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#227083 Blue Ribbon

Posted by teledork on 05 January 2020 - 12:12 AM

Only about 2% of our public land is wilderness where motor vehicles are not allowed. I drive on dirt roads some of the time but I have a hard time supporting a group whose users are inclined to threaten me with things like - oh, death -  when I speak in defense of wilderness. 

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#223762 Thank You

Posted by Mighty Dodge Ram on 24 October 2019 - 03:34 PM

I just want to say thank you to the WTW owners, admin, moderators, and members for providing a friendly and civil forum. I used to spend more time over on another forum...you know which one...but over the years it has become more difficult to post anything without inviting the wrath and nastiness of someone who might disagree with you. Not everybody, of course, but enough vitriolic responses to make it unpleasant. It just seems as if more and more people feel free to post comments that they would never say to someone in person. Perhaps this mirrors the polarization we see in politics these days?


Anyway, really appreciate the tone, manners, and content of this forum. đź‘Ť

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#211370 New batwing awning

Posted by jimjxsn on 01 February 2019 - 11:47 PM

cvant, I just bought a Batwing and am replicating much of what you did here. I too don’t want to add holes to the camper. Have you made any changes to the design? Also wondering what you came up with for the tightening system at the end. They send what looks like a plastic boat cleat that you would hook to and pull the whole system taught at the end. I’m hesitant to use it and not sure where to mount it anyway. Did you come up with anything for the pop up latch? I’ll try and post pics of what I come up with as mine is being fabbed in steel. Thanks in advance, I know it’s been a while since the last post but there ain’t much out there in terms of a fabbed setup for a 270° awning on our rigs.



Here are some pics of my install, different awning and camper but might give you ideas.  I used 1x2 aluminum for the uprights to clear the roof so that it could be placed higher to clear the camper door.  The rear is solid aluminum bar and the front upright is tube.  Then, 1x aluminum angle for the awning attachment pieces at the top of the bars.














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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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#228348 How do you plan trips?

Posted by Wallowa on 01 February 2020 - 05:50 PM

Others will give you better advice than this, but for getting there:


#1  Take more time for the trip than you expect to.  Don't rush to get anywhere; "enjoy the ride".


#2  I avoid frwys and heavy populated areas, bad for the nerves. Again, slow down and soak up the experience.


#3  Plan your overnight stops based on camping sites that meet your criteria.  For us, it is, no traffic, no neighbors and dark nights.  Dispersed camping sites in the boondocks are our first choice.




#1  Do searches online and cross-reference what is said about each location you wish to visit.  How much hype, how much reality. We also have a ton of books covering the areas we are interested in.


#2  Are these locations open and available in your time frame.  Consider weather and optional destinations.


#3  Don't try to "see too much" [a shortcoming of mine..] but rather plan kick-back time and several days at one location exploring.


SW Washington?  Well that means you at some level are exposed to a population glut of hypertensive folks....so plan on taking your favorite libation to decompress once on the road!


All good....we are in Southern Utah and Northern AZ in March...take a look at Tuweep Campground on Grand Canyon rim, remote and permit needed....too many of the areas down there require permits which are often limited and handed out by a lottery of some sort.


Good luck!




Ps...Obvious, but prep your vehicle for the type of terrain you plan to travel in.


PPs...You mentioned "apps'; don't rely on electronics, also have backup maps.   Paper is good!

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#227085 Blue Ribbon

Posted by Lighthawk on 05 January 2020 - 02:47 AM

I do not support BRC and the shrinking of our national monuments.

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#226493 Blue Ribbon

Posted by RicoV on 19 December 2019 - 12:30 AM

To quote the BRC website:   "The BlueRibbon Coalition was born in 1987 shortly after Clark Collins, Founder and first Executive Director, was told by then Idaho Governor John Evans that recreationists were not politically significant and implied that Wilderness was more important than motorized access to public lands.  Clark gathered and worked with other recreationists in a huge undertaking to educate all users of public lands in Idaho just how our resources were not being preserved FOR the public, but rather FROM the public. Thus, we have the seeds of what would ultimately become the BlueRibbon Coalition".
Imho, the BRC doesn't come close to embodying the spirit of what wandering the West is about, so I'll join the others above in declining to lend my support to the organization.  I believe there was/is much truth in what Gov. Evans (allegedly) stated.  Again, my $0.02, let the flames begin, hehe...

