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#202216 Outside Kitchen, Mark II.

Posted by rando on 25 August 2018 - 09:22 PM

Packed up:





It mounts just like the rest of my under tray tool boxes.   It is also right next to the propane hatch, so it can be run off one of the 10lb tanks.   I use the 1lb bottles on the odd occasion that we have a picnic table so you can just carry the stove over to the table.  

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#71943 Low Cost Mods

Posted by MrWindow on 31 July 2012 - 07:06 PM

Bubble level when you do not have one!
beer bubble level.jpg
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#63883 New Site Team!

Posted by Janet H on 02 February 2012 - 08:25 PM

You may have read this announcement and wondered what's next. Here's an update...

We have a brand new Site Team to help out when needed. They've bravely stepped up to volunteer their time without really knowing what's expected and we are very grateful. This is a lovely forum; posts are helpful, polite and just plain fun but occasionally members need to have threads moved, need help with attachments or have suggestions for a new feature. The Site Team is here to help as they are able.

What about Aaron? He carefully built a wonderful community and tended it daily. He's still around although more infrequently than in the past and we're glad to have him drop in anytime. Meet the new team, give them a pat on the back and cut them some slack as they explore the extra tools they have.

Congratulations (and condolences) to:

MarkBC, Ted, Mark W. Ingalls and ski3pin 

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#53762 Camping USA State Updates

Posted by DirtyDog on 13 July 2011 - 06:57 PM

More Updates (December 23 2011):

Arizona Campgrounds

Idaho Campgrounds

New Mexico Campgrounds

Latest Updates:

Northern California

Southern California

Utah Campgrounds

Colorado Campgrounds

Nevada Campgrounds

Washington Campgrounds

Some city highlights (since I love this new feature): Boulder Campgrounds Las Vegas Campgrounds Seattle Campgrounds


We have updated all the Oregon campgrounds and entered every Forest Service campground in Oregon. The result 868 campgrounds total. We also changed this page to a clustered map for faster loading and easier viewing:


Also note that the city pages (seen below the state map) now have a map layout:


The hope is that in less than a year all states will look as good as Oregon.
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#210496 Truck Mods for Dempster Highway

Posted by Missing Link on 16 January 2019 - 04:48 AM

We did the Dempster to Inuvik in 2010, the Dalton to Dead horse in 2014, and the Trans Labrador Hwy. in 2017.  In each case we had five new, or low mileage E rated tires, a reasonably good compressor, and carried no spare fuel.  Luck shown on us each time and we encountered no flat tires and only a few windshield chips.  As with Old Crow, we had a few sketchy moments.  On the Dalton, at the Oglivie Maintenance Station we encountered a barricade with a "road closed" sign . . . . Oh noooo! . . . . we've come all this way.  We waited at the sign for about an hour and along came a First Nations family from Inuvik.  The man said, "don't worry about it, follow me," and we did.  Soon after, we came to a huge washout where a young dozer driver was working on the road.  He told us to wait a few minutes, and he cleared a path for us.  On the Dalton, among other things, we hit a snowstorm on Atigun Pass in late July.  Now that you can drive all the way to Tuk, we plan to return to the Dempster this summer with the same setup (five E rated tires, a good compressor, and no spare fuel).   I feel pretty comfortable with this recipe, however, that being said, if any of you WTWers are driving the Dempster this summer and you see a silver F150 with a Hawk stuck by the side of the road, please stop and give me a hand :D  

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#209815 The Landscape Photography Thread

Posted by Lighthawk on 01 January 2019 - 06:31 AM

From last week in DVNP











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#197417 How do I know if I filled my hotwater tank before I fire that beast off?

Posted by PaulT on 03 June 2018 - 07:45 AM

Short answer is no. You have to do one of two things to be sure the hot water is full. Open the sink drain outside.

Slowest method:
Open the hot water tap and turn on the water pump. When water flows without spitting from the hot water faucet, it’s tank is full.
This may take between 5 & 10 minutes and draws down battery power.

Better method:
Hook up the fill hose to the city water inlet. Use a pressure regulator on the hose to keep pressure at safe level.
Open hot water faucet. Turn on city water to hose. When water flows smoothly from hot water faucet, tank is full.This takes a couple of minutes & doesn’t draw down your battery.

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#178361 07 hawk and 07 tundra SOLD

Posted by rtpvibes on 30 August 2017 - 08:13 PM

I'm thinking of going to something bigger for the family . I'm in ma and if your looking for a great shape hawk and tundra all set up let me know . Hawk has stove , heater 12 fridge ,hot water heater . Sink , 20 water tank . Outside shower roll over couch . Re sealed screw and roof and molding . One fantastic fan  , FEMA awning . Canvas and lift panels great shape

07 tundra new e rated tires last week cooper allterrains . Timing water pump kit done at 148 or so .great running 4.8 154,000 . Let me know I'm looking for 9,500 hawk  ,truck $ 10k or
18,000 for both . I can email you more pics thanks for your time  . Located in ma IMG_0861.JPG IMG_0799.JPG
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#153790 I need more power Scotty!

Posted by Vic Harder on 11 October 2016 - 08:34 AM

I hope this thread will help us gather most of the info out there on powering our campers into one place. 


In short, I hope it will address how much power we need, and how to reliably get it.


