2012-03-11 Van Improvements -and- Correction of Battery Wiring

2012-03-11 Sunday.
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Van construction – (1) wall board between van fiberglass insulation wall and bed, and (2) boards to hold microwave to top of refrigerator. <NOTE: An out-of-scope project, that evolved, was to repair my electrical battery connections that did NOT have fuses, with 4 in-line 30-amp fuses.>

My older son, Joe, agreed to help me with a couple of van upgrades that I was reluctant to do myself. He came home on Sunday afternoon and we unpacked ALL of my STUFF from the van so that we could
(1) put a white wall board behind the driver side in front of the fiberglass insulation and (2) install a couple of cut 2″x4″ boards on top of the refrigerator to hold the microwave on top. (Note: I had driven the van without a tie-down on the microwave and on a sharp turn, the microwave fell on the carpet.)
After we removed all of the things out of the van, he cut the white wall board over the wheel well and gas tank pipe and we installed the bed against the board to press the insulation. Yes, I know, the insulation is less efficient when pressed – but, I need the aisle space. In addition to installing the wall board, Joe nailed the bed to the floor at the front and back posts.
Then, he asked about the battery and my wiring. I showed him the battery and he didn’t like my wiring AT ALL. I got a long lecture about how DANGEROUS my wiring was and he disconnected all of my electrical house equipment. When I worked on the wiring a while back, I couldn’t get the boat panel with fuses to work – so, I wired the reading 12-volt lamp, 2 dome lights, and the house radio to the battery. He was UPSET with me because I had NO FUSES for the case of wires breaking. I honestly didn’t realize that it was as dangerous as he told me – but, I’m just learning and am glad that he caught my error. We didn’t have any inline fuses, so he took a bare 30-amp fuse and soldered tails to both ends. Then, he crimped the wires from my 12-volt electrical house things to one end and attached the other end of the fuse to the battery. I always ‘test’ new wires and I turned on the light at the rear of the van. The light flickered on and then off. I knew that something was wrong, but re-wiring was ‘out-of-scope’ for the work planned for today. We continued on with the cutting of boards for the top of the refrigerator to hold the microwave. Joe hadn’t eaten much before coming to my house. For lunch, I had eaten a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich – so, I asked him if he would like one. He said ‘yes’ so I had a loaf of really good multi-grain bread and homemade apple jelly as well as organic peanut-butter. Good stuff – makes great sandwiches. Especially when you are hungry.
Back to the project, he finished and helped load the items back into the van. I was tired and decided that I would re-sort items inside tomorrow. He left and I was really happy to have accomplished all that we had today. I plan to go on a trip to Copperhill, TN at the end of the month and meet with the Yahoo Vandwellers_Construction Group.
The next day, I re-organized the interior and pondered more about the light that didn’t work. I checked the radio and other lights, and they didn’t work either. Then, I checked the fuse that Joe installed for me and it had a broken wire on the inside. Ah Ha! Blown fuse. I decided to remove the one fuse and install 4 in-line fuses. That way, if any of my 4 devices had an issue, I would know which one it was since the fuse for it would be blown. I live near a Harbor Freight Store and was surprised to find out that they sell fuses, but not fuse holders. Next, I went to Auto Zone and bought 4 in-line fuse holders that contained the 30-amp fuses. I had the other materials that I would need – so I thought. I disconnected the fuse that Joe installed, I opened the in-line fuses (cost about $2.99 each) and found the #12 wire size plastic-covered wire-crimping holders. UG – I don’t have #12 wire size plastic covered U-shaped terminals to screw into the battery post extender. Trip to nearby Lowe’s and back home with that U-shaped terminals as well as fertilizer, herb seeds, plastic-covers for utility room outlets, a 20-cup water filter system, some 2.5″ and 3″ screws to replace the ones that were used yesterday. Back to the project – I installed the fuses and took pictures of my NEW in-line FUSED battery connections and the inverter on top of the batteries. The batteries are in plastic, black boxes with covers and the inverter (Aimes 1200) sits on a shelf board on top of the batteries. I DO LOVE MY electrical system. It makes camping much more comfortable. Hopefully, I am now MUCH SAFER. (I am putting all of this information on my blog so that others who may want to install their own electrical system can learn from my mistakes and be safe with theirs. Please let me know if this information has been helpful.)

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