Saturday, March 27, 2010

Here it is. At last!
Just what the world's been waiting for!
The Solar Sausage!
The latest piece of super hi-tech wizardry recently put aboard TFT.
Ten meters long and 120mm wide, the black PVC Sausage (I know it looks more like a Snake but I like Sausage better) holds approximately 30 litres of water. Just fill it through the hose attached to the marine skin-fitting at either end and lay it in the sun for a few hours... the water gets very hot! To store it, simply roll it up on a plastic reel available free at places that sell ropes etc.

This is the only Solar Sausage in the world,
I think... you can make your own.
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Flying Tortoise. Latest Developments...

The latest photos and story of The Flying Tortoise...This photo shows the two 125watt BP Solar panels atop the bus. They and an additional 85watt BP panel (used in winter) provide ample energy to the two 255amp hour AGM storage batteries. Having used solar power exclusively on yachts and on the road for the last twenty years I know you can never have too much solar and combined with the right storage capacity you will never go short of power.
There are eighteen cigarette lighter sockets installed inside the bus that allow the laptop, dvd music player and other things to plug in wherever required.
The laptop runs off a simple 12volt power adaptor that has multiple settings to accomodate any laptop. A small inverter is sometimes used to charge power tool batteries. A BP 30amp regulator is used plus a Link 10 Xantrex digital display that lets me know exactly the state of my batteries and what I'm using and getting in or how long I have to go before the batteries are even down to half full... It's all piece of mind stuff and it works wonderfully well.
The kayak in it's 'on the road' position. The storage 'shed' at the back which contains tools, outdoor furniture and miscellaneous nonsense was designed to fit in with the look of the bus... with the much photographed garden and then there's the wonderful benches, again made using 32mm aluminium tube and decking timber. There's one on each side... ideal for lying on under the sun, sleeping on, cooking on,filleting fish on, working on or displaying art and craft... folded up they fit snugly against the side of the bus.
Then if you like, there's a simple awning that fits on either side for sun protection or rain catching...
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The Main Rest And Recreation Area On The Flying Tortoise...

The main rest and recreation area on The Flying Tortoise. Geraniums, salad greens and herbs can be seen growing in containers out the back window. Roller blinds give privacy and there is a full width storage shelf high above the bed. Using different cushions allow simple mood and decor changes. Small pieces of New Zealand art are displayed throughout the quirky, tiny but spacious home with a style combining simplistic Scandinavian and Japanese design... Scandinese perhaps. A warm and inviting interior with the ambiance of a small upmarket studio apartment.
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Relaxing or Working...

Some views of the relaxing/working area inside TFT. In the top photo from the right hand side aft is a full length wardrobe, a portable 15ins dvd player with storage areas behind that... coming forward, there is the 'office area' with more storage for music books and firewood. Cane chairs make life so much more comfortable and have the versality of being able to be moved. Six can sit around the table for dinner. In the middle shot you will see, looking forward the fireplace and more wood storage... like solar panels, you can never have enough.

In the bottom photo you will see the fireplace with the specially designed and fabricated thirty litre hot water unit for general use and more especially hot water for the bath... look carefully and you'll see a tap on the front at the bottom... A wetback system for heating water was considered but the Little Cracker proves too efficient for the amount of water carried on board.
To the left is the canter-levered cooking unit that moves at will, or will if you want it to. When driving it is locked in position and the things on top are put away.
A toilet? I hear you ask, is easily accessible and the Thetford 365 just slides out from its storage position under the bed.
All this and more in an area 5.3m x 2.35m (12.5sq m) or 12ft 6ins x 7.6ins (131sq ft)
There is also (not shown) a PVC shower unit 900mm x 1500mm that suspends from the ceiling so one can shower in the warm on winter days. Stand in it and use the simple 12v hand shower with its own bilge pump in a container of hot water for a great shower. It has its own floor and when finished, simply take the shower bag outside, empty it, fold it up and put it away... it's one of the reasons the tiny space looks and feels so big!
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The Kitchen/Galley...

