Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. -- Carl Sandburg
There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Miss Dirona is ready to party hardy the best way she knows how - chasing her very favorite ball!  


A new year is upon us! I can't believe 2012 is done already. Here comes 2013. Good thing I don't suffer from Triskaidekaphobia - fear of the number 13. I've embraced the opposite of superstition and have long claimed the number 13 as a lucky number just to defy the superstitions.  I also like black cats and walk under ladders all the time. Ha!  And I've never had a bit of bad luck from any of them.

So bring on 2013!

I'm trying to get my house fixed up so I can sell it.  It seems like an endless task but I keep plugging away on it.  My sister and brother-in-law talked me into going on another tropical jaunt with them at the end of January.  This time to St. Thomas.  And they prodded me to get my passport renewed.  So that is finally sent off to the State Dept.  My old one was more than 20 years expired and in my now defunct married name.  I thought it would be a big deal with showing all my paperwork but all I needed was the old passport and my birth certificate.  Apparently, they just start over under those circumstances.  At least I hope that is right.  If I'm lucky, I'll get it before we take off.  St Thomas is a US territory so all I need is proof of citizenship and my drivers license should be ok.

My dog knows what the word ball means.  I ask her to get her ball and she runs to it and brings it (not a stick or other toy), no matter how far away it is.  Smart puppy.  She is now 2 3/4 years old and just gets better as she edges towards maturity.  My two old cats are still plugging along despite their chronic renal failure.  I feed them a special raw turkey diet and it has reversed the renal numbers back into just normal.  Instead of bracing myself for their eventual demise, I now expect them to be around for a long time to come.  We are coming up on 3 years with the diet.  

So here's to another year and wishing all that it will be a good one!

♨ ♪ e d e f d ♪ ♨
HAPPY NEW YEAR !!
♨ ♪ e d e f d ♪ ♨










December 13, 2012

Hawaii - The Big Island - Day 5-7

Waipi'o Valley in the rain
The northeast coast of the Big Island is the windward side and with the tradewinds slamming into the tallest mountain - Mauna Kea - it rains a lot.  That makes for dozens of lush steep valleys and lots of waterfalls.  We could see the inaccessible waterfalls pouring off the steep cliffs driving by but there were few stopping places.  This used to be sugar cane country but is no longer.  You can still see some sugar cane growing in places.  A lot of eucalyptus and ironwood forests have returned to the hills.  They never left the steep canyon sides.  We learned that most of the houses use rainfall catchment systems for their household water.  Here and the Kona coffee district is where most of the houses are.  The tourists like the dessicated west coast but the people who live here like the rainy areas.  I like the lushness and greenness too.

December 11, 2012

Hawaii - The Big Island - Day 3 &4 Volcano!

Eruption in Halema'uma'u crater inside Kilauea
We went to see the active volcano on our 3rd day.  Kilauea is the most recent and active volcano on the island.  For a while they thought it was a pimple on the side of Mauna Loa but have since decided it is a new volcano with it's own magma pipe.  When I first came here, I was lucky to have active hot lava oozing out of the earth near the end of the Craters road near the sea.  It was also pouring lava into the sea but I didn't see that part - just the VOG (volcanic smog) filling the sky.  There's nothing like being just inches away from hot red lava.  This time, the hot lava was in the center of the big new lava field and inaccessible.  We could see the VOG coming from and from the interior crater inside the big Kilauea crater.  It's become very active and at times has a lava lake in it now.  It pours out the VOG and the Park Service has closed half the road that goes around the caldera due to the toxic VOG.  They have cameras and an infrared camera in the museum so visitors can see what is happening.

Hawaii - The Big Island - Day 2 South Point

1801 Lava Flow from Mauna Loa - N Kona
We headed for the southern most point in the US.  We found a restaurant in Kailua-Kona for breakfast and then headed down the highway.  The north Kona coast on the western side of the island is extremely dry.  The airport is located on the westernmost point formed by the 3rd volcano, Hualalai, then the land curves back a bit before it goes due south along the Mauna Loa flanks.  As soon as you get past the west point, it starts to green up again.  Lush tropical vegetation is up a thousand feet or so above the ocean.  Here is the Kona coffee belt. A sweet spot with lots of rain on the lee side of the island part way up the slope.

