Categories
Blue Highways Outdoors Overland travel

Adventure Rider Radio

If you haven’t found it yet, check out Adventure Rider Radio.  This is a podcast “radio” show about motorcycles and adventure travel produce by Jim and Elizabeth Martin from their home on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

What a fantastic episode. It just so happens I was traveling through Central Washington State, catching up on the last several episodes on my new SENA 10U when Riding in Extreme Conditions Part 1 came on. For those that don’t know, Ellensburg is known as Washington’s windy city and home to one of the largest wind farm complexes in the region, Wild Horse Wind & Solar Facility. First part of Part 1? Wind!!! As David Hough was talking me through techniques for handling strong side winds I was able to practice them, REAL TIME!! It was almost like I was at a training session where David dialed up the wind and sent the class out after each “lesson”.

On my return trip, it was REALLY windy and having some coaching and practice on the way over it wasn’t too bad. I wasn’t tense, I had the key points in mind, relaxed my shoulders and enjoyed the ride despite sometimes 35 mph gusts. Grant Johnson’s segment on rain wasn’t lost on my either. On my return, I departed from I-90 for a bit and took the Old Vantage Highway to see the Wild Horses Wind Farm visitor center. After leaving the center I encountered fresh rain on pavement that had been dry (and hot) for the last several weeks. The white frothy water was a clear indicator that there was a lot of oil on the surface. And Jim, I need to look into better pants that don’t leak in the crotch area, or add in rain gear to my kit.

And Part 2 of the series? Wednesday on the ride East I hit a high of 95 deg F. On the ride home, at the wind farm visitor center, it was 42 deg F with blowing rain.

 

 

 

 

Categories
Overland travel Tech Vehicles

Communications Upgrades

In my Land Cruiser I use a CB radio and Cell phone for most on road and trail communications. Around camp and hiking I use a FRS/GMRS radio. I decided to make a few upgrades in the Land Cruiser to make communication easier and more reliable.

For the cell phone, I have added a Wilson Electronics 3 watt booster and external antenna.  At the time they didn’t have the cradle, but my old Motorola phone had an antenna port in the back.  Now, they have a complete kit with external antenna, booster, wiring and universal cradle.  The cradle has the inside antenna and will work with any phone, regardless of antenna port.  I am using mine with the Motorola Droid.   While just an external

antenna can increase cell phone reception markedly, the 3 watt booster really gets your signal back out to the tower. Even when I don’t have enough signal for voice communication, I can usually send and receive text messages.

I originally had the booster just sitting under the drivers seat, an extension for the outside antenna, and the cell phone plug.  I have been using the cradle for a while and love it.  I’m doing some other comms work (keep reading), so I have decided to relocate the booster the the rear quarter panel.  The power connector is just long enough, I moved the extension cable from the outside antenna, to the inside antenna/cradle.

One other modification I made to the cradle was to add a small magnet to correspond with the Droids sensor, making it my in car navigation as well as communications device.  I will write more on this in another article.

For the GMRS radio, I went to GMRSOutlet.com were I found the Icom F2821 on clearance price.  This radio is capable of GMRS, Business and

70cm communication.  I had it programmed for GMRS, but also got the programming cable and software.   It supports both CTCSS and DTCS tones for privacy communications.  Remember, CTCSS and DTCS don’t keep others from hearing your conversations, just keeps them from interrupting you.

Because of mounting space, I decided to get the separation kit to mount the radio next to the phone booster in the rear quarter panel.   With a removable face, the controls can be mounted in front.  The only problem with mounting the main radio unit in the back, is the power demands.  It needs direct battery connection, or at least a 10 gauge wire with 20amp protection.

I also wanted to add a power point for an ARB Fridge. so I decided to run some big power to the back.  I already have dual batteries, so getting enough power won’t be a problem.  I am running some 6 gauge wire to the back.  I already have a 12 gauge wire running for trailer power and auxiliary backup lights, but that’s not enough power.  I installed an extra fuse block in the back.  Both the positive and negative line to the radio needs a 20 amp fuse.  The fridge is on a separate circuit, and the trailer charge wire will be moved to run from the last fuse on the block.

imageFor the radio mounts I decided to remove the factory jack and tool kit.  With my lift, the jack doesn’t do much, but I’m going to find a place to put it anyway.  The mount for the jack is bolted in on the inner fender and floor of the truck.  The Tool bag mount was tack welded to one of the supports.  For holding the radios and fuse block, I bent a piece of stainless sheet I had left over from my Off Road Trailer kitchen.  I also had some 1″x1/16″ bar for extra support.  On bar was bent up to bolt into the lower jack mounting holes, the other runs horizontally from one inner fender support to the other.

image
Radio Mount before installation
image
Radio Mount Installed with Radios
Categories
Outdoors Overland travel

Trailer Tent – Camp Bug I

After a long search, many nights messaging back and forth with a tent maker in China and a little work to put it all together I finally have the tent I have wanted for my Off-road tent trailer.  The tent is of the basic design used in much of Australia.  I had a few different requirements for mine as well as features the US market may want.  This first tent was also a good learning experience for international trade, ocean shipping and importation.

