Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Special Anniversary Post

Our Wedding Anniversary is tomorrow, November 2nd, and it also marks our second year with Tilley.
Sense would dictate that I would post something not today, but on the big day, or at least about the big day.  Of course sometimes I don't make sense, but read on and I guarantee it will all make sense in the end....did that make any sense....any way....

I'm posting now because our special friends have made today their Wedding day! 

Congratulations to Shane and Brynn!

What, you may ask, has this got to do with our work on Tilley.  Well, Brynn put a little idea in Shane's head and he made us a little steampunk something .....

Say hello to our little friend.  Shane knit us a Squid! Our squid was slated to go into our steampunk library, but they gave him to us while camping, and we love him so much hanging around in Tilley that he is staying there to protect our trailer from invaders....and air kraken! 

Who wouldn't want a squid defense system?!  And such a cute one too.

We're also celebrating another wonderful Tilley related event today.  An article published in the Steampunk Chronicle about the beginning of our beautiful relationship with Tilley.  You can read it HERE

It's been a wonderful and auspicious day for our friends, ourselves and our fabulous Tilley!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Electrifying Tilley (2)

What follows involves a little temporal jumping around and I hope to add some more photos later.

The push was on this weekend past to get the electrics in Tilley finished up for an impending camping trip. As detailed in previous posts, when we first got her, Tilley's electrics were in a state with 12v AC and 12v DC trailer circuits, 12v DC running lights and even a 110vAC circuit all going into a single un-fused connector box with a terminal block pop riveted to its lid. That has all changed with the running lights on their own panel, the 12v DC trailer circuits on their own fused panel connected to the deep cycle battery and the 110 v AC on hold until further notice.

Locating the battery box was a bit of an interesting exercise. I have seen many Bolers with tongue mounted batteries and others with batteries located in the front stowage area. I was not too keen on this as we already have a 30lb propane cylinder up front so I was reluctant to add more weight there. Under the sink would have been ideal as there is good ventilation there and I had hoped room for the battery where the Frankenstein's monster of an AC transformer was located. Sadly there wasn't quite enough room for a 27 series battery box and as it turns out, the last thing you want to do is put a wet cell battery near where sparks might be generated by the electrics. In the end, I put it in the rear left storage compartment. with flex cable running to the electrical panel. The weight is more or less over the axle and is about the same as the weight of the original water tank so handling should not be affected.  Now the rear side storage bins are pretty much sealed which raises the problem of ventilation. I was reluctant to cut more louvre holes in the trailer. so I went looking for other solutions.

I didn't really find anything helpful in the travel trailer sites so I did some thinking about other types of vehicle that needed ventilation. Boats! I thought - tight enclosed spaces with lots of nasty fumes to get rid of. Now where to find boat stuff? Years ago, my father took a good chunk of a lifetime to build a motor sailor out of white oak and marine plywood. In doing so, he spent a lot of money at a local boat supply company. With little hope it was still in business, I went on line and found it still was.

The Chandlery. is the Naughty French Postcard of my Boler modding world. While I had been doing most of my shopping at the automotive supply store, this store sells the same things in greater variety and sometimes at less than 1/3 the cost. One does have to be to careful stay away from some of the much more expensive marine grade equipment like salt water rated electrics,  but then there are treasures like this:

A purpose designed vent  in chrome plated brass - for $12. One small hole, a fitting, some hose and a little epoxy putty later and the battery box now has its own built in venting system to the outside world.

