Sunday, December 27, 2009

Of lights and flames, and lonely moths

Do you ever wonder why a moth will circle and circle around a light, or a flame?
It's lonely, it is drawn to the light, it's a bit like salvation and the other side all in one.
It wants to renew itself someway, to feel young again, to not be alone.
To do the impossible once again, to feel love, a sense of belonging.
If it goes into the light, it can be totally absorbed and wander forever in a loving place.
If it goes into the flame, it can be consumed and renewed, if only in the mind.
Meanwhile, it circles and circles, sometimes singeing it's wings, hurting and wanting.

My life and my story continues, I want to acknowledge my light, Natalie, and my flame, CJ.
I wish you both the best in life, I hope you each find love, laughter and happiness.
Each of you in your own way changed my life, I will not abandon a moment of my memories, although some times tears start falling, I am blessed to have such people in my life.

Thank you.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I'm tired... of RV resort excuses for voltage

/rant on

Over half of the RV resorts I frequent have low voltage. I've seen voltages under 100 volts, when powering up the microwave. It's one of the reasons I have the microwave on the inverter side of the 120 volt system. RV techs warn RV'ers that continuous operation of motors under 108 volts will damage and shorten their life expectancy. I recently purchased a Hughes Autoformer to combat the problem. Autoformers boost the voltage by two percent whenever they are plugged in, until the voltage gets to 116 volts, then a boost feature kicks in, boosting the voltage by ten (10) percent. When at 116 the voltage will magically jump to 127 or 128 volts, which everything happily consumes.

We as consumers have been slowly led to believe 110 volts is normal, IT IS NOT.. Check your labels, 120 volts is what everything has been designed for, and the appliances are happy with anything up to 132 volts, 135 volts is when most overvoltage situations kick in. Voltages lower than 120 lead to more heat, and then lead to shorter life of the appliance. It's a conspiracy, shorter life of product means more sales over the consumers life, and it's all about money, folks. /rant off

A friend emailed me a question recently.

"Is the autoformer the voltage regulator/booster device?
Why are you
getting it? I know I have hit a few older parks with shakey power, is that why?
They looked kinda pricey just for the voltage regilator.

Just curious and also where you gonna put it?"

You hit the nail on the head, unfortunately the the majority of the parks I've stayed in have low voltage. I define low voltage as anything under 110 volts. It's one of the things I keep track of.

As you may or may not know, in a travel trailer there are two types of loads, resistive and inductive. That is, heaters/lights/fridge (resistive)(fans-inductive) and air conditioning/ microwave (inductive), the converter (120 to ~12v) is inductive. Getting a little deeper into electric theory, Power is made up of two things, the voltage and the amperage. They have a direct relationship as expressed by the formula (P=EI) (P)ower is expressed in watts, (E)lectro motive force is measured in voltage and I (current) is measured in amperage.

Resistive loads are usually happy with whatever they are fed, if they get low voltage, they may be a little dimmer, but it doesn't hurt the resistive load, the amperage/current is used to heat directly. (an incandescent light bulb heats a wire until it glows and gives out light.)

However, most lights in trailers are 12+- volts, so the actual 120 volts doesn't affect brightness or performance.

Onto inductive loads, anything with a motor or transformer, they are most happy and will last longer with higher voltage and lower current/amperage. The reason is current flowing through a wire heats it to some degree, resistive loads depend on the concept, unfortunately the motor/transformer does not need heat, it literally can destroy the motor (usually by melting the wire covering, be it enamel or vinyl/plastic/rubber and shorting out the device.) Motors and transformers in converters are wire wrapped devices and a short (or open) makes it not want to work, (an open causing the current to stop flowing, and a short causing the current to flow more with the possibility of fire.)

Motors need a certain amount of Power to run, for an easy example, say a motor requires 1200 watts of power, that would be 10 amps at 120 volts. The motor is usually (if 100% duty cycle) designed to handle the amount of heat 10 amps produces. If your voltage drops to 100 volts, the motor now requires 12 amps to run continuously, producing more heat, and over time it will affect the life of the device because it's running hotter than design. However, the air conditioner (13.5k BTU) will pull about 23 amps/120 volts (~2800 watts) to start, then settle down to run at 10 amps. If starting at 100 volts, it will pull at least 28 amps, a great increase in amperage (and heat.) (remember, heat destroys)

By the way, these are real world figures for my trailer,(Nash 22H,) as I had some time and voltage problems on my hands in Rock Springs, Wy. The problems were cured by the power company changing the center tap on the pole transformer (a larger autoformer) and giving the house/shop it's rightful 124 volts.

