Thinking about a Bus/RV

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Ted, Jul 17, 2020.

  1. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    So, more on this weekend's fun.

    Really it starts Friday with wrenching on the toad (Land Rover Discovery). I went to go change out the air conditioning compressor and then found that both the fan clutch and the water pump bearings were wiggling, so both needed replacement. I got the air conditioning itself working and blowing cold (no leaks, at least at this point), but those parts had to get ordered.

    Then the aforementioned broken bolt started off my Saturday. Well great, that means now I need to dig into things further. It went more or less like this:



    Once I got the water pump tensioner off, I decided it looked like it needed to be replaced. Of course that couldn't happen until I drilled out the bolt (still not done). Fortunately the water pump itself seems good, but the belt is definitely old, could even be original. No wonder it was loose, I'm almost surprised it hadn't snapped. The main serpentine belt was very obviously changed - no cracks and looks newer, so whoever did that was just being lazy. The reality is the water pump belt is the most important belt on the engine, whereas the bus can drive just fine without the serpentine belt (although if you aren't moving forward you might overheat since that does spin the cooling fan).

    With the main belt off, I found that the alternator bearing was making noise, and the AC compressor would barely spin (this is with the clutch not engaged). I had been having alternator issues last year and I had planned on removing both it and the AC compressor in favor of new alternators to bump up the amperage capacity of the system. So, I guess now is the time to do that.

    Getting the alternator off wasn't bad, but it had clearly never been touched in the 21 years since this thing left the factory. It didn't owe me anything, that's for sure, but the lower (long) bolt was clearly put in at some point earlier in the build process, before the turbo inlet and maybe even before the turbo, as the head was facing back towards the turbo. My options were remove the turbo inlet or grind off the bolt head. I chose option 2.

    The AC compressor was supposedly replaced 5 years ago per receipts I had. That was 100% BS there. This thing has never been out of the RV. I wished those bolts that held it in would snap off, but they didn't and fought me every 1/12th of a turn to get them out. I earned a few bruised knuckles on that.

    So unfortunately I have some unplanned projects now to finish up while getting the RV ready. On the other hand, you could say it's fortunate that I have those since alternately I probably would've had a breakdown on the road.

    I'm still trying to fully understand the charging system, but the way I understand it is that the single alternator that was on there had a couple of diodes where the positive cable split off and then charged both banks of batteries (house and engine). At 160A this was undersized for what the inverter (2000W) can do. Also, what I found would happen is that the engine voltage would get drawn down if I had a high inverter load, which really isn't ideal for the ECU, headlights, etc. Since I have another pad getting freed up, my intent is to put two alternators in place and have one alternator drive each bank of batteries independently. Since there's a relay that will tie them together if I want, I can still connect them if need be, and the generator can also always provide power too. But I think this probably makes for the best overall system. It simplifies some wiring, and gives me lots of backups when on the road.

    If someone can/wants to talk me out of it, feel free. :)

    Out next planned trip is about 3 weeks away, so there's still a good amount of work to do between now and then. Once the thing is running and driving, I do want to also get it up to an exhaust shop to get the exhaust replaced as that's pretty rusty. I could put that off if need be as I don't think it'll fall off on the next trip, but I'd rather get it done if possible. I won't get the front AC done like I'd hoped, but that's fine as that doesn't cause any problems really. The shower is the last big project to do really, and while that will be some work, I know what that work needs to be.
     
  2. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    I'll send the kids out. They're great at demolition! ;)

    I really am pleased with how inexpensive this remodel has been. When you figure how much this RV looks like a much newer model (not necessarily higher end, but definitely updated from 2000) and how little it's cost us to do, it's really a great return on investment from that perspective. That said, the sweat equity has been significant. It would be nice if we could've put off some of this work.

    Like with planes, you're best off buying something that someone else has done the project work on and fixed all of these details. The more we work on this thing the less I have any interest in selling it. We sort of figure that in a few years well want a 45' with bunks to help with the kids sleeping arrangements. However, that'll be about the time when our son gets old enough that he may decide he'd rather pitch a tent and sleep outside. If that happens, suddenly the sleeping arrangements become less of an issue and we can just keep this. From a capability perspective, there's nothing it doesn't do for us. About the only thing I would really like would be a king sized mattress, and there's just no good way to do that in this RV.

