A time to depart

Submitted: Sunday, Feb 22, 2004 at 01:43
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My early postings to this site were prompted by a BT owner who sought an independent view of the need or otherwise of weight distributing hitches. He also sought advice on how to improve the performance of the solar electrical system. Having responded, it was suggested that my comments (generally) might be of interest to members of this site - hence my subsequent postings. It is becoming increasingly clear however that such postings are to some extent taken as a reflection on BT concept and design. I am also faced with anomolies such as several Boggers asking me for advice on what they stated to be a generally experienced lack of power/adequate refrigeration at Cania Gorge. Yet if I suggest that more solar capacity is desirable others will immediately respond to the effect that it all works just fine as standard. I am also surprised by an almost vitriolic response on this site to my two-part article in C&M. This is the ONLY adverse response so far from a huge amount of feedback. I reiterate that this feature is intended for typical caravan owners and, with every respect, a three tonne extremely costly BT is very long way from being typical. I will willingly respond to anyone who finds my views of value, but believe it to be mutually beneficial for me to now leave this site. Collyn Rivers
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Reply By: Bushtracker Buck & Babe - Sunday, Feb 22, 2004 at 01:45

Sunday, Feb 22, 2004 at 01:45
Collyn, I appreciate your need to make this decision. Thank you for the gentle and patient way in which you have dealt with the myriad of requests for information by the members of this forum. I am sure there have been those who have felt they benefitted from your time and enthusiasm. See you on some of the other sites. Love to Vila and Maarit. Angie
AnswerID: 561259

Reply By: Deleted User - Sunday, Feb 22, 2004 at 01:46

Sunday, Feb 22, 2004 at 01:46
Collyn, I have enjoyed all of your postings. Could you advise which sites you will continue on so I can continue to read your postings. I am looking forward to the 2nd article in next issue's C&M magazine. It makes me feel how lucky I am to have a BT with its solar system. Nontheless, still always reading solar news from your postings to keep up to date with future developments. Cheers, Michael.
AnswerID: 561260

Reply By: Tassietracker5 - Sunday, Feb 22, 2004 at 01:47

Sunday, Feb 22, 2004 at 01:47
Collyn, Thankyou for your time spent answering the questions proposed, from one person that is good with his hands but needs a fair bit of help understanding the technical side of things, i founf your answers to be very easily understood. Your article in last months mag was brilliant and i have recomended to two close friends that it is a must read as they are just getting into the caravan scene. I too look forward to part 2. Your easy to understand answers to some very technical questions will be missed by most Thanks a lot Rod and Dom
AnswerID: 561261

Reply By: Turist - Sunday, Feb 22, 2004 at 01:48

Sunday, Feb 22, 2004 at 01:48
To C. R.
Your decision to retire from the forum seems to be a direct result of my postings criticising your C & M article on solar energy rather than the implied criticisms of your suggestions regarding the integrity of the systems installed in Bushtracker vans.

When you publish material in the public domain you are then open to honest critical reviews of your material, particularly when the information supplied is demonstrably wrong.

Rather than spit the dummy because someone has pointed out the errors I would have expected that as a professional you would apologise and offer the correct information. As I have said in my postings, anyone can make a mistake.
The big problem, and one that demands some integrity on the part of the publisher of the material, is to admit to the mistakes. This does not seem to be the case here.
I would also expect a follow up article in the next edition of C & M correcting the information supplied but I do not expect that this will happen.

You were very critical of a posting by another party that indirectly questioned the integrity of the magazine to which you are allied, and yet you yourself have questioned the integrity of similar magazines. Why should this particular magazine be taken differently, is it because you are a paid contributor?

Credibility and integrity go together so how are we to react to your professed love of the outback, your tread lightly approach, when you subsequently brag about dragging your OKA through 300 kilometres of a boggy slippery Plenty Highway (close to impassable, your words) in 4wd with both diff locks engaged. The following travellers that proceeded when the road was dry would most certainly have questioned the thought processes of such a selfish driver.

"I will willingly respond to anyone who finds my views of value," you say. In other words you consider that you always right and do not dare to offer a different viewpoint.

Some will miss your contributions to the forum but they can catch up with you on other sites if they desire. Or they may simply research the required information from various specialist web sites, as you have done when correlating the information for your books and articles.


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Reply By: Turist - Sunday, Feb 22, 2004 at 01:49

Sunday, Feb 22, 2004 at 01:49
To Rod and Dom
Don't want to sound picky but are your friends going to put 10 panels on the van?

