Sunday, October 28, 2012

Macon Area Habitat for Humanity Build - Week 1

We arrived last week for 14 days of volunteering with the Macon Area HFH.  The great thing about the affiliate here is that they recently installed 50 amp hookups for our Care-A-Vanner group.  We are the initial team to use the new accommodations.

The team had two cancellations and we have a total of 6 people on this build with 4 rigs.
We are working in an older neighborhood that has had its issues over the years and is making a comeback.  Partnering with local churches and other groups in the neighborhood, Habitat is revitalizing the area.  They are committed to building 46 homes in the Lynmore Estates area of the city.  That is were we are working.
Inside, we have been caulking, laying down a tile floor and doing touch up painting.  The carpet is due to be installed in the next few days.
Outside, we put up trim around the roof and gables, painted and caulked it and worked on the front porch railings.  We also finished up the back porch and stairs.
The affiliate has a great facility for the ReStore and home offices.  The are in what was once a large plumbing supply store and warehouse.  The have lots of room and space to expand.
The night before we stated work, Steve (Volunteer Coordinator) and Harold (Executive Director) and some other staff, hosted a support on the end of the loading dock for the Care-A-Vanners.  That was a nice touch.
They also hosted an annual 'Customer Appreciation Day' for the Restore customers on Saturday.  A different group of folks, led by Jim Mercer (Development Director) put that together but it gives one the sense the affiliate is active and reaching out to the community in a number of ways.
In addition to our time on the job site, we enjoy getting to know each other and like most full-timers, we  have a 4:00 ish get-together most days.
That is it for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles ~ stayed tuned for Week two here in Macon Area Habitat for Humanity.  We are enjoying it!

Until next time...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Camp Freightliner

Did you know there is a two class for Freightliner RV chassis owners?
Yep! - Its called 'Camp Freightliner'.  We attended a class at the Freighltliner Service Facility in Gaffney, SC. (Not located at the Freightliner Assembly Plant three miles away).
In a word, it was Great!

Some of the topics included:
  • Freightliner online account and how to access it
  • 2002, 2007 and 2010 emission information
  • Fuel filter and Fuel Water System information
  • Freightliner Air System - Air compressor, air dryer, primary and secondary tanks, leveling valves and air bags
  • Anti-brake System (ABS)
  • Transmissions and Engine brake operation
  • Tires and proper pressure 
  • Smart Wheel
  • Freightliner Light Bar Control Unit -LBCU (computer display on the dash)
  • Your RV specific details on one information page
  • Static display of stripped down chassis in the parking lot
We had 14 people in the class and eight different RV among us.  The class instructors (Mike and Scott) had specific individual information sheets printed out for each attendee's RV which included:
  • Chassis VIN and model #
  • Dashboard style
  • Size and specific tire information
  • Leveling
  • Front and Rear Suspension
  • Transmission
Mike has been the primary instruction at these course for years so he had a wealth of information.  Scott is well versed also because he has spent 30+ years at different Freightliner facilities.  They made a  good team.

The class was informal but organized and followed an outline.  And we received a big notebook with pictures and diagrams and reference material that was helpful.
We covered a lot of information and they tailored to the class members by say, "three people here have this kind of chassis, so this will apply…" or the reverse, "the only one in the class with individual front wheel suspension is …..".

We were able to stay in the parking lot where they had water and electric and a dump station we used when we left.
Lunch for both days and dinner the first night was provided, so that was nice.
While we attended the class, we decided to get some maintenance done at the Service Center.  They also weight rigs but we didn't realize that until after we were in and out of the bay so we missed that chance.  
Another service provide during the class was getting a list of fan belts, fuel filters and some other extras we decided to get.  That way if we brake down in the middle of nowhere and get towed to an out of the way place, we can have a the right part.

Scott took us outside and we took a close look at a chassis.  That was helpful as he pointed out different things we discussed during the class.
 It was a great way to gain some understanding of how our RV works and what is included in the "chassis".  If you are considering the Camp Freightliner course, I think you will find the $175/single $225/couple well spent.

Thanks for joining us on this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Until next time…

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fishing with Jeremy

I don't fish much but I usually have a good time when I attempt it.  Most of the fishing I have done over the years has been in Tennessee when I go with Mike.  But while were were recently visiting, Jeremy (Pam's nephew-in-law) and I went fishing.

Jeremy knows how to fish.  I am recreational novice.  I know how the recreational golfer feels when I ask if they play golf and they say, "Not really, but I go out once every few years."  I consider myself more of a fish feeder.  I bait the hook, throw it in and spend most of my time replacing the bait.

But I enjoy being out there and learning.  And once it a while I catch something.

So Jeremy took off work one day and we went in his boat.  He has a couple of nice ones and we took the smaller one which was great.
After a stop at Walmart for some supplies, we had lunch at a Subway and launched the boat off of Peach Orchard St on the Clinch River.
Before we knew it we were on our way.  It was great to fish with Jeremy.  He was the perfect Fishing Guide.  He put all the hooks on my line and offered the right amount of instruction and encouragement.

Like I said I spent most of our 4 hours on the water baiting hooks.  We used salmon eggs and Garlic Salmon eggs.  I used more than Jeremy if you know what I mean.
The river was beautiful.  I was a little overcast but it was a nice afternoon to fish.
It wasn't too long before I snagged one of my two 'Almost Fish'.  I caught one and had it almost up to the boat when he got away.
I had another one about 6-8 feet from the boat when I lost it.  I did a lot of 'Vegan Fishing'.  No fish but I did snag plenty of clumps of grass on the bottom.

