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PostPosted: December 21st, 2016, 8:08 pm 
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Joined: October 26th, 2016, 8:01 pm
Posts: 26
Location: Bend, OR
Greetings from Central Oregon!

I thought I'd start a thread describing the renovation of my new-to-me 2003 Chinook Concourse that I purchased last month. The rig has 63K miles and is in pretty good shape. I have no experience with such projects so I would appreciate any constructive criticism and advice. Any encouragement would be welcomed too. :)

- So far I have removed the jackknife sofa, the dinette, and most of the carpet. I will be replacing the jackknife sofa with a pullout, slat sofa that will be sufficiently sized for two to sleep. I will hinge the sofa near the wall so I can lift the sofa up to access storage and all the goodies underneath, like the freshwater tank and water pump.
- I have removed most of the carpet. Fun times. I will be replacing the carpet with vinyl flooring.
- I am not sure what I will be doing with the dinette area. I may build cabinets on top of the furnace for additional storage, put the passenger seat on a swivel so I can turn it around facing the living area, and place a small chair in the space opposite the furnace (nearer to the kitchen).
- Regarding the electrical system, I have replaced the tired, worn out old batteries with 2 Interstate AGM sealed batteries (125 amp hours each).
- I upgraded the charger/converter to the PD4645. I'm planning on upgrading the wiring from the charger to the LVD.
- I removed the batwing television antenna (leaving a hole in the roof for solar cabling) and the existing 50W solar panel. I just received (via AM Solar) the following: 2-100W panels, a Victron 30A MPPT controller, and a battery monitor. I'll be installing all this in the next couple of days. I've removed the driver side pilar to access the wiring space connecting the overhead cabinet to the battery bank. I'm thinking about dropping an extra wire from the solar controller down to the battery bank to give the option of adding a portable solar panel to the mix.
- Concurrently, I'll be wiring the weBoost Drive 4G-X OTR cellular boost system and a ham radio antenna. I'll be installing an ICOM IC-7100 ham tranceiver and the Comet SBB-5 UHF/VHF antenna. I'm working on an HF solution as well. I've read that an MPPT solar controller can interfere with the performance of a ham radio, so we'll see.
- I have already removed the VCR and television. We watch content on iPads and computers via downloaded videos when Wi-Fi is unavailable.
- I've already removed both of the ceiling vent fans (one in the main living area and one in the bathroom) and replaced one with a new Fantastic Fan, and will be replacing the other one soon.
- The local RV dealer replaced my rusted 19 gallon propane tank with a similar 14 gallon version.
- I'm also thinking about painting the cabinets a version of white.[/list]

I look forward to posting as the project moves forward.

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2003 Chinook Concourse


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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2016, 4:19 am 
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Joined: July 17th, 2016, 5:00 pm
Posts: 140
Looking forward to your build, would love to see more info on your updated electrical. I want to update my electrical system when I buy two new battery's and install my new Renogy 100w panel. Not sure what components I should upgrade (converter/charger, lvd, controller, etc ???) so any suggestions would be great.


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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2016, 11:37 am 
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Joined: July 31st, 2014, 1:01 am
Posts: 1912
Location: 1999 Concourse
Ooh, this is going to be fun!

I've done versions of a few of your mods. Just a couple of comments, and of course it's all personal taste so take mine with appropriately sized grains of salt.

1) I like the slat bed concept. I've done something slightly similar. A note is to have some means of combatting or avoiding an issue where the supporting legs (when extended) bite into your new flooring. I bought a used camper van that already had the "bites" so nothing I could do then. I've worked at making my couch a cantilever design for that reason (but my build isn't completely done yet). Maybe large padded feet would help. Or maybe not a problem in your arrangement - but something to perhaps consider.

2) If you ever park on the street, you know that they often slope to the curb, at which point you are falling out of bed, since it's on the driver's side. I hinged the wall side of my bed such that I can prop the whole platform up to level it in such situations (sometimes I park in front of a friend's place and it has terrible "curbitis." Borrowed the idea from pipe berths on boats. Of course you can also level the rig with blocks, but sometimes for one reason or another I don't want to, and the slant is fine for "living" but too much for sleeping. Before I did that mod I would sometimes roll up a blanket into a long "snake" and put it under the bottom sheet at the inside edge of the bed, which at least provides a "speed bump" before falling off :mrgreen:

3) I considered a swivel passenger seat for quite a while. My previous camper van had one and it really made the rig (without it you just had a skinny aisle and a couch because it was "just a van"). BUT, in the Chinook I decided not to do that. For one thing, there already is a pretty much complete "living room" space without it. For two, the cab is a terrible heat gain in sun, and a big cold freezer in cold. So I prefer to seal it off. Also the floor/ceiling are at a different level from the rest of the rig, so mildly awkward. And lastly, I tend to store certain things up there when parked (backpack, laundry, etc.) and if I included that in the living room then I have to find a new place for those things. That's not to say no-one should do it, but just a few things to consider. BTW, there is a little back-and-forth jig involved in getting the seat to swivel, due to space constraints, but it's not enough of a problem that it made my "cons" list.

