Wednesday, February 10, 2010

More Summer Fun

Here are some more updates from the summer. As I mentioned, we had a group of folks go camping at City Park. We got Fandango out there for a few days and the entire trip was great. The July 4th festivities included a lot of lake time and we got to watch fireworks from the boat. You already saw some of the campsite photos which were mixed with our May trip above but here are some more pics.

Next up was our family reunion. No Fandango did not make it out there this year but I am capturing it now because we are set at taking Fandango next year. We also have a day at Garner State Park planned prior to the 2010 reunion and two days back at Garner after the reunion so that will be our biggest Fandango trip yet. Oh and yes, I like to wear a life jacket like a diaper when I am swimming in lakes. It is far easier to deal with kids or just to relax and not tread water or keep track of a floatie.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Some other key things last summer

I promise I will get back to Fandango but there were some other key things which were highlights during this past summer. One was that the end of the school year marked Danielle's first graduation! She graduated from her first daycare, Casis Future Cougar Academy and spent the summer looking forward to starting the fall as a Casis Cougar Cub! We can already tell you that she really used that as the moment she knew she was no longer a baby and is now a big girl.

The other big thing which takes up some of the spring and summer is the University of Texas Baseball season. Yes, they finished the year 2nd in the nation after taking the LSU Tigers to a 3rd and winner-take-all National Championship game. That also started an interesting streak for UT as they finished the 2009 season in 2nd place for baseball, Women's Volleyball and Football. Anyway, I thought I should include just a couple of pics from baseball season to capture how the kids are growing and having fun throughout the year.

I wish this post included pictures of Fandango at the College World Series but they stopped allowing RV parking in the left field lot a few years ago. I guess I missed my chance to experience that with my own RV. Oh well, more Fandango news and pics to come.

The Summer of '09

Let's get caught up. My last post showed me getting Fandango ready for an upcoming camping trip in May. We had two trips in Fandango during the summer. The first was an annual trip some friends of mine take to Emma Long City Park. The second was another trip to City Park, during July 4th weekend. Fandango worked great, even as we went through a random rain storm which ripped apart a pop-up canopy and had multiple inches of water rushing under the RV. I have still seen some erratic performance with the RV battery and how well it starts but I will save that for another post. I also found a small leak in the ceiling along the bathroom wall which I later fixed.

Fandango at the campground:

Austin hanging out at his first campout!

Cooking at the campground:

Our friend's the Passarella's RV "Dutchie" and their boat "Shaka".
The family enjoying Lake Austin and our pontoon boat "The Floating Tailgate":

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Did I really go 8 months without an update?

Ooops! It's a good thing my buddy Marcus posted some updates on his blog. That allowed for a few of you to realize I did not just drive Fandango off of a cliff. Sorry for that big delay but I guess my 9 month old son, 4 year old daughter, kitchen renovations, work on Fandango, time actually using Fandango, going on the lake a few times and actual work has kept me a bit busy.

There are quite a few stories and updates to tell so I will try to catch up with some interesting highlights.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

We Have the Technology

OK, our next campout is approaching so I need to get some key repairs done. You saw the damage to the skylights and I will get to that later in the blog. First things first. You may remember I have had some random issues with the lights on the rear half of Fandango. The lights are all DC and they are run through two cut-off switches. The cut off for the front lights is a traditional looking light switch right at the steps when you enter the cabin. Those are the front bunk reading lights and all of the kitchen lights. The rear (bathroom and rear bedroom/bunk area) lights are all routed through a cut off switch in the rear access panel behind the spare tire. When you open that panel you have the service access to the water tanks, pump and the rear fuses, the power converter, etc. There is a small terminal block and the DC power runs through that. The line that drives the rear lights was a bit loose and I did field repairs but that fuse connector was just too loose. The wire that runs to it from the cut off switch was starting to overheat too. Lucky for me, there was an unused post so I just needed to make a new wire with new crimps and long enough to run to the other end of the terminal.

I know you all were concerned about my safety in creating the electrical line and properly installing them. Well, fret not, I had a trained professional help me.

That work went well and I have had Fandango's rear lights running for a few hours. Time will tell but I think I have rid us of that problem. But just in case, I went ahead and worked on this post while sitting in Fandango after completing the work so I could stare at lights.

OK so the rear lights appear to work (knock on wood) so we are pretty much camp ready. I have pondered whether or not I wanted to deal with installing the new skylights right before I go on a trip. To be honest, the drive from where I keep Fandango to my house is twice as far as the drive to campsite. It has also survived three major rainstorms with the broken skylights wrapped in plastic. Experience tells me that I may be biting off somthing which will consume way too much of my time when I should be burping a one month old, or playing with a three year old or, god forbid, getting my boat ready for the campout too. Bah, who am I kidding...let's rip perfectly sealed metal frames off the top of my roof and try to shove in new ones without destroying my RV!
(Yes, I will wait...go ahead, think of all of your ways to call me an really, I can wait...OK, you're done)

Oh, I almost forgot. Why am I putting in completely new skylight assemblies instead of buying just new lids? Because my lids are riveted to the hinge and they are not designed to be removed. Yes, I could drill out the rivets and and put in a new lid...if one with that proper curvature and length was readily availablee. The RV supply store I use has some very experienced parts folks and they were pretty confused when I showed them the pictures. They finally asked me what kind of RV it was. They knew I was pretty much hosed when I told them a 1972 Winnebago. They went through their catalogs too. Stuff this old is just not what folks want to supply a lot of parts for when you can just move to newer "universal" parts. OK, again, I could have fought it but I live in an area where Fandango will get hailed on every 9-14 months. I want to deal with one pile of pain and then have my future replacements be easier.

