Just a brief note:
It is just past 5 A.M.
I have a “fresh” cup of machine coffee, waiting for the first sip.
I’m in Some Random Hotel in Some Random Town in Texas.
I’m going nowhere.
So, the backstory:
The Ford had been to two different mechanics to be prepped for the trip. 2 new tires. New serpentine belt. Etc. etc. Running reasonably OK (there’s the small problem of torque converter shudder; but it is manageable. The Mechanic had put in 2 tubes of “Shudder Fix” that did fix it… for about a week. But for now it just means that on hills (or even overpass rises) I need to touch the little button on the shifter lever that disengages overdrive.
I’d figured that I could either live with that for now, or pop for the ~”$800″ to swap torque converters should it become an issue. But that wasn’t the issue…
Ah, first sip of morning coffee. Bland stale hotel room packet coffee with those delicate overtones of paper and cardboard cup…
With trailer all set up, interior varnished with urethane, proper drop hitch in place, large 3/4″ drive Flex Handle and Giant Socket ( 1.5 inch IIRC) to attach the ball and a new tire iron socket all in place; I decided I’d head out to pick up a load of My Stuff from the storage unit in California.
In about 24 hours, I made it to “just over the border in Texas”. About 1/3 of the trip. It’s nominally about 43 Driving Hours, so that was pretty good time. I had a nice long nap in the back of the truck, in a rest area, next to a Semi-Truck / Trailer that had shut down for the evening (some of them rumble all night long… finding one not so inclined is a big help…). The cot in the back, and sleeping bag, were nice and a lot better than trying to sleep in the drivers seat. Then driven on across Louisiana and into Texas.
I’d gotten used to the process of playing the Over Drive Button to have the high fuel efficiency of a lock-up torque converter on the flat, and have it disengaged on any need to apply more power (to avoid the shudder as the clutch plates chatter as it tries to decide “Engage or not?”…). All was well.
Then, over about 30 minutes, it went all sideways.
First, the battery symbol lit up for about 10 seconds. OK, battery problem? Alternator? Then it went out for a few minutes. Rinse and repeat about 4 times.
All this while I’m scanning the side of the road looking for some indications of a car repair place or some place like Autozone that will check battery and alternator for you. Nothing promising.
Then, a couple of more lights come on. One I can’t make out what it is trying to say, but it is red. The other isn’t important and isn’t red. Next, the AC and Radio decide to stop. I notice I’ve got no tach or speedometer. OK, Clue Stick Time.
I’ve seen this kind of progressive Car Confusion before. It happens when The Computers are having some kind of issue. I figure it’s time to just take whatever exit is next while the engine is still running… So I do.
At the bottom of the exit ramp, the motor has shut down. I crank the now Hard Manual Steering and get around the YIELD right, eyeing some driveways and such, decide to coast to a stop on a semi-paved semi-gravel shoulder in front of a Whataburger Chain Restaurant.
(Not to bury the lead: Most likely it was an alternator failure and on low volts the computer started being a bit nuts).
Initially I was a bit puzzled by all this as the battery light would only flicker on for a few seconds then go out. In retrospect it was likely marginal low volts for a long time and the battery was slowly non-charging and going into slow decline when power was used. The battery looked fairly new, so likely replaced without figuring out that the problem was the alternator… Then, on too low a volts, the computer was twigging out and not able to keep the battery light lit.
Mix that with my expectation that a dead alternator means you can drive a few hours to a repair place on what power is left in the battery; and the reality that in computer driven cars Low Volts means No Go in short order: I was now by the side of the road.
OK… I’ve got towing service.
I’ll skip the details on this one; but let’s just say that after about 3 hours, the tow truck driver called from a different Whataburger about 200 miles away. The Nice AAA Lady had heard 166x as 116x on the highway number… Another call to AAA and another 2 rounds of Phone Tree Hell (no, I don’t want to use your web site, I’m by the side of the road…) I was again waiting for a tow.
This one arrived at about 7 PM (now into it a bit over 5 hours… but I did get dinner at the Whataburger…) I got towed about 30 miles back the way I came. We dropped off the car and trailer at a repair place (a brand I’ve used before), and he was nice enough to drop me at a random hotel about 4 miles away.
Shower. Calls to home. Message to answering machine at the repair place (and to the one 200 miles away where I was NOT going now…) telling them what’s up. Then to bed.
Now it is a new day. Second slug of Cardboard Coffee… I’m pretty sure I can managed to drink the whole cup… It’s still and hour or so before the lobby coffee & free stale donuts are available…
So, in about 2 hours I’ll get to talk to the repair shop. They will likely tell me it will be 3 or 4 hours before they know anything. I’ll ask them about swapping a torque converter after they get it running again. Somewhere in there I’ll tell the Random Hotel how many days I might be here. It’s only money…
Until then, I’m on the marginal end of slow internet. It has “weak” signal at the desk where you want to use it, but it works OK from the far side of the room… Maybe I’ll redecorate and move the desk…
Expect a new posting “sometime soon” as the alternative is watching HBO and mediocre movies with Hollywood Progressive Values in them…
Oh, and in about 4 hours, I get to find out if there are any restaurants nearby other than the one Cajun Hot Place across the street. Fire Breathing Eggs & Cajun Sausage is not my idea of a Slow Start Breakfast… besides, they didn’t close until almost midnight so are likely not going to open before noon…
But for now, on the bright side: I have a nice room, a comfortable bed, shower and all clean like. And nothing to do but try to find where I left my truck, and what it takes to get me back in it and on the road again.
I guess I ought to finish the cardboard coffee and try to figure out where I am, and where my truck is…
ALWAYS A BUMMER!!!
Yikes, ensure they test the voltage regulator too, and load test the battery (hopefully not ECM related).
If you are lucky, they may even have a means to flush your tranny, service the transfer case and differentials etc.. Shudders can be caused by different things, but most common is lack of tranny service and dirty fluid with metal accumulation.
Bummer. I’ve been sidelined a couple of times towing. When you start naming the weeds by the side of the road, you know you’ve been waiting a tad too long.
Ask at the desk, “Where are we?”
If they don’t know either or the answer starts out, “Oh, about 30 miles East of XXX and 60 miles North of YYY,” and you’ve never heard of XXX or YYY, you know you’re in the Middle of Nowhere.
