Hi folks, just a quick update that all is well. I’ve been focused on my house and letting summer come and go. I’m planning on going camping in September so I’ll be working on some minor things here in the next few weeks. I’ll post more when I start working on it again.
There are a bunch of articles on the web for how to do WiFi while camping. I’ve come up with my own solution that works great and costs around $100. Fair warning it does require some technical know-how to set it up.
Ubiquiti makes some great WiFi gear that you can get on Amazon.
I use their AirGateway Pro to create a local 2.4 WiFi access point for my the devices in my coach and around it. This device has far exceeded my expectations and is pretty easy to configure if you understand networking.
I couple that with a NanoStation Loco. This is a directional amplified antenna with a built in access client all powered by POE. This device can sign in to another WiFi Network and share it with the Airstation. It comes with a POE injector that will power the AirStation and the Nano Loco.
The only drawback is mounting it, but they make a suction cup window mount for the Nano Station. It’s a little clunky and takes some tinkering to get it right…. but it does work.
The key to this is configuring your IP addresses. It helps to map it out on paper. It’s well beyond the scope of a post on my blog to teach networking for nested networks. It is important to pick an address range that the host campground or other wifi source will not be using.
As an example, I might set the NanoLoco to use an internal IP of 10.90.200.254
I would set the AirGateway to use a WAN/External IP of 10.90.200.253
and an internal IP of 10.90.201.254.
I would then set a DHCP Range of 10.90.201.1-10.90.201.200. This leaves 201 through 253 for “static” devices and is more than plenty for a motorcoach.
I’d set an appropriate netmask.
You need to configure the NanoLoco first, and then the AirGateway behind it. When completed you should be able to access the NanoLoco while connected via physical wire or wifi to the AirGateway.
It is necessary to login to the NanoLoco to pick the wifi network you want to connect or bridge to and provide any wifi password etc.
The benefit to doing this is that my devices are behind my firewall (AirGateway) and I don’t have to mess with new IP’s and logins for my iPad, iPhone, computer, etc in my coach. The Nano Loco will “pull in” a otherwise weak signal and the AirGateway is strong enough to pick up anywhere in the coach or around the coach. The net result is reliable WiFi.
I finally got the D19 ball joints installed. There were 10 of them and with a helper I was able to dismount and remount the doors. This restores functionality to all 6 luggage bay doors.
I still need to convert the ball joints on the tie-rods for each luggage bay door, but at least this part is done.
I also reconnected my mid-ship marker lights which are integrated into the doors.
I’ve been working on the coach here and there making great progress. I have installed track lights in the parlor/dining and bath areas. The track light fixtures have arrived and are installed.
I stopped in the bedroom because the wiring is really funky. It originally had Phillips Capri lighting which is commercial/industrial. It’s capable of 240v but it was mostly being used to provide multiple switch points. I can’t obtain fixtures for it so I’m scrapping it. I’m planning to rework and simplify the lighting while I’m at it. There are things going on that I think are just stupid, so now is a good time to rework them.
I’ve also been working on the luggage bay doors. Mike over at Strut-Your-Stuff was being plagued by over-agressive spam filtering and not getting my emails. We finally worked that out and he was able to get me the replacement struts for the luggage bays, access doors and engine door. The engine door wound up being custom, but they should be here shortly.
I had a hell of a time installing the gas springs that counterbalance the luggage doors. I wound up using a piece of unistrut, a 2×4 and a ratchet strap. Between the 3 of those I was able to pry and coax each strut into position. Some of the old ones aren’t bad, but I can’t tell by looking which ones are good and which ones aren’t. As part of replacing all the ball joints I’m going to go ahead and replace the gas-springs. It’s expensive, but it will put this behind me and let me move on.
Today I managed to get the first door completely retrofitted. I’m still waiting on D14 ball joints from Germany to arrive. I had one pair that I ordered as a test set. I had to take one off and put the door on and then reattach the ball stud to the door. The moment of truth was raising and lowering the door. It worked great which was a big relief.
One of my other upgrades this week was to replace the dysfunctional power gauges with an electronic volt/amp meter. I’ll eventually have two of them so I can monitor both legs. The original was monitoring the Neutral leg and my spot checks with a clamp handheld meter showed this to be inaccurate. I ordered this on eBay or AliExpress for $8.58 back in January with the intent to use it on the generator. It looks great on the power panel. I’ll eventually need to rework the panel with mountings for all the gauges. For now this is what it looks like:
I like being able to see my current pull at a glance and to verify that voltage is where it should be. I’ll be installing a similar unit for the DC side as well.