    Plus it seems most of the bigger ones have Cummins or Detroit Diesel engines, and I'd rather have a Cat, even if it's a baby Cat.
     
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  3. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I can feel that. A simple 2hr final drive oil change and spline lube on the motorcycle turned into a week and a half job when I found almost everything I touched to be thoroughly seized. Swear words, big hammers, slide hammers, torches, kroil, sweat...
     
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  4. charheep

    charheep Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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  5. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    Yeah, I think I threw out enough curse words on Saturday that it would've even gotten my wife's attention, and that woman can make a sailor blush. ;)

    One thing that's really surprised me with this RV has been how much corrosion there's been in areas that just don't make sense. The frame itself is essentially rust-free, but surface rust is on basically everything else. My guess is that it never got driven in salt (and rarely in rain) but that it was parked near saltwater quite a bit, and this is just the result of that.

    This is the first (fingers crossed) bolt that's snapped off in my ownership so far. So, I guess that just is what happens sometimes.
     
  6. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Reminds me of the glow plugs on the OM648 turbo diesel in the E class we owned. It went thru glow plugs fairly regularly[1], although less regularly once I replaced them with quality Bosch aftermarket plugs. There was a torque spec for REMOVAL in the FM, the first I've ever seen a removal torque spec, and it was low, 17ft-lbs. If the wrench clicked, you stopped, as any further force would snap them off in the head, and then life gets a lot worse. Luckily, I never had an issue, but others on the internet certainly did.

    [1] Even on the coldest of days (6F around here), the glow plug light would go off in under 2 seconds, that's a pretty fast heat up. I think the plugs being fairly high power for their size lead to early demise.
     
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  7. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member

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    What was the procedure if 17 ft-lb didn't turn the plug? Holy water and an impact wrench?
     
  8. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    The FSM recommends removing when the engine is cold. If the torque limit is reached, drive the car for 30min to heat the engine and immediately try to remove when hot. The FSM offered no guidance beyond "It won't come out when hot."

    Luckily they always came out cold. Had they not come out hot, I'd have throw in the towel and let the dealer earn their money.
     
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  9. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    I went ahead and ordered the parts I need for the alternator upgrade package. Some of the folks on the RV forum are questioning my sanity. But you all know I'm insane, so none of what I'm doing will come as any surprise to anyone reading this. :)

    So, the stock 160A isn't able to keep up with the 2000W inverter. If you figure it was cranking out the max 2000W output at 13.5V, that comes out to 164 amps. So nope, not going to work, especially when you factor in the engine needing power and other 12V systems operating while driving down the road, and the fact that alternators will only make peak output at some higher RPM, so you want some margin between rated capacity and what you're actually running. With the electric air conditioning upgrade I'm doing (that compressor is rated at around 11A), that is going to take a decent amount of power to keep it running, especially while also running the fridge. And while we do normally run the generator going down the road, I would like to be able to have some air conditioning without the generator going in case it fails on the road somewhere.

    Here's the grand plan.

    The stock 160A alternator will be replaced with a 270A alternator. It looks like the one I ordered should bolt right in to the same place as the original alternator.

    Then there's the air conditioning compressor, which has left a space option. I found a new Delco 28si 200A alternator that I think I can make fit in there just fine, too.

    The stock wiring is going to be undersized for this, at least if I'm running at anything near rated capacity. So, I've got some new 1/0 gauge wire coming with appropriate ends to crimp on to run new power wires.

    Each alternator will then be dedicated to its own bank of batteries. The 270A will feed the house batteries, and the 200A will feed the engine batteries. Now really, I don't need 200A for the engine batteries. But the pricing on this one was good and I figured more capacity is more better because... keep reading.

