RV News RVBusiness 2021 Top 10 RVs of the Year, plus 56 additional debuts and must-see units → ×


Join Truck Conversion Today
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 01-28-2011, 03:12 PM   #261
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 212
Default 10 pounds of stuff in a 5 pound bag…

The truck may be done, but there is still plenty left to do. I have to move out of my house and into the truck. Some of you may know what it is like to seriously down size your life but the rest will just have to imagine. Tools and basic supplies are my biggest concern. I want to be able to maintain the truck myself, within reason, and I want to keep as many of my smaller hand tools as possible.

At first I was thinking to load up my Kennedy tool box and then stow it in one of the underbed bays. I tried it, and it worked, but the tool box must have weighed about 80 pounds. It was really hard to get into and out of the bay and I couldn’t access the tools without taking the whole thing out. It also didn’t make very good use of the available space. Eventually I realized that I needed to parcel the tools into smaller containers.

It seems pretty obvious now, but clear plastic totes are a much better solution. I measured my underbed boxes, and then made several trips to my local “Big Lots” discount store. The people in the store probably thought I was nuts, stacking totes in different configurations and measuring the resultant pile. I found a combination of 6 medium totes, plus 4 each 3 drawer units filled the space nicely, plus a large lid on top acts as a removable tray for large flat items.

The 24 plastic drawers are up front and mostly accessible without having to remove anything. I added some EPP (Expanded Polypropylene) packing foam to wedge everything in place and keep it from bouncing around. My two right rear underbed boxes are the same size so they both are loaded with the same combination of totes.

The larger underbed box that contains my inverter and battery charger has some unused space, and 3 somewhat larger totes fit in there nicely. None of these 23 totes weighs much over 25 pounds so I can easily pull them out to get to whatever I need. Since the totes are mostly clear I can often see what I need without having to take everything out. They are made of plastic so they won’t rust, and I figure they will help keep my tools dry when rain water gets past the door seals, which it does a little bit.

Its not as nice as a regular garage where I can spread everything out for immediate access, but it is way better than one big disorganized pile. The good news is that I was able to keep most of my small tools along with a decent assortment of small materials. The bad news is that I was able to keep too much stuff, and I probably should have put more effort into weeding it down to a bare minimum. That can still happen, though these things tend to not happen unless forced.

Some new pictures have been added under keyword “Stealth”.

Meanwhile I still have a ton of stuff to sell, give away, or otherwise get rid of. I plan to put some of the larger and more expensive tools like the welder and the table saw into storage. That stuff is worth a lot of money, at least to me. If I try to sell it I will get pennies on the dollar. If my living situation ever stabilizes it would be a shame to pay full price to replace it all.

All of this is made far more difficult because I don’t know what my Ex-wife is going to do. If she comes after me like I expect she will, then I will need to bug out quickly. If she decides to be reasonable then I have turned my life upside down for nothing. (What am I saying? Her, reasonable? That will never happen…) All heck is going to break loose about mid June. Then we will see…

To a point, all this minimizing and simplifying is a good thing. It gives me options regardless of the reason. Beyond that point it’s just grief and destruction. I don’t see any way to be reasonably prepared without some grief and destruction. I just have to draw the line as best I can and accept the necessary compromises. I may look back on this someday as my declaration of freedom… or the time I went crazy… or stupid… or all of the above…
__________________

Ran D. St. Clair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2011, 01:10 PM   #262
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 6
Default

Randy,

Was wondering what happened to ya, until I saw your activity on Yahoo Vandwellers forum.

They really go ga-ga over your build, lol.

Your EX sounds like a pitbull, and she will find you, unless you drop off the map completely.

By now your starting to get the thousand yard stare all seasoned Nomadic Dwellers get.

You have figured out if this life style is for you or not,
and your starting to either love it or hate it.

Have you had any run-in with the law?
Have you had any nosey passer-bys?

How is your electrical situation holding up?

How often do you have to run the genny/alternator to cover your power use, and how is your battery bank fairing?


I recently upgraded to Four 115 AH batteries myself, and it's made a huge difference for me, in terms of independence.

