Joseph Herrin (05-31-2015)
The Clean Dreamer
If you did not read the first part of this series, you can find it at the link below:
Sensing that the Spirit is directing me to get all things in a good state of repair so that I can drive my bus down the road when needed, and to attend to a number of other repairs related to daily living, I have been steadily checking items off of my to-do-list.
I had been hindered in this task due to an injury sustained to my right knee in early April. I was practically bedridden for about a month, but have been able to progress from crutches to limping along. Something is still amiss in my knee. I experience sharp pains with each step and it likely needs more rest to fully recover. At the same time, I have felt a pressing desire to get things done, including mowing the yard with my walk behind push mower. I got the front yard mowed yesterday, but it was painful to complete and today I had to retrieve my crutches from my trailer again as I found walking quite painful.
In the earlier post in this series I mentioned a number of items that needed repair or upgrading. Some of them seemed more pressing than others. At the top of the list was getting my bus (The Dreamer) where it would crank again. I had not cranked the bus since I returned to Middle Georgia from Jekyll Island in February of 2014. I should have been cranking the bus routinely to burn up the old gas in the tank and to keep the motor working properly, but I let it sit for about 10 months without starting the motor. The cranking battery stays charged up because I have it hooked to some small solar panels on the roof at the front of the bus. However, when I tried cranking the bus back around December it would not start.
It appeared there was no fire getting to the spark plugs. I began looking for someone who is a mechanic to come out and look at it. A few weeks ago I mentioned my need of a mechanic to a friend I met at an RV park a few years back. This friend is now staying in another location about a 90 minute drive north of me. He mentioned that there is a mechanic who lives in a motorhome at the RV park he is staying at. He volunteered to ask the man if he would drive down and look at my bus. The next day the man was here and quickly diagnosed that the points and condenser inside the distributor cap needed replacing. Power was getting to the distributor, but it was not getting passed it to travel to the spark plugs. We drove to Perry, a town about 15 miles away, and picked up the necessary items at a local auto parts store. When they were replaced the bus cranked up fine.
Getting the bus to start was a great source of relief. That it was a relatively minor repair was a blessing. Next on my list was getting the large propane tank mounted under my bus refilled. I use this tank for cooking only. It supplies the gas for my oven and stove top. The gauge was showing that the tank was nearly empty. I was surprised it had lasted as long as it had, for I had last filled it up when I returned to Middle Georgia 15 months earlier. Normally, I have to refill the tank once a year. For the last 6 months I had Nicholas staying with me, so I was doing more than my normal amount of cooking. Nevertheless, the tank did not run out.
I had planned to drive the bus to town to refill the propane as soon as I got the bus to crank, but my knee was still giving me problems, and unhooking the bus from utilities, the trailer I pull behind it, and packing everything away so things don’t come crashing down when I am driving, is a large task that requires a couple hours of work. It would take even longer since my knee was not fully cooperating. In the end, I decided to call around and see if there was a local propane company that would fill the tank on site. I was blessed to find a service provider who would do the job at a reasonable cost. There is a small propane service company in Marshallville, only 5 miles away. They sent a truck out and refilled my tank. It required 12.1 gallons of propane and the total charge was $39.40. Many companies charge a premium to do RV fill-ups on site, usually charging $20 on top of the cost of the propane, but this company did not do so. Thank you Father.
Although the next job from my to-do-list is not in the order that I completed it, I will mention it as it also pertains to the bus. There are nine windows out of about 34 total (not including the windshield) that I painted over to provide privacy and reflect heat. Most of the bus windows I intentionally left accessible so that they can be opened to allow a breeze to blow through. These windows that open all have screens on them and have reflective tinting applied on the inside. The other nine windows are sealed up behind walls, or are in the bathroom where you would not typically be letting the windows down. Since they cannot let light through they are painted over.
The spray paint had not adhered very well to the glass. Although they had been painted just three years ago, they were needing to be scraped and painted again. I generally wash my bus outside twice a year. I had begun washing the bus, and had gotten all but the passenger side complete before I injured my knee. I needed to complete the wash job, and scrape and paint the windows. This required that I move the canopy on the passenger side of the bus.
