1975 Argosy MH Tank Sending Unit and Sock Filter

The biggest reason I scored my Argosy Motorhome (other than my neighbor being a great guy) is because the previous owner couldn’t get fuel to the motor.  He had “help” from a friend who tried replacing the fuel pump (with one that wasn’t powerful enough), but the actual issue was that the fuel line from the tank was severely blocked.  In the gallery below you can see what I removed from the lift tube in the fuel sender.  Not only was the “filter sock” pretty much full to the point of saturation, but the metal tube from the bottom of the tank was filled with a lot of black, rubbery crud.

To get the Argosy back to my place from where it had been sitting for more than a decade, I had bypassed the gas tank by placing a small fuel reservoir inside the cabin and installing  a Carter P4070 fuel pump to move the fuel.  It is common consensus that a fuel pump should be as close to the tank as possible, with no part of the fuel line “behind” the pump; thus, inside the tank is the very best placement.  My intention for the *final* fuel delivery solution was to install an in-tank lift pump, and with the access port that my Argosy has in the floor above the tank, I think that’s still a viable option, but after seeing how everything is set up, I think I’m going to just stick with the Carter as close to the tank as I can get it (not inside the tank).  This just makes replacing/servicing the fuel pump that much easier, because you don’t have to open up the access port in the floor to get inside the fuel tank.

I was considering adding a “better” fuel filter inside the tank, but after doing a lot reading, apparently the sock is the best way to go, because it soaks up fuel, and allows the vehicle to run when the tank is virtually empty.  If the fuel is moving around in the tank while driving, the sock soaks it up and keeps it at the intake line.  If the sock weren’t present, there would be an empty tube trying to suck up fuel from places in the tank it can’t reach.  I may need to replace the sock filter in another 50 years, but I’ve got the floor access panel, so dropping the tank isn’t necessary for that procedure.

So now that I have my tank opened up and the sender removed, I will replace the fuel sock and clean out the tank before hooking everything back up and driving away!

 

1975 Argosy 454 Chevy Big Block – Replace Mechanical Fuel Pump with Electric Fuel Pump

I am getting ready to bring the “Diskotrek” home.  It’s a fully loaded 1975 Argosy 24′ mobile home that has been sitting for at least five years.  Last weekend I towed it about 10 feet to pull it out of the ruts it was sitting in and to make sure the brakes work (they do!).  All six tires were still holding air and almost at full pressure.  The brake fluid reservoir was almost completely full (I added maybe 4 tablespoons of Dot 3), and pumping the brake definitely moved the fluid in the reservoir.  After pumping the pedal for around a minute, we started to get resistance.  The brakes didn’t work the first time we started rolling, but after a little more pumping, they were good to go (at least at around 3mph!). The only information I have on why it has been sitting so long is that the last time someone tried to get it running, they didn’t want to pony up for a strong enough fuel pump.  That sounds odd (giving up because of a $30 part?!), but it’s all I’ve got to go on, so…

I’ve been researching the fuel pump swap.  These 454 Big Blocks used a mechanical pump (a pump that gets moved by a link to the engine cam).  To start the vehicle, you’re supposed to “prime” the fuel by pumping the gas pedal.  If you pump too much, you’ll flood the engine.  Not only that, but the rod between the pump and the cam shaft often becomes uncoupled or seizes (depending on the style of the year of the motor) so the pump stops, well, pumping.

Some people replace the mechanical pump to keep it stock (which seems to last 3 years or so on average?), so the preferred solution is to replace the mechanical pump with an electric one (or just add it to the line if the mechanical pump is still functioning).  From what I gather, though not absolutely necessary, it’s best to remove the mechanical pump if it fails and cap off the hole, so fuel isn’t being pushed into/through the old, non-functioning pump.  The replacement pump should provide around 5psi and needs to “push” the fuel rather than suck it, so you need to mount the pump as close to the fuel tank as possible, preferably with an inline fuel filter right before the pump (to keep all the rust and other gunk inside your tank from clogging the fuel line or getting to the carburetor).

