Thursday, October 5, 2017

Power protection failure, and warranty failure, Update 1

Just a quick update in that the company contacted me Tuesday morning, explained what happened on their side, and offered to replace the unit.


Updated my original post with this:

The current status is a representative contacted me from Progressive Industries and they will replace the unit.  Will provide address for shipment when get to my next location have an open complaint with the Better Business Bureau about Progressive Industries failure to honor their warranty.


When receive further communication will update status on original post and close the BBB complaint when it's satisfied.


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Power, protection failure, and warranty failure

Well, it's been a long time since posting and am still wandering around the U.S., even after spending four months on Vashon Island (wonderful place).  While on the island, and just before leaving, they had four to five consecutive days of rain, with a solid two days of non-stop rain and drizzle, then couple days of morning showers.  I believe it was during this time water potentially entered the unit though no misuse on my part.  Then after moving to next destination the highly respected unit failed on me.  This is documentation of my initial request, and subsequent, denial(s) by the manufacturer, to obtain warranty coverage.

The current status is a representative contacted me from Progressive Industries and they will replace the unit.  Will provide address for shipment when get to my next location have an open complaint with the Better Business Bureau about Progressive Industries failure to honor their warranty.

Know of a few people who have this unit and they thoroughly enjoy and recommend it.  When it was functional for me it worked wonderful and great and I had complete confidence in it's ability to protect the electrical system of my RV.  Now am not so sure...  Seemingly great product but company doesn't want to live up to it's warranty, of which I believe I should be covered under.

Failed Unit
The unit that failed is actually the second unit I purchased.  The first one was left at a campground in Montana and, despite numerous calls, they never responded, yet another story.  The second one was purchased at the Escapee Rally in Tucson, AZ this past spring.  It's actual purchase date is March 20, 2017, according to the receipt.  Of note is that it's a slightly different design with the addition of the plastic shroud.

There is actually an interesting story about the receipt.  When submitted the warranty claim the first time, did not have the receipt, so naturally they denied me.  Completely understandable.  After I submitted the warranty claim, contacted the company I purchased the unit from and they were kind enough to find my receipt and forward a copy of it to me, as well as further information to escalate my claim if needed, which used to no avail.  When received the receipt replied back to initial denial for reconsideration, which didn't change.

Have been using this product flawlessly since that date until September 24th, when it failed.  This is roughly a six month window.  Six months and four days to be more precise.  But, the time frame doesn't matter as it's a LifeTime "Warranty"....  Notice the quotes.

Top of pigtail
Using my untrained eyes the point of failure seems to be where the pigtail enters the housing, as seen in this picture.  Without taking the unit apart, and forgoing any chance at getting a replacement unit, it's hard to say the exact cause.  Yet can clearly see a significant gap in the rubber gasket.  I contend that this is the primary point of failure in letting water inside the unit.  It is strange in a way that this happened now as earlier in the year had more rain than that last week, and was moving more frequently.  It is also possible that the screws, holding the plastic shield in place, could also be the cause, or both areas for that matter.

This is the sequence of events:

  1. On Vashon:
  2. Flipped circuit breaker on power pedestal to off
  3. Unplugged working unit
  4. Lifted plastic shield and removed cord that goes to RV
  5. Closed plastic shield securely and back flat on ground
    1. Note: Dry and sunny day, ground is dry
  6. Picked unit up and walked to other side, laying unit on ground again, on the back
  7. Coiled up power cord into clean dry bay
  8. Put unit in same bay as power cord, clean and dry
  9. Close bay door
  10. Started engine shortly after and took off to ferry
  11. Ferry did not sink on crossing, nor any splashes.
  12. Drove to new destination
  13. In Oregon
  14. Got to new site, leveled RV, and hooked up unit in following manner
  15. Verified circuit breaker was off
  16. Plugged in unit, turned circuit breaker on
  17. On application of power, unit immediately read E3 error, 255 voltage, and 1-3 amp draw
  18. Flipped circuit breaker off
  19. Flipped circuit breaker on
  20. Same error message and readings
  21. Flipped circuit breaker off
  22. Got a 50 amp pigtail to 30 amp converter
  23. Made sure 50 amp breaker is off
  24. Plugged pigtail into 50 amp outlet, plugged unit into pigtail
  25. Turned 50 amp breaker on
  26. Same E3, 255, and 1-3 amps
  27. Turned 50 amp breaker off
  28. Wait 10-15 seconds
  29. Turned 50 amp breaker on
  30. Same E3, 255, and 1-3 amps
  31. Turned 50 amp breaker off
  32. Disconnected unit from pigtail and plugged into 30 amp socket
  33. It was at this point that noticed water droplets / vapor in display window
  34. Turned 30 amp breaker on
  35. Same E3, 255, and 1-3 amps
  36. Turned 30 amp breaker off
  37. Unplugged unit
  38. Switched sites at campground (totally new pedestal, etc)
  39. At new location did the following:
  40. Made sure 30 amp breaker is off
  41. Plugged unit into outlet, turned 30 amp on
  42. Same E3, 255, 1-3 amps
  43. Turned 30 amp breaker off
  44. Plugged 50 amp to 30 amp pigtail in
  45. Transferred unit from 30 amp to 50 amp pigtail
  46. Turned 50 amp breaker on
  47. Same E3, 255, 1-3 amps
  48. Turned 50 amp breaker off
  49. Deduced unit failed
  50. Plugged 30 amp cord into 30 amp outlet and turned breaker on

To make sure, the complete drive was no rain, dry roads, no chance of water entering unit inadvertently.

