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Old 07-04-2020, 02:02 PM   #181
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 3,347
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas Built Bus
Chassis: Freightliner FS65
Engine: Caterpillar 3126E Diesel
Rated Cap: 71 Passenger- 30,000 lbs.
Good luck with your trip ... let us know how well the air conditioner performed on the road and on-site.
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Old 07-04-2020, 07:21 PM   #182
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: NorCal
Posts: 368
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Girardin
Chassis: E-350
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
Well I am quite pleased! While driving, we had the air conditioner running at max blast, plus the refrigerator, and we still had an excess of electricity charging the batteries! We were getting 500-700 watts from the solar panels. Unfortunately the AC is just strong enough to cool the cabin slightly less than opening windows, so it certainly isn’t an icebox or comparable to a car. It was still warm for sure. But that’s okay, we’re going to add a few insulating window covers and I think that will be sufficient. I’m very happy with how it turns out!
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Old 07-05-2020, 11:45 AM   #183
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: NorCal
Posts: 368
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Girardin
Chassis: E-350
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
And now, at 9:00AM, we have it running again, the solar panels are working well but we’re still losing 10-60W from the battery bank. This will only increase of course as the sun rises, but it has turned the cabin to a very comfortable temperature.

A few thoughts now for others considering their solar system:

- if I was just looking to recharge the battery bank, then one panel would be plenty (for my electrical needs)
- I purchased the renogy curved z bracket mounts, which are designed to install on a curved surface like my roof, and they were easy to install. I used 4 1/4” bolts that go through the roof, insulation, and 5/8” thick ship lap ceiling on the inside. I only installed them with washers/locking washers/ nuts, no special metal backing plates
- bus insulation as a whole is awful thanks to how much glass there is. We absolutely need some sort of reflective insulating window covers for everything, including the windshield. And sunroof.
- I kind of wish I had just left the bus roof in along with the stock AC in the back—that thing worked GREAT but obviously requires the engine to run, and in hindsight I should’ve just left that there for driving and then used the current window unit up front while stationary
- my batteries are pretty much fully charged throughout the day, thanks to just how strong the panels are. I could’ve gotten away with a smaller bank
- the panels on the roof look pretty sick, and while we were stealth camping last night in the marina parking lot, we had no issues even though it’s pretty obvious what was going on (the park rangers do patrols at night)


I’ll make a proper write up soon for the panels but all in all, I’m super happy I put them in and they exceed my expectations and I’m not even sure if I’ll be plugging it in my driveway anymore!
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Old 07-05-2020, 11:47 AM   #184
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: NorCal
Posts: 368
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Girardin
Chassis: E-350
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
Also I wish I would’ve gotten all renogy products; as it stands, I have AIMS mppt and inverter and Victorian battery monitor and diy batteries
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Old 07-27-2020, 10:03 AM   #185
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: NorCal
Posts: 368
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Girardin
Chassis: E-350
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
The solar panels are working great, I installed kitchen cabinets and shelving, and replaced the shitty ceiling lights with LED strips on crown molding. I'll make a write up on all of them soon, but the problem is finding time to do that with a 3 month old infant... until then, here Argo is in all her glory! I used to have a boat in that marina, and sold it to buy the bus, but I still have the marina keys--meaning we had full access to showers/bathrooms, and did a little boat tour (and reminisced around my old sailboat).


Although it's a national park, and the rangers typically do the rounds at night, we camped overnight in that parking lot and had absolutely no trouble or even interacted with anyone. The worst part about it is the fisherman arrived around 6:00 am, and a Coast Guard helicopter was doing some extensive night training... but that was it.


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Old 08-04-2020, 10:00 PM   #186
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: NorCal
Posts: 368
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Girardin
Chassis: E-350
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
Turns out the brakes themselves were fine, but the front left wheel bearing/race was rusted through, thus causing the metal grinding sound and smoking brakes.



I also got myself an EGT gauge installed. How am I going to use this? I'm not sure yet, but I think if I use it in conjunction with the RPMs, I can really shack the optimum usage to prolong engine life. Now if only I could get fuel flow, I'd be a truly happy man.


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Old 08-04-2020, 10:24 PM   #187
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 13,596
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
Where did you install the sender? How you use the gauge varies greatly with the sending unit location .. I tapped mine right into the exhaust manifold as between the last cylinder on the driver side and before the up pipe flange.. that should be about the hottest point to read from .. I keep mine 1200 and below.. my engine is turned up.. I can surely haul ass if I choose to but have to keep the pistons a solid and not a liquid
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Old 09-10-2020, 04:47 PM   #188
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: TX
Posts: 12
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: E-350
Engine: 7.3 L Powerstroke
Just want to thank you for this thread. I recently got a 1999 E350 very similar and will be using many of your ideas ! Working on the demo now.
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