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I hope everyone's doing well and looking forward to happy holidays! We're in the process of changing over from chemo to radiation in J's treatment cycle, and thus moving from Gilroy to Turlock to be closer to the radiation center, since that will mean daily appointments M-F for an estimated seven weeks. Part of the process for us has been getting the rig and the truck ready to roll, which resulted in a number of ups-and-downs last week, no question about it.

Ups and downs, all week... )

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We had a lovely time in Vegas at the beginning of April.  Went and saw Terry Fator, the ventriloquist who won America’s Got Talent in 2007.  Great show, corny in places, touching in others.  J gave me a spa day for a belated Valentine’s Day present, which was lovely.  I luxuriated by the spa pool, got wrapped and massaged and generally pampered for the day.  It’s very odd, staying in an urban RV park; we were able to use cabs to get to the Strip so we didn’t have to worry about parking the truck or having a few glasses of wine with dinner.  I’m not used to campgrounds with cab service!

Plus lots of other services; we had the rig washed and waxed while we were there and they did a great job.  Also took the truck in to an excellent brake shop, Professional Brake Service on Silvso I wouldn’t have to wait at the mechanic’s.

After a very nice mini-vacation in Vegas, we headed for the San Francisco area.  And I saw snow for the first time in two years.  Yep, coming over the mountains into California, it was snowing.  There was maybe two or three inches on the ground and more in the air, though luckily for my nerves, none on the roadbed.  I took a few photos through the windshield; by the time we found a place that was safe to pull over so I could get more, we were below the snow line and the day was sunny and beautiful.  (As always, click to embiggen.)  Snow on the Mojave Freeway in April:

Three C's

Oct. 4th, 2011 12:48 pm
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Convention, concert, and construction (repairs, anyway, but that's not alliterative.)

From Foxboro we headed north and west to Fitchburg to attend the The Great New England Steampunk Expo (or TGNESE, as its creators like to call it.) I’m only peripherally interested in the steampunk genre, but the guests of honor were Phil and Kaja Foglio, creators of the Girl Genius online comic, and Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, authors of the Liaden Universe books. I tried to keep the fangirl squee to a minimum on meeting them, with only limited success. It was interesting attending the con as an observer more than participant; the limited space in the fiver does mean that we choose not to make or keep costumes, and costumes (along with goggles, hats, and corsets for women) were de rigueur. Very few people weren’t dressed up to some extent. And the people-watching was great; some of the costumes were really clever.

Concert and construction... )
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It was a far cry from where we were over Labor Day weekend to where we ended up the following week. As I wrote this post it was raining softly but steadily; I looked out the windows to see young pines planted among the campsites, with the mature forest all around. We were at Autumn Moon, a small campground at the base of the Adirondacks, in a rain which followed us from Oneida Shores.

Friends and DIY over the weekend )
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We spent longer than we’d planned in the DC metro area in August; this trip had a bit more excitement and slightly less fun than we usually have. J was scheduled to work at two different customers during the week, and then we were going to get my cousin and head up to northern New York for a relaxing week in the country. At least that was the plan.

Earthquake, hurricane, and truck repair )
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First full week of October, part I:

After the restful week with the family, we headed back to Kentucky. We broke our trip with a pleasant few days in Smithland, northeast of Paducah. Birdsville RV campground was as nice as ever. We grilled steaks and roasted marshmallows on a campfire on the banks of the Ohio River, watching the barges steam by, and made time to drive into Paducah and see the quilt museum. I love going there; the exhibits are different each time but always interesting. This time, one of the wings was devoted to an exhibit of quilts celebrating horses, in honor of the World Equestrian Games going on in Lexington, KY. Which was, in fact, our next stop.

Of trucks and horses )
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It’s been an interesting few weeks. As in “may you live in interesting times” interesting. J’s work sent him to Georgia a little over a week ago, and I am writing this from a campground near Savannah, as we get ready to make the run back up to the Mid-Atlantic States.

The trip to Georgia was exciting... )
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The week before we left for Florida, I was talking with my Aunt about our upcoming trip, and she suggested that our theme song should be “On the Road Again.” Last year sometime I had heard another song for us, and all I could remember was that the chorus was something like “Beep beep, yeah!” Well that afternoon it popped into my head, so now you can all use “Going Mobile” or “On the Road Again” as the theme music for our posts.

