Tuesday, March 25, 2014

7 Hours of waxing

Since I don't have an airplane hangar to park our coach in, it spends it'e life getting baked by the sun. To minimize this process, try to park north south so that the rear of the bus bears the brunt of the radiation. Yesterday I decided to bite the bullet and give her some wax love before any more damage can occur.

WE have extremely hard water here so a spray bottle with a little dish soap works great for heavy soiling and bird crap. The rest gets dusted of with a soft towel and then I start rubbing in the Mothers Carnauba wax by hand. Previous buffing has worn quite a bit of paint's original thickness down so it's hand work from here on out to save as much of the paint as I can.

You can see how much oxidation is coming off in the left of this pic in the white area. Everything to the right is the finished product. It was an all day job but I have to try and save this paint as long as I can so I don't mind. When paint is new it has oils in it that keep it flexible and durable but as time goes on, it drys out and becomes chalky and brittle. Waxing helps to protect and add to the oils which will prolong it's life. I'm very glad that this paint job did not have a clear coat. Clear coat is a one shot deal, when it starts to flake off, your paint is through.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Natures Head Installation

The much anticipated composting toilet arrived on Monday so I was anxious to get to work removing the old ways and moving on to new ways! 

Started by removing the concealment panels hiding the "ugly" tank.

As you can see in this picture, I found where my sewer gas smell was coming from. A hair line crack in the toilet flange.

Here you can see where it enters the tank was not much better. Since we are never going back to a wet flush toilet, I removed all associated piping and the toilet flange.

On the Thetford toilet, the mounting bolts are accessible through this cover.... 

...and when you press down the flush pedal just one last time!

To save you from the gory details, here it all is in the garbage where it belongs. 

After capping and cleaning our new grey water tank, things are starting to look up.

I unboxed the new head and started by assembling the stainless spider agitator handle.

Then I attached the floor brackets to the head and test fit the unit keeping in mind things like clearances for service, dis-assembly and ventilation hookups.

Since the bottom of the new head is flat and needs no plumbing, there was no need to plug the old hole. When I replace the bathroom flooring, I will address this.

Since my ventilation is running forward toward the refer chimney, I swapped the fan and intake side for side. 

Here is what the little fan looks like. It runs constantly, only drawing around 2 amp hours per 24 hour period.

The finished fan side venting.

It was not super simple but I didn't lose any hair over it and the finished product is spectacular. With the newly converted "grey water tank" we now have 130 gal total capacity for water used in showering, tooth brushing and dishes. No More Smells is the best part of all this. I can't stand the smell of a ripe RV black water tank and now I never have to worry about dumping one again. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What about the music?

Jess and I love music and one thing we have to have in our home is an endless supply of it. When we first brought home the All50before50 coach, we noticed this giant 800 watt sony amplifier hiding in the entryway electrical access panel. It had been disconnected from the power source but was still in line between the stereo head unit and the speakers. After a lot of investigation, the reason for it's disconnection was obvious. When powered up, this amplifier pulls 10 amps constantly and increases as you raise the volume. Here's the scenario, it's evening and the suns going down. Let's assume the house batteries are fully charged. For us that's about 400 amp hours. You crank on the tunes and leave them on from 7pm to 11pm when you go to bed. You just burned 40 amp hrs plus 12 amp hrs for your party lights and if your propane furnace kicks on you're looking at another 50 amp hrs or so gone before you ever see the sun pop out. Grand total of 102 amp hr night and if it's heavy overcast the next day you might be reading in the dark tonight.  Not good in a boondocking situation.   Since we're only feeding 4 modest 6x9 speakers we made the decision to pull the amplifier out and use the Kenwood head units internal amplifier only. With the parasitic draw of the oversized amp gone we can listen to the in dash unit as long as we want while only pulling 1.2 amps.

