140. Monday 14th June 2010. Repairs, maintenance, gardening and beards…

This weeks report is brought to you courtesy of the Queens Birthday Long Weekend. With Donnis working I get a chance to do a few more chores around the place.

It is a long post this week but after all it is a long weekend and I feel like writing.

Donnis bought a couple of cherry red throw rugs and a matching bedspread and fitted sheet for WWWGO. She also bought some cushions with a fashionable red stripe. It sort of brightens up the interior especially as she has used the throw rugs to cover the brown dinette cushions. It really looks bright and modern and lifts our spirit even though they have been tested this weekend.

Please read on…

This week, I tackled the job of repairing the external grab handle with integrated light. This was the second attempt.  I also tried to repair it last week. It does not matter that we have never really used the light, except to switch it on and off occassionaly to check that it is working. It stopped working some months ago. Although we do not use it does not mean we will never use it. It jusk irks me that things which should work, do not. Therefore, I must fix it. Somewhere in the future we will probably need to use it and I want it to be functioning. Besides, although it irks me that it needs repairing I will take a positive from the event. I am learning a new skill. Or at least expansion of a limited skill.

I have been reading a RV blog on a daily basis for the last 4 years. The blog is written by a US resident and despite the authors penchant for pontificating and self promotion he has visited lots of interesting campsites. He and his wife tow a 38 foot 5th wheel. Most of the time they stay in RV parks with full electric, water and sewer hookups along with their satellite TV, phone and internet service. I still find his daily reports interesting. When something needs repair, whether he employs a tradesman, finds a fellow RVer to do the work or tackles it himself (he is a self confessed unhandy man) he always takes photos of the job before, during and after. So you lucky readers are going to be enriched by my photos of the courtesy light repair. Unlike the US blogger we tend to stay in freedom campsites (boondocking for our US readers) and rarely have a hookup to water, electricity or sewer. In fact mostly there are no facilities.  That means no tv signal, no mobile reception and no internet. For that reason I like to be sure everything works as it should and there is no drain on the batteries. After all we are reliant on battery power recharged by solar panels. The fridge runs on LPG (gas), the same LPG which is used in cooking and also heats our water for showers and washing up.

Don’t forget to click on the images for a larger, clearer view.

This is the grab hande with integrated courtesy light. I will have to break the silicon sealant to remove the handle. The lens cover also is to be removed. It has seen better days and turned opaque so I guess it will not be that long before it turns a sort of powdery brittleness.

The switch on the left with black wires coming out of it is what I replaced last week. The brass fitting on the end of the central black wire is a bit mangled and I suspect is the reason I am not getting a positive voltage to the globe.

Here is a better view of the mangled brass terminal. I will replace it, the base behind it and the spring.

I will join this new fitting to the old black wire.

Positive wires joined. Reading 13.4volts. Ready to place back into position.

Here's proof It works. Now all I need to do is put the lens cover back in place and its all done. An hour later I pressed the button and WHAT THE...! It is not working!!! Good thing I did not reseal with silicon yet. GRRR.

Last week I also bought hinges for the fridge freezer door. I looked at putting them in place but realised I needed to know more before attempting this job. I did not want to cause any damage to the fridge walls, freezer door, fittings or the new springs. I wrote the manufacturer for instructions. They kindly sent instructions complete with photos. Unfortunately it seems to be instructions in Chinese and something is lacking in the translation. I got the gist of the instructions well enough to tackle the job with confidence.

Confidence in theory.

Reality was something else.

Ever had a task which seemed so simple you expected a dream run yet the reality turned into a nightmare?


That’s what happened to me when I tackled the freezer door. Here’s the way it all unfolded. Those lovely instructions said to use a screwdriver to lever out the door, being careful not to damage or scratch the fridge walls. I covered the business end of the screwdriver with black electricians tape. With just a minimum of grunting the door popped out. Great. That was going according to plan. I removed the hinge spring assembly from each side. Hmmm. The left had hinge is painted blue while the right side is painted yellow. OK, memorised that configeration. Now the hinges. One is right side, one is left but which is which? The original had the lugs broken off but I thought I had them in the correct side.


The left hand side of the fridge door fits with a click into the spring assembly. With a bit of grunting and a bit of pressure the right hand side slots into the spring assembly and the door opens and closes as it should but will only stay open. According to the directions I now move the hinge assembly so the lug fits into a slot. As I move the assembly on each side it becomes tighter and tighter and the plastic makes squealing sounds of protest. Try as I might the lugs will not fit into the slot. They are short of the target by about 3mm.

Hmmm. I get the torch and looked closely.

More Hmmm. If those hinges were on opposite sides, the lugs would easily slide into the slots.

@#%^*. I have the hinges on the wrong side!

More grunting and screwdriving follows and I have the door out once again as well as the  hinge and the springs. @#%*! The nylon spring holder is almost totally chewed out. @#%*! the receptable is also chewed out with pieces of plastic falling out of the hinge hole.

@#%*. @#%*. @#%*. SO I reverse the hinges, being sure to keep the blue spring on the left. I can get the left hand side of the door in place but the spring assembly on the right is too badly damaged and will not fit in the hole.

I give up. I go to the camping shop to order two springs. But wait a minute. They are about $40 each. A new door is $80. If the door is complete with springs I am better off buying a door. They will call next week and advise if the door includes springs. In the meantime I do something else and will come back to hinges, springs and door later.


With expert use of a pair of blunt nose pliers and a pair of needle nosed pliers I manage to get the springs off the nylon core and re-attached. I insert the old hinges, the repaired springs and now comes the door. It clicks into the left spring and with a bit of grunting and pressure it fits into the right side. The door opens and closes. Using the hinges to slide into an upright position I can keep the door closed. We are now back to where we were before I started the repair. At least we can go away next weekend and worry about the new spring assembly or door afterwards.

