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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

MOTORHOME MODIFICATIONS - *L* Ladder, Lights and Louverectomy~

I am going to start off the new year with posting some of our motorhome modifications, a few at a time. I will post repairs, modifications, or neato things we have found for RVing.  I have lots of pics in my files so I will do them in alphabetical order.

Underneath that stuff, I will post my regular daily stuff..... kinda sorta fun, eh?

So here it goes, we are up to the letter L now!


Ladder (telescoping):
Steveio said he just HAD to have one.... so I bought this for him about ten years back for Christmas. He had NO idea it was coming and was pretty surprised. Our friends, Rich and Mary, had a collapsible ladder for their motorhome  and Steveio was drooling over it.

the ladder

It reaches all the way up to the motorhome roof, as our rig does not have a built-in ladder on the back. I think it is 12 feet tall.  Just perfect for the motorhome and stows away in a small space next to his tool drawers.

Ladder helpers:
These are foam blocks that are made to haul a canoe on the roof of a car or truck.  But Steveio figured out that they would clamp on the sides of the ladder. Here they are on our regular household aluminum ladder.

Here they are while using Steve's telescoping ladder. Not only do they protect the painted edge of the roof or the awning (like in this photo)  ..the foam surface also grips to prevent the ladder from sliding or slipping sideways!

Light Replacements:
Our rig had two of the most useless "map lights" on each side of the cockpit area. The lights were very dim, and didn't shine down, they showed out instead. arggh!

Steve took care of that right away.  It was my idea to paint a used CD disk with black paint for a backing fixture base for the new lights.  I am happy to say they work wonderfully now.

map lights replacements

We also replaced some of the 12 volt lights with LED bulbs. I am not nuts on the blueish green light they emit, but Steve seems to like them. We use them when the power is going down and we are not getting much sun on the solar panels till the next day.

led light replacement1
LED bulbs use a lot less power than anything else.  We will soon upgrade all of our lights to LED’s now that price is coming down on them.

Little speakers for MP3 player:
I know I am a bit of "old school" with a tiny MP3 player.  But this little device runs forever on a AAA battery.  Even old batteries from other things like remotes or flashlight that are seemingly used up will still play for hours yet on this little MP3 player.  The speakers let me play it without using power on the rig, or wearing down my cell phone to play music from my own files on the phone.  It is pretty basic and I load up the songs by plugging in the USB end of the device into my laptop and copy them over. Easy peasy.

The speakers we ran across on a clearance one time at Walmart years ago.  They do not need any power source of any kind, they just run off whatever device you plug them into.  They deliver such a clear good sound, better than any other speakers we have tried.
little speakers for music

We like this little set up so much, I bought two more of the little MP3 players and two more sets of speakers I found on Ebay.  I have one set in our house and one out on front porch to enjoy tunes and not need to be plugged in. I can take it outside and set on the table, or bring into the bedroom and set on the bedside table.  Of course I can use it with headphones too.

P.S. for me it's all Celtic, New Age and soft 70's like Jim Croce, John Denver, Carly Simon and Neil Young.  Then for fun it's Supertramp, Fleetwood Mac, Simon and Garfunkel and America.  For Steve he has a full set of The Sounds of the Seventies that we crank out when he is feeling frisky!  LOL

This is a common modification among the Safari owners of this vintage.  It really helps to increase the air flow around the engine compartment. I just love the phrase that fellow Safari owners coined to describe the process!

That is it for the letter L .... tomorrow we will start out with the letter M---- and an early Happy Birthday to our youngest daughter Heather who turns 32 tomorrow!


Steve didn't have to drive the Old Fart Party Bus today... so he set to working on the inside of the attic fan installation.  See yesterday's post for the resaon and the outside portion. 

He started out in the upstairs hallway with a ladder and went up into the crawl space (scattering insulation all over the floor!)  I handed tools up and down while he did the technical stuff. 

The fan installed easily and he had quick access to a power supply to plug into. He tacked up the cord with little clips to be sure it never falls down into the insulation.

While he was up there, he didn't find any family treasures (sorry Paula, Laura and Debbi)  But he did find a piece of newpaper from 1978 with an ad for Joann Fabrics in the Milwaukee Sentinel!

Our oldest daughter Erin and husband Waylen had a little lunch date today, and brought their oldest daughter along with them to Waylen's place of work.  She got to learn about air craft maintenance! haha  Wonder if she will grow up to be a pilot? Or a mechanic?

The reason she was along for the day, was because it was time for her annual checkup. I will post this totally embarrassing pic of her, so 20 years from now she can holler at me! 

I love the look on her face,
 and I can just hear her admonishing her mother 
for taking the pic in the doctor's office....


