New TV in the RV

The TV in the front of our RV was damaged when we bought the RV.
It had a DC transformer that no longer worked and a streak of damaged pixels.

Old Front TV
Old Front TV

We just didn’t use it and instead I installed a 24” 12 volt TV and DVD combination in the back bed area. That worked great until the grandkids started getting big and the older grandkids visited and the bed couldn’t hold all of us. So I decided to replace the front tv.

Back bed TV 24”
Back bed TV 24”

The TV is handy in bad weather or for a movie just before bedtime. But the family likes to watch together. That called for a new TV in the front.
The old TV was 32” but I measured and decided a 40” TV would fit. (Actual 35.5” wide) the first TV I ordered was 22” tall though and it didn’t fit with the top mattress we use on the cab bed. I returned it and looked for a shorter version. The Impecca TV is “frameless” and only 20” tall. It has the advantage of being a low power user too. It is a “smart” TV but the settings are limited. So I installed a Fire TV stick I already had.

The tv arm mount that came in the RV is not long enough to pull the TV all the way out over the bed to display to those sitting in the lounge area. I bought a longer arm but it did not spread the weight across the wall and seemed way too heavy for the RV. Instead I reinstalled the original arm and bought a lightweight arm to bolt on and extend it. Unfortunately the arm was not quite long enough so I used a small tilt mount to extend it a few more inches. That tilt mount was pulled down by the heavy extended arm so I had to bolt it to keep it upright.

TV arms with extra length tilt mount.
TV arms with extra length tilt mount.

Together the arms are long enough to face the dinette and couch below and the tv will tilt enough for comfortable viewing. The larger screen is nice and it fits fine against the wall although folding all the arm segments is tricky.
I have to install a new DVD player and extend the hdmi cable and RCA cables to reach the extended arm. But that’s for another day. This double arm swings out over the edge of the bed and tilts to the correct angle.

Extended TV arm
Extended TV arm
Posted in -Recent Posts, Maintenance and Repair, RV Camping | Leave a comment

Meters, Meters, Everywhere

Perhaps you noticed the graphs in my last post. One side effect of creating an energy saving house is being watchful regarding our use of energy and any other measure that affects the home environment. I particularly like WiFi connected devices to check in on conditions even if we are not home.

These are the WiFi meters I currently use in our house.

  • Airthings Air Quality Meter
  • Bluebot water use Meter
  • Efergy Electric Use monitors (2)
  • We-Mo outlet meters (touchy)
  • Acurite home weather station
  • Acurite room sensors
  • Juice Box Car Charger
  • X-Sense Smart Carbon Monoxide Detector
  • ICO Ondilo Pool Water Monitor
  • Acura Spa WiFi Control
  • RainPoint WiFi Soil Moisture Meter with water meter and hub (summer only)
  • BroadLink roller shade controller (summer).
  • Ring Video Doorbell
    The last few devices have already had posts explaining the functions so just refer to those.
  • Nest and Ecobee Thermostats
  • MOCREO temperature sensors on the Trombe wall
  • Tesla Solar
Airthings Air Quality Meter
Airthings Air Quality Meter
Radon level is too high >4
Radon level is too high >4

in winter when the house is shut up the radon gets a little high but nothing like the original reading of 27. Both radon fans run 24/7 as does the Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) so a small increase is not something I can improve without opening windows in the cold.
We also monitor water use. For that we use a Bluebot which is also WiFi connected and attached to the incoming well pipe.

Bluebot water meter week chart.
Bluebot water meter week chart.

This device is set to send an email if we use over 200 gallons in a day. Once a toilet was running and we used 900 gallons so I set up the alert.

I just added a second Efergy electric monitor. This brand only measures five sources. I had one on the well, oven, spa, mini-split and the entire garage sub panel. When I added one to measure the new RV 30 amp outlet I had to delete the mini-split. In order to use a second set I needed a second account so I will be switching back and forth. I can measure more circuits with the new Emporia set I ordered for the garage utility box. It has 16 lugs, and I will be installing that soon. I will continue to use Efergy on the remote power circuits.

Efergy hub and clamp meter set
Efergy hub and clamp meter set
Efergy report
Efergy report

I have several We-Mo outlet control/ power meters. I gifted several to my son in law and he bought some which he left with me when they moved to Germany. That was five years ago and we have gradually unplugged these when they lost connection. I still have a few plugged in but only two are operational and one still works despite the fact that the app can’t find it. These are lights that go on at night and turn off automatically in the morning. The power consumption data does not seem accurate for the pottery lamp either and the others can’t be downloaded because the app does not detect them.

We-Mo devices
We-Mo devices

Our weather station has held up well over the years-nine so far. At one point I had to upgrade the internet hub and occasionally the spa temperature sensor goes offline. I just bring it inside next to the hub and it is rediscovered. I have had no disconnects for the main station mounted on the roof and I have only charged the batteries twice. Over the years I have added a second weather monitor as well aa an indoor monitor for the room sensors and I check the WiFi app daily. I can switch between temperature, humidity, wind, and pressure.

Acurite weather station
Acurite weather station
Weather station temperature
Weather station temperature

I installed a 40 amp Juice Box car charger about five years ago for our hybrid Chevy Volt. It works basically without thinking about it. We return from an errand and plug the car back in. We have not paid any attention to time of use because we want to keep the car fully charged so the batteries are ready for the next trip.
The app used to be so much more user friendly. About a year or so ago they switched to an app designed to sell their network of power stations and subscriptions for more data. Very disappointing to lose services although the app and the use data are at no extra charge. This app swipes to display percent charged and total miles added.

Juice Box data
Juice Box data
Charging curve for last charge
Charging curve for last charge

The boiler has been experiencing some issues with carbon monoxide back flow. Once we woke to the alarms ringing and had to open the French doors to air out the house. The alarms continue until the carbon monoxide level goes down. I purchased a separate WiFi alarm so I could monitor if low levels of the gas were in the utility room. At first in December, every few days there was 110 ppm reading. Then after I took off the boiler cover to monitor the fan there were no readings in over a month. I ordered a new fan because the fan is 10 years old and they supposedly last 7-10 years. Just last night there was another reading for emissions.

X-Sense CO detection notice
X-Sense CO detection notice
History of CO incidents.
History of CO incidents

The newest meter we’ve had only about a month. It is a pool water quality meter for the spa.

ICO Spa Meter by Ondilo
ICO Spa Meter by Ondilo

It’s great to have the spa water quality information at my fingertips. But it may not simplify my life. I’m having an issue with the Bluetooth connectivity. It was fine to set it up so I know it worked at one point but trying to update the software it disconnected. Also the rechargeable battery needed recharging after just three weeks and the documentation led me to expect twice as much time between charges. I’ve run through the Bluetooth recommendations more than once and it still does not connect. I charged it for the recommended 10 hours. Actually for 12 and it was only 70% charged. I have it plugged in now. The meter sends recommended type and amount of sanitizer and other chemicals to keep the water at ideal conditions.

Water quality report
Water quality report
Graph of low sanitizer after use
Graph of low sanitizer after use

The spa also has a WiFi interface to the control panel. I installed it in 2019 and it’s still operating as expected. It reads and can set the spa temperature and it can start a filtration cycle.