I only have to plug in about once a week now as opposed to every other day.

This summer, I will be starting my project too. I hope I will have the same diligence, and determination you had!

Mine is going to be a cargo trailer to Stealth trailer conversion though, so it's not quite truck conversion material, the truck i will use to pull it will just be a standard 2500+ light duty, and i don't plan to mod it much, if at all.

I will document the process though, and post it to WWW somewhere!

Still Love TC.Net, and maybe one day I'l have the cheese on hand to try one of these wacky projects!

~N.W.~
__________________

Nomadic Wolfy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2011, 02:03 PM   #263
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 212
Default

Wolfy,

I am affraid I can't comment on the lifestyle love/hate thing yet. I am sill primarily living in the S&B (Sticks and Bricks) for now. That will change starting tomorrow for a week or so, but that's hardly living the lifestyle. It seems my commuter car died and while it is in the shop it makes no sense to commute in a stealth camper. Better to park near work and save some fuel.

I have been plugged into shore power while parked in the driveway. Thus far the only real use the gennerator is getting is to run for a 1/2 hour every month or so just to keep it from clogging up.

Once at work one of the rent a cops wodered why my box truck was in the parking lot after dark. (I don't overnight there because they asked me not to.) I just flashed him my badge. (I do work there after all.) Other than that no one has noticed me yet.

Meanwhile I have been been busy upgrading my propane and gasoline supply. I will post about it here shortly.
Ran D. St. Clair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2011, 02:30 PM   #264
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 212
Default Tanks a Lot

Tanks a Lot

I have been busy upgrading my propane storage and generator bay. Up until now I have been running all of my propane appliances off of a single stage home BBQ type regulator. To be fair, it has worked perfectly. My Platinum Cat propane heater strongly recommends a dual stage regulator though. I also had one occasion where I ran out of propane at night when it was raining. I had a 2nd tank with me, but it was a minor inconvenience to go outside and swap the tanks. I also ran through a 5 gallon tank of propane in about 2 weeks and this was during the summer, so it probably mostly went into the toilet. For all these reasons I decided to upgrade my propane supply.

I purchased a dual stage, dual input “automatic changeover regulator” here:

250 LP Regulator Automatic Changeover with 2 LP ACME Hoses - $48...

The idea is that when you run out of propane in one tank it automatically switches over to the other tank and the indicator window turns red to let you know that the first tank is empty. I also added storage for 2 more 5 gallon propane tanks for a total of 4. As a practical matter each tank holds about 4.5 gallons so I have a total capacity of 18 gallons.

Let me be a little more clear about how the changeover regulator works, for the benefit of anyone who hasn’t had the opportunity to play with one. It has a plastic lever that is used to select which tank is indicated. There is only one “empty” indicator so it will indicate the status of one tank or the other depending on which way the lever is positioned. The lever does not select which tank is supplying propane, except possibly in the case where both tanks have propane in them. It will draw from whichever tank has propane in it regardless of the lever position.

When one tank is empty, you can flip the lever to the other full, or at least partially full, tank and the indicator will no longer indicate that there is a problem. You can then disconnect the empty tank and replace it with a full one without interrupting the flow of propane to your appliances. Once the new tank is connected, you can flip the plastic lever back, or not, it really doesn’t matter. It’s your choice which tank you want to draw down next.

There is a catch though, and I think this is a significant safety concern that they don’t tell you about. If you run one tank empty, and then remove it without flipping the plastic lever, a small amount of propane will leak from the full tank, through the regulator, and out of the disconnected hose that would normally go to the other tank. From what I can tell, this leak will continue indefinitely, until your full tank is empty, or your truck blows up.

YOU MUST FLIP THE LEVER TO THE FULL TANK BEFORE REMOVING THE EMPTY TANK.

