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Header Photo: Just an average hike on an average day in Red Canyon Country.



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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Home Sweet Second Home, At Last: and RV Solar Install Finale



I am proud of my childhood "trailer trash" roots, all twelve years of them. Everything from a 16 foot Shasta that served as our "home" for about a year in the late 50's, to a 14 by 65 foot brand new Magnolia in the 60's that seemed like a millionaire's mansion to me, and probably Mom, too, given what she'd been living in up till then. If someone would have told her that she'd be leaving her "mansion" to move back into an 8 by 40 foot piece of crap—that the Lord's Will was going to call our family out of the Arizona desert we had grown to love, all the way to Missouri's insufferable humidity, and that Dad was going to tow—not a "travel" trailer, mind you, but a swamp cooled cracker box with axles and wheels that were designed to come off once you plopped it down on permanent dirt—behind a well used 57 Cadillac...such that we looked like the Beverly Hillbillys movin' to Cal-i-forn-i-aay, hitch draggin' on the ground and shootin' sparks with every bump in the road...it would have killed her right then and there. Thus were the roller coaster days of Feast to Famine, and the ever crazier forage for God's purpose in our lives.

Kids didn't know if they were poor or rich back in the days before television. I thought it was pretty cool being home schooled and living on the road in a 16 foot Shasta travel trailer. I knew I was loved and that's all a child needs. Besides, life seemed like one big adventure after another; things most families would call tumultuous seemed perfectly normal to me. 

But, thanks to the Tele, I began to realize that most people live in houses without wheels, and that while we were not dirt poor like some of our relatives in West Virginia that still used outhouses and had no indoor plumbing, we just couldn't seem to break free from the lower middle class. Something would always happen to set us back, usually God, telling Mom or Dad or both to drop what they were doing and go elsewhere...which is nothing short of saying, "start over."

Finally, after years of throwing dollars at the perfect RV, always new, some three or four pop up pick up campers, an Arctic Fox travel trailer, an Excel Fifth Wheel, a Chalet A-Frame, I came to my senses when I stumbled upon Goldie, an old 1994 motorhome that now qualifies for "Antique License Plates." After making a solemn promise to Bobbie that she could bury me in that box, that I had seen the light and was ready to re-embrace my trailer trash roots and live out my RV days in a clunker so long as I could follow the Lord's will for my life, which is to get out of the larger portion of Lovely Ouray's winters and frolic in the playgrounds of my Arizona youth, she agreed to the "investment." Good riddance to the days of depreciation! Hell, I might even make a profit on Goldie. Oh wait...I can't sell my coffin. Darn.
God works in mysterious ways :)) 
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Reader Dee asked if I would show the new solar panels in the down position. I realized that I hadn't shown the mounting brackets that well either...so here are a few more exterior shots, then I 'll get to the interior.

I don't know if you are supposed to do this, but I'm leaving the extension arms for tilting the panels toward the low winter sun attached to the panels where they are handy.






Getting up and down from the roof of Goldie is made easier by all the hand holds available...

Still need to add Dicor to seal around the roof brackets and screws. Maybe I'll do that in Utah...



I mounted the remote readout on an upper cabinet for easy reading. Being in the shade of the house, and under a tree, defeats the solar panels about 95% :((   I'll get to the sun eventually...

I mounted the Controller box in the entry way on the back of the dinette booth seat. The battery box is just  one foot away underneath and makes a short run for wires  

I was able to tuck the panel wire behind existing shade valances...it shows a little so I may trim it out...or not.

The Control box...underneath the dinette booth. The hump in the carpet is the top of the battery box

I ordered an new AC cover...125 bucks for a piece of plastic!!!!


The skylight over the shower is going to have to wait till next year to get replaced...that's why God made Duct Tape.

This is our rental home...would be nice if we could sell it. Doesn't somebody out there want to live part time in a lovely ouray vacation home? Please? 

39 comments:

  1. Thanks for the additional pics, they clear up a lot of questions.

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  2. Leaving the tilt bars like that is fine as long as you do not drive anywhere. The vibration from the road and wind while traveling will work the bars down to the roof where they can act like mice and chew on the roof. It is unlikely the bars will be damaged but the roof is a different story. That is just an OFM opinion. Nice to see you do get some output even with the shadows like I mentioned my panels perform.