Willywalderbeast:

I owe an apology, because I think you PM'ed me with some electrical questions and I didn't get back to you. I've been busy and it was a "big" topic. I will try to PM you soon. But I'll mention here that if you are going to get new batteries (especially if AGM), and if you don't like to replace them every year or two, I think it's best to take a step beyond the PD charger upgrade. Reason is that - to my mind - it's missing a couple of key features. One is the ability to program charging voltages (so not just three or four stage, but you can set the stages to just what your battery mfgr recommends, which is important). The second is temperature compensation. What may not be immediately obvious is that the recommended charging voltages only hold true when the batteries are just at 77ºF. For every degree above or below that, the recommended voltage changes. Temperature compensation is noting hard to set up -- you just connect a small, provided lead to the battery. BUT, without it, the charger always just runs along assuming your batteries are at 77ºF. If they always are, great. But whenever they aren't (which is 95% of the time on my rig), then you are charging at the wrong voltages (after you went to the trouble of trying to charge at specific voltages). With temperature compensation, there is an adjustable factor (which you just one time match to your batteries' known factor), and ever after the charger reads the temperature of the actual batteries, and adjusts the charging voltages up or down as appropriate.

I have to sign off for now (and sorry to horn in on the renovation thread), but if we want to discuss further, we could go to a new thread or to PM.

Meanwhile, rjudice, I can't WAIT to see how this thread unfolds. Good stuff! Bring it on :D

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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2016, 12:44 pm 
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Joined: August 10th, 2014, 6:06 am
Posts: 135
NOt sure why the pd got to be the go to charger upgrade,perhaps because fitting in the original lower part of the brown box,it's easy?.....Anyway as I am wont to do I logged,I read,and I installed one myself without really researching.....because? Well that's what everyone else was saying and doing so I figured..........however if I had to do it over again,I would surely go another route.something truly programmable.Rooney P.s. I can't comment on 100watt solar,I have a single 150 watt panel,and that works for me but I am elictrically frugal....I think 200watts of solar is a nice neighborhood if you are boondocking...but like I said 150 has worked so far. R-


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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2016, 1:15 pm 
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Joined: August 29th, 2015, 9:29 am
Posts: 39
Please post pics...as I want to do something similar


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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2016, 2:58 pm 
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Joined: October 26th, 2016, 8:01 pm
Posts: 26
Location: Bend, OR
Willywalderbeast wrote:
Looking forward to your build, would love to see more info on your updated electrical. I want to update my electrical system when I buy two new battery's and install my new Renogy 100w panel. Not sure what components I should upgrade (converter/charger, lvd, controller, etc ???) so any suggestions would be great.


Since AM Solar is currently having a 15% off sale and because their customer service reputation is stellar, I discussed my situation with one of their techs and we agreed to the following gear: 100W Victron Complete Charger Kit (30A), Victron BMV-702 Battery Monitor Kit, and two (2) SF100 Solar Panels with Accessories. The total cost: $1,253. This includes the solar panels mounting kit and all the wiring. This solar charger has a capacity of 400W so I'm going to add the capability to add a portable panel (up to 200W) by dropping an extra wire from the solar charger down to the batteries and terminating with a plug in solution.

Regarding the charger/converter upgrade, I pretty much went with what everybody else seem to be installing: Progressive Dynamic's 4645 ($202). The install was easy and I'm happy with it.

Regarding the LVD, I thought about bypassing it, and I may do this in the future. As far as I can tell, a good battery monitor and a watchful eye negate the need for the LVD.

Regarding the batteries, I didn't want the hassle of checking fluid levels and I have some positive experience with sealed Interstate AGM batteries. I paid $736 for two Lifeline GPL-31XT Deep Cycle AGM Batteries — 125 amp hours each (free shipping). I was aiming for a battery capacity of 200-300 amp hours with half of that being usable. I'm not a big electricity hog so I'm pretty sure that'll be plenty.

Hope this helps.

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2003 Chinook Concourse


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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2016, 5:03 pm 
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Joined: October 26th, 2016, 8:01 pm
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Location: Bend, OR
Blue~Go wrote:
Meanwhile, rjudice, I can't WAIT to see how this thread unfolds. Good stuff! Bring it on :D

Thanks so much for the feedback, Blue~Go.

Questions for the group:

- Anyone able to repurpose the old Siemens solar panel wiring conduit? I'm thinking of running my ham radio feedline through it.
- Anyone replace their furnace with a catalytic heater?
- Anyone replace the driver/passenger area carpet?

Thanks.

