Sunday, February 24, 2013

Chapter 97...Installing A Battery Cut Off Switch So You Don't Drain batteries

Off Grid...Chapter 97

Hello everyone. It has been a very rain week here in the mountains which makes it really hard to get work done. We did take advantage of the nice days so let me tell you about it.

On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday it rained so we didn't get any outside work done.

While it was nasty outside, Mike started to do some sheet rock repair inside the house. We had some cracks near our front doors. Mike fixed some of these cracks last year but they came back. We aren't really sure why. The only thing we can come up with is that we just got too lazy and tired by the time we got to the front wall when we were building. The front wall was the last wall we did in the house and by then we were pretty sick of sheet rock. Anyway, maybe we didn't put enough screws in. Mike is going to make sure we have enough screws in this time, lol.

First Mike put a ton of screws in on both sides of each crack. Next he scraped it down and then filled it with joint compound.

We let that dry over night. The next day Mike put a second coat of joint compound on.

It has been so damp here that we are giving it extra time to dry before we sand and paint. I'm dreading the sanding part. It makes such a mess.

Thursday 5-20
Yay. Finally we have a nice day. Time to get outside and get some work done. Mike starts in the ditch line. Here he is picking up more gray rock.

Then he heads down to pick up a new load of rock to dump into the ditch. While I wait for him to come back with the rock I start mowing the back yard. Once he gets up top, he dumps the rock and I place the rock in the ditch line. I finish and go back to mowing while Mike gets more rock. We do this a few times. On the final round Mike asks me to go down and help him load up. So I jump on the tractor and head down to the rock pile with him.

Using the tractor bucket Mike gets one good scoop of rock from our rock pile.

Since we don't want a bunch of dirt back in our ditch we have to scoop the rest by hand.

Mike and I got up to the very top where we dumped our first load. Now it's time to make sure we like everything we have done so far. By hand we take any rock from the bucket and place it into the ditch were we need any filling. We used the whole bucket filling in the gaps. It looks good.

I go back to mowing and Mike gets the sprayer out to spray the weeds in the ditch.

Next it's time to plant some of our new plants. Here are the plants waiting to be planted.

Mike starts digging a hole using buckets of course to keep everything neat and clean.

Mike does most of the digging and I do most of the planting. I got the easy end of the deal this time. Thankfully it is all fill dirt so it is very soft.

Oops...I spoke too soon. Mike starts a new hole and hits a really big rock. I go to the back building to get the metal bar to help us. Here I am taking out any frustrations trying to break up the rock, lol.

We got it. And guess what that rock was? It was the concrete that we poured for our wind generator pole. We forgot about that.

We got 6 of the 8 plants planted, dumped our 3 buckets of rock, I mowed the back and the front lawn and got some weed whacking done, and Mike sprayed the weeds in the ditch....then the rain came...again!!!!

Friday 5-21
It's not raining ...yet. I want to get out and finish the weed whacking before the rain. I have to weed whack the sides of the house. This is the area that we planted clover on last year so I didn't have to weed whack. Unfortunately Mike and I didn't like how messy the clover looked so here I am doing something I tried to avoid. So much for maintenance free hills, lol. Mike said we could add some big rock to the sides but I think it will look too "hard" around the house. I like the green better even if I have to weed whack it.

While I finish that Mike goes around with the blower and cleans up all of my mess. Hey, this time Mike is cleaning up after me.

Well we made it just in time. And here comes the rain.

Back inside Mike starts playing around with our tile that we brought back from FL. We have to make a square of tile on the floor for the wood stove and then we are going to do the wall behind it. We aren't ready for that job yet but Mike is playing and measuring.

Saturday 5-22
It rained through the night and it's very cloudy out this morning. I had to cancel my strawberry picking pland with Nicole.

We did get a call about the fireplace and the woman is supposed to be here at 11:00am to pick it up. We waited until 12:15 and she finally made it. Just when she got here it started pouring. We had to come down o the house and wait it out. We got a break and went up top to wrap the fp in plastic and blankets and helped her load up. Woo hoo. One more item gone. I wish we could find a deal on a wood stove as she just got on our fireplace.

