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Old 03-27-2016, 11:28 AM   #1
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Solar panel, limb lifter install

Every time I go crashing through the brush I worry about breaking the dome on my Fantastic fan, or the windshield, so I wanted to design some protection for it. My solar panels had been mounted to the rack the van came with, but it was a bit flimsy and was always getting loose so it was time for a new design. The front of the rack acts as a ramp for the branches. The ends of the tubing land on pads bolted through the top, using the existing bolts for the hinge in the rear and the tie downs on the front. My long term plan is to fabricate a cargo basket / light mount directly over the cab. Since the GTRV top only goes about 80% of the way forward it has to be seperate from the solar panel rack. In addition, I'll add tubing that will run from the basket down to the bumper brush guard, following the body line down the windshield, across the top of the fender, and tieing into the existing tubing. That will deflect most branches away from the windshield. Many thanks to John Kennedy in B.C. for the fabrication assistance and use of his really well equiped shop. If anyone wants to bend tubing or do other fabrication I can pass on his contact info.
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Old 04-01-2016, 10:22 PM   #2
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Very nice! Love how you designed it so that it holds your solar panels but doesn't block it while still having a usable rack if you need to carry a load. Smart design! Plus looks like you got decent airflow under your panels to keep them efficient.

Does your recent trip to BC has anything to do with your desire to be protected from tree branches Have you consider simply using a stainless cable running from the roof to your front bushguard instead of tubing? Simpler and works great. With enough speed it also gets you free firewood for your campfire, hahaha!

Keep it coming!

Cheers
David
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Old 04-02-2016, 03:38 AM   #3
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Casting a shadow on a panel could reduce the amount of power.
Otherwise I dig it.
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Old 04-02-2016, 11:58 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abitibi View Post
Smart design! Does your recent trip to BC has anything to do with your desire to be protected from tree branches Have you consider simply using a stainless cable running from the roof to your front bushguard instead of tubing? David
The design parameters included good air flow below and between the panels, no shadows, light weight, protection for the vent and the ability to tilt the panels. The only thing I missed was the ability to tilt, but I didn't have enough time, that will happen next fall. I considered using cable as limb lifters but that would have required fabricating mounting points on the fiberglass roof anyway (the GTRV fiberglass top extends all the way to the windshield). A combination cargo basket, and light mount will give me a place to mount the exoskeleton tubing that will run from the basket to the front bumper tubing following the body lines, with a brace or two tieing it into the fender. It will be much stronger and should look pretty cool. I've been planning this for a while, but the brush in BC certainly added to my sense of urgency. Still, there are plenty of overgrown trails just about everywhere I go, and I seem to have a desire to see the end of most of them. Now, even Mrs A/T see's a trail and says "I wonder where that goes?" In the beginning, she would freak out and say, "YOUR GONNA SCRATCH THE PAINT!", but as Rally P/A once said, "I ain't saving this rig for the next guy"
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Old 04-02-2016, 12:01 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bbasso View Post
Casting a shadow on a panel could reduce the amount of power.Otherwise I dig it.
Shadow's do reduce the output a lot, but my panels are mounted nearly flush with the top of the tubing and not shadowed by the rack until the sun is so low that the output is already reduced to almost nothing.
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