Since the new roof was going on it was time to put the hole in for the second radon fan. All this time the fan was in the garage but I was reluctant to try to cut a hole in the roof. I had the exhaust pipe capped in the attic. With the solar tiles going on it was now or never. I had been working in the attic anyway to figure out the poor performance of the ERV so I thought that is better get that pipe in. In my mind it was a simple matter of continuing the 4” pvc radon pipe out the roof. Of course that was impossible because I hit a rafter going straight up. So I moved over a bit and hit another rafter. There were two rafters close together at the gable edge. I had to go to the store and get two 45° elbows to move the hole over to the other side. By the time I had those ready the roofers had torn off the old shingles. That was great but I had to have the hole ready for the membrane crew. I luckily was able to get the third hole in the right place and drilled through with a long bit. Then I went up on the roof to finish the hole and one of the roofers drilled it for me. He even borrowed a better drill to do it. Then I stuck the pipe through the roof and of course it was slanted. I had glued the 2 45° elbows to go straight up through the roof. It didn’t occur to me that the pipe would exit at the angle of the roof. One of the roofers asked if I would straighten it and I said no. I don’t even know how. He said I had to hold a level up to it going through the roof. But then the hole saw would not have been large enough and anyway they fixed it or at least hid it with the vents they used.
I had to pull down a section of drywall to get the new hole drilled but that was easy since the drywall was overlapping at this point. Poor job up here because they didn’t want to do it.
I had barely enough room to install the fan inside instead of over the roof. The first fan was installed outside. Because the pipe was too close to the roof to fit the fan. Although a bit hard to see in this photo the crew painted the first fan and pipe black to match the roof. The fan is on the right next to the man working on the roof.
There are two Tesla vents on this section of roof. One is for the ERV exhaust and the other for the second radon fan.
The second radon fan is installed and wired. I designed the system based on some pretty comprehensive research and a case study so waiting so long for the second fan was probably not such a great idea. But there seems to be much disagreement about the dangers of in-home radon so at least we have had a partial system the whole time.
The solar roof was originally scheduled to start on Sept 7th but the manager called and asked if they could start earlier and I said, “Sure!”. The first day another company tore off the old roof. I asked if they would quote a price to put on a rubber roof on the flat roof portion but they have not gotten back to me yet. In the meantime the old roof came off very cleanly with the original deck still in quite good condition.
I chose to remove the aging skylights. They would have needed new trim to waterproof them and they were pretty much inoperable for ventilation and not screened.
It was also the opportunity to get rid of the old chimney and vents we were no longer using.
We thought it would be easiest to put the debris truck in the back but they preferred the front so they could toss the old roofing in from above.
As soon as the roof was off the Tesla crew began to put on the waterproof membrane layer.
A Tesla installation supervisor told me the underlayment was another Tesla product that was amazing as it can withstand stretching and shrinking. Plus being water and windproof. The membrane had an adhesive backing that was removed to place it. But it was also forgiving so it could be repositioned to help make it lay flat.
By the end of the day the roof was completely “dried in”. So much was accomplished in one day.
We were preparing for guests. That always helps make a dent in the to do list. The front patio was concrete that was jacked out when the house slab was removed. It had also heaved and settled so that it was badly cracked. After we cleared away the leftovers from deconstruction we spread gravel in the area.
There were two deals that determined what I would eventually do with that patio area. One was a craigslist offer for 1200 rubber octagon tiles for a very reasonable cost. I offered $200 and they were mine.
The other helpful acquisition was from a Repurposed Materials auction. I purchased 4 barrels of ground recycled rubber for $40. Unfortunately the rubber was so heavy that the barrels upended when we drug them off the truck.
My strong son helped me move and spread the ground rubber and had there been enough it would have been the perfect underlayment. But we were a bit short and some of the gravel was still uncovered. We laid the large driveway membrane which is a large plastic mesh tarp that allows water to pass through.
Then I dry laid the tile. The instructions called for gluing it down with a special caulk. I have the caulk but I didn’t want to glue it in case it had to be relaid.
Although they seemed heavy I’m sure they were much lighter than any other type of tile. They were relatively easy to push close together. It only took me a couple of days to complete the main area. Because the guests were arriving soon I did not try to finish by cutting the edges to size. I’m not even sure how to cut the tiles.
So we placed the patio furniture on the rubber tiles and got ready for our guests. Some of the tiles are uneven due to gravel sticking up through the membrane but it is not so uneven to cause tripping.
Some of the patio furniture had not survived the winter so it went on the burn pile in back. What was left made a pleasant sitting area under the pergola and the big ash tree. And we enjoyed our guests. It’s a nice spot for a summer barbecue. There is a lot of space there and we can host a pretty big group.
I noticed one benefit for my toddler grandson. He fell on the tile and got right back up completely uninjured. I like the new patio.
Tesla finally called to schedule the solar roof installation. I was very excited. We have been working with Tesla since April of last year and I have been on the waiting list since June 1, 2017, the day President Trump announced we had to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement and I was appalled. The project seems to be well managed with both a design contact and an installation contact. Another roofing company is managing the tear off but they are well coordinated with Tesla. Today the installation team arrived to uninstall the Tesla panels that were installed in 2018.
Unfortunately it started to rain just as the trucks arrived and when the workers were starting the removal it began to storm. There was marble sized hail and even a tornado warning. But the work went on.
Soon they were finished with all the panels safely removed and stored until we reinstall them at a later time. My son is interested in them so perhaps he will install them at his house.
The next step is the asphalt roof tear-off that should start August 25th, next Wednesday. I also asked the roof tear off company to quote a waterproof roof for the flat roof replacement. They do white EPDM and that is a synthetic rubber that will allow for a green roof installation some time in the future.
