Counting Down

Current Location: Nashville KOA, Nashville, Tennessee

We’re counting down the days until we leave on Saturday to head west. Malcolm’s been fairly busy at work and his newest co-worker in his area is down in Alabama getting last-minute information from Malcolm’s other co-worker that is leaving the company (the same day we leave to go out west). That leaves the one new co-worker all the responsibility of handling software issues. Malcolm has pledged evening email response support to help the new co-worker get his job done.

Last night, we went back over to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream shop and tried some of the excellent ice cream they have there. They have all kinds of unique flavors. The small is $5 and is two smallish scoops in a cup. You can add toppings and other items, but we took ours plain. It was a little pricey, but it was a fun outing.

The flavors at Jeni's

The flavors at Jeni’s

One idea we’ve been rolling around for a few weeks now is replacing the TV in our bedroom with shelves to display items such as the painted horses that Malcolm has to pack away every time we move (we rarely even get them out any more to save time). We purchased a shelving unit we liked a few weeks ago, but returned it because it was two to three inches too long for the space.

We decided on different shelves in the same style to put over the dresser but couldn’t find them at any of the local Lowe’s stores. Malcolm noticed that one of the stores showed several in stock so we drove over last night and discovered they didn’t have any. We decided to buy the original shelves and cut them down to size, instead. Since it was late when we got in, we waited until today to work on that.

We took the TV and the backer board down and mounted the new (and 2″ shorter) shelves in its place. It really works well in the space. Malcolm put a few of his newer horse models on a shelf to see how they’d look. We plan on mounting those and the four that we have still packed away onto the shelves with command strips so that they won’t slide around and we won’t have to re-pack them every time.

New shelves

New shelves

With the shelves out of the way, Malcolm climbed up onto the roof to inspect our rear air conditioner. It has been blowing out musty air lately. He found that the way the drain is designed allows a little water to remain around the bottom of the coils where the fan pulls air in from the trailer. This allows the water to gradually turn green and start smelling.

Malcolm couldn’t really clean the catch tray out, but he did gently brush off any debris from both sides of the coils and put everything back together. He also bumped the trailer level over towards the off-door side a bit (where the drain exits the coil area of the A/C) to see if that would help it drain out a little better. We’ll see. Meanwhile, we’ll probably pump a little bleach up into the drain pan to see if that will help clean out the mildew.

Busy and Fun Weekend

Current Location: Nashville KOA, Nashville, Tennessee

On Friday, Malcolm ended up leaving the office about an hour early. When he arrived back at the KOA, he found Val still finishing up laundry, so he stopped in to say “Hi”, then back to the trailer to change clothes before walking back over to the laundry/office. We chatted for a bit with the managers of the KOA, Fred and Jen. They’re both great folks and really take care of all of us here. They recommended we try the new pizza place up the road called “Pie Five”, so that’s where we ended up for dinner.

Pie Five

Pie Five

There was a decent line at the restaurant, but it was Friday at dinner time and it is a new restaurant. Once we got up to the corner to order, we specified the type of crust and toppings we wanted on our pizzas and they made them up right there. Then, they put them in the oven. The “five” part refers to the fact that the pizzas cook in only five minutes. So, by the time we got to the end of the counter and paid for our food, the pizzas were ready. They were very tasty.

Yummy

Yummy

Saturday started off with us getting ready for the Chili Cook-off here at the KOA. Malcolm tossed together what he ended up calling a Cajun Tex-Mex chili. Aside from most of the typical chili ingredients, he tossed in a pound of Andouille sausage and a can of diced tomatoes with green chilies. For seasonings, he just used a box of Carroll Shelby’s chili seasonings. Malcolm got it all started on the stove then we transferred it to the crock pot so we could run out to do a couple errands.

Once we got back, Malcolm added a couple cans of beans and another can of tomatoes since it was a bit spice-heavy. We carried the crock pot down to the main building. There were five total entries. They set out small cups so that everyone could try a sample of each chili and then vote on their favorite. We were pleasantly surprised to find out we won. We got a free t-shirt from the store. We picked a Nashville one to use in our t-shirt quilt next year.

The hungry crowd gathers

The hungry crowd gathers

The entries and judges

The entries and judges

After the big win, we carried everything back to the trailer and relaxed most of the afternoon. We ended up going out to dinner. We had planned on something over at Opry Mills, but a large crowd was gathering for the Grand Ole Opry concert, so we avoided that area and just ended up at the Cracker Barrel. Later we went out for ice cream, driving over to east Nashville to Jeni’s Ice Cream, but it was super crowded and it was nearly 9:00 PM, so we stopped by a McDonalds and just got cheap cones.

