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Thursday, July 26, 2018

MOTORH0ME MODIFICATION - Fixing Dash AC and update on My Window Boxes

I figured today I would do a blog post about how Steve fixed the dash air on the motor home during the past two weeks. We had already replaced the compressor two years ago.

Here is the blog post with pictures
from that repair/replacement:

Here is the parts list and numbers from that job:


4526121 8 Groove Clutch New TM-16 AC Compressor
NEW Seltec 4526121 8 Groove Clutch 12 volt Vetical # 8 & 10 fittings 10 cubic inch.435-56121, 2521196, 10046121.  TM-16
$225.00 plus $23.50 shipping

4103052 Drier 3/8 x 3/8 male o-ring fittings.
Replaces: 4103050, 4103052, 4107316, 804-297, 085266-00 , 054-00001.
3/8 male o-ring drier with female & male switch ports.
$38.50 free shipping

This year we noticed the AC wasn't blowing as cold, and didn't seem to kick in the compressor on the last trip we took.  Steve bought a set of manifold gauges and an electric vacuum pump (he had to do our car and the Tracker too).

He went to fill and pressurize the freon. That is when he discovered this little AC expansion valve was leaking and hissing around the edge of the circular section.  He was able to find a replacement from Find It Parts-  link: A/C Expansion Valve

Sooooo he replaced the valve and started to pressurize the system with his manifold gauges and electric pump. 

Our system takes 4.6 lb of R134a freon. (73.6 oz) He bought six 12 oz cans so that amounted to 72 oz.  He had part of a can left over from doing our car so that was enough to top it off.  The filling process has the engine running with the AC on low, and it should kick in as it nears the full level of freon. But---- it wasn't kicking in.  Hmmmmm?

That is when he discovered that this fan unit was not operating properly. He stopped filling and started diagnosing. Steve figured the center hub of the fan was froze up.  The magnetics evidently stopped working and the fan was shot.

 He found one on Amazon that's actually for a motorcycle that was a direct fit!!

After the fan arrived a few days later, and toot-sweet he got the fan on... He then went back to filling the freon using his pressure manifold and an electric vacuum pump.

It filled.
It stayed filled.

We used the rig over the past weekend, and we were very pleased that it was 39.4 degrees at the vents.  Ahhhhhhhh

Although in a pinch, we can run the generator and operate the two roof air conditioning units as we drive down the road.  Having the dash air blowing directly on us as much more comfortable. Especially when the temperatures are up in the 90's and it's humid and the sun is shining on us in the front seats through that huge glass windshield.


Remember back in the end of May, when Steve built two beautiful window boxes from scrap lumber in our garage? If not, here are two blog posts about them:

Well, here's what the window box look like in May when I first planted it:

And here is what it looks like now on the front of the house!!!

Also, the one on the side of the house is just as overflowing and bountiful with blossoms. The flowers have gotten so tall that from inside we can enjoy their colors and watch the hummingbirds and the bees come to check them out.

from the Loom Room:

from inside the front porch

All of the flowers around the yard are doing good, and we finally got some rain last night to fill my rainbarrels.  We went through a dry spurt for about 2 weeks and things were getting brown. I had to use faucet city water (gasp!) on my flowers and tomatoes.  So glad now I have fresh rainwater to take care of them.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

CAMPING - Holtwood City Campground Oconto WI and Back to Blogging

I am finally getting around to Blogging again.

We finally got up and about and did some camping as well.  So this is kind of a campground review on Holtwood City Campground in Oconto Wisconsin

We decided to head on up to Holtwood City Campground in the city of Oconto, Wisconsin. Many of my readers remember that is where we used to live. We decided to go up there to camp and visit with the grandchildren. Our oldest daughter and son-in-law needed us to babysit Friday night while they celebrated their anniversary.

Friday afternoon, we drove on up through the pouring rain and set up on our campsite. We really like the D loop in this Campground because there's less traffic. Our campsite backs up to the playground area. A real necessity when you have grandchildren.

The sites are large and open grassy, (in the D loop) some big shade trees and are level throughout the entire campground. The cost is $28 a night and includes electric, sewer and water. They  have rate discounts for people staying for a week a month or the entire season as well. No stickers are required for vehicles, no additional fees necessary. What you pay is what you get.

They have two shower buildings and one laundry area.  All of the buildings are in moveable mobile homes because this area floods up in the springtime due to the ice flows and blockages from the Oconto River out to the waters of Green Bay.

The campground is located on a peninsula that juts towards town, but to get there you have to drive around to the backside and come in around the ball park and the city pool near the entrance.