Good times in the Keys )
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We’ve heard from the body shop, and given good (ie, warm) weather, the truck may be ready to go as early as Thursday. If it is too cold for the paint to cure properly overnight, the mechanic is willing to come in on Saturday so we can get the truck then. Either way, it looks like we are a go for the Keys, whether on time for our reservation or just for the fishing trip. This is very good news; there for a while it looked like we’d be scrubbing the Keys trip altogether. That said, I was not prepared to see that this leaves us three days to get ready to go (where did the time go?!?)

Today is dedicated to doing stuff around the house; I am taking down the tree and finishing up kitchen cleaning, looking at our route to the Keys and making tentative hotel plans. With the tighter schedule, MIL and I will drive down together in her van and make our overnight stops at hotels. J will take the trailer and the cats and overnight at rest stops. MIL and I may arrive at the Keys a day before the trailer, so that she can have a non-driving day to rest up before the fishing trip.

Tomorrow and Wednesday will be schlepping stuff out to the trailer and packing, checking everything out so that we’re all set to go whenever we get the green light. I will be very happy once we’re actually in Florida. Sometime in all this I need to look at places to stay after the stay on Kings Key, but we should have 8 to 10 days down there and that can be done once we are on site if need be.

Christmas was actually very nice indeed; we exchanged small gifts, talked to relatives on the phone, and generally relaxed. I let the mail pile up at the forwarding service so we got nearly all our cards at once, and spent a pleasant lunchtime going through them. It was like opening presents. A lot of people commented on our change of address, so clearly I owe some followup correspondence.

Now we start ramping up; the lists have come out and been revised. It will all work out!


Aug. 12th, 2009 08:33 pm
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I’ve found an online merchant to buy my used books, and a not-too-distant used bookseller to take the ones that the online seller doesn’t want. Mostly they both want newer books in good to excellent condition. The online bookseller takes about one in five, giving good prices. You enter the ISBN of the book and the website gives you a price (it’s been ranging from a high of four dollars to a low of fifty cents) or a “not buying” message. They pay shipping; for more than five or six books, you can use Fedex which is slightly faster and provides tracking numbers. The bricks and mortar bookseller takes about two out of three books. Older paperbacks get rejected, as does any hardback without a dustcover. They go through the boxes I bring in and quote me a price for the ones they’ll take; it averages out to about fifty cents to a dollar for hardbacks and about twenty cents for paperbacks. I’ve been averaging ten dollars a box.
More quotidian details.. )

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It’s been a quiet couple of weeks.  After seeing the redwoods, we moved to gold rush country; Sonora, CA, in a fairgrounds campground for a couple of days.  Still no aircard service, though our phones worked fine and we found an internet café so J could work.  We drove the area and toured the local museum; we went to Angels Camp, home of the annual frog jumping contest -- Calaveras Co, if that rings any bells.. ;)  The record distances, immortalized with bronze plaques in the sidewalk (name of frog, year, distance) were startling: 20 feet, 22 feet, 24 feet.  I asked at the info center if they allowed teeny jet packs; the lady behind the counter was Not Amused, but did deign to explain that the winning distances were for three consecutive jumps.

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We’re almost all packed up and put away and ready for our 7 (ugh!) am appointment with the NuWa service center tomorrow.  The alarm is set for 5 (eek!) am so we can button up the rig and dump the tanks before driving over to the factory for some minor warrantee work.  We’ve been enjoying Chanute, Kansas and their municipal campground.  Rather than have fifth wheels parked in the local Wal-Mart awaiting factory service, Chanute built a nice little campground.  Water and electric for $10 a day, and the first two nights are free.  It’s ideal, especially as it backs onto a city park with a small lake.

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...what we’ve been doing on our summer vacation. 

We were good little consumers, and actually spent most of our economic stimulus payment.  It came at a good time; there are a lot of upgrades we’d like to have for the truck and trailer and that’s what most of the money went for.

