Archive for the ‘tools’ Category

Airstream Safari trip notes

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

I start by making checklists and notes on a 8.5″ x 13″ yellow pad days before our Airstream Safari camping trips and specific tasks are assigned to specific prep days depending on the weather.  For example, Friday’s weather was clear, two days before departure on our first trip of the season, so I completed one of the scheduled tasks by attaching my PressurePro tire pressure sensors to the tires of the truck and Safari and adjusting the pressures toward the recommended cold tire pressures (50 psi for my 14″ trailer tires, 60 psi for the front truck tires, and 75 psi for the rear truck tires).

Starting a trip with the right tire pressures is important because an under-inflated tire could get too hot, stressed, and fail.  The tricky part is that tire pressures fluctuate with the outside air temperatures by as much as 1 psi per every 10° F change in temperature.*  The temperature was 80° that Friday afternoon when I attached the sensors.  I knew that the pressures would be lower the next morning and even lower at our mountain camping destination, predicted to get the first cold storm of the season by midweek.  My task was facilitated by the PressurePro monitor, which shows the pressures at a touch of a button and then I recorded the pressures, along with the date, time, outside temperature, and weather conditions.  So when we departed, I was confident the tires had the optimal pressures for our 5 days of camping.

DSC_0017 Solar & Tire pressure notes

My note taking continued when we arrived at our non-hookup campsite as I kept track of weather conditions and how well our Lifeline AGM batteries were being recharged by our two Airstream factory installed solar panels (See my Columnar Pad notes in above photo).  These notes are saved and assist me in determining when it’s time to replace the batteries (I replaced our first set after 5 years).

I continued to write notes on my yellow pad throughout our camping trip, which are also saved for future reference.  At home, Larry maintains a running camping log on a Word document on our aluminum iMac* of trip mileages, menus, plants, birds and people seen.  I also make concise entries in “The Airstream Travel Journal”.

DSC_0003 Journal hardcovers

See More, Do More, Live More: The Airstream Travel Journal“, designed by Bryan Burkhart/MODERNHOUSE, was published by Chronicle Books LLC in 2002.  (Bryan Burkhart is also the designer and coauthor of Airstream: The History of the Land Yacht, Chronicle Books LLC, 2000.)  The spiral-bound journal with aluminum* front and back covers and featuring lined pages along with vintage Airstream spot art and photos, originally sold for $16.95 and I bought two of them in 2006.  This journal is now out of print and is no longer available from Chronicle Books*, but it can be found online for prices ranging from $79.99 to $600!  (For now, I think I will not place notes in my second copy and will just keep it in pristine condition for future possibilities!)

DSC_0002 Lined pages with notes

See More, Do More, Live More: The Airstream Travel Journal

Another journal, “Airstream Prism Journal Book“, is currently available online for $16.95 from Airstream, Inc..  Per Airstream’s website, this journal has a silver anodized aluminum front cover and a black leather back with an elastic pen loop and includes a black Airstream pen.

Our aluminum Airstream (75th anniversary)* Safari trip notes also find their way into our aluminum MacBook Pro*, which transforms them into a blog post, documenting those riveting experiences.*

HPIM2381_2 MacBook Pro & Safari

I prefer writing my trip notes with a pen and paper, but perhaps I should consider a simpler tool, the pencil, or a more powerful tool, the iPad Air*, or perhaps the typewriter (with its classic, iconic image and sound)* would be more appropriate!

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Safari shine on harvest moon

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

Washing the dirt and salt deposits off our awnings after the trip to the beach was the prelude to our annual big wash and wax job before the start of our fall camping season.  Over time dirt and salt deposits can weaken the awning fabric and shorten the functional life of trailer awnings.  See Zip Dee’s video, “Cleaning Your Zip Dee Awning Fabric“.*

DSC_0118 Washing Zip Dee awning

A fabric bead strip attaches the awning to the trailer via the awning rail…

DSC_0100 Streetside bead strip

and when the awning is closed, this strip forms a trough that collects and traps dirt.