Alternatively turn both tanks off at the tank valves before disconnecting anything. You would think they would tell you this stuff, but they don’t. I suppose this characteristic might be unique to the particular regulator I bought, but I doubt it. To be fair, the leak was small. I only noticed it by placing my thumb over the hose end, letting it build up a little pressure, and then hearing the pssst when I removed my thumb. Do your own testing and don’t take my word for it.
Attached Thumbnails
Small 4 LP tanks.jpg   Small Regulator.jpg  
Ran D. St. Clair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2011, 02:32 PM   #265
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 212
Default Let them Drink Gas

Let them Drink Gas

My generator happens to be in the same bay as my propane tanks. I know that sounds a little scary, but it was necessary for various reasons, and thinking about it logically I don’t think it is a practical concern. There is a huge hole in the floor underneath the generator and propane is heavier than air. Also, I have to open the doors to start the generator so it should air out the space before any possible ignition source is present. When running, the generator exchanges the air in that bay at a rapid pace. Propane is only flammable over a relatively narrow range. less than 2.15% or more than 9.6% of the total air volume and it won’t burn.

I decided to upgrade my generator gas supply as well. I bought a replacement gas cap for my Honda Eu2000i generator here:

HONDA Eu2000i GENERATOR EXTENDED RUN FUEL GAS CAP - eBay (item 160541994369 end time Mar-07-11 06:55:45 PST)

I am not sure if I recommend it though. It is very nicely made, and rather pricey, but my main complaint is that it fits too tight. It takes all my strength to screw it down far enough to get the gasket in the top to seal properly.

I have read on line that you can just hook this gas cap to an auxiliary tank and the fuel pump in the Eu2000i will draw a partial vacuum in the generators tank and pull fuel over from the auxiliary tank. This assumes that the auxiliary tank feeds from the bottom of course. I can’t say for sure if it’s true because that isn’t what I did. I can say that for such a system to work there has to be absolutely no air leaks.

What I did is drill a 2nd hole in the gas cap that is a tight fit for a piece of 1/4” O.D. vinyl tubing. The tubing extends about 1” into the generator gas tank and acts as a vent. The other end of the tubing exits the bottom of the generator bay so that any gas overflow will go outside of the truck onto the pavement.

I have a 5 gallon gas tank between the frame rails that came with the truck. I installed a barb fitting and a ball valve in the back wall of the generator bay for the fuel line into the generator Fuel tubing then carries the gas through an in line fuel filter, through a rotary hand pump, and into the center threaded opening of the replacement gas cap. I used this hand pump:

Ace Hand Pump Kit (0396) - Speciality Pumps & Accessories - Ace Hardware

The pump has an internal loop of tubing and some rollers that squeeze the gas through the tubing. The rollers are designed to pull away from the tubing if you turn the handle backwards allowing a free flow through the pump. In my case this could allow the generator to draw from the auxiliary fuel tank in the truck if I block the vent line.

While this might work, I am not counting on it. The normal process is to pump the fuel from the tank in the truck into the generator tank. When the generator tank is full I can see bubbles coming out of the vent line and it is time to stop pumping. So far it seems to work well enough, but I haven’t used it very much yet. It remains to be seen how well the pump or the tubing will stand up to years of use. I will have to let you know as I find out myself.

As always, pictures can be found under keyword “Stealth”.
Attached Thumbnails
Smaller Gen Gas Supply.jpg   Smaller Gen Exhaust.jpg   Small Gen Opening.jpg  
Ran D. St. Clair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2011, 03:40 PM   #266
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 212
Default More Photo's

More Photo's
Attached Thumbnails
RD's Floor Plan.jpg   RD's Right Side.jpg   Right Side Plan.jpg  
Ran D. St. Clair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2011, 03:46 PM   #267
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 212
Default More Photo's

More Photo's
Attached Thumbnails
Back Storage.jpg   Drawer Totes.jpg   Inverter bay.jpg   Storage Top Trays.jpg  
Ran D. St. Clair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-16-2011, 12:03 AM   #268
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 527
Default

Ran D-

Been reading up on your build, and others on the site, in preparation for starting my own toterhome project. Far different animal from your stealth build, but the nuts and bolts are the same. You've done a really nice job so far, with some well thought out details.

