Thursday, September 20, 2007

Electrical Part 1

Well we have been busy beavers since Julia quit her job at Tsunami Books! *yaaay* It has been so wonderful to have more time to work on the bus. Now that Fall has descended on Oregon it's not a minute too soon to really start crackin' at getting this project to the livable phase. We are trying to have all the main systems in before Winter so that we can flee further south for that dark and desolate time.

Our progress on the electrical system has been awesome these last few days!

First, I wired up all the outlets for 120v (there's 4 of them on 2 different circuits ~ 1 near the sewing machines, 1 near the table, 1 in the kitchen and 1 in the bedroom). I used Black and Decker How-To books that I got at the public library to figure out how to wire the boxes together. I have a surprise for ya - it was ridiculously easy, folks!! Really. We bought 14 gauge Romex for the job...this is the stuff you find in your looks like a fat white wire from the outside but it's actually a bundle of 3 wires all wrapped in a white casing. I already had a wire stripping tool from a garage sale. So there's three wires in there - one exposed copper wire (ground) and 2 other wires - white (neutral) and black (hot). We bought some outlets at Bring Recycling. Some outlets have little screws on them but we just got the kind where you push the exposed wire into a little hole and a spring inside the box holds it in place. Worked great. If ya get confused there's even little markings on the back of the outlet box that says where to put each wire. Figuring out how to wire together a couple boxes to share one circuit was beyond me but there were pictures of a whole mess of different configurations in my handy Black N Decker book so I didn't even have to think about it too hard. Sweet.

So all these wires are coming out of our 120v Circuit Breaker Box - at first we got the Mains Lug kind (no beefy off switch to kill the power coming into the box) but then we decided to go for a Mains Breaker Box for safety. Unfortunately, we could only find a ridiculously big one at Jerry's that's rated for 100 amps...way more than we'll ever use but whatever. Then we got 2 circuit breakers for it - one for each circuit, smarty! ;) They snap into place on the box.

The DC side of things is a little more tricky for us because we haven't been able to find as much information on how to wire it all up. We bought a 12v Fusebox and we have a bunch of 14ga AWG and all the nice little DC lights we could ever want for the bus (and the water pump and the composting toilet fan) but we're not 100% on how it all goes together. We have some guesses but nothing official. Our friend Spencer who wired his bus together successfully is on vacation right now so when he comes back we are going to pounce on him and make him tell us everything he knows about DC wiring.

In the meanwhile we got to work on our Battery Box!!!!

((A note to RVers and buspeople of the Eugene/Springfeild area - avoid KC RV Supply like the plague!! I was told they have the best prices but I could not believe how rude, hostile and condescending they were in there...and folks, just about every time we go to buy anything for this project we hear "do you have a permit for that, little girl?" about 2 or 3 times in 2 or 3 different ways so you come to expect a bit of bullshit but KC RV Supply really took the cake for a result, I took my business to The RV Store in Springfield instead and they were much more helpful/respectful. It's a bit further to go but I didn't notice any price difference between the two places AND The RV Store had a heck of a lot more stock. ))

Ok back to the Battery Box. So I bought 4 6v Interstate Deep Cycle batteries at The RV Store. It set me back about $380. Of course on the way home one of them ^%$ing tipped and spilled acid in my trunk. (First thing written on the top of the batteries? DO NOT TIP) We're hoping that it's still good. We built a nice underbay vented box for them with hold-downs and a locking front out of plywood, angle iron and steel stock. We haven't bought our inverter yet but we hope there's going to be room for it on the side of the box. I was excited that we finally got to use the bed frame I got out of the Goodwill dumpster down in Santa Rosa! We were able to scavenge the plywood for the box, too. Our next post will go into more detail about how we made the battery box, so stay tuned!


UPDATE: For additional safety, we switched out all the push-in type outlets and switches with the screw-on type. These are better suited to withstand the vibrations of the bus.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New Pics

Step 00: Level the bus. This took a couple tries to get the right number of odd pieces of 2x4 under each tire. The tiny-ness of the pieces is bad for the tires because it puts too much pressue on too small a part of the tire....but we're replacing all the tires anyway so it's all good for our purposes...please don't do this to your good tires, though! In the future we're going to make a little elongated 2x4 pyramid and roll up on that instead.

This is what she looks like when you walk in right now.

