Tuesday, April 18, 2017

April 2017 Bullet Trailer Improvements

After our earlier April RV adventure down to Long Point Park I have done a few additional improvements to our Bullet travel trailer.  We have another short trip planned for mid-May prior to THE Trip (from home in Florida, to Illinois and Colorado then up to the Canada, where we will travel through Alberta and British Columbia to Dawson Creek, BC, where we will get on the Alaska Highway (this year is its 75th anniversary) and follow it up to Alaska where we will spend a few weeks touring around the state before coming back.  This trip will have us on the road for at least two months or so and will cover somewhere around 14,000 miles!

So, I wanted to get some improvements done before our May trip to test them thoroughly on that trip before THE Trip.  We will also be taking our two grandsons camping for a few days after they get out of school--either late May or very early June.  So, we will have two trips to test everything before THE Trip.

The changes:

1.  The most important change I made was purchasing and installing a Progressive Industries EMS HW30C A/C power monitoring system.  EMS=Energy Management System.  For the past couple of years we have relied on a Surgeguard 30 Amp dog bone type surge protection unit to protect our trailer and onboard systems and electronics from being damaged by power surges.  Campgrounds sometimes have problems with their wiring, voltage levels, other campers could back into a power pedestal and other problems that may cause a variety of surges, wiring and other issues.  

Typically what I do when we get our trailer into a campsite is take the dog bone surge guard to the power pedestal.  I make sure all the pedestal power breakers are off and I plug the surge guard into the pedestal, then turn on the 30 amp breaker.  The Surgeguard unit has lights that indicate some types of mis-wiring and if power is present, but that is all it does other than over voltage surge protection.  Once I have verified all is well with this, I then plug the trailer in and turn on the 30 amp breaker on the pedestal.  Next I go into the trailer and check the voltmeter I have plugged in.  This is done at every campsite, every time.

Why is something like an EMS important?  Both low and high voltages can damage or cause premature failures in things like the air conditioner, reefer and many other items in the trailer.  Mis-wiring can cause many problems, one of the most serious being what is called a "hot skin" condition, where the trailer's frame and other metal parts have 120 volts of A/C on them--a very dangerous condition that can cause electrocution.

For some time now I have been researching EMS units and most people recommend the one I purchased, so I bit the bullet and bought one.  It is guaranteed for life and Progressive Industries provides 7x24x365 customer service if there are issues.  

This unit is hard wired inside the trailer, so it is always functioning when on A/C shore power and is protected from the elements and theft.  It also has a remote LED display that cycles continually with readouts for voltage, amps, frequency and any errors.  It protects the trailer from just about every bad power condition there is and if it senses a fault, for example the voltage drops below 104 volts, it shuts the power off to the trailer in less than one nanosecond.  If the condition is corrected the unit will monitor it for a preset time and if stable, turn the power back on to the trailer.
This is the Progressive Industries EMS HW-30C with remote that I installed.
I mounted ours in an unused area below the pantry to the left of the trailer's main power distribution center and converter.  I removed the 120 vac #10 gauge wiring going into the converter and ran it to the input of the EMS, then using a short jumper piece of #10 gauge wiring ran from the output of the EMS back to the converter's A/C input.  It was simple and fast.
The installed EMS box.  A wood panel velcros over this opening.
I mounted the remote display using Command velcro strips to the panel to the left of the entertainment center, but running the wire up through one corner of the pantry.  It was all very easy to do.
The box on the left is the remote readout for the EMS.

Closeup of the remote on the left.  The switch can bypass the EMS in case of a component failure in the EMS, but per Progressive Industries if there is a component failure and error code indicating so, a call to their 7x24x365 hot line is suggested before going into bypass mode.  The surge protection works in either case.
Since the trailer was at our storage facility when I did this I tested the new set up using our Champion 3,400 watt inverter generator.  Since I already knew this type of generator does not have a neutral-to-ground bond built in and the EMS will show that as a fault and not allow power through to the trailer I had already made a neutral-to-ground bonding Edison plug.  This plugs into one of the 120 volt Edison-type outlets on the generator, thus providing the neutral/ground bonding.

Anyway, I power up the generator and plugged the trailer in and after the EMS unit's built in time delay of 15 seconds the trailer was powered up.  Awesome!  I ran the air conditioner and a few other items and watched the amps being drawn change on the display.  Test successful.

So, now all we have to do when pulling into a campsite is plug the trailer's shore power cord in and the EMS will take care of the protection automatically.  Nice!

2.  We carry a small Weber Q1200 LPG grill in the trailer and use it often when RV'ing.  We have used MANY of those small green canisters of LP gas over the past couple of years.  After reading many RV blogs, forums and YouTube videos I decided to modify the grill to use the trailer's onboard LP gas instead of the green canisters that always seem to be empty or get empty right in the middle of cooking something.

I went to a web site, http://caloreequipment.com.  They sell all kinds of parts, hoses and pieces to do grill conversions and seem to be very knowledgeable about Weber grills.  I called their phone number and told the very nice, helpful person (Ren) what I wanted to do and he told me what parts I needed, so I ordered them on the spot.

I removed the regulator and mount and replaced it with the two brass parts in the picture just below.

The male QD and mating brass connector to the grill's control and gas pipe.
The 12' gas hose I got. They will make any length desired. The female QD on the left attaches to the male QD in the picture above and the male QD on the hose attaches to the female QD on the rear of our trailer.  Our Bullet came with a grill, but I don't use it because I like the Weber and so, the trailer had a gas line running from the trailer's onboard LP regulator to the rear of the trailer.
The original regulator from the grill with the female QD attached on the left side. If we want to use the green canisters the green canister would screw into the right side and the female QD on the left side would plug into either the male QD on the grill (where the hose goes) or it can even be attached to the male QD end of the hose (that would be attached to the grill).
It took me all of about 15 minutes to make all the modifications, after which I used soapy water to test for leaks; there were none.  I first tested it with the green canisters, then took the grill to the trailer and used the hose to attach the grill to the trailer line.  Worked perfect.  We will test this more fully on the May trip, but it should be fine.

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