After deducing the failure, then getting settled into place, setting up internet, computers, etc., went to Progressive industries site, bee-lining for their "Warranty" area to identify, in my layman's eyes, if was covered.  Turns out I was unsure due to a few items there that didn't quite understand the meaning of.  Never fear, will go through the "warranty" verbage farther down.

Based on my records it looks like "Warranty" claim was submitted on September 25, 2017.

Prior to submitting this, called their technical support line, explained the issue, and they said to go through the warranty submittal process and specify Persistent E3 Problem.

Some pertinent information from claim submission:
Surge Protection Unit PurchasedEMS-PT30X
Product Error Code (EMS units)E3 - Line 1 High Voltage
Description of IssuePersistent E3 problem. PE3 also appears immediately upon plugging in. Voltage consistently reads 255, amps read between 1 and 3, water Vapor appeared in display window. Unit always plugged in upright. Plugged in constantly for about 4 months prior to move, and at new location get persistent error. While can't find paper proof of purchase, serial number is attached and purchased it from the dealer who attends the Escapee Escapades, on your behalf (big guy), and purchased it at the 2017 Escapade.

Must admit didn't fill this out quite right but was hoping that with as much information as could remember that it would help them and maybe give me a better chance.  Was sadly mistaken.

We appreciate you taking the time to contact Progressive Industries Inc. Thank you for allowing us to be part of your camping and RV experience. This email is to notify you that we have denied your warranty claim based upon the information submitted per the policies and criteria of our company. Without a proof of purchase, we are unable to process the claim. Additionally, E-3 errors caused by water damage are not covered under our warranty policy.  To review these policies in more detail, please visit http://www.progressiveindustries.net/warranty

Based on the information you provided and due to your customer loyalty, our warranty specialist has determined that you are eligible for a discount. We can send you a new EMS-PT30X  for $199.00.

If you’re interested, please reply back to this email so we may explore new options for you.
We look forward to hearing from you so we may continue to remain part of your RV experience.

Sincerely,
Progressive Warranty Team
Picture sent after first denial
Progressive Industries

After received this denial got my receipt from the company which I purchased this from, which has been great BTW.  Good support from them in helping.

Replied to the e-mail with a picture and the receipt that now had.

Below is a portion of the reply I sent:

From my untrained eye there appears to be a gap in the O-ring / Seal at the top where the power wire enters the unit.  Also attached is a picture of that.

As this isn't due to a natural disaster or "Act of God", and seemingly only rain when it was properly used, please reconsider your initial denial.  The unit is in great condition, no cracks / breaks, and is only 6 months old, cared for as lovingly as possible.  This is my second unit as left first behind at a campground in Montana.  Up until this point it has worked flawlessly.

Considered buying another unit, but why should I support a company who won't support a six month new product?


At this moment felt for sure had a solid case.  Yet, once again, a denial.

We appreciate you taking the time to find your receipt. Unfortunately, you warranty claim still does not meet the criteria for a replacement.
If you would like to take advantage of the warranty discount for a new EMS-PT30X for 199.00, give us a call. Otherwise, we will consider this warranty claim (#0149) closed.


In this last reply they didn't state the criteria so, at this point, am quite a bit miffed and upset.  This is the point in which draft a lengthy e-mail to the Operations Manager at Progressive Industries as was told could appeal to him.


This is in reference to Warranty Claim #0149.  Will only contact you once as either care or don't care.

Writing as courtesy before I pursue other avenues for resolution, such as contacting your parent company, Better Business Buereau, Social Media, and/or other outlets that are open to me.

Only items can see as reasons for denial are #1 and #3 below, where it seems as if normal use of the product is not covered with an undamaged factory installed and unmodified product housing.  If this is the case, why exclude other items related to product housing, such as driving away while it's still plugged in?  Surely that would damage product housing!

In summary, it seems as if this is only intended as a "fair weather" product.

I do understand there's been an ownership change in the parent company recently and am hopeful that is not impacting this decision.

Warranty is here, included relevant parts below:
http://www.progressiveindustries.net/warranty-information

1. Our Lifetime Warranty covers only Progressive Industries’ workmanship, internal electronics and parts & materials contained within the unit housing.
A unit designed to be outside, with no damage to the housing, is inoperable due to natural weather conditions and normal use.  This seems as if it's an issue with Worksmanship and/or design/materials used, except for clause "contained within the unit housing".