I'm writing to give you some safety concerns coming from the perspective of someone who was raised in the family buisiness of a propane company with about 15 years active experience working in the business, and the first 30 years or so of my life being around the stuff on a day to day basis. Also did propane safety training for both industry and fire departments. And believe me, this is just out of concern for your safety, and not from a know-it-all attitude.

Having your propane tanks in the same space as a source of ignition (your generator) is definitely NOT SAFE by any stretch of the imagination. You are correct in several technical aspects such as propane being heavier than air, but any potential escaping gas has to pass by the generator to get out of the opening in the floor. The range of ignition for propane is very narrow, but none the less a huge problem. A very small leak will burn right at the point of escape, and a larger leak will burn farther away from the leak as it mixes with the air until it reaches the combustion limit, but trust me if there is a source of ignition nearby it WILL find it and ignite. That enclosed compartment even with the floor opening will definitely trap escaping gas long enough for it to reach the limit of flammability. You need a vapor proof barrier completely isolating the airspace of your propane tanks from the airspace of your generator, not to mention isolated from the interior (which it may already be, I could not tell from the pics) and that would include sealing any holes gas lines or wires may pass through into the interior. Also that compartment would need floor level venting like you have under your generator.

The other thing you may not have considered is the heat generated by your generator. As you may know the pressure inside a propane tank is directly related to the temperature. The higher the temperature, the higher the pressure in a propane tank. A propane tank should never be exposed to an outside heat source. There is even potential to heat the tank enough to cause the pressure relief valve to open, causing a release of gas that could be catastrophic in an enclosed compartment with an engine running. Towards that end make sure you insulate if you put in a separating wall.

There are several possible places for propane to leak from. The tank itself can develop leaks around the valve, or the valve mechanism itself. The person filling it is supposed to check, but can you be sure particularly at one of those exchange racks where you get a different tank every time? The hoses can deteriorate and leak, any of the hose or pipe connections can develop leaks particularly with vibration in a truck situation. The regulator diaphragms can fail, or you can simply just not get a connector tight when you change tanks. Believe me I have seen and had to repair all of these situations on RV's and elsewhere. All of those components are mechanical and like anything else can fail without warning. You simply have to get the propane and generator into separate compartments. It can literally kill you.

That said, on to something a little less dramatic. I use a Honda 1000 generator for my vending trailer, similar to yours but a little smaller. It generates quite a bit of exhaust heat, and I only use it outside on the ground. I know that kind of kills the stealth aspect in your case. I use an auxiliary tank like you describe with the cap connection and the vacuum draw from a separate tank. It was a little pricey to buy, the cap, hose and tank were about $120 as a kit. It could be done a lot cheaper, all the system really is is a special cap (which your already have) and a boat tank like you would use for an outboard motor. Now I know. Come up with a cheap used boat can and you are in business. It really does work quite well. You have to top off the internal tank, then hookup the hose and go. From there it takes care of itself. We typically run our generator 40 hours or more on a weekend and I have never run out of fuel.

Keep up the good work, and keep the posts coming. I'll be putting up posts of my build as progress takes place.

See 'ya down the road.

Dave
hot rod is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-16-2011, 10:05 PM   #269
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 212
Default

Dave, I accept and believe everything you have said about propane safety. Now I have to decide what to do about it as my options are limited. I can certainly add another floor vent right in the middle of the 4 propane tanks. The rest I will have to ponder....

I do have at least a little good news about the heat from the generator in the enclosed space with the tanks. There really isn't any. Oh, it might go up a degree or two. I suppose I would have to make careful measurements to prove the point, but for the most part it is obvious. You may have noticed the gasket that seals the back of the generator forcing all the exhaust gasses out of the enclosed box. That's not just the exhaust from the motor but also the exhaust from the air cooling of the motor. The entry for replacement air is sufficiently far away and lower than the exhaust outlet so it draws nothing but fresh air into the box at a rapid pace. I would guess that the air in the box is entirely exchanged every 30 seconds or so. That should also help to keep the mix of propane and air out of the combustion range. (Not that I am arguing your earlier valid points.)
Ran D. St. Clair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2011, 05:17 PM   #270
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 527
Default

I may have laid it on a little thick, but I think you got the point. From working with the stuff for so many years and making my own mistakes and getting burned literally and figuratively, you learn that propane is perfectly safe, in fact far safer than gasoline, but only when treated properly with appropriate precautions. A single 20# cylinder of propane is enough to blow up a good sized building but you really need the perfect storm of everything going wrong for that to happen. The trick is making everything as safe as possible, then you don't have to worry about it and can sleep comfortably. Thanks again for all your post and photos.

