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Sunday, February 25, 2018

MOTORHOME MODIFICATIONS - *L* Ladder, Lights and Louverectomy~ Loom and Icy Yard

I am going to start off the new year with posting some of our motorhome modifications, a few at a time. I will post repairs, modifications, or neato things we have found for RVing.  I have lots of pics in my files so I will do them in alphabetical order.

Underneath that stuff, I will post my regular daily stuff..... kinda sorta fun, eh?

So here it goes, we are up to the letter L now!


Ladder (telescoping):
Steveio said he just HAD to have one.... so I bought this for him about twelve years back for Christmas. He had NO idea it was coming and was pretty surprised. Our friends, Rich and Mary, had a collapsible ladder for their motorhome  and Steveio was drooling over it.

the ladder

It reaches all the way up to the motorhome roof, as our rig does not have a built-in ladder on the back. I think it is 12 feet tall.  Just perfect for the motorhome and stows away in a small space next to his tool drawers.

Ladder helpers:
These are foam blocks that are made to haul a canoe on the roof of a car or truck.  But Steveio figured out that they would clamp on the sides of the ladder. Not only do they protect the painted edge of the roof or the awning (like in this photo) the foam surface also grips to prevent the ladder from sliding or slipping sideways!

Light Replacements:
Our rig had two of the most useless "map lights" on each side of the cockpit area. The lights were very dim, and didn't shine down, they showed out instead. arggh!

Steve took care of that right away.  It was my idea to paint a used CD disk with black paint for a backing fixture base for the new lights.  I am happy to say they work wonderfully now.

map lights replacements

We also replaced some of the 12 volt lights with LED bulbs. I am not nuts on the blueish green light they emit, but Steve seems to like them. We use them when the power is going down and we are not getting much sun on the solar panels till the next day.

led light replacement1
LED bulbs use a lot less power than anything else.  We will soon upgrade all of our lights to LED’s now that price is coming down on them.

Little speakers for MP3 player:
I know I am a bit of "old school" with a tiny MP3 player.  But this little device runs forever on a AAA battery.  Even old batteries from other things like remotes or flashlight that are seemingly used up will still play for hours yet on this little MP3 player.  The speakers let me play it without using power on the rig, or wearing down my cell phone to play music from my own files on the phone.  It is pretty basic and I load up the songs by plugging in the USB end of the device into my laptop and copy them over. Easy peasy.

The speakers we ran across on a clearance one time at Walmart years ago.  They do not need any power source of any kind, they just run off whatever device you plug them into.  They deliver such a clear good sound, better than any other speakers we have tried.
little speakers for music

We like this little set up so much, I bought two more of the little MP3 players and two more sets of speakers I found on Ebay.  I have one set in our house and one out on front porch to enjoy tunes and not need to be plugged in. I can take it outside and set on the table, or bring into the bedroom and set on the bedside table.  Of course I can use it with headphones too.

P.S. for me it's all Celtic, New Age and soft 70's like Jim Croce, John Denver, Carly Simon and Neil Young.  Then for fun it's Supertramp, Fleetwood Mac, Simon and Garfunkel and America.  For Steve he has a full set of The Sounds of the Seventies that we crank out when he is feeling frisky!  LOL

This is a common modification among the Safari owners of this vintage.  It really helps to increase the air flow around the engine compartment. I just love the phrase that fellow Safari owners coined to describe the process!

Our engine runs cooler, especially if we are climbing high hills out west and pulling our Tracker along behind.  It improves the heat buildup in the engine compartment under the bed that radiates into the back bedroom as well.

That is it for the letter L .... 
tomorrow we will start out with the letter M---


Yesterday, I posted about weaving a rag rug using two shuttles, one thick and one thin to create an interesting rug. I had a bunch of weavers email questions to me, and Facebook posters also messaging questions to me: "How on earth did I get the edges to look so nice when weaving with two shuttles and not skip and make strange selvages?"

