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OBHS - On Board Hot Shower

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so that was yesterday evening's work... then i got motivated this evening and nearly finished the project!


item #5: the interface


to connect the fresh water input and the shower output to the vehicle, i wanted some sort of quick-coupler. i looked into pressure washer couplers, but they only come in a flow-thru design as far as i could find. i wanted couplers that shut off completely when nothing is plugged in. this is due to the fact that i wanted to have multiple inputs and outputs to the system and therefore everything needed to stay sealed except whichever input and output was being used (to eventually have an internal hookup for a tank as well as external tank, and to one day have a faucet in the back as well as the shower in the front).


i found that orbit makes brass connections with a shut off feature for garden hoses. i bought a couple of these, but when they came i found that they rely on pressure against them to shut off and therefore wouldn't work to seal the inputs to the system and also just didn't work that great on the outputs either. here's a pic:




since i couldn't find anything specifically meant for water, i decided on just using regular 1/4" industrial interchange air quick couplers. i got the quality solid brass Coilhose Pnuematics 6-ball couplers from expedition exchange:




hopefully they don't limit flow too much by being 1/4". then i also needed a couple of the male plugs for the couplers and a couple 1/4" to 1/2" MPT nipples. chalk all this cost up to the general fitting fund, which i'll total up at the end.


then the thing i pondered on longest was where to put the whole interface to the system. most people just put the connections and switch to turn on the pump somewhere under the hood. in keeping with the idea of as simple a system as possible, i didn't want to even have to open the hood. for now, i decided on a little recessed hole under one headlight. when one day i have a real front bumper, i'll recess everything into the top of the bumper, but this will work for now.


so back to bracket making, i messed up one corner but after all the drilling, cutting, and bending, i just left it instead of starting over!




here's a pic with the entire front fascia removed so i could get to where i wanted to mount things. and it looks like a spaghetti plumbing mess, but there is order to the madness ;)




i'm recessing everything so that a branch won't catch on anything and rip the whole system apart. this makes it a little tricky to get to the connections, but still completely manageable.


the finished interface install, can you see it?



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item #5: the interface (continued)


here it is up close:




so the little barely visible black thing on the left is the waterproof electrical switch that turn on the pump. then to the right of that with the silver circle around the coupler is the fresh water input connection. to the right of that with the blue circle is the cool water output for when it's summer and you want a shower with no added heat whatsoever. then there is the red circled connector on the far right that is the hot water output. the tan knob is the thermostatic mixer that controls the temperature on the hot output.


i plan to make a little hinged cover that will hide all of this and keep dust and bugs out of the connectors but i wanted to test the system out a little while before putting any more effort into it in case changes need to be made. and you know i'll spray paint those hoses black so they don't stand out either ;)


here is the system's first test:




i have a much longer hose planned for the shower head, but this was just a quick test.

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first impressions


wholy crap, it works! and it only took 1 day + 2 more evenings and countless trips to ace, grainger and autozone!


i won't count any chickens until it's field tested for a while, but i'm always happy when something works mostly on first try.


water temperature coming out of the hot connection can be adjusted perfectly. the valve makes very incremental adjustments with each full turn. you can turn it all the way up and the water is indeed nearly burning, but at about 3/4 way, it's a perfect hot shower temp. the valve also does it's job of keeping the temp uniform. i left the jeep running for 10 minutes with the shower head off (and therefore water sitting in the exchanger), then turned on the shower head - there was a slight pulse of warmer than set water, but not uncomfortably hot, then it immediately evened out to the set temperature... neat!


the pump turns off as expected as soon as the shower head switch is slid into the "off" position and then immediately turns back on when the switch is slid back to the "on" setting.


even though the on/off slider on the shower head works well, the head isn't quite right for the system. it's supposed to have several settings, but all of the settings except one work the same... i'm guessing that they are all meant for more flow than the RV pump is producing. also, this head just lets too much water flow, i emptied 2.5 gallons in no time!


i researched a little more and found that "low-flow" is usually 2.5 GPM, which is way to much water wasting still for desert showers. i found one handheld shower that is 1.5" GPM and that should be much better. it doesn't have an on/off built into it, but there are separate inline valves for that. so just ordered those items.






FYI, the original shower i got was a Camco:




some people have used those little kitchen sink sprayers instead of a real shower head. seems like a pretty good idea, but i couldn't find what GPM those are so i'm trying this new shower head first.


so in the initial test, that was the only issue - too much flow. i'm sure there are a few more bugs to iron out over time and in a real use scenario.

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This is incredible! Great Work K-showerjedi-Dude.


May I enlist your help sometime to make a setup in my 101 trailer?

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estimated costs


10 plate heat exchanger: $45

Shurflo Classic RV pump: $65

Shurflo filter: $10

Watts variable thermostatic mixing valve: $25

Initial handheld shower head and hoses: $30

Waterproof switch, wire, protective loom, inline fuse holder, fuse, connectors: $20

Brass fittings, PVC flex hose, heater hose, steel, aluminum, paint, bolts, nuts, washers: ~$125

Scepter plastic water Jerry cans: $65


Approximately $385


Compare to...

  • Deckers/R&M: $429 (rv pump, not quite as many features as mine, comes with most everything you need except water cans)
  • TWINE: ~$400 (rumored) (rv pump, doesn't include all fittings/hoses you might need, doesn't count water cans cost)
  • Helton: $270 (battery powered pump, doesn't include all fittings/hoses you might need, doesn't count water cans)
  • Coleman: $250 (not on-board, re-chargeable battery + propane operated, doesn't count water cans)


so for less than the similar systems, i got a very complete and custom solution exactly like i wanted with more features.


it's still a lot of money and obviously a luxury - you can take a whole lot of solar showers for nearly free before you save up to buy this.


overall, it was a fun project and this will be a neat system that i'm sure my trail guests as well as myself will really enjoy.


stay tuned for long term testing and tweaking!

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This is incredible! Great Work K-showerjedi-Dude.


May I enlist your help sometime to make a setup in my 101 trailer?


sure thing dude, we'd have to just have a couple quick-connects on the jeep and hoses coming from the trailer, then all the rest of the junk could be in the trailer.


alternatively, since you'll probably permanently mount a propane tank in your trailer, you might consider a propane powered tankless water heater system like this: http://www.amazon.com/Portable-Tankless-Water-Heater-Shower/dp/B000TXOJQ4/ref=pd_bxgy_ba_img_b




or you could even buy my coleman one and rig it up semi-perm ;)

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forgot to mention, for a shower enclosure, i'll be using the Outback Porta Privy I purchased with my original coleman shower several years ago... if can remember how to fold it up ;)



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Wow great job K! Your next project should be a slushy maker for those hot days on the trail. George:cool::D

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