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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Lagun Table Mount - Again

One of the best upgrades we made to the old camping van was installing a swiveling table mount, so the first modification to our new Lexor was to add the Lagun table mount.

While Pleasure-Way listens to customers and is adding this to the 2019 van features, our 2018 model just missed the changeover. We actually talked to our dealer about waiting, but the new features come with a $5K price increase. That info made the decision to stick with the 2018 version easy! For those with older vans, here's a link to our first installation in a 2014 Plateau TS (New Table Leg).

Having a small van, space is at a premium. With this in mind, we repurposed one of the bed boards as a table top. This frees up space in the closet as the bed board is always in use. When it is just the two of us, and we don't plan to entertain, we leave the large table and post at home.

Lots of folks have done this, and even more have expressed interest, so the following info shows how we installed ours. Thanks are due to Jim Colombo and Gilles Therreault from the Pleasure-Way RV Group on Facebook for their examples of how to access the underbelly of the starboard settee.

We ordered the Lagun table leg and an extended base mount for a total of $196 including shipping. Though the company is based in Europe, they keep stock in the US enabling delivery in 1-3 days.

I sanded the boards and Beth applied two coats of stain.

She also stained the extended base block. It is made of ash.

The passenger side ottoman in the Lexor TS contains plumbing, wiring, and a big inverter, limiting the areas where the mounting plate can be installed. We chose a clear area just aft of the inverter. Access wasn't easy since Pleasure-Way did a nice job of finishing off the inside of the ottoman, even installing carpet.

Warning - Do this at your own risk! Be sure to turn off all the power sources to the inverter before proceeding. I'm not an RV professional, so take my advice with a large grain of salt.

Removed the two screws and lifted the bottom board.

Removed the plywood support closest to the inverter that prevents the cover under the electrical box from coming out.

Gently coaxed that cover out. It was very tight on our unit.

Removed the two corner brackets freeing the carpeted cover over the inverter to move.

Moved that cover far enough to allow access to the back of the mounting area. We saw no reason to completely remove the cover.

Cut the wooden backing plate to fit the area.

Drilled the four holes in the ottoman using the extended base mount as a guide. We used the backing plate to protect the inverter and wires just in case I got overzealous while drilling the holes.
The extended base kit (lower package) comes with extra long bolts to accommodate all the layers. Locking nuts and washers are included with the basic mount. All of the attachment hardware is stainless steel.

We assembled the mount "sandwich" with the backing plate inside, the extended base mount on the outside, and the mounting plate on the very outside of that.
After tightening the included locknuts, the mount was very secure.

We reassembled the interior of the ottoman.

Here's the finished table leg mount.

And how the table leg fits.
Simultaneous to the work on the mount, we finished the bed boards with six coats of Captain's Varnish. I proved I'm not good at varnishing, but the boards are protected and they can always be refinished if we get ambitious.

Attaching a table top to the mount was easy.  Six wood screws are included in the kit. We chose to mount it a little off center so that there is a choice in how close the table is depending on how it is rotated.

The extruded aluminum base allows for attaching the leg to the base for storage.

Here's the finished installation configured for dining.

Swung over the port side settee to use as a computer desk.

And, finally, as additional counter space for the galley over the starboard settee.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018


 Circumstances change and the time had come for a good friend to sell his sailboat, a beautiful Landfall 38. Always up for an opportunity to mess about on boats, we accompanied Jim to the shores of the Neuse River to prep his boat for sale.

Beth drove our new van, while Jim and I brought a load of tools and cleaning supplies in his car.

Making the experience more challenging was the unknown of bringing along Jim's six month old puppy. We need not have worried, Chika only needed a little encouragement to get aboard the first time. After one shot, she was jumping on and off the boat like an old pro. She quickly learned to relax in the shade of the bimini when she wasn't taking trips to the dock to defend the marina from pesky mallard ducks.

After a long day of boat scrubbing, the three of us agreed that dinner at Captain Ratty's in town sounded better than cooking our own dinner. Soft shell crabs were in season, so I was a happy camper!

Typical summer weather brought evening thunderstorm activity. We were lucky to get an after dinner walk in before the raindrops fell. New Bern is one of those special southern towns with well-preserved buildings that weren't destroyed in the civil war.

