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We recently ordered a Legacy II. We will be traveling to Tennessee in a couple weeks to finalize options. Coming from the truck camping side, we have been used to compressor fridges 12-vol/110). There seemed to be more problems with the 3-way than the compressor fridges. Everyone has their preferences. We will have Lithium batteries and the 340W solar. Some people will drive with the propane on. Others say it is dangerous. I know that driving with 12-volt will drain acid and AGM batteries pretty quickly, but not sure about lithium. I would love input on how all of you run the fridge when driving. Since Oliver only sells the 3-way, we will need to get used to this. We also have a National Luna 50L top loading fridge that we have in our truck. I usually plug the top loader onto shore power or into our generator during the day and then Goal Zero 400 Lithium power pack at night. I'm thinking I can plug it into the trailer in camp and will experiment with that. Thanks for your advice and feedback.

 

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Hi, John, and welcome to the forum! I see this is your first post.

I think you'll find the combination of the 3 way and your National Luna to be a great pairing for boondocking. The gas fridge uses so little power on propane, and your national luna is quite economical (power-wise), as extra storage/backup. 

There is a bit of a learning curve with 3 ways, but you'll get used to it in a hurry, I'm sure.

We don't have a dc portable, but we do have a dc compressor Truck fridge that we installed in our Elite.  We've run it, and our friend's electric coleman (thermoelectric) on our trailer's batteries for a few days at a time.  I'll defer to the folks with lithium and National Lunas and similar for answers there.

We tried running our old 3way on 12v a few times, and it drained our 2 agm batteries too quickly. I don't remember the power draw, but I  suspect you'd be ok with lithium. When we had a 3way,  we drove with the fridge on propane (turning it off, of course, where required or a danger.)

Again, welcome, and congratulations!

 

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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Congrates on taking that first step in really joining the "family".

These absorption fridges are most efficient when using propane.   Running them on electricity (12 volt or 110 volt) requires the heating of an element (kind of like a space heater) and that takes a fair amount of a limited resource when on 12 volt.  Assuming that it is not too hot out and you are not driving too far then it just might be simple to turn off your fridge during those circumstances.  I've only done that a couple of times though.  The problem is - you risk spoiling food and you have to remember to turn that puppy back on.  Yes, with the larger battery capacity of the lithium it is possible that you might have enough power to not be concerned.  But, you will still need to remember (I think) to switch it back to propane.  I'm in the camp that simply leaves the fridge on "automatic" all the time (unless as Sherri says it is dangerous or illegal).  This way the fridge is always on propane unless I'm plugged into "shore power - 110.  One less thing to worry about and/or remember.

Bill

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2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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The auto function fridges in the newer trailers operate differently from our older Dometic units. They will select from all three available power sources, be careful it at it doesn’t select DC. Ninety per cent of all RVers run their fridges on propane while traveling. We driven >150K miles like this and I don’t ever recall a situation where we were required to turn it off. 

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Steve, Tali and the dogs: Reacher, Lucy and Rocky plus our beloved Storm and Maggie (both waiting at the Rainbow Bridge)

2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, Hull #026 | 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, Hull #050 | 2022 Silverado High Country 3500HD Diesel 4x4 

 

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Scubarx brought up an important point on the Norcold. I, too, advise owners to manually select the power source each time. The older dometics didn't ever default to dc. The norcold will, if left in auto, and can leave some with depleted batteries unknowingly. 

There are a few areas where you must turn off propane tanks, not just the fridge. Many ferries require it, and some check and tag the bottle at boarding.  Some tunnels, either because they're heavily trafficked, or don't have the typical little rise in the center. They're usually clearly marked, and have an alternative  route, or have a pullout area to turn off tanks. Most can be avoided with planning, and if not, it's just a minor inconvenience. 

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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Our previous RVs have had Dometic absorption fridges which defaulted to LP when set to "Auto".  The Norcold default is 12v; we always choose the power mode and never set to Auto. 

In our experience, the Norcold fridge does a much better job of cooling than the Dometic in our Leisure Travel Van.  However, the Norcold lacks one feature the Dometic had - it had an audible alarm if the burner failed to light, after a certain number of attempts or the door was left open.  The only indication you get of no LP supply, when in LP mode, is an error code on the display.  I wish it had an audible alarm.

