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Ratchet-strap Challenges

And then there is the door.

Whoever the accursed engineer was who designed the side door on the Joye Mobile should be hung up by his thumbs. Medieval torture is not good enough for him. Or, better yet, he (and I’m sure it was a he, since there were practically no women civil engineers back twenty years ago) should have to ride along for hours on end holding the door closed.

Perhaps you recall, some months back when I first acquired the Joye Mobile that I described the side door blowing open.  https://www.historictoursoftexas.com/from-shake-down-cruise-to-maiden-voyage/

It seems the engineers, when they designed the door, gave it a lovely curved frame. Sort of like an airfoil on an airplane. Only on the side of a van. So, when my speed goes up to . . . oh, say, fifty miles an hour, and there is an additional forty or fifty mile-an-hour head wind or side wind or any kind of external wind, like an eighteen-wheeler passing alongside at 60 miles an hour,  then the door will achieve the necessary speed for lift-off. Or, in the case of the door on the van, it literally tries to lift, right off the side of the van. It gets sucked open by the wind.  

The Joye Mobile has spent many hours and many hundreds of dollars in the bays at the Texas Bus Company. Dear Adolf has attempted to fix the problem. He assured me that the new motor that opens the door would also hold it closed. But not so. Modern technology was not going to work.  

 The older and wiser head mechanic went with the old-fashioned method. He hooked a strap to the underside of the driver’s seat and stretched it across the floor to the side door. There he hooked it to a 2-inch round metal O-ring attached to the door bracket. With a ratchet, he snugged it down tight. He told me, correctly as it turns out, to keep the ratchet strap tight when I am on the road.

The problem with that rather archaic and antiquated method of keeping the door closed is that I have to unhook the strap before I can open the door. That means hauling out of the driver’s seat, getting down into the stair well by the door and yanking and pounding on the ratchet to get it to release. Then, I can unhook the strap, crawl back to my driver’s seat, reach the dashboard, and at last, push the convenient button to smoothly open the door.

I admit, I am not used to ratchet straps. If the strap is too long, it winds around the ratchet wheel until it is jammed in so tight it will neither open nor loosen. Once that happens, the release lever also jams.  I’ve tried screwdrivers, hammers, pliers, every tool I could think of, to try to force it open. Much sweating and swearing also accompanies this maneuver.

We finally opted for a much simpler little red strap. It isn’t a ratchet, but it does have a spring-released tooth-edged clamp. I pull on the strap and the clamp grabs. I press the release and it slides open. Simple and easy. However, it is also not as strong as a ratchet. And the door will ease open an inch or so when the wind catches it, never fully blowing open but making a considerable noise.

On this last trip, I had a number of very competent Texas women on a trip to the Painted Churches. A blue norther had blown in, providing the added fifty-mile-an-hour wind gusts necessary to provide the door with lift-off velocity.

The lady sitting across from the door was unnerved by the periodic roaring when the door inched open. To allay her fears, I got out the dreaded ratchet strap. I hooked it up and tried to ratchet it down tight. Too much strap so, of course, it jammed. I hooked the little red strap back on and pulled it tight.

Not tight enough, it seemed. I tried to assure my passenger that the door would not blow open. And even if it did, as I well knew, nothing would happen. We weren’t going to get sucked out of the door by loss of cabin pressure. No one would fall out.

 Nothing doing. She grabbed hold of the strap and for the next two hours, she clung to that little red life-line. Sure enough, the door stayed closed, but I cringe to think what her hands felt like when we got home. I’m sure she felt heroic having saved us all from certain death.

Perhaps, I need to learn how to use a ratchet strap correctly.

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