Tuesday, June 5, 2018

One Hand TT Storage Latch

Whenever I want to put something in a storage locker on the TT, the latch that holds lhe door open requires two hands and I have to put something down to latch the door open. Well, no more - I've converted the latch to a one handed operation. All it takes is a tiny rare earth magnet, a small piece of steel and a little glue. I used airplane glue ( Seal All) but 5 min epoxy would probably been a better cosmetic choice.
Glue the magnet onto the little aluminum lift handle at the key.

Then, glue a small piece of thin steel where that magnet would contact the coach when the door is up.

And now, when you swing the storage door up, it stays without using a second hand to engage the latch!

But you can also use the original two handed latch if you're so inclined. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Handicap Helpers - Wolf Pup

 You may have already seen the grab rail I put in the shower.

It's quite sturdy.
And the double steps instead of the stock single. And the post/handle on the back of the dinette.

 But my wife still had trouble getting into the trailer, so I added another handhold, like the one outside the door.
Hopefully this will delay the necessity for ramps.

This handle folds out of the way once she's inside. I mounted the handle close to the door frame because I doubt there's enough strength in just the wall.
My dog Merlin, is ready to go camping.

And for getting up out of the bed or dinette I've added a couple handles at the counter.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Wolf Pup - Shower Grab Rail

Getting in and out of the shower, over the tub, can be a challenge for me, not to mention my handicapped wife. The walls in a Wolf Pup are not much more than wallpapered cardboard so there's little to really attach a grab rail to. Here's my solution.

I bought an 18" marine stainless grab handle.

Then I made two plywood 'plates' to use as backers for the handle. One for inside the cabinet, and one for inside the shower.
This is the cabinet on the other side of the shower.
I fit this piece of plywood to the wall. The wood on the base of the cabinet keeps the shelves in place.

I fitted the handle to the shower side plate after waterproofing the wood and painting it.

Then drilled mounting holes into the shower wall.
I ran these holes all the way through the wall into the cabinet.
The studs on the handle weren't long enough to go all the way through the wall, so I had to make them longer using a long nut and a bolt with the head cut off.

But this meant I'd need a larger hole in the cabinet to attach the new fitting.

Larger hole on the outside. Inside hole will have to be made just as big.
Now push the handle and plate up against the shower wall. Then screw on the 'lengthener'. Then fit the inside plate and screw on the nuts.

The inside plate ended higher than originally planned because the handle was mounted higher.
Now caulk the inside plate and we're good to go.

 It's really quite sturdy although I did bow the shower wall in a little when I snugged it up.

Danger Will Robinson
I forgot to mention, there's a vent pipe that runs up the wall between the shower and cabinet. You need to miss that pipe when you drill through the wall.
The pipe is just inside the nearest stud...I could feel the pipe with my finger after I opened up the hole to install the 'extender'.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Hartwell - Inaugural 2018 Splash

 When we took the Wolf Pup cross country mid 2017, I experienced a new challenge...getting Suzy up the steps into the  travel trailer or van.
Suzy has MS and her legs don't work well.

On two occasions, in the heat out West, Suzy's legs turned to jello and there was no way I could get her up those steps into the van or trailer. In these instances, she ended up sitting on the pavement with she and I both recuperating from the effort. In both cases, strangers seeing our predicament, offered the muscle to get Suzy up and into the vehicle. This isn't something one soon forgets and it was forefront on my mind when we set out for Lake Hartwell for the first time this year.
Big Duck (and our dog Merlin) ready to be hooked up to go to the lake
 The morning we were to depart to the lake, I staged the van close to the back patio and put Merlin in the back of the van so I could focus on getting Suzy in the passenger seat. I rolled Suzy in the wheelchair out the back patio door for the short distance to the van.  I placed her feet in the proper places when she couldn't quite manage on her own. She was seated in one uneventful try, Whew! Excited that things had gone so well, I headed down the drive - we were on our way without complications.

The 80 miles on I85 to Hartwell was uneventful. I parked the van just up from the ramp and told myself to just go slow and easy getting everything ready. At 70 years old plus, I have to pace myself. It takes me about 20 minutes to get the boat ready -- starting the generator to run the air conditioning, undoing the trailer straps, unlocking the outdrive from trailer position, putting in the drain plug, positioning the dock lines etc... All this went according to plan.

The lot was empty, so I felt comfortable being very deliberate and slow backing Big Duck down the ramp into the water. This is a two step operation. Back the trailer down just far enough so I can get out of the van without getting my feet wet. Use the boat hook to retrieve the docklines from the boat and tie the lines to the dock - allowing much slack. Then unhook the bow strap, get back in the van, back down about 2 or 3 feet, lock up the brakes and Big Duck slides off the trailer. Then quickly pull forward just enough to get out without getting my feet wet. Then I run onto the dock and snug the lines so Big Duck is resting against the dock. None of this went badly, but the wind had picked up and there were whitecaps breaking over the dock. Even with the fenders out, Big Duck was rocking enough to make me uncomfortable.