Little Chelsea Clayton and Claire were so excited to see us come to their daycare center and pick them up. That's a special treat to have Grandma and Grandpa appear at the door and say come on, let's go! (Pre-arranged with the staff and the parents of course)

It was raining out, so they helped us set up the awning and little Clayton helped with the party lights.  I have a lot of crafts and toys in the motorhome, so we kept ourselves busy while the rain poured down outside.

It was still raining outside so we did not really have a chance for a cookout, or the s'mores that we had planned. We made the best of it and cooked hot dogs and macaroni and cheese inside.

The rain let up a little bit during the evening and we were able to get out and walk around the park. The dogs enjoy the visits from the grandchildren just as much as the grandchildren enjoy seeing them.

We got in some outside playing, with the playground nearby. The kids made friends with the people in the campsite next to us. These people had a wonderfully funny gangly 10 month old Saint Bernard pup named Penny. Here she was watching us out of the zippered side screen of their camping trailer. She watched everything we did and kept her eye on Finney and Binney.

One by one I popped each kid into the bathtub before bedtime. By the time the third kid got done, the water was getting pretty brown. I am so glad we have a bathtub in our motorhome. It sure beats trying to stand in the public campground showers with three wriggling soapy kids trying to clean them up.

With all the fresh air, they were fast asleep by 9 p.m.. but of course that means they were wide awake at 5:30 in the morning ready to start their day!

The best part about camping with grandkids is when they come in the morning to hop into bed with us and snuggle for a while and laugh and giggle and plan what to do for the day. And they have to pull the dogs up into the bed as well.  Free for all fun and giggles and snuggles.

One of our special traditions is that I buy those little boxes of cereal when the grandkids come camping.  My grandma used to buy them for us.  It is enough cereal with some bananas on the side, to hold them over until we cook a bigger breakfast.  Now little Claire (one and a half years old) is big enough to sit at the table with the Big Kids!

At the entrance to the park is an office. Clayton had spied the various items that were available for rent. The office rents out canoes, kayaks, tubes, big four-person float devices, and best of all, these very fun four-wheel Pedal Go Karts. He had to finagle us a bit until we managed to find him $5 to go and rent it for 2 hours.

My oh my what a happy boy!!!

He had to take turns with his older sister Chelsea. They made sure they got their money's worth out of it before we had to return it.

There wasn't much traffic on our small D loop road, so they could enjoy themselves and pull over if a car happened to come through.  The speed limit is 5 mph and there are speed bumps and curves that make sure the vehicles go slow.  We kept them in our range of eyesight and watched them having so much fun.  Good exercise too!

Later on after lunch, the parents came to get all three of them, while Grandma and Grandpa needed a nap!

It was pouring rain all afternoon, It was very pleasant to lay in the motorhome and sleep with the rain hitting the roof. One of the nicest camping experiences if you have to have lousy weather is to at least hear the Rain On The Roof!

Because it was raining, Erin and Waylen invited us to bring all of our cooking out stuff for supper over to their house. Our younger daughter Heather and her husband Jesse joined us with two more of our grandchildren, Jameson and Whitney.

Waylen grilled out all the food and we ate indoors because of the weather. The kids had a blast in the toy room and finally settled down with a movie while the grown-ups visited out in the living room.

"Peace, man"  (Whitney)

We toddled on home to the campground, which is only about 4 or 5 blocks away.  This time we swiped the oldest grandson, Jameson who is 9, almost 10. He will be quick to remind you of that.

It was a pleasant evening walking around the campground because the rain stopped. It was now dark out. We got to walk the entire campground with the dogs before bedtime.  It's a very quiet park, on a Saturday night there was nothing going on of any noise whatsoever. Many of the sites are seasonals in loops A and B.  With the weather forecast of rain all weekend, not many even came to spend time at the campground.

Jameson curled up on the loveseat to sleep with the dogs out in the living room in the motorhome. It's nice to notice that as grandchildren get older, they also sleep in later in the morning. So we got to doze until almost 8 a.m. before we all started moving around.

In the morning, Grandpa and Jameson made a quick run over to the local Kwik Trip gas station.  He stocked up on glazer donuts and bacon!!! Jameson said these are two "must haves" for breakfast when you are camping.  LOL

Of course, Clayton had told Jameson all about that wonderful four-wheel pedal go-kart so we had to make sure we went back to rent another two hour stint for Jameson to enjoy.

There He Goes!

The weather was pretty nice and things were starting to dry up. Jameson had had fun riding around the campground and being very careful if there were any oncoming vehicles. Like I said, there really weren't that many, as most of the regular seasonal people didn't even bother to come camping that weekend due to the weather reports.  I think by the afternoon, there were only 2 or 3 other occupied RV's in the whole park.  We let him pedal around the entire grounds and enjoy his fun time.

Of course, I had to have a try at that fun little pedal go-kart too!