December 10, 2012

Hawaii - The Big Island - Day 1

This trip has nothing to do with my van but it was fun. In late October, my brother-in-law called to ask if I would like to go to a tropical island with them in November.  My sister got a replacement ankle early this year and he said she was finally starting to be able to walk a couple blocks on it.  They hadn't had a vacation in 3 years and since we get along so well, they wanted me to come alone and I could be tour guide for them.  After a bit of thought, I decided, what the heck, why not? We decided on Hawaii since I don't have a current passport (note to self - get the paperwork and apply!).  My sister wanted to spend 7 days on the Big Island since she had never been to it.  I had 2 one day trips to it several years ago during a business trip but still hadn't managed to make it all the way around the island.

November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  Boy does that turkey look like a dinosaur!  This year, I'm thankful I stayed home alone with the critters and didn't give my cold to anyone.  I don't feel up to a big dinner anyway.  Last week, I went to the Big Island, Hawaii for a wonderful week but the long, exhausting plane ride home seems to have made me succumb to a cold.  It has been years since I've had a cold, so I can be grateful that it rarely happens.  I can also be grateful that it isn't causing asthma.  I'm thankful I have such a nice neighbor who took such good care of the critters while I was away too.  My girl cat, Nissa has been pretty glued to me since I got back.  The dog is a bit more pushy in asking for pets but otherwise showing no trauma from my absence     It's been 3 years since I took a trip away from the cats and this dog had never been away from me.

Today, I took advantage of warmish weather and evicted the last of the carpenter bees from one of the jambs on my front door.  I cut a replacement piece and started filling a tunnel with putty to start the repair.  That just about did me in for today.  Lots of herb tea, vitamin C, and sleep to get over the cold.

Hope everyone has a nice thanksgiving.

October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy in the Mid-Atlantic

Here she comes!  Hurricane Sandy is turning northwest into the mid Atlantic area with unusual force for this area.  This is a very rare meteorological event.  Most hurricanes bop up the east coast  and head for Long Island or east and out to sea and just brush by this area.  A fairly rare upper level air pattern developed where a strong cold front that dumped on the west coast a few days ago arrived combined with a low pressure system out in the middle of the Atlantic along with what we call an Omega ridge in the middle of the two.  The Omega form is a strong ridge and not easily dislodged.  The upper air isobars form what looks like the capital Greek letter omega with the two low pressure systems forming the legs and the ridge in the middle forming the arch of the letter.

September 5, 2012

Refrigerator Compressor Ventilation - The Problem

Note: This ventilation idea was a failure.  It is just too hot in the summers to adequately ventilate with outside air. 
 
My broken thermistor wire problem on my trip this summer dramatically revealed the conditions behind the Isotherm refrigerator in my van.  It was very hot back there.  I used a towel rolled up to block the heat streaming in from it after I opened it up to try to fix it.  I had put insulation all around the refrigerator leaving a hole above the compressor and behind the entire refrigerator open to the upper and lower vents.  I assumed the compressor fan would be sufficient to draw air in and out. Crossing the Great Plains meant very hot conditions in the 90's to over 100F as well as uncomfortable humidity levels.  Added to that was my westward trek meant the refrigerator side of the van had the sun beating down all day as well.

August 28, 2012

Thermistor Replaced

The new thermistor came for my Isotherm refrigerator.  They sent a 6' phone cord and they had already wired it to a new thermistor, only this time with a nice flat connection protected by a heat shrink tube.  A much better connection that should be able to withstand some knocking about if it should fall again.  My contact said to use a pencil to poke a hole thru the silicon where the coolant tube and wire goes thru and poke it thru.  It was easy enough to get a hole thru but pushing the thermistor thru was not easy.  I ended up using a 1/4" wide piece of vinyl flashing to use as a fish wire poked thru the hole, then taped the thermistor to it to pull it thru.  

August 20, 2012

Isotherm Refrigerator Saga

I replaced my original 3-way refrigerator last spring with an Isotherm CR130 marine refrigerator.  The old one never worked for more than a few hours and mostly not at all.  I tried everything but to no avail.  After much research, I settled on the Isotherm because of it's excellent reputation for ruggedness, efficiency, and the company standing behind it's products.  It was expensive but I really wanted one that would be reliable and very miserly on the battery usage.

