Starting new solar system
May 9, 2020
Hi All, Hope all is well with you!
I thought I would document the new power system on our 5th wheel as I am starting from scratch. This will be a somewhat extended process waiting for parts, avoiding the heat and not in any hurry due to the virus lockdown.
I started by removing the storage partitions in the basement to check access for installing a Hughes EMS and GoPower transfer switch. I found some unused space and decided to do the battery, inverter, chargers install in the basement rather than the front compartment. I should be able to house all my gear for solar etc. and increase the cargo bay at the same time! The basement is ducted for heat and should be better conditions for our lithium battery bank. This will also leave the front compartment available for large bulky stuff like shade canopies, tables, dead bodies etc..
Here is what it looks like from the factory.
With the walls removed. Blue tape is where walls were.
Approximate location of new walls to be installed. I removed the stock converter/charger as it won't be needed and relocated the 120v outlet out of the way.
The area under the stairs made a great spot to install the Battery bank. I did need to remove a stair support leg but a plywood header will make this stronger than stock.I am going to reconfigure these cells for a 24v battery bank this time. That will make this a 300ah battery @24v
That's all for now. I have more parts coming and will update this thread as progress continues.
How to torch a RV
September 21, 2019
I recently returned from a two and a half month trip to the mid-west and almost had a disaster.
As you can see from the attached photos, my electrical connector had an arcing problem and burnt the receptacle and plug severely. This could have easily started a fire and destroyed the whole rig.
I had just gotten home and pulled onto my parking pad. I quickly grabbed my power cord, plugged it into the RV and my garage outlet. I turned on the AC and started unloading the RV (upper 90's in South Carolina). I took several days to unload the essentials and empty the fridge etc. My wife and I smelled an odd smell but it did not smell electrical nor really burnt. It was sort of a plastic type smell. We searched around for the source but could not pin point anything. Turned off the fridge and the AC.
While doing the unloading, I had been prepping for cleaning my tanks, I worked on sanitizing my fresh water tank, then ran that water into my grey tank after dumping in a bunch of gel automatic dish washer detergent. (a tip to clean the sensors that I had heard but hadn't used yet). Added cleaner to my black tank and filled it also. The tanks then set for a few days to stew and I was planning to take the rig to a free dump station and see if that helped my tanks.
When I was unhooking to go to the dump station, I noticed that I had not properly connected my twist lock connector. I had just plugged it in and did not twist it and did not secure the threaded ring.
It was drooped down with at least a 1/4 inch gap at the top and when I gave it a pull, nothing happened. I smelled the strange odor again and immediately went and unplugged the other end of the cord.
I took some twisting and pulling but I got the plug out (pulling the hot fitting out of the receptacle at the same time).
I did my dump station run and replaced and repaired the wiring and used new outlets. One thing to watch is that heat travels up the conductor and will melt the inner insulation while the jacket looks good. You need to cut the wire back enough to get to good insulation or replace the wire.
I'm speculation that the sloppy plug in job left a poor connection on the hot line and it was over-heating and arcing internally and was slowly burning the connectors (thus the funny smell).
I have researched the arc detecting breakers to see if they would help with this problem but apparently they only protect downstream from the breaker. (I will replace my outlet circuit but that will only help at home.) With the state of most campground outlets, it will be a cold day when they have these outlets. Though I did have one park that had GFI on the main breaker, that was a first.
Anyone have any ideas or thoughts on what to do to help with this? I though about making an exterior panel box with an arc detector that would be used like the surge protector devices (I have one but did not use it at home) But I was looking for a cleaner solution. Of course the best thing is to NEVER make a mistake!
Arc-faults cause most electrical fires, not short circuits. My 30 amp breaker never tripped!
Thanks and everyone be careful.
Victron Battery Monitor
May 15, 2019
I just wanted to share the current project I’m working on. I’m installing the Victron BMV 700 battery monitor.
The most challenging part was running the data cable from the shunt, located near the batteries, to the mounting location of the display.
My batteries are on the tongue of the trailer, so I am running the data cable, inside of some protective loom, along the steel gas line under the trailer. The cable then follows the gas line into the trailer’s floor under the cabinets where the display is installed. I had to disassemble the cabinets a little but I was able to get the cable through the wall to the mounting location. The display is mounted right next to all of the other controls and displays.
The last thing I need to do is mount the shunt on the tongue of the trailer. I ordered a weatherproof box for it today and hopefully that installation goes smoothly.
I’ll give an update when the whole project is done. Thanks for reading!
April 21, 2019
I recently had a leak issue with our year and a half old truck camper.
Insert trim is a common joint system on many RV's.
The beauty cap on this trim isn't always sealed to the metal trim. At least it wasn't on our camper. Because of that water can get behind it and down on to the screws that attach the trim to the structure of the camper. It's important to make sure these screws are well sealed. They can be inspected by popping the insert trim out. This insert trim is a serviceable part and can be replaced easily. Here is a video in which Ray is inspecting (and covering) his.
Start at 6:45
In our case with a truck camper this trim runs from the face of the cap to the underside of the camper where the insert trim becomes inverted and holds any water that comes from the trim above. So our leak went undetected as water that was wicking up from the underside of the cabover collected into the cap and not noticeable.
Despite being out of warranty the manufacturer stepped up and offered to make the repair. Being out of state and not able to travel right now I decided to fix it myself. The leak was contained to the fiberglass cap which wasn't damaged so the leak didn't concern me that much. Here was the fix.
I removed the insert trim which is very easy to do. Just use a small flat bar or wide screwdriver. Once one side pops out the trim easily pulls out of the track. Then liberal amounts of dicor on the screw heads.
I also added weep holes on the underside where we had water collecting.
Finally I caulked the insert trim to the channel using Proflex Sealant to keep water out from the start.
This insert trim cap is readily available, cheap and easy to replace. Not a bad idea to pull it out and inspect your screws to make sure they are sealed well, or cover this seam as ray did in the above video with eternabond tape. Just thought I would throw that out there for any of you that do your own camper caulking and sealing. Don't forget your insert trim!
March 11, 2019
One of the best upgrades I did was to add the vortex generators (VGs) to our class A motor home (MH).
The VGs improved the handling more than the expensive shocks and swaybar.
Even though the shocks and swaybar made the ride better the VGs really blew my mind on how much they improved the wind issues from crosswinds and trucks passing.
Crosswinds? What crosswinds? They don't push the MH around like they did before.
Totaly amazing. The truck trailers used to get sucked towards me as they passed which increased the pucker factor quite a bit. Now they don't move toward me and I barely know they are passing. I still get a very small bump on the noise when the truck hits my bow wave but most of the time I don't even have to correct for it. Some smart person out there may tell me how to fix that too.
The other benefit is way less dirt on the back end of the MH. Stays as clean as the sides now.
Where did I get them you may ask?
Well they do make a commercial version of them called Air Tabs, but I 3D printed mine.
The cost was less and I ended up with a 3D printer for other projects.
They are installed 4 inch on centers (where they can be) and they are up both sides and across the top.
I hope to paint match them to the MH this summer just to spruce them up a bit.
I hope this will help others out there that may be experiencing the same issues with wind or trucks.
As Ray would say,,, Cheers!
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