Today’s fixes to this old Winnebago

Real quick background. Our RV refrigerator, the Dometic RM2612 runs on AC Power or Propane. It involves witchcraft and physics, but it makes stuff cold. Pretty much right from the get-go the self-igniter for the Propane died. Then in Phoenix when it was 115F we learned it can’t keep up with that and we lost all our food. Since then it had seemed to just not be getting cold enough. While we were in Albuquerque we took it to Camping World to get a tune-up.

After four hours, the Technician at Camping world said the igniter and the lower board were bad. I had figured this going to into it. He said they don’t make the lower boards anymore. I asked him if there were 3rd party boards. He said, there are for the Norcolds, but Dometic is a Swedish company and they keep every secret. He then said the guy in the store would give us a deal on a drop-in replacement. ($1000 or so). They did clean the flu in the unit and when lit manually it was working way better, but it still needed the new board or if it ever blew out then propane would still be flowing and it would not relight.

Here’s the deal. Bill is either ignorant or the Camping World was trying to rip me off. It took me about 2 minutes on their free wifi to see that the dometic boards are widely available and that there is even a 3rd Party board with some improvements from Dinosaur Electronics.

I explained this to Bill, the Service Rep Jeanne and the parts guy. They all seemed shocked since they couldn’t find one. They sent us on our way with a free cleaning. I then called Jack Sisemore’s Traveland in Amarillo, TX. They had the Dinosaur Electronics board and the reigniter in stock! I paid them right over the phone to hold them for me.

Today I installed both pieces, took me about 30 minutes to remove the old ones and install the new. Refrigerator is now working awesome, automatically switches back and forth from AC to Propane. We’re happy!

If you’re older Dometic RM2612 is limping along, get the flu cleaned and have the lower board tested. There is a service manual in PDF on the web if you want to do the tests yourself. Its pretty easy with a multimeter.


Fantastic Vent Installed

Fantastic Vent model 8000We bought this vent at Camping World outside of Portland and have been driving around with it sitting in its box since then.  Its a drop-in replacement for the vent the bathroom which also the only manual roof vent in the motorhome. There used to be a fantastic vent with a built-in fan in our motorhome (there are manuals for it), but for some reason it had been replaced over the years with a crappy non-fan one. Because there had been one in the past though the install was super easy as the wiring was already available in the ceiling and these things just drop right in to the 14″x14″ vent hole which is standard on all motorhomes.

While I was up there I slathered some Dicor Lap Sealant on a bunch of spots we think could leak and I spent about two hours cleaning regular house caulk on top of tree-sap on top of old sealant that was all around the skylight in our shower. I was able to clean it all up back to the original, still maleable sealant, and with the fresh coating that sylight seems to be water tight. It rained a few hours later, so hopefully that didn’t mess anything up. Nothing leaked though!

Chitwoodville, Arizona – AKA The Surface of the Sun

Chitwood and PeaWe left Calistoga and decided to skip Hearst Castle as I was antsy to start heading East. So, we headed for Phoenix, AZ to see the Chitwoods. I’ve known Matt AKA T.O.M. AKA The Original Matt since I was in 3rd grade and lived at 865 Lafayette Drive, Mt. Laurel, NJ. Without a doubt Chitwood is the person who I’ve known the longest. His parents also live in Phoenix and I really wanted to see his mom as well.

It took two days to get to Phoenix which let us have our first ONP experience (Overnight Parking) at a WalMart in San Bernadino. It was definitely not glamorous, but it was convenient and just what we needed. Sleep. No fees. The next day we drove on to Phoenix and with every passing desert mile it was clear we were approaching the center of the sun. It ended up being a record 115F in Phoenix that day!!! Did I mention the engine based AC in our motorhome doesn’t work?!?! We tried to run the overhead AC, which means running the generator as we drive, but it couldn’t even put a dent in the heat.

Matt and his wife Anne were kind enough to put us up for the night in their air conditioned guest room. Anne made an awesome pasta dinner, we met their kids Allison, Ryan and Jacob who I’d never met. Mom made a stop in, which was awesome. And even Matt’s little sister Susie was ther with her two kids and one on the way were in attendance. It was great to catch up with old friends and see how well they were doing.

With the heat-wave in the SW going to continue until the rapture, we bailed on our plans to go to Roswell, NM. The RV just can’t deal with the heat and neither can we! It was so friggin’ hot the referigerator couldn’t keep up either and we lost all of the food. Luckily the refrigerator isn’t that big and the freezer did ok. So, after a great healthy mediteranean lunch at Pita Jungle (horrible name) with Matt, we immediately headed North to the cooler highter de of Flagstaff AZ.

Thanks again to Matt and Anne for a great visit!

Land Yacht Tracking Engage screenshot


Thanks to the miracle of Ham Radio, we have the Land Yacht Tracker setup finally.  You can go to the page and seach for W7PEA-9 or use the LandYacht Tracker link on the homepage and you will see the last position report sent as well as a trail showing our route. We only turn this on when we’re driving, so not seeing new information posted does not mean anything bad has happened, just that its off or we’re camped somewhere!

