Help for a FWC addict?

Durango1

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2012
Messages
532
Is it almost 2018? Then it must be time for my-every-three-years-order-a-new-FWC "fix". 2012- my first FWC Hawk (slide-in), 2015- new hawk (flatbed model). Both mounted on a 2012 Ram 2500 which honestly has done great and my wife thinks I am crazy to leave our FB Hawk.

So what will be my 2018 build? (As of now- nothing ordered yet so your suggestions welcomed)

1. 2018 4WD regular cab 3500 Ram SLT "Chassis Cab" SRW, 6.4 Hemi w/ Aisin tranny, "Shift-on-fly", 220 amp alternator, limited slip differential and (if needed) after-market lockers on the front axle.

2. Custom aluminum bed (110" long x 80 1/2" wide) with a shovel box (28" wide x 6" high running the full distance of the underbed frame rails) with four underbed boxes (2 36" long and 2 30" long) plus a 20" wide transverse aluminum "garage" between the cab and Grandby.

3. FWC Flatbed Grandby, 130 Liter 2 way Isotherm frig, inside shower/ cassette toilet, Fantastic Fan and... ???

Here's where I need help: I'm a solar/electrical dummy so if you folks could be so kind I'm focused (obsessed?) now on...

The standard 160 watt FWC rooftop solar. On both of my previous Hawks I didn't order this option thinking I would "install something better". Never happened due to A) my ignorance (see above paragraph) and :cool: inertia. Sooo...

A. Is the 160 watt FWC roof top solar option adequate for your needs? Using the FWC controller, etc. can an additional solar panel be added? (Told you I'm a dummy.)

B. I'm seriously thinking of converting the outside access battery box on the Grandby into a "cubby hole" for Sioux. (Remember that this will be a regular cab with little storage inside the cab) I'll just drill down into the aluminum underbed box below and install heavy duty 1" plastic conduit to wire into batteries below. This will lower my weight but even better allow any batteries I want. so the major question of this (too long) post:

If size and weight (within reason) were no object what batteries would you install that would combine well with the factory rooftop solar and give us more capacity than the standard AGM's from the factory? (I also have the 100 watt Renogy solar suitcase which I'll carry too.)

Many thanks in advance for your suggestions!
Steve

P.S. I also appreciate the advice we received from many here on our 5 day sojourn on the White Rim Trail last week Perfect weather, few people, our Ram/Flatbed Hawk combo performed magnificently and we had a great time. Sure wish I was smart enough to post photos...
 
I would have tracks installed. See if FWC would install 200-300W panel, or at least get the 160W and have room to install another panel. Get a extra roof top plug or have FWC provide a way to add another in parallel. I would look at lithium batteries. Might as well go all out. jd
 
Durango1 hello
Sounds like you got a great camper. If you just want solar talk with FWC and make a camping/ upgrade run with your current rig. Getting the best of both worlds.
Russ

Happy Thanksgiving!
 
CougarCouple said:
Durango1 hello
Sounds like you got a great camper. If you just want solar talk with FWC and make a camping/ upgrade run with your current rig. Getting the best of both worlds.
What's the fun with that? :)

Seriously, we just don't need the Crew Cab and want to put that space back into the camper. As configured the new build will be the same overall length but with the extra living space of a Grandby. Even though we've been delighted with our Hawk Flatbed... there I go again!
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Durango1 said:
What's the fun with that? :)

Seriously, we just don't need the Crew Cab and want to put that space back into the camper. As configured the new build will be the same overall length but with the extra living space of a Grandby. Even though we've been delighted with our Hawk Flatbed... there I go again!
We call that SKI-ing...Spending Kids Inheritance :p
 
I love spending someone elses money!
Seriously, I was surprise during that Ram didn't offer a cab configuration between a single and crew cab.. I can't imagine not having some interior storage but to each their own.
Also, how come a 3500 only has a 10,000 gvwr? Is that a tax thing in the west?
If you were comfortable with a Hawk the Granby will feel spacious by comparison. We bought our Hallmark Everest in large part because of it's livability for extended trips which we will be taking and it's not even a flatbread model!
I would strongly encourage you to get more than 160 watts of solar if possible. Like you I would prefer that it be a factory option instead of me trying to do it. We have 2 100 amp hour deep cycle 6 volt batteries but I think the LiOn batteries might be worth investigating if you have the funds.

Enjoy the journey!
 
smlobx said:
Seriously, I was surprise during that Ram didn't offer a cab configuration between a single and crew cab.. I can't imagine not having some interior storage but to each their own.
Also, how come a 3500 only has a 10,000 gvwr? Is that a tax thing in the west?
If you were comfortable with a Hawk the Granby will feel spacious by comparison. We bought our Hallmark Everest in large part because of it's livability for extended trips which we will be taking and it's not even a flatbread model!
I would strongly encourage you to get more than 160 watts of solar if possible. Like you I would prefer that it be a factory option instead of me trying to do it. We have 2 100 amp hour deep cycle 6 volt batteries but I think the LiOn batteries might be worth investigating if you have the funds.

