Coloring the Void

living nomadically

Archive for the category “repairs”

s%&t happens

If we had won the day before at the casino, we may have stayed another day there. As it was, we woke up in a wandering mood so we packed up and headed east. We crossed over the Hudson at the Newburgh Beacon Bridge, our usual choice to avoid traffic. The tolls are cheaper, too. We were headed to Croton-On-Hudson, to visit Zach, my son.

Croton Point Park, a Westchester County Park, is a great place to stay right on the Hudson River. It is about a mile from the train station that takes commuters into New York City, so it is a great alternative to Liberty RV Park at half the price. While Croton Point Park is pricey for just a couple of days stay ($55/night) a weeks stay is only $250 with full hook ups. There are some full timers and seasonals there but for $650 or $900 a month, I completely understand why. Rent, even this far outside the city, is three times that.

cm21

Our spacious site with full hookups

Croton Point Park has great bike trails and walking trails, a swim area, and lots of space to just while away the day.

cm20cm19cm18

While in the area, we had to stop by Lefteris Gyro in Tarrytown. It is becoming our favorite place for greek salad. On warm days, it is great to sit outside and people watch. We also had chance to try Wild Fusion, sushi in Mohegan Lake. The sushi was very fresh and the rolls were creative and artfully assembled. We enjoyed our time with Zach, caught up on the latest news, and enjoyed relaxing by the river.

We still had no reservations for any place before June 1 but did find out that Hammonasset Beach State Park, in Connecticut, was opening on Friday morning and was non-reservable for the weekend. We packed up Friday morning to head east.

Part of our pack up ritual is to flush the toilet one last time after dumping. This insures there is some water in the black tank to slosh around while driving, helping to keep any build up in the tank to a minimum. So I flushed the toilet. Everything worked fine for the first 30 seconds. And then for another 30 seconds and another 30 seconds and another 30 seconds. UhOh. We have a vacu-flush toilet – a vacuum generator sucks the waste down a tube into a black tank. Vacu-flushes are typically used in boats but many RVs also have them so that the floor plan doesn’t have to conform to black tank placement or so an RV can have two toilets and just one black tank. This also keeps black tank odors down as there is a vacuum between the tank and the bottom of the toilet rather than just a straight open drop into the black tank. Typically, the vacuum generator will run 30 seconds to move the waste from point a (the toilet) to point b (the black tank). This time, it took three minutes. We had a leak.

We tried it again, just to see if it was a one time fluke or a persistent problem. Again, three minutes to create a vacuum. At least, though, it was holding a vacuum. This meant it wasn’t a blown line. The idea of chasing a line leaking toilet water was not something I wanted to contemplate. So we finished packing up and moved on, planning to hopefully diagnose and fix the problem in Connecticut.

During the hour and half drive to Hammonasset, we researched all we could about vacu-flush toilets. We knew the problem wasn’t a toilet leak – the bowl was holding water without problems. We knew it wasn’t a blown line – it eventually formed a vacuum. We knew the generator was working – it sounded the same it always did, even if it ran for what seemed like forever. We got a site in the electric area of the campground, about 200 yards from the beach and set up camp. Then we ate lunch. Then we remembered we had no working toilet. Well, we had a working toilet, we just didn’t want to flush it.

In the 2014 33C, the vacuum generator is located under the bed, behind the SurgeGuard. There are two ways to get to it: the panel behind the surge guard or the panel in the rear pass through storage bay. We tried the panel behind the surge guard first. From this spot, we could see the vacuum generator. I flushed the toilet while Mike watched. Splashes of water came out of the top of the vacuum pump, where the bellows is located. Either a seal had popped or the bellows had cracked and was allowing water to come out the top. We decided to open the other panel to get a better look – Mike was too big to do much from the surge guard panel and I was too short to reach anything through that panel.

Once we got a better look into the space, we were able to remove the pump motor, remove the pump top, and get the bellows out. The most difficult and messy part was getting the bellows out; there was a little splashing involved. Somewhere, someone posted a tip about raising the front of your RV when you do this so the ‘water’ isn’t hanging out in the pump. We saw that afterwards.

The great thing about the construction of the pump is that most all the bolts/screws are the same size. The worst part about the whole task is the location of the pump itself. I guess Fleetwood figured it out because, at least beginning in 2016, the vacuum generator was moved to an easier to get to location (we discussed trading ours in just so we didn’t have to do this). During the job we needed at least three different sized screwdrivers and sockets because sometimes we had mere inches to work in and other spots required something tall to get around something else. In other words, it took us two hours to do a 15 minute job had the pump been located in a place where one could actually see it.

We thought about it for a while and discussed our options: fix it or pay someone else to fix it. Since it was late Friday afternoon, the chances of anyone having the part and coming out to fix it in the next two days were slim. We were resigned to using the campground bathroom. Personally, I hate public bathrooms. No, really, really hate them. In fact, when I get on a plane, my digestive clamps down, refusing to do anything until I have returned home. I knew it was going to be a long weekend.

Saturday morning I started looking at marine supply stores. Since SeaLands are very common in boats, I thought my luck would be much better there. Plus, we were on the coast in a very active boating area. I struck gold! They actually keep the part in stock at West Marine, the Camping World for the boat community. We needed the part RIGHT NOW so the premium for buying there was worth it. We spent the rest of the day running from place to place but were unable to find the O Rings that went with the pump;  we hoped that the old ones would work.

