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RV Conversion Questions

 
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Old 06-16-2013, 09:16 AM   #1
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RV Conversion Questions


I've picked up an unusual remodel job.. It's a '77 40' MCI Crusader passenger bus, to be converted to a full RV. It's been gutted, windows removed, and is ready for the shell inside.

I need to pre-wire the thing for everything... lighting, 110 outlets, TV's satellite, backup camera, generator/inverter, shore power, etc...

I have a million questions, and will be getting to know the guys at the RV store well I'm sure, but after reading some here, it seems there's a lot of people with knowledge.

I'll start with a few...

It's a 24v system now, what do I need to be able to wire 12v accessories and lights for use when in transit?

General power system? A generator will be installed, but should I also look at a house battery system?

What type of cable should I use for the 110 circuits (that will be only for genny/plugged in use)? mc?

Lighting suggestions? 2 systems?

Wiring for rooftop ac? It has one already, and may add another.

Pre-wiring for satellite, TV(s), backup camera system..etc..?

I'm also supposed to put in a full toilet/shower/sink system, but I may try to sub all that to the RV place.

The budget seems to be there to do it all right, and I think it's a cool little challenge...

Thanks for any and all input!
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Last edited by TimelessQuality; 06-16-2013 at 11:25 AM.
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Old 06-16-2013, 09:20 AM   #2
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Re: RV Conversion Questions


I FRIGGIN HATE THIS!



I gotta wait for 2-3 more replies before I can freaking read this sumbitch.

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Old 06-16-2013, 09:41 AM   #3
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Re: RV Conversion Questions


Sorry spark... I took out the pic...
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Old 06-16-2013, 09:52 AM   #4
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Re: RV Conversion Questions


Quote:
Originally Posted by TimelessQuality View Post
Sorry spark... I took out the pic...
It's not your pix.... it's all the forum crap on the right. It covers everything up.
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Old 06-16-2013, 10:07 AM   #5
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Re: RV Conversion Questions


I saw the pic just fine...
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Old 06-16-2013, 10:25 AM   #6
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Re: RV Conversion Questions


Quote:
Originally Posted by griz View Post
I saw the pic just fine...
I did to.

It's the TEXT that gets covered up with the forum crap.
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Old 06-16-2013, 10:28 AM   #7
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Re: RV Conversion Questions


Maybe

I should adopt

Neo's

Writing style..
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Old 06-16-2013, 12:02 PM   #8
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Re: RV Conversion Questions


& getting back on topic...

A general RV has a generator just to recharge the deep cycle batteries - DC is preferred for the lights & many built in appliances, while an inverter is used for any plug loads. As for the wiring, well I would have to leave that to the sparkys.

2 lighting systems? Yes there generally are, the normal ones when you are parked coupled with the coaches for driving. Occasionally you may have a backup light source from each hooked up in different areas

Generally on the drivers side you will have one area to connect to shore power, water, cable, & telephones with appropriate jacks located through out the RV
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Old 06-19-2013, 11:04 AM   #9
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Re: RV Conversion Questions


Sounds like an interesting job score.
I normally just see ordinary nm cable/romex use for the 120V receptacle circuits in the RV trailers I work on.
The RV power converter units that I've seen only work when connected to generator/shore power to supply DC to the lighting, range hood blower and gas appliance igniters, etc., as well as trickle charge the batteries. A battery disconnect/cut-off switch is always a nice addition for the guy servicing the DC electrical system, but I wouldn't put it somewhere the occupants will use it because your igniters for the refrigerator, heater, water heater and stove won't work when it's turned off, most importantly the refrigerator.
I would leave a nice clear area on the roof if possible for solar panels and put the charge controller in a ventilated area somewhere near the battery compartment to trickle charge the batteries during the day.
The RV center guys around here are very helpful as well, so no doubt the ones in your area will be a great resource for equipment specs and everything else RV related.
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Old 06-22-2013, 08:54 AM   #10
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Re: RV Conversion Questions


Bus conversions are always a challenge, take your time and plan it all out before you start ordering equipment. I'd HIGHLY recommend taking a tour at an RV plant and see how they put these units together, it will save you a huge amount of time and most plants will let you talk to the people on the assembly line for tips and tricks. The best plant tour I've been on was Tiffan's plant in Red Bay Alabama.

Make sure you buy an inverter/charging system with true energy management, otherwise you'll constantly need to manually flip breakers when you want to use the microwave at the same time as the AC. TVSS and Power Quality monitoring is also important. Campgrounds have LOTS of brownouts and surges to deal with, so build in protection at the shore power connections.

EMS systems provide a breaker box with priority sources and will automatically turn off 1 of the AC systems when the microwave needs power, then turn the AC back on once the Microwave is no longer in use, etc. A really good EMS system will also sense when you only have 30A shore power and juggle the power for you in place of manual switching. 50A is the modern standard for shore power, but lots of older campgrounds will only have 30A circuits available and managing shore power in the EMS makes it a lot easier when you are camping.

The house batteries should be tied into the system via the inverter for load switching too, and the inverter should have a battery isolater and reconnect so the house batteries are automatically charged when the genny, engine or shore power are available. This makes it much easier to keep the batteries charged regardless of the generation source.

A good inverter will provide a 12V source with battery protection, so you'll just need to wire up those DC circuits as normal and let the inverter manage the loads. Since it's a total renovation I'd move over to LED lighting, it's a LOT more efficient than even 12V FL. Most coaches use dual systems for lighting, 110V and 12V. But modern LED lights give you plenty of light so it's not really a requirement for 110V unless you need to wire up a specific fixture.

You will need at least 2 AC units on that large of a chassis. The last MCI we had used 3/4 units. I'd look at having the interior foam insulated once all of the rough in is complete, it will make it MUCH more livable and comfortable. There is just not enough space for fiberglass insulation to make much of a difference. High output units with soft start kits will reduce the inrush loads on the EMS system and if sized correctly, let you run everything off of the genny even from a cold start.

I've never seen a conversion use MC, it's normally just romex with special care taken not to let the wiring chafe inside the chassis.

For Cameras you'll need coax cable with 2 conductors for power, 20-18Ga should be fine. Since you'll be using Coax for Shore Cable, Sat, etc. I'd just wire with a high quality, pure copper (no CSS) Quad Shield RG6 for each location. Wire them all back to a common wiring location, usually behind the primary viewing location so you can wire for cable, sat, etc on the same runs. Remember to include a couple of sat runs in the "attic" along with DC power connections for motorized sat dish.

Plumbing should be the RV type of PEX with low point drains for the entire system.
I'd sub all of that out to an experienced RV plumber who will warranty the system.

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