Our ash trees need coddling due to the Emerald Ash Borer’s attack on the species. I also planted an herb border in front of the house. In order for these to get enough water I bought a Rainpoint WiFi automatic hose control for the drip hoses and a moisture meter that monitors the soil.

Rainpoint WiFi hose control
Rainpoint WiFi hose control
Rainpoint App with offline devices.
Rainpoint App with offline devices.

The roller shades to block summer sun are RF controlled but there is also a WiFi interface that is set up using the RF signals. Each shade comes with an individual control but there is an optional one that will control up to 15 shades. The Broadlink interface is a device that supports RF controls. I had experimented with the system but soon I was out of time and summer and fall were over. I’ll reattach the shades in the summer to prepare for when the sun starts overheating the house.

BroadLink RF WiFi interface
BroadLink RF WiFi interface
BroadLink app setup
BroadLink app setup

We have had a video doorbell for several years. The battery on our old one wore out so quickly I was changing it almost every week. The software had more information than the Ring and didn’t charge extra for it. I don’t pay for the software so I don’t get historical data. We can see the front of the house whenever we want and the device has a solar boost for the battery so we seldom have to charge it.

Ring with built in solar
Ring with built in solar
Front patio
Front patio

It might be nice to have a system that assembles all this data on one set of screens. But I’m enough of a data person that I enjoy looking at each app.

Posted in -Recent Posts, Monitoring | Comments Off on Meters, Meters, Everywhere

Below Zero

Our house is built and insulated for cold weather here in Colorado. That’s why these below zero temperature spells are so rewarding.
I have a pair of MCCREO WiFi temperature meters on the Trombe wall. One is outside under the glass and the other inside in a convenient hole drilled into the wall. Although on our coldest day when it did not get above zero, the outside only reached 50, the inside radiated 64.

Inside Trombe Wall 1/14
Inside Trombe Wall 1/14
Outside Trombe Wall 1/14
Outside Trombe Wall 1/14

For more common cold weather, on a sunny day the temperature against the outside wall rises several degrees higher than the inside wall. Then the inside wall maintains a warm temperature through the night.
The 14th was mostly sunny so our passive solar took over in the afternoon hours.

Solar heated play
Solar heated play

A sunny day uses fewer hours of heat from the boiler. The family room is on the north side of the house benefits less from the passive solar. These are our Nest thermostat use displays. I have the 13th showing the total for the day and the 14th showing the time of day use.

Primary Bedroom 1/14
Primary Bedroom 1/14
Living Room 1/14
Living Room 1/14
Family Room 1/14
Family Room 1/14
Dining Room 1/14
Dining Room 1/14

The rear bedrooms have an Ecobee thermostat and a zone sensor because at the time the Nest did not have extra sensors. We now have a Nest sensor in our primary bathroom connected to the primary bedroom thermostat so that zone’s temperature is determined by either. The ecobee sensor is in the second rear bedroom and either controls the thermostat. The rear bedrooms also have less solar exposure and have the old radiators instead of under floor heat. So the duration of the call for heat is longer. Even so, the by afternoon it was warm enough and didn’t resume until after sunset.

Rear bedroom radiators 1/14
Rear bedroom radiators 1/14

The next day the high temperatures were higher and the lows lower and it snowed most of the day so no sun.

Acurite Web Chart 1/15
Acurite Web Chart 1/15

The effect on the room temperatures are obvious. The sun is not adding as much heat to the rooms. But the high mass of the house also loses heat slowly. The North rooms are affected the most. Notice the family room run time.

Primary Bedroom Jan 15th
Primary Bedroom Jan 15th
Living Room Jan 15th
Living Room Jan 15th
Family Room Jan 15th
Family Room Jan 15th ten hours!
Dining Room Jan 15th
Dining Room Jan 15th

It was a perfect day to supplement the gas boiler with wood boiler heat. For this I turned up the heat in the dining room to distribute some heat to that floor. Most of the time the rear bedrooms were calling for heat too. Although there are some short stretches of adequate set temperatures in these bedrooms.

Rear bedroom radiators 1/15
Rear bedroom radiators 1/15

The wood boiler puts out about 30,000 btu’s of warmed water that circulates in the radiant system. The red zone is the family room, the blue is the dining room, green is the living room, gold and purple are on the same zone, primary bedroom and bath. the rear bedrooms do not have in floor radiant.

Radiant Layout with Zones
Radiant Layout with Zones

The fire lends a lovely ambient glow to the room.

Wood boiler heat
Wood boiler heat

While most homes need to run the furnace/boiler all day and night our system runs far less even on the coldest days. The cover to the boiler is off because the aging fan needs observation but the zone controller shows only green and no red dots showing call for heat.

No call for heat after noon 1/14
No call for heat after noon 1/14
Acurite Display 1/14
Acurite Display 1/14

The manual J design used 0° as a low design temperature. But the systems (solar, boiler, wood boiler) together work very well in extreme cold spells.

Posted in -Recent Posts, Condensing Modulating Gas Boiler, Fireplace Boiler, Monitoring, Trombe Wall | Comments Off on Below Zero

A Birthday Thank You

My son-in-law Robert Felty works for Automattic, the company that produces WordPress, the sophisticated website software I use for this blog. This was a challenging summer for Rob and his family. While on a business trip to Montenegro he fainted and his head hit the pavement. Due to the quick thinking and advocacy of his colleagues he was admitted to the hospital with two brain bleeds for which he had two craniotomies in two successive days. My daughter flew to be with him, travel arranged by Automattic, and manage his care and she was limited to two hours of visiting on only two days a week. But Rob was in bad shape. Not able to speak for more than a few words or feed himself. Took a week to get back on his feet but amazingly he made great progress and was able to return home with Clare in a couple of weeks.
True to Rob’s nature he pushed himself to recover physically and made excellent progress through long walks and pushups, his favorite exercise. His injuries were sufficient for doctors to recommend inpatient rehab. He spent a little over three weeks participating in therapy with other patients, some of whom had similar issues due to long covid. He actually bonded with other patients and made friends.
But his normal work pattern was hugely disrupted by this accident. Automattic was amazing with support for him and Clare. My daughter emphasizes how it could have been so much worse had Automattic not been so caring and supportive. Imagine hospitalization in a foreign country with such a serious accident. But he was also fortunate that the hospital had an experienced surgeon to stop the brain bleeding. And for his colleagues who kept the emergency room from releasing him prematurely.
He has continued to work as much as he can during his recovery, also typical of Rob. But the company seems to emphasize that he is on medical leave with pay.
As a follow-up to the accident he had undergone many medical tests with little result until a “tilt table” test that shocked his heart rhythm so that it stopped completely. He revived in about 20 seconds. That means his blood pressure can get so low his heart will stop. A kind of cardiac arrest. A pacemaker will be implanted to guard against a future event. It will monitor and create a regular rhythm if it slows.
Needless to say it’s a shock to everyone that our most healthy and fit son-in-law is subject to a condition that could have killed him.
For his birthday the Automattic CEO asked for examples of blogs linked to his birthday post. It’s heartening to know how their work has spread through the world enhancing personal and business communication. But it’s a more impressive feat to have created a unique distributed worker company that values caring as well as profit. I wish the company and its staff a wonderful new year and a rewarding birthday to their CEO Matt Mullenweg.

