Sunday, February 22, 2009

Winter trip to Łódź

We had to go to Łódź, a large city about 100 km from Żyrardów. So we went there. I posted a Google Map at the bottom of this post so you could better understand what I am writing about.

We left Żyrardów couple of minutes after 4 PM. It started snowing a little, we quickly found ourselves on the DK70 from Huta Zawadzka to Skierniewice. The asphalt was dry and the snow left small wet trails on the road. As we passed Skierniewice (DW705) the road was wet, with small portions of snow blown by the wind from the adjacent fields. On the DK72 from Jeżów the snow was all over the asphalt. When we arrived in Łódź, the road had only two narrow black stripes of asphalt free from snow. And in the Łódź itself, the roads were covered completely with snow.

We did what we had to do in Łódź, we left at 7:20 PM back to Żyrardów.

On the road that leads to Rawa Mazowiecka there's the M1 shopping centre. I found there Neste A24 gas station and bought there 19,78 litres (5,2 gal) of diesel fuel. And I wrote down the odometer. I just couldn't believe that I drove only 100 km (60 miles) and used almost 20 litres of fuel (that would give me fuel consumption of something close to 12 MPG). Couple kilometers further the mystery was revealed -- the odometer stopped working some time ago.

The road back was similar -- snow all over the road, two black stripes, no snow at all. It was snowing all the time, we drove the 95 km (59 miles) for almost 3 hours.

That part of the trip was not free of surprises. I had warm air blown on the windscreen, but the windscreen wipers collected snow that turned to ice. I didn't bother until as the windscreen was still clean as the snow somehow didn't melt on it. But when I finally needed the wipers and turned them on, only one moved. The other was frozen to the windscreen. I stopped and removed the ice, but less than 10 km later the wipers were frozen again.

Show larger map

Friday, February 20, 2009

Buying winter tires

Today my daewoo lanos (the car I use every day) couldn't start when at -6,6°C the battery didn't supply enough current to the starter. So I had to drive to the railway station (I go to work by train) with the camper (the van I use on weekends). The camper had no trouble starting at all. I just turned the ignition switch, waited 20 seconds for the glow plugs to warm the engine and started it easily.

I only had small trouble parking the van near the train station. I couldn't drive left front wheel on the sidewalk through the curb as it just slid along it's frozen surface. I had to back up a little and cross the curb in another place.

I think I will buy a set of winter tires. Not because driving on snow and mud in winter on summer tires is dangerous. I had trouble with the camper only once, when the rear wheels lost the grip as I changed the gear (used clutch too fast). I am aware of those dangers so I drive slowly. But I want to buy those tires because I want to avoid getting stuck in snow. ;)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Solar panels for my camper

I wrote here several times that I have solar panel and solar charge controller connected to second battery in my camper. They all are parts of my solar camping set. But solar photovoltaic panel able to give only 10 W peak power is not enough to fuel all my electrical needs in the camper.

So I bought two additional solar panels, 40 W power each. And another solar charge controller, as the one I have would not be able to manage the current from those panels.

They were brought here on thursday, wrapped in bubble wrap, cardboard box and black plastic. When I cut throught all the layers I saw the following:

From Volkswagen Transporter T3
Those panels will not give me very much power, only about 300 Wh daily.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I got stuck in the snow

Nothing what I wouldn't expect. I still have summer tires (or are they year-round? I'm not sure) and there was snow everywhere.

I took my wife Ania to visit my piece of land. It's got very peculiar shape -- 17 meters (56 ft) wide, 430 meters (1/4 mile) long. The camping place is in the middle of the estate. Every time we go there, we drive to that camping place and camp there. This was the idea today, as well -- to go there and do the usual stuff, i.e. check if everything is in the right place. Everything = trees, bush, etc. ;) I was going to turn around there as I do usually.

But I couldn't do it this time. The camping place is not perfectly flat, and I had some trouble with tires losing their grip on the wet grass. This time it was even worse.

Luckilly I had a shovel in the camper (I always carry a folded one, but this time I had an ordinary shovel as well), I managed to free the camper from that place.

Here's a photo of the mess I left. Of course I had to drive back the 200 meters using only mirrors. :(

From Volkswagen Transporter T3