(Formally "Plan V: A Van Dwelling Blog", when I lived in a 1978 Dodge Xplorer 228 Class B motorhome van)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

TV Antenna Removed

I am still having leaking problems around the roof vent. However, it may not be coming from the roof vent itself. I wish I had looked at it closer before I put the cover over it. I may have to pull it back off and check.

In any case, the TV antenna was suspect for causing leakage, either at the roof vent clear in the rear (water travels a lot more than you think!) or at a cabinet up front on the passenger side, so I took it off. I doubt I'd ever use it anyway. The water at the roof vent is coming from the insulation sandwiched between the fiberglass inside and outside. It's impossible to say where it's coming from. I'll have to just try everything I can think of.

I also tightened down the roof A/C's nuts since they were slightly loose. I had been noticing the A/C rattle more than it used to when the compressor kicked on and off. Now it doesn't. That may have also been a source of the leaking around the roof vent.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Roof vent cover

We had heavy rain last which informed me of the new roof vent installed last year leaks badly around the seal where it closes. I also have bad leaking by one window at the rear bed, so I think i will have to fill in the gutter with caulk like I did on the other side that used to leak badly. It still leaks a little but not nearly like it did.

Anyhow back to the roof vent - Basically, the foam seal they use on the 9x9 roof vent absorbs the water that splashes against it when it's closed and partly compressed. The water then manages to work it's way inside through the seal, causing drips inside the roof vent. If they had used a rubber seal instead of foam, it might not have this problem.

I had reservations about having to install a 14x14 roof vent over a 9x9 vent but that was cheaper, easier and less risky than having to cut a 14x14 hole and install a 14x14 vent into it. I had to drill into the roof to install it, but I used butyl tape and Dicor self leveling caulk to seal over/around the holes so hopefully that'll do the trick. The edges are raised up due to the butyl tape around the screws holding it down, so excess water that gets inside somehow can drain out with ease.

In a way, I had been wanting a cover over it but I wasn't going to put one if I could help it. But I couldn't. So now I have one and I like it fine. I know this will stop the leaking since I had to throw an empty plastic tote over the roof vent at 4am when it was raining badly and water was dripping in. The box used as a cover stopped the leaking. So a roof vent cover will do the same.

T-minus 7 days!

Wow... it's down to the wire. I will be hitting the road one week from today. I have been getting a lot of last minute stuff done lately, which I will be posting about sometime later today in separate posts.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

New fresh water pump installed

My new Shurflow water pump came in the mail yesterday evening so I spend the day installing it. It took almost all day simply because of how much hassle it is to get at. I had to remove my stored stuff from the bed area, remove the 4" memory foam mattress and move the original mattress to get at the pump. Then I had to go across town to get one fitting (1/2" barb to 1/2" MIP) for the strainer. I got some new clamps while I was at it. I only grabbed 3 when I should have gotten 4. I reused an old one that still works fine. It's just a bit rusty.

Then I had to refill the tank a couple times to cleanse the bleach water. I let it gravity drain out mostly instead of running the pump to empty the tank. Plus I checked for leaks several times before I put the bed and stuff back in.

All seems well... except for one slight problem. I had gotten a 0.5gpm aerator for my galley sink thinking it would be a good thing to have. I was wrong. At least with the setup as it is now. It causes the pump to cycle on and off constantly every other second due to the excessive back pressure caused by the water saving aerator.

If I remove it and run the facuet at a high enough rate, it doesn't do it. If I were to install an accumulator tank, it would prevent this. Much like the way the well was set up at the house I had. It prevented the well pump from kicking on and off or running constantly.

However, I don't hardly have room for an accumulator tank in the compartment with the pump. I suppose I could make one fit somehow though over the PEX fresh water line. I may go back and install one later if I find I'm consuming my water too quickly without my 0.5gpm aerator. I may also try a 1gpm to 1.5gpm aerator for now instead since it spits out about 3-4gpm as it is now with no aerator at all. I know it came with one but I can't seem to find it now. The pumps they make now are slightly adjustable. I tried adjusting it for my 0.5gpm aerator but no soap.

But aside from that issue, everything is dandy now. No leaks, the pump cuts on and off like it should when the flow is high enough out of the taps to prevent cycling.

I did go back and screw the pump down to the piece of wood after I took the photo, so it's not going to get jarred around or vibrate excessively. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Solar panels - Part 2

I just realized, I never did get around to showing the rest of my solar panel installation!

Here is a photo showing the cable coming in from the panels, going to the cheapy MPPT charge controller from China on ebay and the cable running out, down to the battery bank.

Both solar panels have in-line fuses outside in weatherproof holders and the controller has a fuse between it and the batteries, so it's all well protected. It's almost all 8 gauge wire, except the ends at the charge controller, the solar panel connectors and the fuse holders. Those are all 10 gauge but such short length, they can carry plenty of amps like the 8 gauge, should I add more panels later. 10 gauge might have been all I needed, but it's better to oversize the wiring in case of expansion, rather than having to rip it all out and redo it later.

I have a 3 outlet strip plugged in to a 12v outlet up front I added. I'm not using the power output hookups of the charge controller but some people might wish to, if they do this kind of setup.

Rear 12v outlets

I finally got around to putting in 12v outlets in the bed area like I have been wanting to for months.

I picked up a double outlet fixture with 12 gauge wires (15amp max it says) at Wal-Mart for about $7.50 with tax. They also sell one that has a single 12v outlet and a USB port or two, but I have plug in USB chargers already so I opted for the double outlet one. The USB one costs a few dollars more anyway.

I got a 12 gauge wire fuse holder from O'Reilly Auto, a package of 1/2" flexible sheath from Harbor Freight and used some good 10 gauge wire I had left over from the solar panel installation. It's on a shared circuit with a single 12V outlet up front that I currently use for a plug-in 3-outlet bar.

The reason I ran the cable far down the way I did is there is space inside the wall around the bathroom sink to drill a hole in the wall without damaging the fiberglass wall inside the bathrooom. Some 1/2" nylon holders with washers work nicely to hold the flexible wire tubing to the wall. I used the existing screws that hold the trim to the wall.

It's not the fanciest setup but I like it fine. It cost about $15 in parts plus the wire I already had.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Avoid Wal-Mart batteries if possible

I was packed up and was ready to leave the KOA and once again, I had battery problems despite slow charging it a few days ago. It had symptoms in the past but I thought it was due to poor charging maintenance on my part. So, I dragged my cords back out and got it going with my engine starter. I drove the mile or so down to Wal-Mart since it was a MAXX battery from them. The initial test they do inside showed it was fine. She called in the manager and he took out to the proper machine for testing. It came back bad. It was less than 3 years old and was a 3 year free replacement battery.  The manufacture date was 3/2011.

However, it was a replacement already for one that was bad within the original's 3 year waranty. So not only did the ORIGINAL battery someone bought go bad within 3 years, so did the second. They will only replace it free once, apparently.

So yes, Wal-Mart's 3 year free replacement batteries only last 2 years and you only get ONE free replacement, the first one. But that gets you through 4 years, roughly.

But then I opened my big mouth and said it was in there when I got it which means any and all warranty is null and void, even if the battery was bought brand new yesterday and I bought the van today.

I had to shell out $107 for a new battery. I needed it right then and they're cheaper than anyone else anyway and I will be able to get at least ONE free replacement if/when this one goes bad in a year or two.