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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

MOTORHOME MODIFICATION - *E* - Electrical Modifications and Dad P goes HOME!

I am going to start off the new year with posting some of our motorhome modifications, a few at a time. I will post repairs, modifications, or neato things we have found for RVing.  I have lots of pics in my files so I will do them in alphabetical order.

Underneath that stuff, I will post my regular daily stuff..... kinda sorta fun, eh?


Our motorhome has a big 50 gal built in propane tank.  It does not have smaller BBQ type tanks you can remove and haul off to be refilled.  Soooo that means you have to pull up stakes and drive it somewhere to get the big tank filled (usually on a business day and searching to find bulk filling/home delivery places that will fill it for you)

A few years ago, we discussed about putting on an Extend-A-Stay unit.  This allows you to run all of your propane items from an extra external tank if need be.  Then you do not have to move the motorhome to get more propane if you are settled in a campsite.

I saw one for sale on Ebay.  It was going to end within the hour. The funny thing is that as I was bidding, but someone else was bidding against me. It kept creeping up a dollar at a time.  It turned out to be STEVE!!!  I was down in my studio on my laptop bidding... and he was up in the livingroom on his laptop bidding!!!  LOL LOL ... we paid a few dollars more, but still got a good deal.  They run in the $50-60 range.

It was pretty easy to install, and Steve had it done in no time flat with the easy instructions.  Be sure to use piping tape around the threads that is rated for propane.  Now not only can we use it to extend a stay as the name implies, but it also has port that we could run an external item like a grill or lantern off it with an extension hose.

We have done a lot of little electrical additions and modifications to our motorhome... mostly to make it easier to boondock (camp out in the woods without hookups to power or water)  These are some of my most favorite ones:

Electric Timer on Water Heater:
Did this ever happen to you???

In the dark of the night:

"Did you turn off the water heater after your shower?"
"uh oh.. don't think so....."

(crawling out of bed to walk back up to the kitchen area of our motorhome and fumble in the dark to turn off the propane water heater and then back to bed again)

And so it goes!   

We usually DO turn the switch off after using the propane water heater in our motorhome.  But sometimes we forget. "Why turn it off?", you ask?  Because in a motorhome, it doesn't make sense to keep it going 24/7 and waste propane.   People living in a stix-n-brix house don't think about having to refill a propane tank, as they usually have piped in natural gas and pay the bill at the end of the month or a big bulk tank in the yard that gets filled a couple times a year.

Why waste propane by heating water all night long, when it only takes 10 minutes in the morning to get a hot tank for a shower if you just turn it on prior to using it? Why waste propane by heating water all day long if you are only going to do dishes after supper at 6 or 7 pm?

We do find that we sometimes forget to turn it off;  only to remember it once we are snuggled into bed at night.  That means whoever left it on, has to get outta bed and turn it off!  LOL

Guess who usually forgets???
it's not ME

Soooooo  that brainy guy came up with a solution.  Although the water heater is a propane fired one, it is operated by an electrical switch on the panel over our doorway in control center of our motorhome.


He bought an electric timer, the kind used on hot tubs or saunas etc.  He planned to wire it in near the switch for the water heater, then we will be able to just turn the dial to ignite the heater. Once the timer runs out, the water heater won't ignite again until we turn the timer on again. We can override it by using the original switch if we wish to keep it on constantly. (but we don't)

First Steveio pulled out the water heater switch to locate the wires and be sure he wasn't going to drill into anything important.  LOL    He pre-drilled four pilot holes to the measurements of the back of the timer device.

Next he used a small jig saw and carefully cut away the wood (not a very clean cut, but it will be hidden by the face plate)

He made all the proper connections, and put dialectic grease on all contacts, and then wire nutted each one securely to hold tight, even with all the jiggles and bumps in a house moving down the road at 60 mph.  He put the switches back into place, and added the face plate.   Although it's kinda ugly silver, it works and that is what he wanted.   We tested it out and it works great!  We know that 9-10 minutes fully heats up our 10 gallon water tank, and we can set it for that and let it run.

Now we never have to worry about turning it off anymore!

Electric Timer on Inverter:
As a side note:

In the past, we also put a timer switch like this on our inverter too.  That way I can play the TV for an hour or so at night before falling asleep and not have to get back up out of bed to turn the inverter off for overnight.  Of course I can set the sleep timer on the tv, but that doesn't turn off the inverter.   We don't waste precious battery power by leaving the inverter on overnight, as it takes a draw all by itself.    

(for the non-RVers reading my blog: an inverter changes DC power to AC power.... 
so the 12 DC power from our solar panels and battery bank is inverted 
over to 120V AC power to run household type appliances and lights. 
 The more battery power we accidently drain and waste, 
the more we have to re-charge again the next day) 

Sometimes we use this small inverter to run little things instead of firing up the big one.  Or if we are in the car and I want to use something 120v AC like my curling iron!

Electrical Power Strips:
And to add to that, many household AC appliances still draw power even when not in operation (i.e. both tv's, the microwave, the dvd player, surround sound, CD player, and our RF modulator)  so we plug all those items into household power strips. We can control them with a flick of a switch.  Then we can decide if we want them on or not without having to plug and unplug them.  Why have all of these things drawing power up in the front livingroom or kitchen if you are only using one tv in the bedroom when the inverter is on?  We put power strips up inside the cabinet by the electronics, and one in the cabinet over the microwave.  