We finally completed the third section of the foundation insulation on the south “Trombe wall”side of the house. Another project completed due to guests arriving. This was the third section and it was a bit more complicated due to the foundation underpinning that the previous owners had installed. More modern supports are turned like screws but these were pushed in with a hydraulic ram.
This type of underpinning is to shore up a sinking foundation and was an “expert’s” solution to the sinking slab. Of course I later found that the slab damage was due to the heaving soil inside the foundation and the foundation itself was a sturdy cassion type. So the steel posts did not solve the problem even though they were probably expensive. The first part of this section of the foundation was finished in December before it got cold. The second part had the trench dug but there it sat for six months waiting for us to get back to the task. Preparing for our guests made it essential to smooth out the dirt piles in front of the house.
That meant digging out any dirt that had slid back into the hole and cutting more XPS blue board to replace the damaged insulation. On the far right is a bit of the wall that was already finished. The foundation had 2 layers of XPS so we just had to cut and fit the missing pieces. The 4” of XPS would be an R value of about 10 plus the foundation now has 2 inches of interior XPS and 8” of concrete for a total R value of about 16. The insulation had to be pieced between the metal posts so it took some time to get it all cut. My son came over to help with the project which made the work go faster. Once it was all pieced together it was time to cut the fiberglass corners for the cap. The fiberglass is recycled from the brewery where they were used to reinforce the corners of pallets of beer. I purchased them at an auction at my favorite recycle center Repurposed Materials.
I had to cut the fiberglass to span the metal flat tops of the posts in the ground. I used a handheld circular saw to cut the fiberglass. The caps had a bit cut from the edge too so that the fit against the top of the concrete wall and over the insulation protecting it from damage and creating a nice curb at the foundation edge. Finally the dirt that had been piled up for months in front of the house filled in the trench and was smoothed out on front of the house.
The next step is cleaning up the wall and repairing the metal membrane. The wood may need another coat of matte black enamel paint. Then we will replace the Trombe wall glass.
I’ve always had trouble with sealed lead acid coach batteries dying after a season or two. The new RV came with two wet lead acid 67 AH marine batteries that were pretty much shot. So I did some research and decided to make the expensive jump to lithium batteries.
This project required a lot of new equipment. Not only the two 105 AH LION Safari lithium batteries with the built in BMS but the new charger/converter, the DC to DC charger, a 30 amp transfer switch, a surge protector, and then for good measure a 3000 watt inverter.
I bought the LION batteries because two of them fit in the under stair battery compartment. Many 100 amp lithium batteries are 13 inches long and the compartment is only 12 inches. I saw these were for sale previous years at Costco but they were not being offered when I looked. I ordered them from another company but it turned out they were not in stock and they were waiting for a shipment from the manufacturer. In the meantime they came back to Costco so I cancelled the first order and bought the two with the special price of $799 each for two. They arrived almost immediately and I started buying the other components.
After much research on rv.net and other sites I decided to buy the new Progressive Dynamics 60 amp converter/charger to replace the WFCO 55 amp that came with the unit. This is the new version from the company and it has two stages, a bulk stage of 14.6 appropriate for lithium batteries and a float stage for when the batteries read full.
I removed the WFCO under the distribution panel but I installed a Progressive Industries surge protector there instead and installed the charger closer to the batteries. The refrigerator is located next to the entry in this 25b and the batteries are in the entry step. I learned there was enough space under the refrigerator by reading the answers to someone’s question about the location of the water tank. Of course using this area was no easy task with the tiny spaces to run wiring and place the new unit. I put it in and took it out multiple times before I was able to close it up and install the ventilation grate. In fact I completely installed the first unit only to have it not operate. It was an Amazon warehouse item and I think it was broken. So I returned it and bought a new one that did work.
The charger is wired with #2 wire and I bought the flexible type because I had to run them under the RV through a hole I drilled in the floor and over to the battery box. The charger connections are for #4 wire. I thought I would have to use pigtails between the #4 and #2 but someone on rv.net suggested wire reducers that clamped the wire to a rigid connector that fit in the #4 clamp on the charger. You can see them in the charger wiring photo. The battery monitor wiring and the ground for the whole unit also go through that hole in the floor. I was out of room for the inverter remote wires and had to drill a new hole next to the first one. I also decided to go up the wall between the entry and the refrigerator for the wired remote so I would not have to bend over to turn on the inverter. I started a hole under the refrigerator and hit styrofoam so I moved it over to the wood.
The two new batteries were shorter than the battery box so I had enough room for the wiring and the DC to DC charger that is supposed to provide the correct voltage to the batteries while also protecting the truck alternator from burning out. Although most commentors say burning out a modern inverter is unlikely, the DC to DC charger still modulates the charge to the lithiums so that they get the proper charge routine.
The solenoid and incoming power are connected in the smaller box in the step. I had to drill a hole through the metal to insert the positive wire and connect it to the ANL fuse. I also had to run a wire (yellow) from the solenoid ignition signal connection to the charger as this tells the charger to operate. It won’t run without this signal. In this photo the battery studs are clearly visible. I removed the battery tie down and replaced it with the battery shipping foam.
It took me several weeks to figure out the components and how they should be wired. I downloaded several articles and diagrams to help me understand what was going on. In the beginning I used this one to get a general idea of the system.
The diagram is missing a DC to DC charger but it seems it might be a lead acid system. It also helped to download the Winnebago wiring diagrams so I could tell which wires were performing which tasks. In the battery box I had to figure out which connection was the incoming power to attach the DC to DC wiring and where the solenoid got the signal from the ignition to turn on alternator charging.
The instructions for the devices were pretty straightforward although I watched You Tube videos of people discussing a new charger install and took screen shots of the steps to remind me of the process.