We didn't get a lot of action but Jeremy caught 5.  Two were too small.  The others were good size.
The fishing wasn't that good this time.  We went up and down the river a couple of miles and keep hoping we would hit it.  But it was not to be.
It was getting late in the afternoon so we took the boat in and hooked it up.
Still it was a good day on the Clinch River in Tennessee  and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

That is it for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Thanks for joining us. Until next time...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

DIY Roadrunner RV Campground and Resort

Over the last couple of months we have stayed with Pam's sister and brother-in-law (Joan and Mike).  Or rather we have parked the RV on a pad that Mike created a couple of years ago.

We have had 110 electric and that has been nice but we kicked it up a notch and got 50 amp and water put in two weeks ago.  Mike and Jim got us fixed up.
First, I did a little research.  I Googled "electrician, 50 amp, RV site, Maynardville" or something close to that.  Within 15 minutes, I had two phone calls from electricians.  Both came out and discussed my options.  Basically, I could dig a trench and run wire from the house (75 yards away) or set up a new Knoxville Utility Board meter up by where the RV is parked.

The cost was estimated to be anywhere from $1500 to $2500.

The next thing I did was go to my favorite RV Forum TiffinRVNetwork.com.  I asked if anyone had ever had it done?  And, "Is there a tutorial or a set of tasks to accomplish to get it done?"
I got some great feedback:

  • We had it done and the electrician had never done RV hookups before.  We plugged in and it burned up $2500 worth of stuff!
  • See if this helps in your planning:  http://www.myrv.us/electric/ 
  • If you need step-by-step instructions, then you should hire a professional.  A mistake could easily damage your MH or worse, it could kill you.
  • The most difficult part of the job would be digging the 75' trench.  If you could provide that part of the labor, a licensed electrician would probably do the rest of the job for about $300-$500 if you purchase all the parts.
  • The electrical box will cost about $50-$150 depending on if you want a box with a disconnect breaker or not.  The cost of the #6 THWN wire for use in conduit is also available of the web.  Normally you would use a red, black, green and white wire for the conductors inside the plastic conduit buried 18".  The wire will cost a little over a dollar a foot.
  • A dual 50 amp breaker must also be added to the existing breaker box. 
  • http://www.rvpoweroutlet.com/products.html
  • You should really hire a professional.
You can see why I love that forum - so great advice and info.

Next Mike and I went over to Lowe's and we bought a an electrical box with a circuit breaker, 50 amp and two 110 v outlets. We got some great help from the lady in the electrical department and bought 125 feet of wire.

We also picked up some conduit to run the wire about 18" in the trench.  Mike also picked up some PVC for the water connection from the line off his house.  

Then he rented a trencher and dug one for the water and one from the house to the RV.  
He laid the conduit and threaded the coil of wire through it and then covered up the trench with his Kuboda.  Pretty handy tractor/lawn mower.

The sad news was that we were in Henryville while all the excitement was going on.  When we returned two weeks later, all the work was done!  
All in all it cost us about $750.  We figure if we stay here 50 nights, we will break even.  10 down, 40 to go….

Thanks to Mike who did all the heavy lifting and Jim who did the electrical, we are all fixed up! 

We are very happy with how it worked out.  We haven't actually had a dedication and grand opening of the "Roadrunner RV Campground and Resort" yet, maybe will do that next season during a stop.

That's all for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Thanks for joining us!  Until next time...

Monday, October 8, 2012

Henryville Helpers

A few months ago, Paul and his sister Teresa put out the call to their Logansport high school class and some friends to join them in Henryville, IN to assist with Disaster Recovery operations.  On March 2, 2012 - massive tornadoes struck Henryville and five surrounding counties.  The devastation was quick and powerful.

Paul and Teresa are from Logansport IN, just north of Indianapolis.  They decided to organize a group to come to Henryville and help.  We were part of that group and others in VROC - "Volunteers in Rebuilding Our Community".

Paul found volunteers were being housed at the Country Lake Christian Retreat in Henryville.
Country Lake has housed and fed over 10,000 volunteers since the tornadoes in March.  They found a short driveway on the property where we could dry camp in our RV's.
  Cathy, Pam, Bobbi, Paul and Tom 
Henryville Helpers arriving at Country Lake

Later after everyone arrived, we went out to dinner at a locale pizza place.
We had our morning and evening meals at the Main Lodge.  It worked out very well and we had GREAT food.  In fact, it was fantastic food.  Almost too much.  Big meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Our work was spread out in four houses.  Mary did some painting of the trim while Paul and others spent most of the week sheet rocking the inside of these houses.  Tom and Cathy helped Jerry wire one house.
One of the bigger accomplishments at the house Pam and I worked on was to connect the 3" sewer pipe from the house to the 4" pipe in the ground.  
The extension from the house had to be cut off, angled downward a couple times at 45 degrees and then the transition joint had to fit correctly.   We were slowed by heavy rain one day, but we got it done.

We also connected the water from the street and got some plumbing and bathroom fixtures up.
One highlight of the day was our noon meal.  The Henryville Community Church served lunch every weekday for about 50 people.
Over the past 6 months, they have had donations from a number of warehouses and distribution centers.
It was  amazing!  The volunteers there load and load the food, make up fantastic dishes for everyone and serve it up each day.  It is quite an operation.

The whole week was great.  It was great to meet Paul's classmates and others who were there.
Here they were gathering for a group shot in front of the fireplace at the lodge.

Our time at Henryville was great on many fronts.  We added some labor to the monumental task of rebuilding houses and homes and helped families.  The Hope Christian Response Network anticipates volunteer work will continue in the area for another nine months.  They have over 250 homes to build or work on.  Today Habitat for Humanity starts a blitz there to build 10 homes.  Volunteers continue to help and there is plenty more to do.

That is all for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Thanks for joining us!  Until next time.