Saturday, November 23, 2019

T Time again

Odometer  67964

New River, AZ

The '17 Touring gets a scrubbing
The new girl in town is a 1917 Model T Touring car
We are back at Model T world and a new girl just came into my world.  She is a 1917 Model T touring that has been stored for the last 6 years.  Was a good runner when put away.  I get the job of going over her and checking everything out.  Oil change, water in the radiator, plugs cleaned and gapped, coils all delivering voltage, gas tank removed and cleaned, fuel tap removed and cleaned, gas line blown out with compressed air, carburetor cleaned and adjusted, battery charged (replaced with new).  This one is hand cranked only.  After some adjusting the mixture we got the engine to start, but the running was ragged.  It took me several hours of tuning to get it to run well- and it was worth it!  Joan and I spent the next several days touring it around our neighborhood.

Broken fan blade

Then the unexpected happened.  A blade broke on the 4 bladed fan throwing the remaining three blades into a wobble that threw one blade into the casting that is the cover on the front of the engine block, and one nearly into the radiator core.

Broken fan and offending blade
Damage to the engine casting

The photo on the left shows the crack made in the cast metal timing cover and the cam gear cover both!

Ominous rain clouds move in

We are in for a spell of bad weather so I dig in and take the T apart to fix the damage.  

Down to the heart of the problem

I quickly decide trying to remove the radiator.  Getting everything off without this step is possible, but taking the radiator off just makes the whole job a lot more fun.

We have a LOT of T parts around so we set out looking for a timing cover for this model year.

Test fitting a later cover on and early engine

We found some cast covers, but none were the correct one for this engine.  This one is too wide to the left (picture left, car right), but fits all the rest.  If I can find a generator mount from a later car, this cover will work- and I could mount a generator on this motor at some future date.  Hmmm.

One thing is certain, the car is out of service until we either locate another original cover or a generator casting to go with this one.

Learning the ways of the T

We are making plans to visit a fellow "collector" to see if we can find the parts we need to get this flivver back on the road.  That can't happen until Monday because tomorrow we are going to take the Model Ts (there are lots of spares) on an Art tour called Hidden in the Hills.  We've done this for a couple years now and I blogged about it here if you want to know more about this very cool event this link will open in a new page and you can return here whenever you want. Hidden in the Hills

Stormy landscape outside our window
Then, just as predicted, the heavens opened up and the rains came down.

Normally dry stream bead is brimming with runoff
Two inches of rain gives me good reason to stay in the shop and work on the T's !

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

Friday, November 22, 2019

San D to Phoenix

Odometer  67,964

San Diego to Phoenix

Fuel close to E

We are in a unique situation this morning.  Joan and I are headed for Yuma for a couple nights before continuing on to our friends house in New River, AZ  The unique part is that we normally tank up on arrival, because I don't like the tanks to have air space where condensation can form in them, as the ambient, and day- night temperature changes.

We are in this situation because on our way in on Thursday, we could not find a diesel station to save our soul.  Joan started actively looking about 15 miles out of town.  Usually we can find a truck plaza or a bigger station we can get into.  We jumped off the freeway once only to find the station too small to get into.
Resigned to our situation we went to the RV park and settled in.

Low fuel  warning light

We are going out on the same route, so our first chance at fuel will probably be 22 miles out.  It'll be as familiar as I like to get with the bottom of the fuel tank in this beast.

I was actually doing fine as we headed out.  I was feeling pretty sure that we'd see a station on this side of the freeway that we hadn't seen on our way in, but no.  I have no idea what trucks do on their way in and out of here- but I will never come this way on low tanks again!

Just when I'd calmed down a bit the fuel warning light came on- I'll be honest with you- I didn't even know this bus had a warning light!

An hour on empty tanks finally we reach our last chance fuel station

We kept looking at each exit and sometimes we'd see one that had possibilities AFTER we were past the off ramp.  California, unlike Oregon apparently doesn't encourage stations to put an informational sign on the freeway before the off ramps- we saw none.