Camp Bug, this is the name to the entire tent trailer project by my son.  He has heard the story and seen the pictures of the boat I build with my father when I was about 10.  It was a remake of an older boat my siblings had used.  The boats original name Sea Bug and we christened the newly built boat the Sea Bug II.  Here are a few pictures of the Sea Bug II.

sebug-5 seabug-2

seabug seabug-3

Back to the Tent and Camp Bug I.  After much work, a little retrofitting and a little beefing up I was able to attach the tent to the trailer.  It uses three hinges to hold it to the trailer.  It has two left handed and one right handed lift off hinges.  The right handed hinge is in the center and acts as the lock.  Half of the center hinge is bolted to the trailer.  The rest of the hinges are welded to the trailer and tent base.  This makes it possible to remove the tent from the trailer if need be.  To hold the folded tent up while loading I started out with two 120 lbs gas lift struts.  This works once the base is completely extended, but does nothing to help lift it.  With the tent and base weighing in and near 350 lbs I think I need a little help.  I will try a pair of 200 or 250 lbs struts and see if that does the job.

trailer-tent-003

The tent wasn’t difficult for me to set up by my self the first time, but two people will be helpful.  I started by removing the cover, removing and setting aside all the poles, guide lines, stakes and awning (annex) walls.  Next I pulled the tent off the trailer spreading the PVC floor out as tight as I could.  This also pulled the two ground length internal poles off the trailer.

photo_060409_014 photo_060409_016 photo_060409_017 photo_060409_018

Once the floor is staked down, I went inside and put the ground length poles into their pockets in the walls.  The poles are extended until the roof is tight.  The two poles that are attached to the base also need to be extended.

trailer-tent-006 trailer-tent-007 trailer-tent-008

The annex uses it’s own set of poles. Setting this up was the hardest part of the setup. It helps to have a second person to hold one of the poles as you attached the rest of the structure. Four poles attach through the tent wall to the inside pole structure.

trailer-tent-012 trailer-tent-011 trailer-tent-013

The tent comes with a ladder to get up onto the bed.  The bed consist of a 3″ thick foam pad roughly the size of a queen sized bed.  Under the bed are two hatches for easy access to items that are stored inside the trailer.

trailer-tent-009 photo_060409_012 photo_060409_013

The walls for the annex are as simple as attaching the three panels together and to the tent with their Velcro strips.   Fully deployed, the tent has two windows with rain covers and six windows that can role up.  All windows as well as the two doors have mosquito netting to keep bugs out.

photo_060409_005 photo_060409_006 photo_060409_007

The Kitchen slides out through the opening in the tent panel at the back of the trailer.

photo_060409_008

The roof vents, there is one in each outer end of the tent.

photo_060409_010

And the tent stakes. There is a set of the standard size metal stakes as well as an extra heavy duty style that is about 3/8″ thick.

photo_060409_011

The tent can be mounted on most any trailer smaller than 90″ long x 66″ wide.  A custom mounting frame may be needed.  For questions or more information on the trailer tent, please contact me or submit a post on the East Olympia Cruisers website or download the [download id=”2″].

Categories
Outdoors Overland travel Tech

Off-road Tent Trailer Build, Part3

The trailer tent has arrived. I set it up quickly or some pictures and get a first impression. Of course it was raining so I had to set it up in the shop. I was not able to open the annex and install the walls but the main tent fit (just barely) and I like what I see so far. Well made with heavy sippers and double seams. I have some questions on the travel cover but everything else looks pretty good. Now I just have to figure out how I’m going to mount it to the trailer. I think a bit of extra bracketry is required and will have to pack the tent back up and flip it over to get a better idea.  I will get more pictures one I get it permanently mounted and can set it up outside.

trailer_tent_02

trailer_tent_01

trailer_tent_03

trailer_tent_04

trailer_tent_05

trailer_tent_06

trailer_tent_07

trailer_tent_08

trailer_tent_09

trailer_tent_10

trailer_tent_11

trailer_tent_12

trailer_tent_13

My minimum order is 10, so I think 5 people and I will have to nearly full price. If I can get 8 or more, I will be able to give about 20% discount I think.  If you are interested in being part of the initial order please let me know by using the contact form.

Still waiting on ocean shipping rates. Also looking into the need for fire retardant fabric before I announce a price.