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    1. Well OFM, I wondered about that...but there is a lock washer and I really tightened the knob down. Maybe if I support the other end with another bracket that fastens to the panel??? It's not a big deal to carry them up each time I want to use them, I guess...just would be nice to have them in place ready to go. Thanks!

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  3. Sweeet! Your solar setup rocks. Looks like you did a fabulous job.
    Nina

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    1. "Sweet" indeed...now that they are done :) I was dreading the job, and the expense more than the job. thanks nina.

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  4. Mark- You probably were not laughing while doing this post but I along with milions of your followers cannot help but laugh like crazy-- the result is all that really matters- down the road check again with your folks- You will find answers for the road trips with your parents-take care-- see you next summer! walden creek rv steve

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    1. It is humorous, looking back on the "circus." And yes, I come by Wanderlust two ways...heredity and environment :)). Thanks steve.

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  5. Looks like you did a great job on the solar install. You will love it!
    Quite an interesting childhood you had. Makes our summer tent camping family vacations seem so prosaic.
    Gayle

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Gayle... You had to be there :)) It sure wasn't boring...
      mark

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  6. Sure is a great Saturday morning read, Mark. Beautiful day here in Little Rock. I would love a part time home in Ouray ... one of my attitude adjustment places... love it... BUT have g'babies can't travel... ;)

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    1. Carolyn,
      Thank you :) G. Babies will tie one down. When they are old enough you can take them with you tho :))
      Ha!

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  7. I have witnessed the damage done by the extension bars on the roof. Like Barney said the road vibration will loosen them off and then they start to dig into the roof. You could have a gym bag that you could store them inside so that would be the first thing you see when you park. Or install a plastic storage container on the roof that they will fit in but keep in mind the UV rays will deteriorate the plastic and it will have to be replaced every few years. Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

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    Replies
    1. Now I'm running scared :((
      I should play it safe...but doing that always bugs me. There got to be a way....
      But thanks...

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  8. Looks like a good install. I did not tell you that you could have used VHB tape to secure the panels. Yes, 60,000 miles at 60 mph and they are still attached and no holes in the roof. Slop some more Dicor on the panel feet. You will happy that you did in a few years.

    You may wish to consider using a sheet of Lexan as a skylight. Fairly inexpensive solution. Yeah, it will mean a little fabrication, but that would be easy for you. It comes in translucent, if you don't want clear. See your local big box hardware store. You may wish to paint it with a rattle can of UV resitantant paint. In fact, spray your new ac cover with it.

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    Replies
    1. The panel brackets came with some super 3M tape...they claim is good enough. But what's a couple more screws in the roof when they have products like Dicor? This fear of drilling a hole for solar wires or putting screws in the roof is highly overrated. I found that out while trying to remove the old fire escape/vent that had been sealed with Dicor some ten years prior. That is some miracle product...ain't no way that vent was going to leak in the next decade!!!
      I like the idea of having a clear skylight over the shower to let more light in...it certainly would be less expensive.
      thanks

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  9. I can't see how the bars will get to the roof? They're bolted in place at both ends? am I missing something there? If they come loose, I'd say they weren't locked down securely in the first place? I'd watch them the first few trips you make and see how they ride. I'm not getting the "Hinkey" feeling they're a problem like others.

    There IS how-some-ever another thing I'd address... The mounts that hold the whole shebang to the roof. I don't have confidence in just those two screws on each.

    My mount system is pretty much identical. But, I took the roof sealing caulk that seals the screws... and put a solid "Bed" of caulk covering over the entire base of the mount - to the roofing. That way, EVERY possible entry point of water is sealed, AND the sealer itself acts as an adhesive, re-enforcing the attachment of the mount base to the roof. Ours has held doing that for oh, 40,000 miles or so? and without a leak.

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    1. Mine are held by the same two screws that AmSolar supplied for the mounts and have held for over 30,000 miles just fine. In fact I recently moved one panel and the screws were brand new looking when I finaly got them out. Look at the pictures more carefully and you will see the tilt bars are held on one end only. If they were held on both ends they would be fine.

