First Rule of RV’ing

The first rule of RV’ing is to expect the unexpected. We’ve been part timers for over 3 years now, yet we still seem surprised when something doesn’t go very smoothly. From engine problems, loose bolts, leaking fittings to overnight freezes all catching us off guard on the first leg from the shop or shouse in Southern California to Rawlins, WY.

Getting Ready

We finished the hydronic system and did preliminary testing at the shop. Then we completed moving back into Maximus. The unexpected cold weather gave us a perfect opportunity to test the system in the field. Heating hot water worked great especially heating with engine coolant while driving. No more leaks were discovered, but there’s a slight problem; keep reading and catch up on all our surprises. Admittedly, they were more annoying and created a slight delay but nothing was dangerous or costly. That’s the good news.

Mapping Our Route

Of course, a big work item is usually planning where we’re going.  However, this year, we know we’re heading straight to Wyoming and dropping off car parts for Steve’s brother.  Along the way we’ll stop in Grand Junction, CO and my sister’s for a rental property project.   

Maybe, I should call this the sibling leg of our travels.

Camping Areas along the Way

Neither of these camp areas are new finds. We have found them both convenient and quick to access from the I-15 and the I-70 of this driving route and will continue to use them in the future.

Both of these have reviews on our blog. Click the photos above to review the campsite blog posts.

Mileage and Fuel

We drove Maximus over 1021 miles at a fuel cost of about $587. Fuel is obviously higher priced, but we’ll suck it up and pay more attention to planning for fuel. We also have a TSD diesel corporate account and I’ll use gas buddy for comparisons. That lets me source the best pricing in the areas we’re traveling. We’ll also be leveraging a 15 gallon auxiliary fuel tank much more often this summer just to stretch our miles on a less expensive tank.

New Maximus Features

New items in place we’re looking forward to putting to use are:

  • Larger coolant heated water tank (calorifier)
  • External MiMo LTE antenna
  • New truck cab console

I’ve linked in the Mimo antenna project blog post. Just tap on the image above to see more details on not just the antenna but the LTE cellular plan and router we currently are using and some initial test results.

And there are many other new items that we started enjoying.

We also got a new BT leveler we’re going to test once we hit the road.  We still need to complete a setup so it has a level baseline and I’m looking forward to doing a review of this product on the blog and a video.

Now The Unexpected

Although we made our escape and took a well worn route, it wasn’t without challenges.

Operational Failures with New Water Heating System

Using engine coolant to heat up our new 5.8g hot water tank is frankly quite exciting. If you’ve ever been on the road and get somewhere tired and maybe cranky, some hot water seems to set the right tone for a good sleep.

But it got a little too hot on it’s first use and did not trigger the shut off propertly. Fortunately, nothing exploded and it was not too difficult for Steve to repair. It was definitely a period of angst that afternoon. If hydronic setup or systems interest you, check out the YouTube playlist of our design, install and test videos.

We also used the cabin heat for a bit in WY and came across another change to the system that is needed. Not as urgent, as we don’t plan on using the system for cabin heating during the summer; well I guess that means watching out for unexpected snow and ice storms like we just encountered in WY.

A Leak in our Fuel Transfer Setup

Last year, Steve installed an auxiliary fuel tank. Primarily it’s needed to provide fuel for the diesel air heater which is the primary heat source in Maximus. However, it is also a back up fuel tank providing another 15 gallons of diesel on top of the 38 gallons in the main tank. To use that additional fuel for driving, there’s a transfer pump controlled from the cab.

We made a stop in Utah at one of the gorgeous overlooks to discover the recent transfer didn’t work as it should. I could smell fuel was soon as I stepped out of the cab and the poor jeep was coated in a layer of fuel as the wind had picked up the dribbles and sprayed it out behind us. We probably lost about 20% of the transfer to the wind.

The tightening of a hose clamp appears to have resolved the failure.

50 Miles from Nowhere with a Broken Hose

It’s not quite nowhere but there’s a very long stretch of I-13 south of I-84 from Colorado to Rawlins, WY where there just isn’t much around. Along this long, lonely stretch I heard a loud whooshing noise from the truck’s engine. Of course, I had flash back to 2018 and our major $2500 engine problems. The truck wasn’t having difficulty driving so, we progressed to a reasonable pull off for a look under the hood. Steve had recognized the noise and confirmed it was a hose to the turbo that was torn and now flapping around under the hood. He re-attached twice and eventually we just had to manage driving without turbo support. Fortunately we were in mostly flat area and he could manage to drive the truck without needing the turbo very much. Unfortunately, our fuel mileage dropped from 12mpg to 6mpg.

Video Update

Let us know what you think of the video! Capturing moments to document our journey is fun but we also strive to provide inspiration and information that can benefit other Truck Campers, Vans, RVs doing modifications or conversions in addition to traveling. Thanks for stopping by.

That’s all for now; frankly that’s enough for the first week of travel!

That’s all for now, hope you found a shop talk or two informational.  We just recently completed the hydronic testing video and we’re both excited to use the new calorifier for heating our water.  The original electric water heater was a disappointment. It consumed too much electricity and never seemed to satisfy a full round of hot showers (which are always short) and some dinner dish washing. As soon as you start consuming hot water, additional cool water flows into the tank, making the hot water supply no longer hot enough.

VIDEO Update

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