Madam Plush

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

At times I felt like I was living that nursery rhyme.

Take Madam Plush’s makeover, for example. It started with ripping out the existing carpet in the back lounge, a weary, stained excuse for a floor covering.

As I lifted the first corner I noticed a big damp patch and had no clue as to its origin.

[Read on …]

Because of her bulbous ‘penthouse’, Madam Plush called for an unusual solar installation, and two years’ later the combination of flat and angled panels has proved a winner.

The setup for Solar Freedom 1:

  • 1 x Morningstar PS30M 30A regulator
  • 1 x Sinergex 24volt 700W [1400W Surge] pure-sine wave inverter
  • 1 x Sinergex 24volt 12A 3-outlet battery charger
  • 4 x 12V 100Ah AGM batteries [wired for 24V]
  • 2 x Suntech 75W 12V Solar Panels
  • 2 x Suntech 135w 12V Solar Panels

What Solar Freedom 1 provides:

  • Free electricity to three 240V and six 12V outlets — in the office, kitchen and lounge
  • Free power via the 700W inverter which is on most of the time, charging computers, phones, radios, torches and cameras
  • Free power for interior lighting which is all converted to LEDs which barely sip power
  • On sunny days I often use the electric kettle and rice cooker
  • On cloudy days I simply try and cut down charging too many bits and pieces
  • After two or more cloudy days in a row, I usually bunker down with the iPad and its excellent 10-hour battery life
  • But, even on cloudy and rainy days, the solar panels still gather in enough usable energy to keep things ticking over
  • In two years I’ve only run the batteries down to about 60% twice
  • The 80-litre Waeco fridge/freezer is connected directly to the 24V battery bank with heavy wiring to minimise current losses. It cycles on about 10-12 minutes each hour [24/7] and is very economical with power use

Some notes:

  • The price of the solar panels has dropped 35-45% in those two years.
  • The price of household electricity in Hobart alone has increased nearly 30% in two years

February 6, 2011, 2pm With the 80-litre Waeco fridge/freezer humming gently in the background, and the computers all being charged, I switched on the electric kettle for a cuppa, and glanced at the solar regulator.

Would you believe, the solar panels were pumping in 16.4Amps — that’s 32.8Amps at 12V!

The kettle dropped the battery readings during the four-minutes it was on, but within a minute or two the batteries were back in float mode.

Thanks Sol.

[Image courtesy NASA]

Bluey, my treasured 1973 Kombi, and home on wheels for a number of memorable trout fishing expeditions, photographic jaunts, and general road trips, is heading north to to Tasmania’s North Island — Australia.

Bluey has been sold via eBay to a friendly Queenslander called Ray who is planning a series of 2-3 day trips. “Can’t wait to hit the road,” he says, “and there’s something special about Kombis.”

I’m sure going to miss all the friendly waves from other Kombis on the open road …

However, replacing Bluey is my ‘new’ 1985 Coaster, as yet unnamed, which I soon found out gives me membership to another ‘family’ of fanatics. They’re a helpful bunch too, as I have discovered on various online forums.

Here’s the new rig as it was pictured on eBay. Its an unusual design and the interior is a weird mix of Japanese fine carpentry and ‘she’ll do’ Aussie inventiveness.

A good friend has nicknamed her ‘Madam Plush’, and when I post some photographs of the interior you’ll see why.