After finishing the wiring for the chargers, the next step was installing the inverter. When I had all the recommended #00/2 wiring installed, the first inverter I ordered was damaged. I tried Amazon Warehouse again to save money but it was not a tested unit and just looked good to the eye. I had to spring for a full price unit and send that one back. Maybe I have learned my lesson about used electronics.
The battery wiring is rather crowded with the 00/2 gauge wiring on the smart shunt and the battery. The smart shunt is a Victron bluetooth battery monitor so it is not such a big deal that the monitor is below the refrigerator, I can connect to it with my smart phone. I put the inverter remote control in a higher position. The inverter is in the dinette seat literally next to the battery box in the step. The wired remote is in the entry at eye level from the steps.
After I had all the new equipment wired I installed a Renogy 30 amp transfer switch. Luckily there was room for the transfer switch in the basement compartment where there is other wiring and plumbing. It is right next to the distribution box under the bed. I already had a hole drilled through the distribution box into this compartment for the charger wiring. When I put in the transfer switch I had to remove the wiring in the distribution box and lengthen the wire from the surge protector to reach the new transfer switch. I also had to rewire the extension cord that I used to plug in the new charger/converter to the transfer switch. Because the switch connector only took one wire, I cut a short pigtail for the charger cord. Then the transfer switch was wired back into the the main power breaker. This removed the charger from its normal breaker and essentially put it on the main breaker. Now the refrigerator is on the old breaker by itself.
I had a difficult time understanding how the switch would work for the inverter instead of working between the generator and shore power which is one of the main applications. I have always used the manual method to make this switch. When we unplug from shore power we plug into the generator power outlet in the external power compartment. I could put in a separate transfer switch for this but I don’t think we need it.
This diagram helped me understand how to wire the transfer switch for the inverter. Both the shore power which is also the generator and the charger power are on the same side of the switch. This means that the charger will only run when getting power from either source. When the inverter runs it should not also be trying to charge the batteries. That is an endless loop that won’t go anywhere. It will deplete the batteries rather than charge them.
Figuring this out was rather complicated but it was also fun to read the manuals, study the diagrams and then look at my notes to digest the information and understand it. I’m hoping this equipment lasts for the life of the RV.
We have decided to clean up our property and empty our attached two car garage by building a large RV garage to the side of the house. We thought we had a contractor willing to build it but he changed his business emphasis and is no longer interested. I contacted a garage building company and I was supposed to have an onsite visit but they stood me up and did not call to reschedule.
On the advice of our first contractor, I had engineering plans drawn by a local certified engineer. It was a bit of a struggle to get completed plans from the vendor. I sent money and waited asking several times for the drawings. I understood there were to be drawings sufficient to get a building permit, however, that was not the case. He only did structural engineering.
The first set of plans seemed to be copied straight from a generic document, even stating that the garage was attached to the house. I was very disappointed. I pointed out the errors and the plans were redrawn, but I had to pay more money as the first arrangement was only for the foundation apparently and I wanted a plan for the entire building.
I waited again and eventually got plans that did not represent the sketches I had sent for the building measurements. Again I made corrections and waited and waited for the plans. When I got them the walls were limited to 10 ft tall. Of course that was incorrect since they needed to be tall enough to support a 12′ high garage door. That meant back to the drawing board and additional time to change the taller structure to engineered studs.
I didn’t hear anything for a month and then after some prodding and excuses that the original plans were lost in a software upgrade. Really? Then that pdf’s had to be created. Yes, print as pdf and save? I was a bit annoyed. In the end after five months of struggle I did receive a pdf of a structural plan for a garage and I still had to draw my own architectural plan.
However by this time lumber had quadruped in cost. It hit a peak in May, 2021 and although the wholesale cost has dropped, boards are still much more expensive than last year when I started this project. So for now I can’t find anyone to build it and it may be much more expensive than original estimates.
I decided to look into metal garages in the same general layout. First I contacted a local company in Denver but they don’t erect the buildings and they could not provide a shed design. I also drew up plans on another site that appears to both manufacture and put together these barns/garages. I have not pursued it by contacting the company. We are too busy right now.
We took the new RV to Indiana in early April to meet the buyers and enjoy our friends and a final work session on the house. The early April weather is very changeable and there was a late snow across Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. It was not the most pleasant driving but the new RV performed well on the road. And the extra bed in the back made for a comfy trip with plenty of napping to keep on the road for a long haul. We drove 12 hours the first day and 8 the second.
We arrived at the house just before the snow started. It was amazing. The house was warm and none of the plumbing leaked. We were able to turn on the refrigerator and water and make the bed and get a nice long rest. Indiana is gorgeous in April. The redbuds and dogwoods were in bloom and the green was bursting from the woods and meadows. The snow came and dulled it for a little while but it melted and didn’t even destroy the flowering trees.
Our biggest project was replacing windows. We had purchased the windows during our last visit but ran out of time to install them. So the window area was blocked with old insulation and drywall and left for the winter. The new windows were about a half inch taller than the old so the side trim did not fit well. Did not have time to get new boards so the new owners will fix that. Also didn’t finish some trim. There are always unfinished projects there.
Friends came to visit us since it was a goodbye to the homestead for the last time. We hiked up past the pond to the corner mark on the property. These marks were redone by the loggers just a few years ago. Of course we had to apply a good coating of DEET insect repellent for the hike to ward off the many ticks and chiggers and other nasty bugs in the woods.
We spent two weeks going through the last of our possessions there and recycling lots of memories, discarding trash, and sending some items to Goodwill. We sanded drywall, painted and fixed a problem with the new furnace drainage. And had lovely visits with our Indiana friends, promising that we would visit again even without the farm to return to. Then it was over and time to come home. I stuffed the RV with items I wanted to keep. We took it a bit easier on the way home. Stopped to see my second cousin and visited Hermann, MO a very pretty town on the Missouri river and stopped near Kansas City for a visit with a high school friend who I had not seen in 30 years. Then we booked it home in 8 hours. It was a great trip despite its rather sad goodbyes. The two weeks in Indiana had added lots more green to the landscape.
