Wednesday, June 15, 2022

We Got A/C! New Inverter. Visitors

 

In my last blog it looked like we could not replace our Motorhome A/C due to parts not being available.  Yes, there were A/C units...but not the parts to convert our older thermostat to work with it...and the brand new thermostats required a special circuit board, which was not available.  Well, on Monday June 6th Arny and I went back down to McColloch’s RV repair and storage to drop off some donuts since he never charged me for the hour or two that he put in researching a work around for the Air Conditioner.  While there, Nick had a surprise for us...the previous Friday he had found a way to do it!  He had a Class A motorhome in his yard which needed two A/C's.  This time Nick found someone to talk to at Dometic who said that if he put in a thermostat which was not the most up-to-date thermostat, but one that was newer than the thermostat that we had (my motorhome and the Class A he had in the yard), that there was a circuit board which would talk to this thermostat and both the A/C and the Furnace.
  

Above is the new thermostat which needed to be put in.  The first picture in this post is what the new A/C unit looks like.  This new thermostat has an "inside temp" so that we now can know how hot or cold it is back by the thermostat.  It also has a clock, and it can be programed to turn on at certain times of the day.  This 'might' be good for those cold mornings when we are using our portable heater, that the furnace can come on automatically at 7 am so that the motorhome is nice and toasty when we get up.  

So we committed to the new A/C right then, and three days later (Thursday) we took it down at 10 am, by 2 pm we were on our way to pick it up.  Just can't say enough about the professionalism and the work that McColloch’s RV repair and storage has done for us over the years.  Cost: $2,300, includes the AC Unit (about $1,650), Thermostat (about $200), Circuit Board (about $125), Labor (about $225) and Tax (about $135).  By-the-way, Friday it was 105 degrees, followed by 102 on Saturday, so it was just in time!

 

Ever since we got this motorhome back in 2014, I always wondered what the 400W inverter, which is under the bed, did...it did not seem to operate any outlets.  I only used it 4 or 5 times, and each time I plugged an extension cord directly into it for a short time in order to make coffee, or run a vacuum cleaner.  Twice I blew its internal circuit breaker (both times running the vacuum).  Well, I lost the use of two outlets, both up by the driver's area, one on each side.  When I got the portable AC, I used one of those outlets, and it immediately lost all power.  It took a bit of trial and error, and found that both these outlets were being served by the inverter, and when plugged into a 110V system, the 110V power bypassed through the inverter to these two outlets.  When I plugged in the portable A/C, the Inverters internal circuit breaker broke...it could not be reset.  So I found this 1000W inverter (pictured above) which is also a pass through for those outlets, and it ALSO has a remote on/off so that I can turn it on and off without having to raise the bed, move things around, to get to the inverter to turn on and off.  So "IF" we need 110V while not plugged into 110V, I can turn the inverter on and use one of these two outlets.  Cost:  $175.00, no labor since I did it myself.

Kathryn (my niece) and her fireman husband Dallas came out to visit, and also to attend a few Baseball Games in the bay area where their hometown Royals are playing both SF and then Oakland.  Kathryn arrived on Wednesday (a week ago) while Dallas went fishing at Lake Erie with a dozen or so friends (it is a yearly thing he has done for years now).  He flew in Monday morning, and we had a family dinner Monday night (Arny's famous Tri-Tip).  Tuesday they took Amtrak to San Francisco where they attended Tuesday night's game (SF won 4-2) and today's game (KC won 3-2).  They will also attend a Oakland vs Kansas City game Friday before heading home.  Kathryn is a die-hard fan of both SF and KC, and you can tell by the picture above (stolen from her Facebook page) that Dallas has a KC hat, and she has a SF hat.  Kathryn wins no matter who wins...unless Oakland wins and then they both lose.  But the big winner was her Grandmother (my mom) who enjoyed many hours visiting Kathryn, and also seeing Dallas on Monday.  We almost had to drag her out of Sandy's house to return her to the Independent Living Facility after Monday's dinner!

It has been a busy month and included a visit down to Aunt Florence's house with Mom and Marcia, a visit with Michael (son) and Anna (pregnant wife), a Walmart Day for Mom and Marcia followed by a lunch at Black Bear Restaurant, many visits over to Mom's, some minor work on the motorhome, another grooming for Indy, and some other odds and ends to help Sandy and Arny and even Patti out.  It has been a busy and productive month, and now we don't have to worry about the summer heat!


