Saturday, February 19, 2011

Florida Fishing on the Harris Chain

Dad and I have enjoyed fishing in the Lake Harris Chain of lakes in Central Florida for the past few weeks. This is classic Florida fishing in weeds, shallow water, and is a lot of fun.

One of the amazing things about this area is the wildlife that is around. While this is not the best picture, this bald eagle was one of several we usually see. There are a couple of nesting pair of eagles in the area and it is fun to watch them hunt.

This osprey shows that the eagles are not alone. There are many ospreys around and we see many each day. These guys really know how to fish -- they are much more productive than we are!

The Harris Chain of lakes is connected by several canals and rivers which provide a huge place to fish and explore. This is Haines Creek which is about 6 miles long and connects Lake Eustis and Lake Griffin. It is also a great place to fish!
Dad caught this nice bass while we were out. The weather is finally starting to warm up and we are looking forward to fishing in the next few weeks.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Our New Dingy - Installing a Baseplate in a Buick Lacrosse

We had enjoyed driving (and towing) our Chevy HHR for the past two years, but decided we really wanted a larger, more comfortable ride. After reviewing the various vehicles that can be towed with four wheels down, we found this 2010 (used) Buick Lacrosse, which was loaded with all kinds of great options. Of course, we had to set it up for towing and the first step is to install a towing baseplate on the car.

Rick has installed several baseplates on other cars (a couple for us and others for friends) and has had good success using the Roadmaster baseplates and we ordered one for the Buick (we made sure they had a plate available before purchasing the car).

The first step is to dismantle the front of our nice, new (to us), car! We used Rick's Dad's house for a work site since the RV site we are at is grass.

Several of my Dad's neighbors dropped by to watch the demolition and were very impressed -- and a bit skeptical that we could get it back together.

Here, my Dad tries out Rick's power screw/bolt driver which came in very handy. He was a big help in getting this project done!

This shows the level of tear-down needed. The Roadmaster instructions were very good and showed each step with a description and picture. Still, it helps to have installed a couple of these before.

We are now ready to actually install the baseplate. The plate is custom fit to the car and required some drilling (1/2" holes -- be sure to get new, sharp bits for this!).

Here, Rick has completed torquing the several bolts holding the baseplate to the car. The baseplate can be seen under the headlight.

After about 6 hours (including a few stops for rest, lunch, etc.) we were done! The baseplate is almost invisible when the plate mounts (seen above) are removed. We had to do some cut and fit with the foam insulation behind the front fascia -- this require a bit of patience, but is required to ensure a close fit of the front assembly.
Success! Rick still needs to complete the wiring and the brake - breakaway, but the baseplate is the biggest issue in getting the car ready to tow. While not for the faint of heart, this installation is well within the reach of folks who have some mechanical experience. You can visit the Roadmaster Website to download installation instructions for a given vehicle to get an idea of what is involved.