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



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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Jamming With Joe and Tracey From Maryland...and The Much Rain Delayed Solar Install




An email tipped us off that Joe and Tracey were headed cross country, all the way from Maryland, and planned to light in Lovely Ouray for a few days. Of course we planned a get together, one, because we enjoy meeting up with BCB readers and RV'ers, and two, because Joe was bringing along the new Yamaha Keyboard I've been coveting for over a year. So I went to the RV park to pick them up, toured their Lazy Daze...same exact model and color as ours, only a 2003...loaded his keyboard, guitar, and lovely wife...stopped for a couple of take out pizzas, and put all of a mile and a quarter on the Sue Bee. Ya gotta love the logistics of small towns :)


Our good friend John showed up from Montrose to dine and whine with us and we all got to know each other pretty quick and easy with the aid and accompaniment of a few beers. 

It turns out that Joe is way good on the guitar and keyboard, and can sing, too, which put me back in my shell. "More Beer, please!" We jammed for a while, showing off our respective keyboards. After a while Tracey joins Joe in a few duets...and has the voice of a pro. More Beer, please. 

Once upon a time, long ago, Joe had an audition with a band that was looking for a keyboard player. Being insecure, as most artists are, he made some excuses and tried to get out of going thinking he wasn't up to their expertise. But the band persisted and with great reluctance he showed up. It so happened that they were looking for a vocalist, too, and in walks Tracey, a lounge singer, and takes a seat by Joe at the keyboard. The rest, as they say, is history. It's easy to see that music is a common denominator...the "glue" that sticks and holds them together...that and a few precious grandchildren. 

After long careers at the National Geographic headquarters, Tracey and Joe are now retired. Joe has been scratching his Itchy Hitch to go west with my blogs going back to the Artful RV Adventure days, so it was cool to finally meet up.  

I can't keep up with pros, musically, but got in a few licks and was able to try out the new Yamaha keyboard. The Menu learning curve for a new keyboard (or any new device) seemed a bit daunting; maybe a few less beers would have helped. But the experience helped me to decide to hang on to my old Korg a while longer and save the expense; I just couldn't make the Yamaha sound as good as Joe did. 

The hours flew by. Bobbie and I really enjoyed the easy conversation and getting to know these super cool nice folks that felt like they have known us for years.  I hope to cross paths again someday...if Tracey can tear herself away from grandkids :) Come on back anytime, and bring your music.    





Now for a Solar Install update. What should have taken a first timer two or three days, has stretched into a week due to the daily monsoon spigot that has been flooding our state. No sooner would I climb onto Goldie's roof and the thunder and rain would start up. It felt like the most slow motion project I've ever encountered; extremely frustrating. 

But I'm happy to announce that as of connecting the last few wires yesterday, the project is 95% finished...and I think (hope) it's working. Two of the panels are shaded by the house so I won't know for sure till I get into full sun. The Controller lights up and it's little charge light flashes, and the remote readout seems to be working; time will tell.
Knowing what I learned from the whole ordeal of ordering, installation, and studying directions like there was going to be a test (there was), I think I could now do the next installation in one long day or two, tops. I'm going out on a limb here because it is not yet proven to be a functional system, BUT....it's not rocket science. With the help of all the comments from readers I believe anyone with basic skills and a few tools can do a solar install with a little studying and perseverance.

One thing I must say about ordering from AM Solar out of Oregon, they were extremely helpful and instrumental in matching a solar system to my budget, explaining what I did not understand, sending along instructions that were clear and complete with diagrams and photos, and having everything in "Kit" form so not one trip to the hardware store was needed. Ok, I did go once for some wire solder...because plumbing solder doesn't work on connections. AM Solar repeatedly told me that if I had any questions they are only a phone call away, and that is good to know and worth paying a little more...because Costco isn't going to do a thing for you after you walk out the door. FYI...Just so you know.




Look, more pictures than words on the directions.


Everything was clearly labeled



It's not as bad as it looks, really!


But first I had to replace the vent/fire escape over the bed. The previous owner had put a non opening piece of plexiglass  there where the vent broke. Bobbie felt like she might be trapped if there was ever a fire so that was the first order of business. Due to the wide angle lens used for this photo it doesn't appear that the new vent will fit the hole...but it did. Getting the old dicor sealant off was the biggest challenge. What the hell is in that stuff?




I had marked two places on Goldie's roof for the 150 watt panels, but changed my mind to 3 one hundred watt panels at the last minute. I'll have room for one or two more one hundred watt panels should we decide 300 watts isn't enough. I'm hoping it will do the trick as most of our camping is done in full sun. The real challenge will be camping in the northwest next year. They do not believe in cutting trees in campgrounds there...like the sun is bad for you, must be in the shade and cold all the time. 


Below is the Combiner Junction Box where the three pair of # 10 gauge panel wires meet and are joined to another heavier # 8 gauge wire that goes through the roof and down to the controller box, preferable positioned as close to the battery bank as possible. Boy, did I get lucky...a one foot run to the batteries. Note the dicor goop to seal against moisture...