First up was improving the truck performance by changing out the air intake and exhaust.  We’d already purchased the air intake, a monster that Ford sells for heavy duty use.  As it’s a Ford-approved part, installing it was easy-peasy, except when I over-torqued the battery mount bolt and cracked the fitting.  I think we need a better low-end torque wrench, that’s what I think.

You get minutely better mileage and performance improving the air intake, but for the best results you have to improve the exhaust too.  Makes sense; more air in has to have someplace to go and the factory exhaust is, well, small isn’t exactly the right word.  Perhaps – not huge.

Which leads us to buying and installing a 4 inch exhaust from MBRP.  The main complaint about this exhaust system is that it isn’t loud enough for the diesel aficionados:  “Looks tons better but is not much louder, I am slightly disappointed.....”  We have a winner!

J wrote up the install experience for the FTE forums.


6/8/08  This weekend I prove I am a moron.

It's been a cool spring, almost cold. We had 70 degree weather and rain most of last week.

Saturday I went to install the 4 inch MBRP exhaust we bought on the truck. It was 93 with high humidity. The asphalt parking lot I do my work in isn't shaded. I have burn marks from rolling out from under the semi-cool of the truck onto the asphalt. Two days later I have only the story of the good the bad and the short.

The good:

I got the stock exhaust off the truck without killing myself; oh sure there was the fun times when the cutting wheel got bound up in the exhaust pipe and pulled itself out of my hands and hit the ground spinning toward my shoulder. I didn't know I could move that fast any more. (No harm done, just scared my neighbor out of a year's growth.)

But getting the downpipe down was fun. I looked at it looked at my short fingered wide set hands (more like some sort of paw, really) and said to myself (It was hot I was talking to myself it happens). "I'm not going to get that apart with these paws I need clever monkey paws for this." It was hot so I didn't filter when I told the wife:

"I need your clever monkey paws to get the downpipe lose." She took it well and got the pipe loose; a couple of love taps with a hammer and down it dropped.  (It’s a compliment – I was charmed. –C)

The bad:

I didn't get the new exhaust installed. Oh getting the downpipe (4 inches across – the one we took out of a tight space was 3 inches across) up was beyond my limited agility but again the clever monkey-pawed wife just gave it a twist and a shove and up it goes.  There are reasons why home improvement is divided into demolition (me) and build (her) phases.  (There was a lot of pondering involved.  I actually got underneath the truck – proves how much I love him – and shoved at the thing and thought and shoved and twisted and thought and went in and read up on it on the forums and came back out and looked at it from the top, and well hey, if I can just twist it a little more forward.. and twiiist and puush and pop up it went and sat there looking like it had always had plenty of room, what was the problem. -C) 

And while the tail pipe doesn't quite fit the truck -- we have a chassis body so my fuel tank is all the way out where a normal F350 has the spare tire so getting the tail pipe in is a major nightmare -- we were able to get it into place with minor modifications. So while there was plenty of bad including another brush with the cutting wheel (I need to have a witch doctor exorcise my power tools, they're trying to kill me) there was still no blood drawn.

The short:

No, the issue is the exhaust is short. I thought it might be; we have a 176 inch wheelbase not the more normal 172 inch configuration of the truck. OK, so I had it in mind that I might have to get an extension for the pipes. No biggie. And mostly when we laid it out that appeared to be the issue.

And that is 90 percent of the issue I need to add in 8 inches or so of pipe. No worries bolt up the downpipe and the midpipe move the truck out of the lot I'm working in and go get a pipe.

Hold up there, Skippy. Get the tailpipe into place and find that yeah I can get there but it sits 1 inch off the rear tires and is only 6 inches or so off the ground at the end. My fuel tank is in the way of being able to pull it back farther and make that 8 inches more like 10 inches and clear everything.

So in the morning I'll call the company and see what they suggest and see if there is a decent exhaust shop in the area because the rest of it is in, it's just short and maybe bent a bit wrong at the end.


We called the company and got a quote to ship a kit that might work, and might arrive two weeks after we needed the truck to tow the trailer.  “They want HOW MUCH?!?”  After that brief conversation, we called a local performance shop (Pokes Performance, in Frazier – very nice: fast, pleasant to deal with, and reasonable to boot.)  With some consultation we decided to route the exhaust in front of the tires.  It could have been run further back, but the expert raised the possibility that a bad bump could crush the exhaust, and that was enough to convince us that shorter was better.