The size of the tent closed is 90″ (~7.5′) long, 66″ (5.5′) wide and between 6″-12″ tall. The width was selected because that is the width of my trailer outside fender to outside fender. I believe the M416 is roughly the same. The base is designed to sit 54″ off the ground. Open, the tent is 17′ wide and 15′ long (7.5′ each for main room and awning). The peak is 8′. The tent fabric is 10oz rip stop poly cotton canvas and the floor is 13oz PVC. Polls and ladder are steel. The base is 3/4″ marine grade plywood with a metal frame under for added support. There are two hatch doors in the base for easy access to trailer storage once setup. There is a 3″ foam mattress. The entire tent weighs roughly 350 lbs.

I am still working on the mounting. I am thinking of offering a mounting frame at additional expense or having the customer provide their own mounting method. The frame would fit customers trailer and have hinges, latches and struts.

Categories
Outdoors Overland travel Tech

ARB Simpson Series II Roof Top Tent

clemen_mountain_tour_01

UPDATE: ARB has released a new version of the tent, keep reading here for my experience with the Simpson II then go HERE to read about the Simpson Series III

We recently had a chance to get one last weekend of camping in.  We were heading east to the Naches River Valley to participate in a Backroad Drivers Northwest tour.  This tour was of the Clemen Mountain (ridge) area just east of the Naches River and the town of Nile.  The weather called for rain and I didn’t want to sleep on the ground and chance getting flooded out of our tent.  Since I have been wanting to try one out I decided to pickup the Simpson Series II Roof Top Tent.

Then tent comes mostly assembled.  All that is required is to decide whether you want to orient it to open to the side or to the rear.  If you have it open to the rear you can create a nice sheltered area at the tailgate.  This way is best suited for full sized SUVs and Trucks.  clemen_mountain_tour_13I chose to have it open to the side (passengers for me) as I will be adding the Annex when it comes in off of back order.  Once you have decided the orientation, you can bolt on the “mounting extrusions”.  All of the parts are tucked way inside the folded up tent so you will need to get them out to continue.  These are the parts that will connect the tent to your roof rack.  You can use any type of roof rack as long as it meets the load capacity you will be placing on it (tent and occupants).  I already had the ARB Touring Rack installed.  The tent can also be mounted on factory bars or Yakima and Thule bars.  After the mounting extrusion is attached, the ladder is attached using the supplied stainless steel brackets.  The ladder has a dual purpose.  It is of course the way you get into the tent.  The ladder is also the lever you use to open up the tent.

arb-rooftop-tentThe annex is a nice little addition that creates an indoor changing/storage area under the tent.  That is one of the features that drew me to the ARB tent instead of others.  The tent has a “vestibule” section that provides a sheltered  for the ladder and entrance to the tent.  The annex slides into a rail attached to the floor of the tent then zips to the bottom of the tent.

Once assembly is finished, the tent is ready to be mounted onto the rack.  This is best done with two or three people.  Although it is not particularly heavy the size makes it awkward to handle.  The tent comes with stainless steel brackets and bolts and an aluminum runner that slides in the mounting extrusion.  This provides limitless spacing between bars.

With the tent mounted you are now ready to open it up for the first time.  Start by releasing all of the straps that hold the tent closed.  Extend the ladder and the locking pins will engage the holes.  Pulling on the end of the ladder you should have enough leverage to start to open the tent.  Once the tent is just over half way open the weight will shift to pushing down on the ladder.  Slowly lower the ladder to the ground making sure the tent opens all the way.  Now slide out the overhang supporting bar (U shaped aluminum bar) and insert into the retaining sockets.  Make sure the corners of the bar are all the way into the corners of the tent.  clemen_mountain_tour_16Get the spring steel rods from inside the tent.  These are used to support the outside window awnings and the flysheet.  Insert the U shaped end into the eyelet in the awning/flysheet.  The other end is inserted into the aluminum base of the tent through the eyelets.  Be sure to make note of the angle of the hole and position the rod at this angle to make insertion easier.  Remove the 4 bungees.  If the bungees were not installed when shipped they will be in one of the parts bags.

Now the annex can be installed.  Start by sliding the rope sections into the extrusion at the hinge area of the tent base.  Using the zipper attach the remaining three sides.  Spread out the floor and stake in to the ground.  Install the Annex Floor, making sure to place the rubber mat under the ladder to protect the floor.  If you need the ladder extension, be sure to check on the “Well Extension” in order to extend the depth of the floor equal to the ladder extension.

I set it up once in the shop before leaving.  My second settup was in the dark durring a downpour.  Except for forgetting to attach the flysheet, assembly went smoothly and tool only about 15 minutes.  Since we were going on a drive the next day I had to take it down again.  I think the takedown time, after all the bags were removed, was about 10 minutes.  It says you can leave your bedding (exept for maybe pillows depending on bedding size) inside the tent when it is folded up.  I think I will do that next time.  Once I have the annex I will make a short video of the setup.

top_scene_fj60