Rob as Santa 2023
Rob as Santa 2023
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Shelter Over The Spa

Our exposed skin was too cold in the water since the spa was fixed this fall. We have used it in the winter before but noticed the little ones got cold fast and could not stay in long. I was reading a Facebook group and got the idea to erect a shelter over it.
I wanted a simple pop up and ordered a 10×15 but it came with a very thin canopy and walls. I didn’t think it would hold up in the wind. Then I also realized I needed more height inside to open the cover. I found a reasonably priced carport that had leg extensions to make it 11 ft. tall outside. So I returned the pop up and bought the carport. The walls are plastic tarps that are 180 gsm which translates into 8 mil. That’s a decent mid weight.

Pop up 10’x15’
Pop up 10’x15’
Carport 10’x20’
Carport 10’x20’

The shelter was easy to put together. The instructions were good and after I assembled the roof, Dave helped lift it on top of the spa.

Carport roof
Carport roof
Carport legs over spa
Carport legs over spa

The day was windless so had no trouble attaching the sides and roof with the bungee balls that come with it. The shelter was delivered about noon and by 4:30 pm I had it together with the walls attached.

Shelter with walls
Shelter with walls

Actually the rear door wall was not on but I was done for the day. Overnight it got a little windy but it was staked down good enough. I had stakes in all the leg posts and the wind was mild. The next day I worked to put in more stakes. At the poles I ran the included cording down the poles to the stakes that twisted into the ground. I put up the rear door and staked the middle of the door walls with extra polyester cord that I bought. The polyester is the highest rated for outdoor use and stability. It does not stretch like nylon.

Tie downs at window walls
Tie downs at window walls
Tie down at rear door
Tie down at rear door

The wind had knocked the cross brace above the spa off kilter but it self corrected after I installed more stakes.

Another day of work ended
Another day of work ended

It took me another day to order more outside stakes. I bought some very heavy duty stakes that were drilled into the ground and some lighter weight stakes. The drilled stakes hold the outside corners and the polyester cord should stay tighter and be more weatherproof than the included cord. I also trimmed the side panel against the wall to fit. I had to cut one pole to sit on the wall because there was no room between the wall and the spa.

Staked outside corners
Staked outside corners
Side panel trimmed at wall
Side panel trimmed at wall

I pulled as much of the excess wall material down between the wall and the spa as I could and tried to straighten it.
Yesterday and last night the wind was recorded at 19mph but it did not seem to affect the shelter. We get higher winds but that was a good one to be the initial test.

Enjoying the warm water pool
Enjoying the warm water pool

I’m not finished with buttoning down the shelter. I’m adding grommets and stakes to the walls around the perimeter.

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Another Spa Fix

The spa has not been working for over a year. In April of 2020 I wrote about installing a new spa pack and controller. In June of 2022 while starting up the spa we burned through the spa heater! So another whole spa pack was ordered. I didn’t want to take the chance that the control board was blown. I installed it but the spa was leaking water in two major areas. At the time I opted not to buy a new controller because it appeared the existing one was working. It was displaying the water temperature and the buttons were responding. Joe at Acura said are you sure? It’s cheaper to get the controller with the spa pack. So I said I’ll order one if it doesn’t work.
In the meantime the spa had the problem with leaking. I had a difficult time fixing it and the job languished for several months. Finally as we were expecting our granddaughter’s visit I got to work and figured out a fix for the leaking spa jet. I found that the glass tubes inside the ozone generator also from Acura had shattered so I removed it completely. As soon as the leaks were fixed I fiddled with the old controller and it didn’t set everything like it was supposed to. Oh no a bad controller! I wrote Acura requesting a new controller a couple of times with no response. The order forms on the website are no longer working. I hate to think something has happened to Joe. He was such a great guy. Did Covid get him? Then I turned to Amazon to see if I could replace the controller with a Balboa. I looked on EBay and to my surprise the very controller I needed was listed! It was an auction but had no bids so I won it! Then the sender was the woman who used to do sales responses at Acura!
The website is still up but most of the equipment says out of stock. It makes me so sad. This was a small business since the early 80’s. They hand built all their equipment. I guess forty some years was its limit.
In the meantime I decided to warm the spa water thinking we could use it if I set up an outside filter. I bought an inexpensive immersion heater that was very low cost and put it in the tub. In a matter of days the temperature of the water went up to 100°! I unplugged it!

Immersion heater
Immersion heater

I put off installing the new controller until I could check the power to the hot tub. I was going to check the motor for resistance etc. but the controls on the motor were too difficult to reach. So I decided to plug in the new controller. When I set the user option to pump always on I was startled to hear it start up!

Old topside controller
Old topside controller
New controller
New controller

That was all it needed! I had to clean up all the old silicone but I’m getting to be pretty good at that. Then wash away the isopropyl alcohol with soapy water, I use 90% solution. I still need to silicone the new controller in place. I’m also going to reinstall the WiFi controller. It was so convenient to set the water temperature a little lower then raise it when needed from inside.
The water had a grainy film on top. I wondered if it was from the regular pool shock I put in to keep the water from going green while I figured out the pump issues. Normally I use bromine in the hot tub. I scooped it off the top and we got in and used the tub. So much fun with the kids! I could feel lots of the grainy stuff on the bottom so I kept scooping it up and tossing it over the side. Some of the walls also felt grainy.
I tested the water an hour or so before we got in and the chlorine levels were low so I added a bit more pool shock. But the Ph level was very high! After we used the tub I put in Ph Down and stabilizer and I think the filter should have been on constantly. I read that very high alkalinity can precipitate out scale on the walls and make the water cloudy. The water was cloudy but did not irritate our skin or eyes.

Cloudy spa water
Cloudy spa water

Next morning I tested again and the ph and chlorine levels are good but hardness and alkalinity still high. Stabilizer was also good. So I’m not sure about fixing alkalinity if Ph is about right. I have a few diffferent bottles of test strips so I used a different strip and the ph read high. It takes some time for the ph low chemical to work.

Cloudiness improved
Cloudiness improved

After years of pool and spa ownership I’m still occasionally confused by pool chemicals.

Now I need to reinsulate and close up the side panel. I’m just hoping it keeps working for another couple of years with no further damage. If the equipment again gets broken then it might be the end for this excellent spa. 2009 to ? Right now it’s 14 years old. It should last at least 20. It’s suffered from my learning curve.

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Home 30 Amp RV Outlet

We had friends arriving in September who would “Moochdock” in our driveway. They needed 30 amp power because they had to run the air conditioner and other power at the same time. I had always wanted to install a 30 amp outlet for our RV and their visit was my opportunity.

I bought outdoor #8 power cord to install the circuit and a 30 amp GFCI. I also bought 30 amp 110 breakers to have on hand for future extension of the outdoor electrical system. Unfortunately I realized I bought the wrong kind of 30 amp GFCI but I had the other breakers. I also bought the wrong kind of wire. It is outdoor wire but is made for extension cords not permanent wiring.

I looked into my stash of wire and I already had #8 2 wire sheathed wire and extra 1/2″ conduit and connectors from the remote controlled shade project. We were able to insert the wire into the 1/2″ conduit but had to leave the ground wire out. The conduit was too small for three wires. My solution was to run the ground separately. Of course this looks amateurish but it is actually all to code. NEC permits a separate ground wire that does not have to run with the power cable and it allows up to three #8 wires in 1/2″ conduit.