To start with, I want to acknowledge the work of others in this space.  Forgive me if I miss a few, and please do point them out:



HandyBobSolar -  http://www.w8ji.com/...ging_system.htm


Hawk Solar Upgrade - LINK

Running heavier wire for solar panels - LINK

Rice Build - LINK

DrJ on DIY Solar/Trimetric - LINK

ACR – improving your battery isolator - LINK

Modeling Small Solar installations – CarlD - LINK


How much power do I need?

The first bit we need to look at is how much power is needed.  DrJ LINK indicates about 60 AH/day is typical for FWC use.  If you want to run the numbers yourself:


This calculator can confirm some of that, although it is designed for home alternative energy use - LINK


I went at this in some detail, reviewing each of the appliances I intend to use, which are:


TruckFridge 130L – 24w/hr, 60w input, 5 A; 53 lbs; Size - H x W x D 29 ½" h x 20 ¼" w x 20 ¾" d  (estimate 14hrs/day at 24w/hr)


Shurflo 4009-101-A32 pump 12vdc @ 3.5A (max) = 42W/hr (estimate 2hr/day)


ProPex 2200 heater – 1.4A = 16.8W/hr (estimate 5hr/day)


LED lights total = 1A  (estimate 6hr/day)

Overhead lights = .8A

(Flood lights = 2.8A)

Porch Light = .2A


Fantastic Fan = 1.5A at full speed (.2A at low) (estimate at 4 hrs/day)


USB chargers (negligible?)

-          Iphone


Inverter (120 v to 12v) (estimate running small one of 50W for 2 hrs day)

-          Camera battery charger

-          MS Surface 3 Pro laptop


Total of 60 AH/day.  That’s exactly what DrJ figured out for himself, and also worst case.  For example, the if the heater needs to run for 5 hrs a day, then it is likely cold out and the fridge won’t be running for 14 hrs, and vice versa, meaning my draw could be as little as 53Ah, assuming no furnace is needed on warm day.


How much battery do I need to support this load?

And you can use this to figure out your battery bank size



This Crown website has lots of good sizing info too: http://american-batt...olar-batteries/


To put it in words, Crown and others suggest no more than 30% of discharge for maximum battery life for Flooded Lead Acid  (FLA) batteries, while 50% is possible with Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) batteries, but that will reduce the battery life.  Plugging in the numbers to the capacity calculator (LINK), or spelling it out like this for my case:


60 AH * 50% and 2 days =   240 AH.  That means I need at least a 240 AH battery as the smallest I can get away with.  If I want to have 3 days between charges, even at the maximum 50% drain the number is 360 AH.   Hmmm, maybe I need to adjust my expectations.


OK, so let’s go for 2 days between charges, but keep the batteries healthier, allowing only a 40% draw... that yields a need for 300AH of total capacity.  OK, let’s run with that.


Crown’s 6CRV330 model battery looks like a good fit here.  Fit being AH.  Size is another matter... it is 14.6” tall.  I will have to design my battery box to fit that. 


Now here is a really strange thing.  A bigger battery (or a lower load) get you more AH of daily use and a longer life per battery than you might expect.  The relationship is non-linear.  Lowering your AH draw or stuffing in more battery will lead to better than expected battery life.  This is reflected in the warranty on batteries, which is often stated as 2/5 years.  Two years of hard use, or 5 of gentle use.  Draining them 50% every day, or just 30%  every day.


What kind of batteries should I get?

OK, so more battery is better.  What kind?  FLA or AGM? 


Apparently you can tilt the FLA up to 45*.  That would be significant pucker for me, so that isn’t really a limitation.

AGM batteries are spill proof.  You can even mount them sideways. That could open up some interesting mounting options in a FWC.


AGM’s can be charged up to 5x faster than flooded lead acid types. 


AGM’s can also handle vibration, because they were designed for military aircraft and the shaking they go through, so wash board roads should be no problem.


FLA batteries need maintenance.  Lots of it, to stay healthy, whereas AGM’s need none.


Finally, FLA batteries are about 50% of the cost of AGM’s. 


OK, so cost favors FLA; everything else favors AGM - vibration, charge time, zero maintenance.  AGM it is.  How to charge them up?


If you want to learn more about batteries, check out this awesome site - LINK or this one - LINK



How do the batteries want to be charged?  There are right and wrong ways to charge AGM batteries.  Battery capacity and life are critically impacted by how they are charged.  Guys like HandyBob are very passionate about the fact than almost NOBODY does it right, and that almost ALL batteries in campers are chronically under charged.


Let’s not be part of that crowd!


First off, there are 3 different types or stages of charging an AGM battery:


Bulk (when you can dump practically unlimited amps into the battery at a pretty high voltage)

Absorb (when the battery is about 85% full, and it gets harder to “push” the amps into the battery)

Float (when the battery is basically fully charged and you want to keep in there)


Manufacturers list a lot more parameters about their FLA  batteries than they do for their AGM batteries.  I suppose the FLA batteries need more maintenance, so that makes some sense.  So , I had to do a bit of digging for this info:


Rolls/Surrette says the max charge rate, or bulk rate, is c20 * 0.35, but more typically c20 * 0.25 - LINK


What does that mean?  The c20 rate is how many Amps the battery can provide before it is completely dead after 20 hours of use. If you want more on AH ratings, go here - LINK.  The c20 rate is the most commonly quoted one, so my chosen 330 AH battery just happens to have a c20 rate of 330 AH.  Running the numbers, I get 330 * 0.25 = 83 Amps, and 330 * 0.35 = 115 amps.  These are the amps these batteries want to see while charging.  Whoa.... that’s a lot of juice.