Sunday, we managed to get the bellows into the pump with the old O rings and seal the whole thing back up correctly. If you ever have to do this, put the motor on last – it will save you an hour of frustration. Just make sure the pump top is lined up correctly as the wires are very, very short. Putting it back together also took about two hours as by this time, our bodies ached and we had bruises in strange places from crawling into and out of the rear storage bay. I’m kinda curious what our camping neighbors thought as they passed by our bus and saw our feet hanging out of the bays.

Finally, with everything back in place except the panels, we turned on the toilet and held our breath. It worked! 30 seconds and done!  No water splashing out the top! I cannot express how happy we were that it was done and that we had managed to fix it correctly.

For what it is worth, we are pretty sure that the pump out at Lake Laurie was the beginning of our problem. A couple days after the pump out, we noticed that the vacuum generator sometimes ran longer than usual. Since it had performed perfectly for 20 months before then, we think the extra suction may have cause a small crack that grew over a weeks time.

We stayed at Hammonasset State Park in a W/E site about 200 yards from the beach but all we saw was our site and the bathroom. The bathrooms were clean, our site was large, and the electric worked fine. We would probably stay there again if in the area but we really don’t know much about the park itself. I will note, however, that there is a great bagel shop down the street. The bagels are amazing, especially when just pulled out of the oven (are bagels baked?)

 

 

Advertisements

Home Again Home Again, Jiggity Jig

After a couple of days relaxing in North Carolina, we were ready to head north to Wakefield, VA and the family farm. We had quite a bit to do – repairs, purging, cleaning – that we had put off in anticipation of our stop here.

For the three months we were in Florida, it rained maybe ten days. Once we crossed the state line heading north, we were hit by rain ten days out of twenty. We had noticed a slight leak in the bedroom slide back in Jonathan Dixon State Park. It wasn’t a bad leak, just a slightly damp carpet near the head of the bed. It happened in a driving downpour so we were pretty sure it was roof related. Of course, we checked the pipes first; the shower is right there, as are the water lines for the toilet. Nope. It must be the roof. We temporarily patched a few things and left it at that.

In the driving rains at EastBank, the leak got worse. So much worse. The rain was blowing hard and getting under the slide topper. The leak was in the roof of the slide. This was proved when we pulled in the slide during the next rain in Pine Mountain and had no leak. Upon further inspection, it looked as if the seams of the roof were failing. In one spot there was a gap between the seam and the roof we could stick our finger in. We ordered a collapsible ladder from Walmart to be picked up in North Carolina and eternabond from Amazon to meet us in Wakefield.

The eternabond application turned out to be really easy in spite of the fact we could not get the slide topper off. The ‘screws’ we intended to remove to peel back the slide topper turned out to be rivets and we couldn’t get them out without destroying them. So we worked around it. We cleaned the slide roof, sprayed the eternabond primer, then laid down the eternabond tape. We were pretty liberal with it, as we purchased a 50′ roll of 4″ tape in anticipation of future need. The only trick with eternabond seems to be to go slow and only pull down the backing as you need to to stick it to the roof. We won’t be able to see how well our patch holds until it rains again.

Our second repair was the hot water hose to the sink. In North Carolina, we hear a drip coming from the sink. ( I highly recommend sitting in and around your RV every once in a while in absolute silence. That is how this leak was discovered). It was just a ‘once a minute’ drip but it was new and noticeable. We started troubleshooting; we knew where it was leaking and how it was leaking, we just wanted to know why. And more importantly,  why now. We discovered that the fitting on the hot water hose only leaked when propane was used to heat the water. The pressure in the hot water tank is higher when on propane because it heats the water more than the electric side does. If the hot water to the sink is turned on, the pressure is released and the leak stops until the tank heats up again. We couldn’t access the pipe well enough by going at it from under the sink so, when we got to Wakefield we took the outside TV out. It was an easy fix from there, just a bit more plumber’s tape and no more leak.

Our third repair was the microwave light bulb. It wouldn’t even count as a repair except the stupid bulb broke when we removed it. Amazon sent us a new one in our care package and in ten minutes, with just a little cussing, it too was fixed.

We also tackled the general oiling, greasing,  tightening, and inspections needed periodically in a rolling house and found the bus to be in great condition in spite of what we demand of her.

While in Wakefield we also did some purging. Gone was the bike, which I had barely ridden over the last six months, partly due to the fact that Mike had strapped it to the Jeep so tightly that it took about an hour to get it off and partly because it developed a flat tire. Gone was the back seat of the jeep. We kept it as long as we did so we could take Belle with us on day trips. It has seat belts so we could secure her kennel. Belle and her kennel were gone so we didn’t need the seat anymore. This freed up quite a bit of room in the back. And sadly, our winter blanket is gone. It was a huge, fluffy, down and ‘sheep skin’ comforter that took up half a bin to store. I could put four blankets in the same space it required and so, we dumped it. Also, a bulky step ladder we needed back in Washington State when our steps broke. We hadn’t found a use for it since then and it took up the space needed for our new 15′ extendable ladder. All in all, the Jeep probably lost 100 lbs. while the Short Bus came out even.

We also cleaned, laundered, rearranged our bins for more efficiency, and did some planning for the rest of April and a bit of May. It was a very productive two and a half days.

 

 

Post Navigation