Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ruidoso New Mexico RV trip

We are home from a four night stay, and trip to Ruidoso NM
Rain along the route home, dirtied the coach and tow. After unpacking the coach, it was then moved to the lawn for a good bath (we don't waste water in New Mexico). The roof and AC units were washed and waxed first. The large areas require a soft wash brush on long handle and a small mop to wax.

Spray Eagle One Nano Wax is easiest. It was an Ashland product, but now is part of Turtle Wax. Price rose substantially but the product is the same. After moving into back yard, installing the windshield and side window covers, the wipers are encased into a split 'noodle', as used in kids swimming. UV is blocked enough and deformation eliminated, to save the big wipers for many seasons.

Tires are also shielded from the harsh UV of the sun, by panels cut from foiled foam construction board and wheel covers from Sun Pal holding them in position. Blue Ox tow arms are left locked to the coach and are covered to protect from sun UV. Landing gear is lowered to raise tires, taking weight off of suspension. When storing on concrete, Michelin advises to place a vapor barrier of plastic, between tires and concrete. Michelin claims the oils are sucked from the contact surface rubber by the concrete, causing premature failure.
Note: Black Gorilla Tape is holding up well on exposed inches of Sunbrella over the slide-outs. I installed it as UV shielding several months ago.

  • Leaving to Ruidoso and returning to Albuquerque NM, Less than 400 miles round trip, is fairly in-expensive, less time consuming than the long US 'tours' in the past. This first trip of the year, after an extended storage period for the Holiday Rambler motor house, was a 'shake down', after Installing the Blue Ox baseplate on the lighter Honda CRV
  • that replaced the heavy Jeep GC. Noted higher speed climbing out of the canyon, than with the haeavy Jeep GC. GC only got 12 mpg when driven. Not good in a fuel costly economy with investment returns kept, by a distrust of this administration, in the proverbial 'tank'. Honda CRV being lighter with smaller engine, seldom is below 20mpg.
  • The 35 foot motor coach that we find suits our personal requirements

  • is kept ready to roll at all times. Fueled and current on all maintenance, we try to keep ahead of any issues. The coach is also a fast way of escape in case of local problems. Stocking food and basic clothing is a minor hassle, due to the many trips from house to coach door.
  • The Twin Spruce RV Park

  • Ruidoso, just south of 'The Downs'
  • Twin Spruce RV Park was our destination. Visiting in past years, was always pleasant and affordable. Could not contact them for reservations, so drove up to office and asked for a 'hole'. Kay remembered us from previous stays and obliged by finding one site in higher level for 3 nights, then a move for the last night, at the the lower site. Crawling the coach up the steep slope, taxed it's mighty 8.1 liter Workhorse, only mustering 2,500 rpm, but it climbed into position. Kay's son, in his golf cart, guided us into the higher level spot overlooking the park.
  • After browsing little mountain town Ruidoso for a couple of days, we planned to attend the Flying J Ranch Chuckwagon
     Food is served at 7pm and entertainment starts at 8pm. The main 'Chuckwagon' in Colorado Springs was destroyed by another Forest Fire several weeks ago. Several more are in business around the western states, including the Bar D in Durango Colorado. The Bar D barely survived a Forest Fire several years ago. The burned trees are several yards outside the heavily defended perimeter.

  • with arriving family, on Saturday evening. Reservations to this always popular attraction, are required. The little shops are open at 5:30pm. Comedy fun 'gunfight' in the street at 6:30pm.
  •  The great cowboy entertainment last night, had a woman yodeling, telling jokes, funny stories (EnderCilla with the Pransome Hince) and singing. They are the flying J Chuck wagon wranglers. They fed us in the fastest buffet  you ever experienced. We were amazed at how swift the service was, to feed hundreds of people, took them just minutes. The enclosed entertainment area was welcome protection from the weather.

    After we ate a 'chuck wagon supper' of baked potato, brisket and Pinto beans with apple sauce, biscuit and ginger cake, washed down with tin cups of coffee, iced tea or lemonade, the servers sang and played various instruments for over an hour. Great Fiddler Saturday night, was 'Cody' from Portales NM, 17 years old. Wife said that our grand daughter should meet him, pick her guitar, sing and join in the talented group:>)  $25 each ticket was not too shabby, for what we received.
    Son and wife with their two boys, stayed in the motor home after arriving just before midnight Friday. The little boys slept on the dinette converta-bed. Parents slept on the hide-abed sofa. Round trip was less than 400 miles. We all left on Sunday. Wife and I had visited several quasi-'antiquey' shops and thrift stores before they arrived. Fewer bargains in tiny towns.

