Friday, 26 August 2016

Taillight LED conversion kit

We do like the LED taillights, which most 18-wheelers have on the towed trailer these days. They are bright, highly visible and when the driver hits the brakes these LED lights pop right into your eyes. You do notice the big rig in front of you! Some newer travel trailers and 5th wheels have them too.  They are easily being seen in the fog, heavy rain or drifting snow, while you are driving on the highway.

When we purchased our new 2016 Jayco White Hawk 24RKS travel trailer we noticed Jayco’s inside lighting is all LED, but the outside clearance, side marker and taillights were the old fashion incandescent bulb fitted series lights, much to my dismay. This put a damper onto my spirit and I started to search for a taillight, side marker lights and clearance lights LED solution.
Jayco is using the Command series of taillights and clearance lights from Command Electronic Ltd. Schoolcraft, MI. Marlene thinks that Jayco in Indiana must still have a pile of these older fashion taillights in stock and wants to work them first off before switching over to LED taillights.

While searching on the Internet, I noticed that the taillight manufacturer "Command Electronic Inc."  in Schoolcraft, MI has a LED conversion kit for their #003-81 series taillights. These are the taillights Jayco has been using for years on 5th wheels and travel trailers incl. our new 2016 White Hawk 24RKS travel trailer.
The conversion kit #K-0026 fit the bill and cost only $42 US plus $14.00 shipping to us in Canada compared to a local RV outfit that is a saving of over $100 Canadian.
Marlene ordered the kit online at Command Electronic Ltd. and it was shipped per US Postal Service, arriving in our hands via Royal Mail here in Canada in less than a week after ordering. 
Inside the box were two LED circuit boards, two red taillight lenses, a bag with screws and another bag with a small clear lens for the license plate window, plus an installation instruction sheet.  The packaging was first class, tight fit with bubble wrap.

The instructions were simple:
1.     Remove the taillight red lenses
2.     Cut the wire right at the bulb socket
3.     Remove bulb socket with bulb
4.     Connect wire from circuit board to existing wire per instruction
5.     Mount PC board per instruction
6.     Fit new supplied red lenses.

I started the changeover and was done in an hour. As wire connector you can use wire marrettes or crimp on copper terminals, which I used. You may have to pull the wires a little out of the trailer wall for stripping and crimping. Keep a tube of silicon sealant handy to waterproof the wire bundle in the borehole after that exercise. I had to do it.

To finish the job, I hooked up the truck, plugged in the cable connector and tested the new taillights. Wow, super bright, just great!

original Jayco taillight

parcel from Command Electronic with LED conversion kit #K-0026

complete contents of package

lens removed and wires cut per instruction

old lens & socket on the left / new lens & circuit board on the right

circuit board wired up

circuit board fitted

new lens installed & LED powered up

taillight powered up during daylight

Watch an upcoming write-up about changing the trailer’s side marker and clearance lights to LED to compliment the trailer’s LED taillights!

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Midsummer Update

During this years’ cool and wet springtime, which had seemed to last forever, I was wishing for a nice hot summer.  What we got then is sweltering heat, scorched lawns, blistering tar on the roads and the central air-conditioning running even at night. Regardless, I still love summertime and enjoy being outdoors. 

So I have been spending some time in the garden, working on a little garden-art project, and creating a fairy garden at a small corner in a flowerbed, that was inspired by Kathy, from "It's about time"  who had created a cute fairy garden in a nice flowerpot.  All those little things you see in my fairy garden were home made! Meanwhile, Benno disappeared in the camper where he immersed himself in a bunch of wires, cables, plumbing and woodwork.

Our new camper has not travelled anywhere yet since we parked it right next to our driveway by the house.  However, it functions great as a second guestroom, or rather guest suite with all the comforts one can wish for.  As is the case with all new campers, there are some modifications and additions one has to do to make it your own.  As an example:  there were no towel-bar holders per se, we found only hooks on the walls in the bathroom of our trailer.  It was fun shopping for those including a full-length mirror (IKEA) for the inside of the bathroom door, new towels, bath rug etc. Also the faucet went out to be replaced with a taller s/s faucet where you can actually hold your head under and that swings to the side. But Benno’s improvements went way beyond those enhancements. 

