And… I’m off!

The house has been cleared out, the trailer packed, camper loaded, and I’m on the road.  The deck is on order, the rental management company is engaged, and the weather is slowing me down, as usual.

Paul and I removed the 2″ (not 1.5″) lift the previous owner put in the front of the Great White Knight.  Although we had to order some heavy-duty spring compressors, the job went pretty smoothly.  After modifying any kind of suspension parts, I think it’s generally a good idea to get an alignment done.  Of course, when I go to get the alignment done, they push back and say they can’t even do the alignment unless I replace the left ball joints, they’re shot.  No surprise there.  Well, between the ball joints, the steering gear (which was a steal compared to the ford dealership!), a couple of tie-rod ends and some other bits and pieces, that was a cool $1,500.  But the front end of the truck and the steering in general is much better now!

Skip forward a couple days and I have most of the house packed up, and all the large furniture is ready to be loaded.  I picked up the trailer from its very temporary storage location (was there about 2 or 3 weeks), and it’s time to load.  I’m thinking that I should be able to get everything in the trailer, but it’s going to be quite full.  I was right!

Paul and I spend a couple days loading furniture and most of the boxes into the trailer.  I then spend another couple days getting all the odds and ends into the trailer.  By the time I’m done, well, I think this picture spells it out pretty clearly:

Meanwhile though, I had a little more fun.  When Paul and I were loading, we’d load my truck (backed up to the garage), start it up, drive about 100 yards, and shut it off.  Unload all the stuff, start it up, and drive it back to the garage and shut it off.  Repeat this procedure a bunch of times over two days… and the next morning, the battery’s dead.  Not completely dead, but not enough power to start the truck.

With previous vehicles, I can generally get myself out of this situation.  I grab a spare car battery (everyone has those laying around, right?), some jumper cables, and I start the car up.  In this case I had a spare deep cycle battery (not ideal for starting), and no jumper cables.  I do still have my bike and it hasn’t been packed yet, so off I go to the local gas station to get some jumper cables.  It’s cold, temperature is in the 30’s and there’s some wind.  I’m really not a cold-weather biker.  Anyway, I get the jumper cables, hook up the not-ideal battery, and let it charge the truck for a while.

The Great White Knight has a large diesel engine.  These engines require two large truck batteries to get them started.  When both are low, it takes a lot of power to get them charged up enough to start the truck.  Needless to say, that single battery I had didn’t cut it.  For any normal car, it would have worked.  Not the Great White Knight.

Fortunately a neighbor came through not too much later, and we got her car hooked up to the truck and let it charge the truck batteries for about 15 minutes.  After that, it started.  I then went to the local hardware store and bought a battery charger.  I figured that even if I drove it around for an hour or more, those batteries still probably wouldn’t be fully charged.  Brought the truck in towards the garage and left the battery charger on it overnight.  Starting the truck has been a breeze ever since.

I departed Shoreview this morning (Saturday, April 29th), and started heading south.  With the trailer loaded pretty well and all the work that’s been done on the truck, the ride and handling are quite good.  Even with a 15mph angular wind, it’s plenty manageable.  And that’s with a camper on the back of the truck and pulling the fully-loaded trailer.

Weather though is not my friend.  It’s cloudy all day, and by the time I’m into Iowa, the wind is really picking up.  When the gusts get into the 20mph-range, it starts getting interesting.  Then add some rain, and it’s time to take a break.  I don’t really feel like getting blown off the highway due to crosswinds and slick roads.


While on break, I checked the radar, and it’s not pretty.  There’s a giant storm stretching the entire country (practically) from where I am on the north end all the way down into Texas.  There’s a brief respite in the rain, and the winds are manageable, so I skedaddle on down to my chosen walmart (in Ames, IA) for the evening.  After grabbing some groceries, the winds have really picked up, and we’re now up to 42mph gusts.  Yep, I’m staying put for tonight.

Now comes the next issue: Power & Propane.  Last night in Shoreview, I had the camper on the truck, and in that configuration, the only level spot was in the street hooked up to the trailer.  Unfortunately, I can’t run an extension cord out to that spot, so I’m basically boondocking.  The low temperature last night was 29°F, so I was running the furnace from about midnight on.  It’s fantastic to have proper heat!  Only downside though is that I had around 5 gallons of propane before that evening, and I think I’m down to around 3 now.  The batteries also got a workout last night, and didn’t get much charge today due to the cloudy weather.  I’m hoping I have enough power (to run the furnace fan) and propane (to provide heat) for the evening.  Tomorrow I’ll try to get the propane tanks filled since I doubt I’ll be making it all the way to Tyler by Sunday evening.

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