2. Any and all damage to the outside of the unit is not covered.  External damage is typically associated with a poor connection between your RV or our EMS/SSP units and a power cord.
NO DAMAGE

3. Our Lifetime Warranty is exclusive to Progressive Industries and is granted in lieu of all other express or implied warranties, obligations or liabilities.
Is this the catch-all where, a product intended for outdoor use, when used outdoors, is not covered due to premature failure of factory installed parts?

4. This is a non-transferable Lifetime Warranty. It applies only to the original owner and covers only those products purchased from an authorized dealer, retailer, or seller. This Warranty shall be deemed fulfilled and exhausted upon (1) the provision of a replacement unit or (2) once any problem with the original unit is repaired by a qualified technician. A proof of purchase is required for all warranty claims.
I am original purchaser, proof of purchase sent, and purchased from authorized retailer

5. Products installed or used in an application other than an RV
Always on RV

6. Products operated outside systems compatible and compliant with RV surge protectors
To my knowledge all is compatible

7. Products used in a manner inconsistent with the operating instructions
To my knowledge all used according to operating instructions.

8. Use of replacement parts or accessories that are non-compliant with Progressive Industries specifications
Mo modifications or replacement parts

9. Damage to the surge protection unit, such as burnt, charred or melted components resulting from products connected to poorly maintained power sources, power cords or adapters
None noticed

10. Improper use including, but not limited to failure to disconnect upon departure from power source
Proper use followed.

11. Failure to ensure electrical plugs and receptacles are clean and all connections maintain a snug fit when plugged in
All clean and snug

12. Failure to provide continuous maintenance in accordance with the maintenance instructions provided by Progressive Industries
Followed instrutions

13. Any unauthorized modifications or repairs
None made

14. All acts of God and/or natural disasters including, but not limited to lightning damage, hurricanes, floods and earthquakes
No natural disasters or Acts of God, unless rain is considered an Act of God.

As always, thank you for your time.

As can see there are only two pieces which I think they "might" have cause to deny my claim, but yet, when I originally contacted the people purchased this from, they were under the impression that it should be covered.

After sending this off, got a short reply from the Operations Manager (YAY?)

Thank you for your email.
I will review your claim with our Customer Support Team and get back to you within 24 hours.


So, next day, within 24 hours as he claimed, got another response.  Not the one hoped for but at least could take the next steps.

We reviewed your claim further and additionally, discussed with our corporate office this morning.
To qualify for our warranty, “proof of purchase is required for all claims”, clearly stated.
Your claim states evidence of moisture in the display window, likely to have caused the PE3 code. Our products are tested thoroughly and when use according to the instructions, water cannot enter product housing.

Therefore your Claim was denied.


At this point got the dull pain of denial, not the sharp intense one as before, like already becoming numb to the process..

Felt the need to follow up with him as did provide proof of purchase, and his statement of "water cannot enter product housing" sent me into a little frenzy..  He seemed as if I didn't know how to read and follow basic and intuitive instructions.  While I am a guy, who typically doesn't read instructions, they seemed fairly easy to follow in this case.

Thank you for the follow up.
I disagree with your findings as water did enter the undamaged housing when used in accordance with the instructions.
But what do I know, am only the one who used it.
Again, many thanks for following up, will be weighing my options and moving forward. 


So, here is where we are at today, well, where I am at today.


  • Submitted Better Business Unit complaint
  • Wrote this blog entry ("social media in a way?")
  • Am weighing my further options to include spreading through word of mouth
    • Need to be cautious as don't want to get accused of defamation

Am optimistic that the Better Business Bureau will come through on my behalf, and will post later with the progress.

The full album of pictures is here.  Not much to it, just pictures of a failed unit.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Serpents, or belts, or a serpentine belt

It was a nice, quiet, and peaceful drive from Palm Springs, CA to Yuma, AZ.  I spent about a week in Palm Springs and was expecting to get to Yuma before noon (11 am California time).  I was well on my way to making it with 20 minutes to spare until I noticed something strange.  The battery wasn't charging and the engine temperature was pegged.....  HMMM....  Thought it was a fluke so drove a few more miles to the second exit, but with quite a few miles in between..

Soon as pulled into the gas station parking lot saw a trail of liquid on the pavement behind me...  Soon as I found a safe spot to park, I turned off the engine soon as possible to prevent any potential damage, or minimize any damage from occurring..

The sight was not welcome.....

It was definitely not welcome.

There was liquid flowing out of a tube.  Upon further investigation it was the overflow tube from the radiator that was spewing radiator fluid..  So, the temperature gauge wasn't lying, phooooey....  Stood around, scratching you-know-what, trying to think of what could be wrong.  Nothing, on the surface, looked abnormal, yet something was clearly wrong.

Crawled underneath and looked around, nothing...  Yet something...

Went inside and grabbed a fleshlight, then crawled underneath again, randomly looking around...  And suddenly, found something abnormal, something unexpected....  Something not so good, even bad...  There was no belt so saw the butt-crack....
Remnants

The serpentine belt disappeared, well, mostly disappeared, yet found some fragments, as in this photo.  Pulled this from behind the radiator fan blade so there must've been quite the breakdown.  As can see, there's not much left to it..