A lot of people use the Red Holly pump, but at $130, it has much worse reviews than a lot of the $25-$40 pumps I’m seeing online, so I’m not sure the “Holly” premium is worth it.  However, the Carter P4070 gets mentioned a lot, was installed (either by Chevy or Airstream) on newer Airstreams/Argosies to take care of vapor lock issues, has a 72GPH idle flow rate (much higher than I’m seeing from other pumps), and comes highly recommended by a lot of Airforums users.  It’s around $62 delivered, but seems to be worth the little bit extra for something tried and true.

So I pulled both batteries (starting and house) and will put a new starting battery in next weekend along with the new electric fuel pump to see if she starts!

Didn’t see this mentioned in a lot of places, so thought this was worth highlighting…

Airforums user WayneG comments:

A electric fuel pump should be hooked up to run only when the engine is running. To do that it should have a safety interlock that prevents it from pumping unless the ignition switch is on and there is oil pressure. Too many people leave out the oil pressure switch, which is a bad idea. The reason for it is that if you break a fuel line after the electric pump or your carb float sticks open, it will be pouring fuel some place creating a fire hazard. If the engine is not running because of lack of fuel, there will be no oil pressure and the fuel pump will stop pumping. I found this diagram for a fuel pump hookup, there may be better methods.

 

 

 

Links to some of the resources I used for this post:

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f159/454-fuel-pump-85502.html

https://goodoldrvs.ning.com/profiles/blogs/electric-fuel-pump-conversion-greatest-thing

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f159/more-help-please-fuel-pump-question-167580.html

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f311/fuel-pump-question-96380.html

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f159/454-engine-in-argosy-mh-151534.html

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f311/1985-345-fuel-pump-problem-183783.html

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f311/fuel-pump-location-43753.html

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f310/trying-to-start-argosy-after-2-years-90966.html

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f159/454-engine-in-argosy-mh-151534.html

http://theouterlimits.ws/projects/airstream/fuel/index.html

Airstream Problems and Build Quality

While I firmly believe that Airstream is the best mass-produced travel trailer available, they are not without their issues.  A lot of people seem to think that for the price (usually over $100k), there should be no issues, but obviously that’s not realistic.  From what I understand, Airstream does do a pretty good job of fixing that which wasn’t done correctly in the first place (and you can stay at the “mothership” while they fix it!). Do “small things” fail too often?  Probably.  Are there some really bad ideas/designs implemented on a fairly regular basis.  Maybe.  But “batting 500” is considered stellar (if not impossible) in terms of baseball stats, and Airstream is probably doing better than that, so it all depends on perspective.

Many Airstream problems are a result of poor design, but those problems are almost always “luxury” problems (cabinets, appliances, layout, latches, etc.), not major mechanicals or the design of the body and frame.

Most Airstreams also aren’t built for “owner maintenance.”  As such, when something goes wrong, it can be incredibly difficult to fix.  Sometimes people end up “breaking things more” while attempting to fix something that they shouldn’t have been messing with in the first place.

The issue is similar to the Apple vs. PC mentality.  Apple products are made to only function with Apple components; by keeping things close, Apple creates an environment where they have more control over the outcome.  Apple products are meant to be “worked on” only by licensed Apple specialists.  PC’s are made more for the “do-it-yourself” crowd, and there are a plethora of components that can be used to make things work in myriad ways.  Apple is generally thought of as a product for people who just “want things to work.”  If those items stop working as they should, Apple customers send them back, trade them in, or have an “expert” fix them.  Airstream definitely operates by the Apple code, and the price of the initial product as well as the maintenance reflects that ideal.

Another issue is often that people try to use their Airstream outside of it’s window of expected use (sub-zero camping, questionable road conditions, etc).  In other words, they are pushing the boundaries of what Airstream has intended for the trailer.  Many people believe that if you spend over $100,000 for a trailer, it should work all of the time, in any condition.  But what those people fail to consider is that it’s more like owning a Ferrari.  If you don’t baby it, things will go wrong, and it will be expensive to fix them… if you can even find someone with the expertise to do the work properly.