I tried to write out an explanation in words, but I realized it would be much easier if I just set up my cell phone and made a little video clip. I posted it on YouTube because it seems to be the most easily accessible way to share a link with a video. Here it is:

I hope that helps someone.

Yesterday the sun was shining, although it was still quite cold and windy. We let the dogs out for a while in the Big Backyard to play. It's pretty icy and what little snow we have left is very crusty and hard. It's not really a fun place to play when the ground is all patchy ice, but it was good to get the dogs out and about a little bit. They really like their Big Backyard!

Here is a little video clip of Finnegan having some fun,
and Binney being the "Fun Police"
reporting to us the the fact that he is having fun.

This is the reason why they are out in the big backyard to play--- because their little poop yard which is closer to the house is suddenly totally frozen and inaccessible for little doggie paws. The recently melting snow has created a thick layer of ice in that low spot.  They skid and slide all over and can't find a good spot to "go".   Hope it melts soon, but we are due for more snow and ice in March, and into April. It's still Winter in Wisconsin!

The little poop yard near the house can connect to the big backyard with opening a gate at the corner of the garage. There is a long fenced-in runway behind the garage to get to the larger area. Sadly, the little gate is frozen right into the ice as well. So we have been taking them out through the garage to get to the big backyard for the time being. We are so glad we built this fenced area for the dogs, it's such a relief to not have to tie them out on ropes, and they are not going to escape out to the busy road.

Yesterday, we took a quick trip to the Verizon store in Appleton. 2 years ago, I got my droid Motorola Maxx 2 cell phone from them. Since the newest update on February 13th it's been acting very crazy. The battery goes dead in 2 hours, it keeps freezing the screen, or it starts up apps and programs that I'm not even using. It even feels hot to the touch when charging. Not good. The nice technician there explained the newest update is really over stressing the microprocessor of the 2 year old phone. He tried multiple times to diagnose and reset the phone. It would jam up, even in his technical troubleshooting modes.

He finally gave up and declared it irreparable. He ordered me a brand new phone to be shipped to me next week, under my protection plan I have on our account.  Whew! 

I love the phone and mostly the camera on it, and hope the new replacement is just as good and will last me for 2 more years. He said just don't run the newest update on it for about 3 months so Motorola can work out the bugs and develop a patch to override the problem.  I hate being a guinea pig for a company to see if their updates work or not? ARRGGHH

Friday, February 23, 2018

MOTORHOME MODIFICATIONS - *L* Light Fixture Fix and Rug and Little People

I am going to start off the new year with posting some of our motorhome modifications, a few at a time. I will post repairs, modifications, or neato things we have found for RVing.  I have lots of pics in my files so I will do them in alphabetical order.

Underneath that stuff, I will post my regular daily stuff..... kinda sorta fun, eh?

So here it goes, we are up to the letter L now!


Light Fixture Fix:
That danged Steveio always finds more projects to work on in our motorhome. As soon as I think we are completely done with upgrades, he finds something else to do.  Steve decided to take some 12 volt fluorescent lights from in the bedroom area and adapt them into the large 120v AC household type fluorescent light fixture in the kitchen ceiling.

Because we rarely camp with electrical hookups, we don't use that kitchen 120v AC light fixture, so it just sits there, looking pretty.   But it IS in a great location and illuminates a large area if you are cooking or working on something at the table.

There is a lack of a decent 12 volt lighting over the kitchen stove area unless we have the inverter on to power up that fixture or the one under the convection/microwave in the stove hood.  Both of those are 120v AC only.  Seems crazy to start the inverter or generator to just have some light while cooking with propane?   There are only 2 smaller 12v DC fluorescent fixtures under the cabinets, along the sink and countertop by the fridge, but none over the stove.

