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About RandyA

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    Major Contributor

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    Mechanicsville, VA - Souix Falls, SD or whever we park.
  • Interests
    Fast cars, electronics, big trucks, RV's, boating and my family.

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  1. RandyA


    I believe the majority of issues can be traced back to Lippert. They have overtaken the RV market with their frames, axles, slide-outs, hydraulics, electrics and much more. They first bought out the better "little guys" and then began to cheapen the existing hardware. With their monopoly and competition out of the way, they could shove most anything off on the OEM manufacturers. If you are buying a new trailer, even one in the $100K range, the brand is insignificant as they are all now "Lippert" trailers with the exception of NH and SpaceCraft. Workmanship has taken a nose dive in favor of "lipstick" and what I see even in even the new higher end fivers is deplorable. Half as many workers are now responsible for building twice as many trailers in a fraction of the time they once spent while using the cheapest, often downrated materials possible. Lippert often defends their products by saying that they have reduced weight and thus save fuel and allow lesser rated trucks to become tow vehicles. This is not to say that there are not any well-built trailers out there. If the company that assembled the trailer will stand behind their product one can eventually end up with something useable. My now-destroyed-by-fire Forest River Cedar Creek is an example. Thousands of dollars and hundreds of man-hours were devoted to correcting many cosmetic and structural issues by the Cedar Creek factory long after the warranty expired. While those problems should have never existed in the first place the factory did take responsibility and did everything possible to "make it right." I would need to write a book to catalog everything that was done. At the time it caught fire I was dealing with a frame camber issue that had caused the structural rails to sag, constantly requiring readjustment of the two rear slides and leaving gaping cracks in the fiberglass walls above the slides. Their projected fix was to heat the frame in key places with an electric welder so as to bend the frame to restore camber and then weld in 2" steel tube. They had previously added extensive frame cross bracing and removed the front cap to reconstruct the steel superstructure that supported the pin box. Our replacement trailer is an older (2006) Keystone Cambridge. It is a pre-Lippert build and I am constantly amazed and pleased to discover structural integrity, quality workmanship, electrical wiring and amenities that simply do not exist today. I like to use the old expression: "It is built like a brick s**t house." I believe grandpa was right - they don't build them like they used to! When the OEM warranty expires, manufacturers rarely agree to repair any pre-existing issues or ones that develop later due to inadequate built quality. It is a sad state of affairs and the exact reason I will never buy another Lippert trailer. OK - sorry for the rant. I will now step down from my soapbox.
  2. RandyA

    Professional Soldering

    Carl, I just use a water dampened sponge to clean off my soldering iron tip. I also keep a bronze scouring pad close by to scrub a dirty tip. Tips burn and pit so occasional resurfacing with 320 to 400 grip sandpaper is needed then re-tin the tip before use. Do not leave a "dirty" iron tip hot while waiting as it will burn. Clean your tip on a wet sponge after completing your joint. Heating a joint so solder melts and flows in is by the book, but I like to have a little solder on my iron tip to rapidly transfer heat. Most all solder now is lead free. Still, some 60/40 out there that I prefer. Different gauges of solder for small to larger components. Must choose a gauge appropriate for the size of the material. Size of solder station tip is important too so as to have the right amount of heat for a component. I have several temperature controlled soldering stations, one with hot air which is nice for heat shrink tubing or removing parts from a circuit board. Chinese temp controlled solder stations are OK but soldering iron cord is usually too short. The main concern is to have a bright shiny solder joint when cooled. A grey joint is called a "cold solder joint" and must be reheated. NEVER use an acid core solder on electrical connections. Practice makes perfect. You are doing the right thing.
  3. RandyA

    Tampa RV show onsite parking

    We did this 4 years ago. Power was supplied hobo style from big diesel generators. We had to move the truck to a strip along the entry road since it would not fit on the 40' site. Jack was there and did the same. It was very convenient and the generator power was adequate. We would do it again. Charlie and I plus wives will most likely come over to the show from Melbourne for just a day visit. I hope we can hook up while we are there.
  4. RandyA

    Leveling help?