All of these thoughts are going into my idea of what an ideal Airstream renovation should entail.  I think the build should certainly be “done right” in the first place (no cabinets “anchored to air” or missing fasteners), but it should also be user-friendly, so that when something goes wrong (because thing will go wrong when you’re bouncing down the road for years), they can be easily fixed by anyone with a decent idea of “how things work.”  Components should also be readily available, so that it doesn’t take weeks (or even months!) of waiting for parts or service windows.

Any time something is mass-produced, you make sacrifices in quality control (the more hands there are, the more opportunity there is for mistakes).  The “Apple mentality” is one way of trying to minimize those issues.  I prefer the “one-at-a-time” approach (which is certainly a luxury), and that’s how I plan to renovate and reinvent travel trailers.  I don’t plan on getting rich.  I just plan on building great vehicles.

 

Here are some threads I’ve collected that reflect people’s varied opinions on Airstream build quality and service, as well as some of the specific things that seem to consistently go wrong…

“Attention to detail” issues…
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f44/advice-2020-classic-attention-to-detail-issues-209849.html

Designed to sell, not to use…
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f240/designed-to-sell-not-to-use-207769.html

Frustrated with Airstream quality…
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f540/frustrated-with-airstream-quality-194992.html

Forty things we would change on our Airstream…
https://www.naturephotoguides.com/travel/40-things-we-would-change-on-our-airstream

Had it with my Basecamp…
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f404/had-it-with-my-basecamp-183574.html

Bath mirror cabinet fell off…
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f542/bath-mirror-cabinet-fell-off-of-2018-flying-cloud-23cb-186245.html

Bath vanity failure…
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f44/bath-vanity-failure-198410.html

Remounting medicine cabinet to prevent falling…
https://www.airforums.com/forums/blogs/gmfl/remounting-23d-medicine-cabinet-to-prevent-falling-2973

Leaking, rust, A/C issues, drawers off tracks, cabinet alignment…
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f295/airstream-quality-and-reliability-208302.html

Component choices…
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f445/shurflo-revolution-2-3-or-3-0-gpm-187499.html

Repairing a Cracked Airstream Plastic End Cap

I was going to build a bunk over the dinette, but plans change, and luckily I hadn’t yet recycled the plastic interior end cap.  Originally I had decided not to use the end cap, because it had been damaged by the previous owner upon removal.  But plastic can be repaired, and here’s how I did it.

While the giant crack was the major concern, the first thing I knew I would need to do is stop all the little cracks from getting bigger.  The best way to do this is by drilling a small hole at the end of each crack.

Next I needed to make sure the end cap was super clean so whatever I was going to use for repairing the crack would adhere to the plastic, so I went over it with soap and water, then TSP-PF, then denatured alcohol to remove any residue.

I research online quite a bit deciding how I would make this repair.  There are many posts and videos on “plastic welding,” but I think that method is best for softer plastic like ABS.  I tried plastic welding on a small crack, but this aged, brittle plastic just doesn’t take well to being melted by heat.

Next I thought about using a flexible backing and epoxy.  I braced the crack from underneath as well as using some foil tape on the other side to make sure there was no movement during curing.  Then I cut a patch of screen, and  spread some two part epoxy over the crack before applying the screen.  The idea was that the epoxy would stick to the end cap, and the screen would be embedded in the epoxy.  I used foil tape and a brick to hold the screen and epoxy in place while it dried.  I tested this method on the upper part of the crack.  My thought was that I could finish the repair on the bottom (where separation was greater) with a different solution if this didn’t work well.

The epoxy and screen did work pretty well, but the more I thought about it, the more I worried that the cured epoxy would be brittle, and thus would just crack again with road vibration.  The screen would likely keep the two pieces from separating, but the crack would become visible again from the front side.  So I moved on to using something that I would actually need to purchase (what I had been avoiding by trying to use stuff I had on hand).

I also used a piece of steel (an Ikea wall cleat) across the entire front of the end cap to hold the crack closed and strengthen the structure.