The main job on the books for this weekend past was to get the lights wired up. Again as mentioned in previous posts, the wiring to the pantry side especially was interesting. with wires changing colours and gauge as they went from fuse panel to fixture. I did a quick total of what was already on the circuit, rounded that up to 10 amps and did the standard double for safety. The 18 gauge wire that wasn't buried was barely rated for the job. Knowing that I will want to add canopy lights, a 12v socket and other goodies in the future, the existing wire had to go. Blue Seas systems has a handy little tool to calculate wiring requirements based on load, wire length, operating temperature and other factors. Based on paranoia and the assumption I might want to put some heavy loads on the awning side of Tilley - maybe a sound system or something similar, I bumped up the maximum possible load to 30 amps (or only about 3 hours of use before the battery goes completely flat!) and came up with 12 gauge wire. So that is what went in. There are many advantages to getting a professional to do the work, like the trailer socket described earlier, but one of the advantages in doing it yourself is that you can up the specification without worrying about profit margins.

Of course, no desire to do the right thing goes unpunished so to actually replace the wiring required removing the two rear seats. This almost put me off until I discovered the woefully inadequate piece of 20 gauge wire that made up part of the previous magical colour changing wiring system. Another joyful discovery was that to make the wire bins fit in the pantry, they had been cut with a hacksaw or more properly hacked with a cut saw. Getting the one bin in and out to re-wire and install the terminal block was a bit of work and  involved a little coarse language. A longer term solution will be required. The last job remaining before our trip is to hook up one more light - some epoxy putty to affix the cable run for this is setting up as I write.

Future projects will be the solar panel, an inverter and a battery isolator so I can charge  Tilley's battery from the car. Then there are those solar powered ventilation fans from the Chandlery, and the 25 LED mast head light that would make a nifty TARDIS like homing beacon for Tilley and....

Till next time.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Electrifying Tilley

This past week Pat was able to get the car in to the lovely gentlemen at a Ziebart garage near us. They installed a brand new brake and lighting electrical wiring system for pulling Tilley.  This weekend Pat decided to test it and make sure everything was connected and working properly and working between the car and Tilley.  Of course things are never easy.  There was a mess up between what was supposed to be blinking or glowing and what actually was.  He had to take the brake light and side light wiring apart to find out why this was happening.

 Luckily it was a simple case of right wire in the wrong place and it had nothing to do with the work we had just paid for.  He was able to get it fixed very quickly once the mystery was solved. Then he moved on to the next thing needed in order to get Tilley electrically self-sufficient.

As Tilley is very small, she is currently covered in tools, wire and other bits and pieces Pat needs to put the electrical puzzle together.
Tools and meter sitting inside one of the seats as there is no room anywhere else to put them.

Pat was able to make a lot of progress this weekend.  He took out more old wiring and old lights that we won't be using.  He also rewired a lot and added a brand new fuse box.
                         New fuse box....so shiny!
Pat looking like a pretzel as he works on installing the new fuse box and cleaning up the mess of old and dangerous wiring that was in Tilley when we bought her.

Whether house or trailer, we seem to have a knack for getting old places with lots of spirit and potential, but that were muddled with to the point of being a death trap.  I'm sure Tilley smiles (in her own way) every time Pat enters in with his tools, knowing she is getting the love and attention she deserves.... and I smile knowing that we won't be sleeping in a death trap.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Power for Tilley - It has Begun

In my last post in April I mentioned that Pat would be getting down to business within a couple of weeks.  Well the old saying "life is what happens when you're busy making plans" came to pass.  Life took over and poor Tilley had to wait until this past weekend to continue getting her electrical makeover. During 'life', Pat did do a lot of research to find out where he could purchase the right battery for us, as well as all the bits he would need to get our beautiful brass lamps (that we ordered and received in January) installed.

He found he was able to get our battery and a charger at our local Canadian Tire. 

Luckily we have quite a huge Canadian Tire store near us and they had everything he needed for installing the lamps as well.

Gratuitous photo of Pat enjoying a break and his lunch while checking to see how well wifi works in Tilley...

After Pat's well deserved break, he went back to work installing our new lamps.  He made an interesting discovery: (the story from Pat himself)
"I wanted to test the new lights using the existing 12 volt AC wiring. The wires started off as yellow and brown at the panel but by the time I got to the cupboard - they had become two white wires - not very helfpul for DC.

