October 11th, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Road Trip, Travel

Today it was off to the pumpkin patch. It was a brisk windy day but it was fun. They had all sizes of pumpkins there, and some odd color ones too; one we got looked like a giant Honeycrisp apple. They had some that were red, and some with this weird green shade – like a lima bean green. If you zoom in on the picture, there are a few you can see.

It was on a ranch that had all sorts of animals – some you would not really expect to see except in a zoo:

The winds were horrible last night, and tonight is shaping up to be worse as the storms will be moving in. The winds were howling again and you could see rain/snow falling out of the clouds in the distance today. The winds (40-50 mph gusts) are forecast to continue a few days along with the precip – in whatever form it takes on the way down. It is going to be a rough few days weather-wise. We had some rain last night and figured it would be muddy this morning, but the ground is so dry the moisture was soaked right up and it looked like nothing ever happened.

I am finding a lot of dust from these fierce winds on everything inside the trailer. It’s so bad I am having to dust everything on a daily basis. The roof vent covers are warped from the sun and you can really hear the wind trying to get in through the gaps so I had to order some replacements. Hopefully it will cut down on the wind noise and the dust inside and maybe help the heat (or A/C) maintain more consistent temps inside. And hopefully, weather-permitting (or not), I can get them replaced since they will be here in a few days.

With the cold weather coming I need to insulate and seal things up as much as I can. I stay pretty cozy but anything to help save energy is always a good thing. I will probably have to get a heat tape or two for the tank drains. As far as the tanks, only one is exposed to the outside and that is the gray water tank so I will either have to add RV water system anti-freeze to it constantly to at least keep it slushy or add a heated pad on the bottom to keep it thawed out. The RV anti-freeze is not harmful like regular car anti-freeze so it won’t affect the system at a dump station. By doing this I can still use my bathroom and shower and not have to use a public one. From what I can tell, I think I can keep things pretty well thawed-out and usable by making a few adjustments.

One cold-weather idea I saw was people will get some bubblewrap (the small bubbles) and cut it to fit their RV windows. They then spray the inside of the windows with a mist of water and use the water to stick the bubblewrap to the window. The water evaporates, leaving the bubblewrap stuck to the window as insulation but it still lets light in. Easy to remove and replace. Very resourceful I thought and very clever. You could even add that shrink film window covering you shrink with a hairdryer over that. I don’t know if I will need to do that or not, but I am going to try to add a little weatherstripping and hopefully seal a few windows up a little tighter. I have some closed-cell foam that I think I may carve up and put in some storage areas as additional insulation to keep the cold out. I could also buy some styrofoam sheets to cut up and put in the storage areas to help insulate too. I have a few throw rugs on the floor so maybe I will just buy another one that matches and trim it down to “carpet” the whole floor.

I stopped at a place in Three Forks, MT for take-away the other day. It is in the historic Sacajawea Hotel and it is called The Sac Bar. I got this incredible burger called the Hilltop Burger and it is another one of the best burgers I have ever eaten. This is not a homestyle-burger; it is more of a gourmet burger ($14). See if this makes your taste buds pitch a tent: Montana Wagyu beef burger cooked medium, smoked onion BBQ sauce, applewood smoked bacon, Vermont white cheddar, jalapeƱos and crispy fried onions. All of that on an incredible bun with a side. The sauce on this burger is one of the best BBQ sauces I have ever eaten – even in any BBQ restaurant. The burger is huge – may even be a half-pound patty. This chef knows what he is doing. If you are ever in the area I highly recommend it. They have another restaurant called Pompey’s Grill that is upscale dining and that menu has some really interesting dishes on it.

I think I will get an early start tomorrow and run to the storage unit to grab that foam to insulate some compartments when I get back and also grab a few other things I need – like another blanket. After that I may go get my flu shot. I try to wait as long as possible without waiting TOO long to get it. I think I am just about at that threshold, and with the pandemic exploding even more I want to keep myself well. I thought about taking a drive tomorrow but I think these things are a bit more important to take care of with the weather that is moving in. Plus, there may be snow on the roads.

That’s about it for now.

June 28th, 2020

Adventure, Just things, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

Great news! I think I found the problem with the carbon monoxide issueand the water heater.

After checking a few forum posts the last few days I saw people mentioning a few things that could be the potential cause – something as simple as a gap in the seal where the gas line comes in or even a screw falling out in the burner assembly could cause enough of a misalignment it could create problems with the exhaust.

I know I did not have a problem before I ended up going down that rough road in Nebraska National Forest so I anticipated this was probably the root of the problem. It made me think that something was probably shaken loose during this off-road adventure and therein was the problem.

A few days ago I thought I would see if I could try to figure out the issue myself. With labor at a shop probably running $100+ an hour and a new tank around $400 we are talking a sizable bill to fix (and you know they are going to tell me I need a new one). If I can fix it great; if not, then at least I tried and I’ll be making my wallet much thinner.

I opened the cover on the outside of the trailer to look for missing screws. I did not see anything missing but what I found was an old mud dauber wasp nest right in front of the burner tube and igniter. Apparently it was built inside the burner chamber before I put the insect screens on there a couple of years ago. I never thought to clean it out being a newbie at this trailer life. The rough road knocked it loose and it fell in the perfect spot to cause a problem.