I had used Fiber Fix rigid patch while on the road to repair a split in my turbo hose once, so I knew it did a great job of holding together, even under heat.  The product had some pretty bad reviews online, but I think this was because people were not using it correctly.  The product requires UV light to cure, and luckily, that is something I have a serious abundance of, living a mile closer to the sun here in Colorado.  So I re-prepped the large bottom portion of the crack, and applied the patch as instructed.  I then let the end cap sit in the bright Colorado sun for the entire day.  The Fiber Fix cured extremely well, and I don’t think it will ever let go.  It is seriously bonded to the plastic.

 

I then installed the end cap back into the Airstream, and finished the visible side with a couple of coats of Bondo before sanding smooth and painting.

Custom Hybrid RV Toilet

I definitely prefer boondocking over crowded campsites.  As such, a black tank is a hindrance beyond an inconvenience.  All that water, holding capacity, and weight wasted on simply flushing a toilet.  The obvious solution is a composting toilet, but the market leaders require maintenance that I feel is unnecessary (mainly, a small urine tank you have to empty by hand, cranking a handle to stir up the solid waste, and finally, disposal of solid waste).

Some composting toilets allow you to plumb the urine diverter to the gray tank.  That’s a good idea (no dumping a urine jug).

At the time of my build, I was surprised that there didn’t seem to be anyone in the US selling a stand alone urine diverter, especially with how many blog posts there were on building bucket toilets for off-grid houses, etc.  That has since changed (there are now a lot more options), but I will give props to the couple in England who made a business of selling their urine diverter online.  I paid $45 on eBay, which seemed a little steep for a molded piece of plastic, but it was definitely quick and easy, and I’ve been happy with the product and design.

So then how to improve on the #2 part?  Well, it seems like ever since human kind invited cats into their homes, the problem has been “solved.”  Yes, I believe that a human litter box is the way to go.  They key to this, however, is the exhaust fan.  The reason a composting toilet functions well is because there is a 12v continuous exhaust fan sucking out any odor and making sure the compartment is void of all moisture.  As long as this idea is incorporated, the human litter box is a great solution.

So basically, all one needs to do is build a fancy “outhouse” setup where the toilet in the Airstream would normally go.  A cabinet box houses the bin that will catch the solids as well as the urine diverter and the exhaust fan.  You need a deck on top of the cabinet with a toilet seat attached.  That’s pretty much it.

For the deck, I wanted a solid material that is as easy as possible to clean (for obvious reasons), thus, I chose a heavy duty commercial kitchen cutting board (18″x24″).  It’s an inch thick, so plenty solid, and it’s made to be easily wiped completely clean (removing bacteria, etc., in a kitchen setting).  I searched a bit online and found the Winco CBXH-1824 for $30 from a commercial kitchen supplier.  I used the toilet seat as a template, and then cut the hole with a reciprocating saw.  I then used a router to round off the sharp edge.

For the seat, I chose a “soft close” hinge (it doesn’t slam) and found a seat with a lid that is actually molded over the edge of the seat, to form a kind of seal.  I thought about making a gasket to make the seat and lid really seal, as I thought this would help mitigate odor, but it turns out that the exhaust fan really does completely eliminate odor, and leaving a little bit of an air gap around the seat (vs. sealing it completely) helps with air flow.

I was a little worried that I hadn’t left a vent stack through the roof.  I didn’t want to vent through the side wall for aesthetic reasons, and I was worried that venting through the floor wouldn’t work very well.  I did some poking around online, and there were a few people who had installed set ups in their Sprinter vans that included exhaust vents through the floor, so I decided to give it a try.  It has worked great.  No complaints with functionality, and after a year of use, any worry about excessive odor due to not venting above the nose line has been assuaged.

The vent fan box build…

 

 

The most convenient way to plumb the urine diverter in my build was to pipe into the lavatory sink drain pipe.  This has the added bonus of “flushing” the toilet (anything standing in the drain pipe) when you wash your hands. I though that was pretty clever.

 

So I just place a trash bag in the bin (the plastic container that the kitty litter came in happens to be the perfect size), ad a little kitty litter (like, just a couple cups), and the exhaust fan takes care of the rest. With two people, every couple of weeks or so I take the deck off the toilet cabinet and remove the bag from the bin and toss it in a dumpster.  We’ve been using this set up for more than a year, and I have to say I’m extremely pleased with the results.  And there has never been any odor!  My eight-year-old actually prefers the Airstream toilet to the ones in the house.