Today, Malcolm woke up with a headache, so we decided to forgo church. Instead, once we got moving and out the door, we ran a couple errands and ended up eating lunch at Famous Dave’s. After that, we headed right up the street to visit The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s Home. We won’t go into many details since you can always read about it elsewhere. Instead, Malcolm took a few pictures to share:

The entry

The entry

The garden

The garden

Front of the house

Front of the house

Bells for service

Bells for service

Rear of the house

Rear of the house

The spring house

The spring house

Andrew Jackson's original home here, subsequently turned into slave quarters

Andrew Jackson’s original home here, subsequently turned into slave quarters

View of the house from way out

View of the house from way out

Horse-drawn wagon tour (we decided to forgo it this time)

Horse-drawn wagon tour (we decided to forgo it this time)

Back of the home

Back of the home

Scenic shot of the side of the house from the garden

Scenic shot of the side of the house from the garden

Interesting flowers in the garden

Interesting flowers in the garden

Andrew Jackson and his wife buried here

Andrew Jackson and his wife buried here

After we left The Hermitage, we stopped by Opry Mills and walked around the outside of the Grand Ole Opry and did a little shopping in the gift shop. We also stopped long enough for a photo op or two.

Grand Ole Opry

Grand Ole Opry

Photo op

Photo op

After the photo tour, we ended up walking around inside Opry Mills mall and picked up a couple things we had on our shopping list. We ended up the evening with dinner at Dave and Busters, then headed back to the trailer. Once back, Malcolm remembered he wanted to wash the trailer this weekend after the rain was done, so he did that as the sun was setting, getting done just before it got too dark to see what he was doing.

Earlier in the week, we mentioned moving a bunch of stuff out of the trailer into the back of the truck. Here is a picture of the three totes where everything is stored. The second pictures shows how the cover is pulled back once notch like it is when we are pulling the trailer. The boxes sit on a couple strips of the horse stall mat that Malcolm had cut up to make landing pads.

Three boxes

Three boxes

With the cover in "tow position"

With the cover in “tow position”

Tomorrow it’s back to work for Malcolm. We pull out this coming Saturday to head west for a four week journey to and from Washington. We can’t wait!

 

Just Everyday Stuff

Current Location: Nashville KOA, Nashville, Tennessee

Pretty much life as normal this week. Malcolm has been working each day and Val takes care of errands such as shopping and laundry. We’ve done a couple maintenance items to the trailer – Malcolm finally got the front cap clearance lights properly wired up. He had done a temporary job with the wiring to get past Texas inspection. Now, everything is buttoned up inside the cap like it should be.

We’ve been moving some things from the trailer to three big heavy-duty covered totes in the bed of the truck. Mostly from the “tool shed” under the front of the trailer, but also some items from the basement. That managed to free up most of the front area and cleared out about 1 1/2 totes underneath in the basement. Malcolm estimates it probably transferred 200-300 lb. of weight from the trailer to the truck. Val also did some cleaning and organizing underneath in the basement.

Not much else going on. We had been to Costco for eye appointments last week and as of today, all our contact lenses and Val’s glasses have come in. We picked up her glasses this evening. We are gearing up for our big trip out west, which starts a week from Saturday.

 

How-To: Install Under-Cabinet LED Light Strips

We picked up a flexible LED light strip kit from Costco (for $30). After doing some figuring, Malcolm ordered a set of wiring connectors from Amazon (for $18) and had them shipped in. Once those connectors came in, Malcolm installed our light strips under the kitchen cabinets.

LED Light Strip Kit

LED Light Strip Kit

Connector Kit

Connector Kit

The first step was to mount the light strips under the front edge of the cabinets. We had six strips. Three went under the long cabinet on the side of the kitchen, and one each went under the three cabinets at the back of the kitchen.

Three strips under long cabinet.

Three strips under long cabinet.

Malcolm drilled holes through the cabinet bottoms for the various connectors.

Hole drilled for connector.

Hole drilled for connector.

Then he poked the connectors through the holes.

Connector poked through hole.

Connector poked through hole.

Then the connectors were connected to the strips.

Connected

Connected

This continued on for all the various light strips. Here is a before and after test just for the long cabinet.

Long cabinet - Before

Long cabinet – Before

Long cabinet - After

Long cabinet – After

With all the light strips in place, Malcolm removed the two pancake light fixtures from under the cabinets. The wiring from the long cabinet fixture was pulled back into the adjacent cabinet. Malcolm cut the end off the 120V adapter supplied with the light kit and connected it to the wires from the old light. The light kit had a 12V adapter, so we could run the control box directly off the 12V wiring from the old lights (and retain the wall switch).

Before removing the old lights, Malcolm did a full before and after test with all the other lights turned off.