Sunday, May 15, 2022

Two Week Update - Pics From Mother's Day, Visit with Aunt Mary, A/C Problems, Car Update

 

On Mother's Day we had mom over for Hamburgers, Salad, Deviled Eggs, and a special surprise visitor...

... Pattie's daughter Ashley who not only surprised Grandma, but surprised her mother too!  It was an enjoyable afternoon, mom stayed for a good four or five hours, and it was a memorable Mother's Day for all.

Earlier this week Mom and I went to visit her older sister Mary.  It was a GREAT visit despite the news the day before that their youngest brother, Paul, had passed away.  Mom came from a family of ELEVEN children.  Mary is number #8, mom is #9.

About 18 months ago Mary, and her oldest daughter Debbie, moved to Elk Grove, which is south of Sacramento, from Escalon, about 80 miles south of Citrus Heights where we stay when we are in the area.  Elk Grove is only 30 miles away, so it is much easier/shorter of a drive.  It was interesting to hear them talk about their family, especially their mother who raised 11 children nearly single-handedly since Grandpa was more into the bottle than the family at times.  He died when mom was only 12 years old.  Of the eleven kids, ALL of them were successful in life.  Something like two butchers, three teachers, three nurses, one insurance agent, and one engineer or scientist, or both (Uncle Paul).  The eleventh gave his life in service of his country in WW2, just a month before the war ended.  Grandma sure taught her children how to work...as did my mother teach all six of us....as did most of my Aunts and Uncles teach their kids too.

I mentioned before that the motorhome Air Conditioner had gone out on us.  I thought it was due to the capacitors, but when I replaced them, it worked for about 5 minutes and stopped.  Took it to the RV Shop that we trust here in Sacramento, and Nick said that the coils must have a leak, it won't hold Freon, and it needs to be replaced.  As he looked into a replacement, he found that YES, he can find an A/C and get it in within a few days, BUT the thermostat we have won't talk to the new A/C.  To put in a new thermostat, he would have to run all new wires, BUT, the new thermostat won't talk to the furnace.  There IS a computer type board that one can get which would allow the old thermostat to talk to the new AC while also talking to the old furnace BUT...there are none of these boards available right now, and the waiting list for one is VERY VERY LONG.  So I bought a Black and Decker portable AC to get us through this summer.

We located it in the passenger's driving seat, and vented it through the passenger window.  With the much appreciated help from my brother-in-law Arny, we fabricated the exhaust to fit the window to a "T".  There is no need for tape, as the window rolls up and holds the exhaust in place.  All of the plastic pieces were pieces provided with the purchase of the machine, and it was cut down and riveted together by Arny.  

When we travel it will all need to be put into the bedroom, but that works for me!  Total cost was $475, and it is quieter and just as efficient as the rooftop AC which, if we can ever get on, will cost somewhere around $2,000.  Perhaps some day the computer type board will be available...but for now we are in the cool, so to speak.

As for our HHR, well, it is working just fine, but I have not cleared the check engine light yet for what we hope is the final time.  Some of the articles I have read say that the HHR's computer can take up to 200+ miles to retrain itself.  I am just about there.  I also have a tire pressure sensor out on the front driver's side...so I need to get it over to Discount Tire to have them look into that.  I "THINK" I put four new sensors on when I got my last tire change 2 1/2 years ago, so perhaps this won't cost us anything.  It sure is a pain in the butt to see that flat tire symbol on every time I drive it, let alone the check engine light.

Our fearless cat hunter enjoys being "on duty" each and every day.  So far she has stopped one Grey Cat from sneaking up on a bird or squirrel, she chased a Black Cat she found napping next to the HHR back to its yard next door, with a slight tackle in the process which sent them both rolling on the ground, and just today she saw the Black Cat walking across the Cul De Sac and gave chase again to its home, where it took refuge under a car.  These incidents don't include the many times she has seen a cat up on the fence and chased it away.  So far I have identified five or six cats in the neighborhood which are tormenting this poor little girl.  I think she is having nightmares about them!

So all is good, and I will TRY to write again before so much time passes...but don't hold your breath.


Friday, April 29, 2022

Isn't she lovely?

 

On Monday I took Indy over to PetSmart to get her nails cut...on Wednesday I gave her a hair cut.