 

 

 

 

 

Upgrading Speakers while Retaining the Original Trim (Speaker Housing)

I’ve been using a portable Bluetooth speaker in the Airstream, but with as much time as I’m spending in there these days, it’s time for something a little more “serious.”  The 5.25″ speakers from 1972 are unlistenable, and I really wanted to keep the original trim (the speaker covers), so I hopped online to  research car speakers that would work.  I didn’t need anything “crazy,” and was happy to find a set of Infinity car speakers (REF-5022cfx) with great reviews for $50.

When they arrived, I placed them in the original speaker housing, and while the diameter was a perfect fit, the “tweeter” portion of the speaker protruded too far from the “woofer” portion, and thus pressed up against the grill of the housing.  This was a pretty easy fix, but it did take a little while to scavenge the perfect objects to use for stand-offs/spacers (rubber grommets).  I tried both plastic and rubber, and rubber was definitely the way to go.  Not only does it have some give, but it also helps reduce vibration between the speaker and housing.  I also ended up using rubber washers to replace the original nuts that hold the speakers in place.

The new speakers were already quite a bit deeper than the originals (larger magnets, deeper cone, additional tweeter component, etc.), so I knew I would need to cut away quite a bit of the insulation behind the speaker housing to accommodate the new speaker depth.  I cut away the existing 1.5 inches of polyiso insulation, then TremPro’d a 1/2″ sheet of polyiso panel to the exterior skin behind the speaker hole and sealed everything back up with 3M foil tape to make sure there wouldn’t be any drafts from behind the speaker grates.

Because all this insulation is foil-faced, and since I used foil tape to seal everything up, I made sure to cover the posts on the speaker with electric tape so there wouldn’t be any metal-on-metal contact.

Before placing the speakers back in the wall, I hooked them up to take a listen, and was extremely disappointed by the thin sound, especially since so many of the reviews specifically commented on how great the bass was for these 5.25″ speakers.   I realized that actually placing them on/in the wall would increase surface area and create more vibration and reflection, but I didn’t realize just *how* much of a difference placement would make.  They actually sound great!

So now I have permanent front speakers that I can use with my temporary audio set up (a 12v powered Bluetooth receiver/amp that I feed with either my phone or the television) until I decide what I will be using for the whole-house media system.  (More on that in a future post!)

 

Creating an Exterior “Pass Through” Box

When I dry dock in the driveway, I usually run a Cat6 ethernet cable directly from the router for the television rather than rely on wireless signal (wireless sometimes drops out when I’m that far from the router).  I also have a 12v wireless router set up in the Airstream, but I usually only use that when I’m traveling (it allows me to run a physical ethernet line directly from my host’s router, so I don’t suffer from signal drop when I’m parked in their driveway/yard or on the street).  I’ve been passing the ethernet cable through the small window next to the door, but that’s a pretty inelegant solution to something that I do fairly often.  I also don’t like that routing the cord that way will eventually deform the window gasket, not to mention it pinches the cable.

My original thought was to place an outlet box with ethernet and coax ports on the outside of the Airstream, but the more I thought about what the port could be used for, the more it made sense to simply create a “pass through” hole.  Sure, the ethernet and coax ports would look more “pro,” but coax is pretty much obsolete already, and I assume ethernet will be there in the not-to-distant-future, so why not do something a little more future-proof?  Plus, I can think of plenty of other things that I might want to pass through the Airstream wall from inside to out or outside to in (extension cord, gas line for portable grill or heater, 12v power, etc.).

So I started by cutting a heavy duty plastic outlet box down to size (depth) so it could fit snugly in the wall between the inner and outer skins.

Trimming an outlet box to fit between the skins.

I then drilled rivet holes, drilled to mark the corners of the opening on the exterior skin, and then cut a  hole using a 4″ cut-off wheel.