Queue backward a few years when I replaced the alternator....  This was a chore, mainly from the standpoint of not having a third, or fourth, hand.  And such was the case here.  It took me over four hours to get this fixed, only because didn't have that third hand the whole time.

The process for the alternator was pretty much the same here, with exception of physicall removing the alternator and doing those tests.  But, speaking of the alternator, the pulley was gummed up something serious.

Alternator
There was also the matter of cleaning out the old belt fragments.  This took me some time and in the picture you can see some bits and bobs.  Started manually peeling them off by hand and got what I could, but there was still gunk down in the groves.  It almost seems that, when the belt truly broke, it wrapped around here a little and probably gooified some.  Grabbed a flat head screwdriver and put one side (of the slotted end) into each groove and turned the alternator wheel.  Had to do this several times to finally get the gunk fully out, and it was truly gunk.

After using the screwdriver then gave it a final cleansing by spraying it with some carb cleane I had, and used an old sock to wipe away the gunk.  Repeated this three times until it looked decent.  Looked at the other places where the belt passed over and nothing else had to be cleaned!

Fan
Putting the belt on over the fan is actually quite easy.  As I was trying to figure out how to, it all came back to me from when watched the mechanic replace the belt once.  He, and I, slid it right over the fan blades, rotating them as you go.  It can be kinda seen in the picture that there is another belt in the way, one for the air conditioner (which still haven't fixed).  Removed the secondary belt from the air conditioner compressor, which was fairly easy.  After that it was a straight shot to get it seated on the top most grooved thing (for the fan).  Then had to replace the AC belt.

Now the time consuming part came, and that was to slide the belt all around, getting the belt tensioner out of the way too.  Long story short, and boy, was it long, is that had to loosen top bolt on the alternator, remove the bottom bolt (so it could swing free.  Then, and only then, lift up the tensioner and slide belt onto alternator, and voila...  Life is grand.  I could've removed both bolts from the alternator, though it's a royal pain the u-know-what to get it back.  Not that this whole process was ideal, but still...

What had to work with
Now, the part where really, truly, needed a third hand, was putting the bolt back into bottom of the alternator.  THIS was the problem.  However, had a knight in shining armor come by just at the right time.  He held the tensioner up and out of the way (with a breaker bar of course) as i finangled the bottom bolt in place.  Took some doing, and with him helping, that doing was only a couple minutes.  Once the bolt was started, drove it home with a socket and the ratchet, then tightened top bolt.

I then thanked the mysterious stranger, we exchanged some pleasantries, and he was off to the Rainbow Gathering, which is supposedly someplace nearby in the desert.  This guy, and bunch of his friends, ran one of the soup kitchens at the festival.  A HUGE thank you to him, wherever he is!  I did give him a Christmas Present of sorts as a way of saying thanks!  Without him would likely still be there.

At times being single is horrendous, and this was one of those times.  Now it's time to get a spare serpentine belt....  Here is an album of few more pictures, for those interested.  Not much there though there might be a gem or two to clarify things...

Let me take this moment to wish everyone a Merry Christmas too!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Quartzsite, AZ

Hat
First, this is NOT a political statement, though found it interesting that a hat like this was made for a little town in the middle of no place.  From what I understand it's fallen on lean times in a way as number of RV'ers coming here have dropped substantially.  This is seemingly due to some things a mayor did.  Think it had something to do with sales tax, other tax, or some other thing like that, but not overly sure.

There are a few reasons decided to spend some time in Quartzsite.  First is that I know someone who winters down here from the Seattle area, and he invited me to visit him at the park.  Second is that had to waste some time to meet up with a friend in the Palm Springs area as he had left a water regulator in Vegas.  I had no intention of going to Palm Springs this season, but that's another story.

Chicken Fried Steak
There are a couple distinct Quartzsite specific "attractions", namely among them is a rock gem show of sorts.  This happens in January and it draws people from all over the world.  Wasn't happening during this visit.

Another big event that happens is the "Big Tent" in February.  Again, this wasn't happening at this time.  I did go there a few years ago, and while interesting, not much I was interested in, plus there were too many people.  It's generally full of all sorts of RV products, supplies, etc.  Amazon had a good sized booth there looking for Workampers.

Surprisingly there were also quite a few good restaurants, and the overwhelming majority of people I met were awesome!  I went to one restaurant, Mountain Quail Cafe, away from center of town a little and attached to an RV park.  The first time I went there, for lunch, the service was awesome, and food was good too, so went back couple more times.  Most places that have had chicken fried steak at it's truly icky, but had a good feeling about this place in that had it the following two times, and it was delicious.  Tender and fork cuttable (yes, incorrect word), it was simply amazing.  Still not as good as Dishner's (in Coos Bay, OR), but it's the second best, and large gap in between.



One surprising thing I found here was they have a very good sized little airfield for RC planes, or other RC aircraft.  I had come out this way to see Celia's Garden Ampitheatre, which was, umm, lackluster to say the least, but this was kinda neat.  It was so neat that I got myself an RC plane, which haven't flown yet but will when get to Yuma.  It's a public park too!

