Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I'm Givin' it all She's Got, Cap'n!

The portable vacuum just didn’t sound right, and worse, it just wasn’t picking up the dirt.  Damn!  I hate it when the vacuum doesn’t suck.  I guessed that we probably had a math problem – the generator could only put through enough power to either a) run the water heater, or b) run the vacuum.  “c – both of the above” was apparently the wrong answer. 

Last year, our campsite at Warm River had electricity.  Shady Dell does not.  So we’re back to lighting up our nights, heating the water, and controlling the thermostat using battery power charged by solar panels and an occasional boost from the gas-powered generator.  We’re back to heating water to wash dishes, and we’re back to stovetop coffee.  Warp engines offline – it’s strictly impulse power for us this year.
This is as designed.  Most systems in the trailer run off the 12-volt battery.  For the past couple of weeks, however, we’ve been struggling to keep the battery charged.  We replaced the battery.  Twice.  Both times the battery discharged and wouldn’t ever come up to a full charge – no matter how sunny the day or how long we ran the generator.  And last Tuesday, as we watched the snow level rise and the battery charge level fall, we knew we were in trouble.  We didn’t have enough battery to run the furnace. 
Being the ever-prepared campers that we are, we put our zero-degree sleeping bags between the sheets of our bed and hunkered down for a cold night.  We woke to 33 degrees outside and 37 degrees inside.  Brrrhhhh!  A portable propane heater and lots of hot coffee came to our rescue. 
We tested the inverter.  It was OK.  We tested the wiring.  It was OK.  Must be the battery – again.  So while Paul took the battery into town to be tested / charged, I decided I’d break out the vacuum.  I started the generator.  I plugged the vacuum in and turned it on.  Nothing happened.  I tried every outlet in the trailer.  No power.  I guess I should have paid more attention the last time the vacuum didn’t suck.  Apparently, for the past two weeks, all our generator has been generating is noise and fumes.
Last weekend’s challenge was to keep the battery above 50% so the solar panels could keep it with enough charge to run the lights and the refrigerator’s electronics.  Running the furnace was out of the question.  Thankfully the snow melted in favor of more temperate evenings.
Today’s mission – to boldly go and buy a new generator.


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