Monthly Archives: November 2017

Mystery Achievement

The US Postal Service came through and delivered my new pickleball paddle Monday afternoon. I used it on Tuesday and Wednesday and I’m happy with it. The grip is very comfortable. The performance difference between this paddle and my old one is subtle – I expected a greater change. It gives good power and I feel like I have a little more control, but it’s not a night-and-day difference.

New Head pickleball paddle

I crossed a couple more chores off my “to do” list this week. The first thing was addressing our vent fans. After studying the wiring schematic, I saw the power source ran from the fuse box behind the kick panel in front of the passenger seat all the way to the switch on the bathroom wall. It’s a 14-gauge wire with yellow insulation.

Vent fan switch on the right

At one pole of the switch, another yellow wire is crimped to the connector with the power wire and runs back through the wall into the ceiling and goes to the kitchen vent fan switch. The other pole of the switch completes the circuit to the vent fan motor. This explains why both fans quit working at the same time. If current doesn’t reach the bathroom wall switch, then there’s no current going to the kitchen fan switch either.

Looking at the wall switch plate, I couldn’t see any fasteners. I carefully pried the plastic surround cover with a plastic wedge tool and popped the surround off. The surround cover was held to the actual switch plate with four tabs snapped into square holes on the switch plate.

Switch plate screws revealed

With the surround cover off, I saw the screws holding the switch plate to the wall. With these screws removed, I accessed the wiring. I checked the yellow wires on the vent fan switch and found some interesting readings with my multimeter. At first I found about six to eight volts at the switch – meaning I had a large voltage drop from the 13.4 volts at the battery bank. I wiggled the wires and then read zero volts. I pulled the connector off the switch and checked the crimp and wire ends. I followed the wiring and found it coming out of the wall behind the clothes washer in the utility closet. I looked for breaks or abrasions in the wire and found none. I wiggled the wire where it enters the utility closet and pushed it into the wall opening to provide more slack. When I checked with the meter again, I read 13.4 volts.

Yellow vent fan wires on the right

Aha! Something was amiss with the wiring – there must be a break in the strands of wire and I had pushed them back together. The bad news is – the break must be in the section of wire inside the wall. I can’t just pull the wire out of the wall in the utility closet because the bundle of wires runs through plastic support loops every foot or so – including the portion inside the wall. They must have run the wires and secured the loops before the wall panel inside the closet was closed out.

Wiring coming out of the wall in the back of the utility closet

I was stumped. I gave the wires another wiggle test and lost voltage. My thought was to splice into the wires for the bathroom lighting. I could make a short jumper wire and have a power source for the vent fans without running wires the length of the coach. To do this, I needed some 14-gauge wire and piggyback connectors. I put this project on hold to think it over before I bought the supplies and started splicing. I left it with the switch plate off and reconnected the wiring. Later, the fans came on – I had left the switches in the “on” position. I wiggled the wires again. The fans kept running. I left the fans on all day and they worked fine.

Before pickleball on Wednesday, I stopped at the auto parts store in Pacific Beach. I picked up some yellow 14-gauge wire and splice connectors. I also bought brake fluid for the Spyder. When I came home, I wiggled the wires again and the fans still worked. I decided to hold off on splicing into the other power supply wire and I put the switchplate and surround back together. I don’t like mystery fixes – I’m thinking some time down the road the wire will open again and the fans will lose power. I’ll wait until this happens before I splice the wires – I have what need to do it when the time comes.

Next on my list was the brake fluid level on the Spyder. Can-Am did some weird things when they designed the Spyder. The brake fluid is contained in a two-chamber reservoir with tubing supplying fluid to the master cylinder and hydraulic system. Vehicle master cylinders are dual acting mechanisms. There are separate circuits – in this case one circuit operates the rear brake and a second circuit operates the front brakes. Separating the hydraulics into two circuits adds a margin of safety. This is common practice on cars. Some cars – mostly European – take this approach to the next level by separating the circuits into a right front – left rear and left front – right rear  to give greater braking control in the event of failure of one of the circuits.

Having separate front and rear circuits is all well and good on the Spyder design. The Spyder also has a fluid level sensor in the brake fluid reservoir. But the thing is, the sensor is way too sensitive. The slightest drop in fluid level triggers a brake warning light and the message “Brake Failure” flashes on the dash panel. It’s normal for the fluid level to drop slightly as the brake pads wear. The wear of the pads is taken up by the pistons in the caliper extending further in their bores. This creates more fluid volume in the caliper and it’s drawn out of the reservoir. On the Spyder, the brake fluid reservoir must be periodically topped up to avoid the dire “Brake Failure” warnings.

To make matters worse, they put the brake fluid reservoirs under the seat. The seat can be raised to access the reservoirs and battery, but it only raises a short distance – maybe a 30 degree angle – before it hits the stop.

