Rough Road Raindrop

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Re: Rough Road Raindrop

Postby Louisd75 » Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:56 am

S. Heisley wrote::thinking: I'm wondering if you've got a bad regulator or if there is a blockage somewhere in the line.

Oh! Also, if the propane gets too cold, it can cause problems. Don't know if it gets cold enough in Washington state; but, it might....


I did find a little blockage where the hose was connected. The rest of the tubing didn't show any blockages when I blew it out prior to making the final connections. It was just strange that it worked in the driveway but then not in the wild. We do get down into the teens a few times a year, but on that trip it didn't get below freezing outside. I've test run it a couple of times now, just firing it up in the morning til it cycles off. So far it seems to be starting first time every time, so I'm going to call this one fixed. Well, until it isn't fixed anymore :thumbsup:

- Louis
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Re: Rough Road Raindrop

Postby Louisd75 » Tue Jun 04, 2019 7:33 pm

I'm baa-aaaack.

Not a whole lot of progress, but I did pass a milestone:

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Yep, the first renewal. One whole year on the road. I think we managed 15 nights or so, which isn't bad considering that I'm only home for about 6 months a year and we have to juggle around the kid's school schedule.

I'm also working on a room addition for the trailer. We realize that the kiddos are growing, and at some point the bunkbeds for the kiddos aren't going to cut it and I'll have to move outside. We've also figured it would be handy to have more of a transition space between the trailer and the outside. So, enter the awning room. If I'd gone with an ARB or CVT awning then then it would just be a matter of opening up the wallet and presto, all done. Unfortunately, I have a Smittybilt awning, and they don't make rooms. The Smittybilt awning is also 6.5' x 6.5', which completely eliminates ARB's room offerings. CVT though, does sell a room that's close at 79". I'm not sure what the actual CVT awning dimensions are, but I think that they're a smidge bigger than Smittybilt's.

So, I ordered up the Pioneer Awning Walls from CVT in the 79" size: https://cascadiatents.com/shop/awning-walls/

I went boring with the color, but it matches the awning and isn't too garish. Here's what it looks like setup:

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And that extra inch difference between the 78" awning and 79" awning rooms? Well, it apparently makes a huge difference. The ceiling sags considerably in the middle.

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Yes, the clips are not connected, but the clips don't do much to bring it up in the middle. Never fear, for there's a plan. The awning walls connect to the awning via sail track. The outboard section of sail track zips to the awning walls while the inboard sail track is sewn directly to the tent. You can see the connections here:

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I've circled the sail track panels in white. My current plan is to fold the sail track panels over and sew them so that they're narrower. I experimented with clamps and was able to get pretty much all of the sagging out of the ceiling by effectively narrowing the sail track panels, so I've got a good feeling that this will work out. If it doesn't, well, that's what seam rippers are for. I'll figure out a plan B if it's warranted.

One other thing about the awning walls that wasn't immediately clear from CVT's description. There are six walls including the floor and ceiling. The four vertical walls all have doors. The three walls away from the trailer have a solid fabric outer door over a mesh inner door. The wall that's against the trailer has a huge zip door. It's almost too big and extends quite a bit down below the trailer. I'll likely add a panel to fill the gap between the bottom of that door and the bottom of the trailer, or remove the door entirely and make a panel. Realistically I don't see us closing that door while we're in the trailer. I'm not sure when I'll be able to fire up the sewing machine, but I'll be sure to update once it's up. The floor is a separate panel that zips on to the bottom of the tent. All of the material appears to be very heavy duty and stout. It's definitely not lightweight backpacker stuff. The downside of the material is that the tent doesn't fold up very small. Good thing that we have a truck bed.
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Re: Rough Road Raindrop

Postby Louisd75 » Fri Jun 07, 2019 7:36 pm

I've been playing around with scrap leftover from various projects and have whipped up a little chuck box to help organize the galley. I've been debating whether to build a "real" galley into the back of the trailer instead of two big storage cubbies that I currently use. The chuck box is a temporary step in that direction, though it would be easy to make it permanent. The wood is thin, just a little over 1/8". I used dados for most of the connections, but the outside corners are half-lap joints. I used leftover aluminum trim pieces glued to the corners to strengthen them up. I also used the aluminum trim to make channels in the front that hold the door in place. The door just slides up or down to access the inside.