Jameson filmed it with my phone, he forgot a few times to aim at me because he was busy watching his silly almost 60 year old Grandma acting like a kid!!!

As the day went on, it began to heat up. Jameson's parents came to pick him up in the afternoon, and brought Whitney for a while to play as well. We had a little tea set for her to set up while the grown-ups visited in the shade under the awning. They had to go visit other family later on Sunday, so we were left to ourselves again.

It was pretty hot out, so we hopped in the Tracker to ride around our "old home stomping grounds".  Remember, we lived here in the area for 13+ years. We drove out by Oconto City Park which is a small campground right on the waters of Green Bay. There are 9 rustic sites for $15 a night. The sites are located across the road from the actual beach and picnic area. We were thinking about going there on Monday and Tuesday, depending on the weather reports.

From there we drove up to the city Breakwater Park. No camping, but just a pretty park to go out to see the waters of Green Bay, which leads into Lake Michigan.

This park has a beautiful harbor and docking area. There's a long causeway that goes out into the bay with a turnaround at the end. Attracts a lot of local fishermen. I am pleased to say that the water levels in the Great Lakes have risen back up to normal levels again. All of the cottages along the shoreline had lost their waterfront beaches and had been nothing but a swampy marsh for years and years. Now the water is back up to where each place has it's own beautiful shoreline and beach again.

From there we drove a little further up the bay to North Bay Shore County Park. This is run by Oconto County. We like camping here as well, the sites are nice and clean and open and far apart. Some of them are even blacktopped. The rate here is $25 a night and includes electric and some of the sites also have water. There's a small newer shower building and a beautiful harbor access to put in your boat if you are a fisherman. 

Here is a little map of our travels and where the other parks are located:

We drove on back to our motorhome and decided to stay put for the night, rather than pull up stakes and move to one of the other parks. We visited with the neighbors until dark, and then went in to take showers and go to bed early. Woohoo! Those grandkids sure wear us out.

Monday morning we woke up and checked the weather reports. Now the weathermen were promising hot humid sticky weather for Monday and Tuesday. Ick!  Instead of spending the extra money to camp with hookups, just to sit inside in the air conditioning is not really to our liking?

Steve did a good rinse out of our holding tank because we had sewer at the site. Then we started packing up by 10 a.m.  We hit the road and headed south towards home.

The nice thing about having a Wi-Fi thermostat at home is that I could turn on the air-conditioning via my phone, and have the house cooled down by the time we would get there two hours later.

On our way home, I also looked up the local ad for Dick's Family Foods in Sherwood. They always have wonderful locally butchered meat and we try to buy a lot of our groceries there.

They had country style boneless ribs on sale for a $1.50 a pound, as well as pork roasts for a $1.50 a pound. Great for pulled pork sandwiches. They had big sirloin beef roasts for $2.50 a pound. Large frozen turkey breasts were on sale for $ .99 a pound and our favorite 1/3 pound hamburger ground chuck patties were on sale as well. We got 18 meals for two of us) worth of meat for only $67.00!

The nice thing about having the motorhome right in the (parking lot is that all the meats and freezer items can go directly into the refrigerator to be transported the last 17 miles to home. I even stocked up on sherbet that was on sale, otherwise it would have melted by the time I got home in this weather if I had been in the car.

We got home in the afternoon, got the rig parked, unloaded, and laundry started as well. Although we had planned to camp for two more days, the weather just wasn't cooperating. Now that we are back home, Steve called his part time job boss at the county ADRC Transport service to let him know he would be available to drive if needed.

Of course, they needed him. So it was back into our normal routine.

But having a fun weekend with some of our grandkids was priceless!!!

Friday, July 6, 2018

MOTORHOME MODIFICATIONS - Replacing Bed Lift Struts, Dash AC and Jam

I'm back!

Finally starting to feel better. I think we have most of my meds sorted out and we will figure it out. Biopsies came back benign!  I go back again on Monday for more tests and I think things are going to be okay.

We were suffering through all this heat and humidity last week in Wisconsin which made me feel like a slug. Fortunately, today is absolutely beautiful. The temperatures are low 70s and the humidity has dropped. We will be like this for a couple days. This is what summer should be like!

Steve decided it would be a good morning to work on the motor home. A while back he had removed the struts from our king size bed. They were no longer working and he knew he needed to get bigger ones to withstand the heavier weight of the mattress we put in there. The mattress is about 90 to 100 pounds. Add to that the actual wooden deck platform that it sets on with steel framing over the engine compartment.  So we figured it's about 150 pounds and the old struts just gave out a few years ago.