DSC_0094 Awning trough

I am always amazed how much dirt is flushed away when I extend and wash the awnings.

DSC_0103 Canvas attaches to trailer

Our fall camping prep continued with a midsummer cleaning and repacking of our Safari’s wheel bearings and having the brakes adjusted.  Last week as the Harvest Moon rose*, we ate Moon Cakes in celebration of the Chinese Moon Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival.  Cool, fall weather arrived just in time for my big wash and wax job of the entire Safari trailer, including the roof (white wax dust particles are seen in the photo above).

I washed our trailer with Meguiar’s Deep Crystal Car Wash and on the following day I sprayed Boeshield T-9 on any areas of aluminum that had first shown signs of filiform corrosion (that was stopped in its tracks years ago by this product).  Only a light coating is needed (spray on and wipe off before it dries) as this product penetrates any breaks in the clear-coated aluminum and helps to block salts and oxygen from corroding exposed aluminum.  I then applied my favorite wax, Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze Professional Polymer Sealant #20 (the dry residue easily wipes off and the protection lasts over a year).  I then applied 303 Aerospace Protectant to the rubber seals of the Fan-Tastic Fan and windows and doors (keeps them from sticking and prevents UV damage).

DSC_0076 Our trailer protectants

Leaves are starting to fall from our Ginkgo tree and the nights are now cooler as we anticipate our early October return to the Cuyamaca Mountains.

DSC_0090 Autumn leaves (Ginkgo)

It was a bit of work, but by using quality protectants annually this nearly seven-year old Safari still shines and is ready to resist the elements, which makes me smile and want to sing and dance!*

DSC_0080 Safari shine

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

A marathon experience

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Our Marathon tires became six years old (from date of manufacture) during our summer of ’12 and we knew that, even though they looked OK, they were already beyond the expected lifespan of a normal trailer tire and needed changing.  The tires that came with our newly built 2007 23′ Airstream Safari trailer (Goodyear Marathon ST215/75R14) have served us well and have had no problems with our routine of going on monthly 200 mile round-trips, mostly from San Diego to our nearby desert areas, from October through April, and one last trip of the season to a nearby state beach in May.  In addition, I make sure they are at the specified pressure of 50 psi cold just before starting and I monitor them with PressurePro tire sensors. When the trailer is parked, the tires are immediately covered (sun protection). We typically travel at the posted speed limit for vehicles towing trailers in California (55 mph) and rarely go over 62 mph. Upon return to San Diego, our trailer and tires rest on plywood boards placed on top of the cement pavement and the tires are covered.  So, even though there is much discussion about tires and tires sizes on the forums, we chose to replace our tires with another set of Marathons!

I obtained our 5 tires locally from SD Tire and Wheel Outlet, used a 4-arm lug wrench to loosen the lug nuts, and used the F-250′s tire jack to raise the trailer.

I was surprised to see the curbside hub dust cap covers (aka grease caps) were not attached, but just inside the exterior hub cap!  They could have come off during a trip, or might never have been properly installed at the factory, but the visible area of the end of the hub looked clean, so the dust caps were installed with the help of Larry holding a board while I tapped with a small sledgehammer.

The street-side grease caps were in place as expected.  So all tires were replaced with recently manufactured Marathon tires, including the never-used spare tire.  A torque wrench was used to tighten the lug nuts, and will be used to recheck them at intervals on our first trip out to the desert.

I decided against the added expense of Centramatic Balancers for these 14″ wheels based on how we use our trailer and how our tires showed no uneven wear in over five years.  And the rubber valve stems never gave us a problem with our tires (maximum pressure cold of 50 psi), but I do like the new ones on our new tires with the metal tips.

Putting on five new round tires is a perfect way to start our fall camping season and the first of the new year celebrations that we enjoy observing, in this case, with a delicious round challah (a sweet egg bread) that Larry made with Craisins.