What we do is set an alarm for the remote temp sensors we use in the fridge, to let us know if the temp gets above 40 degrees in the fridge and 25 degrees in the freezer.

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Ray and Susan Huff

Elite II Twin "Pearl" - Hull#699; delivered December 7, 2020

2013 F350 6.7l diesel Super Duty 4x4 long bed crew cab

1UP-USA Heavy-duty bike rack

2017 Leisure Travel Van Unity Twin Bed (sold)

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John, I've got a National Luna in my truck, too, and power it with a small AGM battery, which is charged from the truck while driving and also pair of solar panels attached to a rack.  With that setup, I've never depleted the battery while traveling.  I used a Victron Cyrix smart relay to prevent the fridge from draining the starter battery, and just allow the truck's electronics to act as the regulator for charging the house battery.  And I've got a Victron BMV to monitor everything via bluetooth.  It's been a good setup and made the fridge something we don't really think about.  

I've got a DC fridge in the trailer, but now that I've had experience with the NL in the truck, I'd keep the absorption fridge if doing it again.  It's just a big drain on the trailer batteries that I wouldn't have to worry about.  Propane for us seems to last forever.

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I'm hoping that someone with the Lithium package will chime in on the feasibility of running the fridge on 12V while in transit.  

When we had our old travel trailer, I'd put a small bag of dry ice in the fridge just before departure, then turn the fridge off.  Only if we were planning to be on the road for more than 90 minutes, or if it was unusually hot. Otherwise I would just pack the fridge with some frozen items and/or a few ice packs, and hit the road.

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We have the Norcold in our Oliver 2 (hull 770) with the lithium package.  Running the fridge on 12 volt the batteries run down very fast.  We recently ran the fridge on 12V on an 80 + degree day and found after about 8 hours the fridge drained the 390 amp hour battery bank to about 65%.  I do not believe his rate of power consumption is sustainable in our Northwest climate if you are off the grid as the solar will not keep up. 

After 8K of travel in the five months we have owned hull 770 we find we use propane to power the fridge all the time unless hooked to 110.  There have been no issues so far.

The inability to charge the lithium batteries from the tow vehicle is a serious issue for those of us who live in the Northwest and camp off the grid.  I went with the lithium package despite my misgivings in the hope Oliver will work with Lithionics and come up with a TV charging option which they both support and which we owners can confidently implement.  As I am unaware of any progress being made in that direction, I question whether I made the right choice going with the lithiums.

In the defense of the system, we have found that given mild temps and a reasonable amount of solar gain, the panels will keep up with our electricity demands if we stick with propane to power the fridge.

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On our delivery week, we drove from DCSP to Triple Creek Campground in Newport, TN and a couple of days later from there to our home near Raleigh NC. Each leg was about a 6 hour drive. We had the Norcold fridge on DC for both drives. In addition, we stopped to eat lunch in the trailer also both times and used the AC for about an hour. Unfortunately we did not check the battery levels when we arrived, but the fridge was still working before we turned on the propane and plugged in the shore power. We have the Lithionics 390aH option.

Mike & Sue, 2020 F250 Lariat 7.3L, 2021 Elite II Twin #850 "Mojo"

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14 hours ago, VBistro said:

I'm hoping that someone with the Lithium package will chime in on the feasibility of running the fridge on 12V while in transit.  

11 hours ago, Jim and Chris Neuman said:

We recently ran the fridge on 12V on an 80 + degree day and found after about 8 hours the fridge drained the 390 amp hour battery bank to about 65%.

4 hours ago, katanapilot said:

What is the concern about using propane to run the Norcold fridge?  The propane usage is minimal, based on our experience.

We have towed Hull 790 with lithium package about 6,500 miles over 4 months of use.  We use the 12V option on the refrigerator.  Sometimes.  It depends....

I'm reluctant to use propane for the refrigerator while driving, not because of usage, but because of safety.  In the event of a severe accident, a ruptured gas line with an open tank valve could make a bad situation worse. 

The refrigerator uses about 15 amps when running on 12V.  This is about what the panels produce on a sunny summer day.  On a cloudy day, or a sunny late fall day, the solar will not keep up with the fridge; you'll be drawing from the batteries to run the fridge.  If the batteries are topped off, and there is sun in the forecast, then no problem (they shouldn't be maintained at 100% anyway).  If the batteries are low, and the forecast is for clouds, then this may not be a good option.

