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My Toyota Motorhome


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  1. Well, I did a thing. I bought a 325watt solar panel. It was only $100! But....in all the excitement, i hadnt even considered how i was going to attach this thing to the roof of this 86 dolphin. The rig has one of those thin aluminum roofs with small wooden crossbeams underneath. Getting the solar panel to attach firmly without the wind ripping it off, and possibly the roof, at 60mph is the issue. I've looked into z brackets, but i dont think these alone will suffice. Also considered rails, but trying not to put a dozen holes in the roof for obvious reasons. After spinning over this for the past couple weeks, i figured id consult the wisdom of the forum. Thanks to everyone in advance! (p.s.) im budget oriented and will do the work myself, so costly solutions prolly wont do, thanks!)
  2. https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/415535706240251/?ref=search&referral_code=undefined These lithium batteries, charge controllers, inverters, and panels came popped up locally in southern oregon. I just happened to cash out some bitcoin i recently regained access to, so $1k is doable for us right now. I'm curious on any of yalls thoughts on this setup. much appreciated ahead of time. cheers, hagamuffn
  3. Hey everyone, thought I'd share some of the work my wife and I have been doing on our 4x4 Sunrader. We bought it in August 2017 in Bozeman, MT. We drove it around the west coast for a while and then made our way to Florida to begin a renovation on it. My wife and I have been living in a VW Vanagon for the last two years and decided to make the move to the Sunrader for the extra room, 4WD, Toyota reliability, and cheaper parts. We started the renovation at the beginning of November and are currently still working on it. We've heavily documented the process with photos, videos, and blog posts so I'll try not to be too redundant and post links here. I'll keep posting as we have more to show! Her name is Amelia and this was her before we started working on her. There's plenty more picture of her and her interior before we started the process over here: http://www.boundfornowhere.com/blog/2017/new-home-on-wheels Our goal was to start with a clean slate on renovation so we tore her down to the fiberglass and salvaged what we could. We found LOTS of dead mice in the walls which made us feel better about peeling back everything so we could get a fresh start. Here is a video of that process: We also cover it with some photos and writing in this blog post. This post also shows our first attempts at fiberglassing as we decided to teach ourselves. http://www.boundfornowhere.com/blog/build-out-week-1-2 I'll leave it at here for now. Don't want to overwhelm you with too much all at once. Be back soon with some more process. -MAK and Owen
  4. So on the front of most toyhomes you've got that clear window which in theory could let a lot of light in, but my thought was that it's prime real estate for a nice solar panel. On a dolphin I know it's a little bit curved and on a sunrader I know it aims forward more than out, but on the travelmaster it seems like the angle might be juuuuuust right....... anyone done this? have thoughts on this?
  5. Happy Friday - I installed a new fridge (Whynter FM45G) on my 1990 Toyota Itasca Spirit and hardwired it to the fuse box. Last night it was working for an hour as I continued to work on the rig until I called it a night. Woke up this morning and went out to go work on her some more and I noticed that all of the power that comes from the new fuse panel is dead. Since solar was added to the rig, there is a separate fuse box than the standard fuse panel located under the couch which takes care of all of the standard electrical this vehicle was originally equipped with. This new fuse box powers an inverter, mppt controller, 2 - 12 volt sockets, and now a fridge. The only thing that works on this new fuse box is the mppt charge controller, everything else is dead. I replaced all of the fuses to see if that would restore any of the power but nothing. Couldn't find any pinched wires that would short anything out. All of the original electrical the vehicle came equipped with is working (lights, stove fan, etc.) What could be the issue here?