    My current 2000W inverter lists a max current draw of 267A. However, doing the math and looking at the spec, that's at the min input voltage of 9V. If I'm running there, I have problems. At 13.5V, I should be down around 180A or so max, so the 270A alternator should be plenty fine and be able to handle transient loads. That should all work well.

    Then I started looking at the specs for a 3000W Magnum inverter. I'm not intending on upgrading that (there are a lot of other things I'd rather spend money on, and this was replaced at some point I think around 5 years ago). But if the current one goes out, I'll end up upgrading most likely. Looking at the specs on that I'd be more marginal with the 270A alternator (figure around 250A at 13.5V for 3000W) but still fine.

    The RV has a bus tie relay that lets me connect the house and engine batteries. So if needed, I could always tie them together for higher loads and let both alternators pitch in. So that would work too.

    Basically, this setup will have me set so the engine can actually power the inverter to its full capacity, and room to upgrade.

    Again, do I necessarily need that? Well, I like to have options. As it stood, we had to run the generator basically all the time while driving. I'd rather not be in that "have to" position.

    In the end, this upgrade isn't costing me much extra given that the alternator and air conditioning compressor were shot. I could just change the compressor bearing since that's the bad part, but I think that doing it this way isn't too much extra effort or cost and nets me a better, more robust solution.
     
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  10. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Ooo, that's going to be a nice upgrade.
     
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  11. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    It ain’t gonna be a hybrid, this will just let me burn more diesel! ;)
     
  12. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

    I still like when more electrons are being kicked down the wire. ;) All the fun stuff you can add in the cabin is electric, so having a huge supply is a good thing.
     
  13. tmyers

    tmyers En-Route

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    Will you be installing any type ammeter, or just sticking with the stock voltage meters?

    Sent from my SM-N970U using Tapatalk
     
  14. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I love it, FrankenCoach! "It's alive..."
     
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  15. charheep

    charheep Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    Are you planning on adding solar down the road? (no pun intended)
     
  16. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    As much as I don't enjoy doing electrical work (this is about the maximum extent of the electrical I enjoy), you are correct.

    Keep in mind I have the 7500W generator for going down the road, so I don't really have a significant limitation on supply of power. More than anything I'd like the ability to run down the road without needing the generator on more or less all the time, and also be able to have some comfort/etc. if the generator breaks.

    It's an Onan with 1800 hours on it, which seems high for the RV fleet but low for that type of generator. Runs well, doesn't appear to consume oil, etc. We've put about 400 hours on it since we bought it, so apparently we use electricity a lot more than the previous owners did. But in looking at reviews, some people who run RVs/busses for entertaining said they'd turn the generator on before the start of a road tour and it wouldn't shut off for 6 days straight, no issues.

    I've thought about that, Tim. At least to start and get going I'm going to stick with just voltmeters. If nothing else, with the circuits divorced I'll know that the alternators are each working independently. Plus we're planning on hitting the road sometime between April 10th and 15th, so I do need to pick and choose what I'm working on to some extent or I won't be ready.

    If after the first trip or two I think that I'd like ammeters, I may add them.

    I've thought about this as well as adding lithium batteries. The RV has a 60W trickle charge panel on it which has done a good job of keeping the batteries in an ok state while parked outside.

    The real benefit of solar and/or lithium batteries is if you boondock and want to do so without the generator running. Based on what we've found so far, we basically always either run the generator or are parked someplace with hookups. Solar or lithium batteries still wouldn't be enough to run the rooftop AC units, so I think that it doesn't make sense to spend the money on for how we use the RV. Or at least, there are places to spend money on upgrades that would benefit us more in the immediate future.
     
  17. IK04

    IK04 Pattern Altitude

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    I have done a dual alternator add on where the second alternator was set for AC power for the appliances.

    That was before serpentine belts, though, so that has to be dealt with on modern vehicles...

    I have recently seen some crazy dual-Gigawatt alternator mods done for 40,000 watt sound systems. (very slight embellishment).
     
  18. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    I've been asked the question of whether I need to upgrade the belt system. This uses an 8-rib belt and I don't think that ultimately the horsepower demand is much different. So I think I'm ok.
     