More importantly, our AGM batteries have a minimum charging current, that being C20 *0.10 = 33A for my 330 AH Crown batteries - LINK


So, now we know that we don’t really want to draw more than 30% of (c20) AH capacity, but can go to 50% in worst case settings.  And we want to charge at least 10% of C20 (330AH) = 33A, and can go up to 115A during the bulk charge phase. 


How to do this?  A FWC will usually have three options – the truck’s alternator, shore power and Solar.  And we introduce another factor here besides the charging current, namely the VOLTAGE at which the battery is charged.  This is really important stuff.  Read on below, but before getting to charging, let’s look at measuring your batteries STATE of CHARGE (SOC)


How do I know what the SOC is of my batteries?

I think many folks have already sung the praises of the Trimetric 2013 Monitor.  I think the simple answer to this question is get one of these.  Done.  As for why, this POST is very relevant – showing essentially that many folks measure their battery SOC when there is no load on it.  That’s a sure way to kill your batteries.  Apparently you need to measure the battery under load.  The last two pictures on this post are perhaps the most important.  The meter shows the battery at 12.1v when at a 49% SOC – the lowest you should ever take an AGM battery.  Disconnect the load, and it bounces back to 12.32V, or 70% SOC.  If you think you still have 70% left in that battery, you will be majorly disappointed in the battery life/performance you get out of it. 


Even this site that has this handy table is mistakenly calling this a no-load table.  The marine folks above think it should be considered a full load table.


Oye, sometimes this stuff makes my head hurt!


Charging via your truck’s alternator

Since we are looking at alternators first, let’s consider what the manufacturer (Optima 75 AH Yellow Top) of my truck’s starting battery has to say about how it should be charged.  LINK


They say it wants from 13.65 up to 15V (up to 15.6 if you can monitor the battery temp), at unlimited amps for the bulk charge, or 13.8 to 15v via a charger for 10 hours for an absorb charge, and 13.2 to 13.8 for float charge.  The min/max amps for optimal charging (c10 and c35) are 7.7A and 30A.

When your truck is running at more than idle it is outputting its nominal alternator rating.  My truck has a 135A alternator. Thanks to the car audio SPL wars, many higher power alternators are now available, and  I can upgrade that if need to.  These guys make BIG alternators LINK


Assuming my Optima Yellow top starting battery is fully drained, my stereo and headlights are on, the draw would be:

Battery = 30A

Stereo (500w amp plus head unit) = 35A

Low beam 2 x 35w bi-Xenon Headlights = 5A

Misc small lights = (10 x 10w each) = 7A

So I have 77A being taken by the truck, leaving 58A for the camper batteries.


To get better charging rates, I can turn off the stereo and headlights.  Assuming I do that and can get the max charge amps out of my alternator, the other key factor to consider is the voltage at the camper battery.  As we saw for the starting battery, AGM batteries want different voltages depending on where they are in their charge cycle.  Assuming for just a second that the alternator can deliver these, Crown says that this is what you want for a 12 volt system (which includes 2x 6v batteries in series):


Bulk v = 15

Absorb v = 14.52

Float v= 13.5


Note: Trojan lists an alternate value of 14.4v for absorption charge. http://www.trojanbat...ry-maintenance/


Anything less than these voltages and the batteries will not charge properly.  They will work, they will take some charge, but they won’t be at full charge, and will drain faster and ultimately fail completely well before their time. 


So we need to get those volts to the camper battery, which means we really need to consider the voltage drop that arises from the resistance in the cabling/wires between the source of the power (alternator) and the batteries.  Voltage drop depends on the specific length and gauge of the wire, for a given current drawn across it.


So, back to my 330AH batteries.  As we saw, they want between c10 and c35 during the bulk charge phase, at 15V.


OK, so can I even get 15V from my alternator?  I just went out and measured my alternator’s voltage output.  To do that, I measured the battery when the truck was not running (11.5v – whoa, that’s pretty discharged, and that after normal short runs for groceries and such... seems like maybe I need to hook up my trickle charger!).  This low state of charge for the starting battery is great for our testing purposes, as it means the alternator will be in bulk charge mode when I start up the truck.  So, I start it up and Woot!!! I see 15.2V!   Remember that Optima says they can take up to 15.6 for short while during this phase.


Now, what do I need to do to get at least 15V of those volts to my camper batteries, with at least c10 levels of current, as per Crown’s recommendation?



I will be hooking up the wires to my alternator (not the battery posts) and I figure that the distance will be 20’ from there to my camper batteries.  This includes all the short little sections between the breakers, the ACR and such.  I will want less than 0.2v of loss, or around 1% so I get the full 15V at the camper battery.


Let’s see what the stock – as supplied by FWC – wiring will get us.  Using this calculator LINK, and assuming:


10 AWG (stock FWC wire)

15.2 VDC from my alternator

With a SET of wires this size (no frame ground)

20’ away

And 33A (c10) minimum for bulk charging


(pic didn't come through)


It looks like I will get 13.88v at my batteries.  That’s an 8.7% voltage drop, or 1.32v.  That only gets me to slightly above a float charge level, not absorb, never mind bulk level.   Clearly, those folks on this forum who have upgraded their wiring from the truck to camper and gotten better results are on to something.


What if I want to get closer to a c25 level of current for my bulk charge?  That’s 25% of 330AH = 82.5A.  Aside from melting my wires, that would result in a 21.7% voltage drop and only 11.9v getting to the camper batteries.  Ouch.


