, lovely countryside, but very hilly, long slow ascents that seem to go on forever, then you crest the peak and head right back down the other side. Lots of bridges as well, and with the gusting winds, bounced the car and Alto around a bit more than normal. Fabulous views though, at the top of the hills you can see  long way. The heat of the day has caused a bluish haze to hang over the views.

Watkins Glen is at the base of Seneca Lake, a large body of water, carved by the glaciers so many moons ago. The park surrounds a spectacular narrow gorge where you can hike right alongside the rushing waters. The entire Finger Lakes area was carved and then filled by the receding glaciers. Since then, water has flowed and slowly carved away the softer rock, creating the rugged gorges here today.

We arrived in the late afternoon, always amazed how what appears to be a simple drive, as predicted by Google, can turn into an all day endeavour. The campsite is situated along the rim of the gorge, in a large stand of ramrod straight pine trees. The sites are quite nice, although somewhat open. Quite a few campers are here, it is a very busy spot. We see a lot of Ontario plates, not surprising given how close we are to the border. Got nicely set up, once again using the Anderson Leveler to precisely adjust the Alto. Totally sold on this little piece of gear.

2015 Vacation: Saturday...another day that feels just Wright

Relaxing morning, our tour is not until 1:30, so we can just take it easy. Tidied up a few things in prep for heading out tomorrow, then headed over for the tour.

Kentuck Knob was another commission of Wright, for the Hagan family, owners of a major dairy outside of Pittsburgh, and friends of the Kaufmanns. The Hagans had been to Fallingwater a number of times visiting their friends, loved the house, and wanted Wright to design one for a piece of property they owned, just down the road from Fallingwater.

2015 Vacation: Friday...Fallingwater

Fallingwater today. Our tour started at 8:30, so we were up and out early. It is only a short drive from the site, but we will be going down SR2019 to Ohiopyle, which is the road they recommend that large RV's avoid. They are right!

Even going downhill without a trailer was a bit unnerving, as the road is quite steep, with many blind hairpin corners. I imagine pulling a trailer uphill would be a challenge, regardless of the size.

Fallingwater is nestled into the forest, just a short drive off the highway.

2015 Vacation: Thursday...the hills of Pennsylvania

Big drive today, so we were up early to catch the ferry. A woman in a shop told us the big ferry leaves on the half hour, so that was our target time. The lake was much calmer today, and our passing was relatively smooth.

Today is another of those A to B days, where the interstate is used to just chew up the miles. Along the way, in Akron, we stopped at a Camping World, which, truth be told, did influence the route today. Never been to one, so it became a way point in our journey. Nice drive, stopped for gas and a bit of breakfast for the road. Amazing how tasty a McD egg mcmuffin can be when you are sitting in a car cruising along the blacktop. Egg white fever.

2015 Vacation; Wednesday...who knew a golf cart was on Dale's bucket list?

Heading back to Kelly's Island to get the Alto and an overnight stay. The storm of the past couple of days has blown by, so it will be interesting to see how rough Lake Erie is.

Good drive back, and as luck would have it, the larger ferry was just arriving at the dock. If it had been the smaller one we would have waited the 1/2 hr to the next one.

2015 Vacation: Monday & Tuesday...time to catch up

Monday & Tuesday
Up early to catch the ferry, Alissa and Richard following us. We have left the Alto at the campground and are off to see Bill & Ann. The small ferry was in dock and we soon pulled on. There is a big storm closing in from the midwest, and although it may pass above the campground, we may feel the effects. As soon as we got offshore a bit, the wind and the waves became very apparent. The little ferry was doing a lot of tossing and rolling, we were chatting outside and we had to lean against the cars to prevent ourselves from stumbling on deck. Needless to say, it was a bit unnerving. It did not help knowing that we had two future ferry rides ahead of us to come back to pick up the Alto, and that there was a storm coming. We vowed the next times to only get on the bigger of the two ferries.

We made our way up the 75 to Detroit, the relaxing drives we experienced on the I81 & I90 was soon replaced by the congestion and dominant presence of massive transport trucks. We knew this would be the case, as the I75 is one of the key north/south highways to transport goods. We encountered many transports that consisted of 3 seperate trailers, hitched together to make a massive train of a vehicle. I still have no idea how one of these rigs would be ever backed up, but I guess they are. Took a few quick shots of an impressive bridge in Toledo.

2015 Vacation: Sunday...breakfast and farewells till next rally

A pot luck breakfast this morning, starting at 9:00, as a number of people are pulling out and heading home. The drizzle of rain could not put a damper on the breakfast, as we all just started talking where we left off last night.

