Sunday, May 20, 2012

And Nero fiddled

I wrote this during my internet "outage" and it is dated. I thought I'd share it anyway.
Well, I hate to say I told you so. This whole deal with the GSA and the Secret Service should be no surprise to my dear readers-aka the beleaguered tax payer. Who do you think pays for all this crap? Those of you who follow this blog know I have railed against government excess and its seeming not to care about its constituents.  Nancy Pelosi demanding a 757 for her own use for travel back and forth to California still irks me. She didn't want the plane supplied by the government because it had to make a fuel stop to make it to California. I can't make this stuff up, people! While the Secret Service incident is not a direct example of government excess-the resulting costs will be. By the way; have you ever seen the stories detailing the cost and effort to protect the president? They went off the deep end after Kennedy's assassination and dug a whole new pool after nine eleven. I would never try to minimize the importance of protecting our chief executive, but there has to be a limit. Even his motor-pool is a case study in excess. You do know the Air Force uses planes to haul all those vehicles wherever he goes? The GSA is whole other story. Talk about the rooster in the hen house-who do you think oversees government expenditures? Almost a million dollars was spent on a "team building" and motivational trip to Las Vegas. The director and his cronies made numerous trips to Vegas beforehand to "arrange" things, adding even more to the tab. Having served on Embassy Duty and worked hand in hand with our diplomats has put me in a unique position to comment on these things. I remember the State Department flying David Clayton Thomas and Blood, Sweat and Tears in for a concert. I'm not sure what message that was supposed to impart to the locals? For many in the government having money left in the budget at the end of a fiscal period is a time to panic. Fear of their allotment in the budget being cut drives them to spend every penny they have. It is not the system your Mom and Dad taught you. I do have to say that most of the people serving us that I have rubbed elbows with, seem to be hard working, caring individuals. However, people that know their employment is not subject to the vagaries of the economy do have a different perspective on things.

An Odyssey of Epic Proportions

I hesitated to tell this tale because of its length-but it let me blow off steam and, perhaps, it can provide solace to those of you who have struggled to get things repaired.
In the summer of 2010 our rear heat pump started blowing hot air in the A/C mode. (Much of what is written here is written in hindsight.) Repairman number one checked the unit out and added freon, missing the fact that years of vibration had worn a hole in the tubing. It didn't blow cold long! Lack of money prevented further repair till the summer of 2011. Repairman number two, a very knowledgeable tech, one of the few we encountered, found the leak and soldered it closed. The unit blew cold for a couple of hours then started blowing the circuit breakers. Diagnosis was that the compressor had gone bad. Now Missy was getting a bit perturbed about the expense and the lack of progress. We then put a window shaker  in the rear bedroom to help cool the coach which helped some. This unit is not manufactured anymore, so I began searching for parts. I succeeded in finding a reasonably priced compressor, but couldn't get it installed until we got on a gate in late 2011. Repairman number three flushed the unit and did a good job of installing the compressor and a service tap on the low side. As soon as we fired it up the fan started making a racket. After finding a fan-no easy deal-we had it installed by repairman number three. The unit would not cool properly and a pressure check revealed that it was overcharged. Repairman number three used the wire from a coat hangar to hang a portable scale from the freon bottle while adjusting the charge. We were assured it was accurate. Remember hindsight here ( -: After adjusting the charge confused repairman number three said the units reversing valve was going bad. I ordered a solenoid for the reversing valve and still had warm air. I called repairman number three, who said I must have screwed up something while installing the solenoid. Or that there was wiring problems with the coach. I found a technician on Craigslist, who asked that we remove the unit and bring it to him to save money  Some weeks later; he was involved in an accident which slowed things up, he brought the unit to us. This was repairman number four and he couldn't figure out how to wire the unit up. Insisting there were missing wires, he jumped the control board and left. He charged us an arm and a leg, saying that he had to replace the solenoid I had just installed because it was the wrong part. Really frustrated, I had repairman number five look the unit over while he was repairing something else on the coach. He patiently checked it out and discovered that the accumulator was freezing up which caused the unit to not cool. He had not come prepared to work on the heat pump, so he said he would return. In the meantime, to cover all the bases, I ordered and installed a replacement board. (BTW Missy had no problem hooking up the wires to the board...HMMM?) Repairman number six really knew his business. After thoroughly checking out the unit, he announced that its freon charge was incorrect. He evacuated the unit and found little or no freon! He installed a tap on the high pressure side and added freon. Voila! We had a functioning heat pump. Had repairman number three realized his mistake, we would have saved over a thousand dollars in parts and labor. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Matter of Perspective

I believe we truly found the middle of nowhere. Our last gate was just outside of Fowlerton, TX-basically a wide spot on highway 97 (no offense meant to any Fowlerton residents or fans). Our Virgin phones and Internet were useless and we were forced to buy an AT&T phone to communicate. Missy was muy upset about the loss of phone and Internet service so that was a no brainer. We are taking a short break after being in the oil patch since September with just a day or two off here and there between rig moves. Now, my dear readers know that I don't cotton to all this new fangled technology. In a previous post I alluded to how I can get by with little or no phone service. I'm not big on texting, video games or Twitter either. After a day or two I was resigned to the loss of the Internet. My biggest fret was the inability to publish my blog and to e mail my family. God bless satellite TV! Man that made life a little more bearable, for sure. Being connected to city water and electric is a big change. Not having to ration water and depend on a generator will do that to you. I still find myself conserving water, a pavlonian response from having done it so long. Anyway, the isolation, lack of Internet, health issues, et al. took its toll. My dear friend and companion decided to head home for a while. Missy is gone and it is a different home now. There are so many things that are easier to do with a second set of hands in a motorhome! I still hold out hope of finding a solo gate or work here or in the oil patch somewhere.