Before (above) you can see how much hair she has compared to the picture below I took this evening..

She is such a trooper allowing me to groom her...just wish she was the same when it comes to cutting her nails.  I can grind her nails, although that is something she does not like...but a few times a year I have to have her cut, and I just cannot do it.

Now here are three lovely ladies.  On Sunday we got together for mom's 92nd birthday celebration.  Liver and Onions for everyone...except me, I had steak (thanks Arny).

The picture above I took back in May 2015...one of my favorite pictures that I have taken in Sandy and Arny's backyard.

This one above I took this evening.  I still like the Doves better, but this one is pretty darn good too.  The Reddish bird is the male Finch, and he is sharing food with the female Finch who I assume has been sitting on a nest of eggs or little ones, most likely in the Oleander plant below the wires they are on.  Finches have nested in these plants for many years, and one year we saw a Hawk go in and get some eggs from a nest.

Took this picture a couple days ago...looks like the same male Finch, but they do all look alike.

So Indy was over in the corner by the shed, and she was seeing something.  When I looked through my camera lens I finally see it....










Yep, it is a nasty ole cat.  They had a 'stare out' for about five minutes, and finally Indy went up over the rock and started barking.  The cat, seeing that there was no way that Indy was going to get up on that fence, just kept staring at her.

Update on the car...  It is running real good.  Drove it up to Auburn and back this afternoon, and did not have any issues.  Occasionally the idle speed is just a bit high, but more often than not it is coming down to where it is suppose to be after 15 - 30 seconds.  I have not cleared the code yet, but did fill the tank at Sam's Club ($4.98 per gal) and wrote down the millage so that I can see what gas millage I am getting.

Update on A/C for motorhome...  Monday I got up on the roof and got the numbers of the capacitors that I want to replace.  While up there, I also cleaned the vent covers of the three fan air vents ... they were very dirty, but cleaned up real easy with a whisk broom.  Ordered the capacitors through Amazon, and one is in, the other should be delivered tomorrow since it arrived at the Sacramento Post Office Distribution Center this evening.  Plan to put them in on Saturday.


Saturday, April 23, 2022

Automotive Fix?

 

The last time I took a picture of our HHR was December of last year on our way home.  Back in the middle of March, a check engine light came on and every week it seemed to run rougher and rougher.  Knowing we would be at Sandy and Arny's house within the month, and knowing the vast amount of knowledge, experience and tools available there, I decided to chance it and wait until we got to Citrus Heights to do the work.  We bought it in early 2011, it was a 'rental' which was put up for sale at a car dealership.  Not sure what work they might have performed on it, but over the past 11 years we have put around 130,000 miles on it, pulled it behind motorhomes for at least another 100,000 miles, and it has been very reliable for us with just a few problems prior to now.

Thinking that it was just the Spark Plugs, I went to O'Reilly Auto Parts and picked those up and put them in on Monday.  $45, and it seemed to be better...but only short lived.  

(Black things are coils, spark plugs under them)

Monday afternoon I took it to O'Reilly Auto Parts where they ran check engine codes. Not only did it need the Spark Plugs, but also Ignition Coils (one for each spark plug), Throttle Body cleaning or replacing (this gadget allows the air into the cylinders), an Oxygen Sensor (we put that in back in 2016 so I skipped putting that in even though I bought it), Mass Airflow Sensor (which works in conjunction with the Throttle Body).  Ok, that's another $325, not including the Throttle Body which we decided to ignore for now, and all of the parts would be available Tuesday morning.

(O2 sensor left, Mass Airflow sensor right)

By Tuesday afternoon it was working much better, and I even went over to visit mom afterwards.  But on the way home, it started acting up as if I never did anything.  So we decided to take out the Throttle Body, and it was DIRTY DIRTY DIRTY.  Arny soaked it in some 'stuff' all night, and I put it in Wednesday morning.  Worked like a charm again...until it the engine warmed up.  Arny's friend Steve has a code reader which works on his phone, real neat, and the top code was Throttle Body and O2 sensor.  We still held off on doing that O2 sensor...but got a new Throttle Body.