    We all got home from the trip this afternoon. the hiighway south from Corona to Carrizozo, is not very good. Presently the highway dept is widening it south of Corona. The waviness is the main problem with the pavement. I would rather take the other route across The Valley of Fires lava flow, from San Antonio NM south of Socorro NM, until the highway is totally refinished.

    The little boys rode back to ABQ in the coach with us for their first time on the highway. This was their first trip with us and very exciting. They were happier for the weekend, just playing around in the coach, than anything we did. Doesn't take much to make them happy. In years past, our fun grand daughters were our traveling companions on trips. Now as young teens, they are busy with their friends.

    Drove through the NM 'Little Bear' forest Fire burn area around Nogal NM

  • Over a hundred homes burned, just under 100,000 acres. As usual for Every area burned within the last few years, they had previously mandated Logging be 'stopped' in those vastly over fueled areas.... fifty years ago,.... in order to 'Save the Trees'. Metal roofs didn't stop the nearby homes of the 'Forest Interface' north of Ruidoso, from burning to the ground.

    Little touristy town of Ruidoso NM is doing somewhat better, but folks leery of the recent forest fire, are slow in returning to Tourist sections. Adventuresome Texas folks support this entire area keeping the numerous small shops and restaurants in business. The newer airfield can accommodate jets. Nearby Fort Stanton is a time capsule, maintained by dedicated historians.
  •  Lincoln county was the largest county in the USA back in the 1800's. At one time the New Mexico Territory was a vast sector of the USA, very remote from law and order. The state of NM is barely a hundred years of age. Lincoln, the little town of Billy the Kid fame, has many historic attractions, when you loop the route through Capitan, home of Smoky the Bear.
    Cattle Baron is one of the old reliable steakhouses in Ruidoso, complete with fresh seafood in season. 'Aspencade' a Honda patented term, attracts countless thousands of motorcycle riders from all across the USA in the Fall. They fill the motels and 'time shares', RV parks and campsites. Several large motorcycle rallies are held each season in the mountainous area. 
    The Inn of the Mountain Gods, is a casino attraction with family recreation. White Sands National Monument is near Alamagordo, 70 miles south of Ruidoso. Carlsbad Caverns National Park is further away, but still accessible from Ruidoso, if looping the southeastern sector of NM.
    Without the fun loving Texans, the little mountain towns would soon dry up and vanish. Horse racing at Ruidoso Downs is one attraction. 'Futurity' pays a $Million.

    The much cooler mountains, Ruidoso is located in, are the other attraction in the heat of summer. Billy the kid was a frequent visitor back in the late 1800's. The old grist mill is still kept somewhat presentable.  
    A nice little museum near the Downs, documents the time of Billy the Kid. the Museum of the Horse near 'the Downs' is another family attraction to visit. Skiing is the main winter attraction, so Ruidoso depends on year around tourism to keep it in business.

    Joke among New Mexicans is: "If God wanted Texans to Ski, he would have given them a Mountain". 
    Texans reply: "If God wanted New Mexicans to Ski, he would have given them MONEY".

    Ruidoso suffers major 'busts' when the oil slows in Texas (caused as usual by Federal politics).
    Real estate is either 'Everything for sale' (no buyers) or prices so high during the Booms, 'nobody  can afford them'. Big numbers of Texans invest' (?) in 'Time Shares'.

    The mountainside forested RV park (Twin Spruce) was filled with over 100 various campers of many styles, most all with Texas plates. Many people stay the entire season. The evening is often music filled, played by the talented campers. Days are 'Texas Hold 'em', Book signing by well known (sort of;>) authors. Sundays are church services, with various people filling in (today was missionary family telling stories about years in Ukraine). Biscuits and gravy for breakfast, fish fry Wednesday and different evening meals on most days.
    Son and his wife were surprised at the variety of goings on, for such a 'small' mountainside RV Park.
    We told them, they should see the really Big ones. :>)

    Whatever you do with your remaining life, please attempt to explore the Greatest Freedom Loving nation ever known, The United States of America. Created as "One Nation Under God". 

