Arizona Trip November 1996


Monday, November 11, 1996
We finished packing and got hooked up and away just after 8:00 this morning.  Our destination today was Kingman, AZ.  The trip was smooth and uneventful (Yea!).  The temperatures sere fairly mild and there was no wind at all.  We did check out the new air conditioning compressor clutch which I got installed several days ago.  The clutch cost about $160 vs. the $650 the shop in Houston wanted.  Now I have to figure out how to spend the $490 I saved!  By the way, the system works just fine now.

When we got to camp, we also got to test the new sensor in the right rear leveler jack.  It also worked just fine.  The company sent me two new hall effect sensors on their 3 year warranty.  The failed one was a normally closed reed switch, and just wasn't making a sure connection when the magnet was removed.

Our campground is just behind the Petro truck stop which has been our very favorite stop since our first trip to Lake Powell.  Their trucker store has more "stuff" than any other we have been in.

Tonight I invited Betty to dine out at the Iron Skillet restaurant, the one attached to the Petro store.  We went in and asked for the non-smoking section, and were told it was the very rear section.  We walked (and walked and walked) to the very rear section, clearly labeled as the non-smoking section and went in.  There were only two men in the section - one of them smoking a cigar!  We let him know our opinions, as well as the restaurant people, and came back to the motorhome for dinner.  Very disgusting!  (but dinner here was good!)

Tomorrow we head for the Grand Canyon, about 170 miles.

Tuesday, November 12
Our drive to the Grand Canyon was relaxed and uneventful.  We arrived at Camp Mather about 10:30 and were assigned a space.  It is a really nice campground with many Ponderosa Pines.  Virtually all the spaces are pull throughs.  Had I pulled about 6 feet farther into the space, my DSS would have been fine on the ladder mount.  As it was, I set the tripod just outside the door with a good view of the satellite.

We spent several hours touring the canyon in the Nissan.  The route to the West Rim is very difficult, as the roads are all torn up around the hotels, and you are detoured all around the staff residential area before getting back to the rim.  As usual, the canyon is spectacular!  We toured the general store, which is really very well stocked.  Betty asked the sporting goods salesman if they had any small diameter straps suitable for a camera.  The only ones we have been able to find are very wide, and hard for her to handle.  The salesman brought out a lanyard suitable for a whistle, etc., and Betty said it was perfect!  We paid 89 cents for a bright yellow one which should help make the camera easier to find when it is under a pile of jackets or . . .

We then went out the East Rim drive and stopped at several of the turnouts.  We stayed at one which had a good view through the car windshield and watched the sunset.  Really neat!  We then went outside the park to try to get the dinner out that we were going to have last night.  We debated between a pizza shop and a steak house.  We decided on the steak.  I once heard that if you can't say anything good about someone or something you should not say anything at all.  Next subject:

This was our first dry camping location since we had the DSS, and also the first time in the cold season.  We were a little apprehensive, but our batteries have very good capacity and should support TV, lights, and the forced air furnace for several days.  Everything worked just fine.  We only watched TV for an hour or so, and ran the furnace for less than that.  

Tomorrow we head for the Scholls'.

Wednesday, November 13
It only got down to 34.2 degrees last night, but the furnace still felt very good this morning.  It is great that all this stuff is available without any outside connections to the world!

We left the Grand Canyon about 8:30 this morning and had about a 220 mile drive to Forest Lakes.  We had Taco Bell lunch at Holbrook, and a relaxing drive to the Scholls'.  One problem with our rig: (every trip has to have something!)  In checking the lights after re-hooking up last night, we had no running lights on the Nissan.  The brake and the turn signals work fine, so no problem for daytime driving.  The motorhome running lights work fine, and the Nissan lights are OK.  It's just that the motorhome will not power the Nissan lights.  Maybe tomorrow I'll get my meter out and localize the problem.  At least this should be solvable.