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I'm still planning on adding some cleats on the counter and galley bulkhead to secure it into place while still keeping it removable. I have two more of the white storage bins worth of sundries and I've started on another box. I'm not sure I'll have enough trim leftover to cover all of the corners, but I'll probably do something similar with the door.
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Re: Rough Road Raindrop

Postby Louisd75 » Sat Jun 22, 2019 7:59 pm

Working on some minor details and wrapping things up before we hit the road for a few weeks. My better half asked if she could have some sort of ceiling storage for things she didn't want to have to hunt around for (phone, chapstick, honey-do list). So, I made a gear hammock for her. I used some mesh material from ... somewhere. Not sure where I bought it at. I cut it to size and laced the perimeter with 1/8" or 3/16" shock (bungee) cord. To mount it to the ceiling I used wooden toy wheels from the hardware store with a small plastic spacer as a standoff from the ceiling. I just stretched out the shock cord in the corners to fit it around the toy wheels.

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Her's came out nice enough that I made another for my side of the trailer. I'm not sure what I'll put up there, but I figured that the lack of symmetry would bug me if I didn't put one on my side as well.

I got a new sewing machine that does a much better job with heavy materials. I was able to shorten up the sail tracks used in the awning room that I talked about previously. The roof still hangs down a little in the center, but it's only an inch or two now vs almost a foot before. I can live with it.
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Re: Rough Road Raindrop

Postby Louisd75 » Sat Jul 13, 2019 9:02 pm

Just got back from a trip of just over 2500 miles and 19 days on the road. We camped 10 of those nights. We changed things up a bit for this trip. We've had problems doing long drives with the kiddos (2 yo and 6 yo), so our plan was to shoot for a drive of 2 to 3 hours per day, not going over 4 hours. We were able to stick to it pretty well. Camping nights ranged from BLM campsites to pretty nice state parks to driveways. All in all the trailer performed great with only one minor issue (leaking Fantastic Fan). After almost three weeks of use we're going to be doing some fiddling and tweaking.

I was able to stop the leak on the Fantastic Fan with a quick stop at a small town Ace Hardware for some RTV. Installed it at the next campground:

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I wound up climbing on the roof three different times and it's really quite sturdy.

The other issue that we had was pretty trivial, but driving on gravel roads is starting to leave a mark on the leading edges of the trailer. The most affected are the fronts of the fender flares.

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For the most part it's not a big deal as it's all cosmetic except for one spot where a section of paint and primer chipped off and it's starting to rust. The front of the trailer is getting small chips. They're more cosmetic than anything. I'm planning on running them for a bit longer as is so that I can get a better idea of where I need to worry about protecting. I'm planning on doing a spray-on bed liner around parts of the front and on the fenders.

Another issue that arose was entirely of my own doing. I built the electrical system with a solenoid coil that was activated with a switch inside the trailer. My thought was that if I needed to kill power in a hurry I could simply flip the switch and all power would be secured. This was problematic on two fronts. First off, I have a two year old. He likes playing with switches. Second off, I didn't realize that the latching current for the solenoid was nearly 1 amp. So whenever I had the power switched on I was drawing 1 amp just to have the power on. I'm going to remove the solenoid and its switch from my system and replace it with a regular battery shutoff switch mounted on the bulkhead down by my feet. I'm still flexible enough that I can get to it in a hurry with the proper motivation. I did toy around with the idea of a relay instead of a coil, but I figure that the switch will remove almost all of the parasitic draw.

The other electrically related issue we ran into, which was exacerbated by the solenoid, was that we were doing short driving days which didn't give the TV much of a chance to recharge the trailer battery. I started looking at solar panels and then Tony had to go and post about Renogy panels. I hopped on their website, did a little poking around and settled on their 100w kit: https://www.renogy.com/renogy-100-watt- ... ar-rv-kit/

Of course, the solar panel is going to lead to an evolution of my electrical panel in the trailer. My plan is to move the USB charge ports and cigarette lighters 90* to the sides of the electrical panel. This will help tuck the cables out of the way since we usually put our phones on the furnace duct covers when we charge them. We'll also be able to remove the voltage display and the switch for the voltage display since that info is on the solar panel controller. Finally, we'll be able to remove the master switch since that will be relocated and changed out with the removal of the solenoid. This leaves three items for the face of our electrical control panel: The CO/Propane monitor, the Propex control, and the solar panel control. The panel came with a fancy bluetooth connection as well, so I'll have the option to monitor from my phone as well.