Roundness and sweetness are perfect symbols for the start of Rosh Hashanah, along with the apple that is sliced, and dipped in honey!

2011 Wash, wax, and treat time

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Upon return from our beachside camping last May, the trailer got a thorough rising off of salt deposits, and the awnings got their annual washing.  I opened the awnings and flushed off large amounts of dirt and debris that especially like to accumulate where the fabric attaches to the trailer.  I then followed the recommended method of washing the fabric as mentioned in my article, “Trailer awnings“.

This past summer I broke with tradition and waited two weeks before the start of our fall camping season to do our annual wash, wax and treat job.

I avoid getting onto the roof by using a step ladder and tools with an extended arm for both washing and waxing the trailer, including the roof.

This is also a time when I inspect for filiform corrosion and take appropriate protective and treatment measures.  Protective measures include using good quality wash and wax materials.  I particularly like Meguiar’s products, especially their Mirror Glaze Polymer Sealant #20, which I have applied every summer.  Since using this sealant, the filiform growth found on the edges of some of my aluminum panels and rivets has been stopped in its tracks.  The below photo of my “dragon” filiform corrosion was taken last month and shows no growth from its original photo taken in 2008.

Treatment measures that have worked well for me (with the exception of the taillight bezel housings) include Boeshield T-9 Rust and Corrosion Protection and CorrosionX.  I also apply 303 Aerospace Protectant to rubber seals such as those around windows and the FanTastic Fan Vents (protects and keeps them from sticking).  These products are currently available at the Airstream Store.

The taillight bezel housing fixtures presented a more difficult problem. Even with the treatments mentioned above, filiform growth continued unchecked until I stopped it last week, using more drastic measures.  My guess is that the clear coat on these fixtures is thinner and more fragile, so when filiform starts to grow here, it appears to lift and break the clear coat, allowing the filiform to be nurtured with more air, moisture and salts.  Filiform lesions on the taillight bezel that once looked like this in 2008, now looked like my mom having a bad hair day.

Up until now I have believed that it is best not to disturb clear coat finishes on the trailer, but these taillight housing filiform lesions needed to be excised.  I adapted a method of filiform removal devised by a member of AirForums.com.  Instead of a Dremel, I used a small screwdriver to gently scrape away the crumbly clear coat and filiform lesions.  I then used wet sandpaper in incrementally finer grits from 320 to 600, along with mineral spirits, to smooth the lesions.  (I eventually found even finer grit of 1000 to 1500 at a local auto parts store.)  After cleaning once more with mineral spirits, I applied two coats of a good quality clear nail polish.

The “bad hair day” lesion is gone, only its ghost is seen, along with a few diagonal scratches from a Dremel tool, which I quickly stopped using.  I cleaned up all of the other lesions on the taillight housings in the same manner.

Nothing is permanent in life, and as time passes, it is good to enjoy and savor every moment… Just ask Andy Rooney about time… and passages… but not while he’s eating!

 

Cool clean water

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Our camping season is just beginning and we are about to return to the desert.  I mentioned in my last article specifics of getting our Safari ready to roll and blithely mentioned that we topped off the fresh water tank.  Rich caught this and quickly reminded me of the importance of sanitizing the water system periodically with a bleach and water solution as recommended by Airstream.  I had wanted to do this last spring but I postponed it when I found that the fresh water petcock drain would not budge with normal hand pressure.

We have no need to winterize the trailer in San Diego and have never completely drained the fresh water tank before, but now I was motivated to do so.  I posed this issue on the Airforums and got a helpful reply suggesting that Dow Corning 316 Silicone Release Spray may help and alerting me to the importance of not turning the petcock too far open or closed (so that a finger won’t fit behind it).  My next challenge was to find this product, which is now called Molykote 316.  After numerous telephone calls and online research, I was able to order it from our local San Diego distributor for Kaman Industrial Technologies.