Hi Jolly Monument
One of the big draws of Quartzsite is all the BLM land where people can boondock for free, or very little cost.  Boondocking is camping overnight without any hookups, such as electricity or water.  Most people who do it long term have solar panels, and they go into town periodically to fill up with water and dump their tanks in town.  Am sure others rely on generators to charge their batteries, instead of solar panels.

Of course, there's a plethora of RV parks, in which I stayed in one of those.  It was a little pricey, $175 + tax for a week.  Paid $23.11 in additional taxes, which I find very high.  There was a "Trans Lodging Tax" as well as a hotel tax..  To me it seems as if those are kind of the same....  Needless to say it's unlikely that will stay at this park again, though might check out other parks.  In contrast, people who have a full time trailer there spent $1,840.00 a year

Someone else told me of "Hi Jolly"...  They wouldn't say what or who this was, just that there is a monument dedicated to Hi Jolly, and that I had to discover and check it out..  Naturally it intrigued me..  As it turns out it was a camel driver.  The sign below give the full story.  The ashes of "Hi Jolly" are supposedly in the time capsule at bottom of the monument.

Hi Jolly explanation sign
I do find it somewhat troubling what the US Government did to the camels after it was deemed the experiment was a failure.  It seems, according to this sign, that they let the camels free and roam the desert.  This sounds pretty nice for the camels, unless they were overly domesticated by that time.  It could've been a hardship on them to forage and find food after some time being cared for by the US Military at the time, or the camel's could've welcomed it.  It just seems a little inhumane to me, but the camels are supposedly buried here too.

Now, at the RV park I stayed at, they had a Saturday morning breakfast that served Biscuits and Gravy, which was actually quite tasty.  At this breakfast was talking with this older married couple about places to check out, such as Hi Jolly, airfield, etc.  They then reveled me with stories of an abandoned gold mine..   Curiosity sunk in and off on the scooter I went!

Most of the road was pavement though the last mile or few was hard packed gravel / sand / other stuff, with a few dips and twists and other funnish type of terrain.  Granted, it's all still desert so not much in the way of trees and shrubs and anything like that.  But at the end was a literal gold mine.

Remnants of Gold Mine
Well, a discarded gold mine.

I did not see a no trespassing sign until was leaving, and the fence was in disarray.  Did see some signs of recent activity there from who knows who, but while I was there didn't see a single soul.

Explored the grounds a little bit.  There was an RV there, under a shelter, that looked somewhat lived in, but again, no sign of life at all.  It was an older RV, probably from the 80's or so.

Illustrious mine shaft
Exploring the abandoned machinery was pretty awesome, though it took me a while of searching to find out where they supposedly extracted the gold ore from.the ground.  After a good 30 minutes of wandering, exploring, poking around, finally found it.

It was hidden behind some of the dirt piles.  The conveyor belt didn't even go down this road, nor was it "close" by.  Everything on this site was fairly packed together, but the mineshaft was just in an odd place.  At end of this "road" is entrance to the tmien.  I did take a look into the tunnel and saw it kept on going down and down and down, at a good grade but not overly steep.  It seems to be about as steep as this road leading down there.

At least on this upper part looked like they sprayed hydro cement to shore up the walls and ceiling, as far as the eye could see.  There was a chain link gate with a padlock there that didn't want to cross, in no small part due to the chained gate.  Plus it was awfully dark down there.


To close this off, here's a picture of Bob surveying the landscape!  He's leash "trained", in that trained to take me for a walk on the leash...  Paisley is in the background.

BOB

Monday, December 12, 2016

Tie Down Straps

Since started doing the RV thing have gone through a couple different sets of tie down straps and different methods of securing my scooter (and now motorcycle) to the RV.  Don't ask me why, but I entrusted my valuable Scooter to none other than Harbor Freight Tie Down Straps.  I, mistakenly, thought that all tie down straps were more or less created equal..  BOY, was I wrong.  I should've taken the leap much much sooner.....  And so should YOU!  In my opinion anyways.

The two, HF on bottom
I knew no better and didn't realize what true quality was.  I delayed the inevitable and have gone through a good 20+ tie down straps.  Probably should've gone through many more, though at times I'm a tad bit stingy...  Hence why scooter fell off back once.

As can be seen in the picture on the right, the Harbor Freight straps are on the bottom, and the new one is on the top.  Just looking at the side view, thickness of the webbing material is night and day.  Hindsight being as it is, the Harbor Freight one feels like paper compared to the cardboard'y thickness of the new one.  Granted, the new one is new and so will wear in time, though the quality difference is very visible.

The new straps are from Ratchet Straps USA,  It seems as they're a manufacturer of these, but at the very least they're a purveyor of fine ratchet straps...

My order consisted of two different items, the first was a set of straps, and handlebar wrap around tie down things, with the second being straps to tie down the rear of the bikes, plus a couple extra for grins and giggles.

Now, remember, I am very very very happy with these, but there are a few things I would've done different, hence this post.

