Replacing the Water Pump

trailer upgrades, Uncategorized

Late last week our water pump started to die… it’s motor started sounding like it was pumping grit instead of water and the pump just wouldn’t stay primed, which meant that we were siphoning water through the pump to try to prime it about twice as often. Then it started to leak a lot. We had a stream of water running from the pump to the wall and along the wall in the storage area at the foot of the bed until draining out the floor in the corner. Thankfully that storage area is open so I could dry it out using the fan. We did what we could to keep things dry for a couple days but it quickly became clear that it was time for a new pump.

We were happy to replace the old pump with a new self-priming one that we purchased from Travco RV in Burnaby. This is going to be our go-to store for trailer parts and services as they can pretty much do everything you need and have the character of a family-run business: the staff is super friendly and extremely helpful.

Below are step-by-step instructions to replacing the water pump in your Boler, which is a pretty simple job. Our pump is a SHURflo 4800-101-E65. We still need to put a bit of electrical tape around the wiring to make sure it’s totally protected and to fiddle with the water pressure sensor diaphragm because we don’t reach the pressure it’s set at to trigger the pump to turn off. Otherwise it works like a dream so far and gives us increased pressure, which is a real bonus. Check out the instructions and photos below!

  1. Turn off the electricity (duh!)
  2. Attach the water hoses to the pump intake and output. People often wrap the threads of the pump’s intake/output with Teflon tape to make sure the seal is tight.
  3. Attach the positive wire from the pump to the positive wire on the trailer (in this case it was red to orange) by twisting the wires together and securing with the grommet and cap. You’ll need a screwdriver to tighten the grommet. Repeat this with the negative wires (ours are black to white).
  4. Secure the water pump into place by positioning it where the old pump was and bolt it down tightly using the screwdriver.
  5. Turn the power back on and test the pump.

If you want more detailed instructions, you can check out this great video by Trek with Us on YouTube. Happy camping!

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Keeping Your Trailer Dry

products, trailer tips

One of the most important things to keep on top of when living in a trailer is moisture control, even more so when living in an old unit like the Rambler! The curved walls and ceiling of the Boler are covered in Ensolite, a vinyl-coated insulating foam originally developed by NASA. The Ensolite is textured to combat condensation. Ours has definitely seen better days, it’s been patched in areas and painted at one time but sports a good number of tears and discoloured areas where the previous owner has patched problem spots with silicon. We plan to repair and repaint the Ensolite as one of our first trailer upgrades but that’s for another time.

The Rambler doesn’t have any major leaks but I did find a thin patch of white mold in a couple spots in the trailer, especially in the lower storage areas where the wood meets the floor – the wood is old and deteriorating in some areas and moisture has come up from underneath. When we first moved in I hit all these areas with a household spray containing bleach and that seems to have cleared up the problem for the moment. I’m keeping a close eye on it though!

To combat condensation in the trailer it’s pretty imperative to keep air flowing through the space. We keep the window in the washroom open at all times since that room is made of fiberglass and the door is almost always closed. We also usually open both roof vents during the day – it’s safer than leaving the windows open and you can keep the vents open a crack even when it’s raining. When it’s nice out, we open all of the windows to air out the space and I try to dry our towels outside (post swim) as much as possible to keep the humidity level down.

None of this is really enough, however. Moisture seems to linger everywhere, especially in the storage areas that don’t get much air flow. We use a couple of products that absorb moisture: Dri-It Moisture Absorber, a contained package that you can adhere to any surface and Dri-Z-Air Dehumidifier, a refillable basket with a water collector beneath. The Dri-It packs are great for in the storage areas, we have one in our clothes and another in the storage above the dining table, though we will buy a couple extra next time we need to replace them because they seem to work really well. As the beads absorb moisture they turn into a gel, which is also how you know when they need replacing! They also come with a handy humidity indicator sticker that allows you to test the moisture levels in different areas of your trailer. We keep the Dri-Z-Air Dehumidifier beneath our table to help wick moisture out of the air in the main space of the trailer. It basically works the same way as the packs except the crystals  dissolve slowly and you can empty the tray once it fills up with water. The crystals are made of calcium chloride, which is a non-toxic inorganic salt product. As the crystals dissolve, the water in the tray continues to attract moisture in the air. You can buy replacement packs of the crystals at any RV store, Canadian Tire carries them as well. I think they also let off a slightly minty smell as they work, which I don’t mind either!

