Thursday, June 5, 2014

Let's Talk About Priorities

Yes, it's been a year since I last posted here. Sorry for the delay. We have been plotting and planning since then, but we didn't have the funds to continue working on Tilley.

But... I've recently come into a wee bit of a windfall. The work on making Tilley self-sufficient is back on!

Last year we put in a 12v battery and last July I mentioned that Pat had installed an inverter as well. During the winter we found an incredible wee appliance for something that we feel is essential to our happy camping experience - a 12v coffee maker!! We thought we were all set to go with our lovely new inverter until we opened the coffee maker box and realized that the plug was for the battery directly. Dang it!

So the first thing we had to do was get a 12v socket just so we could use the coffee maker - early mornings when camping must have fresh coffee!

You can see it plugged into the new socket on the counter. We tested it too - thankfully it works.

The next thing Pat wanted to do was figure out how much electricity we expected to use for various things like lights, movie watching, computers (all on rainy days of course) and our coffee maker. He worked out that the item that would use the vast majority of our energy was the coffee maker. This is where priorities come in. I said we'd just have to get a bigger solar panel to cover the need for the morning coffee - no ifs, ands or buts.

To help keep the usage down (so more can go to the coffee maker) he found out that there are LED replacement bulbs for items that have halogen bulbs, which we do in Tilley. Less usage and they last a long time too.

We replaced both bulbs. Less energy used 
AND they are actually brighter.

While he was at it, he also got an LED light for outside of Tilley. We simply wanted something that we could have on in the evening to help us find our way back from any campfires we may have been visiting with friends.

We got a red light so we could see it, but it shouldn't attract as many 
bugs to our front door, or be glaring late at night.

Next step is to find a dealer for the type of solar panel we want. We'd like to get one you can roll up, flexible and waterproof. Now that we have all our information together and everything in place, that's our next step. I can't wait!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

More Power for Tilly

Long term plans for Tilly have always included the ability to recharge our computers and other devices and perhaps run a small appliance or two.  To this end, we bought a basic power inverter along with some heavy duty cables to to hook it to the battery.  Installation was accomplished last month in anticipation of a camping trip starting this weekend. No pictures as it was simply attaching yet another box under the counter. Now we wait for solar panels to go on sale....

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Blogging from the Belly of the Beast

Poor Tilley was confined to the garage all winter, and sadly this spring as well. We have done a lot of travelling, but no where we could take her. This weekend we finally had a chance to let her freshen up. As soon as Pat moved her out and secured her in the driveway, I jumped in and got to work. I straightened and cleaned up inside.

I made a list of everything that had expired and that we needed to replace - like coffee and hot chocolate - I find they are more tasty when fresh. (and don't worry I never just toss out the old, we use at home for cooking or baking). I replaced our old travel mugs with four new ones we acquired during last weekend's travels.

Emily and Martin will appreciate that our wedding favours will be used in Tilley while enjoying the great outdoors.

I opened up all the windows and vents.  That alone made a huge difference in helping to freshen up the inside. What a difference a breeze makes. Then I cleaned all her windows.

Look at that shine!

Now I am relaxing and blogging about Tilley from a comfortable spot inside, enjoying the quiet, and knowing that we will soon have somewhere to go where we can enjoy and appreciate her homey and luxurious comforts!


Saturday, May 19, 2012


Sadly it has been a little quiet on the camping front.  I'm lucky I can enjoy the big blue room while walking to work and working in the garden, but it's camping I love best.  It is incredibly relaxing.  I do not look at a clock unless I absolutely have to, there is no set schedule, and all the fresh air gives me a lovely peaceful sleep.

I have been aching to take poor Tilley on a trip this year, but she is still waiting for that first outing of the season.  We've been at weddings, birthdays, conventions, and celebrations of every shape and size. This has left us with no free weekend for the great outdoors.  But as the weather has gotten warmer (and some days incredibly hot!) we have been constantly thinking about Tilley.  We continue to make plans for our next addition and we spend what time we can getting her spruced up for our "hopefully soon" outings.

For example, this past Mother's Day my lovely husband bought me some the form of a bath bomb and soap. The soap is fabulous and comes in a tin, which made me think about Tilley and how perfect it will be when cleaning up after playing in the big blue room.

At least it gives me a good reason to spend some time in Tilley organizing and looking for a place to put the soap.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Spring has Sprung

It is April 1st and that means it's almost camping season for us.  As the weather has gotten warmer and the snow has melted I have been dying to get Tilley out of the garage for a clean up and to figure out what to do next.  Money will be tighter this year as we're working on taking our girls to the UK in the fall, so any work on Tilley will have to involve little money and lots of creativity. 

Next year when we're not travelling out of the country, I hope we can get Tilley's exterior painted.  But for this year....hmmm... I'll have to get back to you.

Until then, here is the pillow from Ikea I want to purchase for Tilley.


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.