Christmas & New Years Remodel

Friday, 04 February 2011 – By Bernie

Well, it is a bit cold for this time of year for Phoenix. It has to be at least 60 degrees to work with fiberglass, so I am just going to make some changes and additions on the inside of the van so at least I get something done, so no solar panel install at this time. Here is the result from the last time I was working in my bedroom.

The inverter is on the one wall. I have already been working today by running the amp power wire to the amps, and the monster speaker wire from the amp to where the speakers will be. The blue wire on the left of the pic is the power wire and the brownish colored wire on the right is the speaker wire going to the speakers. It is always best to try and keep power wires separate from your speaker wires.

Look at that nasty weather. Looks like a good day to stay in the bedroom for sure. So lets get to work, shall we?

I headed on down to Home Depot to pick me up some goodies. I got a sheet of plywood so I can build a battery box, some receptacles, boxes, wire and not sure what all. I measured the area I have under the bed and then I went to the Internet to check out the size of the batteries I want to add.

With all the research and some input from other people, I have went ahead and passed on the 2 monster sealed batteries for a replacement of the wet cell 6 volt Trojan T-105’s. However, I will have to have a way to air out the box when the gas is put off that the batteries produce while charging. So, we will start with a full sheet of plywood and make a box.

The dimensions was easy at Home Depot. I had the guy cut the full sheet in half giving me 2 4′ X 4′ sections. I had one section cut length wise into 4 12″ X 4′ sections. Easy to do, and easier to transport. Once I got home I then cut them down from the 48″ length. According to my measurements I got from the Internet about the batteries, this box should hold 8 Trojan T-105’s.

I was thinking that if I got a bigger class C someday, this box could be moved right over there and be done. If that does not happen, then I am guessing that 4 batteries are going to be plenty and I will someday be cutting down this beautifully constructed box. That is really going to hurt!

Below is the start of what I have so far. I used a 2 X 2 for extra strength on the construction. I used screws and liquid nails to hold it together and to keep a good seal. Once the box was all put together, I went around the entire inside with silicone to make sure it was a truly sealed box so no gas would escape.

Here is a pic of those wonderful liquid nails in a tube. Just gotta love this stuff.

Lookie there, looks like a completed box. I also bought foam strip padding stuff that you put around a door to keep out the cold. I will put that right on top of the 2 X 2 boards and then screw the lid down for a really nice tight seal.

There is my battery box at home right under my bed. I do not have the exhaust part hooked up yet, and I do have a 12 Volt exhaust fan to take care of the gas fumes. I will update all that when I finally get some batteries and all. Right now, all the money is gone, so I have no power what so ever. I am just freezing up here in Prescott. My only light source is the hand held rechargeable LED light you see above next to my friendly liquid nails.

Hey, lookie there! There is those huge subs with their umbilical cord hooked up to them from the stereo amp above! Cool, how did that happen? Looks like things are fitting just nice. The black box you see to the far right is where the permanently mounted propane tank lives.

OK, lets move on to some electrical changes & additions. Here is a standard metal electrical box used in homes. Plastic is normally used, but I did not have the correct construction to nail one in, so I went with the metal ones as I can use the tabs you see to screw it in the new hole I just created. I can also screw them together as you will see below.

Ah, there we go, 3 wide! This is where my 3 new switches are going to live. The power will come directly from the inverter to this box. The 3 switches will turn on or off 3 different plug in receptacles.

1) My little heater I bought. ( See Pic Below)
2) Fridge
3) Microwave

Here is that cute little heater next to my phone and knife to get an idea of the small size.

Since the plug in is going to be on the back side of these boxes, I just screwed them together to come up with a 6 way extravaganza! Looks like everyone is getting along so far.

Alright, time to insert in the new hole and get this wiring show on the road. Oh no, that idea is out the window. With the sink and box location, my 6er hit the bottom of the sink. Hum, looks like we will have to unscrew this whole lalapoloza and do it on a “Step Down” style. I did not want to do this, as it leaves the wires out in the open. Anyway, for now, this is how it is going to stay.