I’ve included a couple pictures below to show you the products and what the basket looks like after it’s been in the trailer for about a month, you can see how the crystals clump together and the water that’s been collected below. Do you have any other tips for keeping your trailer dry? As always, happy camping!

Official Boler Tour

organization, trailer tips

My mom came to visit last week and we gave her the full tour of the Rambler, which takes about one minute. She was impressed anyway, so we wanted to do the same for our online readers. Scroll through the pictures below for a look at how we organize and cozy up in our home. It’s still early days so we don’t have much in the way of decorations (not that we can fit much in there anyway) but that will come with time. We’ve got big plans so keep a look out for upcoming projects!

In organizing the trailer, everything really needs a dedicated place to avoid the build up of clutter. Luckily, almost every surface and seat in a Boler is hiding a storage area and there is a surprising amount of space to utilize. Hopefully some of the ideas we’ve used will help you in organizing your small space.

Things like Tupperware containers are essential: we keep our utensils, knives, spices and other small kitchen gadgets in Tupperware above the kitchen and dining area. We also have a large container stored under the bed for extra pantry items like baking goods, tinfoil and plastic wrap, etc. We keep a couple of pots and our extra toilet paper down there, too.

For storing things like clothing or towels, rolling them seems to be the best solution both for saving space as well as easy access. We keep our towels stored this way above the table along with our Monopoly board (so far the score is Tarah: 1, Ryan: 0). Behind the bench seat at the table we have our extra coats, sweaters and bags stored this way as well. The closet isn’t very large so only some key items are stored in there (though it’s still full to the brim). There is additional space on the bottom of the closet where I store my shoes, extra toiletries and our basket of vitamins. Above the bed there is one long storage space accessible through three doors. Ryan and I split the middle for our socks and undies and he has one side for his t-shirts (he’s got a good collection from being a screen printer for ten years) and I get the other side for my clothes.

Some of the storage areas are a bit awkward because they are not easily accessible. The bench area beneath our bed as well as the two spaces on either end of the bed are two such examples. The storage space at the foot of our bed is open because the last owner removed the cover but it works well for storing our broom and the laundry bag. I’m not sure what to do with the space at the head of the bed though, it’s quite deep and has a narrow access. (Any suggestions?) We store a few of our accessories on the shelf there for now.

Since we don’t use the shower in the bathroom it’s easy for us to keep some storage in there too, which mostly consists of our toiletries and gear for the pool. I just bought some earplugs the other day and now can swim as many laps as I want without plugging my ears up with water! I’m a happy camper.

There’s a few bits and bobs we need that don’t really fit into our other storage spaces like the hose for filling our water tank or my umbrella, all of which we keep under the bench close to the door for easy access. We’re planning to install a small container for our keys and sunglasses soon. Oh, the upgrades! They’re the most fun.

That’s basically it! The photos give a closer look at other areas like the kitchen and the all important fridge, so be sure to check them out. As always, we’d love to hear about storage solutions that you’ve found useful in your own tiny trailers! Happy camping!

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TBT: Grace Lake – May long weekend 2013

campsite review

Dull-Hatchet-Fire-BadgeIt’s time for another Throw Back Thursday post, just in time for the upcoming May Long weekend. This is from awhile back, when we first bought our conversion van, Rose. Hope you enjoy!

Our first trip out into the wilderness with Rose, our ’94 Ford conversion van. We decided to head out toward Chilliwack – a popular destination for Vancouverites seeking to do some camping. After reading about cheap campsites in the area in the Camp Free (or really cheap) in B.C. book, we landed on Grace Lake, a small site near the Chehalis River that is popular for ATVers and fisherman – the lake is stocked with Rainbow Trout. Our campground host Wayne told us upon arriving that one of his longtime customers had just that day caught her first fish after fishing the lake for twelve years, so I would be curious to see if others have had better luck. A small site with mostly gravel lots, the campground has only two sites with solid picnic tables but these were taken by the time we arrived at 10:30 pm. This wasn’t a problem, however, as the larger lot had a couple of areas good for camping – we gave ourselves some privacy by blocking our site with the van – and our neighbours found a place to set their tent up. We even had a view of the lake, which Camp Free said we wouldn’t. There were a few other families tenting in the trees closer to the lake just off the cushy moss covered trail.