They did an excellent job.  It looks great, and interestingly it’s actually a little quieter in the cab than it used to be (not outside, though, if we ever hit a deer it will be because the deer was suicidal – there’s no way not to hear us coming.)  The performance is greatly improved; the truck doesn’t lug nearly as much at lower RPMs and we got an extra 2 mpg towing on the short trip just past.  Fun times, and more to come!

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My take on the weekend:

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J's take on the weekend:

OK here it is going on a month or more since the fifth wheel followed me home from Dallas.

This leads to some major issues.

1. We parked it in storage in the rain as night was falling. “Should I run out the slides so you can see it?” I says. “No, we can do that after we park it,” she says. Sure, if we want to do a few thousand in damage to the boat next to the fifth wheel when it is home in storage. So Cat has never seen the bloody thing.

2. My sister the one who used to be the “bad” sibling and through the process of my other sister and I nagging my mom to rehab as much as she needs is now the “good” sympathetic sibling, except on days my mother says “I has no children,” is coming up to see said mother. Now this sister and I love each other, but we don’t really get along. So instead of putting her up in my house I’ve offered to put her up in … the fifthwheel. This gives her time to visit mom and us, but not be in each other’s pockets. BRILLIANT! But wait, Cat’s never even seen it with the slides out.. hmmm.

3. The number of ways I have no time would make this blog entry too long so take it as given.

So to solve the problem I look ahead and notice that Good Friday to Easter is “slow” -- I can get away. We could go camping in say … Lancaster for a couple of nights and Cat can see the fifth wheel. Huzzah, I’m saved.

Wait, no I’m not; the part of my life that can sometimes say “Be in X city at Y time” kicked in. My boss’s boss calls and says “Be in Frederick MD today.” Three hours from home but this is on Tuesday so go down fix the issue come home go camping.

Only the issue drags on and on and on and it becomes clear that I must be at or near Fredrick MD through Easter Sunday at the least.

So home I go on Thursday to get Cat, the truck and the fifth wheel to go camping in Gettysburg. Nowhere close to where Cat wanted to go, but hey. It’s what I can do.

So I get home grab what we need do some token chores and grab lunch, Cat, and the fifthwheel. Only the brake controller for the fifthwheel brakes isn’t working the manual is, but not the automatic.

So over Cat’s very rational objections I haul on out heading off on a 140 mile drive using manual brakes in 40 mile winds. The good news is the truck / fifthwheel combo worked well in high winds. The manual controls worked great as well. The bad news is Cat was not happy.

We get to the campground and get setup the only other people camping where we were are there for the same reason. To break in a new fifth wheel so we have things to talk about in between my bouts of workage.

But Cat finally gets to see the fiver.

The next few days are a blur of work, upgrade the brake controller, find out the stop light switch is broken on the truck and is causing the issue (Thank you service crew at Beckley’s RV just north of Frederick. So, low level of battle field touring and more work and it is time to head back home on Easter Sunday only now everything works the way it is supposed to.

Easter Brunch is at a McDonalds but the huge parking lot was empty so Cat got to drive the truck pulling the fifth wheel and did a bang up job. So getting on the turnpike she says, “next time we go out I want to drive from one rest stop to the next.” I point out that the traffic is light and get her to do it now. Of course everything goes well, only as is normal towing, everything and its granny is passing us so Cat is concerned about the traffic but she gets over it quickly.

I take over at the next rest stop and pull it into the storage lot where Cat parks it, beating my two hour time by half.

She’s so much better at backing up then I am.

Oh and the camp ground was very nice.
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Guess what I got for Valentine's Day!

Or to quote J:

18 months ago more or less, less or more.  I broke down coming from a customer site in the hinterlands of Virginia while cruising through Baltimore.  While waiting for my Dodge Dakota to be fixed I walked up to Days RV and looked at the cutest little travel trailer. 

The light bulb goes off “We could get one of these fairly cheap and go camping more.”  Having hit the mid 40s age wise the joy of sleeping on the ground is completely gone so my wife and I had stopped camping.  We liked to camp back in our younger more limber days.

