We spent Tuesday night in Walkerville, North Carolina, with Patti and Frank. Patti is sister to a friend from college and she and Frank have spent the better part of their adulthood living on a boat and sailing to various parts of the Northern Hemisphere or driving across the United States in a bread van before recently settling in Walkerville of all places, which is near Greensboro, which is near nothing, as far as I can tell. We are happy to have met these interesting and inspirational people and thank them for their hospitality - which came in the form of food, air conditioning, a shower, their Wifi password, and good conversation. As a bonus, Frank was trained as an electrician.
We've been having an issue with the house battery in Wesley not powering our refrigerator through the night and asked Frank to take a look at it. This refrigerator failure isn't necessarily a problem for me - I prefer cold beer, but can drink it warm in a pinch - but Coconut, J, and R all prefer their foods to be stored at the correct temperatures so as not to contract some uncomfortable stomach problem. I see now I may have spoiled them by timely paying our electric bill each month we lived in Alexandria and never challenging them with the adversity of melty ice-pops.
Now, I don't want to get too technical and expose myself as the low voltage fraud that I am, but the house battery is what we paid a bunch of clowns in Fredericksburg, VA, to wire to run our lights and refrigerator. It is separate from the battery that starts the car engine, but just like the engine battery, the house battery is supposed to be charged by the car alternator when the engine is running. We already suspected before we left Alexandria that the set up was not working properly but decided we could leave town anyway and work out the problem on the road. Frank presented our first opportunity to figure it out and he confirmed our fears - the house battery was not being fully charged during the day so was pooping out during the night. But Frank also came up with a reason why this was happening - those guys in Fredericksburg didn't know what the hell they were doing. R and I suspected this very early on as well. Whenever we visited the so-called RV repair shop, we saw one guy working on his race car and the rest of the guys standing around waiting to order lunch.
The work-around Frank rigged allowed us to charge the house battery through the alternator, but was a temporary solution to a long term problem because it required us to remember to flip a switch each time we cut the ignition to prevent the engine battery from draining once the house battery was emptied. There's a pretty good chance this switch would not be flipped at least once during this year, which is less of a problem if you are in a Walmart parking lot, but becomes a bigger problem if you are on the dirt roads of Central America. We might have risked living on this edge anyway but for another inkling of a problem that we had which we confirmed while camping at a very nice spot on Norman Lake on Wednesday night - the house battery is not large enough to power the refrigerator through the night. We know this because despite the house battery having a full charge at lights out, when we woke up in the morning the refrigerator was ten degrees warmer than the temperature we had set it for - indicating that it turned off at some point during the night.
When we arrived in Atlanta on Thursday to spend a few days with R's parents, brother, and cousins, R furiously googled RV Repair guys and came up with Bill from Mr. Mobile RV Repair. Bill has set up a series of Mr. Mobile's throughout the country - and makes house calls to diagnose and fix RVs. You wouldn't think this was a good idea unless you actually owned an RV - or something similar such as Wesley - and it was our good fortune that we found this guy and his good fortune that we brought our check book. Essentially, as an actual electrician, Bill was offended by the wiring and battery set up we had and scrapped everything the Fredericksburg shop (I use that term loosely) took three weeks to do and in five entertaining hours, rewired everything to a new house battery that will actually last through the night and allowed me to stand there and watch and help so I know exactly what wire goes from here to there and what it is related too. I suspect this will be very helpful.
While Bill was wiring and telling stories, we found out that our credit card information had been stolen and used to purchase flossers and bubble gum at a CVS in Rhode Island, and that the radiator fan thermostat on Wesley was kaput, causing the fan to run at high speed even when the van engine had not been started for a day. These problems all now all been corrected and we plan to leave Atlanta on Monday for Alabama and, no doubt, a new set of problems. But for now, we're thankful the current set of minor setbacks on life's very bumpy road happened while we are here in Atlanta - where Coconut and J have their cousins to play with, I have my in-laws to pay for and prepare the food, and R can visit with her family and wash our clothes.