Jeffco Fair Grounds to Boyd Lake

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The last time we were here it was near freezing (0*C), the rain was turning to ice whenever it touched anything, and the robins were puffed up like tribbles. This time it’s near 90*F (33*C), the lake is a-buzz with watercraft, and kids are making s’mores. What a difference!

Last time we came this way I ran the truck/ trailer over the nearby CAT scale to see what we weighed. That time we came in at 14,660. As we went by our storage unit a couple weeks ago we dropped off a few hundred pounds of things we didn’t use in the past two months and the goal was to lose 600 pounds. We drove over the scales again this time and weighed in at 14,760 – somehow we gained 100 pounds. Likely because of mistakes I made in fuel or water quantity not being the same even though I thought I had full fuel and water on both crossings. So be it – Truck 2.0 does not seem to care about 600 pounds anymore (see Repairs and Mods below).

I got up with the serious fisher persons this morning and went for a bike ride. The sun was just rising and the temperature was delightful. Baby bunnies darting every-which-way and sleepy-face ducks waddling to the shore. And gnats. Gnats get up early too.

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Tech report – Boyd Lake State Park does not have a strong verizon-signal. Even though it’s in a neighborhood of Loveland there is only a 3-bar 3G signal and a 1-bar LTE signal. Enough to make calls and text, but too slow to use the internet.

 

 

 

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P.S. I want to apologize about the ads appearing on this page. Humanity is going to heck in a handcart with internet ads and click-bait banners leading the way!
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Repairs and Mods

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Whenever I see and old truck still chugging along it gives me hope for truck 1.0

I was having some trouble with the truck not wanting to start, which I suspected was due to a fuel or air leak. I took it to Bodacious Diesel in Golden, Colorado and sure enough the fuel system was leaking in three places near the filter housing. It also needed brake work on three wheels, steering work, and front suspension work.

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Truck 1.0

I thought about just donating the old truck and getting a new one, but Jeremiah said there was nothing wrong with the 5.9 liter, 12-valve engine that some new components would not fix. He explained that the fuel system was not delivering enough fuel (low pressure at the lift pump, worn out injectors, etc) and the stock turbo is too small to really pack enough air in the cylinders. Part of that is age (24 years) and part of that was the very de-rated nature of the 5.9 all those years ago. Since fixing the current truck is about $30,000 less than getting a new one I went with the repair idea (really hoping that wasn’t my second-best choice).

That didn’t stop me from looking at new trucks though. I test drove a 4×4 Ram 3500 dually (diesel) and a 4×4 F-250 crew cab (gas). Both of them rode like a truck; bouncing down the road the same as my current truck. I had hoped suspension technology had improved to the point where a 3/4 ton or 1-ton truck could ride like a 1/2 ton, but no.

The regular cab Ram and the crew cab Ford both had the same apparent turning radius as current truck so no difference there either. The Ram is about the same height off the ground as current truck though the F-250 is much taller. The gas Ford was very quiet with no load though when towing the forums often say stuff like “the motor screams (diesel guys)” or “the motor sounds like a mustang (car guys)”. The 6.2L’s peak HP is at 4500 rpm so for diesel peeps that’s screaming. There are also opinions about it hunting/shifting, but guys who run in manual mode say that solves it. Maybe if I really need 4×4 in the future I’ll have to pony up the dough.

The current/ repaired truck will have a new and bigger turbo (58mm vs 35 mm), a FASS fuel system from the tank to the injector pump, a performance attitude adjustment system in the injector pump to increase fuel-flow, new and bigger injectors (50 HP more), and a new bigger exhaust system to get all that money out the tail pipe. Jeremiah promised that it will pull better than the 6.2L Ford and he said I could have it back tomorrow (7-working days after I dropped it off).

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New turbo charger

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FASS fuel pump and filters

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Peek-a-boo! The new electric FASS pump and filters

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Attitude Adjuster. I have it set at 4 (200 HP)

I’m really hoping I didn’t just go all sunk cost fallacy with this whole shebang so stay tuned to see what tomorrow brings!

(scene: The setting sun is bottom-lighting the clouds. Orange glow on the eastern horizon fading to pink, to gray, to black … )

The next day

(scene: The mid-day sun is beating down on the parched earth. Even the shadows are hiding under trees trying to escape the unrelenting rays of the sun.

I picked the truck up on time as promised. I’m very happy about that, so happy in fact I’m going to say it again. Bodacious Diesel had the truck ready at the time they said it would be ready. I’m happy about that!

While Jeremiah was figuring up my total bill Sean took me for a tour of the truck version 2.0. Sean had tuned the truck to run well and not smoke too much. I’m not a fan of smoke and that was something we talked about before they set it up. The attitude adjuster has a dial in the cab which changes the amount of fuel the injector pump draws on each stroke. More fuel, more air, more heat, more go.