The site does not boast much peace and quiet on account of the ATVs, and being so close to the road (although somewhat above it) certainly left Rose dusty at the end of the weekend. The amenities are sparse – there is a pit toilet that Wayne keeps incredibly clean and you can buy bundles of wood for $10. Wayne (aka “Santa Wayne”) was seriously good natured and helpful, he lent us his swede saw when his wood supply ran out so we could cut up some of the dead-fall in the forest as well as some of the rain water he had collected when ours ran out. (A long weekend requires one and a half 19 L water jugs and three good bundles of wood.) We would definitely go back to this site because of him.

For recreation, there is a small dock that folks were fishing off of and enough room to launch a small boat (no motors allowed). Ryan and I also walked the trail that goes roughly halfway around the little lake – a leisurely walk that takes no more than twenty minutes. Apparently there is some good hiking around the Weaver Lake campground, which you pass on the way to Grace Lake, but Ryan and I were content to just kick back and enjoy the warm weather. At night the frogs almost drown out the noise from the neighbours – sitting out on the dock for a listen and having them sing us to sleep are certainly a highlight of our stay at Grace Lake.

Directions

From Harrison Mills, turn north onto Morris Valley Road. You will pass the Chehalis River campground on your right. Travelling over a small bridge the pavement ends; you will pass the Weaver Lake campground. Keep your eye out for a yellow gate on the left, you will pass this gate, following the road as it curves right. The Grace Lake campground will be on the left hand side of the road. It’s about 13 km from the turnoff at Harrison Mills to the campground but going can be a bit slow as the road is narrow and winding.

TBT: Hicks Lake (Sasquatch Provincial Park) – Easter long weekend 2014

campsite review

Dull-Hatchet-Trout-Badge

  It’s Throw Back Thursday! Here’s a post from around this time last year that I published on an old camping blog. This is before we moved into our Boler but we had a great time at Hicks Lake and want to share the experience with you. Where’s your favorite campsite in BC?

We decided to start our camping season as early as possible this year with the long weekend landing so close to my birthday. We had some extra money and got ourselves really set up for camping, purchasing a camp stove, kitchen stand, a plug-in cooler, a huge tarp to make a canopy from the van (aka Rose), a good quality axe and combo machete/saw, some extra weights and lures for fishing, and other accoutrements – I even bought myself a little pocket knife. These items made all the difference in both our preparedness and enjoyment for the weekend so they were definitely a worthwhile investment.

My original idea was to camp at Golden Ears Provincial Park, which is about an hour east of Vancouver just north of Maple Ridge but with its higher elevation the weather forecast wasn’t very desirable for this time of year (think sleet). The best forecast within a reasonable distance was out toward Harrison Hot Springs and a bit of searching lead me to Sasquatch Provincial Park, located on the east side of Harrison Lake above the resort town (the opposite side of the lake as our previous trip). A bonus was that Hicks Lake had been stocked with trout roughly a week earlier and I learned on Fishing with Rod.com that we could fish for both cutthroat and rainbow trout species. The rainbow trout are released at catchable size (200 – 300 grams) while cutthroat are released in the 50 – 150 gram range.

Sasquatch Provincial Park includes three lakes – Deer, Hicks and Trout – with three campsites: Hicks Lake campground as well as Bench and Lakeside campgrounds at Deer Lake for a total of 178 sites. Hicks Lake is the largest campground with 72 sites and costs $21 per night for vehicle accessible camping, which is less expensive than the $30 rate found at many provincial park campgrounds. Amenities at the campground include pit toilets, fresh water, sani-stations, a picnic area, boat launch and amphitheatre in the forest which seems to be set-up for projecting video.

The lake wraps around the campground so that many sites have little trails leading down to the water’s edge while others are set back into the trees. Even though it was early in the season, the proximity of the park to the city makes it a popular destination and all of the reservable sites were booked – my guess is that reservations pour in as soon as they open at the end of March. Our site was near the campground’s entrance between two roads but had plenty of room and trees around it.

We weren’t too close to our neighbours but still managed to make friends with another couple from Vancouver who taught us how to play Kubb (pronounced ‘koob’), a 1000-year old viking game where the object is to knock over wooden blocks by throwing wooden batons at them (only underhand tosses are allowed). It’s kind of a combination of bowling and horseshoes and I was terrible at it but Ryan’s aim was pretty good – probably because of his viking blood.