So ends the chapter of all the wonderful years building that house and developing that homestead. It’s time. We are entering our 7th decade and have to be able to let go of some things. Our mini homestead in Colorado provides us plenty of projects. And we have grandchildren nearby to watch as they grow. We are so fortunate.
I’m not sure how to transition the blog from working on the house to working on other projects. I guess not working on the house either means no posts or off topic posts.
One step in the LEED certification process is an evaluation of the built home. Of course the original plans really don’t include the energy efficient upgrades because the architect did not specify them. So I’m not sure if EnergyLogic has enough information to do the analysis. They think that the architect’s plans will help but I only have pdf copies and a printed copy. They emailed the architect asking for the plan files. But I have not heard whether they received them. I sent details about the floor and walls and windows but I have not heard whether that information was helpful or not.
Instead of working on the house as the spring winter weather dragged on I planned a huge RV project. At least it seems like that now. After the battery test and the good performance, we went camping and tried it out on the new trolling motor and inflatable boat.
We went out several times using the lithium batteries and they stayed at 100% the entire time. Of course lithium batteries are designed to stay at full power for most of discharge. They can be used to 80% or about 10.5 volts without damage or reducing their life. Still witnessing the performance during our outing was exciting. And the boating was a nice addition to our camping outing.
It was awkward to have the battery box so close to the motor though. I am going to extend the battery cables from the motor so the box can go in the middle or at the bow. Although it made a nice seat for a 2 year old. Using a motor is much more fun than rowing.
I was told that the advertised amp hours on a lithium battery was a bit of a stretch and that the batteries would not deliver what they were rated for. So this called for a test. My son found a testing strategy and I employed it on the batteries in the new trolling motor battery box.
I used a 75 watt light bulb plugged into a small inverter with a clock radio plugged into the same circuit. The batteries started at 13.4 amps and ran the inverter until they registered 10.9 amps. That took about 19 hours. I tested the draw at about 2.5 amps.
The three lithium batteries in the box are rated at 20 amp hours each. If I was drawing a full 60 amp hours at 2.5 amps it should have taken about 24 hours of power. I must assume that some power is lost in the wiring too. So I got 47.5 amp hours from my battery box. That is about 80% of the rated power. I need to recharge the batteries to completely full and test again. It appears they would still run the 40 amp trolling motor for at least an hour out on the water.
My son got an unexpected vacation from work and the family really wanted to visit the beach. I floated the idea of staying at a Fort Myers beach so we could visit my brother and my cousin and my aunt who is now the only living sibling of my mother. We had a fantastic time even though we were sad to learn our other set of in-laws could not join us due to a sick pet. We had rented a 3 bedroom cottage using airbnb and rented a tricycle for the week and a pontoon boat for one day. The weather was perfect all week too.
We spent many mornings and afternoons at the beach. For a spring break week it was not crowded down by the mid-island housing area. We practically had the beach to ourselves!
My brother and family joined us for the boating day and it was so much fun to visit and chug over to the Lover’s Key beach together. Our street shared a boat dock so we were able to stop there to have a bbq.
The family took some side trips too. We stopped at the Ding Darling nature preserve on Sanibel Island and learned about three types of Mangroves that establish new islands in the bays. We also took in a little local wildlife admiring several small lizards there. My granddaughter was fascinated with the pink flamingos so we stopped at the Everglades Wonder Garden in Bonita Springs on our last day. They were magnificent and the alligators were fun to feed too.
Despite all the fun around us the kids were able to enjoy the simple pleasure of a packing box.
We also connected with a friend from long ago and she was the same in so many ways. Time does not really change us! This family time was precious and lovely. We returned exhausted though. After a day of rest we were ready to get back to our projects.
Over the last two weeks I’ve spent a lot of time moving the camping equipment from the old RV to the new one and installing storage upgrades to fit the family. It has been so much fun to set up a new RV! The first project was installing a Closet Maid double shelf under the kitchen cabinet. The new RV has no counter space to keep these appliances so I installed this. It barely clears the faucet but its securely screwed into the closet wall, the back and later I bolted the top to the cabinet. The RV moves a lot so it needs to be secure. Bungie cords attached to hooks in the back and pieces of styrofoam hold the appliances in place. The paper towel holder is a special type that doesn’t unroll during travel.
The new RV has quite a bit more wall space than the old one. So I thought of ways to use it for storage. When we walk in the door this line of hooks will hold backpacks and jackets. We also needed a place to store shoes. Hiking and beach wear can be messy. Its best to keep shoes at the door. I needed to find something narrower than a standard shoe rack and these file folder systems fit perfectly. The baskets can even be labeled. There are two sets, each screwed at the top and bottom to keep them from moving. Notice there are two file folders in the open shelf above the door. This is a good spot for items needed when leaving the RV like keys, umbrellas, maps, etc. The baskets will keep items in place. Not in the photo but the broom is now clamped next to the fire extinguisher and handy for cleaning the all vinyl floor which is so much nicer than the carpet in the old RV.
My grandson noticed right away that there were no cup holders in the new RV. I said don’t worry I already ordered them. The table doesn’t have built in holders so I put two there and one at each end of the couch.
I decided to keep our practically brand new 12/120 volt RV TV. Hookups for another TV were already located in the bedroom area. I just needed to buy a locking articulating arm as a mount for it. I also bought several of the narrow file folder baskets and added one here for the remote and extra movie storage.
In the overhead bed there are a few changes too. Normally if I sleep up there I charge my phone so I added a USB outlet light combination in place of the light up there.