I picked up a 100 Mhz "Pentium" (AMD 5k86-100 chip) motherboard, 16 Mb of RAM, and a PCI video board for Keith, and will be helping him install that in his 486-40 system, and then putting that board in his 386-33 system.  I can't get away from it!

Thursday, November 14   Happy Birthday, David!
Today was a day of troubleshooting electrical opens!  A couple of days ago, Keith's garage door opener outlet and one other outlet ceased to work.  He had probed trying to locate the problem without success.  We started checking everything that made sense without knowing the exact wiring runs.  We did discover that there was an open in the neutral line at the last two outlets.  Standing at the top of a 10 or 12 foot ladder, we opened the boxes of the three ceiling outlets, two of which were the dead ones.  We could find no problems in any of these boxes.  Then, one by one, we opened all the wall outlets that are on that circuit with no success.  There was one more outlet located behind a shelving unit that logically would not have fed the ceiling ones.  We moved the shelves and opened the box.  Everything looked OK, but after some switching of three way switches, we got a flash of light from one of the dead outlets when I wiggled the three wire bundle of white wires.  One of the wires was not in the wire nut as far as the others and the connection had failed.

It was a great feeling of satisfaction to finally locate such an elusive problem!

Attacking the running light problem between our motorhome and the Nissan started out about as strangely.  We had all the right voltages at the plugs of both vehicles, and the cable was OK.  I then pulled the Nissan alongside in a position where I could plug in the cable - the lights did not work!  After tracing the wires in the Nissan, I found a wire which I could wiggle and cause the lights to blink.  Guess what?  Another of my infamous crimp-on wire splices was intermittent.  Shades of the cruise control!  After soldering this connection, the lights work perfectly.  I wonder how many other units of my previously favorite method of splicing into a wire are about to fail!

The routine here is to eat a little (or a lot), do some work, eat some more, relax some, eat some more, etc.  I'm going to have to diet for a month!  Stuff here sure is good!

Tomorrow we get into the computer for real.  So far all we have done is to run a partial backup and a full backup.

Friday, November 15
Today was computer day.  The first task was to install a Pentium motherboard with an AMD 5k86-100 processor and 16 Mb of RAM in Keith's primary system.  The board we removed was a TI DLC486-40.  The new one is about 4 times as fast, and really hauls.  We also installed his US Robotics Sportster 28.8 / 33.6 which is upgradeable to their X2 model for 56.6 k baud.

After some other tasks and activities we then tackled his upstairs system.  We removed the 386-33 from it and put in the 486-40.  RAM went from 4 Mb. to 8.  Both system are working fine and faster than before.

They just announced that the Heber area has gotten their 100 internet subscribers, and are putting in a local bank of modems.  Keith will now be able to get the net with a local number and so will be on-line shortly.  We checked with AOL and Prodigy out of curiosity, and the closest numbers are in Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Tucson.  All of these are quite expensive toll calls.

It started snowing tonight after a generally bleak and blustery day.  We had about an inch when we came out to the motorhome.  In the time it took to get Betty's chair lift on and Betty into the coach, we had a thin coating of snow on the motorhome floor for about six feet around the door.  Our coats and hair were also white.  Now I remember why I live in Southern California!  It is a novelty though.  The snow is supposed to be over by tomorrow morning with sunshine by afternoon.  It looks like our travel to Prescott Sunday should be in fine weather.

Saturday, November 16
Today dawned clear and sunny with scattered clouds.  The storm is over and the forecast is for gradual warming for the next several days.

This was a relaxing day.  We puttzed around with the computers a little, getting a couple of programs installed, etc.  We tried our best to bore the Scholls by showing them a couple hours of our videos.  Keith and Virg then attended their homeowners society meeting.  When they returned, Keith and I dumped our tanks, and we got the motorhome prepared for our trip to Prescott tomorrow.