Finally, when I was sure we'd be dead alongside the highway, we made it to Campo, CA and the Golden Acorn Casino and truck stop.  If you read my previous blog, you'll remember that we are in the Rocky Mountains here- 4 summits of 4,000 feet- working the Kitty Kat diesel motor hard.

I'm happier than I look here
Our motorhome has a rather flat fill hose and it is sometimes a real pain.  The nozzle has to be held in the horizontal position for the whole fill.  Our tanks take up to 90 gallons and it keeps you pinned down for the whole time.

The fuel this far away from town is usually expensive, and California has a 40 cent surcharge on their fuel.  We were only going to get a few gallons at $4.10/ gal. and wait until Yuma, AZ where the fuel would be a dollar a gallon cheaper.   Well, that was the plan...  The uneasy feeling I got watching the needle settle on E made me put in 30 gallons.  We'll get 'er topped off in Yuma, but for now we'll douse that pesky low fuel warning light for a long while

Air umbilical to towed car

My happiness melted when I walked back to check on the Tracker we tow behind the motor home.  We have an air line that connects the motor home brakes to a braking  system in the car.  Somehow the air fitting came loose from the car an has been dragging on the pavement.

Nothing I can do about this here, and we have towed without brakes before- it is no problem for this size tow vehicle, still I want to get it fixed as soon as possible.
Tucked in at the Westwind RV Resort Yuma, AZ

We finished the transit to Yuma and checked in at the Westwind RV Resort for a couple nights on our Passport 1/2 price card.

SMI repair kit for the air line
I love the discount variety stores that abound in Yuma.  I did a hasty set up and took off for Wally's World and the RV Superstore.  I had a list of items I needed for maintenance, and I just wanted to see some of the cool stuff they always have.  I wanted some plastic drawer catches, which are getting hard to find.  I didn't find them here either, but I did find some 50 pc packs of electrical crimp on connectors, some steel stakes for staking down my satellite dish, some screw driver tips for my impact driver and a few other things I didn't know I needed, all at bargain prices.

Good as new
The next day Joan and I went to a towing specialty shop called Just For Towing in Yuma to get a replacement end for the air line we damaged on the trip from San Diego.  These are specialty coupling manufactured in Germany- I'm glad to be able to get them.

In more than a decade of towing we've never had anything come loose, now we've had two things on the same trip- is it me or ??  Joan and I have a routine we follow when getting ready to leave, which includes double checking each other and complete lighting and brake check.  Hmmm.

Dashboard temp gauge

The trip from Yuma to Phoenix is uneventful and we notice that the temperature is warm for November, even down at this latitude.

We roll into Phoenix and find a Shell station to top off our tanks before we get set up at our good friends RV in New River.

Home is where we park it... and this is pretty nice

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan


Monday, November 4, 2019

Exploring the San Diego Maritime Museum

Odometer  67774 mi
Sunday 11/3/2019

San Diego, CA

I like all things sea going, so it was natural for me to want to go to the San Diego Maritime Museum.

Before we could get started however, I accidentally tipped over a water bottle and spilled on the keyboard of the laptop.  I am usually very guarded about liquids around the electronics, but got careless and it happened.   A few days ago I had been researching how to remove the battery in this Acer laptop to do a hard reset.  Turns out to physically remove the battery you have to take out something like 17 tiny screws and unsnap the back with a spudger.  Yep, I had to look that one up- a spudger is a tool that looks like a chop stick with a chisel point, used to pry things apart without damage or electrical shorting.  That time I also found out that this laptop has a pin hole on the back that allows one to disconnect the battery momentarily by pushing a paperclip into the hole- so that's what I did.  This time it was a lot more urgent- I quickly dried the spill, and of course I was not prepared to be getting the battery out.  After propping the laptop in a configuration I thought best for water to flow if any got in, I started removing screws, made my own spudger, and popped the back off.  I was relieved to see that no visible water had gotten in to anywhere I could see.  I left the laptop open and air dried it for a day before reassembly and I think I've gotten very lucky- I hope so anyway.