For the Strap and Handlebar set, I would've done these things different, not that anything is wrong, just personal preference
  • Went with 6 foot straps instead of paying extra for 10 foot
    • Though 10 foot straps are more flexible in usage
  • Increase Handlebar strap length to 18+ inches
    • it's tight fitting when wrapping around handlebar, still works

A great thing I upgraded to was the safety hooks.  These are called Safety Latch S-hooks and cost an additional dollar.  What this does is make the S hook end be something similar to a carabinar, which will help prevent it from unhooking in times of crisis.  It accomplishes this by having a spring loaded piece of metal that closes off the opening.  Though anything can still happen, having this makes it a little less likely, more peace of mind.

Yellow = new
The other set of straps I ordered, in yellow, is just a standard run of the mill bunch of ratchet straps.  Nothing special and nothing out of the ordinary.  Like the strap and handlebar set there are a couple things I would've done differently...  Still nothing wrong, just personal preference again.
  • Would've chosen straps with a closing end, such as caribinar, snap hooks, soft loop, or safety S-hooks
    • Prefer safety S-hooks but couldn't find them..  20/20 vision of course.
  • Would not have purchased extra length and chosen 6 feet
  • Fixed end length might have increased a little, this part is irrelevant for my use
Am very happy I chose the somewhat heavier duty one inch strap.  It adds an extra little comfort factor.  There is a greater chance that the hooks will slide off without any safety features, as mentioned above, but don't envision that happening.

My order included 10 straps, four for the front (as part of the handlebar kit), then 6 for the rear, with four being actively used and the other two as backups.  Am still hanging onto the Harbor Freight straps as a backup backup with the hopes that will never go back to them except to strap stuff to the scooter for transport from store to RV.

If ever have the need for additional straps, one guess where I'll be ordered them from....

You guessed it, Ratchet Straps USA!

P.S. - Someplace, for at least some of their straps, there is an option to choose webbing made in the U.S.  Unsure where it could be.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Washing machines, even then don't be an Ostrich....

No, No, No...  This isn't about the other Ostrich post I made...  Not even close actually.  But, come to think of it, it does follow along the same lines in that people in power told me it would be BIG money to fix / repair / replace, and I believed them and truly thought so myself..

Turns out wasn't really, yet I suffered immensely long because didn't know any better (sounds familiar at all, Ostrich?)....  Everything happens for a reason...
TORX thing, plus area where sound came from

Now, this picture to the right is a sneak peak into the future.

Before I go further into this sordid tale, please bear with me while I explain the Ostrich part, and my reasons for investigating and digging deeper (do this whenever someone of authority (doctor, veterenarian, auto mechanic, etc) tells you bad news, do your own research)....

Based on the advice and expert opinions I received, everything pointed to this being a problem that could not be fixed without serious expense.  The great people in Oregon (small business?) that we call in the U.S. for technical support said there was nothing that could be done on their end when I explained all the symptoms.  The symptoms were a large racket being made, there was a steady clicking sound, almost like something being stuck inside, vibration of "click" felt emanating from center of drum in the rear (insert "joke"), the racket starting around the time I washed a bunch of little magnets, and am sure there was one or two other things.  It's possible I tainted their analysis by mentioning those magnets.

These people then gave me a number for some local people that came out to take a look at it.  These people were very knowledgeable.  They looked, poked, prodded, turned, squeezed, you name it they did it.  Then they looked at me and essentially shrugged their shoulders saying nothing can do, just deal with it and leave for couple hours when start up the machine...  Well...  That would be OK if didn't have cats.  Plus something else nagged at me....

The cats went berserk during the spin cycles when the noise was bone crushing loud.  Truthfully I went a little berserk also....

After everyone said nothing could be done (sound familiar yet, Ostrich?), I decided that to at least try and fix it.  The reasons for this were two fold....  The price to replace the machine (a new one) would be about twelve hundred dollars ($1200.00)...  Secondly, from my last conversation with the technical support people, their time to pull the drum out is about four hours.  So, double that (pull out and push in) and add another four hours for not knowing what am doing, that brings me to paying myself a hundred dollars an hour, if I were to fix it, and it took me that long..  That's a good payback.

Picture for hardware store
I snapped this picture (same as above) so can get the proper tool from the hardware store, but it holds clues into the mystery of the loud noise.  Now is the story of fixing the loud noise that shook me to the core (and the cats too) every time did laundry....  My ear still hurts now and then when I think about it.

My first order of business is to get tools....  Tools are great!  Tools make me great!  I live in America!  Tools made in America make me great!  You get it, tools are awesome.  And, none of that cheap stuff for this, after all, $1200.00 is on the line.

Did a quick search on Google maps (sometimes I trust it) and found couple tool stores in the area.  Could've gone to Home Depot / Lowes, but wanted to find a little mom and pop store first to see if they have this, as it's a standard thing (just had a feeling about the standard thing part).

