BOV RV Modifications I
By Joseph Parish
Our new bug out vehicle is a Dolphin Motor Home which has some 116,000 miles on it and it is still running strong. It takes a lot to kill those old 22R Toyota engines. We purchased our Dolphin for use as a BOV in the early part of 2010. It is a model 400 which places the sofa behind the driver seat and the bathroom in the rear. Like anyone else who owns a motor home we take pride in the modifications that we have planned for our Dolphin BOV. All modifications listed here are planned for our own use only and we will not be responsible for anyone else’s use of these modifications.
One of the first planned changes will be to replace the standard rear view mirror with one of JC Whitney’s Day Night Rear View Mirrors (Model 18410G). This unit costs only $17.99 but replaces the existing windshield mounted mirror easily. It is available in three different widths and is approximately 2 inches high. It comes with a black housing complimented with distortion-less glass. It features an adjustable stem. All you have to do is flip a switch in order to change from a normal day time view to a reduced glare night time view. The unit mounts to the original bracket or you can use the enclosed mounting bracket. Detailed instructions are included.
We all want to be able to back-up safely in our RV’s so the second modification will be to install a back up alarm with flashing lights (Model 1JA 141147). This particular unit mounts under the rear of the RV at a cost of only $17.99. This is a low cost, dependable back up alarm that will help prevent possible injury to others while backing up the motor home. The unit mounts easily over the bottom edge of your rear license plate or you can mount it anywhere on the rear of your RV. It is encased in a durable ABS plastic housing which is about 9 ½ inches wide by 7/8 inches high by 15/16 inches in diameter. The unit emits a dual 100 dB sound and the lights flash automatically whenever you shift the vehicle into reverse. Detailed instructions are included with the kit. Since the RV is still going to be used as a BOV, a simple switch will be installed so the back up unit can be disabled when the circumstance constitutes such actions.
It has been suggested that we install several six volt golf cart batteries instead of using the 12 volt unit that is currently in the motor home. Unfortunately, when we purchased the RV we immediately replaced the battery so this suggested mod may have to wait a year or two.
If our motor home did not already have a solar panel installed I would have to list this as a necessary modification. Be sure to install a regulator with the panel as well or you will likely shorten the life of your batteries. The solar panel will allow you to maintain your battery charge when you have your rig parked. If I had to initially install a system in our RV I would select the largest wattage rating panels that I could afford. Be sure you install several 12 Volt outlets with inline fuses to compliment the installation. I use these direct 12 Volt outlets to power my cell phone charger, laptop computers and other small drain applications such as my 12 volt coffee pot.
As soon as the weather warms up I intend to do a major inspection on the roof of the RV to ensure it’s in good condition. I will be sealing it completely with some type of mildew resistant coating such as Henry Solaflex 287.
The six tires on the unit are still useable, however I plan to start saving now for the purchase of new Yokohama 356- 185R14- 8ply.
On our trips around the country we will continue to use our cell phone as it only costs us approximately $59.00 for unlimited air time. For our internet use we employ a Verizon wireless modem at a rate of $60.00 per month for 50 gig of bandwidth. Since our laptop and netbook are internet ready we make use of free WiFi when we can.
Our GPS system is a Tom-Tom unit. To be honest I don’t know how I ever survived without it. It makes trips easier and trouble free. It took me a bit to get to the point where I trusted Tom-Tom instructions, but now that problem is a thing of the past.
We all use batteries for everything from hand held devices to MP-3 players and the best thing you can possibly get is a solar powered battery charger. DepotEco.com sells an SBC (NiMH) charger ($19.95) which uses the suns energy to recharge batteries so you are never without power. This high powered solar charger will charge two rechargeable batteries at a time as long as they are the same type of battery. It charges AA, AAA, C, and D cells alike. The chargers output is approximately 150mah at 5 volts. The unit comes equipped with its own PV array and charge monitor. You simply slide the two batteries into the charging bay and position the PV array so that the voltage pegs the meter into the red zone and you are on your way to charged batteries again. If your batteries are totally dead the gauge will let you know when they are completely charged up. My goal is to disassemble the unit and place the panel of the charger on the roof of the RV next to the solar panels of the coach battery.
One of our future plans is to replace the kitchen faucet and install a goose neck type as used in a regular house possibly an “American Standard” Model 6424F purchased from Home Depot. These units run about $64.00 but are great for washing out coffee pots and cleaning kitchen pans. In conjunction with the new faucet I will install some sort of water filter. At this point in time we are unsure exactly what filter we will employ or even if we will select a complete filter unit or only a local sink installed unit.
Our music currently consists merely of the front radio of the BOV cab and we will eventually place a stereo of some sort in the back of the RV for use while in the motor home itself. An alternative is to install a car radio with MP3 capabilities and connect it to the second battery. The MP3 player comes in handy as I can also play the “Old Time Radio” programs featured previously on the website.
These are my initial mods that I plan to accomplish. Future ones will include not only functional changes but cosmetic as well.
Copyright @2010 Joseph Parish