Sunday, October 9, 2016

Cleaning up

Today while I should have been looking for clothes to take to the funeral and booking a flight, instead I sat numbly in the bus. Then I went outside and picked up as much construction debris as I could find in the yard. Normally I don't touch cleaning unless it's a dire emergency. It's so mind numbing that it's actually helpful right now.

Following cleaning up the front yard which basically entailed piling the debris up in a more organized dump rather than simply scattered, I moved on to cleaning the bus. I started with the bedroom, sweeping the dirt out the back door while rescuing screws etc. Then the plastic carpet had a wash on both sides.
The floor is stained but latex paint doesn't shrug the stains off like oil based paint. Had I know. It was possible to get oil paint in lowes, id have used solely oil based. Still, I can always repainted the badly stained areas.
Having cleaned the bedroom, I cleaned half of the bathroom and set the toilet up as ready to use. Next I have to clean the shower and sweep debris into the galley. Without a shadow of doubt, this bus is looking better.

I still didn't look out the clothes I needed nor book my plane ticket!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Charge and Engagement

Today I went to enter the bus and found that my magical front door unlocker wouldn't work. It had sounded somewhat sickly the last few days so today I charged 8 NiMh batteries to go into the power supply and hey presto, the door opener worked again. Of course, to gain entry, I had to use the back door and my steps.

I have no idea how long the batteries lasted because I have no count of how many times I use the door opener. I do know when I installed it which was July 27th. Bearing in mind I haven't been into the bus every day while sometimes I have been in multiple times in a day, I have absolutely no idea of the usage. Suffice to say the batteries have lasted all of August and September. It will be interesting to see how long the NiMh batteries last. Indeed, a future expansion could be to put solar panels on the front of the bus with the door opener tied into a battery charged from those panels.

Today also, out of interest, I looked at my long since abandoned Twitter account. If you remember, I stopped bothering with Twitter because my account was locked when somebody objected to my stating something mild like ISIS had better stay in the Middle East. As it appeared that Twitter supports ISIS - a fact corroborated by the vast number of ISIS agents that are reported in the media to use Twitter for communication - I stopped wasting my efforts on the medium.

Needless to say, my Twitter account has many automated features. One of those features is that every blog entry is broadcast via Twitter. According to the stats my Tweets had 1,900 impressions (I guess that means how many people Twitter thinks saw them). Of those 1,900 impressions there were just 4 link clicks. The page quoted other bunk such as 4 favorites (these are almost always automated) and 2 retweets (again, almost always automated).

So, my Twitter account that has apparently 98 followers (God alone knows why) has a phenomenal number of impressions that does not really bear out the number of Tweets. There is literally one automated Tweet a day with a synopsis of the days news and when I post to my blog, for some reason that posts twice. Thus if I posted every day with the 3 daily tweets that would be 3x98x28 or 8232 viewings (if every follower saw every tweet). The actual number of tweets this month has probably been considerably fewer.

What do I make of Twitter's "statistics"? Well, to be honest, like just about every one of these online figures about viewers, engagement etc, I think it's all a load of bunk. I don't think there's any truth to these figures at all.

Let's take that figure a bit further. The page views on this blog alone in the last month were 1,050. The pageviews on my other two blogs were 3,265 and 2,222. That's a grand total of 6,537. Each blog carries Google Adsense targeted advertising. Now you tell me that out of 6,537 pageviews only 8 clicks on 1 cent advertisements happened! That's right - my blogs earned 8 cents last month. It's 8 cents more than I had but a long way from the $100 payout.

So, you will understand my scepticism over online "statistics", "figures", "viewers" and so on. Unless it translates into cold, hard cash all these figures are complete nonsense. Twitter is peddling more nonsense by giving out those figures.

Look at it this way - the Twitter account is 100% automated. I never had any interaction off Twitter users in general which is something I tried to get for years. In fact when I was a student in university I used to reply to the graffiti on the bathroom wall and used to get more replies to my replies than I ever had from anything on Twitter.

This all goes back to my general experience of electronics (the internet included) which is that at least 75% doesn't really work. Yesterday, for example, I blogged on my other blog about LED lightbulbs and how 3 out of 4 that had an alleged 10,000 hour life each had been in the bathroom with limited use (only switched on when the facilities are in use) had failed in under a year. One didn't even last a month. I could say that LED bulbs are thus the least green option of any. Totally unrecyclable and just landfill.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Put on hold

Bus completion is temporarily on hold.

I have almost completed the bus. I need to tidy the inside in order to figure out if anything else really needs to be done. It's looking, honestly, pretty darned complete right now.

The reason for this arrived in an email from my father. It appears that yesterday my mother passed away. I need to fly 4,000 miles to attend her funeral.

Right now, a hurricane is about to come ashore too. That has pretty much grounded most flights. I vounteered to drive a school bus to Charleston to pick up refugees but it seems that the district had asked for too many drivers to attend. There were plenty busses but in the end, they sent just ten. Oddly, they put 3 drivers per bus. The half dozen of us left without busses to drive were sent home.