2015 Vacation: Saturday...you can never have enough Altos for a tour

An Alto tour this morning, followed by a group BBQ in the evening. For the tour we started are doing the rounds of all the Altos, with each of the owners providing a little insight to what they have done to their Alto, their favorite accessories, and any other anecdotes they wish to add.

We started in the far row, and will make our way back to our row, with Mark and I being the last on the tour.

2015 Vacation: Friday...Altos, Altos everywhere

Set the alarm for a little before 5:00am, to give us a little leaway to make coffee, a bite to eat and get squared away to pull out. On the road by 6:00, a little overcast, so it should be a good day for a road trip.

We are heading to Interstate 81, which will get us to Syracuse, where will we catch the 90 all the way to Cleveland and a bit beyond. It will be a good hike, easily most of the day. Today is what I call an A to B day, where we are not so much concerned about what we may see along the way, but rather how much distance we can cover. Our aversion to the big 4 lane highway is well documented here, but sometimes it is the neccesity.

2015 Vacation: Thursday...a bit of a head start

We are starting our 2 week vacation a day early this year. Something special taking place on this vacation, we are attending an Alto Rally being held at Kellys Island State Park in Ohio. Now this is a fair hike from Ottawa, and as the rally starts Friday night, we decided to head out Thursday after work to shorten the long drive tomorrow. We are headed for Grass Point S.P., just across frrom the Ivy Lea bridge. This will cut about 3 hours off our drive, and get the border crossing out of the way.

We arrived at the campsite around 8:00pm, a nice little park right on the Seaway. There are sites right along the water, offering a great view of the Seaway and the goings on.

2015 Trip 5: rain, rain, rain and more rain...

Sandbanks PP - June 2015

On the road by 8:30am, as Sandbanks is a good 3 hours from Ottawa and we like to get there early to catch a little beach time, since today is forecasted to be sunny all day. Important this weekend as the long range forecast calls for an extended rainy period.

There is a huge front moving in from the US Midwest, and it looks to pass right over us. This may be the only sun we get.

The Brahma Beast

We have pondered a wheel lock for a few years now. Doing a little research, keeping an eye open in RV shops, but never really taking the plunge. I think the main factor that has spurred on this purchase is the current Alto wait time for delivery. On the Facebook group that we are members of, there are quite a few people who have ordered a new Alto, and from there we have learned of the long wait to take delivery.
It is now running almost 2 years before an Alto ordered is actually delivered. So it is not so much the cost of replacement, that's what insurance is for, it is the replacement time that we are trying to avoid. We cannot imagine not having our Alto, if something were to happen to it. Some things are somewhat out of our control, such as crossing paths with a moron behind the wheel, but an event such as having it stolen, well, we can play a part in making that more difficult.

We already have a hitch ball lock, but we have seen a rather interesting YouTube video, produced by a lock manufacturer, which shows a variety of popular hitch locks being rendered useless in a matter of seconds...our brand being one of them. Then there is another video that shows how thieves use the safety chains attached to the tongue, to pull your trailer away quite easily, hitch lock be damned.

There is the old adage that if someone really wants something, they will figure out how to take it. Countering that though, is the idea that even though they may want it, it does not hurt to make them really work for it, or force them to move on to easier pickins. We hope the Brahma will want them to move on past our little Alto.

We researched a number of locks, the yellow Trimarks, a line out of the UK called Milenco, which looked interesting but we could not find them distributed here, and a bunch of others. We then happened upon the Brahma. It looked to be an interesting design, covering the lug nuts, which I believe is critical, and it seemed very robust. We communicated with a distributer, Morrison Motorcycle Mounts, who have locations in Washington and British Columbia, and they spoke quite highly of the design and the company. One feature we liked is that the unit can fold flat for storage in your vehicle. We ordered the smaller version, 13-15" wheels, and waited for arrival.

This thing is solid...really solid. Heavy as well. Not crazy heavy, but enough to back up the solid feel it has. The metal body and pivoting arms are quite robust, the fit and finish is excellent. It comes with 4 keys, perhaps a statement that says, lose these 4 keys, and you deserve to have a hard time removing this lock.

Fitting is straight forward. Loosen the wingnuts, pivot the 2 arms 90 degrees to the body, tighten the wingnuts, then hang the lock on the wheel. Install the lug nut cover in place behind the lock body, then slide the remveable arm into the body. Snug the lock tight to the wheel, then depress the lock cylinder. It will seat itself into one of the lock holes drilled into the arm. That's it!

