Monday, August 31, 2009

Gutter Overflow problems

In 2008, I got tired of having my RV gutters stop up and then run over the side when an ant got caught sideways in one. I had tried some different gutter ends with drip extensions but none addressed the real problem.

The gutters are so small that they cannot handle much water, much less the constant buildup of EPDM roof cast off material, algae and other foreign stuff that seems magnetized to DSC01159lodge in them. Additionally, they are not angled at any sort of useful drainage elevation so what does get into them rarely moves on out very quickly.  Some awning braces actually attach over the gutters with bolts that barely clear the top of the opening and so anything that might try to go down it, like a leaf, twig or a cockroach with his hand up, will catch on the bolt and create a junk jam, again causing overflow.

On my curb side I have a huge awning with the afore mentioned mounting problem. Between the backup in the gutter at the awning attachment bracket and the normal overflow onto the awning covering shield, a great deal of the water runs off right at the edge of the rear slide seal. Over time, a lot of water manages to seep through any seal there and also trickles down and around the bottom of the slide at that place and wicks back into the edge of the flooring causing it to deflake.

Replacing the gutters is a non-option as is climbing up there every week (or less) to flush them out. After much puzzling and cursing over this, along with replacing the floor in the slideout, I decided that the solution was a lot simpler than I was trying to make it.

I figured that if I made some sort of gutter/flashing that did not try to hold the water and trash but just kept it from running on down the sides and slides, then I could direct it wherever and If it did get some trash in it, there would be no sides to it to capture it there and make a trash jam in the flow.

I started off looking for aluminum flashing that I could form but I was unhappy with the look and the work needed to get it like I wanted. Eventually, I found some DuraFlash


at Home Depot that is made of PVC and it seems to be a great solution. Being PVC, it is easy to cut, shape, glue and is virtually indestructible if struck by branches or whatever. Since there is no "edge" to actually capture the water but rather, just direct it, any trash that may get on it just washes off the side or over the end with the running water.

By cutting a piece long enough to carry gutter overflow from above the slideout to behind the rear scare light,


I managed to stop all of the dampness in the carpet and along the slideout seams. I placed it at enough of an angle to insure that the water would really rather go down it than over the edge. The slight drip lip along the outer edge keeps any water that may run over the side from running back under it and down the side of the RV. You can still see the old stains from the original gutter runoff that goes down across the scare light. Notice no stains at the end of the flashing, though.

I shaped the end of it with a little outward flare to direct the runoff away from the side of the RV


and glued it in place with standard PVC cement. Likewise, where there was runoff from the Big awning cover I put an extended piece


there to catch that and direct it back down into this new flange. I won't apologize for the current look as this was just a prototype to see if it worked, how well it worked and to see what modifications I might need to make to it to protect other places that have gutter overflow problems.

As of now, I need to go back to just make a nice looking one to replace the prototype and then make a few more to put in a few other places that have runoff/overflow problems. Just about the only changes I will make is to provide a little longer/larger flange at the ends of the awning shield to better direct really heavy flows back down the flange. At present it takes nearly a hurricane's volume of water to run over it now and even this amount does not run down the end of the slideout..

I will also add one of these across the back of the RV above the triple rear windows to keep them from collecting so much "white" runoff from the roof back there. A nice double angled pair draining to each RV corner should do the trick.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Getting rid of the “Stuff!”…

Nick Russel's Gypsy Journal Blog has been a long favorite of mine. He has a lot of insight and very useful perspective about many diverse things besides just full time Rving.

When He and Terry finally bought a new motor home they had to move everything from their MCI bus conversion into the new vehicle and that meant discovering a lot of things that had been there but forgotten for years. He chronicled this multi-day effort in his blog. He also has a "bad side" that is ruled by Bad Nick. Bad Nick seems to be the one that has more mouth than brain, a shorter fuse than an older cherry bomb and despite strong social fences and tethers, does manage to get out, occasionally and impress his needs on the world around him. You can follow the misadventures of Bad Nick on his own website… But I digress.

The follow is an excerpt from my comments which I posted on the regular Nick's blog when he was grousing about all the stuff that had to be relocated or disposed of to move into the new Winnebago.

Believe me, just because one is living in less than 400 sq ft does not mean that the usual FSF (Flat Surface Fungus) does not thrive just as well as in a 4000 sq ft Stix and Brix home.

It sounds like maybe Bad Nick gets a lot of that stuff and then puts it in unrelated places just to gently hide it from you and Terry. He probably knows exactly where it is and maybe even gets it out to play with it sometimes when you guys are not paying attention.

Personal experience:

We still have the advantage of living in DakotR in the back yard. All of our "stuff" is still in the basement of the house. Every few months, I take a 90 gallon city trash can and drag it into the basement, empty. The goal is to fill it before the next trash pickup on Tuesday. The "left-overs" that I gleaned out of the boxes, drawers and other "high density" hideouts, are left sitting out to be sorted and restored in new places. This adds an urgency factor to dealing with them because whatever flat spaces they now occupy are probably places that I will need to be able to use in a few weeks or months. Places like the table saw bed, workbench, flip top tool box, slack space on the hand tools storage shelves.