While the laptop recuperated, Joan and I took off for the Maritime Museum.  By now it was late morning and we figured on catching a lunch on the go.  Joan had researched parking and the best parking would be the County parking garage adjacent to the museum.  The only bit of information we did not have, was that the garage is under the grassy Waterfront Park.  We were searching for a mid- rise parking structure and not finding one, we finally parked at a surface lot costing $20 for 4 hours.  Now for some country rubes like us, that caused us to pause for a while.  Finally we resigned ourselves to it and I set my iPhone timer for 4 hours and we strode off.  Our plan was to head straight down hill to the water front and then north or south , whichever took us to the museum.

Red Arrow shows where we found parking
Well... the streets don't go through past the RR tracks on California Street so not consulting our google maps (and look like rubes you know) we marched north to Grape St where we could get to the park and then south what seemed like four city blocks to get to the museum.

Tall Ships  foreground HMS Surprise, background Star of India
Wow, was this worth the trip!  This collection is awesome.  The Star of India is the oldest active merchant sailing ship in the world, built in 1863.  The HMS Surprise, under my feet, is a replica of an 18th century Royal Navy Frigate.

Soviet B-39 Attack Submarine

Moored directly behind the Surprise is a B-39 Soviet Navy attack submarine of the type and style used in the Cuban missile crisis.

This one's in bad shape, the outer hull is rusted through in several areas, and a protective coating of some kind has been applied to her

Joan checks out the B-39 Foxtrot class Soviet Sub

The Soviets had a different idea on watertight bulkheads than our submarine builders of the same era.  All most all their watertight hatches were round rather than oval.  Us old folks had a tough time getting through them (It wasn't graceful at all)
Soviet  B-39 watertight hatch
The USS Dolphin submarine of the same era as the B-39 was far more finished looking inside.  the layout far more roomy and functional.

USS Dolphin submarine and PFC 816 Swift Boat at San Diego Maritime Museum

Capt'n Jeff at the periscope

The Dolphin felt much more modern in every way. 

The Dolphin was launched from Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine in 1968, and immediately set a new depth record that we are told, still holds today!  She sent the first laser communication to an aircraft, sent and received the first underwater email.
The Dolphin was the last US non-nuclear submarine and had a long career of 38 years

Control Room USS Dolphin

The ferry boat that seems to be the center of everything here at the pier, is actually a floating museum.  Your admission gets you access to everything we've talked about here, and a lot more.  There are tours you can take of the harbor that launch from here on the Swift Boat a Pilot boat, or a Revenue Cutter, for an additional fee.

The Claim Jumper restaurant at the Wyndham Hotel

Happy explorers
 We were getting famished, so we opted to head across the street to the Claim Jumper restaurant at the nearby Wyndham Hotel.  We had a very pleasant lunch while watching the lively action of the waterfront.

By now we were closing in on the 4 hour time limit on our parking space, so we decided to head back to the car. 

This is where things started to unravel and we were exposed as the rubes that we are.  We headed back up the hill on Ash Street at the opposite end of the park where we had come down from the car.  We both had different ideas of where we'd left the car and spent an agonizing 20 minutes traipsing back and forth, before I got the idea of using satellite view of the area on the iPad to look for the distinctive shape of the car park we wanted to find.  We arrived back at the car with my phone vibrating "times up" on the 4 hour timer I'd set.  Whew!  We really aren't big city people.

 Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Salton Sea to the Pacific Blue

Odometer  67,774

Thursday Oct 31
Salton Sea to the Pacific Ocean
San Diego

Our plan for today is to head south on CA Route 111 and catch Interstate 8 west to San Diego.  Regular blog readers will note that we normally eschew large cities, and the only thing that could possibly make us head into one- is a family event such as the wedding of our niece Savannah.