Next on the list was a rechargeable bluetooth speaker to enhance our android devices since both of us have growing music libraries on our smart phones. We were looking for something small, portable and intuitive while still carrying big sound at low to mid volume. We found it with the Bose Soundlink II.
This little guy packs a ton of sound into a 3 pound box. If you're wanting obnoxious loud music, go to a bar. this little machine is for sitting next to you outside on your folding end table while you sip a cocktail and watch the sun go down. I LOVE this speaker and I've been using it every day since we bought it. I find myself listening to genres that I didn't care for before just because I'm finally hearing the whole sound. 

An exploded view thanks to engadget.

The cover is ingenious serving more than one function. Closing it powers down the speaker. It serves as the stand and it protects the unit from damage when stowed. We found ours at Costco for $259 and while that seems a little pricey, we love it enough to forget that part.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Natures Head! Composting vs sewage hoarding

Lets face it, we are all professionals when it comes to pooping. The embarrassing part is when we mix it with perfectly good drinking water which turns septic creating toxic waste that we then dispose of via city sewer, septic tank or in the RV world, your black water tank. As a professional in the wastewater field, I am very aware of what it takes to treat waste water that has been polluted by human waste and return it to the water cycle either through groundwater recharge or evaporation. The RV situation is made more perilous since YOU as the RV owner have to carry around your own wastewater until you can find a suitable dump station where YOU have to put on your big person pants and deal with the stinky slinky. Not fun. Not even close. Natures Head has the answer and ours is on its way which I believe will be our favorite upgrade yet. We actually found ours on ebay from a seller who is donating 10% to St. Judes Children's Research Hospital and that's just a win win for us. Please find them here thegreycottage and stay tuned for the full install.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Dometic RM 3804 repair revisited

The first thing I did was get a digital photo of the ID plate. Super helpful when looking up parts. The problem that my Dometic was experiencing was when I tried to switch to propane mode the unit would fault. (red light flashing). All other modes worked fine.

The second thing I did was read forums until I had read about every other person who had ever had problems with this model of fridge and whether or not they ever fixed their problem. Most of these folks found the weak link to be the main control board in the rear of the unit. Since I had no way of testing my board, I chose to upgrade anyway to a USA made Dinosaur Electronics P-246 plus which is said to be much more reliable. Also, since the 12 volt and the 120 ac modes still worked flawlessly I knew the cooling unit was not to blame.
When you're using ebay, always do your own research and query the exact part#. I've saved hundreds on parts by this trick alone. RV dealers want your money. I repeat, RV dealers want your money. Skip the middle man and find the direct part supply. I was not able to find a direct source for the main board but I did find a least expensive alternative. $155

After replacing the main board with no change in behavior, I was left with the re-ignitor board (above)
Dometic Part#2931132019 $33 Shipped! This unit is $100 or more if you search without the part#. 
It took 5 minutes to install last night and zap zap zap, I was in propane refer heaven. This clean blue flame is what you're looking for during burner inspection.

Now I have the old main board (good for a backup) and I ordered 2 re-ignitor boards (one for backup) and my Dometic RM 3804 is essentially electronically new for less then $200

Monday, March 3, 2014

Let it flow

This weekend was extremely nonproductive. With the weather bearing down on us, I knew I was down to hours on Friday night before the snow, wind, and single digit temps hit. Since we acquired our coach, we've been looking for one of those destination signs for the box above the front glass. They are very hard to find so my new idea was to use some left over chrome/fade numbers I had from a previous job and make it appear like it's backlit as well as on a roll.  Turned out good and there's room for a ".com" later. 
Switching gears I moved on to the main board replacement on our Dometic fridge with a new Dinosaur Electronics p246 plus replacement board which is suppose to clean up the erratic and sometimes "non operation" of the gas mode in this particular model. I will post more on this when my new igniter board shows up since replacing this board alone didn't solve my problem. Refrigeration gets frustratingly expensive when it comes to boondocking.
The fridge led me here in the spirit of the 90/10 rule,  Grab wife, go to bar, drink wine and eat burgers. Perfect.