The problem with using State of Charge (SOC) in the Victronics app to measure refrigerator impact -- especially on a new trailer -- is that the SOC has to be calibrated.  Calibration happens when you run the battery to reserve voltage (12.0 volts) and then do a complete charge with shore power (to 14.4 volts).  The SOC readings in the Lithionics app should be more accurate after this, although I'm not fully convinced of this yet.  I learned this the hard way: we ran down our batteries completely by accident (and had to hand-crank the awnings and stabilizers) but the app indicated that the SOCs in each battery were between 57% and 62%.

So, on a cool day while driving we might turn off the fridge (it stays relatively cool for a long time).  On an open road with little traffic we might use propane.  On a busy freeway, especially in urban areas, on a hot sunny day, I'll turn it to 12 volts.  

I use a temperature sensor to monitor fridge temperature remotely (https://www.amazon.com/SensorPush-Wireless-Thermometer-Hygrometer-Android/dp/B01AEQ9X9I/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=21PYNKL0E7HOX&dchild=1&keywords=sensorpush+sensor&qid=1633192318&sprefix=sensorpush%2Caps%2C257&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEzQVdBSFlCMk9SQ0taJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNzUxMzExMjM4SFVHWTNVTEdCQiZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwNjIyMjYwMzQwSzIzRTFDRjZUTSZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2F0ZiZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=.  This sensor (which I think NCeagle first mentioned on this forum) is expensive, but terrific (I'm using several now to monitor humidity and temperature in the fridge, trailer, instrument cases, etc.).  

12 hours ago, Jim and Chris Neuman said:

The inability to charge the lithium batteries from the tow vehicle is a serious issue for those of us who live in the Northwest and camp off the grid.  I went with the lithium package despite my misgivings in the hope Oliver will work with Lithionics and come up with a TV charging option which they both support and which we owners can confidently implement. 

Similarly, we ordered the lithium package in part because we were told that Oliver would "likely" have a TV charging solution by the time that we picked up in April.  I was disappointed that this was not available at pickup, and that there still doesn't seem to be a solution that Oliver can recommend and for which Oliver could provide some installation guidance.  Others have installed DC to DC charger (e.g., search for John Davies Redarc thread), but it sure seems like this problem of not being able to charge from the TV is something that Oliver would want to solve.

Hope this helps.

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2021 Oliver LE2
Ram 2500 diesel

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On 10/2/2021 at 10:48 AM, Fritz said:

 

Similarly, we ordered the lithium package in part because we were told that Oliver would "likely" have a TV charging solution by the time that we picked up in April.  I was disappointed that this was not available at pickup, and that there still doesn't seem to be a solution that Oliver can recommend and for which Oliver could provide some installation guidance.  Others have installed DC to DC charger (e.g., search for John Davies Redarc thread), but it sure seems like this problem of not being able to charge from the TV is something that Oliver would want to solve.

Hope this helps.

Thanks for that very thorough answer....AND it never even occurred to me that the Li batteries wouldn't be recharged by the TV.  Definitely something we will have to keep in mind.  We generally don't go more than a day or two here in CO without sun, but it does happen, and our travel plans include some not-so-sunny places!  

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58 minutes ago, VBistro said:

We generally don't go more than a day or two here in CO without sun, but it does happen, and our travel plans include some not-so-sunny places! 

Reminds me of several years ago while I was camped near Holy Cross City and it rained for four days straight - 🙃

There have been a couple of posts here on the Forum about how to wire charging from the TV - try searching lithium Tow Vehicle charging.

Bill

2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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The Redarc charger was a lifesaver on our last trip, 4500 miles through BC and lower Yukon. There were many days where the solar was completely useless, because of cloudy or rainy weather. With the DC to DC charger, I could count on 110 amp hours of charge in a ten hour drive. I ran the generator a couple of times to operate the AC, and only once more did I need to run it to recharge the batteries for about an hour. We stayed at hookup sites about a third of the time. I would like a little higher charge rate, for sure, but for simplicity this is hard to beat, as long as the wires in the trailer are to spec (not undersized!) and I have no regrets. On sunny days I have no worries at all, the combined rate of up to 30 amps of solar and TV charging is great.