Marcus and Frank, thanks for the tips on the Fantastic Fans but I am going to pass on them for now. I do not have DC power running to two of the three vents so that will be a task for when I eventually have to completely remodel the interior.
OK, so here we go.

I must say, I was stunned on how easy it was to remove the vent. The bottom screen inside the cabin was compressing the top and the top was only held by sealant. All I had to do was remove the bottom screen and then run my razor along the seam and it came right out.

This is where I got excited and then nervous. If it was that easy, then the bad stuff was just building up and hiding from me. Well, it won't hurt to do a dry fit. I grabbed the new vent and it almost fit. Yes, almost. Sigh. Actually, it was not too bad. As you see above, the existing hole has radius corners but the new vent wants square corners. The roof is really just plywood, foam, then plywood so that is not hard at all to cut.

Wait, did I just say I am going to cut the roof of my RV? The bad news is that I really like using my Sawzall so there was no stopping me. I was just upset that the Sawzall was able to handle that task was too easily. The picture below shows the marks on the corners I needed to cut out.

Pretty easy cut and it popped in no problem.

I added the putty tape and then put the vent in place.

I was pondering how many screws to put in. My original vents did not have any but the way it is shaped it looks like it really wants a lot of screws (There were ~10 screw holes on each side!). I did not use all of the holes because you just face the laws of diminishing returns. That is just too many holes to put on a roof of an RV! What I did realize is the genious of the parts guy at my RV spot (RV Outlet Mall-OK, they get a plug). He sold me one full tube of roof sealant for each skylight. I thought that was much but hey, why not. So I put an entire tube of sealant on the trim.
OK, so overall, it actually, went pretty well! OK, you caught me, I didn't mention the inside trim piece. That put a good scare in me. I went inside to dry fit that...of course, after I cut holes in the roof of my RV. The trim piece bottomed out with a 3/8" gap before it would sit flush against the ceiling. Whoa! I started to wonder if I really did have such an old oddball RV that universal skylights do not work. I then realized that if my buddy Marcus could fit a brand new A/C and a brand new Fantastic Fan in his Airstream (Which is older than Fandango), then this is just a puzzle that needed some thought. So I cleaned up, etc. and I have it figured out. That inside trim piece can be, well trimmed to fit. I have not bothered to do that yet since I had to finish cleaning, checking on the family and well, cooling off inside Fandango while updating the blog, feeling the A/C and watching the rear lights.
I will take pictures of the inside trim piece when I put that in...probably tomorrow but not a rush. I am not sure if I will bother with the other two skylights before I go camping.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hail's Bells

That's a really bad title for this post but from watching the posts from my fellow RV bloggers, I am supposed to make a reference to a rock song.

So what has Fandango been doing this year? I have stopped by every couple of weeks or so to check on her. My various house work has led me to have some random load of stuff that I needed to store in Fandango or my boat shed. That allowed me to drive her around the block and think through any work. I did find that it became harder for it to start if I went too long without trying to fire up the engine. More to come on that.

More important, Fandango got hit by a hail storm. It was relatively unscathed but it definitely got whacked pretty good. All three skylights were shattered and there are a a good number of dings on the roof and a bit on the front, driver side.

There are no leaks found and I have the skylights wrapped in plastic. I am replacing them soon but I need to drag Fandango to the RV shop so they can match the specific version of hinge. The dents are just something I will live with for awhile. I am sure Fandango will have to suffer through more hail storms so as long as they are just dents, they will have to suffice for now. Fandango will get a paint job in the years to come so that may be when I bother to knock them out.
So what's next? Time to get her ready to camp. Spring is here so hopefully the next post will be measured in days from now and it will be talking about our next campout!

What in the Wide Wide World of Sports is Goin' on Here?

OK, so I am just a few days short of four months since my last post. Pathetic, huh? OK, here is my "excuses post" and then we should be able to get back to business and obsess about Fandango!

I will have to stray from chronological order but my first excuse is this little guy:

As I mentioned in my first post, the reason I purchased Fandango was the realization I needed to get my growing family camping again. No, it is not the normal backpacking I have grown to love but this is the right step for now. Anyway, my family just grew by one key addition.

A son! Austin Anton Dvorak was brought into the world one month ago (April 8th, 2009). As you have seen, our daughter Danielle is very excited about camping with Fandango and she is even more excited to be a big sister.

OK, so my pregnant wife was not exactly up for taking Fandango out in recent months but we did have some ideas which fell through. Some were tailgate parties which did not have ideal weather and we were hoping to go camping during spring break. Well, excuse #2 was all of the prep work to get our house ready before Austin was born. The biggest part was not really getting ready for him, but rather finishing my 2 year old kitchen remodeling project. All of my pictures of the kitchen are either bad ones from my cell phone or on my wife's camera which I cannot find. I may put a picture or two of that work in here someday.

Oh and I still have to entertain the family so a few weekends were spent at Disch-Falk field watching the UT Longhorn Baseball team as well as a tailgate or two.
Danielle and Bevo

Just hanging out with Coach Royal:
(If you do not know who that is, well, try Google and do not admit that in public)

OK, so I spent January - May tending to the family and it is getting close to our next trip. I will add another post right away on what has been going on with Fandango. It has been hanging out but it has had an adventure too.