  6. I just bought a 1986 Wanderlust from a generally unknowledgeable owner, who hardly used any aspect of the coach and had very little information to impart about its function. This was a bummer, as I haven't owned or operated an RV before and know very little as to the function of the electrical systems and appliances onboard. I've now done a bit of research, but still feeling a little stumped on a few things. Background info: it has 2 deep cycle batteries (which are pooched and I'm replacing), a few solar panels on the roof (45W total) with a Solar Charge Controller, there is also an inverter tucked away in a cupboard beside a big red switch that talks about inverters and backfeeding (see pic). My questions are: 1. When plugging in to the house 120V (or campground), do I need to do anything other than plugging it to get the resulting powering of the coach, and charging of the batteries? 2. I've been reading about converters when plugging into land power. Is this different than the solar charge controller? What does this look like? 3. When wanting to operate my 120V plugs in the coach, while not plugged in to a 120V land source, does the inverter (typically) need to be turned on? Are there other steps that need to happen so that I don't fry my electrical system/die a fiery death of avoidable mishaps? 4. How does "backfeeding" work with RVs? I've read about it when you're plugged into the grid using solar in a residential system, but not with RVs. Thats all for now, but I'm sure your answers will stir up more questions for me. Thank you in advance for all your help.
  7. I'll post some more pics when the engine is running we're very close to being done
  8. Hey all, just purchased 1990 Toyota v6 Motorhome, not sure on the RV manufacturer/model. Anyways it has 2, 100 watt solar panels feeding into 2 deep cycles then into an inverter. The batteries were reading 14v from my multi-meter and I'm thinking it was that high cause they were taking in a charge from the panels. The inverter is a Trace 2012SB and when I tap the power button twice I get nothing (i dug up the manual here http://www.xantrex.com/documents/Discontinued-Products/971-9901-03-01.pdf). This inverter is old AF (I think i saw an inspection note inside it saying 1991) and I think the company is long gone. Can't find any fuses on the sucker so no idea on that. Anyways what trouble shooting steps should I take here? Maybe I ought to just take this to an electronics shop and see if they can test it? Thoughts? Thanks.
  9. I just got a hundred watt solar panel, and am thinking of connecting it to a deep cycle battery--- an inverter, then into the electrical hook up, as to use all the existing wiring inside. Has anyone done this?
  10. This is a Renogy 100 watt kit. Under $200. I'm quite happy with the results, though I had to do some things to make it work better as a portable system. The main problem was that the wires from the battery and the solar panel had to be screwed into the controller. This would be fine for a nonportable setup but since I wanted to use it as a portable, it was too much work. It took too long and it was obvious that I would eventually strip the head slots on the set screws rendering the controller useless. Now the solar panel rides in the cab bed and it only takes about 5 minutes to get it working. The wires from the panel came with disconnects so I screwed them tightly into the controller and then squirted a bead of epoxy around each wire where they entered the controller. These wires are very stiff and would eventually work loose with movement without some serious stress relief. Hopefully they're attached permanently now. Then for the battery. I'd like to thank the person on this forum who pointed me to the needed quick disconnect. That's the little grey box in the picture. Actually I think I bought one size too big. But better too big than too small. For that I had to cut the battery wires and torch solder four connectors onto the wire ends. These connectors come with the the quick disconnect and snap into the gray box to provide good contact. If you do it right it is henceforth impossible to connect the battery with the wrong polarity. After soldering I snapped on the two halves of the gray plastic connectors. Then I tightened and epoxied the two short pieces of wire into the controller, making sure polarity was correct. After that it was simple to attach the the long wires onto the coach battery, again triple checking polarity. Now I just snap the disconnect together and I'm juiced. You have to connect the battery first with this solar controller. Then the panel or else it gets all confused. In the picture I have the controller hanging on the battery door with velcro tabs. I also have velcro on the back of the solar panel and that's where the controller rides when not being used. They give you a lot of wire with this kit and I can lean the panel anywhere around the Dolphin to get the best sun. I haven't had to deal with high winds yet. I might have to lay it flat on the ground for that. So this solved my main problem. Which is that I can't plug in where I park at home. I was lugging a generator up there and running it for a few hours. Now 3 or 4 hours of sun and I'm fully charged. The refrigerator is long gone out of my Dolphin and all I have is one of those 12 volt TE coolers. I've found that with the solar and a couple jugs of frozen water, I can boondock all weekend and everything is still cold. If I unplug the cooler at night. Those TE 12 volt coolers are better than an ice chest but the problem is that they run constantly. I hope to be able to afford a regular 12 volt refrigerator by next year. I've heard that the 12v. refrigerators actually use much less battery than the coolers because they shut themselves off. I know that a propane refrigerator is the best way to go but like I said that's long gone. The vents are boarded up, I'd need a new propane line. Maybe in the distant future. Too many other things to fix first. So this old man is happy with his first solar project. It's like magic to me.
