Sunday, 15 November 2015

Solar panels

After many years keeping an eye on the development and falling price of flexible Solar Panels, I decided to take the plunge. 
I'd opted for two Baird Semi-Flexible Panels
They come in various sizes and wattages 
The main limitation on the Airstream roof is the size of the gap between the vents, so rather than one large panel I went for two 60w panels wired in parallel which fit neatly between the vents.
 Luckily I'd planned for this eventuality by wiring a dedicated circuit and taping the wire to the inside of the roof of the Flying Cloud. I'd measured & recorded where but not drilled the skin - so I was a little nervous when I did drill form the outside. Luckily I was pretty close & with some stiff bent wire I was able to hook out the cable - phew !
I went for a grey marine cable inlet which had a rubber gasket & cable sheathing...and Vulkem to make sure !
 So with the two panels wired in parallel, I would have 120w @ 12v
 Its never nice drilling into your skin but I just didn't trust mastic alone. So 4 large-headed rivets per panel & Vulkem, should keep them there in all weathers
 I was particularly impressed with the build of these panels. The solar cells are encased in plastic & bonded to a thick sheet of aluminium and the height is only 3 or 4mm. They have a small box where the cable exits the panel but even that's only 10mm. Price (through Amazon) under £70 each
Topside wired 
 Now for the inside. I'd been very impressed with the 240v Ctek Charger, so, after reading many reviews (all good) went for the Ctek D250S to manage the solar input and intelligently charge the batteries (one now, but I plan to have two). The Cteks are more expensive but they really do a good job and the various tests suggest that they'll extend the life of your battery, so will repay that extra over time.
 I'm trying to use LEDs where I can but with a lot of vintage light fittings I was very pleased to find Bedazzled, who supplies BC & ES fitting LED bulbs in 12v (most of the market is for 240v) mainly for the Canal & Narrowboat market.  They're a little more pricey but its nice not to have to cannibalise my old light fittings to fit new LEDs
So with 12v power constantly being topped-up it was time to sort more of the lights out. 
On top, I used aluminium tape for the cable runs, its simple, durable & invisible from the ground 
 Pretty neat, if I say so myself
 Next to be rewired was the original ceiling light. Unfortunately one of the casualties of the Flying Cloud's Atlantic crossing but after many years of looking, my good friend Sam Harkness of Vintage Airstreams UK, had one surplus to requirements...
...and very fine she looks too - many thanks Sam
I'm sure solar panels will get better & cheaper, year by year, but you have to take the plunge sometime & while I'm glad I waited I'm now very happy with the set-up I now have. And form ground level, you can't see any hint of them.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Small things...

 Summer has flown by, so here's the first of a few catch up posts on the work done on the 53 Flying Cloud this year
 Its often the small things that make life better, so time for some small fixes in the Airstream too: Drawers - the original ones are a little tatty but a little clean & revarnish will sort them out. I could add some plastic trays but decided to divide up the drawers with simple ply divisions
 The three drawers from the kitchen unit - stain touched up 
& revarnished
Divisions in 
Ready for another 60 yrs ! 
This was in early April & our swallows have just returned to the barn where my workshop is - so summer is coming 
 Similar divisions to the drawers in shelf unit under the front window
They tend to be home to a thousand little bits, so I've gone for double-height storage 
 with a lifting ply lid
and room on top for papers or books 
 Kitchen drawers 
with a little order brought to the chaos 
and the original pull-out chopping board sanded down & the front revarnished 
 Outside time to tackle the polishing I have never finished

 Gradually getting to a proper shine

Curtsied too 
Though still work to do on the door & a new fly screen to be installed (that'll be next year) 
 Drizzle stopped play
Our first outing is to the Larmer Tree Festival, so a nice find was these 50s shot glasses 

Monday, 20 April 2015

Covers Off !

 The sun is out. 
So its time for the winter cover to come off... 
I have to say that I've been pretty impressed with this Maypole Cover
 The livestock are impressed too...
It fits pretty well and despite some high winds & stormy weather 
 there are no rub or scuff marks
Time for a good airing and then to start on the final polish, seam-sealing and the long list of interior restoration jobs...

