After researching and posting the depressing, infuriating GYN cancer statistics yesterday, I think it’s time for a day off from #GynCAN to get back to happier stuff we’d much rather post and read about…pretty pictures and RV mods!
I’m preparing to shove off today from my summertime roost in Chicago and start my journey West. When fog starts covering the prairie at night, it’s a sure sign that cooler temperatures are on their way.
So it’s time to start flapping my wings to head to warmer temps to maintain my year-round “80 degree sunny” days! I sure will miss this prairie…
The past week has been filled with finishing up some final projects and updates to the RV. First, my sister Holley delivered my fabulous new dinette cushions!
She basically took the old J-bed foam, striped fabric, and zippers and we added some new monotone fabric for the seats. Ever wonder what the original J-bed “frame within the mattress” looked like? Well here it is:
Once Holley wrangled the frame out, she was able to reuse the foam for the new dinette seat cushions. In addition to thicker foam, the new dinette benches also now have some “spring” to them rather than just the OEM solid piece of plywood.
I bought a set of Luroy twin bed slats from IKEA (for a measly $30!), divided them in half so I’d have slats for each bench, and then had Mike cut me 4 small boards from 1/2” plywood (as the original Winnie framing did not cover each corner of the dinette and was not quite wide enough for the slats).
When the slats are laid out over the base, I now have a dinette cushion with some “spring” to it. It’s a definite improvement in comfort!
The next project was to replace my “Skinnie Solar” rooftop panels. While the 300-watt Renogy bendable system had started out so good last September, and did great over the Winter and into the Spring….
Once my RV sat in storage for June and July under the hot Chicago sun (with the panels not having much to charge each day), the 90-degree heat got the best of them. Even though I had installed them to allow for some airflow underneath each panel, the rear panel backing just was not thick enough to deal with the summertime heat buildup from the solar cells. Thankfully, I had used 3M ClickLock (rather than glue and caulk), so that de-installation was a fast and easy job. But, wow, what a mess underneath (where the panels actually burned some “shadows” onto my fiberglass roof).
I still had one unused bendable panel in my cargo bay, so it was easy to test each rooftop panel against a “norm.” The rooftop panels (one on the left) showed some graying of its top plastic cover after a year, but the biggest culprit was that they no longer generated any amps or maintained a consistent voltage (readings on the failed panels would vary wildly from 5 to 11 volts in full sun, whereas the unused panel generated 20 volts consistently).
So, I hoped for the best as I called Renogy to request a warranty claim. To my great relief and delight, their Tech Support and Customer Service folks were all outstanding.
They admitted that they were now hearing of many bendable panel failures from this past summer, and they even had now stopped selling them temporarily until a revised design can be completed and tested in the coming months.
As they had no current bendable replacement panels to ship me, Customer Service offered to give me a 100% refund of my purchase price, or ship me replacement “traditional” panels. They also sent boxes and a shipping label to return the old panels back to them. Impressive! Way beyond my expectations!
I decided to have them send me 2 traditional panels and refund me the balance. Since traditional panels weigh about 18 lbs each (with mounting hardware) vs. the 4 lbs each for bendables, I didn’t want to add any more weight to my rig than I had to.
So, I decided to buy the pricey AM Solar mounts and tilt bars to make these 200 rooftop watts as efficient as possible, and if they’d still ever even more of a boost at times, I’d add my remaining 100-watt bendable panel to the mix as a portable.
I’ve now updated My Solar page to show the new panel installation and new AM Solar mounts. Hoping this “Version 2.0” will now last me a good long time!