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Old 09-07-2008, 02:25 PM   #1
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Re: More zany ideas... compressed air and sleeping arrangements

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Originally Posted by joshoisasleep
It says under my name, a Toyota Landcruiser! ...Heh it's not so bad, but then again the overhead's not all that low either... (my website has more details on WHY I live in a car). Still, I can't wait for when I can construct my bus!
I'm digging (and reading) your trip log. Great stuff!
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Old 09-09-2008, 06:42 PM   #2
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Re: More zany ideas... compressed air and sleeping arrangements

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I'm digging (and reading) your trip log. Great stuff!
Cool thanks! Your bus is one of my biggest inspirations toward bus living. Whenever I am telling someone that I'm planning on living in a school bus and they give me that "huh...?" response, I always show them how nicely finished yours (and a few others) looks as an example of how classy bus living could be!
Thank you for the kind words. I agree, bus-living has such a bad rep (thanks to Koresh, Manson, et al ) -- good PR is an uphill battle.
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Old 09-23-2008, 08:47 AM   #3
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Re: More zany ideas... compressed air and sleeping arrangements

Way back when, they used to use compressed air to move the water from the tank....but then the tank was MADE for pressure. You used a tire pump or compressor to charge the tank.

Since the tanks used in many Skoolies are plastic, odds are they won't take any pressure useful enough to work. You might burst the tank/fittings.
Go with a salvaged water pump from an RV/travel trailer.......if using a pressurized tank, make sure it's proof-tested so it won't go 'poof'.
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Old 09-24-2008, 09:32 PM   #4
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Re: More zany ideas... compressed air and sleeping arrangements

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Originally Posted by Ryan Grimm
Way back when, they used to use compressed air to move the water from the tank....but then the tank was MADE for pressure. You used a tire pump or compressor to charge the tank.

Since the tanks used in many Skoolies are plastic, odds are they won't take any pressure useful enough to work. You might burst the tank/fittings.
Go with a salvaged water pump from an RV/travel trailer.......if using a pressurized tank, make sure it's proof-tested so it won't go 'poof'.
You would be VERY surprised at just how well it does work to use compressed air in a regular tank. At 5 psi the water pressure is actually VERY usable for washing hands, brushing teeth, etc as long as you don't have the aerator screen in place. The aerator screen is meant to reduce water usage, but by running much lower air/water pressure you accomplish the same thing without the need to run high pressure at any point in the system.
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Old 09-25-2008, 04:12 PM   #5
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Re: More zany ideas... compressed air and sleeping arrangements

I am really intrigued with the idea of and "excercise bike" approach to compressing air for the system. That is a very good idea I think.

I agree compressed air can work for pressuring the water too. But you will need to shop for the tanks carefully. Some will take the pressure, others won't. There are a few RV type tanks that are designed to be street pressurized with water when connected to a water source. Those tanks are supposed to handle typical household water pressure (40-60psi). Just guessing, but I would suspect that spun type tanks are better for that than the one built using flat panels plastic welded together. You could also reinforce the walls of the tank using plywood too and that would help reduce any strain air pressure would put on it.

Compressed air is also good for use with pneumatic actuators (like used on doors, etc.). Where you might run into some challenges is in the area of using air motors for things. They usually use a lot of air. For example, a 12 gallon portable air tank filled to 120 psi only powers an air drill for about about 45-90 seconds before the pressure is too low to operate it.

I hope you will always keep up the creative "out of the box" thinking and posting about it. It was that kind of thinking that led to virtually all great inventions.
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Old 09-25-2008, 06:22 PM   #6
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Re: More zany ideas... compressed air and sleeping arrangements

Pressure-test your rig BEFORE installing it! Saves cleaning up all the water from under the bed etc. where you placed the tank.

The safest way is to top off the tank with water (completely full), than slowly add pressure from a tire pump or controllable air chuck...not too much to fast!

This is the way they check steam boilers.....pressurized air can cause a vessel to burst with shrapnel (dangerous), while a vessel filled completely with H2O will just break open and leak......SAFER!!!

Your milage may vary....

Uhh.....it occurs to me to ask; what with the rather limited space aboard a skoolie, why would you want to use a bike compressor to do the work? I would think it's take up more space than you'd want to lose.

The 12VDC pumps only work when you turn them on....shouldn't use up much battery at all.

Look in to manual pump-type faucets for RVs. You work a lever to get the water out of the tank......why pressurize?

Sounds like you're re-inventing the wheel here.
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Old 09-26-2008, 11:17 AM   #7
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Re: More zany ideas... compressed air and sleeping arrangements

I have to echo Ryan's sentiment....a 12vdc water pump really doesn't use much juice. With a small pressure tank, intermittent use won't trigger the pump (i.e., hand-washing, quick rinse of a cup, etc.)

Biggest power consumer will likely be refrigeration (assuming water-heating and space-heating are non-electric), lighting (if not fluorescent, LED, etc.), and computers (especially desktop CPUs and tube-type CRT monitors.) IMO, if you're looking to conserve electrons, those would be the areas for attention.

But at the end of the day, it's your bus & your vision!

