I’m now writing on the day after Christmas so I’ve been here a little over a month. I cooked a spiral cut ham, with veggies and pumpkin pie for Christmas dinner and today took the bone and made a big InstantPot of delicious pea soup.
This motor coach couldn’t be more comfortable even if the weather has been chilly. It has a system called AquaHot which was completely foreign to me. I wasn’t sure how to operate it but it seemed to me to not be working. Couldn’t figure out if something was broken or if I just didn’t know what I was doing. I was surprised when googling AH to find a mobile AH authorized service man in the area (he winters here and lives in Michigan’s UP) so I texted him with my guess as to a problem, asking if he could look at it and let me tag along and learn. He was willing, he diagnosed the problem and fixed it and I learned a lot on operating the system.
While my air conditioners will also function for warmth, via heat pumps, they are not very effective below outside temps of 40-45 degrees. The heat pumps only put out about 2000 BTUs (typical gas grill range between 8-12,000 BTUs). The coach does not have, like most RVs have, a propane fired furnace. nor is there a traditional propane/electric water heater. AquaHot handles the furnace, water heater functions and then some.
About in the middle of the coach is a basement bay with the AH. It has a boiler containing boiler fluid. There is a flame that can be ignited in the boiler to heat the fluid and through a heat exchanger (like on the boat) the hot boiler fluid will transfer its heat to the fresh water for the showers etc while the same hot boiler fluid (which stays hot much longer than just hot water) provides heated air to the floor vents via fans. The burner is fired using diesel from the main engine fuel tank (which also fuels the generator). The AH also has an electrical element which helps maintain temps during burner intermissions or when I turn the diesel switch ‘off’. The diesel burner is 65,000 BTUs. So when on diesel, water is always immediately and continuously hot at the taps.
AH has another function as well and that is to pre heat the big Diesel engine. Diesels are not only difficult to start when cold but starting them cold greatly reduces their life expectancy. ‘Cold’ would be considered most ambient temperatures. Many diesels have a battery glow plug or 110v heater block to warm up the fuel and/or the engine itself before starting.
AH is plumbed into the regular engine cooling system (see earlier post #101 when the coolant between the two burst and I needed a mountain side tow) so when you are driving, hot engine coolant will run the AH heating functions enroute and for hours after. Conversely, before starting the motor coach engine on a cool morning, you can fire the AH boiler and its hot coolant (not the boiler fluid) will circulate thru the engine block and warm up the engine before starting.
So anyway, the AH flame sensor wasn’t working and there was no flame lighting the boiler. The fuel injector was pumping raw diesel out. A relatively easy fix putting in a new sensor. I had normal maintenance done at the same time to the fuel injector, new fuel filter etc.
In case you are wondering, it takes very little fuel and the fuel pickup is a third of the way from the bottom of the tank so it will never run me out of fuel. It uses about 1/2 gal per hour but it is off most of the time. Then when it is on, it will bring everything up to temp at which time the electrical element will hold temp (assuming I’m hooked up to electricity or running the generator). My typical use on a cold night will be to run the diesel AH for one cycle (15-20 min) and then turn off the diesel part. Elec will hold temps comfy then for the night. If it gets real cold and if I wake at 5 or 6 am, I’ll turn it on again for a cycle and reheat everything including enough water for a long shower later in the morning. So I figure I’m using about 1/6th of a gal per cold night. Heat during the day, if needed, is easily handled by the AC heat pumps. So now I’ve told you much more than what you wanted to know.
It’s been a very quiet month. There’s really not a lot around here. On top of it, it’s been quite chilly. Mostly nightly lows in the high 30s and highs of 60-65. An occasional 70 and some sub 60 days. All in all, not the weather I expected and not conducive to exploring.
Another reason for not going out too much is COVID19. I’m trying to be careful without being paranoid. When I go out, I do stay distant from fellow humanoids and if I need to go inside somewhere, I put my mask on. When reservations were made to winter here, AZ and this area were doing quite well statistically vis a vis Covid.