To sum it up, higher voltages (to about 135v) are better because they produce lower current (heat.) The electric company doesn't care, they get paid for "power" (kilowatts actually). You ever wonder how they get away with using such small lines across the country to deliver it? They use the same theory, very high voltage and small current, (remember, current heats) and then use various transformers/pole transformers to reduce the voltage to something usable by us little guys.

The autoformer/power booster helps the trailer to be more reliable and your appliances to be longer lived. A popular booster increases the voltage by 10% whenever the voltage drops below 116v, ie: 116 + 11.6 volts = 127 volts, if the voltage goes to 110 volts (very common) your voltage would be 121 volts.

Contrary to popular belief and despite what park managers will tell you, an autoformer does NOT steal power, it merely makes what is AVAILABLE more efficient, the autoformer by itself only drops about 1 percent of the load making it 99% efficient.

So while in Palm Desert/Palm Springs, I installed my new (to me) autoformer.

Area formerly under the Jack Knife bed, (now storage area-see blog) where 120/12 volt wiring and panel are. Seems there is some room in betwixt those wires.

A slight modification to the cord box, a little insulation and presto, it fits along all the other wiring.

I converted the 30 amp power cord with appropriate plugs/receptacles so I can use any 30 amp extension. I can also bypass the autoformer if needed.

For a wiring diagram, see my other blog posts on installing the 3000 watt inverter.

I am not affiliated in anyway with Hughes Autoformer, Franks RV power booster, Surge Guard Voltage Regulators or Powermaster Voltage Booster.

By way of CV, I graduated from Denver Institute of Technology with an Electronic Engineering Certificate (AAS) and spent a couple of years working for Texas Instruments (North Building) in Dallas, Tx. A couple of years working on televisions and radios in Rock Springs, Wy. then years of hobby electronics, including hidden cameras, power supply's, building and troubleshooting my own computers, becoming a computer forensics expert, and designing simple circuits for jobs around the house/trailer.

Also see Valiant Sacrifice my hughes autoformer dies

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Women RVers: Reading labels

Reminds me of a pet peeve- Going Green in the RV (11-08) Women RVers: Reading labels I read labels too...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Delta Shores, beautiful and sunny

I'm at Delta Shores once again, delta-dawn-whats-that-oh-delta-shores.html

It's on my list of good places to stay, the days are warm, with a little breeze and it's within reach of anyplace in Northern/Central California, It's an hour from both Sacramento and San Fransisco, the traffic is a bit lighter here than the bigger cites, but it's still more than I'm used to for the last year. Everything is accessible, and I visited my first Fry's Electronics, (oh my, the money I spent there.) (More mods upcoming on the trailer from that shopping trip) The resort is wonderful as before, the cost is perhaps the best part. $2 a night, full hookups. Ice cream socials, pancake breakfasts and potlucks every week, even Thanksgiving dinner. It's a K/M sister park and K/M members are treated royally here. There are quite a few big rigs here, more than I've seen here before, although some are leaving today. My little travel trailer looks funny parked around them.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Headin' to warmer weather?

Here I am, below Gold Beach, Oregon headed south under cloudy skies. To the east I can see snow capped hills, and the Siskiyou's reported 12 inches new snow.

I stayed dry all the way into California. Near Port Orford the wind was gusting, and the waves were crashing, I wanted to stay and watch but the truck and trailer were rocking from side to side.

I ran out of dry road and into darkness just north of Eureka, and have pulled into a rest stop on Hwy. 101. California Rest Areas let you stay (rest) for 8 hours during a 24 hour period. I have batteries and an inverter, propane, onboard water and dump tanks, why not just take advantage of anything California offers for free? I'm even getting 15 channels of TV (8 digital) With the Verizon Air card I have internet access and get to upload a photo. LIFE IS GOOD...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A reason to like the West Coast

One of the reasons to like the West Coast is the Sunsets, the most beautiful sunsets are here. Now I suppose if you live on the East Coast you could brag about the sunrises, I'm never up at that time of day anymore, so I could care less about the sunrise. (It's enough just to wake up these days. Whether the sun is up or not, the question does not arise until I poke my head outside.) One of the reasons to dislike the West Coast is California, which takes up a majority of the coast. (Is there a joke there?) I could go on with California jokes here, from Guv Ahnold to Hollywood Hijinks. I say it's a fine place to visit briefly, as long as you can afford it. I am here on the Long Beach Peninsula (Washington) enjoying Stud Clam Chowder once again at the Portside Cafe. A friend in the area also recommends Chico's Pizza, says all the locals dig it.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Birds on Wire.. Seattle.. and moving again?