This trip was also our first foray into prolonged heat. The inside of the trailer after driving in the sun all day was up in the 110* neighborhood a couple of times. I've got a two pronged plan for dealing with this. First up, I'm painting the roof. I haven't decided if I want to go full on white or if I'll go something that's more of a tan color, but there's going to be paint. The other step is going to be another awning. My plan is to make a clip on shade awning that goes over the roof and fan vent. It'll cover the roof between my two existing awnings. It's the same idea that the old Land Rovers used to do in Africa but I'm not planning on driving with it. It'll be for camping or prolonged parking in the sun. My eyeball math tells me that I'll be able to cover approx 2/3 of the roof with it, provided I don't cover up the solar panel.

Those are the major things that we want to get done over the next couple of weeks. There are quite a few more little things, but they're little and I'll get to them eventually.
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Re: Rough Road Raindrop

Postby tony.latham » Sat Jul 13, 2019 9:17 pm

Sorry for tipping my hand about the sale on that solar panel... :frightened: :thumbsup: But juice is a good thing.

Use caution as to how you wire your master switch into your new system. My controller manual (Renogy Adventurer) indicates that if the battery isn't hooked up while the PV is producing, it will damage the controller. I've got a breaker switch that I'll use to turn my PV off in case I need to monkey with the battery or some such exercise.

Don't you have any high country you can head to when it's hot?

Tony

p.s. Thanks for reminding me about the fenders. I did the old drop's fenders with Hurculiner and it has no rash. I'll make sure the new ones get a coat of black goo.
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Re: Rough Road Raindrop

Postby Louisd75 » Sun Jul 14, 2019 11:57 am

tony.latham wrote:Sorry for tipping my hand about the sale on that solar panel... :frightened: :thumbsup: But juice is a good thing.

Use caution as to how you wire your master switch into your new system. My controller manual (Renogy Adventurer) indicates that if the battery isn't hooked up while the PV is producing, it will damage the controller. I've got a breaker switch that I'll use to turn my PV off in case I need to monkey with the battery or some such exercise.

Don't you have any high country you can head to when it's hot?

Tony

p.s. Thanks for reminding me about the fenders. I did the old drop's fenders with Hurculiner and it has no rash. I'll make sure the new ones get a coat of black goo.


Sounds like we've got the same solar setup. I'm planning on putting a switch inside my electrical cubby that I can use to isolate the panels from the controller for battery work. More importantly, I'll also put a note on the battery to remind me to flip the switch before disconnecting 8) And ordering the solar panel was pretty funny. My wife started talking about possibly adding solar and I told her that it was already on the way and would be waiting for us. She was trying to figure out when I ordered it. I told her it was the same day that I ordered 10 yards of waxed canvas. Man, the looks she can give me sometimes.

Any thoughts on how you're going to attach your panel to the roof? Looks like the 100w panel has six grommets for screws. I was thinking about making sure that the forward edge of the panel was over a spar and use a combination of Sika under the perimeter and screws through the grommets. The cable penetration looks like it can only be glued or taped on, which is a bit of a bummer but I'm pretty sure I can figure out how to make it work. It would also have been really convenient if the cables came off the panel in the middle of a long edge, but oh well.

Our trip was in and out of the high country. The heat was mostly due to our family and friends living places that get hot. Nights weren't bad. We'd run the Fantastic Fan and the Propex fan for about half an hour before we climbed in and it would cool things off. Mornings got chilly a few times. We didn't *need* the furnace but it was really nice to fire it up for that time where you're awake but not ready to get out of bed.

I helped a buddy use Monsterliner on the pop top of his Sportsmobile. He ordered more than he needed and gave me the leftovers. I've just gotta decide what color tint to buy. I've seen pictures of a Camp Inn with bed liner on the front and it looks pretty good to me. I'm just not certain if I want to follow their curve or extend it further aft towards the doors. My rock dings go as far back as the vertical piece of trim that hides a seam between two aluminum sheets. Here's what they did:

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I started working on the solar install and then one kiddo started throwing up. Not to be outdone, the other started soon afterwards. Now I'm just standing by. :frightened:
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Re: Rough Road Raindrop

Postby tony.latham » Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:09 pm

Plan A on the PV attachment is just with the grommets to the spars. I may do something like VHB tape to the leading edge. But the panel is really stiff so I’ll make that decision after it’s dry fitted.

That Raindrop sure looks good with the stuff on the front. I’m toying with a piece of diamond plate up there. Flash and protection.

Your camper isn’t short on flash.

