What? It’s 2013 already?

Let’s see, where were we at last update…  It was fall and we participated in the Black Hills Jeep Jamboree.   Then elections happened and 51% of the voters decided we needed four more years of Barry & his buddies.  (Lord, please deliver from these feckless idiots in Washington.)

Since we’re (okay, John is) turning into off-road fanatics, it just seemed right to participate in the Family Motor Coach Assn (FMCA) 4-Wheeler’s

Trail repair - I tied a shock up and out of the way

At the Golden Vally FMCA 4-wheeler rally, I pulled out the left-rear shock from its mount

Thanksgiving event in Golden Vally, Arizona (near Kingman).  We joined the club several months previously but our schedules didn’t mesh until this event.  So we made another trip out West (we love the open spaces) and had to stop by Las Cruces, New Mexico to see our dear friends, the Topleys and John made his usual shopping foray at Harbor Freight tools.

We had a great time as usual in Las Cruces and then headed to the NW corner of Arizona

iPad taking video of a Jeep

We thought this was a very cool picture that Jane captured at the FMCA 4-Wheeler’s Thanksgiving rally

and had a great time with all of the old 4-wheel codgers like us <grin>, the rally and trails were very well organized, managed and we had a great time.  I was impressed at how much planning effort went into this production, this is what happens when you have a bunch of talented people with a lot of spare time on their hands 🙂

Since we pulled the left-rear shock absorber from its upper mount at this event, it was time to completely redo the rear axle shock mounting system and make certain that couldn’t happen again.  Since John

Rolled Jeep

A rolled Jeep at the FMCA 4-Wheelers 2012 Thanksgiving rally @ Golden Vally, AZ.  Everybody was okay

does 99% of the work on the Rubicon, it was necessary to buy a plasma torch to cut off the old parts.  Darn, another tool taking up space 😉  This work was quite involved since John fabricated new shock mounting brackets to be welded on the axle and relocated the upper coil spring mounting perch (via a kit.)

Then winter happened.

Fortunately it was a mild winter and all of our blackbuck antelope babies survived (four or five of them), we did have some animals netted and sold last fall but the herd is still at about 23 or so animals, plenty for our acreage.

Rock crawling buggy on 54" tires

Spotted at the Chili Challenge – a buggy on 54″ tires lined up for one of the extreme trails. What an amazing rig

Then we did two more Jeep events, the Chili Challenge (Las Cruces, NM) and the Texas Spur Jeep Jamboree for the third year in a row.

On a more domestic note, our house AC/heat pump decided to croak – it was diagnosed as a bad compressor.  A bum compressor isn’t necessary a hugely expensive repair ($1,000 which is a lot if you don’t have the money!) but the government has complicated things significantly with the elimination of first R-12 Freon, and then R-22 Freon which is what all household AC units used until two or three years ago.

The refrigerant now is the “earth friendly” (right) R-410a for home units.  The dirty little environmental secret that you won’t hear discussed is the fact that R-410a is not as efficient as R-22 and has to operate at far higher pressures (like twice as much) as good old R-22 and “however, it has a high global warming potential (1725 times the effect of carbon dioxide), similar to that of R-22.”  So, we’re using more energy to produce as many BTUs of cooling or heat but we’re saving the ozone while producing just much carbon dioxide.  Huh?  Time to send the environmental wackos and junk ‘scientists’ to a place where everything is.. Happy.  Yes, Happy Land where we’re saving everything from .. everything.   Ah, that feels so good..

Okay, done with that rant.

Back to the AC problem.  After a lot of discussion with our AC guy, we decided it was more

Rusty & leaking AC evaporator

Rusty & leaking AC evaporator (in the air handler)

practical to replace the entire system with a high SEER unit – this meant a totally new outside unit and a completely new inside unit (the air handler and evaporator.)  It was an expensive operation and it took three guys about 9 hours to make the change but we now have an “earth friendly” AC system (I’m so overwhelmed.)

The new AC system is working great (as we expected) so the new system should last many, many years (finger’s crossed.)

John got interested in Amateur Radio (WB5THT is his call sign) again after being inactive for many years so he’s back on the air.  Since everything was in the “I’m not going to work” mode, his old radios that were stored away for many years didn’t work of course, so new radios were ordered and he’s back on the air in the digital modes (like Teletype) and has communicated all over the world with a simple antenna, radio and PC.

As this update is penned (with a keyboard <grin>) we are in Balmorhea, TX at a cheapo campground with overflowing sewer hookups – never a dull moment when you’re on the road.  There aren’t a lot of choices out here unfortunately.

Thank you dear reader for following along with us as we travel, ranch, do stuff to and with the Jeep, and spend money 😉  As always, may God Bless.  -Jane and John-