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Motorhome Travels - July 2012

30/07/2012

The bus gets some love.

With the shouse all finished it was time to make use of it and give the old bus some much needed attention.

In the last 3 weeks we have undertaken some major renovations to ready the motorhome for the next 9 years on the road.

The bus in the shed (glad it fitted). - [Click for a Larger Image]
The bus in the shed (glad it
fitted).

Our first task was to completely rebuild the roof and the structure that holds the solar panels. When we purchased the bus (almost ten years ago) she had just two 80w solar panels mounted on the roof. As our power usage has grown we have slowly added additional panels. Sometimes this involved moving some existing panels around to make room ... after 9 years of moving and reattaching panels the roof was not in good shape and leaks were an on-going battle. Even before building the shouse, we had decided that it was time the bus had a new roof. The shed just happened to be the perfect place to undertake the task.

All panels removed and stripping the paint - [Click for a Larger Image]
All panels removed and
stripping the paint

All 12 solar panels were taken off and every rivet and screw removed and replaced with sealed stainless rivets. The many layers of old paint were removed and the roof returned to bare metal. All of the vents and hatches were removed, refurbished and refitted. Numerous patches were made and carefully applied. We then fixed brackets to the structural 'ribs' of the roof that would eventually hold the solar frame. Then every rivet was inspected and sealed before the entire roof was cleaned and given 3 coats of a flexible membrane paint.

Of course with the bus in the shed and the panels removed, power had to be supplied from our small Honda generator. We have been concerned about the state of our main batteries for a few months with both of them showing signs of failing. Unfortunately with the solar system non-operational, they decided that it would be the ideal time to die. These were German manufactured Gel batteries with a design life of over seven years - failed after just over three years - more on that subject later.

After the new roof paint was given a few days to cure, we started the task of building the frame on the roof that would hold the solar array. The frame is (more or less) independent of the roof and constructed from light weight aluminum. The intention is to avoid trapping water anywhere on the roof and allow panels to the added and moved without drilling any holes in the roof. We also wanted to improve the look of the bus by hiding the entire frame behind a steel panel that runs the length of the bus on both sides.

The panels are wired as they are re-fitted - [Click for a Larger Image]
The panels are wired as
they are re-fitted

A few years ago we fitted an experimental water catchment system to the roof of the bus - it was basically some plastic channel that directed rain water through some filters and into our water tanks. This was a great success and proved to be extremely useful. We have now replaced the plastic channel with far more robust powder coated aluminum channel and changed the position of the collection points to improve the capture rate.

We now have a few small tasks to complete on the roof - but the job is basically done and we are back in the sun with new batteries being charged each day.

Our 220ltr Waeco fridge has served us well over the last 9 years, but is now showing signs of age - it has been having issues keeping the freezer at temperatures below -10 deg. We have decided to replace it with the same model. Our faithful Xantrax inverter has also been replaced with a new state-of-the-art Victron unit. Yes, it has been an expensive month.

Leaving Mt Perry

We have finally settled on a date to leave Mt Perry and get back to life on the road (sigh). We have always had the Birdsville Races on our 'must do' list and this seems like the perfect year to tick that box. The races start at the end of August and we will leave here in the first week of August to make our way out there at a leisurely pace. We have decided to leave the Vitara behind and take the Moke this time (not much call for a boat in Birdsville). So with a departure date now cast in stone, we have all the motivation needed to get the few small repair and maintenance tasks completed on the bus, put the finishing touches on the security systems at the shouse and then get the old girl moving again (I mean the bus - not Tracey :-o)

 

Hobohomes new (sporty?) look - [Click for a Larger Image]
Hobohomes new (sporty?) look

PS - The "what we learned" and "mistakes we made" building the shouse article is still in production - coming soon.

 


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