I love our camping trailer. It is nearly perfect. It has a nice balance between old outdated things, disinfection and broken things….truly gives a good mixture that allows someone to really experience the mystery and excitment of the great outdoors. Each trip brings new surprises, pharmacist we don’t know if we will have food or shelter, but we know that the camping trailer was designed for those things.
I love to tinker and fix things. So I have spent considerable time with it. The trailer is nearly re-plumbed. This weekend I installed a new toilet, Kailey and Kaisha took turns “Breaking it in”. Sure it is a pain to haul it from my home just to clean out the black water, especially when I am not camping but, their curiosity and the novelty is short-lived.
The water system does have a leak still, the other fifteen I fixed, but there is one on the outside I will try to tackle next week. It is where a hose would connect to the water system. I think the cap must seal on the hose connection and has a slow leak. To maintain my own sanity, I convince myself that it is nothing serious….annoying, but not serious.
Desperately, I want the heater to work. We don’t need it now, but I want the heater so if we decide to go camping in October, we will have it. I fiddled with it for hours today. Took the pilot light assembly out and made certain it worked, then put it back in, which is remarkably harder than taking it out, then it didn’t work. Repeat..adjusted the pilot light, readjusted, re-readjusted…then I put it back into the unit after I was certain it was functioning. It didn’t lite. The igniter would spark but the pilot light didn’t light. I tried a liberal amount of screaming and cursing, it helped a bit. I then could get a bit of a blue flame but the flame would go out quickly. I took the pilot light assembly out a few more times and then tried some more cursing, but it just wouldn’t work. It seem like there wasn’t enough oxygen in the combustion chamber. I went out side to inspect the exhaust. It was difficult to see, so I got a flash light. I still couldn’t see inside the exhaust very well, so I went in for a closer look. With my eye covering the exhaust pipe, I was greeted by a large colony of hornets. Fortunately, I wasn’t bit. One thing I have learned about hornets, is this. When they attack you, running around and screaming like Richard Simmons seems to help. I don’t intentionally do this, but it seems inevitable when I have a flash light and my eye ball looking into a darkened exhaust port…in an instant the port hole seemed to rush at me in an angry but impressive display of wings, and buzzing. They would have hit my face but my eye ball was so close they were directed there. I have never been scared of bees or hornets, although I am remarkably allergic to them. But when a swarm is directed into one’s eye, I am suddenly wearing silk shorts and a pink tank top running, waving my arms and screaming like a girl…..
There are three ways to get rid of hornets as I see it. The first method is a paint ball gun. Not even the Army can instill a sense of accomplishment like shooting a hornet at about a 180 feet per second. But I didn’t have a gun handy. The next method is to mix dish washing soap and water. Make sure to add a fair amount of dish washing soap. Put the solution into a garden sprayer and set the sprayer to a vigorous mist. The mist will get them, but with a bit of bubbles. The take down power is impressive. Rarely have I witnessed a hornet fly away from this assault. The last method is for when you’re reasonably upset. I use a small plastic squirt top bottle, mineral spirits, and a nice wand-style lighter.
After pouring a lot of mineral spirits on the basement floor do to a miscalculation with a metal gallon can, a funnel and an empty bottle, I decided this could be dangerous. Sure it is fun to light things on fire but if you can’t get your own arm out of harms way, what’s the point? My hand was soaked from the spill. I thought for a few seconds if I could “clean up” the spilt mineral spirits by igniting them with a flame but much to my disappointment, I realized that most of my house was also flammable….bummer. It is hard to let mineral spirits go to waste!
Moving much like a cat stocking its prey, I approached the trailer. When I got close enough for arson, I realized my hand, wrist, and forearm were soaked with mineral spirits. I had to make sure I didn’t attempt to light a fire with my pre-soaked hand. So I retreated backward, in catlike manner. When I was certain the lighter was in the dry hand, I then re-approached. I applied a liberal amount of mineral spirits and in the same moment applied the lighter. I have a special ability with lighters. If there is a time when I really need a lighter to light–for example, it is minus 12 degrees in the winter and I am freezing to death, or I am doing a large presentation in front of hundreds of scouts and leaders, or I have just poured a bunch of mineral spirits on top of 60 sleeping hornets–it will NEVER, NEVER light. I would have used a hand to cup around the end of the lighter but there wasn’t a breeze and there were a lot of hornets near by. Just when I thought I would scream and run, the lighter lit. The rest is hard to describe, I have eyebrows, but a general burnt smell is most noticeable. The hornets spent a lot of time buzzing before they decided to die.
After about a half hour, I used a stick to clear the hornets nest out. When doing this I quickly learned there were two hornets nests, the second was remarkably undisturbed from the fire. They were quickly assaulted with some profanity followed by me running a button hook pattern to the mineral spirit bottle and lighter. I then faked left and whet to the hole shooting the mineral spirits into the second nest. I set the fire and observed that the exhaust had two compartments, one for intake and the other was exhaust. I wondered if the fire leaked smoke inside the trailer, so I went inside the trailer to see. The smell from the moment I cracked the door is difficult to describe…sort of a honey flavored roasted marshmallow, but with a strong bouquet of mineral spirits–not exactly what I was hoping for.
Back outside I noticed that the exhaust pipe for the trailer’s heater was about two inches in diameter. I took another stick and pulled about 4 inches of solid but cylindrical hornet nest out. I grabbed a flash light and noticed there was much much more… A full foot of nest was tightly jammed into the metal tube. Several techniques using a long screwdriver, a straightened handle from a five-gallon bucket, an air nozzle for an air compressor seemed to do the trick. I then went inside for another fifty or so tries to make the furnace light but no dice. Back outside with a steady flash light, I could see that deep into the furnace a healthy colony of Muddauggers had settled in, reminding me that I haven’t taken my kids to Mesa Verde yet…
Next week, I will dismantle the entire furnace for a deep cleaning and Muddaugger exorcism.
Earlier that day, Kailey (3), Kaisha (6), and I went to the store. We bought covering to redo the shower walls and matching towels. In a home, a fresh coat of paint can be a remarkable transformation, but in a trailer, it just takes the right amount of contact paper. For the amount of money I spent over the last few weeks, I probably could have taken the family to Hawaii, but they now have a flushing toilet, a working stove and oven, a lavatory sink, a tub, a water heater, and a bed…oh ya…I need to add that to my task list. I was sitting on their bed, and just like an intervention for the grossly obese, the table/bed broke. I need to glue that back together….or remake it. At first I was going to renew the Gold Gym membership but when I saw the table was partially constructed of Styrofoam, I realized that it wasn’t the strongest engineering. Thank goodness for the Styrofoam, I don’t want to deal with the thought of being overweight.
One thing is for certain though, when all this is done, fixed, and I’m ready to flaunt my trailer, I’m goin’ campin’!