Saturday, April 28, 2012

Water Tank View Port

Here's a simple solution to a problem that has annoyed me for a while.

The Problem
Once your water tank gets less than 1/3 full, you can't tell exactly how much water is left. 

The typical display for water level in your fresh water tank has three indicators: Full, 2/3 full and 1/3 full.  they correspond to three sensors inside the water tank. The indicator lights turn on when the sensors are under water, because the water completes a circuit to the display light.  The "Empty" level light is always on, whether the level is just under 1/3 or anything less, so it is actually meaningless.

The main console showing fluid levels for fresh water, grey water and black water. 
This is a problem if you are not going to be able to refill soon, and you need to make that remaining 1/3 tank (or 1/4 or 1/8) last for a while.

A Simple Solution To The Problem

I bought a 60 mm. wire grommet at the local hardware store.  This is the plastic ring that lines the holes in furniture through which various wires can pass, e.g. for your monitor and computer.

I used a hole saw attachment for my drill, smaller than the grommet itself because the grommet needs to be a very snug fit.  You want a tight fit to hold fast, and never come loose. 

Next I drilled a hole in the compartment for the water tank, below the dinette seat. 

Here you see the hole. I have traced an outline of the grommet to show how much more I need to cut.

Next I reamed out the hole with a rotary tool until the hole was just big enough for the grommet.

I pressed the grommet into the hole.

Now I can peer into the water tank without having to remove the dinette seat, and I can see the water level for myself when I need to know exactly how much water is left. 

The grommet comes with a cover.

Some views of the finished project.


Welcome New Follower
Greetings to Gypsy Boho, Author of the blogs The Gypsy Boho Freedom Express and  The Adventures of a Shih Tzu .  She is recently retired and embarked on a safari to find Annalee. Good luck!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Motorhome Specifications

My motorhome is in the "Classic" category.  Here are all the significant specs. 
  • Brand: Glendale 
  • Series: Sterling
  • Model 237 CMH 
  • Class: C
  • Date of Manufacture: June 1988
  • Date of Purchase October 2001
  • Odometer on purchase 35,000 km.
  • Odometer Current: 75,000 km.
  • Chassis:   1988 Ford Econoline RV cutaway E350
  • GVWR 10,000-14,000 lbs.
  • Engine: Ford 8 cylinder gas 7.3 Litre, 460 cubic inches*. Oil capacity is 7 litres.
  • Paint Colour: 9M (White)
  • Fuel consumption approx 30 litres/100 KM or 10 Mpg. Imperial or 8 Mpg. US.*
  • Length: 24 feet
  • Width 97.5 inches, or 8' 1.5"; plus 10" total for mirrors =  just shy of 9'
  • Clearance 10' 6"
  • Fridge: Norcold 8663 3-way
  • Stove: Propane, Wedgewood T-2150-BG
  • Water Heater: Propane, Atwood G6A-3
  • Water Tank: 20 imperial gallons, or 87 litres
  • Holding tanks (Black and Grey) 10 imperial gallons or 44 litres each
  • Fuel Tank:  approx 100 litre
  • Propane Tank: Manchester 12x40, LP capacity approx. 40 lb. 
Some extras:  
  • Onan Generator - I installed this myself in 2002**
  • Air conditioner (roof mounted)
  • Dual roof vents with hail shields (AKA "vent covers")
  • Plexiglas storm windows (I made these myself)
  • Running boards on the cab
  • Awning

*That big engine is a fuel hog, to be sure.  but we are often in the mountains and have camped in some remote, hilly areas.  It can handle steep grades very well.  If this motorhome had the smaller 351 cubic inch, it would really struggle on hills and against the wind; furthermore it would probably not improve fuel economy enough to be worth the poor performance.  I am glad to spend a little extra on fuel in this case.

** The generator installation was far more difficult than I expected: I had to do some some serious electrical wiring and drop the motorhome's fuel tank to install a new fuel line.  

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lake Louise

Delayed post: April 11

Today we went to Lake Louise, Alberta.

Link to Google Map  Coordinates: 51.417516,-116.215932

Took the trail to Fairview lookout, overlooking Chateau Lake Louise.  In winter this is a snowshoe trail, but by this point in the spring it is hard and compacted so we were able to hike without snowshoes.

The trail starts on the west end of the upper parking lot.  At first we could not find the trail because the signs are confusing.  Proceed west into the trees to join the main trail, which runs North-South beside the parking lot.

Ignore the sign on the right - it will get you lost! 

It was really hot today - about 15° Celsius.

