Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wild horses

wild horse pass.jpg

We are at the Wild Horse Pass casino, near Chandler, Arizona (map). In stark contrast to our last visit here, where the RV parking was entirely full and some rigs had clearly been here well past the 48-hour limit, this time the area was less than half full, and most rigs appear to be staying just a single night. I think our last visit was just when they started enforcing the new rules, and now apparently the word is out.

We arrived early in the afternoon, which gave me a chance to take another crack at the water pump. The check valve assembly that I had installed a couple days ago turned out to be even worse that the one I put in back in Texas, and, with nothing to lose, I decided to try to recondition the one I had removed a year ago. I had carefully saved it away with a note saying "works, but leaks."

Reasoning that, like many other facets of our water system, the valve had a build-up of calcium and other hard-water deposits from years of taking on some very hard water in places, I soaked the assembly in vinegar for half an hour or so. Then I worked the vinegar into all the orifices with a toothbrush. The seals in the valve are EPDM rubber and my toothbrush and the vinegar soon turned black as the weak acid took off a layer of oxidation and maybe even some of the rubber. Washing with dish soap and water stopped the process.

Next I took the valve outside and liberally applied WD-40. Petroleum distillates can swell EPDM rubber -- one reason why you should generally not use them together -- which, in this case, is just what was needed. After letting it soak in and working it into all the crevices by blowing/sucking on each valve chamber (blech), I again washed the entire assembly with soap and water, to get as much WD-40 out as I could. WD-40 has very low oral toxicity -- you'd need to drink it by the ounce to suffer any ill effects -- and this pump is only used for wash water, as we have a completely separate tank and pump for drinking water.

Between the cleaning and the "reconditioning" of the EPDM, it looks like I have resuscitated the valve. I reinstalled it around 3pm yesterday and, after purging all the air out of the lines that accumulated while it was leaking, we have had no further problems. Time will tell if this is a "permanent" fix, but at least now I can order a replacement valve to have as a spare at my leisure. No sense in doing it before they are needed, as they would likely just dry out again, but I now have a procedure I can use on the other two used spares in my kit for the next time this happens.

A few days ago fellow Neoplan owners Jim and Barbara, who live in their coach on a private airstrip nearby, contacted us as we were heading toward Arizona. They dropped by yesterday evening and we chatted over a glass of wine for about an hour. They have a German-built Jetliner that was once owned by Richard Petty; they brought pictures and it looks to be a beautiful coach. Of course, they are in the same position as we are with regard to chassis parts.

After they left we spent a few minutes catching up on the unending stream of Red Cross emails associated with my upcoming class this weekend, and then headed into the casino for dinner. I was tempted by the current special at high-end Shula's steakhouse, a three-course dinner involving a salad, a fillet and Alaskan king-crab combo, and a slice of cheesecake all for $39 (a rock bottom price at Shula's, where the least expensive steak starts at $40 a la carte), but that sounded like way too much food so we went to the Asian-themed restaurant instead. We both had spicy dishes which were very tasty, and made it out for less than one meal at Shula's, and that even included the wine.

In a few minutes we will head down the hill to Phoenix so I can catch my flight tomorrow morning. I still have to review the training materials and do some other prep this afternoon, and of course, pack. We'll try to find a place for a nice dinner out as well; Louise wants to save all the leftovers for while I am away.

Wild Horse Pass photo by Jo Naylor, used under a Creative Commons license.

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