Originally, I'd wanted to have an entirely solar-powered bus. I've since discovered that solar power produces electricity of such an inconsequential amount that it realy is just a stupid dream. In fact, unless it's done on an industrial scale I'd call solar power rather much of a scam. For the price of two solar panels that might or might not make much power I could buy a generator. For the price of the batteries needed to store power I could save a lot of weight and buy several years worth of fuel for the generator. Were I doing the bus again from the beginning, I'd use many of the lessons learned and rather than putting in a 120v system, I'd put a small underbody 4.25lb gas cylinder and no 120v supply.
Just for laughs, today I bought a solar battery charger from Harbor Freight. I really don't expect much from this but if it recharges my AA NiMh cells then it will work on D cells too. I almost went for the suitcase solar panel on the basis I could probably rig that to charge either the LIon battery packs that'll recharge my tablet and phone or AA/D cells. Now the panel on the side of the box wasn't all that promising, to be honest but I thought I'd give it a shot.
12.5 hours for a single D cell looks pretty forbidding. That could mean several days given the fact I'm not likely to have optimal (middle of the Sahara) light. Given the size of the solar panel, I think this is more of a gimmick than something genuine. It's designed to catch the pennies of the curious rather than to provide worthwhile power.
Given that the battery holders are not that great and have a serious problem with gravity, I don't forsee a long life for this unit. Stripping it down to copy it, however, could be interesting. It should be possible to identify all the components in order to build a bigger, better charger that I could use to charge a realistic number of batteries. I have no problem with using NiMh cells as a power source!
Meanwhile I relocated my butane torch and my butane refill cylinder. The torch would not take a butane charge. I suspect that the valve might have frozen. Given that I haven't used this in 5 years, it would seem likely. I pulled it out because I thought I might be able to use it to do some light brazing but sadly it appears this is not to be. It's not worth buying another - not at the current price of $18. When it was $10, it was fine.
Diesel is now $1.69 a gallon. I really need to get that 120v system sorted out before the price rises. I can probably put another 30 gallons of diesel in the tank. I need to be able to move the bus before I can do that though and with the main breaker attached by a cable to the bus and dangling on the ground, that's not currently possible unless there was a way to tie the whole affair up so it didn't drag on the ground.