BTW, use this link to figure out your fuse size for a given AWG, so you don’t melt your wires! - LINK


So, what AWG wire SHOULD I use? You can use this calculator from Blue Sea (Link), although it generalizes the voltage values too much.  I prefer to use the original calculator I linked to and use trial and error with the numbers to figure this out


I figure I should be running 1/0 AWG.  That will get me 15V with 50A:



(pic didn't come through)



Let’s think about the implications of this for a minute. 


First, I’ve seen a few folks here upgrade to 4AWG, which isn’t big enough according to our calculations, and yet it seems to work for them.  Why? 


Well, for one thing, they are using smaller batteries.  220 AH or smaller.  C10 for those batteries is only 22A.  Using the calculator and changing the wire size to 4AWG, I get 14.98V at 22A to the camper batteries.  That’s enough to get us well above “absorb” charge state and good enough for a bulk charge even.   Given enough time, that will charge up your camper batteries.


How much time?  Going back to the Optima website, they recommend 13.8 to 15v for up to 12 hours for a 75AH battery.  For the 220 AH battery we just ran the calculator for, that means 220/75 * 12hrs = 35.2 hours to fully charge that 220AH battery.  Oh, and if your starting battery is low too, then you have to factor that in too = 295/75 * 12 = 47.2 hours!  That’s a lot of driving!  And if you need to charge your battery daily... well, last I checked there are only 24 hours in a day.  Ooops.


Maybe this is why my nice new Optima only read 12.0 v this afternoon when I tested it.  The trickle charger goes on NOW.... stay tuned for results on that.  OK, after charging for 18 hours at 10A and 15v the battery reads 13.0 v this morning.  Much better.  How much better?


According to this graph, at 12v I was at 20% of charge before.  Darn near dead.  Now, at 13 v (my analog meter needs to be replaced!) I am at 100% charge.


A quote from HandyBobSolar’s website might be appropriate here:


“Get the battery manufacturer’s charging specifications and pay strict attention to them.  The charger manufacturers are nearly all not setting their equipment up for the voltage that the battery manufacturers specify.  The difference between 14.4 & 14.8 volts is not 3%.  That difference is nearly 20% of the charging range (12.2 to 14.8 volts).  That 20% makes a huge difference in how full the battery gets before the charger shuts off.  You can eventually get the batteries full by charging at 14.4 volts, but it takes hours, not minutes.  We have related industries that are not talking to each other and the outcome is that the majority of RV’s are running around with weak batteries.”(emphasis added)


In short, without some other charging method, your truck will never keep the camper batteries (or the starter battery for that matter) at full charge.


See this LINK for a good write up about how to check your vehicle battery and alternator.


Another implication – and a quick note about battery isolator/charge relays:

Many folks have noticed that the battery isolator prevents their alternators from charging the camper batteries.  Upgrading the wiring and/or using a BlueSea ACR seems to help.  Why? 


The isolator is designed to protect the truck starting system so you don’t get stranded with a dead starting battery.  It monitors the camper battery, and if it is TOO low, won’t connect to it.  What voltage is that?  12.4v.  So let’s imagine that your camper batteries are actually at 14.5 volts and would benefit from a long absorb charge cycle, and they want 20 amps for this purpose (about right for a 100 to 200 AH battery).  The wire feeding the isolator is the same one running to your batteries, and 20’ long or so.


The ACR will sense that it can charge the camper battery (sense voltage implies no current movement).  So it connects.  Current starts to flow across that FWC stock install 10 AWG wire.  As soon as it does, it incurs voltage drop from trying to stuff all those electrons through that tiny wire.  The voltage it now sees is only 13.7v.  So it disconnects.  After a bit, it notices the batteries are back to 14.5 and connects again... click, click, click.... and no charging is really happening.  Sound familiar?


Bigger wire is the answer.


Shore Power:

Folks, there is only bad new here, as the voltage output cannot be easily adjusted to meet manufacturers requirements.  Even so, a lot of members here have the IOTA DLS-30 with IQ4 as their charger.  There is a lot of discussion about the Iota DLS series and IQ4 on the net.  The unit is frankly no good at all for FLA batteries – see post #32 in this thread: https://www.solarpan...a-charger/page3.


That said, it might work for AGM batteries with the IQ4, which also appears to be conservatively set, with bulk/absorb only 14.8v (should be 15) and float at 14.2 (should be 14.52). 


If you are willing to forgo the automatic features of the IQ4, you can use a trim pot inside the DLS-30 to tweak the output voltages, and use the two separate output voltages to manually do (enabled via the Two-Step Voltage Jack) bulk and float charging.  But you have to be careful, or you will boil your batteries to death. Iota DLS manual here http://www.iotaengin...lib/dlsmanl.pdf  and the IQ4 manual here: http://www.iotaengin.../#/products/iq4


Info on the trim pot in this thread - http://forum.solar-e...r-potentiometer


My understanding is that when you adjust the higher voltage – to say 15v from 14.8, the normal output voltage will also go up .2v, to 13.6.  This would give you a good two stage charger, for bulk and float levels.  I don’t know what happens if you adjust the voltage up to 15v and then plug in the IQ4.  IDEALLY, it would stay at 15 for bulk, and scale the other voltages too.  I will have to try that, or maybe someone who already has a DLS30 and IQ4 wants to try this (at their own risk)?