Here's a view from one of the marinas in town. The old schooner is used to deliver Christmas trees during the holiday season.

Each fall, the town puts on a "ghost walk," where historic homes are opened to visitors. Docents in period garb explain the history of the families that built the homes. We have attended several times and can throughly recommend the experience. It makes for a fascinating evening. This is one of the homes I'd love to see inside.

Another day of cleaning and the boat looked good so we all headed back to the Triangle.  Still in the new engine break-in period for our van, we followed the blue highways home. The highway lines on the map weren't the only blue things around. Not far from the marina we stopped at Nelson's Blueberry Farm. Putting the van refrigerator to good use, we filled it with twelve quarts of fresh berries!
Only a week later, Jim and I were back at the marina to ready the boat for a marine survey. Similar to a home inspection, a marine surveyor checks the integrity of the hull, deck, rigging, engine, and boat systems. Still winterized, we had to reconnect the plumbing systems, then clean and fill the freshwater tanks.

With temperatures reaching 100 Fahrenheit, we were relieved when the sun dipped below the horizon.

Making the evening even better, friends Earl & Karen on s/v Temptation invited us over for conversation. Earl had prepared a pitcher of our favorite Bahamian cocktail, the goombay smash, to accompany a tray of coconut cookies reminding us of time we had all enjoyed together at Green Turtle Cay.

Potential buyers and the marine surveyor joined us the next morning for a trip to Duck Creek, the nearest facility able to lift the boat out of the water. Backing into the slip, two big slings, attached to a travel lift, slipped under the boat. Lifting her up, it became apparent that the wind generator would not clear one of the big beams on the travel lift.

Undeterred, the marina staff used a pallet and forklift to remove enough of the generator to enable raising the boat.

What could possibly go wrong with this procedure?

The creative marina crew solved the problem and finished lifting the boat without incident. Nobody even dropped a tool in the water.

After a successful relaunch, the boat and crew sailed back to Northwest Creek to wrap-up the survey. The surveyor was thorough, spending a full eight hours inspecting all the boat systems. He was very complimentary of the way the vessel has been maintained. That came as no surprise to those of us who know Jim.

Our final day at the marina was spent cleaning up from the sail and making some minor adjustments to the boat. With the boat shiny and secured in her slip, we headed home.

Although we were exhausted from the heat, we did stop for a treat.

Google Maps showed that Main Street's Ice Cream Cafe was only a short detour from route 17.  Located in the tiny town of Vanceboro, the cafe was like walking back in time. Tin ceilings, friendly service and good ice cream will have us coming back. Gunsmoke was even playing on the TV for entertainment while we waited.

It is always satisfying to see projects completed and a boat ready for new adventures. I appreciate the opportunity to help a little. We didn't know the outcome when we left, but hope the sale goes through and works out for everyone.

Friday, June 1, 2018

New Beginning

Friday was an exciting day for us as we picked up our new 2018 Pleasure-Way Lexor TS camper van. Two feet shorter than our old Plateau TS, it is easier to park, but has less storage space.  New tech features, the best of which is capturing energy from the sun with three solar panels, should allow us the flexibility to camp without having to plug-in for electricity! 

Our appointment was at 10:30 to pick-up the van at Carolina Coach and Marine, the only Pleasure-Way dealer in the state of North Carolina. The buying experience was refreshing. Our Lexor was open and ready for us in a covered delivery area with all the appliances prepped and running when we arrived. They had the van ready on time, it was exactly at the agreed upon price, and they didn’t try to sell us anything extra. Matt Horniman was our salesperson and we can endorse him, and the dealership, if you are looking for a recreational vehicle. After a test drive and a short walk-through, we paid for the van, then spent the rest of the day reading manuals and trying all the equipment to make sure everything worked. Their parking lot was our first overnight campground so we could get service in the morning if anything needed adjustment. Not finding anything wrong, other than a few pieces of velcro that came unglued, we departed the blacktop parking lot beside I-40 for more interesting places. 