30 Amp without ground
30 Amp without ground
Ground wire added and box grounded
Ground wire added and box grounded
Separate ground conduit
Separate ground conduit

We really enjoyed the visit from our friends. We hung out and played the Trekking the National Parks board game and had a great side trip to the Garden of the Gods and the Pikes Peak railway. It was a perfect day trip and a perfect visit.

Stop at Red Rocks Trading Post and lovely drive through the park
Stop at Red Rocks Trading Post and lovely drive through the park
Riding Pikes Peak Cog Railway
Riding Pikes Peak Cog Railway
Sad to see friends leave--nice rig
Sad to see friends leave–nice rig
Posted in -Recent Posts, Electrical, Friends and Family, Reduce Reuse Recycle | Comments Off on Home 30 Amp RV Outlet

Mr Cool Mini-Split Troubles

It sure seemed like there were several repairs that had to be made this summer. I had issues with the RV water supply, with the pool, with the spa, and also with the air conditioner. I installed the Mr. Cool one ton unit in 2019 after several failed experiments with a chiller to cool the radiant floor. I also had purchased a used mini-split that was 9000 btu, and I worked to install that one but could not get the lines to hold a vacuum. The DIY mini-split comes with pre-charged lines so the installation does not require pumping the system into a vacuum and then charging with refrigerant. It is all completely charged and the connections don’t require brazing or flare fittings.

Mr Cool DIY 12000 btu
Mr Cool DIY 12000 btu

Last summer it appeared that there were issues with the Mr. Cool. It appeared that the air was not being cooled as much as it had been. I cleaned the filters but there was not much else I could do. I hired an HVAC pro to look at it and he determined that the condensate line’s path to the washer stand pipe was backing up because some of the line dipped and didn’t flow continually downward. Part of the paint on the wall was even blistered from the water dripping out of the indoor unit. He measured the coolant and said that it appears to be fully charged. So he installed a condensate pump to pump the water out of the conditioner. He also applied a special cleaner to the filters and we didn’t have more issues for the rest of the summer.

This year we started having problems again with the water dripping from the indoor unit. It appears that the condensate pump only lasted a year. It was expensive too at about $250. So we noticed a significant drop in cooling. I again cleaned the filters washing them in Dawn dishwater and letting them dry outside. I also found condensate leaking all over the attic with the floor so wet it was turning black. That was an unpleasant surprise. I dried all of that out and checked for leaks to the pump and then made sure it was level and feeding down from the unit. All to no avail and then the unit went into an error mode.

The Mr Cool support was fantastic. They had me do an electrical test on the outside unit and the results determined that the problem was the control board inside. They sent me a replacement for the cost of the postage. There were instructions online and a video about how to open the evaporator unit and remove the cover and the old board. I had to stand up on the refrigerator which was actually better than a ladder would have been. I removed the control unit and took lots of photos of the wiring that I was removing.

Wiring for mini split
Wiring for mini split
Disconnecting wiring and thermostat
Disconnecting wiring and thermostat
Old logic board connections
Old logic board connections

Then there was the challenge of fitting it all back together. In fact it reminded me of the cartoon of the long equation on a chalkboard with “A miracle happens here” written in the middle. Because the video showed some of what had to happen and then left out details when it came to reassembly, which is NOT the same as disassembly.

Reconnecting to new logic board
Reconnecting to new logic board
Connections made
Connections made

I was able to change the board and replace the system but had the same issue with water backing up so I disconnected the wiring for the pump I double checked that the inside wiring was correct.

Mr. Cool Inside Wiring
Mr. Cool Inside Wiring

Then I let the condensate drip into a bucket in the attic, emptying it each day before I turned the air back on. The unit then started to give us nice cold air again. Lovely but it has not lasted. It could be that the filters need to be cleaned again, but I fear it is something more complex given the new control board and removing the condensate pump .

The differential between incoming and outgoing cooled air is supposed to be about 20º. I have a temperature measure that shows 82 degrees going in and about 75 coming out. When it is operating correctly its 82 going in and 64 coming out. That cools the room during the day.

So this issue probably requires that I call the company again for help troubleshooting. It will be interesting to see if this can be fixed again.

Posted in -Recent Posts, Maintenance and Repair, Mini Split Air Conditioner | Comments Off on Mr Cool Mini-Split Troubles

Summer Spa Repairs

Last summer we had big problems with the spa equipment and it was replaced. We had discovered a leak at one of the jets in our exercise spa. I tried all kinds of patches for the leak, caulk, pool goop, silicone tape, but nothing worked.

Tried to stop leak
Tried to stop leak
First try at fixing leak
First try at fixing leak

Finally I decided I could replace the whole jet. When taking it apart, I found that the plastic screw part had been partially stripped. Maybe during my fix attempts, maybe in assembly, and I realized it was unrepairable. The project sat for about a year while other stuff happened in our lives. Then I had to clean out the spa again.

A years worth of dirt
A years worth of dirt partially cleaned
Satisfying clean
Satisfyingly clean

I was able to find a replacement jet body that would fit. It was a Balboa body with a 2 1/2″ water opening, a 1 1/2″ water delivery pipe and 1″ air pipe with the jet protruding from the side. I purchased the complete set with the standard jet insert from a hot tub parts site.

Hydro Air Jet Body
Hydro Air Jet Body 10-4510WHT__73301
Hydroair Convertassage Diagram
Hydroair Convertassage Diagram

After the old pipe was cut away, the new jet could not screw into the jet body. The threads were too short to fit through the thick fiberglass on our tub. After an unsuccessful attempt to find a longer threaded jet assembly, it occurred to me that I could make the fiberglass thinner with a router. The router bit however was not able to sit properly on the uneven surface. So I used a Dremel tool instead.

Using Dremel Tool to thin the tub wall
Using Dremel Tool to thin the tub wall
Thinned the tub wall
Thinned the tub wall

I glued together replacement pipes and pushed the new jet body into place. Dave held it while I used a pipe wrench to twist the jet into the body. Then we had to fill the tub to see if the repair worked.

Replacement Install
Replacement Install
Refilling tub after new install
Refilling tub after new install

Unfortunately the attempt to glue the pipes was a failure. The pipes were leaking at multiple joints. I had glued the new jet body into pipe that did not hold water! It may have been old glue or it was just crooked joins. Also I found that the hot tub hose did not fit exactly into the PVC pipe so that caused leaks too.

Leaking Profusely
Leaking Profusely

I cut out the whole repair and reordered the same jet body from Amazon for faster delivery. In fact I ordered two in case the third one failed. I glued the initial pipes in the house instead of on the tub. Instead of multiple glue joints I decided to use rubber Fernco connections. That meant that the whole repair could be removed without cutting pipes.

This time I connected all the Ferncos and then attempted to have Dave hold the jet body that was coated with silicone while I screwed in the jet. But again the jet body did not hold water. (More water was added to the tub to test it.)

Glued pipes inside
Glued pipes inside
Try again
Try again

It seriously leaked at the connection to the tub. The silicone must have been outdated and did not properly cure over the 24 hours it rested. I read that old silicone can take a long time to cure but should be water tight in less time. I believe the failure was a result of having all the pipes connected so the jet body had to be pressed against the wall to connect, so it was slightly crooked and the silicone did not seal. This time when I drained water from the tub, I pumped some water into a couple of plastic barrels we have from a former project. That way I could reuse it after the next repair. I also just removed the Ferncos to take out the pipe assembly and attempt the repair again.