Sooooo Steveio came up with this bright idea.  And just HAD to try it out------

Our bedroom has tons of light fixtures, both 120v AC and 12v DC.  Thirteen light bulbs in all!  Inside the valances on each of the windows are hidden 12 volt single tube fluorescent lights.  We NEVER use them in the bedroom because we have so many other lights, mainly within reach of the headboard of the bed.  To use the ones in the valances, you have to get up out of bed to turn on and off by the switch on the far end of the valance.   I think they have been used once or twice in the last ten years.

Soooooo Steveio took down the valances and removed the light fixtures.   Easy Peasy.  It was only two dry wall screws to take them down, remove the light, cap off the wires, and put the valance back up.

Next he went out in the kitchen, and he took down the reflective covering on the large 110 volt household fixture in the center of the ceiling. 

At first he tried adding the 12 volt lights to each side of the original fixture, (leaving the 120v one inside as well) but they didn't seem to reflect downwards enough. So he changed horses in midrace and removed the 120v AC light bulbs and fixture ends completely.

He accessed the 12 volt power by removing a speaker from the ceiling and reaching in and over to the wires by the Fantastic Fan nearby...  so he got a hot lead that way.   For the switch that originally controlled the 120v AC fixture, he created a loop using the same wires.  So nothing is changed on the wall, or trying to fish new lines, or any new switches needed.

Steveio respects electricity and double checks all lines with his Fluke meter. 

Plus.. he is tall enough to do the work without having to stand on a ladder!!!!

Here are the two 12v DC fluorescent fixtures mounted in the cavity space left by removing the 120v AC fixture.   They are a little shorter than the old one, but work just as well.

Also a while back, Steveio insulated the top layer of the cavity with pink rigid insulation.  Otherwise it was very cold to the touch in the winter, with nothing between it and the outside roof!   I am sure it helps on the heating and the air conditioning as well.   Just look at that happy man!

 Another Motorhome Modification project, well done by my Steveio! 


Now that I finished that quilt I wrote about yesterday, I will get back to working on some of my first love: weaving!  I am working on a batch of rugs using alternating wefts, thick and thin.

I am using hunter green for the thicker rag weft, and then multicolored sewn thinner rags for the colorful opposite thinner weft.  Using two shuttles, alternating picks for each row, I get a thick and thin pattern.

By careful placement of the two shuttles at the fell line while weaving, alternating setting the thick shuttle closer and thin shuttle further away---  then on the other side the thin closer and thick further away, the edges all come out nicely with evenly alternating edges with no gaps.

I love how neat and orderly it looks. 
I made a bunch already using navy blue. 
Now it's time to use up some hunter green.

I have a straight twill threading on my four harness loom, but only weaving harnesses 1and2 against 3and4, Effectively it's a plain weave structure, but with a doubled warp thread effect. Perfectly aligned to create almost a basketweave feature.

I have two helpers in the Loom Room as I work on my rugs.  They keep up a watchful vigil as they are perched on their little sheepskin covered ottomans. Their job is watching out of the window for "Mail-Lady" or Burglurz" or if "Frank" the neighbor dog gets to come out in his backyard.

It is a damp dreary day today, so while Steve is off driving his Old Fart Party Bus, I am playing around in my Loom Room.  It's a good way to pass the day. Soft music, clanging of the harnesses as I drop them and the thump of the beater as I pack the weft into place.


Today, after he was done with his last transport, we ran to the post office to ship out some products for my customers.  We stopped at the little thrift shop on the corner of Main and Madison. It is called The Shepherd's Attic and is part of the Good Shepherd church in town.  Never know what treasures you might find?  And a treasure to be found I did!

I found a bag of TWENTY more Little People!!!  Most of them are the older wooden ones -classics- and some are ones I have never seen before!  The red haired girl and the police officer in the back row.