And more go it does! There is an on-ramp to the highway where I normally would get up to 60 before merging with traffic so to test the unloaded truck 2.0 I floored it when the light turned green and was heading north of 80 mph before I took my foot off the fuel control pedal.

The power band on truck 1.0 was between 1500 and 2000 rpm and above 2000 it just went flat. The only reason to go above 2000 was on the shift between 2nd and 3rd because the gears jump too far and if it’s not above 2000 it would be about 1200 in 3rd. Lug, lug, lug.

Now the power band is from about 1800 to 2500 with a serious kick at about 21-2200. Enough kick to set me back in the seat!

Truck 1.0 was governed at about 2250 rpm even though Cummins says the peak HP on that year was at 2600 rpm. Truck 2.0 has 3000 rpm springs in the gov so it can get to the peak HP rpm.

A few things I noticed right away were the high-pitch high-speed pump sound the new FASS pump makes. It flows a ton of fuel to feed the thirstier injection pump and the bigger injectors, but it is audible in the cab at less than highway speeds. Once we’re going 60-ish the wind noise and all the other diesel truck going down the highway sounds cover up the pump sound. The new injectors don’t leak fuel so when I take my foot off the fuel control pedal the rpm’s drop fast. I’m learning how to shift all over again. Also I have to be careful not to floor it anymore because it will spin the tires on the unloaded truck 2.0

Towing Road Test with about 8,700 pounds of trailer

From a standing start at the bottom of the on-ramp we were doing 60 at the top. If there hadn’t been so much traffic I could have been going even faster at the merge point.

It seems that at highway speed – for me that’s about 64 mph (1800 rpm) – the pedal is only half way to the floor instead of the 3/4 to 7/8 it use to be. Everything spools up and revs up faster than it use to. On hills where I had to floor it just to keep some speed now the cruise control just handles it. If I use the fuel control pedal I tend to speed. It is a huge improvement!

I found some instructions for the attitude adjuster online (it didn’t come with any) and the instructions say 4 (middle of the range from 1-8) is best for towing. That’s 200 hp. The 8.5 setting puts out 395 hp.

Next week we head into the mountains west of Fort Collins and take on some mountain passes. Stay tuned!

 

Early June = Mid-August

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The wind has settled down since last we were on Colorado’s Front Range and that’s a nice experience. Yesterday’s clouds gave way to sunshine and still air today and the morning sun is baking the earth like a pizza as I write this. Not a cloud in the sky! The idle chit-chat I hear is often about how “we could use some rain” and “there sure is a lot of pollen drifting around”.

Since I’m staying at the foot of Green Mountain I went for a bike ride on it. I made a second-best choice of trails and ended up with a hike-a-bike adventure. I saw a lot of wild flowers and the audio scene was dominated by meadow larks and crickets. The ground game was populated by rabbits darting every-which-way and a lone buck eating spring grass from a meadow. Delightful!

Once I hike-a-biked to the summit I was able to ride around the top and came down box-o-rocks trail and back to the campground.

 

 

 

 

Motel to the RV to the Jeffco Fairgrounds

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It’s good to be home! We’re back in the RV with it’s repaired roof deck and new rubber roof membrane. We also got a MaxxFan installed and I’m very happy with it. It can move a LOT of air and even when it’s 80 outside the breeze inside makes it okay. Before I would have gone all A/C on an 80-degree day, but the fan keeps it tolerable.

We did a little street-camping a couple nights this week. Spent the evening shopping at a local big box then moved to a nice industrial area for some Zzzz. A thunderstorm rolled through the area in the evening and cooled everything down. Ran the MaxxFan and was plenty cool.

During the day we parked at a park near my sister’s house so I could help with a garage sale and order some new counter tops for her kitchen. The boys have been logging a lot of indoor-time since we’re in a big city and there are many scary things to run from here.

After a few nights we moved to the Jeffco Fairgrounds. The Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Lakewood CO has a 40-spot campground. RV’s and tent accommodations with showers, free WiFi, water, and electric. Prices range from $25 for a tent site to $40 for a 50 amp site (per day in 2018). I have some work planned while I’m here and it’s a lot easier to get stuff done when I’m not towing the RV everywhere I go.

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The campground is not one of those fancy state parks with trees and grass. This one is mostly a dirt lot with water and electric connections. Since it’s getting within kissing distance of 90* here that grid-powered A/C sure is a bonus! The park is very near the highway so there is the sound of car tires on pavement, jap-bikes and harleys revving their motors as the race down the interstate, and jake-brakes. The campground staff and hosts are delightful and our fellow campers are friendly and considerate so we got that going for us!

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Chaffe CR 194 to Wheat Ridge, CO

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Looking out the window at the nice motel

After 2 nights boondocking in the cool quiet mountains it’s on to the big city for some warranty work on the RV and a visit to the dentist.