To fix the silicone problem I looked for the “best” marine caulk that could take constant wetness and would cure in a reasonable amount of time. I chose Star Brite and ordered it from Amazon.

StarBrite Sealant
Star Brite Sealant

By soaking the pipes in 99% hydrogen peroxide and scrubbing them with a 3M pad I was able to remove all the old silicone. Then I washed the pieces with dish soap and rinsed well with water.

I also took a bowl of the hydrogen peroxide out to the hot tub and cleaned all the silicone from both sides of the jet opening. I then wiped it off with a sponge and soapy water. The old silicone had to be completely removed before using the new.

Instead of completely connecting all the pipes, I decided to install the basic piece with Dave again holding the silicone coated jet body straight while I connected the jet to the body, screwing it in with a large pipe wrench. Then I let it sit for another day while it cured. By that time I could add the Ferncos to connect to the existing pipe. I had tried a pipe repair fitting in one spot but it was too long, so I replaced that with another Fernco. These clamp in two places and I made sure that the clamps were very tight.

Used removable ferncos to attach to old pipes
Used removable Ferncos to attach to old pipes

This time the repair worked! I did have to reroute some of the pipes to fit the Ferncos to the tub hoses but I don’t think it will be a problem for the pump. I was able to pump at least 150 gallons of water back into the tub and then refill it the rest of the way.

I opened the connection to the spa control pack to be sure it had water in it and would not burn out. I had to retighten that connection and then I flipped the power on and the topside control showed a temperature but the equipment did not start up. Next I troubleshoot all the equipment.

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A Little More Camping

Making our way back home we drove another couple of hours and stopped by the Yampa River State Park. This one is right on highway 40 and was a pleasant camping area. The first evening walked down to the river which was really low. Too low to put in our boat.

Yampa river water was low
Yampa river water was low

So we drove over to the lake the next day. It was a reservoir and another state park just a few minutes away. Another lovely day but actually not hot enough to get in the lake to play and Wolfy is a little old to just play in the sand by himself especially with more Minecraft waiting for him. I wanted to try out the boat again but we were all a bit tired by that time so we went back to our river camp.

Elkhead Reservoir State Park near Craig
Elkhead Reservoir State Park near Craig

We rested in camp, reading and enjoying the cooler weather. Later we were able to convince Wolfy to take a walk with us at the river. He was rewarded with some great frog sightings.

Favorite camping activity--Minecraft
Favorite camping activity–Minecraft
Brightly colored frogs
Brightly colored frogs

He was also able to wade almost completely across the river which was fun.

Could wade all the way across
Could wade all the way across

Despite the lovely weather we decided to go home a day early. I guess two weeks was enough of an adventure. But so glad we were out and about to see these amazing views.

Beautiful view
Beautiful view
Lovely sunset
Lovely sunset
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Dinosaur National Monument

Dave had proposed visiting this out of the way Colorado/Utah park with the grandkids some time ago. We didn’t think we could handle all three but at seven, Wolfgang is old enough to appreciate ancient history or so we thought. He did like the lizards and the frogs but was less impressed with dinosaur bones even if the excavation site was pretty amazing to us old folks.

Indoor excavation site
Indoor excavation site

We left Rifle Gap and arrived at our riverside Green River campsite. But the river was not accessible to our site. It was about a four foot drop from the shore. One area not far from our site was a tiny rocky area for river access but it was being used by a group of campers and their dogs. Yuck.
That afternoon we stopped at the visitors center and watched the movie then read some signs and shopped in the gift store. The next day we took a short morning hike where Wolfy spotted four lizards and we took the shuttle to the indoor actual Dinosaur dig and read the history of discovery. Wolfy got bored and wanted to go back to the RV so we hung around with him watching Mindcraft videos and playing it non-stop.

Vistor Center stegosaurus statue
Vistor Center stegosaurus statue

The next day we took a drive to see some roadside dinosaur sights on short hikes where Wolfy’s sharp eyes saw a few more lizards. We drove the RV down a gravel road to see an old homestead ranch. Wolfy picked up some old walnuts from the ground. On the way back we stopped at a boat put-in site and spent some time lazing by the river.

Climbing to see bones
Climbing to see bones
Collecting walnuts
Collecting walnuts
Watching the river flow
Watching the river flow

The next day we left camp and stopped in town to visit a small but very well done natural history museum then spent the night at an RV park with full hookups to do some laundry and take showers.

Also wooly mammoths
Also wooly mammoths
Cracking walnuts
Cracking walnuts

We hung out there for awhile then drove to the Colorado entrance to the monument. There was major road construction going on for a long stretch where we had to wait quite awhile to be led by a vehicle through the broken road. There were two areas that were torn up. Afterwards we drove several miles through rolling hills and rocky canyons to get to some nice lookouts. We actually drove back across the Utah border. Several private ranches were along the road. Very remote living. We took about a ten mile gravel road down the mountain to get back to Highway 40 and back to our RV park site.

Colorado side road construction
Colorado side road construction
Colorado side view
Colorado side view
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End of Summer Camping Trip

Our half Korean grandkids spent most of the summer visiting their aunt with their mom on Jeju Island in Korea. The children are very bilingual and knowledgeable about their mom’s culture. My son went to join them for the last couple of weeks and there are some great activities for the family including miles of beaches with tide pools to explore and anchovies to harvest. Plus warm springs pools, cultural landmarks and kids’ entertainment parks.

Beach time
Beach time
Tide pool beach
Tide pool beach

Jeju warm springs
Jeju warm springs
Jeju Temple
Jeju Temple

They returned a few days before our granddaughter left and our grandson started football practice. My son took over patent duties for him while we had a long RV trip planned for the younger grandkids. The first week we wanted all three kids then we hoped their parents would join us for the weekend and take the two littlest ones home while we continued our trip with the oldest. Instead a friend who was visiting with her son drove down and we spent a couple of days together. She took the little ones home herself. It was a big job.
We spent one day just setting up camp then we visited Rifle falls nearby the reservoir. One day we went to the beach but it was too cold to swim so the kids played in the sand. And one day we took floating toys down to the water near our campsite but our kids got cold. They did really enjoy their scooters on the camp road which was paved and had a downhill stretch. Lots of fast rides.

Rifle Falls
Rifle Falls
Kids at the falls
Kids at the falls
Reservoir beach
Reservoir beach

By the weekend the little ones were ready to be home. After they left we continued our journey with their older brother.

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Pool Disaster

Last time we set up the pool the various leaks in the aging liner were getting more and more difficult to repair. I had a choice between buying a new pool altogether or ordering a new liner from Intex. The liner was much more reasonable and the rest of the pool was in decent shape. The actual liner i ordered was for a newer pool setup but the correct size and the liners are often completely out of stock so I was glad they had one.

Because the grandkids would be here this summer I was anxious to set up the pool for them. It is kind of a big deal to re-level the sand base, put down a new tarp, haul out the frame and insert the liner then get the bottom smoothed out with the first inch or so of water.

New Liner Smooth Bottom
New Liner Smooth Bottom

I was very disappointed when we noticed that the new liner was leaking. It appeared the leak was from the seam that welded the sides to the bottom.

Immediate leak
Immediate leak

I was hoping the leak was just in one area around the drain, but unfortunately it turned out the entire weld was leaking. I bought a couple of rolls of Gorilla waterproof tape thinking we could seal the leak underwater and use the pool while at the same time submitting a replacement claim.

