Archive for May, 2009

Wash, wax and treat

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

Cooling off while camping at the beach is a treat that is followed by our annual big wash and wax job. We have learned the importance of washing off salt deposits to prevent or control corrosion. We will probably limit our beach-side camping to once a year, not only to limit the exposure of salt to our trailer, but also to cope with the reality of mandatory water rationing that is about to begin due to California’s third year of drought conditions.

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Notice that I’m using an extended scrub brush compared to flooding the top of the trailer with our precious fresh water as seen in this photo from last year’s washing.  We are following many of the tips to conserve water seen here.

Before washing the trailer, I needed to tend to a few minor details…

dsc_0060-smashed-marker.jpg On our return home from our last beach outing I successfully negotiated the busy Interstate 5 freeway and was driving up our neighborhood hill. A car was coming down the street so I moved over to the right and, when the car passed, I pulled back toward the center of the street as I accelerated up the hill. I heard a barely audible “boom” which sounded like something had shifted in the truck’s cargo area. An hour after unhitching I noticed a slight dent in the rock guard and a smashed amber marker light. I must have hit one of the large plastic city trash cans that were out that day.

dsc_0069-new-marker-lt.jpg This gave me an opportunity to learn how certain parts for the Airstream are obtained. Airstream, Inc. was helpful in giving me the correct part number (511750, Marker Light, Amber Teardrop) and the two closest Airstream service centers. I chose C & G Trailer Service, an Airstream Certified Service Center that has had an association with Airstream since 1946. They had the part and could ship it via UPS, but we drove 113 miles up the coast to get it so that we could see their service center and become familiar with driving there when our trailer needs servicing (San Diego no longer has an Airstream dealer or service center). I installed the light fixture at home and substituted a flat #6S brass washer and added a #60 rubber O-ring to reduce the incidence of moisture getting into the light. Another LED bulb (67-A15) has been ordered to match our other marker lights which Larry had switched to LED.

I was now ready to wash the trailer and used Meguiar’s Deep Crystal Car Wash (See Meguiar’s over 100 year legacy and family history).  San Diego has hard water and water spots are prominent after washing. I added a cup of vinegar to a bucket of water and used a chamois to remove the water spots. Then I inspected the trailer for filiform corrosion which is showing up in newer Airstream trailers and extensively documented in the Airforums.com thread, “Corrosion problems with new Airstreams“. Last year I treated my filiform corrosion with Boeshield T-9. The label on its 12 ounce spray can indicates that T-9 was developed by The Boeing Co. for lubrication and protection of aircraft components and contains solvents, lubricants and waxes designed for penetration, moisture displacement, lubrication and protection. It dries to a thin, clear waxy film that clings to metal. One year ago I applied T-9 to my filiform and I am glad to report that I saw no expansion of the filiform. Compare the current filiform image below with the one taken last year.

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(Whitish circular areas surrounding the rivets are actually incompletely removed waxy residue from Mequiar’s Mirror Glaze sealant.)

The following day was the wax job and, as indicated above, I used Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze Professional Polymer Sealant #20 that can be obtained from a good automotive body shop supply store. (Thank you, 2airishuman of Airforums.com for sharing your wisdom and insights on protecting trailer exteriors.)  I bought the 64 ounce size jug and used it to refill the 16 ounce size squeeze bottle which is easier to handle while on the step ladder. (The roof also gets a protective waxing.) This is my third year using this product and I can report that it is durable and withstands washings throughout the year. I also believe that using the above two products goes a long way in preventing and/or controlling filiform corrosion.

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Also note that I observed Sun safety while out in the sun by wearing a broad-brimmed hat, long sleeve white shirt (Columbia Titanium), sun glasses that protect on three sides, and sunscreen.

So by the end of two days the trailer was washed, waxed and treated for this season.

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(Larry made the covers for both the Super Jack and the wheels.)

So now it’s time to relax and enjoy summer and our own back yard.

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(Red Trumpet vine that our hummingbirds love.)

Ocean breeze

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

Surf’s up and cool ocean breezes are zipping up and over our South Carlsbad State Beach bluff campsite where we enjoyed a break from the desert heat. We camped for four nights on the edge of a 3-mile long bluff, where we were bathed in the continuous sounds of the wind and surf. Seagulls sailed by, both inside and outside the trailer.

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Seagulls by John Perry

The area of Carlsbad was once inhabited by the Luiseno Native Americans who had a village near the Agua Hedionda Lagoon which was a resting place for Gaspar de Portola and Father Juan Crespi on their expedition up the coast in 1769 to establish outposts and missions for Spain. In 1883 the Santa Fe Railroad passed near here and land was opened to homesteaders and real estate speculators, including John Frazier who tapped an artesian spring yielding mineral water which was thought to be curative and likened to the old Bohemian spa of Karlsbad (in Czechoslovakia).

