Friday, May 29, 2009


---- or FAMILY... or SCHOOL CHILDREN (gunfree zone of course), or a famous abortion Dr. Tiller (31 may 09). whichever will attract the most dramatic National Media attention. Rahm Emanuel (Obama's right hand man) statement, "never let a Crises go to waste". News teams are very createive with these Crises hysteria stories.
'Gunfire Erupts at Graduation', killing CHILDREN.... CHILDREN SHOT AND KILLED While riding their ATVS, 'Famous Abortionist'.... full Federal investigation....? No mention of the Islamic killer/wounder of the unarmed Military Recruiters, being investigated for a 'Hate Crime'? Same days, no coverage, so predictable...

The loud, repetitive News Anchors, looking sternly into the camera while an image of a sinister looking black semi-automatic handgun or what they constantly misrepresent as an 'assualt' rifle is in the corner of the screen, the Bold Headlines proclaiming the Media's obvious distaste for 'GUNS' in the hands of the 'Commoners', is Headline news in a Freedom loving Nation, that under the second amendment, allows it's Common Citizens to own and carry 'GUNS'. Only the Eliteists (like in Nazi Germany) would be allowed under 'their' (Blair-Holt for one) proposed rules. HR-45
  • Contact your representatives and senators....often.

    Latest 'group' letter

  • These few following true local storys, nowhere mentioned on National Media are from sparsely populated Albuquerque New Mexico BEFORE legalised CCW
  • They are only a brief whiff of smoke in a major conflagration consuming our legalistic, totalitarian leaning society. These mildly reported, if ever, storys number in the millions per year. After all, they are only 'UNCLEAR Altercations' or Disagreements,.... no 'GUN' was involved.

    How often will you read in 'the news' the little back page paragraph that describes how an intelligent, promising, well educated, very sucessful young man, cleverly designed and had sewn his own Halloween costume. The well researched design was described as a 'Puss in Boots' look, 'Dashing Pirate Captain', maybe a 'Sir Walter Raleigh' appearance.

    He attended;
    the downtown Halloween party early and was a fun attraction. He also left early, knowing the police would be alert for drunk drivers. He did not drink because he wanted no part of the problems drinking and driving can cause. He walked alone to his late model car parked around the corner. One reason being he was extremely familiar with the martial arts and could take care of himself.

    Within minutes Bryan Patterson
  • came upon a group of young thugs, high on whatever substance they commonly abused. It was only seconds before the 5 to 8 young thugs had beaten the 'Puss N Boots' into submission. The remaining minutes were spent kicking him repeatedly and viciously stomping and fracturing his skull. His robbery only added to their frothing, raging thrill. He was found in a very large pool of his own blood, rushed to the emergency room and lay in a brain swollen Coma for many months.

    The local news at first only mentioned, using their favorite words, An 'UNCLEAR' Altercation being investigated. Only when his caring family continually and loudly pressured the police and Media to find the predatory attackers, did 'The Media', finally start reporting the horrific details and his condition. No leads were found for quite some time until an (alleged of course) attacker started to brag how they brought 'Puss N Boots' to the ground. At last reports 'Charges were Pending' due to the lack of witnesses.

    This fine young man's fate is now forever in the hands of his parents, his caretakers who will likely die before he does.
    He is now totally cared for and in a wheelchair for life. No more bright sparks of creativity in his destroyed brain, no more use to a society fueled on substance abuse. A society that thrives on violence in the theater and endless violent video 'Games'. No more will he light up the surroundings with his intelligence and wit. He did not make the 'National News'. No 'GUN' was involved in his destruction.

    If the year had been AFTER 2004 in New Mexico when the Concealed Carry of a Weapon
  • was finally allowed to Certified and Trained, law abiding Citizens, this story could have had a far different ending. Of course the victims of 'THE GUNMAN' would have been praised in 'The Media' as only 'fun loving' kids', victims of a 'GUN' attack.

    Remember NYC Subway 'GUNMAN' Bernhard Goetz?
  • He was NOT a victim of thugs, only the 'Media'... His four attackers, of course were often portrayed as misunderstood 'Choir Boys', dearly loved by their families.

    After shopping;
    at the local grocery store, an attractive young woman, Linda Lee Daniels, drove home, being followed by a carload of men. As she attempted to get to her front door, she was overwhelmed and dragged back into their car. Missing for weeks, a pattern emerged when her bank card showed an image of a man withdrawing her cash. The image also had evidence of their vehicles identity.

    A questioning into her whereabouts finally brought to light her abduction as a 'sex slave' by a pornography driven gang. The final bit of evidence was discovered by investigators when one suspected captor led them to her stabbed lifeless body stuffed into a frozen mountain culvert where she had last pleaded with him for her life.

    The young captor, James Scarticini
  • also told of her crying and pleading with him, to be set free in the days she had been held captive and raped repeatedly in their motel. As the media coverage grew more intense, the older leader Johnny Zinn
  • ordered her execution. The younger teenaged man plea bargained leniency to reveal her body. The men are still in prison, the young informant/killer served only minimal time and after his realease, J. Scarticini 'Reportedly' took his own life by hanging.

  • Certified Concealed Carry of a Weapon would have changed her odds of survival by a great margin. She would be still walking this earth and at least one more of her attackers would be gone from our world. It was illegal for a Citizen to carry a concealed weapon at that time, unless you were a licensed State Official.

    Another young woman;
    Tara Leigh Calico
  • a very attactive college student with excellent grades, living with her parents in a small settlement away from the city, rode her bicycle almost daily. One day she never returned home. Her bicycle was never found, the tracks leading to a fence near the highway. The ground was disturbed by her last struggles as she was dragged to her final fate, into the vehicle that forced her off the road. Our local law enforcement officials investigated her as a missing person 'only' after her parents loudly persisted in bringing attention to the totally inept investigation by the local authorities.

    The evidence trail had grown cold and no witnesses came forward. Years later and filled with heartbreak at the loss of this fine young woman, her parents died in bitterness at a seriously flawed system that had totally failed the law abiding citizen.

    Law officers later said they knew who the killers were, but with no body, proof of a crime was not reasonably ascertained. "THEY GOT AWAY WITH IT". This crime was not in the national news until John Walsh of 'Unsolved Mysteries' was notified by her family. A small picture of 'possibly her' bound and taped in the back of a van, surfaced in Florida.

    If this occurence had been 'after' 2004 in NM, this woman may wisely have been armed, trained and certified to carry a concealed firearm. The outcome would have been far different because she would have been equal to her attackers. Of course IF she had actually fired the weapon, she would have been the victim of 'The Anti-Gun' Media and it's strong supporters in legalistic totalitarian government.

    A young woman;
    Melissa Albert was moving from her apartment in an unfamiliar and unsafe area of the city after a burglary. Two young ...'Boys'... of 13 and 15 years old, dragged her into the bedroom, tortured and raped her repeatedly as she was stabbed and struggling, then stabbed her so many times she was nearly unrecognizable. The ...'Boys'... were apprehended and the 15 year old was charged as an adult, now serving many years. The 13 year old 'MISTER' SAUNDERS
  • at 21, is being released today with no further supervision because he was a ...'Child' ... at the time of the brutal attack. If this had happened after the 2004 CCW law was passed in NM, the woman, being in an unfamiliar situation, very well could have been legally armed.

    No attack would have occured and another promising law abiding citizen would have lived out her life, safe in the knowledge she could protect herself. The 'Boys' would have most likely found another easier 'victim' to force their testosterone driven fatal 'affection' on. Now it will only be a matter of time before his flawed thought processes result in more carnage. Hopefully his intended victims will be CCW.

    A young attactive woman;
    Paige McKenzie

  • working in the State of New Mexico political arena, as a Media liason to John Dendahl, the candidate running against Bill Richardson in the last Governor's election, was repeatedly threatened by political opponents. She voiced to her many friends, her fears of reprisal for her political activities. Her service to republican John Dendahl was valuable but he was way behind in the pols, with no chance of gaining in the primarily Democrat controlled State of New Mexico.

    One afternoon as she left a meeting, within a mile she noticed the pull from a low tire on her late model car. Stopping in a vacant bank parking lot, she got out and saw the problem. She called her friend and informed him of her dilemma and location. Immediately a young adult male appeared and offered to help. He immediately used her jack handle to beat her face beyond recogniton as her friend heard her screams amid her gurgles of blood as she dropped to the ground.