You might recall our upgrades on the previous camper and some were repeated once more.  The camper came with a wet cell deep cycle battery, group 24 with 65 amp hours.  My technically inclined hubby improved the capacity by changing to deep cycle AGM, group 24 with 79 amp hours and added two group 31 AGM deep cycle batteries with each 105-amp hours.  Additionally, he managed to find space for a 1000 W pure sine wave inverter, which we had as a spare from our cruising boat.  This enables us to perhaps use the TV without running our portable Honda generator while being parked by the roadside overnight on route or, use some of the small appliances.

The workers at the camper manufacturers down in Indiana don’t necessarily concern themselves with space saving ethics when installing equipment in the locker and cabinet space. So while Benno ran wires from one end to the other in the camper and searching for space to install the new batteries, he managed to tidy up some of the wiring jumble and moved pumps, hoses and valves to make space more usable. Next on the agenda came the installation of the Halo Wifi Extender (wifi signal booster).  This was an easy and quick fitting and the supplied router works like a charm.

My concern was space in the kitchen.  The countertop held a large, standard Permalux Acrylic Polymer sink and underneath in the large corner cabinet there was only one tiny shelf up front with a huge empty space behind it. We ripped out the top, sink and faucet and ordered a custom built solid surface countertop like we did in the previous camper.  Benno got to work on the now large empty corner cabinet where he straightened out plumbing for the boiler and the wiring from the trailer’s power center to the receptacle for the power cord. In the process he gained space for more shelving to store pots, frying pans and other things and gain room for our vacuum cleaner. The result is fantastic.  I have two large shelves with space even for a decent size garbage container.

Actually, Benno is quite a good woodworker and not a wood butcher. The new countertop holds a smaller than before, but good-sized stainless steel sink with cover and new s/s faucet with an "Instapure"  active carbon water filter.  We also have a large "Camco" active carbon water filter mounted outside on the city water intake to remove the chlorine taste.  The mounting bracket was purchased at a Camping World store stateside. Some southern states chlorinate their water supply strongly. Believe me, our coffees taste good!  Then some of the upper cabinets got additional shelves built by Benno to my specifications but I always volunteer at varnishing every new wood creation.  

Here at home our two doxies sleep at night in a portable kennel.  To save space in the camper to accommodate the dogs, we modified one of the built-in compartments underneath our queen-sized bed.  There are compartments with 2-tiered trays for shoes on both sides under the mattress, a long compartment at the head-end and a middle compartment towards the foot-end. We enlarged the middle compartment, sealed it with water-resistant West Epoxy (just in case, one of the doxies has a liquid accident), painted it and added a nice dog bed cushion. In the front we cut a square opening for access (which can be covered with a door if we sell the camper) with a Makita Plunge Router and added a sliding wire frame (divider borrowed from my house chest freezer) to close the opening if needed.  The dogs love it in there and while testing the arrangement on several night sleepovers there were no complains from the dogs.

When it’s not too hot outside we love to take our bikes for rides around our country roads.  Both bicycles we outfitted with a square basket in front to carry the dogs. They wear harnesses, which clip on three sides to each basket so they cannot jump or fall out.  In order to take the bikes with us on our next trip we have purchased a bicycle carrier that mounts either on the truck hitch or the trailer bumper-hitch.

Although we haven’t travelled anywhere yet, we have spent some time in the camper and feel very much at home there. 

Sunday, 10 April 2016

24-hour whirlwind new camper purchase

At the Dealership

While daily blogging is not something I will commit myself to be doing right now, at least an update every few weeks or so I owe to my still loyal readers who haven’t given up on me yet. Thanks for being patient.
Yes, the pups have grown quite a bit since we got them and they have changed our lifestyle, but they, too, are adjusting nicely to our routines.   Benno and I keep smiling and chuckling a lot nowadays just watching Reggy and Elsa’s antics. They are a joy to have around.

Our Doxies playing in the snow

Mommy, I'm cold, let me in!

