Decision #78: Heat Source

Our original build had two propane tanks in the upper portion of the aft-port storage compartment. This supplied the heating system and the stove in the kitchen. We were not enthused with the space the tanks used or the prospect of having to refill propane tanks while exploring the far reaches of the globe. Cooking on a gas stove was also not very appealing. So, after our return from out shakedown cruise in May of 2018, we explored other options with the team at Plan B.

The first option we explored was to switch to a diesel stove instead of induction and, in fact, this was our initial decision by the time we left Utah. Looking into the diesel units uncovered two drawbacks. First, a long time to heat up and second, a lot of heat put into the living space. Of course, the second could be a benefit in cold weather. We’d had an induction stove in our house for three years. An induction stove heats the pan up incredibly fast and puts out little heat to the surroundings. Once you cook on induction, it’s hard to go back so we looked into that as an option.

Of course, it’s not an easy swap. We would have to overcome several challenges impacting different areas…

·      Install a diesel furnace as the main heat source for the system

·      Provide fuel to the furnace from the fuel tank

·      Find an induction stove that could fit in our kitchen

·      Upsize the entire solar/battery/inverter system to support the load of the induction stove

The decision resulted in:

Increased solar to 1000W

Increased solar to 1000W

Diesel furnace for hydronic heat and hot water

Diesel furnace for hydronic heat and hot water

Upsized inverter

Upsized inverter

Room for our portable fridge/freezer/beer cooler

Room for our portable fridge/freezer/beer cooler

Two burner induction stove

Two burner induction stove

Also an upgraded solar controller and more battery capacity.

So far, we are very happy with our decision. The stove draws a bunch of current, so we have to monitor battery charge when using it. The box and hot water heat up fast and provide more than enough for cold weather and hot showers. The furnace does make a noticeable whine when running but not much louder than noise what I’ve heard coming from other RV’s. There are a bunch of ways to skin this cat, decision #78 is working well for us.

How I Crashed the Truck Day 1

After the better part of nine months, much hard work, more than a little frustration, and with great anticipation, our overland vehicle was delivered to us on the evening of Friday, 2 November 2018. The next morning, I crashed it into our barn.

We had our house on the market for about a week and had an open house scheduled for Saturday at 2:00-4:00. After about two hours of blowing and raking leaves, it was time to move the Buffalo out of the front drive. We had a circular driveway and wanted people to be able to pull through to get out. We apparently expected lots of cars. We also didn’t want the sight of the vehicle to distract from the interest in our house.

We had a gravel drive that went down along the side of our house, to the back, and in front of the barn. The plan was to park it next to the barn as inconspicuously as you can be with such a vehicle. There was enough room and it was sheltered from view from the upper deck from where we expected most visitors would be viewing the back yard.

So, about 11:00 Saturday morning, I started up the truck and started moving to the back. Unfortunately, with the truck just over 13 feet high, there was a large branch in the way along the side of the house. The challenge is that it was hanging over a steep slope as the drive led down to the walk out basement. The slope of the ground made it a bit dangerous to use a ladder to get at the branch. To solve for this, I pulled the truck just over the edge of the slope and stopped as it neared the branches. I then climbed on top of the safari rack of the truck and used a pole saw to cut down the branches. I managed to get them out of the way preventing the up to four-inch branches from falling on the front of the truck. I must say that I was feeling quite manly at this point. This was the type of git-er-done work an overlander does!

Pulling around the back I turned left and then proceeded to back into the spot beside the barn. It was a pretty good first try. It seemed to me though that I was too close to the bank on the side of the barn. There was about six feet to the side of the barn. I wanted it more centered in the space. Determined not to leave well enough alone, pulled it out to move it over just a couple of feet. In doing so, I ended up hitting both front and back eaves of the barn. There was minor damage to the eaves and I also broke the window in the door and one of the windows just aft of the door. Please take a moment to let that sink in.

I was devastated by what I had just done. I ran up to house to tell Jane. “Sweetie, I just F’ed up.” Jane’s reaction was truly amazing. Considerate, forgiving, loving, and solution focused. Just as you would hope in such a situation. Another hero in this story is my friend Nilson. Within an hour, he was over and up on a ladder helping me make temporary repairs. We were ready for the open house. No one noticed anything wrong about the barn. And a short six months later, we sold the house.

Temp repair of window and visible scratches. Ouch!

Temp repair of window and visible scratches. Ouch!

The short-term results of the mishap were $750 to fix the barn, $1700 to replace the door and the window. The long-term results were:

·       Knowing that I can count on Jane in a crisis

·       Strengthened friendship with Nilson and my neighbors Andy and John who also helped out

·       A commitment to never move the truck in tight quarters without a spotter on a walkie-talkie

·       A commitment to be calm in a crisis and not make it worse

·      Several more lessons learned as Jane and I reviewed the events

·       Experience in replacing a window (FYI, not the pane but the entire two window unit)

Emotional distress for a day and a couple thousand dollars. I think I came out ahead.