Gorilla waterproof tape repair
Gorilla waterproof tape repair

Before the pool was half full the pressure of the water overcame the tape and the pool began to leak profusely all around the perimeter. In the meantime I had started the laborious task of filing for a replacement. The requirements were to cut a huge hole in the side of the liner and a smaller one to send photos of the RMA written on the cut piece back to the company. Luckily I purchased the liner from Intex so it was in their system and I only had to send the order email to provide proof of purchase.

Required cut for replacement
Required cut for replacement

Once the required paperwork was properly filled out, after a call to the company was needed to guide me through the mistakes I had made on the original application. I successfully submitted the claim. The company then sent a replacement which is still in the box.

Replacement Claim
Replacement Claim

The visit was practically over, we had already wasted gallons of our well water, and my granddaughter was spending a lot of time at the local water park on an annual pass.

It was time for her to return home at the end of July and for us to take another trip with the grandkids who had spent two months in Korea. So the pool was staked to keep it from blowing down and we left for Rifle Gap and Dinosaur National Park.

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German Grandkids Visit

We had our 12 year old granddaughter and 15 year old grandson visit us this July. That kept us busy with fun kid stuff.

Grandkids arrive from Germany
Grandkids arrive from Germany

We took them camping in the mountains to reacquaint them with their home state. We stayed at Shadow Mountain Lake but my battery system for the inflatable boat had a disconnected wire so we didn’t get to troll around. But the kids got in the water and generally we enjoyed out of doors.

Camping time
Camping time
Best view from the roof
Best view from the roof
Set up camp
Set up camp
Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park
Alpine Visitors Center
Alpine Visitors Center
Cloud cover at Timber Ridge
Cloud cover at Timber Ridge

t was cloudy and rainy driving down the east side of the mountains so we didn’t stay one more night. We just drove all the way home.

Grappel falling as we leave
Grappel falling as we leave
Campsite to campsite route
Campsite to campsite route

Alice spent lots of time with her friends in the US and a lifelong friend of Spencer’s came to visit. Tao and Spencer met in nursery school as babies. It was great to see him and his mom.

Tao visits with his mom Alisa
Tao visits with his mom Alisa

Before the end of Alice’s stay we drove down to the amazing Garden of the Gods. We all hiked a bit. Alice and Spencer went together. And we watched the rock climbers.

A day at magnificent Garden of the Gods
A day at magnificent Garden of the Gods
A little hike in the heat
A little hike in the heat

Alice had me take her friends to see the Barbie movie. We enjoyed the movie and it was fun to sit with the young ladies. We were all dressed in pink of course!

Wearing pink for Barbie movie

We sent Alice home but the plan is for Spencer to stay the school year to get some US education and play “real” football.

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New RV Toilet

When the plumbing leaked in the RV the toilet also overflowed with water. I had read that the valve often breaks in newer Thetford toilets so I ordered the kit, watched a couple of YouTube videos and took the pedal off the old toilet to fix it.

Trying to fix the old Thetford toilet
Trying to fix the old Thetford toilet

The pedal was difficult to fit back on. It turned out the spring that opens the flap was misaligned and while I was working on the pedal it popped off. I looked up how to reattach it and that’s when I found that the plastic notch for the spring had worn off. That was impossible to fix. In retrospect I don’t think the valve was bad on the old toilet. I think the pedal slipped off the spring so it was not raising and shutting off the water flow. As I tried to reinstall the pedal the spring would not fit in the recess in the pedal. As I maneuvered it the spring popped off entirely.
So I ordered a new toilet. We planned to go camping in a few days so I was in a hurry. I could not get one quickly on Amazon and the local Camping World was out of stock but one was available at a CW about 30 miles north of us. So I ordered it and drove up the next day.
I had read good things about the Dometic 310 toilet. Mostly because it has a porcelain bowl and is still lightweight because it sits on a plastic pedestal. The porcelain is easier to clean, it doesn’t stain with age. The bowl wash is distributed under the rim so flushing is more complete. I was surprised to see that the round bowl is a bit smaller than the Thetford so it takes up less space.

New toilet set in place
New toilet set in place

The toilet included the bolts, caps and foam ring but I used the existing bolts. It fit over them exactly but the water supply hose connected at the back of the Thetford and to the right of the new Dometic. The hose was too short. So I cut another hole for the hose with a hole saw.

New hike for the toilet supply relocation
New hole for the toilet supply relocation

The best part about the smaller footprint is the extra floorspace between the door and the sink.
I had the small bathroom heat duct removed to work under the drawer on the pex replacement. It has been replaced. The added floor space seems significant. The new toilet can use a regular toilet seat and it came with a wooden one.

Toilet has porcelain bowl
Toilet has porcelain bowl

When finishing up the install I used the old nut covers because they were smaller and easier to fit on the old bolts. It is a nice upgrade even though it was not planned.

New Dometic 310 toilet
New Dometic 310 toilet
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RV Water Woes

I installed a pressure tank next to the water pump in the wiring and plumbing bay under the bed. I had winterized the system before I did the installation when we returned from Arizona in March. When I was getting ready for my birthday camping trip in May I found out the pipe was leaking badly. The new winterizing bypass valve also had a bad crimp fitting. I had not de-winterized in time to find the leaks and even though I spent a couple of hours connecting the pipes without the tank the system was still leaking. We dumped all the fresh water and we had no running water in the RV that trip. Luckily our campsite was right across the road from a nice running water bathroom.

Towards the end of June I needed to get ready for our post July 4th camping trip. We have the older set of grandkids visiting and I wanted them to be in the mountains again while they are here. I reconnected the pressure tank and redid the crimp fittings for the winterizing connection and when I turned on the water one of the hoses just shot out water.

Leaking connection
Leaking connection

I’m not sure if the hose was stretched at this point, the fitting was out of round, or if the crimp wasn’t tight enough but I could not stop this leak. Unfortunately the connection between this hose and the pex was back under some other equipment so I could not reach it to extend the pipe and eliminate the leaking hose.

Pex to hose connection
Pex to hose connection

I shared this dilemma with a Class C RV support group and someone suggested I replace the whole pipe under the floor. Since I have plenty of pex that seemed like a good option. The pex from the equipment bay extended under the floor to the wiring, plumbing, and heating duct area below a large drawer on the kitchen side of the RV.

Before replacement
Before replacement

Access to the area required removing the drawer and reaching into a confined space to cut off the crimp fittings and replace the pipe. I bought a new tool that had both the crimping and a cutting function. Unfortunately it required the cutter to be perpendicular to the crimp ring so I could not remove them in place and had to cut out the entire tee fitting. Pulling out the old pex and inserting a new piece through the channel under the floor was not difficult. It slid right through.

New longer green pex pipe
New longer green pex pipe

However I thought it would be easier to replace the crimp fittings with sharkbite fittings. This did not prove to be true. I clicked on the fittings and tapped them with a hammer but they leaked profusely when I turned on the water pump.

Failed sharkbite connections
Failed sharkbite connections

Then the real struggle was trying to remove the fittings. I could not get them to come off so I eventually just cut the pipe again to get them out. This effort resulted in several bruises and scrapes on my arms.