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    2. Brian/ OFM,
      Brian, the bars are only bolted at one end, tight enough to support the other end, theoretically...
      and I did use screws on the panel brackets just in case 3M tape would eventually lose it's grip. Between the tape, screws and Dicor...I don't think there will be a problem. But I will be checking on them as we motor along.
      Thanks

      OFM,
      That's good to know... I don't think the panels catch as much air as people think being so close to the roof. but ounce of prevention is good..
      thanks guys. All this info is good to know, and will help others who are considering solar installations :)

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  10. Great solar panel install, those arms look pretty secure to me too.
    We have one 130 watt panel and is till working like new and now problems for 7 years now.
    These should do a great job for you.

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  11. Congrats on your solar install! A Life changer.

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    1. N A N,
      I can feel the unplugged freedom now... :))

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  12. Color me impressed! Do you do houses?

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  13. Can't wait till you get on the road again...oh wait...am I living vicariously? I just came off the road, but a simple two weeks not six months. Three months coming up in 2014...I am so inspired by you and your writing and photography, and your ideas, and and and your Sweetie is super cool as well.

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    1. Sue,
      Nothing wrong with living vicariously while you are waiting do your travel thing. Two weeks isn't enough, tho. A drop in the bucket...
      and your nice comment finale is so kind. Thank you! I will buy you a beer someday :)) My Sweetie is super cool :))
      mark

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  14. Loved the childhood trailer stories. Like you we "stumbled upon" our Lazy Daze. Beginners luck in our case - it's our first RV. May be the the last, too, since we have no desire for anything else. I do wish I had your Swiss Army Knife-like set of skills in maintaining and upgrading it.

    - Joe

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    1. Joe,
      And I wish I had your Swiss Army Knife set of skills on the Keyboard (sigh)...such that I would in a heartbeat trade you straight across!!!
      The more I remodel the Lazy Daze the more impressed I am with how rugged they are built! You may want another RV, but you won't need one :))
      thanks, mark

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  15. Wonderful sweet home. Nice details.

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  16. hey... a simple fix... push the bar down and see where it will hit the roof... then... Dicor with a good coat, a 1/4" block of Plywood to the roof as a "wear plate" ... no more worries.

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  17. Brian,
    That's a good fix. I had in mind something similar, using a piece of rubber roof membrane left over from construction...basically a peel and stick application. Good idea tho... :))
    I want to know how the beet harvest job is going...hope it's tolerable.
    mark

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  18. With a childhood like that, no way that Genie is ever going back in the bottle!

    Great solar info! I was thinking of paying to have mine done while at Quartzite in Jan, but now I am thinking of twisting my brother's arm instead. ;-)

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    1. Suzanne,
      Nope, can't put Genie nor Jesus back in the bottle :)
      Tell your brother it's not that bad...he can do it in two days. He owes you that much for borrowing your couch :)) Go to AM Solar's website to study up in prep. I don't know what they charge for installation in Q. tho...I doubt it's a hundred bucks an hour..
      mark

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  19. Some of the greatest people I know live/lived in trailers. What an interesting childhood. I like the solar install and it doesn't look too hard to do. I don't like the up and down onto the roof much though.

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    Replies
    1. Never a dull moment in our household...never knew when or what God had planned for Mom and Dad... They were faithful servants tho.
      Re: Ladders...I know, we old folks are not supposed to be climbing them...I think they have a Senior Citizen warning label that says so :))
      thanks mark

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  20. Actually Mark, from my experience and Mr. Wandrin, it is only for about two months in the winter that tilting has been necessary. I had 200 watts of panels and they did just fine in the winter with tilt. I doubt that you will find tilting needed or desirable 10 months of the year or more. The pad on the roof will still leave the tilt arm vibrating in the wind gouging the pad. I just stuck my homemade tilt arms in my back pocket when I went up the ladder. It was not a big deal to carry them inside my rig. It is a big deal to wear a hole in the roof while experimenting to see if they really will. By the way I am 67 with bad knees and climb ladders with little trouble as long as I can go slowly.

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  21. How about a piece of velcro tape on the end of your tilt arms? Your solar install looks great!

    Max

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