This is the fully raised seat angle

The geniuses that designed the Spyder put the reservoirs at the back of the seat near the pivot point. There’s no way to get even the smallest brake fluid container in there to fill the reservoir. I poured a small amount of fluid into the bottle cap and added fluid one capfull at a time.

Nice place to put the reservoir

Last time I did this, I used a small syringe, but I didn’t have a clean syringe to use this time. Anyway, it’s job done. No more warning messages.

It’s time to head out and use my new paddle at the Pacific Beach Recreation Center. Earlier this week the forecast called for rain on Friday. Now the weather guessers say there’s only a 10 percent chance of rain through the weekend. Maybe we’ll play pickleball in Ocean Beach tomorrow.

 

Not So Prime Time

We had visitors Friday morning. Tom and Kris Downey came by. They live in Indio now, near Palm Springs. They were on the road for about three years, but sold their rig and bought a small house. We visited for a while and took a walk around the point to see the bay and De Anza Cove. Kris was happy to see the water and seemed to miss their time spent here.

We piled into their car and drove to Ocean Beach for fish tacos at South Beach Bar and Grill on Newport Avenue near the pier. They have some of the best fish tacos around. We forgot about the long weekend due to Veteran’s Day – the beach area was crowded, traffic moved slowly, and we were lucky to find a parking spot. We all ordered the mahi-mahi tacos and had an enjoyable lunch before they had to head for home.

I crossed off another item on my “to do” list on Friday afternoon. The rear brake on the Spyder was noisy and the parking brake release was hanging up – making it difficult to release the parking brake. It’s hard to see the inner brake pad, but it appeared to be worn thin. I ordered replacement pads and picked them up on Thursday. On Friday afternoon, I got started on the job. The new pads came with new caliper mounting bolts and circlips – a nice touch. The caliper mounting bolts double as pins holding the brake pads in place and need to be secured on the back side with the circlips.

Brake pad kit

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again. I really dislike working on the Spyder. It was designed for ease of manufacturing without much regard for serviceability. I’d really like to get my hands on the engineer that came up with the rear brake caliper set up. To replace the pads without completely removing the caliper and putting it on a bench requires a lot of patience. In hindsight, I should have removed the rear wheel first, but I wanted to avoid doing that because that would entail setting up the belt drive adjustment when I put it back on. I got it done, but it wasn’t as easy as it could have been and involved a few choice words along the way.

After that job, I was ready for a cold one so I hit the Offshore Tavern and Grill. At this time of year, we often have overcast mornings which clear up before thin clouds return in the late afternoon. The thin clouds make fiery sunsets.

Sunset from the Offshore Tavern and Grill

Friday night Donna prepared fennel-crusted porterhouse pork loin chop, acorn squash and roasted brussel sprouts for dinner. She’s sticking to her plan of high protein, low fat and low carb diet. My weight seems to be pretty steady – I might be slowly losing a few pounds. She feeds me larger portions than she’s eating. She actually skipped the squash.

Fennel-crusted pork chop with roasted brussel sprouts and acorn squash

On Saturday evening, we had another visitor. Our friend Mona came by and she brought goodies. She brought along ceviche from the Blue Water Seafood Grill and Market which we snacked on with tortilla chips. It was delicious. She also brought a steelhead filet which I grilled. Mona is allergic to cats, so she and Donna spent the evening outside chatting, huddled under blankets. We met Mona here at Mission Bay RV Park the first year we were here and have been fast friends ever since.

Steelhead filet

Over the weekend, I tried to trace the electrical fault in our vent fans. The Fantastic Fans quit working. It seems like I have a poor connection at the toilet fan switch. The circuit runs power to that switch and from there goes to the kitchen fan switch. I need to remove the switch plate and look at the wiring. The problem is, the switch plate appears to be glued to the wall. There aren’t any visible fasteners. I’ll have to carefully separate the plate from the wallpaper to avoid unsightly damage. I’ll try to get to that today.

I’m heading to Ocean Beach for pickleball this morning. I’m a little irritated with Amazon. Last Wednesday, November 8th, I ordered a new pickleball paddle. With my Prime account it was supposed to arrive in two days. I received the order confirmation and tracking info. The tracking info has been erratic. First it showed the item due to arrive on Saturday. Then on Saturday it said it was delayed. Then it said it would arrive on Sunday – it showed it shipped on Saturday. Now it says it will arrive today – Monday, November 13th. What happened to Prime two-day shipping? I’ll chalk it up to Amazon relying on the US Postal Service for delivering the paddle.

The weather has been holding steady and it looks like we can expect more of the same in the coming week. Daily highs are around 70 degrees with night time lows around 60. That’s winter in San Diego.