Once the sharkbite fittings were cut out. I had to figure out how to reconnect the pipes and tie them together with crimp fittings instead. The crimp fitting on the valve had to be pried off which took another battle with vice grips and a screwdriver and more battle scars on my arms. I disconnected the heating ducts to move them out of the way while I was working in the tight space.

Then the pex was a bit difficult to align with the tee fitting and the valve. I fitted all the pipe together before I started crimping.

Replacing sharkbites with crimp fittings
Replacing sharkbites with crimp fittings

The new crimping tool had slightly shorter arms so it fit better in the confined space. I was able to get the crimper fixed over each ring and I used the sides of the cabinet to start the ratchet function to close the crimps. Holding everything together was difficult but slowly the crimps were made and the plumbing was fixed.

New crimped fittings
New crimped fittings

It was a minor miracle that none of the crimped fittings leaked. In the storage bay under the bed the sharkbite fitting worked fine to connect the output hose to the new pex. The other hose connected directly to the pump.

Hoses connect the pressure tank
Hoses connect the pressure tank

We were able to have running water with no leaks in the RV during our July trip to the mountains. We had a few nice days but the last one rained and we got graupel when driving through Rocky Mountain National Park so the kids were ready to get home and we skipped the last night of camping.

Successful campsite
Successful campsite
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DIY Motorized Outdoor Rollup Shades

After observing the cool outdoor shades John Avenson installed on the exterior of his passive solar wall, I wanted to add solar shades to the Trombe wall to prevent it from heating up in the summer. I priced automatic shades and came up with a pretty high total expenditure. Then I researched DIY.
The tried and true DIY shade motors were Rollerhouse sold through Amazon. I researched the pulling strength of the motors and decided on 24v since the secondhand cracked solar panel on the front wall is 24v. I happened to have a Grape Solar 12/24 volt solar controller. I purchased two 12v 10ah deep cycle LiFePO4 batteries to power the shades. Each shade uses a very small amount of power-about 1 amp. The specifications allow for 12 lbs of lift and I weighed a full shade at about 5 lbs.

Rollerhouse 25mm 24 volt specifications
Rollerhouse 25mm 24 volt specifications

I have several bolts of vinyl from a Repurposed Materials auction. It seemed a shame not to use it to make my own shades. I cut approximately 9 ft of material and washed each piece of vinyl in the washing machine with cold water. Then it dried in the sun. I bought 1 1/4 inch galvanized conduit for the shades roller size I purchased. Actual internal size of the 1 1/4” conduit is about 1 1/2”. Then I cut the width of both the vinyl and the pipe to fit the block wall section.

Rollers mounted on cedar board
Rollers mounted on cedar board

In order to attach the rollers to the underside of the overhang in front of the wall I bought 1×4 cedar boards and installed the shade hangers. Then I screwed the board to the overhang. The roller motor rubber grips had to be shaved a little to slip into the pipe. I attached the shade with 2 sided 3m tape and a layer of outdoor waterproof tape. The tricky part was being sure the shade was square on the pipe and square at the bottom. I used my industrial Sailrite sewing machine to stitch a small hem at the bottom. I used 1/2” aluminum or zinc rods slipped into the hem to weigh them down. But apparently there is a shortage of these rods. I bought three Home Depot had in stock and ordered one at ridiculous expense from Amazon. I thought I was getting three. Read the fine print don’t go by the pictured item.

Lining up the shade
Lining up the shade

The shades have to be programmed to the remotes that come with each shade. I wanted to control them all with one device so I also bought the 15 shade remote.

Shade remote receiver
Shade remote receiver

After the initial pairing of the remote the top and bottom limits can be set. For one shade I could not get the top and bottom set. So I contacted support but they just suggested I reprogram from the start and do the erase remote signals three times to be sure it was a fresh start. I finally boxed it up and returned it as malfunctioning even though I had trimmed the rubber roller to fit the pipe. I ordered a replacement.

I assembled the west wall of shades and programmed them to rise and fall the right amount but one kept getting off track. So I removed it and re-squared the material on the pipe.

West wall shades
West wall shades

The batteries were working great but the solar controller seemed to have a broken load connection. I was not getting any power there. I temporarily tried another older controller and got power. So I looked up the problem and the manual indicated it could be a programming issue. I could not figure it out so I just used the battery connection instead. I lined the black battery box with styrofoam to keep the batteries cool and will cover it with white vinyl.

Batteries and temporary controller
Batteries and temporary controller

As I wired the shades I realized that the bare wiring was not going to be sustainable. The connections needed to be waterproof. I ordered 1/2” flex conduit and waterproof electrical boxes to contain the wires.

Electrical boxes and conduit
Electrical boxes and conduit

The wiring is tiny. Maybe 20 gauge. I wired them in series because there was enough wiring to run from box to box. I have plenty of old 2 wire thermostat wire so I will use that to reach the Southeast wall.

Each time I work on these I make a huge tool mess on the kitchen table. Although after 4 of them I’ve streamlined the work a little bit more.

Kitchen table workbench
Kitchen table workbench

I have two more to assemble. The third panel on the Southeast wall is under the window so I don’t think I’ll use a shade there.

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May

Of course May is crazy for everyone with it being the last month of the school year here. I also have a tradition of spending a weekend camping near my birthday. This year we did it the weekend before and we were lucky it was not snowing. We drove three hours to Lathrop State Park as I was told it had a beautiful lake. The lake was lovely but it was too cold to take out the boat. The kids enjoyed the lakeside playground. The family was with us one night but because of the rain the parents and Clementine went home Saturday. By Sunday afternoon it was dry again.

Beautiful campsite
Beautiful campsite

I was pretty busy before we left so a few things were at the last minute. The bathroom door was stuck shut with a broken door handle that I removed and replaced with our used lever handles that I have not yet complete replacement of all the handles in the house but I have a lot of handles. The handles are meant for thicker doors so I had to shim it with a rubber washer. I also had to cut the edge to fit the strike plate and lower the jamb hole a little. Not a short job.

Replaced broken bathroom door handle
Replaced broken bathroom door handle
New handle
New handle

I also hung a customized clock. I saw an inexpensive clock at IKEA and could not resist cutting a Cricut vinyl project for the RV.

Getting ready for my birthday campout
Getting ready for my birthday campout

But finding and repairing the electrical problem took the longest. On our February trip to Mesa we discovered our tv and cell signal booster 12v outlets were not getting power. I checked the fuses and that was not the problem. I checked power at the fuse box and it was good. Eventually I cut the wire that fed the outlets from the water tank compartment and that wire was dead. Since I could not isolate the wire connection to the fuse I added a fuse in the last slot on the panel and ran a new wire to the cut wire. I had completely disassembled the outlets and some of the connectors fell off when I pulled them so I had to redo several of them. And I needed to do a better job of crimping them.

Checkinge RV fuses
Checkinge RV fuses
Fixed dead 12v outlets with new wire
Fixed dead 12v outlets with new wire

The water was leaking profusely at the pump outlet and had to be redone. That meant removing the pressure tank I had installed but had not pressurized the system to see if there was a leak. With the time crunch the easiest thing was to remove it. Then I had to dig into my plumbing stash to redo the connections. It seemed that I had stopped the leak but when we were underway water was in the bathroom and hallway. It turned out the toilet valve that lets water into the toilet was stuck open. So we didn’t have running water for the weekend which was not so bad since our campsite was right across from the bathrooms.

