Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The summer has been long and hot here in the PNW.  We have spent about 20 nights in Eva between May and September, bringing the first year total to 55 nights!  

We have seen and done so much in Oregon, from the coast tot he mountains, from the Gorge to the high dessert.  It really has been a fab year.

Here are some stats from the first year:
Nights away: 55
Miles driven: 2800
Generator hours: 19

Not ground breaking numbers, but not bad for a couple that have full time jobs!

The fall has seen a few trips to central Oregon.  We have stayed at Paulina lake, Sunriver, Sisters and Bend.  We have another trip to bend in a couple of weeks too :)

Central Oregon has so much to offer, we really enjoy all the hiking around the Alpine lakes and the trail system around town is wonderfully diverse.  Each day seems to be capped by going to a brewery for a beer and great food.  I think the brewery count in Bend is up to 21 now, check for yourself at . Crux is my current favorite. 

We have also been stopping at the growler filling station in SW "Love handles" they have a good rotating selection and a loyalty scheme.  It also helps it is right next to "3 Goats" coffee, all part of the Brookswood Plaza.

I nearly forgot to mention the mountain bike trails are amazing too, I finally completed my vintage Klein rebuild and have taken it out on a few rides, so much fun!  I must confess, at 39 years old it is much harder to recover these days...

Finally I installed the Harmony remote.  We have had one in the house for years and recently upgraded to the "Ultimate" that controls lights and AC ..... The one in the airstream is a little simpler, but it has a hub and a repeater, so all the devices get to see the IR signal.  It was soo simple to set up and works perfectly first time! Even the wife approves. It is nice not to have 5 remotes floating around.

So here is the list to end the post:

Lessons Learnt:
It can be tricky to evenly distribute weight in the Airstream, you have to play close attention.
We are right up against the GAWR for the rear axel of the expedition when we are fully loaded with the generator, we have about 100lbs spare back there...  The front is fine, 300lbs spare.
Harmony remotes are still awesome!

Things we bought:
Water filter. The wife complained about the tea not tasting good at some campsites...
Fully stocked the bathroom so we don't keep packing our washrags from home.
Dyson vacuum, we kept forgetting to take the one from home!
New bedding! A nice set of Eddie Bauer flannel sheets, down comforter and a couple of down throws for when we are in the dinette watching TV!
Coat hooks, well a small rack of 3 hooks so we can hang coats and leashes out the way when wet.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

In preparation.

Here we are again, after a few weeks of Eva being sat on the driveway we are finally ready to drag her to another fun location.

This time we are heading to central, well, south Oregon, to Paulina Lake. At this time I have to confess we had no idea where Paulina Lake is, or why anyone would go there. When our friends that live in Reno suggested going there it took us a fraction of a second to say “yep”. There are many interesting details that make this journey so, so cool , for us:

1. We get to hang out with our friends we do not get to see enough.
2. It is no hook ups, so we get to be self sufficient J
3. It will be hot. We think we have a “heat management” program in place for me and the hound. When I say “we” I mean my wife!
4. Paulina Lake is at about 6500ft and is a in the top of a volcano. Really. How cool is that!
5. There will be in total 9 people and 3 hounds camping out. We will be the only trailer, our friends will be in tents. It is the first time we have been “camping” with friends since we have had our Airstream. We have welcomed requests of sharing our fridge and grill. Just don’t ask to share my water!!! :)

There are a few details that still need to be worked out. I am in a total list mode – it has been one of those weeks:

1. Eva is going back to the dealer for the AC to be looked at again….
2. The stupid UFO TV antenna is being changed out for a King widget. Not that we are expecting to watch TV on this trip, but as we are having warranty work being done, may as well have this “fixed” too.
3. I still have not got the solar hooked up. No excuses here, I have everything…. Just need to make it happen.
4. Payload. Now this is a totally interesting one. I drove over some CAT scales and was, well, shocked. I have my rear axle maxed out, the front has about 400lbs spare and the trailer has approx. 1000lbs spare capacity. So yes, I am not correctly loaded!!!! I will be playing with hitch washers and load balancing this weekend
5. I just want both my lists to match…

We are a week out from the trip. Can’t wait to add another 4 nights to the years total :) (which is 35 nights fyi). The shopping continues, we have added the following to Eva’s inventory!

1. Dyson V6 cordless, as much as I shopped around, it had to be a Dyson in the end.
2. Patio rug thing, a smaller one at 6x9 but should be enough to keep the puppy happy.
3. Extendable brush to wash Eva with.
4. TV antenna. The UFO is just not good enough. We went with a King Jack Antenna. It can me rotated and has an inbuilt signal meter.
5. Magnetic knife rack, they were cluttering up the drawer!
6. Damn! This list is ruining my symmetry.
7. Silicon roll up drying mat. We had one previously but it was to thin so we got the Oxo one like we have in the house.
8. 3 hook rail. This is the kind of rail where the hooks fold away, now we have a place for coats and towels to hang out!
9. Fridge fan to improve air circulation, the bottom gets icy and top not so much.
10. “Snip the tip” fridge thermostat, hopefully this will offer us better temp control. Other people report back that it helps.
11. Logitech harmony “home control” remote. We have the “Ultimate” in the house and it is awesome. The “home control” should be perfect for Eva.

