Shore Power!

On Tuesday, Brett came back to button things up in the engine compartment. He replaced the carburetor gasket that we couldn’t find before, he installed the PerTronix 1261 electronic ignition kit, he chased down some leaking oil and transmission fluid, and he fixed the exhaust manifold to lock its damper in the open position full-time, since we don’t have the spring and can’t find one online. Brett said everything’s done and she’s good to go — finally!

Mission: Accomplished. And I think $6,000 is quite enough money spent on the engine for a while. Hopefully a long while…

Yesterday and today, I got more of the helm wired up. Here’s what the inside looks like so far:

Up on the left is the AC panel, and on the right is the DC panel. The Inverter is the big white metal box. Directly above it is a 200A fuse on the red positive cables. Below the fuse is the USB socket with two ports. Below the inverter (not pictured) is the battery bay.

On the AC side, I decided to wire things more simply and directly than originally planned. Basically the 120V current now flows like this:

Shore Power (or Batteries) > Inverter > AC Panel > Branch Circuits

The AC Panel has a main breaker that turns the other three AC branch circuits on and off, and each circuit also has its own breaker. So far, the only circuit used is an extension cord to power my refrigerator. The second circuit will feed the galley’s AC outlets, for plugging in the toaster oven, microwave oven, coffee maker, waffle maker, etc. The third circuit is reserved for either the HDTV or future air conditioner.

Meanwhile, the DC panel is only using two circuits so far. The top circuit is for the instrument panel backlighting, and I haven’t connected the AC’s red and yellow backlight wires to the DC panel yet. The second circuit is for the USB socket and eventually other DC sockets (12V and USB) throughout the cabin. The third circuit will be for the overhead lights, the fourth for the AppRadio and stereo system, and the fifth will be for the galley’s water pump.

By far the most frustrating part of wiring such a compact electrical cabinet was gravity. I dropped small screws down into the battery bay no less than four times, and had to fish them out with a variety of magnetic and sticky picker-uppers all while dripping sweat and dodging live wires. This reminded me of that classic game Operation, because with the slightest jiggle or bump I wound up dropping the screw again.

I eventually learned to spend extra time lining my work area with rubber sheets (much like the Oval Office). And even then a loose screw would still bounce or roll off and drop into the chasm.

When I finally connected the extension cord to the outside of the RETROvan, I was rewarded with a KA-CHUNK sound from the inverter’s transfer switch. And in that moment, I felt like Doc from Back to the Future.

Here’s a shot of the inverter doing it’s thing, relieving the solar panels by charging the ‘house’ batteries from shore power when plugged into our garage via a regular extension cord:

The RETROvan finally has enough power to keep the most precious cargo cold. Soon I’ll post a shot of the helm all lit up at night. But right now it’s Beer:30.

Okay, it was really Wine:30. Here’s the money shot, after I wired up the AC panel backlights:

Looks like we’ve just engaged the warp drive, doesn’t it?

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