Monday, December 21, 2015

in good shape - brunnhilde part 19

With the Onan generator gone, and the spare tire carrier restored, I have begun planning for how to carry the Honda EU2000i generator in Brunnhilde.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

in good shape - brunnhilde part 16

I tested out the version 1.0 of the free to me iPhone stand. I am quite please with it. I would prefer if it has a shallower footprint and does not raise the phone as high. The tilt angle is just about perfect and the stand is by no mean top heavy at all.

Monday, November 30, 2015

in good shape - brunnhilde part 15

A bit over a month ago I removed the Onan generator to restore the spare tire to its rightful place. At the time the installation of the Mach 8 Cub air conditioner was the main project. The removal of the Onan generator and all the power conversion components and cabling associating with the Kerstner 12Vdc air conditioner was something that were also necessary to make a well executed conversion. The spare tire carrier restoration was something that can wait.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

in good shape, isolde - part 1

One of the most pesky thing in Isolde is the propane system's ellusive intermittent leak in the twin tank setup. I recently decided to address it once and for all.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

new air conditioner for brunnhilde - part 14

The proof is in the pudding. I made a video that captures the Honda EU2000i generator powering the Mach 8 Cub air conditioner in Brunnhilde. The fan speed is set to low. And yes, setting the blower fan to low speed is in fact a more difficult use case.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sunday, November 15, 2015

new air conditioner for brunnhilde - part 10

We were expecting a very stormy day with big downpours yesterday. The wind did happen but we were spared form the downpours. No rain at all all day, and I took the opportunity to finish the electrical work for the air conditioner.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

new air conditioner for brunnhilde - part 9

My deepest condolence goes to the victims of the Paris terrorist attack. My country and the free world stand united with the people and the great nation that gifted us the Statute Of Liberty, and to  Paris that I fell in love immediately upon my brief 2 days visit.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

new air conditioner for brunnhilde - part 8

I was tired of being held hostage by the Oregon rainy weather. There is almost no end in sight for a true dry day. This morning seeing there is a break from shower and rain, I decided to go for it - raising the Mach 8 Cub air conditioner onto the roof, and fasten it down.

new air conditioner for brunnhilde - part 7

This is the make or break step of the installation of the Coleman Mach 8 Cub air conditioner. Everything hinges on the planning, design, and fabricating of the roof support. One of my criteria is to avoid drilling new hole and making cutouts to the extend possible. If possible, I would make my conversion work reversible - within reason and design tradeoffs.

new air conditioner for brunnhilde - part 6

I has been pouring rain here. Early on Halloween day I woke up with a cold sweat because I realize I was a dumb ass. I cover the 15x24" opening with 2 sheets of polyethylene remodeling clear sheet and duct-taped around the raise frame. I didn't think of when the rain water accumulates it becomes a bowl. The weight of a few quarts of water is significant.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

new air conditioner for brunnhilde - part 5

The weather outlook for the next 5 days is all rainy. Today is the only windows to remove the air conditioner and seal up the roof before the rain comes.

new air conditioner for brunnhilde - part 4

This is my initial rough sketch of the modifications to be made to Brunnhilde's high top fiber shells.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

new air conditioner for brunnhilde - part 3

Finally I gathered up my courage to resume and dive into this project head first. It is imtimidating on a project that involve so much no-going-back alterations.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

to hell and back

Sometimes in life, you take 2 steps forward, but find yourself slipping one step back. I have been euphoric of the overall result of enhancements I have made to Isolde's electrical system, audio system, and the installation of the DC refrigerator. I have noticed very pronounce gasoline smell in the cab, especially driving. I can also smell strong gasoline odor in the right front wheel well.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

splendid isolde - part 2

I thought I would make this series of post a photo album to showcase the timeless design of Isolde. At 25 years she withstand the assault of time and the exposure to the elements very well. No nip and tuck.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

electrical system update - isolde part 7

Something are worth waiting for. I order two of the low cost panel mount USB power ports for $4 each shipped from China. Similar product by Blue Sea sold for nearly $20 each.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

splendid isolde - part 1

I have been wanting to take some night photographs of Isolde and Brunnhilde. To do this a tripod and a normal camera is required instead of a smart phone. There is no supplemental lighting used, just very long exposures.

this and that - oregon oct 2015

For some reason I just discovered this post was not published, or somehow published but reverted to not published.

electrical system update - isolde part 6

Isolde's electrical system update are now down to the few items on the punch list to warp up the current project.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

unzufrieden - impossible to please

Unzufrieden - is one of the German vocabulary that I recently learnt. I thought I would made it a title of a post. Warum nicht.