That last one is a really good technique because as tools are discovered in various random boxes, bags, buckets, etc. They have to be put on those shelves sooner or later so the boxes, bags, etc. can be pitched into the 90 gallon "liberator!". When that happens there will rarely be anything that is as important as the tool.. Any tool, used or unused for decades will still trump 4 Aces of any other sort of content.

I will admit that this cannot be done in a few weeks. Some lagging content will be able to hold out longer in this competition than John Ratzenberger on Dancing with the Stars. The key is the presence of the 90 gallon mawr that must be fed to full by Tuesday. That insures that every week the liberator is brought into the basement, 90 gallons of volume is released to the natural environment and eventually, you will see the difference.

There is just one rule, If its in the basement I must not be there past monday evening and it must never be put on the curb less than full. Its amazing how well this works for us that are organizationally challenged and sometimes can't seem to make a simple decision between STAY, GO, DONATE. I have found that by the time things have survived the liberator a few times (or many) and have not had their destinies firmly decided, the sheer trouble of having to face them again wears down their staying power and their ability to cling to the edge of my indecision, weakens and starts to slip.

By the time I reach the "Oh crap! I have to handle this again!" point,... it has become translated into crap and that is a no-brainer.

I promise that it only takes a few weeks of gritting your teeth when facing the unfilled Liberator 90 gallon container before that becomes a passion more powerful than all the collected "I am sure I can/will/might use that item someday".

And above all, don't let the ebb-tide side of this catch you by surprise. It is guaranteed that with a week or even a few days after the Tuesday an item left with the liberator, you will see an immediate need for it. That is the way of nature.... ignore it and just ask yourself if you would have recognized this need if you had not just handled that item for the first time in 14 years? The answer must always be NO! because if you had even thought of it you would not have had a clue where it was and would not have been willing to spent the hours of lost time it would have taken to discover that it was not in any of the places that you could have thought of to look in for it.

For those items that are still potentially too useful, valuable or warm and fuzzy to give to the liberator, you can store them on eBay or Craigslist until you need them (never).

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Layout of the Smart deck on Clifford

The following pictures show, from back of cab area to the tail of Clifford, where things are located on the present back of the truck.  Any photo opened can be zoomed to read the tape measure to identify how far back from the forward edge of the middle Catwalk platform an item or area is located.

The forward edge of that catwalk was picked as an easy reference point because it lines up with the grab handles on the side fairings of Clifford and makes it the forward-most point that the side of the smart couOrigion 2: Starting point - fwd most edge of smart placement on deck begins at fwd edge of middle catwalk.ld be placed once loaded. O2: pic 2





O2: pic 2

O2: pic 3






O2: pic 4 -White line is 60" from front edge of middle catwalk. Should be width of Smart less 1.1"O2: pic 5






O2: pic 6

O2: pic 7






The white chalk marks indicate the 60” point which would be about where the smart side facing the rear (plus 1.1”) would come if lined up on the front edge of the catwalk. This is just as an easy reference to get perspective and measurements.

In the last photo, the middle chalk mark of the 3 is 60” rearward of the first chalk mark (back side of the smart). The two marks bracketing it are about the range of where the pin would come in this hitch.

Clearly, this hitch must be moved back. It is presently in the rear most lock position on this sliding platform.  The whole platform can be moved farther back by unbolting it and then unbolting the support flanges under it and moving them rearward. I don’t think that it will be necessary to add any extension to the main frame rails to do this.

DSC01070 DSC01069

A lot more pictures and measurements of Clifford’s bed area are available on my Full TIming – Smart Car Deck Project gallery. The originals are 4k x 3k pixel photos so displaying the original form of a photo might be slow on a slow internet connection. Fortunately, Smugmug displays thumbnails and provides a number of alternate display formats by default so the choices are yours once you are there.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Smart Loading and unloading

All focus is now on getting Clifford setup to load $prite, the smart car on it, piggy back style.  This whole concept has only been around a few years but it provides a way to have a run around vehicle that can go anywhere civilized with good MPG.

The basic design is simple, just put a deck on the back of the HDT behind the cab and some ramps to run it up there and tie it down securely. How hard could that be?

It turns out that there are a few critical points that make this complicated. $$$$$, $$$$$$ and more $$$$$$ if the finished examples of this are any indicator of what is necessary.

The first person to do this that I know of was DennisM. His solution was fixed ramps loading from the driver’s side onto the flat bed he built behind the cab. He is still loading that way just fine.

The next evolution was to make a platform for the smart to sit on when loaded and make it to tilt up when loading and unloading. Lifted by hydraulic or Air bags, this reduces the breakover angle for the edge of the deck.

I am not satisfied with some of the limitations in the current solutions.

For one thing, they are all loaded/unloaded from the driver’s side of the HDT.  They require some powered lift mechanism to give a smart clearance and they also need a winch to get it on and sometimes to get it off of the HDT.