(Throttle Body)

So I went back to O'Reilly Auto Parts and ordered a new Throttle Body, $220.  I 'almost' turned the O2 sensor in for credit, but thought I could do that later just in case (smart thinking that time).  Thursday I picked up the new Throttle Body, put it in and the HHR worked better than ever...until it warmed up.  Steve came over late afternoon and ran his code reader again, and it pointed to the O2 sensor...which I had but did not put in due to how hard it was to get to it.  

(Code Reader, sends info to your Smart Phone via bluetooth)

So far I had done all the work except cleaning the Throttle Body.  With the O2 sensor, I was going to have to rely a bunch on Arny.  So Friday mid-morning we first cleaned the engine (Arny likes to work on clean engines).  Around 1 pm we started on the O2 sensor which took us about an hour.  WOW, now it was really working like a charm.  Took it around the neighborhood, let it get nice a warmed up, and it was working perfect.  Took it for a 12 mile run north on the Interstate, got off and right back on headed south...perfect...until the check engine light came back on...but it still worked flawlessly.

Did a bit more research and found that the computer can take awhile...even up to a few hundred miles, before it relearns everything.  So for now we are claiming victory...but there is a chance we might need to do a bit more work if I want to stop this one check engine code from popping up.


I never finished our trip...here are just items.   With the loss of our GPS/Music, we "HAD" to have something.  I remembered that I had a speaker which is powered by USB and/or Solar, which would connect via bluetooth to my Kindle Fire.  Speaker box above, Kindle below (I have a keyboard attachment with this Kindle)

 
I downloaded some tunes to the Kindle so it would work with or without Internet, and we enjoyed some tunes the final few days to Citrus Heights.


I guess our Amazon Prime was up for renewal, and Amazon hunted us down, twisted our arms, and now, after another $120, we are good to go for another year.

Typical view of Mojave Desert, I-40 headed to Barstow

Gee wiz Dorothy, I don't think we are in Kansas anymore....  Gas price in Barstow (thank goodness we filled up our tank in Arizona)

Gas price on Highway 58 near Kramer Junction.  This station has been open for about a year.  We stopped and let Indy play in their Doggie Park...she enjoyed that a lot.

Joshua Tree in bloom as we head toward Tehachapi Pass, and then Bakersfield

One of MANY rough bridges we had to cross...only 150 miles to put up with....

 

Pictures taken Friday Evening

Yes, they had the tree cut back

She just LOVES this yard...as did Skruffy and Bubba

Lots of Hummingbirds this year

Fewer Doves due to Cats

It is Spring, Finches Looking for Action

Fewer Squirrels, again Cats

I'll Keep Them Fricken Cats Away!!!!!


Sunday, April 17, 2022

Made it to Citrus Heights

So we left Bakersfield around 7:30 am...a 300 mile route by going via I-5.  Both US-99 and I-5 have their problems...but on the advice of Nancy Kissack, we went I-5 because the condition of US-99 in and through Atwater, where she lives, is REAL BAD due to construction where, as she says, the concrete barriers are on both sides of your vehicle with just inches to spare...which has lead to many wrecks over the past few weeks.  Well, I HATE the concrete barriers on both sides...one side is ok, but both is something I try to avoid even in a car.

We arrived just before 2 pm, shook up from the numerous spots along I-5 that need desperately to have work on them.  Let give you one example.  I see a sign which says, "Road Work Ahead" (and I immediately think someone needs to change that sign to "Road Work Needed" because the road is in bad shape.)  I see another sign about 2 miles up the Interstate which says, "Road Work Ahead".  I see another sign about 3 miles later which says, ""Road Work Ahead".  I think you get the drift.  About 10-12 miles down the Interstate from the first sign, and now passing 3 or 4 more signs, we come to the 'Road Work'...it was a REST AREA which has been torn down, and in the process of being rebuilt.  THAT is the ONLY road work we came across during this 12 miles stretch...all the while, getting shook up from bumps, potholes, and even what seemed to be frost heaves in an area where it does not snow, it does not have hard freezes, but there are dips in the roadway which are just like frost heaves of Alaska Highway fame.  How does the state which boasts to be the world's fifth largest economy have such crappy roads???  I am embarrassed by my "home state", and it just goes to show that they are more concerned about a rest area, than 12 miles of crappy roadway.  And EVEN when the road is in good shape, it seemed that each time we came upon the smallest bridge over the roadway, that they can't make the roadway and the bridge meet...so it is a BANG as you get on the bridge, and a BANG when you get off the bridge.