    Saturday, July 14, 2012

    Install Blue Ox Tow baseplate, '09 HONDA CRV

    After locating online and ordering by phone call (had questions) from etrailor.com, the Blue Ox tow bar Base Plate BX2246 arrived, to be installed on the 09 Honda CRV, that we traded away the 'heavy Pig' Jeep GC (4,300 lbs) for. '06 V-8 Jeep GC seldom got over 12 mpg around town, not much more on hwy. Jeep towed like a block of lead up Western States mountain passes, but was easy to set electronic 'neutral' for tow, and had 'Low' range for serious 4x4. It could and did PUSH the motor coach in an emergency.

     Tow-able Honda gets in excess of 20 mpg at all times, and weighs several hundreds of lbs less than Jeep GC. All-wheel drive is not for serious terrain. Not sure about the 'Push' ability, if ever required. Blue Ox quality is excellent. Trailers, tow dollys always involve another 'Thing' to store away and manhandle. Campgrounds are not spacious in the parks and forests we visit.

    Base Plate arrived FedEX within 3 days as claimed. Katherine Hoette (sounds pretty 'Interesting' :>) sent email asking about etrailor's service

  • I began the job on 11 July and finished on 14 July. The instructions are fairly well described with a few exceptions. This is not quite as easy as it was on the last 2 Jeep Grand Cherokees. Lots of metal cutting on the Honda.

     Experience from last two Jeeps, including 2 base plate installations, says have on hand, a 'creeper', Red Locktite. 'All' the correct wrenches, wheeled floor jack. Heavy duty 1/2" drill, extension cord and several sharp bits. 4" hand held grinder with several cut-off discs and one grinder disc. Recip saw and several blades,.... if you want to follow instructions to the letter. Heavy hammer and 'drift' rod. Screw drivers or lever to 'pop' out the push pins (they break sometimes), containers to keep separate the parts from each step. Important, Review the parts list,laying out the bolts/nuts in order.

    Figure 1 on BX2246 Instructions points out the pushpins holding radiator cover in place. Figure 2 shows driver's side bumper fascia screws/pins. Unscrew/unpin both sides of cover per figure 3. Figure 4 shows bottom push pins removal. Fascia cover (grill included) can then be pulled forward after a spreading of the left and right side. It seems like the plastic will break, as it 'rips' out from under the headlight assemblies. Somehow it survives the viscous yanking and prying.

    Figure 5 depicts 'air baffle box' (lower half only) removal from Driver's side. Fig 6 shows removal of coolant line clips/bolts. Fig 7 center bolt for lines. Fig 8 driver's side clip for lines. after which line assy can be swung to passenger side and out of way. Figure 9, 10, 11 begins the 'surgical procedure'.

    Take apart is easy, except they failed to mention the difficulty of then 'cutting' the metal. High Speed steel is used on Frame tubes, so the cutting and drilling is difficult. High Sped Steel is what most drill bits are made of, so they are evenly matched on those frame horns. Same with the 'bumper'. Have on hand several drill bits or sharpen often. Use Pilot drills or you will be on the 'smoking' drill for long periods of time. Fig 12, 13, the washer fluid reservoir (must be pulled aside) does actually mate to the last 4" of the filler top. I loosened the headlight assy by removing screws, for clearance, before I got it unstuck. This is an 09 Honda CRV, so it may have been tighter from 3 years of 'bonding'.

    They describe cutting with a Reciprocating Saw. Good luck there as well, due to the High Speed hardened steel on frame tubes, you Will eat blades. Many blades later you will wish you had a 4" grinder with a few 'Cutoff' blades. Matter of fact I would say it is imperative to have a 4" grinder, to make the cuts as described. Wear safety goggles, and long sleeve shirts and gloves, as the grinding gets intense. Watch for the disc, or saw blade so it does Not cut something you don't really want cut. It could spoil your fun.

    Hammering flat the described flanges, requires a 'drift' to get the power of the heavy hammer onto the 1/4" flanges remaining after the cuts. I bent them forward with a large Vise Grip pliers first. Same for the lower flanges on front frame horns which was cut straight, to allow another 1/4" lower metal for reference on base plate lower edge. Cutoff the 'bumper' ends and wing flanges enough (1/2" on each end) to prevent wedging on re-install. 1/4" as they ideally mention, did Not clear. I had to re-cut and grind off the edges more than 1/4".

