Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunshine and Progress

It hit 43 degrees today, most of the ice is gone, a bit of snow lingering here and there. It was enough to get me out of the house. I got the 5th wheel out of the truck and the Torklift camper tie downs installed. The installation was not that difficult, although the wire tool supplied with the kit used for fishing the bolts through the frames was less than spectacular. The end of the wire came off 3 times leaving me with lost bolts to fish out of the frame. The last time it broke, I never did find the little piece, I had to make a home made version to get the last bolt fished through. The wire in itself is a good idea, but the execution could be better. Bottom line, its done, bolts torqued to 55lbs just like the instructions say.

Weather man is cautiously predicting 50 degrees next weekend. Can you see the smile from here.

I have a concern, tomorrow I'm going to plug the camper electrics into the truck bed plug and see what happens. I need to be sure there is no draw on the batteries when the truck is not running. Currently there are no batteries in the camper, but it will need juice to the lights so I can drive it. My concern is when I plug it in, will it power the CO2/Fire detector and keep it on all the time, even when the truck is off. One possible solution would be to pull the fuse on it until I get deep cycle batteries installed. When I plug the unit into my 120v house current, it stays on.

I have a total of 6 more working days on the day shift. I start the night shift on the 15th.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Waiting on parts and the weather

Had a nice day a couple weeks ago and went to see about installing the tie downs only to find RadAuto's supplier had shipped me the wrong set. It took a week to get them to email me a prepaid UPS shipping label so I could return the wrong parts. As of today the correct rear tie downs have not arrived, even though I sent their's back 5 days ago. It's snowing and icing again, so can't do much anyways.

Spending time on the truck camper forums has been invaluable. I have figured out that I don't have to remove the entire 5th wheel from the truck, I can just take the wheel assembly out and leave the rails which are the bolted in part in place. I will then get a sheet of 4" pink foam and use it to support the camper at a height above the rails. This will also help increase the clearance from the cab top to the cabover bed part of the camper.

The next item to work on is getting the electrical system checked out and buy some batteries. Until I get the unit uncovered I'm not sure what size will fit. I have found (thanks forums again) that batteries can be mounted in the dead space between the camper and bedside in front of the wheel tubs. This option pretty much eliminates the size issue. Then its a cost issue. The AGM batteries are pretty expensive, upwards of $225+ for 12v 100amp of battery. With the fact that you really don't ever want to drain a battery past 50%, I'll need to 2 to have 100amp usable between recharges. This whole electrical thing with amps and draw and drainage and usage and recharging is all foriegn to me, but lots of research and I'm starting to figure some of it out.

I already have a converter system, when plugged into house current everything in the camper works as advertised, except the water heater. I guess my primary goal is to have enough juice to run the furnace fan through the night. It can still get in the 30's at night here up into May. And I can't wait until June to get out.

Its official, I start nights on March 15, 12 on 12 off for 4 days, then 4 days off. By my calculations, it costs me $12.50 every day to drive to work, not to mention the 1 3/4 hours on the road. So every off shift I can spend in the camper, not commuting, is money in the bank. I'll be sleeping during the day, sometimes boondocking, sometimes at a nearby lake. Days won't be as cold. I'll probably just stay 1 night between trips home until I get it all figured out.

Looking into an annual camping permit and vehicle permit for Kansas lakes, $152.50 for the all you can camp pass, and $19.70 for the vehicle pass. I figure 19 days camping to break even versus paying by the trip. There goes my commute savings, HA. Well the time not on the road is worth something.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Two weeks in... snow on the ground

My torklift tie downs came in this week. Haven't been able to install them yet. Took the new truck in for a servicing, got the transmission fluid and filters changed along with oil, lube and full check out. Found out where they hid the engine block heater plug finally. Supposed to be -2 one night next week, so I'll start plugging it in. Woke up to an inch of snow and more coming this morning.

I drive 38.9 miles to work a 12 hour shift 4 days a week. I needed to work late one night earlier in the week, kind of wished I'd have had the camper. Course its a little cold this time of year in Kansas to be in the camper, but another couple months and it'll be real option. There's a lake 5 miles from work, I may look into setting up camp once in a while during the summer and working from there.

Hurry up spring already!