Saturday, February 25, 2012

New Swing-away Bike Rack for behind the Camper

Well, for the last few trips where I’ve brought along bikes with me, I’ve used my trusty old el-cheapo Harbor Freight swing down bike rack.

It’s served well, held up decently through some abuse, but it was a pain in the butt to tip down and lift back up (trying to hold two heavy bikes up and push a pin thorough a hole at the same time is in no way what I’d call “Fun”) and required running a long length of chain through the bikes and then through the hitch extension to lock them in place. 

So, I finally decided to invest some money into a new swing-away style bike rack that also locks the bikes in place.

I started up a few threads on various RV forums to get a feel for what was commonly used and the price range for most of them. 

I just about had a heart attack after looking up the Thule and Yakima racks at nearly $500 apiece, ouch!

Then, google came to my rescue, along with, and I located a Surco OSI DBR-300 three bike swing-away style bike rack on for $225 + free shipping!

The few complaints were minor, mostly dealing with bolt threads binding from the bike rack being left constantly out in the weather by the owner.  A simple fix for a handy many such as me is to lather the threads with a little anti-seize and no rust up problems to be had Smile.

Bike rack ordered, I waited patiently for it to ship in.

Finally, the happy day came and my box arrived, sadly mid-work week, so I had to wait till the weekend before I could get a day with daylight in it (it’s dark by the time I get home from work). 


Assembly was very easy, the only tool I needed was a crescent wrench to tighten down the big bolt that secures the swing arm to the section that slides into the receiver. 


And then putting the carriage bolts in place on the top pivot arm along with their springs and handles. 



It’s just simply that easy. 

I gave everything that was going to be loosened and tightened frequently a coating of anti-seize to protect it from the Oregon weather and I was done.


The bikes secure in place via a beefy top metal plate that is tightened down via two screws.  The one with the big handle on it has a key that can lock it so that the handle cannot be backed back off. 


Something else I really liked Smile



Bike Rack in action



Now, as you saw, on the truck, the swing away rack bumped the rear tire a little into the truck’s bumper. 

With the hitch extension in place, the bike rack will actually be roughly 12” behind the camper, giving the rack more than plenty of room to fully pivot the bike 90 degrees without getting caught up on the camper itself, giving me a straight path in and out of my door. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wobbl-Stopprs Revisited, one year later

It’s been a year since I installed my first set of Wobbl-Stopprs from Torklift International, and they’ve helped to provide a lot of good nights of sleep, but because they were some of the very first units released onto the market, the fit and finish of the units hasn’t held up too well to the Oregon elements. 


They still work just like they did out of the box, but have developed a little rust through Oregon’s never ending rain.  

Also, since the time that I originally installed these, I went from having a Single Rear Wheeled truck to a dual rear wheeled pickup, which meant that as they were now, I had to use a couple 9/16” wrenches to loosen the clamp rings and pivot the Wobbl-Stopprs out of the way to load and unload the camper from the truck (my set didn’t originally come with pivot pieces). 

So, I contacted Torklift to inquire about getting a set of pivots, figuring I’d clean the Wobbl-Stopprs up and repaint them in the spring. 

They said, “Sure no problem!” and sent me another entire set! Surprised smile

Thank you?  Wow! 

So, I got my new set of Wobbl-Stopprs, and unpacked them and was pleased to see that they had undergone some improvements over my original set of Wobbl-Stopprs. 

The connection point where it joins to the camper has improved, instead of a single drilled hole through the tab, there’s now a recessed lip that the cotter pin slides over, making it a lot easier to get the pin in place.



And the jack leg anchor has definitely changed, a whole lot easier to install now, simply hand bolt it all together, carry it over, undo the back bolt briefly, swing one ear up and slide around the jack and bolt it up tight.


Old securing method, if you revisit my original Wobbl-Stopprs installation post from February of last year, you can see me installing this little clamp rings with a pair of channel lock pliers to squeeze them down.



One thing I definitely liked was they packaged a better set of screws with the jacks this time.  Originally, they came with rounded headed screws that didn’t come close to filling up the holes in the tab plates, leaving the only things to keep the tab plates from moving around being the double-sided tape on the back of the tab plate and friction (I ended up using tapered head screws like these in my installation instead of the round heads).




The linking arms that actually join the camper’s jack legs to the tub under went some changes as well, though I’m not quite happy with the taper cut behind the point where the securing knob tightens down.


If you look closely you can see how having that cut causes the two sections to arch a little bit at the point where the screw threads tighten down.  The camper is still just as stable, and I suspect the change came as a cost savings move as you can simply cut one after the other off a section of tubing stock with little waste. 



Here’s the new wobbl-stoppr in place. 


And here it is in the folded up position. 


Sadly, the new wobbl-stopprs also didn’t come with any felt pads like the old ones to keep them from rubbing against the jack tubes, so mitigated this as best as I could by moving the velcro strap up.

Now, yer probably wondering, what did I do with the old Wobbl-Stopprs?

Well, I’m a Redneck, and you don’t waste something that’s still working, so I reinstalled them pointing a different direction to get rid of the front to rear wiggle the camper still had some of after the addition of the swing out brackets (a problem that didn’t exist when I was still a single-rear-wheeled truck.


Coming from the back of the jack legs now, the old brackets are far enough out of the way that they won’t interfere with the truck fenders passing as I load up. 

