Power to the People

The Autonomous4X4 F350 now has the solar charging system sorted out. I have a single 120 watt solar panel mounted to a custom fabricated roof rack. When I mount the box, the panels will move to the roof of the camper. I have an additional 200 watts that will be added to the system.

Custom roof rack to mount solar panel.

Custom roof rack to mount solar panel.

My Odyssey group 65, AGM battery under the hood is charged by a Powermaster 200 amp alternator before it sends power back to the dual Odyssey group 31, AGM house batteries.

Odyssey group 65 AGM battery

Odyssey group 65 AGM battery

The heart of the system is the CTEK D250S dual charger. It acts as a battery isolator and solar charge controller. “The D250S automatically selects the best connected DC energy source (of 2) for the purpose and switches between these energy sources to achieve high efficiency multi-stage charging.”

CTEK D250S charge controller.

CTEK D250S charge controller.

Everything will change when the camper box is mounted but the system is up and running. Right now the house batteries are powering my Whynter 65 quart mobile fridge through an extension cord plugged into the Samlex 300 watt pure sine inverter. Cold beer in the desert at last!

Whynter 65 quart portable fridge.

Whynter 65 quart portable fridge.

The Autonomous F350

This 1992 F350 is undergoing extensive modification to enable me to reliably travel to offroad destinations. One of the first things I considered was wheels and tires. I wanted to be able to repair a flat in the field. Beadlock rims allow you to take the rim apart, perform a repair and then put it back together again. You can also wrestle a tire on and off without a beadlock but I wanted a very strong wheel. I chose Trailready beadlocks for their quality and the super wide “World Series” ring that they offer. It reinforces the rim substantially, much more than many other designs available.

 

My tire of choice was the Falken Wildpeak in a 37×12.5-17. The Wildpeaks are a great all terrain tire. I spend a lot of time offroad but I also cover huge distances on the highway. I have to consider durability, traction and fuel economy. The Wildpeaks give me all that. They also have a load rating of 3525lbs each.

 

If you are going to repair a tire in the field, any conventional balancing that was done when mounted is now compromised. Fixing a flat and then hitting the pavement for a couple hundred miles with an out of balance condition will kill your tire. I HATE! wheel weights but thankfully there is an awesome solution to this problem. I use Centramatic dynamic wheel balancers. It does not matter what the balance on the wheel and tire is, the Centramatic Dynamic balancers will make the wheel run smooth and true. They mount between the hub and the wheel. The minute I drove with the Centramatics I could feel the difference! If you hate wheel weights like me and want to get the most mileage out of your tires, wheel bearings, etc. you should check out Centramatic. I run the Centramatics and NO wheel weights.

 

 

My tire pressure monitoring system is by Pressure Pro. The sensors mount to the valve stems and send a signal wirelessly to the dash mounted display. You can monitor up to 6 tires with this unit. Once programmed it will sense a slow leak and give you a warning. It’s great peace of mind when you are towing, (my trailer will have the sensors too), or carrying a heavy load. I have not installed the unit yet, I am still laying out the dash. The super wide “World Series” rings on my Trailready beadlocks also protect the Pressure Pro sensors from damage offroad.

 

There is much more about the truck that will be covered as we go along so stay tuned.

 

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