Sunday, April 9, 2017

Bakersfield & Model T Swap Meet

Odometer  55362
Trip Meter 67 miles

Today should be an easy day for us (even by our modest standards). We don't have to be in Bakersfield until mid afternoon, so we stay in our site at Sierra Trails up to checkout time before we saddle-up and hit the highway.  I took the time to chat up the neighbors and wash the windshield and the bug splattered front of the bus.  I even go so far as to re-wax the front!  

Opening the refrigerator from outside the bus
I guess I was putting off what I should really be doing- checking out the refrigerator.  We have been boondocking without 110v power and the refrigerator powered by propane was not staying as cool as we'd like (40°)
The absorption type refrigerators that are used in RVs actually use heat to cool the freezer and refrigerator (yeah- sounds dumb I know)  The heat causes a liquid refrigerant to expand and creates pressure driving the expanding gas through a pin hole.  The rapid expansion of the liquid on the other side of the small aperture (pin hole) causes it to cool and absorb heat from the contents of the fridge.

Gas burner tube in Refrigerator

While we are parked in an RV space with electricity the fridge uses and electric element to do the heating, but when we boondock (or wild camp/ dry camp) without electricity a propane burner does the heating.  The cheap materials used in the chimney above this gas flame peel off and rain debris down on the burner causing it to clog up and reduce efficiency.  The picture to the right shows flakes of rust that have accumulated in the burner box.  The tube with the slots cut in it is the burner assembly.  I used a soft brush and our vacuum cleaner to tidy this up and re-assemble the burner box.  The refer is back in business!

Google Map of our intended route today
By 11 AM we have stowed the gear and dumped the holding tanks, put some fresh water on board and hooked up the car for departure.   We still have the turn signal problem.  Since it is close to noon, we decide that instead of un-packing, preparing lunch, washing up, and re-packing- we'll get some take-out lunch somewhere.
Since neither of us has been into Tehachapi, we decided to go there today to pickup lunch at a Taco Bell.  We like to get the Cantina Power Bowl which is salad, rice, and beans.  The Main Street is very wide and parking is allowed on both sides making it possible for us to park alongside the curb in front of the restaurant.  

Back in the bus, we headed out to highway 58 and got ready to shed a few thousand feet of elevation.  

The descent into Bakersfield is 3,500 feet over a distance of 22 miles with many sections of 5 and 6% grade.  I really like this area.  it's very green and pastoral looking and it is a train spotters paradise.  The main line railroad comes over the pass within view of the highway for much of its climb. 

Sharp Curve sign even has flashing LEDs around it
There is even a place where the train does a complete loop and passes over (or under) itself.  Someday I'm going to stop and watch it rather than glimpse it as I do today.
I still remember the first trip over this pass in a motorhome.  We were driving a 1993 Safari Trek, built on an Isuzu truck chassis and incorporating a front engine turbo diesel that cranked out almost 135 hp.  

Warning on the Tehachapi- steep grades ahead
It was absolutely imperative to get a good run at the hill and not get caught in the right lane behind a slow truck.  Never got lucky- always going 35 mph uphill with the slowest truck.  Once slowed down it could never accelerate back up again.  I had plenty of time to look around back in those days - but it was extremely reliable and never overheated.
Today we enjoy 330 horses in our present Caterpillar engine, and 6 forward speeds in our Trans, allowing us to get into all kinds of trouble.  The Safari had a real exhaust brake for going slow downhill, and our Itasca Horizon has a transmission brake.  Both do an excellent job of slowing us to where we don't use much of the foot brakes.
Setting up for the Swap Meet- the night before
We had no trouble finding the fairgrounds, and no trouble finding our good friends Ralph and Ann, here to sell Model T parts at the Southern Cal Model T Club's annual swap meet.  We were allowed to drive into the parking lot but not into the sales area.  Participants are allowed to dry camp in the parking lot for free- so we elected to do just that.
The Bakersfield curse is upon us right away.  A drawer slide in the bedroom breaks and my pants drawer will not close again until I fix it.  I carry spares, so this is no big crisis.
Next the power inverter/ converter we need to make 110v power from our coach batteries has shut down for reasons unknown.  

Remote panel for information and control of the Xantrex Freedom 15 inverter and charger

 This is doubly bad because the inverter steps the 12 volt battery power up to 110 volts to run our small appliances without having to start the generator all the time.  The converter part of this same device, charges the batteries when the generator is running.  You can see on the control panel above that the left side of the display shows the status of your battery charging.  I read and re-read Xantrex's pathetic instruction book from our library of coach literature, searched on line for more and found more of what I already had.  Could not find a trouble shooting guide.  Searched the RV forums for answers.  Many years ago, and in a different motorhome, we experienced the same problem.  After days of inconvenience I found some guidance that said to turn it on and off 3 times in succession and it would reset itself.  It did, and we never had another problem with it.  I tried that on this model and it did not work, so I disconnected it from the batteries- waited, and re-connected it.  Nothing worked. 
We normally watch TV with inverter- clean and quiet- not tonight- Grrr..!  
Also the ignition switch is acting up.  When I went to start the engine this morning is stopped suddenly.  Did the same two more times before it continued to run.  This afternoon when I applied the air park brake next to the ignition switch- the engine died and dash lights went off.- Enough, I'm done.  The curse is real.

Bakersfield pre- WWII swap meet
Early model Oo-Gah klaxton horn
The Swap meet was really fun!  I have the loan of a Model T to drive and work on, and I'm anxious to learn as much as I can about them.  My guru is Ralph, and I couldn't have a better mentor.  Ralph has been involved with buying, building, restoring, selling parts for, and most importantly driving, the T for well over 30 years.  My list was fairly short.  I wanted an Ooo-Gah mechanical horn, a jack from the period, a new timer cover, a leather strap for the spare tire- and lots of knowledge.
I was able to find everything except for the horn.  They are very scarce and expensive these days, and there were none at this meet.  Much to my surprise, one of Ralph's best friends made me a gift of a working model horn for the car.  Yeah!

The swap meet was a Friday- Saturday affair and Friday was very busy, and the best deals went early.  Friday was cloudy but pleasantly warm, but Friday night it rained a little and Saturday morning it was cloudy and cool in the morning.  Saturday's attendance was way down from previous years, and most vendors, including our friends, were packing up by noon and leaving.  It was still a very successful meet, with most vendors selling quite a lot of inventory.
Joan and I had decided that we'd like to go north by a different route this year, and we chose to head back to US 395 and take it up to Carson City before heading West again.  We have checked the road and weather reports and are expecting to make it without getting any late season snow. 

Fingers crossed!

Your Traveling Friends,

Jeff and Joan

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