So there we are. A lot going on ahead of this trip. We are really, really looking forward to it. When we get back I will post some pics.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Some welcome mini upgrades!

This has been a fun week or so for our Airstream ownership.  Eva (our Airstream) got the following upgrades!

1.  The stupid fridge fan that makes noise and vibrate the entirety of the 7000lbs trailer was replaced with 3 Arctic F12 computer case fans.  They move more air, use less power, make no noise or vibration.  A good deal all round!

2.  The Parallax single stage converter/charger was removed and replaced with a Progressive Dynamics PD4655 4 stage charger converter.  No more worrying about whether the batteries are cooked or not.  This week will be the mandatory cell fluid level check.  I have distilled water, battery acid and a hydrometer..

3. The crappy plastic Furrion inlet covers were upgraded to stainless steel versions.  They look much, much better and are actually easier to use!

4.  The Peplink SOHO router/AP widget was installed.  Seems to be working well, but I will know for sure during the coming week. There will be a few posts this week about the SOHO and  a few other small upgrades on the way

1.  A switch for the fans.  This will be located on the inside Eav above the TV in the lounge.
2.  Battery maintenance...
3.  The Solar install. Maybe this week. Maybe not. So, kinda just maybe....

Friday, July 10, 2015

We managed another successful 3 night stay out at Pacific City, Back in May. We rolled up after work and our favorite pitch was available to us, this was a good start!

As we headed out after a full day of work and the wife was just back from her annual trip back to England, the evening was very low key!  We mostly talked about the plan for the weekend!

We were woken up by beautiful sunshine and the roar of the ocean. We had our morning coffee and breakfast while watching Tottenham draw against Southampton (yes I am London lad and I can’t miss a game!) – we were ready to put our plan in to place, a walk to the pub.

From our site it was half a mile to the beach, then a lovely walk south into the sun and paragliders!  We stopped at the top of the dune to enjoy the colorful display, and the good spirited humor of watching some beginners!  Before long, the calling of Pelican brewery drove us down the dune and into its embrace.

The walk was much shorter then I expected, 2.1miles from the Airstream to the pub.  With a 6-pack in hand we headed back to watch the fun at the top of the dune.

All in all, it was about a 3 hour/2 beer walk, very much a lot of fun!

Once we got back to the airstream we sat out in the sun and caught up with family over skype.  The wife wanted to head back to the beach to get the surfers at high tide/sunset,  this time she drove us!  I needed to get the growlers filled anyhow!

Luka and I found an abandoned fire, so we grab some drift wood and kept warm with the Doryman ale while the wife snapped away.

The only downside of this trip was our departure.  As we pulled away, I had left the front right stabilizer deployed… While it got nicely mangled, I managed to detatch it form the AS.  Something to fix when I get home…

Lessons learnt:
Make sure all the stabilizers are up before you pull away…
Beer tastes better at the source!

Things we bought:


Friday, April 24, 2015

Spring time swing time

March brought us many nights out at the coast and a couple up at the mountain.  We are really getting into the swing of things with the Airstream, it is such an enabler for us.

The down side is we had to book her in for some warranty work.. Airstream NW in Gladstone, OR were fabulous.  They took care of everything and even found time for a wash!

The list of warranty work was as follows:

1.  Vista window above dinette leaking in lower front corner. (Was actually the fantastic fan!)

2. There is an intermittent issue with the Thermostat.  When the CCC2 is off, you can push the "inside temp" button and get an accurate reading. But if you turn the CCC2 ON and then try the "inside temp" it will read 32F.  This results in the thermostatic control of temperature not functioning.  This typically occurred when it is raining.

3.  A water leak from the plumbing has started.  it is at the in coming water line under sink.

4. The main awning leaks at top middle, this appears to be from the joint of the material to the metal housing.

5. Rivet in bedroom closet falling out

6. Refrigerator fan vibrates the whole airstream.

7. Propane tank holder recall issue.

We managed to find time to replace the "horrible to use" Claion M502 AV unit with a more traditional and easy to use Furrion DV3100 unit.  I can highly recommend this unit.  It sounds clean, it is easy to use. has bluetooth and looks stylish to boot.  It does not have HD radio or HDMI, but these are things I can live without!

The dinette speakers got switch out for some nice Infinity units too, so all is sounding sweet.

We are about to rock out for another coast trip, so check in soon :)

Lessons learnt:
Stock stereos are still terrible.
All RVs leak!
Airstream NW are awesome to deal with!
All RVs leak!

