Monday, April 28, 2014

House water pump failure

You know the story, try to brush your teeth, turn the handle, trickle.
Knowing my pump is a Sureflow 12V, I start to panic since rv retailers mark these things up horribly. Plus it's a Sunday. I tested for power, yep. Headed to Wilco farm store since the agriculture industry uses these for spray equipment and after an hour of standing on my head again, we have pressure and a rebuilder for backup.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

New backsplash installed

Here in Springfield they have a Jerry's that's twice as big as a home depot and a lot more friendly. These panels are made out of a light weight plastic but look exactly like metal. Construction adhesive and a sharp knife and you're in tin tile heaven.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Road pic #2

This will be home for the coach for the next 6 months or so while systems are tweaked and the new Magna Sine Hybrid inverter is installed.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Road pic 1


So busy right now but will be back soon with updates. Currently off grid in Oregon and working toward total independence from the commanding heights. Stay tuned for more.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

House battery backup alternator

I kept meaning to blog this mod but with everything going on I just forgot about it until now. Without going into too much boring detail, our bus operates on four separate electrical systems. System #1 is 24 volt DC for starting the Detroit with a split System #2 using a Vanner equalizer to make 12 volts DC for all running lights head lights, and systems like transmission control and gauges and window wash pump. System #3 is the 12 volt DC house batteries that power all interior lights and accessories associated with domestic living like vent fans, furnace fans, TVs, sound systems , water pumps and heat exchange heater. System #4 is 110V AC or "shore power" for things like microwaves, toaster ovens or vacuum cleaners.

Our problem was that if we were to drive through the night, or solar wouldn't be of any use at all until the next day which would tax our house batteries heavily if we were running the heat exchanger plus our fridge on 12V which drains 9 amps alone. If perhaps the next day brought heavy cloud cover, there would be some serious generator time to catch up on our reserves to get back to 100 percent.  

I can't take credit for installing the original accessory alternator but since it hadn't worked in many years, I can take credit for finding the exact replacement that not only fit perfectly but almost doubled the output from 80 amps to 145 amps so now when we fire up the Detroit, we're charging house batteries!

I suppose you might ask, "Why wouldn't you just use the engines original 24 volt 250 amp output to charge the house batts?" Here's the short answer, The Vanner equalizer can only handle about 50 amps of "split" to get from 24 volts to 12 volts and while that may be enough for running systems, lights and blinkers, I wouldn't want the extra load to take out my ability to start this beast when we're in the middle of nowhere. 
How do you install a right hand turn alternator on a left hand turn motor? Just turn it around backwards!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Adventure #5 System Shakedown Spring 2014

Last Saturday morning was finally time to take the kids on an overnight shakedown run north 30 some miles to Coulee City to test all our new systems. This will be the first time any of us has used a composting toilet and it will be the first real exercise for our new charging systems.

My beautiful copilot seems pleased.

The drive went perfectly and we secured a "dry camping" spot right on the water. I had considered getting away and do some wild camping but with everything considered, it was best to do my test run close to services just in case something didn't work right.

These collapsible futons are neat. 

The weather was perfect, just cold and windy enough to scare off any potential neighbors.

Our front window view of the coulee was outstanding.

We forgot firewood but someone had been nice enough to leave a bunch of un-split rounds and we DID remember an ax.

Belly ache? check.

Lazy kids? Check.
Super awesome weekend? You bet! Temps outside dropped to mid 30s overnight so with a furnace and our Cat Platinum heater running and after watching two movies and using lights and charging phones and such, we still woke up with 88% of our batteries. When the sun came up our solar panels went right to work and had us fully charged by 10:30 AM! The Natures Head composting toilet worked even better than we'd anticipated and the coach as a whole didn't give me one problem. The best part was when it was time to dump the waste tanks and it was just soapy water. I'm a composter for life now. I'm the "composter child" for composting!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Preparing the "Towed"

About two months ago we finally came to the decision to use our diesel VW Jetta for our Towed or Dinghy. For those of you who don't speak RV, that means the car you tow behind your motor home. I went back and forth about a hundred  times with what might serve our needs best and when it comes right down to it, it's about economy. I get 46 miles to the gallon with this car and I trust it more than any car I've ever owned. It's relatively light at 2700#s and that's important for us on long grades. It is also a manual transmission making connects and disconnects much simpler.
I started out by buying a used Roadmaster 5250 set up for $200 off craigs list. Of course it came with the wrong brackets so I had to bite the bullet for the proper application and that was $400 more from Roadmaster. I still saved quite a bit of money but it isn't cheap.  The arms of the tow bar stay with the motor home when disconnected. I like this setup more because of the reduced weight on the VW. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

GMC 4905 Parts for sale

Have some parts that I won't be needing so I thought I'd share.

Drivers vent $20+S&H

GM 24 volt flasher $10+S&H

Cat Eye Rear corner/marker lights $50+S&H for both
Defrost manifold $10+S&H
$75 and you pay shipping, takes it all!