Friday, August 7, 2009

On alert for Felicia

We are still at the Elks lodge in Fremont, California, for our final night here (they have a five day limit). Tomorrow I expect we will move back to our cozy on-street digs in Sunnyvale for a night or two.

This morning the phone rang at oh-seven-hundred (we are never awake that early, unless we are in a shop or on a disaster) with a not-unexpected call from the Disaster Operations Center, putting us on alert for Hurricane Felicia, which is threatening Hawaii. They expect the earliest they would send us, if at all, would be Monday, and it might be just one of us (me) at the start. It would be the first national-level response of the season, and they want someone experienced out there if anything is going to ramp up -- I guess I've made the big time.

Unlike the last time they tried to send us to Hawaii (also for the "F" storm that year, "Flossie"), this time we are actually well-positioned to go, and so couldn't really say no in good conscience. We're already in California, where Hawaii flights are generally cheapest (and shortest), and we are in a place where we have several options for parking Odyssey, as well as several folks willing to care for the pets. Still, I have my fingers crossed that the system fizzles out before making landfall -- neither of us really wants to go to a disaster on an airplane -- we much prefer to have the bus with us.

While we have been well-parked here, I've continued to get some projects done, including getting tires for the car we've borrowed, as well as making some minor repairs such as the broken rear-view mirror therein. Today I delved into the mysterious cockpit air conditioner problem, which involved removing some of the front bodywork as well as the dashboard bookcase.

I knew that the condenser fan was not coming on, and I needed to test the fan itself as well as the "trinary" switch that actuates it. The fan was fine, so that left the switch, which turned out not to be closing. That could mean a bad switch, or it could mean a problem with the refrigerant charge level or even the compressor. Without a set of manifold gauges (and a big can of R-134A) I could not test or adjust refrigerant level, so once I had gotten that far, I called a commercial refrigeration guy in the local area.

He ended up putting a couple ounces into the system, but the gauges showed good pressure, and hot-wiring the condenser fan brought the pressures down where they should be, so we concluded it must be the trinary switch. I thanked and paid him and sent him on his way, then set to trying to find a replacement switch, which is a Red Dot part -- common to heavy trucks, but not something a commercial refrigeration guy would have. It turns out they have a distributor in San Jose, who should have the part tomorrow. That's good, because I really don't want to put the front fiberglass and heavy brush guard back on the bus until the switch is replaced.

Tomorrow we'll take advantage of the water and dump station here before rolling out sometime around mid-day. We need to be settled in someplace in plenty of time to make it to our niece's 14th birthday party. I expect we will spend the weekend getting the bus ready to be laid up, tweaking the files on our USB drives (essential when flying to a disaster, since I won't have my laptop), and packing our bags. I'm hoping this last item will be the clincher that causes the storm to peter out, sort of like taking an umbrella to keep it from raining.

Image from Weather Underground

1 comment:

  1. Jeez Sean, I just spent about a half hour going back and reading all the posts where you've had to rewire park pedestals. Hopefully you'll have most of them straingtened out by the time my wife and I hit the road in a few years. I can swap out a breaker here and there, but I'm not sure what I'd do with some of the mysteries you've encountered.
    Oh, and just what did the "guy in the Lazydays" think he was going to accomplish? Never heard of such a thing as the NEMA electrical code? (that was August 5/07)


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