Based on the design I had thought that the tin can supplying 12 volt AC was original equipment so I was reluctant to take it out. However, the outer sheathing protecting the insulated supply wires had come off and I have no plans to use 12 volt ac in the future so I thought it best to remove the transformer carefully and put it away with the other original parts we have changed. The can was held to its moutning bracket with wood screws. When I removed these, there was a loud clunk from inside the can. When I opened the can I found a larger donut shaped transformer mounted in the can with a bit of broomstick with some insulating foam wrapped around it. This was obviously not original manufacture and not original Boler as born out by the "Transformer for residential track light" sticker I found inside the can. Needless to say the can was removed and will end up in the bin - after I figure out if the copper is worth selling :) "

Unfortunately he had cleaned it up by the time he told me and I was unable to get a photo of the crazy muddle he found.  I did however get photos of the wonderful end result...

When closed this way they are very tight and won't move when travelling.

They easily open up and the head swivels to point where you need the light.

Aren't they gorgeous! 

The next stage will be to finish the wiring and connect it all to the battery, as well as to make a space to house the battery.  I'm very much looking forward to reading, eating and perhaps playing a game or two in the evenings by the light of our new lamps.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Power for Tilley

Earlier, we decided on a 12 V battery as one of the power sources for Tilley.  While Pat intends to wire her so we can plug her in at various camping spots, we don't want to rely on this all the time.  Also, we want to be self-sufficient and more environmentally friendly with our energy use.  To this end, we did some investigation on the use of solar power for trailers.

We looked around a little here and there, but didn't see anything useful, portable or that wasn't wildly expensive.  Then a few weeks ago we decided to go and gawk at the mammoth RV cousins of our little Tilley at our local RV show.  There we found the goliaths and krakens of the RV world.  Huge monstrosities that could house a small village in each one. 

Then, tucked away in a little spot between two of these behemoths, was a little table that caught Pat's eye.  The poster said "Go Solar RVing".  We stopped dead in our tracks and went to speak to the lady standing there.  What we found was exactly what we were looking for!  They have just what their card says... thin, flexible, light weight solar panels...and they don't cost an arm and a leg!  We had a lovely chat with the lady, who was soon joined by her husband. They were both delightful and not your usual pushy sales people.  They were very knowledgeable about their panels and solar power in general. The other wonderful thing we found out was that although the panels are manufactured in the US, the couple live and sell the panels in Canada.  Their website GoSolarRVing.com has all the information you need to choose the best panel(s) for your trailer, cottage, even your tent. However you prefer to live in the great outdoors.

Pat will be finishing the wiring and installing the interior lights in the next couple of weeks. After that, we will have to decide on the type of panel we want. We're torn between their folding panels
 and their rollable panels
Either way, we can't wait to get one and save money, help the environment and just generally make Tilley even more self-sufficient and amazing!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New Pretties for Tilley

Back to more of the design aspect of our work on Tilley...

I was out at our local Canadian Tire to get a few things for a renovation of our back room - sandpaper, wood filler, stain blocker, the basics.  I happened to notice that they were having a huge sale on all of their winter things....and....they were unloading all their new spring items!

Last year when we were looking for general houseware items for Tilley I was looking online for some nice dishware.  I was also looking at every possible store in our area that would carry the same thing - unbreakable but stylish dishware.  The online pieces were beautiful but expensive and by the time we were looking in stores, most of their stock was already sold.  We would find something we like, but they would only have one or two pieces left. Most annoying.

As I noticed that the Canadian Tire spring stock was being unpacked, I also noticed that the spring outdoor dishware was being unpacked.....and "Oh Glory Be" I found it! 

