Monday, December 21, 2015

Water we doing?

We're installing the water fill port!!

The port needs to be below the top of the fresh H2O tank. That's necessary because of the shapes of Annie's inner and outer walls and framing. So, we won't be able to use a gravity feed. Instead we'll depend on a check-valved city water port as our only inlet.

I will selectively use that inlet to fill the tank with pressured city water, winterize the sink faucet lines,  use our on-board water pump to fill the tank from (filtered) streams or lake water, or (rarely) use city water to drive the faucets.

Anderson Brass makes a port assembly that has a four way valve and a city water inlet...exactly what we need.
The only problem is that there is no door. I don't want this exposed to the elements, not to mention that the aesthetics committee would have a fit.

Fortunately, the 4-way valve is available as a stand-alone part.

I already had a standard gravity+city feed assembly, so I cut out the gravity feed,  and installed the valve in it s place.I mounted the valve on an aluminum plate that I screwed onto the assembly

Then off to Annie to perform surgery.  First mark where the wound should go. I drilled the 2 upper corner holes from the inside. Then marked the cut lines on the outside. The water assembly fits neatly in one of the inner wall's openings, but care is required to make sure the assembly is properly centered.

This picture needs a cutting remark:

If Annie was a side of beef, at this point I would exclaim "Holey Cow, what a fine cut!":

Caulked the box and screwed it in.

The aesthetics comittee had previously painted the box to match Annie, and did a fine job!
Not only that, but the door works!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A quick update...wiring electric distribution panel and driver side wall insulation

Both pretty short topics, so I'll just combine them here.
I wired up all the pulled lines to the distribution/breaker/fuse box, and began powering up some devices.
Wiring away

AC and DC distribution is wired. We are also connected to the main battery buss.

Both heaters, the MaxAir fan, and the CO/LPG detector are wired in. All except the H2O heater are tested.

The distribution box is about where it will live. The gas detector will be immediately to its right, or about where it is resting now. I will be rerouting that gas hose to free up some storage space.
Both will be raised a few inches, because the main hot air vent will be below them. Hopefully, the space to the right will be storage with a recessed access panel to the utilities.

Most of the far end electrics still need to be installed (H2O pump, the control panel, lighting, outlets, etc., etc.

But now it was time to start wall insulation. We are using Thinsulate.

Here is a handy tip: Turn off the LPG/CO detector if you are spraying 3M90 or Great Stuff foam insulation near the detector. They will set it off! Good thing my hearing ain't what it used to be, otherwise it might have become what it ain't used to be.

It was a dark and stormy...oh wait, it was a cold and soggy day. I'm cutting the Thinsulate in the garage, so this was a perfect excuse to use the awning while I commuted back and forth.

Thinsulate is done, and some expanding foam is happily expanding as well. I think I will need to do more. The final step will be Reflectix.


Before I start insulating the passenger wall, I will be installing a water inlet station modified with a 4 way inlet valve. Still need to finish the station's mods. I also want to do some thermal imaging experiments, comparing the treated and untreated walls.

I'll wait for a somewhat drier day to cut the water station hole in the wall. But if the thermal images look interesting (or usable) I'll post some here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Soon, we'll be so full of hot air...

Mounted the house heater.
First, VHB and screw down a riser.

Then measure 25 times  to get enough confidence to drill the burner vent holes.

Whew, the holes  and heater align!

Goop up the vent cover with lots of caulk. Mainly building up enough to fill the curvy part of Annie's wall. Screw it in nice and tight.

Cut the excess caulk and paint it silver to match Annie.

Screwed the heater to the riser, and we're done.

This marks (or almost marks) a milestone. I don't think there are any more openings to cut into Annie's driver side wall!  I need to find out from Airhead if I can run the composting john's exhaust vent through the floor, instead of high on the wall, or through the roof.

If I can, here is Annie's complete left side.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Wiring without enough coffee to get us wired

The water heater is mechanically installed, so we've gone back to electrical work.

This is a short entry, since pulling wire isn't particularly exciting. I may revisit the topic if something challenging shows up.
Me being unexcited:

I created a spreadsheet of what needs to be wired to what. I use that as a reference when pulling the lines.

 I've run most of the upper DC power and control lines from where the fuse/distribution box will be:

To where they'll end up at various switches, gauges, sensors and self-destruct timers. There will be a control panel on the john's outer wall, near the fridge. I've also run the lines back to the items that get switched or sensed (like the battery & solar monitors and controllers, water heater, H2O pump, water & LPG levels {the white/red pair going into the floor behind the LPG valves}, etc.).

Finally ran the line to the LPG level sensor and hooked it up. Clearly, I need to stress relief this end to the wire feed-though.

Next step is to mount the house heater and and cut its combustion vent holes.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

I think we're getting into hot water

The AC and DC fuse/distribution box will be inboard from the water heater. I decided to get the heater mounted before all the cabling gets in the way. Once again, we have a case of needing to do "A" before "B", "B" before "C", and "C" before "A".

The heater is an Atwood propane fired on-demand unit. It needs to be raised above the floor to avoid cutting the plastic outer body panels, and to more or less vertically balance the curvy part of the outer wall.

So, it will sit on a riser box just aft of the propane valves. Here I've marked where we need to slice Annie open. The riser is being used to set the height.

Reasons for choosing this location are that there is a minimum amount of inner wall to cut, and that the inner and outer wall are connected on both sides of the cut pretty close to the hole. That will help keep things rigid.

 The inner hole is cut.

Measured and marked for the outer hole, and drilled corner pilot holes.

I cut the hole from the outside. Covered the hole with a bit of plastic sheet because we were expecting rain.

Dry fitting the heater, while saving the hole cover for a rainy day. Not sure what the next step would have been if I'd screwed up the cut...