In a few days I will try to write a blog to include pictures from the past two days of travel.  We are just glad to be back in my sister's backyard, and looking forward to someone's 92nd birthday next weekend.  🙂

ps: Indy was very happy to be back in the green, lush backyard, and among her Aunts and Uncle and of course, Cousin Parker.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Playing Taps Over the GPS - Needles, Ca

 

The Sun comes up early in Arizona, because Arizona does not do Daylight Savings Time.  So 5:00 am is really 5:00 am, and the sun starts coming up at 5:00.  By 6:15 the sun was coming through the window covers...and we started to get up.  By 7 am, we were on the Interstate, headed for Needles California, about 260 miles away.  The picture above is of the San Francisco Peaks, by Flagstaff.  The highest peak, Humphreys Peak, is the highest point in Arizona at 12,633.


It was shortly after this picture was taken, as we were driving west following the GPS and listening to a Country Western Radio Station that I suddenly heard some static in the music, and just as I said, "Uh Oh...." ZAP, the GPS (and all that comes with it) goes ZAP again.  Well, I guess it isn't the CD Player after all...it must be a speaker wire (based off of the static) -OR- the entire GPS is just past its prime and needs to be replaced.  

I knew there was a Cracker Barrel along the Interstate in Flagstaff.  The picture above is from Google Maps Street View from the Interstate...and it almost looks like what we faced today.  I figured that if we could find a parking place, I would order breakfast ToGo and get the GPS running, grab our breakfast, eat and be on our way.  And it all worked out, despite the dozen or so RVs in and around the lot...most looked like they stayed there all night.

We barely made it out of Flagstaff, where there is much construction and very bumpy roads, and ZAP, the GPS bit the dust again...this time with nothing else going but the GPS.

TAPS for the GPS

GPS is done,
Gone the sun,
No more lake,
No more hill,
No more sky.
All is well,
Safely rest,
God is nigh.


 
So we get through the bumps and lumps of Flagstaff, and enjoy the scenery with a few tears in our eyes.  RIP GPS...   (See that silver trailer in the picture, it is a Airstream and I couldn't help but admire how nice they are...who knows the age...who cares, they hold up so well, but they cost a good chunk of money...not that we want to pull a trailer, but just saying...we followed them a good chunk of the way to Kingman)
 

Marcia got this picture facing north...nothing of interest up there except for a fairly large trench known as the Grand Canyon.


Another interesting formation...and the silver trailer is still in front of us.  (Sometime we got close to it, other times it was far away like this.  I could have passed it a time or two, but why?)

This is the exit we take on our way home each fall/winter, except we are going the other way.  We like US 93 through Wickenburg, and yes, that silver trailer is right in front of us...but we lost them shortly after when Indy needed to take one of her breaks and we pulled into a TA Truckstop.  (Ok, the stop was for me, and I also needed to call the RV Park in Needles.)

Here we have just passed through Kingman.  The exit sign is for Las Vegas, and as soon as we went around that corner there was a huge backup in the right lane.  I took the chance and got in the left lane, zipped by everyone who were simply getting off at the Las Vegas exit and causing a backup on the Interstate.

Had to toss in this picture of the Pilot sign.  Yes, unleaded for $4.39...and there is a Love's which has the same price.  Both stations were very busy with this exit just 9 miles from the California boarder.  I got as much in the tank as I could possibly put in!

And there is the boarder just one mile ahead, you cross over the Colorado River and you have crossed over into ... 

We arrive just past 2 pm, and enjoyed the shade as we could.  It got up to 87 degrees, 9% humidity, and just about the upper level of our comfort zone.  Now it is 9 pm, it is 80 degrees and it feels just fine.  It will get down to 62 degrees by the time the sun comes up.

We are again at Fender's RV Park, a Passport America Park where we pay $19+ (I just gave her a twenty and told her to keep the change) and we are in the exact same campsite we have been in the last 3 or 4 times we have stayed here.  Indy has been here before, last November on our way home.  She 'seemed' to smell more here than other places, she may realize that she has been here before.  If so, she must know that the big green lawn in Citrus Heights is awaiting her, along with her aunt and uncle who we 'HOPE' she will be nice to immediately.  Now, all I have to do is try and remember my way back home to Citrus Heights where I called home for most of 1975 through 1983.