If you look a little farther back in our posts, you will see that we had decided on green for our glassware and dishware and had found ourselves some lovely cups and goblets.  Well now we have dishware to go with them! I absolutely love the Victorian style botanical pattern and perfect green.  When I first saw them I was thinking "nuts they're porcelain" and I had to actually walk up close and  tap them to see what they were.  I was incredibly pleased to find they are melamine.  I purchased four of each so we can accommodate guests as well.  I am very much looking forward to using them this season!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Electrical Work, an Update

Now that Pat is finished with the safety aspect of our lighting, he can begin working on installing the reading lights into Tilley as he mentioned in an earlier post.  We also still need to redo some wiring for our outside door light and get our 12v battery. We'll be able to get some serious work done soon as the weather warms up.

For now, here are before and after photos of Tilley's new tail lights.
(yes, they were being held together with tape)
  ... and After

So much better and safer.  The LED lights are going to make her shine!
More coming soon....

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Pat has started working on Tilley's electrics.  He even took some nice photos to share with everyone.  Then I asked him to clear off the card....of course forgetting about the photos.  Sorry!  So until he can retrieve them so we can show you what he's been up to, I would like to share with you a couple of Canadian sites dedicated to the Boler:

The first is Bolerama  The site is dedicated to the preservation of Boler trailers. It was established in 1999 by Linda Vanderwiel in Saskatoon.  There is a great history page.  It has an interview with the father of the Boler, Ray Olecko.  It also provides a forum, a page of rallies across Canada, photos, tips and even manuals!

Another site is Boler Life Here you can find how to's and information to restore and repair your Boler with lots of before and after photos.  You can even buy Boler decals.

There are also two Facebook Groups for Boler lovers : The Boler (US based) and I own a Boler (Canada based)  

Some of the restoration work people have done really shows the love owners have for their Bolers.

Check out the beautiful exterior work on this Boler owned by Mark Bergen.

There are a lot of people who like to restore their Boler to match their fabulous antique car!
(photo and owned by Beverly Wayne Armstrong)

Cheers to all you Boler fans out there!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Coming Soon II

Manly? Yes

Well electrical any way. One of the things we noticed when we first bought Tilley was that the tail lights were very dim and one lens cover was cracked. A little research showed that the dimness was a common complaint.  Our choices were to replace the lens cover and maybe work out something with the existing bulbs, or go with new LED tail lights. Bolers have always been a little quirky and one of these quirks is that they use School Bus size tail lights. Big monster 7" tail lights. Big monster LED tail lights the size of small dinner plates with 31 LEDs and the ability to leave streaks of blood red light behind Tilley like something out of a TRON re-make as she boots down the midnight road.....

Ahem - for safety's sake we decided to go with new LED tail lights that would maximize safety and would make Tilley safer to tow safely. So off with the old lights (which will be kept in case we ever want to restore to original specs). What were these monsters held on with? Four little 1/4" long screws into the fibre glass shell. That's not going to work on the new lights - the mounting holes are 1/4" wide. So it's back to the hardware store for some nice 1/4" stainless steel bolts. Sadly brass was not available in a long enough length. So it's stainless bolts with big acorn nuts for Tilley - she's beginning to look a little butch.

The new reading lights were a different story. They were designed for household use so I bought all the right mounting plates and other bits required. But a fibre glass trailer cupboard is not 1/2" drywall so a re-think was required. Upon disassembling the Italian brass light bases, I found a Y shaped mounting yoke in solid brass. Perfect - 6 brass screws and washers and we are in business.

Next up - putting it all together.

Coming Soon...

In our October 24, 2010 post "....And the Votes are In!", I mentioned that we had decided on the light fixtures and had ordered them.  Well, just before Christmas they arrived.  They are more beautiful in person than online, and heavier too.

Now that the holidays are over, it is time to get back to work on Tilley. During the next few cold months the goal is to work on the electrical components - incorporate a 12v battery, redo quite a bit of the wiring, add in the lights we had custom made, as well as replace the old and broken tail lights with new LED ones. 

For more details I now pass you to the mechanical/electrical minded half of us - Pat - who will post The Manly Explanation of what we'll be doing next.