Detail showing how we did the side walls. We used all 2x4s because our insulation is THICK. Two long metal screws secure the longer piece to the wall along the rivet line~ make sure you don't hit the rivets...gotta go in between them. Then two wood screws to hold the little piece of 2x4 onto the bigger one. Then a long 2x4 over the top and a long one along the floor.

Some closeups on how we did the walls. We looked all around the internet and no one had closeups or very detailed explainations of how they did theirs....I imagine there's a couple different ways. Wood-to-metal screws didn't work in this situation (not enough bite in the thread of the screw?) so we used metal screws. Pre-drilling was key. I think we're going to put an extra 2x2 along the inside of the outer-most studs to give them a little extra support. We don't really know how "real" walls are made so we kinda made these ones up....they do work, though!

The box over the wheel well that will support our range/oven and our fridge. Bathroom to the right.

The super overbuilt beefy box over the other wheel well that will support our woodstove. It's bolted into the floor and the top of the wheel well. I think we're going to put cement board over it and the surrounding walls and then bolt the woodstove to it.

I can barely read this....drats. I'll put another copy on here soon. This is the wiring diagram Spencer helped us draw/figure out. More on this to come.

Mess 'o wires near the dash.

Bi-fold door for our bathroom! $10 at Bring Recycling with all the hardware for it, too!

Scavenged this door from a remodel a few streets down. Free! This is going to be our front door.

Water pump. It's smaller than I imagined it would be! Came with a wiring diagram and all sorts of useful info.

Our barrels. I LOVE the red....not that it will show or anything....just saying...RED! Note the molasses all over it.

Another Bring Recycling find....talked them down to $10...think it was originally for a bathroom but I like it for our kitchen just the same. We're going to build the top up a bit so that we can fit our scavenged pull-out cutting board and double-basin sink on it...we're going to do a nice tiling job for the counter.

My new treadle!!!!!!!!!!!! She's a Singer Red-Eye born in 1931. I love her. I replaced her belt and she runs LIKE BS plastic parts either....perfect as a back-up machine in case we get left with no power. Our friend's mom didn't want this baby anymore so she generously passed it onto me in exchange for some baked goods. WOW! I'm so thankful for this machine....can't stop looking at her most of the time....

Much Progress

This post has been a long time coming...sorry to leave everybody hanging! We have our subfloor screwed down now. Feels good to walk on something solid. Before we put it down we actually decided to paint low-VOC Safecoat metal primer over the whole rusted mess....this is a partial solution that felt right to us. Our friend Anna was a sweet heart and helped us do the whole floor. Our walls along the sides are all framed in now and so are the walls to the bathroom and one wall to the shower. They look awesome! We couldn't put the final shower wall in without blocking off access for actually getting the shower into it's spot so we're waiting until we have that aspect of the plumbing job more finalized and planned out. =)

We went to AM Solar here in Eugene the other day to chat it up about our plans for solar panels. Looks like we'll be buying our assorted solar panels accessories like wiring, battery bank, controller box, combiner box, inverter, etc later on this week (Friday) and waiting to get the panels until AM Solar's panels go on sale at the end of this month. We're planning on doing all the house wiring later on this week too. We've planned where we want all our outlets and switches and our breaker box and all. Right now it's just sharpie marks on the walls but pretty soon it'll be actual electrical stuff. More on the details of that later. Luckily, our friend Spencer did all the wiring for his bus and he's happy to help us out in exchange for canned goods and babysitting. We sat down with him a few days ago and clarified a lot of our electrical grey areas with helpful diagrams he drew on the bus' subfloor.

In the purchases category ~ we bought 2 used 55 gallon food-grade drums that used to be filled with mollasses for our freshwater tanks/veggie tanks. They still need to be cleaned out but at 6$ a pop we thought it was worth it. We also bought a standard shurflo pump on eBay for $65 including shipping. We also bought a ton of 2x2s for framing in the walls ~ unfortunately, we couldn't find too many reclaimed/recycled ones so we had to go with new ones. We did find a bunch of recycled 2x4s, though, and that's what we used for framing in along the sides of our bus. Looks like today we might hit some junkyards around River Road and look for stuff like side-mount propane tanks (spencer told us that forklifts have them), 12-volt lights and those shore-power placket thingies that come on VW buses and other stuff like that. AND a bench seat! We want a bench seat ASAP. =)