With a brand-new engine, the manufacturer recommends varying the speed and staying under 55 mph for the first 300 miles. That gave us a great reason for taking back roads home. Just north of Statesville, we noticed a sign for Fort Dobbs Historic Site so, of course, we turned in to the parking lot.

Built in 1756 to house fifty men, the garrison based here defended the western frontier. Though the original structure is long gone, local materials are being utilized to reconstruct the buildings per the original plans. Modern tools are speeding the process. Spy holes were being cut in the white oak walls with a chain saw while we watched. Finishing is done by axe to preserve the look of the original structure. Dressed in period garb, a docent explained the history and future of the only site in NC preserved from the French and Indian War. Being the only visitors on a Saturday afternoon, we had all our questions thoroughly answered. We will be return someday to check on the finished building.

Winding through small towns, we had to stop and capture a photo in Harmony. We looked, unsuccessfully, for a barbershop. Those of you who know our other hobbies will understand.

Serendipity next led us to the Yadkin Cultural Arts Center in Yadkinville. Entering the Welborn gallery, artists greeted us at the opening of a creative weaving exhibit. The modern complex houses a theatre, restaurant, craft studios, the gallery and an outdoor stage. If you are in the area, check their website for current events and exhibits. Or you can just chance upon a gallery opening reception like we did!

An on-street parking experience showed that the length of the new van is just the size of a parking spot here in Yadkinville. The Sprinter wouldn't have fit in this space. We didn't notice until later that we had parked under a rainbow!

Our first night away from the dealership was spent at RagApple Lassie Vineyard where we were the only ones boondocking Saturday night in their parking lot. As part of the Harvest Hosts program, we enjoyed meeting the owners, hearing about the property, and tasting some wine. As is customary when staying at a host, we purchased a few bottles to drink later or give as gifts. 

Just after sunrise on Sunday, we woke to three cars, a truck and a trailer pulling in. About twenty minutes later we understood why, as a beautiful balloon began inflating behind us. Awake enough to grab a camera, I captured a pretty good photo. 

Our spot in the parking lot looked out over the woods giving us a glimpse of Pilot Mountain in the distance. We’ve seen the mountain on our many drives between here and Michigan, but had never actually visited there. Without a schedule, we decided to wander towards the mountain and see what Pilot Mountain State Park might offer. As we got closer, the distinctive round outcropping became apparent.

Passing an expensive RV Resort with full electrical, water, and sewer hook-ups, we proceeded to the little State Park campground where all the sites shared two water spigots. 

The State Park had nicely wooded sites while the big RV’s at the Resort parked together in an open field. We were lucky it was Sunday night as all the State Park sites had been full on Friday and Saturday. Sunday through Thursday there are lots of open sites available for those of us who don’t have work obligations during the week! 

Once we climbed the mountain, we could see the RV Resort down below.

Camping permits purchased at the park are a very reasonable $18 per night. The campground hosts were very friendly and recommended the most level campsites. Though they are all paved, the sites were originally designed for tents, so many of the driveways are at steep angles. 

The hosts live in a big fifth wheel trailer when volunteering here, but go exploring in a Lance camper mounted in the bed of their four-wheel drive truck outfitted for boondocking in the western states.

After securing our campsite, we drove up most of the mountain, then climbed 0.8 miles where we followed a trail around the base of the big cliff. The views were great and some of the Mountain Laurel was still in bloom. 

From the overlook, we could get a different perspective on the highway we’ve driven many times. Trails utilized stones from the mountain to make nice steps and to keep the soil from eroding away. 

Although entrance to the park is free, rangers warned us that it gets busy on summer weekends. Parking is limited, so the park limits entries to the number of parking spaces and turns people away when they are full.

Pilot Mountain, the town, sits at the base of the mountain. Parking in front of a combination craft store and laundromat, we walked the main street and found an old bank building filled with vintage metal and neon signs from gas stations and auto dealerships. 

Monday we wandered home stopping to check-out  a couple of small lakes along the way. We might return to Lake Reidsville Park to camp where we can also launch our sailing kayak.

Back at home, Beth started making new fitted sheets for the couch and settees that fold down to become our bed. Socker, the ever helpful cat, was in the middle of the action as usual.

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