In the photo above I have the canopy moved back. The bus has been completely washed, and four sets of windows toward the back of the bus have had the paint scraped from them readying them to be repainted. There were an additional two windows at the back and three on the other side that had to be scraped and painted.
I only lack painting the two back windows now and I will be through with this item from my to-do-list. I also ordered two replacement lens covers for lights on the back of the bus which were cracked. One broke in pieces as I was washing the bus.
Another major item on my list was getting the repairs and upgrades completed on my recumbent trike. I had purchased the trike while on Jekyll Island a year and a half ago after having taken a spill from my bicycle and breaking some ribs while taking Champ on a run. Because I pull a trailer behind my bus, I am unable to tow a car. Consequently, I have used a bicycle, and now a trike for all my local transportation needs. I ride it to the post office and to the grocery store. I generally do this once a week as it is a round trip of approximately thirty miles. I also chose this mode of transportation, because I enjoy riding, I need the exercise, and it helps me to live a minimalist lifestyle without the added expense and responsibility that comes with having a car.
After purchasing the trike, I added an electric motor to help out on those long trips to town. I currently have over 2,500 miles on the trike and it was time for some maintenance and upgrades.
I purchased a 5 year old unused Nuvinci N171 internally geared hub to replace the rear wheel and hub that had broken. The trike came with an entry level geared rear hub, but it could not handle the torque of the electric motor. The Nuvinci is built more sturdily and is used by many people who have electric motors on their bikes and trikes.
You can see that the chain is broken in the image above. This occurred yesterday as I was heading to town. The master link on the chain came apart. This was the original chain that came with the trike. It is suggested by bike shops that a chain be replaced every 1,000 miles as they tend to stretch over time. I had just purchased a replacement chain, but had not yet installed it. It actually requires three regular length bike chains hooked end to end to complete a circuit from the front sprocket near the pedals to the sprocket on the rear wheel on my trike.
I was blessed in that someone came along with a pick-up truck right after my chain broke and offered me a ride home. I was about 5-6 miles from home, so it could have been a very long walk with my injured knee. Pedaling my trike does not cause me any discomfort, but the act of walking does.
You can see in the image above that there is only a single 16 tooth sprocket at the rear hub. All the gears are contained inside the hub. The single sprocket replaced a 9 sprocket cassette that was mounted on my previous rear wheel. Nuvinci recommends that an owner use a front sprocket that is no more than a 2 to 1 ratio to the rear sprocket. In other words, since the rear sprocket has 16 teeth, the front sprocket should have no more than 32 teeth. Anything higher and the torque might be too great for the rear hub and the speed range would be very high with little on the low end.
30 Tooth Race Face Sprocket
My electric motor came with a 48 tooth front sprocket, so I removed it and replaced it with a 30 tooth red sprocket by Race Face. The gearing seems just about perfect. I actually have access to lower gears for hill climbing, while still being able to attain a good cruising speed of 20-25 mph on the flats. The bash guard from the 48 tooth sprocket would not mount to the new sprocket, so I tried riding without a bash guard (chain guard). Although I am not concerned with bashing the sprocket on anything since the trike is not used for rough terrain and downhill racing, the guards also serve to keep one’s pants’ legs out of the chain.
After mounting the new rear hub and front sprocket I decided to try out the trike close to home. That little voice inside told me to put my pants’ leg clips on. These clips keep my pants from billowing out at the bottom and keep them away from the chain. I always wear the clips when riding to town, but since I was just going a short distance I decided not to put them on. I was out on the road in front of the neighbor’s house when my pants got caught in the chain. Right at that moment my neighbor, a young man in his twenties, drove up. He pulled alongside me and rolled his window down to chat. It is hard to look nonchalant when your leg is stuck straight out and you cannot move it because your pants are in the chain. Mine were stuck good, too. I could not go forward or backward. So, laying aside all attempts to save face, my first words to my neighbor were, “Would you mind helping me get my pants out of my chain?” I figured I might as well laugh at myself. No sense in taking appearances too seriously.
