Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Electrical 101

Every once and a while we take a break from all the exciting stuff this nomadic lifestyle entails, and just take care of unexciting stuff at "home".  Just like any sticks and bricks home, our "home" requires that chores be done, and small repairs be accomplished before they become bigger chores and bigger repairs.

For TLE this entails doing the wash, vacuuming, and general cleanup.  For me it entails repair and upkeep of our home on 10 wheels.  There have been a number of really small repairs that have been accumulating in the back of my mind.  Sometimes I "download" these things on to a piece of paper and call it a "list".  I really don't like lists, so, unless the repairs are really big with catastrophic consequences if not attended to I just keep them back in a corner of my mind for future reference.  When enough of them accumulate I start to whittle the mental list down.  Starting on Saturday, and then again on Monday (yesterday) I took care of the following small repairs:

1) Fix the 30 amp extension cord reverse polarity issue

2) Fix the 50 amp extension cord female end....wires pulling out

3) Fix the slack in the cruise control cable that was resulting in it not holding its speed setting

4) Fix the small post on the Zip Dee Awning that the support arm hooks on to when the awning is up.  It came loose a long time ago and needed to be epoxied before it fell out and was lost forever.  I have been living on borrowed time for a few years on this one.

5)  Buy two "pool noodles" and cut them so they could be slipped over the awning support arms and prevent unnecessary head wounds....:D

Near the time I was finishing the last of these small repairs and upgrades (pool noodles) I got an instant message from Maria and Brian (Roaming Pint) asking if I was still interested in checking out some of their electrical issues in their Class C....specifically why some interior lighting was not working.....which was about half their 12 volt lights in the main living area.  We agreed to meet them at the Home Depot in town around 4 pm.....a good place to be if electrical supplies are needed to complete repairs.  Now tell me straight.....wouldn't you like to be able to take your house to Home Depot when you are trying to fix something?  Think of how many times you have made multiple trips to HD trying to fix something that should take 5 minutes.......if you only had the correct "thing" to fix it with?

Usually in these rolling homes the problem with any 12 volt accessory is one of two things.....power supply, or ground.....more often than not it is the ground that has become corrupted, loose, or disconnected completely.  This is the result of living in a home that moves, vibrates, shakes, rattles and rolls down the road....stuff comes lose.  When I got our first motorhome (also a Class C) I had to teach myself to troubleshoot both 12 volt issues (direct current), but also 110 issues (alternating current).  My knowledge base is still pretty thin when it comes to electricity, but I have become pretty competent at troubleshooting 12 volt issues.  

We arrived at Home Depot a little after 4 to find Brian, Maria and "Stanley" (the name they have given their Class C motorhome) awaiting us.  I got out my tool bag and went inside with TLE......while Brian and I tended to checking their various light fixtures, TLE and Maria chatted in the back room occasionally shouting out words of encouragement.  There were about 5 light fixtures that were either not working at all, or working intermittently.  The largest one turned out to have a bad connection on the ground wire, so we just replaced that.  The second one had both a disconnected ground wire, and a burnt out bulb.  The last three just had burnt out halogen bulbs, which HD carries, and which the ladies made a quick walk into HD to acquire.  

Time goes fast when you're having fun, and before we knew it 6 pm had arrived.  Brian and Maria offered to treat us to dinner for our help fixing their lights, and for the work I did on their bikes in Cedar Key a few weeks ago....cool!  So we headed over to Island Fish Company (the place we had breakfast a few days ago) for dinner.  The food was delicious, and the conversation flowed.  TLE and I split a Broiled Hogfish with Bearnaise sauce, stuffed shrimp, broccoli and asparagus......amazing seasoning, and the veggies were cooked to perfection.

We first met Brian and Maria almost a year ago on our first pass through Cedar Key....at that time they were just a year, or so, into their nomadic journey, and still learning how to live on the road.  Now they are experts at street camping (I call it stealth camping) in big and small cities where often city ordinances prohibit it.  They both have full time jobs they do on the road in the graphic design field, and are both younger than our two oldest children.  That's the interesting thing.......we think of them as peers....as equals. They are both very bright, mature, outgoing, interesting young people with a strong work ethic, and a desire to life unfettered by the more traditional life they were living just a little over two years ago.  They bought Stanley only intending to travel for six months....after just 2 weeks they decided they would not go back to their "traditional life" and just keep  on moving.  

Like us, they will be heading back to the "mainland" Tuesday...they will stop in Miami and then head back up to Cedar Key for a week, and then.....who knows....we nomads don't like to plan too far ahead.

Tuesday is moving day.......thanks for stopping by!


  1. :) thanks so much for the help on the electrical work! Damn burnt out bulbs I tell ya. We must have tried changing them multiple times.. What's the saying... How many idiots does it take to change a lightbulb? Apparently 2 and one smarty! ;)

  2. For me, electrical works is really exciting. Well, most of us usually don’t engage into this kind of work. So, I really find it thrilling whenever we have to work on our home’s electrical system or there’s a broken outlet that we need to replace. It’s actually just my dad who does the work. I am just there to observe, assist, and show some support. Haha!


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