We loved our 19-foot Jayco travel trailer, but it became apparent that the space inside appears a bit restricted and now with the addition of two dachshunds romping throughout even more so.  There are so many different types of travel trailers on the market and it boils down to how big a rig can your towing vehicle handle and what fits your needs and lastly your wallet. 
During the past several weeks we’ve visited a few RV dealers in our area, went to the Windsor RV Show and while we were down in Florida, we had driven as well to St. Augustine to look at a 2016 Jayco White Hawk, 24RKS travel trailer with an overall length of 28’ 9” and 5210 lbs. dry weight, where we really started to fall in love with this travel trailer and it’s layout. It had one slide-out and the Queen size bed was a real 80” x 60” Queen and not the downsized 74” x 60” Queen you find in most RV’s. That trailer had a dark leatherette sofa but a lighter colored fabric covered sofa we would have liked better.

The more we thought of this Jayco model, the more we decided that this is the one we would like to get. However, once we started to look for this trailer here in Canada, all 2016 models were sold out in a range of 500 km (315miles) and the new 2017 models would not come into the lots until mid summer or later.
So guess our surprise, when Benno stumbled onto a website with an ad for the precise Jayco model we were looking for, hidden at a dealer up north close to the Canadian Algonquin Park.  There was a brand new 2016 model, with the cloth sofa, at a very attractive price to boot.  What’s the catch?  Well, during this time of the year the area is plainly dead and no buyers get lost there. Now, if we wanted to see the trailer we’d have to travel all the way to Lovesick Lake RV Sales in Burleigh Falls, Ontario on the Trent Severn Waterway. For all you guys wondering where that is, it is north of the city of Peterborough in the Kawartha Lakes area on Highway 28. We made an appointment for the morning of last Thursday to view the travel trailer.
At the ungodly hour of 4 A.M., my alarm clock ripped me out of my dreams. I am not an early riser so this is especially hard for me to get out of bed. Thank goodness Benno has an easier time with that and he doesn’t mind getting behind the wheel in the dark. In the truck, while leaving our driveway, I noticed the truck clock showed only 02.15 AM. HaHa!! Benno smiled and said, “Sorry, I messed with your alarm clock, lets beat the Toronto rush hour”. This is bad, really bad isn’t it! The drive was rained out, it rained, and it rained some more, even harder at times and with blinding headlights from traffic traveling in the opposite direction, this was a strenuous drive to say the least.
At 05.45 A.M. we were passing close by my sister Christina and her husband Paul’s house in Mississauga, there Benno was joking, “Lets drive by and ring the bell and invite us in for breakfast.” We had a few laughs, this would be a surprise we pictured, and of course we kept on driving. A few minutes close to 06.00 A.M. we were breezing past the notoriously worst clogged up traffic area on highway 401 to the Toronto Airport, but made it through this big city ahead of rush hour traffic and had enough time to stop past Toronto for a well deserved breakfast, feed the dogs their morning snack and then kept on going.
When we arrived at the RV dealer, the salesman we had the appointment with had called in to say he would be delayed.  In the meantime, while we were waiting, the owner of the Lovesick Lake RV Sales gave us a tour of the souvenir store and the restaurant.  The store was filled with unique and beautiful things, very tastefully selected items. The restaurant was closed but would be open for the season soon.  There is a story about the name of the Lovesick Lake (about an Indian Princess who fell in love etc.), which you can find on the last page of the Menu.  In addition to the RV Sales, there is an associated large seasonal campground.  All in all, this is a very nice place to camp during warmer temps.  So, once our guy showed up we drove to the Jayco trailer, which was stored among the other 160, various types of rigs for sale at the snow covered storage area next to the road.  Of course Benno and I were familiar about everything already about the trailer, having seen it before and educating ourselves on the Internet, but we went through the whole process of looking and listening to the sales pitch again.  We knew we wanted it!  Now we had to play it cool and see if we could haggle and get an even better price.  This took some time, including us going for lunch in-between, to give the RV dealer some time to mull about the price, but we did it. 