Sunday, November 17
We had only about 150 miles today to get from Forest Lakes to Prescott, so there was no real rush to get away.  Besides we wanted to let it warm up a bit before hitting the road.  We were away, after saying our farewells and thanks to Keith and Virg, about 9:10.  It was up to almost 40 degrees by then, and I didn't think there would be any problems on the fairly steep driveway, or the gravel roads out to the highway.  Fortunately, I was right.  We had good traction everywhere.  There were a few patches of ice that I could lock the wheels on if I tried, but normal straight driving was rock solid.  We went to a different street to exit to the highway, as it is quite level.  Sheep Springs Road, which we usually take has a slope up to the highway, and people often have trouble getting started after the stop when there is ice.  As it turned out, as we drove past the street, the short length of blacktop at the highway entrance was totally dry.

The drive was peaceful and uneventful.  There are a couple of steep up-grades, and a very long down-grade.  We took our time and had an easy trip.  As we left Forest Lakes, we had about 1 1/2 inches of snow on the motorhome roof.  I noticed that after about Payson, we had an almost continuous spray of water and ice crystals off the back of the motorhome.  This lasted until just a few miles from Prescott.

We had selected a public park which had a few electrical hookups as a possibility for our four nights here.  We located the park and drove in.  We came to a post where we were to put our 1.50 daily entrance fee, and proceeded. we went up the road to the top to a picnic area.  Fortunately, there was enough room to turn our rig around.  We then went part way down the road to a side road and took it.  Again, no RV parking, but we did find the lake.  Next we headed back out and Betty spotted an electrical hookup post off to the left.  We decided, after checking some more, to go back to Point of Rocks campground just a couple hundred yards down the highway and were given a beautiful site with a couple of Cottonwood trees which have turned to a bright yellow color.

We then drove to the Wilkisons' home, about 5 or 6 miles away.  They have a beautiful home in a really nice development of custom homes among the Ponderosa Pines.  We had a relaxing afternoon and evening trying to catch up on all the happenings of all of us.  Gene showed me his new downstairs workshop where he builds his model planes.  He offered to take me model airplane flying in the morning.  It took me about 3 milliseconds to accept.

Monday, November 18
Gene came by at 7:15 to pick me up as planned.  We proceeded to the model plane airfield on the campus of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.  Gene brought his Mirage electric plane.  Several other members of the club arrived immediately after we did, all with electric planes.  These planes are amazing.  Using very high-tech motors, batteries, and electric speed controllers, they run from banks of Ni-cad cells.  These batteries have 6 to 18 cells and deliver about 20 to 30 amps to the motor.  Typically, flight times last around 5 or 6 minutes.

After a short while, more club members arrived, some with electric, and some with glow plug engines.  All together, there were about a dozen fliers active today.  We were there until about 10:30 and had a fantastic time! Gene made a total of 9 flights with his plane today.  He stated this a personal record.

After a while back at the campground, we again headed to the Wilkisons'.  We had a delicious lunch, flew model planes on his computer simulator, and watched some of our videos.  We ate dinner at a small restaurant called Berry's Soup and Sandwich Shop.  It was delicious.

Gene invited me to fly with him again tomorrow morning.  Great!

November, 19, 1996
It was another early morning and we went flying again today.  We took Gene's Telemaster plane.  This is a glow plug engine powered sport plane with ailerons and flaps.  Gene is an excellent pilot and this plane flies well.  This combination made for a really enjoyable morning.  He made 4 flights today, but those four had a higher flight time than yesterday's 9.  He can fly about 25 minutes on a tank of fuel in this plane.  Again there were a number of other club members present.  It was a great time for all.

After I returned to the Betty and the motorhome, we went into Prescott Valley (a few miles from Prescott) and shopped at Costco.  I then went into two different RV shops and did some window shopping of motorhome parts.

Back at the Wilkisons', Gene and I worked on his Curtis Jr. airplane.  He is installing an electric drive and is seeing some electrical interference between the prop motor and the receiver.  We tried to determine the cause and some possible solutions.  We made improvements and have several things yet to try.  After dinner we watched some more of my videotape.

