Sunday 19 February 2017

A bright spark

A bright spark
Feb 2017

Time is flying by and whilst there has been little action on the blog in the last month, there has been a lot going on behind the scenes.

New solar panels on Wand'ring Bark

The end of my paid employment is rapidly drawing closer, with just over six weeks left till I leave in mid April and then, almost immediately, we will be heading off to Droitwich for the first trading event of the season. 

Suddenly, all our plans are stepping up a gear and there is a veritable blitz of ordering going on to ready ourselves for our 2017 extended trip. Glass jars are being ordered by the thousand, new leaflets have arrived, blackboards are being re painted and various carpentry jobs are being finished off on both the motor and the butty. Truth be told the number of things on the "to do" list is frighteningly long.

Viewed from the tiller

This weekend represented something of a milestone in the electrical power department. You will remember that I built a small 12v freezer into the new saloon (32ltr Isotherm) but this needs an extra power supply and extra storage, which all adds up to quite marathon on the DIY front.

To start the weekend I bought 4 new sealed cell 110ah batteries from Coombswood Trust in Hawne Basin. These will replace our pair of five year old batteries and I was relieved to discover that the extra two batteries fitted snugly into the newly extended battery box. Now I just need to source some extra battery wires and we will be sorted.

Not content with the batteries I also bought two 160 amp Midsummer solar panels with a controller just before Christmas and have been itching to get them fixed in. I did spend a very chilly day on the boat about a month ago installing all the electrical cables which will carry the power from the panels to the controller and also the 12v supply from the batteries to the freezer, but the means of securing the panels to the boat was in something of a gestation period.

Motor and butty await the start of the new season

My key criteria is that the panels have to be as inconspicuous as possible, protected from accidental damage and also capable of some angling to maximise power gathering. What I didn't want was those triangular brackets screwed to the roof which are, to my mind, unsightly and add significantly to the air draft. Success means that I can still navigate the Froghall Tunnel and failure is not an option.

My solution was to set the panels end to end in front of the centre ring and to the port side next the the pole rack. The panels have been fixed to a hinged frame which in turn is attached to three hardwood strips which match the curve of the cabin roof, wedged into position under the the handrails. The production was a bit tricky but in the event turned out better than I expected, with a very even 5mm gap all round the panels. When flat the panels are below the level on the handrail and even in the centre of the roof they stand up less than the height of the cratch. Froghall remains within our reach.

All in all I am very satisfied with the end result. From the stern the supports look a bit like boatmans beams and from the side they are all but invisible.

Now I just need to sort out the wiring.