Then, I go back to the van and drive it into the parking spot. Now it's time to get Suzy aboard and of course Merlin likes to run wild while we prepare to get Suzy into her wheelchair. I open the van's sliding door to get the wheelchair out, then open the passenger door so Suzy can climb down and sit in the wheelchair.  I'm all ready for Suzy to step down, while watching Big Duck pitching at the dock.

Suzy isn't in a hurry. "Wait, I need to get my bag. Would you make it handy for me?"

OK, now we're ready? "But wait, I also need my purse." as I watch the waves splashing over the dock.

Now? And she finally gets down and into the chair. "I want the purse and bag on my lap", so I hand them to her.

Now I push her carefully down hill to the dock at a slightly faster pace than normal, wincing every time a wave breaks over the dock. About halfway down, the purse slides off her lap and gets wedged under the front wheel of the chair - bringing us to a screeching halt as Suzy slides forward off the chair with only her elbows on the seat keeping her from being totally on the ground.

It's a grunt for me to get Suzy back in the chair. After which I have her lock the brakes on the chair. I grab the bag and purse and put them aboard while Merlin plays joyfully on the dock. I go back up to Suzy waiting in the chair and wheel her to the boat. I position her chair as close to the edge of the dock as possible. She's working on standing up to get aboard while in my head I'm figuring the optimum time during the rise and fall of the boat to 'help'' her aboard. Things go as planned.

Now that Suzy is aboard, Merlin wants to come too and he stumbles on his way aboard almost going for a swim, but all I can think of is getting Suzy below while she's still vertical. Suzy does exceptionally well getting down the 3 steps with my help. Merlin then goes below. I rustle the wheelchair aboard and I'm ready to back Big Duck out when a boat pulls in behind us and ties up. I need that room to get this houseboat back from this long dock. I manually hold the boat off the dock while the fellow gets his truck and loads his boat - maybe 15 or 20 minutes.

Finally it's my turn. In the wind and chop, I need every bit of room to get Big Duck backed out clear of the dock . Finally, in easily navigable waters I find the chop is splashing up over the windshield and onto the flybridge. I'm worried that the motion is too much for Suzy below. Thankfully, I have a waypoint in the GPS from a previous visit to the lake, of a very protected anchorage. I sigh knowing there will be some relief 30 minutes away.  About 1/2 way into the 3 miles to the anchorage, I remember I left the van wide open - the sliding door was 1/2 way open from fetching the wheelchair and the passenger door was wide open...but the van keys were in my pocket. Screw it, I'm not going back and try to tie up in this chop.
On the way from the ramp.

The anchorage was extremely peaceful. I told Suzy that we might have to stay overnight because I wasn't going to negotiate that ramp in this kind of weather. We had plenty of water and soda, but the only thing to eat was a large can of Dinty Moore beef stew left from our last outing. We shared the stew, then I took a nap.

Now that we were organized and rested we sat on the aft deck on a very pleasant, albeit windy, afternoon. It wasn't long before the wind started to let up. The chop was flattening out enough I decided to up anchor and head down to the dam.

We spent several pleasant hours on the lake with the wind continuing to settle. I thought I'd run back to the dock to see what things looked like there. As we approached the fairway to the dock we were met by at least 20 bass boats zooming out onto the lake - evidently a tournament had just started. We waited for the melee of wakes to calm, then because the ramp was calm and empty I thought I'd tie up.

Things weren't quite as calm as they looked once we got next to the dock. We banged our way to a stop with no more than superficial damage - I almost tripped over Merlin as I disembarked because the gate was no longer functional.
This gate was due for replacement anyway.
There was a jerk parked right behind my trailer in the lot, so I knew I couldn't get it to the ramp. I hustled past him to check out the van to see if anything was missing.
This guy was parked directly behind my trailer for about 1/2 hour while he jawed with friends.
This is how I left and found the van.
The sliding door was open 1/2 way and passenger door was still wide open just as I had left them. Nothing was was missing from the van; nothing was even disturbed. The dash cam, backup camera and GPS, all in plain sight hadn't been touched even though the parking lot was now slam full of fishermen's rigs.

The trip home was a piece of cake thanks to Waze. There had been some traffic problems on the easiest route but Waze routed us around them. I parked the van/boat in front of the house when we got home because I like to unhook the boat and use the front hitch to jockey the boat around the house and tree into the carport. I'd do that tomorrow.

With all the excitement now behind me, I headed to the fridge to get a beer. It was then that I noticed in my excitement of getting Suzy successfully into the van on our way out, I had neglected to close the patio door. It was wide open.
Have to open wide to get the wheelchair out and down the ramp.

And this is why I like to be well rested when getting the boat back into the boatport. It's a jockey around a mailbox, then a twist around the corner of the house, then up a slight grade in slippery grass to 'park' Big Duck under cover. I've quit trying to do this while backing up, the front hitch is a real blessing.
I use stucco lath to get traction in the wet grass
Better traction!

It had been quite an adventure but it had done us both a lot of good to get back out on the water. We'll wait for a little less wind next time out.