California, Dude !
From Primm we headed down to Cardiff by the Sea in California. This is about 20 miles North of San Diego and the home of one of my best friends.
We have spent a couple of weeks in Cardiff getting everything ready for what we are seeing as Part 2 of our trip – the transition from the easy travelling in North America to real Overlanding in Mexico and beyond.
So beyond hanging out with my friend, Matt, and having a couple of real boozy nights out at his local dive bar – The Shanty – we’ve been shopping for things that we need – including improving our collection of tools, buying consumables we think may be harder to get south of the border and getting all the other things we’ve been meaning to get but just never got round too.
There are a couple of things that we needed doing to the truck which we couldn’t do ourselves so we had to turn to the professionals.
1) Tow Hook: At the back of the truck the original tow hook had to be removed to fit the house on the back. This left us with no way to tow anything or to be pulled out from behind. We wanted to resolve this.
2) New Steer Tires: Our front tires have worn right down over the 19k miles that we have driven on this trip. The backs are ok but the fronts only had around another 3k miles left in them before being worn right down to the manufacturers replace line. We therefore needed to get some new tires.
3) Locks: All the external lockers and the main camper door had pretty flimsy locks on them so we wanted to beef these up a bit before hitting the countries outside North America.
4) Power: Our method of hooking up to shore power has been very unreliable and we have wanted to get this sorted for a while. We’ve bought a battery charger that can take any power input from 90v up to 260v and need to get this installed properly.
5) Solar Power: I think the solar power hasn’t been working so want to get this checked out.
The first thing we wanted to try and find were tyres. We initially thought that we could regroove our tyres so we did some ringing around the main tyre chains in the US and none could help us. We eventually got given a card by a manager at Discount Tire in San Marcos, CA for a company called SRD Racing who he thought had a regroover. This was a real stroke of luck because we went down to SRD and found a cool little company specialising in off road racing. They told us that we couldn’t regroove the tyres because they were too worn but that they could get us some replacements for only $400 each – a bargain considering we had been quoted $1200 each.
While we were at SRD we found out that they could build us a tow hook for the back of the truck. We had booked in to a welding company to get this done but Justin, the owner of SRD, had come up with a better plan for the back so we decided to go with him. We’re really glad we did because the tow hook they fabricated looks great and they built it from scratch which is really impressive.
In SRD we also got Justin to look at a small power steering leak – easily solved with some silicon. To tighten up a nut that had come loose on the fuel pump. This was the second time this has happened and its in a really awkward place but we’ve now bought the right tool to do this ourselves in future – it only needs doing every 6000 miles or so.
Also at SRD while Justin was working I changed the oil and replaced the oil and fuel filters. Easy enough to do but my first time.
We were really grateful for Justin finding the time to fit us in because he was seriously busy preparing his race car for the upcoming Baja 1000. And congratulations to Justin for winning his class in the race – second year running in two different classes.
For the work on the locks we went to Sonrise RV. We weren’t so lucky here as the work they did was a bit sloppy. However they took just over a day to install a big puck lock on the main camper door and padlocks on all the side lockers.
We had thought about getting Sonrise to install the new charger but after seeing their work we are glad that we didn’t. Instead we went to Camping World in San Marcos. These guys are quite expensive but really know what they are doing. They quickly and easily installed the charger and gave us a socket on the outside to plug in from. They did an excellent job.
We also got Camping World to check out our solar power and discovered that it had been wired up wrong from the outset. Our batteries are paired to be 24v because the alternator provides 24v current. The solar was wired up so that it was only providing 12v charging – no use on 24v battery pairs. A simple change to the wiring changed this so that they could charge our 24v batteries. This was quite annoying to discover as it was just a silly mistake in the building.
It wasn’t all chores while in California. We made a quick trip out to Joshua Tree National Park – mostly to get out of our friends hair for a couple of nights. I also went surfing with my friend Matt - although I call it surfing its more like falling when I do it. Matt took us on a whistlestop tour of local attractions and the pick of these was the beach at La Jolla which was covered in seals.
Unfortunately despite being in California for over two weeks we ended up spending a lot of it driving around doing tasks and didn’t do as much sightseeing as we would have liked. I think our lasting impression of the San Diego area is probably the traffic – its busy and the drivers are really aggressive.
I’d really like to take this opportunity to thank Matt, Phoebe, Jack, Annabel and George for their Awesome hospitality and for putting up with us parked in their street for so long. Thanks guys.