Sunday, July 22, 2018

Our heads are spinning

They're spinning, not just because of the latest White House activities, but because our butts can now spin, and one ideally wants to maintain a good connection between the two.
We installed a Scopema passenger swivel seat.

It's a pretty straightforward job.

First, I'd suggest raising the seat to it's maximum height, and all the way back. Makes reaching under it a bit easier when it comes time to put it all back together.
Unbolt the seat from the base. It's attached to the base with 4 8mm bolts.

Unplug the seat. If it's a power seat like ours, the connector has a hex bolt that attaches the cable to the seat. It can lay on it's back.

Remove the bottle jack. It won't be accessible with the swivel installed.

Find a handy place for the bottle jack, after verifying that it really works. I've read some folks complaining that their jack was defective.
This will leave a breadbox sized storage area in the seat base, for things containing bread-like substances, like that box of 25 year old Hostess Ding Dongs you've been hanging on to.

Install the swivel, using the countersunk flatheads provided by Scopema.
Before bolting down the swivel and re-connecting the seat plug, you may wish to remove one of the strain relief zip-ties holding the cable to the base.
We found that there wasn't enough slack to allow the seat to move fully forward and back, after the cable was fed through the swivel's center hole. Now there's enough slack.
Mount the seat on the swivel. Scopema provides 4 hex bolts, washers and nylocks.We found that rotating the swivel a bit let our fingers reach the mounting holes. It takes a bit of fiddling to get all 4 bolts properly lined up.
Plug in the seat, and screw it down.

Next, you will need to cut off the child seat tie down loop. It interferes with full seat rotation. Hacksaw works fine.
Actually, it may be possible to simply bend the loop down, but I didn't think of doing that until I cut the loop off. So you will have to needlessly mutilate your project as well.

Finally (at least if you have a power seat), you will need to trim some of the plastic from the side panel holing the seat adjusts. The base has some guide pins that aligned the seat forward. They won't clear the plastic side panel when the seat is being rotated.
WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT LET THE AESTHETICS COMMITTEE SEE THE FOLLOWING  PICTURE.


We find that in order to clear those pins, the seat needs to be raised as high as it goes. We also find that moving it as far forward as it can go without hitting the center console sets up less interference between the pins and the plastic.

That's pretty much it, except taking it out for a spin.

 Now, since you have nothing better to do, you have all your tools out, and your head is still spinning, cut out the cable cover above the bed.
It may mean war to trade a peaceful conduit in order to Putin the upper storage over the bed on drivers side but that's the way things go in today's world...
At least that's what I did. I won't demand that you do the same, but anybody who's everybody says it's the biggliest, bestestest, thing a very stable jenius can do.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Tripping in Annie #2 - Okanogan


This is the second of what will eventually become an occasional, yet interminably long series of "Tripping in Annie".

We've just returned from a visit to the east side of the North Cascade crest, from up the Chewuch/Chewich/Chewack River (wars have been fought over how road and motel signs should be spelled, and to how to pronounce the name), to the Tiffany highlands, and down to the Twisp River.

Be warned: We have cameras, and are not afraid to overuse them.

We chose the Chewuch  as our first stopover on our way to the higher country.
The mighty Chewuch/Chewich/Chewack:

The Okanogan N.F. is very open to dispersed camping. They just ask that you don't blaze new roads, and don't trash the vegetation.

Our first spot, above the mighty Chewuch/Chewich/Chewack. Between a few blocks and Annie's airbags, we were able to remain very level headed:

Lots of springtime flowering happening above the river bank.
What's up Tiger Lily?

Lupine and paintbrush sharing the land in peace.

Falls Creek feeds the mighty Chewuch/Chewich/Chewack.

Kya heard about something feeding something, and wants to join the action.

We then headed up to the Tiffany Highlands, up at about 6-7000 feet altitude. It's a steep climb on a narrow, rough road. Forest service says "trailers not recommended", and they are right.
The whole Tiffany area, was heavily burned in 2006, and is still just recovering. So the land is very open.
We had hoped to camp at the Tiffany Springs campground, but there was only one decent spot, and that was taken up by one of these things:
Nothing says "don't blaze new roads, and don't trash the vegetation"...not to mention "don't squash the occasional Ford Transit", like that vehicle.
There was absolutely no way we could camp there and avoid looking at that large white thing.
So we decided to camp elsewhere.