Needless to say, it gets a little crowded on the roof...especially for someone with size 14 feet.



One panel up...three to go.




Shot from the upstairs bathroom...



I found that really really sharp knives are dangerous, and that Duct Tape makes great bandaids.







Next time I'll show you the inside job...
Peace Out
mark

31 comments:

  1. I wish I were half as handy as you. My solar array consists of a 90 watt portable panel and a 650 watt inverter, both of which I just hook up to a battery. Simple, but limited.

    Looks like you have a pretty cool music setup there w/ the Korg. Can you power that with your new panels?

    And as of 9:30 am here in Glenwoody Springs, it's raining. What happened to our beautiful Colorado fall weather?

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  2. Now that I'm an expert (snicker) I'll help you put your panels on the roof. But only if you promise to keep the "rig de jour" for two years minimum :)

    and yes... the Korg runs on fine on inverted battery power. Look out!
    It's raining here too...I've been spending a lot of time at the Ouray hot springs pool lately, and I'm getting quite prune-skinned. Come on down and I'll give you some free passes to the pool and show you Boonie's secret boondock spot overlooking town... 3 G wireless Verizon :))
    I am anxious to get rolling... headed to Moab area first, hopefully right after fall peaks here.
    Mark

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had an incredible lightning display at 3 am last night. Would've knocked my socks off if I wore socks to bed.

      I actually have a guy from Montrose interested in my rig - LOL - he'll call back this afternoon. If it sells, I wanna buy your house - if you'll owner finance for about a hundred years. :)

      Hope to see oyu guys over in Moab.

      Delete
  3. You lost me at Handy with a few tools... I also am written instruction impaired. Guess I need to start saving!! Good job!! Glad to know you are all safe in your neck of the woods!

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    1. Ha! You underestimate yourself...YOU ARE WOMAN, I can hear you ROAR! Start studying now, You'll see.
      mark

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  4. Good to see that Joe got Tracey that far away from Maryland in the LD. We enjoyed Joe's company a while back in New Mexico and hope to meet Tracey some day.

    The solar install looks good, wish you were around to teach me to be a better DIY kind of guy.

    Jim

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    Replies
    1. You may have to go to Maryland to meet Tracey :)
      But it seemed like she was loving the adventure. DIY is code speak for "cheapskate." :)
      mark

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  5. Love these pictures, but could you give us a shot of them in 'traveling' position??? I'm trying to convince my husband he can do this-he is great with normal electricity....

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    1. Dee,
      I will show a close up of the hinge/tilt mechanism and travel position in the next post. stay tuned, and thanks.
      mark

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  6. Isn't AM Solar great? I see you went with the tilt up panels. We have 6 panels and will probably add two more. I didn't go with the tilt ups because it's just not fun to crawl up on top of the rig and we like to park in the full sun anyway. They should give you some extra output this winter though. Enjoy the "free" power!

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    1. I don't know if I would have tackled Solar Panels installation if I hadn't run across AM Solar. They have a complete website with everything you need to know before purchasing....and more importantly...after, while installing. It's reassuring to know you can call them with questions anytime, too. I don't mind climbing on top of Goldie...yet, anyway.
      thanks,
      mark

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  7. Very Cool! I just think solar is the quiet way to supply power for all you needs. Just remember to add "solar panels down" to your departure check list. Maybe you can come up with a way to rotate Goldie 360 on a pivot jack to keep those panels directly facing the sun. Glad the rain didn't impact you too much, I keep seeing all the damage in Boulder and Jamestown.

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    1. Position will be everything now. My Honda generator didn't care whether it was facing the sun or the moon or whether we were in shade. I'll miss that, but not the noise and gasoline. Thanks, John...It has been too wet here.
      mark

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  8. Sure looks like a good time was had by all! Always fun to meet someone who you have so many years of blog contact. Hans and Lisa (well Hans) would enjoy meeting these folks and doing some jammin'.

    Panels look great! Can't wait to see the inside process.

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    1. Hans could keep up with Joe for sure. We will have to converge for a jam session...someplace where we won't disturb the peace :).
      thanks

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  9. The last photo is just so amazing. I can not believe how beautiful your area is. Just wonderful.

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    Replies
    1. Yes...sometimes I forget to look up and appreciate our surroundings. Thanks for the reminder.
      mark

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  10. I have found AMSolar to be very competitively priced compared to what it costs from other places since other places have to charge tax and/or shipping. The extra trips to hardware stores adds up when you include the travel costs. All three times I have bought panels etc, AMSolar has been the winner in the price wars.

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    Replies
    1. Yes... the no tax on Internet sales is a great point. That makes AM competitive with Costco...
      thanks OFM.
      mark

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  11. Thanks for the nice write-up, Mark. We greatly enjoyed meeting you and Bobbie. A couple of beers always makes our music sound better. :)

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    1. Any time, guys...
      I hope we meet up again...long enough for me to perfect a few songs with you. I'll bring the beer :)
      mark

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  12. Sheesh! All that money and work for solar, and then watch you sit in expensive campgrounds all winter. OK, Gilbert Ray doesn't have electricity, so the panels WILL do some good at places like that.

