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.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

It is Gone!

I sold the motorhome today, our driveway sure looks vacant after seeing it sitting there for over two and a half years.

Now I need to offer my little S-10 for sale and maybe we can be "out of here" my the end of the year. It is getting closer every day.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It must be official!

I guess you can say I am now officially retired. My first Social Security check hit the bank today.

Things are moving along and I put the old motorhome on Craigslist to be sold.

Here is the link I generated so I could tell everyone on Craigslist.

I feel I have it priced right @ $3250

Hopefully it will sell quickly and we can start to move to our traveling faze.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Don't ask

We (as in "she") decided to replace our 4 year old printer with a new one because the difference between new ink cartridges and a new printer was very small. The new printer has wireless capabilities but now easy to set up.

"She" starts asking me questions. Me! an in "a guy that sometimes puts the wrong socks on the wrong feet".

Now you say socks makes no difference. That is simply not true, my feet are larger than hers.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Smokey Yunick

Smokey Yunick, who the heck is that? Now I know most have no idea who "Smokey" is unless you are old as dirt and a gear head.

Smokey was arguably the best racing innovator of the 50's, 60's, and early 70's. He ran the racing programs for Hudson, Ford, Chevy, and Pontiac as well as racing and inventing as an independent. Some called him the "biggest cheater" of all time but cheating is in the eyes of the race inspector. Innovator better describes the way he interpreted the rule book. If here was no pacific rule against it then he assumed it was fair game.

Why am I mentioning Smokey?

I have the utmost pleasure of owning his book, "The Best Dawn Garage in Town", this is a hard book for me to have a change to read because of the price and the fact it will never be in a library. Used this book sells in the $125 range.

What makes this book so special (besides the fact it is "Life and Adventures" of Smokey) is the style that it is written. Smokey wrote the book and his wife typed it. It is really written just like a bunch of guys sitting around about 2 sheets in the wind and telling true stories that they all remember. It will never be in you local library because of the language, subject matter (and you think music artists have groupies), and him telling like it really happen.

Six hundred pages of pure reading pleasure. Never have I enjoyed a book more.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Got matches?

Sometimes I wish everything I have not needed in the last two years would just go up in smoke. I will be glad when we are on the road and if something comes in the travel trailer, something must exit it.

I put a few things on Craigslist that we were going to throw away that were still very usable and while I priced them very low it still put nearly a C-note in my pocket plus I don't have to deal with disposing of them. Not suppose to put anything but household stuff in our park dumpster.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Our motorhome

Our old 1985 motorhome has been sitting in the driveway since we bought our new Cardinal travel trailer and now we have to get it ready to sell.

I have it running great and this week we are starting to unload everything from the inside as we have been using it for a storage shed. Not as easy as it sound because we have to go thru everything and decide if it goes in the Cardinal (no not more weight) or our storage building or to the trash (yes, yes, yes).

Friday, October 22, 2010

Happy birthday Little Man!

Leroy (a.k.a. Zachary) is a year older today. Dang it is hard to believe he is 33 years old.

So how is be celebrating his birthday? He is in Lafayette, Louisiana delivering a presentation at a French Conference for LSU @ Lafayette. He flew down from Penn State for the weekend. Last weekend he drove to New Haven, Connecticut to give a presentation at Yale. About as polar opposite as they come.

Now before Zac was born, I swore I would not be "one of those parents". You know the type, can't shut up about how great their kid is. Little did I know I would have the best kid ever!!

Happy birthday Zac,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,I love you, dad

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

This can not be right!

We are in Fayetteville visiting the granddaughter that is attending the UofA and will be here for a few days. Now for the kicker, our travel trailer does not have (and we do not want ) a washer and dryer.

The granddaughter has them in her apartment so we brought a couple loads of laundry to do while we are here.

