Front Cap repairs

11 10 2014

In May the Wildcat received front cap damage while at a brake repair shop. After considering options, we decided to update the color and decals.  These are pictures from the body shop as the repairs were in progress.

The Wildcat Comes Home

23 07 2013

Nearly a year in the planning, we finally have a parking area at home for the camper. Thanks to David’s hard work yesterday, we moved about 80 cubic yards of material and several large boulders to create a parking area to the side of the driveway.

Off the Grid Power

30 04 2011

With our upcoming trip to Moab next month, we’re planning to be camping in primitive, completely off-the-grid sites.  We’re self-contained except for power.  With the constant addition of electronics (we just added an iPad to our “camping” supplies) we need to be able to recharge the camper battery on a daily basis. 

After shopping endlessly, even at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta two years ago, we opt to purchase a Honda 2000 generator from Camping World in Denver. 

Honda 2000i

Honda 2000i

We can’t wait to try it out!

Scissor Stairs

10 06 2010

So far, all of our camping experience has been with the camper on the pickup.  This means that the floor level is about 36” off the ground.  We’ve been using a step-stool that sometimes is a bit unsafe because the legs tend to sink into damp ground.  It’s also another items to forget at home, and requires space inside the camper when we travel.  Doing a bit of online research, most of the aluminum scissor stairs appear to be very similar.  They come in 3, 4 and 5 step versions, with the recommendation of 4 step for 31” to 39” height requirements.  I found the best deal at JC Whitney and with a 15% off coupon from paid about $175 for the aluminum scissor stairs. 

 There’s a bracket that comes with the stairs intended to be attached to the rear of the camper that the stairs slide onto.  But, this assumed that the stairs would be transported inside the camper which I didn’t want.  Often wet or muddy, I wanted the stairs to stay outside.  Drilling 4 holes in the top bracket  of the stairs along with 4 matching holes down through the camper floor (through a 2×4 floor joist for strength) I permanently mounted the stairs underneath the camper.  The existing threshold covered the 4 stove bolts that went down through the floor making for a completely invisible attachment.  The stairs worked well during our first outing with them to Jefferson Lake

You’ll remember that one of the first projects with the camper was a rollable platform that allowed us to roll the camper inside the garage for storage.  This platform is only about 11” high, the minimum that the jacks retract and the maximum height allowed to roll the power vent lid through the doorway.  These new stairs hang down about 14”, requiring removal during garage storage.  Not wanting to remove the 4 bolts  each time we moved the camper into storage, I purchased 2 1/4“ pins and clips, drilled out the top rivets and re-attached the stairs with these pins.  This provides easy removal when necessary (either on the storage platform, or camping off the truck) and  allows us to keep the stairs mounted under the camper for travel.

Additional Power Outlet

15 04 2010

During our first camping trip, the Texas Road Trip 2010, it became obvious that only one kitchen AC outlet was going to be inconvenient at best.  During this chilly time of year, we were using a small electric heater to keep the camper toasty warm.  This portable heater along with the automatic coffee pot caused the 15 amp breaker to blow as soon as the coffee pot kicked on each morning.  And, the tangle of wires running to our laptop computers on the table made movement around the camper nearly impossible. 

 The factory had prewired this camper for an external, rear air conditioning unit.  This circuit wasn’t in use and terminated at a convenience outlet inside the rear section of the dinette seat.  In order to separate our two high power loads (coffee pot and electric heater) plus give us a more convenient place to plug in the laptops, I  added a new convenience outlet inside the front storage unit, next to the water tank.  An air gap under the storage door provides a short, safe path for the heater cord.  It also provides a convenient place for the laptop cords, eliminating them from hanging across between the table and the kitchen outlet.

 Initially I was going to just splice the new outlet into the existing A/C circuit wiring.  But, upon closer examination, it appeared fairly easy to replace the wiring that was tied into the power unit (AC breakers, 12V fuses and battery charger).  By removing the front panel and  a few screws from the power unit, I was able to slide it out of the cabinet and into the camper.  This provided access to the breaker connections.  Cutting the existing wiring where I wanted to place the new outlet, I replaced the wire from the power unit to the new outlet and then tied the existing wire back in.  This provides two outlets on this 15 amp circuit plus the existing kitchen outlet on its own 15 amp breaker.

Under Floor Storage

16 03 2010

As in many campers, the dinette seating wraps around a table that is supported by a pole anchored to the floor.  This arrangement allows the table to swivel to the most convenient position.  In Northstar campers, the floor below the table is raised slightly providing about 4” of storage space.  Now, you might not think that you can store much in 4”, but it holds an amazing assortment of tools including a drill and battery, the jack handles, our 25’ fresh water hose, the TV coax cable, some tie-down bungees, a multimeter, a pair of work gloves and several power cords.  With the tools and drill stored here, it is necessary to access this space fairly often.  The table pole is anchored to the storage cover making it necessary to remove the table and pole to access the space below.  We wanted a quick method to access this space without removing the table and pole.

In this very first modification, the pole bracket was removed from the storage cover and placed on a block inside the compartment, under the lid.  Then a slot was cut in the storage lid, just the width of the pole, and about 3” front to back to allow the lid to “hinge” open.  The carpet was slit and refastened around this new slot providing a finished look.  Now the storage can be accessed very quickly by simply raising the front of the lid.  Even when the  lid needs to be removed completely, the table and pole stay in place providing a more rigid mounting platform and easy access to the storage space below.