Two cans arrived via UPS and I was eager to use it but found no “How to use” directions included or on the label.  I finally found the product information along with “How to use” instructions here at wolcott-park.com.  So now I went out to the Safari.

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I sprayed a light film of Molykote 316 on the petcock and let it be overnight.  (Directions say to allow approximately three minutes drying time.)  The next morning I still found the spigot difficult to turn by hand so I used pliers with plastic tubing over the teeth to turn the spigot.  This worked and I sprayed the petcock again and was able to move it now by hand (but due to my big hand and some arthritis, I found I still relied on the pliers).

dsc_0144-molykote-316.jpg Molykote 316 Silicone Release Spray is made by Dow Corning and is a release agent for many food and industrial applications.

The product information says that it helps prevent seizing and jam-ups of conveyor guide rails and reduces sticking of pulleys and valves.

It also says that this product complies with FDA21 CFR 175.300 and FDA 21 CFR 178.3570 regulations for incidental food contact.

This product has a H-1 designation meaning that the lubricated part may have incidental food contact not to exceed 10 parts per million.

Handling precautions indicate that this product contains a flammable solvent, so do not spray in a confined space where the possibility of spark ignition exists.

So now that I was confident that the petcock could open and close, I proceeded with the sanitizing of the Safari’s water systems.

I followed my Airstream Owners Manual for the Safari and computed the required amount of bleach to add to a water solution for my size tank (multiply “gallons of tank capacity” by 0.13 to get ounces needed).  For my 30-gallon tank I used 4 ounces of household bleach (Clorox).  The solution was added and I topped off the tank, and opened all faucets (hot and cold), including the outside shower hose, allowing the water to run until the distinct odor of chlorine is detected (not so easy with my nose).  I then let this sit overnight (the manual says that this standard solution needs to have four hours of contact time to disinfect completely).

The next morning I opened the petcock and the water streamed out (and took two hours to completely drain).  I refilled the tank (with the white fresh water hose with a new TastePure RV Water Filter attached).  Again, I opened all of the faucets and purged the plumbing of all sanitizing solution.

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I once again opened the petcock and drained the fresh water tank and, after another two hours, I closed the petcock and filled the tank for the final time and flushed the faucets once more.  (I then drained the gray tank.)

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We did not want to water our plants with bleach-water so we allowed it to drain down the driveway.

But in this age of needing to conserve our precious water…

There must be a better way…

Perhaps an alternative technique or active agent…

Such as Purogene Fresh Water Treatment.

Or the use of the Drinking Water Freshener?

The second draining of the fresh water tank may not have been entirely needed.

But for now at least the fresh water system has been sanitized and the petcock works…

So we’re ready to hit the trail…

and enjoy cool clear water.

Trailer awnings

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

When we first placed our custom order for an Airstream factory-installed solar power system at the time of the build of our Safari trailer, we were glad that we also ordered their Full Awning Package, which consists of awnings on all three sides.  This enabled us to stay cooler and more comfortable while camping, especially in our desert heat.  Our awnings have performed flawlessly and we expect that they will continue to do so for a long time, provided that they are properly used, maintained and cared for.

Awning operation

Opening and closing the patio awning can be a bit tricky, so we were glad that we videotaped the tech as he opened and closed our awnings during the initial walk-through when we picked up our trailer at the dealer.  See Zip Dee’s instructional video, “How To Operate Your Zip Dee Patio Awning“, made earlier this year in conjunction with Airstream.  This video is a good review and has useful tips, even if you have been using your awnings for years.

Awning cleaning

Each year we are scrupulous in doing our annual wash and wax job of our trailer, especially after camping next to the ocean, but I have not cleaned and lubricated our awnings, until now.  Our awnings are individually handcrafted by Zip Dee using Sunbrella acrylic fabric treated with a fluorocarbon finish that makes it water repellent and stain resistant.  See “Zip Dee… Maintenance – What You Should Know About Your Awning“.  Over time, dirt can get embedded in the fibers, which can lead to mildew, stains and decreased life of the awning.  Zip Dee recommends a thorough cleaning every two to three years using a mild soap solution in cold or lukewarm water, followed by thorough rinsing.  See Zip Dee’s instructional video, “Cleaning Your Zip Dee Awning Fabric“, made earlier this year in conjunction with Airstream.  Before I began, I also reviewed the detailed instructions, “Awnings care & cleaning“, from Sunbrella.