Before.

Before.

After.

After.

Note that the far right-hand side of the counter is now very well lit, where it used to be in the dark.

Malcolm removed the old fixtures and tidied up all the wiring.

Wiring from over-sink fixture, pushed up into hole.

Wiring from over-sink fixture, pushed up into hole.

Wiring from other fixture, connected to control box.

Wiring from other fixture, connected to control box.

Malcolm tucked the control box back in the cabinet where we keep our coffee mugs. There was a remote control supplied with the unit that is an infrared control. The control box had a small pickup that Malcolm poked through one of the holes and discretely mounted under one of the cabinet bottoms. Now we can have many colors of lights and can dim or brighten them as desired.

How-To: Replace a Ceiling Fan

Although the ceiling fan installed in our trailer was still working OK, it was puny, didn’t put out much air circulation, was a bit plain looking and the light didn’t put out much light. Since Hunter ceiling fans were on sale at Lowes, we picked out one we liked and purchased it. Here is somewhat of a step-by-step installation. This How-To assumes that you already have a ceiling fan installed and that you are changing it out.

When shopping for a new ceiling fan for your RV, make sure that the blades will clear any nearby obstacles if you purchase a larger fan. The fan our RV came with was a 42″ fan (measured from blade tip to opposite blade tip). The nearest obstacle for ours was a nearby ceiling mounted speaker. The existing blades cleared it by about 6 inches, so a 52″ fan would work (pretty much the largest standard household fan commonly available).

Another factor is to make sure that the fan blades will clear any slideouts. The tops of our slideouts are more than a foot below the ceiling, so even though our replacement fan wasn’t quite as low profile as the original fan, it still clears our slideouts with ease. If your current fan’s blades are close to the slideout top, make sure that the replacement fan is pretty low profile. Worst case, you’ll have to disassemble it, repackage it and take it back.

We started by disassembling our fan. Most ceiling fans are pretty standard in the type of assembly. Removing the globe from the light kit usually opens up the rest of the fan to where you can figure out what to remove next. In our case, Malcolm removed the four fan blades, then the decorative cover over the motor assembly, then the motor assembly from the mounting bracket, then the mounting bracket.

Our old fan with globe and bulb removed.

Our old fan with globe and bulb removed.

At some point, you’ll have to disconnect the power wires from the existing fan. If you feel uncomfortable doing this with power still being supplied to your RV, you can go out to the pedestal and turn off the main breaker. Malcolm untwisted each wirenut in turn, pulled the fan wires off the feed wires and replaced the wirenut on the feed wires.

Wiring-wise, you’ll find a wire with black insulation (the hot wire), a wire with white insulation (the common wire) and a bare wire or one with green insulation (the ground wire). Your replacement fan will indicate how to wire everything back up using those three color codes (this is all standard 110V wiring).

Everything removed, wiring hanging down and capped.

Everything removed, wiring hanging down and capped.

There is a standard fan-ready junction box located above the white ceiling panel, and we found that the mounting bracket that came with our new fan screwed right onto it with no problem. From this point on you will want to follow the instructions that came with your fan to assemble it correctly. We’ll show you how our Hunter fan (the Louden model) went together. After mounting the bracket to the junction box, the motor assembly slides into the center of the bracket and two screws keep it from sliding out, but leave it enough wiggle room to soak up vibrations.

Motor mounted.

Motor mounted.

Malcolm wired up the new motor to the existing feed wires coming through the ceiling according to color code, re-using the yellow wirenuts that were on the wires to start with. The fan came with new wirenuts, but the existing ones were still in good shape and grabbed the wires just fine. If in doubt, use the new ones if they come in the fan kit.

With the motor wired up, Malcolm installed the decorative cover with the screws provided. Tightening the set screws was a job for a pair of pliers since the top of the base is inset up into the plastic bezel in the ceiling. Next, the fan blades were mounted on the motor.

Motor, shroud and blades all mounted.

Motor, shroud and blades all mounted.

The light kit mounts up to the bottom of the motor assembly. The motor assembly and the light kit had matching plugs to connect all the wiring together. That was mounted and tightened down, the lights installed and the shade put on. Make sure both the pull chains are fed through anything needed to get them down where you can turn things on and off.

Completed assembly

Completed assembly

The first test of our fan had the light working fine, but the fan spun about 1/4 turn and stopped. Malcolm found that he had mounted the light kit a little bit askew and one of the screws holding it together was protruding into the path of the fan blade mounts. He fixed that (a little disassembly and reassembly) and the second test was a success.

Our fan is just a tiny bit out of balance. It came with a balance kit that Malcolm started to play with but decided to put off for another time. It’s not so far out of balance to cause any immediate issues.