Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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Let There Be Light... Then Dark... Then Light...

Yesterday after Day Jobbe I drove to Redwood Shores for my half-yearly dental cleaning and exam. I was there extra time because, as I thought, one filling had cracked. My dentist had time to grind out the old filling and place a new one, saving my having to come back (a significant consideration when it usually means me spending a week in the Bay Area if I want to see him). While finishing up, he asked if I was still living out of my RV when I came down here. I said yes and gave him the short version of the problem I'm having with the lights and how I can't open the hood single-handedly. He offered to help, and we walked out to my van where I pushed down on the hood while he pulled the hood release. As it happens, I'd parked right next to his car. (Really glad I didn't door-ding it!) I thanked him and called Lisa so we could do the next part of the trouble-shooting.

Lisa walked me through over the phone what I should be looking for. The wires from the RV "hotel" battery to the self-resetting circuit breaker seemed sound enough. She told me that the next step would be to get a small electrical continuity checker. Had this happened at home, she could have done it with one she already has, but of course problems like this rarely happen when you're at the home base where all the tools are. We also tried a possible way of making it more likely to get the hood to open again single-handedly, but it didn't work.

The nearest convenient auto parts place turned out to be Pep Boys, where I did buy a small tester. Fortunately, someone else trouble-shooting his own vehicle problems helped me open the hood, and I went through the checklist:

  • Test on the vehicle battery (known good because otherwise the engine wouldn't start): Good. This means the tester itself works.

  • Test the hotel battery: Good. In a way, I was almost hoping it wasn't because replacing the battery is relatively easy and I could have just taken it inside and bought a new one.

  • Line from hotel battery to wiring block: Good

  • Line from wiring block to circuit breaker: Good

  • Line out from circuit breaker: Good. This means the power is getting as far as the line that leads back to the RV chassis fuse box. (That's not the same as the vehicle fuses under the dash, which are totally separate.)

  • Going inside and open the RV fuse box: Bad. No light, not on the feed from the circuit breaker or on any fuse.

Well, darn. I called Lisa and we went through the whole list again, and she confirmed what I figured when this happened, in that it looks like the fault must be in the line from the circuit breaker to the fuse box. Unfortunately, that's just about the most inconvenient section to go bad, as the wire goes snaking through the vehicle in inaccessible places. There wasn't much else to be done, so I buttoned up everything and stowed the tester, then headed off to BASFA.

Getting to BASFA in Milpitas from San Carlos, with a stop in Fremont to refuel, took quite a while in rush-hour traffic. It reminds me how lucky I am to work from home, as this covered much of my usual commute route when I worked down here.

At the BASFA meeting, I had a chance to make the case for Tonopah to the assembled members, repeating my plea that, instead of pre-supporting our bid, they use that money to buy memberships in SpikeCon (Westercon 72/2019 NASFiC) and vote for us in the Westercon 74 site selection election.

I also collected from Kevin Roche and Andy Trembley a set of the vertical hanging banners (one large to put next to or behind the table and one small for table-top use) from Worldcon 76. The sign shop to whom we spoke in Fernley said that they can print new banners for those signs and change the banner out of our existing hardware cheaper than buying a new banner would cost. I stowed the banners in the RV under the sofa and thanked them for helping out the bid.

After the meeting, while putting things away in the RV, I idly flicked on one of the light switches. Light! Well, that's a surprise. Just to make sure that I'd been testing the fuse box correctly, I broke out the tester again and looked into the fuse box. Now there was a light when I tested things the way I had done earlier.

I headed off to button things up for the night, and I still had lights in the RV. I set up my CPAP machine, got ready for bed, then called Lisa to tell her the good news. Unfortunately, between the time I turned off the lights to get into bed and the time I flicked on a light while talking to Lisa, the problem returned. Lisa coached me through a couple of other possible loose connections, but they were all tight. While driving around this morning, the lights came on briefly, then flickered out again. (Again, this only affects the interior lights in the RV living space, not the vehicle running lights, headlines, heater/AC, etc.) Presumably there is a partially broken connection somewhere along there, so this will be an off-and-on issue (literally) for the rest of the trip until we can get in and investigate further.

It will be annoying to have no CPAP, because it means not getting enough rest, and my nights are short enough as it is with the alarm set for 4 AM, but I'll survive.
Tags: basfa, rolling stone, rv, westercon

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