Electrical 12 Volt Outlets:
I touched on this during my post last week when talking about the front dash area, but I will mention it again and add to it.  Around our rig, Steve has added 12 volt outlets here and there. Ya know, those "cigarette lighter" outlets?  Even though not as many folks smoke anymore, they are changing their names to "12 volt outlets"   This one he added up front under the dash and it also has two USB ports to utilize power for charging cell phones, tablets and laptops. 

We needed a 12 volt outlet in the rear of the coach to run our tire pressure monitor console. So Steveio decided to install a 12 volt outlet in the bedroom making a clearer path to pick up the sensors from the Tracker.

He snugged an outlet up in the corner of the valance, hidden out of sight, and ran the wires along the inside over to the wiring for the light. A few wire clips and wire nuts, it was Easy Peasy and no holes drilled!~

Plus, the outlet can be used once we are parked in place... for either charging up a cell phone or even plugging in my laptop.  (I have both AC and DC cords for my laptop) 

Electrical 120v AC Outlets:
Safari makes a great motorhome, but they are really lacking in both 12v DC and 120v AC outlets throughout the rig.   Sooooo we can fix that!  Steveio is always up for a new project:

He decided to add one up by the dining table. Then if we want to run our TV on a small inverter we can do so by plugging into this DC outlet.  He added a 120v AC outlet here too.... as often we sit at the table with electronic things (such as my sewing machine) and having an outlet close by the table makes sense.

On the driver's side of the rig, we were lacking in 120v AC outlets.  Steve was able to tap into the power under the fridge and run a new outlet box to this little wooden panel that covers the vent hole and holds the new vent cover after we removed the couch there.

Electrical LED bulbs:
Since we do a lot of boondocking and rely on the solar... we added LED bulbs to some of the 12v DC light fixtures throughout the rig.  I do not care for the light from these. I find it harsh and greenish.  Steve is the one always using it, and moves the bulbs from light fixture to light fixture.  Drives me nuts!  I never know which fixtures the LED lights will show up in? Kinda like LED Roulette!

 Electrical 12v DC Fixture Swap Out:
See..... a while back we bought five of these brass 12 volt light fixtures to replace the *hockey puck* type halogen lights that were energy wasters. They are also too hot in operating temps where the glass lens would loosen up and fall down on your lap. It would burn you if you were sitting underneath it!     A little camping friend, Autumn, got burnt on her leg one night.  That was it, out they went----

Since we improved those light fixtures, the two front "map lights" needed to be updated to something more sensible too. 

Seeing as we rarely ever camp in campgrounds with electric hookups, 
these measures really help us conserve battery power and propane usage.  
Guess we are just being "Green" ---- 

These type of modifications allow us to boondock in areas that are more remote, more beautiful and less crowded than a manicured RV park.  We just don't care for rows and rows of tin cans crowded together when we are on a get-away weekend.  Just one more modifications in Steveio's Bag of RV Tricks!


On the home front, we got the whole upstairs hallway washed down, taped up, painted and put back together. 

I started putting my paintings and prints back up on the walls... it felt like decorating our house all over again from four years ago. It was pretty satisfying to put most of the same things back where they were before. Because I liked them so much four years ago, and I like them even more now!

It sure looks fresh and neatened up.  We only have the back servants staircase to do next!  We had part of a gallon of open paint left. Steve rolled this much first coat, and we will open up the last gallon to complete it and be DONE!

On the Dad P and Millie story:

We are soooo happy to announce that Pops is doing well, and moving along on his own quite adeptly. The rehab center said it was time to spring him! We took a very very very happy Millie dog out to the house first to get her settled in while Steve went to the center to pick up his dad. 

That poor girl sniffed ALL over the house, looking for her Daddy.  She inspected every square inch of the house until she was satisfied that he was not there.  Suddenly she decided he MUST be in the closet, and was snuffling her nose all along the bottom crack and whining and starting to claw at the closet door. I just had to open it up to satisfy her that he was NOT in the closet!  She sniffed his heavy winter jacket and boots, both I am sure rich with his scent.  But he was not in there.  So she gave up and set herself up on patrol in the window. 

waiting... waiting... waiting...


ever faithfully waiting....

Her diligence was rewarded for her beloved Master came in the door.  She just about wriggled out of her skin, and her little stub tail was going a zillion miles an hour.  It was joyous to see, because her little world was all RIGHT again!

We got Pops all settled in and ran for fresh groceries, salted his icy drive and walks, and Steve got his butt whipped in a cribbage game.  I did some tweaking on his computer setup for him to access his email better.  It was so good to see everything getting back to normal.  Of course there are going to be out patient therapy visits and exercises to be done.  Being home is the best medicine for him....

and the best thing for Millie too! 

A good long nap was in order for them both...

1 comment:

  1. I think you'll should start a small RV repair shop as you'll are so great at it, now you and Steve have some spare time. I know of some folks who travel around and do repair on the road too! Travel and get paid for it. I love your pic'; help me a lot working on my RV, thanks John


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