We found a nice hunter's campsite in Tiffany Meadows, by Boulder Creek.
Annie sniffed out the site:
And found it acceptable, so we set up camp.
Prepared a well deserved meal. Thanks, Renee!
And settled in to supervise the meal prep:

Exploring the surroundings:


and failed to heed the "no selfies, ever" rule:

Woke up the next morning to nice views:

and breakfast

And so it went, exploring the recovering countryside, and visiting the springtime wildlife.


For our last stop, we went up to the very end of the Twisp River road, and set up camp at the  strangely named "Road's End Campground". No idea why they named it thus. It was the only official campground we stayed at.

This is truly in the real Cascades, with the Twisp River cascading right by our campsite
High country surrounding us, and lush plant life in the camp.

Finished off with some hiking on official trails, making an official end to the trip.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Bedroom FixtureUppers...I still watch too much HGTV

We've added a few things since our last update: Window shades for privacy, and 3 more upper cabinets on Annie's passenger side.
The shades are nothing special, just reasonable quality Lowes standard 4' length units.

The uppers are constructed and mounted like the ones over the kitchen, so I won't go much into the construction details.
Here you can see a window shade, cabinets being fitted, and a few implements of vegetative and property destruction.

The kitchen overheads and ceiling lights are pretty bright. We wanted to add some lower intensity lighting for when we don't want to cook our eyeballs...like at night. So I added 2 dimmable, indirect lighting strips under the new cabinets.
First, paint a length of 1/2" aluminum u-channel.

Cut the bottom panel to size, and countersink the mounting holes.

Mount the u-channel to the board with VHB, and wire in the LED ribbon strips and dimmer modules.
 
Wire it into Annie, mount it up and test:
 

Edge band the cabinetry, mount up the shaker doors, the magnetic latches and hold-open struts.
The struts and magnets are the same models we used for the kitchen cabinets.

And call it done. Well almost...I ran out of the rubber weatherstripping I'm using as a cushy molding.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The old bag gets new bags

Fortunately for me, Annie has a good sense of humor about post titles like that. Besides, at 2 years old, she knows she is hardly an old bag. But she is a mobile bag, holding us and our traveling needs safe and comfy.

But her rear end was getting a bit saggy with the batteries and water stored back there.
An unladen extended Transit has a 12deg departure angle (at least based on the euro drawing I found. That works out to about 16" ground clearance at the rear bumper.

When Annie gets fully loaded, not only does she slur her words, but her rear is down to about 12" or less clearance. We don't want her dragging her butt on dirty rough logging roads. Really tears up her pants.
So we decided she needed a butt lift. But, her butt should have a variable butt boost. No ifs and, or buts.
We want to normally travel with her rear just a bit down from unladen stock, but for steep transitions, ditches, etc. we want to temporarily raise her butt enough to get her clear.
So, we decided on airbags rather than helper springs.
Additionally, we want to use the bags as a leveling device, which means we want to inflate or deflate each one individually.
Airlift makes a version of their LoadLifter 5000 specifically for the Transit. That seems to be the only one out there specifically designed for our van.
The bags replace the stock jounce bumpers, so we ordered the Ultimate version, which has integral bumpers as a backup if the bags ever spring a leak.
We also got their dual manifold and compressor with wireless remote. That's the way  we'll get individual bag control.

There's not much to say about the installation, the instruction manuals are very good.
But, I should note that there is a potential for drilling the wrong hole size if you just follow the compressor' mounting template. It calls for 1/4"  holes, but that's really if you are not mounting to a closed frame member. DAMHIKT.

We have a trailer hitch with B+ power only when ignition is on, so we are using that as the power source for the airbag system.

Since the manual is very good and Transit specific, I'll only post some picks of the final assemblies.

The compressor and manifold are mounted to the rear of the driver side spring, tucked well out of the way of debris and mud. There was hardly any dirt up there before I started the install.

Here's a mounted airbag

Each bag has a manual fill Shrader valve. Also useful for manually checking pressure, although the remote has a pressure readout. I mounted the valves through the rear bumper plastic shroud, and routed the passenger side lines along and above the hitch.

Right now, fully loaded and with 30# pressure in each bag, Annie's rear is at 15" clearance. At about #60 pounds, I'd guess that about 90% of the rear body weight is on the bags, not the OEM springs. Clearance is about 18" at that point.
We are allowed to inflate to 100#, so it looks good that we'll have a 9-10 " improvement in clearance at the temporary extreme. I haven't had the nerve to drive at that pressure yet. At 50#, the ride gets kind of harsh.

And finally, for something completely different, I got the OBDII Torque Pro app up and running on an old phone.