Travel Log 5/26/19

Overall the truck is running really well. With all the work and upgrades that we had done, we had assumed that some issues might crop up early in our trip. We planned the beginning of our route to cross paths with several of our friends in case we needed a helping hand, but everything has been working nicely.

We have had a handful of maintenance items that we have done over the first few weeks.

  • Tighten alternator belt (the tachometer had been periodically bouncing)
  • Tighten fan belt (there was a periodic squeak at high RPM or rapid RPM change)
  • Check clutch drain plug (no oil from rear engine seal)
  • Fix transmission leak (improved seal on forward/reverse shaft linkage)
  • Checked power steering filter
  • Fuel additive (started adding lube + Cetane boost every few tanks)

We have also been carefully tracking our fuel consumption. There is a slight variability from fuel we burn using our habitat heater and engine pre-heater, but we are averaging 10.5 mpg regardless of what kind of driving we have been doing. We have done long highway stretches at 60 mph and quite a few long dirt tracks averaging 20-30 mph. Our fuel consumption seems surprisingly steady regardless of driving type.

Northern California Back Road
Northern California Back Road
Oregon Pavement
Oregon Pavement

Travel Log 5/19/19

Well, we’ve started heading north. Things are going well so far, and we are really enjoying the truck. We are starting to fall into a daily routine and are figuring out all the finer nuances of living in a small space, driving a big vehicle, and navigating back roads.

Travel Log 5/13/19

On BLM Land East of Mt. Whitney
On BLM Land East of Mt. Whitney

After a year and a half of preparation, it’s hard to believe that we are finally out on the road. The truck drives a little differently now that it is fully loaded with extra fuel, water, and full provisioning. It still cruises right down the highway, but it feels a little different.

On BLM Land East of Mt. Whitney
On BLM Land East of Mt. Whitney

We are both enjoying having slow time in the afternoons once we arrive at our camp spot for the evening. We have been working on the truck for so long that it is nice to finally be able to just slow down and enjoy the fresh air.

We got the Dahon folding bikes loaded on the roof rack for the first time last week. We were a little concerned about how to get the bikes up on the rack and fitted correctly because the last time fit them, it was at a super ergonomic height in the shop. It turned out to not be much of a problem with the help of a 1″ wide piece of strapping wrapped through the tires. The bikes don’t weigh much, so it’s easy to just pull them up, one at a time, with the strap and drop them into their cozy storage on the roof rack.

Travel Log 5/5/19

We have been doing really well on our trip preparations. We have been able to get out for several nights and test everything out in the truck. We have been making lists of things that we have forgotten or need modified as we have been using the truck. It turns out that the lists are pretty short and nothing major has come up. The biggest thing that we have noticed is that the habitat is very comfortable and we seem to sleep in more than we mean to!

The truck has been performing better than expected on the highway. It cruises comfortably at 60 mph at 4,000 feet elevation. Exhaust gas temperatures have been really reasonable so far, even pushing it on hills we haven’t seen it go above 1200 F. Slight hills seem not to affect the cruise speed much, but steep hills do require downshifting to take advantage of the grunt of the diesel. All the sound deadening and upgrades in the cab were well worth it. We can carry a normal conversation while driving on the highway. It’s not much louder than driving our Jeep Wrangler.

We extended the ARB awning for the first time and enjoyed some shade in the desert on one of our trips. The ARB awning is quite nice, but we did have to take it down when the wind picked up. The awning can be set up with one person, but we found it is easier with both of us.

During our trips we were able to try out our OMNIA oven with our alcohol stove for the first time. It worked really well! The alcohol stove has been performing great in general. They seem to have a reputation for slow cooking, but we haven’t been disappointed.

Not that anything about using the truck is difficult, but we have found that there are enough new things that we were forgetting steps when getting ready to go. Being the aircraft engineering nerds that we are, we have now made checklists so we don’t miss anything. It’s probably overkill, but it makes us feel a bit more relaxed when doing things like leaving after tearing down camp.

