Doug from Detroit - 99 Safari build

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Re: Doug from Detroit - 99 Safari build

Postby callenyo » July 15th 2019, 5:06am

So you don't have a way of disconnecting the 'house' battery from the car battery? I have a dometic refrigerator in my setup, it's awesome, it does cool down fast, but it will need to keep kicking on to stay cool, which will drain your battery(ies) if you don't have enough amp hour storage/solar power to keep it topped up. At the moment I have a switch that disconnects the house batteries from my car battery. So typically I only have all the batteries connected while the engine is running, so my alternator is charging them. If I know I'm going to be parked for a while and have the luxury of having access to 'shore power' I plug in because if the Dometic detects 110v or 220v it will automatically switch to that, and give my batteries a break- or i'll just turn the refrigerator off if I won't need it.

There are also battery isolating solenoids which work the same as a switch would, but you can run smaller wires to a light duty switch to control it- is that what you mean by relay?

There are also devices that you can get that will cut off any draw from the battery when it senses the voltage is dropping below a sufficient level to be able to start the engine.
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Re: Doug from Detroit - 99 Safari build

Postby Alainzen » July 15th 2019, 6:16am

doogaloo wrote:So I have good news and bad news. The good news is that everything is in place. Looks great and works great. The bad news. Finished everything Saturday evening and turned on the fridge. Got cold in 30 minutes, GREAT!!! The van was parked all through Sunday afternoon. Went to start the van and the battery would not turn the van over. The only thing is the fridge, which is a heavy load, caused this? I have the C-TEK wire with the battery (alternator) positive wired direct. Is it a good idea to put a relay in series that's activated by the ignition?


I have the same Dometic fridge and it pulls very little amps once cold in fridge mode with reasonable ambient temperature, but the initial cooldown does. The trick is to cool it down with a regular AC in the house then move it cold in the van.
The crank battery is not design for use as a long term power supply, the deep cycle is. So, you will need a 2nd battery WITH an isolator switch AND a deep cycle charge controller to charge it through the alternator. Deep cycle batteries like slow and low charge. Technically, a fully charged AGM 100AH should last you a full weekend without a charge. I haven't done my full setup yet. I may go with solar + a DIY LiFePo with a decent MPPT charger controller.

In addition, I swapped everything with LED and I will connect my Maxxair fan and USB port to the auxiliary battery.
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Re: Doug from Detroit - 99 Safari build

Postby doogaloo [OP] » July 19th 2019, 3:01am

People should look at the entire thread before giving advise :? . So I added a relay in series with the battery/alternator cable going to the C-Tek controller. Also received my cot. Sits a little high but extends from the back of the front seat, to the very rear. 80" long!
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Re: Doug from Detroit - 99 Safari build

Postby lostburro » July 19th 2019, 9:31pm

doogaloo wrote:Added ARB awning.


How did you mount the awning to the rail? "L" bracket that came with it and "U" bolted it to the rail? I've got an awning, I removed from my Jeep station wagon (XJ) before I sold it, and I'm trying to figure out the best way to mount it.
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Re: Doug from Detroit - 99 Safari build

Postby doogaloo [OP] » July 20th 2019, 12:19pm

You can purchase brackets to mount ARB awning.
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Re: Doug from Detroit - 99 Safari build

Postby lostburro » July 20th 2019, 5:48pm

doogaloo wrote:You can purchase brackets to mount ARB awning.

Thanks. Mine came with stainless "L" brackets, but those look to be more stable. And appear to be easy enough to make.
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Re: Doug from Detroit - 99 Safari build

Postby lostburro » July 24th 2019, 4:09am

Ended up ordering a pair from 4WP. No way I could make them (time + materials) for $11.40 each.
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Re: Doug from Detroit - 99 Safari build

Postby doogaloo [OP] » August 6th 2019, 12:50pm

Finally took the van on it's first excursion. Went to the Upper Peninsula.
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Re: Doug from Detroit - 99 Safari build

Postby icebrrg3rd » August 6th 2019, 5:27pm

Nice build. Where in the UP did you go? We loved Tahquamenon Falls, kids hated it because there was no phone signal...

