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Old 09-03-17, 02:45 PM   #1
martinpaff
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Default New Season Prep.

As the new season of rallies approaches, I have been doing a little "sorting" in the trailer.

Firstly, the tie-downs... Those fitted by the trailer manufacturer were rubbish! Although they were welded loops, the welds split and serious tension pulled them open. Some of the engines that have been in the trailer in the last 2 or 3 years are pretty heavy (circa 2 tonnes) and the tie-downs need to be more robust.

I have now fitted some new "Mercedes Van" loops, kindly supplied by Mike & Andy Milestone. They are a thousand times better than the commercial trailer items, and have the added bonus that they swivel. You can see one in the corner of the picture below. If you have the same problems as me, contact Mike or Andy - I'm sure more may be available.

My second problem was power... I finished the season last year with a battery that was about 15 years old, and at the very last rally (Ashover) it gave out. Fortunately there was enough muscle on hand to assist the Lister MH into the van - if it had been the Tangye we might have been in trouble!

I have always been aware that this could happen; during the weekend the battery runs lights inside the trailer and awning, and still has to be at its best to load the engine last thing. I decided that some "green" charging is required.



So, new set-up...

First, the battery. May I wholeheartedly recommend Tayna Batteries - they could not have been more helpful. My old battery (Land Rover) was obsolete and the guy went to a lot of trouble to measure this to ensure it fits the tray. Apparently about half of their LR customers fit this - although it's a multi-purpose leisure/marine battery, it has very high capacity and cranking current (86 Ah/930 MCA) and has proved to last well in a Landy. ...and it's cheap!

With the storage problem solved, how to ensure it is fully charged at the end of a weekend? Initially I looked at the "joke" solar panel sold in motoring shops, and it soon became obvious that they weren't worth the space in the car!

I settled on Victron, a Dutch renewable energy company with a great reputation. I have a 100W panel, the MPPT (Max Power Point Tracking) charger in the picture, and a bluetooth interface.

What can you see in my picture?

The battery, relay box, and winch are obvious. Above the winch is a permanently wired "emergency" switch - if the remote fails the winch can be operated from here.

The blue thing is the charge controller. It does a lot of clever things, but mainly, it ensures that the battery is cared for, whilst making the most of the available solar power, and it ensures that the load isn't allowed to flatten the battery.

The terminal block is the load distribution. Currently (geddit!?) it is connected to the lights and the small black cylindrical thing, which is a USB charger. If I find a suitable DAB radio then that will probably be added.

The socket at the right hand side is where the panel plugs in outside. I'm not mounting the panel permanently; I want to be able to move it around to make the most of the sun(!), then put it away when not in use.

The cable running up the wall goes to the bluetooth transmitter. The Victron ap, downloaded onto my phone, gives you an instantaneous readout of what the panel and battery are doing, plus power in versus power out (and other stuff) for up to the last 30 days.

The winch connects directly to the battery (obviously). Even if I don't use the panel (or it doesn't get light for a whole weekend!) the charge controller will ensure that I can't flatten the battery, and there will always be enough to winch an engine into the trailer.

That's what I've been up to, so far. Wheels/tyres/brakes/hitch can wait until a little closer to the first show.

MP
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Old 09-03-17, 02:58 PM   #2
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Tell me more about the solar charging setup. The one on my engine shed is due an overhaul - two of the four amorphous panels which made up the Maplin 60 Watt set have died and the controller is probably now pretty 'state of the ark'!

TIA.

NHH
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Old 09-03-17, 03:48 PM   #3
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A quick word about the tie-downs:

IF they are similar to the Renault Trafic and Land Rover units, the loop that you hook to is not a continuous ring, it is folded to the shape with the butt joint covered by the mounting bracket.

I had one fail in the first Trafic we had, it just pulled out of the retaining bracket after unbending under tension from the ratchet straps.

Best thing to do if they are not continuous is to unwrap and weld the ends together, then reassemble.

Peter
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Old 09-03-17, 04:16 PM   #4
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The tie downs are from Merc Sprinters are much heavier duty than the Renault/Vauxhall one.
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Old 09-03-17, 04:31 PM   #5
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They are very nicely welded. The mount is designed so that the welded joint is clearly visible, presumably so that it can be inspected.

Nick - not an expert at all, but here's what I learned as I tried to make up my mind; Peter was also very helpful...

PV cells I soon realised that there is a huge variation in price. Monocrystaline cells are best, but even there the price varies a lot. I dealt with Meadotech Controls, an official UK dealer for Victron. The very nice gent there explained that all cells come from China, but that they are not all born equal! During the manufacturing process the cells develop micro-cracks. Rather than scrap the less efficient cells they are made into lower grade panels that are marketed under "no-name" on ebay and similar. Victron use only the highest grade cells, and provide a performance chart and guarantee with every panel.

Charge Controller There are essentially 2 types of charge controller - MPPT (as mentioned above) or PWM (Pulse Width Modulation); MPPT is better, but as Peter alerted me, there are PWM controllers masquerading as MPPT; if you pay too little then it's almost certainly PWM, no matter what it says on the (Chinese) box. Probably more than 50 is a safe cut-off (or a reputable make).

Peter is far better qualified than me to talk about batteries.

So, why monocrystal, and why MPPT? Because they both make better use of marginal conditions. Back in January, under a heavy dark grey winter sky, I was still charging at nearly 2 Amps.

If you decide that you like Victron products, buy from Meadotech directly, and not from ebay - it's cheaper. In fact, if you speak to him on the phone he will give you a discount code and you can save even more.

MP
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Old 09-03-17, 04:41 PM   #6
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For anyone wanting Tie Down Rings are listed here.
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1120825533...84.m1559.l2649
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Old 09-03-17, 04:46 PM   #7
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Thanks Martin.

I went for amorphous panels originally as I wasn't pushed for roof area and they were very cheap at the time, but didn't really expect a 50% failure rate over maybe 5 years.

Was planning to buy a new 'no name' 100W panel and keep the old Maplin charge controller but I think I will look a little deeper.

NHH

Last edited by nickh; 09-03-17 at 04:49 PM.
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Old 09-03-17, 09:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by listerdiesel View Post
A quick word about the tie-downs:

IF they are similar to the Renault Trafic and Land Rover units, the loop that you hook to is not a continuous ring, it is folded to the shape with the butt joint covered by the mounting bracket.

I had one fail in the first Trafic we had, it just pulled out of the retaining bracket after unbending under tension from the ratchet straps.

Best thing to do if they are not continuous is to unwrap and weld the ends together, then reassemble.

Peter
Mercedes or no, they still look a bit flimsy to me, especially when planning to tie big engines down with them. I'd much prefer "Dynamo Eye Nuts" with 12mm HT bolts. Load security isn't something to be scrimped on.
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Old 09-03-17, 10:00 PM   #9
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On the subject of tie downs, I have used the eye bolts and spreader plates as used for 5 point seat belts in performance cars. Ideal for the sub 250kg engines I lug about.

Phill.
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Old 09-03-17, 10:07 PM   #10
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I shall probably drag the trailer out of the hedge, empty it of leaves, kick the tyres and that'll be it.
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