Sunday morning dawned bright and crisp. Although the sun was shining there was a wispy cloud indicating a windy cool day. That was the reality. The wind started about 5.30 and gained in strength and regularity as the morning progressed. The wind is from the south and rather chilly when in the shade. In the kitchen at 9am it was only 16 degrees celsius. Now to some people that is a pleasant summertime temperature. In fact it is a pleasant wintertime temperature as well but that wind sure was chilly. Jeans n jacket day.

One thing I installed without drama was the extension valve for our inner rear tyres. WWWGO is fitted with dual rims on the rear. Getting to the air valve is not easy so I fitted an extension valve. It was easier than I expected. Simply locate the valve, remove the dust cap (the hardest part as you need long thin fingers) screw on the extension valve, tighten with a spanner and the job is done. Now all I need is a re-curve valve for the outer tyre. The problem with this one is the valve faces inwards so getting an extension which curves backwards will be the next task. Getting it to fit will be the hard part.

Extension valve in place. Regretably my tyre shop only had one in stock so we need to order another plus a couple of recurved valves for the outer tyres.

In betweeb bouts of frustration with the repairs and stopping for a wonderful coffe with fresh cream I manage to get a bit of gardening completed. I chainsawed the New Zealand Christmas bush so it is one level. It still gives a measure of privacy but is no longer trying to grow through the roof. I then used the hedge trimmer to tidy it up a bit. Hmmm. Not bad but it will grow and those ugly bits where I cut it back will soon be hidden under fresh foilage. I also repaired the insulation in the garage roof. It was torn when cyclone Ului pushed a tree branch through the roof. The roof plumbers came during the week and finished the roof panels, the gutter and the fascia. Looks good.

In the front yard I tackled the guinea grass, the couch and all the other weedy things growing out of control.

Hmmm. The Pandanus is a bit out of control too. I only want one stem growing so I started cutting it back. It is an impenetrable jungle under the Pandanus leaves which have razor sharp saw tooth edges to the leaves. Good thing I remembered to wear my thick leather gloves.

With the aid of a chainsaw, hedge trimmer, mattock, shovel, long handled pruning shears and smaller shears I am winning the battle but nowhere near finished. On reflection I might just pull out all the Pandanus and replace with something which does not grow rampant. Same goes for the other plants which Donnis loves but which get out of control.

I took a load of green waste to the tip. On the way home I heard an interview with a past Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Jim Soorley. He commented we should not have this holiday weekend and in fact we have too many public holidays and we should have them cut back to 7 or 8.

Hmm. I wonder how that sits with his Labor Party colleagues?

As an employee all my working life I look forward to public holidays. Jim on the other hand is in the business of being an employer. An employer loves working and prefers less public holidays so he can make more money.

Hmmm. I wonder how that sits with his Labor Party colleagues?

So Jim, I did a quick bit of research and came up with the following.


Australia… 14

Inited States.. 16

United Kingdom… 16

France… 18

Italy… 14

South Korea… 11

Japan… 15

Jewish Holiday… 14

Saudi Arabia… 22

New Zealand… 8. Maybe Jim has been comparing OZ to NZ?

Brazil… 12

Spain… 12

So we are maybe about average for public holidays.

As an employee I say Viva La Public Holidays! 

Now we come to the strange part of the title…Beards.

For those who have not seen a photo of ME, I have a beard. Often I go weeks without trimming it. My head hair is relatively straight. Not so the beard. When I first started growing the beard I had visions of a nice straight goatee style. My facial hair obviously has a different set of genetic material to my head hair. For a start my head hair is, as mentioned, straight. It still retains much of its original colour of brown but streaked with grey in a couple of places. I am sometimes asked if I dye or colour my hair. No! Vanity is not a strong feature of my makeup. My facial hair differs from the head hair in that it is more than generously streaked with grey. It is mostly grey. It is also curly. Now this could be a throwback to ancestral genes but let me give you a picture. Last year I grew the beard for three months without a tidy up. It grew and grew in sort of an unruly curly profusion. At all times I expected – especially when I was dressed in black – to hear people calling to me, Hello Rabbi. Or even hurriedly calling Federal Police to report a sighting of Osama Bin laden or one of his henchmen. (In fact this happened while in Tasmania and I must admit dressed in black and with Donnis taking a photo, I do look like a Rabbi but I have not yet told the full story – perhaps if enough readers pressure me I might just tell the story of Frank the Rabbi – that’s Frank the Rabbi thank you very much, not Frank the Rabbit) I am happy to just let it grow with an occassional trim around the mouth area so there is room for food to be inserted. Working in an office I need to present a sometimes tidy appearance so get the electric clippers working roughly once a month.

James is a young work colleague. He has a black goatee style beard which he keeps tidily trimmed every couple of days. (Geez James if I had to tidy and trim every couple of days I would shave off the beard and just shave every day) His beard does look good I must admit. Its style is in a sort of evil King John from Robin Hood movies or the bad guy in Arab costume in an Indiana Jones movie. The beard is black and straight and I suspect is a chick magnet. His beard colour and straightness of hair matches his head hair. James announced he was going to shave off his beard which I think would have been a backward step. The following morning James arrived at work with a savagely trimmed beard, a shadow of its former self but at least it can grow. So while he looks like the evil King John ready to swordfight his way up and down stairs and through several rooms with Robin Hood he still has his beard.

 I look like I am just about to head off to daily prayers.



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