Our Chalet Truck Camper

Our Chalet Truck Camper

Saturday, April 24, 2010

GFI, Solar, Tall Pines and lots more

Time to catch up the blog on our Truck Camper travels. First - the mystery battery problem was dirty battery terminals. Once cleaned and sprayed with dielectric cleaner, the batteries charged again. More on this later.

Mid April is the time of year for the Mid Atlantic Truck Camper rally run by Ron and Michelle Humphries. What a great time it is to meet up with old TC friends, meet lots of new ones and learn of new places to go. We left Maine on Sunday, April 10th and overnighted at a Cracker Barrel in Fishkill, NY. Great service CB provides as they freely let RVers use their lots. We always enjoy a good meal and a safe night's sleep. Mysterious power and water leaks start and make us pretty uneasy. Stopped at Delaware RV Center and had the batteries checked. They tested good on a load test and we confirmed that the water leak was probably from a split low water hot water drain valve. Very dumb placement of the valves as hot and cold are side by side and virtually impossible to work on. Here's the valve after repair by Xtreme Campers in High Point, NC. They used PEX tubing and a knife handle valve.

On to Assateague National Seashore to camp on Bayside Loop C with TC friends Fran and Chuck from CT. As always it's amazing to see the wild ponies wander by, all the shore birds and enjoy the warmth of a southern spring sun. The pine pollen was so thick it looked like yellow rain and both of us started wheezing from the pollen.

A lingering TC problem cropped up once again - no heat from the gas furnace. Chuck was a RV tech in a former life and kindly swapped out the Suburban furnace board for us. Yes we carried a spare one plus an igniter and gas regulator. Furnace worked once, then quit again with none of us able to figure it out. Since there was now a cold driving rain, chickened out of a cold night and drove down to Sanford, VA to Tall Pines Campground to start the rally early. Plugged into power, turned on the cube electric heater and slept well.

By Wednesday fellow TCers were arriving in droves. Here is our Host with the North East party tent beside us, Joe watching new arrivals and a line up of our group.

Mystery electrical problem showed up again with batteries not charging. Lots of TCers looked and could not find what was going on. Finally friend Fireman Dave stuck his head way into the area with the converter and found a GFI way hidden in the back. Yeap - it was tripped. One push of the popped GFI and we are golden once again. Lessons learned - but a really poor placement of the GFI.

When we grow up, we want to be like the big boy TCers that go out on the ocean sands. These are some serious fishing rigs. This is Ron Humphrie's TC with front carriers, rod holders and serious back deck plus kids, dog, and extra water tank on top.

Our chief Wagon Master Mikeee T did his usual incredible job of cooking two huge beef roasts while Cathie T prepared haddock with crumb topping. We feasted, imbibed adult beverages and told tales of where we'd been over the last year. This feast was followed by the first of many poker games.

All too soon the rally was over, TCs scattered home from Nova Scotia to California. We head down to Xtreme Campers to see Mike Olesnevich and have him take a look at the water problem and gas furnace. He graciously worked us in on Monday AM. Travis immediately found and fixed a water pump diaphram problem we didn't even know we had. He then cut the very inconviently placed low water drain line and put in a new shut off. The gas furnace problem is proving to be a real mystery to everyone who looks. Mike and Travis found oil in the regulator from overfilled gas tanks which prevents free flow of gas to the furnace. Ah-ha every one went. Purge the tanks, lines and regulator. Fixed!! Unfortunately not. A third regulator went in, furnace worked over and over correctly so we called it good. In the meantime since we were already there, we had Mike put in a Kyrocera 120 watt solar panel and a Morningstar controller. The Host is prewired so we can add another panel later if wanted. Poor Mike suffered through my concern over the solar panel lifting off the roof in the wind from travelling. He quickly fabricated an airfoil, painted it white, applied an Xtreme Campers sticker, mounted it on the front edge of the solar panel and called it good. Obviously the panel didn't move.

Off we went to a Corps of Engineers camp area at Philpott Lake in southwest VA. Beautiful place and a great way to end our trip before pushing for home. Unfortunately the gas furnace quit again - it just won't light and times out after trying three times. The controller board, igniter, regulator have all been replaced. We'll look for a Suburban RV furnace repair place close to home and give it another try. After all we're headed to another North East TC gathering in Salisbury, MA mid May and it can still be pretty cold up here at night.

Today we cleaned the camper and didn't plug it into electric power. Sure was fun to watch the solar panel working and topping off the battery. More boondocking here we come!