Conclusions re Alternator and Shore Power

My conclusions about shore power are the same as those reached by HandyBob, who says “Therefore, you can’t expect your converter to charge [your batteries], either.  You are actually lucky to ever get your batteries over 80% full with a converter that is plugged in for several days unless the rig is stored and no electricity is being used.”


Oh, and a generator makes no difference here either.  If you are feeding your batteries through the DLS30/IQ4 you would have to run the generator for several days also. 


There is just no way around it.  You have to get the charge voltage up to 15v to get into that bulk charge state, and then once that is done keep it at absorb for many hours to get the last 15% of charge done before you go to float charging.  Shore power through an IOTA unit won’t do it if you are using your camper while attempting to charge it, it just can’t keep up.  And we don’t have enough hours in a day to drive enough to charge fully via the alternator either.


That said, if I was to camp for two days in the winter in Banff NP, and no charging took place, I could get away with my 330AH setup.  My batteries would be down 38%.  That’s acceptable.  They would get partially charged on the 2 hour drive home from the park, and then the IOTA with IQ4 would likely get them up to a full charge during the week before I headed out again.  Boon docking is another story...



In short, we need properly set up solar when boon docking.  And what does that look like?


How many AH do I need to recover?

You want enough solar power to recharge your batteries to full power after the number of days you decided (above) would be how long you will go between charging.  In my case, that was 2 days, bringing my 330 AH batteries down to 40% to a 60% SOC.  Now, on the third day, the sun is out and I need to recharge my batteries, and provide enough power to supply my daily needs to I don’t continue discharging my batteries.  Basically, I need to have enough power coming from my solar panels to run my daily load with enough left over for the battery charging. 


That’s 60 AH plus 330*40% = 60 + 132 = 192AH.   


Sizing your solar panels

You need to know how many solar hours you have in a day at the location where you are camped.  This map gives you a good idea - LINK.  I myself will often be in zone 5, sometimes in zone 3.  That’s between 4.2 to 5 hours a day, at solstice.  In the winter, that can be up to 50% less! Winter also adds snow cover considerations.  Right now I am not planning to camp in winter, so I’m just going to go there right now.  And to keep it simple I’m going to estimate 4 hours of solar a day for my three season camping.


192AH needed with only 4 solar hours available means I need to generate 194/4 = 48.5A when the sun is shining, worst case.


Best case, my system never gets that loaded down, and I just need 60AH every day to keep up with my consumption = 60/4 = 15A 


I suppose it would make sense to assume that a typical scenario would be to go 1 day without sun, and then have sun to do a recharge.  That means 120/4 = 30A are needed every other day during my available sunlight.


The size of solar panels is usually given in watts.  Watts = volts * amps.  I would use 15v for the voltage number to make sure I get the needed voltage to bulk charge the batteries, so the watts needed are 30*15 = 450.


OK, so I will need two 225w panels.  I think I will mount one on the roof and use another in a portable setup.  And I will want to use 24v panels to keep the size of cables down.  Why?  Well, I understand that the wires to the roof are about 10’ long, and that the stock FWC is something like 12 or 10 AWG, depending on the vintage of the camper.  I think mine has 12AWG.


Let’s say I put 3 of the 100W GrapeSolar panels from HomeDepot on the roof.  I would be trying to feed 16.68A at 18v back to the controller.  Plugging that into the voltage drop calculator (LINK) I get 17.47v, a 2.94% loss.  If I use a 265W Canadian Solar 24v panel, I will be trying to move only 8.66A but at 30.6v to the solar controller.  That yields 30.32v, a 0.92% loss.  Much better.   To get the equivalent efficiency from a 12V panel I would need to upgrade the wiring in my FWC to 6AWG, and that is not easy to do.


It gets even more important when considering the portable panel voltage drops, as the wires are much longer to this panel.  I figure that panel will be 50’ or more away from my camper to catch the sun while I am parked in the shade.  Using the commonly suggested 8 AWG wire over 50’ yields a 5.83% loss with that 12v GrapeSolar panel, and only 1.76% with the 24v panel.


24v seems like a no-brainer to me, except that I can’t use the highly recommended Trimetric 2030 charge controller, and have to get a MPPT type instead.  The cost difference is substantial ($300 or more).


I’ve put together a spreadsheet of my costs for this solar setup, and the number is a bit scary, actually.  So I am hoping someone can point out that I made a mistake in my calculations or something.... ;-)



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#88711 Geographic Areas & National Parks Content on WTW

Posted by ski3pin on 05 November 2013 - 03:11 PM

The tech folks behind the scenes have been making headway on restoring content - members photos and comments - that was lost during the necessary software upgrade.


Issues this summer


Check out this example -


Soldier Meadows Hot Springs


We are told the tech folks are still working on formatting and restoring the ability for members to submit new photos and comments to each spot page.


This "other half" of WTW is an important part of the website and it is very nice to see it working its way back to life.


Good news and thanks! :)

  • 3

#211048 2014 FWC Fleet and 2014 Tacoma

Posted by rando on 27 January 2019 - 03:46 PM

If your going to do something, might as well over do it. I hope the brakes, axles, and tires have been upgraded along with the suspension as I'm certain that rig is exceeding the GVWR. 


Is this really the right place to be bringing this tired debate up? 


If you read the description, yes the tires and suspension have been updated.  The brakes on this are rated for ~2400lb of payload (GVWR + unbraked trailer). 


OP, good luck with the sale, it looks like you have put a lot of time and effort into this!

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#200904 Why I think WtW website is unique.

