Monthly Archives: March 2014

Teaching children the importance of travel

Article I wrote for Multibrief.  Original article here.

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“Kids these days …” Now I’m sounding like my parents — when did that happen? I think it sort of creeps up on you after you’ve been a parent for more than a decade.

As I was saying, kids these days seem to be overly interested in movies, video games and animations devoid of real-life experiences. airstream familyI’ve tried to change that in my children. You see, I’ve been Airstreaming for more than 10 years, almost as long as I’ve been a parent. My daughter’s first camping trip was when she was 6 months old. She may not remember it, but I do.

Like many trailerites, my wife and I have taken our children many places across this great country. Our family trips in our Airstream are much more memorable than the typical Disney vacation most Americans use for a vacation destination.

While we enjoy Disney as much as the next tourist, visiting national parks and historical destinations are valuable experiences. Not just valuable to us, the parents, but also our children.

“Get your kicks on route 66,” wasn’t just a song. It was a deeply-held belief that travel was good. Going places you’ve never been and meeting new people along the way is an enriching experience that can’t be replaced by an app on a smartphone.

I remember as a child being caged in a van with the rest of my family — it was a full-size van; there were no minivans back then. My parents planned a road trip for my two older brothers and me from California to Niagara Falls, N.Y.

We were armed only with our pillows, a four-inch foam dad laid out for a bed and our imaginations. There were no DVD players or iPads then. When we weren’t annoying each other in typical boy fashion, we played road games like “I spy” and the license plate alphabet game.

Dad was a great road-trip planner and loved to stop at every roadside attraction along the way. We would see things like the Petrified Forest and Bedrock City (Google the Flintstones if you’re under 30).

But it was never really about the destination. It was all about the journey. As we racked up mile after mile on the odometer, we racked up memories as well. We grew closer as a family.

I didn’t realize it then, but I learned a lot from ol’ dad. I’ve grown beyond the four-inch foam mattress in a van and graduated to an Airstream, but the principles remain. Having real-life adventures, not just those constrained to a screen, is an important part of life.

My children are blessed to have been able to see Yellowstone, Carlsbad Caverns, Yosemite, Graceland, Daytona Beach and many more places — all from the comforts of our Airstream. I believe they are richer people because of their experiences. Even more important, our family is closer because we experienced these things together.

Travel is good.

About the Author

Tim Shephard is the author and illustrator of the recently-released “Airstream Adventures Series,” aimed at teaching young children about real-life, adventure-filled destinations they can visit. The first book in the series is “Emma and Scotty’s Alien Encounter in Roswell” and is available in paperback, Kindle, Nook and iBook.
Airstream Adventures Books
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A/C drain pan replacement

I think I mentioned on the show that my air conditioner drain pan was cracked.  The cracks caused the trailer to leak when it rained.  At first I thought that I overtightened the a/c mount and cracked it.  Now I’m not so sure.  I think it’s a combination of over tightening and age.  When I removed the a/c, I found even more cracks on the pan.

Dometic Penguin drain pan

Dometic Penguin drain pan

Multiple cracks

Multiple cracks

More cracks

More cracks

This just proves trying to seal the cracks that you can only see from the inside would be useless.  (Yes I tried it ;-) )

Dometic makes a new drain pan that is really just two small cups that you mount right at the a/c drain points.  This system seems to be much more robust.  To do any kind of drain pan replacement, you have to completely remove the a/c.  That means you will need a helper to maneuver the unit.

Drain pan scraped off.

Drain pan scraped off.

And carefully discarded

And carefully discarded

The new drain pan system consists of two cups, connecting tube with a tee, and new gasket material.

To install the drain pan you line up the cups according to the diagram in the instructions.  The drain line passes through the original gasket to the opposite side, so you need to cut out some of the gasket to allow the drain tubes to pass.  Using the included self-tapping screws, you mount the drain cups and seal around where the tube passes through the gasket.  You do not seal where the cups mount because it can act as a back-up drain path if the main tube is plugged.

In the photo you will also notice a new 14″ gasket that gets placed over the original, doubling its thickness.  This is necessary because of the drain cups.   Quite interesting really.

New drain pan system

New drain pan system

Close up of the cup mounted

Close up of the cup mounted

Here is the completed installation of the drain pan.  There are also two gasket strips, 16″ and 10″ that adhere to the rear of the a/c.  These are provided to even out the mounting of the a/c.

You should be able to tell what time I completed the installation by how my shadow is cast on the a/c. :-)

Completed drain pan mount

Completed drain pan mount

Here is the a/c mounted.  You can see it sitting taller because of the new gaskets.  Also noticed the white drain cup clearly visible. Now you know how to tell if a trailer your looking at has a drain pan.

Completed roof installation

Completed roof installation

Here is the drain connection inside the trailer.  I installed this tube during my renovation.  It travels from the a/c opening inside the ceiling and exits through my pantry to below the trailer.    The drain pan system fits a 1/2″ ID tube, which is what I had installed already.  That was nice.

Inside drain connection

Inside drain connection

Overall it was a lot of work.  Took about three hours.  You have to disconnect all the wiring which includes the AC electrical circuit, 12vdc, comfort control wiring, and thermostat wiring.  You also have to lift the 100+ lb a/c and flip it upside down to work on it.

I never really liked the original drain pan.  It seemed brittle to me.  I always had a problem with it leaking because of an original seam that was never sealed from the factory.  I just found that last year.

These new cups are very sturdy plastic, and the simplistic nature makes me think they will last a while.  I ran the a/c for a while, but it never produced enough condensation to check the drain.  I’ll have to wait for more humidity.

Overall I’m pleased with the upgrade and glad that I didn’t have to install the same kind of drain pan.  I’ll be checking it for leaks when it rains, but I feel pretty good with the results.

My a/c is actually a Dometic 15kbtu heat pump model 630516.331.  The new pan for this model is called a Drain System with a part number of 3107688.016.  It works on many different models.

Airstream Adventures Books

 

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