    Fig 14 be sure to follow instructions for positioning. Study the picture to locate end plates CORRECTLY before drilling any holes. A rolling Floor Jack is imperative for one person. No way I could have held the heavy base plate in position for drilling as depicted in Fig 15. Vice Grips (2) are also recommended at each end of base plate, to prevent shifting while drilling I used a slightly smaller drill than they listed, so that I did not have to drill the base plate ends. As they mentioned, beware of the Torque as the large drill seizes in the frame steel on breakthrough, which it will..

    The instructions are important. Follow them or you will have to re-due the work. Experience over the years with tech career, did not save me. I had to re-due a couple of items. When they say 'Do not tighten' the bolts, they mean it. The 4 'bumper' screws may bind, damaging the threads if you tighten the four base plate mount bolts first. The heavy base plate overpowers the frame horns. If the red Locktite sets before you finish, the removal is not easy. I had to have one rod re-welded on the little nut plate after it broke off.

    Tip: test the 3'8" bolts for easy threading into the nut plates... before assy. Do not forget the red Lock-tite on these '8 total' , frame mounting bolts (note two different lengths). I did not use red Lock-Tite on the first base plate I ever installed, and the bolts came loose from the thousands of miles of twisting and endless shock. Fortunately I always check the entire assy for any looseness, by vigorously shaking up and down on each connect and disconnect. Yup, had to remove fascia, red Locktite , tighten and reinstall fascia.

    Fig 16, they mention re-drilling the little bracket in center of the Cooler line that loops across the lower front, to mount it lower. In my installation, I had no clearance to drill a new matching hole. I used four black automotive ty-wraps in place of the 10mm screw. They fastened the bracket assy holding top and bottom tube, securly to the bottom of the base plate bar. Note: Bend the lower end of bracket back under bumper so it does not block fascia from getting into position on reinstall. The drivers side snap clip on the tube loop, broke off it's retaining tangs on removal. Two more of the black ty-wraps re-mounted the looped tube retainer, securely through the metal frame hole.

    Figure 17 depicts the dream/nightmare scenario of a social studies major 'Bureaucrat', employed by the US DOT. I am assuming the 'bureaucrat' has a phobia imagining a potentially deadly 'breakaway'..... of the base plate.... from the tow vehicle? Massive Base plate is mounted to HHS frame horns with a total of 8, 3/8" bolts, Lock-tite'd and torqued in place. The noticeably weaker bumper is held to the front of frame horns by only 4 smaller bolts. Somehow the DOT? imagination is that the auxiliary permanent cables provided, will magically hold on to something much weaker in mounting (bumper), in case the 8 larger bolts 'break' or fall loose?.... "It Could Happen", is maybe their Official ruling...?

    Fig 19, 20, 21 depicts 'breakaway' brackets for additional auxiliary breaking sensors if used. 'Brake Buddy' etc.
    Installing the front cover Fascia is last. Best if done with a helper to prevent scratching the paint and finish. If no helper, I used a chair with a piece of carpet on it. On the '09, I did not have to cut  clearance for the safety cable horns. I slid the cover to one side first, then the other. The only small cuts were for the lower cooler tube clearance. Re-installation of the radiator cover, tops off the installation.
  •  Fig 22, 23 Cutting the relief notches for the base plate while checking clearance, can be done using the reciprocating saw, or even a small trim saw or knife. Careful not to cut yourself after all of this 'fun'. Remember that Recip saws have a 'nervous' long pointy nose, poking at things that can ruin your day. 
  • I seem to have a few 'push pins' left over...hmmm?
  • Note: during Tow, I always now use a separately wired set of easily removable, roof mounted trailer type LED lights, on magnets (Harbor Freight stuff) rather than the bulb and socket installation kit shown in first figure on installation Instructions.  My wiring on the SUV's we prefer as 'Toads',  follows the interior floor, out over the door opening (taped in place) and into the engine compartment, through the fender openings by front door hinge post. I always use crossed safety cables with the Aladdin  Blue Ox Tow Bar we have utilized for many years, with 3 Tow cars.

    The routine hook up 'Test' is on your next trip (don't forget to 'Test' the light kit Before each Tow). Follow the transmission procedure 'for Tow' in vehicle manual. Don't inadvertently 'Lock' the steering wheel on the Toad, tires are expensive. Please enjoy this Great Nation, "One Nation Under GOD" The United States of America. See you on the highways sometime...maybe..."It Could Happen". :>)