    The friend immediately called the police and EMT's and they arrived within minutes. Her face and skull were destroyed, she was drowning in her own blood, she was in shock and rushed to the ER. Endless month's of surgery to reduce the horrific scarring, took most of her vivacious spirit. To this day she is haunted and mentally distraught by this senseless, vicious attack. A peaceful existance was brutally beaten out of this intelligent, beautiful young woman. The Governor Bill Richardson officially assigned the investigation to his personal State Police Investigators. (see this previous post)

  • 'No one was ever apprehended'. No attacks like it were reported anywhere in the state. IF and only IF this attack had been attempted while she was trained and certified to 'carry a concealed weapon', the outcome would have again been far different. Of course again she would have been attacked in 'The Media' for her agressive over-reacting to the situation and 'The Gun' would have been villified.

    Men by their nature, are more likely to resist an attack, many times resulting in their becoming a fatality rather than being beaten into a vegetative state. Women are most likely to give token resistance, submit and never tell anyone about the life changing attack, if they even live through it. Only a scant few will report the attack and go through the legal system to bring their attacker to justice.

    The 'Media' including the late night Talking Heads and the daytime 'Opinion' shows, only report the most flagrant, violent and newsworthy attacks. The 'Media' will report a 'GUN' involved incident with the utmost urgency and it will gain a frenzy of National significance if it has multiple deaths. The deaths of 'Children' at the hands of crazed 'GUN' owners, are the most Nationally Newsworthy of all.

    The Los Angeles Times along with the New York Times, The Chicago 'Media' of course and all major big city publications, barely mention any of the countless victims and the extremely violent deaths and injuries that occur daily, unless
    of course... a 'GUN' is involved.

    The casual reader then comes to the conclusion that the 'GUN' is a rampant evil that must be removed from the hands of all citizens. In a Dark, sinister interpretation, 'Only' The Government should control...yes CONTROL, the population. Their protection is assumed to be so fast and reliable that it it is miraculous. No harm will ever befall an 'Unarmed' society.
    At least that is what the Anti-Gun Utopians would have you think. The truth is a far different story as these few incidents from the past, in a sparsely populated state reveal.

    This nation, any nation... must accept the fact that they cannot totally protect the law abiding citizen from all forms of harm, the citizens must protect themselves. The firearm makes most citizens equal, therefore a less likely victim of the evil intentions of man. Each perpetrator of a crime is a first offender...the first time. Due to our system of taxpayer subsidised legal prosecution and defense, repeat offenders are virulent in society. They become ever bolder with each success. Success is becoming more guaranteed in our legalistic society where the Media blame is placed on the defender.... if they use a 'GUN' in their own defense.

    Where They are now ? Teens involved in horrendous crimes are out and among us

  • Join the approximately three million (and rapidly rising) trained, certified CCW
  • (concealed carry weapon) Citizens and most likley you will resist becoming a back page statistic of violence. If you do ever have to save your own life or that of others, you will at least be prepared with the basic tools of self-defense, regardless of your size, age, or physical abilities. Join the NRA or other similar advocacy groups, so that you will have a voting voice in government 'legalistics'. Stand alone and you may become a victim, very much like our 'PUSS in BOOTS'.
    Be Prepared, be Armed, be AWARE, in this greatest nation ever known, Our United States of America, One Nation Under GOD. VOTE intelligently, NOT like the Media or agenda driven, corrupt, congressionaly mandated, taxpayer subsidised ACORN tells you to..
  • Monday, May 11, 2009

    Buying a used vehicle, what to look for.

    As our 2001 4x4 Jeep Grand Cherokee went over 100,000 miles, things started to occur including a front differential/axle assy at about 130,000 miles. The previous 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee had issues about 120,000 miles. We tend to keep our cars well past 100,000 miles.

    Our old 1998 Jeep had a steering 'shimmy'. The front track bar was the culprit, discovered after the shock absorbers and idler arm damper were replaced with no improvement. The small items of maintenance, such as lubricants, fluids, batteries and tires are obvious and covered extensively in other publications, along with brakes, rust and appearance, so I will not dwell on these.

    Technical things to look for, have changed drastically in the past years, since even when I sold cars for a living 1996 to 2002. Even then there was All Wheel drive with ABS stability control. Along with rain sensor controlled sunroofs with auto-vent positions (tricky to control on some cars), including auto-vent position windows. All of the 'automatic' features take a 'standby' parasitic current draw on the battery.

    Our last well maintained 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4x4, we towed behind our Motorhome for many years. They have a 'neutral' transfer case for towing, and in an emergency can easily Push a stalled motorhome. We had the starter replaced, new Michlin tires and a complete brake job, along with a front drive axle replacement. It finally had a serious problem at 144,000 miles this last trip.

    The overhead cam, nylon timing chain tensioner broke at idle without warning. We were on North Padre Island National Seashore
  • about 3 miles from the paved road (driving on the 63 mile primitive beach is allowed and enjoyed by many 4x4 drivers)

    Environmental note:
    during your back to nature, leisure drives, carry along a big plastic garbage bag. Load up plastic debris (an 800 year environmental disaster) that has washed ashore or on the trails. Toss it in the dumpster as you leave the beach or public areas. The environment will reward you for doing your little part.

    Luckily (....tides are sometimes very high), we were able to restart and drive the shaking Jeep back to the parked Motorhome on the paved camping site. A stop at the Jeep dealer in Corpus Christi, mis-diagnosed it as a valve keeper. The cost for diagnosis was $97 dollars. Auto Zone in Corpus Christi, after doing a free diagnostic scan, actually was an accurate diagnosis as mechanical. We towed it to Alb NM, our home turf.

    Our faithful 144,000 mile, 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee is now in a local shop, an estimate of $1,500 dollars was made for repair. Several weeks later and 'back order' of parts given as an issue, the repair shop called. Now after a serious teardown, they find out they mis-diagnosed the total effects of the problem. The 4.7 litre V8 Jeep engine (also used in other Chrysler vehicles) is an 'Interference' designed engine.

    When the timing chain loses its 'Timing' (broken nylon tensioner), a valve or two hangs low into the path of the pistons. The valves get bent, the rocker arms and the pistons are affected. I am surprised that this experienced shop was not aware of the other problems before installing the new timing parts. Maybe a tiny camera system to inspect inside the cyclinders?
    An expensive lesson learned by myself and also the repair shop.

    Chuck at Ethridge Tire Center
  • (and repair) just offered to buy the Jeep for a fair amount, after agreeing the expense and time was climbing well past estimate. Sleep will be easier tonight for this longtime Ethridge customer, Mac Ethridge would be proud. After repair, this 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited, equipped with a Blue Ox tow base plate, will be a nice vehicle for someone. Call and ask for 'Chuck'.

    We traveled to Santa Fe NM to buy a ''
  • 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee limited
  • repo from the NM State Employee's Credit Union. After driving it around for a few miles (no spare tire or gas) we returned to make an offer based on the damage visible. The CU manager responded with a printout and a counter offer. We estimated the cost of repairs at over $1,000, we accepted her counter offer. While driving back the 70 miles to home, the 'airbag' (SRS) light came on periodically.

    After Crown Coachworks
  • expertly repaired the obvious body damage, Installing a new Track Bar in the clunking rear suspension, replacing the damaged spare wheel and a new tire (complete with internal air pressure sensors), The repair shop's subcontractor, Christian's Automotive
  • ran a 'diagnostic' during a mandatory pre-registration emission test and wheel alignment. Christian found an irregularity, an airbag module failure report in the chain of sensors.

    Whenever buying a used vehicle today, run a Carfax
  • (some vehicles have been in floods) They also indicate any factory recalls. Have a reputable shop run the diagnostic report as well, unless the dealership/owner makes a recent one available.

    Have a very reliable collision repair facility check for undisclosed repairs. Their day to day rebuilds, train them well for this job. The best ICAR
  • trained and certified shops can rebuild a collision damaged vehicle to nearly new (sometimes even better) reliability and appearance... if allowed to by the 'cost cutting' insurers or previous owner.

    The cars of today are similiar to an F-22 RAPTOR
  • on four wheels. They have so many expensive computer controlled features and functions, it is impossible for the layman to fully check out each item.

