Electrical Part 1

    Well we have been busy beavers since Julia quit her job at Tsunami Books! *yaaay* It has been so wonderful to have more time to work on the bus. Now that Fall has descended on Oregon it's not a minute too soon to really start crackin' at getting this project to the livable phase. We are trying to have all the main systems in before Winter so that we can flee further south for that dark and desolate time.

    Our progress on the electrical system has been awesome these last few days!

    First, I wired up all the outlets for 120v (there's 4 of them on 2 different circuits ~ 1 near the sewing machines, 1 near the table, 1 in the kitchen and 1 in the bedroom). I used Black and Decker How-To books that I got at the public library to figure out how to wire the boxes together. I have a surprise for ya - it was ridiculously easy, folks!! Really. We bought 14 gauge Romex for the job...this is the stuff you find in your house...it looks like a fat white wire from the outside but it's actually a bundle of 3 wires all wrapped in a white casing. I already had a wire stripping tool from a garage sale. So there's three wires in there - one exposed copper wire (ground) and 2 other wires - white (neutral) and black (hot). We bought some outlets at Bring Recycling. Some outlets have little screws on them but we just got the kind where you push the exposed wire into a little hole and a spring inside the box holds it in place. Worked great. If ya get confused there's even little markings on the back of the outlet box that says where to put each wire. Figuring out how to wire together a couple boxes to share one circuit was beyond me but there were pictures of a whole mess of different configurations in my handy Black N Decker book so I didn't even have to think about it too hard. Sweet.

    So all these wires are coming out of our 120v Circuit Breaker Box - at first we got the Mains Lug kind (no beefy off switch to kill the power coming into the box) but then we decided to go for a Mains Breaker Box for safety. Unfortunately, we could only find a ridiculously big one at Jerry's that's rated for 100 amps...way more than we'll ever use but whatever. Then we got 2 circuit breakers for it - one for each circuit, smarty! ;) They snap into place on the box.

    The DC side of things is a little more tricky for us because we haven't been able to find as much information on how to wire it all up. We bought a 12v Fusebox and we have a bunch of 14ga AWG and all the nice little DC lights we could ever want for the bus (and the water pump and the composting toilet fan) but we're not 100% on how it all goes together. We have some guesses but nothing official. Our friend Spencer who wired his bus together successfully is on vacation right now so when he comes back we are going to pounce on him and make him tell us everything he knows about DC wiring.

    In the meanwhile we got to work on our Battery Box!!!!

    ((A note to RVers and buspeople of the Eugene/Springfeild area - avoid KC RV Supply like the plague!! I was told they have the best prices but I could not believe how rude, hostile and condescending they were in there...and folks, just about every time we go to buy anything for this project we hear "do you have a permit for that, little girl?" about 2 or 3 times in 2 or 3 different ways so you come to expect a bit of bullshit but KC RV Supply really took the cake for disrespect...as a result, I took my business to The RV Store in Springfield instead and they were much more helpful/respectful. It's a bit further to go but I didn't notice any price difference between the two places AND The RV Store had a heck of a lot more stock. ))

    Ok back to the Battery Box. So I bought 4 6v Interstate Deep Cycle batteries at The RV Store. It set me back about $380. Of course on the way home one of them ^%$ing tipped and spilled acid in my trunk. (First thing written on the top of the batteries? DO NOT TIP) We're hoping that it's still good. We built a nice underbay vented box for them with hold-downs and a locking front out of plywood, angle iron and steel stock. We haven't bought our inverter yet but we hope there's going to be room for it on the side of the box. I was excited that we finally got to use the bed frame I got out of the Goodwill dumpster down in Santa Rosa! We were able to scavenge the plywood for the box, too. Our next post will go into more detail about how we made the battery box, so stay tuned!


    UPDATE: For additional safety, we switched out all the push-in type outlets and switches with the screw-on type. These are better suited to withstand the vibrations of the bus.

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