The struts that had been on there were too short and would not allow you full access underneath the bed. Because we work so often on the engine, we just got used to lifting the bed (minus any struts) up together as a team.  We were putting a heavy prop pole in place to hold it open. I was never comfortable with that pole and wished Steve would put some better struts on the bed. It had been something he kept putting off and putting off,  and never quite taking the time to order heavy struts that were longer than the original ones. We wanted the bed to open up as wide as possible, of course.

Finally, last week, Steve was making up a list of things he wanted to do to the motorhome. I insisted that the top item on the list would be to order some struts

We used the same company that we had ordered the lighter-weight door struts from. We measured up what we needed plus we figured a little bit more. $19.95 each, 94 cents each for the four ball sockets, plus shipping. Each one is rated for 160 pounds, so that is 320 pounds total. Here is what we got:

The struts came in the mail yesterday from UPS. So this morning was the perfect time to go out there and figure it out. The temps were down and it was comfortable to work inside the motorhome. (after I made my black raspberry jam... more about that later)

We lifted the bed up and put it on the prop pole. Then Steve replaced the two little ball socket pieces with new ones on the lower brackets. And he set the new struts into place on the bottom box surrounding the engine compartment.

Then we had to figure out where to put the ball sockets for the top struts with some careful measuring --- because these were longer then what had originally been in the motorhome.

We measured backwards from the lip edge of the box for the bottom, We then added to that the compressed length measurement of the strut. We transferred that measurement on the top lid, also measuring from the end of the box. Now we knew the compressed length and added just a teeny bit more for comfort. Better to be a little too long than a little too short and crush the strut or destroy it.

He put in the new ball socket pieces on the top lid after drilling holes and we measured one more time, just to be sure.

Here he is snapping the strut into place. It's really easy to just snap them on the ball sockets and they latch into place. To remove them you have to actually use a skinny little screwdriver and release a retaining clip to get them off again.

Then we did the other side...
And tested it carefully to be sure the struts 
were correctly mounted in the right spots. 

Voila! Here it is fully operational:

I am so glad we were able to do that ourselves!

The other motor home modification he is working on was the front dash AC. The last time we used the motorhome, the dash AC would not kick on.  Steve put on his manifold gauges and pressure vacuum tank to check the freon levels. The freon pressure is fine but the compressor wasn't kicking in. It turns out it wasn't the compressor, instead, it was the fan! Upon further examination, Steve discovered that the magnets were froze up inside the fan and it was not turning anymore! Well, it is 23 years old so I suppose some things do wear out. We don't use the dash air that often, which probably also lead to its demise.

He pulled the fan out and is ordering another one for around $30. We aren't going anywhere in the next week or so, so it's okay to have that part non-operational.

He also used his manifold gauges and vacuum pump on both our car and our Tracker. Now both of them are up to snuff with proper AC cooling at the vents in the 35-40 degree range!  The local service station wanted $150+ for each vehicle to do it for us.  Glad Steve is handy and has these tools to do it ourselves.  That would have been over $300 total service bills for the Tracker and car...


We have lived in this home now for our 6th summer. The past five summers we have never had any black raspberry bush up in the front corner of our fence.  This spring we noticed raspberry bushes growing so we helped prop them up and let them drape over the fence to give them somewhere to grow. Imagine our delight as the berries ripened and we saw they were black raspberries!!

I imagine that some bird flying overhead either dropped a berry here that went to seed...
or it came out of some bird poop!!!???

Either way, we now have a nice thick lush black raspberry patch! 

(Steve has a red raspberry patch
 he planted in the backyard 
that won't be ready until next week) 

Last week we picked enough to do a double batch of uncooked freezer jam. It was way too hot to do the cooked type over the stove.  This is good, but it takes up too much room in our freezer.

But this morning, since it was cool, we had enough to do a triple batch of regular cooked Black Raspberry Jam. Steve kept picking more berries while I started making the jam.

It was so nice to be able to use the canning kettle on the stove and have the kitchen a comfortable temperature to work on the jam. I love my old fashioned kitchen and having fun preserving foods like we used to do with my mom, when we were kids.

Here we are, 20 jars finished. 
1 jar is in the fridge for Steve to use immediately.

Other years, when it's too hot in the kitchen, I have Steve use our outdoor propane burner and I set up my canning kettle out there. But then it means carrying things in and out and in and out from the kitchen as I work on the jam indoors.

We also use the outdoor propane burner for other things. It was originally intended for deep fried turkey. We don't do those very often. But we do use it for canning, or if I want to simmer a stinky dye pot for spinning wool or yarn. The best use is for steaming Alaskan snow crab legs! It keeps the stink out of the house and we can use the very large kettle on the outdoor propane burner. 14 minutes and they are absolutely perfect.

I wasn't feeling very good on our 21st anniversary last week, so instead we did our special meal of crab legs in the kettle this week on the 4th of July!