    We demand so much in 'Fool Proof' safety and control, Computerised suspension and stability control combined with ABS 'automatic brake system' and All Wheel Drive, for example. The complexity is skyrocketing exponentially. Extreme Legalities in this 'Lawyer Festering' USA, are the one main reason for so much computerization including tire air pressure sensors. 'Designed in', 'vehicle life shortening features' are becoming commonplace to force timed replacement of the vehicles, due to costs of repair. Many dash panels and instrumentation clusters are now designed around a complex computer circuit board. The cost involved when the indirect lighting, florescent tube or any display component fails, is from $400 to easily over $1,200 dollars. End of the simple dashboard light. Be prepared to rig an alternate source of illumination or instrumentation, if cost is a factor.

    The ignition and door locks are 'key sensitive' (door switch internal). If they do not work by key (alarm sounds), they may have been damaged by (a 'Slim Jim' or) a collision repair not properly adjusted. Test the alarm system, they all have individual quirks. The keys are programmable (with internal transponders) in order to activate the ignition electronics and unlock the doors. If you use a wrong transponder coded key, the engine will only run for a second. Many internal lights are activated by the entry system. Another computer logic 'box' is involved and sometimes mounted in the drivers door.

    If tried too many times the system will lock up and require a specialist to reprogram. Make sure you have at least two sets of keys and two remotes. They are costly, even on the internet. You will either have to program them yourself (don't try too many times, they will lock up the system) or pay to have it done by the dealer service dept.

    Some vehicles no longer require a key to start the engine or unlock the doors. The mere 'presence' of the wearer of the remote, receives and responds to an encrypted transmitted signal to activate all systems (transponder). Fingerprint recognition is now available. Voice recognition and control is becoming common as well. In the future, look for even more communication between your car and other vehicles as you drive.

    The original (Rashid) anti-collision radar system is being expanded to actually communicate with the other traffic around your car, to determine if you (or they) will be allowed to proceed safely. Rear seat video monitors are becoming common. SAT TV and phone systems are an option sometimes built into a roof panel, thoroughly test the surround sound DVD changer/player. GPS 'Navigation' systems are ever more common in vehicles. Tracking (On-Star) is also being increasingly viewed as a necessity by certain owners. The 'One Screen Does All' (climate control, radio, multi-function 'menu' programs) monitor concept, is a huge frustration and takes your concentration away from your primary task...DRIVING!.

    You, as a driver soon will only 'Convey' your wishes. The vehicle will respond only to the limit it beleives safe and prudent to do so. Notice the foot throttle on cars of today. It only registers the TPS or 'throttle position sensor'. The engine only responds to the limit allowed. No longer are you allowed to over rev the engine. (speed zone controlled in the future?) The details of your driving habits and what you did within the last minutes, are now stored in the computer for use by authorities, after a crash...or?

    Definetly make sure you have the proper owners manuals, they are extremely important today as you try to ascertain all of the possible functions of each feature. Internet Web sites are a good source of replacement for keys, remotes and owners manuals (at a substantial cost of course). Most cheap keys and remotes are 'rebuilds'.

    Look for 'manufacturer New' at a somewhat more expensive price, it's worth it. If you only have ONE transponder key (remote), a trip to the dealer must be made. The 'pin' number on the original sales invoice is used for reference to reprogram the system to accept the new duplicate key and to 'reactivate' the radio code if program is lost. Document this number to save problems later on.

    This 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4x4 drove fairly well but as mentioned, had some obvious issues. We tested the electronic 4x4 'Low' feature, which we use on occasion, and the electronic 'Neutral' feature of this model transfer case (Quadra Drive II). Both are technically more complex than the manual system of previous Jeeps.

    The ICAR certified tech's at Crown Coachworks are accustomed to looking for 'replaced' parts and workmanship. The radiator had been replaced, along with the AC condenser, this indicated a 'hard hit' front end. A reinforced structure bar was present, confirming the same.

    The entertainment/radio system is sometimes programed to 'not' turnoff with the ignition until the drivers door is opened. Test ALL steering wheel mounted controls (including it's radio control buttons and cruise control) playing CD's and changing tracks periodically. A 'Clockspring' connector film in the steering wheel, is sometimes damaged, causing failure to these items. Some collisions damage the complex player/changer mechanism.

    A Hard Hit collision blows the Passenger airbag and destroys the dashboard, including the technology loaded radio system at times. If the radio has lost it's 'Code', the dealers service dept will reprogram it $$.
    Side curtain airbags destroy the interior door and roof trim. The windshield is an integral roof structure support and is often blown out by the passenger airbag deployment. Airbag deployment does $$$$ damage...

    The windshield had been replaced on this 2006 Jeep with one of 'lesser cost'. Fortunately the VIN number opening matched the little plate (many times they do not). This practice most times is initiated by the insurance adjuster holding costs low for financial reasons (that's their job). The problem was that on this model, a 'rain sensor' above the mirror, looks out through the windshield. The Sirius system and voice recognition (Bluetooth) is mounted there as well.

    The 'low cost' replacement windshield had no clear opening and the sensor had been damaged during the attempt to remove and re-install it. (this shows up on good diagnostics) The 'rain sensor' will only function again if the windshield and/or sensor are replaced with the correct parts. This sensor is also the automatic headlight dimmer, so that function is now possibly lost. If vehicle is equipped with Satelite radio (Sirius) or cellphone handsfree wireless or On-Star, these features may no longer function.

    The left rear passenger window had been replaced (and scratched) with yet again 'one of lesser cost'. It is easy for a trained eye to see the wavy glass. Poor quality windshields are a potential disaster in night driving. Look for the manufacturer's new car trademark brand to be the same on all of the windows. Mexico and China along with other sources, are making low quality glass available 'at lower cost'.

    The rear bumpers and hatches are increasingly being fitted with a variety of ('parking assist') back up sensors or cameras to detect a post or a child crossing below eyesight level. A system of tone and led's (visible in the rearview mirror) alerts the driver in reverse, to any obstacle during backing, including the angle and sides. Even motion from another vehicle nearby will sound the tone 'chirp', momentarily cutting the radio, alerting you to look behind before actually backing. One day soon, the vehicle's computer will prohibit the driver from initiating the reverse move until clear.

    Many vehicles have back up cameras that indicate through superimposed lines on the GPS multi-function screen, the path you are on track to follow.
    Some show any area out of the normal line of sight. The various degrees of vision enhancement are too numerous to describe in this write-up.

    A 'cost cutting' insurance adjuster or owner may some day only want the repair facility to use a cheaper bumper. No longer is that vehicle equipped with the sensor features, even though the VIN serial number (data storage increasingly becoming referenced to a 'build' number), shows it on the appraised printout you are shown. (along with all of the other features now possibly non-functional)

    The various 'Menu' functions are so numerous as to require a co-pilot to actually operate them. Add to that, the options for many foreign languages and their defaults are extremely frustating if you tap the function in error. Unless thouroughly familiar with the system, 'Do not' attempt to access the Trip odometer (a 'step' function) while driving, especially after you make one mistake on the 'Menu' selection and reset the tiny display language to 'Swahili', or whatever nation Chrysler is apparently attempting to sell its vehicles in. Their brilliant program insists that you accept or pick a different language each time you access the menu, as if you suddenly speak a different language each time you drive? Where do these people think the buyers are, touring the universe on 'Star Ship Enterprise'?

    This 2006 model I bought, weighs 365 lbs more and actualy succeeds in getting 20% less fuel economy than the old faithful 2001 model with the same size engine. In this category they now compete with the GM Hummer. Maybe Chrysler's current bankruptcy will allow the other far brighter manufacturers to run the race less impeeded.
    "Either lead, Follow or get out of the Way"...

    Be alert to the various optional engine configurations in use today. The engine displacement (size) and fuel economy are relevant. Basically the larger the heavier the vehicle, the more fuel is consumed.

    If the vehicle is to be used for towing, (TOW Package) such as a camping trailer, while carrying cargo and passengers, these features are desireable.
    The amount of 'enclosed' cargo carrying capacity is another reason we bought this model. My 16 foot extension ladder (8ft) fits inside as well. A 4x8 sheet of plywood can be tied on the roof racks as easily as a canoe. Some people own pickup trucks only to carry cargo exposed outside. For our personal needs, we appreciate the five passenger carrying advantage of an 'all wheel drive', towable SUV added to the cargo carrying abilities of a truck of similar size.

