Tagged with " library"
Feb 15, 2013 -

A Little Paint and a New Solenoid

I can’t believe I was hesitant about painting the new wall yellow. It now feels like a proper room in here!!!


I definitely need another two coats on everything.

Now, the solenoid project. As a refresher, the solenoid is what allows an RV house battery to be charged by the RV truck alternator when the RV engine is running. Mine has worked intermittently but recently failed completely.

L and his buddy B came over this afternoon and I knew immediately that my rig was in good hands because it was obvious that they knew what they were doing!

We started by testing if the solenoid would click when the key was turned to the on position. Nope. It was time to get a look at the dang thing.

Pulling the battery and getting to the solenoid required three sizes of socket wrenches. It also took two strong men to pull the battery out. Definitely not a job for me. I don’t even own socket wrenches!

Once they could get to the solenoid, they jiggled some wires, connected the battery via my heavy duty super long jumper cables, and had me turn the engine on. Click. But nothing was happening in the house.

They decided to pull the solenoid to clean the contacts. That done, we hooked it up to the battery and tested it. Click.

Next test was to check the voltage coming in from the house to make sure the problem was not at the battery bank end. 13.8V.

Next test was to check the resistance in the solenoid. Ooh… massive amounts of it. But the more we made the thing click, the less resistance there was and we finally got resistance down to almost 0. There was no way that thing was going back into my RV, not with how iffy it was and hard to get to.

So I was sent to town with the old one to find a new one. I went to O’Reilly’s auto parts and the guy at the counter knew exactly what I needed and they had one in stock. I almost fainted when he told me the cost was $50.14. The budget’s really tight this month but you got to do what you got to do. The cashier laughed when I handed him exact change. “Not fifty, fifTEEN.” As in it was a $15.40 part. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is my old solenoid:


The new one is identical except it’s shinier.

I got it home and made L test it before B installed it. Everything looks good on the engine side, but nothing’s happening on the house side. We think it’s because the alternator recognizes that the house batteries are full.

I am going to use a lot of power tonight once the solar cuts out (my rig needs vacuuming…) and then try the engine. If I don’t see any results, then all three of us are at a loss, and two of us are engineers! But we are optimistic!

I had to two regular Buds in the fridge and one Bud light, so we had a cold one once the hood was closed. Retired friends make for cheap labour! 😀

Croft, I know you’re waiting with bated breath for news of this project, so I will report ASAP once I do the test tonight. We’ve still got about two hours of daylight left.

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Batteries, Decorating, Electricity, Homemaking, Maintenance & Repair, Nice Folks, Personal, Social, Technical    5 Comments
Dec 1, 2012 -

New Kitchen Cabinet

I gained a lot of counter space when I removed my dishwasher, but I really didn’t need that much more. What I needed was a cabinet to hold all the stuff that’s normally on the counter and which has no other home. So when I travel, that stuff ends up filling the sink, making using said sink a pain.

The problem was finding a cabinet that would fit into the awkward space between my stove and window. And I only just realised that I forgot to grab a before shot. Doh. This is the best I can do:

I needed something that would be about 12″ wide, about 25″ high, and no more than 12″ deep. It also had to fit around the window valance as I did not want to have to mess it up.

I spent quite a bit of time on the Ikea website then at stores looking at the buildable furniture. I was resigned to making something myself when I found the perfect compromise on the Target website:

This design would allow me to cut down the top part of the cabinet to fit it into the space while still having a good sized cabinet with a door.

Now, I knew that this was going to be a cheap particle board item that wouldn’t age well, but for the price, it was worth having it even for a short while. You can buy this item in a white version in store, but to get the espresso, you have to buy online. I thought the espresso colour would look nicer against my cabinets than attempting to paint white laminate.

Particle board isn’t an easy thing to cut cleanly, but I was able to do an excellent job of it:

The vertical cut isn’t as clean because I started and stopped with the saw while the horizontal cut was made in one motion.

To cut the particle board, I put a layer of tape over the area I wanted to cut, then I used a straight edge and a sharp blade to score through the laminate layer. I then sawed through using my jigsaw and a 10TPI blade. 20TPI is recommended for laminated particle board, but I forgot to grab one last night and the 10TPI did a good enough job.

It took a bit of fussing to get all my pieces cut to fit the hole since nothing was plumb and square. Interestingly enough, the counter I installed is perfectly level while the upper cabinets are not! Go me! 🙂

The area around the valance looks silly:

If I was working with high quality cabinetry (that I would have willingly paid for had I found something the right size), I would have probably cut down the valance and attached the curtain rod to the cabinet. But since this is a vantage point very rarely seen, I will be happy to close the gaps with a little trim.

Once I was happy that all the pieces would fit in the space, I assembled the cabinet, using glue in addition to the screws. I then moved the cabinet into place and mounted it with one bracket screwed into the wall and by screwing the base of the cabinet directly into the counter.

Valance area not withstanding, it looks pretty good!

The cabinet came with a crappy black plastic pull. I used one of my nice pulls that matches the rest of my cabinetry. That involved having to drill new holes into the door but, thankfully, the ends of my pull cover the original holes. I think that pull makes all the difference!

The inside of the cabinet has a moveable shelf. I did not use the top part of the cabinet, so I cut it down to make myself a second shelf in case I ever need it:

If you squint, you can see the roller catch I installed for the door (just below the shelf). The door came with a pretty strong magnet catch, but magnet catches aren’t good enough in an RV. The roller catches have never failed me.

I am going to look for some baskets to fit into the top portion to hold spices. I had thought to put a dowel across to hold whatever, but I don’t think there is enough space to put a dowel and still give me room to pull things in and out. The right baskets will make that space look really nice and hide the awkward valance area.

Everything but the pepper mill fits!

I could move the shelf up a notch to fit in the pepper mill, but then the other items on the top shelf won’t fit. The pepper mill can travel while stored at an angle!

Standing in the entrance looking at the cabinet:

And the ugly side:

I’m not sure yet what I’ll do to cover the hole in the counter (used to be a cup holder). Suggestions?

I’m really pleased with how well this project came together and how much better it looks than I would have expected!

Tomorrow, I am going to use another piece from the same collection to make some improvements in the study.

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Cooking, Decorating, Homemaking, Organizing, Personal, Renovating    12 Comments
Sep 29, 2012 -

How the Cab Door Works

Reader Vicki asked for more details about how the door between the living area and cab of my motorhome works.

I just about never go between the cab and the house through that opening. I prefer to park, get out of the driver’s side door, walk around the rig, and enter through the house door. But it will be nice to now be able to go in this way when it’s wet out.

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Homemaking, Personal, Renovating    4 Comments