I was also worried about sleeping feet and the TV on the wall so I placed a corner cabinet sideways against the wall. I had to trim the last two boards to fit under the TV. I’m less sure about this mod. It should help to keep the mattress topper from shifting under the TV but the spaces are a bit small for storage needs. Maybe it’s a mini book shelf.
It was interesting that the former owners did not need many of the daily accessories of life. They must have traveled much lighter than we do. There was a lack of usable cabinet space. I added storage to several areas. In the bathroom cabinet I used clear acrylic shelves with small lips to hold in the items during travel.
In the bathroom a wine bottle holder provides storage for extra towels. It is hung over the shower wall but also velcroed to the glass so it holds steady when we are under way. One of the file folders is under the mirror for our toiletry boxes. Unfortunately I hit the mirror when I was driving the screw holder into the wall and cracked it. Later I might replace it with a mirrored medicine cabinet.
I converted the shirt cabinet next to the refrigerator into a pantry with a roll out shelving unit that will work well for dry food containers and canned items. The system is mounted on double 2 x 4’s screwed into the bottom of the cabinet because the lip was so deep. But there is still room on the side for long skinny items like cookie sheets or a cutting board.
There was no towel bar in the bathroom or kitchen. I found out that the bathroom wall space was limited by the shower door needing enough clearance to open, but an 18″ bar fit there. The kitchen bar mounted inside the under sink cabinet door is similar to the one in the old RV.
I had to find a new spot for the hat storage ribbon from the old RV where the closet door is longer and wider than this one. So I moved it to the bathroom door. I just velcroed the bottom since its not long enough for the full door. These hooks can store flip flops too if necessary. Some sturdy bamboo corner shelves were added to the kitchen cabinet. I moved the tension rods from the old RV.
In the kitchen we like to cook in a 12 volt crock pot while we are traveling so I wired an extra 12 volt/usb outlet under the kitchen cabinet pig tailing off the light over the sink.
The new stove top did not have a cover. I think the original cover was glass according to the specifications and it probably got broken so I ordered a metal one like in the old RV. I looks great and gives us some working space when the stove is not being used. Notice the new cup holder next to the couch too. The sinks in the new RV are equal in size while our old sinks had one larger and one smaller. The old dish drainer fit the larger one so I hunted and hunted for a stainless steel dish drainer to fit the new sink. This is a partial sink dish drainer with a collapsible colander underneath for extra cups etc.
I have several more projects I’d like to finish before we take it on its maiden voyage. I think we will drive to Indiana later in April. Sadly we may have sold the farm there and we need to meet with the potential buyers.
Before we moved to Colorado and started remodeling the new house for LEED certification we bought a 2002 Itasca 22E Class C recreational vehicle. We acquired it and the very end of 2009 as it’s third owner. We had so many wonderful trips in the old RV, visiting parks, getting away to hike on weekends when we were still employed, and taking grandkids around the country.
But now that we have three growing grandkids and two older ones who visit occasionally it seemed to be time to replace our older unit with a newer one. I did plenty of research on various models and found that it is unusual to have both a couch and dinette in a shorter RV model. This layout has served us well allowing for several passengers and sleeping spaces. In fact the Itasca model we own has a different layout from the new one of the same size.
I also wanted the Winnebago quality roof since they use domed fiberglass instead of TPO or rubber. Some other brands use fiberglass and some Winnie’s now come without the fiberglass roof but the model I narrowed my search to was the Minnie Winnie or Itasca 25B with the fiberglass roof. This unit has a couch and dinette and overhead bed just like our Itasca. But it also has a corner bed in the back. It adds 4 feet to the length at 26’2″ instead of 22′. That seemed like a good trade off for more sleeping and storage space for the family. We were absolutely not interested in slide outs that add space while parked. They can be difficult to maintain and are heavy so they limit passengers and gear. This unit has the smaller, E350 chassis just like our old RV but it is not hesitant on the road as the Ford engine is legendary for its longevity and performance.
I had half heartedly looked at Craigslist and RV Trader for this model thinking the purchase was in some distant future but sometimes there is serendipity in life. I happened to look at RV Trader and a seller in Colorado Springs about 90 minutes from here had posted for sale just one day before, a newer model for a price we were willing to consider.
The next day I drove down to look at the rig and it was immaculate inside. A couple had it for a little over two years and although it had over 50,000 miles on it and our old Itasca only has 58,000, I was sure it was what we were looking for. We are the RV’s third owner. I found out from its documentation that it was manufactured for Apollo, an RV rental agency which is the reason it has more than the average number of miles for its age. The owners bought it with almost 35,000 miles which is a common sale mileage for some rental equipment dealers.
I could have held out for a few more options. We are tired of the time it takes to level when we camp so thought our next RV would have auto leveling and this one does not. I was actually hoping for a protected dump valve not one that is just under the sidewall and this model doesn’t have that. Not the kind of thing you learn from a brochure. A full fiberglass cap is an option that this one does not have and they are nice for reducing exterior caulking maintenance.
I offered to buy it on the spot and they asked for a little more so it was sold. The couple was very accommodating and in order to transfer title at our bank with the check in hand they drove it all the way up here for us. I’m absolutely thrilled to have the newer bigger RV. As soon as I organize the storage for all the equipment from the older RV I will clean it up and put it on Craigslist. I’m guessing it will sell quickly.
The new RV will probably have a few things that don’t work correctly and there are several useful modifications that I will want to make but the basic unit is exactly what we need for our growing family; a wonderful distraction.
All of the documentation on our LEED project so far has been to fulfill the requirements of LEED for Homes 2009. Although I have another year to qualify under the old system, I’ve contacted Energy Logic to finish up the project this year and Aaron, my new rater has recommended we work through 4.1 instead. Some of the qualifications have changed but several stay the same.
