Saturday, June 9, 2012


Well, some big changes to our lifestyle. Nah, not the lifestyle, but the way we do it. The way it started was the box truck needing another repair. Blown head gasket, or block crack. So I was gearing up for another boondocking month in Texas heat trying to accumulate the money for some mechanic to pull the head off the engine. Pulling the head off this engine is more than I am capable of.
  I was looking at Deb and wondering if I could put her through all this again, with the miserable Texas heat. Also, she rarely escaped the box, and now with no way to drive it, we would have to be parked in a plug-in site to have air conditioning.
  I guess the decision was made for me. The box had to go. At what cost? I had to sell my trailer and my bike. I then took that money and bought an old class C. 1987 fleetwood tioga on a chevy chassis, 350 engine. Almost the same as what I had, except I didn't build it.

But at least it's drivable. I can take Deb out and about, and the air conditioner works. I knew that the notorious  overhead would leak. Also, it required a $900 brake job, new master cylinder and lines. I've already started repairing the roof, and the brakes are done.
  During this same time period, we met and adopted another furry companion, a Lhasa Apso named Charlie. Could not pass him up (I'm a sucker for Lhasas). Ain't he cute?
   So, the adventure continues, with a  few forks (thanks, Brian) in the road....


Sunday, April 8, 2012

a little peace

'Up' at Lake Whitney, run by the corps of engineers, there are a lot of boondocking sites. This one, right next to the dam, is kinda right up my alley. Nice hill country scenery, nice quiet 'poor' folks (you won't see any huge multi-thousand dollar class A's here). People trying to escape the wrath of weekly wrestling with their particular  schedule of  enslavement. I kinda dread it when we have to go plug in for an overnight at one of the pay campsites. We can last a week with our batteries, but what goes out must come back in.

And it's kind of unbelievable, but the corps maintains these sites, even though they are not generating any moolah. Now this is what I'm talkin' about....

Sunday, March 25, 2012


1969. The place, batangan penisnsula, Vietnam. 17 years old, I was...and this was the prelude to the "push" through a 'hotbox' known as pinkville. Battalion Commander, Colin Powell...I live this nightly, if not daily..I share this with my internet friends because aren't we all seeking a peace? A young kid on a rickety bike, trying to warn us of an ambush...he didn't make it.and neither did many of us...
  I now look to the north, and see a sea of bluebonnets, about 7 a.m....a gift to me from a higher power? Or maybe just the earth revealing the bounty of a life away from the quagmire of seeking riches, seeking power, or seeking as many possessions as one can have. I do like simple gifts....and a simple life...the seeking of all "that stuff" will get you nowhere...this I know to be true. It's welded in to my brain from a life in the extremes of what man can do to other men...

It's not a question of "what." It's a question of how we weave our way through a maze of wtf...JUST stay true to your vision, fellow seekers...I know that we will find peace...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

  After I changed the journal layout, it started raining. It has been raining for 3 days now, non-stop. Been stuck in "the box." Since sometimes I am a bonafide member of the twilight zone, I figured I'd stick in this sunny picture of our rig leaving Florida at the top of the page. Maybe it'll work.
  Deb is doing much better now, with only one more hospital visit scheduled on Tuesday. This will be a big one. The one where they shoot dye into the brain, from a vein in her leg, and find out what's going on with the latest "clip" that they put in to clamp off the bleeder. Last time they injected some cortisone into her knees, and told me to expect a knee replacement sometime in the future...
  Thankfully, the transmission is fixed once and for all, and I have 2 new tires on the rear dually's. I found a bad tire after our last trip to the hospital. We are lucky we made it back without a blowout.

Another $380 with installation. The fact that these are 16.5 inch rims do not help a bit.
   Anyway, we are gearing up to leave Texas in April, with all the repairs to the rig (and my wife) hopefully done...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Lost the doom and gloom blackness.....changed the appearance of the blog! Hope you all like it...I ain't the specialist blogging wizard, just a journal writer with a few like-minded people who understand my goals/wants/needs/yearning/ for something better than a follow the leader line dance...also I needed a more cheerful look to the blog....and what did I end up with? Rain! Mebbe I'm warped beyond redemption as to my outlook on society, or mebbe I just like rain...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Boondocking batteries

Just a post about the cheapo's (me) battery system. I do not claim to be an electronic wizard, this is just how I do it. Many boondockers have solar panels, I cannot afford them yet. In the meantime, we plug in about once a week and enjoy the comfort of lighting and local tv when we are off the grid. We have two 12 volt systems, one dedicated to operating our rear ramp door, and the other for all the rest.