I had this misconception that the Rocky Mountains had petered out by the time they reached Mexico, and would be mere bumps.  Nothing could be more from the truth.  Interstate 8 climbs 4 summits on the way from El Centro to El Cajon.  The first summit we encountered took us from below sea level to 3241 ft at Mountain Springs, on to Tecate Pass at 4140 ft , Crestwood Pass at 4,109 ft , lastly to Laguna Pass at 4055 feet.  Many of these grades were at or near 6%  I guess this is why I like traveling- it straightens out the geography in my head.😏
We arrived at Mission Bay RV Resort at about 4:30 in the afternoon, Friday rush hour was in full ramp-up but luckily we were going the opposite of where everyone else wanted to go.

We are tucked in at Mission Bay RV Resort

We chose Mission Bay because it looked to be about the center of where the wedding activities are taking place.  The Resort is pretty much a paved lot with holes for mature shade trees and utilities for full hookup- pretty much perfect for what we want.

Mission Bay RV our neighbors

We are the big blue dot on the map to the left and the hook of land is called DeAnza Point.  We have good access to the interstate to go longer distances and Mission Bay Drive along the waterfront for going locally in to Pacific Beach to the north and to Ocean Beach to the south.

After settling in we set out for a walk to stretch the legs and stop the buzz in our heads.  We are fenced in here, but there are walk gates at strategic points in the perimeter where one can walk on the promenade around De Anza point and down into Mission Bay Park.  We headed out the gate to walk counter-clockwise around the point.  The gate opened onto a paved road which followed the edge of the beach.  A really nice paved promenade with tall palm trees and lush vegetation on either side.

DeAnza Mobile Home Park on Mission Bay San Diego
We suddenly became aware of the fact that none of the homes we were passing were occupied.  This mystified us and we became curious as to why people would abandon homes with such a great setting

moved out or demolished ?  site where manufactured home used to be

 We had a pleasant walk though this deserted neighborhood, but couldn't help wondering what had happened.  When we got back home, we did and internet search and found a very interesting story:

In 1939 and 1945 the State gave this point of land to the City of San Diego "for the use of all the citizens of the State".   In 1953 the City leased the land to a developer for a 680 unit "trailer park" giving the City 10% of the gross rent.  Every thing was great until 1980 when the State Land Commission reviewed the land deal to ensure that San Diego had upheld its end of the bargain.  They decided that the City had not.  San Diego was ordered to evict the residents and honor the original agreement.  Another State law that had been enacted in the meantime required cities who evict tenants of mobile homes to offer relocation assistance, which San Diego reportedly was reluctant to do.  One news report I read was of the opinion that the City intentionally hired a park manager with a bad reputation to make living conditions so untenable the residents would move out on their own.  Services were cut, rents hiked, laundry facilities removed, and tenants who complained were intimidated.  By October 2016 the City had lost at least two lawsuits with the tenants, but finally prevailed in moving out the last of the residents, ending this epic 36 year battle.  The news this year (2019) says that the City has awarded a contract to Campland by the Bay to expand the RV park into the areas formerly occupied by mobile homes, adding about 150 more sites.  Nothing is happening pending a review by the California Coastal Commission.

Joan, Savannah, Manny, Jeff

I have been asked by my niece Savannah to officiate at her wedding on a cliff above the ocean here in San Diego.  Family and friends will be flying in from Dallas today and we are looking forward to the inevitable family gatherings.  We spent the afternoon with them at their Air B&B home in Ocean Beach about 15 minutes from our RV Park. 

The next day at 5 PM we all met at Osprey Point and held the wedding ceremony as the sunset painted the sky and horizon a warm peachy color.  Manny and Savannah, stood with yours truly, as I led them through their vows in front of 30 or more of their family and close friends.  What an honor it was for me to be involved in this special way!

Savannah and Manny Chavez cut the cake at their reception in local restaurant
Here's wishing Savannah and Manny many wonderful wonderful, happy, years together!

Another surprise was meeting Joan's cousin Curtis and his beautiful wife Emerita.  Curtis is a pilot for an executive air charter company operating out of  Los Angles, CA.

Curtis and Emerita
Dessault 2000 Falcon

Falcon Cockpit
Curtis flies the Dassault 2000 Falcon business jet made in France- sounds like FUN!  We hope now that we have re-established contact that it won't be so long til we see the two of them again.