 

*Just so you know, if you follow one of my links to Amazon and decide to purchase anything, you pay the same price as usual and  I’ll earn a few pennies for the referral. It’ll go into the beer fund. Thanks!

Lazing on a Sunny Afternoon

Here we are at the end of another week already. The time just flies by here at Mission Bay RV Resort. Donna is staying busy with her early morning workouts and putting in time at her computer getting writing assignments done. I spend about two or three hours a day on the pickleball courts at Pacific Beach Recreation Center or Ocean Beach Recreation Center. This usually wears me out and I come home and relax with a book and maybe take a short nap after lunch.

We started the week with Donna grilling a pork tenderloin on the Weber Q. Donna likes grilling on the Weber Q2200 – it used to be strictly my domain. She put together a nice presentation with a medley of pork medallions and yam slices, served with spaghetti squash on the side.

Pork tenderloin medallions and sliced yam

She also picked up a nice IPA bomber bottle for me made by Mission Brewery here in San Diego. Mission is a well established brewery near Petco Park. New breweries keep popping up in the county – I read an article that stated there are now about 150 breweries in San Diego county. There are a lot of people in California, but I have to wonder how many breweries are sustainable.

Mission Brewery IPA

Tuesday evening we rode with Sini to our friend Mona’s house for dinner. We met Mona’s friend, Dan. Dan made a big spaghetti dinner. He’s also a pickleball player and we talked about the game. It was an enjoyable evening and dinner. He made it to OBRC on Wednesday and we played a couple of games together. Donna played on Wednesday as well.

Donna and Sini preparing a salad at Mona’s house

With all this playing and lazing around, my “to do” list is growing.  Wednesday I knocked one item off the list.  Donna mentioned that the dryer seemed to be taking a long time to dry clothes. I pulled everything out of the utility closet and cleaned the dryer vent hose. Over time, lint builds up and impedes the flow of air through the dryer.

Dryer vent hose

Next on the list is to fix the Fantastic Fans. Both vent fans quit working. They are on a common circuit so I’ll start by going to the fuse panel. I also need to replace the rear brake pads on the Spyder. I ordered new brake pads and picked them up at Fun Bike Center in Kearny Mesa yesterday.

On the way back from Kearny Mesa, I made the usual Thursday afternoon happy hour stop at Dan Diego’s. Here’s another colorful sunset photo from the parking lot at Dan Diego’s.

Sunset over the bay

The weather has been pleasant – partly cloudy with highs in the low to mid 70s. The week ahead is forecast to be slightly cooler with upper 60s to low 70s. I’m not complaining though.

 

Another Day in Paradise

Thursday was another day in paradise – nothing unusual to report. In the evening, we had a breeze blowing from the west. The onshore flow held a line of cloud cover right at the coastline. Donna and I walked to the west end of Mission Bay RV Resort to watch a spectacular sunset.

Thursday’s sunset

The setting sun reflected off the dark clouds and revealed many colors. Donna topped off the evening by preparing a new dish – tarragon and lemon roast chicken with fennel. Delicious!

Tarragon roast chicken with lemon and fennel – green beans, acorn squash and quinoa on the side

I don’t play pickleball on Friday usually, but since I took Tuesday off, Donna and I headed over to the Ocean Beach Recreation Center (OBRC) Friday morning. They have pickleball scheduled at OBRC Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings starting at 10am. Donna hasn’t been on the court since we were in Santa Fe but she played well and we had fun.

Speaking of fun, we met up with our friends from Arizona, Keith and Suzanne Gallaway at Offshore Tavern and Grill for happy hour and dinner. We enjoyed visiting over a beer and ordered food from their appetizer menu. The appetizers at Offshore are large portions and easily make a meal. Keith and I each had the poke plate while Donna went for the seared yellowfin tuna over salad and Suzanne had the housemade Offshore mac and cheese. The Gallaways treated us to dinner – thanks again!

We made arrangements to meet again Saturday morning. They’re here looking at an RV for sale – a 2004 Alpine Coach 36MDDS. Since I know a thing or two about Alpine Coaches, they asked me if I would look it over. We met at 10am at Campland by the Bay where the coach is being stored. This particular coach was built late in the 2004 model year run and has many 2005 features. After going through the systems and kicking the tires, Keith took it out for a test drive. In my opinion, it’s a solid coach. I think they’ll negotiate with the seller. I wish I’d taken a few pictures, but I was busy looking at things and thinking about it.

I came home around 11:30am. While I was out, Donna borrowed Sini’s car and went up to San Diego State University and picked up our granddaughter, Lainey. They were in the coach when I returned. Keith and Suzanne stopped by for a short visit, then I rode the Spyder to Lanna Thai to pick up take-out for lunch. We enjoyed the Thai food at our picnic table. It was a beautiful day with the temperature in the low 70s and nice to be visiting with Lainey.