Monday, March 20, 2017

MOTORHOME MODIFICATIONS - *L* Light Fixture Fix, Attic Fan and Loom Wheels!!

I am going to start off the new year with posting some of our motorhome modifications, a few at a time. I will post repairs, modifications, or neato things we have found for RVing.  I have lots of pics in my files so I will do them in alphabetical order.

Underneath that stuff, I will post my regular daily stuff..... kinda sorta fun, eh?

So here it goes, we are up to the letter L now!


Light Fixture Fix:
That danged Steveio always finds more projects to work on in our motorhome. As soon as I think we are completely done with upgrades, he finds something else to do.  Steve decided to take some 12 volt fluorescent lights from in the bedroom area and adapt them into the large 120v AC household type fluorescent light fixture in the kitchen ceiling.

Because we rarely camp with electrical hookups, we don't use that kitchen 120v AC light fixture, so it just sits there, looking pretty.   But it IS in a great location and illuminates a large area if you are cooking or working on something at the table.

There is a lack of a decent 12 volt lighting over the kitchen stove area unless we have the inverter on to power up that fixture or the one under the convection/microwave in the stove hood.  Both of those are 120v AC only.  Seems crazy to start the inverter or generator to just have some light while cooking with propane?   There are only 2 smaller 12v DC fluorescent fixtures under the cabinets, along the sink and countertop by the fridge, but none over the stove.

Sooooo Steveio came up with this bright idea.  And just HAD to try it out------

Our bedroom has tons of light fixtures, both 120v AC and 12v DC.  Thirteen light bulbs in all!   Inside the valances on each of the windows are hidden 12 volt single tube fluorescent lights.  We NEVER use them in the bedroom because we have so many other lights, mainly within reach of the headboard of the bed.  To use the ones in the valances, you have to get up out of bed to turn on and off by the switch on the far end of the valance.   I think they have been used once or twice in the last ten years.

Soooooo Steveio took down the valances and removed the light fixtures.   Easy Peasy.  It was only two dry wall screws to take them down, remove the light, cap off the wires, and put the valance back up.

Next he took down the reflective covering on the large 110 volt household fixture in the kitchen.

At first he tried adding the 12 volt lights to each side of the original fixture, but they didn't seem to reflect downwards as well.  So he changed horses in midrace and removed the 120v AC light buls and ends completely.

He accessed the 12 volt power by removing a speaker from the ceiling and reaching in and over to the wires by the Fantastic Fan nearby....   For the switch that originally controlled the 120v AC fixture, he created a loop using the same wires.  So nothing is changed on the wall, or trying to fish new lines, or any new switches needed.

Steveio respects electricity and double checks all lines with his Fluke meter. 

Plus.. he is tall enough to do the work without having to stand on a ladder!!!!

And here are the two 12v DC fluorescent fixtures mounted in the cavity space left by removing the 120v AC fixture.   They are a little shorter than the old one, but work just as well.

Also a while back, Steveio insulated the top layer of the cavity with pink rigid insulation.  Otherwise it was very cold to the touch in the winter, with nothing between it and the outside roof!   I am sure it helps on the heating and the air conditioning as well.   Just look at that happy man!

 Another Motorhome Modification project, well done by my Steveio! 


I mentioned in my last blog that Steveio has made up a honeydo list of things he wishes to accomplish this summer around Our Old House.  If you had read my blog last year, you might remember us making a whole house fan setup through our scuttle hole into the attic.  Here is that blog post:

The fan idea works very well. It gets our cooler AC air from the main floor to come up to the second story, especially at night.  But after weeks on end of hot humid horrible weather, we realized the ridge vents in our roofline were not enough to dispell that hot air out of the attic.  We noticed by the end of the summer some white specks of mold growing on the rafters and roofline inside of our attic!  Steve sprayed it all down with bleach to rid ourselves of it... but he knew we had to come up with a better solution for this year. 

At first he considered ripping out our chimney and using that open space to make a cold air return from our upper floor all the way back down to the basement.  But that would entail first getting a different water heater (power vent or tankless) because our current one is vented up the chimney. Our furnace is already vented out the side wall.  

But to make this open space for a cold air return, it would mean opening up the walls on two floors to access the space.... and once we ripped out the chimney brick by brick and then adding a ductwork liner ... it was going to be pretty crazy.  Add to that he would redo some of the plumbing at the same time to run in that open space, as well as redo the walls in our bathroom where he would be ripping out the chimney.. and on top of it he wanted to replace the toilet with a taller one!  WHEW! 

We came up with Plan B.....  