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

Friday, November 1, 2019

Having Fun on our Way There

Odometer 67,599 miles
Salton Sea, California

We are heading to the Salton Sea- again!  Here is our route for the next several days.

We had a pleasant journey from Susanville to Hawthorne, Nevada.  We made our usual late start from Susanville, getting rolling at around 10:30, actually later than is customary even for us.  I really messed up in Reno though.  I missed the exit I wanted to take to get fuel on our way into Reno, and thought I'll have Joan keep an eye out for another station that looks promising.  We spotted the multi-color soccer ball sign that Kroger uses for their fuel stations and took the exit.  We immediately plunged into a massive road construction project that we couldn't have seen from the freeway.  No problem we got to the Smith's store and the fuel pumps.  The pumps were very busy and we only had two places we could get in for diesel- so I waited at the curb while Joan stood in line shooing away interlopers.  When we finally got into place and started fueling we found there was a problem with the pump, the flow was substantially restricted for some reason and it took 15 minutes to get about 13 gallons.  At this rate we'd be here another 45 minutes.  Grrr!  I hung up the nozzle and abandoned that plan.  On our way back to the freeway we got caught up in the construction big time.  It took us several miles to get back to an on-ramp.  Now I was steaming!  I only wanted to fuel up in Reno thinking it would be cheaper here than further out in the desert, but we had enough on board to make Hawthorne easily.  The route we chose to get to US 95 south was to take Nevada 341 to Alt 95 and head toward Yerington.  It's not shorter, just different, it probably cost us a few minutes, but we like to see different things when we can.  We sailed down US 95 and made Hawthorne by mid afternoon.
We got set-up in Whiskey Flats RV Resort for a couple of nights.

We decided to stay a couple nights here because Joan is excited about seeing the ghost town of Bodie, California which is about 30 miles west of here, while I was hoping to see the Hawthorne Ordinance Museum.  By the time we got the RV set-up it was 3:30 PM and I found out the museum closes at 4:00 PM.  I won't get there today I guess.

A trip to Bodie over the back roads was only about 30 miles from here and the TV weather forecast brought the news that tomorrow would be sunny and warm.  So we packed a lunch and headed out in the Tracker.
Glowing Aspens in the creek bottom

Back way into Bodie from Nevada side

We ate some dust- you should see the inside!
 Some  parts of the road had just been graded, so we were very lucky.  Even with grading we seldom were able to go more than 25 mph- lots of boulder sized rock, shallow ruts, and some heavy mud.  And did I mention DUST?  Soft, floury, fine, fluffy, floating, airborne, churning, choking, cloud-forming- dust!

The scenery was spectacular, with the Aspens resplendent in the sun and the majestic high canyon walls of Bodie Creek.  With out pushing it, it took about 2 hours to traverse the 30 some miles from Hawthorne to Bodie.

The trip was sure worth it!  The buildings and grounds are incredible.  The story is that one of the major landowners in the area hired caretakers to protect the buildings from being vandalized or looted during the 50s and early 60s, until California State Parks purchased the town in 1962.

 The Parks Department does do patch and repair work on the structures to stabilize the building roof walls and foundations preserved in a state of "arrested decay"
The Standard Mill in Bodie, California  as it was re-built in 1899 after a disastrous fire
 The Standard Stamp Mill shown above was the most successful or the 30 some mining companies in the area.  Renamed the Standard in 1877, they produced over 18 million in gold during 38 years of operations.

The Standard Mill was one of the first mines to have electricity delivered from a substantial ways away by using alternating current electricity.  In 1893 Standard had a hydroelectric plant 13 miles away and used poles and wire, much like we do today.  Before this most installations would have generators producing DC current and the generators would have been at the same site as the motor it drove.

Electricity  ran 20 stamps, 4 concentrators, 8 pans, 3 settlers, and 1 agitator.  A transformer at the mill provided 100-volt current to light the building’s interior and adjoining offices.  It would be 17 more years before the small town of Bodie had electricity to its shops and residences in 1910.

