Sunday, August 26, 2012

British Columbia Tour 2012

Roger's Pass BC

This summer we did a fifteen-day tour of British Columbia in our motorhome, from July 17th to 31st. the Total distance was 2807 km.

Google map of our route:

View BC Tour 2012 in a larger map

Outline and some highlights, followed by a few pictures:

  • July 17: Drove to Salmon Arm and boondocked at Piccadilly Mall.  They welcome boondockers and even provide a free sani-dump.  A nice place to make supper before hunkering down is McGuire Lake Park on the East side of Salmon Arm.
  • July 18: Drove to Kumsheen Rafting Resort near Lytton
  • July 19: Day of rafting on the Thompson River, hosted by  Kumsheen Rafting Resort . Photo below.
  • July 20: Drove to West Vancouver via the north route, through Lilooet, Pemberton and Whistler.  Incredible scenery!
  • July 21:  Visited relatives in West Vancouver, stayed at Capilano River RV Park.  Very expensive but clean.
  • July 22: Visited relatives in West Vancouver for a second day.
  • July 23: Drove to E.C. Manning Provincial Park
  • July 24: Drove to Osoyoos, on the Okanagan Valley. Stayed at the best campground of the trip, Haynes Point Provincial Park.   "Surrounded by warm water and sandy beaches, Haynes Point sits on a pencil of land jutting into Osoyoos Lake." Photo below.
  • July 25:  Drove north through the Okanagan, stopping at wineries such as Nk'mip Cellars and See Ya Later Ranch . took the winery tour at Nk'Mip Cellars. Ended the day at Kekuli Bay Provincial Park near Vernon.
  • July 26: Another day in  Kekuli Bay Provincial Park , cruised around Vernon and lazed at the beach in Paddlewheel Park.
  • July 27: drove to Vernon and visited the Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery. Worth a visit just to see their lovely wood-fired still, let alone the delicious spirits. See Photo below.  Drove west on highway 6 to through Lumby, (beautiful scenery) took the ferry at Needles, through Nakusp and on to Halcyon Hot Springs Village and Spa.  Halcyon is the nicest hot springs I have ever seen!  Photo below.
  • July 28: Soaked some more in the hot springs.  Then drove down through the Slocan Valley through New Denver and stayed overnight on my brother's property near Winlaw.
  • July 29: Stayed in Winlaw. Spent the day boating with my brother on Slocan Lake.  This beautiful lake is a lot less crowded than anything in the Okanagan. 
  • July 30:  Drove on through Nelson; parked at Lakeside Park and rode our bikes from there along the Lakeside Waterfront Pathway. Walked through the quaint downtown area and did some shopping.  Drove on to Creston. 
  • July 31:  Picked 30 pounds of cherries in Creston, then drove home.

Rafting on the Thompson River

Beautiful campsite at Hayne's Point

The still a Okanagan Spirits

Halcyon Hot Springs

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Scary Story About Brakes

On a recent trip in British Columbia in our motorhome, our route included a lovely scenic highway from Lytton to Lilloet, and another from Lillooet to Pemberton.  It was a beautiful drive, and very rugged terrain.

View Larger Map

The first stretch was steep and winding.  The second stretch from Lilooet to Pemberton was even worse, with hairpin turns and very steep grades up to 13%.  The 13% portion was close to Pemberton, and there were signs saying "Recommended truck speed 10 KM/h".

For a few minutes before the trouble started I noticed a slight burning smell.

We were descending, when suddenly on a hairpin turn my wife noticed a hubcap had come flying off.  
You may recall I installed new hubcaps this year (described in this post).  In order to retrieve that hubcap, I stopped at the next pullout, which turned out to be very short and very steep; thus I had to brake hard.  We could see smoke coming from both front wheel wells, and the smell was unfamiliar to me.  The other front hubcap was gone too, but the rear ones were fine.

After retrieving the hubcap and waiting for the smoke to stop, we started out again and I noticed almost immediately that the brakes were very spongy - I could almost push the pedal to the floor.  I immediately geared down to the lowest gear, limiting our speed, and we crawled down the mountain as slowly as possible.   

Once we got down, the terrain levelled out and the brakes seemed much better, so I decided to drive to Pemberton to seek help. Within 10 minutes everything had returned to normal. 

What happened?

I am not a mechanic and will ask for some confirmation when I have the brakes inspected, but from my research I am pretty confident this is what happened:

We had experienced temporary brake failure; sometimes called "overheating brakes", "brake fade", or "brake fluid vapour lock".  The best description I could find can be found at this link.

Due to the heat of the day, the steep terrain, my heavy vehicle, and my haste to get to our destination, the brakes had overheated.  This resulted in a small amount of the the brake fluid near the calipers coming to a boil and turning into bubbles of gas, and also forcing a little fluid out onto the hot brake parts resulting in the burning smell.  Gas is highly compressible, where brake fluid is not; thus the brakes became spongy.  Once I had driven at low speed for 10-15 minutes the brakes cooled somewhat, the gas condensed back into fluid and the brakes were fine.

This may have been exacerbated a bit by the fact that I was using hubcaps on those front wheels.  The hubcaps could have retained some heat near the brakes.  I will need to do some research before I commit to installing new front hubcaps.  Very likely the heat from the brakes caused the hubcaps to become loose, either by weakening of some plastic behind the retainer clips or maybe a little expansion of the rim itself. 

Next step is a trip to the mechanic for an inspection and a brake fluid flush and fill. The fluid becomes a little more prone to boiling over time and should be replaced regularly anyway.

I'll update this post later if I find out more!