Monday, 25 August 2014

1000+ miles this year !

 The first trip out this year was in April for a friend's 50th in Wiltshire
A 300 mile round trip up the A30, M5 & M4, but she towed like a dream & kept us cosy 
We then squeezed in a trip to the Hay Festival in Wales (see previous post) which was another 300+ mile round trip 
 Next up was our annual mid-July outing to the Larmer Tree Festival in Dorset (250m round trip)
This year apart from our usual gang we had some new Larmer converts
 - my sister & her daughter & a cousin & his two girls. Clearly taken with the Airstream (well I like to think so) 
The weather was generally lovely but there was one biblical downpour 
But it wouldn't be a festival if you didn't have to cater for all weathers ! 

Highlights were Squeeze (above & below Glen Tilbrook), Frank Turner, Stornoway, Public Service Broadcasting, Tom Odell, Gentleman's Dub Club &, of course, Sir Tom Jones 

 The Flying Cloud now has upholstered dinette cushions
 and is starting to feel even more like home
The awning is a temporary fix as we still haven't quite decided what we want but at least this one uses the awning rail 
Sir Tom belting out the hits 
I have to say it was quite some performance...
August 1st saw us hitched-up again (with the first of the boats on the roof) for our usual wild camping destination (which we like to keep under our hats) 
 It wasn't the best of weather to arrive in but
…by morning the sun had returned 
and stayed like that for pretty much the next two weeks 
The churchyard has some great Celtic cross gravestones 
even if getting there is a little impracticable  
but worth it 
A new addition from a local antique shop - a 60s 'Bestlight' 

We even had the good ship Marian in the harbour  
 Old friends 
 new campervans

and evenings round the fire 
Despite having rewired & installed batteries, I haven't got round to reinstalling lights
so we survive quite happily on candle & torch power
Rather stunning high cirrus 
heralded the arrival jun the next day or so of hurricane Bertha 
Luckily the rather dire warnings were overdone for Cornwall as we had high winds but not too much rain
She passed over pretty quickly and the sun returned 

 A new resident in one of the river creeks 
Still haven't had time to work on her polish but hopefully next year  
But luckily she still shines under the right light 

Our backwater - Airstream is the bright shape to the right of centre 
 The local butcher and fishmonger's are excellent !
Still pleased that I kept the shelf/drawer unit across the front. If there's one thing Airstreams often lack its shelf space (except in cupboards) so it nice to have this even if it becomes a repository for pretty much everything !

 I popped down to Prussia Cove (even further west) to visit friends & coincide with the National Trust's firework celebration from St Michael's Mount

Time to leave 
and head back across the Tamar into Devon
and catch up with other friends who camp each year at East Prawle 
high up on the hills above Salcombe. Very different but lovely to be so high with views of the sea all around
Its a busy (but spacious) field, so we soon had visitors drawn to this new shiny object 
the interior end caps went down very well
 Again rather good weather, even with the odd passing shower out to sea.
 Beautiful walking, even if the return leg always ends with a climb
Rock samphire - sadly almost inedible, unlike its delicious marsh cousin 

A canoe trip to Salcombe and my son not quite mastering the portage !

 The local pub, the Pig's Nose, is famous for having excellent music - and for once brilliantly amplified - loud, clear BUT not too loud. 
 The essential ingredients for the first cup of the day
and a read of the weekend papers 
A rare surviving Rood screen (although much restored) at South Pool church with much of its original painting from the 15th century
We forget that churches prior to the Reformation were a riot of colour and images 

 The dinette still needs her table made but the round one suffices for now
 If I say so myself (even if there's still more to do) I'm pretty pleased how she's turned out with very much the feel she must have had in 1953
Heading home - but there's always a last bit of washing up before we hitch-up. Next year we'll have the sinks back in !
Hope you've all had a good summer too.