  11. My apologies in advance if this topic has already been discussed to death My wife and I have been live-aboard cruisers on our 37' sailboat for the last 8 years. We bought a Toyota motorhome last summer and are doing a few things to make our lives "aboard" easier. We have really liked our 12vdc refrigeration on the boat for many reasons. We're beginning to look at changing from our old and tired propane / AC refrigeration to a 12vdc system. We'd be interested to hear of any real-world experience any of you might have regarding using 12vdc refrigeration in a Toyota RV. We already have 2 120w solar panels, a Frigiboat compressor (we'd need to add the fan cooling add-on to the compressor), and a pretty good sized evaporator. Here are a few of the many thoughts we've been tossing around: - The boat has a house bank of 6 Trojan T-105 golf cart batteries for a total of 675w of 12vdc power. I won't even consider using this much storage on the RV due to the weight, so I'll need to come up with a reasonable compromise. - Our most desirable camp sites tend to be in the shade. - On the boat, we'd often sail for days on a passage and the panels and wind generator would keep the batteries charged (unless we had to run the water maker and the sun wasn't out). This included the additional loads for navigation equipment, radios, and nighttime running lights. - Our fridge on the boat ran at about a 1/3 duty cycle, drawing about 40 amp hours per day. However, we should be able to build a better insulated efficient top opening fridge than the one on the boat. It will fit in the same or less space than the current 120vac / propane fridge. - We'll be running the engine in the RV more often than we did on the boat, so the alternator will take care of some or most of the charging load except when we stay in one place for a while. ... and so on.
  12. I'm the guy who can't plug in at my house cause I gots to park across the street. I'm also the guy recovering from two broken ankles. So I still hadn't even dewinterized. And the battery was way down. So I pushed the button on Amazon for the Renogy 100w kit. When it came I got the kid to carry the panel up and I got a chair and wired it up. Worked right off, the inside battery monitor was showing about 13.9v. Let it go all day, moved it around three times to get the rays. Then I took it apart and put the panel in the cab bed. Using it as a portable is kind of a pain cause you have to mount and screw in the four wires to the controller each time and they can be a little finicky. A jack system would be nice. Still easier than hauling the generator and dealing with gas and such. Anyway the next morning I went up and the battery was reading 12.7 so I thought that was cool, it was full. But just for the heck of it I hooked it up again and this time the green light was flashing which is supposed to mean over voltage. The inside monitor was showing 14.8v. So I unhooked it. So now I'm not sure if everything is all right or not. I'm going to wait till the battery gets down to 12.2 and hook it up again and see what happens. Meanwhile I pumped two tankfuls of water to flush and bleach the water system and the battery is still showing 12.5v, so it did a good job charging it. We will see, but I'm quite happy so far. We're going on our first trip next week. I'm going to go hobble around Pymatuning Lake. It's a plug in so I'm not going to take the panel. I got it for home and the boondocking places. Maybe someday I'll permanently mount it, after I get the more important things done. Have a good weekend.