    Many vehicles today require that only the dealer disable the many automatic functions you will eventually find Annoying. Look forward to traveling further and waiting in ever longer lines, as dealers are dropped from the local areas. I arrived at 6 am this morning, first in line to have the spare key programmed. The system only allows a 'third' key to be programmed by the owner. I must repeat this on tuesday to have a safety re-call EBS (electronic brake system) program initiated.

    Dropping the keys in the trunk, or anywhere inside of some vehicles, prevents their trunk from latching, even the doors from locking. Soon the record of absolutely everything the vehicle has been forced to do by the operator, will be stored in it's own mega-gig flash memory locked away from your access. This record will be admissable as 'evidence' some day in a court of law. This system, which already records every move you made before a crash, has the future potential of even deciding the drivers competance to operate a motor vehicle.

    One big 'First Check' should be to look for the factory Vin Number plate being in it's proper position in front of the drivers side dashboard (visible through the proper windshield. These VIN # plates are proprietary and are NOT legally copyable. If showing ANY sign of damage or re-mounting ..'be extremely wary', ask for documentation explaining the reason why. Auto theft and their re-builders are a menace to the auto industry.

    Another little known feature, alerts the driver if that person exits the vehicle with the engine running and shuts the door with the drivers window closed. A small 'tone' sounds from within the drivers 'side view' mirror. Side view mirrors automatically fold in for protection and ease of walking by them. Seats that position themselves for each driver are becoming common.

    Turn signal relays are no longer mounted in easily accessed areas, Yup, Dealer service only $$. Side step rails that extend and retract automatically, add complexity to the new vehicles along with the ease of entry. Collision repair is changing in complexity and only a competant facility with the highest morals is recomended. Thinking new or used Prius? Keep in mind the cost of repairing one of these technological wonders after a collision.

    Test every one of the momentary buttons on the control panels. In addition to the radio and climate controls, they turn on or off the anti-skid control, The park assist, heated seats, adjustable pedals and various other pieces of equipment. If the detailer sprays a 'new look' treatment directly onto the dashboard, or it gets sprayed with a sugary soda, all of those little buttons are now possibly 'stuck'. "O the Joy"

    A very important little icon that light's up on the dash display, has a picture of an airbag and a figure, with it's face planted firmly against it. (SRS, 'suplemental restraint system') It is red and sounds a chime (similar to the seat belt warning) if it activates. This alerts you to a problem with this very complex safety system and it's chain of sensors, including the very important adult/child/..empty (disabled) sensor in the passenger seat. If it lights info warnings and chimes , you are possibly no longer completely protected by the airbag system or even possibly the seat belt locking devices (small internal explosives).

    If not disclosed, this is a Liability issue on the seller. It is a safety issue and should be addressed. You are to be alerted to this safety failure before you even drive the vehicle. At this time we are involved in negotiation with the State of NM Employee's Credit Union about just this issue as well as it's satisfactory resolution.

    The small cheap cars that are looming on the horizon from China and India are starting to look pretty good in comparison to today's US-UAW models. I don't think the lawyers will let the 'simplistic models' survive long in our legalistic environment of this USA. I know how it must have felt to buy a futuristic (at that time) Studebaker, Kaiser-Fraser, Nash, Packard or Hudson...just before they were assimilated into the UAW jungle many years ago.

    The purpose of this information post is to alert the unaware buyer to new situations in today's highly complex vehicles. It is in no way meant to insert paranoia into the buyer. The informed buyer is more comfortable with the transaction. Knowing and revealing the facts, lets the buyer 'and seller' sleep well at night.

  • for their extensive Technical knowledge and advice in writng this report. Things in this world are changing fast. Stay aware of the changes and you will do just fine. If not, 'PRAY' it's your last chance.

    We live in the greatest nation history has ever known. Lets enjoy the amenitys in this 'One Nation Under God', 'The United States of America'.
  • Saturday, May 09, 2009

    Do It Yourself, home AC repair, remodel

    posted 12 May 2009
    In sunny, dry New Mexico it gets hot often. The hot weather sometimes comes on without warning. The first hot day of the year gets my wife distressed. The local home improvement stores get extremely busy within hours of the first heat wave. Evaporative Coolers
  • are still a viable and lower energy cost way to cool a home in a dry climate. What always intrigues me is they were working well in the fall, but will not work in the first heat wave of the summer.

    I repeatedly climbed onto the roof (you always forget something) to check electricity from the hallway computerized controller. No power at the 'Swamp Cooler' as they are affectionatly called here. A disasembly of the wall controller switch junction box, showed the problem. The 'common' (white), wire connector was burned beyond description. High resistance connections are the cause.

    This quiet family neighborhood home, had been built many years ago with aluminum wiring
  • The best way to aleviate this problem, is with special connectors to attach pigtails of copper wire to each aluminum wire.
    Be sure to use quality wire nuts. The cheap ones are made with soft metal inserts. The threaded portion will not bite into the wire ends during tightening and will come loose, causing the high resistance failure described. Apparently the risk is grossly overstated in the 'Always a crises, blame somebody' media (what's new?). No homes in this tract of many thousands of homes have burned. The most common failure is the one I described here.

    That done and power now going to the roof cooler, the conversion of it's old fused power box, to a new circuit breaker box was in order. Local Code, relying on the home's main circuit breaker box, does not mandate current limiting fuses or breakers at the cooler itself. I personally like the redundancy. A cooler mounted disconnect IS required.

    I slightly modified a new 60 Amp breaker box by removing the main and installing two individual breakers. I also installed a separate small 'little fuse' for the low amperage 'pad soaker pump' and timed 'refresh pump' (gets rid of accumulated mineral deposits every 8 hrs of operation). This system totals three separate circuits.

    They all (including high/low fan and pumps) now are 'shut off' as well as current overload protected. The one inch metal electrical conduit system augments the ground wires in the circuit. This house circuit, through it's shared junction box, also alternately feeds the heating furnace in winter. The case being, that the furnace and cooler are not operated at the same time. Logical assumption by the city code writers of that time.

    The evaporative pads (replaced in humid August of last year) were not that bad but they looked a little crispy and dirty. I did not install the canvas cover over the unit this last fall (laziness, $28 mistake). The wind blew debris into the cooler. I swept out the dirt, turned on the water line that had been disconnected last fall and let the water fill the tank. A grounded, submerged 'anode rod' saves the cooler from rust and corrosion, by limiting electrolysis damage.

    A trip to the Lowe's
  • nearby, new pads. This years inflation has brought the cost from a few dollars to a staggering $28 dollars for the four pads of 32X40 inch size. I prefer the green expanded paper type, packed in tightly for long lasting efficiency.
    The blue synthetic type has not shown the temperature reduction the green paper type is capable of. The old original standby 'shredded wood' type is nice when new. It smells like wet, freshly sawed forest products. My wife has alergies so that type is out. The green expanded paper wins. We bought the last pads available.

    We enjoyed cool air in the house last night and the small computerised controller worked it's magic. The little water valve that limits the water level in the cooler, is not completely shutting off (water slowly drips into the overflow protection system, watering a rose bush). I will replace it as soon as another trip to Lowe's is justified. Oiling the fan motor and squirrel cage fan trunnion bearings is mandatory if you are not willing to replace the unit prematurely. All seperate parts are available ($$) to rebuild these units if you don't feel that lubrication is important.

    We finally finished the hall bathroom remodel. The last time it was remodeled was about 20 years ago. Our old oak fixtures are now replaced with a new 'Old European' look. Stripping off the wallpaper, spackling and sanding the walls took days. My wife painted them with her choice of 'sand paint'. Replacing all of the water shut-offs with the new 1/4 turn ball type was interesting. They turn easily when you need to shut them off. The new wire braided supply tubes finished off the job.

    Leaks are never present until you disturb the old corroded system. It took endless dis-assembly and re-assembly (use prolific amounts of teflon tape) to finally stop the small leakages. The new style, high profile, (easier on your knees) low flow, Kohler toilets were installed by myself with a city rebate program last year.

    They also gave a rebate for installing low flow shower heads. I replaced the old faucets as well. A Grundfos
  • hot water system circulating pump rebate came from the city as well. Hot water is at the faucet within seconds. No more wasting water, waiting for warm to wash your face. The internal mechanical clock timer failed within a year or so. No big deal, just plug it into a small circuit timer set for your own hours of usage.