  19. IK04

    IK04 Pattern Altitude

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    OMG:
    QABGMV.jpg
     
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  20. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    Seems easier to generate the 1.21 gigawatts with plutonium.

    [​IMG]
     
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  21. jsstevens

    jsstevens Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I hope that's just for capacity. There's one obvious single point of failure.
     
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  22. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    I'm sure it's for amperage. Although you can get the 40si alternators in up to I think 500A, those are expensive and not very practical.

    Those look like some standard Ford/GM style alternators, probably in the 200ish amp range each for ludicrous capacity.
     
  23. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    Well, when you've got half a dozen amps each needing 14V to push out 1,500 to 2,000 watts each, it tends to tax the electrical system. Not to mention the lighting and other electronic video/audio equipment that needs to run the show. Always interesting to see the car stereo competitions where the car is worth 1/2 of what the stereo system is worth. Everyone needs a hobby I suppose.
     
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  24. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    Only 1/2 of the stereo? When I was in college 1/10 was what I saw more often. :)

    As someone who enjoys music, I enjoy a good stereo. But the competition stuff on it I find to be rather ridiculous. I also enjoy a good stereo but I don't want to make my hearing any worse than it already is.
     
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  25. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Back in the day it was always Alpine head units, real line level crossover/equalizers, ADS power plates for the four channels, a giant Rockford Fosgate to drive the sub, Boston Acoustics or MBQuart separates, and a JBL 1500GTi 15" sub in a tuned port enclosure. My buddy worked in stadium sound reinforcement, so we put pink noise into the system, put the measuring mic between the driver and passenger ear, and turned it flat as a pancake. Wonderful even response that sounded good on every type of music.

    These days the optional factory high end stereo is fine, and like you, I don't even turn it up anymore. Airplanes, motorcycles, and loud music when I was young has added up.
     
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  26. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    Back in college when I had my Jag, I put in two 10" Kicker Comp subs in sealed enclosures, put those where the back seat used to be (I removed it since everyone complained about sitting back there), and put in some upgraded speakers. The speakers weren't as good as the subs - I want to say Pioneer 6.5s and 6x9s, 3-ways for both. Quality was still good, but there were better options. Sony headunit as I recall.

    I really haven't done much for upgrading stereos since then, until it was time to do the subwoofer in the RV. Single 10" sub this time, and it does fine but not optimal, it could use a bit more and better distributed, especially while going down the road, but way better than it was and I'll like how it sounds while I'm driving, which matters.

    I agree - high end stereos these days in cars do everything I need. I might add a subwoofer to the Ram at some point as it could use some better bass. Otherwise, I'm good.
     
  27. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    I was being generous with the car valuation, lol. I completely agree on the car audio competitions, especially the SPL competition. It just serves no purpose except standing around in a parking lot listening to your stereo really loud. Even then, the imaging is all messed up. I have a great audio system in the Excursion (put in by prior owner) that is probably $3,500 worth of audio stuff ($500/pair JL Audio components x 6, 1K watt 5-ch amp, 10" sub, high-end Kenwood touchscreen, etc). However, aside from the touchscreen, you'd never know the rest of it existed because the speakers are all in factory locations or disguised so as to not be noticeable. Don't need my vehicle to be a target for thieves. The audio is well balanced and has the ability to play loud enough to make my ears hurt if I so choose. I can't see needing anything more than what I have, yet guys stuff three times the number of speakers and amps into a vehicle half this size. No sense in reasoning with them about it though.
     
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  28. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'll let you in on a dirty secret: Nobody enjoys electrical work. :rofl: Maybe when adding new stuff, but when it comes to troubleshooting and repairs, it's maddening sometimes.

    Yes, but as a pilot I greatly appreciate the removal of single points of failure. It certainly decreases the chances that you'll end up having any bad experiences on the road with your family.