The one that surprised me the most is a Grandma with an apron.... I think that is ME!   Also in the background is another lady like the two "yellow haired ladies" but this is a lady with WHITE hair??  I guess that can be the "Other Grandma" when the kids come to play.  hahahaha

See, I have the old Fisher Price Farm from my Grandma Kafehl's house.  In the 1960's we played with it when we were kids. Our kids played with it in the 80's when they came to visit my Grandma as well.  After Grandma left us in 1996, I was the lucky one to get the farm. Now MY grandkids play with it.  That would be her Great Great Grandchildren. I cherish it and make sure it is well taken care of and put away each time in it's special place.

It warms my heart to see them playing with  it over the years... 

 I am SURE she is smiling down from Heaven 
each and every time they take it out to play. 

Love you, Grandma Kafehl! 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

MOTORHOME MODIFICATIONS - *K* Koni Shocks, Knob, Quilt and Sheets

I am going to start off the new year with posting some of our motorhome modifications, a few at a time. I will post repairs, modifications, or neato things we have found for RVing.  I have lots of pics in my files so I will do them in alphabetical order.

Underneath that stuff, I will post my regular daily stuff..... kinda sorta fun, eh?

So here it goes, we are up to the letter K now!


Koni Shocks:
Suspension on a big rig is pretty important.  Not long after buying our motorhome (used) we noticed a CLUNK sound on our rig when going over a bump.  Rut Roh.. time to check it out.  We knew the shocks were probably in need of replacement.  Steve examined the shocks and they were okay, but the mount on the driver's side was cracked totally loose.  Oh boy!  No wonder we were hearing a bad sound.  After removing it he found it must have been broken for a while , as it was rusty and not a fresh break.  Luckily he can weld and he repaired it himself.

A few years later, he decided to replace the shocks.  We had a very tough time trying to find replacement Koni. Seems they stopped making the shock size that we needed.

A few folks emailed and asked me WHY is it such a big deal about the shocks?  Well, it is because the mid 90's Safari motorhomes were constructed on their own exclusive chassis that Safari made themselves, with a sub company called Magnum.  Both of which are no longer in business.  It's not like a common Roadmaster or Freightliner, where parts are readily available.

The suspension is a specially developed style called Torsilastic developed by the BF Goodrich company and is called Velvetride.  It is comprised of a series of rubber wedges and big rubber bushings.  No springs, no air bags.  Just shocks.  (and it does ride like velvet!)  Not many repair places even heard of it, much less able to do any alignment or repairs on it.  Some of the larger coaches/buses like Foretravel used this suspension too.

The trouble with the shock replacement on this chassis is that the original shocks were made exclusively by Koni as a special configuration for the Magnum chassis and not available on the open market as replacements.  They are adjustable, but one shock on one side of ours will still adjust, the other side won't hold anymore, so the seal must be blown inside.  No leaking hydraulic fluid, but if Steve grabs one end and I grab the other, we can pull it apart too easily.

The only other alternative for us vintage Safari owners is to buy a special bracket made by a guy out in Washington for the Safari rigs that will let a person install pairs of smaller more common Koni FSD shocks-- 2 together on each side.  Just the brackets are $295.00 for a pair,  and the 4 shocks just for the front would be another $145.00 each, which is a total of almost $900.00  !!!!

So THAT is why we were excited to locate a company that has a single larger shock that will fit our rig.  It was Bilstein. We ordered some Bilsteins to replace the original Koni shocks.  He did the replacement SO fast I never had time to take the pics. ARGGHH....   

We ran on the Bilsteins for a while, but Steve realized they were for a spring type suspension and not the torsilastic.   We really needed the type of dampening on the upswing not the downswing like the Bilsteins provided.

Through the wonders of the internet, and belonging to a Yahoo group dedicated to Safari motorhomes ....  https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/safarimotorhomes  We found out now the original Koni shock numbers we needed were being produced again, so we bit the bullet and ordered some.

 We have a Magnum Chassis and Velvetride torsilastic suspension.  

Ordered the front shocks from LTB Autosports Inc  part #881641SP3 


We ordered the the rears from RVchassiparts.com Part #: 881458SP2

These new shocks are "adjustable" and you can set them for three different types of rides. The back ones we put on the firmest setting. That helped with bouncing and "porpoising" of the front nose. 