    The old aluminum sliding windows were noisy and grinding as opened and closed. Lift them out and you will notice nothing is left of their small original nylon slides. Snap in replacements are available but I choose to make my own oversized anti-friction blocks from a section of nylon. I cut and fitted them in the grooves of the window. Using a hone stone, I smoothed out the rough edges on the center rail. Now the old windows slide like new.

    The old heavy oak storage sink cabinet, was removed as well as the shelf and mirror. A new oval medicine chest with it's multiple inside and outside mirrors, is now mounted on the wall. Our oldest son came over one night and installed white ceramic floor tile leftover from our past kitchen remodel (new cabinets from the local building supply). His experience comes from years of his own home remodeling jobs. Our new look is 'old european' and modern tile in conjunction with modern stainless steel fixtures.

    A very high faucet is loved by my wife for washing her hair in the oversized sink, mounted in a small dark wood, european look cabinet. A free standing toilet paper storage dispenser is now the way to go. A new shear shower curtain set finished it off in matching dark color. This house had windows in the bathrooms. During the code of that day, they did not have to have exhaust fans. (strike a match?). I cut the openings after careful measurements and an attic check for installation of the expandable vent ducts.

    The newly installed fans needed new wall switches and an added non-metallic cable run to the switch box. Call an electrician if you don't have the knowledge to do this. (shut off the particular circuit breaker when working with electrical wiring) The new style rocker switch assys, have double switches that fit in the original openings so the lighting switch circuit (same box) was no problem. I had added an outlet with oversized receptacle box near each sink. The GFCI (ground fault circuit interupter) outlets are now installed throughout the house near any water source. They also protect any outlets or devices 'downstream' in circuit from the GFCI. Install them in any outdoor circuit as well, to protect from accidental electric shock.

    This remodel with the slimmer sink cabinet, made the now white tiled room, look much larger. Of course my wife wanted new towels and floor rugs to set off the new look. All in all, considering the cost of new fixtures and actually selling the old ones, (craigslist) this cost was not overwhelming because we 'Did It Ourself'.

    Not every job is 'Do It Yourself'. I know my limitations. Years ago a man, working after retirement, re-inforced the ceiling and removed a dividing wall to give an open look to the house. He then ceramic tiled the kitchen and dining area as well as the glass room floors.

    Her lady that comes twice a month to help her clean the house, has a husband who works in the sheetrock business. He with his family as helpers, removed the old dark den paneling and hauled it away. He then returned and completely filled the sheetrock gaps from the original construction. The tape and texture were next. After his excellent work was finished, the sheet of plastic seperating the main living area from the construction area was removed.

    Our 'Do It Yourself' part was the painting in a color my wife selected. Being a man, I would have probably been satisfied forever with the 'old look'. Now it looks like other 'new homes' around the city. Beware, these remodel jobs are not complete without some change in furniture.

    The husband, at his wifes request, came and carried back to their home, the heavy furniture being replaced and we went shopping. At JC Penney
  • one chair was located that satisfied us both. I like to nap in a recliner, my wife likes a victorian look. The new chair is light in weight and easy to move around. I really like that.

    Many years ago I had closed in the back porch with windows and insulation to have a 'workout' room (gave me an excuse to buy some interesting tools). I built a set of french doors and replaced the old style front entrace door at the same time. The new back room became a sort of collection room for 'stuff'. The front of the house had an entryway setback. My wife found a man that closed it in with glass and installed a glass ceiling to become a 'sunroom'.

    In the winter it stays about 40 degrees (her plants like that) unless the sun is shining, then it goes up to around 75. It gets pretty warm in the summer. Plants only endure the summer months if we move them outside or keep it open to the home AC cooler. In the summer, a dark fabric shading material is placed on top of the glass to shade the sun from overheating the room. A small automatic humidfier keeps the plants happy. The wife likes orchids and has great success with them.

    It is one of those interesting looking ideas that get compliments but are possibly not worth the investment. The large solar collectors provide warm air in the sunny winter days which NM is noted for. Not too bad of an investment at the time and a long term payback was realised.

    Their sheets of plastic film do get yellowed every several years. Price to replace was not that bad before. Now with this new round of inflation it is in the thousands of dollars range. (no payback ratio in that expense) They will stay yellow from now on. Maybe a 'stimulus' check will come for the repair some day? HA!

    We bought dozens of bags of cellulose insulation and borrowed a powerful blower. By taking turns as a family in the attic, we raised the existing insulation several more inches. Now that blanket effect was instantly noticeable and energy saving, along with the addition of storm windows. The additional sound deadening factor of the storm windows has been amazing.

    I replaced the main ceiling lighting, installed when the home was built, using flourescent fixtures. Some we set in to the ceiling like skylights. The electrical usage is lower than the old incandescent lighting. The suplemental heat generated by the incandescent lighting, is only advantageous in the winter months. That is when it gets dark early anyway. Energy conservation of turning off the lighting when you are out of the room for any extended time, is a learned practice we use in the Motorhome.

    I don't understand Canada's forced mandate to rid itself of incandescent lighting/heating. They are dark and cold all winter and Canada's winter is longer than in NM. Maybe that is why so many Canadians shut down their homes and spend the winter in campgrounds of the southern USA. Those I have spoken with, say it's cheaper than trying to heat and light their homes in Canada. Reasonable priced LED lighting is not far in the future. Right now it is extremely costly.

    A new foam insulated (warmer) single garage (attached) door, replaced the old worn out double doors. This job can be 'do It Yourself' (easier with help) The roof has been replaced twice since new. The original 'T lock' shingles and one other set of 'T locks' not long afterward, convinced us that T lock shingle's are of no value. High quality glass fiber lap shingles made with a second layered look are far better. The tar edges stick them down during any wind NM has experienced so far.

    Being of the lower middle class of society, we have learned from early years to 'Do It Yourself'. The classes above us 'pay others' to Do Things for them. The classes remaining, are of the type of person that demand everyone else 'Do Everything' for them 'without their paying'. Sadly that lower class has been encouraged to multiply in our welfare oriented society of Socialism. As it grows like a cancer, it drags down the living standards of all of the other classes through increased prices and taxes to support that abhorrent behaviour.

    Now that the home is somewhat remodeled, everyone is happy. We never did buy a new, bigger home with new bigger payments. The latest downturn in the economy proved our decision valid. Maybe we can now get away sometime and fish a little in the Greatest Nation ever known, The United States of America.
    "One Nation Under God".
  • Thursday, May 07, 2009

    Holiday Rambler RV, Do it Yourself

    This year and for the foreseeable future, is 'Do It Yourself'. The economy and the stock market's low yield to the small investors, including IRA's and other retirement plans, is forcing many people to maintain and repair their own 'stuff'. The Motorhome is a house that requires maintenance to 'keep rolling'. Think what all would happen if you put your house on wheels. The previous blog post told the details of the 'Atwood' water heater repair, posted as we prepared for a Texas touring trip detailed 3-12-09 post.. These little tips also apply if deciding to buy an older unit and 'Do it Yourself' to save costs.

    Part one, Awnings :
    The room slideout units (2 on our coach) have awnings over them to keep out the water during rain with the slides at the 'out' position. Unnoticed, the UV radiation had rotted the light colored thread used by Carefree of Colorado during the stitching process. The 1.5 inches of exposed fabric then came loose from the 'C' channel holding it tightly against the coach wall.

    According to the Carefree of Colorado website, this model 'Ascent'? is supposed to have a metal cover to shield the fabric from radiation when closed. During the last few trips, the wind during the night, rattled the awnings enough to tear the sun rotted edges near the 'C Channel. Note; power them 'in' during wind, to possibly save this job.

    Note: I sent a comment regarding the premature UV damage of the stitching, to Carefree of Colorado. Lets see if they respond.
    Note: Laura from Carefree responded with a question about the model numbers. They are beneath the fabric when it is wrapped on the tensioned end of the tube. Luckily the fabric is removed and at the local repair shop. I asked about the numbers location being visible when the fabric is in place.
    Laura said the same nylon/cotton thread has been used by Carefree of Colorado for 35 years.
    "That is the way it has always been done", is sometimes the problem.
    My question "Isn't there a NEW more UV resistant thread"?
    Laura sent the complete parts breakdown of the SOC II model awning assy on this coach. No UV cover is shown. I will have to improvise to cover the 1.5 inches of exposed fabric.