It is overwhelming in some sense to move to a new certification because all of my documentation is aligned to the old standards. Some credits have changed radically and some of the items on the old checklist have been dropped completely.
I’m working on a new documentation page to align this project to the newest LEED requirements and point system. I found a great course at the Green Home Institute website. The introductory course is free just click on the modules about mid page.
There is a resource page that is helpful for USGBC publications that can also help. I’m still reading the USGBC documents about the newer versions. Luckily the first part of the checklist is very similar to the old list; starting with the Design Charrette. The category name has changed from Integrated Project Design to Integrative Process. The charrette is a full day program to combine the talents and ideas of at least three building professionals. The requirement for a LEED AP was moved to a different category.
Training of the installation contractor has been moved to this category and I hope my training will be sufficient to gain this point. I know I had to watch the contractors I hired to maintain thermal envelope integrity as they were mostly unable to fathom why the interior air barrier could not be cut. I also trained with HVAC professionals for the installation of our Challenger Combo boiler/instant hot water heater.
So for the Integrative Process category it looks like we earn 2 points out of 3 in the new version. Solar orientation, durability management, and innovation and regional priorities have all been moved to other sections. The points compilation has changed drastically. I believe it is supposed to be a more simplified system. There were 11 points available when this was a larger category.
The new trolling motor needed a case so that it could be stored and transported more easily. I thought I might use the Sailrite sewing machine and some vinyl to make one but first I thought I should look for a suitable example. I found a very expensive bag and it reminded me of a guitar case so I started shopping for instrument cases but they were not wide enough. Then I looked for long duffle bags, preferably with wheels. One of the long duffle bags with wheels was for a pop up shelter.
Unfortunately a less expensive pop up shelter we had was ruined in a wind storm. But I had not discarded the case! So I just happened to have a tall wheeled duffle bag on hand. First I removed the sewn in labels from the original pop up shelter. A few of the ragged threads are visible before I picked them out.
I was able to open the top seam so that the handle of the motor could protrude and I set the bottom of the motor into a cut piece of styrofoam from the shipping box fitted to the bottom fin.
Then I used the Sailrite machine to sew a small bag for the propeller and attached it to the duffle bag. I had a scrap piece of sunbrella fabric and I doubled it to provide a little padding. I also hemmed the open seam at the motor handle.
The finished bag has carry handles and wheels and will be great for moving the motor.
I realized when the temperature got down to zero and hung around in the low single digits that the heating zone in the rear of the house was acting strangely. The thermostat would call for heat but the boiler would not fire. If the boiler had fired for a different zone when it was satisfied and up to temp the boiler would not stay fired to heat the rear zone. The first troubleshooting recommendation I found was to be sure the zone valve end switch was being depressed. This is what makes the boiler fire. If the two end switch wires are “jumped” i.e. connected together then the end switch is bypassed and the boiler should fire. I connected the red wires but the boiler didn’t fire.
I also opened two zone valves and compared the working zone to the problem one and they both functioned. The end switch is depressed when the zone opens to deliver hot water to the zone.
Since the zone valve was operating normally I had to move on to other troubleshooting research. I observed that although the boiler was not firing or staying lit when another zone finished that the temperature in the boiler immediately went up very high and only slowly went down. And the circulating pump was on but no water was pumping.
Apparently this “overheating” happens when there is a block in the zone piping. I didn’t know what could have happened to the zone but I had to quit for the evening.
As I slept I must have been pondering the problem because as soon as I awoke I realized what the problem was!
This rear zone uses the original radiators in the two back bedrooms. Last year when the bathroom was remodeled I decided to eliminate the bathroom radiator. I was planning to replace the radiator with radiant pex under the floor. I have plenty of pex and even bought more from Repurposed Materials for the eventual extra garage floor. But I never got to this project!
I realized I had disconnected the pipes to the old radiator and plugged each side so the zone would not leak. I did not realize that I had interrupted the hot water return so that the water that was heating the rear zone was going to the end of the pipe and not returning to the boiler.
Of course the pipes were still full of water and the zone had to be drained completely. I shut off the boiler and the valves that shut off both the delivery and return of the water. Then I took two buckets into the crawl space and removed the sharkbite plugs. I was amazed how much water drained from the pipes. It was a messy job. I filled buckets and Dave retrieved them and dumped the water.
Then I was able to install an elbow and slip repair sharkbite fitting. When I turned the water back on and opened the valves I had a leak!
Luckily I was just able to knock the elbow that was leaking on the rest of the way and stop the leak. I use a rubber hammer to push the sharkbites on all the way if they don’t just slide in properly.
I also used a slip repair connector for the first time. The slip repair sharkbite is a bit longer than a normal straight connector. It can repair pipes that have no clearance and close 2″ of gap. The slip side goes on the existing pipe and is pushed in further than normal. Then the repair side is cut to the end of the slip fitting and the pipe is marked for the depth of a normal sharkbite fitting. The difficult part is sliding the slip fitting over to that mark to close up the opening. I ended up striking the clip that presses down to slip the fitting with my rubber hammer to get it to the mark.
I just happened to have both of these in the garage that I had bought for another project and hadn’t used. Lucky me.
Once the pipes were connected and there were no leaks, I was able to run the zone water into the drain in the utility room floor until all the air was expelled from the zone. I turned the boiler back on and the thermostat was turned back up and the boiler fired and the zone began to be warm again.
It took weather at zero degrees for me to realize there was a problem with the rear zone heat. Now I just wish I didn’t have a frozen pipe in the master bathroom!
It’s winter and outdoor projects are limited. As soon as it turned the new year I made a reservation to camp for the Fourth of July. Camping is very popular in Colorado and it is difficult to get into a summer campsite. I know the Fourth of July is very crowded but it is also a good time for family being together especially at a lake.