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Re: Doug from Detroit - 99 Safari build

Postby chetvan » August 6th 2019, 9:34pm

cool build! what does the CTEK do? Also where is the charge controller for the solar panel? I have a 12v fridge at our cabin hooked to a single battery with 100A solar panel and it never dies in the summer leave it running for 3 months!
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Re: Doug from Detroit - 99 Safari build

Postby tonydobbs » August 6th 2019, 10:35pm

chetvan wrote:cool build! what does the CTEK do? Also where is the charge controller for the solar panel? I have a 12v fridge at our cabin hooked to a single battery with 100A solar panel and it never dies in the summer leave it running for 3 months!

I have the same CTEK charger as Doug. It is a combination DC-DC charger and MPPT solar charge controller. It's a great product!
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Re: Doug from Detroit - 99 Safari build

Postby doogaloo [OP] » August 6th 2019, 11:34pm

My trip was up to Munising (Picture Rock), Marquette, and stopped at Green Bay to see my son. For others wondering about my setup, please look at early posts in this thread.
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Re: Doug from Detroit - 99 Safari build

Postby doogaloo [OP] » September 18th 2019, 2:35am

Removed the inserts on the rear cargo doors and removed the door speakers. Replaced the insert with plywood that was a bit thinner than 1/4". Placed 4 coats of poly on insert panels. Purchased shoe storage that hangs on closet door. Cut it into smaller sections and finished the cut edge. Mounted them on the rear doors for additional storage.
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Re: Doug from Detroit - 99 Safari build

Postby sixsix » September 18th 2019, 3:32pm

Nice, clean, smart mod.



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Re: Doug from Detroit - 99 Safari build

Postby AstroWill » September 18th 2019, 4:14pm

doogaloo wrote:So I added a relay in series with the battery/alternator cable going to the C-Tek controller.

The CTEK already isolates the starting battery when the alternator isn't running. By adding a relay between the starting battery and the CTEK, you are defeating one of the features of the CTEK. Once your house battery is charged, it will keep your starting battery topped up as well, it can't do that if there is a relay in there.

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Re: Doug from Detroit - 99 Safari build

Postby doogaloo [OP] » September 18th 2019, 5:49pm

The problem is that I've had the starter battery die on me since I wired the Ctek. So I have anxiety anytime the van is parked for a couple of days.
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Re: Doug from Detroit - 99 Safari build

Postby AstroWill » September 18th 2019, 5:53pm

You would need to do some testing, but the CTEK should not be killing the battery at all, even if your solar wasn't hooked up.

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Re: Doug from Detroit - 99 Safari build

Postby tonydobbs » October 22nd 2019, 4:31am

AstroWill wrote:You would need to do some testing, but the CTEK should not be killing the battery at all, even if your solar wasn't hooked up.

I have the same CTEK, and you are 100% correct. I thought it was the CTEK killing my battery, but as it turns out it was my Bluetooth to FM Adapter.
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Re: Doug from Detroit - 99 Safari build

Postby doogaloo [OP] » December 24th 2019, 6:32pm

Winter is here and the van is in storage. I love my van. It's rust free, and it will remain that way (Michigan, winter, salt). So now is the time to start projects to get through the winter. The following is my hit list:

Purchased a 4" mattress, so need to build a bed frame. Would also like the bed to be lower, so I will be loosing some storage.

Moving the water storage to the roof. Doing a DIY solar shower from schedule 40 PVC pipe. Went to the storage lot to determine pipe length. See attached photos:
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Re: Doug from Detroit - 99 Safari build

Postby 90safari » December 26th 2019, 3:28am

doogaloo wrote:Winter is here and the van is in storage. I love my van. It's rust free, and it will remain that way (Michigan, winter, salt). So now is the time to start projects to get through the winter. The following is my hit list:

Purchased a 4" mattress, so need to build a bed frame. Would also like the bed to be lower, so I will be loosing some storage.

Moving the water storage to the roof. Doing a DIY solar shower from schedule 40 PVC pipe. Went to the storage lot to determine pipe length. See attached photos:


I hear ya about putting them in storage for the winter, to keep them out of the salt. It's how I've been able to keep mine for 19 years now. At this point I don't really have anything I want to build for mine, but I'm still researching things to fix water leaks. I'm still getting water in around the rear doors, but nobody is currently making seals that actually fit our vans. Mine was a Texas van, and most of the rubber bits have shrunk, or turned hard as stone.
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