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PIA Blog: Tesla Trippin'

TEG

Teslafanatic
Aug 20, 2006
21,785
8,772
Tesla Trippin' - In the Driver's Seat
6a0120a635cd9d970c01347fe0a24c970c-pi
 

ChadS

Last tank of gas: March 2009
Jul 16, 2009
3,323
2,674
Redmond, WA
I'm home now. The Seattle->San Diego->Seattle trip was fun. The car performed just great. Using free, public HPCs in Southern California was a breeze. I can't wait for charging stations to be installed in more places along freeways.

The only things I'd ask of Tesla to make road trips easier:

1. Have the car send us a text when charging stops for any reason. This would have saved a lot of trips out to check on the car at campgrounds. And it would have gotten me up in the middle of the night to fix a problem, rather than spending a long morning charging instead of driving. This should be easy on the 2010's that have built-in communications.

2. Give us an option to keep the charge port light on even when the car is locked, in case we are out of cell range and #1 doesn't work.

3. Reduce the stitching on the steering wheel. That hurts your hand after a couple of days. [Update a few years later: the stitching might not have been the real problem. I have arthritis in my fingers; I think I first started noticing symptoms on that trip]

That's really it for changes to the car. I'd love to take it on another road trip. Note, however, that outside of SoCal with public HPCs, I did run in to a few problems getting the car charged. Actually, I pretty much ran in to every problem possible:

1. Power outage. Not much to do there but read a book and recall that gas pumps need electricity too.

2. Breakers tripping. This is why I asked Tesla to let us know if charging stops. Repeatedly checking--or being surprised if you don't check--is a real pain. Both happened more than once.

3. A campground that said they had 240v outlets really didn't. If you don't have much charge, and/or it's late at night and you need a place to sleep in addition to a place to charge, you might be stuck charging at 110v and have to wait until morning to limp somewhere else. I think the way around this is to ask for 50A outlets, and don't mention 240v. Everybody at campgrounds seemed to understand 50A.

4. A campground that had 240v outlets insisted they didn't. He was so convincing I left, trying to figure out where I could get a charge. Again, asking for 50A instead of 240v probably would have fixed this problem--I am sure he had them. I did manage to find a working 14-50 within 15 minutes.

5. The 14-50 pigtail on my Eberhard RFMC charging connector fried. Fortunately I just happened to be within range of a Tesla store when this happened, which was NOT true for most of the trip. So I drove there to buy a UMC. They didn't have any in stock...but I happened to be going farther South, and was able to use public HPCs until I came back and they had a UMC in for me.

6. The new UMC charging connector that I bought didn't work at all. I didn't find this out until I was in a VERY remote location, after midnight, with almost no charge. At least I had two non-working connectors to console myself with. The next morning I managed to patch the fried 14-50 pigtail enough to use; it fell apart every time I unplugged it, but I managed to put it together again enough to guide it in to the receptacle until I managed to snag a new pigtail two days later.
 
Last edited:

ChargeIt!

Member
Jul 24, 2008
619
1
I'm home now.

5. The 14-50 pigtail on my Eberhard RFMC charging connector fried.


Chad,
Congratulations on this "loong" adventure !! :smile:
And thanks for this report and the RV camp hints. Useful.
Q: *how* did the RFMC pigtail "fry" ?
 

ChadS

Last tank of gas: March 2009
Jul 16, 2009
3,323
2,674
Redmond, WA
After the pigtail fried, I know what the problem was--because some of the plastic had melted, when I removed the plug from a receptacle, it pulled on the loose pin, which caused the red wire to pull out of the clamp on the pin. Then the red wire had a bad connection to the pin, so if I stuck it in to another receptacle, it would charge OK but heat up at the same time, melting more plastic.

If I took apart the plug and tightly clamped the red wire back on to the pin, and carefully inserted it in to the receptacle, then I could charge fine and the pin would not get hot. I had to re-do this every time.

But your question was how it fried in the first place. I suspect that somehow the red wire came unclamped from the pin, but from looking at how they are put together, that seems pretty hard to do. Between the strain relief clamp on the wire coming in to the plug, and plastic and metal stop bits on both sides of the pin, I don't see how it could have moved enough to do that. Unless it was loose to start with? But if worked fine for a few months before this trip. So who knows.

