Thursday, June 22, 2017

Moving Back Home

My daughter explaining how her ground squirrel trap works. 

So, I recently lost my job as a public school teacher (it's a difficult field to keep a position in right now), and my plan to move to Florida didn't work out, so I ended up moving back to my land to live in my RV again.  However, this time I'm determined to make several improvements to my off grid living.

My kids are with me for the summer again and we've been enjoying learning survival skills together.

I had this old 2 bedroom tent I hadn't used in years, so we set it up to use as a play space and dining area.

We found this huge bull snake under the hood of the RV.

My daughter soldered together this LED array to use as a porch light. We used the plastic from the old broken porch light and a clear plastic bottle for the cover, an old string of LED Christmas lights, and a piece of prototype board I had lying around.

I redid my power system and moved it all into my RV so I could have direct access to DC power and to increase the efficiency. I put it in the space I used to have the water tank in. It's so much nicer than having it separate in my trailer.
I finally sent back my power inverter that blew out. Really it may have been my fault, but the company replaced it with a new one without any issues. I've used 3 other inverters and the AIMS power inverter is by far the best lower cost, lower power pure sine inverter I've found. This time I replaced the 20 amp breakers that came with the RV with 10 amp breakers. This way there is no possible way I will draw more power than the inverter can put out and I don't have to rely on the fuses in the inverter (which I found often don't blow when they should in pretty much every model of inverter. I don't know why they put overrated fuses in these things).

The AIMS power inverter also has a nice pass-through feature where you can hook it up to another power source and it automatically switches over. So, I hooked my generator into it. Now when my generator is running it draws the AC power directly from that. I'm also going to set it up so the batteries charge from the generator as well when it is on, but I haven't done that part yet, but I almost never need to use my generator. Mostly only when I'm using power tools.

I now have USB and 12 volt ports like this throughout my home.

I discovered that the 30 amp inline fuses I was using were defective and had turned into heaters--melting through the plastic casing (the fuses would heat up a lot without ever burining out). I replaced them temporarily with two 15 amp automotive fuses in parallel (because one set of automotive wires wouldn't be heavy enough to carry the current load). I ordered some 30 amp breakers instead
I also built some stands for my solar panels. These are just temporary until I build some that ran rotate and track the sun. I ran out of metal pieces so I used an old pallet I found on the road for the second one.

I had a lot of problems with pipes freezing (both supply and drain pipes) last winter, so I tore out all of the old plumbing and made it as simple as possible. No faucets, just a tube from the tank to the pump to the heater then a tube from the heater to the sink that has a quick connect for connecting a hose for filling the recycling shower.  I got rid of all the p-traps since I don't have a sewer anyway and they only trap water that freezes, and I shortened all the drain pipes and made them so they drain directly into a garden area at the side of the RV. I also remounted my sink and a counter top that goes over it. It's a nice way to hide the dirty dishes and have more counter space.

I completely simplified my shower system by using my old modified bilge pump and combining it with the camp shower head. I installed a better drain with a tight fitting plug. Now I just put the plug in and fill the bottom of the shower with 4 gallons of water from the water heater, and the pressure is awesome. As long as I shower in the day time I can shower for as long as I want. So far this is way better than any of the other systems I've tried, and the most hygienic.  I got an account at the community well in town and purchased 20,000 gallons worth of water for $40. So water isn't as much of a concern. I modified the old RV water tank to use to transport water, and it fits perfectly in my trunk space.
I then use my transfer pump to pump the water into my make shift water tower. Yes, I found another use for that old dented laptop cart shell.
I realize how silly it is that the hose comes out of the top (it connects to a pipe that does to the bottom). This is only temporary until I buy a spout to go in the bottom of the barrel. It's stupid they don't come with them. Anyway, the laptop storage box makes a good lockable outside storage space for the transfer pump and hoses and gardening tools.

And of course we rebuilt the fire pit and made it even better than the other times by adding a real BBQ grill and some cinder blocks.

It's been challenging moving back out here and setting things up again, but overall I'm feeling good about how things are turning out.

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