I want to load from either side and unload the same way. I do not want a lot of mechanics to do it and I would like to drive it on and off without dependence on a winch.

We need to have this finished for our anniversary kick off trip at the end of October so I have a friend with some experience doing this, working on the design with me.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

House Cleaning day

Today we tackled cleaning DakotR.  Normally, I would not mention this but this was like a spring cleaning… .in August.  It had to be done, what with the recent bloom of spiders and their webs this time of year.

Also, lots of pollen and such but its mostly because of the almost constant forced air from the A/Cs and the ceiling fan. The fan has been a great addition. The original 30” fan was too close to the ceiling so it never really moved any air but it had to be that high to clear the tops of the opposing slideouts. DSC01081 The replacement is only 24” and fits nicely on its stalk between the slideouts when they are closed. It can even be used like that.  It does keep the air stirred and balances the temps both summer and winter. The other one never really kept the things evenly tempered.

But, it does move a lot of dust, too, and despite the apparent slickness of the ceiling and wall surfaces, they do snag lint and pollen like a wire brush and so have to be cleaned more often. I guess that is proof that this fan works. Never had to vacuum the ceiling and walls, before.

I handled the high stuff, like ceilings, valancesDSC01072 , cabinet facingsDSC01071 and doors and all the other “up high” stuff.  Merrily used a second vacuum to do the floors and carpets (one of the few perks of still sitting in the back yard of our stix and brix).

But after a couple of hours of this, I am pooped and soaked with perspiration from working over my head so much. I really need an extension hose to lengthen it so I don’t have to pick up the vacuum so much to reach up high.  Its a Hoover self propelled so its not light but it is good.

I have gotten the hardest stuff done but still need to do the entry area, bathroom and bedroom “up-highs”, tomorrow.  I also need to do my regular clean and sanitize of the bathroom, kitchen and hard floors.  I will work on that some, tomorrow, too.

Normally, I can keep up with this on a fairly regular basis but with the gobs of extra attention that I have been paying to changing our hot water heater for a tankless and planning the smart car loader and bed for Clifford, I have just not stayed on top of it all.

I really appreciate it when Merrily offers to pitch in on her day off to help me get caught up, again. She never complains about it nor chastises me for being behind.  She just says “lets get the place vacuumed and cleaned up a bit when we get back from lunch” and I never say “no.” She is more than just a gem of a person, she knows me better than I do myself and if I have learned nothing else in our 30 years of life together, its that she really is right more often than I am and I had better listen to her when she has an opinion or a suggestion.

On another front, it is clear that it’s time for a PIBWIB day (Put It Back Where It Belongs).  One fact of living in 400 sq ft is that a lot of things have to be kept in unhandy places.  When they are needed, they come out of the closet, basement or wherever they normally hide. Once used, it is often anticipated that the item will be used again, “shortly”, so it is kept out and handy. DSC01077

Eventually, it will be joined by brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and non-related items all retrieved to be “handy” with few returned immediately to the places of their storage after use. The bad news is that any flat area will become a temporary home for this growing gaggle of gear. The good news is that every flat surface will eventually reach equilibrium and things will start falling off as the overloading continues.  I call it Flat Space Fungus (FSF) because it does behave much like a fungus growing and growing until it spawns new piles on flat surfaces below it as they fall off of the primary surface.

The other bad news is that human nature being what it is, no one item falling off is enough justification to put them all back where they came from. Its much more expedient to just pick it up and find another way to place it back there with a little more “clout”.

Ah, but I digress… the point is that PIBWIB day is when all waifs and orphans must be put back where they came from for the sheer sanity of it. However, there is bad news here, too, for some of us older, wiser folk… these items will have been out of place for so long that their original storage locations will have been forgotten!  Imagine that!

So, putting it away becomes a matter of engineering new storage places for this stuff and thus restart their lifecycle anew, and that takes a lot more time and is harder to initiate.

The other thing that happens on PIBWIB day is that all of those empty boxes that stuff came in from a store (shoe boxes, tool boxes),DSC01076 UPS or USPS that looked like they would be just what I will need to store….. something (I don’t exactly know right now but it will come to me). 

They tend to have their own growth cycle but will probably be moved and moved again many times to get at things legitimately stored in the cabinet behind them or under them.  They will also be opened many times when looking for something else that was not where it was supposed to be and that had either become part of the FSF collections or been “aggregated” into some empty box for temporary holding until the box could be sorted or a PIBWIB day rolls around.

It is important to note that aggregated storage like this means that there is absolutely no indexing system of what’s in there or any discernable associative relationship to any other item in the box… its just there because company was coming and it looked bad “out”. It also means that at the time of aggregation, one’s mind was likely not their own and the pressures of “straightening up” prevented any and all transfer of temporary memory to permanent storage. Thereafter, all attempts to find anything that has been thus aggregated will require looking through all boxes, empty or not, until the last one, which, of course, is where the item being sought will be.

I guess its time to sign off. Between the actual work and this recap, I am bushed and getting hungry.