Arriving back home, the first thing I did was order a bash guard, and I will make sure I also wear my pants clips when on my trike.
Bash Guard Installed
One thing led to another once I changed out my rear hub and got rid of the 9 gear rear derailleur. Because I was using a small sprocket on front and back, my chain had a much narrower circuit to travel. This required that I install new chain tubes to guide the chain around metal parts to keep the chain from rubbing. I went to the local Ace Hardware store and purchased a couple pieces of PVC tubing with flared ends (about $2 each). I cut it to size and mounted it on the trike. Although this kept the chain from rubbing on the trike’s cross member, there was a pinch point where the chain met on its forward and return runs. The bottom chain rubbed on the idler pulley that routed the chain on its top run.
You can see where the chains are coming together just under the idler pulley. This was a problem which was solved by purchasing a second idler pulley (a return idler pulley) that was made specifically for this manufacturer of recumbent trikes.
The image above shows the second idler pulley installed. Now the chain does not rub where it is not supposed to. One thing I am not satisfied with is that the chain lacks a chain tensioner. A chain tensioner typically uses a strong spring to keep a steady tension on the chain so that it will not become loose and begin to slip on the front or rear sprockets, or come off the sprockets. They sell chain tensioners that mount where the rear derailleur would have mounted before I removed it. Following are two types of chain tensioners available.
4-Jeri SS Tensioner
I purchased one of each type of tensioner, but neither one would mount up correctly on my trike. The Nuvinci Hub has a cable adapter that mounts outside the wheel frame and it interferes with the tensioner. If the tensioner is mounted the rear wheel will not slide into its mounting channel. I am going to have to put on my thinking cap and come up with some way to mount a chain tensioner because slipped chains can be a real problem when using an electric motor.
Anyway, after 6 weeks of not being able to ride my trike due to my knee injury and the repairs and upgrades on the trike, I was able to get it back on the road a few days ago. The only one happier than myself about this development is Champ. He is ecstatic whenever I pull out the trike and ask him if he wants to go on a run.
For my birthday back on May 7th, Nicholas and my daughter Kristin got together and purchased me a GoPro Hero action camera so that I can take videos when riding my trike. I have some footage now of taking Champ on a run as well as a full one hour of video that shows the journey from my rural location where my bus is parked into the town of Montezuma, GA ending at the post office. I am in the process of editing the videos now and should have them available for posting in coming days.
My next project on my list is to add a switch to my electrical set-up in my bus so that I can choose to charge my battery bank from either the solar panels, or from shore power.
I have the switch sitting inside my bus ready for me to mount it and do all the hook-ups. It may be a few days before I begin that project, however, as I have a stack of letters from men in prison to answer, and another batch of newsletters to print and mail out to them. As important as I believe it is that we use this time of grace Yahweh has given to us to prepare for troublous days ahead and to get all things in readiness, it should be a priority that we not neglect the spiritual and physical needs of those whom the Lord gives us opportunity to minister unto every day.
Please pray that my knee might be healthy enough for me to be able to keep the yard mowed. I have come to understand that part of the reason for this knee injury is as a divine goad to get me to bring one other area of my life into a state of readiness. As I have prayed and sought the Father about the matter I have sensed that He is using it to encourage me to stay focused on losing weight so that I will get to the 165 pound weight goal He has set for me. The adage has repeatedly come to mind that states “the larger they are, the harder they fall.” Carrying excess weight on our bodies not only causes us to be less nimble and less capable of avoiding injury, it acts to magnify injury when accidents do occur.
I purchased a set of scales so that I can regularly check my progress in attaining to the goal the Father has set for me. I have 35 pounds to lose, and three months to do so. By the first of September my goal is to be at 165 lbs. and to remain below that weight. The pain in my knee will certainly help me to stay mindful of this aspect of my life that needs to be brought to a state of readiness. Yahweh is gracious and loving, even in discipline. My heart’s desire is to respond as a humble and obedient son to His chastisement that the discipline might be lifted. Your prayers are appreciated.
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