BTW, is your button to turn overdrive off labeled ‘Tow Mode,” or did you just have to figure that out for yourself? The F-250 I had and the 3500 came with factory tow packages, and they have a button explicitly marked ‘Tow Mode’. I doubt that has anything to do with your current situation but do pay attention to it. Even on flat terrain you are still adding load from wind resistance and more so if you are driving into the wind.
Also, if it didn’t come with an extra oil cooler for towing, you should consider adding one. They are usually included with a factory tow package. Y’all Haul used to sell and install those as well as hitches. I don’t know if they still do. But it isn’t major mechanical surgery to add an oil cooler for towing. Otherwise, you may just wind up in Somewhere Random’s sister city, North Somewhere Else Random.
Sounds like slow battery discharge. Alternator or loose belt(less likely with a serpentine.).
Shop reports “definitely the alternator”. IIRC, these days the volts regulator is often built into the alternator.
Has some kind of tow package (including brake controller) but the button notification light is labeled “OD/ON Off”. button is on the end of the shifter stick. Light on the right side of the instrument cluster.
Turning overdrive OFF results in a definite kick up in RPMs and a drop in MPG. I did a test run at about 75 with it off and got around 8.5 MPG. With it on at about 58-60 I get 11 MPG. And with it off at about 58-60 it looks like about 9 MPG.
So the overdrive helps.
Well, most likely the “fix the shudder” will be on hold until I get home. See, there’s been Yet Another Plot Complication:
At the moment I am stuck in Bob’s Pretty Good Hotel due to waiting for the Nice Police Officer to come take the theft report… Between about 8 PM and 7 AM somebody stole my trailer from the repair place parking lot…
No trailer means no need to continue the trip.
No need to continue means “just go home” and at about 900 miles, no trailer load, I’m willing to do that with whatever shudder happens…
The Good News is that I’ve got plate number, VIN, etc. for the report, AND the repair place has security cameras so their ought to be video.
The “unknown bit” is just how high a stolen trailer ranks on any “what to look for today” list. Will anyone bother? Do they have traffic cameras? How good is the video from the repair place? Or will it just be “Here’s the report for your insurance”…
FWIW, trailers don’t get a “Title”, just a bill of sale. So anyone can dummy up a bill of sale and apply for a license plate “somewhere”. Will a VIN report catch that? Donno…
Oh Well. We’ll try again another day…
(I’d thought about getting a bigger lock than the padlock through the hitch lever, but thought: It will always be hooked to my truck and I’ll be with the truck… Until I wasn’t and it wasn’t… Sigh.)
So, once again, The Spirits Are Against Me & Moving My Stuff… Maybe I need to get a padre to do an exorcism…
I thought overdrive was a thing of the past. But the word is too useful, I guess.
O/D stands for overdrive, which signifies the top gear or gears in a car’s transmission. The O/D off button allows you to prevent an automatic transmission from shifting into those top gears in certain situations, such as when driving through rolling hills, going down steep grades and hauling a heavy load or trailer.
The trailer thieves will be disappointed to find out it is empty.
OD used to mean that the output shaft of the transmission was turning faster than the input. More than 1:1
From the days when high gear was straight through and the differential ratio set the final drive ratio.
Now it mostly just means a higher gear that makes the engine turn slowly. About 1750 RPM at 60 MPH for this one.
The Trailer Thieves will be very happy with a pristine cargo trailer, never used… freshly varnished inside with beautiful wood…
There’s always a bright side.
Better the trailer was stolen while empty than full of stuff you wanted to bring back. And I’m guessing that the two to three trips are prioritized to bring back stuff in decreasing levels of importance to you. This load would have been a bummer to lose.
If it was the last load back that got stolen, you might have said, “Hey! Now I don’t have to figure out what to do with all that stuff. Problem solved.”
You did mention that you sold fast enough that you had little time to sort and pitch before putting things in storage.
Still, what a PITA.
The Fates are telling you something?
Ford Alternators are weak.
My F250 diesels both ate the slip rings at around 200 000 km.
But the real aggravating part was winding up,just like you..Found On Road Dead.
Because the dash voltmeter barely moves as the battery runs down.
If you are lucky,the local cops will care enough to check the local dumping grounds ,if the thieves thought they had found treasure,the trailer will be abandoned..
If they shop for trailer..?
Best of luck.
The Overdrive on my MGB roadster (yep, it was red with wire wheels) was a sun and planet setup on the output of the gearbox that was engaged using a solenoid. Either straight through (disengaged) or spinning the prop shaft a bit faster. Only on 3rd and 4th gears (limited torque acceptable for the gear teeth) but effectively gave a 3.5 and 4.5 gear.
Also compare with the Sturmey-Archer 3-speed cycle hub. Not quite as efficient as a derailleur-type gear system, but pretty good if you kept the oil level sufficient. Thus your overdrive could be configured as an underdrive too, to give more torque.
Bit of a bummer to have the trailer stolen. I hope you get lucky and get it back, though that’s still a lot of lost time and money.
Also compare with the Sturmey-Archer 3-speed cycle hub.
Thank you for the excuse to look that up. How does that black-box work?
This video disassembles one and then does a detailed hands-on explanation.
With computers now, we tend to devalue the past’s accomplishments, but they were not dumb back then, even if they did not have iPhones and Netflix.
Speaking of snags while traveling…I went to another state for a family wedding a few weeks ago. I got there fine (only had 2-3 slow-downs on the Interstate). The next morning I took my peeps to breakfast at an Ihop. That was fine. Had good leftovers, too. But as I got close to where we were staying, my Check Engine light came on. As I pulled into my parking place, the actual Oil light came on, too.
That was a new one for me. Well, the handyman among us helped ascertain that the oil was no longer showing on the dip stick. Oh goody. So I went to a Take 5 place and had them do an oil change instead of just finding some oil and just adding it myself.
My last oil change sticker was dated in December, IIRC. That was unusual, too. I’ve never had oil disappear that soon.
It didn’t occur to me to ask the Take 5 folks to reset the Check Engine light. Handyman told me they would have done it, but that was after we left the place.