Route back east

The high dry plains of NE CO - CO14
I got back home on August 3.  Once I get home, the work piled up is daunting!  Mowing and 8-10 foot weeds, my laundry, get food going again, the pets.  My attempt to get the little volunteer job I do failed as my friend somehow did the opposite of what I asked and sent my home mail to my sister's instead of the PO Box mail.  Before I know it, 2 weeks have passed.  Here's a quick post about the route I took back.  It was just to get home in a reasonable amount of time but still look for swimming opportunities for the dog.

July 29, 2012

Getting ready to go

I've been moochdocking at my sister's house over the weekend again.  Got the ASU back and a new remote switch from the company for my refrigerator Thursday evening.  He had emailed me that the ASU tested good and that it might be the switch.  I reinstalled it, first trying the original wire, then the replacement wire.  No joy.  For a while, I thought the compressor might be going but not the fan.  That turned out not to be the case.  It is exactly like it was when it failed.  I think it must be the ASU despite their tests.  The electronics box attached to the compressor and wired to a manual switch to turn the compressor on and off works fine and it cools very well including the freezer (a workaround).  I just have to watch the temperature and keep it from freezing and remember to turn it back on when the temp rises.  Not ideal but better than ice in a cooler.  So, after determining it simply does not work Friday, I reinstalled the manual switch and put the fridge back into the cavity and secured it for the ride home.  It started cooling.

July 26, 2012

Busy, Busy

This has been a really busy stay here in Colorado.  First was the getting ready for the family gathering at my sister's house.  It was fun to see a bunch of the relatives.  Then clean up afterwards.  In the meantime, my brother-in -law found a nice pond to swim my dog and their standard poodle.  We learned that their dog can't swim.  He loves water but is pathetic swimming.  He doesn't use his hind legs and splashes the water with his front legs.  Then when he can reach the ground standing up, he walks out on his hind legs.

July 22, 2012

To Colorado, part 2

Continuing the trek across the plains to Colorado story:
Camp at Chatham SP, IA
Sunday: Road closures made us head further south than I wanted in Illinois.  I was also winging it for awhile because Mr. Garmin kept wanting me to head for Chicago.  I was aiming for a more northerly route to have less heat but no way did we want to have Chicago traffic to deal with. I headed for US24 and defied Garmin for quite awhile.  The dog didn't get any swimming in because I wanted to make up for the lost time struggling with the refrigerator.  Once we made it across Iowa and the Mighty Mississippi, we were in Keokak, IA.  I hadn't realized that we had gone that far south.  It was the end of the day and I was tired so I started looking for a place for the night.  A little north of town, Garmin said there was a campground so I headed to it.  It was another one of those fit you in tight private campgrounds.  Yuck.  On the road, I saw a little sign saying Chatham State Park.  So I headed for it, got a bit turned around but found a little campground with electric, water, and a dump.  Might have been showers there too but I didn't look.  Only a handful of campers and a camp host were there.  Nice sites for $15.  It was essentially right across the road from the full and crowded private campground.  Yay, nice private site with AC for the night.  I cooked the hamburger I had brought along to use it up with some onions and spices for dinner.

July 21, 2012

Hi-Tailing it to Colorado

Sideling Hill Rest Area, MD
My aim was my sister's house in Colorado for our annual family get-together.  This year is hot, hot, hot across the path between the east coast and Colorado.  And I don't like hot.  Never have.  Not better at this stage of life either, like so many things are. There was a brief respite last week so I hoped for the best.  I had in mind to find public campgrounds in the central US to be able to plug in and have AC overnight at not too much cost.  I still loathe most of the private campgrounds I see.  The sardine can aspect is a real turn off.  There are few amenities that can make up for that in my mind.  Give me land, lots of land, and the starry skies above.  Or at least a little breathing room.

June 27, 2012

Rv'ing and the New Immigration Laws

What do the new immigration laws in the west mean for those who wander about in a vehicle?  The Supreme Court just upheld the portion of the AZ law that requires the police to check for papers proving that a person is legally in the US.  They noted that police must not racially profile to determine this and they must have some reasonable suspicion that a person is possibly an illegal alien.  It seems like the two are pretty much inconsistent.  How do you suspect that someone is illegal if you don't racially profile?  If they have an accent?  Would a cop in AZ consider a heavy New England accent to be foreign?  I've heard some so thick I could barely understand them.  Same for some southern accents.  Even particular places in Maryland have very different accents.