    Yep, Jim is a pretty smart feller. I made my mud flaps out of the same stuff. The mat I bought was 1/2". I cut them out with a saber saw and a 14 TPI blade. For me that worked well. A circular saw with a plywood blade does not work well. More smoke from burning rubber than chips.
  5. RandyA

    Let’s Discuss Harbor Freight

    You can expect Kobalt to disappear as stocks are sold out. Lowe's will become the defacto source for Craftsman. This is repeated info told to me from a Lowe's "higher up".
  6. RandyA

    Let’s Discuss Harbor Freight

    Carl, I have both the red and blue HF 20-Volt drills. The red Bauer gets hot in a hurry when put under a heavy load. I would not trust it for drilling a lot of holes or continually using it for bits over 3/8". It does make a nice power screwdriver. The blue Hercules is the better drill though more expensive. It has as much power as my DeWalt but is much lighter and faster. It has become my favorite go-to cordless drill. I have both the small OEM battery and the larger optional battery. I have also purchased the Hercules 4-1/2 corded grinder and like it better than the DeWalt it replaced. It is tough and has seen a lot of use lately. The cheap black HF 18-volt Ni-Cad drill is junk. Their new 4 amp Fully Automatic Microprocessor Controlled Battery Charger/Maintainer (#63350) is a bargain even at its retail price of $31.95. They have been on sale for $24.99. I now have five of them and possibly more to add (one for each boat battery, one for tractor and one for the stored sports car.) It is a very nice piece of equipment. They have some decent air tools as well - like the Earthquake impact wrenches.
  7. RandyA

    Removing VED12 EPG shutter

    Jason, Other than exhaust braking and warming up the engine the shutter and "donut" in the exhaust are there to enhance the EGR function. There is also a restrictor between the turbo and manifold to increase exhaust pressure for the EPG/EGR assembly. Charlie (SCLord) and I have bounced questions back and forth during our winters in Florida about going whole hog and removing the restrictor which looks like a big washer with a 2" hole, the EPG valve and the restrictor plate/gasket at the turbo. Of course, this would impact the EGR function so someone "might" want to think about the EGR delete kit. Illegal if the Smog Police do an inspection. Since "we" are not living in colder climates I have little concern about the warm-up time. From what I can discern removing the EPG by itself "may" be OK but you could create some EGR malfunctions by doing so. If you go that route I will be very interested in your results.
  8. RandyA

    OT - Coronary Artery Disease

    He is not through with you yet. You still have work left to do in this life. I feel the same way. Yes, our prayers are with both you and Sherry.
  9. RandyA

    HDT/hitch for tow behind travel trailer

    Chuck's last question is about the need for a fifth wheel hitch with a spring mechanism. My answer is an unequivocal YES. We had a Reese solid mount hitch on our fiver with a TrailAir pin box (single airbag) that worked well. When we lost our trailer to fire the replacement trailer came with a solid pin box. We pulled about 2,000 miles with no air springs between the truck and trailer. The shock to the trailer was obvious with overhead light covers thrown off and multiple displaced items inside. We then swapped out the Reese hitch with a twin airbag TSLB. The improvement was immediately obvious inside the trailer and I am sure to all the trailer joints. We have first-hand experience with both. If you value your trailer, do not pull a fifth wheel RV without a spring mechanism between the trailer and truck - period. Think of it like this: If you spend all day walking and standing (pounding) a concrete floor with leather sole shoes and no shock support insoles how do your joints and back feel at the end of the day? That same type of pounding will cause damage to your trailer's joints as well.
  10. RandyA

