Sunday, April 29, 2018

Season 2 is coming a little earlier than originally planned

There isn't a video for this post (at least not yet), so don't be surprised if I get a little wordy.  Actually, that's pretty much the normal for me when writing -- deploying superfluous words to convey complex creative thoughts.

First season coming to a close

As I write this, we're approaching our vanniversary.  We rented this 2014 Winnebago Travato from it's original owner about this time last year and ended up purchasing it.  And as you have probably already seen on the rest of this blog, done some upgrades to make it work better for us (otherwise known as "mods").

This next month also brings a change in my wife Crystal's occupation, going from where she's tied to home base, to being able to work from the road as I already do.  I do software development, and she's starting an editor position.  This gives us the flexibility of travelling longer trips that we have up to this point, but also puts the burden on me to finish up a few more mods that I've been lagging behind on.

Data loss is a pain, but also an opportunity

This last week I had an incident -- there was a sudden change in a light, where it went from green to yellow right at the perfect time that I would either end up running it or be forced to slam on the breaks much harder than I like to.  Of course, things went sliding.  My laptop computer, which I normally leave on the dinette so I can just swing around and do some work conveniently when I have a chance, took a tumble.  It's actually perfectly fine, as the only moving parts are a fan (it has an SSD hard drive).  However, I had the 1 terabyte external drive (with old style spinning platters) that I use for storing videos for this blog still plugged into it (which was a really bad idea).  It tumbled to the floor also, and is pretty much a total loss.  I attempted to do a recovery process on it, and discovered that most of the allocation table was inaccessible.  Even though I could see the directory of files I wanted, there was no way to recover their actual contents.  Since either one head or platter was evidently damaged, there's enough holes in any large file to make it pretty much unusable.  So from this I have learned and share 3 pieces of advice:

  1. Always batten the hatches (put everything away, close and latch everything) before taking off.
  2. Always have another backup (don't put all your eggs or files in one basket).
  3. When disaster strikes, make lemonade.  Or hot tea, depending on the weather.
So there will be new music tracks for the next batch of videos.  I have the original logo, but I'm thinking of updating it a bit, maybe some simple animation.  And we'll be doing more travelogue episodes along with the regular fixes and mods.  I'm hoping to enlist some family and friends to help with some of the upcoming videos as well.  Should be interesting, I hope you'll stay tuned!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Better Shower Drain Filter

NOTE: An alternative to this solution has been found:

The shower drain on the Winnebago Travato 59G model is a strange animal.  It drains water to the grey tank, but because of the position of the shower relative to the tank, and the vehicle structure that in the way, a suction pump is used to pull the water out of the drain and send it to the grey tank.  That pump is slightly inconveniently located under the bottom board of the cabinet under the kitchen sink, which generally collects a lot of miscellaneous necessities for travelling, making it difficult to access.

It sounds like this complexity should simply be a managed by an easy flip of the switch to power the pump when you're showering.  However, there are small amounts of clothing fibers and other particulate matter that are washed down to the drain, and these can easily clog a suction pump.  To protect the pump, there is a small mesh filter connected to the pump inlet that strains out the gunk first.  This filter is unfortunately small and full of water when it finally fills up to the point where it no longer drains - which makes for a mess when removing it to clean it out.  The solution to that is to add a filter washer to the drain in the bottom of the shower - but that being even smaller of course ends up needing to be cleaned even more often, and small bits still get past that first filter and end up still clogging the small filter.

I've been thinking for a long time on how to improve this situation.  Ideas I've considered include removing all the filters and taking a chance on the pump clogging, or possibly still working but at a slower rate which would still be acceptable; also reworking the plumbing to bring the drain tube horizontal above the van floor and then into the grey tank, eliminating both the pump and the filters.  Each seem problematic and costly.

Instead, I've come up with an alternative option as at least a temporary measure to reduce the frequency with which the small filter must be cleaned.  This involves adding an additional much larger filter (strainer) before the original one, and thus eliminating the filter washer.  The filter I choose to add is this one:

SHURFLO 1/2" Raw Water Strainer - 50 Mesh Screen

Which is available at the amazon link above, or from other locations at possibly a lower price.  It's not cheap, but it's the largest one that I can find that still has the same 1/2" fittings that all the existing plumbing connections use.  In addition to that, I also picked up a 1/2" nipple (short 2" pipe with threaded male connection on each end) from Home Depot (available at most hardware stores).

This is the video of the installation process, which is fairly simple (remove the input hose from the pump, add the new filter and nipple, and reconnect the input hose):

Replacing the toilet seal

As many have experienced, or rather smelled, the toilet seal on the Thetford toilet can sometimes not work as well as it should, and leak fl...