Anyway, the Check Engine light stayed on all the way home. The “eco mode” light never came on during the drive home. It felt like it wanted to, but I assume the Check Engine light being on was preventing it. However, the next day, after a very brief appearance when I started the car again, it went out and has stayed out.
What’s up with that? I never had a Check Engine light go off without having to be nudged by one of those code readers.
If work hadn’t been so insanely busy, I would have gone to my mechanic and told them the tale.
But, not only has work been insanely busy, I got a text Monday night from the regular accompanist of the civic choral group I’m in. She had taken ill (says she was tested, says it isn’t flu or Covid) and wouldn’t be able to play for Tuesday night’s dress rehearsal, nor the actual concert (tonight).
So I had to take off 2 days from work to get up to speed on the piano part for 12 pieces in 2 days.
When I used to have more free time, and when I got access to the new grand piano at church, I used to play for 4 to 6 hours at a sitting. That was fun! But the pressure of having to get 12 songs (plus a piano solo) ready for performance in 2 days…that was tiring.
Chiefio FYI … on my boat trailer I had been using a padlock but read about how easy they are to remove with the huge bolt cutters and went with a real trailer lock that is a weird locking mechanism that leaves nothing exposed to “cut” and thieves must drill out / smash out the lock mechanism within the trailer hitch lock. After that fix I noticed neighbouring trailers with fancy hitch locks that covered the ball hitch part and got another huge horseshoe shaped lock that fits over and surrounds the ball hitch portion and then locks with a large pin up inside the ball receptacle & again is impossible to cut and you would need to lift the trailer tongue up in the area to get a swing at it with a hammer etc …. drilling out the lock might be easier but removal of the lock will destroy the hitch. Finally I already had a chain & padlock to lock one trailer tire to the chassis but realized it was an easy bolt cutter removal item and so I still use it but the other wheel has one of the fancy uncuttable bicycle locks by “the CLUB” which is about 6 feet long and was a terrible price, almost 40 bucks 18 years ago if I remember right. Krypton makes good bike locks too (maybe it is Kryptonite for the bike lock maker). Anyway I hoped that the 3 good locks and one crappy chain would encourage the lazy thieves to go after some suckers trailer with only one lock and leave my boat & trailer alone ( SARC ) .
Good luck with the trailer recovery or insurance money & I look forward to the continuing saga of the Florida Move From Hell.
As we say in Canada “keep your stick on the ice”.
PS I got anal about trailer theft when someone stole the trailer (trailer only not the boat) from a Hobie Cat my buddy and I had just bot. Left us their POS rusty trailer (ours was galvanized) with seized wheel bearings :-(
Wow that really sucks, I not going to to say there’s a bright side.
Here’s a tune…
I can imagine some devices, now that the horse has left the barn.
Some involve trip wires and explosives (bang only of course) or sirens
And cameras with motion detectors, like game cameras
And devices to lock the trailer brakes, or better yet,
a search for “tire immobilizers” gets lots of pictures, lots of variations. “The Boot”
And finally, Apple AirTag, or some other tracker.
Or maybe a sticker “contains GPS tracker” would work. If the thieves can read.
@YMMV: “they were not dumb back then, even if they did not have iPhones and Netflix.”
Hmmmm…. How about “they were not dumb back then, PERHAPS BECAUSE they did not have iPhones and Netflix.” Fixed it! :)
I can’t really blame iPhones and Netflix — but something truly is causing a general decline in intelligence. My suspicion is that it is a concatenation of many causes.
Anyone who compares modern college textbooks to those of twenty or thirty years ago will see that college now equals high school. High school equals middle school, etc. Lockdown seems to have made it worse.
Click to access 2021.08.10.21261846v1.full.pdf
Somewhere I saw an article claiming that the official “norms” for childhood development are being relaxed, ie, norm of walking at 12 months will now be norm of walking at 18 months.
RE check engine light. It will go off after a certain number of starts does not throw a code. At least, that’s what I remember.
Wow. Sorry to hear about the trip and trailer. We had one stolen from a church parking lot. Long story.
God bless EM. On the bright side Simone has lightened your load and I have to assume that TX is chock full of CA trailers that are priced to sell.
TTN – used to be the other way round. My high-school Physics teacher told us that the stuff he was teaching us was first year of college for him (that was in 1970-71). Naturally, as more things get found out there’s going to be more needing to be taught to students to get them to the point where they can take those things that bit further.
The kids who spent the years being masked, and thus unable to see facial expressions much, may have lifelong consequences as regards language and ability to interact. I’d expect delayed emotion development, though I’m not seeing the reason for a delay in learning to walk. Maybe that one is part of the “everyone’s a winner” idea, so proud parents can say “my child was walking at 12 months but the norm is 18 months”. Also means that officials don’t need to do anything about the slow ones, of course.
Well, I’m back home, and had a good night’s sleep. I’ll catch up on postings and comments here shortly (as the coffee soaks in ;-)
I’ve decided to give up on the “own a trailer and tow it” approach to moving my stuff as I’ve been trying to work it for about 9 months now and “no joy”. Between the Mercedes ML failing repeatedly and now the trail theft, eventually you have to decide that this approach is just not getting the job done.
What worked before was towing a rental car carrier out with a car stuff with stuff on it (and I have one car in California that needs moving…) and another load in a U-Haul Truck. So I’m going to do those two things One More Time; then I’ll think on what to do for whatever is left.
Yes, I’ve been moving stuff in “priority order” so the first load (in car on a trailer towed by the ML & another wagon driven by Florida Friend) was all the “stuff that I would not store”. Photos, guns, etc. 2nd load was the U-Haul. Less neatly sorted by priority as we were just too tired to do a full unload, sort, reload; but mostly things I wanted early. A lot of books. My Mother’s antique furniture. Etc.