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Old 09-26-2008, 03:07 PM   #8
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Re: More zany ideas... compressed air and sleeping arrangements

I agree that a 12 volt on demand pump would take very little power and would be way easier....however

I think a bike compressor is a lovely idea....and if the seat is comfy enough to sit in while traveling then it would take up no more space than a regular seat, except for the small space utilized by the pedals.

it seems many 110/220 volt compressors use a belt to spin the compressor, that would certainly be easy enough to adapt to bicycle use, would require very minimal engineering. The tank could be mounted separate from the compressor. You prob can't make 100 psi, but you should be able to do a suitable volume of air at low psi. I think an ideal thing to do would be to use an air pressure tank to hold say 20 psi, then a regulator that only allows 5psi to go to the "water" tank. That way you can build up pressure once and have a good even flow rate for water for a long time.





there are plenty of pressure vessels out there. why not use one of those bladder tanks made for residental water. Quite often the bladder gets a hole in it then the homeowner replaces the entire tank. You can remove the bladder and the tank will work perfectly for your application.

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Old 09-26-2008, 06:33 PM   #9
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Re: More zany ideas... compressed air and sleeping arrangements

If you wanted to be able to use the bicycle compressor to do higher pressure, use a 5 or 10 speed bike as the foundation. The high gears will help you efficiently crank out high volume at lower pressures. The lower gears will drastically lower the volume of air per revolution of the crank, but it will provide the increased torque needed to run the compressor at higher pressures.
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Old 09-26-2008, 06:52 PM   #10
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Re: More zany ideas... compressed air and sleeping arrangements

A related idea would be to use a bicycle setup to power a generator to charge batteries with. You could even do both (one at a time). Have them both mounted all the time. On the air compressor, use a moveable/lockable idler pulley to allow you to take the compressor drive belt off the bicycle pulley when you want to use it to charge batteries. You could do the same with the generator, but wouldn't need to if you put in a disconnect switch on the generator. A generator on an open circuit doesn't exert any load.

From what I see through google searches, the average healthy person can generate short bursts of up to 1.4 HP, sustain 0.4 HP for ten minutes or comfortably sustain 1/10 HP for extended durations. So you would have to "ride" quite a lot to produce much electric or compressed air. But I still think it is an interesting idea worthy of experimentation.
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Old 09-26-2008, 07:27 PM   #11
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Re: More zany ideas... compressed air and sleeping arrangements

Speaking of bicycle powered generators and such, you might want to take a peek at this. . . http://www.mrsharkey.com/forum/vwtp.php ... sc&start=0
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Old 11-07-2008, 01:23 AM   #12
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Re: More zany ideas... compressed air and sleeping arrangements

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Look in to manual pump-type faucets for RVs. You work a lever to get the water out of the tank......why pressurize?

I had a countertop hand-pump spigot -- the kind commonly found in RV stores. Major piece of junk. Absolutely last resort.

I now use a 12 V pump -- the standard RV type. Works great. I run it off a single deep cycle battery, and that battery lasted four people fine for a week at Burning Man -- we went thru something like 80 gallons. I have the pump hooked up with the light in the bathroom. Throw the switch on, and we have both light and water pressure. Switch off, and the system is inactive. As mentioned above, you can put an accumulator in the water line to keep the pump from bugging you with frequent cycling.

Electricity is powerful stuff. It takes a lot of muscle to generate an appreciable amount of it. At a nearby science exhibit, they have a hand cranked generator that powers a common household light bulb. I have to use both arms to get any real light out of it.

I once saw an old RV with a bicycle bolted to the back. Instead of a rear wheel, there was a 12 V alternator. Ought to work, but slowly!
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Old 11-07-2008, 03:17 PM   #13
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Re: More zany ideas... compressed air and sleeping arrangements


I like your creative thinking.

But starting a 200 HP engine to run its tiny little air brake compressor does not sound efficient to me. You don't get 200 HP worth of air charging. You only get what that little compressor can do -- maybe one HP worth -- wild guess.

Powering a small compressor OR generator with a small engine is more efficient, because the small engine is operating closer to its maximum efficiency.

And I'm not so sure it is a good idea to start an engine every day for just a few minutes. Starting a cold engine is very hard on it.

I do like the concept of "straight from compressor to water pipe". Sound thinking.

But your last item on this post, about an air motor to power a generator, will not work so well. As was mentioned in an earlier post, air motors consume large air volumes. My die grinder draws down my shop compressor tank faster than any other tool I have.
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Old 11-10-2008, 03:28 AM   #14
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Re: More zany ideas... compressed air and sleeping arrangements


Way in the back of my mind, a little voice is trying to tell me that the common Allison MT643 transmission has some sort of provision for a PTO. Try reading up on it.

Keep the batteries charged, make sure rain and mice cannot in thru the exhaust pipe, and just let it sit. Well, that's my thinking, anyway. I may be wrong. Wouldn't be the first time.
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Old 11-10-2008, 11:16 PM   #15
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Re: More zany ideas... compressed air and sleeping arrangements

hmmm you make me think......why not hook up a little windmill to your air compressor and hope that you're parked in a windy spot that keeps your airpressure up so you dont have to bike to often.
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