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.

1 comment:

  1. Mike and I would like to get some sort of trailer etc. for festing... tenting isn't getting to be too much for me physically. We are thinking of a boler/trillium trailer OR this...