Lastly, I noticed a smell in the holding tank this week, so I went ahead and emptied it. This was a chance to install the dump inlet I had installed in the yard. It worked great and that was a nice relief. I still need a post for water and power, but I’m making progress finally and that’s nice.
I knew my coach was old when I bought it…. and unique. I am beginning to think I own Pegasus #1. Here’s why:
- Body is 1984
- equipped with custom logo’d gauges in load center. They have the Pegasus logo printed on them from the factory in the same ink and finish. They are date stamped on the back Jan 1985.
- Custom Logo’d VDO running gauges as well. This is typically done by the factory. It’s possible to do after market, but it requires disassembly and reassembly and recalibration… which often costs more than the gauge.
- It appears to have been wired for a hot tub at one point. There is a breaker labeled this, but behind the breaker there is some hand written wire markers that are the same style as the rest of the wire labeling. I’m thinking it was something portable/inflatable that tethered to a bay. No trace of it these days.
The hot tub is interesting…. I thought it was a recycled panel/joke initially… but I think it was real.
There is also a circuit for an ice maker and liquor dispenser…. No sign of either device today. There are also circuits for front, center, and rear air as well as front, center, and rear roof air. 3 AC’s is really plush…. 6 would be crazy. My guess is that the coach was refit with roof airs at some point. They are all Coleman roof air units. They all work well.
It’s been an interesting week. I figured out what was wrong when I plugged into shore power. The transfer switch was connecting the genset to shore power. With the genset not running it was throwing a breaker. I guess it was trying to start the genset through the generator head. Bad juju. In theory the transfer switch isn’t bad, it’s just sorely miswired.
I talked to Mike with Strut-Your-Stuff, he is my go-to source for gas-springs in the USA. I bought my replacement gas-springs for the luggage bay doors and other doors from him. He was able to track down replacement gas-springs for the engine bay door as well. They are 9.25 inches long with 1200N of force! 1200N is like 300 pounds each. There are 4 of them! Turns out they are normally like $90/ea or something and he cut me a bit of a break because I have spent so much with him. He’s great about helping you measure and get the right replacement. Very nice US made struts. If you order from him, please tell him Brian with the Neoplan sent you.
I also ordered my LH (reverse) M16 DIN 71802 ball joints for the tie rod ends. While Mike is knowledgeable, he said he had never seen a LH thread ball joint end. 🙂 I explained that they were DIN 71802 spec ball joints. I ordered my M19 DIN 71802 ball joints as well. Those are coming from Germany. The door project is shaping up to be another $1500 project. All of the existing ball joints are rotted out. They use a rubber cup style ball joint and the rubber is rotted after 30 years.
As if all that wasn’t enough, I also bought the replacement tracks for the track lighting from Home Depot. They didn’t have all the parts I needed in stock, so I had to order some online and wait for them to come in. No big deal. I’ll get what I have installed. I ordered some fixtures from them as well. The coach is currently equipped with Phillips Capri lights which are commercial/industrial 120/240 capable fixtures. Neat, well built, but an odd size and luminairs (fixtures) are stupid expensive to get. For the price of a few fixtures I can get all new track and fixtures from Home Depot.
I also ordered light bulbs from AliExpress. I’m getting dimmable LED bulbs in a couple of different formats. We’ll see if I like what shows up. It wasn’t much, so if I don’t like them I’m not out much. The current bathroom lights are E26 base (candelabra size) Globes….. G16.5 or G25. They do a great job in a makeup mirror style… but they put off some heat and use 240 watts combined. There are 8 lights and the new ones will use 16 watts combined. Alot less power and less heat.
I’ll post some pics as I install some of this.
Ah yes, flucker clustery….a level beyond cluster fuckery! So here are some pictures of Pandora’s transfer switch.
First the lovely electrical bay. Chafe violations, explosion hazard, unsecured batteries, improperly secured wires, no battery disconnect, no fusible links, poor use of storage. So much opportunity! So charging batteries gas off hydrogen gas…. and should never be near electrical relays (gray box) because they spark when they open and close. They should also be vented so that gas cannot build up inside the enclosure. Hydrogen is explosive!
