hilld's slow roll build

hilld

Well-known member
I have an idea that if you have 100Ah of battery, that it will run most any system. I am thinking it is how long are you going to be setting in camp is the question?
Probably 3-4 days max, long weekend with friends comes to mind. If the batteries run low and the solar is not sufficient, I can always run the van as I will have a dedicated alternator for the house system. I have a tendency to overdo things, I would rather go that way than shortchange myself. Since I have a 3500 XD, I am not too concerned about the weight of an additional battery, but if I was on a 2500 and was closer to max weight, I might change my tune.
 

hilld

Well-known member
It has been a while since I posted and updated this thread, but that doesn't mean there hasn't been progress.

I did post in another thread on page 12 - https://sprinter-source.com/forums/index.php?threads/89088/page-12 - some of the challenges I had with the alternator installation and documented some of my basic electrical install.

I will try to summarize the changes here, but many of the details are in the other thread.

The Nations 280A (N62 option bracket version) is installed, wired and working. I chose to run both 2/0 positive and ground from the alternator to the Wakespeed regulator mounted in the back of the van. I wired everything using weatherpack connectors at all junctions and used cable glands for everything except the temperature sensor as that had a factory connector on it and wouldn't fit through a cable gland and to make matters worse, I didn't account for that when drilling all the holes. Ooops.

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I also ran a round 10/3 marine cable through the rear quarter panel area using a factory location (it exits near the rear hitch) for the shore power connector. Temporarily ty-rap'ed the cable for now until I can make the bracket and my smart plug arrives (like everything else - back ordered)

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hilld

Well-known member
Now that the wiring is done, time to install the heart of the electrical system. I had previously mocked up out of cardboard where everything would go, now the time to buy some expensive plywood and make the real thing.

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Is this first layout, the Wakespeed regulator is mounted here, but it would not finish it's life there....trial and error

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Getting closer, things are getting mounted, cables made -- all the fun

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After the initial mockup in the garage, time to cut some slots for the straps for the batteries. Drill 2 holes for each slot, then use the jig saw to connect the dots. :cool:

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hilld

Well-known member
Cut the rear panel, access hole for the battery disconnect as well as the clear plexi glass with access holes for the switch and your finger to toggle the switch on the Victron Mulit Plus 3000 inverter

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Battery switch installed

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I chose to go a slightly different route that what I have seen here, I didn't want an accidental battery disconnect to cause a failure of the alternator, I wanted positive control to kill the field to the alternator in case the disconnect was operated while the engine is running or the vehicle is started with the batteries disconnected. Blue Sea make a disconnect switch in their larger series (9004 E in my case), that has AFD (Alternator Field Disconnect) wiring, that disconnects the field before disconnecting the batteries and vice versa engages the field slightly after the batteries are reconnected.

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I don't have a pic of the wiring on this right now, but basically, you wire the AFD terminals in series of the field wire coming from the regulator going to the alternator. In my case, the field wire is blue from the WakeSpeed regulator and green at the Nations alternator, so along the way I have a color change in the wiring.

Time to make battery cables

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hilld

Well-known member
Mounting my "wiring box" in the van, using the L-tracks as fastening locations

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Leaving some historical evidence of my footprint. :rolleyes:

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Most of the cables made and installed, battery straps installed and in the van.


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Getting things hooked up

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A quick side trip to the nursery to pickup a dogwood tree that I wanted to surprise the wife with.

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hilld

Well-known member
I had one more connection to make in order for the house system to come to life. Ok, more than that as the inverter doesn't have any A/C connections yet, but to make sure the alternator, batteries, etc work. I still had to hookup up the D+ terminal under the drivers seat that tells the WakeSpeed the engine is running.

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First startup, and time to do some checking of the systems. No fire nor sparks, that is a good sign.

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Now that the basic electrical system is FINALLY installed, time to focus on finishing the L-track install. I hadn't finished the passenger side tracks other than the adventure wagon V2 bed kit. About 1/2 day and it was done.

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hilld

Well-known member
I think I might have mentioned this in a previous post, but I ended up installing all the tracks that were not part of the AdVan kit using Plus Nuts. I used the supplied RivNuts for the Advan kit, but did read that others had some issue when attaching heavy loads such as a motorcycle to the tracks that they pulled out. So, me bing the type to overbuild stuff, I used plus nuts placed every 5 inches or so (using the pre-drilled holes from the USCargo tracks). Where the holes didn't line up or couldn't be used with the factory spot due to a variety of reasons (body holes, holes right next to it), I ended up drilling some new locations.

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Not to side track this pictorial, but I have been asked before to explain the difference between RivNut's and Plus Nut's so here is the best I can do.

Plus Nut on the left and RivNut on the right.

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hilld

Well-known member
I had ordered some supplies and they are starting to arrive. Water Heater - Check, Air Heater - Check, Fresh Water Tank - MIA

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Also made a trip to the local metal supplier for various size and types of steel and aluminum for my build. Ouch, metal prices....

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And even more ouch, wood prices. I ended up picking up 4 sheets of 1/4" for my paneling, one 1/2" for cabinet sides and one 3/4" for the refrigerator drawer and sides as that will be heavy. Also ordered some positive locking slides (in and out) from Austin Hardware to allow for better access to the Dometic CXF3 95DZ fridge that I purchased.

