Saturday, December 28, 2013

Behold, Oz, er . . . Ed, the Great and Powerful

Okay! So, I'm pushing the envelope a little. But, I now have a great and powerful new energy source installed in My McVansion. Nope! This isn't Kansas, but I'll get to Kansas one of these days.

Here is a photo of the new 245 amp/hour, AGM (absorbed glass mat), deep cycle 12-volt battery now installed under the bunk in My McVansion. Believe me, it's a monster. It is about the size of three standard car engine batteries and weighs in at a hefty 158 pounds. No! I didn't load this in myself. As a matter of fact, I didn't load it at all. The folks at The Battery Mart in Winchester, Virginia loaded it in last Friday and yesterday, I took it back and had their technician put in the very heavy wiring from the battery and continuous duty solenoid under the hood to the battery in the bunk. This will allow the "house" battery in the bunk to charge whenever the engine is running. 

This other photo shows the new red wire from the battery positive terminal to the solenoid and the solenoid itself. This isn't rocket science. But, it definitely helps to have someone who knows what they are doing AND has the correct tools to accomplish the mission. 

This battery will be the main power source for everything in the "house" part of My McVansion. It will power most of my electronics including my computer and certain audio equipment. It will also provide 110 volts of AC current through the use of an inverter. The AC will power the small refrigerator and infrequently, the small microwave oven I've yet to acquire. I will be adding a 110-volt AC smart charger so I can charge the house battery when I have access to "shore power" (or external 110 volts AC). I'm not sure, yet, but depending on several variables and based on some on the road experience with this particular vehicle and living accommodation, I may acquire either a small gasoline generator or a solar charging system. Each has pros and cons. I'm actually more inclined to go with solar. The gas generator creates a security issue and a gasoline issue (I'd have to carry a spare can of gas and deal with transporting issues or siphon gas from the van's gas tank.

So Much To Do, So Little Time To Do It All

I know I've said this before, but it seems to be a universal law or something. Monday I'm awaiting a shipment from Amazon of some things I had hoped to have over the weekend to install and/or check out. So, that slows down my departure on Monday on Ed Helvey's Road Trek #1 of 2014. I had My McVansion out on the roads back in September and October and have been putting more work in on it since then. However, some of this unusual bad and very cold winter weather has hampered the process. So, there are a number of things that are not, yet ready, installed, checked out, whatever. This bothers me to some degree, but a fair amount of it I will be able to accomplish while I'm traveling. The things I can do on the road, I'll simply have to wait until I get back off the road to work on.

The word I get from most of the other RVers and vandwellers is that whatever kind of "rig" you have, it's always a work in progress. And so it is. The main thing I'm interested in on this extended travel is to put what is installed to the test and see what is functioning as anticipated from the planning and construction stage and what is not up to par or meeting expectations or just not working at all. Those will be the things I will change if I reasonably can during the trek or plan to work on as soon as I return from the trip.

This trip is basically to seek out some sun and warmth. I'm obviously going south. My first stop is on Tuesday and will be in (or actually just outside) Sparta, New Carolina to celebrate the New Years festivities with my grad school buddy at his mountain home. It is also a celebration of another kind since he and his childhood sweetheart are getting married after not seeing one another for about 43 years.

I'll hang around with them for a few days and then start making my way south visiting some old friends and meeting some new ones along the way. Florida is the ultimate destination. The other thing I'll be doing as I travel is working in the van. This will give me the opportunity to see just how well I've thought out and set up a work environment in the vehicle and then see how much productive work I can accomplish on the road.

So, I have no set timelines for anything on this trip. I'm just going to enjoy the experience, learn from it and return back to the base camp in West Virginia when it seems right. It could be a longer trip or a shorter trip all depending on how everything goes. Stay tuned for more trip details. 


Richard Rosen said...

Your McMansion experience is a valuable resource to those thinking a similar lifestyle. Thanks for documenting it.

I have no plans to do so, but would certainly tap into your now considerable experience if I were. And I'll mention it to others who could use the information.

Ed Helvey - Professional Nomad said...

Thanks, Richard.

I hope my experiences are useful to others. Of course, I'm learning from those who have adopted similar lifestyles before me and gone down many of the same paths. So, whenever possible, I'm attempting to not reinvent the wheel, but, perhaps, improve the wheel just a little bit.

Also, much of what I'm learning and doing is very applicable to stationary lifestyles and the design and construction of "tiny houses" not on wheels (a relatively new trend, though a very ancient reality) to enjoy a comfortable and happy, yet, simply, minimal and frugal lifestyle.