Things we bought:
Furrion DV3100 AV unit
Infinity Reference speakers
Stanley stainless steal shot glasses
Glass floats at Lincoln City!

Shopping list:
Wallet is on hiatus while we catch up with were we are, but a proper converter is top of the list!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

IT and electrics: fun, fun, fun...

While we are gearing up for a couple more trips, we had to adjust our schedule slightly.  The Mt Baker banked slalom has been postponed from Feb to March due to a lack of snow.  Our own dear Mt Hood is very low on snow too.  This means we have spent more time in town then planned.

Now, on the plus side we have made some real progress with the Airstream.  It has taken some time, a few adapters, but finally I have really, really good wifi J The Pepwave SOTG is connected to a 9.5” omni directional antenna on the roof.  This gives me excellent S/N. The key here was getting the correct adapter to join the N type male to the RP SMA…. I have forgotten already… but yes, the “reverse polarity male” connector on access points is odd…

Anyhow, this has had the added benefit of increasing the reliability of the apple TV that is now stashed behind the TV in the longue.  I need to tidy up the cables and secure the ATV in such a way it will see the remote from the dinette., probably facing skywards! The wifi speaker will be cracked out and tested – hopefully this will stay connected.

A little progress has been made with the solar set up.  I procured a 100W panel and a 20A MPPT controller from Renogy.  I sourced some beefy 8AWG cables from the Internet along with some SAE quick connects (not totally sold on these but should be fine with a single 100W panel).  From looking at the AS solar wiring diagram I can connect straight into the bus bars, stick a fuse or two inline (to be procured) and be in good shape.  The only issue is exiting the cable to the real world.  As this will be a portable set up, I will be going through the curbside cubby hole for now, it looks like there is enough play in the rubber gasket to pass a couple of AWG10 cable through on a dry day, but this is not a permanent solution.

Not IT related, but still exciting, the first run of the generator has gone well. The remote start is awesome, it powers up nice and runs quiet enough.  We managed to get free shipping, which on an 80lbs+ box is a good deal! This will eventually be converted to propane, but probably not till the summer. As we do not have a truck it will have to ride in the AS when we are travelling.  We will also have to keep a small can of gas in there, prob in the shower with the vent open.

We also got a good price on a propane grill, we have a few 1lb canisters to use up, but I do need to work out how to hook this up to the AS main tanks.

On a side note, I have also started the build of our vintage Klein mountain bikes.  Ultimately these will be a great aluminum addition to the AS!

Lessons learnt:
  • External antennas are awesome!
  • There is no point converting 12VDC to 120VAC and back to 15VDC…. Need a 12v DC power adapter for the 4G booster. Should be easy enough.
  • Cables and adapters are confusing, lots of similar sounding stuff.. Read carefully and double check. Do not trust pictures online!
  • Snow pack is not good in the PNW this year… but we should be able to take advantage of the clear roads and boondock in some resorts.
  • The converter/charger supplied by AS is a boat anchor. It is well documented a single stage charger will cook your batteries…. and the inverter is not much better as it is very good at sucking all your power away to keep itself warm.  Both items are on deathwatch…
  • Transporting gas is a giant pain in the butt if you have an SUV and not a truck…

Shopping list:
  • DC-DC adapter for the 4G booster
  • Converter/charger to replace the stock one.
  • Tri-fuel conversion kit for the generator.
  • Inverter to replace the stock one.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Over the Christmas period we managed to get another 4 nights up at the mountain.  This was our first “cold” camping, the temp got down to about 15F and we had the furnace running 24/7! We got a dusting of snow at the campsite that was awesome!

We really enjoy our winter campground, it is really helping us get to grips with all the ins and outs of the challenges of low temp camping.

It turns out water will freeze in those temps, we had to disconnected our water line as we could hear ice in it, the cable TV hook up froze and snapped, the sewer line froze and we finally managed to run out one of the 30lb tanks of propane! 

We had a great time, the snow was amazing, we got some real powder riding, I will post a video. Luka got snow drunk many days in a row! Now, unfortunately, while hiking to avoid high winds one day, a tree fell on Mrs.M, fracturing her hip, twisted her ankle and lastly tearing her new coat.  It did not stop her snowboarding the next day and did not miss a day of work.  Stubborn!

Thankfully, some 3 weeks later, Mrs.M is walking around just fine, the coat is repaired and we have added to the Airstream tool set, making us better prepared for the next outing!

What did we learn?
Things freeze in the cold!
The furnace is amazing, kept us really toasted and used less propane then expected.
We need more hooks inside to hang wet stuff
Propane switch over works J
The furnace and de humidifier work well together to manage moisture inside

New tools added to the Airstream:
3100W inverter generator
Heated water hose
Sewer solution (so we can dump sewage at home)
100W solar panel with MPPT charge converter
Nite-ize “s” hooks for the screen door
Boot tray -to keep by the door near the furnace vent to dry stuff really quick
RV antifreeze – always keep a bottle handy!