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#226400 A camping spot.

Posted by clikrf8 on 16 December 2019 - 07:34 PM

We used to have a campground but nosy neighbors turned us in. First, the county said yes then reneged. Anyway, a loophole exists: friends and family. We would like to invite you for a free night’s stay next year.. If you are in our neighborhood message me on this site for our email. I will try to check in every few days. Please give us several days notice. 

We are close to world class mountain bike trails. It is fairly quiet at night but busy during the day as we have a parking lot for the bikers. Bellingham also has the terminal for the Alaska Ferry. 

We hope to see a few of you this next year. 

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#222904 The Wildlife Photography Thread

Posted by Cayuse on 04 October 2019 - 06:05 PM

Snowy Egret flyfishing for breakfast this week.



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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 ÂĽ" w x 20 Âľ" 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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#178242 What do you leave to occupy your site?

Posted by adamxcl on 29 August 2017 - 05:30 AM

Tired of getting stuff ripped off when I leave my campsite for a bit with my truck camper. It is easier with a bigger rig since it is easy to carry extra junk. I even have had my level blocks taken, thinking that would be a simple common and cheap thing to leave. Leave only one block? Still disappeared.

With truck campers or vans, space and weight are at a premium so I don't want to carry junk. Every ounce has a purpose or it might be something too cool to leave. My chair is nice. I use the only drink mug I carry.

Do I carry a personalized stake sign? Space. A painted rock? too heavy. Can't be too light like paper product or it blows away.
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#209341 New Truck for Hawk: F-150 or Tundra?

Posted by Foy on 20 December 2018 - 12:04 PM

At the beginning of June 2018 I purchased a 2015 F150 SuperCrew shortbed 4WD in XLT trim with the 2.7 liter engine which I somewhat derisively referred to as the sewing machine motor.  It's the aluminum body model (first year?). Thinking I was just replacing my thoroughly worn out '01 Mazda daily driver with a 4-door truck in which I could safely transport both of my grandchildren and take over lighter-duty gear hauling to and from some family vacation homes, I kept the venerable F350 diesel 4WD. 


So fast forward nearly 7 months and the old diesel stands forlorn in the driveway, having had < 1,000 miles of use since June.  The 150 has served all of my daily driver needs, scoring 17-19 mpg city driving.  On a goodly number of flat Coastal Plain trips to the beach, she's scoring 20-22 mpg with a bed full of tools, power equipment, and odds and ends, running 75-78 mph with the A/C cranked up. I've towed our 2,400 lb popup camper to the Blue Ridge and to Piedmont reservoirs and our 6 x 12' utility trailer fully loaded at 3,000 lbs to both the beach and the Blue Ridge, notching 14.5 to 16 mpg towing.  


I am consistently amazed by the acceleration and torque produced by the 2.7 twin turbo sewing machine motor.  The 6-speed transmission likely has a lot to do with how well it moves out from a standing start to cruising speed in that it's electronic shift programming keeps the revs in a good range along the torque curve. It holds 6th gear easily when towing on flat ground and toggles effortlessly between 5th and 6th when towing.  When you need to nail the throttle on an onramp or to pass on a two-lane, it's a rocket ship.  


I don't know the payload specs on mine as I had no inkling of using it as a substitute for the diesel when I bought it.  With the tiny lightweight engine and all aluminum body (including the tiny 5.5' short bed), the payload is probably not far off of the payload for the diesel. While shopping I decided on the aluminum body model and the 2.7 so I never drove or looked closely at any 3.5 twin turbo V6s or any 5.0 V8s, nor did I consider the 6.5' bed models (and I don't know if they come with the 2.7).  


From what I've browsed through on the F150 Forum, there are some 2016 models built in 2016 which have some sort of internal lubrication problems caused by assembly flaws which have developed quickly and at fairly low miles elapsed, like down in the teens to 20-30,000 miles. The engines start consuming motor oil at such a rate they they seize up before (inattentive, in my opinion) owners notice low pressure idiot light gauge readings or, gasp, check the dang dipstick. But the build date range on those engines is pretty well bracketed and one should be able to avoid ending up with one.


So, here's one testimonial to the virtues of a 2015 F150 powered by the high-tech sewing machine motor.  I'm very happy with mine.



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