Installing the riser that the heater sits on. The riser is screwed to the floor and VHB'd to the outer wall.

Because of Ford's stupid form before function curves of the sidewall,  the vertical center of the heater hits the wall well before the heater top and bottom. In other words, you can't mate the two flush. So, I'm adding aluminum spacers and LOTS of caulking tape to convert the warped sidewall to a more-or-less flat mating surface.
Adding spacers:

Made sure the heater is seated properly. I'll be tying it down with some plumber strap as the last step.

Then the caulk tape, non-sag lap sealant, and mounting screws.

Removed a bunch of the excess lap sealant and painted it silver. That sealant stuff is a real pain to work with and finish smoothly. I pretty much failed at the task (as the aesthetics committee made very clear), and will revisit it in some of my copious free time. But for now, it sure won't leak!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Power Pointing, part two

Wherein we wire the house and car batteries together. The main question was how to get cable access to the car batteries.

Ford, in their wisdom, decided to store a ~6.7 million Joule energy source (AKA the pair of stock AGM batteries) under the driver's seat .

I had first thought to punch one hole low down in the seat base. But, the base is slanted (insert political joke here.), and the steel is very hard. I could not get a starter hole drilled.
I found that if I slightly widened one for the covered slots higher up, it would fit a cable and grommet.
So that's where the cables are routing.

I suspect those slot are there in case you have flooded batteries, and need some venting. They are covered inside the base with a plastic sheet.

I added lugs to the seat end of the cables, and roughly determined their placement in the seat base.
Then I fed the other end of the cabled in between the inner and outer side walls. I punched a hole in the inner wall and used a grommet.

Continued running the lines toward the back. When I neaten things up, I will be filling the holes in the rib shown below with expanding foam to keep the cables away from the metal edges.

I found a convenient hole to get back to the inside world.

Wired in the BlueSea ML-ACR relay. (That's the VSR in the last post's block diagram).

Attached the cables to Annie's batteries and neatened up a bit.

Put the seat base back together, and called it a day.

There are two reasons for this interface. One is to allow Annie's alternator to charge the house batteries as we drive. The other is in case Annie's batteries die. I can switch the ML-ACR on and use the house to jumpstart Annie.

I had planned on adding a fuse at Annie's batteries, in case something went awry between the two battery sets. However, the BlueSea instructions explicitly say not to do that if you want to run as a jumper. So, I am not going to do that yet. Also, since it's a real pain to access the under seat battery junctions, if I do add a fuse, it will probably be near the ML-ACR.

Finally, the ML-ACR has a remote control switch. I'm still deciding where I want to install that. It may go in the control/monitor panel that I'll be putting in above the fridge.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Power Pointing part one

Before we start the wall insulation and finish up the ceiling insulation and bead board, I want to get the electrics installed. Mainly because it is easier to snake and run lines without all the insulation getting in the way. I decided to start with the charging system, then add all the distributed power points.

The charging system consists of an AC inverter/charger, a solar controller, and a house/car battery interface. (Not to mention the batteries and solar panels that are already installed.)
In this chapter, we'll get the inverter/charger and solar controller hooked up.

The AC system will charge the batteries from an external shore source, or use the batteries to provide AC for things like a microwave or electric toothbrush. The idea is to avoid needing a generator.

If we want to plug in shore AC, we need a plug. And that means a hole.

Now that we find we have a have a hole, we need to plug the hole with our plug. Otherwise, air, and nighttime darkness might leak in.

 I'm using a 30Amp bulkhead plug. It has no darkness leakage specification, but it is theoretically waterproof.
It comes with a rubber grommet, but since Annie's wall is slightly curved,  I also added some caulk strip.

The plug is a nice shiny white. The aesthetics committee convened an emergency session, and concluded that the plug must match Annie's skin color. So we painted it.

The AC wiring will be made up of 12 gauge exterior grade extension cord. This gives us a stranded, flexible cable with a strong abrasion resistant outside sheath. The hole edges are also painted, and the plug is caulked from the inside as well.

I also made a 30A->20A adapter plug using the male end of the extension cord.

Next I mounted and wired up the solar controller. I probably don't need my scrawled reminder any more.

Then the catastrophe fuse, the current monitor shunt, and the battery temperature sensor. These are all on the batteries or the battery tray.

The next step is mounting the MS2012 inverter/charger. It goes on a wood panel that's mounted to the floor in a similar manner to the battery slide. The MS2012 gets bolted to that wood panel with 1/4-20 bolts and t-nuts.

Then wire it all together. I built the DC cables myself to keep the cabling as short as practical, using 2AWG stranded. The cables to the battery tray are long enough to allow full extension of the tray.

The MS2012 can theoretically draw up to 267A, which exceeds the rated current carrying capacity of any 2AWG cable. 2AWG is rated as OK up to 200A, IF it uses 105degC rated insulation. Since 200A is somewhat more than the maximum current I ever expect to draw from the batteries,  the catastrophe fuse is being replaced with a 200A breaker.
I'm not using the 2/0 wire that the MS2012 nominally needs at full load since 2AWG is MUCH less expensive and is much easier to fit and route. The 200A breaker makes this an acceptable choice.

 A test of the system with a ~1000W AC load (a pair of halogen work lamps) results in a total .1V drop between the batteries and the MS2012, at a measured battery discharge current of about 78A.

That's about it to this point. Next power system steps are to install the car/house battery VSR interface, and hook up the house AC/DC distribution panel. Then tuck in all the wiring neatly.

Here is a rough block of the wiring setup. Note that the battery monitor (ME-BMK) is not shown connected to the shunt.
Also note the slightly unorthodox fuse hookup. This was done for convenience, since the MPPT 60A fuse assembly came with extremely short leads.