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    Replies
    1. O Negative One,
      Gilbert Ray does have electricity...maybe you were thinking of Madera. And you are right about Gilbert Ray...and Catalina State Park, or any State Park in Arizona, for that matter, and some County Parks that we love, like the one at Cave Creek or Lost Dutchman or Virgin, Utah, a full blown blasphemous RV Park with full hook ups and cable TV.
      On the other hand, the positive one, they are so rich in Mountain Biking and hiking opportunities right out the door...sort of like Lovely Ouray. To everything a season...a reason...a purpose. As I see it, the whole point of RVing is to enjoy one's self. Why shouldn't we go to places that bring pleasure and wonder just because they have an outlet?
      We will get good use for our money spent on Solar...sometimes boon docking and sometimes in campgrounds that have no power. It's all about options, baby, the spice of life is "options."
      Keep trying to rain on my parade, tho... :)
      mark

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  13. WOW, that was FAST! I can't believe you are 95% done already. Even if I COULD do something like that, my left brain would still be perusing the AM Solar website.

    Is there any kind of extension pole that let's you tilt the panels without climbing on the roof? How many holes did you have to drill in the roof, or did you use some sort of adhesive? What made you change your mind from two 150's to three 100's?

    Good work! My RV is "not-yet-green" with envy!

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  14. It seemed like forever to me...with all the rain delays :(
    No extension pole, sorry, but Lazy Daze ladders have good handholds...the extended railing on top...for getting back down, which is the hard part, usually. By holding onto the railings with both hands it's easy and safe to back up to the ladder and get off safely.
    Holes in the roof were drilled...one for the cable from panels to interior, and then all the screws that hold the panels in place. There are 3 M double stick tape thingies one each of the mounting feet that are supposed to hold the panels in place without screws. But I couldn't bring myself to trust them and added screws...which added a bunch of holes in the roof. But that dicor sealant stuff is made to cover and seal any hole, seam, gap. Having tried to remove it to replace my vent/fire escape on the roof... i'm pretty sure it could survive re-entry on the nose of the Space Shuttle.

    Space made me change my mind...and the position of all the shit on the roof like antennas, air bond., vents, water cooler, skylights, etc.. The 100 watt panels are smaller and therefore left me with more distance from possible shading of roof junk...and more options for adding another panel or two in the future.
    I just couldn't bring myself to pay someone a hundred bucks an hour to install a solar sys on an RV that we only paid 9500 dollars for.... It just seems outrageous to charge that much, but the scare factor intimidates cause it's mysterious... "electricity."
    When you are ready for solar just go to AM solars website and read everything twice..then call them and ask questions. They are so nice.
    mark

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  15. I see you and Boonie on reality show!! Oh the matching of wits!! Nice job on install- and under 100 dollars and hour--- We have come to expert excellence in all your projects- Could I install? - heck yes!! would they work-- heck no-- would they leak?? heck yes-- Know thy limitations- I"m pretty at drinking beer! take care Walden Creek Rv steve

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    1. Walden Steve,
      I am no match for Boonie in the "wit" department, sigh.
      and
      I'm quoting you here..."I'm pretty at drinking beer!" ??? No your not!
      I'm sorry, but I've seen you drink beer many times and never ever did I once think you "pretty" while doing it!
      mark :)

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    2. Damn- Leave out one word and whole meaning changes!! Billy Currington country song- = I am preey GOOD at drinking beer! BUT Cydney Brooke might agree with first statement???!!??? LOl

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    3. I like the song better the other way :)

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  16. Susan W. here. Maikel is gonna love this post. He can't rave enough about their customer service. He's out for the third day in a row doing very heavy manual labor. I needed a break today. It's gonna be a marathon. Although for these flooded homeowners, these past few days have been a sprint.

    Mark, there's an army tank that got upturned in the flood waters as a man was trying to rescue some homeowners. He's now back with a second army tank trying to upright the sunk one. You'd have quite a show. It's a great time to visit for photographers. Fish in yards. The massive destruction is held at bay but some humorous moments. Lots of huggs from both of us to both of you.

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    1. Hey to Maikel...in fact "Hail" to both of you for volunteering to help people muck out the mud from basements...rip out molding carpet and drywall...and everything else you are doing to help those people so affected by the flood inch their way back to some proximity of normal. You are saints on earth, kind hearted and I hope you are someday rewarded for your humanity...tho I know you don't want rewards. I gonna miss hiking and RVing with people like you two. Someone said Estes Park was too far gone to rebuild...I can't imagine that...

      I am now a big fan of A M Solar... Maikel is the one who first told be about them :))
      Huggs back, and make sure you have your tetnus shot up to date and wear masks, gloves, boots...you know.
      mark and bobbie

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