Old Gear Review: Campmor 300 weight Fleece Jacket

This fleece isn’t new, or even still available. I wanted to share my experience with it anyway. I bought this in the fall of 1995. Yes I am reviewing a 16 year old jacket. It has served me well, and I only bought a new one last year. I have a feeling that this one will still get used. Good quality fleece lasts a long time, and wearing out isn’t a big problem like with a shell jacket that can lose it waterproofing. I am on my 4th shell jacket that I have used with this fleece.

Back in the day Campmor had clothing with their brand on it. You didn’t get a fancy brand name, but got a good article or clothing with some top end features for a good price. I wanted a 300 weight Polartec jacket and this one was a good deal. I seem to remember paying $39 for it. It has pit zips for good venting and has kept me warm when I needed it.

This jacket hasn’t been perfect though. Right away, the flap that backs the zipper kept getting snagged when zipping the jacket, so my mother (I was only a freshman in high school at the time) ran a couple lines of stitching down the flap and that took care of that. Also a few years ago I was having issues with the sleeves being too short. Not sure if they got shorter or I got longer arms. Anyway, I added some fleece to the cuffs to extend them.

This jacket has kept me warm for many years, and still has more life left in it. I hope all my jackets last this long.

Some Canoe Work

We got the chance to get out canoeing a couple last weekend, but those canoes sometimes need maintenance. Luckily I also had the time to get some repair work done this week.

Adding screws

Our Swift Kipawa is about 13 years old. I re-finished the wood back in 2003, but now some of the screws in the gunwales weren’t holding properly. Tightening them didn’t work and when I would sit in the canoe or carry it by the yoke there was a noticeable shift between the inner and outer gunwales. That meant I had to add some screws, so I added a handful on either side spaced between the existing screws. I haven’t gotten a chance to try it out and see how it works yet. I wanted to order some square drive (what those crazy Canadians use) to match, but ended up using phillips because I had the proper screws on hand. I figure since there are phillips elsewhere on the canoe anyway it wasn’t going to inconvenience anyone.

Removing the cane and spline.

Our Penobscot takes a beating, but that is why I bought it. I wanted something to be an everyday canoe and take some of the wear off the more expensive boats. When we bought it 3 years ago the bow seat had a hole in the cane. When I replaced the center seat with a yoke I used the center seat to replace the one in the bow. Soon the stern seat had a hole in the cane and I replaced the cane with webbing. Well now the bow has a hole. So I pulled out the original to continue the game of musical canoe seats and set to work.

First thing I do is use a chisel to take off the cane and level the spline that holds it in. Then I fill in the gaps around it with an epoxy/sawdust mix. I like a bit more comfortable seat so I used a spokeshave to put more of a radius on the edges of the seat (both because the seat gets

Filling in the holes with thickened epoxy.

sat in both ways). Then some scraping to get the varnish off and a bit of sanding.

There are two types of canoe finishes: oil and varnish. I am in the oil camp for most canoe related things. I prefer the feel of oiled wood, and the ease of repair. Varnish has to be stripped and then re-applied, and can trap moisture in the wood. I use Pure Tung oil diluted with mineral spirits. A couple of coats and the seat is ready to web.

Vice-Grips helping out.

The first step to webbing is to figure spacing. I have a big roll of 2″ poly webbing that I use for sewing projects. any width could be used though. I start with the short direction and 5 widths of webbing leaves a bit too much gap, but 6 works with just a bid of side overhang. I cut my strips to length, leaving a bit of extra to pull on, and use a flame to seal the ends.

All done, and ready to be attached to the canoe.

Attaching the strips is pretty simple, but can be like

wrestling a bear. I staple the first end and use a small pair of Vise-Grips to pull it as tight as I can and another set of Vise-Grips to hold the webbing in place while I staple it in. Keep going in that direction and then figure out the spacing for the next direction. I used 3 strips with about 1/4” between them. Weave them in and then staple.