How about we just add a power attic fan that is thermostatically controlled to take that attic air and blast it outside through the gable end vent???   YES! 

After a little research, last night we took a drive to Menards to pick up this unit. It is thermostatically controlled and we can mount it in the attic facing out the vent in the gable.  That should take care of our problem. 

 Steve decided our small gable end vent was not large enough,
so he bought one of these and had to make a bigger opening. 

Today he has three separate runs with the Old Fart Party Bus.... and had time in between to come home and work on it (he doesn't take pay for hours in between runs so he is on his own time, just in case you were wondering)

He got out the ladder 
and this part of the house luckily 
has an upstairs shaker porch
to set up on so he is not wayyyyy up high on a two story ladder

He removed the old rectangular vent.... 

A few zips with the saw,
a few hammers and bangs and booms... 
look at that! 

(he just has to trim a bit on the excess siding pieces before putting them back up) 

While at Menards, at the same time, we picked up a few things that I needed for my own repairs on my looms.  

On both of my Newcomb Looms, the take-up lever usually bangs downward when released and swings under the loom (out of reach).   To try to solve that some time back, I put in a little screw to help catch it in a more accessible position.  That works sometimes, but when you bang on the loom, the lever sometimes hops off that little screw and still swings downward out of reach. Argh! 

I thunked and thunked and wanted some kind of a little metal hook that would have a tall end to it, but not stick out too far.  I found hooks that were wide but not tall enough. Steve said get them and he would "operate on them" for me----  hahahahah

He took two of the hooks and went into the garage and rebent them to the shape that I envisioned.  I unscrewed the two screws and installed these new hooks of each rug loom.  My hero!  Now they function exactly as needed. After advancing the rug, the handle drops down into the slot of the hook and does not bounce out during the weaving process. Thanks Steve! Now both of my Newcomb rug looms function better than before!

The other project idea I had in mind were 
taller better casters on this little white bench.
The ones I had put on last year were too small 
and bound up on the carpet at times. 

So my Hero Steveio swapped them out for me 
with the new ones I bought last night. 
(old white ones on the left and new grey ones on the right)

He had them done in no time. They were kinda tricky because the legs slant in on an angle.  But he was able to make them work, even if the new casters I picked out were almost too big on the base plate.  See... I use this bench for a rolling table surface for my Tools of the Trade 8 harness table loom!  I clamp it on with a couple C clamps and then I can roll it out to the front porch, the livingroom, or even out to the motorhome if I want. 

But the main reason is to roll it away into the corner for storage when not in use.  In the past I struggled to lift it and set it down on the carpeted floor by myself. It's kinda heavy and it's a very hard to angle to lift or lower the loom. It is hard to slide across the carpeting because I like to snug it back in this corner.  Soooo work smarter/not harder!  

It makes my work area just that much more organized.
When done, we had to put back the two doggie perches where they 
keep an eye out for the mail lady, the neighborhood dogs 
or the squirrels and rabbits in the side yard!  

Okay... Steve is back from his second run of the day. 
Now he has until 3 pm before he leaves again.
 I better go give him a hand installing that attic vent! 


Now to install the inside power fan. That should be pretty easy. He wanted to get this done before it gets too hot to be up in the attic. It is only about 50 degrees today, so that is a perfect time to get this project done. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

MOTORHOME MODIFICATIONS - *K* Koni Shocks and dreary Saturday

I am going to start off the new year with posting some of our motorhome modifications, a few at a time. I will post repairs, modifications, or neato things we have found for RVing.  I have lots of pics in my files so I will do them in alphabetical order.

Underneath that stuff, I will post my regular daily stuff..... kinda sorta fun, eh?

So here it goes, we are up to the letter K now!


Koni Shocks:
Suspension on a big rig is pretty important.  Not long after buying our motorhome (used) we noticed a CLUNK sound on our rig when going over a bump.  Rut Roh.. time to check it out.  We knew the shocks were probably in need of replacement.  Steve examined the shocks and they were okay, but the mount on the driver's side was cracked totally loose.  Oh boy!  No wonder we were hearing a bad sound.  After removing it he found it must have been broken for a while , as it was rusty and not a fresh break.  Luckily he can weld and he repaired it himself.

A few years later, he decided to replace the shocks.  We had a very tough time trying to find replacement Koni. Seems they stopped making the shock size that we needed.

A few folks emailed and asked me WHY is it such a big deal about the shocks?  Well, it is because the mid 90's Safari motorhomes were constructed on their own exclusive chassis that Safari made themselves, with a sub company called Magnum.  Both of which are no longer in business.  It's not like a common Roadmaster or Freightliner, where parts are readily available.

