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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Journey Home

Well folks.. it's been one strange vacation for sure.  So much more than I can share...  Mom would like to keep the details private of her dealing with returning back home to Florida. Some people can be pretty horrible.  And some people are very kind.  But honestly, I should write a book!~  It would be a tv movie for sure.  hahahaha

We sadly said our good-byes and headed out on Sunday morning.  It was very very hard to leave Mom.  She will be fine. We know.  But I feel deep inside that I need to be there with her and help her yet. Torn .. oh so torn.  We even tried to convince her to come north with us and relocate in Chilton, near us.  We could sell her house now if she wants to, because it's all spruced up and ready.  All she has to do is say the word.  We will see.  In the meantime, she has her sister nearby, her church, her friends, her crafts and most of all, the internet now that we can Skype...  and my sister and  I keep in contact with her via the internet multiple times a day.

Auntie Lois came over the nigh before and stocked us up with her wonderful peanut butter cookies!  She baked all day in a hot steamy humid kitchen to make these for us!  One container to eat right away, one to eat on our route home, and one to take to our family Easter gathering in Waupaca next week!   What a lady!

We woke up early and did our undoing of the motorhome hookups and prepared our road-worthiness to travel inside the rig.

Then it was time for one last cup of coffee with Mom around her table. It was soooo hard, but we drove away.

Mom just learned to use a new fangled WIFI camera that she can snap a pic and automatically send it to her facebook right from the camera.  Here is what she took of us as we left.

I am so proud of her! 

I took one of her standing on her side deck....

"Bye, Da Momma, see you soon" 

Our trip home has been somewhat stressful.....

Turns out that the alternator Steve replaced isn't the problem, it must be in the wiring somewhere else. So he has made a set of jumper lines between the four deep cycle camper batteries and the two big driving batteries for the diesel electronic engine (does the shifting and fuel systems while driving).  Our solar keeps them charged up pretty well.   We have had some pretty hot stretches so we also ran the generator to operate our roof AC unit.  That sends a charge through too.  All in all, that is okay.

Now... the other problem is that there seems to be a leak in the seal of our water pump where it meets the engine housing.  OH MY!   Steve tightened up one of the two bolts.  The other he can not reach without first tearing off the air conditioning pump.   It leaked about a gallon the first day. We picked up extra jugs of distilled water.  We considered adding some stop leak but hesitate to have that gunk in our very expensive-to-replace and difficult-to-replace radiator.  Instead, we opted to watch the engine temp on the computer readout... and keep adding water.  About every 100 miles we are stopping to add water.

Through Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and now Wisconsin, we have been stopping and adding water.  It's up to about 3 gallons now per stop.  The total capacity is about 11 gallons, so we are keeping on it. Yup... for 1,300+ miles we are the Watering Wanderers!  LOL

We have been overnighting stops at Walmarts along the way, putting on 300-400 miles a day.  It is now Tuesday,  and we have just crossed into Wisconsin!  We have about 75 more miles to limp home....

Sadly, tomorrow we have a funeral to go to.  Steve's favorite Uncle Gordy passed away and we are going to make it in time for the funeral down near Milwaukee

Also on another sad note, today is the birthday of our son, who passed away in 2006.  The most horrible day in our lives.  Happy Birthday in Heaven, our dear Mike. We love you and miss you.

Good thing we are making it home today. This is our weather forecast for tomorrow:
... Wind Advisory in effect from 10 am to 10 PM CDT Wednesday... 

The National Weather Service in Green Bay has issued a Wind
Advisory... which is in effect from 10 am to 10 PM CDT Wednesday. 

* Timing... very strong west winds will develop Wednesday morning
  and continue into Wednesday evening.

* Winds... sustained winds of 25 to 35 mph... with gusts to 45 mph
  are possible.

* Impacts... high-profile vehicles may experience difficult driving
  conditions. Any unsecured outdoor objects may get blown around
  by these gusty winds.
 plus of course cold rain changing over to ***S*N*O*W***

As I write this, we are in the last leg of our journey, less than an hour from home. We just drove through a huge rainstorm.  Look how Wisconsin has welcomed us back!

Now.. I ask you this...
What are the chances of  TWO full rainbows within an hour? 

30 miles down the road from that last rainbow,
It has been raining again, just pouring. 
It suddenly lightened up and now, 

one more 

We are 

3,113 miles
Lots of smiles
Lots of tears

We are

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Alternator Woes on our Motorhome

By the time I finish writing this blog post, I hope it's all fixed!!!

It seems our Safari coaches have alternator loads that wear them out pretty fast. Other Safari owners of our vintage years in the mid 90's seem to say the same thing.  I believe it's strained not only the maintaining of two batteries needed to start the big diesel 3126 CAT engine, but also charging up the four 6volt batteries we have on the coach.   We do not run the inverter while in transit, so that helps lessen the draw on it.

We do have 500 watts of solar panels to recharge the coach batteries during the day, but when taking off early for travel days, the coach batteries are low too. Some suggest starting the generator for an hour or so before take-off to charge up the coach batteries and lessen the draw on the engine's alternator.  Hmmmmm sounds like a good idea too, but sometimes not feasible if it's an early driving day.  Many campgrounds have set hours for noise or generator operation. Or many campgrounds prohibit the running of generators altogether.

