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 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.