With Isolde's electrical system update project close to completion I went shopping but was really an excuse to go got a tide in Isolde.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

electrical system update - isolde part 4

I can begin to see the fruit of the hard work in this project now. The most difficult parts are behind me.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

electrical system update - isolde part 3

One electrical update that I planned to do a while now is improving the headlight light outputs. Vanagon has one of the most inadequate headlight, especially the late model years with the North America-only rectangle headlights. The low beam output 65W each side, and the high beam power are 90W each side. Additionally the headlights are switched directly by a headlight switch without going through relays. This creates significant voltage drop such that the light bulbs see significantly lower voltage.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

electrical system update - isolde part 2

Continuing the grind of Isolde's electrical system update. It is amazing how long any project like this takes compares to one's imagining. I found it times and again that advance planning seldom work out. My best works mostly results of designing on the fly.

I encountered a setback yesterday afternoon.

Monday, October 5, 2015

electrical system update - isolde part 1

A few months ago I carried out converting Isolde's inefficient refrigerator to one with a 12V compressor. Because of it an increase of energy storage capacity is needed on the house battery. I replaced the rather inadequate single group 41 with 2 deep cycle batteries. This calls for a substantial overhaul of the electrical system.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

reisemobile - part 1

just a post on a collection of noteworthy compact motorhomes from around the world

Friday, September 11, 2015

happiness is another small engine

I am a bit of a motorhead. When it comes to certain power tools, internal combustion engine is still the undisputed king. This is generally true with garden and farm tools.

Monday, August 31, 2015

this and that - oregon aug 2015

August 14 I sailed the wildest wind this year in the Gorge. We call days like this nuking with liquid smoke. There were dust storms occurring in mid and Eastern Oregon.

Friday, August 7, 2015

this and that - oregon jul 2015

I have been sailing a lot in recent days. Due to the El Nino conditions June and July has been unseasonably hot and very stagnant in the Pacific Northwest. With the luck of rare consecutive breezy days I took advantage of them whenever I could, and putting in as much time on the water as I physically could.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

new air conditioner for brunnhilde - part 2

As with any major renovation for Brunnhilde, no chances is too small for risk taking. Before committing to proceed with the air conditioning system replacement, I set out to conduct a number of bench testings.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

in good shape - brunnhilde part 14

I conduct another round of tests in using the Honda EU2000i generator to power Brunnhilde's Kerstner roof top air conditioner. I want to determine once and for all if it is worth keeping and how reliably the Honda generator can power it, in Eco mode. While I am conducting the test at near sea level, I have to be aware of the reduction of the generator output at higher elevations.

bikini top for brunnhilde

Sure, Brunnhilde loves to lounge around topless. But with increase awareness of harmful sun ray I gifted her a bikini top. That was three years ago and she worn it a lot.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

fresh water capacity - brunnhilde part 9

The Comet pump parts finally arrived from UK via Royal Mail. It arrives faster (about 5 days) than my Sub-Prime orders from Amazon because Amazon wants me to pay them the Prime annual fee. For free shipping on qualified items that totals at or above $35, Amazon now holds the shipment until the very last days knowing the USPS Priority mail they use will get the package to me in just 3 days, instead of what Amazon's ETA of 10 to twelve days. I have observed this many times now.

These are the last parts to complete the convertible auxiliary water tank project.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

in good shape - brunnhilde part 13

Yesterday I set out to do a bit more testing of powering the Kerstner AC with the Honda EU2000i generator. I have only use the Kerstner once while camping so my experience with it is quite limited. I wanted to have a better impression of it before making the decision to throw out the water and the baby.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

in good shape - brunnhilde part 12

This is just a post to capture some dimensions and some of my thoughts of thinking ahead on a few inevitable projects. As always, I want my blog posts to be spontaneous WRT capturing my thoughts.

Friday, June 19, 2015

fresh water capacity - brunnhilde part 8

I was tired of waiting for the Comet parts to arrive from UK. I went ahead to make as much progress on the project by working around the "long poles in the tent" parts.

Friday, June 12, 2015


There are two bird nests that I know of in my garden. One is the robin on the plum tree, and the other is the common sparrow in a fern. I have been monitoring the progress of both. Both had 3 eggs.

fresh water capacity - brunnhilde part 7

I have refrained from cutting into the Todd water tank until the key parts arrive and on hands. The most critical decisions are the arrangement of the ports, the plumbing, and the goal of achieving a user-friendly and reliable convertible system.

coach battery system - isolde, part 2

First thing first. With the void left from the removal of the rear passenger heater I have to first patch up the floor so the deep cycle batteries can sit on a flat surface. I cut a piece of 3/4" plywood scrap that I have.

coach battery system - isolde, part 1

my Apple WATCH developed a hard hang the second day and stuck at the charging screen; the clock does run; i tried both method to reset to no avail - i sent it back for a full refund; i will buy one when they starts selling in store

bamboo invasion from three neighbors' yard; i have to be very vigilant to remove any shoots and cut off the rhizome i find
there were may be 8 to 10 shoots i found
this is the original offending grove in which no attempt was made to contain them; of course the owner that planted this pest has long moved out

i decide to eat one as revenge for my labor
looking for rubber grommet for the soap dish project, and for auxiliary water tank project