Last summer I purchased an inexpensive Intex raft for our camping fun at the lake. We went out in it a couple of times but found rowing it to be more exercise than I could handle. This was mostly due to the chop in the lake which is unavoidable with summer motor boat traffic.
I looked at trolling motors but many were sold out for the year or the cost was high. I vowed to return to the project in winter when demand would be lower. Right after the new year I read reviews and recommendations for trolling motors. Then I calculated the thrust that was needed for our little boat. We could have used a 30 lb thrust motor but I opted for the larger 46 lb thrust from Newport Vessels. The extra thrust uses more battery power but will also move faster through rougher water.
But the electric trolling motor requires a battery system to run. The 46 lb motor uses 40 amps or 480 watts at full power. It can run for approximately an hour using a 40 amp hour rated battery since it is not used at full speed the entire time. Even though lithium batteries are not recommended for trolling motors because they maintain higher voltage through the use period I knew that the entire boat with floor, motor and batteries would begin to get really heavy to carry from the camp site to the lake. The difference in weight between the lithium batteries and lead acid is extreme. A 55 amp hour lead acid battery weighs about 45 lbs and a 20 amp LiFePo4 battery weighs 5.4 lbs. Although lithium batteries are usually much more expensive than a marine battery, I was able to buy three 20 amp hour LiFePo4 batteries for around $200.
I knew about wiring batteries in parallel from using 12 volt battery banks in the RV. So I purchased a couple of cables and terminal ends. The screws that came with the batteries were too short for two cable ends together so I bought some stainless machine screws at the hardware store. I also bought lock washers for all the screws.
Next I selected a box for the battery system. The first box I ordered was not as large as the published measurements and the batteries didn’t fit. Then I bought an inexpensive tool box from harbor freight, but it didn’t appear to be sturdy enough. Finally I found this deeper box that was also wide enough for the batteries.
After these basic purchases the costs began to add up. The lithium batteries require a special charger, then I wanted to be able to charge the rechargeable air pump on board if needed so why not add a 12 volt charging port? We might need USB ports. What self-respecting Intex inflatable boat would be without them? And finally the meter that comes on the motor does not accurately read the remaining power in the batteries so I needed a special meter too. Ten terminal lugs were not enough for all the cables I had to make. I upgraded the 50 amp fuse to a switch type, added a cut off switch, then decided to change the inappropriate battery meter on the socket panel to install an Anderson Powerpole socket. Lots of supplies were needed that I didn’t have on hand like extra power pole plugs, and a crimper. Then I found the cut off switch needed 3/8″ lugs so ordered those and decided to run the neutrals to a separate junction block and I bought screw on covered battery terminals.
I looked at several sample battery box builds. I found that most information about these boxes was on YouTube videos. I am not fond of videos because they often have a very slow presentation of the information. I scrub through them and find the part I’m interested in takes longer to find than the amount of information I get. I prefer text and photo examples. Much quicker access to the information I want. I did watch a couple of videos and the one modification I would have liked to have made was to install a trolling motor plug instead of the terminal posts.
The socket panel came with separate wires for each function and each red had a nice 10 amp fuse and holder. But the example wiring was to wire all the plugs to the switch, which made more sense. I tried to use the terminal ends that came with the hot wiring but I could not get good connections so I had to use some terminal ends that came with another device. I just used the three separate wires for the neutrals.
I had to build a wire for the Anderson Powerpole plugs however and that required learning how to crimp wires for the sockets. I had several mistakes using the crimper and the advertised “click” seemed to be elusive but finally I got the hang of it and was able to wire the two sockets. I also had to purchase more 1/4″ terminal ends for this light weight wire.
I tried placing the batteries in a separate tray but that raised them just enough that the inset tray would not fit so instead I surrounded the batteries with the dense foam that came in the smaller box. I had decided to keep the smaller box for a power tool.
The lid has all the wiring connections for use. The two large wires attach to the 50 amp breaker on the positive side and the shut off switch on the negative.
I had to wait for the larger lug nuts and that is when I decided to add a negative terminal block for all the negatives I was connecting. Plus I ordered more large size heat shrink. So the updated wiring includes a negative terminal and a bit of wire management.
I had to move the wires out of the way so the handle indent fit over the tray handle for a tighter fit. Notice the zip ties that keep the heavily wired lid attached to the box.
I guessed the final weight was about 30 lbs but I was over. It is only 24.2 lbs. That is pretty good for all it contains and I will be able to haul it with the boat and motor.
And it can charge through the Anderson power pole connectors and runs the trolling motor!
I started a new vinyl cover for a spa section which broke my Singer 9960 sewing machine. I sent it out for repair and it is not yet ready. But I purchased a really heavy duty expensive Sailrite zig zag sewing machine. Based on reviews and a thorough search for a used machine or a clone that sounded reputable. I decided on a new machine with a 5 year warranty and renowned support.
I was able to sew the rest of the vinyl cover easily with the new machine. I planned to install a zipper in just one end instead of the whole length of the cover. After it was installed I realized that was a mistake because I could not fit the section into the case through that zipper.
I had to remove the zipper and since I didn’t figure out immediately how to put in a longer zipper I decided just to see if it would cover the section and work correctly. Even though the cover is a bit over-sized I had a difficult time pushing the styrofoam into the cover. That meant I didn’t want to take it off and figure out how to install a zipper to round the corners of the casing. So for the winter I just duct taped the end of the cover!
Now it is much more sturdy than the plastic bags I had covering the styrofoam. But the heat of the hot tub means the vinyl stretches and hangs down about six inches under the cover. That is why the factory vinyl cover is made so tightly. Manufacturers must heat up the whole assembly to insert the styrofoam into the tighter cover. The brown cover is the factory made one.