    I called Andresen's Awning on 2524 Graceland Dr NE, Alb NM 87110. (email only) De-De said the cost was approximately $79 to repair, and $200 for remove and re-install. I got out the ladder, repeatedly moved and repeatedly climbed, and finally got the fabric off both slides by myself. Working alone is far more active. You have to play the part of both the 'good cop' and the 'bad cop'. (Robert on TV's 'Everyone Loves Raymond')

    The easy part was opening the two slide outs about one foot. This gives you a place to set the heavy parts so you don't drop them to the ground. Removing the five screws (two on each end, one in the center) that hold the metal wind cover shield and caps on the Care Free of Colorado

  • awning assy was next.

    While working at each end, loosen the two small pinch screws that retain the roller end brackets into the coach wall brackets. Also remove the small screws in the C Channel, retaining the nylon beading in place. (Two ladder moves, one for each end). Move the ladder to the center (remove that lower cover retaing screw), in order to balance and lift the heavy aluminum cover (on this model) onto the top of the slide, then from there, lift to the rooftop.

    Now the tricky part. The long heavy aluminum roller drum is under internal torsion spring tension like some garage doors. DO NOT remove either end bolt. I did and it startled me when it 'unsprung' (not good to jump while standing on a ladder). The easiest way to find out which end is under tension is to grab the roller and twist it to slack the awning. The bolt that is holding pressure, is at the end that requires CCW (looking at the end) twist of the drum to slacken the awning. The engineers should have painted it red or at least taped over that bolt with red tape. Best to leave the end trunion bolts tightly in place. The drum will be easily slid off of the free trunion end.

    Using a pair of drift punches or strong rods of at least 1/8th inch diameter, as spanners, insert into the holes and rotate the drum, in step sequence CCW, increasing the torsion pressure, to roll the drum, winding up the internal spring, slackening the awning enough to work with the unit free of tension. Tape the one punch or rod that is now wedged firmly against the mounting bracket, into position so it doesn't fall out while you are working with the drum.

    Laura sent a detailed explanation from Carefree of Colorado. It suggests using a cotter pin to insert into the drum and spring trunion assy after it is wound up to slacken the fabric. I used that method on the other coach with great success. I left the cotter pin in place to prevent further 'billowing' and traded in the coach. The holes did not line up correctly on these SOC II awning assys. The center trunion hole is further in than the outer tube hole, good luck with this 'designed in' flaw.

    Be sure the 'bead' retaining screws are removed from both ends of the 'C Channel' on the coach wall. The 'bead' holding in the awning, will be stuck. Use a small hammer (tape it to prevent scratching the finish of the coach) to tap a thin piece of flat metal or a very long 1/8th rod to tap the poly 'bead' rod back and forth in the channel. Once it is loose, the job will progress easier.

    Loosen the small locking screws holding the tensioned drum mounting bracket into the wall mounted frame. Rocking the big drum roll will ensure it is now ready to slide out toward the tensioned end (with taped punch) of the wall mounts.
    Grab hold of the big drum in the center (another ladder move). Rock and slide the entire drum tube in the direction of the opening of the 'C' channel, and away from, off of, the 'free trunion spindle' bracket end. Leave this bracket in the wall mount. Slide the entire drum and it's bracket, in the direction of the spring tensioned end (where the punch is firmly taped in place). Eight inches of sliding the awning in the channel, and holding while sliding the heavy drum, is a little tense, hold up the weight firmly. When the end comes free of the wall mount bracket, roll the entire assy up onto the roof of the slideout.

    Move the ladder to the punch and bracket end. Gradually unwind the fabric by rolling the drum assy. On each revolution, the fabric will need to be worked out from under the bracket where the punch is holding the tension (reason for tapeing). When the drum groove is pointing up, is clearly visible, and the fabric is all loose on top of the drum assy, (will require more ladder moves) slide the entire fabric toward the open (non-sprung)trunion end. Slide both of it's beads (one is in the drum groove), toward the end of the 'C' channel as you are sliding it out from the drum as well. Toss the fabric to the ground.

    Now the drum should be laying on the roof of the slide. The aluminum cover should be laying on the roof of the coach. Take the fabric to the awning repair shop or 'Do It Yourself'. Be sure to use the most UV blocking thread available. Black is the best color for blocking the sun's destructive radiation. Either make a new awning, using the old one as a pattern, or repair the old one if the fabric is still strong and not fragile. Be sure to re-stitch all of the awnings edge hem in heavy black thread. Sunbrella
  • is extremely high quality fabric. You may even want to order a new fabric from Carefree of Colorado.

    The nylon/poly 'bead' insert will possibly require replacement, in part or in entirety. I need only one extra foot of replacement per awning due to hard brittle, sun exposed ends. Andresens installed a complete new bead. The rest is covered in the 'C' channel and still flexible. After the fabric is back and ready to install, slide the 'bead' into the sewed tubular ends of the fabric. Now you can easily carry it up the ladder and slide it into the 'C' channel (flare and file any sharp corners off the insert end) and the drum groove at the same time, reversing the removal procedure.

    The instructions sent from Carefree of Colorado, suggest tightening the torsion spring (if loose) by using the tensioned bracket as leverage (out of it's wall mount) held by a vise grip pliers. Scary.. I used a staged system of my wife powering the slide out to wind, lock with 1/8 inch pin, loosen end bolt. (tube requires 1/8 inch end gap to align single trunion hole with outer tube hole) Power in to slacken fabric, turn trunion (locked to tube with short pin or screw) and tube to wind fabric, Tighten trunion bolt. Carefully relax tension by twisting tube CCW and remove 1/8 inch tube lock pin each time BEFORE next power out, Repeat several times to increase tension to specifications (approx 10-13 turns of tube?). 
  • Place red tape over tension lock bolt. It's best to have two ladders and at least two people. It can possibly be done alone..but I don't like it. Fabric gets sucked into slide opening, requiring several more ladder moves. Recheck the fabric tension sometime after usage. To block the UV, I taped all along the exposed sewn edges, from C channel to uder the awning cover, (wherever exposed to sun) using rows of wide Gorilla tape. Not sure it will withstand UV any better or even withstand the wind. Note: it is now covering all sewn repairs and exposed fabric and is doing extremely well.... Thank you Gorilla.
  • added note: NM sun takes it's toll  on Everything exposed to it's unforgiving UV rays. Even Gorilla tape suffered after two years. One layer is raising from the fabric and requires replacing. This time I will overlap 3/4" of one edge to the roof channel, rather than only the fabric close to the channel.

    Part two, Other tips, and more included in following comments
    as I learn from experience:
  • An additional auxiliary fan installed inside the outer access compartment of the Norcold propane/electric refrigerator, aids immensely in the cooling process, by driving upward and removing excess heat from the exchange unit, prolonging the life expectancy of the refrigerator. A high volume 6" or greater, muffin fan operates on the 120V AC (if compartment has an AC outlet) when hooked up to shore power. (note: unplug when operating on inverter)

    You may desire to climb on the roof periodically. If so, keep in mind that the most fatal accidents to U.S. men over 65, is falling off 'the front' of their RV's. (who keeps those stats?) While up there, check the caulking at seams of the roof. ALPHA
  • is the best 'self leveling' caulk for RV roofs (sold at RV dealers). Clean out the dry and weathered cracks, cutting away any raised edges. Flow the ALPHA into the horizontal crack and it will take care of it's own 'leveling' process. Vertical use requires non-sag formula.

    There are several Manufacturers
  • of easy to install, roof vent covers. After destroying one raised standard vent cover, we installed an aerodynamic vent cover over it. Good for rain protection and driving with vent open. (which destroyed the original flat vent cover)

    If water leaks in through ceiling AC vent during rain, do not panic. Remove inner vent cover and duct cover, Retighten the four AC mounting bolts from inside. The thick foam seal has most likely compacted and let in water. It can also be replaced easily if old and leaking. Condensation in ambient high humidity, also causes water to run off roof or leak through ceiling vent when AC is operating. Tighten bolts. Noise from roof AC may be caused by fan contacting sheet metal framework in roof AC assy. Remove top cover and realign fan motor. If not re-aligned as soon as noise starts, the squirrel cage (black plastic) will grab the metal flange and seize. The motor will stress and fail.