Enjoy stalking us!


For more on all this, follow my HAM Radio blog – W7PEA

Wine with Matty

Matty is the CWO, Chief Wine Officer, aboard Deep Playa and planned out an entire day and a half trip in wine country California. He had already planned to be in town on a Wednesday for work so he drove up to Sonoma where we met him and visited our first winery, Hanzell. The next day we had a full itinerary:

Hanzell is absolutely gorgeous and our host Zakk, who happened to be a Burner, was very funny and gracious in answering Dawn and my rudimentary questions. The tour of the property was amazing. We happened to visit while estate workers were ‘netting’ the vines to keep the birds from stealing the precious crop. It is always nice to witness the wine making process first-hand so we can learn. In particular, Zakk happily geeked out and educated us on soil composition, how the age of the vines changes the characteristics of the wine and how the vines are trimmed and shaped to protect and encourage the grapes to yield their best. Of the wines we tasted, I really liked the Chardonnay. It had a very big mouth feel for a white, something I like in my reds. I’m probably not explaining this correctly, but I believe this is due to the controlled secondary fermentation process used at Hanzell, which produces a very viscous and creamy mouth feel. This controlled fermentation was invented at Hanzell in the 1960s. If I got that right, Zakk gets the credit, if I got it wrong, blame me.

At Chateua Montelena, the vineyard famous for producing the Chardonnay that took first price at the 1976 Paris Tasting. Which put Californian wines on the map and raised its reputation around the world. We were lucky enough to meet with Jeff Adams, the director of marketing at Montelena. He gave a beautiful tour of the vineyard and private residence and we able to taste their Estate wines. Along the tour, we even bumped into and were introduced to Bo Barret!! He was quick with a funny quip about the movie featuring him and his wines (Bottle Shock). It was very nice of him to stop and take a second to say hello. The Chardonnay at Montelena was interesting because they do not intervene during the fermenation process as they do at Hanzell. They allow the natural fermentation to occur and let nature take care of the rest. It was very delicious, but so much different. I could feel my wine education beginning! The Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and Henzell Chard would be great to taste side by side, but unfortunately, we downed the bottle we bought the night before. Our favorite red we tried was the 2005 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. It was a very big wine and had a nice smooth mellow finish on the pallete. This wine also has opportunity to mature even further as it ages. I hope Matty has some of these in his cellar!

We had some time before our appointment at Charles Krug, so we ran down the road to Inglenook. Inglenook is both famous for its history, its wines and its owner, Francis Ford Copolla. The property is straight out of the movies. It was stunning with lots of old world charm and sweeping views of the valley. We went here principally to look around the grounds, but we also drank a bottle of Edzionne Zinfadel, a wine we were familiar with. We enjoyed the film exihibits in the Chateau with a glass of wine… heaven!

The next in the massive lineup was Charles Krug. It is a special vineyard for me because Matty has been kind enough to share some of his older bottles when we went to dinner for my bachelor party. I was very excited to visit the tasting room. We did a very thorough tasting and in all honesty, I had to stop and dine on some water crackers and water several times because I was getting pallet fatigue and wasn’t getting the same signals everyone else was getting. Throughout the day I learned that my pallet may not be ready for tanins and I definitely was learning that at Krug as well. Our host was even nice enough to warn me at one point about a wine she referred to as ole’ Tannin-bomb. ;-) We did buy a bottle of the Zinfandel Port. We do like ports, and this was so unique we had to have on for our RoadTrip this summer.

Finally we visited Keever Vineyards, our host Ashley was the nicest person and I felt more like we were getting a tour of her family’s passion and being invited into their home than a place of business. The tasting and tour at Keever were combined and we we able to linger more with each glass as we toured the production facility, the cave and the property. Much like Zakk and Jeff, Ashley indulged our questions and rolled with out jokes. At the end we all sat in the entrance lounge for a while as she and Dawn discussed different health topics and Matty and I plotted how many bottles of Keever’s Inspirado we would buy! Many of the wines we tasted throughout the day were really glimpses into the wine making process and were meant to be stored for several years. Keever’s Inspirado was ready to drink now, but could be cellered for some time as well. I wish we could have bought a case and watched it evolve over time. Since we’ll be keeping ours in the barely temperature controlled Land Yacht we’ll be enjoying our bottle much sooner than that!

Thank you so much to Matty, and the friends he hit up for favors, for making our first wine tasting in California so magical. We will definitely be back and we can’t wait!

Redwoods and San Francisco

We spent a couple of days enjoying the Redwoods. That allowed Dawn to go on a run through the trees and for us to take what amounted to a 20 mile round trip bike ride on the Avenue of the Giants with three pretty steep climbs on the way back. I would have been happy on my old race bike from college, on these beach cruisers we have it was pretty much a death march. I was VERY happy to see the RV Park come into view because I was dead and I actually thought we had another climb to go. I did survive and Dawn was happy to go on a bike ride.

Next we made a quick stop in Santa Rosa, CA home of the Russian River Brewery. They don’t have a tour but they have our favorite beer, Pliny the Elder! They also have an amazing sampler tray of 22 different beers! Dawn and I split that and Pliny was still our favorite. For our Settle Pliny brethren, Pliny is $4.50 a bottle in CA not the $8.50 I remember paying in Seattle!

