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HOW TO: Solar panel extension arms.


John E Davies
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This mod is great for either working on your roof, for repairs or detailing, or for angling the panel toward the sun if your Ollie is parked long term, such as in the off-season.

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I used the following:

40” of 6061-T6 angle, 1 x 1 x 1/8”. For ease of fabrication, you could use 1 x 1/4” flat bar. I wanted angle since it is more rigid for the same weight, but I think the flat bar would be adequate.

2 - 1/4-20 x 1” stainless bolts,

4 - flat washers

2 - self locking nuts (nylocks)

Cut the material into two 20” sections. Drill a 1/4” hole 1 inch from each end along one side of the angle. Center the holes in the inside of the angle (3/8” in from the edge). Since I wanted to use the existing knobs at the top of the arms, I trimmed away a section to allow the “ears” to clear. I left a 3/8” wide section for strength. You need to make two “mirror image” arms (front and back).

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Radius the corners, and file and sand with 180 grit paper. A workbench belt sander like my 4x36” Harbor Freight one works great for this.

To use the arms, you have to climb up carefully with a ladder with padding under the top part. You can start at either end of the panel, the right side is shown in the pics. Attach the appropriate arm at the bottom hole of the bracket using a bolt, snug it down. Make sure that it can rotate up. Remove the knob and let the panel settle. You can put some foam underneath but I didn’t need any.

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Go to the other end and attach the second arm.

Remove the knob, raise the panel and screw the knob back through the arm, into the panel.

Go to the other end, raise the remaining arm, and secure it.

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You can see in the above pic that there are lots of threads sticking out the back of the nut, so if you use thicker 1/4” flat bars, they should work fine.

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If you are going to leave the panel up long term, in the weather, tighten the lower bolts and all knobs. If you are just going to have the panel up for maintenance you can leave the lower ones slightly loose.

With the arms in the bottom holes of the roof brackets, the panel will be at a 35 degree angle. You could get a few extra degrees by selecting higher holes, but the other end of the panel frame might hit the gelcoat on the roof. Use caution.

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I have NOT tested this mod outside in strong winds. It feels very solid when the hardware is tight, but I cannot guarantee how well it will work in violent weather. Use caution.

I thought about not mentioning this last part, but I will anyway.... Please leave a prominent note inside the trailer on the table, or a bright piece of surveyor’s tape flying from the panel, so you do not drive away with the panel up.

John Davies

Spokane WA

 

 

Edited by John E Davies
Fixed format errors
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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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The mounts that Oliver uses for the solar panels are from AM solar and they carry two sizes of tilt  bars that work very well. If your not inclined to make your own or like the embeded nut on the AM solar bars for ease use check out their site.

 

https://amsolar.com/rv-mounting-accessories/91m-tbs195

 

 

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Roadrunner


Legacy Elite II Hull # TB, / TV :White 2017 Ford F250 Super Duty Platinum


 

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The mounts that Oliver uses for the solar panels are from AM solar and they carry two sizes of tilt bars that work very well. If your not inclined to make your own or like the embeded nut on the AM solar bars for ease use check out their site.

 

https://amsolar.com/rv-mounting-accessories/91m-tbs195

Thanks for the link, but I am pretty sure those 19.5 inch bars are not plug and play for an Ollie LEII with its twin panels, without at least drilling a hole closer in, at the top. It’s not a big deal to do that, but the price seems a little steep, even with an extra set of knobs. Total cost on my setup is under $10.

 

There is no way to tilt an Ollie panel to 45 degrees without installing much higher mounts - it hits on the far side. 35 degrees plus possibly 2 or 3 more is all you have.

 

Here are the amsolar ones, holding a single panel at 45 degrees....

 

85511825-7476-48B0-9A94-AA6177E32AF7.thumb.png.31f72e2a195de8ed4be304ccf0fc8017.png

 

Have you tried these bars on your unit? I have never seen any pics of any bars/arms posted in these forums.

 

Thanks.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

 

 

"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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We use the original am solar bars on our panels, but our panels are sidemount, ( already angled), not flat like yours.

 

Back in 2008, they were part of the package....

 

They work well for ours, though we rarely adjust them unless we know we will be in the shade for several days.

 

Sherry

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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Here's a link to one of the early discussions on solar panels on the forum (2008). Rooftop v portable.