In the gray box (upper right) is a cluster fuck of a DIY 3 way transfer switch that should automagically choose shorepower, generator, or inverter. No fucking telling if it ever worked right. Uses Grainger / Dayton automagic delay controllers. Loose wires, nothing labeled, probably improperly sized, some hack job relays. A real mess. Genset did work, but something doesn’t work hardcore when it’s connected to shore power.
there is a nice 50 pound battery charger behind the panel. I think the water tank is under that.. . or at least one of them. Lots of improperly secured wire and a whole bunch of it coiled up. No idea what it does.
A nice Vanner 50Amp 24 to 12v voltage converter. I can get a modern one for $50 these days. This one isn’t regulated, it just cuts voltage in half. There is a second one back by the coach batteries.
More quality wiring
And the genset is a 50A generator, protected by a 100A breaker…… fire hazard much?
Lots to do here in reworking the electrical.
I had a chance over the weekend to take the coach out on an overnight trip to Cameron, Texas. The good news is that replacing my air filter and using a target speed of 65 mph yielded an increase in fuel economy to 7 mpg from 4.5 mpg. That is a huge improvement and probably paid for the filter on the first trip. Total round trip was roughly 270 miles and I put 38.13 gallons of diesel in. The method used was to top it off before leaving and then return to the same station to top it off again when I returned. The calculation is approximate because I forgot to document the mileage before leaving.
I also discovered that something is wrong with the shore power connection. When I connected it to the power it tripped the breaker and I heard a buzz from inside the bus. I suspect that something is trying to charge the battery bank in the bus and pulling too much current. I was using a 30A to 50A adapter as the location I was at only had 30A power. I opened the grey transfer switch box and observed significant fucker clustery (worse than cluster fuckery). It appears to be an electromechanical 3 way transfer switch. The coach can be powered by shore power, genset, and inverter/battery bank.
I did not have time to analyze the configuration in the field and will need to spend some time trying to figure out what is going on and how it is configured. Then I can figure out how it should be configured. One thing I did not like for sure was the electrical gear adjacent to the batteries with no venting.
Last weekend I replaced the two van-air roof vents and the central roof vent. The van-airs were installed in the kitchen and bathroom. They were just 32+ years old and had disintegrated. They did still work, but not well.
The good news is that the replacements were $45/ea on eBay.
I used a ladder to get up on the roof and there are a couple of photos of what I was replacing.
The central vent was a strange / obsolete vent. I replaced it with a Fantastic Vent with a thermostat and a rain sensor. This required a small enlargement to the hole. I was nervous about the enlargement because there was structural framing on one side. I consulted the parts manual and realized it was okay to modify. The “skeleton” section from here.
I had to take the vent apart in order to trace it’s outline on the roof.
It also involved taking the vent apart in order to trace it’s outline. It’s sealed with a good heavy duty sealant, OSI Quad. I believe this is a one part polyurethane rubber, but Henkel doesn’t say. I know it’s the best stuff to use on Hardie Siding and it has a 25% stretch rating. A bus is hardly hardie siding, but it is a tough thing to seal up. I’m happy with the results and it did not leak when it rained recently.
I picked up the Fantastic vent on eBay as an open box return. It was in perfect condition. $300 vent obtained for $120 including shipping. 🙂
On Friday I took the coach for inspection. It went smoothly and I then was able to go to the Harris County Tax Assessor’s office. Registration fees were $390. Ouch! But it is what it is in terms of costs. The coach is now licensed.
I did opt to have them issue Amateur Radio Operator plates. This gives me the joy of having the same license plate number on all 3 of my vehicles. It took the tax office 30 minutes to figure out how to put the coach in due to it’s weight.
Never to be outdone, HCTRA our friendly toll road authority required an in-person visit and a few explanations to get an EZ Tag issued and all my vehicles updated. Their website errored out when trying to assign the same license plate to multiple vehicles. I’m a little afraid to go back into the portal now. It’s good to have an EZTAG though because I can take the toll roads when I need to do so. Houston traffic is especially irritating most of the time, so the toll roads are just one of the many tools used to deal with it. They can be a huge timesaver if there is an accident on one of the freeways.
I also decided to start keeping a spreadsheet of my costs. It was a little sombering. The LED refit was about a $1500 project. Not cheap, but that should be the last of it. So far I’m at just under $11K including purchase price and excluding operating costs like fuel. I don’t think it’s fair to track fuel or lodging as an ownership cost. Repairs on the other hand are fair game, as is CoachNet, Insurance, Registration, etc.
I often say that if you should run like hell if you are worried about the fuel costs or ownership costs. However, I’d like to be able to know if my grand experiment was financially stupid or not at the end of the day.