Enjoy the journey!
Yeah, the 3/4 ton and up Rams only have the regular cab and crew cabs. Used to drive me nuts not having the Super Cab option (so much so we've been looking at F-350's) but when i analyzed it I think the "garage" right behind the cab will do even better for us and the only things we'll be keeping in the cab will be jackets, maps, guidebooks and a coffee thermos. (If I am wrong we'll be going to the dealer again!)

Actually both the Ford and Chevy SRW chassis cabs are rated for 10,000 GVW. I believe it is a charade for the Port of Entry people if you are driving commercial to avoid the need for a CDL. But I could be wrong on that. Either way I think a 4000# payload will get us done!

I'll reach out to Denny and FWC re: more solar but FWC is death on custom stuff. We'll see and I'm still flirting with the Bundutec folks. (Nice people!)

Amy more info on battery options would be appreciated.
 
I have 265w on the roof, single panel. More could be better if you use a lot of power. Have you evaluated what you are using now?

If you move your campsite every other day, you might just want to get them to upgrade the truck to camper wiring to something really beefy (2g or thicker) so that the alternator can charge your batteries faster.

Lithium batteries will be way cheaper in 2-4 years when you do your next upgrade ;-) Stick with 2 large 6v batteries for now. I'm using 220AH Rolls/Surette batteries and love them.
 
Vic Harder said:
I have 265w on the roof, single panel. More could be better if you use a lot of power. Have you evaluated what you are using now?

If you move your campsite every other day, you might just want to get them to upgrade the truck to camper wiring to something really beefy (2g or thicker) so that the alternator can charge your batteries faster.

Lithium batteries will be way cheaper in 2-4 years when you do your next upgrade ;-) Stick with 2 large 6v batteries for now. I'm using 220AH Rolls/Surette batteries and love them.
Thanks, Vic! I'm not smart enough to "evaluate what I'm using now". Seriously.

I do know now in my current Hawk I don't like "fretting" about it. Therefore my idea to go with bigger batteries given that I have the space and weight for them. But I know batteries need to be sized to the solar panels too.

Really good idea on upgrading the truck to camper wiring. The Ram will have a 220 Amp generator. Will 2 gauge be enough or should I go heavier? I know I'll want to pre-buy it and bring it with me. (Running around Jackson Hole a few years ago looking for heavier wire as NAPA was closing was not fun.)

Vic, I can vent the underbed boxes and will have easy access for checking/filling batteries. So do the standard 6V batteries have significant advantages over the AGM's?

Thanks again!
Steve
 
Steve,

You will get tons of good advice here, some of it possibly conflicting. :unsure:

Upgrading the wiring depends on your camping habits. We need to establish those. So, you have a current FWC, with battery monitoring of some kind, yes? Do you look at that? Have you ever run down the batteries to 50% or so? How long do you stay in one spot without driving somewhere during the day? What do you currently run in the camper? Fans/fridge/TV/CPAP/Laptop/lights/microwave/etc???

From this statement "I can vent the underbed boxes and will have easy access for checking/filling batteries. So do the standard 6V batteries have significant advantages over the AGM's?" I am pretty sure you don't realize that 6v or 12v come in multiple shapes, sizes and designs. My 6v batteries are AGM's, but designed specifically for deep cycling (aka, golf carts or solar panels)

Flooded cells batteries are much cheaper, but they do require checking/filling. Are you ok with exposure to acids and measuring the specific gravity once a month or so? If so, that's the way to go. If not, go AGM or Lithium. If you will be camping in sub-freezing temps, don't do Lithium, yet.

You could also consider going with ATC. They will custom build much more readily than FWC.

Vic
 
My choice for a battery for FWC is the 200AH Lithium from LifeBlue Battery. www.lifebluebattery.com It comes with a very neat internal battery monitor that you read off an app on your smart phone. Completely eliminates the need for a battery monitor. The size is smaller than 4D, and I am pretty sure it will fit perfectly into the battery box in my new Grandby.

Price is $1,788. Web site says it is out of stock right now. I think you would need more than 160 watt solar to fully utilize the Amp Hour capacity, however. 160 hour might not be enough to charge it up fully in one day, especially in the winter or cloudy weather.
 
Durango1
Not saying there was no fun in just going with solar. You sounded like you really like the current set up. We have factory solar 150w and two batteries. Seems to work well . I feel there is room to improve with a better charge controller. Have you thought of a conventional camper on a flat bed, utilizing the space on either side for storage. I have thought that setup on a std cab would be nice. I like the extended cab with 8 ft bed, pulled the seat and built platform for Charlie, and gaining storage under neath.
CDL's can be required by weight or airbrakes or a combination, and or type of cargo, num. personal in vehicle. I believe all states follow federal regs. Pulled this off google. Notice there is no distinction between private and commercial.

A CDL must be obtained by the driver of any of the following vehicles:

Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Russ
 
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