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Reply By: Noosa Fox - Sunday, Feb 22, 2004 at 01:50

Sunday, Feb 22, 2004 at 01:50
Firstly I don't like to see people leaving a forum over criticism by others, last year I caused a member to leave because of my actions. When I sat down and thought about it, I was in the wrong and after an appology I was pleased to see that member rejoined the group. In this case I can understand the criticism, Collyns article starts off by saying the "Swagman, Phoenix, Bushtracker and the like, recommend solar as a necessity", and the main photo shows a number of Trackmaster vans fitted with what looks like 120watt solar modules. This gives the inference that the solar modules that this article is talking about refers to is what is in this picture and what we have on our Bushtrackers. Most Bushtrackers have 190lt door opening fridges, but the article says "they are only practical - if run from solar - at up to 130L or so." This goes against what all Bushtracker owners know from their own experience. The article then goes on to say "By and large, caravans and motorhomes that use gas for refridgeration need three big solar modules, plus another if you really must use your microwave oven in the bush". "If you use solar for running big electric fridges, you will need at least six big modules for the fridge alone, a lot of batteries, and a generator for occasional back-up. In other words, 10 modules plus a big inverter (or without a microwave - nine). The solar modules that Bushtracker use are 120 or 125watt which I think most people would regard as big, due to their physical size, but Collyn apparently was referring to smaller 80watt modules. The picture on page 74 of what appears to be a folding panel being supported by a man, doesn't look like 2 big modules to me. The words big solar modules to me seems to be a poor choice of words and I believe should be corrected in a future article on the subject. My 21ft BT wouldn't have room for 9 or 10 solar modules, so this article to me gives a totally false impression to the general vanning public that do NOT have solar at present. Most of us have found that 3 by 120 watt modules with suitable 3 deep cycle batteries as storage will run, 190L fridge, water pumps, lights, limited microwave use and other minor power items with ease, so it is easy to see why this comment has upset Bob. Bob and most BT owners don't regard 80W modules as big. I think Collyns replies to Bobs comments, in the other topic discussion, are what should have been included in greater detail in the article, such as stating that due to weight restrictions on the likes of Jayco vans (300 to 400kg carrying capacity), solar is not a practical option, but on the purpose built vans with a heavier load carrying capacity, then Solar is a very practical method of being self sufficient away from mains power. I can see that if Collyn doesn't arrange to have something published in a future edition of Caravan & MotorHome then owners of Bushtracker, TrackMaster and other similar vans with solar are likely to be writing to the magazine asking them to publish something about the size of panels, and numbers required. Collyn you have given a lot of useful comments to a lot of people since this forum has started, and have access to a large number of new regulations relating to Caravan & MotorHome use, if you do decide not to participate in the future then a lot of people will miss your imput. I don't want to offend anyone with my comments. These are just my observations on the matter. Brian Fox.
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Reply By: Luvntravln - Sunday, Feb 22, 2004 at 01:51

Sunday, Feb 22, 2004 at 01:51
Collyn As someone who has yet to take delivery of his BT, I certainly hope you will reconsider your decsion about departure. There is nothing wrong with heated debate as it means - hopefully - that people are thinking! Your input has been extremely valuable and your departure would be a substantial loss of a valuable resource for all of the Boggers - especially the ones that disagree with your opinions. Take one step back and then two steps forward before making a final decison. tgintl/jay
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Reply By: Deleted User - Sunday, Feb 22, 2004 at 01:52