The elders bringing their laundry to college instead of vice-versa. This can not be right!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Battery Box

The battery box is finished and installed,

I needed a box that could be installed and taken off in pieces. Here you can see the top, front section, and two sides. The back will be open for ventilation. All were made out of 1/2" plywood and primered inside and out with two heavy coats and then I added two heavy coats of gloss black enamel on the outside.

This is a picture of the batteries mounted in between the frame rails and behind my propane bottles.

The frame that I built holds the batteries apart with enough clearance for air circulation for cooling and the small unpainted square of plywood holds them down via an all thread rod that extends up far enough above the batteries that it will also hold down the top of the box.

This photo shows the side that are notched to hold them in place via the battery frame and the front that is notched so the trailer frame rails is hold it in place.
The sides extend to the bottom of the batteries but the front has an air gap at the bottom.

This picture shows the top mounted ( it has 3/4"x 2" strips mounted on the bottom side so that the front and sides are sandwiched between them and the batteries) and now it is ready to remount my propane tank cover.

This provides protection from the weather but allow air circulation and easy access to check the water in the batteries. The black makes it blend in with the frame.

Saturday, October 09, 2010


The mailman brought the two Thin-Light model 652 lights I ordered

and after replacing the stock incandescent lightsin the living room I can say this is one improvement that exceeds my expectations. Incandescent light bulbs start loosing their candlepower from the first time they are used and continue to grow dimmer over time. With three Thin-Lights in the front half of our travel trailer it is now BRIGHT. I differently see we will be adding them to the bathroom (does a woman ever have enough light in a bathroom?) and bedroom.

I a great price with no sales tax ( I have a little Gordon Kahl in me) and free shipping. They must buy in bulk because the lights did not come individually boxed and therefore didn't include the wire nuts and mounting screws. I just used the mounting screws from the stock units and rounded up some wire nuts.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Lazy ass!

No, not yet. I have been busy this first week of retirement. I finished my battery box and added two heavy coats of primer and two heavy coats of gloss black for weather protection.

Finally got the old motor home running today after three days of working on the fuel system. Thought I was having a switching problem between the main and aux tanks but it turned out to be a cracked rubber fuel line. Replaced the 5ft hose and it is purring like a 454 Chevy with only 32,000 miles should.

Still a little work to do before we put it on the market. Will be strange not to have it in the driveway.

In 2003 I bought a slightly used Giant OCR3 bicycle and rode it 15 to 20 miles three or four days a week for about two years but it has been in the shed most of the time since.

I have another bike, an older Giant that I am taking when we leave but decided to sell my "road bike". I put it on Craigslist yesterday afternoon and sold it about 8:30 this morning. Recouping my investment. Sweet!

We are replacing part of our 12volt incandescent lights with 12volt fluorescents. We decided on Thin-Light Model 652 lights and bought one locally to check it out (a premium of about $25 over ordering online). Installed it in the kitchen and ordered two more for the living room. Maybe not the smartest move buying locally but really wanted to make sure they were the lights we wanted. Will probably add two in the bathroom and one in the bedroom at a later date. They produce more light while using less amps.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Hugs and handshakes

Thursday brought about "hugs and handshakes" and my boss took me for a steak before my last run to Hooks, Texas. I couldn't get away from Hooks without being taken for pie and coffee. Made for a long day but a very gratifying one.

Coleman Dairy has been very good to me and I know without a doubt that without my job with them for the last 15+ years I could have not retired at this time. Words can not express the gratitude I feel for them.

As much as I loved my job, I know it was time to leave! I just need to keep telling myself.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Victory lap

Friday was my last Friday, Saturday was my last Saturday, and only Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday remain. Each day means a trip to Hooks, Texas but each of those days has just a little different responsibility on my part.

About 1200 more miles and you can "stick a fork in me because I am done". Still trying to come to grips with the fact I will be unemployed!