OK, so how are we going to hook the wires, where and why. Hey, good question. I just did most of the wiring in my current home and worked with it a bit on other projects, so lets get on with this explanation. Disclaimer: I am not a certified electrician. If you do something to get shocked, electrocuted or burn your house or mobile casa to the ground, don’t blame me! You are using this info at your own risk and not mine! Got It? Good.

Lets start with our standard 12/2 wiring. I used my special little handy dandy wire strippers to strip the wire off the ends of the 12/2 wire and then used needle nose pliers to make the nice little curly’s on the end.

Now lets install the wire to a receptacle. I have already installed the black wire on the opposite side of the receptacle. The hot wire is the wire that goes on the “Short Slit” of the 110v receptacle. If you don’t know what I am saying here, then you better read the whole article before trying this yourself, or just let someone else do it for you. The black hot wire is kept away from the neutral and the ground wire, which are together on this side of the receptacle.

To install the wires so the hook does not spread and go everywhere, put the wire on as you see it because we are going to be turning the screw clockwise. It does not matter which of the 2 screws you use for the neutral, as they are both connected. Just don’t connect the neutral to the green screw, as that is for the ground. Remember green for grass, grass and ground go together. Once done, it should look something like the pic below.

Here is a pic of those handy dandy wire strippers. These things make the job so much easier and quicker. Since I am using 12/2 wire, I put the wire in the 12 gauge slot, clamp down and presto, out pops that bare wire. You will be an expert with this in no time!

OK, lets get on to some of the grounding I was doing. If you do not have a good ground, then nothing is going to work. So, lets be a bit redundant on this, shall we?

1) This was the original grounding point on the driver side of the vehicle. It is mounted on a tab that is welded to the fender well.

2) This is the original bare wire that went to the original ground tab on the fender well.

3) This is the extra grounding tab I added. Yes, I got it from Home Depot.

4) This wire is going to the passenger side to another ground. See picture below.

5) This wire is going above to the original fuse panel. I added another grounding block there as well. Sorry, no pic.

You will also see the water hook up when you are sitting in a camp ground. This will bypass the need to use the 12 volt water pump.

OK, now we are on the passenger side. There were a lot of changes going on over here, so lets take it step by step.

1) The white wire was the original grounding wire that hooked up to the converter that I removed and went down and hooked to the frame of the van. The converter takes the 110V electricity from the campground and reduces it to 12v. The 12v power took care of the roof vent fan, fridge, interior lights and 12v water pump. Since I am using batteries, that produce 12v anyway, I do not need the converter taking up space and adding weight, so I took it out and put it in the trailer for now.

2) The fuse panel that is now on the wall was mounted on the floor taking up space and just waiting to be mashed. Took a while to get all the wires rerouted so I could put it on the wall. They were all under the water drain pipe coming from the sink. Also, the ground coming from the fuse panel to the wheel well did not look at that big and dependable to me, so I added a nice big ground there as well.

3) This is the nice big ground I added to the original fuse panel. It goes to the original white wire ground that is hooked to the frame of the van. I am not sure what you call this special electrical clamp, but it has joined the original white ground wire with the wire going to the fuse box and the ground wire (#4) that goes back over to the driver side of the van and is grounded again. Hum, think we are grounded good enough yet?

4) This is the ground that goes back to the driver side to be grounded again.

5) Fuse panel after being moved from off the floor to now being on the wall in a much safer place.

The yellow wire is the 12/2 wire that is coming down from the 6 way lalapolusa that I installed from above. I have not cut the wire until I get the batteries installed and everything is exactly where it needs to be. This 12/2 wire will be plugged directly into the inverter.

Once everything is in its home for good, I will run a hot 12v wire over to the newly positioned fuse panel on the wall and everything in my hose will work, uh, if we keep our fingers and toes crossed!

Want to see the inverter and charge controller in it’s current home? Yeah, we will see if it all stays here, but I think it is looking pretty good for now. You are looking at the front of the bed from the living room. The brown carpet square you see there is the kitchen drain running over to the black holding tank.

Here is the finished bedroom. The inverter is just under the front of the bed out of sight with this picture. Man, does that look cozy and comfy? Yeah, it is, I can tell you from experience. However, it would be a whole lot better if I had that 12v heating pad that goes under your bed and the heat comes up and with a working heater to knock out the chill in the mornings and at night. Oh, and I still have not got my curtain remounted after replacing the wall on the passenger side. It was getting a bit on the wore out side, should we say!