For the front ones, we chose a middle setting, then if they get softer over time, we can turn them up to a firmer setting. 
He set the rig up on it's front jack to get a bit of clearance ... and it was MY job to turn the steering wheel from side to side.  He pulled out the air compressor and had out his air tools to do the job.

Since he put on "Never Seize"  four years ago when mounting the Bilsteins, it was a pretty easy job for him to take those nuts off and put on the new shocks.   Good thing he's a skinny guy!

 The old ones (Bilsteins) are blue and yellow.  
The Koni adjustable shocks are bright red.

He had the passenger side done toot sweet, in ten minutes flat!  Then it was my turn to get back inside and turn the wheels all the way to the right. Some assistance, eh?  Then he was able to get into the driver's side of the rig to work on that one.

There... new Konis installed on the front.
He did the back ones so fast I never got pics.
 What a guy! 

DRIVER'S SIDE                          PASSENGER SIDE 

We took it for a test ride and there is a big noticeable difference.  We no longer have that "lean" when going around corners and it is a much softer ride with no noticeable "bounce back".  It was a worthwhile upgrade to change them out.

Knob on screen door slider:
This may seem like a silly thing... 

How many of you RVers have a slider on the screen door? 
Yes... most of you.

How many have a white one?
Many of you. 

How grubby and dirty does it get from handprints? 

It is already somewhat dusty from travel, and wet hands from doing dishes, going in and out, food on grandkid's fingers etc.  We know... we know. it gets pretty grubby on the slider by either flat palming it or by reaching for the ridged edge of the slider.

I saw this on a helpful hint in an RV blog one day. Just add a little knob to the slider itself... HEY!  What a great idea!

I got a little wooden knob and we drilled a little hole in the slider and mounted this knob.  By only putting one or two fingers on the knob, it slides easily and eliminates the messy handprints on the white plastic!


We have had melting snow the last week, and then freezing rain and ice.  Our side "poop yard" for the dogs is flooded and frozen over!  They go out there and slip and slide around....

At least we have the larger back yard fenced in now as well.  We can let the dogs out there for a while, via going through the garage to get back there.  Still full of snow, but not flooded or frozen over.  The dogs have been so antsy being cooped up for the last few weeks. It's been so cold out, plus being sick, we have only gone for walks a few times. They have to be content running around the backyard, or running up and down our upstairs hallway playing "fetch".

I finally finished up my "Coffee Break Quilt" yesterday. I made a mini blog post about it...  Coffee Break Quilt for Sale  I will add the pics again here. It came out pretty nice, if I say so myself!

I did all of my own free motion quilting stitching. It is all original by myself. I did not send it off to a a long-armer to do any of it. The backing is all cute brown coffee bean fabric as well as the binding around the edges.

It is 93 in by 93 in. It fits well on a queen-size bed. Here it is photographed on our king bed. It hangs over the sides but not an awful lot. I would suggest an under blanket or a duvet if you want to use it on a king bed.

The method in which I made it is called a log cabin design. I love the three-dimensional look of it. It's perfect to curl up in with a good book and a cup of coffee!

If you are interested in buying it, please contact me at my email   pfundt@gmail.com I am also going to list it in my Etsy store  http://kareninthewoods.etsy.com/ and my website http://kareninthewoods.com later today.

Speaking of beds, we just changed the sheets this morning to another set of our Valentine's present to each other. We invested new pillows and in soft all cotton flannel sheets.  The first set we put on was blue plaid.   Today is red and black check plaid.

 It kinda/sorta goes with our blue quilt, eh? 
Like denim blue jeans and a red lumberjack flannel shirt?

I put the drawstring bag that the sheets came in
around a little throw pillow.... 

 I love this plaid,
 it reminds me of 
My Brawny Lumberjack Guy.... Steveio! 

If he goes into bed with that shirt on, I will lose him!!!