Travelin Tiger Archive

December 23 Columbia SC-Tall Timbers MD

Went into Provan in the morning to see the status of the Tiger and to confirm that it would not be completed today. Talked to the three folks working on the truck and they did say not before New Years. At that point we decided to head to Maryland in the Suburban. After an easy 7 hour drive arrived at my mothers in Maryland. Will be here until January 6 when we will head back to Provan in Columbia to pick up our new Tiger.

December 22 Columbia SC

Since this is supposed to be a travel blog today we will talk about our time around here. Columbia is the capitol of South Carolina. We spent some time Wednesday, Thursday and Friday exploring the town.


On Wednesday we had dinner with Mark Guild, Fred and Denise Cook, and Chief Warrant Officer Robert Nixon at an Indian Restaurant in Columbia. The food was good and the company fun. Fred and Denise were picking up their Malayan so we enjoyed discussing future plans for our Tigers.

The highlight was a visit to to Conquest Brewery. It reminded us very much of the small breweries we see in Portland. We punched the address into our trusty Garmin and we ended up in a dark street next to the University of South Carolina football stadium. Just as we were going to turn around we saw a little industrial park with a small handpainted sign and we had found it! We tried a sampler and the beer was very good. If you are in Columbia I highly recommend it. The highlight beer for us was a coffee infused IPA. We usually are not big fans of infused beers, but this one won us over, nice aroma and just a hint of coffee in the beer did not overpower the hops.

We had some interesting conversations as this is not only a brewery, but a Christian brewery. Later in the night they had a discussion of art and Christianity in the brewery. Talked to one of the brewers and he really he knew his beer. He strongly recommended we visit Asheville NC as they now have more breweries per capita than Portland. Sounds like we will have to make a visit. We enjoyed the place so much we returned again on Friday.


While not having the Tiger ready on time has been a pain, it did result in one good thing. Ton's cousin Pee Porn lives near Charlotte. If anyone is responsible for Ton and I being married it is Pee Porn. When we met on Okinawa 33 years ago Ton was visiting Pee Porn. We had not seen her in over 30 years. Saturday we drove up and spent the day with her and her husband Richard. We had a lot of catching up to do and it was a great evening. Pee Porn cooked some great Thai food that we ate for lunch. Later Ton mentioned Ron's love of Carolina BBQ, and before we knew it we were off to a great BBQ joint called Garry's in China Grove NC. We had a dinner of Carolina BBQ with hushpuppies, onion rings, coleslaw, and baked beans. Ron was in heaven, and the price was unbelievably low. It was really nice to see Pee Porn and her family again and we promise that it will not be 30 years before we do it again.

Sunday we headed to Charleston, made the obligatory visit to Costco, then headed to downtown Charleston. We stopped at a coffee bar and taproom and sampled some of the local brews. Nothing knocked our socks off, we then headed towards the market. We were lucky as one Sunday a month they close down one of the main streets downtown. There were all kinds of street musicians, and food vendors on the street. It was a great walk with lots of interesting people to see. We had visited Charleston the year before and enjoyed it then, it is a beautiful old colonial city definately worth a visit.

December 21 Columbia SC


We arrived in South Carolina on December 18 expecting to pick up our Tiger on December 19. As you can see from the date we are still in Columbia. On arrival at Provan we met Mark the owner. He said they had run into some delays and were most likely not going to make the delivery until Friday and possibly Monday. When we went out to see the truck it was obvious that delivery was going to be delayed. The build was significantly behind schedule. There were a lot of reasons including problems with mounting the Sterling Unit, delays on the Cook's Malayan that was being delivered nearly simultaneously, and Murphy getting involved in a couple of the material orders. When we ordered the Malayan we understood that we were in essence working with a custom built prototype unit and some things would be designed as we went. So after some initial panic at the unexpected state of the unit we decided to use the opportunity to learn more about the Malayan as we would be able to see more of the build then we expected.

Mark offered to put us up in a hotel near the plant and let us use the company Suburban for the weekend and if necessary to drive to Maryland. By being there with the build we were able to make some minor tweaks such as adding additional electrical plugs in the kitchen.

Some of the issues that came up.

The Sterling Power Unit. As they were installing the Sterling in the Cook's unit they began to have some concerns. The Sterling had never been used with a dual alternator set up and the Provan team had some issues with the installation. As a result before we left Oregon Mark had called us and recommended deleting the Sterling. His feeling was that with the dual alternators on the truck we would have enough power to charge the house batteries. While the Sterling would move more power Mark felt that it may not be enough to risk the additional complexity that the Sterling would bring to the build. We decided to let Fred test it on his Tiger and if the results were positive we wold retrofit the Sterling in our unit. As a result we decided to delete the Sterling at this time.


The Cabinet Behind the Drivers Seat. We had initially added this to increase our storage. This cabinet was suggested by Fred Cook and we were excited to have it included in our build. When we received the call about the Sterling Mark also said he would have to delete the cabinet. Due to space issues he needed to use the back wall of the coach to install the Magnum Inverter. When we saw Fred's Truck I was really jealous as the cabinet looked good and added a considerable amount of storage. On Thursday Marks team realized that they could place the Magnum where we had planned to install the Sterling eliminating the interference that had caused the elimination of the cabinet. This allowed us to install the cabinet, but the cabinet had been deleted and would not be ready in time to install before January. So at this time it looks like we will be coming back in January to install the cabinet.

Water Fill. When we arrived Mark said they were having a difficult time with the water fill for the tank. They were proposing that we fill it inside the coach, instead of from outside. This would have meant pulling a hose into the coach each time we filled the tank. I was concerned that no matter how careful we were filling with a hose there would be a little spillage each time, and over time could cause some problems with water damage, and potentially turn into a mold farm. This was a big problem with me. The issue was that there was no way to position the opening to allow a gravity feed due to the installation of the farings on the truck that you can see in the picture above. After some brainstorming we decided to install a switch valve at the city water connection (where you hook up the water in a RV park)that would allow a pressure fill of the water tank when filling with a hose, and to cut a large hole in the top of the tank to allow as big a target as possible if we were filling with water cans.

Coach Battery Placement. Our coach comes with four batteries to allow maximum time away from the grid. Unfortunately with the addition of the tow hitch there was an interference with where two of the batteries were going to be placed. It was literally a matter of one inch, but as a result two of the batteries had to be located in the rear storage compartment of the Tiger. This is a problem only on the LT model.


Now that I have listed the issues let me talk about the positives. The quality of the build is excellent. There is a clear pride of craftmanship in all of the work and the material used is top notch. I had the opportunity to spend some time with Fred Cook and his Tiger and could see how well the entire vehicle came together. Compared to the ERA we had before the Malayan Tiger is a solid and extremely well built vehicle. We are really excited about taking ownership of ours in the next few days and testing it on the trip to Oregon.

Mark's team has been working incredible hours to try to complete the vehicle. I want to thank the guys who have been putting in 15 hour days to finish the Tiger for Christmas. Tomorrow they are planning to work until midnight if necessary to finish the build. We will have a good feel tomorrow whether we will be taking the truck with us when we leave for Maryland on Monday.

Initially we thought we were going to have to rush back to Oregon due to some work commitments for Ron. Due to some scheduling changes we will be able to take more time going back and use the time to check out some interesting places on the way back. Ton and I will be working on our itinerary and will post our thoughts on how we are going to proceed soon. travelin tiger 2013