The painted lady butterflies are migrating from Mexico to the Pacific Northwest through central California right now. It seems that they are following the good weather. It’s probably a sign that we need to get ready to follow them.

Truck Update 4/28/19

Our list of truck work from this past week seemed small to us when we typed it up. There has been a lot going on getting ready for our upcoming trip(s). It is impressive how all the small details take time (getting new keys made, mail forwarding considerations, doctor’s appointments, weeding the yard, insurance updates, etc.). We are planning to do several local test trips to make sure everything is working well, and we were able to do the first test trip this week. It went really well and we identified some changes that we wanted to make for small item storage and provisioning.

Also this week, Yvonne tested out her sewing machine on the inverter. Long story short, her sewing machine didn’t like inverter power and we ended up trying 4 different inverters and 4 different sewing machines. It turns out that some sewing machines are just incredibly picky about power quality, even from a high quality, high capacity pure sine wave inverter. The good news is that we now have a nice Victron pure sine wave inverter and Yvonne has a new “travel” sewing machine that is perfectly happy running off of the Victron inverter. All good news as we near the home stretch of preparations.

  • Took truck on short road trip
  • Inspected truck after trip
    • No leaks, everything looked good
  • Packed under subframe storage boxes
  • Started designing bathroom door
  • Purchased spare fluids for truck
  • Installed new Victron inverter
  • Installed cargo tiedown straps in underbed storage area
  • Started testing sewing machine ergonomics and function
  • Started fabricating bathroom door
  • Finished layout of bathroom door
  • Added pressure relief valve to electric air compressor manifold
  • Lots of trip preparation and logistics planning/organizing
  • Final bonded bathroom door
  • First test trip
  • Laid out all mounting holes on door
  • Applied first coat of paint on door
  • Purchased and installed additional containers for provisioning and organization
  • Moved in clothing
  • Received National Parks pass
  • Cut and urethane sealed oak bathroom door trim
  • Final bonded and assembled bathroom door
  • Installed bathroom door with mirror, waste basket, door handle, closing spring and towel bars

