When I had the idea that an RV would be a way to escape Tucson summer heat, I was focussing on what using it might do for me. It turns out that, so far, owning the thing has provided great pleasure. It's this huge, glorious, multifaceted toy. A bit scary at times, but even in a few short weeks I'm getting more confident in my ability to deal with what problems there are and to imagine ways to improve the Beast to make it better for me. It's just like a house, that way.
So I've learned a lot. The shop drawings I got from a guy on eBay were incomprehensible at first, but now that I'm learning how to read them, they're useful and even interesting. I'm lucky enough to have inherited manuals for all the components of the thing -- the furnace, the hot water heater, the air conditioner, the awning... The last post documents not just this but that I had to acquire an illuminated magnifying glass to read the fine print. Sometimes all there is, is fine print!
My major focus since the shakedown cruise has been the electrical system. More specifically, the fact that when the thing is plugged in to external power ("shore power") it wasn't charging the battery which provides 12V power to most of the appliances in the "coach." Lights, the exhaust fan over the stove, the tv, the water pump (!), the starter motor for the generator... And so as I used those things in one overnight camp, I simply depleted the battery. The "Deep Cycle Marine" battery, whatever that means.
It looks like the problem is that the converter -- the unit which converts 120VAC power to 12V DC and charges the battery while doing so -- seems to be losing its mojo. Instead of providing the 14.1 volts it should to charge the battery, the best it can muster is 7.4. So, I seem to need a new converter.
How do I know what a converter even is? How do I know where to get one? How do I know what the proper voltages are? How do I get the courage to believe I can install one myself?
The internet, of course. We all know how important the internet is. But this has been my wake-up call to just how crucial it is. Google, Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, a couple of blogs, a Yahoo group, a message board, email. I would not have found the Beast, or know what to do about problems, or where the nearest free dump station is, or where the good campsites are in Utah, or just which Walmarts will let you camp overnight in their parking lots while passing through. Where the cheapest gas is wherever I am. What services are available at the next exit, where the next rest area is, where I am and how to get where I'm going.
Amazing. Simply amazing. And how much I take it for granted, until I think abut it.