Devils Tower

Devils Tower

Monday, April 30, 2012


I think this deserves a Mr. Hanky, since the axle is one of the final crappy things I have been putting off doing.
Hidey Ho!!!!!!!!!!
I pulled off the wheels and drums and did a little inspecting.  I dropped the axle on a floor jack and rolled it out from under the trailer.  Looks a little odd, huh?
I drug out the old sandblaster and cleaned up the axle to inspect for cracks or signs of fatigue. I figure if anything would leave me stranded, it would be axle related.
 I was surprised to find the leaf springs dated 8-62, so I guess the axle and springs were factory.  

Some of the parts are missing, which would explain why the brakes would never engage.  The first thing I did was measure the brakes to make sure they weren't some obscure configuration made of the rare space age material, "Unobtainium."  Luckily, these were the standard run of the mill, 10"x 2-1/4" brake shoes that fit just about everything.  I went to my trusty Mac and quickly looked up one of my favorite sites,, where I found the backing plates fully assembled with brake shoes, magnets and all new hardware.  They are made by Dexter axle in this great country of the USA and they only cost $38 per side.  Sign me up.  The missing magnet s $25 alone.
These got really hot at some time.  You can see the bluing of the steel.
The spindles show signs of being hot in it's 50 year life, but I don't know if it were this set of bearings or a previous set. So, these are getting cleaned up and bagged for a spare set, in case we are ever on the side of the road.  I honestly think these are fairly new, but who knows.  I probably won't have $40 in all of the bearings and seals, it's cheap insurance and it makes me feel better.  I called the local parts house and they can round up all the bearings etc. by tomorrow.  That's about when my backing plates should show up.

In the meantime, I decided to paint up the axle and do a little cosmetic work on the wheels and tires.  Since I had some time in between coats of paint on the axle, I figured I would clean up the wheels and tires while they were easy to get to.  I scrubbed the old farm dirt off and threw a fresh coat of paint on the wheels.  You can't really see them with the hubcaps installed, but remember, I am OCD, so it would bother me knowing they looked like crap under the hubcap.

Baby can't have polished shoes with ugly buckles, so I threw the caps on the buffer.  The caps I am running are 1956 Oldsmobile.  I like them.They have the globe in the center and since we will be world travelers in the Avalair, they are the perfect fit.

The pics are not that great, but here is the axle all painted up.  I'll post part II when the other parts show up and we can install this bad boy.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Have you ever met that funny reefer man?

Not the same kinda reefer you're thinking of.....or what Cab Calloway is singing about.

This kinda refer...

Interior is in decent shape.  Needs cleaning, but that can wait.

1963 Dometic refer, original equipment

Giant freezer capable of holding two single ice trays.

I have been dreading getting this thing going.  I knew I had to find out if it worked.  The previous owners said everything worked.  Funny, so far nothing has.  I figured as much.

The dreaded test.  
I rigged up a propane tank and regulator to the refer, to start my test.  I used a digital thermometer that had the humidity gauge and temp.  I got it fired up pretty quick and it ran for 8 hours.  The temp only dropped to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.  Not too good.  So, I did some reading and found the service manual online.  The internet is a beautiful thing. 
I laid in bed pondering this for a while.  I had pretty much decided to buy a new fridge, just to expedite things.  I started thinking about the design of the ammonia absorption fridge and came to the conclusion that if it is heating, it should be cooling.  I jumped up out of bed at midnight and went out and cleaned the orifices and adjusted the flame height.  I reset my timer and stuck the thermometer back in the fridge and went back to bed.
  I laid in bed all night wondering if the trailer would burst into flames and all of my work thus far would have been in vain.

 I have the old bunsen burner style gas valve, so I was a little unfamiliar with this setup.  I jumped up first thing in the morning to check the thermometer.  What would it read?  The same? Worse?
How does 32 degrees grab you?  I left it on max for 24 hours just to see what happened when the noon sun started warming things up.  It never budged.
I win.

