Trailer marker lights

As I write this, we are coming back from our East Coast fall colors trip, but that is for the next blog entry.

Before leaving, I knew that my umbilical connector was not making great contact. I would get notifications in the truck that the trailer was disconnected but would immediately reconnect. I figured I should look at the connector itself. Here it is:

Just a bit of corrosion there. I don’t know how many years it has been since I replaced it but now was the time to do so.

This connector controls all the electrical (12v) that feeds back to the trailer when traveling (lights, brakes, charging). However, it does not control the next item I needed to fix. The last time we were in Texas, we had to get the trailer inspected as it is part of the registration process. The inspector passed the marker lights on the trailer but said I needed to get them fixed. On our east coast trip, we expected to pass through Texas on the way home and I might get an inspection going there, so I wanted to be ready.

Here is what they looked like:

Still functional, but barely. I have replaced one in the past and learned from that one so I attacked 5 of them this time.

Let’s start with an old one:

Take a small screwdriver and pry up the front and back ends. There are two clips at each end that will separate the bezel from the base.

You can see the Vulkem that Airstream used to seal the hole. Two wires are connecting under the skin. We have to cut those but NOT lose them inside the trailer. We also need to use some butt connectors to connect the new wires from the new lights. Two screws to remove the base and gasket from the trailer.

Time to clean up the area and prep a new light and its components. Here are the parts, the light itself, a chromed base, and a gasket.

The gasket goes right on the trailer, the chrome base on top of that and the light (bezel) tops it all off. Remember that we have to use some butt connectors to attach the new wires to the existing ones. The butt connectors are not really flush and the gasket is pretty thick. We have to make space. I put some relief cuts on the gasket and removed material in the center to accommodate the space the butt connectors will take up.

Now we assemble the layers. Run the wires from the trailer, through the gasket and attach butt connectors

Run the new connectors through the chrome base and attach them to the new wires on the new light.

Secure the base with the screws.

Now we just snap the light onto the base at the front and back.

Now do 4 more! Here is how they look when new!

Let’s hope they pass inspection!

70000 miles!

We purchased our current Airstream in January of 2013. It is a 2012 31′ Classic. Since the 31′ was not the most desirable floorplan (they no longer make the floorplan) and the trailer had been on the lot for over 6 months we got a pretty good deal on it. We just had to drive to Portland OR to purchase it.

We had our ’92 Airstream, given to us by my parents, for about 12 years prior and they had it for about 10 before that! I had no idea how many miles were put on that trailer. I know we took the ’92 all over the western states, to Canada once and Mexico three times. I was determined to keep track of things better this time!

Google to the rescue! I was still working when we got the trailer and my career was in technology so what better way to track than a spreadsheet? Google allowed me to do this but keep the information in the cloud without needing a PC/Mac with software installed specifically for spreadsheets (Microsoft Office). I can keep track of things on my phone.

I started tracking after our trip bringing the new trailer home. I even added on mileage for the trailer being transported from Jackson Center OH to the trailer dealership in Spokane WA and then the mileage to get it to Portland. However, that is not our mileage.

The next question was how actually to track the mileage that we travel. I know that some big rigs have odometers that physically attach to the hub of their trailers but I didn’t even think of that or probably didn’t want to pay for one. One app that I found for the iPhone was MapMyDrive. It worked pretty well, as long as I could remember to start it when we began each drive.

A few months into our tracking, I added a few items to each drive. One was the latitude and longitude of each stop. This was in anticipation of having some type of dynamic map that shows our path for each trip. But, what path did we take?

It is always fun to go back and look at some trips but we don’t always take the most direct route. If we have time, I don’t like to travel exclusively on Interstate freeways, major off roads have a much greater appeal. But how do I remember where we went? Once again Google to the rescue.

After every trip, drive, etc. I sit down at the laptop and use Google Maps to lay out where we drove. I start with the starting point and the destination and drag the route to show the correct path. By now, I don’t use MapMyDrive and use Google Maps exclusively. I then create a link with the path. For example, here is a drive we did in 2017 when we drove from Walmart in Greensboro NC to Walmart/Ashley furniture in Durham NC.

Our route
Meandering around Greensboro

On this leg, we had some things to do before we got to our next stop. We left where we spent the night (Walmart), stopped at a laundromat, teeth cleaning for Roxie, had lunch at Longhorn, then stopped at Bed Bath and Beyond for a wedding gift (unmarked dot by Walmart) and headed on to the next stop.

With Google Maps, I can put in all the stops in order and it will figure out a path. I can then tweak it to match our actual path. In this situation, if I had only put in the starting and ending points, we would have missed all the extra mileage that we put on the trailer.

Tracking the mileage accurately gives you a baseline on which to apply service items. This way I knew that we got almost 50K miles on our Michelin tires on the trailer. I also knew we got over 68K miles on our original brakes. These numbers are very helpful!

Here is a snippet of the spreadsheet with some recent info:

This shows us creeping in on 70000 miles on our trailer and 1900 full-time nights. With all this spreadsheet and map tracking, I feel that I am easily within 1% of accuracy.

I also keep track of our nightly camping expenses since we started full-timing in 2017. Here is a snippet of that part of the spreadsheet:

I track all the above so I can get a ‘total’ cost at the end of the year and an average cost. I can also keep track of what states/provinces we have been to. The current list is:

Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon Territory. 33 states and 3 provinces.

At this writing, we are officially at 71627.3 miles and still going. We are getting ready to head east and add more states to the list!