Dave
hot rod is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2011, 08:54 PM   #271
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 212
Default Tow Receiver Question

I'm looking for general advice and warnings about installing a trailer hitch receiver in the stealth camper. I don't have anything specific to tow at the moment but I am thinking that at some point I might want to tow a light weight trailer or a small car towed flat. I was just thinking that it might be better to set this up now before I go full time and have to deal with the logistics of working on my primary living quarters.

My first thought was to just buy a basic receiver and weld it to the bumper. By receiver I just mean the square metal tube that surrounds the square metal bar to which the ball is attached.

That brings up issues of structural integrity of the bumper. The bumper itself is made of steel diamond plate about 1/8" thick. It is folded into a partial box about 4.5" thick. It has internal ribs made out of c channel 4" x 1.5" x 1/8" thick. It connects to the ends of the frame rails via two heavy duty C channels 6" by 2" by 1/8" to in some places almost 1/4" thick with a but joint weld and an overlapping triangular gusset. There is also a 2nd connection to the longitudinal rails that sit on top of the truck frame rails. All of this implies that the bumper is fully integrated with the box, and that the box is permanently attached to the truck. I

I am thinking that this bumper is plenty strong to handle light towing without any additional reinforcement. Anyone care to disagree?

The bottom of the bumper is about 16" off the ground and the bumper overhangs the rear axel by about 6.5' for a clearance angle of 11.8 degrees. I could cut a square hole in the back of the bumper, insert the receiver, and weld it in place. That would place the receiver at about 18" off the ground. I could also weld the receiver to the center C rib so it would hang just below the bumper giving me a ground clearance of about 14" for a clearance angle of 10.3 degrees.

I know they make drop down hitches, even ones with adjustable drop down so I know the receiver height doesn't need to match the trailer or tow bar height on the toad. (I don't even know the tow bar height on the toad because I don't have a toad yet.)

Anyone care to comment on 18" being inconveniently high or the negative ramifications of using a drop down hitch that might have to drop 6" or more? On the other hand, anyone care to comment on the negative ramifications of 14" of ground clearance at the receiver and having the receiver be the first thing to bottom out when the rear wheels drop into a depression.

If I did cut a hole in the back of the bumper it would be alongside the central C rib. Can I safely assume that being an inch or two off of the truck centerline is no big deal?

You can assume that I would weld the receiver not only around the perimeter of the receiver where it sticks through the bumper, but also along its length to the C rib.

Since receivers have a hole through them for a large pin, I am assuming that the receiver would need to stick out of the back of the bumper far enough to get access to the hole for installation of the pin. This sounds like another reason to mount the receiver below the C rib underneath the bumper. That way it would only need to stick out past the end of the bumper by a fraction of an inch. I can see where that would reduce the chance of busting my shins into it which is all the more likely since entry to my truck is through the back.

So what do all you experienced toad pullers think?
Ran D. St. Clair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-09-2011, 12:44 AM   #272
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 527
Default

I've fabricated a few hitches, and installed some factory built hitches, and have 100's of thousands of trailer towing miles. Not necessarily an "expert", but been there, bent that.

