Tuesday, June 16, 2009

5th Wheel Axle Change

Last year on the way back from our annual camping trip to Hatteras Village one of the camper tires on our fifth wheel blew out at 75 miles per hour. It sounded like a cannon went off back there and gave us quite a scare as a result. I blame the guy that kept driving in my blind spot for that. I would speed up and he'd speed up. I'd slow down and he would slow down. It was my last attempt to get ahead of him that caused the tire to go.

Well anyway, we promply replaced all of the tires with G rated tires that should have no problem in the future, but since then I have been keeping the rig under 70, just in case.

All of this resulted in a bent axle. Les noticed it late last year after moving it into a camping spot - the new tire was sticking out at the bottom; basically sitting on the hub at an angle. After changing the bearings it was obvious that the axle was bent. We ordered a new one and were shocked that it was only $160!! The picture below is of the new axle. Check out all the pics and their captions to see how we changed it out. It was surprisingly easy!!

This is the new axle. Only $160 and not too heavy. The job should be simple: unbolt the old axle from the rig, remove the hubs and brake assemblies, then bolt the new axle on and put the old hubs back on it.

This is the old axle on the camper after we jacked it up. Note that the bend you see is normal and not the damaged part.

Once the tires are removed, the hub is revealed.

The trailer uses electric brakes. My father in law, Stan, was there to help and he took charge of the wiring. He has a natural talent for that stuff. He cut the wires and took mental notes of how to put them back together once the new axle was on.

The axle is bolted onto the rig using two U bolts on each side of the camper. Using a 3/4 inch ratchet wrench, we easily removed the bolts. In this pic you can see the old axle after it was dropped.

In this pic you can see the inside of the brake assembly once the hub and bearings are removed. There are 5 14mm bolts holding it to the axle. We easily removed them using an air ratchet and a hammer.

The new axle bolted onto the camper. It's in place and ready for the hubs.

The brake assemblies are back on now. It doesn't get any easier than this.

The bearings and hub installed.

After connecting the trailer to the truck we discovered that there was a short in the wiring. Stan solved the problem a few minutes later.

A little helper assisted with the wheels.

All done and no more crooked wheel!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Low and Slow - Eastern NC Style BBQ on the Egg

Expecting a Saturday get together at my parents I decided to do an overnight cook on the Big Green Egg. I've always had good luck with Pork BBQ so I decided to do that.

Les went to the store on Friday and bought three Boston Butts. These are the best for BBQ in my opinion, though the shoulders are not bad.

MY grill of choice for this kind of cook is the large Big Green Egg. It is fantastic for doing long slow cooks without drying out the meat. The difficult thing about this grill is temperature control. For good BBQ you want the grill to maintain temps between 220 and 250 for many hours. To facilitate this I use a great tool called the BBQ Guru.

It uses a small draft fan that is computer controlled to regulate air into the grill. By selecting the desired pit temperature with the knob on the right, one can easily dial in the approriate temp and walk away. I've used this system for 24 hour cooks before without any problems!

For this cook, I set the desired meat temp to 200 degrees (this is the target temp for good BBQ; the point at which the fat has rendered into the meat making it super tender). I set the pit temp to 250; I started this cook at 8PM and needed it to be done rather quickly for the get together the next day. 250 degrees is a little hotter than I like to cook it but it turned out fine anyway.

Here are some pics that show you the process. Enjoy!

Lighting the charcoal with an electric lighter. This charcoal is the Wicked Good brand. Not bad, but the pieces are a little small.

Three pork Butts on the grill. Les put some Dizzy Dust rub on there for flavor. (http://www.dizzypigbbq.com/ -> Highly recommended!)

It's about 8:15 in the evening and they are ready to cook! We were out of hickory wook chunks so we put some mesquite in there.

11:00 am the next day it is ready to pull off the grill! WAY AHEAD OF SCHEDULE but I'll take it. One thing I learned from the web about cooking BBQ is that if it is done early, simply wrap it in foil then a towel and stuff it in a cooler. It'll keep grill fresh for 5 hours that way.

MMMMM delicious! It really turned out good this time. I was somewhat concerned about the fast cook (the grill got a little hot and took some time to cool down). I used my uncle Steve's eastern BBQ sauce recipe for this one. This style of sauce is easy to make or you can usually find some variety of it at the grocery store.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Following the Crowd

Well after years of trying not to join the blog revolution, I've finally given in and have created my first blog page. The main motivating reason for this is that I love my garage and I want to share that joy with the people I know and hopefully some future friends as well. As I perform miscellaenous projects I'll post updates and how-tos. Everything from oil changes to 5th wheel axle changes to barleywine homebrews are game.

I built the garage in late 2007 as a dream come true. I have waited many years for a place to not only house my tools and toys, but also a place that I can perform miscellaneous projects without getting grass and gravel down my shirt. Sure I've had an opportunity or two to build a shop, but I've always felt that a good garage can never be too big. Why rush into it and build a standard 2 car garage when I can hold out and maybe one day build a 3 car garage.

Well, after many years of biding my time, I finally built it. As it turns out I decided to hold on the 3 car opportunity and went for something bigger. By my calculations I could probably fit 18 cars in it (maybe twice that if you pack them tight)!

Its dimensions are 80' x 60' occupying exactly 4800 square feet. We built it next to the house. Our house is a one and half story ranch of 2400 square feet. Obviously this structure makes the house look kinda small.

From this picture you can get a good idea of how much space is available in the shop. During the design phase, I was pretty adamant that the roof pitch not be too flat. We went with a 4/12 pitch which only makes the interior feel even more spacious. It also has an alternate effect of making the ceiling much higher; 29 feet to be exact!! I had to buy an old, used scissor lift in order to be able to get up there to change light bulbs and do other standard maintenance tasks.

This here is the prize of the shop; my Rotary lift with the Extra Height (EH) option. Expect to see much more of this baby in future posts.

Anyway, that's my introduction. I hope you enjoyed it. Check back from time to time and see what I've been doing. Thanks for reading!!