Friday, August 13, 2010

My Battery Pack

When adding more batteries, the first thing needed is a strong battery rack to secure the batteries. Weight and size requirements have to be taken into consideration. I would have liked at least 600 amps but had to settle for less. I built this angle iron rack to hold four Trojan T-105 six volt batteries. They will be wired "in series" and "parallel".
Each battery is 6 volt and 225 amps. Wiring a pair "in series" gives 12 volt and wiring two "in series" pairs "parallel" give 450 amp. Try to keep your cable as short as possible with a little flex and keep them the same length between batteries. Build your own using flexible welding cable if you have the option.

"in series" means wiring positive(+) to negative (-)
"parallel" means wiring positive(+) to positive(+) and negative(-) to negative(-).
"in series" red to black
"parallel" red to red and black to black.
"in series" adds total number of volts.
"parallel" adds total number of amps.

This is the 12 volt battery that came with our travel trailer. Under each of the two removable caps are three cells (each cell is 2 volts) wired in the battery case "in series", pos(+) to neg(-). Each time you wire "in series" you add the volts. Two banks of three 2 volt cells equals 12 volts.

This is a 6 volt battery with the cap removed and you can see the three 2 volt cells.

This shows two 6 volt batteries wired "in series" to form one large 12 volt battery. Now a total of six ( 3 in each battery) 2 volt cells are wired to form 12 volts. If you couldn't see the half red-half black cable in the middle, it would look like a standard 12 volt battery. Positive on the upper left and negative on the lower right.

This photo shows how this setup (now one large 12 volt battery) would be hooked up if this was all you were using. Positive (red) cable on the upper left and negative (black) cable on the lower right side.

I have now doubled the two battery setup and the red cable on the left and the black cable on the right are wired "parallel" (pos to pos and neg to neg). Just like your dad taught you to use "booster cables", red to red and black to black. Now this forms one very large 12 volt battery bank.

To hook up this battery bank you will want to use the positive and negative posts that are the farthest apart, thus drawing current from all over the battery pack, this photos shows the positive (red) cable attached to the upper left and the negative (black) cable attached to the lower right. Please use an appropriate size fuse in the red cable. The fuse size should be about 20% larger than the amps you will be drawing out of the battery bank at any given time.

With a multimeter attached to the red and black cable you can read 12 volts.
This battery bank and rack weighs about 250 pounds. Just remember even if I have 450 amps in the batteries, I can only safely use 225 amps ( only use 50% or less) if I want the batteries to last.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Dang it's HOT!

I have been working six days a week and we are having 100 degree weather. Also putting together four 6 volt batteries to replace the one group 24 battery that came with the travel trailer. It has been so hot that it taking longer than I anticipated. I have the new battery rack built (still need to build the battery box) and have ordered a few items and hope to publish pictures and a report soon. Will demystify the (4x6=12) four 6 volt battery equals 12 volt thing. Very simple but it can be confusing if not explained properly.

On a more personal note, my son Zac is home from his teaching job in France and back at Penn State. Feels so great to have him back in the states.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Anxiety Attack

I started filling out my Social Security application online today knowing I could finish it and put it on "hold" until I decided to "send" or "cancel" and choose another date if I decided not to retire at the end of September.

After I finished I waited a few minutes before putting it on hold and thought why not just hit "send" and be thru with it. Bang just like that and the wheels are now in motion!

It took about five minutes and I starting having a major anxiety attack.

"Damn Sam, what have you gotten yourself into this time!"

I wanted to do it but it just seemed so final once the paperwork was started.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Not an easy task

Pick a date and retire! Easy enough, right. Not so fast. This is really an agonising decision. I have been saying that September 30 will be my last day to work and therefore I need to sign up for Social Security three months ahead of that date, in other words, in July. Next month. That just seems so final and soon!

"Working" defines who I am. Retirement feels more like I am being fired and emotionally it is rather difficult. Doesn't working until the end of the year sound better.

Work past the holidays and start the new year off with a whole new outlook on life. I'm sure the incongruousness would be no different then as now. Damn, why can't life be easy!!!!.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Compact air compressor

Ever wake up to a low tire and have to change it or risk ruining it by driving to have it looked after.