Five miles north of Carlsbad is Oceanside, where Marshal South, once known as Oceanside’s Poet Laureate, met his wife-to-be, Tanya, whose parents were orthodox Jews from the Russian Ukraine and emigrated to New York in 1906. See an image of Marshal and Tanya’s “honeymoon accommodations” while camping on an Oceanside beach in 1923.

Marshal South probably would have found our trailer accommodations interesting even though he apparently had no desire to use or generate electricity at Yaquitepec. Here at South Carlsbad State Beach we are self-contained and, with our two solar panels, we generate more electricity than we use during the day, even through the marine layer. Typically by late morning each day our AGM batteries are 100 percent at 13.5 volts.

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If we did a lot of this coastal camping, a portable wind turbine could possibly take advantage of the almost constant ocean breeze.

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We found that this South Carlsbad bluff is really the turf of the California Ground Squirrel.

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 Their accommodations are underground burrows on the other side of the fence and their favorite activities are surveying the campers and obtaining campers’ food and water. Bungee cords were used to secure outdoor items that contained food or other items of interest.

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A family of nearby squirrels paused for a moment and seemed mesmerized by Larry’s ukulele playing and singing.

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 More beautiful sunsets and summer breezin’ are just around the corner.

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Desert heat

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

We celebrated Earth Day by returning to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park for a five-night stay.  We arrived in warmer than usual temperatures for this time of year, which gave us a chance to see how well we could keep comfortable if we camped in the desert later in the season. We had full hook-ups at Borrego Palm Canyon Campground and used our Safari’s air conditioner extensively for the first time. This and other strategies enabled us to keep relatively comfortable, even when the outside temperature was 100 degrees.

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Our desert heat is usually a dry heat that I tolerate rather well. I sat under one of our three trailer awnings (which also help to keep the trailer cool when the wind is not gusting) and sipped on a cool one.

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Marshal South described desert heat in his article, DESERT DIARY  7, July at Yaquitepec, (August 1940 issue of Desert Magazine):

Heat! And the distant phantoms of mirage. Desert summer is with us now and Yaquitepec shimmers in the heat of a midday glare that is thirstily metallic… Nowhere but in the desert, and in summer, can you see such magnificent cloud effects as those which tower into the hard, turquoise sky above the heat-dancing wastelands.

(All 102 articles and poems written by Marshal South for Desert Magazine from 1939 to 1948 can be read in Marshal South and the Ghost Mountain Chronicles: An Experiment in Primitive Living, 2005, Edited and with a Foreword by Diana Lindsay and Introduction by Rider and Lucile South, Sunbelt Publications, San Diego, CA.)

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Upon arrival, the first item that I connected was shore power so that we could start running the air conditioner. Our original 30-amp power cord that came with the trailer was starting to pull loose at the male connector end. We recently replaced it with with a heavier duty Marinco 30 Amp Right Angle Locking RV Cord Set.

On an earlier camping trip here we noticed that the campground’s water pressure was overcoming our water pump’s check valve and the fresh water tank filled and water was seen trickling out of the overflow drain on the side of the trailer.  We found, that by hooking up a water regulator gauge, the incoming water pressure could be monitored and adjusted to prevent this from happening.

Once we were hooked up to shore power, we were pleased that our new 3-stage Xantrex  XADC 60A Converter/Charger worked perfectly and quietly. (Our previous two Parallax converters failed). See how I installed it: “Parallax Converter Replacement with Xantrex“, on Airforums.com.

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The desert heat prompted us to convert the trailer into a comfortable cave.

dsc_0047-insulation-leds-copy.jpg We closed the curtains, blinds and Vista View window covers. Larry made covers for our two Fan-Tastic Fans from Reflectix insulation that he cut to size and then sewed the edges together. (Our forward Fan-Tastic Fan has a reversible switch, so we have the option of pulling in cool night air at one end of the trailer and blowing it out the rear end, if we didn’t want to use the air conditioner or if we were boondocking.)

Our cave was brightened by new Warm-White LEDs that Larry installed. They use less energy and run cooler. He replaced the ceiling, over-the-stove and reading lights with LED lights (G4-WHP10-D, T10-PCB-WHP9, and G4-WHP15-T respectively) that are now available in a pleasant warm-white light from Super Bright LEDs, Inc.  See details and photos of his installation in his post, “LED ceiling lights“, on Airforums.com.

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Those hot-to-touch Halogen reading lights now feel only slightly warm with the Warm-White LEDs, which is very much appreciated when camping in the desert heat, and as a bonus, colors look truer.

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More images and notes about our LEDs appear in this Airforums post.

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Earth Day was brightened in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park not only by the blazing sun, but also by the flowering Palo Verde tree, also called “lluvia de oro”, which is Spanish for “shower of gold”…

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Reminding us that the real desert heat is still to come, and hopefully, with more gorgeous blue skies.

About the Author

BILL, along with partner, Larry, were first-time RV'ers when they purchased their custom-ordered 23' 2007 Airstream Safari SE. Bill (a retired RN) and Larry (a retired pediatric Occupational Therapist) enjoy bringing history alive in the area of San Diego, CA.