Project Vintage Thunder

The latest on Project Vintage Thunder, by Airstream Life magazine. Sponsored by George M Sutton RV, Reese hitch, Dometic USA, PPG Paint, Axis Products, GSM Vehicles, and Zip-Dee. Vintage Thunder is an "honest" RV refurbishment and travelogue. We tell you what really happens ...

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Last Minute Snags

With any large project, there are snags. So why should the pickup of Vintage Thunder today be any different?

I headed over to GSM Vehicles this morning. Things started off well. Colin walked me through the many small upgrades they made on the trailer, including the new belly pan, the installation of the wireless Internet system, new cable ends at the battery, clearcoated bumper, etc. Everything was top notch.

(There was almost a disaster yesterday, when they tried to remove the trailer from the garage. With the two new axles on, the trailer sat so high it would not clear the garage door. They finally had to lower the tires to about 10 lbs each to get the trailer to squeak through. They've since been refilled to 50 lbs.)

After the tour, I bid goodbye to the crew and prepared to go. Just before leaving, I turned on the lights to test them. Of course, Colin's guys had checked them the day before ... but now, they didn't work. Worse, something blew a fuse on my truck a few seconds later.

So we spent two hours trying to figure out what was going on. The problem turned out to be stray "hairs" of copper inside the 7-way trailer connector. Adam stripped down all the wires and re-connected them -- problem solved. Meanwhile, we pulled fuses on the Honda Pilot trying to figure out which one had blown (the owner's manual was no help). We finally found it, a fuse cryptically labelled "Small light" in the manual.

But alas, we had pulled the SRS (Supplemental Restraint System, aka "airbag") fuse in the diagnostic process. And that turned the SRS light on, meaning that the airbags were disabled. This is where a simple problem becomes a complex one, thanks to modern technology.

A call to the dealer revealed that if you pull the fuse for even a second, the SRS turns itself off, and can only be re-set by the dealer. This requires half an hour in the shop while they diagnose the problem, to verify that it is in fact just a fuse issue. The dealer is too concerned about liability to accept my explanation that we pulled the fuse for a moment, so they have to check it themselves. And of course, being the day before a holiday weekend, the shop is fully booked and they can't get us in before we have to leave. So we are going out without airbags. We'll have to get it fixed along the way.

We also turned on the Internet-in-Motion system and it locked onto the cellular Internet signal right away. But the Netgear router was not communicating. I decided to shelve that problem until I got home.

I made it home without other incident, and as I promised before, shot a picture from the upper deck of the ferry to compare to the one I took (and posted to this blog) on April 23. See below. Looks a little bit better, doesn't it?



When I got home, I re-booted the Netgear router and it started to work normally. In fact, I'm posting this blog from my dining house, using a wireless Internet signal emanating from Vintage Thunder! It works better than my normal connection at home, which is Direcway Satellite. If you are parked at a campground and spot a wifi signal with the SSID "AIRSTREAMLIFE", you'll know we are nearby.

The only other bug was the gas lines from the propane tanks. One was leaking badly when I turned on the gas this evening (so I shut it off). I'll take another look tomorrow -- hopefully when it's not raining as it has been constantly for the past week -- to see if it needs replacement or just isn't seating correctly.

Tomorrow is cleanup and packing day (and decal installation). 36 hours to blast-off!

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