Replacment Chaco’s are here!

After my “new” (5 years old) Chaco Sandals got a cracked footbed I had sent them in for warranty replacement.

Yesterday I came home to a box of new Chaco Sandals waiting for me. I went with the new-lighter sole type (Yampa) to give them a try. My first impressions are good. I like the new footbed that is narrower at the heel. The biggest surprise is the weight. Compared to my really old pair (2 generations ago foot bed with newer unaweep sole) the new ones are 1 7/8 oz lighter per foot. The weight should be less dramatic compared to the failed pair that had a previous generation and somewhat lighter foot bed.

Using the average of about 2000 steps per mile that is 3750 less pounds for my feet to lift per mile. That is some big savings.

Give me some time to try them out and stay tuned for an old vs. new Chaco smackdown. When I sent my sandals in for replacement I found out that they are being made in China now instead of Colorado. It will be interesting to see how the new ones hold up compared to my really old (8 years but on new soles and straps) that are just now showing problems with the foot bed around the heel.

The Garage: A few updates

No real posts about the garage this week. I have been too busy working in the garage to get much work done on the garage. I have worked on it though. I plan to get some shelving this week and have worked bit by bit on improving my workbench area. Most importantly I have made some progress in getting things a bit cleaner.

This article is one in a series of articles entitled: The Garage. To see all the parts so far CLICK HERE.

Cool Thermostat Stuff

You may recall that we got a nifty new thermostat for Christmas. Since it is Wi-Fi enabled I can control it from my phone or computer at home or work. Recently I have geekd out and getting some logging going.

I needed a computer to periodically check the temp, but didn’t want to have to keep a computer on and running all the time. That would defeat the point of conserving energy. So I set my web server to poll the thermostat every 15 minutes for the inside actual temperature and set temp as well as check the weather for the outside temp and save that information. I was then able to set up some Google Docs action to set up a cool interactive graph that will display the data.

The amount of data will eventually exceed the limits for google docs. If I keep collecting every 15 minutes doing every 30 will cut that down without sacrificing too much trend data. I will cross that bridge when I get to it.

I also set cooking up another script that runs only daily and tracks the amount of time our HVAC system spent heating or cooling the house. It will also check the Forecast High and Low Temps for some comparison. Since it tracks time spent heating or cooling I don’t have much data for it. We only run the AC a handful of days each summer, so the best data will come this winter.

If anyone has this same thermostat, my work is shared on a Wiki dedicated to programming with them. HERE

400th Post

I guess this is a milestone. It would seem that I have done this for over 7 years now. That makes me really old on the internet. Before that I had one of those old-fashioned web pages. You may remember them when everyone wrote html in text editors if they wanted a web page.

Some other stats:
Posts: 400
Frequency: ~every 0.154 days
First Post: 4/29/2004
Themes: 4 (or maybe 5)
CMS Systems: 2

Broken Chaco’s, broken heart

Yesterday I noticed I had a huge crack in one of my sandals! This pair is my “newer pair” that are 5 years old, but restrapped in 2008. This morning I filled out the form to send them in for repair (or maybe replacement). I noticed that the shipping address was in Rockford MI. Weird, they were based and made in Colorado. Some searching and it would seem that in 2009 Chaco was sold to Wolverine (who also owns Merrel and Hush Puppies) and the company was being kept intact. That was good news, then I found out that later in 2009 they laid off all the Chaco people and moved production to China.

That makes me sad….

Man Gas is Expensive

So we are up something like a buck thirty per gallon  from this time last year. The commute to my new job has knocked a few MPG off what I used to get. In the Vibe I used to do 33-34 most of the time, but I have been getting more like 30. This is the worst I have consistently gotten. With gas prices crazy high I have been doing some mild hypermiling and cutting my expressway speed down to 60 or 65. At my fill up this morning I calculated 33.6mpg for the tank. Not too bad. Continue reading