After cutting the hole, I put TremPro 635 on the back of the outlet box to secure and seal it to the inside of the exterior skin, then riveted the box from the outside (so the rivets look good on the exterior).

Finally, I used butyl tape around the outside edge of an aluminum weather-proof outlet face plate, and riveted the plate in place over the outlet hole.

The inside will be finished with another spring loaded, weather-proof face plate, but could also be completed using a keystone face plate for dedicated ethernet, co-ax, etc. ports.  The box is below the deck of the dinette seat, so it won’t be visible, thus I’m just going with the spring-loaded door for more universal use.

Mounted box ready for interior face plate.

 

 

Laminating the Dinette Kick with Salvaged Aluminum Skin

Today I put the finish on the dinette kick by laminating salvaged aluminum sheet (interior skin) to the front surface.  I’ve found that the 4×8 1/4″ “utility panel” at Lowe’s is the least expensive substrate I can find, and it’s actually a pretty decent product.  It’s readily available (always in stock), plenty strong (especially once you adhere aluminum to it!), and in a pinch can even take a coat of stain and look acceptable on its own.

I cut the new kick panel to size from a salvaged ceiling skin, and then adhered it to the face of the kick plate with DAP contact cement (used for laminating countertops and available at any big box/hardware store).  Because of the inner curve of the dinette corners, it didn’t take much to clamp the aluminum sheet in place (it basically stayed there on it’s own, but I clamped the upper edge to be sure it was nice and tight).  This was fortuitous, as I was not looking forward to building clamp plates to hold the sheet where it needed to be, especially at those inner corner radii.

The salvaged aluminum sheet had some rivet holes from it’s previous life as a ceiling, so I shot rivets through those existing holes to further secure the skin to the utility panel since the holes would need to be filled anyway.

I will eventually paint the skin to match the rest of the Airstream.

I think it came out looking really nice, and it is definitely a strong and sturdy surface that I don’t need to worry about when it gets kicked and banged over and over again for the next hundred years!

Things I Learned on Roadtrip #5

So… we’re getting there.  This is the first trip where things started being… genuinely comfortable.  We traveled over two thousand miles in nine days from Denver to Alamosa (via the mountainous highway 285) to ABQ to the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas and back.

All appliances function as they should.  We’ve got running water and drains, a working toilet (which is completely custom and water-less, though not quite perfected yet), a working dishwasher, kitchen cabinets for pantry storage, a powerful whole-house vacuum (a must-have with dogs), a dining table with seating, television with game console (N64!), propane heat, air conditioner, a Fantastic Van, and comfy beds.  The only major thing that’s missing is a water heater (and eventually the radiant heat system), but we didn’t really miss it on this trip, even though there were times when outside temps were below freezing (in a pinch, if you really need warm water to wash up with, you can always heat up a pot on the stove).

I still need a more permanent window covering solution (we’re currently using panels that fit inside each window cavity), but I’m getting close on that.

The Fewer Things You Have to Move for Access the Better

I made the dinette seating so you can keep bins below for “utility stuff” and other sundries (extension cords, bungees, lantern, tape, velcro, etc.), as well as access to the 12v system (batteries, converter/conditioner, and 12v fuse panel).  While it’s really nice having all that storage space, it really is a pain to have to move people, cushions, and anything else sitting on the bench before lifting the bench panels to get at the things you need.  And I found out quickly that I need to get at those things a LOT more often than I anticipated (don’t even think about keeping dog food under your seating!).

Future builds will definitely include a larger exterior-access utility bay for tools and other “heavy utility” things, and I am still working on ways to make the under-seating storage better without resorting to front-access panels/doors/drawers (I don’t like the look or the function of front access storage at feet level).