In any event, EV Components gave me a new RFMC pigtail and a charge when I stopped by their place in Lacey, WA. I took the unused, unworking UMC back to Tesla; they plugged it in, agreed it wasn't working (it would just blink a light when you plugged it in, and not pass any power through), and agreed to refund my money since it didn't work when I need it, which was just to get home from CA. We sat around and talked for a while; suddenly there was a POP and a cloud of grey smoke. The cover to the control area on the UMC had blown off. Dang, I wasn't anticipating this much trouble with charging connectors. That's another nice things about having public HPCs around.
 

ChadS

Last tank of gas: March 2009
Jul 16, 2009
3,323
2,674
Redmond, WA
By the way, here is a list of all the places I charged and stayed on my trip from Seattle to San Diego, in case anybody is planning a similar trip:

Day 1:
• Charged in Portland, OR at Hotel Modera (Hotel Modera - New boutique hotel in downtown Portland). Paid $10 Valet Parking fee; they have a 14-50 outlet in the parking garage. In downtown Portland so there’s lots to do.
• Stopped at SiltCoos Lake, OR (yurt rentals, Siltcoos Lake Resort Florence, OR Home). Had arranged a hotel room for $65 and a 240v 30A dryer outlet in the shop. It turns out the outlet was 110v 30a and I didn’t have an adapter for that, so I only got 20 miles of charge overnight on a 15a 110v--so I don’t recommend this stop. (Plus the hotel room was not available; they let me sleep in a more-expensive yurt, but its heater was very inadequate for temps in the 30’s). The owner was nice and said he would charge me $35 because he screwed up; so far he hasn’t charged anything.

Day 2:
• I did a make-up charge at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park in Winchester Bay, OR (Oregon State Parks and Recreation: Rates). Paid the $16 full-service camping fee; they have about 8 sites with 50A. They have nice yurts there for $27.
• Stopped at the KOA in Crescent City CA (Welcome to KOA Kampgrounds, Inc. was told the 50A outlets are only 110V--which was no doubt incorrect. Even though they have cabins and 50a service I left without looking.
• I found a 50A outlet in Crescent City at the fairgrounds right on 101. It’s 208v and the breaker flipped a few times. Couldn’t locate the owner; businesses operating on the property said to go ahead and charge for free.
• Stopped at Sylvan Harbor RV park in Trinidad, CA (Sylvan Harbor - Cabins and RV Park). 208V and the breaker flipped a few times at 40A. I arrived late; I had called the owner earlier, and he told me to just go ahead and plug in for free. It was dark, but looked like a reasonably nice spot—they have cabins, too.
• Finally arrived at Leggett CA (:::Welcome to Redwoods River Resort - Your place for family and friends in the Northern California Redwoods:::) at 4:30am. They had a slightly-run-down motel room with a somewhat inadequate heater (temps in the 30’s) for $76, plus an electric site for a $6 extra-car fee. Plugged in to a 14-50 but dialed my draw down to 32A; it was still charging after 15 minutes, so I went to bed. It turns out the breaker flipped moments later; it still flipped at 20A in the morning. I moved to another site that flipped a couple of times, but mostly worked at 40A. There was a snow storm, the pass closed and power went out; the owners were very nice and helped me as they could.

Day 3:
• Stopped at Willits KOA (Willits, California Camping Vacation, Willits/Ukiah Campground in California - KOA in Willits) for a 2-hour charge in the middle of the day. Paid $45--yikes. Clean spot; they have new 50A outlets and cabins, and a bunch of kid stuff—petting zoo, water park, etc.
• Arrived at the home of Marc Geller (of Plug In America) in San Francisco at 11pm. He has a 14-50; I dialed down to 32A. Checked after 15 minutes, went to bed—I stayed two blocks away at the SF Metro Hotel (San Francisco Lodging on Divisadero ~ Near Haight Ashbury). They have small but nice rooms for $76. In the morning I found my 14-50 plug was fried. I don’t think it has anything to do with Marc’s outlet; I think one wire pulled out of the pin clamp after repeated unplugging.

Day 4:
• Drove to the Tesla store in Menlo Park, CA (Tesla Motors - Menlo Park - Schedule a Roadster Test Drive). Got a 70A charge (free for owners); ordered a new UMC charging cable; borrowed an old MC-240 to use in San Diego.
• Topped off at 70A at the Rabobank in Salinas CA (1285 North Davis Road). I didn’t really need to stop yet, but wanted to stop at all four Rabobanks that have Tesla HPCs installed. It was a nice way to break up the trip and keep the battery full. It’s free to charge. In town, so plenty to do.
• Topped off at 70A at the Rabobank in Atascadero CA (6950 El Camino Real). Free. In town, so plenty to do.
• Overnighted at 70A (well, I dialed it down to 32A) at the Rabobank in Santa Maria CA (1554 S Broadway). Free charge. There is a nice Travel Lodge next door with rooms for $99. In a big town, so lots to do.