So yeah, I’d planned to load the trailer with the next level of “stuff”. To include my tool boxes and fishing equipment (GASP!) ;-) along with my Light Bulb Mountain (a collection of now unobtainable incandescent and CFL light bulbs as LED bulbs give us insomnia) and another round of irreplaceable books. My Schwinn Varsity bike from high school & college years. And other such. Had that stuff been stolen, I’d be really bummed. As it is, it’s just money…
Some “check engine” lights matter and some don’t. Some come and go… Some come and stay. One of the wagon’s I’ve got has sporadically lit up a picture of an engine ( I think that’s the German equivalent of “check engine”) and then it goes away in a day or two. The manual says that it is likely some sensor giving a reading not consistent with other sensors and to not trust the display while it is lit… So “someday” a mechanic will tell me “what” and “how much $”…
Eh Gads! Doing ONE piece in 2 days can be a challenge… I presume you were already familiar with some of the pieces and just needed to knock the rust off!
I’m mightily impressed!
I’d thought of getting a fancy lock, but was pressed for time and decided that the trailer and truck would be with me the whole time… Wrong.
Oh Well, done and dusted now.
@TTN & Simon:
My High School was fairly advanced. When I went to UC, the first round of chemistry was all just review for me. Similarly my first calculus class… It was only at the 2nd one of each that things got “new & harder” ;-)
In H.S. Advanced Math we ran out of algebra with 2 or 3 weeks left in the year, so the teacher asked if we wanted to coast or learn Calculus. The (all 12 of us) whole class voted for “more”, so we learned differential calculus in a couple of weeks ;-)
My Son, in his high school chemistry class, had nearly nothing of what I considered important in chemistry. Mostly just how to do a few formulas. Almost nothing in the lab and very few experiments done by the teach (that the teacher derisively called “Demonstrations”… clearly he thought them useless. THE heart of chemistry… what happens when I mix these things?)
Oh Well. Welcome to Idiocracy.
@E.M. – Haad an electrician friend who took a job out of state. His truck AND trailer were stolen. The trailer had all his tools, ladders, common electrical parts, etc.
A couple of months after he got home, he got a call from the local PD where the job was that they had recovered his trailer. He went and retrieved the trailer as it was only about 5 or 6 hours away. The truck was no doubt in Mexico before he got up for coffee that day.
Anyhow, losing the trailer is a bummer, but do not be at all surprised if you get a call in a month or so that your trailer is in the’ Somewhere Random’ impound lot.
Again, bummer, but good fortune that you didn’t lose the tools, fishing gear, and whatnot that would be a PITA to replace. It’s just not the same familiar stuff.
Now that I’m home… Yeah, not as bad as it could have been. As I’ve said several times now (in person and in print…): It is only a money loss.
FWIW, the city where this happened was Baumont Texas. I broke down in Winnie Texas about 27 miles west of Baumont.
The somewhat helpful but not very interested policeman who took my report did say that they had a lot of car and trailer thefts, and that trailers were hard to find as folks don’t just go driving around with them…
IF it ever comes home, well, that would be nice. In the mean time I’ve got stuff to move. BUT part of my “just rent a truck now” reasoning is that I don’t want TWO trailers in my yard, should they actually find this one.
FWIW: Had the trailer been full of “My Stuff”, I’d have slept in the back of the truck with my “persuader” nearby… I thought about doing it that night, but thought “It’s just an empty trailer”…
Thanks! There were a couple of songs that I had played more than a decade ago. During the rest of this past few weeks, I had been singing alto.
In fact, last Saturday, I spent a couple of hours practicing the alto part intensively. So at least I knew what they sounded like (except one of them, which the other accompanist kept trying to put a swing-eighths feel into, while it was supposed to be more “rock” like). When I started playing it for the incoming director who brought me the 3-ring binder that the regular accompanist used, I demonstrated how I thought it should sound with a “straight-eighths” feel. She agreed that “straight-eighths” was the way to go.
The first time I played it for the group and the outgoing director was for the dress rehearsal on Tuesday night. I thought it went particularly well. :-) Everyone seemed to adjust very easily to the change in style.
The piano solo was one of my favorite “sugar sticks”. I always want it to be perfect, so I do go through it a few times before a performance.
I hung around for the refreshments after the concert. Many people came up and said very kind things about it.
This was the final concert for the outgoing director. Everyone had done so much good work in preparation, I hated for the event to be called off if I didn’t step up to the plate.
One more funny thing…I had been telling myself I wouldn’t do any more solos unless they stopped illuminating me with those new-fangled LED lights. I HATE LED LIGHTS!!! They are like lasers! Last time I played a solo (at Christmas), the far left and far right ends of the keyboards were in deep, dark shadows. I STRUGGLED to see. I need to NOT STRUGGLE to see while I’m playing. I like to keep my eyes on the music and use my peripheral vision to keep track of the keyboard. When I listen to the recording of that piece, I can hear several split-second pauses where I had to actually LOOK at the keyboard. :-(
I told the director about how I struggled the last time I played there, and then we talked to the tech guys about what could be changed with respect to the lighting. They turned off the bank of blue LED lights that were straight overhead. The director happened to have bought one of those clip-on lights. It did have LED lights, but you had 3 settings. I set it to be like incandescent lights. That worked to fix the left end of the keyboard. Then the night of the concert, I brought my own traditional (brass) piano light with its incandescent bulb. So it was tolerable.
One time when my sibling out of state wanted to send me a daybed and some other things I could use when my offspring was ready to get out of the baby bed, we got the idea to rent a 15-person van, removed the seats, and just piled all the stuff into the van. That way, we were in the van with all the stuff. Nothing was exposed while we traveled.
I thought it was clever. So maybe if you get down to a load that will fit in something like that, it might be an option to consider.
I went out of my way to accumulate a “lifetime supply” of both curly bulbs CFLs and regular incandescent bulbs. I suggest getting some while you still can.
During the move in to the new house, I discovered that both LOWE’S and Home Depot were eliminating ALL incandescent bulbs. Same for stores like Walmart and Public’s Grocers. They have become very hard to find now, but a few still exist.
I found that ACE Hardware still has some of the “allowed to manufacture” ones. Those are “40 Watts and under”, and “Over 150 Watts”. Along with “ruggedized bulbs” used in things like machine tools. The other one is “strange shapes” and some PAR Bulbs (Parabolic Aluminized Reflector – aka “spotlights” or “flood lights”)
An incandescent bulb on a dimmer can last for a century. At about 5% dim you get something like a double of the lifetime. At 1/2 power it lasts many years to decades. For this reason, I have a couple of lamps with a “dimmer on a cord” for them. Plus dimmers on about 50% (soon to be 75%) of my house fixtures.