Posted by CougarCouple on 02 August 2018 - 12:43 AM


The above link in my opinion is an example of who the members of this site are, and what they are made of.
In thinking about it all the posts do!
Thanks y'all.
  • 3

#199744 Building a Thinsulate thermal pack

Posted by Lineman on 16 July 2018 - 02:33 AM

I needed more insulation in my camper for the climate right AC to keep up here in the hot and humid Midwest.  I considered the factory thermal pack, but I question how much it would help in this situation and hesitant to try it because of the price point.  I think Reflectix would be effective, but I don't want the hassle of put up and take down.  I wanted a light weight thermal pack with insulation that could be left up full time and allow my 5k btu AC to cool the camper to a reasonable temperature.


So, I started looking at fabric options at Seattle Fabrics and ordered a bunch of samples.  They stock Thinsulate in three thicknesses, the thickest is 210 gram.  I decided this should work, it seemed to compress really well and even folded over on itself a couple times it compresses down to very little.  With the insulation chosen I needed a facing material, it needs to be very thin and synthetic to keep it from soaking up any condensation we don't get wiped up in the morning.  I found a 1.1 ounce ripstop nylon, also from Seattle Fabrics, that seemed to fit the bill.   All together with the insulation, nylon, velcro and shipping totaled $350, inexpensive enough to gamble a home build on.


Over a week later (I used the really cheap shipping) a surprisingly small box arrived and I got started.  After remeasuring everything I rolled out the Thinsulate and started cutting.  Unfortunately this has to be done on the floor, I don't have anyplace else large enough. 



The thinsulate comes 60" wide so two 26" side panels will be cut from it.




This is the second cut and the remainder, these sections are cut 26" wide and long enough to reach well behind the lift panels and will be cut to the exact length later.  Next comes the facing nylon, it is incredibly thin, nearly see through.  It is rolled out and the insulation laid on top.



 An inch and a half margin is allowed for and the whole thing is folded over itself.




The excess is trimmed off, the edges folded in and pinned every three to four inches.  This nylon is so slick I'm afraid it move all over when it is run through the machine.  The 1.5" velcro is also pinned on.  It is only applied where it is needed.  I would normally not pin velcro on, but I want to make sure I get these really long pieces where they need to go.  Here it is all pinned up and ready to go through the machine.



I ran a stitch across each end and two down the long sides on each edge of the Velcro.  Then it was taken out to the camper and installed in place (I first had to install the loop side of the Velcro on the camper wall since my camper was ordered with out a thermal pack).  With it in position I traced the window locations directly on the nylon with a pencil.  You can barely see the marks in the picture below.



Secure the nylon to the insulation with pins all the way around the opening to keep everything in place, then take a deep breath and hope this plan works, it would be a shame to ruin hundreds of dollars worth of material here.



All the windows came out no problem and even in the right spot!  A really sharp knife helps to cleanly cut the nylon, I tried a box blade, but had cleaner cuts with the polished edge on my pocket knife.  The edges of the window will need to be trimmed out with something.  I cut a 5" wide strip of the nylon, folded it in half and stitched it, turned it right side out and then folded in half again and ironed to form the edging.




Pin this all the way around the opening, overlapping the corners.




There is no need to pin the 1/2" Velcro on here, it can be applied when the stitching is done.  After running it through the sewing machine it looks like this, note there is no Velcro across the bottom edge.




Now we need window flaps.  These are built just like the rest of the walls, start with a piece of insulation large enough to cover the window opening plus the edging, I my case that worked out to 36" x 15", then wrap it in the nylon and pin every 3-4".




Velcro is added on the three required edges when it is stitched.  Then the stitched window is stuck in place on the wall panel.



Secure the bottom edge to the wall panel and run a couple stitches across the bottom and bam a window!




Then then whole thing is hung in the camper again to mark the button hole location on the windows for the bungee loop and to mark the whole thing for length.  I decided to make the over all length long enough to tuck behind the lift panel to the first rivet between the lift panel and the soft wall of the camper.  The insulation puffs up enough to pretty much seal the gap between the wall of the camper and the lift panel, so it should help slow the thermal loss there even without running really far behind the lift panel.


1.75" button holes are then sewn on the window flaps, the dark spot is where I marked the location with a pencil when the pack was hung in the camper.




Don't forget the stopper pin across the button hole when it is ripped.  It would really sting to ruin it now, so close to the finish.




All that's left is to cut the pack to length and finish the ends.  I trimmed the pack down just a little longer than the desired finished length, I just used the width of my yard stick, the rolled the facing material back and trimmed the insulation to the correct length.  This allows enough material to create a finished edge.



Here it is stitched.




The top and bottom seams will have to be repaired where I had to rip them to create the finished edge, and then it is time to install it in the camper!






With the thermal pack installed the roof was lowered and buckled no problem.  I rolled the camper out of the garage and raised the top to test the effectiveness.  Missouri blessed me with a couple of 105 degree test days, if it works in this kind of weather it should work anytime we camp.  I left the camper out in the direct sun for two days with the AC on the whole time and checked the temperature every few hours.  The AC kept the inside 13-15 degrees cooler than outside while the camper was in direct sun, it did better of course with a little shade and shortly after the sunset with the ambient still in the nineties it pulled the temperature inside down to 73.  So far I think it is a success!  I look forward to testing it in much cooler temperatures.

