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Thread: Travel Trailer Electrical Upgrade

  1. #91
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    Knowing i'm going to be doing the write-up also helps my approach while doing the project... it makes me think "what's Tdale going to point out that i missed" or "what suggestion is Marked going to offer that will seem both really smart but obvious in retrospect if i had given it a little more thought?" and also pay a little attention to appearance knowing it's going to get looked at by everyone here. Baling wire is good for a lot of things and so i keep a roll in my toolbox but do i really want my darling daughter seeing the new inverter strapped to the underside of the bunk with it? Or my friends here on the SHTF board? It makes me ask "sure that approach will work but can i do a little better?" As a kid i tended to do things half-assed and improvised a lot of stuff out of convenience or necessity... tell the truth, i still do too much corner cutting. It's a good ability to have but not one you want to brag about using too often. My Dad was a perfectionist who went to the other extreme and took extreme pride in his craftmanship. I'll never have his talent and skill but thinking about him makes me want to try just a little harder. I hope he gets an occasional smile from the Great Beyond watching me on some of these projects. And i hope he notices me trying to do a little better than "half-assed"
    Last edited by bruss01; 03-31-2017 at 05:19 PM.
    In a crazy world, it's the crazy man who can get by - and it's about to get cray-cray up in here.

  2. #92
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    Bruss,

    It looks great !!!! I love the new install.
    Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

  3. #93
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    Next up... the fridge. My on-board refrigerator is a Norcold 838EG2 made between 83-86. It was the first electronically controlled fridge Norcold produced. Not working when i bought the trailer, but i figured i could tinker it into working shape. I will freely admit that in retrospect this was an error. With what i have spent on parts alone i could have bought a new fridge. However we are too far down the road to turn back now. First i had to replace the ammonia cooling unit... they can be ordered as rebuilt. Replacing it took me two full days. I am convinced this is the second replacement cooling unit this fridge has seen. Still no worky, i had to swap out tbe electronic control board... most certainly not the original as these were subject to two recall fixes. Mfr no longer supplies parts but a wonderful company called Dinosaur Electronics makes a substitute board. Replacing ghe control board got the old girl back in service. I've used it the past 3 years with varying degrees of success.

    Now it seems to be having issues with staying lit. Probably ignitor board or flame sensor. Also there is an issue i've been able to avoid facing thus far and that is that this is a propane/electric fridge and the enectric has never worked. So after much searching i finally located a replacement heating element (new, old stock would you believe the luck in finding one). I have had two camping trips with full hookups this year and could have used electricity to run the fridge instead of propane. Getting the ectric side working will provide some redundancy in case of problems with the propane side.

    I got the fridge pulled and dug into the guts, got the old heater out and new one in... hooked up a homemade suicide cord to test the new unit. Gave it a few seconds while noting the 325 watts my Kill-a-Watt said it was pulling and then put my hand on the housing to see if it was getting warm yet. That's a mistake i won't make again! It was already searing hot and only quick reflexes saved me from a nasty burn. Ok, the new one works, but now it's time to (belatedly) confirm my suspicion that the old one was actually bad. Plugged the suicide cord into the Kill-a-Watt and hooked the terminals to the old heater... no heat and zero watts... he's dead, Jim... obviously an open circuit, a burned out element. Good call on replacing it.

    While i had it out of it's enclosure i ran the wiring for the remote switch for the inverter so that is now finished. I am also making some changes to better ventilate the back of the enclosure and better insulate the front. If successful this should help improve cooling efficiency. I've had issues with being able to maintain a sufficiently cold temp on hot afternoons so i am hoping to improve that. Pics of the work tomorrow.

    Had to replace battery compartment vent fan. Glad i took the time to wire it for a standard PC computer fan. Two minute job to swap it out.

    It is not cost effective to rebuild one of these old propane refrigerators... in many ways it is a fool's errand and i don't recommend it. However this experience has taught me a LOT about how these units work and knowledge is valuable for it's own sake... so it's not a complete loss. Damn expensive education though.
    Last edited by bruss01; 04-03-2017 at 03:43 PM.
    In a crazy world, it's the crazy man who can get by - and it's about to get cray-cray up in here.

  4. #94
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    Now you know, and knowing is half the battle- G.I. Joe

    Great write up, thank you.
    Don't bring skittles to a gun fight.

  5. #95
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    I enjoy these write ups that you do. You and I are a lot alike in that we are both resourceful and tend to use what we have to make things work. I too am trying to get better at doing things the right way but old habbits die hard.
    Prepare for the worst, hope for the best

  6. #96
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    Now that full redundancy for ice (and cold beer!) has been restored, mind PM'ing me with your bugout location so I can park next to you in the apocalypse Bruss? I always have plenty of caulk, molding, duct tape, and bailing wire left over from my projects if you ever need to borrow some. lol

    Enjoy reading about the Matilda upgrades too, got some inspiration for restarting my trailer conversion from it. Thinking of naming mine "Oscar" (from The Odd Couple), you'll see why shortly lol.
    Everything marked, everything 'membered. You wait, you'll see.