This is pretty much the heart of our system, we have 2 agm batteries wired in parallel, and grounded through the floor of the van to the chassis. It's all wired with 2/0 stranded wiring, and I can isolate each one with the  switch that controls battery 1, battery 2, or both together. Each deep cycle agm is rated for 235 amps.

This is a 750 watt inverter/ charger, with the charger rated at 20 amps. A relatively cheap one, but not the cheapest. I have learned not to fish from the bottom of the barrel, having gone through 3 inverters now. I spent about $350 on this one.

This is the other system, dedicated only for running the pulley that operates the rear ramp door. These batteries are rated for 135 amps each, wired in series, and require venting. Which means I have to keep them enclosed with a vent to keep the gases from building up in our living area when charging them.


I've also gone through a couple of 3 stage "smart chargers," but have found I do not need any more charging capacity than the cheap 1.25 amp battery tender I have permanently connected to these batteries. Of course, it's only operable when we are plugged in.

The 6 volt batteries are encased in a cheapo walmart gray storage bin, and have a "convection" vent system. One upper, and one lower vent. The cover for the bin is always on unless I am checking the health of the batteries.

This is the lower vent which provides the fresh air flow which helps the whole venting process. You can see the charging lines from the charger and also the lines to the 12 volt pulley.

Since I could not find any flexible material to use for the vent, I used PVC. It exits through the van wall with a 3 inch stub to an exterior vent. All sealed with epoxy.

OK, back to the agm batteries. This is the cheap fuse block that holds the 5 amp fuses for all the 12 volt stuff in the van. One heavy gauge line runs from the Perko switch common terminal to the fuse block.

Here you can see the Perko switch set to both agm's, the ANL fuse from the inverter to the switch, and the line from the switch to the 12 volt fuses.
  Most of this system, with the exception of the 6 volt batteries, is in the open, on the floor (each agm battery weighs in at 135 lbs.), but in our box truck van we have the room. The system is not perfect, but it works for us. Since our living area is separated  from the cab, we are completely "stealth" when or if we ever have to park in a city, like when I have to keep Deb at the hospital for a couple of days. But we are primarily boondockers, I like the wide open spaces. After about 7 or 8 days, the batteries are down to about 50 percent, and we go to a national forest campsite or the like and plug in overnight. It takes about 3 hours to  completely charge up.

The rear ramp, which is great to open up in the heat of the summer. I used to run my cruiser motorcycle up in there before I got a trailer.
   I know many of you are interested in the cheap and economical way to have power when you are off the grid, but it still has to be effective and not present any kind of fire hazard. The truck/ van we have is set up with a 30 amp input, many will not need anything more than 110 to charge a couple of batteries. Just remember to fuse everything, do your homework on capacities, and don't run cheap wire!

Monday, January 30, 2012

I will not rant.....

The cost of an emergency room visit?  $4800. Now that's right up my income alley. Took Deb there for more tests, and they still don't know what's wrong with her. At least she is walking (or hobbling, anyway). We have been to the hospital several times over the last 2 months. The figure above reflects just one visit. We are making it, though. At each of our sites I configure some kind of steps to get her in and out. Mostly out of scrap wood and cement blocks.

We are jacked up in my mechanic's shop, putting yet another transmission in the rig. The pathetic 700r4 tranny that came out was ridiculously undersized, and the difference between that one and what's going in (th400, with no OD) is huge. Planetary gears about twice the size. Yokes about one third again bigger.

Can you see what these bolo's did to us when they stuck this tranny in? Greed, the final frontier of the american businessman. Yeah, I was negligent (twice) by not watching every single thing these yahoo's did. I was very distracted with other things, and I offer no excuse for not crawling under there with them.
  Now I am crawling under the rig right with the mechanic, being a PITA because of all my questions about this system. It is kind of a return to old school mechanical systems, because of the lack of an overdrive.
  We are planning on resuming the trip west next month, and I betcha I know this tranny inside out by then.