We arrived at the campground around 10:30 am on Friday and once our site was in working order and we had tested out our new camp stove with some grilled cheese sandwiches we struck out for some afternoon fishing. There are several good fishing locations along the shoreline near the campground, with large boulders to set up on and steep drop-offs in the lake that are easily reachable. There were plenty of small boats out on the lake during the weekend fishing these spots as well. On our first evening we fished with both a bobber set-up and a spinner lure in a small inlet near the dam and fish ladder. The fish were active but they seemed to be just out of our reach and the spinner kept getting caught up in the lakeweed so we switched both rods to bobbers for the rest of the weekend.

After some Saturday-morning fishing we decided to walk the Hicks Lake Trail (click here to view the map), which is a moderate, roughly two-hour long hike that follows the shoreline and also joins up with a gravel logging road on the north side of the lake. The trail also joins Beaver Pond Trail but by the time we were around the lake it was raining and our feet hurt from the large rocks on the logging road. It rained steadily all afternoon and into the evening and, unable to have a fire, we reinforced our tarp structure around the van to give us better cover and ended up falling asleep early.

The weather on Sunday was glorious and we went fishing for a few hours before making breakfast, exploring some new spots around the campground. We fished for the rest of the afternoon and a light rain cleared out out many of our fellow anglers – but we were determined. We moved to a spot popular for families fishing the lake on a day-use basis in the late afternoon where the rocks jut out into the water and there is a steep drop-off. The water was calm and as I was slowly reeling in the last cast of the day – we were down to one rod and it was starting to get dark – I suddenly got a bite. I had a couple of nibbles earlier in the day but nothing like this. I managed to sink the hook in and began reeling the fish toward the rocks. Ryan sprang into action – grabbing the club we had fashioned from a branch in our campsite, he jumped down onto the rock in front of me without realizing that it was mostly covered in water, totally soaking his feet – it was all a frantic scramble. He managed to get a hold on the line and was drawing the fish toward the rocks when it got loose and swam away with the worm. It was perfect though – my first catch – a beautiful rainbow trout that was around a foot long! I am actually happy that it lived to swim another day rather than having to watch Ryan club it to death, though I’m sure it would have been tasty.

We fished a bit more on Monday morning but the fish were wise to our game so we packed up our site and headed for home. I would definitely revisit Sasquatch Provincial Park – we saw stellar jays, humming birds, huge ravens, a beaver and our fish, and there is a lot more to explore. There are hiking trails around Deer Lake and south to Moss Lake, which lays outside the park’s boundaries. The day use area at Trout Lake also borders Harrison Lake where I would love to take a swim in the summer months.

Directions

Sasquatch Park is located off of Highway 7, six kilometres north of Harrison Hot Springs. Follow the signs through Harrison Hot Springs and Green Point.

Weekend in Squamish

travel

Ryan spent a week in Squamish for an Artisan Craft Distilling Workshop through Capilano University and did some of his coursework at the recently opened Gillespie’s Distillery there. After finishing up class on Thursday, he drove back to Vancouver to pick me up so I could join him in Squamish for my birthday and a weekend of exploring the area. Since it was an extended trip for Ryan, we camped out in Rose in the Walmart parking lot to save a bit of money. We had plenty of company from other campervans and the mountain back drop made for an idyllic scene. It was our first Walmart camping experience and I would definitely do this again if we were short on funds or wanting to travel long distances (I’m dreaming of our eventual cross-Canada road trip).

On Friday, we went swimming at the local pool in the morning, which has become a staple activity of our lifestyle. Ryan had class until 3:00 pm so I spent some time walking from the distillery to Nexen Beach and back. Squamish is spread out in sections along Howe Sound and the Squamish River. Luckily, the city is so recreationally oriented that there is a decent network of walking and cycling trails that connects the business district to the downtown core. I took my time meandering downtown along Cleveland Avenue and along the waterfront park where Vik Muniz had a work of land art installed for the Vancouver Biennale that was made in collaboration with local First Nations groups.