As you may be able to tell, I went up to the Seattle area again, some rainy weather, some nice weather, my friend was moving again, this time from Kent into Seattle proper. Talk about location, she's now downtown, close to EVERYTHING... and the cutest apartment. By the way, the above photo is one of her paintings/mixed media in a series titled "Birds on Wire" I had a fun time, got tired and sweaty at times... but everything was finally accomplished before I got snowed on again, (I got a little snow at Tall Chief RV Resort near Redmond.) On finishing I headed down to the Long Beach Peninsula (Chinook, Ilwaco, Seaview, and Long Beach)

Monday, October 05, 2009

Mother Natures Way of telling me to move on...

One day I'm under the trailer, checking brackets and rustproofing the frame, the next day?

I have to find my one pair of socks, my one pair of boot like shoes (Doc Martens,) and my one pair of Levis. Of course I'm kinda skimpy on coats also, but I have a fleece/Goretex combo that will do in a pinch.

Thats over 6.5 inches on the hood.

Looks like a good test for the new bumper boxes.

Now I gotta air up my trailer tires because the Pressure Pro system is telling me I only have 43 lbs in one of the tires, (maybe the 22 degree out side temperature has something to do with it.)

The trailer is performing like a champ, keeping me warm and toasty, I had unhooked the water and put 15 gallons more in the water tank when I saw the temps dropping. The small electric heater on low (900/1500 watt) keeps the bedroom area about 66 and the rest of the inside about 61.

At .04 KWH, it's cheaper than propane. The conversion factor is 27 (26.85) in deciding what to use. (.04 x 26.85 = $1.08, meaning propane would have to cost less to be more cost effective. $0.12 KWH is about the break even point for most of the country) Of course the bathroom seat is a little chilly and puckers me a bit. The Hunter Digital thermostat kicks the furnace on when the temps get real low. I set it to kick on a couple of times during the night to keep the water tanks from freezing.

I'm doing inside projects now until I can pull out of Rock Springs, Wy. and head toward the nearest coast. (magnetic catches on the screen door, couple of 12 volt wiring projects, some more LED lighting, cleaning the crevices and such.)

I encountered a couple of sub-freezing days and one kinda snow day while wintering on the Oregon coast last year. Nothing like Wyoming to bring back memories though. I lived in Southwest Wyoming for 12 or so years, and in Park City Utah for 16 years, so dealing with snow is one of the reasons I went on the road, still chasing that perfect 70 degree weather.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I can't stop...

The Modifications. I look at the trailer and see ways to make things better, since I've got time on my hands, I grab cutters, welders, grinders and paint cans and go to work. Check out the following additions to the bumper boxes and trailer.

I took my boxes off, added a pair of holes through the base for a hitch pin and welded on a 3/8 nut (with hole behind it), so I could tighten anything I put in the tube down tight.

The rear tire folding down makes a nice spot for holding bags, but can I make this more useful?

It only goes down part way? Hmmm...

A couple of cuts with a 4.5 inch metal cutting wheel, a hammer and a pair of visegrips bend the metal.

OK I made the tire lie down flat, it holds things better now. But can I make it better?

Holds all the bags unloaded from the box, but?

Just steal the table top off a small 30 inch wide table and bolt it on the tire carrier.

Folded up and reinforced with small metal plate.

Looks almost normal with tire on.

Table folded out, ready for work and to stack stuff on. But I need a light to work on things in the evening.

So I added a 12 volt light with a switch, on the 22H, the bathroom light switch is directly behind the outside light, making it easy access and hookup to 12 volts.

I had space between the trailer and boxes, I had to fill it...
My friend gave me a couple of 5.25 inch vinyl fence posts, (check background below) he was getting rid of them. so I used them to hold things. Like Sewer tubes and rain gutter slinky support.

A bit wider view.

I still have access to drain the water heater.

Arrrghhh... Woke up early Saturday to a phone call, decided to stay up, so I went down to the steel yard and bought a 6 foot piece of steel, ($11) 1.5 inch square tube x .083, Got out the chop saw, the grinder and the MIG, a couple of spray cans and began cutting, grinding, welding, and painting, horrible day. This is what I came up with...

Notice the T handle bolt on the bottom of the sat dish pole, it tightens up fine, rock solid dish mount, about 270-280 degree view of the sky depending on the side I put the mount on, I made the other pole just to have a blank, maybe a flag pole, lantern pole, bug lantern, what ever, maybe I need to cut it and mount a grill.

The poles are offset from the locks, so the boxes are still accessible.

Hmmm, now maybe a rear awning is in order, so I can work on things during the day, or maybe an umbrella on one of my poles to block the sun.

