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Our Camper Van




Amy's Cakes

Outboard Hydroplane Racing

Radio Controlled Toys

Expedition Trophy Camp Site

2008-01-08 (E)

Happy Holidays!!!


We have spent the last couple weeks bumping around Northern Utah, Southern Idaho, Eastern Oregon, and Washington. Back in the van and it still feels like home (to me at least).

Since the last log entry we have actually spent a fair bit of time bouncing around in the van for various shorter trips, but haven't had the time or inclination to write much.

Storm Coming

In the fall we spent a number of days near Phoenix at the "Expedition Trophy" put on by the fine folks at the Expedition Portal. We met a number of really cool people, and saw numerous interesting rigs. We even got the lovely experience of getting a flat (sliced sidewall) and changing the wheel on a steep rocky back-road. Back in camp I popped the tire off the rim, patched the slice, put it all back together, found it still had a small leak, and got to repeat the process so we would have a spare on the drive home.
Flat Tire

After returning to SLC I got my hands on a motorcycle frame I had been coveting for many years, and begain building a custom sportbike since I always need something to tinker on. (more here).

Then, once Amy's school had finished for the season, we took off in the van for a few weeks of holiday travel and socializing.

Our first stop was near the north end of the Great Salt Lake to see an art project Amy had heard of called the "Spiral Jetty". It was constructed in 1970 and then became submerged for many years as the lake level rose. With the recent drought it has re-emerged, and is now mostly surrounded soley by salt. We camped near it after hiking around for an evening.
Spiral Jetty

We then took a few days to get to Oregon for Christmas, crossing a few mountain passes, helping a grandmother and her grandkids change a flat in the middle of nowhere, and trying a few "short-cuts", most of which worked out. The final one, however, gave us valuable information on how much snow it takes to stop our van from moving (about 3' deep, with the differential lockers engaged).

Extricating ourselves from that situation involved a fair bit of shoveling, turning around, putting on the chains, and a few minutes of very stressful backtracking. The scenery around us was very beautiful though, and once we were back in the clear with shallower snow, I took some photos.

On the van equipment side we have made a few changes as well:

The fine folk at Extreme Outback, who provide the air compressor used by Sportsmobile in our van, had heard of our issues getting the system up to cut-off pressure above 5000', so we traded our old compressor in for their new Magnum model. I am happy to report that we had no trouble getting the whole system up to pressure within a very short time at about 8000', which was the highest we have been so-far on this winter trip. Some of the issues may have been with the wiring for the old compressor, which Sportsmobile had installed with many feet of gauge 14 wire (much of which was un-necessary since the compressor could have been grounded to the frame where it was mounted). At a 30 amp draw, the compressor would have only seen about 80% of the voltage provided by the alternator and battery, the rest of the energy just going into the resistance of the wire. In the new installation I grounded directly to the frame, and the rest of the system was replaced with gauge 6 welding cable.

After we started our trip this time we noticed that water was getting under the carpet. Finally we tracked it down to the water pump leaking. It had developed a very slow drip from the pump unit when the system was pressurized. A disassembly, cleaning, re-lube, and reassembly of the pump and diaphram solved that problem (once we had access to replacement water for the tank we had to drain).


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