The lower arms hook around the wheel, and have plates welded to them to prevent the wheel from rotating. The upper arm is round, and is used to position and hang the lock on the wheel. Once I had it snuggly installed, I attempted to move it around to try to remove it. As it needs to fit a variety of tire sizes, even when installed correctly, there is a bit of play. It soon became apparent that the only way it is coming off, other than with a key, is to cut it off with a torch or grinder. Both of these activities would generate a fair amount of noise, and attention.
round lug nut cover prevents the wheel from being removed. this is the shallow version of the cover, an option, but required for the alloy wheels

rubber pads help the fitting
To help with the installation, I attached some rubber bumpers to the inside back face of each lower arm. This reduces the play, and custom fits it to our tire size. Yet another little mod to make things easier.

Overall we are pleased with this wheel lock. It is both a visual (being bright orange) deterrent, as well as a formidable physical deterrent. We do feel more secure knowing we have done a little something extra to keep our Alto where it belongs.

2015 Trip 4: tough to beat a water site...

Bonnechere Provincial Park - June 2015

Trip 4 already, and it is almost the middle of June...where does time go? Big storm front rolling in this afternoon, calling for extended periods of rain, however, it is supposed to be nice after this passes us by, and this is backed up by the radar imagery, so we are heading out regardless.

 We are heading west, so we should drive out of it.

Refrigerator Fan

There is a lot of discussion out there regarding the cooling efficiency of a propane absorption RV fridge. Some people have reported having difficulties getting the fridge to cool enough, especially if it is very warm outside. Overall, we have not had any cooling concerns with ours. An addition that apparently helps the fridge cool, is a small fan, installed behind the upper vent cover, above the top evaporator grid. The theory being that if you help the natural convection along a bit, the fridge become a little more efficient, and the cooling increases.

Safari Condo now has a fridge fan option, but being early adopters of the Alto, it was not on our option list. As I like modding, this became a nice little project. Even though we have had no concerns, there are times when that side of the Alto has been in full sun, so it would be helpful to be able to switch a fan on when needed. Not many parts needed…a fan, usually a 12v computer fan, a fuse of some sort, a switch, and some bits and bobs of wire and aluminum. At our local electronic parts store, I found a suitable fan, 120x120 mm square, ball bearing spindle, moving 70CFM. I also picked up a lighted rocker switch, as I want to know at a glance that it is running.

One change that SC has made on the fridge install is the addition of baffles inside the fridge enclosure. This is to help direct the airflow outwards. Looking at ours, without the baffles, there is a lot of dead air space, which can trap warm air. We have noticed that the inside of the little cabinet behind the stove can become quite warm, so I suspect the baffles will help that a bit. I fashioned the baffle out of thin galvanized sheet metal, that I found in the HVAC section of Home Depot. Standard stuff. My baffle install is not as fancy as the factory’s, but it serves the same purpose.

Next was to mount the fan on a piece of L aluminum, then this was screwed in place above the evaporator grid. I tapped into the 12v terminals for the refrigerator, and fished the wire up towards the fan. Next I drilled the hole for the switch, right beside the 12v plug I installed a few years back. Located here, it is out of the way, yet still visible enough to see that the switch is lit and on. A bit of wiring, including a low amp fuse in the circuit before the fan, so if something goes screwy with the fan, this fuse will blow first, and not impact the power feeding the refrigerator.

Re-installed the main refrigerator fuse, always wise to cut any sort of power, and flipped on the new switch. On went the indicator light, and on went the fan.

There is a nice little breeze being produced, so it should do the job. There is a bit of a noise as it is running, but not too noticeable. For the times it will be actually. In use, I figure the roof fan will also be running, which will mask most of the noise.
running...but you'll have to believe me
Put the cover back on, and the air was moving nicely through it. It will be interesting to see what sort of impact this fan has on the operation of the fridge, but regardless, it was a fun little project. In terms of costs, it was probably about a $30 dollar job, with a time investment of about 3 hours...most of that running back and forth to the basement when I forgot to bring a tool or something back with me. Always happens.

Water Heater Anode

Most water heaters have what is called a sacrificial anode, a part whose metal composition causes the galvanic activity in the water to erode the anode first, and not the tank itself. Over time, the anode will slowly erode away, reducing its effectiveness. It should be checked and changed every few years. We are a little late in checking and changing ours.

Naturally, removing the anode after it has been in place for a few years was not easy. There was some surface rust, and it seemed pretty seized in place. I did not want to really crank on the breaker bar for fear of damaging or cracking the tank. Now this was a couple of weeks ago, so since then, I have been applying regular doses of Liquid Wrench to it, and today was the day to give it another go.

It is more corroded closer to the threads, but overall, not too bad.

A little pressure on the bar, and I felt it give. Sure enough, we were off to the races. The tank is full, which will provide lots of water to flush as it drains. As the water was draining, it was encouraging to see that is was very clear with no rust or sediment. I had been expecting to see something. Wrapped the threads on the new anode with some teflon tape, then installed it. Snugged it up good, but not crazy tight. The teflon tape should help it come out easier the next time I want to have a look at the anode. Filled the tank, checked for leaks, and we were done.

