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Makoshika State Park

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Jan found this gem just outside of Glendive, MT.

It reminded us of the South Dakota Badlands. A great day trip.

Check out Jan near the rock ledge — a few years ago she never could have done this. Very scared of heights.

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Land of 1,000 Ponds

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While driving from Minot, ND to Glendive, MT, we travelled through one of the most unique areas we’ve seen.

Just outside of Berthold, ND we started seeing all these little lakes alongside the road. I Googled the area and the little lakes were everywhere. They were interspersed in the farms on the rolling hills.

Larimore Dam Recreational Area

We’re finishing up a week in the Larimore Dam Recreational Area, and it’s been a very good camp site.

Above all it’s been inexpensive — $125 for a week in a full hookup, pull through site with WiFi access. That’s cheap. Spending an entire season would only set you back about $1100.

Despite being almost full, this campground has been one of the quietest we’ve ever stayed in. Good camp neighbors too.

The week here also gave us time to fix our TOAD lighting system.

Our Site 46

 

Tomorrow we’re off to Minot, ND and then Montana where we plan on spending Labor Day.

Stay tuned.

Product Review: Tekonsha Modulite ZCI

 

Tekonsha ZCI System

We “lost” our TOAD (the Jeep we tow) signal lights shortly after we had our engine overhaul in Superior, WI.

So for several days we were driving around illegally. Bad mojo.

We tried to get it fixed at a Cummins/Spartan shop in Fargo, but after 3 hours the techs couldn’t locate the problem, and we weren’t about to give them carte blanche at $118 per hour.

Now what?

I didn’t want to try fixing something professionals couldn’t remedy. But what about installing another TOAD lighting system?

After searching online RV forums and lots of Googling, I thought I found a solution — Tekonsha ZCI System for about $124.

Tekonsha ZCI & 4-Flat to 7-Way Adapter

I looked at a Hopkins system, but to use it I would have to “cut” into the RV’s wiring.

The Tekonsha system is described as a Zero Contact Interface (ZCI) which means there is no cutting. The Tekonsha system uses induction — each light sensor wraps around a wire (for example the brake wire). When the wire is energized, the Tekonsha system converts it to a voltage.

It sounded too good and too easy to be true, but we were desperate. We needed a TOAD lighting fix right away, and I loved the idea of not cutting into our RV’s wiring.

Here’s my Tekonsha installation story . . .

FIRST — IDENTIFYING RV WIRES

There are several types of vehicle wiring that the Tekonsha ZCI can handle:

  • 2-wire system: The vehicle’s turn & brake functions are combined on one wire and the tail light function is on a separate wire
  • 3-wire system: The vehicle’s turn, brake and tail light function are on separate wires.
  • Brake/Tail multiplexed wiring system: The vehicle’s brake & tail functions are combined on one wire and the turn functions are on separate wires
  • Brake/Tail/Turn multiplexed wiring system: The vehicle’s brake, tail & turn functions are combined on one wire

Our Newmar uses a 3-wire system. To determine what wire did what I had Jan use each turn signal, the brakes, and the headlights. I watched which tail light bulbs came on and mapped each one’s function:

Light Map

After finding out each the function of each tail light, I identified the wire that powered each bulb. To do this, I exposed part of each wire and then connected the wire to a multimeter.

Wire Testing

So far so good. I was able to identify the wires for the left and right turn signals, the brakes, and headlights (taillights).

SECOND – RUNNING THE 12V POWER WIRE

The Tekonsha system must be connected to a permanent 12V power source — that is, directly to the RV’s engine battery.

Tekonsha System Power Wire

The hardest part about this was routing the power wire from our RV’s pullout battery compartment up into the back of the RV.

The power wire uses a 15A fuse which alse serves as an installation “switch”. When you first activate the Tekonsha system by inserting the 15A fuse, the system must be “taught” or sync’d. To do this you just flash the left turn signal 5 seconds, the right turn signal 5 seconds, and so on. Not a big deal. However, if the Tekonsha system is disconnected from its power source, you’ll have to re-sync the system.

THIRD – ATTACHING THE SENSORS

Truly, the easiest part of the install. You just need about a 3-inch length of wire for each sensor to clip onto.

 

 

 

FOURTH – 4-FLAT TO 7-WAY INTERFACE

The Tekonsha system comes with a 4-flat output. Because our Jeep is set up for a 7-way interconnect, I purchased a Hopkins Trailer Wiring Adapter that converts a the Tekonsha’s 4 flat output to a 7-way output:

Hopkins 4-Flat to 7-Way Adapter

 

FIFTH – SYNCING & TESTING THE TEKONSHA SYSTEM

 

Eureka!

 

The 7 Plagues?

When I sprained my angle, I thought it was the 3rd in a series of “bad luck” events — first, our Jeep needed fixing, then our RV needed major engine work, and third, my sprain.

So I thought some numerology was involved . . . bad things come in threes, the 3rd wave, and so on.

But then a few days ago we discovered our Jeep signal and brake lights were no longer operating when the Jeep was connected to the RV.

Our Jeep-RV Hookup

Though our RV’s rear signal lights are working just fine, we’ll need to get it fixed or risk being pulled over. So we’re stopping at a Cummins repair shop in Fargo, ND on Wednesday. Hopefully, it’s a quick fix. He rolls his eyes.

Then today I noticed that one of our water filters was getting prematurely fouled . . . it was turning green. Immediately I figured it was some kind of algae contamination in our water system. On a hunch, I swiped a cotton swab on the inside of the hose:

Yep, looks like algae

So . . . figuring the 35-foot hose on our water hose reel was contaminated, I used a spare water hose we had to “bypass” our current system.

Water Hose Bypass

A busy day.

Anyway, it’s not all doom and gloom, just life on the road in a moving house.

There are other moments . . .

Who’s couch?