Donna and Lainey took the Spyder to the beach and kicked around while I stayed home and read a book. We had pizza from Mountain Mike’s for dinner before Donna used Sini’s car again to drop Lainey off back at the campus.

I did one other thing this weekend. On Thursday night, Sini stopped by to chat over a glass of wine. She mentioned that she wanted get a pair of western boots and had been looking at the Tecovas site. She and Donna had a conversation about women’s styles and boots. I got to thinking – always a dangerous thing. It’s been a few years since I’ve bought something really special for Donna.

I quizzed her a bit about her thoughts on women’s boots and had her look at the Tecovas site. She didn’t want a short boot or one with tall heels and that’s all they had for women. So, I directed her to the Lucchese site. She found a couple she really liked. The next day she was looking at them again and decided she would really like to have a pair of Lucchese Women’s Tall Riding boots. They are high-quality hand-made full-grain calfskin boots. The heels are roper type – only one inch high while the riding shafts are 16 inches tall.

Picture taken from Lucchese.com

I can’t surprise her with them as a Christmas gift – these boots are made to order and I needed to get on it if I wanted them by Christmas. That meant I had to trace her foot and take measurements. So, she knows I’ve ordered the boots and I hope they are finished and shipped by Christmas.

The skies are mostly cloudy this morning, but I think it’s going to burn off and we’ll have a mostly sunny afternoon. Another day in paradise!

Dieting by Default

We’ve been at Mission Bay RV Resort in San Diego for two weeks now and are settling into our routines. Due to Halloween activities, the recreation center in Ocean Beach was closed on Friday and Monday, so I had a break from pickleball. Donna has been working out with an early morning boot camp near here on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday and with a personal trainer on Thursday.

With no pickleball action on Monday, I made myself useful and changed the engine oil and filter, transmission filter and the air filter element on the Spyder. It was due for service and I’m happy to put that behind me. This is always a tougher chore and takes longer than expected because I have to remove so much body work to access the engine area. The high on Monday was only 68 degrees.

Tuesday was another cool day and it rained in the morning. The roads were very wet all morning, so I decided not to ride the Spyder to the Pacific Beach Recreation Center for pickleball. I stayed inside and had a lazy day reading a book. I got out in the late afternoon though. Part of my San Diego routine is to join the Bay Park guys at Offshore Tavern and Grill or Dan Diego’s for happy hour. We hit Dan Diego’s on Monday and Thursday, Offshore on Tuesday and Friday.

I received another delivery from Tecovas – I had taken my Ariat boots to Buffalo Exchange and sold them. Buffalo Exchange is a used clothing outlet that buys apparel that’s trendy and in good condition. The boots were like new. Now that I made room in my closet, I replaced them with a pair of boots from Tecovas – I wrote about that company in an earlier post.

The new boots are made from exotic leather – they’re lizard skin. The vamps (the part that covers your foot) are made from Varanus salvator – water monitor lizard skin. The water monitor – sometimes called a ring lizard – is the second largest lizard on the planet. Only the Komodo dragon – another monitor – is larger. The water monitor is from Asia and the average length of the reptile is about five feet although there are records of water monitors twice that size.

Most lizard skin boots are made from teju lizards. These lizards are smaller and the vamp usually requires more than one skin to be sewn together. Tecovas uses the water monitor skin so they can create one-piece vamps. The shafts – the vertical portion around your ankle and calf – are made from hand-stitched calfskin.

Tecovas Nolan lizard skin boots

Donna asked how many pair of boots I need – the answer is always just one more! I’m through buying boots for now though – five pairs is my limit due to space requirements.

Donna is following a diet recommended by her personal trainer that’s high in protein, and low in carbohydrates and fats. Although I may stray from her diet a bit at lunch time, I’m pretty much eating what she serves, so I’m kind of on the program as well. This doesn’t mean we don’t eat well.

Monday she prepared tortilla crusted tilapia with baked acorn squash and green beans. A dollop of salsa enhanced the flavor of the fish.

Tortilla crusted tilapia with salsa

Our friend Sini Schmitt got back in town Monday evening. Her coach has been here in a site down the way from us, but she was off on an adventure in Key West followed by another in northern California. She joined us for dinner on Wednesday night. Donna served spice chicken with Moroccan herb dressing with sides of spaghetti squash and roasted tomatoes.

Spice chicken with Moroccan herb dressing

We had a sudden rain shower last night. The sound of rain drops drumming on the roof woke me. I don’t think it lasted very long – I’m not sure because I drifted off back to sleep. Rain during the night time hours is okay – the forecast looks dry today. I’ll head over to Pacific Beach and drop Donna off at the gym while I play pickleball this morning. The weather looks to remain cool for next several days with overnight lows around 60 degrees and daytime highs of about 70.