After that we went ot he dump and then to town. Back to the wood stove place to check things out. Mike has it in his head to get a wood stove with the removable cook plates...but they are all over $2000.00. I don't want to spend that kind of money and "now" neither does Mike. Back to the drawing board to check out other options.

Next we stopped at the auto parts store for a switch for the motor home(van). I know what we will be working on when we get home.

Once we get home Mike starts right away working on the van. RV's and boats both have the same problem. Their batteries are constantly draining even when they are turned off. That's why they have to be hooked up to power all the time. Mike has seen and fixed this problem on many vehicles and boats over the years. It's amazing that the RV and Boat companies can't figure this out...oh yeah they are there to service your RV and Boat and make money. The problem is their switch. When you turn off the 12 volt switch it should have no juice going out of your battery but if you put a charger on it when it is "turned off" you will see voltage going out of your battery. Time to do it the Mike way.

Mike is going to rewire our inside battery that is for the 12 volt which runs our inside electric and lights inside the motor home. We have to do this now because our 9 month old battery died and we had to buy a new one for over $100.00. Our battery got drained even though the factory switch was off.

We open up the battery cover and Mike disconnects the wires to the battery.

He drills a hole through the side so he can install our new switch.

Then he installs the switch.

Next he hook hooks up the 12 volt wire to the switch.

He then hooks the battery up.

He is done. Both wires coming and going from the battery are hooked to the switch.

Our new switch will work all the time unlike the factory switch which we will not use again.

That job is done.

Here are the plants we planted this week.

I also planted green peppers, more cukes, beans, carrots, radish, and lettuce in my garden.

Out front Mike found some very tiny baby birds in a nest in our bush.. I tried to get a picture of them without disturbing them.


Time for the oil change on the motor home. The dealer wants $250.00 to do this oil change so Mike is doing it himself...he has saved us so much money over the years. And people pick on trades.

He hasn't done an oil change on this engine before and our manual doesn't help too much so Mike has to just jump in and get the job done. We bought the new filter and 5 quarts of oil. We have no idea how much oil we meed since the manual doesn't say.

This is how to change the oil.

Put your car on a level surface. Place a drain pan under the plug for the oil. Open the plug and let it all drain out. Then locate the oil filter which took Mike a couple of minutes on this engine. Take the old oil filter out using a wrench. This is a different kind of filter that Mike has never seen. It unscrews first and then it snaps out. We are learning.

After he got the filter out I cleaned up the leftover oil surrounding the spot where the filter goes.

This is where the filter goes.

It is all drained and Mike plugs it up so we can add the new oil.

We will take the old oil and put it into an old can and bring it to the dump where they will dispose of it.

Mike adds a little oil where the filter goes.

This is the new filter with a weird end. That's the part that snaps in and then the rest gets screwed in.

Then he snaps on the new oil filter.

And starts to twist it with the big pliers. He can't get a good grip so he takes an air vent out to get a better grip.

It's tight and now we can add the oil. We drained about 3 1/2 gallons of old oil so we know we don't have enough new oil to fill it. We fill what we can and leave the motor home where it is. We go into town and buy more oil.

Back at home we add 9 more quarts. Wow, who knew this engine takes 14 quarts of we do. Thankfully we don't have to change it for another 10,000 miles. Mike starts it up and test for leaks. All is good.

We finished planting the last 2 trees behind the house. We still have 3 more to go...just trying to decide where to put them.

Mike spends the remainder of the day in his building. Now that the fireplace is gone he has a lot more space.

That's all for this week. I hope you enjoyed our story.



  1. What year is your RV (van). I have the 2011 Mercedes Sprinter although it is registered as a 2012 Winnebago ERA.

    1. Ours is a 2009 Sprinter and it was converted by Winnebago in 2010.

  2. My question was answered above! :)
    Interesting pictures!