  7. #97
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    Quote Originally Posted by marked View Post
    Now that full redundancy for ice (and cold beer!) has been restored, mind PM'ing me with your bugout location so I can park next to you in the apocalypse Bruss? I always have plenty of caulk, molding, duct tape, and bailing wire left over from my projects if you ever need to borrow some. lol
    I've always thought the whole point of camping, as a sport, was to make your neighbor campers green with jealousy! I had a buddy who used to pack a tiny collapsable oven (yes OVEN) on backpacking trips and bake brownines out on the trail. He certainly inspired a certain amount of jealousy, although he paid for it with having to haul the oven up and down the mountain. Jealousy aside, yeah, I need my cold stuff - frozen food, ice, sandwich meat, eggs, you name it... also I like cooking for 2-3 meals at once so I only have to heat up the place using the stove one time, but get three meals out of it... need a place to keep the leftovers from going south. I've used coolers with store-bought ice... turns into a real mess in fairly short order, typically. Having the fridge saves that mess and all the runs to the store for more ice.

    Long way to go yet before the Norcold is back in action. I replaced the heater element but the whole thing has to go back together, along with the new ignitor board and flame sensor. Plus some upgrades to the enclosure. Here's a couple of shots of some insulation going in:




    I'm planning to put some 140mm computer fans in the back to help exhaust hot air out of the compartment, which I've heard can help a lot on hot days. Already have the fans, and I just ordered this 3-position switch (might take a couple of weeks to arrive so may have to delay that part of the project a bit). I wanted 3-position because I'd like to be able to run the fans on low speed by tapping the 5v circuit, and on high using the 12v circuit. Also wanted blue LED for an "on" indicator and of course a reasonable price - of course all this pickyness ended up with me spending about 6 hours online, searching - finally found what I wanted though:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/19mm-Mountin...XzGcNNfsp9QKvw


    I was able to route the remote inverter switch wiring inside the wire loom for the battery cables - impossible to do unless the fridge is pulled:




    Here's a shot of the inverter remote switch mounted, right by the front door, easy to check/flip as you are heading out. 120v AC to the outlets at the flip of a switch, no more opening a cabinet door and crawling to reach under the bunk to turn it on or check if it's been left on.




    And the fridge in it's current state of disarray (plus new heat element but minus ignitor board, flame sensor, burner assembly) :




    Oh, and I neglected to mention the interior fridge light socket is shot (corroded beyond salvage) so I have to replace that at some point as well... might as well do it while the fridge is pulled. Small chore but it would be nice to have the light. And a few spots of rust where the paint is peeling around the front - a vigorous wire brushing and a bit of rustoleum ought to get that under control.

    Enjoy reading about the Matilda upgrades too, got some inspiration for restarting my trailer conversion from it. Thinking of naming mine "Oscar" (from The Odd Couple), you'll see why shortly lol.
    Good luck with "Oscar"! Yes I remember the Odd Couple 70's tv show. Hope you have a good time putting it together, please post progress pics so we can all share in your adventure. And if you ever find yourself camped up along side us, feel free to hit me up for a cold and frosty Marked!
    Last edited by bruss01; 04-04-2017 at 06:02 PM.
    In a crazy world, it's the crazy man who can get by - and it's about to get cray-cray up in here.

  8. #98
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    Oh yes, making other campers green with envy! The last time I went tent camping, I brought along my small 5 watt solar panel, a 50 amp/hr battery, and a power inverter. I lost count how many people brought their phones over to get recharged. That's one reason why I installed a USB jack on a Ryobi flashlight. Later this month my church is going on a campout and I'm thinking about bringing my 50 watt panel for this one.
    Prepare for the worst, hope for the best

  9. #99
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    That's a good point Cav. One of the big issues I heard of people dealing with during Super Storm Sandy was lack of ability to charge phones. Cell phones have become a vital communication link for people and having it cut off in a disaster has a big impact. I saw where a few people who did have power were running cords out so passer-by could charge up their phones for a bit, as a public courtesy. The Ritz (aka Waltzing Matilda) has an external AC outlet, so it wouldn't be hard to set up a folding table with an outlet strip and let folks charge up their personal devices during some kind of crisis.

    USB jack on a Ryobi flashlight? that's thinking outside the box!
    Last edited by bruss01; 04-04-2017 at 03:45 PM.
    In a crazy world, it's the crazy man who can get by - and it's about to get cray-cray up in here.

  10. #100
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    Quote Originally Posted by bruss01 View Post
    That's a good point Cav. One of the big issues I heard of people dealing with during Super Storm Sandy was lack of ability to charge phones. Cell phones have become a vital communication link for people and having it cut off in a disaster has a big impact. I saw where a few people who did have power were running cords out so passer-by could charge up their phones for a bit, as a public courtesy. The Ritz (aka Waltzing Matilda) has an external AC outlet, so it wouldn't be hard to set up a folding table with an outlet strip and let folks charge up their personal devices during some kind of crisis.

    USB jack on a Ryobi flashlight? that's thinking outside the box!
    I decided to put it in the Ryobi flashlight because I have 6 of the lithium 18 volt batteries and I can recharge a dead phone multiple times on a high capacity battery. I didn't want to have an outlet for people due to the power loss of converting 12 volt to 120 volt and then convert it back down to 5 volt for a USB outlet. Personally, if I am going to help others then I am going to minimize the impact by helping others in the most efficient way I can.
    Prepare for the worst, hope for the best

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