We visited with Zander and Gwen in Sausalito and met their beautiful daughter Decima. We’d never been able to stop in Sausalito on the way down in Deep Playa, so a Land Yacht visit was a nice consolation. Now I really wish we’d stopped by, the anchorage along Sausalito would have been very cozy! We spent a day seeing the sites in SF. Coit Tower, Long Now Foundation, Fisherman’s Wharf, Aquatic Park Museum all on foot! It was a good day of walking. We then walked back to SOMA and met up with Brady and Mollie at Brady’s new loft. Absolutely amazing space Brady is well setup!

Next Stop Oakland to see Paul and Erin originally hailing from Seattle, but Paul is now a shipwright in Oakland working on wooden boats. We met at Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon home to Jack London and sailors of all kinds. Paul and Erin are doing great and it was good to catch-up with old sailor\drinking buddies.

While in Oakland, I also made a stop at Ham Radio Outlet and got the rest of the gear for the radio in the Land Yacht. I’ll save that for the W7PEA Blog.

The Bay Area was great and we were lucky to meet so many friends, next stop Wine Country.

Back in Charleston, Oregon… Again

Patrick and I have a running joke about Coos Bay, Oregon…It is an old Native American term meaning “come here and fix shit”.   About this time last year, we sailed into Charleston’s port and across the Coos Bay bar with the intent of getting Deep Playa’s leaky fuel tank repaired as soon as possible and quickly return to our trip south to Mexico.  Well things didn’t move along as quickly as we had hoped and we spent a month here….yes, a month.  Don’t get me wrong, we tried to leave, on a few occasions.  One of our attempts to leave resulted in having Deep Playa towed by Boat US across the bar and onto Charleston’s vagrant dock after we boiled our starting battery (big ooooopsey).   So, after almost a year since leaving Charleston, we became nostalgic to return in our Land Yacht on our way to California.  And of course, as to be expected, we experienced a problem with the land yacht and had to stop in Coos Bay to fix a screeching alternator belt.

We decided to pull into Charleston’s Oceanside RV Park, located behind Bastendorff Beach, which is one of my favorite beaches in the world!  This was one of my favorite running destinations last year so coming back here is very exciting for me.  Since Pea and I both own bicycles this year, my new ride is in the pic, I am finally able to show Pea all of the cool places I visited while on my long distance running escapades.   By the way, my running legs are definitely in need of some hours of training on the bike.  The hill up Bastendorff Drive and Coos Head Road did me in and I had to push my bike up the hill.  It was pitiful.

Land Yacht Ocean View RV Park

Land Yacht parked at Oceanside RV Park in Charleston, Oregon

My new ride

My *awesome* new ride.

The beach is so close we can hear the distant eerie whistles and muffled bells of the channel buoys in the bar entrance.  Hearing these sounds brings me back to last year when we were crossing the bar on Deep Playa in pitch dark and fog without our iPad as a cockpit navigational aid.  The bells and whistles seem so much louder and recognizable then they did that night.  I am thoroughly enjoying the contrast in perspective that I am experiencing this year compared to last year.  The status of the sea state, weather, boat projects and storms have all taken a back seat this year and, man… are we waaaaaaay more relaxed.  Smile

We are enjoying the relaxed and quiet RV park today and finishing up some projects on the land yacht.  Tonight we took a long walk on the beach to watch some surfers and doggies playing in the surf.  We are missing surfing something fierce but I don’t have the urge to get into the 52.2 degree Fahrenheit water (I Googled it) and freeze my booty off.

Pea on Bastendorff

Pea walking on Bastendorff Beach

Running Surfer

Surfer running into *not* too much surf…sorry dude.  Note the full head to toe dry suit he is wearing.  COLD!!!

Rocks on Bastendorff Beach (2)

Little inlet.  Look at those beautiful colors and contrasting light and darks.  Love it.

Hardy SUPpers

This dude is not wearing anything but his board shorts!  Hardy people these Pacific Northwesterners…or just crazy.  I am wearing a sweatshirt and sweatpants while on the beach taking this pic.

It is soooo magical here and it makes my heart and soul very happy.   I <3 Oregon Coast beaches.

Shower Repair

I mentioned the shower drain was leaking. Turned out the floor in the shower flexed enough to break the p-trap (no, not a pea trap) under the shower. We replaced the p-trap a few days ago and today I cut the 3/4″ plywood strips to firm up the floor in the shower. They are tensioned pretty good and I put some liquid nails on it as well. I think it will hold forever. No idea why it wasn’t built this way in the first place. :-/

Now the shower floor feels solid and the p-trap should be protected from being damaged again.

Winnebago Shower Repair

For any of you doing this kind of thing, be sure not to block your access to the p-trap or wiring when you put the boards in. Also, its very likely I now have a high spot in the shower, so we may have to sponge up or squeegee up water after our showers which doesn’t run down the drain. Not that a big deal, we never level the rig anyway. pow!