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johnplyler

Active member
Wow! Looks like a nice job and it works. I hope I can say that in a few weeks. Where did you connect the D terminal under the driver's seat?
 

hilld

Well-known member
I also managed to speed to both Rick and Al from WakeSpeed and ordered a CanBus cable to integrate the WakeSpeed regulator and my Victron Cerbo GX to display some additional information. According to AL, until Victron does another firmware upgrade the amount of data is not that interesting (his words, not mine), but to me the additional data is nice.

The DC Power field was not there until I hooked up the cable.

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Time to setup the metal fabrication shop. A teaser of what is to come as my friend and I started working on this yesterday.

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hilld

Well-known member
Ok, last posts for today....time to get to work making stuff.

The fabrication will be a combination of steel and Aluminum so I we will be using multiple processes, mostly MIG for the steel as it is a much faster process (but does require more grinding) and AC TIG for the aluminum.

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My friend Jeff helping me - he is a fellow student in my TIG welding class I am taking - took this video of him burning some hard wire.

MIG Welding frame for sprinter electrical system
 

johnplyler

Active member
I wanted your ideas on the solar panels.

I would like to keep my options open more, so I am thinking I will mount my solar panels on the ground. That way I can place them to (follow the sun) during the day while the van is in it's ideal parking spot for shade and comfort! With the aux. alternator, we sure don't need the panels while driving!

For panels, I have not seen anyone beat Sunpower Maxeon prime on amps output- 5.9A for the 110 watt flex panels. You can stack a pile of these in the garage and hardly take up any space.

I was thinking I would make maybe ~1/2 inch aluminum frames for each panel that would have a couple legs for adjusting the angle. They would be so light I would probably want to stack them to the ground.
 

hilld

Well-known member
I wanted your ideas on the solar panels.

I would like to keep my options open more, so I am thinking I will mount my solar panels on the ground. That way I can place them to (follow the sun) during the day while the van is in it's ideal parking spot for shade and comfort! With the aux. alternator, we sure don't need the panels while driving!

For panels, I have not seen anyone beat Sunpower Maxeon prime on amps output- 5.9A for the 110 watt flex panels. You can stack a pile of these in the garage and hardly take up any space.

I was thinking I would make maybe ~1/2 inch aluminum frames for each panel that would have a couple legs for adjusting the angle. They would be so light I would probably want to stack them to the ground.
Sorry can't help you there. I am a solar virgin, don't really have any experience with them. I did purchase a 400W Solara panel, that I plan on roof mounting in the next few weeks (other projects depending). There are some good ideas out there regarding portable panels, mounting, wiring, etc.....I am just not the person to ask as I have zero experience in this area.

As far as alternator, I figured (no real data yet), that I can probably go about 3 days without having to run it, less if I need to heat more hot water than I have available. If the panels put out 400W (or close to that for 4-6 hours a day), that time could be significantly extended.

Being able to park in the shade would be nice, but perhaps after experiencing things for a while, I can make adjustments. The alternator should be able to charge the completely discharged batteries in about 2 hours assuming 150A charging while driving, less if charging at a higher rate, which the alternator is capable off as it is 280A, but I don't think I would ever run the batteries down that far. Still learning.
 

hilld

Well-known member
Weekend update. Spent about 12 hours fabricating some 1" steel tubing to house the electrical system and part of a cabinet. I am happy the way it turned out. I had a friend help me out for this part of the job as trying to hold 8' pieces of tubing in place, clamping, tacking and welding is often best accomplished with 2 people.

The goal is to build a metal skeleton that can later be skinned with either plywood, diamond plate, etc. I might even go through multiple iterations of this in the next few months, till I find something I am happy with.

Here are a few pics of the electrical system "cage", strong enough to sit or stand on and it uses the L-Track mounting for everything, except for one tab against the side wall that will take a sheet metal screw. Still have to take it back out, clean and paint this week.

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hilld

Well-known member
The previous post had the electrical system cage, but now I needed a frame for a cabinet, that will house some other electrical parts that I want easily accessible such as fuse panels, AC breakers, Victron display, etc.

Here is what it looks like installed next to the electrical cage.

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Securing the cages to the L-Tracks

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A little bit of heat distortion on the top plate. Oops.

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The actual building process started with a few measurements, some crude drawings and building it from the face backwards. Build the face frame first, test fit in the van, then build out the lateral pieces to mount to the tracks, weld on tabs. Rinse and repeat until it is right. Even welded a plate on backwards, had to cut it off and redo it. All part of the fun / process. :rolleyes:

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hilld

Well-known member
I used 1" square tubing for everything, but different wall thicknesses for different purposes. 1/8" wall for the electrical cage as I wanted to minimize deflection when sitting on it, and 1/16" tubing for the cabinet as the deflection would be minimal and there are plenty of mounting locations against the L-Track.

Not shown yet, but I plan on bolting the 2 frames together where they meet just to stiffen things up a bit. I did take it for a test drive and there wasn't any rattling on the frame to body, so it is good there.

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Sometime during day 2, the welder decided to go on strike.

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Luckily, a quick power cycle took care of that error and welding resumed.
 

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