Without seeing your bumper, it's hard to say whether it will take a hitch as is or not. I have seen step bumpers of the type you describe built plenty strong enough to take a hitch, and others not so much. So just a few offhand thoughts on that, if you are welding directly to the existing bumper don't trust just welding to that 1/8" plate, at a minimum you need some substantial gussets to spread the load (in addition to welding to your c channel), 1/8" is not really all that heavy for a hitch mount. Even welding to your center channel I would consider a couple of pieces of box tubing running diagonally up to the actual frame rails of the truck to give more rigidity. I think when it comes to a hitch you can't really make it too strong, if a car to trailer gets loose it is big trouble. Also, when you put in the brackets or loops to connect your safety chains, weld those someplace besides the receiver tube. I always felt safer that way so if there is a problem with the tube itself the chains are hooked to something else. And use something substantial for the loops, remember on the one time you really need them they will take a helluva jerk when the trailer is loose. I've seen guys (no, not me this time!) with the trailer off the side of the road complete with the eyebolts that used to be attached to the truck bumper still nicely clipped to the chains that jerked them loose.

Other issues, i would try to keep the height to within the ability to use a 6" drop ball mount if possible. Anything over that gets expensive real fast, and also the farther you drop the more leverage the trailer has to try to twist the truck hitch around. Also if you ever need to use a weight distributing hitch there are limitations to how far you can drop with the mounts available for that type of hitch, and in that case I know from personal experience that the required solid forged ball mount can run $125 or more just for the longer drop in addition to the weight distributing hitch itself. Also, the rated "drop" on a drop hitch is measured from the top of the tube down to the top of the ball mounting surface, and if inverted for a raise, it is measured the same way from the top of the tube to the top of the mounting surface in that position. That little tidbit could have saved me some confusion back in the day.

You mentioned the pin hole. One thing to consider is access. You could do a real pretty job of getting the tube all nice and recessed into the bumper out of the way and find out you get real tired of getting down on your knees in the slush trying to stretch your hands up inside the bumper to put the pin in by feel. Ask me how I know. lol.

Also you may want to consider turning angles where the trailer could potentially come in contact with the trailer when turning sharp. I am assuming your bumper is substantially wider than a normal pickup bumper, so the closer the ball is to the truck, your turning angle is reduced limiting how sharp you can turn without hitting the trailer. Letting the receiver tube stick out farther, or using a longer ball mount helps that situation. Particularly if you ever have the need to jackknife the trailer into tight spots (which I have to do all the time).

I don't have any personal experience towing a toad, but from talking to people who have they can really put a lot of stress on a hitch from time to time. Case in point, once in a while, usually in parking lot situations, apparently the steer wheels on the car can decide they want to go their own way placing a lot of side load on the hitch you would not necessarily see in a trailer towing situation. No really sure if that needs to factor in, just thinking out load.

OK, one last idea. I've seen some nice steps (single or double or just a toehold) you can buy or build which slip into the receiver tube giving you a nice leg up climbing into the truck, which may also have the added benefit of being something big enough to keep your attention and reduce the shin injuries. I even saw one that folded up for driving so you don't have to remove it.

Good luck!

Dave
hot rod is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-09-2011, 09:56 AM   #273
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 212
Default

Dave,

Wow, lots of good advice there. I will use it all.

Thanks,

R.D.
Ran D. St. Clair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-21-2011, 06:58 PM   #274
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 212
Default I got hitched

I completed the addition of a towing receiver to the stealth camper. I used this bumper hitch, but modified it and welded it directly to the bumper:

RV Bumper Hitch [19100] - $96.70 : The Hitch Store

I also added all the wiring necessary for towing a trailer or a toad (flat towed vehicle). This web site was very helpful:

Trailer Wiring Diagrams | etrailer.com

I used this connector

Pollak Black Plastic, 7-Pole, RV-Style Trailer Socket - Vehicle End Pollak Wiring PK12707

And this mounting bracket

Mounting Bracket for Pollak 7-Pole, RV-Style Trailer Connector - Vehicle End Pollak Accessories and Parts PK12711U

And this power converter and wiring kit

Universal Power Converter 5-Way Flat and Circuit Protection with Hardwire Kit and Tester Tow Ready Wiring 119177KIT