That has changed. AZ is now, per capita, the worst in the country. I think I commented when I was in Vegas how impressed I was with how 99%, nearly, of the people on the street and 99.9% of those inside were masked up. I now know what the flip side is. They don’t know what a mask is here in AZ or at least in Lake Havasu City. Grocery stores and Walmart are plastered with signs on the doors saying their policy requires masking up. That’s as far as they go. Even employees are maskless or wear them at half staff. I asked a manager and was told that it was up to customers to make other customers comply. Really??? Even LabCorp employees,including phlebotomists, were maskless. On Edit 1/8/21. AZ is now the worst, per capita, of any place in the world. https://abcnews.go.com/US/arizona-hottest-hot-spot-covid-19-health-officials/story?id=75062175
I don’t like getting Amazon packages or my mail here. To get to the office to pick up ones mail, you go through the clubhouse. Inside you walk past a dozen or so tables with 6 or more filled with 8 people each playing cards – all day, all maskless. Walk-in and they all look up, see you are not one of the ‘regulars’ and go back to cards – never one wave or greeting of ‘hello’ in over a month. Enter the office past 4 separate areas posted with ‘you must wear a mask’ sign to find 3 or 4 maskless people at the small table where mail and packages are strewn and all these maskless folks are leaned over the table pawing through the envelopes and packages. I brought it up to the mgr – why cover all your windows with “you must wear a mask” signs and then not enforce it – even she, not once, has been seen wearing a mask. She just looks at me like I’m crazy.
So now a vaccine has been released! All of it has gone to Phoenix so far. Not a trickle in the backwaters. Check with the Mohave County Dept of Health and they have no clue. Local (Phoenix) TV news shows, night after night, spend at least 1/2 of their half hour show on COVID19, deaths, hospitalizations, ICU bed utilization (not one available ICU bed available within 100 miles), etc. and still people don’t take simple precautions. The AZ Dept of Health in Phoenix is writing the priority rules for the State. Each day it seems a new group is listed as essential and moved up the priority chain. Literally, over 60% of the population is now a higher priority in this state than the 65 and up and people with chronic health conditions groups. Starting to wonder if the next group to take precedence will be illegal aliens (don’t laugh, CA is toying with prioritizing inmates). Also wondering, but can’t find out, how AZ will deal with non resident snowbirds who are spending their $$ in the local economy.
So doing some serious research. CA is out as is New Mexico (too bad as I’d like to spend some more quality time in NM but little is open in the way of campgrounds and other services). Two southern states that have released their priorities to follow the nat’l guidelines for seniors and health compromised are FL and TX. TX also has committed vaccinating the snowbird population in the state and daily publishes the most comprehensive daily supply vaccineschedule I’ve seen. Each county is listed with every vaccination site in each county along with the number of doses available at each site by vaccine manufacturer (Moderna or Pfizer)
Additional pages show the same breakdown by provider/county as to how many actual vaccinations have been given by age group and by priority type. They appear to have their act together, have committed to populations actually in the state vs those who are registered residents etc and their transparency should help against politicalization.
So am seriously considering abandoning my paid reservation here (reserved thru the end of January) and heading to the Rio Grand Valley (Gulf Coast along the Mexico border/Mission/McAllen, So Padre Island area of Texas). There are a multitude of resort type parks that traditionally are populated with Canadians. With the borders closed, most Canadians are still ‘UP NORTH’ and web sites are reflecting vacancies and reduced pricing. I’ve asked for and received some info from a good friend and reader who has wintered in that area for many winters. It would be somewhat of a commitment as the drive is just under 1,500 miles with no open parks, as of right now, across New Mexico. Can always ‘camp’ overnight in a truck stop etc.
I’ve really only gone on one side trip while here – a 50/60 mile drive south to Parker, AZ and the Parker Dam.
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