Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Special Event Rally of the Cape Cod Unit of the WBCCI

Our first adventure in the Mary Joan I was to a Wally Byum Carravan Club International (WBCCI  http://www.wbcci.org/) rally hosted by the Cape Cod Unit (http://www.capecodmassunit.org/). As soon as we arrived numerous long time members welcomed us and offered any assistance we might need. This first impression set the tone for the rest of the weekend and was a foreshadowing of what the individuals who make up the  WBCCI are all about. It is a group of individuals who have chosen the Airstream brand for their home away from home. Unfortunately, our extended travels have kept us from joining in many other events since. 
Lots of Airstreams at Coastal Acres already in place when we arrived, but they found a nice spot of us 

However, we finally were able to rejoin our group. This past weekend with the Cape Cod Unit's Special Event Rally in Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod was an especially enjoyable experience for us. Familiar faces eagerly greeted us as soon as we arrived and three year old connections were instantly renewed. And, new acquaintances were made within minutes of our arrival. The shared experience of living in a small travel trailer in general and an Airstream in particular creates a bond that grows stronger as we share anecdotes, tips and techniques, and favorite destinations. Also, everyone enjoys showing off their trailers, especially those who have made new acquisitions since the last meeting. 
Happy Hour (photo courtesy Dottie Walbridge)
Old and new friends (photo courtesy Dottie Walbridge)

Spending four days in Provincetown after Labor Day was a special treat. The weather was pleasant, the summer crowds are gone and one gets to experience this town's true character. It is easier to connect with the year round residents, who seem more relaxed and willing to engage with us "tourists". 

In Provincetown, "colorful' is an understatement

There is so much to see and do. For Sarah and I, bicycling was at the top of our agenda. Established in 1967, the bike trails in the National Seashore are the oldest in a National Park in the country. Winding through the scenic, ever changing dunes, these trails are gentle enough for families with young children yet can be challenging enough for the toughest cyclers. The popularity of bicycling here is evident by the numerous establishments that provide bikes for hire. Others will find the shopping, both in Provincetown itself as well as the other towns closely spaced along Route 6, to be appealing. Or, one can drive to the National Seashore, carry a chair a short distance to the beach, and watch the waves and the fishing boats just off Race Point. It is possible at times to see whales from the shore.
Great bike path through the scenic dunes of Cape Cod at the National Seashore
Great views from the bike trail

Choosing a place to dine can be a trying affair. The number of choices is quite daunting and the quality is usually very high. We dined out with other Cape Cod Unit members for two of the four nights we spent at the Coastal Acres Campground (http://www.coastalacres.com/) that is just a short walk to the main attractions of Provincetown. Sarah and I were happy at each, The Squealing Pig (http://www.squealingpigptown.com/) and Napi's (http://www.napis-restaurant.com/). 
While choosing a place for dinner was difficult, the breakfasts under the tent were an extension of the party. Good food, and conversation.

The weekend passed too quickly, but as always, it seemed like we had left all our troubles so far behind and so long ago. That's what I especially enjoy about RVing, just a few days in a new place, with new acquaintances distorts time such that just 96 hours ago seems like ancient history. 
Smiling faces, all (photo courtesy Dottie Walbridge)

As our t-shirts say "Life is Good". Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Those D****d sliding glass doors

In my opinion, Airstream trailers are built to the highest standards of any travel trailer available. Despite that, there are issues that crop up from time to time. In the case of the Mary Joan III, she shares a problem common to many late model Airstreams that have the double sliding mirrored doors at the midship closet. 

There is a beautiful cedar lined closet between the galley and the bedroom that has large mirrored glass sliding doors. While the doors and the tracks that they ride on are well made, they were never designed to take the bouncing and jostling to which they are subjected to in a travel trailer. The result being that they jump off the track and end up hanging askew by one slider or laying on the floor completely separated from the track. Given the frequency that this has happened, it is a miracle that the glass has not shattered.

We know that this is a common problem because there is a lively online forum of which this door problem is frequently revisited by people with the same complaint. It also includes reports by those who have made modifications in an attempt to solve the problem. You can see that thread here: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f38/those-d___-sliding-glass-closet-doors-94076.html

While the problem is essentially due to the fact that the doors weren't designed to withstand the bouncing of the trailer, a closer look reveals why that is. There are two small wheels that ride in a shallow "J" channel. The doors are suspended from these wheels. Two small plastic springs on either side of the wheels are designed to help keep the wheels in the channel above the door by providing resistance to upward movement. These springs are inadequate for the forces applied in a travel trailer moving over bumpy roads. In addition there are two tabs at the bottom of the door that slide inside another channel. This tab, captured within the channel, prevents the door from swinging away from or into the closet. 
There is one wheel at the top of each end of the door. The semicircular arches above the wheel are springs which
are designed to keep the wheel within the "J" channel. 
Because the springs are just not strong enough to prevent the wheels from jumping out of the "J" channel the door is no longer supported at the top. Once that happens the door can tilt at the top, lifting one or both of the bottom tabs from its channel allowing the door to either hang by the one remaining wheel or fall to the floor.
The wheels ride on top of the shelf which has a small curb (arrow) that
creates a "J" channel.

My solution was to prevent any vertical movement of the doors whatsoever without relying on the plastic springs to perform that function. To accomplish this, I drilled four holes allowing me to insert a pin that captured the door between the inside and outside flanges that concealed the "J" channel. 
These holes were drilled with the door closed. This is important to be sure that the hole in the top of the door aligns
perfectly with the two holes in the front and rear face frames. This picture is taken after drilling through all three
pieces of metal (front frame, top of door and rear frame).
View with door closed showing hole through outside face frame and door support

Schaefer Quick Release Pin 3/8" diameter by 2/5" grip purchased from
Jamestown Distributors (http://www.jamestowndistributors.com/userportal/main.do?engine=adwords!6456&keyword=jamestown_distributors')
Pin in place, passing through front frame, door support and rear frame. 
Doors secured, all pins in place.
With the pins in place, I'm confident we will no longer open the trailer after a road trip and find our closet doors on the floor. We will be traveling to Provincetown for the Cape Cod Unit annual Columbus Day rally. We'll let you know how things worked. Until then, stay tuned.