If you go to the second page, you'll see some photos of our sidemount panels

Fwiw, we're still friends with most of the people who joined into the discussion on this thread. Rereading it was a nice trip down memory lane for me.

http://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/solar-panels/page/2/?wall_post=46206

 

Sherry

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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Thanks for the link. It’s interesting reading when only a tiny handful of owners were here.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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It was different, not necessarily better...

I thought you (and others) might like to see the difference in the connections. I think our connectors and angle give us a bit more latitude in panel adjustment than the flat on the roof style usually used.

For us, it was the only solution, and has worked well for (almost) ten years.

I was pretty excited about solar power then. I still am. Trailer, now our home, eventually our sailboat, too, will run independently on quiet, nonemitting solar. We're still working on best way for a sailboat. Sails tend to shade everything...

And, thank you for all the information and work that you put into your post. As always, so very helpful to others.

 

Sherry

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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  • 2 years later...
On 8/19/2018 at 9:41 AM, John E Davies said:

Thanks for the link, but I am pretty sure those 19.5 inch bars are not plug and play for an Ollie LEII with its twin panels, without at least drilling a hole closer in, at the top. It’s not a big deal to do that, but the price seems a little steep, even with an extra set of knobs. Total cost on my setup is under $10.

 

There is no way to tilt an Ollie panel to 45 degrees without installing much higher mounts - it hits on the far side. 35 degrees plus possibly 2 or 3 more is all you have.

 

Here are the amsolar ones, holding a single panel at 45 degrees....

 

85511825-7476-48B0-9A94-AA6177E32AF7.thumb.png.31f72e2a195de8ed4be304ccf0fc8017.png

 

Have you tried these bars on your unit? I have never seen any pics of any bars/arms posted in these forums.

 

Thanks.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

 

 

This is an older thread, but I wanted to comment on it since I did buy and test the 15.5" AM Solar brackets for our 2020 Ollie (https://amsolar.com/rv-mounting-accessories/91m-tbs155).  The 15.5" brackets do (barely) fit and work using the uppermost (top) hole on the bracket.  No way the larger ones will work with the roof getting in the way as JD eludes to - even if you use the lower holes on the bracket.  I'm not entirely sure how JD got 20" sections to work on his, but perhaps a slightly different mounting configuration/bracket than the 2020's?

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2020 Elite II, Hull 688 --- 2021 Silverado 2500HD, 6.6L Duramax Diesel

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4 hours ago, NCeagle said:

I'm not entirely sure how JD got 20" sections to work on his, but perhaps a slightly different mounting configuration/bracket than the 2020's?

A different roof bracket spacing is very possible, but be aware that my arm hole spacing is 18” center to center. And the arms could be shorter if the upper bracket holes are used. I wanted them in lower ones, since the brackets are stiffer there when the nuts are fully tight, than they would be at the top holes. It was an intentional engineering choice. Well, mostly....it was a little bit accidental.

The bottom hole, or the one above it, is easier to use than the upper holes, there is room to have the arm lay down along the side of the panel with the panel knob in place. You could even leave it lying there for a short trip if the nut was fully tight ( I do not recommend it, the gelcoat could be scarred). This position is not possible using the upper holes. You would not be able to easily operate the knob.

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If you just buy some metal you can make it any way you like. Structural aluminum is affordable and very easy to work with. Just don’t choose the dead-soft ornamental kind typically found at the hardware store. This size is about $1 per foot. This vendor will ship, but a local non- ferrous metal supplier will have it.

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John Davies

Spokane WA

Edited by John E Davies
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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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On 8/20/2018 at 2:28 AM, John E Davies said:

Thanks for the link. It’s interesting reading when only a tiny handful of owners were here.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

John, is the link available elsewhere?

Broken Link - HOW TO- Solar panel extension arms. - Posted August 20, 2018.png

Maggie & Bryan | Arnegard, ND | 2020 LE II (Twin Setup) Hull #665 | 2010 GMC 1500 Ext-Cab Sierra SLE 

 

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On 2/1/2021 at 8:44 AM, Landrover said:

Reading this thread made me think of a question. What ever happen to the company that was developing the auto track system for the solar panels on the Ollie does any one know?

This is the link to the solar tracking company you are asking about.

Mossey

Edited by mossemi

Mike and Krunch   Lutz, FL   LEII #193 “the dog house”

 

 

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