We need a small air compressor for just such events and to keep our tires inflated to the proper psi. Since it was my birthday and I had an excuse to spend money.

I bought this compact air compressor from Sears, Item # 00915309000,
Model # 15309. Small and under 25lbs. Max of 150psi and a cut-in of 120psi. Cut-in pressure means when its 1.5 gallon tank drops below 120psi, the compressor starts building air until it reaches 150psi.

This is not a compressor for using large volumes of air but it will work fine for my needs and small enough to easily store.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Another one down

Well I have lived to see another birthday. How the hell can I be 62 years old. My dad died at 57 and my mom almost made it to 73. My sibling followed at about the same numbers. Half around 60 and half over 70. The averages give me a few more years.

Starting Monday I will be working for 1/2 price! I could be drawing my SS that makes up about half my take home pay. I told the boss I needed a 100% raise and he said he would pay me what I am worth but he knows I can't live on that!

Dang that does not sound possible, "me on SS". I always thought SS was for "old people".

Monday, May 10, 2010

Banking on the Road

Not many people write checks anymore and after we hit the road we will only have our mini-storage that will need a check sent. All reoccurring bills can be paid online.

We will be using two banks and a credit union. Judy has her SS check direct deposited in a local bank and I will have my SS check and any draws from my IRA direct deposited in US Bank that has branches nation wide. My pension check will be deposited in my saving account at my credit union.

Why two banks? Judy will carry only her bank card and one credit card and I will carry my bank card and the other credit card. Should she lose her purse or should I lose my wallet, we can cancel only that bank and credit card and still have the other separate accounts to continue to use until we get things straighten out. Straightening things out while on the road could take awhile.

Our banks card use different ATM networks so there should always be one or the other available to us. We will always have a few "ole blues" ($100 bills)in reserve and will always work with money above those. That way ATM money can be acquired when convenient and we will never be broke. If we pay an occasional $2 ATM fee it will be alright because we will we getting the max the ATM will allow.

I can also use my credit union ATM card, plus they are affiliated with several hundred credit unions across the country that I can walk in, show my card and ID and draw out any amount of my saving that I might need.

Sounds simple enough.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

I think I like this stranger

Yesterday I saw a late model Ford pickup stop in the street and turn on the flashers. I didn't see any fluids or steam leaking so it appeared it just quit running. By the time the red light changed and I made it so I could see what was happening, I was pleasantly surprised.

The older gentleman had stopped and was removing a turtle for the street. Little doubt saving its life. A simple gesture that shows there is still hope for this world.

Friday, April 30, 2010

One month until weigh-in

Remember back in January I mentioned our weight loss program at work, well it is only about a month until our weigh-in. In January I weighed 238lbs. and I must say I haven't tried very hard and now weigh 227lbs., but I had a little spell with my blood sugar last week and now am determined to eat better and shed another 27lbs.
I still want to be around 200lbs. before I retire but will not make that goal by our weigh-in. My 10% goal (214) will require another 13 lbs. this month. Not likely, but it is doable. My main goal is to keep my blood sugar in the normal range.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

While there has been hundreds of books written about 12 volt dc power and I own a couple of the popular ones used by rvers.

For a complete overview of this subject it is hard to beat Mark Neweth's two part article. While equipment and gadgets change, the basic theory will stay the same.

For solar charging theory and what works (I always like to look at real world working applications from people not trying to sell you anything), try reading what Bob has to say on the subject.

I failed to link to the manuals about my 2025rv meter.
Users manual:

Installation manuals:

Just to confuse you even more try reading all of Phred's Poop Sheets:

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Tri Metric 2025RV meter

What the heck is a TriMetric 2025rv meter? The simply answer is to call it your fuel gauge for you batteries. The fuel in your batteries is measured in reserve amp hours and the 2025rv meter keeps track of them just like your gas gauge in your car. Use some amps out of your batteries and put some back in by charging them and you will always know to total with this meter.