    One other easy maintenance job, treating the dry wood cabinetry. Tung Oil works well, just wipe it on with a very small piece of cloth and let it dry a day. It is dry in NM, so nothing takes long in the evaporation category.

    A low quality fiberglass home furnace air filter, works to reduce intake of dust through the cab heater vent. I duct taped a cut of home furnace vent, dust filter over the heater air intake. It 'may' need replacing sometime after many years. I also removed the furnace intake vent and layered more free flow fiberglass furnace filter to reduce dust in the furnace.

    The old Blue Ox
  • Aladin tow bar is great. Lubricate often with Teflon enhanced Silicone (Home Depo). Blue Ox does require various baseplates for each tow (toad). They now come with safety cables. On most cars, removable plastic front bumper covers are the norm.

    'Do It YOurself' is ok if you are well equipped with tools and agile, but special plastic rivet tools are sometimes required to replace the plastic bumper covers. A well trusted Collision Repair facility, Crown Coachworks
  • is able to install baseplates more reasonably than most busy RV dealers in New Mexico.

    It is also far cheaper to have a professional 'wirerope' facility, fabricate spare safety cables (I carry a spare set, including all connectors and latch pins). New cars have computers that can be adversely affected by voltage from an outside source (even with diodes). Better to use separate, isolated tail lights. A set of LED (much brighter) trailer lights from Harbor Freight ($40), includes the wiring. No need to do more than open all doors and hood of the 'toad'. Start with connector in front near hood latch (leave enough to connect to coach trailer light receptacle, or make a seperate 'pigtail').

    Run the color coded left and right wires along through the fender openings from under the hood, down through the open door jams, and out through the rear seat area into the hatchway or trunk. When the proper light position is determined, use either large suction cups fastened to the lights (some light assy's at Walmart come that way) or fabricate light brackets, to spring clamp in place. (we have luggage racks on the Jeep) Powerful magnets from Harbor Freight also work, after fastening to the lights. When all is placed as desired, connect the wire ends using weatherproof crimp or snap connectors. Test system each time before driving on highway.

    On our previous Georgie Boy Motorhome... of far lesser quality, the factory must have been in a rush and perpetually ignored quality control. Among a myriad of other problems and gremlins, the black and gray water drain valve, was not anywhere near the drain opening below. A stop along the first trip route after purchase, showed just how far off it really was.

    With the weather nice in an Arizona parking lot, I sat on a small bottle crate, and patiently drilled and sawed away the lower compartment floor opening. This moved and greatly enlarged it, to allow the drain hose to be installed. I went into the nearby Home Depo and bought a large PVC flange, mounted and caulked it into place with a removeable cover, threaded and tethered onto its lower end. Viola, a perfect lineup and we were able to easily 'dump' the holding tanks at the next RV tank dump site. The demise of Georgie Boy came when the coach detached from the frame while on coastal hwy 101 in Oregon.

    This present coach, Holiday Rambler traded for in Roseburg Oregon, was designed with more attention to Quality. I added a clear, bayonet twist-on section, to the dump tube, (now see when it's clean) and a secondary knife valve below the clear section, for back flushing of the black tank with gray water if necessary. The black water tank has a little flushing device mounted inside. It seems to have stopped spinning this last year. (Nice feature, wish it still spun). Update: a good drive on the last leg of a trip, while sloshing around a rich mixture of soapy water, solved the problem. works fine again.
  • note; after sand polluted water from a campground system clogged the little spinner again, I removed the flush system's vacuum breaker from high under the bathroom sink cabinet. Installed a piece of hose to allow my wet-vac to suck the sand granules back through the water feed line (tank had been thoroughly flushed). Alternate pressure and vacuum, cycled many times, cleared the little spinner orifices. 
  • Re-installing the vacuum breaker and pressurizing the system, it works again. One quart of car soap in the black holding tank during each initial 2 gallon charge, seems to keep the little device clear and functioning. Car soap (1/2 gal) from Dollar Tree is very mild, cheap and non detergent, allowing the bio-breakdown of the black waste. The knife valves also pull easily with one qt of mild soap in black water tank during initial charge as lubrication.

    Try the 'recycled' 100% 'Natural Value' 2 ply toilet paper from various organic health and vitamin stores. It is earth-friendly, dissolves quickly and costs less than the RV specific 2 ply brands. I reinforced the somewhat flimsy outside control valve bulkhead, with aluminum 'angle stock', bolted in place. (The flimsy design bugged me).

    Also the black water release valve was angled wrong and pulled hard (could eventually have broken), so I sawed a short piece of 1/2" aluminum tubing at a 45 degree, placed the opposing halves on either side of the bulkhead to provide a nice 45 degree easy-pull angle to the valve release handle, until I later rerouted the pull cable. I have modified many features to suit my technical background. Some day the rig will be perfect and we will be too old to enjoy it. :>)

    An effective set of windshield wiper protectors is cut from a piece of preformed foam pipe insulation or the 'Noodles' from kids swimming fun (Dollar Store). The UV and weather is kept at bay and the expensive wipers last far longer. A set of UV protective wheel covers can be fabricated from construction foam board with aluminum skin. They are light, easy to handle and will blow away if not held in place with some type of framework or supports. Some people make them from plywood. Electrical tape strips on the coaches contact surfaces, prevents abrasion to the finish.

    I also have effectively used the tire covers from Camping World. We have snap-on poly fabric wheel covers but they are light-porous, they do hold the foam boards in place. 'Purcell Tire' note; Do not let your tires sit on concrete for extended storage periods. It tends to dry out the oils from the rubber, and premature tire cracking will be the result. Use a plastic shield under each tire.

  • To keep the coach batteries at full charge, I also installed on the roof (leave a sufficient air gap), a set of three 'Amorphous' solar collectors from Harbor Freight. Use a quality voltage regulating device (fused) and buy the panels separately, unless on sale as a set. One blew off while crossing the high bridge from North Padre Island. I now check the mounting often. The single 15 watt replacements are available with Harbor Freight,s part #01 for $54 plus shipping. Each is rated (greatly exaggerated) at 15 watts.

    The upscale, blue Polycrystalline type are far more efficient, but cost substantially more. When covered for the winter with a fitted RV cover (Walmart online, shipped to store or home), I use a Black and Decker heavy duty computerized 'with automatic float' charger from Walmart. Don't forget the chassis battery, use a fused jumper if paralleling the batteries from one charger, best a separate 'maintenance' charger.

    Check the electrolyte levels in the batteries often. Add distilled water as often as neccessary. Charging eventually boils away the water, drastically shortening the battery life. I use a pressured bottle in combination with a small hose and a mirror to watch the level rise in each cell, so as not to overfill past indicator ring. Using a Walmart cigarette lighter 'plug in' digital monitor, watch the battery bank charge while camping as well. Closely monitor 'over and under' charge using a battery guide.. (available at Interstate Battery Co)
  • Xantrax inverter chargers have a default to reset the charge rate if the remote fails to do setup as instructed. Remove both 120V and 12 v from source to Xantrax for a few minutes. The following reboot, reconnect will reinstall default.

    Never let batteries go under 12.1 vdc, or their life will be shortened greatly. Extensive over charging above 15vdc will have the same detrimental effect. In place of incandescent, use as many LED lighting fixtures as possible (we even use a few small battery powered LED units during extensive dry camping). The current (amperage) draw is significantly less than incandescent bulbs (heat inefficiency) and even fluorescent. I have replaced the many little various incandescent 'indicator lights' with 12v LED's from Radio Shack. A power 'inverter' is useful for changing 12vdc to 120vac. Only use for short term, a low amperage home appliance, like a small TV or video player (closely monitor the battery voltage).

    Conserving precious power should be taught to everyone. The LCD and LED TV's are miserly on power in comparison to the older CRT's. To say nothing of the substantial weight savings. Never take electrical power's convenience for granted. The govt is using CO2 as an excuse, while trying mightily to exorbitantly tax energy, take it away from and ration it to the avg consumer, ultimately raising prices on Everything.

    I change my own oil and have had great luck with Walmart Super Tech Synthetic. (Shell corp, last time I called their question line) Greasing the 14 Zerk fittings takes a six wheel creeper on a concrete surface, or a rug, moved and rolled out at each drive shaft universal joint and front suspension fitting. I use the hydraulic landing gear to raise the coach.