BTW there is no way my Toyota 5.7 would charge the lithiums more than part way, max voltage is way too low. I would see 14.5 volts (on a Scan Gauge II) with no load, but when hooked to the trailer and charging AGMs, it dropped to around 13.7. That low voltage works fine with the Redarc, which bumps it up to an appropriate value for whatever battery chemistry is selected. And it is a smart charger, so it knows when to taper off the current.

5193860E-F90E-49CB-85FC-48F402EB76D6.thumb.jpeg.8eb556012642d51f36946fa076b1428f.jpeg

https://olivertraveltrailers.com/forums/topic/5270-how-to-redarc-dc-to-dc-11-amp-output-trailer-charger-installation/

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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2 hours ago, VBistro said:

Thanks for that very thorough answer....AND it never even occurred to me that the Li batteries wouldn't be recharged by the TV.  

Oliver does not mention this rather important fact in any of their literature. It’s very deceptive IMHO, especially for a trailer that is advertised as “get off-grid with our new lithium pro package”. Maybe they mean “get off grid but bring a big generator too”.

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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1 hour ago, John E Davies said:

Oliver does not mention this rather important fact in any of their literature.

True, but what trailer manufacturer does?  Remember that B2B chargers are what's required, and while Sterling has been around the marine world for a while I think, they weren't well known in the trailer or overland community until the past few years.  So the trailer world has traditionally just ignored the fact that the vehicles could't charge the batteries; just up to now the battery banks were too small for anyone to care (also, people assumed that the charge that they got from their solar while on the road was coming from their truck).  

Truth is, I think adding a B2B charger to either lithium package is more likely to add another layer of disappointment. Beneficial, yes; but still inadequate.

I don't think that Oliver's sin is so much the lack of B2B charging, but that they aren't communicating the limited ability of either that or their solar to charge a super large battery bank.  In their defense, most owners find the subject to be pretty opaque.  But FYI to all potential buyers, there's a very limited use case for a large battery bank without also investing in large panels and perhaps also a B2B system; i.e., it makes sense only if you're planning to use power at a faster rate than you can recover.  There is, and I can't stress this enough, no way to recharge them for continuous use, at least not one that makes sense with this trailer - Oliver's solar package will provide about 70Ah on average, and B2B charging maybe 100 for an 8 hour drive.  Even on a long, sunny drive, you would only plan for 170 Ah even with B2B.  Not 350, and certainly not 570, which is what would be required to recharge an exhausted pro or platinum LFP package.  So, at the end of the day, either your consumption is within those charging limits (in which case, you didn't need the batteries); or you carry a generator to recharge them (in which case, you didn't need the batteries); or you use electricity with wild abandon for six days and then go plug in or run that generator for 6 hours (at least you had 6 days of quiet)

I'm not saying no one should buy them; but wow, everyone should give it some deep thought before doing so.  There's advantages, just few and far between.  

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I agree with all that.

When @Overland was first talking about 400 ah of lithium, and 600 + watts of solar, I was astounded.. in 2017.

It's totally ok to order mega ah of battery power, if you'll actually use it. 340 watts of solar will not recharge it, for most folks. It depends on useage.

I  have 210 ah, agm, 400 watts fixed solar, 200 watts portable,  60 to 80 ah a day usage, so I sometimes have to add in generator power. 

I'm ok with that. But, I know what to expect,  and I'm a power miser.

If you want to camp, say 4 or 5 days, with just battery, and not worry, go for it, if your budget says go. Mine wouldn't,  frankly.  I carry a small genset, anyway, so why spend so much on battery power? 100 or 200 ah lithium would  be lux for me. 

As far as b2b battery chargers, that's more tied to your truck/tv, and I'd never expect Oliver or any other manufacturer to deal with the intricacies of that. 

A b2b wouldn't even help us that much, with covid camping style. We run up. Stay 2 to 6 weeks, and never connect. The solar is our mainstay. 

If I were involved in trailer manufacturing,  I wouldn't touch b2 b charging, honestly.  Too much liability. 

 

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

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Yeah, I opted for the 400ah of Lithium because we often camp for 1-2 weeks in partial to full shade here in WA, so we can run some deficit each day and still be ok for quite a few days that way before we need shore power (I'm less interested in running a generator for several hours in a row periodically). I opted in knowing that we'd rarely if ever use anything near the total stored charge in a day but for our scenario this still offers significant convenience. A week under big trees in the Olympics in May confirmed the choice, though it would have taken another week to be getting concerned about getting too low. 

