Thursday, 30 May 2013

Toilet De-scaler

You probably know that over time your toilet bowl, flush mechanism, macerator and pipes (if a pumpout system) will start to acquire a build-up of uric acid and scale.  If this isn’t removed the internal diameter of pipes will considerably reduce and you toilet mechanism might fail.  Some people put citric acid (eg, lemon juice) down their toilet to dissolve the acid and scale.  Others use proprietary products such as Lessan’s De-scaler.  The active ingredient of these products is phosphoric acid.  Citric juice is approximately 2% phosphoric acid and the Leesan MSDS states the percentage of phosphoric acid is 5-10%. 

I’m not aware of the price of lemon juice per litre, but the Leesan de-scaler costs £22.72 p/ltr.  However Tesco or Sainsbury’s cola is 20% phosphoric acid and costs less than 30p a litre.  Guess what we buy to put down the toilet!  Once a week a litre goes in the bowl before bed and the toilet is  then flushed the following morning. 

Apparently milk, cheese and meat have even higher levels of phosphoric acid. If you want to feed steak to your toilet then don’t let us stop you! Winking smile

Jan walked past the boat moored behind us and was surprised to noticed the date on the licence was Sep 2012.  But she had an even bigger shock when she heard from inside the boat “cockadoodledoo pluck pluck pluck!  They keep chooks on board!  Unfortunately there’s no sign stating “free range eggs for sale.”

This part will probably be boring for those not interested in the technical stuff. 

Today I opened the packaging containing the Victron BMV600 battery monitor. 

What was in the package

  • An A4 page containing the installation instructions
  • A thick user manual in many languages (soon to be reduced to one tenth of it’s original size)
  • A square fascia panel (if you can’t cut a round hole)
  • The round gauge/meter/display
  • The 500A shunt
  • Data and power cables.

Installation actually looks quite simple.  The negative cables get removed from the domestic battery bank main negative (-) terminal and are connected to the shunt terminal.  A “jumper cable is connected between the battery negative terminal (-) and the other side of the shunt.  A small red positive cable is connected between the shunt printed circuit board and the battery positive (+) terminal.  The data cable connects the shunt to the gauge which is located inside the boat.

I’ve been assembling components and the battery end will look something like this photo

A wooden bracket has been made from Hexipanel offcuts.  This will be screwed to the underside of the rear deck immediately above the existing main negative terminal on the battery bank.  The shunt will be secured to the bracket with stainless steel screws (no rusting).  The 90mm2 black “jumper” cable will connect the battery negative terminal to the correct terminal on the shunt (top left arrow).  I’ve made a brass busbar from the remains of the brass strip used for the rear hatch slide.  It will connect to the other side of the shunt (top right arrow).  The main negative return cable will connect to the large stainless steel bolt (bottom right arrow) and the smaller brass machine screws will be used to connect all the minor negative terminals to the shunt. 

Because it was raining I was only able to do a small amount of prefabricating.

This is as far as we can go with the battery connections without actually disconnecting the battery wiring.

There is no spare room on the instrument panel for the gauge (display) so the plan is to mount it on the side of the electrical cabinet.

The initial idea was to move the CE Plate to the right and replace it with the gauge.  However the galvanic isolator is on the opposite side of the cabinet wall and is wired into the shoreline switch.  The gauge can’t go in the top right corner because the solar panel controller is located in that position inside the cabinet.  I plan to mount it beside the shoreline switch where the red circle is located.

The hole in the cabinet wall needs to be exactly 52mm in diameter for the gauge to snuggly fit.  There is a plastic “collar” which screws on to the reverse side of the gauge to secure it.  However there is a problem.

Side view of the gauge

In the top left picture you can see the gauge with the ivory coloured collar screwed on.  The picture below it shows the maximum depth that the collar will allow the gauge to penetrate.  Unscrew the collar any further and it falls off (top right picture)  The wall of the existing electrical cabinet is too thick for the collar to screw on to the gauge.  Now I understand why there is a square facia panel supplied.  Using it allows the gauge to be secured from the front.  However I’ve had a clever thought (I hope) and plan to reverse the direction of the ivory coloured collar (bottom right picture).  By doing this it gives sufficient depth for the body of the gauge to penetrate the wall of the cabinet.  All that is now required is a trip to the 99p Shop or Poundland to find and buy a cheap (one time use) 52mm circular wood hole cutter.

So why fit the BMV when Waiouru already has a Smartgauge?  Well whilst they have two common reporting functions (displaying the battery state of charge as a percentage and the battery voltage) the Victron gives more information about what’s happening to the battery bank.  It also displays the:

  • current flow in and out of the battery
  • the amount of energy (in amp/hours) removed from the battery
  • the estimated “Time-to-go” in the battery based on the present usage

Just looking at the capabilities of the Smartgauge and the Victron BMV600; and assuming they are both accurate; I’d be more inclined to fit the Victron BMV as it does more.

However Waiouru is fitted with a Smartbank Advanced system.  This additional capability means the Smartgauge manages the output from both engine alternators combining them to more quickly charge the domestic battery bank.  The Victron doesn’t have this functionality.


David said...

Hi Tom
At this rate the batteries will be flat from running all the gauges

Paul (from Waterway Routes) said...

We have the previous version of the battery monitor and find it very useful. I’ll email you separately about some of its limitations. Some suggestions about where to fit it.

With ours you need to look almost straight on to read the display - the LCD characters become very faint when viewed at an angle so make sure it is somewhere you can get your head straight in front.

I have remote CCTV monitoring with one internal camera pointed at the display so I can read the battery monitor display on my mobile phone – so it needed to be positioned where I can fit a camera almost directly opposite too.

I keep a daily log of the readings so it needs to be positioned where I can put a notebook somewhere, like a shelf, where I can read the display, and push the buttons, and write in the notebook at the same time and, perhaps for some users, both need to be at a similar distance so you can do both with your glasses on (or both with them off).

Ours is also positioned just inside the rear doors so I can briefly let go of the tiller at an appropriate moment and lean forwards to read the display and see how well the charge is doing while cruising.

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Paul,
I like the daily log idea and have already been thinking of a shelf for the tiller arm. That could also hold the small book for recording the BMV readings.

Tom and Jan said...

That's why we have the solar panels... to run all the gauges! :-)