    That thing will go 10,000 hours easy, even with an average owner. With the way you keep your stuff maintained, I wouldn't be surprised if you could get it to 20, but I'm sure you'll probably sell it before you hit 5. ;)
     
  29. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    That's exactly the goal. Reducing the single points of failure, and makes it less likely that a fun trip is interrupted with an RV repair. This is a utility vehicle. A fun one, but it's about utility first.

    5k is a lot of hours, figuring more than 3k from where I am now. If you figure we've put 400 hours on it since we bought the thing under a years ago, that'd probably be 6 years or so. Still, a lot of people have asked the questions about selling it (and we've thought about the future on it). I've been thinking about it quite a bit.

    I love vehicle projects, we all know this. I also hate house projects. I enjoy the results of house projects, but I hate doing them. I have no desire to move from our current property at all. It's fantastic, the house is "ours" and the way we want it (with a few other projects we want to do). It would be virtually impossible to convince me to move now, especially with the completion of the shop.

    As I age, I also am getting more in the mode of "forever" vehicles. My Ram is a good such example. I've had it for nearly 4 years, and haven't had a single desire to sell it or upgrade (or downgrade) since purchase. No regrets, even though it's the most expensive ground-vehicle I've purchased by a good margin. I've got a couple minor tweaks I've done and a couple more I want to do, but that's it. The Harley was a forever vehicle already, especially now after the engine upgrade last year.

    The RV is sort of an interesting conundrum. It's a house, I hate house projects and we'll have it completely remodeled before too long (well, maybe minus a few smaller/easier details). It's a vehicle, so I like projects. But, it's a whole lot more like my Ram than like the Cobra or some fun car that I really want to tinker with. So really, I view selling it because either it no longer does what we need it to do (like sleeping arrangements, or if we start needing to tow bigger/heavier things with the RV) or if we come across some kind of issue that's big enough that it's not worth fixing.

    What's mostly unclear I think is how sleeping arrangements with the kids will evolve.
     
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  30. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member

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    Q: What are all those alternators doing?
    A: Alternating.
     
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  31. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    Just like there is no such thing as a forever house, there’s no such thing as a forever vehicle.

    (Or in my case a forever tractor. Ha.)

    Needs change. Abilities change. Interests change.

    There is however a “last vehicle” a “last house”, etc. Whatever you’re happy driving today, if you keel over tomorrow.

    I suppose airplanes count too. Ha.
     
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  32. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    My uncle calls his current vehicle his “terminal car”.
     
  33. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    Well, note I put “forever” in quotes.

    Everything you’ve said is true. However, there’s nothing saying you have to sell something just because your needs, abilities, or interests change.

    I’m not advocating just holding onto things for the sake of holding onto them, at a certain point there’s a state of ridiculousness. If I’d kept all the vehicles I’ve owned over the years I’d be at something well north of 50, and frankly most of them wouldn’t be worth keeping.

    But there are some things, especially when you get to vehicles, that are worth keeping because they hold a special place/memory or are such great examples of what they are that you’re not likely to ever find one like it again.

    I’m not talking about buying a Kia and keeping that forever. Nothing against people who do that, but I’m talking about something more unusual and unique, or personally meaningful.
     
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  34. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member

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    But there is such a thing as a forever project. :)
     
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  35. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    The new alternator for the house batteries showed up last night. This should make enough power, assuming this is a true dyno chart:

    [​IMG]

    What's cool with this is that it makes enough power to comfortably power a 3kW inverter too if I ever make the upgrade.
     
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  36. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    SoonerAviator
    It'll power a 4kW inverter if you can keep the RPM maxed out, lol.
     
    Ted likes this.
  37. jsstevens

    jsstevens Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    jsstevens
    Time for that lower rear end ratio!
     
  38. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    iFlyNothing
    Please no. It’s already a 4.56. Really it’s pretty decently matched for the engine and transmission (and weight) but it spins 2k or so at 70 MPH, which is already higher than I’d prefer.
     
  39. jsstevens

    jsstevens Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Yeah, optimizing for maximum alternator output is probably not the right answer...
     
  40. TCABM

    TCABM Pattern Altitude

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    3G
    Q: is the new alternator 1:1 to your engine rpm or something different?