  13. I am new here and I am looking to hook up solar to a 1989 Odyssey that I just bought. We are hoping to do some serious boondocking in this rig and want to be as 'off-grid' as we can. As I have been trying to learn about different solar units that I can hook up permanently on the roof, I have come across these peel and stick (made by Unisolar). For me there are a few appeals to the peel and stick. Installation seems MUCH easier and straight forward. There are not mounting holes. It just seems pretty nice to peel and stick. Also, it seems like this would be MUCH more "wind resistance friendly". I can only imagine that there is a big difference in the aerodynamics going on. BUT, I don't really know what I am talking about! I want to ask you! What is the difference? What are the pros? The cons? How does this compare to other models? What do you recommend for what we have going? Thanks for the help! Here are links to products that I have been looking at: Standard panels: http://www.ebay.com/itm/30W-50W-70W-80W-100W-Watt-Poly-Crystalline-Solar-Panel-PV-18V-RV-Motorhome-Boat-/321018505264?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&var=&hash=item4abe31a830 Flexible (peel and stick) panels: http://www.amazon.com/Unisolar-Flexible-Solar-Panel-Laminate/dp/B006EP6MCU/ref=sr_1_1?s=automotive&ie=UTF8&qid=1415303023&sr=1-1&keywords=unisolar+solar+panel
  14. We will be installing 3 100W solar panels on the roof of our new 86 Dolphin. Panels are 47"x21". Each panel comes with 4 brackets and each bracket has 2 holes. It means drilling 24 holes if I go simple way. Seems kind of a lot. Any alternatives? Maybe I could get two aluminum rails and install them parallel with just 4 holes in total. Then mount the panels on two rails. How do you find the best place to drill in the roof? The top layer of the Dolphin roof is aluminum, or am I wrong? Maybe somebody can advice what is the sandwich of the roof? Is it wooden beams-plywood-aluminum? Thanks a lot for any advice.
  15. My girlfriend and I decided to buy an old, beat up, 1985 Toyota Dolphin and redo the inside so we could live in it full time and try to drive to Chile from the USA. We added 2x100w solar panels with controller, a roof box for additional storage, custom welded bike rack, repainted the entire interior, rebuilt the entry step, laminate (hard wood look alike) flooring, bulldozed a bathroom wall for storage, new counter tops, leaf spring helpers for ground clearance, transmission cooler, and I rebuilt the top half of the engine due to oil smoke. I'm sure there's a ton of stuff I'm forgetting... oh ya, the door fell off at one point and I had to reframe it. I have the description and photos on my blog here. http://www.followthewind.net/the-dolphin/ Update 3/6/14 - We got in a car crash outside Tepic, Mexico. Poor girl got T-boned badly. But...we're going to rebuild her again with the help of a carpenter. Should have pictures of the damage on the blog soon. We're very sad about our beloved Dolphin but aren't willing to give up on her yet!! http://www.followthewind.net/blog/2014/3/7/oyota-dolphin-accident-mexico
  16. Does anyone have any experience with solar panels on a pop top? I have a 76 chinook that I would like to put a couple small solar panels on but I'm concerned about the added weight causing issues with raising and lowering the roof. Any thoughts?
  17. Hello, I just found and purchased my '84 Dolphin after looking and admiring for a couple years. I am very excited. It is awesome to see an active and supportive community around Toyota RVs. As I begin the long process of refining and restructuring the Dolphin, I have a couple questions that could guide my energy and time in productive ways. Please excuse me if these are dumb or misguided questions: 1. Does the radio in the truck cab run on the engine battery or the deep cycle battery when the ignition is set to accessory? If it runs on the engine battery, has anyone converted this to run on the deep cycle? 2. I have friend of a friend who has a large solar array which was used on another RV for sale. Is there a way to wire the solar battery/converter into the 110 V system to power the interior outlets in the coach (which I traced wire around enough to think they run on the 110 V system only)? Thanks so much.
  18. I'm getting a good deal on this setup $60 and giving guy a new invertor remote switch.. has any one used one of these setup? Thunderbolt is new name for the Harbor Freight same setup http://www.harborfreight.com/solar-panel-kit-45-watt-68751.html
  19. From the album: Skydancer's 91 Warrior

    Arrives in a roll. Cost was $99 plus $12 shipping from Solar Blvd.
  20. Just bought my first Dolphin. A '92 900 moldel with 77k. The refrigerator isn't working on either 110v or propane and I'm going to look into that but meanwhile I'm wondering if anyone has gone completely away from these in favor of more modern low-e refers running off the battery? I have a friend who did this (not in the context of an RV, think solar powered kegerator). Any thoughts or advice would be welcomed.
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