I noticed a propane smell in the cabinets while I was running the refer.  That scares me.  So I started looking at the simple things like the area around the flue.  On newer Rv's they have a roof mount vent to get rid of the spent gasses.  This one has a shelf right above the flue that keeps all of the propane inside the trailer.  Not good.
  I spent a few hours caulking all the seams around the back of the refer cabinet to ensure that no fumes could get into the cabinets and closets.  I added a sheet metal drip pan below the fridge to keep out the rain and to help seal up the giant void left behind by the manufacturer.  I then decided to order up a small efficient computer fan to help move air across the cooling fins and to help push the fumes out of the cavity.  This is not a new idea, but a fairly cheap way to help alleviate a couple of issues.
I was able to find a vendor on ebay selling 12V adapters that matched the requirements of the fan.  I think I paid 4 bucks for this adapter.  It is designed for CCTV cameras, but I don't care.

I bought a couple of high volume fans from a computer parts house. I think this one ran a whopping 8 bucks.  I bought 2 of these as well. Word of advice.....don't start these fans while they are teetering on the back of your refrigerator coils.  The blades explode on impact.  Glad I bought two.
I made some stand offs out of stainless fuel line tubing I had laying around.  I made them about 1.250" long.  I would have made them longer, but the #8 screws maxed out at 3.00".  I am sure I could have found some if I had ventured into town on Monday, at some speciality hardware company, but I am pretty lazy.

I had an old 5 Amp breaker laying around, so I installed it just in case. I really need about a 2 amp, but I will have to look for one.  I just fabbed up a hokey bracket to mount my breaker in.  Kinda cheesy, but you can't really see it.

It draws quite a bit of air across the coils.  I added the provisional wiring for another fan, since I already had it.  I may add another fan if I can find one local.


Time is running out and the summer camping season is upon us.  I started this little adventure Mother's day Weekend, of 2011. That's almost a year and I am still not camping.

Time to kick it up a notch.
Pump up the jams......kicking it old school this weekend........

I finished the plumbing last weekend and I decided that I needed to pressure check the water system, prior to filling it with water.

 I decided to build my own tester.  I started out at Camping world.  I needed some sort of hose that would adapt to my city water port.

I have a leakdown tester that I use when setting up the mechanical fuel injectors on my drag car.  I made a small modification to that and we were off and running.

I put 35 PSI on the first gauge, that shows us the input pressure, the second gauge shows us how much leakage we have.  Ideally, it should read the same, but if you have leaks, it will be lower.  If you have a lot of leaks, it will really show up.  I pressurized it for about 2 hours and left it.  I had a leakage rate of approx. 2 psi.  I soaped all of the fittings to look for air bubbles, but couldn't find anything obvious.  It must be in the valves for the sink.  They are the only thing that could be suspect.  They are original equipment.

Let's see if it holds water.  I had Mama Root manning the water spigot in case we needed to hurry up and shut it off.  Things could get very treacherous.
Be careful Capt. Root!!!!
Slowly, Mama Root opened the valve ever so slowly, waiting as the water careened down the hose, heading for it's final destination. The hose lurched as the pressure valve gurgled.  What would be the outcome?  Our superhero is in danger.  Would his cheeseburger get wet?  His french fries soggy?
Would our hero be washed downstream as he fights for his life?  Would he meet his fate in a watery grave, crashing to the rocks below? 
Oh, the horror.....I can't watch.....
Actually, nothing happened. Sorry to disappoint you.  I'm still in tact.
No leaks, no muss, no fuss.  The only issues are a small seep around the hot water valve on the sink and the sink neck needs an O ring.  I had to buy a replacement valve and O ring which resolved the issue. Surprisingly enough, my buddy that owns the local hardware store had one on the shelf.  I guess the design must have been good one to still be producing it 49 years later.
All clamped up and ready to put the dinette back in place.
I also found a few things to help organize the trailer without getting cheesy.  I have been looking for towel racks, organizers etc. to help maximize the space we have, without looking modern.  I want to keep the trailer functional without ruining the atmosphere.  
 I found this chrome wire cage toilet paper holder at one of the big box hardware stores for 5 bucks.  Funny thing is, it hooks perfectly over the rear window in the trailer.  This way it can be removed when you don't need to take care of bidness.......
 I also stumbled onto a matching set of wall hooks that match the shower caddy perfectly we had bought months ago.  These will work out good for hanging wet clothes or towels in the shower to dry.
I just drilled them and threw a couple of 3/16" pop rivets in them.  They seem sturdy enough.  The list is getting shorter.