There are numerous web sights that explain the technicals so I will just do a broad overview.

It is easy to shorten the life of your batteries by using more than 50% of the amps in them. If you have a reserve of 200 amps hours then use less than 100 amps before recharging them, even less is better.

The 2025rv meter by Bogart Engineering is a newer and improved version of their 2020 meter. It has its own housing that will blend right in with my furnace and Fantastic Fan thermostat housings.

It has built in lightning protection and several other features that make it more desirable.

As always, I researched online and found the users manual (had to make sure it would do what I wanted) and installation manual (see if I could install it) before placing my order.

While this meter neither makes or dispenses 12 volt electricity, it is still money well spent (about $200 for meter, shunt, and wiring) if you are planning to camp without hookups and run off your batteries.

Imagine driving a car with no gas gauge and not knowing the last time any was put in the tank.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pieces of the Puzzle

Living in a RV in a campground with "full hookups (water, sewer,and electricity)" is the same as living in a regular home, albeit smaller.

RVs have the ability to dry camp (parked without any hookups), meaning they have running water, propane for heating, hot water, cooking, and 12 volt lighting. On board water tanks supply water and holding tanks hold the waste water. The frig can also run on propane. Everything you need except for 120 volts. Lots of 12 volts appliances are available so the only thing you really have to have 120 volts for is air conditioning. Your rv can be miles from an electric line and you can live a very normal life.

Our rv holds 40 gallons of fresh water, three 40 gallon holding tanks. One each for shower, kitchen, and toilet. That translates into about a week before our tanks need attention. The 12volt battery will also need charging after about 2 days.

An inverter with take power from your 12 volts and turn it into 120 volts. Still can't run you a/c but you can run things like your tv, microwave, hair dryer, and other small appliances. This is limited by the size (wattage) of your inverter and the size (amp hours) of your batteries.
To further complicate this, there are two types of inverters. Most are modified sine wave (almost like the electricity at home) and will run most things. A pure sine wave (just like your home electricity but more expensive) for your high-end electronics. A simple solution is to buy a larger wattage modified sine wave inverter to run most applications and a smaller pure sine wave inverter to run high-end electronics. Most tv's will run on a modified sine wave inverter but I don't want to risk a $1000 tv on a cheaper inverter.

One other solution is just buy a generator to run everything. A small one will run microwave, tv, and ect. A larger one will also run one a/c and still larger one will run both air conditioners.

The options for dry camping with all the amenities are:

Runs everything
No need to upgrade batteries or buy an inverter
Fuel costs and maintenance
Their use not also permitted (or restricted hours of usage)

Will extend your 12volt usage
Have enough power to add on inverter for limited 120volt usage

Weight (battery weight adds up fast)
Space requirements (may or may not fit you present battery compartment)
Need a way to recharge

Will supply most 120volt needs

Deletes batteries (they have to be recharged)

SOLAR PANELS(solar panels are really just battery chargers that use to sun to obtain their energy)

Recharges batteries to supply battery and inverter needs
Free energy after purchase

Cost (isn't that always a con?)

Now I would like "all the above" but for me the generator seems the logical first step as the one purchase will do everything (at the expense of the cons). Also it is the option that will have the best resale value if I choose to sell it.

I wanted a generator that would run at least one of my air conditioners ( the only real reason for a generator). Something in the 3000watt range would do the job fine. Purchasing used would be a wise choice in case I wanted to resale.

I always check Craigslist for my used purchases.

I found a gently used Yamaha 3000iseB generator at an excellent price. It is among the quietest on the market and very fuel efficient and a reasonable power to weight ratio. Weighting in at about 150lbs.

It came with the optional cover and a new battery.