Picture taken through the window of a dry goods store
What a fun afternoon!  This is the real deal, and it was fun to envision life in these parts so many years ago.  More that 150 million dollars of gold has been extracted from this site over the years.  By 1915 most of the gold had played out and the Bodie to Hawthorne railroad was abandoned.  In 1942 the government stopped "non essential" gold mining in favor of copper for the war years.  Most of the remaining residents moved away. 

Our Return route from Bodie back to Hawthorne, NV
Joan and I decided to take the "long way around" on good roads back to Hawthorne, just to see something new.  30 miles off-highway becomes 80 miles by highway!

The route back to Hawthorne takes us up to the top of Conway summit on US Hwy 395 at an elevation of 8138 feet.  For us sea level dwellers, it gets hard to find any oxygen in the air up here.  As we drop off the summit down towards Mono Lake, we stop to take in the view and admire this endorheic lake, a lake with no outlet.  This beautiful lake was nearly drained by the thirsty citizens of LA.  In 1941 the Los Angeles Dept of Water bought up the water rights to the tributaries of the lake and diverted them 350 miles south.  Over the next 16 years the lake level dropped 45 feet before concerned citizens got a court order requiring LA to leave a little water in the streams to keep the lake level stable.  The name Mono is a shortening of the Yokut Indian name for the lake- "Monachi".

Tonight an arctic wind is predicted to plunge the mercury from a balmy 70 down to the 30s.

Sunday, we continued our journey south from Hawthorne to Tonopah (actually easterly) we had a stiff cross wind, but the bus handled it pretty well.  As we made the turn south at Tonopah we'd get a tailwind- yeah!  We both remembered a McDonalds with good parking at the far (south) end of Tonopah and decided that it would save time and dishes if we stopped there for a salad.  Well, we either remembered incorrectly or it was torn down, because there was no fast food at all where we remembered seeing it.  We drove on to a chain-up area (no snow!) and pulled over and heated up soup and made sandwiches for lunch- better for us anyway.

The wind had died down a lot, but what there was, was on our tail.  We have decided to stop in Pahrump for a couple of nights to let the wind settle down and to do some local exploring.  I have skinned up one of our safety cables on the tow bar and I'll see if I can find a replacement in town.  We find the Preferred RV Resort in Pahrump to be very nice and it accepts our Passport card for 1/2 price for two days!

Tuesday we are on the road again, this leg of the trip is to one of my favorite spots in the southwest- the Fountain of Youth RV Resort near Niland, CA in the hills above the Salton Sea.

There is very little of interest in the area here, but the resort itself is very intriguing.  I have blogged about this before [ Click to see that blog (opens in new page)]
In essence what I like about the RV site is that it is terraced up the side of the hill so each level gets a view,  there are several pools and hot spas, the people are friendly, it's super quiet, and the skies are alive with stars at night.
Call me a lobster!

Just right- about 104 degrees!

The warmest of the hot pools is called the Lobster Pot and when I want to warm up it takes some real heat!  Those cool 100 degree pools just won't do it- I want 104° ! 

Tuesday afternoon when we arrived the weather was picture perfect- sunny and warm, clear skies.  We took a long walk to un-cramp our legs and Joan made up a ravioli dinner, followed by a few episodes of Ice Pilots NWT on Amazon Prime TV.  Around 9 PM we heard this loud rustling sound outside and opened the curtains to see the wind howling around us.  We got ready for bed with the slide top awnings snapping and snarling in the wind, and the bus rocking under the force of many hard gusts of wind- coming one after the other.  We finally decided to pull in the slide outs, which rolls up the slide top awnings and streamlines the motorhome.  We slept fitfully as the wind rocked us on our jacks and screamed around the edges of the bus.  Friday morning there was only a zephyr of a breeze blowing and the sun was rising to a clear blue sky.  Some fellow RVrs had suffered damage to awnings and flags and loose items, but most of us came through with no damage at all.  Time to head for the spa!

Next time we head out to San Diego for our niece's wedding- stay tuned.

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

All set up with a view of the Chocolate Mountains