9-28-09, I'm headed to Idaho to get my mothers place winterized so she can head out to the coast. I'll be back in Rock Springs Thursday or Friday, just in time for below freezing weather. A stopover in Salt Lake to pick up and drop off items, and to see my beautiful friends.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A View from the Rear.

Another adventure in design and modification, I've seen many trailers with generators and boxes and platforms on the rear. After looking at many, I decided I would like to have some more storage for my junk.

I began planning to add storage to the rear bumper, I looked at many boxes, rubber maid and other various plastic boxes. They seemed pretty cheap and I could carry a lot but all of them were at least 25 inches at the bottom.

I looked at many truck boxes from various manufacturers. Most of these run 17 to 19 inches on the bottom, but 20-24 inches across the top. I decided with a tire carrier on one side and a truck box on the other, the trailer would look lopsided, plus I wasn't happy with adding 22 inches to the rear of the trailer, that would be 10 or more inches beyond the spare tire.
I began looking at tongue boxes, I could put one on each side of the tire and it would look balanced. A bit triangle shaped, I looked at Harbor Freight and many others, even on eBay. I found a person on eBay making tongue boxes, and custom Diamond Plate items. EVEN CUSTOM BOXES.... MAP Welding and Fabrication . I emailed and called Mark Proul to discuss what I needed, he quickly gave me a quote, I checked 4 places on the west coast that make custom boxes and a local person, the price quoted was less than most could buy the metal for.
I paid for the boxes quickly, these are nice custom boxes, My dimensions were 30 inches wide, 12 inches front to back and 16 inches high. The rear bumper is 92 inches, the spare is about 27 inches, but If I got larger tires in the future they would not be over 32 inches. So each box became 30 inches. 16 inches high does not cover the license plate from the rear. And the 12 inches is very close to the amount the spare tire sticks out.

All photos are on Webshots and will open much larger when clicked

Original rear bumper with spare tire attached.

Underneath old bumper-right side.

Bumper and area that will be modified.

Cutting the old bumper off.

Bareback trailer.

Positioning receiver hitch for measurement and testing.

Test fitting receiver and bumper. (Measure many times, cut/weld once)

Left side test fit.

Getting set up for welding, protecting trailer from splatter with cardboard and metal license plates.

Tack weld and measure again. Carefully considering all ramifications of adding metal. Weight, strength, looks were all mulled over and discussed at length.

Full vertical weld left side, I had to practice on some scrap for a while first. It turned out easy with the Millermatic MIG welder.

The bumper welded back on, with receiver hitches underneath.

Bumper raised about 2.25 inches, one of the reasons I didn't use hanging receiver hitches on the bumper, also I wasn't sure of the bumper strength.

Getting ready to build a removeable base for the boxes, 2 inch tube at 21 inches each.

Angle iron, and safety equipment with the obligatory Owners Group hat.

Cutting and grinding my metal for the base.

Tack welding the iron together, to test fit on the trailer.

Delivery of the boxes.

First test fit of the new boxes.

Welded base, the boxes were test fit and holes drilled, I welded the nuts on prior to priming and painting.

Primed box base.

Final coat-Rustoleum semi-gloss black.

Getting ready to place the base in the receivers and pin/bolt them down.

Finished boxes, I used pieces of angle iron and a couple of fender washers to fasten the boxes down to the bases. Each box can be individually removed in a matter of minutes. Something else can be placed in the hitch receiver such as a bike rack or platform.

Outside shower access. (I have never used it)

Underneath left side showing base and bottom of box. I used 3/8 bolts to fasten. (Overbuilt everything)

Right side underneath showing pin, base and welds.

Rusty spare tire carrier, wire brushed.

Spare and carrier, primed, painted and pretty.

Initially I had planned to surround the bottom of the diamond plate boxes with the angle iron, I decided I was over building and that it would detract from the look. So I went with just building a strong base. I had over 350 pounds standing on the bases and they didn't even flex.
The total weight of the boxes, base and receivers is 78 pounds. The last time I weighed the trailer, the front tires were 100 pounds heavier than the rear. This modification allows me to move weight to the rear. and lighten my 1050 pound tongue weight. Total weight is well under the posted limits of the tires, when I hit Oregon in a couple of months I'll check each tire/axle again and reposition weight as necessary.

Thanks to, the Arctic Fox, Nash, Desert Fox, Northwood RV Owners Association for ideas, information and compliments.

Thanks go to Mark Proul at MAP Fabrication and Welding for the wonderful custom inexpensive Diamond Plate boxes. Call 203.228.2164, he can do anything diamond plate, from tongue boxes to toothbrush holders, you give him a design and he can do it. Mention where you saw them.

Thanks to the Burkes in Rock Springs Wyoming, for the use of the shop, welders and space for the project.