So, buy a 200 W bulb, and dim it to be 100 W equivalent brightness, and you are set for a decade+ for that light. I’ve also bought 50/100/150 “3 way” bulbs and used them in some 3 way lamps, almost always on the 50 W setting. When that burns out, you can use it as a regular 100W bulb (which, again, on a dimmer will last and last…)
As it looks like “last call” has been issued by MANY of the retail places for incandescents (even the “allowed to still make and sell” ones), I strongly suggest you hustle and get some for your piano use (and anywhere else too…)
Note that, at least my Local ACE, still had 40 W “appliance” bulbs that I put in my “4 light bar” bathroom fixture (so 160 W total) and with the dimmer on 3/4 are just fine most of the time. Full bright briefly for room cleaning. About 1/2 on for “night visits” ;-) They also had “Industrial” lights. These are often in a box of a dozen, and state they are for 130 VAC. This is basically a 120 V bulb with a built in dimmer, so last a few years in places without a dimmer… I got a box or two each of “4 inch round ball” special shape and 60W PAR bulbs (useful outdoors, and in lamps. 3 are in my “Ceiling fan” in the guest room. As I never use the fan, I don’t care about shake. Also on a dimmer, so full 180W when cleaning the room, otherwise about 1/2 bright. Dimmed to about 10% when the TV is on ;-)
IF you are lucky, you can find some combination of such bulbs, pick up one or more of those “dimmers on a rope” (basically a squarish slider button holder thing that sits on the table and a long cord to the wall. It plugs into the socket and the lamp plugs into it also at the wall). Then you can have piano and room lights to your liking “forever” ;-)
IFF you just can’t get it done and end up miserable one day; driven nuts by those hateful LED bulbs, I could likely be talked into handing over a few bulbs ;-)
Note, too, that some places may still also have available Halogen Bulbs. These are a bit trickier to use on a dimmer. Below about 25% brightness, the halogen gas scrubs metal off of the filament and shortens bulb life. At Full Bright, it scavenges deposited metal off of the glass and deposits it back on the filament as the filament is then hot enough to break down the compound. So you can dim them “for a while” between about 25% and 75%, but every day or two ought to run it back up to full brightness for a few minutes to do the normal “scavenge and redeposit on the filament” cycle.
As of now, there’s only 2 hallways and 2 lamps that are not either on a dimmer or using a Curly Bulb. I have the dimmers to do the hallways, just not done them yet. One has 40 W “flame shape” bulbs for a ceiling fan in it, so not high on my “must save” list ;-) Some of them (clear only, could not find frosted) were also still being sold a few months back.
It does look like Amazon still has some in stock:
These, for example, are “rough service” bulbs:
So a nice 60 W bulb that:
So lasts a lot longer, but probably about as bright as a 50 W “regular bulb”. 10,000 hour lifetime instead of the more typical 1200 to 1800 hours. Package of 8 for $22. Not too much for 80,000 hours of incandescent bulb life…
There’s other choices there too. Including “3 way” in different sizes and even a package of 200 W bulbs. Add some dimmers and you can go for decades…
I’ve used Lutron, similar to this one but without the “credenza” name and indicator light. Home Depot, Lowe’s and ACE all still had them last time I looked (and less than the $27 this one costs… IIRC, it was closer to $12):
Given your sensitivity, and how much this approached helped my family with our sensitivity, I suggest you “move on it” while you can still get them.
IF you need any help / advice whatever, let me know. I’d be happy to put up a page on “How To” with show and tell photos of The Goods.
Note that the ruggedized bulbs are not as bright for a given wattage. The “downside” of the strategy of using them, or 200W bulbs on a dimmer, or the 130 Vac bulbs is just that it is not as efficient. You can make the bulb last almost forever, but will be using 100W of electricity for about 75 W worth of light…
Mostly this means if you want a “regular 75 W” bulb worth of light, you need 100 W or larger bulb. For a “regular 100 W”, then move up to 15oW or 200W bulb (potentially with a dimmer for lower light levels).
For me, it is well worth it. But, I have a stock of halogen bulbs and curly bulbs that I’m using first in several fixtures. I’m only using a 150 W on a dimmer in one room (my office), and clusters of smaller bulbs on a dimmer in places where I often want the lower light level (like the bathrooms in the morning and evening…) or where they are not used very often (guest room) so using more in a 2 hour period out of a month just doesn’t matter.
By arranging to have halogen bulbs in some “frequent short use” places (like closets and hall lights) and curly bulbs in high use places (front door light, over the kitchen sink, laundry room, garage): Almost all my usage is low cost very efficient. Garage end Kitchen also have “full sized florescent” bulb fixtures too. (I replaced the 4 foot LED fixtures with regular 4 foot T8 tubes. T8 is 8/8th inch or one inch. T12 are 12/8th inch or 1.5 inch – the usual big tubes).
By putting the high wattage on a dimmer or ruggedized or 130 V in “short or infrequent use” areas, I get really nice light effectively “forever” without much of a cost increase. So “decorative” lamps not used too often, rooms that are not used often, or the bathrooms where sometimes you want a lot of light, but often just a short duration of not so blindingly bright ;-) and that’s just worth it …
The basic lifetime of the “regular 40 W” bulbs in the guest bath is about 2000 hours. They get used for about 1/2 hour a day most days. Maybe an hour on big days. So nominally about 3000 days, or about 8 years. Now have much of that be on a dimmer at 75%, it is likely closer to 16 to 32 years. I’m good with that.
Oh, and I’d actually been looking at buying a van as the tow vehicle, but few of them have hitches and tow packages.
I may yet end up renting one and using it for a run “at the end”, but most likely will just use the FORD Excursion then. Doesn’t hold as much as a van, but still holds a lot. Can add a roof carrier to the roof rack, and could always add a UHaul trailer…
But that’s for months from now.
EM: On the LED light topic… Dr. Huberman from Stanford talked about the influence of light on Neurological bits on a podcast I came across with Joe Rogan. He recommended 2 things relevant here … 1) Get some sunlight early in the day…. makes for greater alertness and better sleep… something about influencing circadian rhythm. 2) Blue light should be avoided for 3 hrs prior to retiring for the evening. Something about blue light exposure reducing Melatonin.