Day 5:
• Topped off at 70A at the Rabobank in Goleta CA (5956 Calle Real). Free. In town, so plenty to do.
• Got a 70A charge at the Tesla store in Los Angeles (Tesla Motors - West Los Angeles - Schedule a Roadster Test Drive). Free for owners; but their service area is small, so call ahead to make sure they will have room for you.
• Drove to KOA in San Diego (San Diego California Camping, San Diego Metro Campground in California - KOA in San Diego). Charged overnight at 32A using the borrowed MC240. Stayed in a cabin for $70; they let me charge for free. Nice, clean, big.

Day 6:
• Stayed at the Hotel La Jolla (La Jolla Hotels – Discover the Luxury of Hotel La Jolla). Charged fine at 32A using borrowed MC240. $139 rate for Tesla owners (the LA store goes here a lot) includes an ocean view room and access to their 14-50 in the back. Very nice hotel in a very nice area, a few blocks from the beach.

Day 7:
• Drove back to the LA Tesla store. Got a free 70A charge.
• Overnighted at the HPC in Santa Maria again.

Day 8:
• Topped off at the HPC in Atascadero again.
• Topped off at the HPC in Salinas again.
• Got a 70A charge at the Menlo Park store again. Returned the MC240; picked up my new UMC charging connector.
• Drove to Marc Geller’s again, charged with the UMC at 32A, stayed at the Metro SF Hotel again.

Day 9:
• Topped off at an HPC in Fairfield, CA (2000 Cadenasso Drive). Free. But it was only 32A, so I quickly moved on. Some restaurants fairly close.
• Topped off at 70A (but 208v) HPC in Woodland, CA (in the shopping center at County Road 102 and Maxwell Avenue). Free. Coffee, food and some shopping nearby.
• Drove to the KOA in Shingletown, CA (Mt. Lassen/Shingletown California Camping, Mt. Lassen/Shingletown Campground in California- KOA in Mt. Lassen/Shingletown). Found my new UMC didn’t work. My RFMC 14-50 was fried, so I plugged it in at 110v and went to sleep in a pre-warmed cabin. Pretty place, awesome owners. Cabin was $70, and they charged $5.50 for a site to charge up.

Day 10:
• Awoke to 20 new miles. Fixed the RFMC’s 14-50-pigtail, then charged at 40A.
• Drove to KOA in Mt Shasta City CA (Mount Shasta City, California Camping Vacation, Mount Shasta City Campground in California - KOA in Mount Shasta City), topped off at 40A. They let me charge mid-day for a couple hours for free. It’s a little run down, and a little out of town, but OK.
• Drove to KOA in Klamath Falls OR (Klamath Falls, Oregon Camping Vacation, Klamath Falls Campground in Oregon - KOA in Klamath Falls), charged overnight at 32A. It seemed in decent shape and was reasonably near town. They charged for both the cabin and RV site, but they were pretty cheap--$42 and $27.

Day 11:
• Drove to Bend OR; I had planned on going to a nearby KOA, but instead charged at Beaver Coach (Oregon Motorhome & Motorcoach Dealer: New & Used Berkshire Motorhomes, Itasca, Endeavor & Neptune RVs, Class A Motor Homes & Motor Coaches, RV Service & Parts for Motorcoaches in OR.). I know some of the owners, and they let me charge for free—they have a few 14-50’s for customers.
• Drove to Portland OR; went to the Modera Hotel again, but stayed overnight this time. Paid $107 for the very nice room and $10 for parking.

Day 12:
• Drove to Lacey; topped off at EV Components (EV Components. You have to call so they can let you in the warehouse). They have a 14-50 now, but are getting an HPC. Got new 14-50 pigtail for my RFMC.
 

TEG

Teslafanatic
Aug 20, 2006
21,785
8,772
Thanks for posting all these updates on your trip!