Walked into the store and it felt really good to be in here.  It is a place like what envision a true mom and pop store is.  The walls were lined with various tools, tool belts, just all sort of things, the aisles were narrow, boxes on the floor, it seemed like organized chaos with an eye to stocking most anything someone would want.  Walked up to the counter, showed them the above picture, and they handed me the TORX bits, that are coincidentally Made in America.  The company is called Lisle, and here is the product web page.



Walked out already making plans for Saturday, but also salivating at the Thai restaurant that is in the same shopping plaza.  Asked the younger guy, his son?, what a good place for lunch was, and he recommended the Thai place, and I wasn't disappointed.  Very tasty and very happy!  Not the best have had though certainly was good.

Top of the drum
Instead of starting this on Saturday, couldn't hold out any longer and started it Friday night, with the intention to at least get everything disconnected that night.

The first step was to remove the top.  There are two screws on the back side, at the top, which holds the top in place, then had to slide it backwards as there are tabs in the front which hold it down.

Now, without a clue to start with, I started removing the soap dispenser, top left big blocky white thing in the photo.  I took the two screws out of the front

Detergent dispenser
You'll notice that the dispensor is discolored in the middle.  It was that way when bought the washer, along with other discoloration that have seen elsewhere.  This is due to water in California where the prior owner camped for a few years for his job (construction at the time I believe).  As I use reverse osmosis water for everything that discoloration seems to be going away, slowly, but still away.

Now, without any further instructions I started fumbling around in here.  In the bottom center of the photo is a maroon looking round thing.  There'a a hose (vacuum?) that leave here and goes down into the bowels someplace.  I removed this round thing from side of the machine, then removed the wiring harndess.

Bottom "guts"
Next up was starting to remove the soap dispenser and related stuff but had no idea what was doing.  Started to pry, pull, prod, push, all to no avail.  Started removing the hose connectors, on the back, removed one screw then noticed, while prying it out, that there are tabs on the inside also.  I shelved this for the moment and decided to flip it on it's side to remove the underneath stuff, such as the motor, hoses, etc.

There are four screws on the bottom that holds some sort of plate in place.  Once removed those was greeted with this image.  At this point I essentially have to unhook all of this stuff.  And, started with the motor.

Motor wiring harness
Unhooked the connector wire on the motor, as well as a ground wire of sorts.

Then started removing bolts from the motor.  Looking at the picture I expected four bolts, two on the front, two on the rear.  Was pleasantly surprised that there are only two bolts instead of four.  The two connections around middle of the drum are only slip on, which was a relief.

Motor and belt
After finding a socket that fit over the bolt, removed the first one, then turned the drum to validate it still clicks.  At this point decide to remove the belt on the off chance the belt tension.  This was easier than expected as all had to do was pull the belt slightly towards the back (to me), and turn the wheel, making sure to always keep tension on the belt, till it reaches the half way point (apex, or top), in which case it came off right away.

I then spun the wheel again, and to my surprise and amazement, no click....  At this point am a little dumb founded.

Spun the wheel again, no clicking...

Put belt back on, clicking resumed..

Took belt off and clicking stopped..

Hmmmmm...

At this point am still thinking need to take it apart due to the bearings.  I say this as the bolt on the back appears to be tight and not loose at all.  However, as kept investigating determined this wasn't the case as am able to "shake" the wheel up and down by moving it up and down, not rapidly, just moving it.  Though it didn't move much, and couldn't even see it move per se, could feel it.shift as move up or down, and in only a certain position.

While I would've really have liked to take the bolt off itself though was scared to take it out in case it connected to the drum itself.  I used the TORX T40 bit, attached to my 3/8" ratchet, with an extension, held the wheel and tightened it.  It was actually loose in that when started to tighten moved it right away.  Think just hit the JACKPOT.  Just looking at it there didn't appear to be a gap, until examined the picture close up afterwards, such as below.

Close up of "wheel" and TORX bolt

If look very closely at the picture, can see two little bits of space in the plastic.  In that area there's some black / dark brown "stuff" (shavings??), but then can barely make out a gap.  The "wheel" also looks a little off center, even with the icky camera angle.

After determined this, added a little extra tightness to the bolt (maybe too tight?) and put everything back together, spinning the drum / wheel now and then to make sure everything is still working good.

For reference, I have a Splendide 7100XC washer/dryer combo.  Model number is WDC7100XC.

In a nutshell, instead of believing what I was told, I set out to do it myself, or acquiesce to their brilliance and buy a new washer/dryer.  I then found the root cause of the problem, which was a loose TORX bolt.  I spent about an hour on this.  If choose to break it out and figure out the hourly wage, counting $27 for the TORX set (+ tax), and counting a flat rate of $1200 for a new washer/dryer (not including tax), I "paid" myself about $1,163.00 an hour for the actual labor part.  If add, say, 3 hours, to that number for research, asking questions, etc., that gives me an hourly wage of ~$300.00 (1200 / 4), with all prior assumptions.  Not a bad day at all.

As a note, the $1200 price tag for a new washer is only an estimate, doesn't include shipping (freight) nor does it include taxes, installation, or any of the like.