I started walking the trail to the beach but the previous evening a fire had broken out on the Squamish docks, doing a considerable amount of damage that firefighters were still battling throughout Friday. By the time I cleared the forest and reached the beach, the winds had shifted, blowing noxious smoke across the downtown core. I hoofed it quickly back downtown and stopped at the Zephyr Café (a great spot for healthy and hearty eats) for a smoothie before heading back to the van for my afternoon nap (a must during vacation time).

I was awoken from my nap by a bottle of Lemoncello that Ryan bought me for my birthday from Gillespie’s, which is incredibly fresh and delicious. We decided to watch the Canucks game at the Howe Sound Inn and Brewing Company, which is a must-visit on any trip to Squamish. Operating since 1996, the brewery serves over twenty different brews in an amazing, tall wood-beam ceilinged room with large windows that overlook the Stawamus Chief – the most popular destination in the area for hikers, climbers and the recently built Sea-to-Sky Gondola. The food there is also excellent, offering high quality pub fare (think lamb burger with spicy pineapple chutney) and daily specials (Ryan had the pot pie). We won the game, filled our gullets and then headed back to Chateau Walmart for the night.

On Saturday morning we returned downtown for breakfast at Chef Big D’s, which is definitely the local go-to brunch spot. This is reflected in their prices, which are a little inflated but we enjoyed it nonetheless. We then headed a short distance out of town, north about 30 minutes on HWY 99 to Alice Lake Provincial Park, which is also a hugely popular destination for camping and hiking because of its proximity to Squamish as well as Vancouver. It was a perfect day – the warmest of the season thus far and the air was crisp and full of sweetness. We hiked the Four Lakes Trail heading first to Stump Lake, making a stop at the frothing Cheekye River with a magnificent vista toward Mount Garibaldi. The loop is a very easy 6 km walk (we took about 2 hours) with the occasional uphill section, though it is all very manageable.

The trail moves from Stump to the diminutive Fawn Lake – in between these lakes we found a toadlet on path, which is a common experience in late spring to midsummer when the Western Toad migration begins at Fawn Lake. There were plenty of fishers, hikers and mountain bikers enjoying the warm weather that day but the trail is spread out enough that it is not packed with people, though I’d venture to guess that this changes later in the season as the park is the busiest campsite in the area. I would love to return to do some fishing and camping here, the landscape is lush and the sites look well maintained.

We wanted to take in as much of the sights that Squamish has to offer on our short trip, so we ate a quick lunch on Alice Lake before hopping back into Rose to continue our adventure. We decided to check out the Spit, a thin strip of land that juts far out into the water and is a jumping off point for kiteboarders and windsurfers because of its world famous winds. They weren’t kidding when they say world famous because it was so windy that we could barely be out of the van. We were quite content to hang in the back of Rose though, it’s always a cozy spot to relax and it was fun to watch the kiteboarders fly over the water. With a breathtaking view of the Chief and Shannon Falls, we relaxed there for awhile as the sun set. If were were a bit more brave, we could have also checked out the adjoining estuary with trails and boardwalks where you can spot heron and other wildlife.

For our final day in Squamish we wanted to do a bit more hiking and decided to try the popular Smoke Bluffs Park, though it seems like everywhere in Squamish is a popular destination – when you’re only an hour away from Vancouver it’s to be expected. There were a lot of rock climbers along the trail, which was quite steep in sections but only for short jaunts. It took us less than twenty minutes to reach two amazing viewpoints that overlook the city as it opens to Howe Sound. There are a lot of ways to hike through the park, including two loop trails and other rockier trails that climbers use to access specific routes. It was great to watch the climbers as we wound our way along the trails – I’d definitely suggest snapping a picture of the trail map as it’s easy to get turned around. This was definitely my favorite destination of the weekend and it is right in the center of town. The park and its vistas are so breathtaking.

On the way out of town we ate at Mag’s 99 Fried Chicken and Mexican Cantina. It’s a bright orange and yellow building right off the highway heading South out of Squamish. At one time the building housed a joint KFC and Taco Bell, so the current restaurant is really just a way better homestyle-cooked version with better decorations. We tried a fried chicken dinner with mexi fries as well as a carnitas burrito, which weighed about a pound. We ate our fill and looked out at the Chief, where a major rockslide had happened earlier that day before driving the winding Sea-to-Sky Highway back home on one of the most beautiful days of the year. No words can capture the beauty of the coast.