Saturday, July 9, 2016

Launch delayed, fixes in progress, weigh-in results

Further to my last post of almost 2 months ago, image this disappointing little scene:

We were all set to go -- literally.  The camper and car were packed, Fin had buckled himself into his car seat early in anxious anticipation (or perhaps worried that he'd be forgotten).  We had food, clothes, camping supplies.  Everything was ready for the grand maiden voyage.

I'd heard that a good trailer owner always checks the lights before pulling away.  So I did -- with trailer hitched to car, I snapped on the 4-way flashers.  I found, to my immense dismay and irritation, that the trailer lights, carefully checked weeks before, now remained dark.  The running lights worked.  An hour of checking and fiddling yielded no results.  The trip was called off, and we had a sweet but anti-climatic "camping" dinner on a blanket in front of the living room fire.

Oh, this *$@#'ing thing.

Two months later, those same lights remain dark.  Well ... in truth, there are major qualifications to add to that statement.  At press time, it's been decided that the root of this evil might in fact be the car -- since, suspiciously, the lights all works like a damn with every truck the Egg's been hooked up to.  In fact, here's a photo of the whole works in action just this last week:

It tows like a dream (as you'd hope behind a full-size pickup), performs admirably in driving rain and general wet weather, and performed all duties as hoped and expected.

I spent 5 days living in this time-consuming project of mine while working on a large field job in Roger's Pass.  It didn't quite fit in with the other slightly larger RVs:

Terri and Fin came up for a night, and, despite an excitable little boy, we all even got a little sleep.  My sense is that we'll be able to fit in there as a family until Fin is ready to either sleep in the fold-flat car back or pitch himself a tent.

Here we are in all our campground glory:

The old Egg even functioned as a mobile command centre for downloading and processing field survey data:

So it's been on a trip, a wet and demanding one at that, and it performed admirably.  What's the problem?

The problem is, those damn lights won't work with the CAR!  Not at all!  And everything (everything) has been checked and double-checked!  I've checked grounds, converter boxes, wiring routes, and harness specifications.  It's been on a trip to the mechanic.  I've spent long hours researching causes and solutions.  In every sense, it should work, but it doesn't.  The running lights work, the flashers and brake lights don't, but the problems go away completely when hooked to another vehicle.  The car may turn out to need a dedicated circuit to handle the extra lights.  The standard "T connector" technique commonly used for car towing may not work with this one.

And yes, I did check the grounding wires.  And the bulbs.  And also the converter box.

Another possible snag regarding car towing came today, when I swung by the dump to check a final weight.  The Egg tips the scales at just over 1300 pounds, which is significantly more than estimated.  It was carrying close to what it would while heading out for a camping trip, but it's uncomfortably close to the car's maximum towing load of 1500 pounds.

I've got access to a truck through work, which is a blessing.  Even once the lights are fixed by the hand of God himself, it'll be needed for rugged or high-elevation trips.  However, it comes loaded with gear, and the first priority is to be used for work.

The point of the project was to make a car-towable camper.  I'm not sure if that objective has really been totally achieved.  Once I get this car-vs-trailer-light issue fixed (and I intend to), we'll see how the trips down the highway and up the hills really go.  Perhaps the next trip to the dump will be for a different purpose!

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