So home I go with a new resolve and on the first possible weekend I pack up the wife and we got to a more local RV dealer who will remain nameless to protect the guilty.  There I show my wife the little travel trailer I’d seen complete with flourish “Tada” I say.  “Bleah” she says too dark too small.  What about this pop up she says, what about your Reynaud’s I say.  Back and forth we go until she stumbles on the fifth wheels Nu Wa’s in fact but first we fall for the Montana’s we try to love the Pilgrims but too big too clunky.

We go to Hershey the wife is really hot on Titanium at this point but the price for what you get wasn’t working for me.  Nu Wa comes to the top of the list, them and Cameo.  Cameo floor plans are … nice but not all we want.  Nu Wa has the floor plans and the reputation and a great forum…..

But there is always a but.  We had started looking at $18,000 travel trailers and were now looking at 55,000 plus fifth wheels the discount rate was going to matter a lot. 

We looked the rest of 06 and into 07.  The next summer we head to Elkhart to do the factory tours to sort out our list of trailers.  Crossroad, Glacier Bay, Cameo, KZ, and more all toured all rated, some rejected some not, but Glacier Bay comes to the top of the list.  A new company trying to build market share.  There are things we love and things we only like there; the list still starts Nu Wa; just can’t afford it so …

It’s at the Hershey show again that we had come to this final choice.  Glacier Bay is going to work on some new Floor plans so here it is 08 and still waiting to pull the trigger.

So now I’m driving to Texas for work the truck is no longer a Dakota but an F350 with training wheels.  I have to lay over the weekend for my work and so I go out looking at fivers I like looking at RV’s thought I’d see what the aught eights looked like.

Glacier Bay, still like those units, four or five other fivers.   And last but not least I drift down to AK Recreation.  Ron is famous (at least in the RV forums I move in) and I wanted to see what was new with Nu Wa.  Ron had me in stitches from the first couple of minutes of going into his place.  He has that aw shucks country charm that you don’t find a lot of any more.  Reminded me a lot of an uncle I had in Wichita Falls.  He has no problem with me roaming around and looking.  After looking at really the best selection of Nu Wa product I’ve seen at a single dealer I wander in to talk to him about his 07 leftovers (I like leftovers what can I say).  The more we talk the easier Ron made it sound; the price difference narrowed enough to consider it.  I leave saying I would think on it.  I’m sure Ron thought that was the last he’d ever see or hear from me.

If your passing through Fort Worth Texas drop down to Cleburne and say hi to the folks at AK Recreation, it’s well worth the trip, friendly people and a lot of trailers to look at.

Back to the story so I pull out and call the wife back in Philly and let her know what Ron had to say.  I’d had to explain to Ron that I had limited finances here (I’m on a tight allowance).  She hears it all out and says “you want to get it?  I have down payment money.”  “Get out I says you do not”.

Five minutes of listening to her move money around I remember that she doesn’t say things like that unless she can do it.  So a bit of magic by the wife and we’re set.  Only it is Saturday after the Dealership is closed and we’ve decided to buy this thing only I may have to be out of Texas by the following Saturday. 

Monday I call Ron and we talk about this and we setup the barebones of a deal Ron says “Always good to start a Monday with a sale.”  Now we have to find financing and Insurance and get the back and forthing of papers done in a week.

Janet at Essex Credit is doubtful it can be done in the time frame but Susan at AK Recreation straightens that out and right now I’m just waiting on Fed Ex to move documents around.

I’ve been on a lot of dealer lots, searched a lot of web sites.  No dealer no show price no sale had ever gotten me close to buying.  Ron will just talk to you, lay out his ideas, and let you make the choice.  In the end he makes it easy.  He trusts the product to sell its self.  He trusts the buyers to know what they’re looking for.

Friday is the PDI and setup the truck.  Bright and early Friday the 15th I head down to AK Recreation.

Checklist - Check
Checks for Ron - Check
Chocolates for Susan - Check
Beer for Ronnie and Dave - Check
Donuts for everyone - Check
9:10 AM ready to go - Check

So in I pull and right off things are going well but it's not long before the first snag.  No one had mentioned to the folks installing the hitch (Ronnie and Dave) that I had a flat bed truck this took some work and more than one call to the factory to make sure it would work but Ronnie was game.

