A custom battery box for brand-new batteries

Well, it just so happens . . .

Little did I know when I backed my Casita into site #31 at Quail Run Campground that I was making my home next to two people who would become my friends.  Bill and Kathy are Elephant Butte residents who are camping at the state park to get away from the remodeling mess at their house.

Kathy comes over to my site and gives me a sample of her Chicken and Green Chilies dish.  The next day I invite her over to see the inside of my trailer.  I show her my recently installed Wave 3 catalytic heater.

“I don’t usually decorate with Walmart plastic bags,” I tell her, pointing to the bag taped to the front of the heater.  “I ordered a white cover for it, but I got a black one.  I’m going to send it back.”

Well, it just so happens . . .

Kathy is a master at sewing upholstery for boats and rvs!  She has an industrial sewing machine in her garage along with several pieces of vinyl remnants.  Kathy doesn’t hesitate.  “I’ll make you a nice cover for it.”

Kathy introduces me to her husband, Bill.   The three of us sit at the picnic table.  The conversation rolls along.  I mention that I exchange emails with Mick, an engineer in Tennessee, who’s researching and planning a solar set-up for me, and we’re thinking of putting the panel on top of my van.

Well, it just so happens . . .

Bill is an electrical engineer!  The project intrigues him.  I show him my Perfect Tow Vehicle, including the 3000 watt inverter that came with it.  I also show him the schematics and CAD (Computer-aided design) models that Mick has created.

He wants to get involved.

I tell Bill that Mick located the needed parts online, including a great buy on a 200-watt solar panel.  We need to find a battery box.  Mick found a great one, but shipping makes it too costly.

Well, it just so happens . . .

Bill has a friend who has a woodshop!  This friend makes a custom battery box for me.  Bill and Kathy bring it over to my picnic table for me to paint.

The box has vent holes in the lid (on the table).

Don’t my new, sealed, AGM batteries look pretty in their custom box?

We couldn't wait to put in the batteries!

Well, it just so happens . . .

Bill and Kathy have foam to use for underlayment and trunk fabric for upholstering the box!  My new custom battery box matches the upholstery of the PTV.

Isn't this a perfect-looking battery box suitable for the Perfect Tow Vehicle?

The solar charge controller and other components that Mick found for me on the internet have arrived at Baker’s RV Service.  I drive over there and pick up the parts.  While there, I see my solar panel for the first time.  It’s a beauty!

Mick finished the fabrication of the tilt mechanism and shipped it today, and the roof rack is also in transit.  They should arrive early next week.  Chip will put the panel on the PTV’s roof, and Bill will take care of the electrical part of the project.  So maybe by Thanksgiving Day the PTV will become a solar energy powerhouse!

Well, it just so happens . . .

I am truly blessed!



About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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23 Responses to A custom battery box for brand-new batteries

  1. Jool says:

    Wow! God works in mysterious ways!
    — Jool

  2. Pauline says:

    Amen, Jool!!!! It is about time that things went Susan’s way!!!! Susan, I am so happy that things are going along so smoothly. I love hearing such good news…
    Love you so much!!!

  3. Mick says:

    Great, Bill is a EE; I was worried you had hooked up with a ME. LOL

  4. Mark says:

    I’m glad you went with the batteries in the PTV. That is what I thought you should do when you first mentioned going solar. I was wondering if you are supplying DC and AC voltage to the casita. My camper has lights and fans that are DC powered. Feeding just AC would mean my camper would have to then convert it back to DC to power those things, I think that would be inefficient. I already have several AGM batteries and would like to go solar also. I am really watching your plans with great interest. Thanks for sharing your plans for solar.

    • Mick says:

      The efficiency loss with the double conversion is probably made up due to the reduced losses in the cable between the trailer and the tow vehicle. Transmission losses are current squared times the cable resistance so a 10X increase in voltage means 1/10 of the current. This makes the transmission losses 1/100 assuming the same size cable.
      And only one cable to connect.

      • cathieok says:

        Holy cow, that sounds like Greek to me. I am glad I don’t have to understand it! 🙂

      • Mark says:

        Mick thanks for the info, I am very much intersted in what you design. I’ve never set up a solar system but very much want to. I will probably mirror your’s because like Sue I also use a van to pull a camper. looking at the inverter and converters most of them have a 80 to 90 percent efficiency. I didn’t know if the power loss of the 12v cabling would be greater then the inverter power loss. Thanks again

  5. Reine says:

    We’re excited for you. Not only are you going to have solar, but you’re going to have an instllation with CLASS. Good things come to those who wait. It’s your turn.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Reine!

      I’m so excited about having solar power, I stayed up last night with my laptop looking up great places to dry camp/boondock! I’m going to especially appreciate not having to worry about finding a site with electric hook-ups.

      You and Paul started this trend of people helping me! What a great start you gave me and the crew back at Navarro Mills park . . .

  6. Hotel California says:

    Well, it just so happens that I really enjoyed your post today.

  7. Darrell says:

    I’m not an EE, I’m a CE and have a question. Are you putting a wind deflector in front of the panels? If not, as your driving, the wind could provide lift to the panels thereby putting some pretty good stress on the connections. This could be solved easily by putting a small wind deflector at the front. Think of those curved peices of material on the cab of some 18 wheelers that deflects the wind over the trailer, or think of trying to haul a sheet of plywood tied to the top of a car.

    It’s just a thought. Have fun with your project. And dang, you sure have stored up a lot of karma over the years. A karma savings account, now that’s an idea.

  8. cathieok says:

    Looks like you are in a “win, win” situation! Great neighbors, great Internet friends!

  9. Geri says:

    I am so glad your plans and your friends are coming together so nicely! Yep, it’s true, good things come to good people! Your solar project is amazing! Can’t wait to see it! Remember that cool little campground I showed you down by the river?? You could boondock there a few nights, just to make sure everything is working as expected!

    • rvsueandcrew says:


      I looked for that boondock spot the other day and couldn’t find it. It’s hard for me to remember because all the roads were new to me when you showed it to me. Is it on the road to the dam? That road has been closed.

      • Geri says:

        Come out if the park and turn left. At the first main road before the dam, turn right and follow down the hill until it comes to a “T” and turn left. Go over the bridge and look for campground on the left! If you can’t find it (because I never remember street names) I will take you over when you visit for Thanksgiving dinner. I want you to know where it is so you visit often! 🙂

  10. searching4theobvious says:

    Good project, good friends and the RV community is right there with encouraging comments which makes it much more exciting.
    AGM batteries are sealed and don’t give of fumes so I wonder why the vents in the box. I look forward to the panel tilt installation assembly as I am in the process of making mine tilt. At the moment they tilt but are heavy so I need to modify them to reduce weight. I also need to be able to tilt them from the ground as ability to climb on the roof has has deteriorated where I rather not try it.

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