Sunday, December 15, 2013

Stuck in the deep freeze

Damn I hate cold weather.  Its hard on vehicles and its hard on me.  My arthritis flares up and my arms stiffen up in parallel with how my vehicles stiffen up on a cold morning.  So far we haven’t had any failures to start but we try not to go anywhere either.  I go for coffee about every other day but I walk to the store and I bring home the bare minimum of provisions when I come back so we don’t ever have to start a vehicle to go shopping.  We’re trying to empty the fridge in preparation for the return to the boat so we don’t want to buy any more groceries than we can eat in the next week or so.

On Friday I had an unavoidable trip to Saskatoon so I used the occasion to pick up the 5th wheel that we bought a while ago. It has been sitting in Warman where the previous owner had it stored.  It could just as easily have stayed there until spring but we’ll feel better having it stored here.  The bus’s days are numbered.  I’m still not sure how we are going to move it down the road – either a quick and dirty engine transplant or a salvage operation – but one way or the other we won’t be travelling in it again.  We made the decision before I killed the engine – the engine disaster just made it a little harder to implement.

We bought the 5th wheel from Neil-the-Ukrainian.  He and his wife had used it for trips to Arizona but stopped making those trips a couple of years ago for health reasons.  The trailer has been sitting since then; they finally talked themselves into selling it this year. 

We looked at several trailers with a very specific set of criteria – under 30 feet overall, single slideout, mid kitchen, fibreglass sides and a dinette.  That turned out to be a remarkably difficult spec to find, mainly because of the dinette.  The fibreglass sides tend to be on higher end units and those trailers in turn tend to have free standing dining tables.  No doubt the free standing table and chairs look nicer – we had them in our Savanna - but they’re just not as practical as a dinette. 

The big issue in a smaller 5th wheel is storage and the dinette is a great solution to kitchen storage.  Its also a good solution to a bed for short term guests but that really isn’t an issue for us.  We’ve always felt that our RVs should accommodate 6 for drinks and 4 for supper but sleep only 2.  This one will do that just fine.  A big bonus on the one we found is that Neil has removed the crappy RV couch and replaced it with two great honking big recliners.  We’ve both kind of got used to our recliners in the house so now we won’t have to live without them when we travel.

When I started putting together my trip for the end of last week it briefly appeared that the weather might warm up but of course that never materialized.  It was in fact effing bloody cold on Friday with some light snow falling.  Rather than buying a fifth wheel receiver for the truck (and thereby permanently losing the use of the truck bed) I bought a Mumby gooseneck adapter for the trailer.  So I had to install that on the trailer before I could even start hooking up.  The trailer was in about a foot of snow but I didn’t have any serious difficulty getting to it or getting the truck under the gooseneck once I got it installed.

Installing the gooseneck adapter wasn’t that big a deal and I was really impressed with how well built it is.


That’s what it looks like installed.  There’s a machined sleeve that fits around the pin and clamps in place.  Then the main portion of the extension fits over the sleeve and bolts up to it.  Finally the hitch casting bolts into the bottom of  the extension and the braces bolt back to the trailer pinbox.  It was unpleasant installing the adapter in –25 weather but that had nothing to do with the quality of construction.  The assembly is pretty heavy – probably close to 100# in total – so it held heat for a long time.  I had it lying on the floor on the passenger side of the truck where it got a direct hit from the heater so it was really warm when I started the install and it was still melting snow by the time I got done. 

I did have a bit of an adventure when I started actually hooking up because I allowed the “scoop” on the front of the hitch to get filled up with snow.  That in turn got jammed up inside the ball receiver and prevented it from seating completely on the ball which meant I couldn’t get the latch pin in.  By the time I finally figured out what I was doing wrong I had a major icepack in the receiver which I eventually had to chisel out while lying on my back in the snowbank.  All in all it was a very bad day for my arthritis and I paid dearly for my efforts yesterday.  This morning I can almost use my right arm to drink coffee again.  Almost but not quite.  We still haven’t unhooked the truck and we won’t until the promised warmer weather arrives either this afternoon or tomorrow morning.  “Warmer” in this case is extremely subjective but after the –25 to –32 bullshit we have been suffering through, even –10 or –12 will feel better.

1 comment:

Reluctant Cowboy said...

Some how I missed you got a truck.
Like the hitch set up much better
than the one I put on my daughters fifth wheel.

Keep warm