Another Bearing Repack

Once again it is time to pull apart the hubs and clean and repack the bearings. At the same time, I give the brakes a good cleaning. It's a pretty straight forward job, but it does take a bit of time, as you have to jack up the Alto, pull everything apart, clean and repack, then put it all together again. I imagine at some point I will just have it done somewhere, but until that time comes, it will be one of those spring jobs I do.

I noticed there was a fair amoint of brake dust on the inside of the rims, so I suspect I have been re-adjusting the shoes perhaps a tad to close. This time I will make a point of leaving them backed off just a little bit more. I can always give them a fine tune if I find the electric brakes are not grabbing enough. Once I got the hubs off, everything looked pretty good. The grease is still bright blue, with no sign of discolouring of that icky milky consistancy when water has started to get mixed in.

Gave the drums and the shoes a good cleaning, then pulled the back seal, cleaned both the bearings, had a real close look for any pitting or excessive heat scorching, but all looked good. Repacked the bearings, greased up the races, then put the hubs back on. Tightened up as per the Dexter Service Manual, and we were done. Checked the brake adjustment, then headed over and did the other side.

front bearing ready to go...

a lot cleaner now...and still in real good shape

I'm rotating the tires, so the service side tire now becomes the spare. The inside of the rims were in bad need of cleaning to get rid of the brake dust, but afterwards, they looked great. Getting the spare tire back in place was probably the part of the process thst I was least looking forward to. The way it hangs under the tongue is a very nifty setup, but a serious pain in the ass to re-install. There had to be a simpler way to do this other than brute effort. After staring at it a bit, which is an activity that has always served me well in the past, I figured that whatever method used to help the process had to utilize gear that would be with us at all times.

Looking in the trunk, I spied the Anderson Levellor, and the wheel chocks. I figured if I could get one side propped up high enough, it would be easy to just raise the other side and start threading on the support bar. Sure enough, I was able to use the levellor and chock to get the one side almost totally in place, then I easily lifted the other side up, held it in place with my knee, then secured the whole thing. Easy peasy.

works like a charm

I think we could probably go three years between repacks, based a lot on the current yearly milage we do. Will we go the three years, hard to say. It is nice to know that the bearings are in good shape.

A few winter Alto projects

While I was under the Alto last spring trying to figure out how to lower the spare tire to check its pressure, I could not help but to look at the underside of the Alto from this new perspective. I mean, just how often are you really down there crawling around? My gaze soon fell upon the connections for the propane piping. In this small area, the connections branch off to the cooktop and fridge, then travel on to the water heater and furnace branches. Jutting out from the smooth underbelly of the Alto, they seemed a little exposed to the road elements. Naturally, my mind wondered if there was a little project to be found here...and there was.

Generally during our closing up weekend, I put together a little list of potential Alto projects to work on over the winter. Most never make it off the list, but some definitely do. I remembered the propane connections, and thought that a stone shield, made from thin aluminum, might offer a little protection from road dirt and grime. As well there is the unmeasurably small chance that a stray rock would find its way towards these connections. Of course, how to bend such a piece of aluminum stock became yet another little project.

I have no problem sourcing sheet stock aluminum, as long ago I found a great place for this. I did though, have no way to bend it nicely. The place I source from can only cut, as they have no bending brake. Several attempts to experiment with bending stock resulted in some rather crude distorted pieces. A little You tube research revealed that I was far from alone with this dilemma, and a number of homemade bending brake solutions were soon being viewed. From a collection of videos, I formed my own plan to build myself a little bending brake. At this point I imagine that some of you right now are saying to themselves..."Really???"

multiple holes for the clamp bolts allows the clamp pressure to be close to the stock. Brake bolts to the Workmate
angle piece clamps the stock, pulling up in the two handles bends the stock.

The pictures show you how I solved the bending issue, and I will say that it works beyond all expectations!

In no time I was able to bend and create a little stone shield. It was painted the Alto silver, and then installed. It hangs there unbeknownst to all, except perhaps the occasional chipmunk or squirrel.

exposed pipe and fittings

nicely protected

I also took the opportunity to fashion a little bracket for the new Trimetric monitor. It would have mounted easily flat to the bulkhead under the front table, but I had the sense that it would be easier to use and view if it was slightly tilted up from the bottom. A little measuring and bending…voila!

Last fall while pulling out the door step I heard that distinctive sound of something just not right. Peering under the step revealed that one of the plastic stops had cracked apart. On our production version, there are 3 plastic stops, when working with a band of flexible plastic(?), holds the door step in either an open or closed position. The stops that prevent the door from being pulled completely out had deteriorated to the point of cracking when impacted by the step.

Closer examination revealed that an unusually cheap hollow square plastic tube had been used to create these stops. I was a little surprised at this, given that SC makes prolific use of UHMW for a variety Alto fabrications, and scraps from this other work would be perfect. So I found a scrap piece at my favourite plastic supplier, cut a couple of new stops and installed them. Good as new...well actually, better than new.

2016 Trip 2: it finally feels like summer...

Sharbot Lake PP - May 2016

Long weekend...always good and more so with a great forecast of good weather with no rain.  We have a nice site on the water at Sharbot Lake, one of our new favourite destinations. As usual, slowly got the Alto loaded up during the week, hitched up Thursday night, then headed out after work on Friday. Traffic was light, even though it is a long weekend.

leaves not fully out the height of the trees is very noticeable

2016 Trip 1: imagine our nice surprise!

Cedar Cove Resort, White Lake - May 2016

First time out this year...and quite frankly, it never gets olds. We brought the Alto home out of storage a couple of weekends ago, and we then worked on putting our gear back into it. We don't totally empty it, but we do take out what seems to be a lot of stuff.

As Dale works in the west end of the city, we again started our routine of me driving her to work in the morning, then picking her up after work, with the Alto in tow. Definitely saves us a bit of time. With the Alto following along behind us again, we have resumed our relaxed easy driving pace once again. Not that we don't move at the speed of the traffic, it's more of an overall attitude, a weekend attitude. The fast pace of the week justs starts to melt away, and the drive to the campsite is the first step. You notice more around you when you are just rolling along, and it is certainly more relaxing. Part of this is also planning to travel as much as possible on secondary roads, and avoid the big 4-laners. I've heard this called "shunpiking". Shunning the turnpike. Good term.

Arrived at the campsite and when we glanced towards the lake, just guess what we saw...another Alto! A blue 1743. Our site would be right beside them.