I opted to start the walk around without Dave (the service tech assigned to do the walk through) since there are a lot of cosmetic checks to make.  Sliders go in sliders go out with shore power without.  I end up with a little list of things (One fix and two questions) Before I get Dave.
Dave and I start in and get part way done while Ronnie finishes up the brake controller on the truck.  When the whistle blows that its lunch time.  A fast lunch and back at it.  While we're winding down I go sign the paper work and make sure Susan is OK with everything.  She thinks she's good.

So back to the truck and trailer we get to the end of the PDI and have to then winterize the trailer.  Since it was going to head back to PA so we winterize and get ready to take it for a spin.  Only out comes Susan the state of PA is giving her fits about the sales tax and registration.  I put her on the phone with my wife who gets someone to sort things out for Susan and we take it for a drive.

Around the block and Ronnie's giving me advice all the way as we turn in he's leaning way over as we get so far into the lot he says.  "Now look at that fence post."  I check the mirror and the back of the trailer is heading right for a fence post.  I straighten out and fix it but all the advice is the world didn't help as much as seeing how the trailer cuts the corners like that the truck was no where close to the post. 

So paper work done.  PDI done, checks handed over, donuts eaten, chocolates hidden, beer opened (Sorry to who ever was having work done that afternoon) and time to hit the road.

It's 4 PM. South of Fort Worth.  I need to get to North East of Dallas.  At rush hour, because I have bad weather coming in behind me of the sleep and freezing raid sort and I have to be at work on Monday. 

So off I go 4 hours latter I get out of Dallas. 

And now its a matter of a long drive back home.

To all the kind folks who say they don't know the fiver is back there!  I say look in your mirrors more often how can you not see the huge white walls?  Every mirror there is a wall and just in case you for get every once in a while it will bounce and remind you.

Now that said it was easier to do then I feared but nothing like some people make it out to be.

To all the kind folks who say they can't sleep in a truck stop with the trucks at idle and the smell of diesel in the air.  I say drive more hours frankly I didn't notice the tractor trailers.

To the gentlemen east of Nashville in the Jetta who acted like I wasn't there.  Please call Lens Crafters and get your eyes checked how can you not see the huge white wall?  It was right there on your right. 

It was interesting having to relearn how to drive my truck three different times.  Once in heavy traffic, Once on flat ground with some over passes, once on hills and small mountains. 

Lastly thank god for Flying J, the rest of the truck stops could take notes.  Nice to have lanes set up for trailers, RVs to fuel up.

I was sorry to find out that my truck though has a drinking problem.  Hook up the fiver and the truck drinks like a fish.  And here I had Ford pegged as an English name and here it turns out to be Irish.


Oct. 3rd, 2007 05:00 pm
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On the positive side: we’ve started work on the interior of the truck. This weekend we pulled the seats, almost all the trim, and the vinyl flooring. Which was when we discovered the solid dirt in the doorwells; over an inch thick in places, it was clearly beyond the powers of bucket cleaning. So we sighed and hoisted the front seat back into the truck, finger-tightened one of the bolts back in to hold it precariously in place, and J drove (slowly and carefully because of no seatbelts, precarious seat position, no headlights. etc.) to the local do-it-yourself carwash. I took my car and stopped at the auto parts place to see about something to take off the single stubborn nut that would NOT come loose. J took the seat out of the truck preparatory to the washing. Whereupon he was accosted by the 60-ish man washing his car in the next bay over.

“What are you doing?!?” “Same as you,” sez J. “You can’t do that!” exclaims the older gent. “It’s ok,” sez J, “someone’s coming to help me get the seat back in place.”

I found this hysterical when I was told about it later. “You can’t do that!” Well, clearly, since we were, we certainly could.. Several passes of the vacuum later, we replaced the seat for the short drive into the washing bay. Out it came again, along with the battery connections, for washing with the foamy brush and then very carefully with the spray hose. Worked like a charm. And started right up afterward, too, so I don’t think we shorted anything washing the floor (with them there wires running across it.) Whew!