Anyhooooo   We have already replaced our alternator in 2006, 2008, 2013 and 2015.  Steve said it is strange because it seems to always be failing for different reasons, and different parts that go out in the alternator itself.  Perhaps it's just bad workmanship and manufacturing on the alternator components?  He usually replaces it with the cheapest alternator you can get.  It's a Delco 21 si 160 amp, J 180 mounting.  If he changes to a larger alternator, then he also has to change the isolator.  Arggghhhhh   It's like he is always throwing parts at this motorhome, but after all, being 20 years old, we need to do this no matter what.

Last week on our way back from Sun Coast Designers in Hudson, FL, Steve noticed that our alternator was not putting out enough charge.  It was only about 11-12 volts.  It should be reading between 13.5 to 14 on the gauge and the Silverleaf vmspec computer in our dash.

We had enough battery power to get back to mom's yard... and he pulled the alternator out to examine it. Inside there was grease from the bearing that appeared to get all over inside on the windings and the brushes.  ewwwwww  

So Steve ordered a rebuild kit and a new set of brushes to rebuild the unit himself.  In between all the other projects he has been doing, he installed the repaired alternator and hoped for the best. He also cleaned all the connections and wires. Fired up the engine, and sadly, nope.... no go.

Okay, now it was time to get serious here, because we have to leave in a week to head back to Wisconsin!    He ordered another alternator and it was to arrive by UPS yesterday.  Say what you will about bad UPS service, but we tracked that package and it said it was going to arrive yesterday.  We watched for the truck all day long.  Last night about 8 pm, there was a knock on the door. Sure enough, out in the darkness was mom's friendly UPS guy. He had a flashlight and made his way from the truck out on the road into her yard and set the package on the front porch.  He wanted to be sure we knew it was there, so he knocked and wished us a great evening.  What a nice guy!

Well, the coffee is done here, so I might be able to gulp down a cup before I have to help Steve install this new alternator first thing this morning.  Perhaps I will even get some pics .... it's not a hard install, just two bolts and three wires. He is getting so good at this, I think he can do it in his sleep!


yup.. we got the old alternator out, swapped the pulley over onto the new one, and installed...  

yippeeeee  13.6 volts and not even driving it, 
just idling in the yard! 

This is our fourth week in Florida.  We are working on many projects for mom.  The details around her getting settled back into her home are too many to mention.  We are handling what we can to help her out.  Paperwork, accounts, billings, name changes and legal issues are daunting at times.  We are so glad we can be here to help.

In between all the other stuff, we have managed a few more shopping trips to Gainesville with Auntie Lois.  These two gals are a hoot to take to Walmart because they get going with those carts and there is NO stopping them!

They wear us out for sure... after an hour of Walmart shopping, 
Steve and I found a good spot out in the Garden Center to relax 
while those two were still zooming the aisles! 

While sitting there, Steve found a great deal on a clearance price of the Weber Q1000... with a stand!~  It was marked down from $199 to only $99!  He has been wanting one of these for quite a while, so I think it's his vacation souvenir! 

We also hit Trader Joes again... our friends Conny and Jack sent us a gift card, and we really put it to good use.  Yummmmmm   I sure wish there was a Trader Joes closer to our house.

On leap year day, Mom decided to surprise us with a full blown Thanksgiving Meal... turkey and all the trimmings!   She said it was because we didn't get to have Thanksgiving together in November, so on leap year day, we can make up for it and have the holiday we missed with our loved ones!  Like a make-up day! 

The dogs are enjoying the warm weather and we take evening walks as often as we can around the rural location of mom's place in Florida.  It's all sandy roads, and they come back pretty grubby.  Added to the humid conditions and damp fur, the sand and dirt just clings to them.  If you pet them, you get a puff of dust in the air!   I can see why most folks in Florida have short haired dogs....  LOL.  it was bath time, even if they didn't totally appreciate it.

Last night, Auntie Lois invited us out to Fish Fry at her church!  

She is part of the kitchen crew, 
and took a moment to come out to speak with us at our table... 
Ahhh the Master Chef!  How I love that smile! 

In between tasks and errands and things, I am also working on some quilt blocks.  I carry an extra sewing machine in our motorhome, and of course there are quilting shops all over to get more and more fabric.  I am working on a blue quilt to go on our front porch back home.

With so many details to work out here in Florida, we are also keeping an eye on things back home with our housesitter, snow plow man and neighbors.  The snow coming down right now in Chilton makes me kinda homesick, but the nice sunny 75 degree day here in Florida is enjoyable too.  Hmmm

We know about the big landslide in Jelico at the Tenn/Kentucky border on I-75.  We have heard the auto detour is bad enough with the twists and turns and grades, and we should avoid it with our motorhome and toad.  Also, the big truck detour route is about 140 miles around out of the way.  So we are making plans for a different route further to the west on our way home next week. That means missing a visit with our friends Linda and Mark in Tennessee.  Sigh.

Well, coffee is done and Steveio is raring to get to the alternator replacement.  I better get off this computer and get to work.  I am his "gopher assistant" and photographer/reporter to take photos and write the articles!