It was all pretty straight forward. I ran separate fused wires back from the starter battery for 12V to the power converter and 12V to the tow wiring connector. I don’t have anything to actually tow at the moment, but the 12V to the connector could be used to keep the toad battery topped of, or to power a break controller, or even power a lube pump if the toad is an automatic. I went with the power converter because I didn’t want any additional load on the truck light circuits that could possibly blow a fuse. This way all the current to drive the toad lights comes through the single heavy fused wire from the truck battery and through the power converter. The power converter also converts the truck wiring scheme which has separate amber turn signals into the standard towing scheme which combines the turn signals and break lights. (One wire for each side of the car). The backup light is also passed to the toad as a convenient way to prevent the brake controller from locking the trailer brakes when trying to back up. You would never want to back up with a flat towed vehicle so it is not really an issue for that. The only real issue I had was that the instructions called for the 12V wire into the power converter to be red, but it was black.

It was also quite a pain in the neck (literally) to crawl around under the truck and fish the wires into place. I was lucky in that there was an existing 12V wire path to protect the wires, but it took a few hours to work the new wires into the protective tubing and it beat my fingertips up as well.

In other news, I spent over $100 on valve stem extensions. Of course only about $30 of that ended up on the truck. The rest was failed experiments that didn’t fit or didn’t work for one reason or another. I ended up using a straight steel stem extender for the inside dual wheel, about 3 ½: long. The outside dual wheel has the valve stem facing inward, so I used a 135 degree valve stem extension to bend it back outward for better access. The problem I had is that not all 135 degree extension have a tight enough radius close enough to the valve stem to fit in the wheel opening. It turns out that valve stem extensions, and the many options therein can get quite complicated. I would encourage anyone with questions to ask around on this forum before wasting a bunch of money (like I did).

Inside the truck, I have been tweaking and improving. I added fold down tables and cup holders in the bunks. “Table” is probably overstating it a bit. They are only about 5” by 10” and are just large enough for a small TV dinner tray or a snack plate. I made them out of a thick plastic cutting board. It was a lot easier that making them out of wood and paint or Formica and they should last forever.

I made a similar small non-folding shelf in the bathroom to hold the box of baby wipes. They serve as toilet paper but unlike toilet paper they don’t go in the incinerating toilet but in a small lined waste basket instead. It turns out toilet paper just wraps itself around the auger of the incinerating toilet, so it is useless. The baby wipes are more comfortable and do a better job of cleaning anyway. They also make me smell like a baby’s butt….

I have been rearranging tools and supplies inside the truck shelves. I realize every situation is different but I really like these small clear plastic shelf units that are available at most any economy store. I am gradually getting stuff where I can find it and get to it without a major hunting expedition.

I also made some major improvements to my video watching capability. I realize that I won’t always have good Ethernet access so streaming videos will not always be an option. I wanted to be able to time shift, which is to say record things and play them back later. I ended up buying this:

MPEG4 Recorder 2 series | Neuros Technology

It’s a tiny little device, that functions similar to a VCR except that instead of a cassette it records the data on a Memory Stick Pro DUO, which is a small flash drive similar to the one used in many cameras and some cell phones or personal gaming devices. 4Gb holds about 4 hours of video, or more if it is heavily compressed, and costs about $15. Of course it is reusable as much as you want. The whole thing is small, light weight, and all solid state so it is perfect for an RV. It has one other critical advantage. It ignores Macrovision which is the security signal they put on top of the composite video (yellow RCA connector) to prevent you from copying.

I have no stake in the company or the product. I will even tell you that it has a somewhat clunky user interface with another remote for you to loose. It is also one of their older products so you may prefer something more modern (and expensive). I paid about $90 for my MPEG4 Recorder 2.

The stealth camper will be making it’s first major run down to Texas on June 4th. That should be interesting…
Attached Images
 
Ran D. St. Clair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2011, 10:59 AM   #275
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 212
Default Fire Safety

Reading on the various forums I came upon this web site and decided to upgrade my fire safety systems:

Fire and Life Safety

In my case I had a single fairly large dry powder extinguisher near the door at the back of my truck. Since that is the only exit from the living quarters, if there were a fire in that area I wouldn’t be able to get to the extinguisher to put it out, or even exit the truck. I also learned that dry powder extinguishers are popular because they can be used on all types of fires, but they are not very effective against simple combustibles. For example, in the case of a tire fire, my extinguisher would do next to nothing. I decided to buy the RV Fire Safety Kit for $150 on this web page.