Sunday, Feb 22, 2004 at 01:52
A few final comments. Brian, The solar article was written as a single-part feature but for space reasons is being run by C&M in two parts. I've already conceded your point regarding 'big' (my posting 19 Feb) and am unclear why you raise it again. Part 2 however includes the data needed to work out how many watts are desirable to run whatever you wish, wherever and for how long in vehicles of any size - even a BT. Writers have little or no say over headlines, pix used nor captions for pix (these are done by magazine staff). I take no particular issue with the pix used, but I was not aware of it until I saw the printed issue. Your contention that the 280 or so watts per peak sun hour that your typical systems generate is generally adequate for temperate climates. However fridge energy consumption typically increases by 5% per degree C (difference between inside fridge and ambient temp) whilst output from your modules typically decreases by 0.4%-0.5% per degree C. This can cause one to run out of energy in hot places. This was found out the hard way at a CMCA Rally in Alice Springs where literally hundreds of motorhome owners ran out of power in the heat. However the amount of solar energy you need depends on where you go and when etc - and as I say this is all explained in Part 2. Turist While I have considered withdrawing from this site for a time, I confirm that your intemperate manner assisted in my decision. It is interesting to note - and wonder why people who post things in this manner almost invariably hide their identity (as you do) behind a pseudonym and omit their surnames from Group details. I do however respond briefly to your complaints. Re microwave ovens I did use 2003 data. Ingnoring Peukert effect, the draw via a typical inverter from a recently made 800-watt oven (using your own figure) is about 120 amps (1440 watts). I did NOT say the draw was double, I said that it was closer to double. That 1440 watt is about as low as you will generally find and most will be a lot more. I simply don't follow what point you are trying to make - if you don't believe the above - go and measure it A 1600-watt oven does not need anything like an 1800 watt inverter. Any half-decent inverter is DESIGNED to produce twice or more its continuous output for 15-30 minutes. This is not an overload condition. A 1200 watt inverter is ample. My comparison of the draw of a microwave oven and the daily outputof a solar module was intended to be a direct quote from my Page 8 of book 'Solar That Really Works' and also used in my other books and writings. It should have read: Ten minutes may consume a day's output from an 80-watt module.' Unfortunately the 'Ten minutes' bit became somehow lost between my book and the published article. Writers do not normally have a chance to proof-read their own copy but I'm so used to using that phrase that I frankly doubt I would have noticed its omission. One regrets skips like this, but they are common in book and magazine production. I do not believe the skip will seriously mislead anyone. Re AGM and gel cell batteries. Whilst the energy holdable is theoretically related to the weight of lead in a lead-acid battery, AGMs and gel cells can be both charged and discharged faster and more deeply without damage. Their effective capacity is thus much greater. You are right in assuming there will be no response to your criticisms in the next issue: magazine deadlines are several months. Whether there will be any response at all is not in any case my decision. My comments re editorial/advertising policy are/were general , non-topic and non-country specific. Your question in irrelevant as publications driven by an advertising imperative do not commission work from writers like myself with a known background of telling things as they see them. Regarding the Plenty Highway. I was enroute from Casino (NSW) to Broome. I stayed overnight at Boulia and as it had rained that night I checked road reports at the police station before leaving. The report was that the Plenty Highway was open, and a weather report did not forecast more rain. The track was in excellent condition for the first 150 km or and I was able to maintain 80 km/hr in 2WD with no problems whatever. I was also passed by a couple of normal passenger cars. However a quite unexpected rain storm blew in very fast from the east and overtook myself and two other vehicles on the track. It also caught half a dozen road trains. It being imperative to get these out of this flood plain area, they were being individually pulled by a giant bulldozer. Advice (from people I assumed to be Shire workers) was that the road back to Boulia was about to be closed and that the best thing was to drive as rapidly as feasible towards Alice Springs as it was unclear whether or not there would be serious flooding on this flat plain. I did this - on one occasion towing another light 4WD that lacked ground clearance through the area already traversed by the road trains. Do you Turist, seriously believe that an OKA will further damage a track that is being traversed by 20-30 tonne bulldozers pulling fully 140 tonne bogged road trains! You also seem unaware that 4WD correctly used limits track damage. In this situation, short of summoning an OKA-lifting helicopter, or building a 10 metre platfom to keep a 5.5 tonne truck above possible water level, what would you have done? Jay I am responding generally to very basic matters that are only a mystery to those without specific knowledge in that area. When I write that a 20 metre return run of 6 sq mm cable carrying 20 amps introduces a loss of 1.133 volts this is a fact, not an opinion. When I write that imposing a heavy mass on an overhung towbar lifts the front wheels of ther towing vehicle, this again is a fact. Some 95% of all queries are of this nature and I am not prepared to spend hours defending hundreds of years of technical understanding. If someone wishes to use goats entrails instead of Ohm's Law I am not going to argue with them. I will however explain my point of view if it's an opinion that's involved. I now believe it better to progressively post a selective and hopefully indexed range of my published articles in my own website. People may then take what they wish - and reject what they wish without my having to write boring responses like this. There's some stuff there already. The address of that site is www.caravanandmotorhomebooks.com I sincerely thank all those respondents who have posted supportive comments. And also the suprisingly large number of members of this Group who have emailed me privately. Collyn Rivers
AnswerID: 561266

Reply By: Andy1 - Sunday, Feb 22, 2004 at 01:53

Sunday, Feb 22, 2004 at 01:53
Collyn I have enjoyed, & benefited from your input. Sorry to see you go particulary under these circumstances. Will look for your input on other forums. Andy
AnswerID: 561267

Reply By: Deleted User - Sunday, Feb 22, 2004 at 01:54

Sunday, Feb 22, 2004 at 01:54
Hi All, I have thought about this reply for sometime before sending it. I don't wish to labour the point but I feel that I must say how disappointed I am that Collyn felt the need to leave the group. This site will be the poorer for it. For what's worth, may I suggest that members follow a similar approach to what I do. If I have a real point to make, I save it and read it again the following day before sending it. Many an email has been changed or deleted before sending it off into the ethernet with this approach. I find it keeps friends and probably keeps me in a job. Don't want the boss to know what I really think do I. Keep on Tinkering Best Regards, Peter
AnswerID: 561268

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