Progress: 18 days to go

The top photo was taken by Stephen in the early years of our relationship and I’ve just done a little bit of shadow lifting in Lightroom to improve it slightly.

Finally the Winnie was ready with the new fridge installed and we picked it up yesterday morning. The fridge is black, which looks a bit odd with our wooden interior, but we will get used to it. They had it running and it was already pretty cold.

The hatch over the bed has been repaired and I had also asked them to fix a shelf in the locker over the kitchen. I noticed that the whole locker had dropped slightly, probably due to our times on gravel roads, but wasn’t sure what could be done about it. The repairer was able to work out a way to lift and strengthen the whole, at a price of course. So, we now have a fully functioning kitchen locker, apart from one door which doesn’t latch. That is a whole different exercise and because it doesn’t fly open when we are travelling we are leaving it for the next round of repairs.

Our neighbours left Tuesday night for their holiday and we have been able to park the Winnie on the driveway. The interior is quite dusty from having workmen inside and it will be easier to clean close to the house where we can plug into power and use the vacuum cleaner.

We ran the fridge overnight on battery power and I’m not sure how the batteries coped because I didn’t check later than about 9.00 p.m. when the level was 12.4. That was quite low, bearing in mind that it shouldn’t go below 12.2, but the fridge compressors weren’t running and there was only the usual very light ‘load’ of about 2 amps.

I’ve explored Google to find out if it is safe to run the engine when we are parked for, say, half an hour to charge up the house batteries if necessary. The overall consensus seems to be that modern engines should not overheat if left idling, even when running the air conditioner and can actually run for several hours if necessary. We wouldn’t do that, of course.

We have looked with concern at some of the day time temperatures in the Goldfields and wondered how we would manage if we stop for lunch, for example, and have no electricity to run the house air conditioner. It looks like we could run the engine and have vehicle air conditioning for a while if really necessary. If it is going to be a really hot night we can check into a caravan park so that we can have the fan running overnight.

The best vehicle to have for using with vehicle heating and cooling when parked is a Prius. The engine starts automatically when the battery drops below a safe level. One camper even installed an inverter to run an induction cooktop from the battery, and a long bench top which can double as a bunk for sleeping. I haven’t done any research on the type of batteries used in hybrid vehicles, but I would think they would be very powerful. Hymer motorhomes have a second regulator which comes on automatically to recharge house batteries when they go below a certain level. A sort of built in generator. This is backup for the solar system, of course.

Even our modest solar system (160W solar panels and 2 100 amp hour AGM batteries) has been very good for all of our power needs during the day and overnight when parked. However, adding in the fridge with it’s two compressors might be a stretch overnight, especially if we need to run the deisel heater which has a fan. Plus, we can’t count on having an electrical hookup when we are at the Canberra Folk Festival.

We haven’t booked a powered site, but when we were there last time we were able to hook up by parking near the stables. One of the volunteers told us about this. We need to arrive on the Monday when the showgrounds first open to secure a spot. Our plan is to try for this, but plan for the worst, dry camping for a week and relying on solar with shorter days and perhaps cloudy conditions. We won’t be able to drive, so the motor would need to idle whilst charging. Hopefully, our neighbours won’t complain.

CottesloeBeach2 (1 of 1)
Cottesloe Beach, 1972
GoingHome2 (1 of 1)
Possibly 1988. Matt was about 15, but doesn’t look it!
Stephenonbeach (1 of 1)
1970s when Stephen was in England
Stephenoncliff (1 of 1)
1970s when Stephen was in England

All photos taken by Stephen, and processed by me today to straighten horizons and lift shadows.