spotted shrimps

the robin chicks are growing fast

sometimes they sense me as their mom but most of the time they hunker down

thinking of repurposing this good quality s-video cable for use in projects

this other one must have 8 or 10 pair of wires inside

here is the bamboo shoot from my yard

Japanese Tim Cook

this is the current auxiliary battery in Isolde - in the world most miserable battery box which it fits tightly; i have vow this time around i am not going to try putting a (or a set of) battery here; previously I have gone as far as modifying an Optima AGM to fit in there
the instrument panel still laid bare until the entire renovation is complete; i am minimizing the wear and tear of handling the delicate instrument cluster assembly

here is the "cable chase" that all the wiring must fit for the audio system, as well as the new battery system for the coach

now with the new dc refrigerator, the old flame sense blue LED indicator is now defunct; i would find a way to use it

i debugged the Land Rover Discovery no starting problem - traced to the fuel pump that went kaputt

with much reluctance I started tearing into all this work that invested into fitting the Carver furnace and the speakers; i am removing the rear passenger heater to make room for the coach battery (batteries)

these air vents are some of the best design products - they were from Japan

the genius is the design of the flap door that can be rotated about the inner groove, and stay put where you want it as well as the angle of the flap; good design often looks deceivingly simple

the Carver P4 is one of the best propane furnace ever made - much superior to the Propex in that the fan only run as fast as the temperature needs it; and it is whisper quiet

i was very impressed to see the workmanship of this installation i did about 18 years ago; even the speaker crossover was mounted to save space with a notch cut into the wood shelf (bottom right)
the slot is for air to enter the Vanagon rear passenger heater

here the corner of the heater box was notch to make room for the woofer's magnet
with the heater exposed i have to plan ahead to plug the water lines
seems a 5/8" hose barbs are needed
came across soft shell crabs on sale at Whole Food

it was a scorching hot sunny day so i went shopping for a cheap deep cycle battery and plumbing fittings for Brunnhilde's auxiliary water tank project; i planned my trip well and came home with all these

and a jumbo size watermelon fits inside Isolde's new fridge with room to spare
i have noted a few batteries at Costco from previous shopping trip; i narrow down to between the group 24 and group 27; with a lot of measurements on the space under the bench seat I decided the smaller group 24 is the one; i was planning for 2 but i only want to buy 1 first to test fit in situ

i shopped for plumbing fitting at West Marine, as well as Home Depot, all within the same trip

those OEM hose clamps are very secure so I reuse them

this are the combo fittings that i have to build with off-the-shelf parts i found on the trip

i did it this way for now as i am not too keen to crawl underneath the vehicle to deal with the jungle of water hoses and have coolant douse over my face
the hoses are in remarkably good condition after 26 years
i brought home this West Marine battery box though i was not optimistic it can be use as i am very space confined (as always is in any Westfalia projects); it is a very nice battery box for $16

here you can see that even without the lid, the battery box is no go as it interferes with the driver side woofer

the battery in the box
the depth of the space is about 1/4" more than the length of the group 24 battery

i first need to patch the bare floor and address a mean to accommodate this heater cable

here is the second battery without the battery box

it only has a few mm of space behind the speaker magnet

precision battery installation

With this exercise, I was able to ascertain that up to 2 group 24 deep cycle batteries can fit in the bench seat, while preserving my custom furnace installation. While my goal is to achieve the accommodation for 2 group 24 deep cycle batteries, I avoid the temptation to run back to the store and pick up the second one. I want to proceed this project methodically, and this including determining if one battery would suffice. Note that I bought this Interstate battery from Costco and they don't have any A-hr nor reserve capacity. Looking for this at Interstate Battery site is futile because like most TVs Costco sells, they are models specifically made for Costco. I bought it from Costco because it is the one of the biggest bang for the buck at $77 each. I estimate it to be a 55 to 60 A-hr deep-cycle/starting battery that is the mid range of the series sold at Interstate Battery. I am just tire of buying expensive batteries.

In case you say but, a seal AGM battery requires no venting, in fact you should still do make the provision. In the event of overcharge situation a sealed AGM battery will also release hydrogen gas.

I set up a test to gauge the capacity of the Costco group 24 battery. Since the main power consumer is the DC refrigerator, that is the load that I use. The refrigerator consumes slightly less than 3A when the compressor is on. The actual A-hr consumption is the function of the compressor on duty-cycle, which is the function of the ambient temperature, the internal temperature, the insulation (and hence heat gain), and how well you provide the heat dissipation venting for the condenser and the compressor. Actually the list is much longer.

i charge up the battery first and then proceed to do some warm and fussy capacity test

I don't want to rule out installing only one group battery if it meets the power need. The project will still design and fabricate to accommodate two but with the option to install only one. I also want to keep the system very simple, without going to town with fancy monitoring, electronic management, and more breakers than you can shake a stick at. One main reason I chose this battery is it is most compatible with the existing Vanagon alternator and the starting battery.

As with the existing auxiliary battery system, I plan to continue using the 3-LED voltage indicator that I modified to serve both battery banks. When I need to know the battery voltage more precisely, I will just pull out my Harborfreight $3 DMM (that I have one in every vehicle) to do that.