June 17, 2012

Fuel Filter Replacement


The last thing on my maintenance list was changing the fuel filter.  Old diesels require bleeding the air out of the fuel lines whenever the filter is changed but that isn't necessary with my Sprinter.  Mercedes-Benz says I should change the fuel filter with every oil change at 10K miles.  Many don't think that is really necessary and change them every other oil change.  Since I have no idea when it was last changed, if ever, I thought it prudent to put in a new one.

June 15, 2012

Oil Change

Sears adjustable oil filter wrench
I got the oil changed and the new filter put into the van today.  Had to go get a special filter wrench from Sears to get it off ($13).  No room at the side for the usual wrenches.  Now, I don't need any of the other wrenches.  My 2005 Sprinter takes 9.5 qts of synthetic oil.  I loosened the filler cap on top of the engine but couldn't budge the filter cap with any of my tools.  I got the oil pan bolt out with quite a bit of effort.  Thought I had failed when I saw a bit of black oil seeping out.  Then I knew I had it and unscrewed it the rest of the way.  I ended up leaving it overnight because I couldn't get the filter cap off.

June 14, 2012

Air Filters

I got all the parts I need to do the regular maintenance on my van.  Clockwise: Air filter, fuel injection clamps for the fuel filter hoses, fuel filter, cabin filter, oil filter, Fumoto valve to replace the drain plug, 10 qts synthetic oil.  I got all but the clamps and oil from Amazon.com.  The clamps were from Advanced Auto and the oil from Walmart.  All this set me back $162.57.  The Fumoto is a one time expense so that won't need to be spent again ($26.40).

June 12, 2012

Van Maintenance

I've been reading a lot of Sprinter-source in the last couple of weeks to get the details on what maintenance my van needs.  I have put on a little over 9,000 miles since I bought it and it was supposed to have had it's maintenance done just before I bought it.  I probably shouldn't have trusted that it was done, but I did.  I checked the oil level and it still looks good.  I had it in my mind that the oil was good for 10K miles and didn't think about the time.

May 22, 2012

Versatility

This is why I love the center aisle floor plan of my van.  I needed to get some molding for my house and some of the pieces were best gotten at 16 feet and others at 12 feet.  The 16 footers came up into the cab aisle but fit just fine on the floor of the van.  Easy peasy.  Even a pickup truck wouldn't be able to haul the long pieces without a lot of difficulty.  Nice that my mobile house can so easily carry parts for my stationary house.  The van felt really smooth driving into town today for some reason.

May 17, 2012

T-Shirt Dog

I feel like I have a new calling -  a dog nurse.  Sit with her and hold ice on her elbows, give her pills, guide her when she gets a bit stuck from the cone head.  Walk her outside on a tight heel to go to the bathroom.  Can't get much else done this way except work on her heel.

May 16, 2012

Back Home

Really?  As if naked legs are not embarrassing enough, I have to wear this thing?
Got my dog back home today.  The vet clinic was really thorough.  Fully written instructions and they even gave me a DVD of the arthroscopy.  I have a little movie of my dog's elbow on the inside.  It's going to be a long 8 weeks.  A couple weeks of drugs, icing, then warm compresses, no running, no jumping, nothing but very sedate short leash walking, and an Elizabethan collar.  Then we get the stitches out and start rehab physical therapy every week for 6 weeks.  She thinks the collar is a punishment.  She isn't supposed to go up and down stairs.  I thought about moving into the van but there is a bit of a height for her to put to much pressure on those elbows going in and out.  So I made a bed downstairs and moved her bed down too.  It will get harder when she feels better.  That's when keeping a good dog down will be really hard.

May 15, 2012

Dog Surgery Day

Today is the day my collie, Dirona, gets her arthroscopic surgery to remove the bone chip in her elbow and fix the joints.  The VOSM clinic is very good about keeping me apprised of her status.   They called me at 9 am to tell me she was scheduled for early afternoon.  Then again at about 1p to tell me they were prepping her for the anesthesia and surgery.  They said they would call me again after she wakes and the doctor would call at the end of the day.