We left early Sunday morning to beat the traffic. In Colorado you have to leave early on the day before a holiday weekend ends or you will be stuck in traffic for half a day trying to get into the city. Really sad 😦

The drive was nice. We had a big ole tailwind blowing us across South Park and up and over Kenosha pass. The winding decent down-canyon along the South Platte River was green and the river was flowing strong. There appears to be more snow on the northern mountains than there were on the southern ranges near Salida, but even at that there is not much snow on the high peaks anywhere in Colorado. News reports say 2017/18 is the fifth-driest winter on record.

The boys (all 4 of us) are a bit freaked out that we are in a Motel instead of the RV. The RV needs a roof repair and we can’t stay in it while the shop works on it. In addition to the warranty work (which I might say more about when I write a long-time review of the Outdoors RV) we’re getting a Maxxfan installed.

We checked into the Pet-Stain Motel near where the RV is being repaired and didn’t like it one bit! The area seemed like a good place to be robbed and the motel was so bad I didn’t take my shoes off. Everything was sticky! Long-story-short I moved the RV to a better area for the night and took it to Ketelsen Campers the next morning. We got a much better room at the La Quinta in Westminster for the remainder of our stay. MUCH nicer motel! King-size bed, fridge, microwave, aahhh.

One of the first rules of RVing is if the area gives you the creeps – Get Out of There!

 

 

Ridgway to Chaffe County 194

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Down river from Ridgway to Montrose was delightful! A slight following wind, green pastures, and baby animals lined the route (mostly I saw baby horses and baby cows). From Montrose to the top of the first pass the meadows were green with sweet spring grass and the creeks were running full. At the top of the pass the scene switched to grays, browns, and tans.

The trees lining the creeks feeding into Blue Mesa Reservoir were green, but all around was parched. We stopped for siesta at the east-end of Blue Mesa and afterwards were treated to a 20 mph tailwind. The tailwind held all the way through Gunnison and up Monarch Pass though I’m not sure how much it was pushing us at our 25 mph climbing speed.

Down the east side of the pass (again with the 25 mph thing so we don’t end up in a runaway truck ramp) to Poncha Springs – where the hot-springs water you could soak in at the Salida pool comes from – then North to Chaffe County 194/ BLM 5611. Ultimate Campgrounds (.com) showed me this place as I was searching and it’s very convenient being as it’s half way between Ridgway and Denver. It’s a small canyon area with plenty of sagebrush and pine trees.

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The sign post was leaning in a tree when we visited

There is also a State Park campground at the end of Chaffe county road 194 right on the Arkansas river. The turn off for the BLM land is not really marked. The sign post was leaning up against a tree when we were here. The road is between a couple of driveways and the only telltale was a fire pit in a turn-a-round area just south of CR 194.

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We got a decent spot on a slight slope and our nearest neighbor was 150 meters away. There was a pile of trash next to the fire pit when we were here. Seems someone remodeled a bathroom and left the debris at the camp spot (this is why we don’t have nice things). The elevation is about 7600’ so the high temp was 85-ish during the day. Clouds blocked most of the sun in the afternoon and night-time promised temps in the 40’s.

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There were 3 bars of 3G and 1 bar of LTE verizon service, but I could not get a useful internet connection at the campsite. I did manage an internet connection from the top of a nearby hill.

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The area is without services so bring it if you need it.
The closest town is Salida, CO and it’s got gas, groceries, and a hot springs pool.
The camp sites are within ear-shot of the highway so big trucks can be heard, but the cars on the highway are mostly inaudible The road to the river gets pretty busy on the weekends with rafters going to and fro.

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Ridgway to Ridgway

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We moved 6 miles up the road to Ridgway State Park. Still have stunning views of the San Juan Mountains to the south and we are nestled in the pine trees again.

Ridgway State park is perhaps the crown jewel of Colorado State Parks. It will be mostly full from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend. It’s open all year, but summer in the high-country is very popular. There is plenty to do around Ridgway from hiking, 4-wheeling, boating, and hot springs, plus Telluride is just around the corner.

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While we’re here lets talk about RV fresh water.
I have several friends who travel with RV’s and they seem to fall into two camps: Fill it with water before you leave, or pull it empty and fill it with water when you get to the camping place. I’ve tried both and while it’s nice to tow 664 fewer pounds (Mine holds 80 gallons) I have found it limits where I can go and how long I can stay un-connected when I start a trip with a mostly empty tank. For example, I recently had to make a side-trip to get water because I didn’t fill up at the last water stop.

I suppose if you are heading to a State park or Commercial campground you know has water then going empty might be better for you. If on the other hand you are like me and don’t have a clear idea where you are going next then having a full tank gives us a lot of freedom to wing it. Water and groceries are my limiting factors so the more I have of each the longer I can go without thinking about it too much.