I will place it on the rear bumper of the travel trailer and thus one of the pieces of the puzzle will be in place.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring has Sprung

The weather has been beautiful this week and I took this photo today at my usual rest area just south of the Gurdon exit on I-30, on the east bound side. By the time the grass turns green, the blooms will be gone. I just love these trees.

I should have taken this photo yesterday as the sky was a deeper blue and really made the white of the tree and clouds pop. Just a little too bright today and made the whole picture wash-out a little.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Pacific Northwest Van Dweller

I stopped at the rest area just south of Gurdon, Ar. today and noticed a Chevy work van (van with no windows). It had tags from the Pacific Northwest and was easy to recognize as a van dweller vehicle ( living or long term travelling in a van).

The bicycle on top and the curtain blocking off the rear cargo area gave it away. Add the fact that it was parked away from the restrooms and you know I had to check it out.

The driver was reading a paperback western novel and having canned ham and crackers for lunch. We talked for about 15 minutes and I found out that he was indeed a "vandweller". He told a little about his rig and some of the mistakes he had made as he taught himself about living in a van. He has an inverter to power his laptop and was using an "air-card" for internet access.

He powered up the laptop when I told him about the and he book marked it. It has over 100,000 messages and will take a long time to find the information.
After I was back on the road, I realized I should have sent him to . As Bob Wells has a great site with several examples of how people fix their vans for vandwelling.

He was soft spoken and a real pleasure to talk to. I hope he enjoyed our time together as much as I enjoyed it. It was soon time for me to hit the road and I wished him well on his travels.

Arkansas Rest Areas allow overnight camping and I am sure you could stretch that if you wanted. Most have designated parking away from Truck Parking.

Maybe he will read this (he book marked my blog) and leave a comment.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sometimes it is TOO easy

As I walked by the guard shack at work today, the guard came out with a large smile to show off the new used car he had purchased. Now he is not the sharpest knife in the drawer but is a very likable guy.

He is very proud of his low mileage 2005 Chevy Cobalt coupe, and rightly so as it is very nice. We look at the outside and he unlocks and opens the drivers door and I peek in to see a new looking interior. He closes the door and shows the few flaws one would expect on a five year old car but I am still impressed with its condition.

Proudly he asked, "How many miles do you think it has?". I comment that since I can see it still has the original tires that I can tell within 500 miles as to the right answer.

I get the usual, "No way!". So I take out a dime and use it to check the tread depth of one front tire and one back tire, while explaining I used to be in the tire business.

After pausing for a long moment to decyfer the information I was ready to give my answer. Now I could have said 25,000 miles but that would seem like a very random guess.

I said, "25,500 miles" and walked away as his jaw dropped in awe.

Later he MIGHT figure out that when he opened the door the odometer displayed 25,381 for a few seconds before going blank again.

Sometimes it is truly too easy!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

An Exciting Year Ahead

My company is challenging everyone to loose weight and they are putting their money behind the challenge. The contest weight-in was January 4 ( I weighed 238lbs) but you can start anytime of the year you decide to participate. Next weigh-in will be June 1.
10% =$100
15% =$150
20% =$200 and ect.
Final weigh-in will be December 1 and you will receive a like amount from your original weight. An incentive to continue dropping weight and keeping it off.
This came at an opportune time as I had decided to weigh no more than 200lbs before I retire.
YES, I SAID RETIRE. I turn 62 in May and my anniversary date at work is the last of July (no need to forfeit 3 weeks vacation pay for not working the two extra months). My exact retirement date is still debatable as several factors are still in play, but it will be sometime between August 1 and the end of the year.
After retirement we will be hooking to our home (travel trailer) and hitting the road. So much to see and I can't wait to get started.
"Home will be where we park it". No, that does not mean we will travel every day but travel to a new locale and stay until we feel we have seen and done what we want and move again and let the process start over. We might stay a day or two, a week, a month, or for a season.
I might even be in your area and contact you for a little one on one meeting, just a heads-up for my friends both personal and internet types.

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