May 11, 2012

Dog Woes

Best Buddies
The day after my dog was limping so badly at the SprinterFest, we went to my vet and discovered she has a bone chip in her elbow.  At least there's a reason for it.  But that means surgery.  And an expensive surgery at that.  My vet (who I love) recommended arthroscopic surgery and a specialist in orthopedic surguery.  She would not want to do the elbow because it takes a lot of specialized experience and she doesn't have the equipment to do it the way she thinks it should be done.  So this week we were off to the specialist an hour away for the consultation.  A couple hours later, he came to the same conclusion as my vet but with the added diagnosis of some sensitivity in her other elbow.  He did a very thorough exam.

May 3, 2012

Pure Water

Water.  Such a basic thing but vital for life and hygiene.  RV makers usually supply potable water to the cabin with a plastic tank and a water pump that supplies water to a spigot.  It is common for RV'ers to put a filter on a campground's water faucet before it gets to their system.  This is because one simply does not know what the water quality is at any place.  If it's been tested and those tests are published, one might be able to find out with some effort, but largely, we simply trust and hope that water spigots deliver safe water.  And sometimes, they don't.

May 2, 2012

Refrigerator and Batteries


It looks like I can go for 2 days on my batteries with the new refrigerator before having to recharge at 50% discharge (i.e., about 100AH out of my 200AH batteries).  I only used my LED lights but I used the furnace in the morning, water heater and pump for a shower.  It was cool to cold during the weekend and the refrigerator was hard to keep from being too cold.  I kept bumping down the dial because the interior thermometer said 35-36F degrees.  Some of my water froze. In more moderate temps it will probably keep at better temps.  My amp hour usage varied from a low of 1.56AH/hr to 2.68AH/hr, the higher usage corresponding with furnace usage.

SprinterFest!

Over the weekend, I went up to the SprinterFest East hosted by Sun Motors in Mechanicsburg, PA.  It was a fun and interesting weekend.  There were a lot of innovative people there with tons of interesting ideas.  One guy heated his van with underfloor hot water from his diesel water heater.  While many were commercially built Class B vans like mine, there were several self-built ones.  One was particularly beautiful with custom curved cherry wood cabinets and tile bath and galley counter.

April 26, 2012

Sprinter Sliding Door Handle Fix


My sliding door handle broke and wouldn't open the door at all while I was on my trip last summer.  I ended up using the driver's door instead, which the dog adapted to quickly.  With research, mostly on Sprinter-source.com, I found it is a fairly common problem.  The plastic inside handle is prone to breakage at the crucial lever point.  I did this fix last fall but didn't document it then.  I haven't yet looked for a replacement part, but I should ...

A Little Cleaning, A Little Insulating

I cleaned out the new refrigerator after a bit of shopping yesterday morning. and put it all together with the bins and racks in place.  It is ready for use.  I was unable to find a replacement for the thermometer I broke locally so I ordered a few new ones of the right size from Amazon.  What would we do without Amazon?  Seems there is less and less choice in local stores.  Then I put the cabinet doors back on.  I removed them to be able to slide the refrigerator down the aisle.  And on to cleaning out the bath and cab.

April 21, 2012

I Have a New Refrigerator!

Refrigerator installed with ASU Remote
above it
I finally finished installing my new Isotherm Cruise CR130 refrigerator and it works beautifully.  It is very quiet.  I have to put my ear right up to it to hear the fan/compressor at all.  My van is a huge mess with tons of tools and bits and pieces of insulation, but it is done.  The job was a big one primarily because I found a bunch of rust and rotted plywood that I fixed and replaced.  In addition, I wanted to add as much insulation to the cavity as space would allow to improve the refrigerator's performance.

April 19, 2012

Test Fit the Refrigerator and Getting ready for the Install

Test fit the new refrigerator
I took the doors off the refrigerator to check the fit.  Even with the door off, it just barely slid by the narrow part of the van aisle.  It just barely gets into the cavity due to the cabinet face trim.  I can recess it a bit over a half inch and still have room for the lock to swivel and the compressor just clears the rear inner wall.  So, the cavity is ready for the actual installation.  

April 18, 2012

Vents Installed

Last night, I installed the new vents.  I pressed the butyl tape against the flange, removed the paper, then pressed the vent cowl into the vent hole.  I had some difficulty with the aluminum backers because I missed the pre-drilled holes, but got them in in the end.  I used a plastic putty knife to cut away the excess butyl tape.  It is kind of gooey and stringy.  The vent flange doesn't fit exactly against the van skin because of the curvature of the wall.  The butyl tape fills the gap so I hope it will work properly.