By the way, I am just re-posting this in the hope that more people from Tesla will notice:
...things I'd ask of Tesla to make road trips easier:

1. Have the car send us a text when charging stops for any reason. This would have saved a lot of trips out to check on the car at campgrounds. And it would have gotten me up in the middle of the night to fix a problem, rather than spending a long morning charging instead of driving. This should be easy on the 2010's that have built-in communications.

2. Give us an option to keep the charge port light on even when the car is locked, in case we are out of cell range and #1 doesn't work.

3. Reduce the stitching on the steering wheel. That hurts your hand after a couple of days.

Those sound like good ideas to me.

By the way, driving gloves might have helped with the stitching.
 

ChadS

Last tank of gas: March 2009
Jul 16, 2009
3,323
2,674
Redmond, WA
Driving gloves did indeed help. I just didn't want to wear them when it was 87 degrees.

Oh, Tesla could also make UMC's easier to find. When you gotta have one, you gotta have it...

BTW, I have sent these ideas in to Tesla. I have heard that they are working on #1. [Edit a few years later: if they are working on #1, they are doing it very slowly. Still no update to provide this information.]
 
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Mar 11, 2010
4,526
1,380
Humboldt/Los Altos
I saw you!

I think I saw you heading south in the Arcata -Eureka corridor.

(I don't know of any other roadsters in this area)

The roadster seemed too small for me (and my wife) so I am waiting for a model S... but seeing a roadster around here made me wish I had one ; >
 

ChadS

Last tank of gas: March 2009
Jul 16, 2009
3,323
2,674
Redmond, WA
The Seattle->San Diego->Seattle trip was fun. The car performed just great. Using free, public HPCs in Southern California was a breeze.
[...]
Note, however, that outside of SoCal with public HPCs, I did run in to a few problems getting the car charged. Actually, I pretty much ran in to every problem possible

The aforementioned April 2010 trip from Seattle->San Diego was great fun in the Southern half of California where I could use HPCs; but as noted there were some definite challenges in WA, OR and Northern CA where I had to use campgrounds.

I took the "bad" part of the trip again in early August 2011. But this time, there were HPCs all the way, and as hoped the trip went off without a hitch! Here are some notes on the HPCs between Seattle and San Francisco for anybody considering a similar trip:

Burgerville, Centralia WA
208V 70A; Tesla connector
freely available; not reserved but high turnover and multiple spots reachable
free WiFi
Open 7am-10pm? Mostly just restaurants in the area; more shopping a few blocks away
Mostly exposed, but next to low building
Burgerville.jpg


World Trade Center, Portland OR
$15 to park for 3 hours. Underground, right downtown.
Didn't write it down, but I think it's 208V 70A. Tesla connector.
Hotel Modera nearby has a 208V 70A HPC too; but requires $27 valet parking, and they don't let you go in to the garage to check the setting or charge state. In the past I have paid $10 for valet parking there in the winter.

Sequential Biofuels, Eugene OR
Not reserved but parking easy, high turnover, multiple spots. On/off switch is padlocked so visit during working hours!
208V 70A. Tesla connector.
They are open 6am (7am on weekends) - 10pm
Free Wifi
Awesome food selection for a mini-mart. Places to sit. Hotel kind of near. Nice walking trails nearby
Sequential Biofuels.jpg


Seven Feathers Truck and Travel Center, Canyonville OR
208V 70A. Tesla connector.
Freely available; reserved for Tesla
Right next to restaurant, truck center with mini mart and showers, hotel. Casino nearby, and walking in reservior area.
No WiFi
Mostly exposed, but a tree or two
Seven Feathers.jpg


Comfort Inn in Yreka, CA
208V 70A. Tesla connector.
Only one spot--maybe two, and not reserved
Free WiFi
$75 with breakfast
Taco Bell next door; mid-to-low-end retail nearby
Mostly exposed; but next to big building

Berry Patch restaurant, Orland CA
238V 70A. Tesla connector.
Free WiFi behind building; doesn't work inside
Two spots reserved; can reach another spot
Food OK, not great. Easy walk to a couple of drug stores. Farther walk to other stuff.
Fully exposed
Berry Patch.jpg


Mall, Woodland CA
208V 70A. Tesla connector.
Fully exposed
Several spots with various charger types; reserved
Restaurants, coffee, shopping in mall. Hotels 1/2 mile across freeway (construction makes walk farther)
Woodland Mall.jpg