You may already be aware, but I’ll mention it anyway, for others (including our resident pianist) … LED lightbulbs are available in different ‘temperatures’, measured in Kelvin. The lower numbers are ‘warmer’ tones. 2200K is ‘amber’ in color, quite like (to me) 40w incandescents. 2400 is more like a 60-watt incandescent, etc. Unlike 40watters, the same spectrum is available in brighter LED lights, meaning more of the same warm color light.
Good luck with your ‘stuff-transfer’ project.
Mechanism here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suprachiasmatic_nucleus
A key bit not mentioned there is that it is BLUE light (at least in humans) that tells the SCN “it is daytime”.
There are folks who now sell “glasses” that put a blue light in your eyes when traveling so you skip Jet Lag (via arriving fully awake and ‘in sync’ with local daytiime).
I’ve identified 2 problems.
1) For many of them, they flicker. You can see this in video of cars as the light frame rate is out of sync with the camera frame rate. Supposedly “you can’t see this”… but I can feel it. I suspect this is because the “on brightness” is high so that the average brightness is as desired. So the light “feels too bright” even when it is too dim… Different folks have different flicker response, and I know I respond to fast flicker, so it might be something most folks don’t notice.
2) The light is often too blue. This comes in two forms.
2a) For some unknown Gawd Awful reason, folks buy these very “white” lights that are rich in blue. Often sold as “Daylight” type. Or 5000+ Kelvin color temperature. Especially hideous in street lights.
2b) There are two ways to get “white” light from LED bulbs. The expensive way is with 3 different color temperature LEDs blended as primary colors. This has 3 x as many LEDs per bulb, so is very rare. The cheaper way is to use ONE LED that is basically BLUE or even barely UV, then coat it with phosphors that absorb a lot of that light, and re-emit it as other colors (reds, greens, yellows, etc.) to make white (much like a fluorescent bulb does.) Unless you are “paying up” a LOT, that’s the bulb you have. The “problem” is that these leak a huge BLUE SPIKE that you don’t really notice, but your SCN does…
Some notes on Color Temperature:
Incandescent bulbs are nominally 2700 K. Does not change with wattage. It can drop if you put the bulb on a dimmer (and “ruggedized” bulbs with thicker filaments will be closer to 2500 or 2600 K). This ought to be written somewhere on the bulb.
CFL bulbs came in ranges from 2700 K to 3000 K and up to about 5000 k. The 5000 K being the “daylight” type. The 2700 K matching incandescents more or less. The 3000 k to 3500 K being a neutral but not day light “whiter” color.
Fluorescent TUBES come in similar temperatures / colors; but I’ve also seen 6000 K (for those folks where stark blinding white isn’t quite painful enough…)
Enter the LED:
While you can find these in the same 3 color temperature bands (2700 K, 3500 K, 5000 K) more or less, it still isn’t quite the same as Incandescent bulbs and even CFLs. The problems being the two mentioned above. The BLUE SPIKE that is present in pretty much all of them, even if they down shift enough of it to yellow to make it seem sort of 2700 K like. And the subliminal flicker issues.
There’s one other more minor point. The light from an incandescent bulb is a smooth spectrum of colors from blue down to infrared. Turns out that infrared does good things for metabolism in your skin (IIRC having to do with fat / cholesterol/ hormone metabolism). CFLs and LEDs are synthetic spectra made from a mix of several peak emissions from phosphors, Cheap bulbs use a few phosphors and give a bad Color Rendering Index (CRI). Incandescent bulbs rate 100. Good CFLs will be about 80. LEDs similarly can be cheap or better CRI; but NONE of them get to 100.
I use the “green eggs” measure to test bulbs for the kitchen and dining room. Some bulbs make an egg yoke look a little green Bad juju. I also use a Chef Boyardee ravioli can. Some make the RED just glow, other’s make it a dull color. The yellow can be vibrant, or similarly dead. Try it for yourself. Get a can and look at it outdoors in normal sunlight. Then walk around the house under different lights. It will change…
For this reason I tend to use good CRI bulbs in any place with food preparation or consumption. Preferably Incandescent, but good tubular fluorescents are OK too. Crummy Chinese CFLs or LEDs go to hallways or the garage… Really crappy bulbs go to exterior lights… or the garage out of the way areas. Or uninteresting closets. (Though the spousal clothes closet gets a good CRI bulb so her colors look right).
Yeah, I know, way too much about lighting… but I was a Director Of Facilities once and had to learn all about industrial lighting. FWIW, I’ve saved you from a discussion of HID High Intensity Metal-Discharge, Low pressure sodium, High pressure sodium, and several other kinds of lights… as they are almost always found in industrial uses or street lights.
To find the CRI of a bulb, you will likely need to do a web search on it. While it OUGHT to be printed on every package, it isn’t. Similarly the color temperature. The marketing department seems to think everyone else is as incompetent and uncomfortable with numbers as they are…
For me, the only light bulbs that don’t flicker are the incandescent ones. From the old CRT flicker to LEDs, I can see it. I will say that when my cataracts were there, it wasn’t as visible.
Re “IF you need any help / advice whatever, let me know. I’d be happy to put up a page on “How To” with show and tell photos of The Goods.”
I did check out the links to Amazon products. I didn’t realize there were still that many incandescent options available. I didn’t realize there were dimmers on cords that I could be using. I thought it would require opening up the walls and installing dimmers. It’s nice to know I could use cords.
There is one store in my town where I can still find small quantities of incandescent light bulbs. The last time I went in, I bought all they had of the ones I prefer. I also told the clerk in the area that I was glad they still carried incandescent bulbs and hoped they would continue. The incandescent bulbs I get from them are made in Hungary. They last longer than the ones ones made in Mexico that other stores used to carry (but I no longer see them at those stores).
When and if BRICS+ takes over, I wonder how hard it might be to get Hungarian incandescent bulbs?
I’ve also noticed that I see the flicker more with peripheral vision than with direct fovia vision.
OK, I’ll put something together in a few days.
You can get wall switch dimmers too, for those fixtures that are built in. They are not hard to install. Basically just 2 or 3 wires (if you have neutral and ground). Any electrician can do it, or you can DIY if you have any electrical experience.
