Getting Ready For The Second Half Of The Aborted Alaska Trip

Getting Ready For The Second Half Of The Aborted Alaska Trip

Thursday, August 8 Through Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The drive from St. Louis to San Antonio by way of Round Rock Texas was uneventful except for two things on Saturday.  The first thing, a problem money can fix, caught us off-guard south of Waco.  We had spent the night in Hillsboro which is just south of where I-35E (through Dallas) and I-35W (through Fort Worth) come together.  The morning had the feel of a day that would ultimately be between 105 and 110° just like the day before.  Hot already.

Texans treat the speed limit on much of I-35 as a suggestion rather than a limit.   Traveling at 80-ish on the 75 MPH section of Interstate Highway seemed reasonable based on the number of passing cars speeding by.

Suddenly, without warning, the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) reported low tire pressure.  The ten year old Ford Explorer TPMS doesn’t say which tire is low.  A nasty blowout became the concern.  We slowed to 60.   Luckily, the next exit came quickly.  There was a gas station.  We pulled in.  I checked all four tires.  The left front tire was 32 PSI.  The other three came in at 40.  None of the tires were hot.

The portable 12 Volt air pump brought the low tire up to 40 PSI.  Typically, the TPMS doesn’t report low pressure unless the pressure is below 28 PSI.  Odd.

Back on the road, the TPMS reset.  Within ten miles, the TPMS reported a sensor failure.  Don’t know which sensor.  Now we are flying blind.  The TPMS is effectively disabled.

2010 Ford Explorer TPMS Idiot Light
2010 Ford Explorer TPMS Idiot Light

The other eventful item was a good thing.  We arrived at Princess Craft in  Round Rock around 10:00.  The truck and camper were parked in front.  All work items were completed.   Inside the truck camper, the service department manager covered each of the work items.   Lance had provided critical product and engineering support enabling Princes Craft to complete this project.

One of the two unusual work items was to replace the range with a gas cook top and electric microwave/convection oven.

Gas Range Replacement - Gas Cook Top Plus Microwave/Convection Oven
Gas Range Replacement – Gas Cook Top Plus Microwave/Convection Oven

The gas cook top is very nearly the same as the cook top on the old gas range.  The only visual difference is the oven control knob missing on the right.  The microwave controls are easier to see and use than expected.  The manager said they lowered the counter-top so the microwave trim (for the exhaust vent?) would work out correctly.  As a result we lost a small amount of space in the cabinet below the sink.

The second unusual item was to replace the kitchen sink.  We wanted to go from a double sink to a single sink.  It was the kitchen sink that took the longest to procure.  The first sink attempted was one Lance thought would fit because it is being used in current 850 camper production.  It turned out to be ¼ inch too large because the 2018 Lance 850 propane tank storage, which is behind/under the sink is just a little bit bigger than newer campers.  The sink they finally found fit the same counter cutout that the original one.  The best part is the new sink is two inches deeper than the old one making it much more useful for washing dishes.   One side effect is some loss of under sink cabinet space.

Double Sink Replacement - Single Residential Home Sink
Double Sink Replacement – Single Residential Home Sink

I had been concerned that the new deeper sink would make it harder to get to the water pump.  This has turned out to be not the case.  The water pump is more accessible now that it isn’t blocked by a second drain pipe and trap.  Very nice!

Better Water Pump Access
Better Water Pump Access

The new Expion360 battery monitor was mounted above the solar controller panel. It shows everything we need to know in a single display. This should help us better manage our batteries when boondocking.

Battery Monitor
Expion360 Battery Monitor

The Expion360 Battery Monitor is designed to measure a battery’s state of charge (SOC). It measures voltage, current, and capacity in real-time. The monitor will show both power consumption as well as power replenishment. The monitor can be used with Lithium, Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4), Lead Acid, AGM, Gel and Nickel Metal Hydride batteries with a voltage range of 8V to 80V. The active back-lite makes it easy to read and has a low power draw.
Expion360 Web Site

The wet bath had a horrid little cheap exhaust ceiling fan in it. It has been replaced with a Fan-Tastic Vent. Now the wet bath will dry out sooner. We had hoped to put a MAXXAIR II on top of the bathroom vent/exhaust fan so we could run the fan in the rain. There wasn’t enough clearance between the fan and the luggage rack to allow for the correct installation of a vent cover.

Wet Bath Fantastic Fan
Wet Bath Fan-Tastic Vent

However, the factory installed Fan-Tastic Vent near the back door did have clearance for a Maxxair II. At least one fan can run in the rain.

Maxxair II Vent Cover
Maxxair II Vent Cover

Having backup cameras that can operate while driving down the road allows drivers to keep tabs on their towed vehicle. Our backup camera is powered by the running lights (and headlights) and not the backup lights. The camera, a Voyager Observation System, turns on when ever the running and/or headlights are turned on.

Backup Camera
Voyager Monitoring System (Backup Camera)

The second piece of the backup camera equation is the display unit. This display unit is powered by any standard 12 Volt auto (cigarette lighter) outlet. It came with a suction cup that can be adjusted to fit any windshield angle.

Voyager Monitoring System (Backup Camera)
Voyager Monitoring System (Backup Camera)

Now we are able to see that our Jeep is safe as we tow it down the road.

In San Antonio, we took the truck and camper to the KOA so we would have power to run AC while we provisioned it for our next trip. We spent Sunday through Tuesday getting camping gear ready, taking it to the camper and stowing the gear in the correct places.

We also loaded up the usual stuff we carry in the Jeep when camping.

We did some adjustments to what we would bring on our trip and where it would be stowed. One example is that we lowered the number of days worth of clothes we were bringing from 16 down to 10.

It feels like we have more room than before.

Wednesday morning, we drove the Jeep down to the KOA, broke camp, hitched the Jeep and left for the Kerrville KOA.

We started the second half of our aborted Alaska trip.

Hope to see you on the road ahead!

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