Can you tell I'm really getting excited about vacation?
As you all have figured out I don't tend to "leave things alone" much as I find things that work in the trailer and don't work or can be improved. I mentioned a few months ago that I was embarking on a new Ramp Project! Again, I wanted a ramp that both humans and dogs could use and feel safe on. No small task but I'm still happy with the aluminum ATV ramp that I found to use (no holes in it). The old dog ramp as you might rmember, was great and long enough for them BUT it make for about a shoe-wide step for humans and I'm getting old (quit laughing) and was not really happy with the risk associated with that teeny part of the step. I also was becoming irritated at dealing with trying to jam the short expen fence behind the trailer step to keep dogs in (Epic and Dot)! It was irritating when the place I parked was a bit unlevel (it wouldn't fit and I was not thrilled having to crawl on my hands and knees to do it (especially on cold wet muddy ground).
I got the ramp support made and was using clamps to hold it but really was concerned with the holding power they had (or didn't have). This was Phase 1.
After pondering it all a bit and surveying the situation I came up with a non-clamped solution that I'm really happy with (after two trips to town for hardware). Using the slots in the step I drilled 4 holes in the sides of the support and bolted them in - SUPER sturdy and just so you don't think I'm just a genius - I did the front ones thinking it would be enough and then discovered it might still tip forward from the top. Back to town and the back holes were secured!
Next was a solution to the clamps holding the ramp onto the support. Those worried me too with the poodle traffic as well as the fat Mom (me) that would be up and down it. I will tell you now I am learning much about drilling holes in aluminum between this and my trailer. There IS a right way and a wrong way! Again, so you don't say "Sherry you are a genius" I at first dropped bolts in this which alone would hold it, but without something on the bottom of them I'd no doubt lose the suckers in between stops. Clevis Pins and cotter pins were the answer (it needed to be easy and I really wasn't thrilled about screwing on nuts to bolts while upside down under the ramp.
The other issue I've yet to get resolved completely is the hinges to put the 2 halves of the ramp together. Right now I'm using bolts and nuts but I'm hoping to find some long clevis pins I can use as I want an easy way to take it apart as 2 halves are a bit heavier to move than I'd like. I also am going to put handles on each half to carry them (drilled into those outside edges).
Are you sensing a theme? I'm trying to do what I can to make setup and take down as easy as possible. Especially those days when you pull into camp and it is 100 degrees and I have a headache! LOL I also am not sure if I'm going to figure out something to put on the ramp for traction. Will need to see how Dot and Magic manage it without (my preference). The new under-step gating now will go around the front of the step and support and hook to the big expens on either side.
I also got busy and am trying a new way to secure the expens in the back of the trailer. What I was doing was jamming them behind my benches and strapping them in. That just wasn't working all that well to be honest. I have also needed to up the expens to 36" tall after Epic determined 30" wasn't high enough. What I am trying (may or may not work) is securing them to the ramp deck. Easier to secure but adds about 50 pounds to the weigh lift to shut the tailgate. So far so good and it wouldn't hurt me to beef up the arms anyway.
Still lots to get situated inside the trailer. I also have some work to do in the front storage and hitch area. I also have a new system I purchased to help me with hitching up. Now yes, I can hitch up without help and do pretty darned well BUT twisting around to see the tailgate with dogs' heads and crates in the back of the truck etc. isn't always easy....or accurate. I found the IBall system and after some research on other options, I decided to go for it. I've not tested it yet (too cold to mess with hitching up just for that reason). I liked it because it has its own camera and display (which is 12 volt) as I really just didn't want yet another app on my phone or ipad to deal with it. This is independent and that is what I wanted - only need it when hitching so will go in the truck storage the rest of the time.
Speaking of the Ipad another think I wanted to get was a bigger better, not tethered to my cell signal, GPS. In searching for an actual GPS with offline maps I was visiting with my ever geeky (it's a good thing) brother and he suggested the Sygic app - 7 day free trial. What he did was bought a cheapo tablet (I didn't want it on my phone, I wanted a big enough screen to SEE) and put the app on it. Screen is actually bigger than any of the actual GPS screens too. I downloaded the app to just mess with it my one requirement being that I could easily create CUSTOM routes either in the app or on Google and download them. This allows for both (although I've tested making them on the tablet and it works just dandy)! I ordered a "cheapo" Android tablet which promptly had an issue with the speakers so it got returned (plus the Android operating system annoyed me since I've not got experience with Apple). But my Ipad didn't have GPS and no way was I buying another Ipad (too expensive). The whole idea here was to not spend $200+ on a GPS. Geeky brother to the rescue again and I now have a handy dandy GPS Bluetooth unit that connects to my Ipad!
The Dual Electronics XGPS150A Universal Bluetooth GPS Receiver for Portable Devices has tested out amazingly well and paired in with the Sygic app no problem.
I've got my maps saved off for my trip to Utah and home. There are some great things in the app that I do like, there is a speedometer that shows up (no additional app needed for my truck which doesn't show the right speed because of the big tires), shows rest stops (and other points of interest you have selected) and the mileage to the next, gas stations, etc. For $20 there is also a heads up display (for at night) and a dash cam. Highly recommend clicking the link and checking it out! Plus offline maps - no cell signal needed. The little GPS as you can see will also work for hiking (with your phone) if you want. Now to figure out what I want to use to secure the Ipad in my truck.
Yup, I'm all geeked out - what happened to the days when we traveled with no phones, no GPS, no connectivity, just a paper map (which I'm also taking by the way - just so you know)! My new Ruggables came the other day and I have a fancy new gate being made for my expens but I will save those for a future update! :) It has now turned cold and snowy and I'm not inclined to go out and work in the trailer now till it warms up again!