Truck Update 4/21/19

  • Started trip route planning
  • Replaced cabinet hinge pins with small stainless steel bolts and lock nuts
  • Added foam shock cushion to air heater fuel pump mount
  • Added footman’s loops and Velcro straps to secure kitchen cabinet doors
  • Modified/improved engine pre-heater switch mounting in truck cab
  • Turned off axle fording air supply (turned off air regulator)
  • Researched:
    • Other locking fuel tank cap options
    • Air heater ducting insulation
    • Speedometer upgrade options
    • Entry ladder modifications and storing options
    • Electric air compressor wiring modification
    • Engine pre-heater use procedure
  • Bonded and cut foam for Fantastic Vent plug
  • Fabricated pour spout for gallon alcohol cans (for stove fuel)
  • Organized spare parts, extra material, and provisioning
  • Researched electronic maps for route planning
  • Received 2019 Milepost Alaska trip planning book
  • Corresponded with electronic speedometer company
  • Ordered programmable electronic speedometer and sending unit
  • Filled, pressurized, and tested fresh water system
  • Filled and test drained gray water tank system
  • Rewired inside of ARB air compressor
  • Ordered and received material for new speedometer bezel
  • Ordered, received, and installed food grade rubber hose for faucet to sink
  • Received and installed new locking fuel cap
  • Purchase pneumatic components for air compressor installation
  • Purchased hose to drain gray water tank
  • Received heater duct insulation
  • Installed heater duct insulation
  • Fabricated rubber compressor mount pad
  • Installed electric air compressor
  • Plumbed air compressor into truck pneumatic system
  • Started routing air compressor wiring
  • Started laying out new folding ladder design
  • Ordered and received components for auxiliary air take-off system
  • Purchased wheels for new folding ladder base
  • Removed and cleaned section of forward gladhand stainless steel line from truck pneumatic system
  • Added regulated air take-off from high pressure side of truck pneumatic system
  • Removed old speedometer and speedometer calibration gearbox from transmission
  • Cleaned up speedometer calibration gearbox
  • Cut up (newly purchased) folding ladder to make parts for new folding habitat ladder
  • Machined new Delrin bezel for fitting new speedometer in old dash panel hole
  • Started bolting new habitat ladder together
  • Fabricated compression plugs for inside tubes of new ladder assembly
  • Finished wiring electric air compressor
  • Tested electric air compressor and filled truck tanks with engine turned off
  • Started fabricating ladder wheel mounts
  • Received new programmable electronic speedometer
  • Wired lights for new speedometer
  • Fabricated wiring harness for new speedometer
  • Fabricated steel upper mounting tabs for new ladder
  • Modified existing habitat ladder mount to accommodate old and new ladders
  • Re-installed ladder mount on habitat sub-frame
  • TIG welded new ladder mounting bar assembly
  • Match drilled pit-pin holes in new ladder mounting bar assembly
  • Sand blasted and painted new ladder mounting bar assembly
  • Wired and installed speedometer
  • Finished fabricating ladder wheel mounts
  • Sewed cloth cover for Fantastic vent fan plug
  • Received hall effect sending unit for speedometer
  • Sewed drawstring bag for portable propane stove regulator
  • Sewed drawstring bag for portable propane stove
  • Started designing transmission mount for speedometer sending unit
  • Started planning local test trips
  • Started populating truck with provisioning goods
  • Finished fabricating new folding entry ladder (new folding ladder also doubles as a step ladder)
  • Added footman’s loops under bed for securing cargo
  • Tested stowing and setting up sewing machine and OLFA cutting mat
  • Tested invertors and decided to purchase pure sine wave invertor
  • Tested hall effect sensor proximity range
  • Fabricated hall effect sensor mount for speedometer sending unit
  • Bench assembled and tested hall effect sensor assembly for speedometer
  • Installed hall effect sensor sending unit assembly for speedometer
  • Opened up padlock hole for securing spare tire
  • Designed bathroom door
  • Made bond test sample for bathroom door assembly
  • Working toward making final orders to prepare for departure
  • Calibrated speedometer using GPS and radar speed indicator
  • Purchased bathroom door material

Truck Update 4/14/19

  • Added additional heater duct in kitchen wall
  • Tested heater configuration
  • Increased max regulated engine speed from 2600 to 2750 rpm
  • Advanced engine injection timing by 2 degrees
  • Increased injection fuel delivery to ~170 hp setting
  • Tested driving performance after upgrades: noticeable improvement in hill climb / acceleration
  • Purchased tools and materials
  • Applied Wabi-Sabi Overland vinyl decals to habitat and truck
  • Drilled holes in water Jerry cans
  • Installed machined barb bulkhead fittings in water Jerry cans
  • Leak checked water Jerry cans
  • Stowed water Jerry cans in habitat
  • Received:
    • Front portal tank upgrades
    • Drive train boots
    • Portal axle fluid
  • Drove truck to heat up fluids
  • Drained transmission for 2nd fluid change
  • Drained front portal hubs
  • Removed front portal vents
  • Test fit new front portal reservoirs
  • Purchased:
    • Copper crush washers
    • Permatex for drive shaft boot install
  • Started making hardware kit for portal tank upgrade
  • Drilled holes in portal tank caps
  • Machined portal tank dipstick pins
  • Machined portal tank vent return tubes
  • Welded dipsticks
  • Welded vent return tubes
  • Turned down cap screws for inner most portal tank cover holes
  • Installed new front portal tanks
  • Plumbed front portal vents
  • Filled front portal vents
  • Drained residual fluid out of transmission
  • Sealed and installed transmission drain plugs
  • Removed old drive shaft boots
  • Prepped and installed new drive shaft boots
  • Refilled transmission with new fluid