The aftermath...  Quiet as a church mouse during Sunday service!  Totally delighted!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

First ride on Beemer

Technically the second, but this was the first real ride, and probably one of the last times that I'll truly trust Google Maps 100%.....  For it led me down a path fraught with loose sand.  It all ended on a good note, as have cat pictures to share!

The ride started off innocently enough.  Just before leaving, plugged my destination into Waze, which is another pseudo Google product.  I say pseudo as Google maps sometimes lists waze user updates as part of the navigation experience when using Google Maps as your GPS.  However, Waze closed down on me, not once, but twice.  It normally closes down once, which then restart, but once it closed down a second time switched to Google maps.

When I did switch, this is similar to the route I had (using random start address).



.However, when I turned into the gas station, the road to the stoplight was closed due to paving.  Not a big deal I thought as had recalled seeing an alternative road  if I headed south again, which is essentially the route shown above.

So, I went south a couple miles, pulled over, and opened up Google maps...Much to my chagrin it didn't give me the route I expected, it gave me the following, so I went with it, mistakenly.
Courtesy of Google Maps (on the phone, replicated on PC)

Doesn't look too bad, right?? right??  RIGHT?!?!?!?!

Well, wrong-o-podo......

This still gets me worked up, even though made it out of there safely and in one piece.  Did I mention a "Thank You" for this "experience" to Google Maps (insert passive aggressiveness here)


Well, turns out I rode past the two brothels in town, pictured below.  After these two establishments the paved road ended..  At this point I was questioning the almighty Google, but still had faith, though this faith didn't last long.

The initial road, right after the pavement ended was hard packed gravel stuff with bits of sand patches here and there.  Not bad I thought, somewhat fun it seems.  And it was for a little while, but the hard packed stuff gave way to softer stuff, then even more softer stuff, until finally loooong stretches of sand.  Loose sand where you sink into, like fine powdery snow, but nothing like snow, think sand dunes type sand.

This soft squishy sand had a benefit..  When I was tossed from the bike, twice, it was nice and soft to land on.  I knew picked out the Scott's jacket for a reason.  I can't find the link on the web, though this was given to me by a very dear friend from Tacoma, WA.  I feel somewhat bad about getting it all covered in sand and who knows what, but am sure he'll understand..  I hope anyways...

As the hard packed gravel gave way to the long stretches of squishy sand, it was difficult to maintain speed, which I tried to.  As i found out the sand reacts in mysterious and unpredictable ways.

I made mistakes and probably didn't learn all the lessons I needed to learn about sand riding, but it was still quite the learning experience.  My main problem was going too fast, even though was only doing about 15 miles an hour, or less.  Should have downshifted into first and kept the rpm's somewhat low, while still maintaining enough speed to keep from sinking in too deep.

At this point I was very happy to have somewhat aggressive off road / street tires, such as this Metzeler one that came with it.  Metzeler is among the best tires out there (for wet riding at least), and always highly rated from what I know.  Originally researched them for when lived in Seattle area full time, and they're particularly great in wet weather!  Grippy as all get out.

Back to the "road"..  For a long stretch it was all sand, but then started alternating a little from some gravelly area to hard packed sand, then back to that soft squishy sand.  There was one stretch that I passed through, where it was straight as an arrow, and hard pack / gravel for about 1/3 to 1/2 a mile.  That was pure heaven.

It just so happened, on this stretch, couple dune buggies came blowing through there, hot footing it to who knows where.  I kinda envied them in a way, with four wheels in sand, sooo much more stable.  The ruts is what got me, and the sand moving every which way.

After the two drops, and ejections, and a good 30-60 minutes (time was a weird thing), finally made it to hard pack, then the asphalt road!!!  At this point I just opened up the throttle, trying to make up for lost time.  Felt really good to be back on the road.  But, there was this Escapade looking SUV type thing that came up behind me, and just stayed behind me till I turned off, not tailgating, but kept a respectable distance.

I did lose that SUV though when we got to the twisties, but it caught back up with me...  Now, think I took the twisties a bit too fast, for I leaned the bike over pretty strongly, without a care in the world.  I downshifted, goosed the throttle, downshifted again, goosed it again, and my, was it wonderfully pleasing!

Here is where the twisties were, not long twisties, but was the right amount at the right time.  On one side of the road it falls off and there wasn't much in the way of a guardrail.




After these twisties it was a pretty straight shot to the China Ranch Date Farm. In the map below, if scroll up a little will see additional twisties.  This longish road was mostly all loose gravel, going around some hairpin turns.  Had to take it slow and easy and was in first gear most of the time.



While here, had a date shake, along with a chocolate chip date cookie, and also met my RV park neighbors, and friends, that have met in years past.  They were out for a stroll and they were also right behind me in the park, hence the neighbor things.

Return trip was uneventful.  Left and followed the road (like normal cars do) all the way back.  Did leave the GPS (Google Maps) completely off as didn't want it to mistakenly guide me down an unknown path yet again.

As promised, cat picture, on a leash....  Good kitty, good kitty.
Bob
Additional bonus:
Pahrump sunset