Last weekend’s heat wave in San Diego was a perfect time to clean our awnings.  After selecting the appropriate straw hat and yellow Hawaiian shirt, I pulled out the awning and hosed it off.

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I then scrubbed the awnings with an extended-handled, soft bristle brush and a solution of one quarter cup of liquid Ivory Snow in two gallons of cool water.  Ivory soap was invented in 1879 by James Norris Gamble, and the phrase, “99 44/100% pure” first appeared in its advertising in 1882.  Last week I went shopping for the Ivory Snow Flakes that I grew up with (as seen in this vintage Ivory Snow Flakes commercial) and I was disappointed to learn that Procter & Gamble had stopped making Ivory Snow Flakes in 1978.

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I then rolled up the soapy awning, allowing it to soak for about 15 minutes.  Then I re-opened the awning and thoroughly rinsed it off on both sides (It was necessary to get on a step ladder to rinse off the dirt and soap on the very top where the awning attaches to the trailer).  I then left the awning fully extended to thoroughly air dry (which only took about two hours on this hot summer day).

Awning lubrication

After the cleaned awning was dry, I lubricated the hardware with silicone lubricant spray (I avoided WD-40, oil or grease which could attract dirt).  See Zip Dee’s instructional video, “How To Lubricate Your Zip Dee Awning“, made in conjunction with Airstream.  As shown in the video, I slid the tube off of the rafter arm bar and I lubricated the ratchet stud (knob) and the slot exposing the spring and worked the lubricant in by pushing the tube on the ground several times.  (Refer to Zip Dee’s Parts List for hardware terminology).

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I then used a tooth brush to clean the dirt off of the teeth on the rafter arm bar, which was then sprayed with silicone lubricant and the excess was wiped off with a clean cloth.

43-rafter-arm-teeth.jpgI then slid the tube back onto the rafter arm bar and reattached the rafter arm to the awning roller shaft and extended the main arm fully for cleaning.  I sprayed the main arm with silicone and wiped off the excess with a clean cloth.

The roller shaft was then sprayed and worked back and forth several times as seen in the video.

This was then repeated on the arm on the other side of the awning.

Other instructional videos are also available from Zip Dee such as:

Straightening a Bent Main Arm Bar

Adjusting the Main Arm Bars (to fit the Clamp Wheel)

Ratchet Stud Replacement

Awning safety

We learned early on how quickly weather conditions can change, especially when camping in the desert, and that it is a good idea to not leave an awning extended during windy or rainy conditions.  We also learned that one good precaution to take when there is possible rain nearby, is to leave one side of the awning lower than the other to prevent accumulation of water which could weigh down and bend the supporting arms.

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We have also learned that it is best to retract the awning whenever leaving the trailer unattended or when going to bed for the evening.  By the way, it is easy to bump into the opened awning support arms (especially when entertaining), so we periodically hang festive decorative items on them, such as these Chinese flutes, for increased visibility.  Finally, prior to towing, we make sure that the patio awning is secured by the top travel lock (hook) and the two side clamp locks, the street-side awning’s top hook is secured, and the rear awning is rolled up.

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Now it’s time to cool off, relax, and watch this video of snowy scenes as Airstream Professionals visit the Airstream Service Center in Jackson Center, Ohio.

Tire pressure monitoring system

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

One of the selling points for us when deciding which Airstream trailer would best meet our needs was that it would be safer to have two axles rather than one in the event of a flat tire. We chose the largest trailer (23′ Safari) that would comfortably fit in our driveway, and considering all of the stuff that we take with us, it is good that we have two axles.

