Mtn Biking


Tom and I rode part of the 24 hours in the Old Pueblo race course north of Tucson. Every time I come to the desert to ride I have to remember that all the plants can bite, claw, or poke. Nothing down here is soft or forgiving. We went early to beat the heat and were treated to a wonderful ride sprinkled with wildlife. And cows.


We also rode some local trails near Oracle and one that looped down near Biosphere 2. The mid-May riding is good if you start very early though I suspect riding this area in the winter is much nicer.


Biosphere 2, Oracle

Biosphere 2

Since we are staying just 6 miles down the road from Biosphere 2 I thought a side trip to take the tour would be fun. I went in the morning and that turned out well for me. Small tour group and reasonable temperatures. I won’t get into details here because you can read all about it at

If you are near Oracle, AZ it is a great way to spend a few hours


Expedition Vehicle

Tom’s Expedition Vehicle Build:
Part of the reason I came to Arizona in May was to see Tom’s truck. While I’m here mooching electricity off of Tom’s family I though I would chip in on the Expedition Vehicle Build. This post is mostly about cutting in the windows. If you want to follow the whole build you can see it at×4-kodiak-ambulance-conversion.191535/


The door window stays. The other window will be removed.

The house-part of the truck had only one window on the curb-side to start with and it was in the wrong place for the interior design. Tom planned the windows so a person standing inside can see out without needing to crouch down (A feature most coaches lack in every way). That meant the windows needed to be placed high on the walls. First Tom cut in the rear street-side window, then we cut in the forward street-side window. We needed the cut-out from the forward street-side window to plug the hole left behind when we took out the factory curb-side window which was too low and in the wrong place.


Removed the window and plugged the hole with a cut-out from the other side

Once we plugged the factory window opening with the cut-out we could cut in the new window openings for both curb-side windows. After the new window openings were cut in we added structural supports on the inside to carry the roof load to the floor and mitigate any diagonal-load issues.


Cut two new openings

The end result is a very spacious and airy living space with ample cross ventilation. The windows are at eye-level when standing inside and also at eye-level when sitting on the raised dinning area. Given the height of the truck and the raised windows it’s also very difficult for someone outside to look inside without standing on a 6-foot ladder.


Two new windows in the correct place


Tom and his dad cut in the window on this side


Tom admiring his handy-work

Projects and Modifications in Oracle, AZ

We’re here visiting friends and working on vehicles. Tom is building an expedition vehicle and has chosen a 4×4 ambulance as the staring point. More on that later


Tom’s expedition truck and my ’95 Dodge

Tom told me about a trick to save water and propane so I’m going to install that while I’m here.

Plus we’re going to ride Mountain Bikes! How fun is that!?


Tom’s truck is 23′ long, about 10″ tall

First up, the Water Heater:

Before we get into this here is something I recently learned (04/19). A water heater that only gets to 100*F can harbor bacteria. Bad stuff too. If you do this mod you should heat the water over 140* on a regular basis. Here is a link to the details:

There is a 10-gallon water heater in my coach that can run on either electricity or propane gas. I suspect it heats water up to about 120/140* F before it shuts itself off. Of course 120/140 is too hot to be comfortable on my skin so I add some cold water to get the temperature just right. Seems simple enough.


There are two issues in my coach about hot water. First is that the shower faucet (mixer valve) has a cruel habit of sending cold water to the shower head when the shower head switch is off. When I switch the shower head on to rinse I get a shot of cold water before the warm comes back. I though it was a back-flow issue so I installed two check valves, one in the hot and one in the cold supply lines to prevent any cold-feeding-to-hot water flow. That did nothing to mitigate the issue so it’s probably a fault with the design of the mixer valve.IMG_1821

Anyway, one solution to the problem is to just run only the hot water and no cold. That saves the shot of cold water going to waste. The way to create just the right temperature of hot water is to put a temperature probe on the water heater tank. I choose a digital thermometer with a wired probe to sense outside air temperature. I inserted the probe between the tank and the insulation at the top (hot water out) connection and mounted the readout nearby.IMG_1822

I turn the water heater on and watch the temperature rise to about 100* F then shut the heater off. The water temperature rises about another 5* after the heater is off. Partly because of sensor lag and partly due to the time it takes water in the tank to mix and stabilize at the same temperature.

The second issue I’m trying to mitigate is propane use. I don’t fancy the idea of heating water up beyond what is useful and wasting propane to do that. By switching the heater off at a lower temperature I save a fair amount of propane. For example, with low temperatures in the 50’s and highs in the 80’s it only takes 5 minutes to heat the water up to 104*. The benefit of this set up is that I save both propane and water – Plus I don’t get zapped with a shot of cold water at bath time!IMG_1823

• Side note: You could use a wireless system and the sensor is going to be much bigger. That requires cutting the insulation away and replacing it over the sensor. Also if the probe is wireless they update about once a minute so there will be a bigger delay in reporting the temperature so it will get hotter after shut-off •

Oracle, AZ


The trip from Show Low to Oracle was through the mountains and across the Salt River Valley. What a beautiful area! The highway descends the valley walls all the way to the river then climbs out again on the other side. From the rim to the bottom and up again took about an hour at the speeds traffic would allow. The big trucks move very slowly and there are not a lot of places to pass.


Show Low, AZ


Lucky in Show Low!

I pulled into the Home Depot parking lot to buy some supplies and I heard air hissing. One of the truck tires had sprung a leak and I just happened to hear it as I walked by. Brilliant!

I checked the tire and it was down to 30 psi from 80 psi. I started the air compressor (yes, I carry an air compressor) and aired it back up to 80 then asked the all knowing google about tire repair. There was a Discount Tire four miles away so I headed over there.


The tire repair took about and hour so I went for a walk and came across a chiropractor’s office. Since I needed an adjustment I went in and they were able to see me! More Luck!


It was fabulously lucky the tire didn’t go flat on the road, that would have ruined it for sure. I had originally planned to just over-night in Show Low, but instead I got to meet some local people and do business with Show Low businesses.

I was also very pleased that the area around Show Low is rolling mountains and a mix of pine, pinion, and juniper trees. It is a very pretty area I will plan to return and stay awhile.