As a “starter kit”, I’d get a cord based dimmer for every lamp you have (or want to have) and order a dozen or two sized box of 100 W or more “ruggedized” bulbs. That gives you basic light in every room with a lamp for a long long time. Just make sure you pick a size that you will rarely to never want to run at full power. So if your lamps presently have 100W in them, get 150 or 200 W bulbs. If you have 60 or 75 W bulbs in them, get 100 W ruggedized bulbs.
Secondarily, I’d then look to get a bunch of bulbs for any built in fixtures. My method went something like this:
I’ll likely live independently about another decade (since few folks in their 80s are on their own for long). So I need 10 to 20 years max of light bulbs. Typical bulb life is about 1000 hours, though double life runs about 2000 and the ruggedized even more.
Take hours / day a fixture is used (for most of my fixtures, it’s just a couple of hours) and divide that into bulb life. So 2000 hours / 2 hours/day = 1000 days. About 3 years. 20 year life /3 years per bulb = 7 bulbs. So I need between 14 and 7 bulbs for that fixture (1000 hr life or 2000 hr) for my probably remaining years. Repeat for each fixture not on a dimmer.
If using a ruggedized bulb with a 4000 hour life, I’d only need 3 bulbs…
IF you had, for example, 10 fixtures built in, and didn’t want them wired with dimmers, you could do it with about 30 ruggedized 4000 hour bulbs. (Though if you use fixtures more than 2 hours / day that number goes up…) An order of 3 dozen sized boxes of ruggedized bulbs
On Dimmers, the added life depends on how dim you run them. It doesn’t take a lot of dimming to extend the life (IIRC, it is non-linear sort of exponential…) so a 200 W bulb run at about 100 W brightness will likely last for many decades of use. It will have a somewhat yellower color temperature run that low, but still be fine. ( I have a 150 W in my office that I usually run about 1/2 power and it’s fine…). There’s a fire station with an original Edison Bulb in it that has been running for 100 years now. It’s not all that bright and a bit yellow in color, made with a very fat filament ;-)
Anyway, I would not wait too long to start building up a stash of bulbs and some dimmers. The LEDs are shoving everything else out of the market pretty fast. Just this year, Walmart dropped ALL incandescents and Halogen bulbs. All you can get there now are LEDs. Ditto Home Depot and Lowe’s.
The good news is that you can get a box of a dozen bulbs for fairly cheap money. We’re talking “one dinner out” or “one movie theater night”.
One other thing, last time I visited Lowe’s, they still had some CFL Curly Bulbs. These have a fairly long life (supposedly something like 10,000 hours). They also work very nicely in things like a fixture over the sink, or one in the hallway. They start off dimmer than normal, and over a couple of minutes warm up to full brightness. This makes them not so good in places like a closet where you want to just flip the light on, grab something, and turn it off; but good in a hallway where you want a “soft start” in the middle of the night, but full bright when on a while. I’ve noticed they are getting harder to find, too. So have a few packages of them.
I’ve got them in the laundry room, garage, front porch light (run all night… so needs a long life bulb), back Florida Room light, and over the kitchen sink (where I’m often working for a longish time). You get the idea.
Well, I think I need to stop typing it all in here and make an actual article out of it ;-)
EM – have you tried the “filament type” LED bulbs? These seem to have far less flicker, though again it probably varies with manufacturer. The LEDs themselves are far-blue or UV, and the fluorescent coatings take enough time to release the lower-frequency light that the flicker is much smoothed. When switched off, they seem to take around the same time as a filament for the light to fade. May still be a problem with excess UV or blue, but you can use a CD/DVD to get a rough spectrum. On the ones I have, looks pretty smooth spectrum without gaps or obvious peak at the blue, and colour-rendering is OK.
To get rid of the flicker altogether, should be possible to run these on DC too. Might however need you to build a power-supply to suit, but you can also buy COB 12V LEDs that would just need mounting on a heat-sink.
I only have a few curly-type bulbs left because they haven’t died yet. Mostly I’m using LEDs here. Only occasional problem with visible flicker when the grid has flicker problems (and I’d probably see that on an incandescent, too).
Yes, I have.. Not many, but I bought maybe 4 of them. While they seemed a bit less obnoxious than the more expensive LEDs with a heavy base ballast, they were still bothersome. I didn’t get as much “The light is squirming” effect, but the spouse was still not sleeping well. So they got moved to the garage and perimeter lighting string in the California house.
I had a couple of them “burn out” (or age out, or whatever you call it when they die) which was odd as they are supposed to last something like 20,000 hours… but clearly croaked at closer to 2000…
I’ve noticed that going into the lighting display of places like Home Depot or Lowe’s where they use a lot of them, it still feels uncomfortable to the eyes. Same thing in various stores that are clearly using them (as you can see the filaments in the clear glass style). Partly I think they are just in need of a frosted glass, but whatever.
I’m very happy with my solution and inventory of bulbs. Though when I first moved into this Florida house, I discovered some significant gaps:
The Bathrooms had multi-bulb (4) fixtures and I had concentrated on 60W, 100W, and maybe a dozen high wattage (150W, 200W, 300W for when I needed a “lasts 50 years on a dimmer” after the other bulbs are all used up) with some 3 way bulbs. These bath fixtures really wanted 40W bulbs. The Bulb Law allows continued manufacture and sales of 40W or less so I had figured they would stay available. Nope. The Bulb Nazis were going scorched earth on all things Incandescent in the hardware stores. So I spent a week or two to find more “appliance bulbs” in 40W along with some “3 inch round” (or maybe 4″) “decorator” bulbs in 40 W. I now have a lifetime supply of them, too.
(One bathroom likes the small appliance bulbs in “tulip” glass holders. The other is bare bulb so wants the round decorator bulb. In theory the “odd shape” round decorator bulbs are still legal to make, but took some looking to find them at ACE Hardware. I now have a few dozen ;-)
The other “unexpected” was 65 W PAR flood lights. I needed about 8 sockets worth for the exterior lights. Also supposedly still legal to make and sell, but told they would be gone from Home Depot and Lowe’s “soon” that is, by now, now. I’ve got a few dozen of them now too. At least one case of them “Industrial” 130 V with a very long lifetime when run on 120 V. Something like 8000 hours IIRC.