There was a lot of rust lurking under the vinyl, so instead of being able to start right in on the soundproofing, we had to sand off the rust and prime the bare metal. A couple of wire wheels and an extra long extension cord for our drill made that less painful than it might have been. That took care of Sunday and Monday. Yesterday we toted the new seats and the console out and test fit everything. Joy! The front seats and console fit perfectly, no drilling required (just a couple of new bolts.) Sorrow! The new back seat (60/40 split) will require drilling new holes in several places, and that stubborn nut never did yield, and finally had to be cut away. Fortunately it’s the seatbelt anchor and we can just move the anchor point over an inch or two and re-drill the needed hole. But all the seats do fit in there and they look very nice to boot. I did the test piece for the interior paint. I need to take more care with both cleaning up after scuffing the surface (steel wool fragments are pernicious stuff,) and making sure the paint covers completely (edges take extra attention.) But the color is everything I had hoped, and I don’t need to use the test piece at all so its lack of perfection is just a learning aid. So that was Tuesday.

Today we went out to the auto parts store and the fasteners store and the hardware store(s) and got the bolts and tack cloth and drill bits and the other miscellaneous bits and bobs to tackle the next things to be done. And then it was time to pull the last seat (replaced to mark one last hole) out so we could drill the new holes. It’s easier with someone (me) in the truck handing the seat out to J. So I opened the front door, grabbed the doorframe and hopped into the truck (you can see where this is going, can’t you..) One step into the cab jarred the door loose before I got my hand out of the way and WHAM! down it came on my thumb. It closed completely. A tentative tug made it clear that the only way out was opening the door with the latch. Fortunately, J was right there. “Dear? Would you open the door please?”

After a fast trip to a blessedly empty ER, I’ve got a splint, instructions to see my regular doctor this week, a Vicoden for tonight and a clean break just below the thumbnail above the first joint on my thumb. My right thumb. This is going to suck. Did I mention that today is our wedding anniversary? I think we’ll postpone the nice dinner out until I can really appreciate it.

Truck interior before:

Truck interior after (with seats):

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We made sure to take some 'before' shots of our F350, in the hopes of dazzling with the reconstruction later.

The truck:

The current project:

More photos.
catlinyemaker: (Default)
(an expansion on an email to my uncle..)

So, we've had our truck checked out by the fanatic.. I mean mechanic (diesel aficionado who's starting his own business working on them, young guy - 17! - but really knows his stuff) and we had new tires put on (ouch! 6 tires not cheap!) and the alignment checked, and it's in our local garage for PA inspection.  Apparently, we got a GREAT deal.  All the injectors are solid, the mechanic was a little POed that it shifts better than his truck with the special racing transmission (we pointed out to him that his truck has double the horses and maybe our transmission would suck if it had to do the work his does.)  He changed all the fluids for us and sent an oil sample for analysis, which came back great.  The turbo leak he found was fixed by reinstalling the turbo shroud and making sure everything was tightened down properly.  He wants us to replace the filter with a Ford authorized aftermarket setup, because the air intake was filthy (we saw pictures.. truly impressive dirt.)
At the tire shop, the guy doing the alignment worked on it a while and came in to talk to us looking concerned.. "What was wrong with it?" he asked.  "Nothing," we said, "we just got it and wanted it checked out."  "Well," sez he, "there's nothing I can do for it but mess it up!"  So apparently the alignment is spot on.  So far according to the local garage, the brakes are in great shape.  One of the front wheel ABS sensors is dead.  He said "You might as well have a block of wood in there." It's still at the garage waiting for a new sensor, but we should get it back Monday and then we'll be legal and ready to start on the work we want to do on it.
I'm thrilled!  The only thing wrong is the truly incredible amount of dirt on absolutely everything (the inside of the air vents is covered in tan dirt.)  It was owned by a trenching company and from the dirt levels, they used it to plow the trenches.  Weekend work with a bucket of simple green is taking care of that slowly but surely, though.