The rest of the formalities took the better half of the day including getting our cheque certified at a bank in the city of Peterborough, having the trailer’s ownership registered at the license plate office in Lakefield in our name, and the most important part of setting up our trailer weight distribution hitch to mate it to the new travel trailer.  Finally, past 4 P.M. we rolled out of the parking lot, towing our new trailer, heading for home at the beginning of rush hour traffic. Underway we made stops for gas, dinner at a restaurant, letting the dogs go for walks and feeding them supper.  We were very tired driving back and it started to snow, covering the highway with a sheet of ice and the going was slow.  Finally, after 1150 km driving within a 24-hour period, close to 2 A.M., we crawled into our driveway and parked the new camper right next to our other Jayco.  All we wanted now was to sleep for the next three days.

As a side note:  Right on the highway, close to the Lovesick Lake RV place, we drove past the very famous Lakefield College on the way to the license plate office in Lakefield. This is the place where Prince Andrew, a younger brother of Prince Charles, and a son of Queen Elizabeth II, had been educated.  We heard it is a very good College and very pricy!

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Elsa and Reggy

Almost three weeks have flown by and no updates to my blog.  Sorry everyone.  The excitement of getting two Doxie puppies, housetraining, feeding and playing with them almost around the clock, trips to the dentist (me) resulting in a filling, fighting an infection and a pulled tooth is my excuse, but there were other happenings:
The travel trailer got parked next to the house but not quite in its proper position. The reason for this was that the trusted Parkit trolley, which we use to turn the trailer around and move it to the full hook-up, went on the fritz and quit working. A replacement electric motor, still under warranty, is on order. Benno thinks that during the previous use lubricant from the small gearbox somehow got into the electric motor and gummed up the rotor. That caused the rotor to stick to the magnets, which in turn when powered up, fried the windings while Benno tried to use the Parkit, when we got home last month.  
Then there was the priority of creating a save area outside for the dogs to romp around.  Our deck is ideal for that, but we needed a gate and a foot high lattices all around the balustrade so the Doxie puppies would not get their heads stuck under or in-between the railing. Home Depot and Lowes in Windsor had what we wanted but we bought too much so another trip was called for to return the extra material.  Of course Benno had to cut, drill and mount the lattice and I painted the gate. Now we just wish for warmer weather so the little Doxie puppies can stay out longer.

While we had already bought the absolute necessary items for the pups, more exploratory fun trips to pet stores in search of better dog food, harnesses, retractable leashes, chewing bones and a couple more toys took up more time than anticipated. Hey, some dog food is only three stars we got educated and there is the five star puppy food as well, and it is better of course. HaHa! Immense marketing is trying to harness your dollar in the pet food business. In addition I took our little male Doxie to the Vet because we noticed that he seemed to be itching on his behind, so my man Benno looked at the poop with a toothpick.  Our male Doxie puppy had his vaccination shots and meds for deworming, but he got a booster shot and some additional medication for more deworming as a precaution. $75 thank goodness it is Canadian Pesos only and not the $ US!!

Our two oldest grandchildren, Heidi, 6 years old and Annaliese, 4 years old, were given the task of naming our little Dachshund puppies.  Heidi wanted to name the boy and her two top selections for a name were Ruffster, and Reggy.   The naming process for the girl Doxie seemed to be a bit more problematic for Annaliese and after much thought she came up with Elsa, and Meow Meow.  There is the Walt Disney film of “Frozen” with the fictional character of Queen Elsa, which must have made a big impression with most girls at the age of our granddaughters.  A name we certainly can get used to calling our female puppy.  Just imagine I am calling “Elsa” near a playground full of kids and all the heads turning around with questioning looks as to where she might be?   And as for our little male puppy, he is very sweet and playful, (we are thinking Sir Reginald, in short the name: “Reggy”) fits him well.   A visit to our grandkids, daughter-in-law and son consists of several hours of traveling time. Last weekend was a good test to see how well the Doxies would tolerate a lengthy car ride when we drove out so the girls could meet the puppies. It turned out to be a good experience all around.

For the moment our quiet and relaxed retiree lifestyle is in a bit of upheaval but in a good way.  Forget about sleeping in or leaving the dogs unattended for a while, you will be in for a surprise.  We are certainly more energetic now and they make us feel youthful just to keep up with them, as they can run like the greased lightning.