Solar Test Coming Up
Originally posted 1/23/2013
Along with unusually warm weather (highs in the upper 70s) for the next couple of days here in Quartzsite AZ, the skies are expected to be pretty well overcast until next Wednesday. Rain may come Friday and again Monday.
That means I won’t be running the desktop computer much, since it’s the heaviest draw on the office battery pack. The CPAP battery won’t care much, because that device pulls so little power anyway. What will be interesting to see (in a nerdy kind of way) is how the house batteries fare. The house batteries, two ordinary ol’ flooded marine-type “deep cycle” hybrids, are the least robust cells in the place, and power interior lights, water pump, and ignitions for the propane refrigerator and the water heater. I’ll be wanting to measure their voltage as time goes on in order to see what their limit for this kind of prolonged cloudy weather is.
The water pump started acting up yesterday, running nonstop as if it were trying to keep up with an open faucet or a bad pipe leak. It started running on its own for no reason, and kept going, so I turned it off at its main switch. I’m glad I was home, since it could take the house batteries down fairly quickly. After awhile, I turned it back on and it recovered, holding pressure and turning itself off. I figured that perhaps there was grit in the water jamming a valve open, except that I’ve added a mesh filter to its oncoming line, so that shouldn’t be the problem. A second, more prolonged occurrence later concerned me, so I looked over the troubleshooting section of the installation manual. The most likely solution there by far seemed to be to replace the valve unit with a new one.
I had no intention of replacing/repairing anything unless this intermittent problem decided to go full-time though, since the water tank is currently full and difficult to drain, the problem is still intermittent, and breaking into any system with fluid in it is, in my case, usually tempting fate. On the other hand, should this issue decide to get serious while I’m boondocking for almost two months on my slow return to the Midwest, that would be no time to have the water system out of action and be hundreds of miles from a parts source. Time to implement the Boy Scout motto.
Fortunately, this pump is the most common Shurflo model made, and a bike trip to the local RV store showed that the proper valve replacement kit, a soft silicone plate with large flapper valves, was $40. Ow. I’d been hoping for something more like $12.99. Just below it on the shelf, the same model pump, complete and ready to swap in, sold for $70. I would have much preferred to save the thirty bucks, but I ultimately decided that in a worst-case scenario, it’d be better to use the nuclear solution and be done with it, than doing piecemeal fixes and hoping for the best. There happened to be another guy next to me also looking over pump parts, and it turned out that he just came from the Big Tent show. Oh yes, the Show, and Show Specials! That hope was dashed when he told me that he had just been to a large display of Shurflo products, but hadn’t seen anything on display for less than a hundred bucks. It only had all the more feature-laden models. Damn. So I antied up for the $70 pump and now have it stowed away and ready to be swapped in on demand. Lifespan? These things are warrantied for two years. That’s good, and my existing pump has only been replaced once since 1994. Then again, this travel trailer has had little use in its eighteen years, so anything goes, now that I’m full-timing in it. I’ll probably get closer to two years’ use than I will nine.