Worst case, if it looks like there still might be a tad bit of conflict, I can simply slide the top sections of the wobbl-stopprs off temporarily so that the knobs are out of the way. 

So, now, one year later, my camper is twice as stable as before and even in wind storms, the only way I can tell it’s blowing hard by the sound the wind makes as it passes the camper by.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Not your Standard Burger Joint II–Longfellows Inn

Well, since we’re on a roll with Burger Places that don’t fit the normal image, I’ll take you this time to a place with a bit of history to it’s building, The Longfellow's Inn, in Scappoose, Oregon.

Longfellow's Inn
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Originally constructed for Farmers State Bank in 1912, the building in which Longfellows Inn resides has seen many changes.  It was the only structure in the Scappoose business district erected chiefly of cement at the time of the 1915 town fire, and thus is one of the only surviving buildings.
Over the years, it has served as a meeting place for the Scappoose City Council and the Masons, as well as housed the First National Bank, a meat market, and doctor and dentist offices.

Nowadays, she’s pretty close to being your run of the mill tavern, with a fairly basic menu (roughly one page long).  What makes it a bit out of the ordinary is how your food is cooked.


Set right in the center of the main dining space is a big grill, on which the host or hostess cooks your meal or if you choose to you, could can cook it yourself to however well you’d like it done. 

A simple variety of seasonings are available at the grill to add a little extra flavor to your burger, including a couple of Webber’s grillmates mixes (I have no clue which ones, exactly), garlic powder, and of course salt and ground black pepper. 

The meat is rather high quality and not too fatty or lean and grills up well.  I ended up having them bring me double patties as I was rather hungry that evening.

The prices are also not too bad, you’ll leave full and without feeling like you were taken for a ride. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Not your standard Burger Joint–Hamburger Mary’s

Well, as most who know me or have read this blog know, I love a good Hamburger.   The more insane the burger, the better, in some cases. 

So, one evening, my friend Mason and I are talking about where to meet up to grab a burger.   Having eaten far too much of McMenamin’s food as of late, a lot of the regular close-by haunts were off the table. 

Also, toss in that the place had to be convenient enough for Mason to reach via Transit, as he doesn’t drive, and our usual dialogue goes:


Mason: “So, where do you want to go eat?

Matt: “I dunno, pick somewhere.”


Wash, Rinse, Repeat x 5. 

Mason, being the more proactive of us (My brain cells don’t like to do too much thinking after 8-10 hours of staring a computer screen trying to break software), had been scouting around in downtown Portland as most of it is reachable via light rail, and in his wandering’s came across this place:

Hamburger Mary’s

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He tells me about it, I pull up the website, read the menu, not really pay attention to a few important warning signs cause I’m at work, its towards the end of the day and I’m tired and hungry, I go “Sure, looks good, there’s large quantities of meat and you’re buying, so….”


We head to Hamburger Mary’s.


It’s not until after the male waiter starts flirting with me that reality starts to set in and that little voice in the back of my head goes, “Ohhhhh, this is a Gay Bar….”.  

Like I said, tired + hungry + brain dead = I don’t really pay attention to the glaringly obvious Smile with tongue out



Think I managed a new first in strange places I’ve eaten dinner at for me Smile

I do find it rather odd that some of the better hamburgers I’ve encountered were at a place which usually goes hand in hand with the anti-meat counter culture groups…..  Gay/Lesbian Bars aren’t usually the first thing that pops to mind when someone mentions medium rare ground beef. 

Now, given that Portland is known as one of the “Weird” capitols of the US, one would think that Mary’s is a local haunt, but in actuality, it’s a chain restaurant. 

The original Mary’s was in….. San Francisco (As if that was a Surprise Smile with tongue out), originally opening in 1972, and has since expanded into a franchise of chain of eleven different restaurants located in: Portland (OR), Palm Springs (CA), West Hollywood (CA), Long Beach (CA), Denver (CO), Kansas City (MO), St. Louis (MO), Chicago (IL), Milwaukee (WI), Tampa (FL), and Orland (FL). 

If you do decide to test how secure you are in your sexuality, just take this as a fair warning, just about everything on the menu has either double entendre or sexual innuendo involved in it’s name.

For example, my second favorite burger is called the “Guacamole B.J”, the B.J short for Bacon and Pepper Jack cheese.


Now, back at the beginning I mentioned the subject of “The More Insane, the Better”, when it comes to my burgers and I have been known to tackle more than one challenge meal in my time (I watch Man Vs Food for pointers on Places to Go…), so, naturally, I order the biggest thing on the menu, the “Get it Girl’d”.


This burger is just plain nuts…. First off, it’s got one pound of beef in two half pound patties that use three grilled cheese sandwiches as buns.  And if that wasn’t enough, it’s got American Cheese, Bacon, grilled onions, Lettuce, pickles and Mary’s Sauce (you have trouble not letting yer mind go into the gutter for that one, given the type of place Mary’s is…) on it as well, plus one giant mess of fry’s along side.

Of course, I ate the whole thing, plus all of the fries.  

I needed about six antacids afterwards to calm my stomach, but I ate it all!

So, over all, food was good, restaurant was kinda weird, not my normal type of haunt, and I definitely wouldn’t bring the kids there, but if you’ve got a craving for a crazy good burger, and care to be daring, Mary’s won’t disappoint.