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#195468 Just a quick "kudos" to both ATC (Marty) and FWC (Stan)

Posted by kmcintyre on 02 May 2018 - 01:22 PM

As most "regulars" on this site know, both ATC and FWC are awesome in terms of customer service, support, etc. and I wanted to give them both some kudos.  Recently they have both helped me find parts, etc. for my older Eagle!


In this world of mediocre or lack of customer service that we all seem to get on a daily basis, we forget to give praise the good people!


So here's to those companies and those 2 people (Marty and Stan)!  Those are the 2 people I interact with mostly and I'm sure there are a lot of other people in those companies that others use.


Thanks you guys!


Kevin McIntyre

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#194133 Wander the West is the Best

Posted by hoyden on 13 April 2018 - 01:55 AM

I just wanted to say that the past few years on this forum have been great. I've made some wonderful new friends, met up in person with a number of y'all, and have never had a bad interaction here. 


I love my FWC Fleet and y'all and this community have been a huge part of that enjoyment.


I even got a new nickname here! Yay!  :D



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#188584 Suspension for 2017 Tacoma and FWC Fleet Shell

Posted by nikonron on 26 January 2018 - 06:04 PM

I have a 2009 Tacoma access cab, Eagle shell. I'm pretty light on the camper itself but have ARB front bumper w/winch, rear swing away bumper and full skid plates and sliders.I'm running Icon coilovers and OME Dakars w/ extra leaf and sit level and handles fine. No air bags and I don't need them. I'm probably lifted 2 inches.Just did the Maze in Canyonlands, so yes you can do some pretty rough trails. The key is slow and deliberate. I'm a very cautious driver.  Ron

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#181072 Low cost DIY Lithium camper batteries.

Posted by rando on 14 October 2017 - 11:13 PM

I have been convinced for some time the lithium batteries were the future for marine and RV type applications and that lead acid's days were numbered.   Lithium batteries have many major advantages over lead acid, including 4 times the energy density, much flatter voltage curve and less picky charging requirements.   What has stopped me from installing lithium batteries in my Fleet flatbed was the huge 'early adopter' premium of ~$10/Ah as opposed to $2-3/Ah for high quality AGM or $1-2/Ah for flooded lead acid.   Recently browsing on ebay I found a guy selling new old stock LiFePO4 cells for ~ $1.50/Ah (at 12.8V) and decided to take the plunge.    The only draw back being that these batteries are 3.2V, 5.5Ah cells, so it would take some work to make an appropriate 12.8V, 150Ah battery pack.    I figured I would describe the process and results in case anyone else was interested in a winter arts and crafts project that results in a large LiFePO4 battery pack at about 1/5th the cost of a commercial lithium pack and 1/4 the weight and 60% the cost of an equivalent lead acid battery bank.


1. Batteries.   There are a lot of surplus Full River/Tenergy LiFePO4 cells available on ebay and amazon at the moment for very reasonable prices.  These are new old stock (manufacturing dates from 2013 and 2014) from a reputable battery manufacturer in China.  I bought 120 of the following 3.2V, 5.5Ah batteries:


From seller 'dougdeals' for $180.   If you want to make a different capacity battery pack there are plenty other options for different quantities and sizes of batteries.  These are amazingly cheap - this is the equivalent of a 150Ah at 12V, for $180!   A similar sized battery would be about $1500 from manufacturers such as Battleborn.


2. Pack Assembly.  This is where the arts and crafts comes in.   In order to get the right voltage (12.8V nominal) you need to put 4 cells in series.    So I divided my 120 cells into four groups of 30 cells, and went about making 4 larger 3.2V batteries each comprised of 30 cells in parallel.  There are two ways of assembling individual cells into packs - spot welding and soldering.   I don't have a spot welder, so I went with soldering with a high wattage (140W) soldering gun and plenty of flux.   Before soldering up the 30 battery packs I needed a way to physically assemble them.   For this I used my newly acquired 3D printer to print out 5x6 battery plastic frames to hold the cells in a nice grid, but you could also glue the cells together or build a wooden box to hold them.   I then soldered all the cells together using 12AWG copper wire:


The first one took me several hours, but once I had my technique down, it was probably only 90 minutes or so per pack.   It is very much craft work and is not hard to do


Once the packs were all soldered up, I attached about 20cm of 12AWG wire to the positive and negative of each pack, covered the exposed contacts with some 1/8" ABS I had lying around and then shrink wrapped each pack into some massive heat shrink tube (also from ebay).    All in all this was a weeks worth of evenings to do, and I ended up with four 3.2v 150Ah battery packs each about 7" wide, 8" long and 2.5" tall. 


3. Putting it all together.  To make the final product you need to wire the 4 packs in series to make the 12.8V battery.   This is where a couple of caveats about lithium batteries come in.  First, it is very bad to discharge lithium batteries below about 2 - 2.5V per cell.   While not a fire hazard or anything like that, it has the potential to ruin the cells.   Secondly,  lithium batteries don't 'self balance' between cells like lead acid batteries do.    That is to say that over many cycles the voltages of the individual cells can drift apart, so that some can end up over charged (not a big deal) and some undercharged (big deal).    Both these issues can easily be solved with a Battery Management System (BMS) which monitors the individual cells and shuts things down if they get out of wack and also applies corrective action to balance the individual cells.   Luckily BMS are now very cheap and effective.  I happen to have this one from a prior project and used it in this project:


But there are now much cheaper options on ebay and amazon. 