One of the caveats (as noted in this Airstream Forums thread) to be aware of with multi-axle trailers is that drivers are often unaware of low or flat tires until the entire tire fails which could lead to extensive or catastrophic trailer damage. For years I have followed Rich Luhr’s experience with tire problems as summed up in his Tour of America post, “A tirade about tires“. One way to increase awareness of the state of our tires, especially while moving, is through a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), discussed here on the Airstream Forums.

After reading about Rich’s decision to install (last May) the Doran 360RV Tire Pressure Monitoring System for RVs, Tow Vehicles and Trailers, and after reading the Doran 360RV advantages in their ad in Airstream Life, Fall 2008 issue, page 74, and as our tires are now over two years old, we decided it was about time to add an extra measure of safety and ordered our Doran 360RV directly through Doran Manufacturing LLC. The item was shipped free and arrived within four business days via UPS.

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This system can continuously monitor up to 36 tires. We started with 4 sensors for the trailer. This system installed and worked so well during our trip to the desert last week, that we plan on getting four more sensors for the truck. Besides the monitor and sensors pictured above, other system components included are the sensor lock with wrench for each tire position purchased, visor clips and self-mating fastener tape mounting kit, adjustable pedestal mounting kit, Dill valve tester, and the Installation and Operation Manual.

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First I programmed the monitor for the appropriate maximum cold tire pressure rating of 50 PSI for our ST215/75R 14C tires. Then each sensor with its own 3-digit serial number is assigned to each tire location. Once the monitor is programmed, the sensors are screwed onto the tire valve stems and the monitor is hooked up to a 12-volt power receptacle. In our 2006 F-250 truck the monitor fits perfectly in the pull down smaller storage compartment and is securely held in place by the self-mating tape supplied. It is then plugged into the 12-volt power receptacle nearby.

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The Operation Manual points out that the sensors transmit a coded RF signal and the monitor will alert if the pressure drops more than 12.5%. A second more urgent alert occurs if the tire pressure drops more than 25%. Additionally, we have our monitor programmed to alert us if a pressure is detected to be 25% higher than the programmed baseline pressure, which can assist in the checking of elevated heat in the tire. During our recent trip to the desert, we heard no alerts, thankfully, and it was interesting to see the tire pressure raise from 50 to 55, and to a maximum of 58 PSI coming back due to tire heat.

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After unhitching the trailer, I covered the tires to protect them from the UV rays of the sun. The picture above actually shows the trailer being lit up by the full moon last week, as evidenced by the stars over the trailer, candlelight showing through the windows, and trees on other side of trailer glowing from the campfire! (More about that in my next posting).

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When we arrive at a campsite, we check for nails, screws and any other dangerous items before backing in. The above picture shows the Doran 360RV sensor in place and the nail and large screw that was in our space waiting to puncture our tires. Another benefit of these sensors (which I added to my routine) is that I can now check the tires during our stay (and not have them lose any air) to make sure they don’t have a slow leak from any inadvertent screw or nail picked up along the way.

Three months ago, Rich Luhr’s Doran 360RV Tire Pressure Monitoring System alerted him of a rapid de-inflation of his right front trailer tire, enabling him to do a quick stop before the tire “shredded into lots of expensive rubber parts”, as described in his Flat tire on I-270 post. A short time later his system warned him of low pressure in his left rear tire that he attributed to bad valve stems.

Overloading and under-inflation are two common factors in why tires fail. Other factors are listed here by Rich Luhr. I found this sobering You Tube video, How to Handle a Tire Blowout in Your RV, made by Michelin for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, which I urge you to watch.

Although “It’s the end of the mall as we know it“, it is the beginning of the holiday shopping season and time to start buying more stuff to save the economy… at least stuff that will support our RV industry and Airstream Life (Doran Manufacturing LLC continues to be a supporting advertiser, their ad will appear in the Winter issue).

Happy Holiday Shopping!

