Monday, March 19, 2018


Back in the dark ages, i.e. before the beginning of this blog, I switched out the single 12 volt battery that was delivered with the Scamp for a pair of 210 amp hr Interstate GC2 batteries. We've had six years of excellent service from those batteries, but the calendar was telling us we'd certainly received our money's worth. With summer plans that include extended periods in solar challenged locations like Vancouver Island, it seemed appropriate to follow Jeff's lead and put in a pair of U.S. Battery 2200 232 ah batteries from The Battery Guy.

One of the things I've disliked about our gravel guard is the extra work to service the batteries, so this time I picked up the Pro-Fill onboard battery watering system from Flow-Rite.

The 'speed cap' assembly was removed from the batteries and replaced with the individual caps provided in the Pro-Fill set.

Each of the Pro-fill caps incorporates a hole in the top of the cap that accepts a fitting from the flexible manifold. The caps have float valves built into them so that if the fluid level in the battery cell is low, water can flow from the manifold, through the cap, into the cell. If the cell level is correct, the float valve closes off flow from the manifold.

It looks a bit busy! Positive is upper right, negative is upper center-left, and the tube to the fill point exits upper left.

The tube from the battery manifold terminates in a special fitting with a beefy rubber cover. This connector is now ty-wrapped to the frame under the battery box where it is out of the way, but accessible without removing the front cover of the gravel shield.

The hand pump is a separate component. In my case, I ended up buying it from a different Amazon vendor because of pricing.

One end of the hand pump assembly mates with the special connector on the end of the manifold tubing. The other end goes in a jug of distilled water.

I was really impressed with how easy the installation was, and even more so, how easy the system was to use. Should have done it years ago!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Last Little Bus Project

Jeff did some research (sometimes known as what would Technomadia do?) and selected the EezTire TPMS system for his rig. Initially, he was planning on the flow-through sensors but we ended up selecting the cap style sensor since they were notably smaller.

He decided that he wanted the system installed using the supplied vaccum mount so that there weren't any new holes added to the dash. The selected position keeps the sightlines to the mirror and the windshield clear.

We had a couple options for power, but wanted to avoid even more cigarette lighter style plugs with cords dangling around. The other option was to used the provided direct wiring cord. I just needed to find a source of keyed power so that the TPMS would be powered only when the ignition key was turned on.

I started at the fuse panel below the dash in the left front corner but bombed out on anything that was easily accessible. Finally found what I was looking for at the back of the radio override switch. This switch had a ground wire, several always hot wires, and one keyed power wire.

I got my work area set up. I discovered there are some advantages to having an inverter. Works great for when you need to power the soldering iron and don't want to start the noise maker. It's worth noting that Mickey D's iced coffee is essential fuel for this project!

I half stripped short sections of the ground and keyed power wires, and then soldered the lead that was provided with the TPMS system.

Some electrical tape on the connections, sliding the conduit back in position, and we were good to go.

The best part was that Jeff arrived just in time to deal with the wire routing behind the dash.

He was also responsible for taking us to the airport a couple hours before he picked up his family and started the first segment of their multi segment roadtrip to Alaska with their motorhome.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Power & Light

Time is running out to get all the projects done on Jeff's Vista, but the list is getting very short as well. One of the projects was to change the stock lights above the bed. The stock puck lights are powered through a single switch and point straight down which isn't very conducive to one person reading while the other tries to sleep. They got re-purposed for lighting in the rear luggage bay.

They were replaced with a couple flexible LED fixtures that we picked up in Quartzsite.

Like nearly all RVs today, the manufacturer seems to assume that you're going to be plugged in or willing to listen to a generator. This rig needed more 12 volt outlets to be functional for dry camping. Dual outlets were placed on each side of the bed pedestal. One outlet has two USB ports while the other outlet accepts a cigarette lighter style plug.

The project was relatively easy since the power converter lives in the same space. It was just a matter of taking the plywood cover off the top of the area behind the converter and the faceplate from the converter, drilling the holes for the outlets, and then running the wires.

I made it a point to run the wire more neatly than the factory wiring. Apparently they figure no one will ever look...

We were fortunately enough to have one empty slot on the 12 volt side, between the blue 15 amp and the brown 5 amp fuses. I picked up the positive feed there and installed a 10 amp fuse.

I was going to run the wire in a plastic conduit but the conduit I brought with me was too small so I used the same technique that the Scamp factory uses to route their wiring - it's tacked in place with hot glue. Both power and ground have a second pigtail soldered into the main lead about 10" back to feed the second outlet. The solder joint is then insulated with shrink tubing - blue because that was what I had in stock.

With these projects done, I think there's just one thing left on the list. I still need to install a power lead behind the instrument panel to power the TPMS system.