Fire Safety Products

I now have a large “ColdFire” extinguisher at the back of the living quarters. I also have a smaller FireAde2000 at the front of the living quarters, and another in the cab of the truck. The 3rd FireAde2000 I put in my car.

They have some interesting automatic systems for mounting in the engine compartment or generator or propane compartments, but they are rather expensive so I didn’t go there.

If nothing else I recommend reading the Fire Safety Articles here:

Fire Safety Articles By Mac McCoy

They are a short easy read and make logical sense.
Ran D. St. Clair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2011, 06:35 PM   #276
Senior Member
 
Bob86ZZ4's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: St. Paul, MN
Posts: 1,815
Default

Good job, Randy. And good advice.
__________________
'03 Freightliner FL112, 295" wheel base, with '03 United Specialties 26' living quarters, single screw, Cat C12 430 h/p 1650 torque, Eaton 10speed , 3.42 rear axle ratio
Bob86ZZ4 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-27-2011, 11:47 PM   #277
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 527
Default

If you only have the one way out at the rear, you may want to consider an egress window (that pops out for an emergency exit) or a roof escape hatch. Both are available on ebay or the surplus dealers in Elkhart. If you are worried about not getting to that rear extinguisher, maybe you should also worry about not getting out the rear at all. That sort of thing is requirement on any RV, and certainly not a bad idea on a homebuild. I have a 22x22 roof hatch ready to install over the bunk area in our gooseneck trailer where the bed is. Installs just like any other roof vent, but larger and set up to open up completely to get out.

Dave
hot rod is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-01-2011, 03:38 PM   #278
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 6
Default

Randy,

I'm happy to see your still kickin it here on TC.net!

Some good advice here from Hot-Rod, thanks Dave.

Randy,

I was curious if you gave any more consideration to solar?

I added a panel to my rig, and it has made my batteries much happier, not to mention I don't run my engine anymore for quick charges.

With how gas prices are going I really think some solar is the smart move.

Solar wont replace a Genny in our situations. The goal is to suppliment it to keep it's usage down.

Thoughts?


For me,

I have to say that it's easily one of the better investments I've made.
I've spent over a year now out on the road In this little rig, and boy am I ready to upgrade!

I've decided I'm going to do a Cutaway Box Van conversion a lot like yours, but am going to use the GMC 3500 w/16' box.

My little tiny 85 watt panel does well for my current set up, but
My plan is for 10 of them on that 16' box!(**It could fit 14**) ---> 850 Watts in full sun, that's about 50 amps or so. Average of 3 sun hours a day,
that's 150 AH a day I can burn before I have to think about a Genny. When it's cloudy I'd have to cut back or run the Genny more.

Buying the truck next month if everything goes according to plan.

Keep up the good work Man, I love reading your posts about your truck! GOOD STUFF!


~N.W.~
Nomadic Wolfy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-01-2011, 06:58 PM   #279
Senior Member
 
#90-GTSC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Grafton
Posts: 285
Default

What will those 10 panels cost? How large are they? Manufacturer? Where do you get them? Inquiring minds will want to know! Thanks!
__________________
Started looking for 379 Peterbilt TC, 24' to 30' box, bumper pull--but ended up w/1999 Liberty Coach conversion of 45' Prevost XLV bus. 1,000sf heated/AC'd race shop w/dump station, 50amp shore pwr where bus parks, 3 NASCAR/ARCA race cars & 26' Bravo trailer.
#90-GTSC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-02-2011, 10:47 PM   #280
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 212
Default

Wolfy, No I haven't given any serious thought to solar. I plan to live with the current design a bit before I give it any more thought. I also hate the idea of tearing into my now completed design to include something I had discounted (possibly wrongly) in the first place. I know lots of boondockers love their solar.

Feel free to share your thoughts though. As #90-GTSC said, Inquiring minds want to know.
__________________

Ran D. St. Clair is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:23 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
×