Tomorrow the Scholls are coming over and we all will go to lunch together.  It should be fun!

Wednesday, November 20
Today we slept in (no flying).  After a leisurely morning dumping, filling with water, and getting the motorhome ready for tomorrow's departure, we awaited the arrival of Keith and Virg, who are coming to meet us all for lunch.  Around 11:30, they arrived and we headed over to Gene and Betty's.

We had a great time over lunch at the Pine Cone Inn and went back to the Wilkison's where the gals chatted and Gene gave Keith (and me again) the tour of the aircraft factory downstairs.  His shop is very nicely finished with lots of shelves.  He has a large bench in the middle of the room, and another against the end wall.  Battery chargers are everywhere keeping his transmitters and receivers up to snuff.  He has a clever wing rack on one wall with half a dozen wings supported on rods extending from the wall.  Several planes sit around the room on various shelves.  A really neat place!

Keith and Virg had to head back to Forest Lakes to try and beat the darkness, and so were only there about 3 hours.  I heard later that the darkness beat them by a bunch, but they still missed hitting any of the local elk and deer, most of whom have left for better winter feeding..

 After the last of my videos and some dinner, we bid the Wilkisons a sad farewell and headed back to the motorhome.

Thursday, November 21
We got up about dawn and did our final readiness things to the motorhome.  About a quarter to eight we pulled out of Point of Rocks Campground heading to I-17 South through Phoenix on our way to Organ Pipes National Monument.  As we drove we discussed the approaching storm which on Thursday was confined to about the westerly 50 miles of southern California.  The forecast for Friday was to extend the entire width of the bottom of the state.  We decided to continue to Phoenix and turn West heading for home today.

In the Glendale section of northern Phoenix we stopped at Isleys, an RV store whose catalogs I have been drooling over for several years.  It was a decent store, but I was a little disappointed that there wasn't something magic about it, I guess.  I bought a new plastic frame for the main door window.  The glass has been somewhat loose since we got the motorhome, and I finally decided that I really should fix it.  

We continued south to I-10 and headed home for real.  About Palm Springs we started to hit rain, light at first, but quickly becoming quite heavy with swirling winds.  The wind was not a problem for driving, but it sure messed up the visibility with the rain.  After about 10 minutes of this I heard a clunking sound, and then Betty's wiper stopped.  I pulled off the freeway and went out into the rain to look at it.  I discovered that I could freely move the blade.  Upon looking at the wiper motor, it appeared that the nut holding a crank bar to the motor output shaft had fallen off.  I picked up the nut from inside the front compartment and decided not to try putting it back on in the blustery rain.  When I got back in the motorhome, and inspected the nut more closely I discovered that the end of the shaft was still in it!  The shaft had broken just past the point where the crank fit a serrated tapered section of the shaft.

The drive home with just my wiper was not a problem.  I am certainly glad that it was the passenger side wiper that failed!  It would have taken me about an hour to swap out the motors if mine had failed.  I would have been very wet!

We pulled into the driveway about 5:30 after a 486 mile day.  Had we headed directly home from Prescott it would have been over a hundred miles less.

We had an excellent trip and thoroughly enjoyed the companionship of our long time friends.


I took the wiper motor into Freeway Trailer to see what the cheapest approach would be to fix it.  They said they could not help me at all, as that is classified as an automotive part.  They do not handle engine, transmission, etc. parts, and this is classed the same.  I really do not know where I would have to go to replace it.  Instead I went home and ground the end of the shaft flat where it broke.  I then with some difficulty drilled and tapped it for a 10-24 bolt.  The shaft was hard and for a time I wondered if I could accomplish the machining, but fortunately it wasn't excessively hard and I got it done just fine.

A small machined collar to concentrate the clamping force on the crank and a stainless screw completed the job.  The wiper is now probably better than new.