T
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Re: Rough Road Raindrop

Postby Louisd75 » Tue Jul 16, 2019 9:08 pm

Nothing widens my wife's eyes like telling her that I just drilled a two inch hole in the side of the trailer. It looked remarkably like this:

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Why? Well, on our big trip we found that our driving days were too short to sufficiently recharge, especially with the parasitic draw of the solenoid coil. I had a little battery tender that we brought along that I can plug into the cigarette lighter port seen above and aft of the big 'ol hole I drilled. The problem was that it didn't have the oomph to really catch the battery back up. It's rated at 1.25 amps, but the coil was drawing 0.85 or so. As soon as we turn anything else on we're pretty much in the hole. I poked around online a little before heading down to my local 12v electrical guru. We bounced a few ideas around and I wound up leaving with a NOCO 2 bank, 20A on board charger, along with a pass through so that I can plug an extension cord into the side of the trailer. It's pretty nifty and, amazingly, I was able to get it to fit into my battery compartment with a little bit of tweaking. I've still got a little bit of wire-securing in the compartment.

Here's the NOCO screwed into my electrical cubby:

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And here's how snug it gets with the battery:

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Now, the eagle eyed among you will likely say "But that's a 2 battery charger rated at 10 amps per battery, how are you getting 20 amps out of it?" First, a little math. My battery is rated at 98 amp hours. The maximum rated charging current is approximately 25% of that, which, for sake of doing math in my head, I'm going to round to a maximum of 25 amps of charging current. Now, I can go higher but I risk shortening the life of the battery. The NOCO can be connected with both sets of charging cables in parallel to one battery. This gives me a maximum charging current of 20 amps (still below the maximum recommended 25 amps).

I thought about trying to shoehorn the solar controller in there as well, but I think I'm about maxed out for what I can put in there and still work on things. I may also have to revise the ventilation for the compartment. The solar controller has a temperature probe for the battery compartment, and I'm pretty sure that I can call that info up on the app. It'll be interesting to see how this works out.

Here's what it looks like all plugged in:

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Yeah. Not that exciting. But hey, now I've got an easy way to maintain the trailer battery when I'm at home, and a viable option for recharging when I'm staying with friends or have an electrical connection.

I'm still in the midst of redoing my electronics panel in the trailer. I need to enlarge a few holes for the additional solar wiring (4 cables, approx 8awg in diameter). I also still need to figure out exactly where I'm going to drill through the roof and decide whether I'm going to use the cable penetration box provided by Renogy. It has no screw mounting holes, they recommend gluing it to the roof, but there's not really a flange to glue to. I'm going to check out some bulkhead penetrations at my local hardware store in the morning.

I was hoping to get started on the shoe storage bags and canoe paddle holders but the company I ordered my waxed canvas from mixed up orders and I haven't been able to get them to answer the phone or respond to emails :x
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Re: Rough Road Raindrop

Postby tony.latham » Tue Jul 16, 2019 9:16 pm

I like your charger install. Do you have a link to the wall socket?

Maybe you saw this, but I'm sticking my junk on the galley wall.

Image

T
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Re: Rough Road Raindrop

Postby Louisd75 » Tue Jul 16, 2019 9:30 pm

tony.latham wrote:I like your charger install. Do you have a link to the wall socket?

Maybe you saw this, but I'm sticking my junk on the galley wall.

Image

T


Your panel is looking clean. I go back and forth on whether to have my electrical stuff inside or out. It is a little bit of a hassle climbing in and out to when I'm making major changes like this, but on the flip side if I blow a fuse I can change it from the comfort of bed :D

The wall socket is this one:
https://no.co/gcp1

It comes with a plug end so that no hardwiring is required. The charger came with a very long cord. I wound up cutting the charger cord short and cut the end off the wall socket and then butt connected them back together. I will probably remove the butt connectors down the road and go back to a plug. The kiddos are still sick so I was trying to see how things would work without having to go too far.
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Re: Rough Road Raindrop

Postby tony.latham » Tue Jul 16, 2019 10:24 pm

The wall socket is this one:


I may want to install one along with a hard-wired charger like yours for those long winters. Sheeesh. Is this really the time for me to start thinking about how I'll store this new 'drop and maintain the battery? (We're in a new house. The "old" drop always had the 20-watt panel sitting in the sun but I was always chasing the snow off of it with a broom. I'll have to think about this.)

:thinking: :thinking: :thinking:

And my fuse box is on the headboard but I'm not planning on blowing fuses.

T
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