We've made a list of the mods we'd like to make, starting with the interior and some simple engine mods.. Have you ever noticed how some projects expand to take up the available room and then some?  Let's replace the seats!  Ok, the King Ranch seats need to be installed and wired up (that should be interesting...)  And while they're out we should do the floor, replacing vinyl with carpet.  We'd like the cab as quiet as possible, and that means sound deadening, which has to go in before the carpet does.  I want to re-color the gray trim, that means pulling everything but the dash, painting all the removed parts, and masking the heck out of the dash to spray-paint it.  Might as well do that while everything else is gone.  Well, if we're going to redo the interior color we should change out the headliner.  Oops, we might need to pull the rear window to do that, and the ceiling light needs work, and we want to install new gauges, another thing to tuck in while everything is disassembled.  Oh, and then there's a grab bar to find and install (somehow -- I'm not sure how one goes about installing grab bars in trucks.)  I feel like I'm cramming for exams, trying to learn everything I need to know before we start in on the major surgeries.

catlinyemaker: (Default)

J again:

A funny thing happened on the way to the Diesel Mechanic.

Here we are with an un-inspected F350 DRW 7.3L Powerstroke diesel sitting outside the house.

It needs an oil change, to have the transmission fluid flushed and replaced, new filters for EVERYONE! (At a minimum.  It also needs new tires, and it might need more major repairs that we just don’t know about yet. –C)

And what do we do?

We buy seats of course.

Now to understand the seeming insanity of this you have to understand some background.

Just over a year ago I broke down just north of Baltimore, Joppa for those that may know or care.

And while waiting for repairs I went looking at RVs. Now again like Goldilocks some were too big (Class A's for example) some were too small (Pop-ups for example) but some were just right.

They had nice little travel trailers I could tow behind my Dakota; this might work!


No idea survives contact with the spouse. I'd forgotten that rule. So Cat and I go down to see the little trailers and she says something along the lines of "Blergh."  Oh there were more words and concepts and ideas involved but it all summed up as "Blergh".

But she has a plan, one so cunning that if it had a tail it would be a weasel. A pop-up camper she says. I look at her like she has three heads. “Three season camping with Raynauds,” I say. And so dies the pop-up idea. (Raynaud’s disease is when your body thinks you are freezing to death at about 60 degrees F.  So it shuts down circulation to your fingers and toes at that temperature, rather than the more normal response of near zero.  I’ve got it; I’m very careful in the winter to keep my hands and feet warm and toasty, or I can get frostbite, which really, truly sucks.  n.b.: This is an accurate description of what I see as how Raynaud's works, not necessarily how the doctors see it. -C)

So we look some more and lo and behold she finds Fifth Wheels.  Now a fifth wheel is like a class A only without an engine and slightly smaller and frankly much more practical as far as layout (and cheaper! -C) Unless you like Class A layouts in which case I'm wrong and you’re right at least for you. But this is my story so ...

Over the next year we look at Fifth Wheels and there is a problem; a Fifth Wheel won't tow behind my existing truck... in fact about all it would do to my existing truck is break it in two.

So we test drive trucks. Huge mistake (And yes I know this is about seats we're getting there) because we drove NEW trucks. Only we can't afford the 35 to 40 grand a new truck will cost. Only Cat's fallen hard for some of the new trucks. In fact being true to her Catly nature she's fallen hard for the most expensive of new trucks the Ford F250 King Ranch only beat out in price by the Ford F350 King Ranch.

Why? Because it’s the must confortable truck you can ever think of. Take full grain saddle leather and make seats out of it. Put them in a truck and you have the King Ranch Truck. Sucker holds its value too. Can't even afford one used.

So a few weeks back we get the used F350 DRW etc etc.... only it has work truck seats. But But eBay is Cat’s friend and on eBay what do our wondering eyes behold? King Ranch seats from a truck a few years newer then ours, but built on the same chassis.

Next up the Diesel Mechanic honest.... "Cat what do you mean your looking at grills?


We got a good deal on the seats and bought them at a fair price, but it necessitated a flying run to Roanoke and back to pick them up the day before we were supposed to go on vacation.  A little reorganization, and there's a plastic shrouded mass looming in our living room.  Front and back King Ranch seats from a Super Duty truck, all in good shape.  The only thing we don't have is the console; we've got the console lid, but the part itself was apparently a loss.  Now to figure out how to get them into the truck.. the bolt patterns are supposed to be the same in all these model years....



catlinyemaker: (Default)

April 2017



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