I wired all the individual cells to a blue sea terminal block and then used jumpers to put the cells in series:




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#174629 FWC not permitted at Washington State Park Tent sites

Posted by BillTheHiker on 09 July 2017 - 06:43 PM

Maybe travel with a small tent and pitch it, but sleep in the camper.

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#152734 My Homemade Awning

Posted by Bosque Bill on 24 September 2016 - 04:16 PM



I used my new awning scheme for the first time in the field last week and made one modification to the procedure which helped. When erected as in my original post, though with the larger tarp, it was somewhat susceptible to medium winds. This was due to the edge along the roof rising up and causing the tarp to "sail." I took it down that first evening as the slapping sound was annoying.


I thought about the issue overnight and the next morning I raised the tarp, but with a second tensioning line running to the rear of the camper to the tarp edge along the roof. That line, combined with the one running to the front, pulled the tarp edge taut. This kept the wind from lifting the tarp, making the entire arrangement more stable with no noise of slapping tarp or carabiners. If you look carefully in the enlarged photo below, you can see the aft tensioning line.


The photo of the arrangement was taken late in the afternoon. Consequently, the ground is no longer in the shade, though the camper is shaded which was my main concern. You will notice there is plenty of shade on the other side of the camper and that's where I set up my chair and table. You can also see my 100W, deployable solar panel - I intend to describe my system in another post, it worked very well.



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#145428 Attention a Electrical Sleuths

Posted by Jack on 14 June 2016 - 04:16 AM

Just came across this thread and I have some comments.


First, the standard load test does not tell the right story for deep cycle batteries (unless they are pretty much dead). What you want to know is how many amp-hours are left. As deep cycle batteries age, they provide less and less amp hours. See below for how to test.


Second, the way FWC originally wired two 12V batteries together was incorrect (they have mended their ways). The way your batteries were originally connected resulted in one battery supplying more power than the other. If you started out with two 60 amp hour batteries, after a year of moderate use, one will be reduced to, say, being a 50 amp-hour battery and the other a 40 amp hour battery. This imbalance then ages both batteries even more. The level and frequency that a battery is drawn down determines it's life. Rule of thumb is to stay above 30% draw-down (30 amp hours for a 100 amp hour system). Drawing a deep cycle battery down to 0 (10,6V) greatly shortens its life. The correct way to wire two 12V batteries in parallel is to jumper the two positive terminals together and the two negative terminals together. Then connect your load wires to one terminal on one battery and one terminal on the other battery.


Third, a much better solution to wiring two 12V batteries in parallel is to wire two 6V batteries in series. FWC ought to offer this option instead of dual 12V batteries - they cost out about the same. 


Fourth. The Exide batteries that FWC sells are marine batteries - dual starting / deep cycle batteries. Marine type batteries cost less than true deep cycle but they don't last as long. The Concorde Sunsaver batteries are at the top of the list - but pricey. (If price doesn't matter at all, go for lithium ion). The sweet spot for AGM deep cycle batteries are the golf-cart batteries. There's enough volume and competition to make them a good buy (make sure the golf cart batteries are deep cycle AGM - not flooded). Trojan is a well known and reliable brand, but that's not what I'm buying this Thursday (we are retiring our 2005 Eagle and getting a new Fleet on Wednesday). I'm buying a pair of 6V Fullriver batteries (http://www.fullriverbattery.com/main). The people in the battery business that I have talked with and my online research say that Fullriver is as good as or better than the Trojans, at a lower price. Jeff in Tigard sells both Trojan and Fullriver.


Fifth. All deep cycle batteries have a life. A good 100 amp hour battery, treated nicely, can still supply 80 or more amp hours three years later. I suspect that your Exide batteries, given your level of usage, including frequent draw down to 10.9V, your batteries have probably reached end of life.. 


Finally, I agree with others that the refrigerator cycling is a protection behavior for low voltage. Also, check the seal around the refrigerator door frame. Our Eagle has a Norcolde 3-way, and a service tech once told us that Norcold stopped insulating behind the door frame. When we re-insulated behind the fame, the door didn't open quite as easily - because the refrigerator was more air-tight. I assume Norcold stopped insulation due to complaints, but their solution allowed some cold air to seep out, making the refrigerator less efficient. 


To test a deep cycle battery, do the following. Fully charge the battery, run a small load (lights) for a few minutes, and then measure the voltage at the battery. You then connect it to a constant load that draws about 4 or 5 amps - some appliance that operates continuously. You will need to measure the precise current with a clip ammeter or by insrting a shunt on the negative side of the battery and measuring the voltage across it. Current = voltage divided by the shunt resistance. For example, 0.5V across a 100mOhm (0.1 ohm) shunt is 5 amps. Let it run for 4 or 5 hours and then disconnect the load. Keep track of the exact time. Now measure the voltage at the battery. Hours x amps = amp-hours. Assume you ran for 4 hours at 5 amps - you used 20 amp-hours. Now look up a per-cent draw-down chart of an AGM battery (http://caravansplus....attery-size.php). If your battery dropped by 0.2V from 12.8V, then 20 amp-hours is 75% of the battery capacity. Your battery is roughly capable of supplying 100 amp-hours. 


A simple digital multimeter (DMM) will give good enough results to know how good your battery is. Harbor Freight gives a DMM away about every 6 months, and $15 to $25 buys a halfway decent one on Amazon (I have a decent Fluke, but I carry the https://www.amazon.c...-3&keywords=DMM because it's much smaller). Everyone should carry a DMM - even if you'r not sure how to use it, you can likely find someone nearby who does and who will help you out.

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