I shall return.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Waste Vegetable Oil

I have a friend that runs his diesel Transit off corn oil. Corn oil is, of course, far cheaper than diesel in Europe. That set me thinking a while ago about running my bus off vegetable oil. Diesel however has become a lot cheaper since then.

Interestingly, today I was reading about somebody's experience of using waste vegetable oil. They had filtered it and run their vehicle for about 20,000 miles on it. They had apparently been told that their savings in fuel would be offset by costs in repairs. Now I don't know how well they filtered their waste oil but I would be very cautious with waste oil. Waste oil has many uses but running a vehicle on it seems pretty hit or miss.

The upshot was that their valves were thoroughly caked in carbon. Interestingly, the inside of their cylinders were heavily scored and their turbo charger was burned out. Their advice was just not to use waste vegetable oil. That rather echoes what a diesel mechanic told me. He said that diesel is readily available at good prices so why fiddle about. I have to say that I agree.
The final coat of paint has now been applied. It looks pretty darned good in my opinion. All that's needed is for the space to be used. The bedroom floor needs a good sweeping but it's almost ready for use, whenever it might get used.

Today I had a bit of a tidying session inside the bus. I didn't do vast amounts. To be honest I'm a little depressed by the large excess of stuff that I just haven't used. I spent quite a bit on electronic junk that just isn't going to get used as well as a lot on fasteners. I really need to put it all tidily into a shed because I'm sure I'm going to find I need some.

Looking at the back of the bus, where I'd thought of putting a waste barrel, there's a problem. The exhaust system is close enough to melt the plastic. That would be a disaster! I do, however, have an idea for putting batteries at the back, between chassis members. My basic thought is to add weight, improving braking.

Finally, I put black paint on both sides of my security bars. Those will be installed some time. I'm not sure quite when though but probably this month. That was pretty easy.

Things remaining to be done on the bus are getting fewer and fewer. This can be split into things I need to do, things I want to do and things I might do.

Needing to be done.
Fixing the passenger side windscreen wiper
Fixing the reversing horn
Fixing the underbody wiring
Fixing the short in the ABS system

Things I want to do
Sealing more roof seams with silicone, just in case of leaks.
Putting in my main breaker box.

Things I might do
Tidy the paintwork in the bedroom
Replace some storage containers

Once the inside is cleaned and tidy, it'll be easier to see what needs work and what doesn't. I know my solar fan setup might need some work. Having said that, it has been working. Really, all it needs is fir the battery to be installed somewhere other than on top of a paint tin at the back of the bus.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

First full test

Today started with my painting the floor where I had riveted a patch over a hole left by the hillbilly bus owners. I'd covered it with plywood and had caulked where the plywood was too thin. I suspect the caulk might be too soft and I might have to redo this eventually though in the closet, it's not in a high traffic area.

The camera flash has shown up some discoloured paint that I'll hit when I do my second coat but it's really not looking bad at all. In fact, it's really hard to imagine there might ever have been a hole in the floor.

For my next trick, I timed the running of my fans. I set my charge controller to switch the fans on when voltage reaches 13v and off when it reaches 12.5v. It took 6 minutes to reduce the charge by 0.5 volts on my 5ah battery. From that we can see that my system works. It would probably work better if I was able to put my solar panels on the roof but for operational reasons, that's just not advisable. Had I thought of it when I was installing the panels, I could possibly have hinged them so they could have been flipped up but that would have added complications and as we all know, the less complications, the less the problems.

Eric and I spoke on the phone today since he's in Canada now. He is of the opinion my battery is a bit small. I know this already and have this battery solely because it was $25 in a Radio Shack going-out-of-business sale. On the plus side, it won't take too long to reach full charge.

Now, the reason I set the voltage limits so closely is that because the panels are vertical, there's not much light actually shining on them. Thus I'd rather get short bursts of ventilation than a long burst followed by a few days of nothing.
There's my setup. Two wires from each solar panel go to terminal blocks that are connected by wires and diodes (protecting the panels). They're 10 watt panels and that's a 20 watt controller. This whole ventilation system has cost somewhere in the region of $120 I believe.

Powered directly by the panels, the fans were constantly spinning though most of the time barely moving any air. This system should shift greater quantities of air as the fans run at full power but for short bursts. Charging time or the delay between bursts is variable due to the position of the sun in the sky and the orientation of the bus. Currently the bus is facing east. The fans went on at 5:10PM and off at 5:15PM. They went on again at 5:42PM and off at 5:47PM . Generally, I'm happy with what's going on though I wasn't impressed to find the battery took several days to go from 10.5v to 13v. Hence, I adjusted operational parameters. 5 times longer to charge than to use the power sounds a perfectly acceptible ratio in small doses.

Plans for the future? Well, I still need to put bars over the upper door windows and over the driver's window. Then there's general cleaning and sorting out. As for powering phones and other electronics, I might put solar panels on the front of the bus and do it that way or just buy one of those battery packs that can be charged from 120v when it's available. Heck, I could even run put a battery charged from the alternator into the system that uses a relay powered directly by the alternator to keep it in the system. Thus, when there's no alternator power, it's not draining the driving batteries.

I know I want to retitle the bus as a motorhome as soon as possible. I'd really like to drive it up to Virginia to take photos of the fall colors.