Parking garage, Davis CA
232V 70A. J-plug; bring your adapter.
reserved for EVs; can reach 2 spots plus an ICE spot
Fully covered
Right downtown; lots of restaurants, park and arboretum for walking. Very nice area. Grocery coop a few blocks north with WiFi. Hotels a few blocks away including $60 Econolodge.
3 hours free parking; $1/hour or $5/day after that
Davis Parking.jpg


P&R garage, Fairfield CA
208V 40A - lower current means not good for in-day charging, but OK for overnight. J-plug; bring your adapter.
fully covered
4 spots with various chargers, but not reserved. Usually 3 ICE'd, and you can't park nearby and reach the chargers.
Fast food nearby. Nice $80 Extended Stay America across freeway 2/3 mile away. Sketchy neighborhood.
No WiFi
Fairfield Parking.jpg
 
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ChargeIt!

Member
Jul 24, 2008
619
1
Chad, if you wouldn't mind updating above post to indicate the type of plug at each location (J- or Tesla-) ... thanks.
 

ChadS

Last tank of gas: March 2009
Jul 16, 2009
3,323
2,674
Redmond, WA
Chad, if you wouldn't mind updating above post to indicate the type of plug at each location (J- or Tesla-) ... thanks.

Yeah, I should have written that down; but I didn't, so I'm not positive.

But I think everything from Orland North was a Tesla plug; the HPCs from Woodland South had been switched to J plugs.

By the way, here's a map that includes all of the Tesla charging stations I know about on the West coast (blue flags). Yellow flags are 14-50 outlets: Tesla Highway - Google Maps
 

ChargeIt!

Member
Jul 24, 2008
619
1
Just to clarify to avoid confusion: The HPC *at* Woodland is still Tesla plug, and there are other plugs (at lower ampacity including J). But *beyond* Woodland on I-80 is what ChadS is reporting as being switched to J. The I-5 location at Harris Ranch/Coalinga (much further south) is also still Tesla plug.

The referenced "Tesla Highway" is *NICE* ... but the blue flags need to be updated to something showing "J", even if they are indeed 70A; or at least a note: "Bring your J-adapter" (who wouldn't, these days ?).
 

ChadS

Last tank of gas: March 2009
Jul 16, 2009
3,323
2,674
Redmond, WA
The referenced "Tesla Highway" is *NICE* ... but the blue flags need to be updated to something showing "J", even if they are indeed 70A; or at least a note: "Bring your J-adapter" (who wouldn't, these days ?).

Adding notes to the map is a good idea...but some of the plug switches have happened with no notice, so as you note the only safe thing is to always take your J adapter.
 

DaveD

EVs Kick Gas!
Aug 18, 2007
642
242
Redmond, WA
Chad - great info, thanks so much. I'm planning trips down to the LA/Orange County area and to Portland/Seattle. This is invaluable info. b.

Get in touch with TomSax, ChadS, S-2000, Bolosky, me, etc. when you're heading up to Seattle. We're a friendly bunch always happy to meet up with visiting Tesla owners!
 

vfx

Well-Known Member
Aug 18, 2006
14,790
40
CA CA
... The I-5 location at Harris Ranch/Coalinga (much further south) is also still Tesla plug....

Probably will not change soon as a private owner had it installed for his needed commute. He may change it someday since he has a Volt but AFAIK it's not going to be done on the Gov level.
 
Apr 10, 2009
702
41
The referenced "Tesla Highway" is *NICE* ... but the blue flags need to be updated to something showing "J", even if they are indeed 70A; or at least a note: "Bring your J-adapter" (who wouldn't, these days ?).
Ugh, those of us who are still waiting for a J-adapter to be delivered probably wouldn't be bringing one. :eek:
 

ChadS

Last tank of gas: March 2009
Jul 16, 2009
3,323
2,674
Redmond, WA
Ugh, those of us who are still waiting for a J-adapter to be delivered probably wouldn't be bringing one. :eek:

I think the Seattle store was going to try to get one that they could loan out. Or feel free to ask a local owner that has one if you can borrow it--me, for instance.
 
Apr 10, 2009
702
41
I think the Seattle store was going to try to get one that they could loan out. Or feel free to ask a local owner that has one if you can borrow it--me, for instance.
Thanks, Chad. Tesla Motors has charged my credit card for the J1772 Adapter, so I hope that means it's on the way to me.
 

bolosky

Member
May 5, 2009
701
591
They charged me back in July when I first put in the order, but so far no sign of the adapter. Luckly, I'm not planning on needing it in the immediate future.
 

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