April 16, 2012

And More Painting ...

The gray primer is definitely a better base for white paint than the brown primer is.  On a whim, I decided to go over the outside edges with the same Rustoleum Gloss White paint as I'm using on the interior metal.  Wouldn't you know it?  It matches the original white paint better than the GM Arctic White touch up paint.  Granted, the original paint is a bit drab after 8 years in the weather, but it isn't anything that a good washing wouldn't improve.

April 15, 2012

More painting

Gray primer
I found a couple of little jars of auto paint I had gotten to fix chips - primer and top paint.  The GM Arctic White is supposed to match the Sprinter white but it is more yellow than the existing paint.  Oh well.  I put the white on the upper panel first since most of it will be under the vent flange anyway.  From that, I decided it would be worthwhile to cover the brown (anti-rust) primer with the gray auto primer using the little brush.  I also went around to the chips and put a bit in those too.  It dries a lot faster than the Rustoleum.  If I was being really fussy, I should be masking off and spray painting but this will have to do.  Most of this will be hidden anyway after everything is installed.


April 14, 2012

Painting

Bondo applied to side of vent
Today, I applied the Bondo on the sides of the lower vent hole where so much of the rust was.  It is very easy to do, but you have to be quick.  I just put some of the main stuff in the cup that is the cap with a wood stick, then a line of the hardener, stir until it is all pink and swipe it on.  I put maybe an eighth of an inch on it and spread it smooth with the spatula.  My flat ice cream stick worked better than the spatula they supplied  but that might work better on a bigger area.  By the time I started on the other side, it had already started hardening so I had to junk that and mix up a bit more.  The hardened stuff came out of the cup easily as it doesn't adhere to plastic.  20 minutes later and it was ready to sand.  The metal feels substantially stronger.

April 13, 2012

De-Rusting

Inside of upper vent - not much rust.
The clean-up of the refrigerator cavity took a lot longer than I thought it would.  Pulling that much caulk off is not easy.  The caulk softener only worked on small amounts so I had to cut it with a razor knife, scrape it, pull it off in chunks and pull it out of crevices with  needle-nose pliers.  The more I pulled off, the more rust I found under it.  When I got it down to a light coating, then I sprayed and smeared the caulk softener over it and waited for at least a half hour.  Then more scraping to get it off.

April 11, 2012

The Fridge Cavity and Vents - Problems!

Fridge cavity - original
The picture shows how the fridge cavity looked for the propane fridge with the exception that I slapped some paint on the raw plywood floor after pulling the fridge last year and capped the propane supply.  The plywood floor is simply 1/2" plywood.  There's a 110V outlet on the left.  The propane and 12V wires are on the right. A yellow romex cable supplies 110V to an outlet on the other side from the inverter.  I added the inverter on/off switch above it.

April 5, 2012

Refrigerator - Delivered

IsoTherm CR130 as delivered
My new refrigerator was delivered before noon today.  That is quite good service, especially considering that I had to specify features requiring it be sent from the distributor in FL instead of the company I bought it from.  In hand less than 1 week from placing the order.  They didn't file the credit card charge until Tuesday.  Defender.com gets a good recommendation from me.

April 3, 2012

Refrigerator on the move

I got an email from the company that I bought the new refrigerator from yesterday saying that it is shipped!  It could be delivered later this week.  It is coming up from Florida where the manufacturer distributor is.  I was prepared for a long wait but this is rather quick!  Unfortunately because it is on a truck, I don't get a tracking number.  I will just have to wait for the call.

March 29, 2012

Refrigerator Ordered!

After a busy Fall and Winter working on my house (driveway finished and painting), April is almost here and I remembered that I need to solve my dead refrigerator problem.  To recap, my Dometic 3-way refrigerator never worked properly and pretty much died.  After using the van for 2 substantial trips, I find the requirement to park level to be a lot of trouble.  I'm this van's 3rd owner so I really don't know how it was used before.  The more I thought about it and researched options, the less I wanted to have it run on propane and the heat absorption method.  I've heard it said that when they work, they work well but but when they don't, they are nothing but trouble.  I had the latter.