    Hurricane Florence

    Your Avatar photo looks a lot like my old Wizzer. I was the teaching - principal of a school like yours in 1968. All students were in the same grade. Not too much pressure with three teachers, a cook, and a janitor. It was closed two years later. We escaped the wrath of the hurricane. Only brief showers today. Wind never topped 10 mph. Lots of rain expected tomorrow thru Wednesday. Isabel almost destroyed us in 2003 - don't want to go through that again. So thankful this one missed us. I really feel for those that were in the middle of the storm. Glad Pat and Chet didn't get clobbered.
  11. RandyA

    HDT Sighting - Medora, ND

    Medora is a nice place to be this time of year, despite the red dust and unfortunate funeral. The "Pitchfork Fondue" and show they host is well worth the cost and IMHO a must do when there. Sorry, the rig you saw was not me - but right now I am wishing it was!
  12. RandyA

    Hurricane Florence

    Several of us (HDT'ers) are expecting an impact from Florence. I am just east of Richmond, VA, which is expecting 6" of rain and winds up to 40 mph with gust up to 55. Much better for us than the original forecast but bad for SC and NC as well as coastal areas of VA and the Chesapeake Bay. I know Pat (Old Sailor) is closer to the coast and looking at higher winds as well as more rain. There are some others that frequent this forum in the direct or perimeter path of this storm and the heavy rains in the aftermath. I have attempted preparations such as the generator fuel, food, bottled water and such. House is on high ground but fiver is currently parked in a lower area that can quickly flood "if" the culverts under the road that drain our field get blocked from debris, which they have in the past. Volvo is hooked up for a fast move to safer high ground if needed. My prayers for safety go out to all that are in this storm's path - it is going to be a bad one worse than any seen in decades. If any east coast HDT'er needs a place for refuge from mandatory evacuations in the extreme danger zones we can help. We have extra room in the house. Our spot is safer than the Carolinas and Tidewater VA. We do have a pasture available with no trees if a parking space for an unoccupied fiver is needed.
  13. RandyA

    Why convert to single axle?

    Uhhhh..... you didn't give info about the Pete when you asked the question. If I owned the truck you described there is NO WAY I would drop the tandems. The restoration sounds too good to go hacking it up. It always PO's me to see a true classic that has been chopped up and, IMHO, ruined! Now, my '04 670 Volvo does not fit into that class.
  14. RandyA

    Why convert to single axle?

    For me? Insurance and emergency roadside service. No different than a dually PU. They view me as a class 7 or equivalent to a MDT. Four fewer tires. Two fewer wheels to polish. No power divider to service. Reduced weight. Better fuel mileage (+1 mpg). Lower tolls (when encountered) Only 12" longer than a 4 door long bed PU. Easier to find a parking spot. Less hassle from some narrow-minded campgrounds that believe tandem tears up their roads - no semis allowed. Improved ride quality with a more resilient suspension (two fewer airbags and Z springs). Improved turning radius. Less overall length allows compliance with 65' limitation is many eastern states. I still have clearance on the bed for an "original" Smart. I currently carry a golf cart. "My" cost of singling was about $1,000. I quickly recovered that cost (see above). I had some help from a mobile crane truck that serviced heavy equipment to move the axles around. The most expensive item was the new driveshaft and U joints. I did a lot of the work myself and I am an old guy with no inside shop space. I don't see my truck returning to commercial service so prospects for resale are a moot point for me compared to my perceived advantages. Each individual owner must carefully consider their needs and future options. The switch will not suit everyone.
  15. RandyA


    Now you have me wondering about the possibility of fabricating a trap door that drops to the ground. In our fiver that would have to be on the closet floor. Easy to get into and also hide the added opening. It all depends on what structure one would find between the floor and outside Filon. If it is just a few aluminum floor joist it could be doable. If there is a steel framing structure in the way that is a different story. But, our recent fire started with the golf cart that was parked under the front of the fiver. The fire from the cart spread very, very quickly to the front of the trailer. A door, egress through the window or another opening would not have been possible. The ONLY way out was down the stairs and out the only door. Of course, a fire in the mid or rear section of the fiver would have reversed the options.