You Can Use a Lot Less Water Than You Might Think

Because I’m still dealing with freezing temperatures (March in the mountains), I have been testing out an auxiliary interior water tank system.  I found a nice looking 10 gallon, silver colored Thermos drink cooler (like you’d use at a Soccer or Football game).  I removed the bung/spout where you’d get your drink from, and replaced it with a valve that hooks directly to the water pump.  This trip was 11 days long (including two days in the driveway), and I only filled the tank once.  To be fair, we never ran the dishwasher, but I tested that before we left, and a full load of dishes only uses three gallons of water.  So teeth brushing, washing up (there was a lot of that with all the work on the Tow Vehicle), cleaning dishes, etc. didn’t use more than around 15 gallons for the two of us for 11 days in the desert (CO, NM, AZ, NV).  I’m sure we’ll use more in the summer, but that’s kind of the beauty of the auxiliary tank for winter use when temps are below freezing outside the Airstream.

Put a Conveniently Located Switch on Your Water Pump

After several stops where water was evident in the sink, on the countertop, and in various other places, it became apparent that it would be a good idea to shut off the water pump while driving.  At first I was just removing the fuse, but it’s a pain to access on a regular basis, so I decided to mount an on/off switch next to the kitchen sink to control the water pump.

Dogs Make a Huge Mess

There doesn’t seem to be any way around this. Towels and carpet are the only apparent “solution,” but they can only do so much (catch dirt and water to make it a bit easier to clean up).  A “buffer area” outside the door (under an awning with a rug) would be a good step, but we aren’t quite there yet.  Luckily I’ve got the whole house vacuum installed, so we could perform a “meaningful” clean up whenever we had an electrical hookup.  And the dogs had to learn to sleep on the floor on this trip.  There’s just no way 11 days on the road can be comfortable with two 80 pound, adventurous (meaning: covered in nature’s filth) beasts in your bed.

Your Refrigerator Might Not Be Closing All the Way

I couldn’t figure out why our fridge wasn’t getting cold enough.  I switched between propane, 120v, and 12v, but it just wasn’t getting much below 50 degrees F.  I tried cleaning the exhaust flue and making sure the exhaust fans were working.  I adjusted the propane flame.  I messed with the thermostat and the thermistor (the wire attached to the fins inside the fridge).  Nothing was changing the situation.  Finally I realized there was a small gap around the door and the door wasn’t sealing completely.  It turns out a plastic washer on the door hinge had worn away and the door was sitting slightly lower than it should have, thus it was rubbing against the bottom of the fridge and not closing completely.  This has also happened when items inside the fridge aren’t Tetris-ed perfectly.  Once I realized the door wasn’t actually closed (!!!) and fixed the problem with the washer hinge, our 50-year-old Dometic was back to keeping perfectly cool.

The Hensley Hitch is Massive Overkill for my Setup

With the ongoing issues I’ve had with the Hensley hitch (see other posts), I decided to use only the “back up hitch” on this trip (the kind with chain leveling bars and a small, friction-based sway bar).  It worked fine, and that included facing the huge trucks on Interstate 40 as well as crazy Arizona cross-winds.  The Hensley Hitch is still more of the “dream” while driving, but factoring in all the issues I’ve had with its inadequate design, plus the  added size and weight, I have decided that the standard WD Hitch works plenty fine for a 25ft. Airstream built to be a little lighter than factory issue… even when being pulled by my tiny Jeep Liberty CRD.  And the non-Hensley Hitch is certainly more dependable.

Exhaust Will Find a Way into an Unsealed Airstream

Things are still getting covered by a fine, black film/powder (particulate matter).  Obviously, diesel exhaust is easier to *see* than gasoline exhaust, thus, I am privy to just how much tow vehicle exhaust is still entering the Airstream.  This thing is sealed up like a drum… except where it’s not.  I currently have a drain running “open” (not to a tank), and I also haven’t sealed up the front panel where the tow vehicle electrical harness enters the Airstream.  I can see lots of diesel dust at those points of ingress.  It’s amazing how badly vehicle exhaust wants to be inside our trailer!  I am certainly looking forward to finally having things all sealed up and not having to deal with black dust anymore.

Dinette Kick

Just some updates for the current build…

Working on the dinette kick plate.  This is the bracing that goes behind the finished layer of aluminum to match the skins on the walls. The minor cracks in the radius of the curve won’t matter, because they will be behind a sheet of aluminum.

I’ve also included a couple pics of laying in the LVP (“luxury vinyl plank) flooring.