Checking the Spare

I knew it was under there, but for some reason, had never really explored how it was attached. It was on my list this spring to check the pressure in the spare, and figure out how it was hanging there, two things that would make a roadside flat a little easier to cope with.

Pretty simple hanger mechanism that Safari Condo has created. A threaded rod runs through the centre opening of the rim, and turned onto this rod is a 1x1 block of UHMW, which is the black plastic material you see used to make assorted pieces throughout the Alto. This piece screws onto the threaded rod, and either raises or lowers the spare. Centering the rim is a brilliant piece of engineering...a hockey puck! Yup, a puck. Now how ingenious is that.

the puck...more than just for scoring goals.
The rod is long enough that if you unscrew the block almost all the way, the spare will hang just low enough to get at the valve. Checked it with my gauge, and sure enough, it was down to 20lbs pressure. Not surprising as it has not been checked for over 5 years. Filled it up using the bicycle pump, then raised it back into place. Now that I know how easy it is to check and fill, I think it will become a regular spring check.

2015 Trip 3: shad flies and geese...everywhere.

McLarens Campsite, St Lawrence Parks - May 2015

Off to McLarens this weekend, a destination that is close to home and a nice little getaway. McLarens is one of the campgrounds in the St Lawrence Parks system along the Long Sault Parkway, which is a series of eleven islands that arc through the St. Lawrence River.

Bridges and causeways connect these islands, which are actually the high points from a group of villages that were expropriated and flooded as part of a power project in 1958.

2015 Trip 2: a little electrical work...

Silver Lake PP - May 2015

Like Cedar Cove is our first weekend, Silver Lake PP always seems to be our May long weekend destination. It is relatively close, within 2 hours, and we get to visit Helen & Paul at their nearby cottage.

 Traffic was slow, totally expected, given it is a long weekend. Did not eyeball many trailers on the road, only a few, perhaps they are not as brave as us this early in the season.

2015 Trip 1: season 6 begins...

Cedar Cove, White Lake, May 2015

The opening weekend, one of our favourite times of the year. Again we are headed to Cedar Cove, as it is a nice campground, and offers the services we like to have when opening or closing. We always try to snag our favourite spot down by the water.

 For the beginning of May, quite a heat spell this week, every day around 30C or above 80F. A welcome change after the long cold winter we just experienced.

Adding a little storage

We have contemplated the front storage cabinet for a while now. I was concerned how it would visually affect the smooth flow of the curved ceiling, and the outdoor reflections. We did realize the extra storage would be handy over the long term, so figured it was time to take the plunge. The cabinets usually come with laminate on the doors, but we thought that if the doors were covered in aluminum, it would retain some of the reflectivity I like so much. A quick communication with Safari Condo confirmed the doors could be covered in aluminum, so we placed the order.

We had it shipped to us as it looked to be an easy install, and it would save us a drive to the factory. It came assembled, and was indeed a simple install. It has a length of LED lights underneath, which can be quite bright, so I added a 12v dimmer into the circuit. Now the intensity of the light can be adjusted to suit the need.

We primarily want it for clothing, and on the first trip out, we found it real handy to have a few items of clothing so readily available.

Adding a little comfort

We have always found the bench foam a little too firm for sleeping, great for being a bench though. We have tried a variety of things to try to get a little more comfort for us while sleeping, even a few memory foam pillows that Dale would perch upon. Not overly conducive to a nice relaxed sleep. We figured a topper was the ultimate solution, but always wondered what to do with it during the day. They are not overly storage friendly. Then we saw how Lissa stores their topper as a bolster along the back window, and figured we would give it a try.

We found a nice 2 1/2 inch thick topper, a nice coordinating duvet cover, pulled out the sewing machine and started sewing. With a little pressure applied when rolling, we can get it down to a good size. It seemed to do the job the first weekend out, a nice comfortable sleep, and when rolled and used as a bolster, it is an awesome back rest. We are thinking we have found our solution for a comfortable sleep.

Time for a new battery

Last summer I started to notice that the battery voltages were consistantly lower than in the past, and unable to maintain a charged voltage for very long. It seemed time for a new battery. The original is a Deka Marine RV, which is not really a true deep cycle battery, even though it did a good job for the past 5 years. After some research, I settled on a Trojan 30XHS. It is a 130 AH deep cycle battery with 225 minute reserve capacity. It is a group 31, replacing a group 27. It should hold up to off grid camping a little better, and hopefully have a longer recharge life. Should be interesting to see how this performs.