Now that we have a few electrical and grounding basics out of the way, lets get back to the “Sound Therapy” install. Yeah, I sure need some of this. Here we are looking at the back corner in my bedroom. This is on the passenger side of the van. I just could not get a hole saw the exact size I needed, so I just did the best I could with what I had cutting that hole.

Also, since this paneling is rather thin, I opted to bolt in my speakers in hope that I won’t find them laying on my bed after a “Sound Therapy” session. Know what I mean? 750 RMS Watts should be able to be “Felt” as well. If not, then I have room for expansion!

Here we are on the drivers side in my bedroom. I replace the paneling on this side as well. It was not in the best of shape. You can see the difference. No big deal. I did replace the passenger side wall, but I did not want to take all the time to replace this wall at this time. Perhaps later.

Here we have the cross over and tweeter “Bolted” to the wall. I used those nuts that have the plastic ring thing in them so they just don’t loosen up on ya. If they do, I will put some JB Weld or something on them. Hum, looks like the bolts are to long, eh? No problem, that is what a hack saw is for. A few strokes and they are a custom fit.

The finished look, on the passenger side. Hum, looks pretty good, eh? Did I do that?

Lets move up to the office. Yeah, the driving quarters of this time machine. Look at that bare naked door. Man, we have go to do something about that. However, the hole is about the right size for the woofer, so lets see what we can do.

Yeah, that was quick and easy, eh? Custom fit all the way. I again “Bolted” the cross over electronic box and tweeter in, but the speaker is screwed in. Not much to hook a bolt to with how things where cut and constructed. If you was wondering, yes, this is the drivers side.

So, how do I turn on and off those monster amps? Well, there is a feature that you can run your remote wire from your CD/Tape deck back to the amps that will automatically turn them on and off when you turn on the radio. I don’t really want to do it that way, so I have created a couple of custom switches just for that purpose.

I went to Radio Shack and bought 4 switches and 2 speaker receptacle hook up thing-a-ma-bobs. They look just like what you see below. I don’t have my dremel with me, as it is in IN, so I got out my vice grip pliers and gently went to work. For now, it will have to do, so I will finish tweaking these switch holders later.

Wanna rear view?

Here is the temporary finished product.

Lets get them installed and see how things are going to look. Well, first of all, I had to cut the hole bigger for both switches to fit. Geez, can’t I ever get anything to fit straight? Oh well. Just don’t look to hard!

The panel on the left is for the 2 amps. I can turn each one on separately and use which ever one I want. For most cases, I will want to “Feel” my music, so I am guessing that both will be on most of the time.

The panel on the passenger side is for my LED lights I bought. That experiment has not gone as planned, but it will, soon. I have 2 strands of LED lights, so I have a switch for each.

Hey look, it is a steamy 58 degrees outside and a nice warm 78 in the house. What a day!

The switch below the new switches I installed turns my EQ on and off.

So, how do you keep all these wires straight? Hum, good question. However, I do like to know I have good strong connections so I bought a battery powered soldering iron. Runs on 4 AA Batteries.

OK, here are those wonderful LED Light Strans. They run on 3 AA Batteries. Hey, what a deal.

I got a blue one.


And a white one.

I did an experiment with this 12v power reducer and it worked just as planned.

Check out the results below. There is plenty of light in there to see everything and to even do some reading. What a deal.

However, the plan did not pan out. I cut the wires off of the battery boxes and installed them on my switches. There was a feature on the battery box that would allow the lights to stay on, or to flash. I did not care about all that. I just want them on. I guess that switch did other things as well, as they do not work now. I have tried soldering the wires back on, but I may have them on the wrong areas. So, if you try this, just hook the wire from the 12v reducer to the wires where the batteries go and just leave the box and switch intact.

Hopefully, these lights are still good. I will just have to buy another set to see how they are wired to the box and try again, or find someone knowledgeable with electronics to give me a hand on this boo boo. It is such a bummer, as I drilled some holes for these guys and put in a lot of “eye hooks” to hold them in place.