The other part of this is the way it is put together and installed. The water heater is installed and secured, then a trim ring with the door is attached to the heater body to pull it in tight against the outside of the trailer and has a flange that goes inside the heater housing. This is supposed to seal the interior from the firebox and burner and works fine as long as everything else is okay. I think that this joint is where the fumes were leaking in when there was nowhere else for them to go. There was no positive pressure to push the fumes out through the exhaust grate on the door.

I busted the nest apart and vacuumed it out and looked around for any other potential problems. I fired up the water heater and let it run the cycle, leaving it on for hours. There was no alarm! I even tested the CO detector to make sure it was working okay and checked the memory settings and no warnings. It looks like I just saved a bunch of money.

I have emailed the manufacturer about the issue and see if this could, indeed, cause the problem. I also want to find out of there should be some sort of seal around that flange where it slides inside the heater housing. It looks like it from the diagrams I found but I want to make sure. It could be the trailer manufacturer did not install it correctly.

I don’t know much about these but I am definitely learning. I would, obviously, rather fix the things I can myself to save money and leave the things I can’t to the professionals.

May 31st, 2020

Adventure, Just things, Outdoors, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

Last night I went to bed at a decent time hoping to catch up on some sleep. I am staying in my trailer with my dog so we have our own world and Meghan and her family can have theirs.

I was awakened from my slumbers in the wee hours by what could easily be classified as gale force winds. Some of the plants on the porch were even blown over and hay and horse turds were scattered about the yard this morning when I took the dog out for a walk (speaking of scattering turds around! šŸ¤£šŸ¤£). It wasn’t the noise that woke me as much as the shaking of the trailer. Even with the four outrigger stands deployed for stability the shaking was pretty intense. I laid there listening and thinking about the situation, flashing back to the similarities between that wind hitting my trailer and the memories of a truck I was in back in the 80’s being driven by someone way too fast and we rolled – it was just like a ride in a clothes dryer at the laundromat; I just flipped back over and soon went back to sleep since I couldn’t do anything about it.

After finally getting the stuff in the trailer whittled down to the necessities I decided to do some Spring cleaning – wiping out the window frames, cleaning the glass, etc. – and start looking at maintenance stuff. Now that I am able to spend more time in the trailer and looking things over I am finding many things that need to be fixed and a few upgrades I want to do to make life better during my travels. I had started doing a few things the last three years but my shoulder injury/surgery last year put a stop to doing anything more. Now I gotta get back at it to keep things from getting worse.

The trailer sat at the house in KS for about four years before I brought it home with me to Washington in 2017. On top of it being 12 years old now, things tend to deteriorate and break over time, and sitting through the seasonal extremes in KS did not help the condition (not really the extremes in Washington where I had it). The sun destroys plastics and fades paint and the decals. I replaced some plastic bumper caps yesterday that keep the sewer hose from falling out (the hoses are stored in the trailer bumper). The water leak I had in 2017 (due to the sealant putty melting in the hot sun and running down into wiring holes, basically unsealing the clearance lights on the roof) caused some damage to some of the wood inside the walls so I will have to take it in at some point for what will probably end up being some pretty costly repairs. The re-sealing I did around the clearance lights seems to be fine if not cosmetically pretty but I want to reseal them. Add to that the other things I replaced (cookstove vent, water inlet, taillights, carbon monoxide detector) I have actually done quite a bit already. I still have some more to do though.

Yesterday I did an upgrade to the ceiling vent fan in the main part of the trailer and today I replaced the one in the bathroom. The upgrade is a retrofit that goes into the existing fan housing so there is no worry about breaking the roof seal, hence no worry about roof leaks. It is a MUCH better 3-speed reversible fan that has a shroud so it moves much more air more efficiently, plus when run in reverse it can bring air in for a cool breeze from above – a very functional ceiling fan. Another added bonus is that with the shrouding around the fan it helps block out light; that can be helpful if staying in a commercial RV park (which I generally try to avoid but do stay on occasion to empty the sewer, get water, and charge up the batteries). Those places are lit up like the Las Vegas Strip and sometimes it is simply just the moon is shining bright.

I have a few more things on order I am waiting on and those should show up this week. I still need to pull the windows and reseal them with caulking instead of that problematic putty but that will be a big job. I even noticed the putty running out of the new water inlet I put in so that will need to come out and be resealed too. The microwave gave out but the space it was in makes for great storage so I may buy a new one and just leave it on the bed while traveling. The air conditioner (it’s a small window unit for a house) I am not sure about – it seems to be hit or miss, but it is at least 12 years old.

I also need to find a table for the rear dinette (the trailer has two that fold into beds). Unfortunately the old one got broken accidentally years ago. Currently I am using the makeshift setup my dad made which is basically five 1″x4″ pieces of oak to lay in the slot between the benches to make the bed. I could make one out of those pieces of oak to get by but I would really like to find a replacement similar to the original. That oak would look good finished though! As you can tell, though, I have plenty of other more important trailer projects to do for now.

I am trying to get to Colorado to meet up with some friends but I think we may have to wait a bit. The ‘rona is definitely affecting those plans since they do the hotel thing. In the meantime I have my eye on some new places I am anxious to explore here in Montana that I discovered on the map yesterday.

It is finally starting to feel like a real retirement!