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Bell and the Maiden Voyage



Bell, our 1972 Vintage Travel Trailer, set up and lokking pretty.We made it. We spent the weekend in Bell, our 1972 Vintage Travel Trailer. It was a great weekend considering how it started. We did have a great time and the time we spent with Bell we had been working towards since April. It has been a long but rewarding journey. As promised here is a recap of the weekend.

Day One

I had a few last minute things to get done before we left. I had to get propane tanks filled. I threw them in the pickup and got them filled on the way home from work. I backed the Durango in the driveway and proceeded to load the back with mostly vintage camping gear. It took about a hour to get everything loaded and when I went to back it up to Bell I got in, turned the key, and ‘click’, ‘click’, ‘click’. Remember the battery problem we had the first time we tried to take Bell out? Well it came back again. The battery is getting tired but with a jump and letting it run for a bit, it starts right up. I am going to have to break down and pop for  $90and get a new battery.

Finally we headed off down the road and arrived at Plymouth Park, a Corp of Engineers park on the Columbia River. We checked in, found our spot and pulled Bell into position. The park only had electric/water sites so we will have to wait until next time to try the sewer lines. I got Bell leveled, plugged her into the 120 park service panel, and then got out the new water hose and water pressure regulator. When I tested the Bell’s water system I used the fresh water tank and the water pump. This was the first time we had hooked up Bell to a pressurized water system. I had installed the water pressure regulator, hooked up the hose and crack open the water spigot valve. I did a walk around and noticed one small leak where I had plumbed in the drain valves to drain the entire water system for winter. I brought tools with us incase we ran into any problems and this was one of those problems. A quick snug of the flared fittings fixed the leak.

Another quick walk around the trailer found a big puddle of water directly under the water heater access door. Back inside Bell, I opened the door that provides access to the water heater from the inside. There was water all around the base but no leaks in any of the lines leading to the water heater. Back outside, I opened the outside access and there was a little water but no major leaks. I shut of the park water service valve, popped the overflow on the water heater to relieve the pressure in the tank but there was a leak somewhere in the tank. That means a new water heater before next spring.

1972 Bell Travel TrailerNext thing I know Sharon is telling me she found another leak. This one under the sink. It appeared that in the trip there was enough vibration to break the seal on the sink drain. When I had hooked up the water hose, the first thing I did was go inside and open the kitchen faucet to clear the lines of air and test the water. The water going the drain was leaking and the slip fitting for the pee trap to the main sewer line. I didn’t have my channel locks so the fix will have to wait until we get home.

Sharon and I enjoyed sharing some fried chicken, jojos, sliced cheese and croissants for dinner. After dinner Sharon worked on getting Bell organized by arranging cupboards and hanging more Coca Cola memorabilia. I got out the laptop but unfortunately no internet access. With Sharon working, I started a new blog and checked Facebook a couple of times with my new phone. All in all, a very peaceful evening, that is until 11 o’clock.

I was sitting working on the laptop and Sharon a fiddling with her Coke stuff when we heard something outside. It sound like someone or something was crawling up the front of the trailer. I got up and got the flashlight and headed outside. Sharon said, ‘Are you going out there?’ Sure why not and out the door I went. The first thing I noticed was the garbage we had hung on the outside door knob and the bottom being torn out. Actually it was more like clawed out and I immediately suspected raccoons. I made a walk around the trailer, looked under the trailer and then walked out around the Durango. Nothing, so I start shinning the light around the area and there I found the culprit. A black and white stripped kitty. More specifically, a skunk. I had be probably been no more than 10 feet from it when I was at the back of the Durango. Luckily it didn’t decide to mark me with it’s perfume.

By now it was bed time and the trailer was toasty warm. We made down Bell’s bed and crawled in. We both slept pretty soundly till about 4 am when we were awakened by the ‘chirp’, ‘chirp’, ‘chirp’ of the smoke alarm. I got up out of the nice warm bed to see what the matter was. No smoke, no fire, just a chirping smoke alarm. We had a similar problem with the one in the 27 foot Wilderness we had owned previously. The only way to get back to sleep was to pull the battery. With the smoke alarm out of the way it was back to the warm bed and another 3 1/2 hours sleep.

Coca Cola Travel TrailerDay Two

Morning started at 7:30 am. I got up and plugged in the coffee that Sharon had put together the night before. The GE Pot Belly coffee pot started perking. There is nothing like waking up to Folgers in your cup. We sat outside for about an hour and enjoyed the birds singing and the shotguns going off all around us. It’s duck hunting season here in Southeastern Washington and it was very apparent this Saturday morning.