The suspension is a specially developed style called Torsilastic developed by the BF Goodrich company and is called Velvetride.  It is comprised of a series of rubber wedges and big rubber bushings.  No springs, no air bags.  Just shocks.  (and it does ride like velvet!)  Not many repair places even heard of it, much less able to do any alignment or repairs on it.  Some of the larger coaches/buses like Foretravel used this suspension too.

The trouble with the shock replacement on this chassis is that the original shocks were made exclusively by Koni as a special configuration for the Magnum chassis and not available on the open market as replacements.  They are adjustable, but one shock on one side of ours will still adjust, the other side won't hold anymore, so the seal must be blown inside.  No leaking hydraulic fluid, but if Steve grabs one end and I grab the other, we can pull it apart too easily.

The only other alternative for us vintage Safari owners is to buy a special bracket made by a guy out in Washington for the Safari rigs that will let a person install pairs of smaller more common Koni FSD shocks-- 2 together on each side.  Just the brackets are $295.00 for a pair,  and the 4 shocks just for the front would be another $145.00 each, which is a total of almost $900.00  !!!!

So THAT is why we were excited to locate a company that has a single larger shock that will fit our rig.  It was Bilstein. We ordered some Bilsteins to replace the original Koni shocks.  He did the replacement SO fast I never had time to take the pics. ARGGHH....  

We ran on the Bilsteins for a while, but Steve realized they were for a spring type suspension and not the torsilastic.   We really needed the type of dampening on the upswing not the downswing like the Bilsteins provided.

Through the wonders of the internet, and belonging to a Yahoo group dedicated to Safari motorhomes ....  https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/safarimotorhomes  We found out now the original Koni shock numbers we needed were being produced again, so we bit the bullet and ordered some.

 We have a Magnum Chassis and Velvetride torsilastic suspension.  

Ordered the front shocks from LTB Autosports Inc  part #881641SP3 


We ordered the the rears from RVchassiparts.com Part #: 881458SP2

These new shocks are "adjustable" and you can set them for three different types of rides. The back ones we put on the firmest setting. That helped with bouncing and "porpoising" of the front nose. 

For the front ones, we chose a middle setting, then if they get softer over time, we can turn them up to a firmer setting. 

He set the rig up on it's front jack to get a bit of clearance ... and it was MY job to turn the steering wheel from side to side.  He pulled out the air compressor and had out his air tools to do the job.

Since he put on "Never Seize"  four years ago when mounting the Bilsteins, it was a pretty easy job for him to take those nuts off and put on the new shocks.   Good thing he's a skinny guy!

 The old ones (Bilsteins) are blue and yellow.  
The Koni adjustable shocks are bright red.

He had the passenger side done toot sweet, in ten minutes flat!  Then it was my turn to get back inside and turn the wheels all the way to the right. Some assistance, eh?  Then he was able to get into the driver's side of the rig to work on that one.

There... new Konis installed on the front.
He did the back ones so fast I never got pics.
 What a guy! 

DRIVER'S SIDE                                     PASSENGER SIDE 

We took it for a test ride and there is a big noticeable difference.  We no longer have that "lean" when going around corners and it is a much softer ride with no noticeable "bounce back".  It was a worthwhile upgrade to change them out.

Our friends with a spring type suspension on their Safari Sahara bought the Bilsteins from us as they were perfectly good for their type of suspension. So in the end we were all win/win!

Knob on screen door slider:
This may seem like a silly thing... but how many of you RVers have a slide on the screen door?
Yes... most of you.
How many have a white one?
Many of you.
How grubby and dirty does it get from handprints?

It is already somewhat dusty from travel, and wet hands from doing dishes, going in and out, food on grandkid's fingers etc.  We know... we know. it gets pretty grubby on the slider by either flat palming it or by reaching for the ridged edge of the slider.

I saw this on a helpful hint in an RV blog one day. HEY!  What a great idea!

I got a little wooden knob from the same RV friend the bought our shocks (it was off a desk that has survived their house fire, so it has emotional value to her and she shared it with me)   So we drilled a little hole in the slider and mounted this knob.  By only putting one or two fingers on the knob, it slides easily and eliminates the messy handprints on the white plastic!

Steve started out the day with running over to the Calumet County Historical Museum. They are revamping the shelving in the storage area and he is going to build some shelving units for them.  While he was gone, I worked on my rugs for a while.

This afternoon he wants to watch the Wisconsin Badgers play in the March Madness so I am going to get some sewing done.  This evening we are heading to his brother Pete and wife Cindy's new home for a corned beef and cabbage dinner!

Here is a little St. Paddy's Day fun for you....

(I just LOVE Shaun the Sheep)