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2003 Chinook Concourse


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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2016, 5:55 pm 
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Joined: July 31st, 2014, 1:01 am
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Location: 1999 Concourse
rjudice wrote:
Questions for the group:

- Anyone able to repurpose the old Siemens solar panel wiring conduit? I'm thinking of running my ham radio feedline through it.


I haven't re-purposed mine, but I have pretty much sussed it out. It's a pair of wires (one red, one black) in 12 gauge, that are run through the internal roof structure (in other words I'd guess they hollowed out a path through the Nidacore in the roof). It goes in just under the solar panel (sort of in the center front-to-back and toward the center hump) and comes out in the overhead of the cabover well over on the passenger side and at the rear of the cabover (which is where the solar controller was on my '99).

I haven't tried to do anything with that wire (and no plans to), but I have "done things" with two of the other wires that run in similar fashion through the roof core. I took the AC wire (Romex type) that goes through the roof from just over the stove to the roof AC hole, and "pulled it back" toward the stove until it juuuust went into the roof core. This was so I could put in my skylight, yet still pull the wire back out if the roof air ever wanted to go back in.

In the second case, I took the telephone type cord that went through the roof from over by the solar controller to the AC hole in the roof, and I pulled it through (so there was more in the AC hole) and then fed it forward (by using the hole by the forward ceiling light) into the Fantastic fan hole. Reason is I might want to use a fan there with a wired remote. It's still accessible to be used by the roof air in future if desired.

So it is possible to pull wires through the roof, at least in some rigs. Mine did not seem to be secured internally. On the other hand I'd rather use a wire that's accessible for future in some cases (i.e. not in roof).


rjudice wrote:
- Anyone replace their furnace with a catalytic heater?


Yes and no. I removed the furnace (wanted the storage space), and I put in a Wave 3 catalytic heater. That's the "yes" part. The "no" is that I wouldn't say the Wave 3 is enough on its own, unless you are only in slightly chilly climates and don't like to be super warm. The Wave 6 would be better, although it's still a bit "directional" (which is both good and bad; it's cozy in front of it, which is great; but it doesn't flow heat around a larger space like some other heaters do.

I don't spend a lot of time in cold climates, but I'm still going to make some changes. Not 100% sure which way I'm going to go yet, but I'm thinking about a Propex furnace (smaller footprint plus can have longer ducts) just for "bulk heating" (by which I mean reach out from under the blankets on a cold morning and blast it continuously until the rig is nice and toasty), and then either the Wave 3 or possibly something else for supplementary heat (if not the Wave, then something else that is silent).

I have scads of propane capacity now that I no longer have a propane refrigerator, so it makes sense for me to use that as a heating fuel.

rjudice wrote:
- Anyone replace the driver/passenger area carpet?


Not in my rig, but a friend with another brand RV (still has Ford cab like ours) had to remove his cab carpet after his aging cat .... well, you can imagine. I looked around to see if it was possible to buy the genuine Ford vinyl full cab flooring that was in the lower end cargo vans, but was not able to find it. To my mind, that would be perfect.

So we built the foundation but the covering is, for now, some vinyl runner on a roll we got at a hardware store and patched in to mostly fit. (The foundation is Dynamat - "Extreme" IIRC, with Dynaliner on top of it - we removed the Ford padding.)

BTW at the same time we re-did his doghouse cover [edited to add: The engine side of the doghouse, not the cab side that has the little upholstered sheath on it] with a combination of Dynamat Extreme and their "Hoodliner" (what they recommended). It did seem to make things cooler (main goal) and maybe quieter (but I can't say for sure as its not my rig, but I did measure temps just after he parked with an IR temp gun).

Making the doghouse and firewall area cooler is a goal of mine, so I'll likely be doing something similar. I'd consider removing the cab carpet if I could find the Ford OEM vinyl floor, but otherwise my carpet's in good shape (but... carpet?? So impractical).

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Last edited by Blue~Go on December 23rd, 2016, 7:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2016, 7:28 pm 
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Joined: November 29th, 2016, 3:32 pm
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Location: Saskatoon, SK, Canada
I'm looking forward to your renovations. I don't have a Chinook yet, but I'm gathering ideas for when the day comes. Please post pictures of your progress. :)

Lisa

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2008 Airstream International CCD --"Atomic Pod" https://atomicpod.wordpress.com
1973 boler (13' fiberglass egg) --"The Boiler"


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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2016, 6:20 am 
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Joined: May 21st, 2015, 7:00 pm
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Location: Indiana
rjudice wrote:
- Anyone replace the driver/passenger area carpet?


Yes. Replaced the sun faded Chinook cab carpeting with new Ford OEM "Flint (grey)" found on eBay. It was a removal from a van conversion company. Still had the factory plastic covering on it. Perfect fit and inexpensive. Next step is to have the FlexSteel captain's seats reupholstered in Ultra leather to match. I prefer vinyl to fabric for seats.

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