Gettin’ hitched

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Getting hitched is not to be taken lightly. It’s serious business, and a time to reflect on what’s really important, and then to act in a correct, determined and focussed manner to assure a successful and happy outcome.

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Not doing it correctly could lead to problems.  I’ll ‘fess up. Shortly after hitching up, I slowly pulled the trailer forward a few inches and felt and heard the thud of the hitch jack as it moved off of the thin wood pad onto the concrete driveway. I had forgotten to raise the electric jack. Fortunately, no harm was done, but it scared me into thinking about how to prevent what could be a costly omission in the future.

Early on, I developed a number of trailer protocols and checklists (including hitching and unhitching). But as time went on, I tended to do, what were becoming to be, “routine tasks” by rote. But all it takes is one brief distraction and a critical step could be omitted. So this season, I have built into my routine a way of reminding me to do certain critical tasks. For example, when I’m about to hitch up, I remove all of the specific tools and items required from the hitch box at the outset. When each task is done, the related tool goes back into the hitch box. The trailer is not moved until all tools and items are back in the box, and we both do a walk-around inspection, and check lights and signals.

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Four of my essential tools seen in the above photo remind me to do certain things. The stabilizer crank reminds me to raise the stabilizers (done first when hitching up). Next to that is the tool that helps me to place the Equal-i-zer sway bars onto the brackets on the A-frame. The rubber mallet reminds me to knock off the jack foot when the electric hitch is raised. And the wheel chock wrench reminds me to remove the chocks.

Other useful items seen in this picture include the Husky Universal Coupler Lock #39594, rubber cover for the greasy hitch ball, tube of white lithium grease, and Gojo Natural Orange Pumice Hand Cleaner (which comes in handy with all that grease around).

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Those Equal-i-zer sway bars also get greasy, so Larry made lightweight tubes for them when they are not in use.

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Also seen in the above picture is the flag pole stand under the jack post. We often use this stand under campsite tables as well.

So that’s how we get hitched… oh, there is one more view

In the meantime, during these dog days of summer, we’ll stay home and enjoy the house air conditioning. (Our local state beach campgrounds are mostly booked until after Labor Day, when we plan to return to our favorite beach campground.)

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We will use the time to catch up on various projects, including playing and listening to the ukulele.

California Mountain Camping

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

On Earth Day we arrived for four nights of non-hook-up camping at our favorite mountain campground, William Heise County Park, near Julian, California. During this second year of camping with our Airstream, we are learning to appreciate the rhythm of the seasons and the variety of topographies and micro-climates that are within a two-to-three hour drive from our home in San Diego. This is becoming increasingly important to us as the price of fuel sky-rockets, leading some to wonder, “Is this the beginning of the end?”

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So at this time of year, as our nearby deserts heat up, we find comfort and interest in the Cuyamaca Mountians. The air was still cool, the flowers still blooming, and the turkeys were frolicking when we returned to William Heise County Park.

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This park is located near Julian, a former California gold-mining-boom-town, and now a quaint apple-growing center, visited by many people, especially during the fall Apple Days and Bluegrass Festival. Occasionally, it is also visited by the Plague Doctor.

This area is also plagued by wildfires, especially during the Santa Ana wind conditions prevalent in late summer and early fall. The October 2003 wildfires burned 70% of William Heise Park. Seven miles of pleasant, wooded loop trails provide opportunities to follow the stages of re-forestation that occur naturally after fires.

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During this second year of camping, we are also learning to keep an eye on naturally loosening screws in our Airstream. On this outing, Larry heard something drop as he was closing a window. The tiny hex screw that holds the gray plastic knob on the window-opening-arm-bracket had fallen out and was luckily found.

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Last year Larry assembled two bags of essential tools, which included two sets of hex keys (also known as Allen wrenches) of various sizes. Larry used the 1/16th inch hex key to screw it back in and tighten all of the other window knob screws which had begun to loosen.

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This underscores the importance of making and maintaining an essential tool bag.

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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.