Pressure tank
Pressure tank
Leaking winterization valve
Leaking winterization valve

Of course the leaks were worse than I expected so it took awhile to fix them.

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Springtime Activities

April is a busy month. Both our grandson Leonidas and his mom Haewon have birthdays and we prepped for an early 5th birthday party for Clementine and our 50th anniversary cruise to Alaska. Plus there were a couple of new projects on the RV and at home.

We were excited to see our grandson, Wolfgang, perform in a first grade musical. He was the boy who called Wolf in a series of three fables with acting and songs at the first grade program at Westwoods Elementary.

Wolfie as boy who cried wolf
Wolfie as boy who cried wolf
Animated stage presence
Animated stage presence

Then we had the April birthdays. Leo wanted Monster Trucks for his third birthday party.

Leo prepares for his Monster Truck birthday
Leo prepares for his Monster Truck birthday

Dave and I prepped for his party. Dave made cardboard racing ramps and each child got a Monster Jam monster truck. I labeled paper party favor sacks with monster trucks and his birthday banner. Dave made trophies for the race winners. Eventually everyone won!

Party prep bags and trophies
Party prep bags and trophies
Racing monster trucks
Racing monster trucks

We hung monster truck wall stickers in the basement staircase. As an activity the kids ran through an obstacle course. They were supposed to be pretending they were monster trucks.

Hall of Monster trucks
Hall of Monster trucks
Obstacle course station
Obstacle course station
Celebrating becoming 3.
Celebrating becoming 3.

The next April birthday was for his mom. We had a nice sushi dinner and cake afterwards.

Haiwon's birthday sushi
Haiwon’s birthday sushi
Birthday cake!
Birthday cake!

Although Clementine’s birthday is in June she has a party a month early for her friends since she and her mom and siblings spend the summer in Korea.
Clementine’s theme was Frozen as she wanted to be Elsa. So her mom bought her the formal Elsa costume and her great aunt Jean bought her a school and playtime Elsa costume and she loved both!

Clementine's play Elsa dress for her party
Clementine’s play Elsa dress for her party

Plates and napkins, banners and balloons, and hallway stickers were Frozen themed. I also used the cricut to make my first layered vinyl design.

Her parents were also Frozen! And the partygoers seemed to be happy even though Grandma and Grandpa (both sets!) we’re away on an Alaskan cruise.

A layered vinyl Elsa
A layered vinyl Elsa my first cricut color layer project
Clementine’s party
Clementine’s party

Preparation for the cruise just included laundry and packing and making our matching shirts for the big day.

T-shirts for our 50th Cricut iron-on
T-shirts for our 50th Cricut iron-on
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Germany at Easter

We always have a wonderful time visiting our daughter’s family in Germany. This year they met us at the Frankfurt train station to tour a few German cities.
We walked to our hotel in Frankfort and the next day we visited Goethe’s childhood home.

Goethe’s childhood library
Goethe’s childhood library

I

The house and gardens were lovely and the family was obviously wealthy. Although they moved from this early home while Goethe was young.
I’m always fascinated by the restored period kitchens. This one had an interesting fire place with an iron top. And there was a well under the house so a gravity pump was installed right in the kitchen.

Plate rack and cookstove
Plate rack and cookstove

The finest antiques were original furnishings. This clock belonged to an uncle but it was the kind of thing that was fascinating and beautiful. The three faces indicated the position of the stars, the time, and the moon phase. An animated bear in the middle will lie down when the clock needs to be rewound. The very top dial showed the year and the date which is amazing all these years later!

Amazing clock belonged to an uncle
Amazing clock belonged to an uncle

It was interesting to see the same families come up again as we visited Hamburg next. We took the train from Frankfurt to Hamburg.

Train station in Hamburg

Our first evening we went to see the Elbephilharmonie. It is a new building for the symphony that has an amazing top floor to view the city and the river.

Elbephilharmonie
Elbephilharmonie
Long escalator in Elbephilharmonie
Long escalator in Elbephilharmonie

We spent over an hour up on the top just enjoying the view and waiting for sunset over the water. It was worth the wait!

Rob and Clare at sunset
Rob and Clare at sunset
Sunset from viewing deck Elbephilharmonie
Sunset from viewing deck Elbephilharmonie

We walked around Hamburg viewing the beautiful city. We all liked Hamburg and it is the city that Clare’s employment has been based so she visits often even though she works from home.

Clare's former office
Clare’s former office
Clare's current office
Clare’s current office

We experienced a lot of Hamburg in a short time. We were within walking distance to the City Hall and the large square it is located on. And we saw it from the pinnacle of the bombed church building.

Rathaus Hamburg
Rathaus Hamburg
Hamburg plaza
Hamburg plaza

As part of the public transportation system, we took a relaxing ferry ride down and back up the Elbe, viewing towns and industry along the harbor way.

Clare admires the view
Clare admires the view
Picturesque river town
Picturesque river town

St. Nicholi church was bombed during WWII. Only the tower remained and it has been preserved as a memorial to all those who died in the bombing. The lower level also survived and it has been converted to a museum commemorating the tragedy of war.

St Nicholai Church tower and ruins
St Nicholai Church tower and ruins
Bells of St. Nicholai
Bells of St. Nicholai

The museum was a tribute to the losses of the bombing and also recreated the church wine cellar.

Confetti dropped to confuse radar
Confetti dropped to confuse radar
Wine pressing and storage
Wine pressing and storage

We also visited the Lutheran Church of St. Michael which was all white inside and found a quaint alley with a bookstore that sold the famous children’s book Struwellpeter about difficult children written in early 1800’s that was re-written as a parody of the bad Adolf Hitler. We bought a translation by Mark Twain and Rob found one written in Korean for the Dibble grandkids.

White rounded Lutheran church.
White rounded Lutheran church.
Struwwelpeter rewritten to mock Hitler
Struwwelpeter rewritten to mock Hitler

We took the train back to Aachen to stop at home for Easter. Rob prepared his traditional hot cross buns for Easter.

Rob’s hot cross buns
Rob’s hot cross buns

The next day we took the train to Bonn to visit Beethovan’s birthplace home. It was another lovely house with loads of Beethoven memorabilia. As his hearing declined he tried every medical intervention they had at the time, even shock treatments, but none were successful. There was an assortment of the ear trumpets he had to amplify tone. And a recording of what tones he had lost so what the fifth symphony sounded like to him. Writing that was an amazing accomplishment.

Favorite portrait of Beethoven holding music
Favorite portrait of Beethoven holding music
Ear Trumpets
Ear Trumpets

We walked to see the streets covered in cherry trees. The blossoms were just beginning to emerge but they were pretty. There was some shopping to be done which meant patient hanging out by some

Cherry blossoms
Cherry blossoms
Enjoying a sit down
Enjoying a sit down

We woke on Easter morning to a bonanza of treats from the Easter bunny and the bakery. And of course a large feast was prepared for the family. Alice did the beer pours of good German beer to accompany our meal.

Easter morning treats
Easter morning treats
Easter Dinner
Easter Dinner

One last evening at the fire pit with the family having snacks and enjoying the fire. The next day we hiked in the nearby forest and were jealous of their early spring. We would return to Denver with still more snowy days before the green started showing.

Firepit fun at the garden house
Firepit fun at the garden house
Early spring walk in the woods
Early spring walk in the woods
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