I attached a flap to go over the crack between the pieces but I hemmed it on the wrong side. Not that professional for sure. Nevertheless, the looser cover seems to be working out. I need to make the cover for the end piece next. It would be good to add a skirt to cover the edge of the cover and spa. maybe I can hem it on the correct side next time. I have multiple rolls of vinyl fabric that I bought at a repurposed materials auction. Originally my plan was to sew new seasonal awnings for the solar overhang. That is still my plan. Now I have the machine to do it.
We first had this problem when one of the doors was new. There is a piece on the three point lock that is called a mishandling device. This is a latch that releases the top and bottom throw bolts that make up two of the lock points with the deadbolt being the third.
The problem is that over time the mishandling devices gets stuck in the strike plate and the door will not open. The mishandling device #342 also called a lockout device in this diagram from the Hoppe patent.
When this device is pressed in, the handle can throw the top and bottom point locks and the deadbolt can be locked. It is included to prevent the deadbolt from striking the door jamb in a locked position.
Thus, when the lockout device 334 is engaged with (e.g. abuts with) the lock point actuation slide 324 in this manner, actuation of the deadbolt 310 and the auxiliary lock bolts to the locked/extended state is prevented.
The lockout device 334, when in the lockout state, prevents actuation of the deadbolt 310 and the auxiliary lock bolts. This protects the secondary door component 106 as well as the multi-point locking arrangement from damage to a user trying to close the hinged panel 104 relative to the secondary door component 106 with the deadbolt 310 and auxiliary lock bolts in an extended state.
The patent states that this device is meant to be held in by the strike plate when the door is closed. It allows the top and bottom shoot bolts to be engaged but when I cut it off and substitute a small bottle cork the shoot bolts operate correctly when the handle is lifted.
The lockout device 334 includes a contact end 342 that is configured to contact a strike plate 144 (FIG. 1) or other portion of the secondary door component 106 (e.g. a door jamb) when the hinged panel 104 is in a closed position. While it is typically understood that the strike plate is a separate component secured to the doorjamb, for simplicity of explanation, the door jamb or strike plate may be referred to generically as a strike plate.
As noted previously, strike plate 144 may be the same strike plate that defines an opening for receiving the deadbolt 110 or a separate strike plate or a portion of the secondary door component as mentioned above.
The patent does not show the correct alignment of the strike plate or the number of holes required.
I tried resetting the strike plate so that the cut outs were not opposite the device. I tried filling the strike plate opening with a wood block. But these options did not work so when the mishandling device gets stuck in the strike plate now I just cut it off and hold it in the locking position with a small bottle cork.
It appears that the strike plate is the wrong one or it is incorrectly installed by the Therma-Tru door assembler. However when I tried to move the strike plate so the mishandling device fully met the metal I was unable to line up the deadbolt.
These doors have been a headache in general and of course its either because they were installed incorrectly or the house is shifting but the front door warped and it has had to be reframed a couple of times and several of the doors have shifted so that they cannot be opened easily. Also the paint job was terrible and it has peeled twice. For the expense I wish I had purchased foreign made doors from Alpen.
When we returned from Indiana, our key did not work in the front lock. The mechanism would not turn. Fortunately one of the patio doors is keyed the same and we were able to get into the house without breaking anything. With the Thanksgiving holiday we didn’t try to fix the lock but decided to think about rekeying the locks to one key. In order to do that we had to remove the Hoppe lockset.
Unfortunately the cylinder was stuck in the lock and no matter how many screws we removed disassembling the entire lock, the cylinder would not release. I researched how to release it and none of the tricks I read worked.
First consulted the Hoppe site for troubleshooting the product. The advice amounted to just call a locksmith. Why do they even bother? Next I watched the video about removing the lockset which was much more detailed, however the cylinder is supposed to slide out when the key reaches a certain point inside the lock. Our thumb turn didn’t line up the cylinder to release it and the key was not working.
The written Hoppe instructions for the insertion and removal of the cylinder seemed to be a simple step by step but I never figured it out. Now that I am reviewing this information though I think I might be able to try again.
Loosen setscrew (C) on knob using the allen wrench provided.
Remove knob (D) from body of cylinder (B).
The drive tab (J) must be aligned with the cylinder to install the cylinder into the lock mechanism. If the tab cannot be rotated to this position, push the pin (E) down with the ring wrench (F) included to disengage the stops and turn the cylinder shaft (B) until the drive tab (J) is aligned with the cylinder (G).
Holding in this position, insert the cylinder body into door so the tab on the cylinder is inside of the lock.
Rotate the shaft (B) that the thumb turn attaches to so that the top of the post moves toward the edge of the door or insert the key (A) into the cylinder and rotate so the top of the key moves towards the edge of the door (H). This will extend the deadbolt. If the post or key is rotated the wrong direction, it will rotate approximately 120 degrees and lock up where it cannot be rotated in either direction. If this happens, push the pin (E) down with the ring wrench (F) included to disengage the stops and turn the key (A) in the opposite direction until the deadbolt extends.
Fix knob (D) horizontally on cylinder shaft (B) with setscrew hole (C) downwards.
Tighten setscrew (C). Install cylinder screw.
I found a DIY site describing the problem I was having. But the advice was to tap the cylinder and the key with a hammer and I didn’t have a working key. Then I read about a key stuck in a lock and that euro type cylinder not sliding out. The recommendations were to use WD-40 and wiggle the key. Plus there were other ideas that had merit.
I used WD-40 and wiggled the key that now would slide in and out of the cylinder just fine. It also locked and unlocked the door. But it would not release the cylinder. So we gave up. The entire 3 point system was reinstalled with some difficulty by Dave so I’m not sure how it was done. But the lock is working again and maybe we will try to slide the cylinder out another day.