Thursday, December 30, 2010

Speeding Along!

Yesterday I called my heart doctor to try to reschedule my January 13th appointment and was able to see him yesterday and then I scheduled by 6 month follow up for May 18 because we will be back here for Judy's granddaughter's high school graduation on May 20th.

Last night I received a call from the people that bought the deck and wanted to pick it up this morning because we had a window of decent weather.

After the deck was gone I almost fell out the door because the deck was not there but was able to catch myself in time. Not a pleasant experience.

Doctor done, deck done, our storage shed almost done. We should be out of here Monday or Tuesday.

I meant to write about extending our back bumper but forgot to take photos, so that will be another post for another day.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Best of Two Worlds

We needed to sell the deck (porch) I built when we purchased our travel trailer

but was not looking forward to not having it until we leave. Problem solved, sold it and they are not picking it up until next weekend and we should be out of here the following Monday or Tuesday.

I have a doctors appointment on the 13th of January so we will not be traveling too far for a couple of weeks. May stay at a nearby campground as we still have some things to take care of before we really hit the road. Really depends on the weather.

The main objective is move out of this mobile home park and get our new mailing address and make sure we have everything needed to live on the road. We have been here so long it will take awhile to remember what we need.

I need to modify our entry steps as the steps are a little to far apart for Judy and until the deck is gone I can not get to them.

I would make my purchases while here so I know where to find things.

So it looks like our fulltiming adventure starts the first of the year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Reading the Trimetric meter

The Trimetric meter measures at the batteries and is very useful in its normal functions.

Click on the picture to enlarge and you will see the square "select" black button in the middle of the meter. This button toggles thru its functions. This first picture shows the percent of charge remaining in the batteries. This is the most used function on the meter as you can tell at a glance your battery condition and most of the time I just leave it on this function.

This photo taken at a different time and shows the current voltage of the batteries.

Hard to see the green charging light in the upper left but when lit it show how many amps are flowing into the batteries.

Again a little hard to read (forgot to turn off the flash on the camera) but the red minus light to the left of 01.7 is lit and the meter show 01.7 amps are being used from the batteries. This function is very useful and you can see how many amps every appliance or light is using just by turning them on and reading the meter.

By knowing how many amps are being used from your batteries, you will know how many amps need to be replaced no matter if using a battery charger or solar panels. After all, solar panels are just battery chargers using the sun and not electricity to charge your batteries.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Battery Charger

I installed a IOTA DLS-55 amp battery charger to compliment my campers converter. A converter is really just a battery charger that puts out extra amps when you are using 12 volt power in your rv. A typical 55 amp converter will supply up the 55 amps when those amps are needed but only about 2 amps are dedicated for battery charging. Plus the voltage is not enough to fully charge the battery.

My converter is additionally handicapped by being at the rear of our trailer, nearly 35 feet from our batteries. With the voltage loss from the long cables, only .4 amps makes it to the batteries.

Trojan (our battery manufacture) recommends charging at 14.8 volts and most charger only charge at 14.3 volts. modifies the IOTA charger to charge at 14.8 volts and 15.4 volts when needed to equalize the batteries. Order their catalog, the first 30 pages is a "how-to" on "off-grid" before they even offer to sell you anything.
These people "walk the walk".

The charger is very simple to install (therefore no installation pictures), comes with standard three prong wire and you add your own 12 volt cables to the batteries and a ground wire for the case.

Use the small cable with phone jack end to plug into charger to up the voltage for equalization.

I hard wired the charger in a forward compartment a short distance from the batteries, ran the circuit through a switch to control its operation and mounted it in the lower part of the kitchen cabinet.

My Trimetric meter registered 54 amps when I threw the switch. The charge tapers off as the batteries are charging and by the time I decided to take a picture it was putting out 41.6 amps.

I can now read my Trimetric meter (fuel gauge for the batteries) and charge as needed via the switch. No hooking and unhooking needed. The charger cannot be on all the time or it will boil the water from the batteries. It works whether I am using campground power or our generator.

Camping with no electricity, no problem. Watch satellite tv using our inverter at night and run the generator to fire up the coffee pot in the morning and recharge the batteries at the same time.

I have a inverter large enough to run the coffee pot or microwave that is yet to be installed. Probably will wait to see if I install solar panels because I now need the generator to charge the batteries anyway so I might as well power the coffee pot also.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


After owning my little S-10 pickup for over 12 years, it has moving on for someone else to appreciate. While not being a lover (a huge understatement) of full size Chevy pickups, I can say I was very fond of this smaller Chevrolet.

I rank it in the top three vehicles I have ever owned. It did every thing I ever asked of it and returned great value in mpg's, repair costs, and resale value.

It had 41,000 miles on it when I purchased it in August of 1998 and 230,000 miles when we parted company yesterday. Not sure I will very be as pleased long term with another vehicle. Even if it was a !#&# Chevy.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Firestone Air Bags

I installed Firestone Air Bags on the Dodge today. I didn't take any pictures because it was pretty straight forward and truly a "bolt in" project. Just follow the directions and allow a couple of hours for the whole job. Wait! You will have to drill a couple of 5/16 inch holes for the valves so you can add air to the bags. I placed ours on either side of the licence plate.

Our camper's tongue weight squats the truck and I can now level it for better control and shift the weight bias.

Since I have a generator and small air compressor, I chose not to buy the on vehicle 12 volt air compressor that is optional. You "air up" the bags to carry a load and "air down" the bags when not pulling the trailer.

Could we have done without them? Yes, but I feel safer with them installed. It's like the 15,000 hitch I installed, just adds safety and piece of mind and my mind needs all the help it can get.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Inverter and Trimetric meter

Right or wrong, this is how installed them. Works for me.
I installed the XS400 inverter and Trimetric meter that I previously mentioned. It involved mounted two extension cords (one forward to feed the tv and one reversed to feed the transfer switch in the inverter) and two small wires about like phone cable. One phone cable (4 wires) connects the Trimetric meter to the batteries and the other phone cable connects the inverter and remote.

Here are those wrapped with electrical tape.

The 1/8 stiff wires laying under the medal clamps in the packages were wrapped the length of the wires to stiffen them so they would not sag when bolted along the frame with the clamps. After a total of 4 wraps with electrical tape the cables were attached to the frame with the clamps.

This is the "shunt" that in used in the negative battery cable for the Trimetric meter. One of the phone type cables lead (it contains one white, 2black, and one red cable) from the shunt to the Trimetric meter.

This is the fuse that goes in the positive battery cable.

Here is the "shunt" installed. I needed containers to keep everything dry so I used "loaf pans" from the kitchen department of Wal-Mart and cut down a cookie sheet for the top.

This is the fuse installed. The covers will be bolted on the top and everything painted black to blend in.

This is the inverter (an inverter takes 12 volts in and gives 120volt out). The 2 white plugs on the front are the 120volt outlets. One of the two extension cords will plug in and run our tv and satellite receiver, the other will power our laptops, printer, and router.
The black cord plugs into a wall socket and feeds the inverter transfer switch when the camper is plugged in or we are using our generator. The inverters uses regular 120volt power when available and automatic switches to battery power when needed. No need to move the wires from one plug to another.

This is the back of the inverter and show the 12 volt battery lugs (red=positive and black=negative. The small silver lug is a ground for wire for the inverter case.

Here is the inverter installed in a front compartment. The extension cord with the black end is for the tv and the other with the yellow end is for the laptops.

This is the Trimetric meter (showing our batteries are 91% charged) and the remote switch for the Xantrex inverter.

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