View of the Chateau Lake Louise from Fairview lookout.

Lake level, in front of the Chateau.

Chateau Lake Louise
Here is a panoramic view, standing on the ice in the lake.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Watridge Lake

Delayed post - April 10*. 
We are in Canmore staying at our condo.  Today we went cross-country skiing to Watridge lake in Kananaskis. The trailhead is at the Shark Mountain recreation area parking lot, about 45 KM south of Canmore.
It was a beautiful sunny day.  It was so warm that I was in shirtsleeves. Snow conditions were good. 
Link to Google map , Coordinates: 50.850066,-115.4282
Links to more information:

* Why is this post delayed?  It is a  security hazard to publish information about your current location. I believe it is wise to delay posts until after I return from a trip.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Water Leak Repairs - Clearance Lights and Siding

I took the motorhome out of storage last week.

I started spring cleaning with an inspection of hidden areas like storage compartments and cabinets. In short order I found some moisture in a dusty lower storage compartment - evidence that some water had made its way where it should not.

I set a fan to dry the compartment and started searching for the source.

The source was the clearance light in the picture below, high on the rear of the motorhome.  The seal behind it had given way.  When I took it off and inspected, I founds signs that the other five rear clearance lights were loose as well.  This had not been a problem up to now because the motorhome was stored sloping down to the front; but two weeks ago I changed parking spots to one that slopes to the back.  Then  the meltoff from last week's snowfall drained back and right over these lights.  

The clearance  lights are also 24 years old and getting brittle, so I decided to replace and seal all of the rear lights.  There are five more amber ones at the front and four marker lights on the sides, but those are in better shape and can wait for a while.

There's also another potential water problem that I thought I had solved last year: a crack in the fiberglass siding not far from the rear right clearance light.  Last year I sealed this with epoxy resin and fiberglass fabric, but now  a year later the resin is giving way.  the resin did not hold up well to the elements.

I replaced the five clearance lights, used longer screws because the size that were used previously were not holding.  I applied generous amounts of clear silicone behind each light to ensure they won't leak; so much that it oozed out when I tightened the screws.  I think silicone is the best sealant for this: it has excellent adhesion, and can tolerate lots of expansion, contraction, movement and vibration.

Old and new clearance light side-by-side.
Now for the crack in the siding.  I know this was not the source of water in this case, but it could quickly become a big problem.  I bought some Resisto Aluminium Waterproofing Membrane; this is a thick foil tape with roofing tar on one side.

I cut the size of membrane I wanted, drew the patch area onto the siding with a pencil and sanded the area well for good adhesion.

I squirted silicone into the crack.  Then I applied the waterproofing membrane, slowly peeling the backing off about a centimetre at a time to ensure that there were no bubbles, and that the patch was sticking well.

This summer I plan to re-seal all the seams on the entire roof.  I have some white paint-like sealant that adheres to aluminium, and that will cover this patch nicely.

Job complete - and peace of mind that the motorhome is once again watertight.  I will  re-seal all the seams on the roof this summer, and replace the five front clearance lights and four side marker lights.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Dinette Cushions Part 2

In the previous post I said that re-covering the dinette cushions was quoted at more than a thousand dollars.  So I decided to remove 64 tufting buttons, which would allow me to remove and thoroughly wash the covers.

The cushions ended up being a little more of a challenge than planned.  There is also a hard-earned lesson here.

I had hoped to re-install the same buttons, but it turns out that the staining on the 32 top-side buttons was rust coming from the metal core of the buttons.  They were ruined.  Furthermore, I think some of the staining on the cushions was this rust rubbing off onto the other fabric.
So I made new fabric covered buttons.  
In this picture you see the worst button next to a new one:

I used cover button kits similar to the one in this picture - instructions are on the package.

Here's a good video on how to sew the tufting buttons on to a cushion:
...and a photo of the tools I needed for the job:

Here's a completed cushion, finished with two coats of Scotch Guard:

Why did the buttons rust?
I think it happened after steam cleaning the upholstery. The upholstery did not dry fast enough.  A motorhome is a small enclosed space with less opportunity for humidity to dissipate. I must have failed to allow adequate ventilation, and then prolonged dampness caused the buttons to rust from the inside out. Unfortunately there are some more rusted buttons on the captain's chairs, but now I have the fabric, tools and  skills to repair the rest.

The lesson: 
After steam-cleaning tufted upholstery, provide lots of ventilation, perhaps a circulating fan and possibly even some heat.  In future, I might even consider using a blow dryer on the buttons to eliminate any chance of rust.