Since Incandescent bulbs are basically “store forever”, I don’t mind At All having “Lightbulb Mountain” in my office closet.
I’m a tiny bit worried that some of my stash of CFL Curly Bulbs might age out in storage. Most likely that will not happen as I think they use ceramic capacitors in them, not electrolytic. But if they have electrolytics, those will self destruct in about a decade (especially if not powered up – that remakes the electrolytic barrier…) But I have several brands so one ought to make it. Many of these I bought in California when they had a “Subsidy” from the power company. Like 50 ¢ per bulb!
At this point, the only things I don’t have are a stock of 40W or larger “flame shape bulbs” for the ceiling fans they love so much in Florida, but only one of the rooms has a multi-bulb fixture with 3 glass envelopes. All the “flame shape bulbs” I could still find were clear, not frosted, and were brighter at the bare filament than I liked. I did find that smaller PAR bulbs worked nicely in that fixture, so have a lifetime supply for it. 65 W bulbs, and on a dimmer. The dimmer would also slow down the fan, but I don’t care as we basically don’t use the fans. At about the 3/4 level on the dimmer, it is very nice full room light, and dims to a nice theatre ambiance if using the TV. Full bright is nice for cleaning the room. These are in the Guest Room, so get used about an hour a week ;-)
Oh, and one lamp in the bedroom has a 25 W bulb in it. I’m not going to stock any of them, just a dimmer for the day that bulb dies and it gets a 40 W bulb. Then the 40 W dimmed to the same light level will last decades…
I have 2 hallways that eventually need dimmers. I have the dimmers, just not installed them yet. At present the frosted ceiling fixtures are using up the clear “flame shaped 40W bulbs” I bought to try in the guest room fan… and didn’t like. Work fine in the 2 bulb fixtures, at 80 W total. Though I would like to be able to dim them for late night and early morning “easy on the eyes”… but not so much that I’m motivated to install the dimmers… yet.
All bedrooms and bathrooms have wall switch dimmers. All free standing lamps have a plug in dimmer cord (or I have one in storage “for that day”). Both front and rear of house lights (porch & back patio / Florida room) have curly bulbs in fixtures so can be run long hours cheaply. Dining room has a curly bulb in the glass globe on that fan (someday to get a dimmer and IC maybe). Family Room still has a built-in LED panel on that ceiling fan as I’ve not figured out how to replace it (yet) and the cost for a whole fan is high. But we mostly use a floor lamp there, and this one light, for unknown reasons, isn’t too offensive. I think maybe it is the yellowish plastic cover.
That just leaves the kitchen & laundry. The kitchen has 3 large ceiling light boxes. I thought they were fluorescent tubes when we moved in. VERY “white” light so figured daylight type. Both the over sink and laundry ceiling fixtures were a round panel of about 9 inches of LEDs. I changed out those fixtures for 2 bulb ones. I put one curly bulb and one IC bulb in the round fixture over the sink (same thing I did in the laundry room). This gives a bright enough light at first turn on (as the curly bulb warms up) but reaches full bright if you are working in that area for a while. Nice for that “just want a glass of water” at night, but also for “washing dishes for an hour full light”. The Ceiling boxes turned out to be 4 foot LED Panels. Replaced with 4 foot T-8 bulb fluorescent tubes and changed to 2700 K lights. MUCH better. We both noticed we were no longer “cringing” when turning on those lights. Also a curly bulb in the hood over the stove.
So all the “long usage time” lights tend to be efficient fluorescent tubes, CFL bulbs, or a blend of one lower power IC bulb and one CFL for the blend of fast start with good efficiency. Everything else is IC on dimmers and can shift room ambiance from “night light” to comfortable and on to bright for cleaning. Closets are a mix of IC in the ones where we just do a fast “On / Off” and there isn’t time for a CFL to reach brightness, or CFL in closets where the working time is long enough for them to brighten up. Not got dimmers on the closets though. Just don’t need them given the very low duty cycle. At maybe an hour a month in the entry hall closet, a 2000 hour bulb will last 2000 months… call it 166 years. Guest room likely closer to 300 years… and cost for the power used is near nil too.
No “cringe” or “squint” in any of the rooms ;-) I now notice it greatly when i’m “out and about” or even just visiting folks with LEDs. The squint and cringe returns…
On The Boat we have LED lights as battery power really is important. Oddly, I don’t get the squint or cringe from them nearly as much. I’m pretty sure these are 12 VDC built ins. Only issue is the point source brightness is too high if you look right at them. I think this shows that at least some of it is AC Flicker. Spouse doesn’t sleep on the boat, so no idea if the “blue insomnia” is still an issue.
I know, way too much… But hey, I had to learn all this stuff once and don’t like the LED “squirm, cringe, and squint” … Besides, the Incandescents on dimmers just makes for a wonderfully cozy, comfortable and adjustable ambiance ;-)
Naturally. Peripheral vision is the part most sensitive to perceived motion.
cdquarles: “For me, the only light bulbs that don’t flicker are the incandescent ones.”
I have always hated fluorescent bulbs, flicker buzz and hum, and the cold cold light makes you feel like living in a fish bowl.
LED lights usually flicker at a much higher frequency, so it is less obvious.
Unless your eyes do a saccade motion, in which case you can see them as a string of dots, with a very low duty cycle. And these are also a very cold light, 3000 degrees and above. They call it “daylight” but it’s more like blue sky than sunshine.
That bothers me, even the ones labelled 2700 degrees.
The problem with all of these is that we have let efficiency count for everything when it is not everything. Besides, that heat that we have banished was a good thing.
The body needs near infrared. MedCram has several episodes about this.
Light on the UV side of blue, not so much. Optometrists these days are pushing lens coatings that block this light, saying it is harmful to your eyes and causes sleep problems.
That is why my home is substantially lit by incandescents, I have a lifetime supply stashed, and even my CFL stash is 2700 K.
IF need be, I can even set up 12 VDC lighting with car lamps… Or worst case, swap over to candles and kerosene… (but I really don’t need to “go there”).
I just like it a lot more, and me & mine feel a lot better with it AND can sleep better.