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Jim and  Yanna, Woodinville WA

2004 Ford E250 camper conversion

Oliver Elite II hull #709

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@Jim_Oker, yours is the perfect reason why people opt for bigger lithium batteries. 

Reduced range anxiety. 

I totally get that.  I could go a week to 10 days, with no solar, with 600 ah of lithium. 5 or 6 days, with 400. 

The problem we face here, is many new owners with zero power management  experience, and limited camping experience. I try to share my experience,  as you do, too, and I thank you for that.

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Same here.  So long as you know the limits, and still see a benefit for how you travel, then by all means go for it. One of my upcoming upgrades will certainly be a Victron Orion and who knows, maybe some batteries to go with. But probably making my own if I do. 

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Agreed. In a year or two, we'll likely need to replace our agms. The price  difference between agms and lithium keeps diminishing. 

Paul wants to build his own. If battleborn is still dropping prices, I may push for that,  just for the low hassle warranty.

Most other bits and pieces are in place, but a few.  Those would be needed, either way .

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22 minutes ago, Jim_Oker said:

I opted for the 400ah of Lithium because we often camp for 1-2 weeks in partial to full shade

I'm in Jim's camp here -- we opted for  390 Ah lithium to reduce range anxiety and reducing the need for a generator.  The batteries have served us well in this regard.  We also use A/C occasionally (usually for an hour or less) at rest stops.  I like the fast charging, and (hopefully) long life.  

When being careful, we use between 30 and 50 Ah/day, perhaps a bit more if the furnace is running a bunch.  Perhaps less if we're really being careful. This gives us several days  to a week or more of range, depending if on whether we're getting at least some solar charge.  Using the A/C for an hour uses about 100 Ah, and the solar will recharge a good portion of that on a sunny, summer afternoon.  For longer trips (e.g., cross-country) during the summer we occasionally find ourselves at plug-in sites in the evening, where we can charge if needed.  

In 4 months of use, we've needed a generator only one time, and that was when we ran the batteries down by accident. For us, there's a DC to DC charger in our future, a la John Davies and others.  That should eliminate the need for a generator during most, if not all, of our travels. 

For us, the lithium batteries have served their primary purpose: reducing range anxiety.  That said, I think some buyers will find lithium battery maintenance frustrating.  For example, the batteries need to be cycled from charged to empty to fully charged every two months (per Lithionics rep).  What's the best way of doing this seemingly simple task?  Use of the A/C or space heater doesn't run down the batteries enough.  Running the fridge on 12V does it, but inelegantly so.  I can't even imagine doing this with the platinum 600 Ah batteries on a regular basis.   The battery app needs calibration (which we learned the hard way when the batteries died but the app showed a 57-62% state of charge!).  Does the app stay calibrated?  Not sure of this yet.  The batteries need temperature monitoring (e.g., the battery compartment gets quite warm in the summer).  Etc.  Etc.  Etc.  

This is getting a bit afield from the original fridge question, but I think that Oliver could do a much better job (1) describing weaknesses of the lithium option along with potential benefits, and (2) presenting a separate, simple, user-friendly manual on how these systems work on an integrated basis.  Such a user guide would draw from the Xantrex manual, the knowledge base, the battery manual (which we did not receive and is still not listed in Oliver University, but which is available on the Lithionics website)  and perhaps this forum describe how to use these electrical components as a system, and what to do when encountering common pitfalls.  Perhaps this forum is a good place to try crowd-sourcing such a user guide.  We might all learn something in the process.  I know I would.

I'm generally satisfied with the lithium system, but with a better understanding (i.e., user guide for integrated system) and DC to DC charger, I could be downright pleased.

Sorry for the long post....

 

 

 

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2021 Oliver LE2
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1 hour ago, Fritz said:

I'm in Jim's camp here

I hope you brought beer!!

 

1 hour ago, Fritz said:

What's the best way of doing this seemingly simple task?

If you have the convection/microwave, running that convection oven for a few hours will draw quite a bit

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Jim and  Yanna, Woodinville WA

2004 Ford E250 camper conversion

Oliver Elite II hull #709

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