    It is high enough to slide under without it, but easier to reach when in the raised position. Safety conscious may also use heavy duty jack stands as redundancy. Do not forget to change the oil and filter on the auxiliary Generator (APU) at recommended intervals.
    Use factory grade pre-mix coolant in the coach radiator to avoid electrolyte (electrolysis acidity) problems with the cooling system. I also flush out the power steering and brake systems fluids at intervals. Transmission fluid change is at a longer intervals per manufacturers schedule.
  •  After sudsing and washing, rinse with a nozzle on hose, before each section dries. After the coach is washed from front to back (I use Purple Power from Walmart to wash the wheels with a large plastic bristle ball on a stick (device my wife uses for cobwebs in the house), use the same extension pole you used for washing the coach, with it's pad to apply the 'Eagle One Nano Wax' application as directions printed (I spray/soak the pad, wax a section and reapply as needed).
  •  If you don't get the haze all polished off (I drape a towel over the pad on pole), no problem with Nano Wax or Gel Wax (also Nano formulated). Any time later is fine. Any Eagle One Nano Wax haze left on the finish, easily polishes off with a simple wipe. In the harsh New Mexico sun with it's legendary UV, the fast, easy to apply Eagle One Nano Wax lasts about 6 months. That is remarkable.
  •  Eagle One has another product that seems to work better than the competition. Trim Gel (now referred to as Enviroshine Tire Gel) squirted on a soft cloth, wiped on a cleaned surface of plastic, such as trim around windows (lots of that black trim stuff on motor coaches) restores the shine and protects against UV from sun exposure. Also works to restore shine to plastic shower enclosures (clean first) and any  other plastic trim around coach.
  • I used it on plastic bicycle shifters,  tires on the bikes, as well as any rubber or plastic, to restore the new appearance. Even my shoes are responding well to this amazing gel product. I really like the finish on my shoes after waxing with Eagle One Gel Wax. Can't attain that with regular car wax. One pair of Ariat 'yard shoes', is looking almost like new after Gel Wax. Also pretty well satisfied with Trim Gel at this point, as I discover new uses. It is 'Water' based, which does not attack rubber, as do so many other petroleum distillate based polishes and protectants. Even 'Big Lots' sells it now, due to it's 'discontinued' status. 'Auto Zone' including other auto stores, sells Eagle One products, periodically on sale..
  • Water based Eagle One Trim Gel, now replaced by Eagle One Enviroshine for tires, is Siliconized to penetrate and leave a water and weather resistant shine that is long lasting. I used it on all weathered black areas of the coach (including on my old CRV toad and wife's car) with excellent results. 
  •  Wiping the treated surface with a soft cloth the next day (I use my discarded socks, cut in half for applicators) , shines it even more. I use the Eagle One Nano Wax for long term protection. Windshield wipers are costly. I was prepared to buy several new wipers for the cars and coach. The Eagle One Trim Gel (now Tire Shine) restored the black arms and rubber, encouraging them to again wipe clean. Not sure how long it will last, but far better than they were. 
  •  Eagle One product that is showing up for $3 in 'Big Lots'    (indicates it may be discontinued for whatever reasoning, possibly 'nut' content?) is Gel Wax with Carnauba, another easy to use Nano molecular engineered product that is listed online at Walmart for $8.35. Excellent shine with bare minimal effort. Dull surfaces such as anodized aluminum, plastic, rubber and cracks that trap the white powdery residue of traditional wax, respond very well to the glycol based Gel Wax, leaving no white residue. Use it to shine and wax, following the restorative finish of the Trim Gel (Enviro Shine now) 
  • Even the numerous coach decals, that succumb to the Sun's intense UV radiation in NM, are looking much better with repeated applications. Expensive to replace, Polycarbonate Headlights, notorious for hazing due to UV exposure, are responding well to the water glycol based Eagle One Gel Wax, applied after a vigorous polishing (a power buff is faster [even electric drill pads], electrical tape on surrounding surfaces, protects against unintended contact scratching). 
  • I use polishing compounds for car finishes. Bar Clay, used with lubricant (Windex) is mentioned on internet as well. Collision Repair facilities will restore and 'clear coat' polycarbonate headlights for a reasonable price (approx $80 depending on clear coat longevity requested). They are experts when it comes to polishing anything.

    Noting our personal shopping habits, I feel no guilt for temporarily stopping/camping overnight at Walmart parking lots (low traffic outer edges) when traveling. A study showed that the 'average' RV traveler (those who periodically stop overnight), spends about $80 dollars. I repeat, 'average'. The high dollar items (tires, battery's, service etc) purchased by many RV'ers (RV supplies are in auto section), affects this 'average' amount. Naturally not all is spent in each overnight stop. We enjoy the deli, fast food facilities and grocery selections.

    Overwhelmingly RV friendly Texas, among other states, does not discourage this temporary camping practice. Some cities, states have strong private interest lobbying against it (ARIZONA). The RV park associations demand the traveler spend $$ per night at their locations. Some areas have vagrancy and drug problems (Portland, Grant's Pass Oregon, etc), Discouraging transients from abusing this privilege, makes law enforcement easier. When in doubt, ask management before settling in for the night. One Portland Walmart security force warned us of danger. 'Diversity' of the area's culture, as increasingly common in urban settings, was deadly problematic. That store closed early every night and employed two armed guards with back-up.

    Sovereign Land Indian Casino's for example, have overnight arrangements (even in Arizona). State Parks, National Parks, National Forest (even in Sedona Arizona), US Army Corps of Engineers are our favorites (see their guide maps or online). City Parks in some small communities are many times open to overnight RV'ers, and some even have had water, electricity, and holding tank dump sites.

    Mead Kansas and tornado devastated little Greenberg Kansas, were very nice stops along our tours. Avoid 'noisy' truck stops. Some nicer highway rest areas are OK for a short sleep stop. In many areas, be aware of your situation/surroundings. Be wary of strange acting, exceptionally outgoing, sometimes desperate transients. Keep your concealed weapons handy and be intimately familiar with their function.
  •  Do not become paranoid, but do not become a victim of statistics. 'Stay out of the 10:00 pm news'. 
  •   Sadly, RV'ers Gary and Linda Hass were situation-ally unaware victims of violence August 2010. 'Concealed Carry' only works if you do 'Carry'. 
  • In spite of agenda driven politics and media sensationalism to the contrary, hundreds of thousands of times yearly, weapons in the hands of the law abiding, Do save lives. "When seconds count, the police are only minutes away". Protect Your US Constitution and Bill of Rights...including Your 2nd Amendment. Vote intelligently. 'Your' life depends on it. Government has absolutely No responsibility to protect you or your family (SCOTUS ruling)

    Without applying all of these 'Do It Yourself' options, we personally would never be able to enjoy/afford this exciting, educational, fun lifestyle.

    The fishing streams and lakes, including the oceans and mountains, are calling. Texas State Parks do not require a license to fish. Bring your gear or buy some in their little shops, they are reasonable.
  • Bicycles are excellent and enjoyable for RV campgrounds, errands and for the many trails.   I personally prefer multi speed hybrids, comfort seats, with at least 1.95" tires on 26" alloy wheels/hubs. I like bikes that have quick release axle skewers to ease loading. 'Fold bikes' with 26" wheels are available today. Handlebars can be turned  and Pedals can be removed on conventional bikes for a slimmer storage profile. Craig's List is a treasure trove for bikes... sometimes. Charity thrift shops are an excellent source of reasonable priced bikes if you are handy, can fix flats and trouble shoot minor ailments. Pawn shops are another source. Beware major rust, neglect, abuse, faulty tires (sun rotted, cracked) and missing parts. Parts are expensive. Heavy shock absorbing suspensions, while nice for Xtreme downhill mountain bashing, are to be avoided in exchange for easy transport, loading.
  • Razor E300 scooters are rated for 220 lbs and lightly graveled terrain. Electric rechargeable, 40 minutes (20 minutes out, 20 minutes back) on a charge, they can be disassembled enough for easy storage. Older models have convenient fold down steering bar. 2 AGM 12 volt Batteries (I recommend 9ah) are available on ebay, 2 (24v total) for about $40 or less, including shipping.

    Watch for our next post in this greatest nation in history.
    "One Nation Under GOD. The United States of America"