Some views of the kitchen/galley areas on board TFT... a simple hand-pump controls the amount of water used, you are much more conservative with water when you are pumping by hand. TFT carries approximately 50litres for general use... more if we are in an area where water is known to be short.
I have 3 x 10 litre containers for carrying and this is decanted into a 20 litre container which is the main supply base... In twenty years of sailing and being on the road I have never had water tanks and never would... I'm not carrying all that extra weight (1 litre = 1 kilo) and I'm never carrying contaminated or water that isn't fresh.
The water containers sit under the sink area. To the left of the sink you will see some cane containers, they carry fruit and vegetables. The day by day pantry is to the left of that and then one of two wardrobes. Crockery etc sit on a shelf above the condiments and utensils.
The canter-levered cooking unit is another wonderful space saving device. Again made of aluminium in keeping with the bus, it's cooking top which houses a single cast iron double burner that does most of the cooking, can move in many directions... close to the food prep and dish washing area or further away to enable two people to work in the area at the same time.
Good food is a feature on board and it's surprising what you can do with a single burner. It's ideal for the tajine, the wok and the cast iron camp oven and of course the pressure cooker and a beautiful copper saucepan.
The highly efficient Engel top loading fridge/freezer can be seen forward of and between the two kitchen units. This world famous unit has only one moving part and is the most miserly fridge on the planet as far as energy usage is concerned. It uses only 2.5 amp hours maximum of precious 12v energy. It is used and abused (it gets rough treatment) in the Australian outback and has a great world-wide reputation. ( I have no shares in the company)
The camp oven is used for roasting chickens, baking bread and delicious wintertime stews and soups... and the smell as it sits on the firetop! Flatbreads are made in a frypan or directly on the top of the fireplace. Yummy!

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Sooooo Cosy...

The Little Cracker aboard The Flying Tortoise is one of the most valuable of things I have around me... not only does it do a highly efficient job of keeping me warm and dry, allows me to cook on its top or in its firebox, it enables me to heat large quantities of water... see the thirty litre aluminium container in another post, specially designed to fit atop the firebox... turn the tap and hey presto, hot water for living and to fill the bath for indoor delights on a cold winter's night and yes, that's it, the romantic ambiance it evokes... you can take all your gas and diesel heaters and put them where the sun doesn't shine. There is nothing to equal the feeling of an open fire... you can watch it for hours. I like the carrying wood, chopping water thing, an hour spent wood gathering can keep you happy for days... and there is nothing like the smell of freshly cut Manuka or Macrocarpa...
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The 32mm aluminium frame for the bath you'll see posted a bit earlier... the PVC bath liner zips on to the frame.
The duck just happened to get into the picture... couldn't stop him... looking for a bit of attention I guess.
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Glen's an Artist...

I asked my friend Glen at Croule Engineering in Whangarei, who does all the aluminium work on TFT to make the table legs
and gave him free reign in the design. He never fails to respond in a creative manner and gets all fired up whenever
we get together on another little project.
He never fails to come up with something wonderful. He creates art with aluminium.
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Hi-tech gear...

How about this then... almost a Selecta Shift.
The simple yet simply elegant laminated plywood box housing for the gearstick on TFT.
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The Inside/Outside Shower...

The Inside /Outside Shower for when you are in the center of a busy city and feel like freshening up before going out to dinner or when parked up and want a bit of privacy and shelter from the wind chill factor perhaps... now most housebuses have a door don't they!
So what are you waiting for?
You can easily retrofit this type of shower arrangement to most doors... (this one has the added bonus of being a Stable door as well...)
Simply hinge two pieces of aluminium sheet and hinge one onto the door, these pieces are approximately 1000mm deep x 600mm wide and as you can see or would if there was someone actually showering, there is almost total privacy, yes onlookers can see your legs... but hey.
And of course, there's no plumbing required... the shower water that was heated any way you chose simply deposits on the ground and goes away... all that is used on TFT is a simple and inexpensive 12volt shower head with its own little bilge pump... place it in a container with the water and... the unit folds flush against the door when not in use and takes no space at all... Yes the odd passerby has offered to do my back for me... pass the soap please.
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Time Out...

Taking time out from a busy schedule of doing nothing, Keith relaxes in isolated spendor at Cape Colvilles' Port Jackson, at the top of New Zealand's Coromandel Peninsula... Little Barrier Island is in the background. The bath, a recent addition to The Flying Tortoise's quirky features is made from 32mm aluminium tubing and black pvc. Left in the sun for a while the water gets to a good temperature. Then there's the 'Solar Sausage' but that's another story... And if used indoors or under the stars at night, the hot water is heated either on the fire or by gas... yes, there is room for two... bookings essential!
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