Next up was breakfast. I fired up the Coleman RoadTrip grill and fixed bacon, hashbrowns and eggs. Sharon perked another pot of coffee and made toast in the GE toaster/toaster oven that she had bought for Bell. The toast was perfect (Sharon always make a good piece of toast) and it went well with bacon and hashbrowns smothered with eggs over easy.

After breakfast I broke out the tools and grabbed the screen for the front door. I cut a new piece of screen and then proceeded to mount it in the frame with the rubber cord pressed into the groove in the frame. Trimmed the excess away and mount it back in the door. We can now open the window without worry of flies and other undesirable flying insects invading out new living space.

After the door screen I had welded the nuts in the front windows shade/rock guard with JB Weld because they would not hold when we tried to lock it in the up position with the thumb screws. The JB Weld had cured and it was now time to trim away the excess so we could re-assemble and see if it would hold. With the excess cleaned up and the thumb screws reinserted, one side tightened up fine. The other side stripped again. With that I left the shade up and will re-weld the other side when we get back home. While I was fixing the shade Sharon was busy hanging up the American Flag and Route 66 windsocks we had bought on our trip to the coast.

Coca Cola BellAbout that time we had more visitors, however this time they were the human kind. Our friends, Jerry and Kim stop by to see Bell and the campground. Sharon perked up more coffee, and more coffee, and still more coffee. All four of us sat around the picnic table and talked, joked and laughed most of the afternoon. They accepted our invitation to stay for dinner and I grilled up some sirloin steaks and Sharon made more toast, sliced up some cheese and apples, and served it all with cottage cheese and potato chips. It was a very nice dinner shared with good friends.

Then I got out the hatchet and the fire wood and we built a fire and sat around for another 2 hours. It was a very pleasant evening as we continued to talk and listen to music streamed from Jerry’s phone. All in all, a very relaxing and pleasant day shared with good friends.

About the time it got dark I went to turn the outside light on. It was already on but very dim. Sharon said she had turned it on and noticed it was dim, as was the one in the range hood. Oh great, now what was wrong. I went in and checked the main breaker panel. The circuit breaker was on so there was power to the converter. I then checked the converter. It seems as though when I was wiring the propane detector I had flipped the main to the converter off. Flipping it back on and the converter came to life and the light outside was back to it’s normal brilliance. Chock one up to operator error.

Kim and Jerry left about 8-8:30pm and Sharon and I set by the fire until it went out about 10 o’clock. We then went inside Bell to kick back for the night. The door had been open most of the day and I had turned the thermostat way down to limit how much the furnace ran. I turned the furnace up to take the chill off and the fan came on. The fan on the furnace always come on for 15 seconds or so before the furnace ignites and starts burning propane to warm things up. Almost immediately when the fan came on the propane detector started going off. Sharon grabbed the dog and ran outside. I turned the furnace off and went outside to join them. After a few minutes the propane detector quit it’s chirping and I went back in to check things out. No signs of a propane leak, so I turned the thermostat down a little and flipped the furnace back on. The fan started and then it ignited. We sat up until about 11:30 and the furnace cycled 3 or 4 times. No chirping from the propane detector.

The only thing I can figure is with the battery being so low and the door being open most of the day, at some point the furnace tried to kick on. If the voltage was low enough to not run the fan but the starting circuit opened the propane valve, there may have been some unburned propane in the chamber. When the converter was once again running and the furnace fan came on it expelled the raw propane into the room and the propane detector did it’s job of warning us. We slept very comfortably all night and didn’t get up until around 8:30am Sunday morning.

Day 3

Day 3 was pack up and head for home day. We started the day off pretty much the same way we did Saturday, sitting outside, enjoying the morning and a good cup of coffee. We decided to forgo breakfast and just pack up and head for home. The two nights spent in Bell told us what we needed to know and the additional work that needs to be done. With that Sharon started packing up Bell on the inside and I got the outside stuff taken down and packed in the Durango. I then un-hooked Bell, removed the jacks and hitched her up and we headed down the road.

Epilogue

Widget, our SchnauzerIt was a very good first outing. We had fun, visited with friends, and found out the weaker points in Bell so that we can have them fixed by spring. We took Widget, our 10 year old Schnauzer with us and he did very well. He rode in the car well and was very well behaved, he didn’t bark much, only at other dogs and he did very well in Bell.

Bell was very warm and inviting all weekend. We slept well, even on the somewhat small futon bed. Sharon’s GE appliances worked well and the decorating she did on the inside really set Bell off as a Coca Cola Travel Trailer. By the time she makes her next trip in the spring we hope to have her decked out in her new red and white paint.

Now it’s back to work on the things we found from this trip. Bell may not roll for the next four or five months but join Sharon and I as we ‘Keep on Rollin’ towards spring.



The BEST holidays

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