Nice sunset view as we pass over London, England, on our way to Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Shkodra, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Hiking the Peaks of the Balkans, June 13-24!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Another battery problem, but then another good day!

Up as usual around 6:30am Saturday morning. Slept fine... no other campers, and no other vehicles... it was an absolutely perfect spot to spend the first night in the camper.

Speaking of sleep, a few people have asked! So here it is.... we did sleep really well. The mattress is just a piece of hard foam, maybe 6" thick. Not even memory foam. I was kind of worried that it wouldn't be good enough, but it seems to be fine. Although yes... it's a little short for me.

I think the space from head to toe must be exactly six feet, because that's what I am. It's a little cramped if I lie straight out, so I have to kind of lie on an angle The sellers had warned us of this, but it's fine. It's only been one night, but I'm pretty confident it'll be okay.

We found another battery problem on Friday night.

Yes, we had already replaced the engine battery and that all seems to be working perfectly.

It was the house battery this time. I had charged up the single group 27 Deep Cycle AGM house battery prior to leaving Pat and Louise's, and I had thought that it would be fine. The fridge is a 3 way... it can run off 240 volt A/C (household electricity here in Australia), propane gas, or 12 volt DC.

Of course the house battery also charges while you are driving. I had the fridge running on 12 volt DC for a little while on Friday evening, and when I went to plug in our new 150 watt inverter, it kicked off an alarm saying the voltage was too low.

Huh? That doesn't seem right.

So I got out the volt meter and checked the battery and it was reading 10.4 volts... which is way too low! And yet, the fridge electronics were still working fine and the house LED lighting was still working fine. It took me a little while to figure out the problem, but it could only be one thing. The battery has a dead cell. In doing the research, even with a dead cell, a battery can still read fully charged at rest. But as soon as you put a load on it, that dead cell just gives up.

A 12 volt battery is made up of six cells, each putting out approximately 2.1 volts. When one goes bad, the other cells still have full capacity, but the output voltage will only be 10.5 volts. Which is enough to run some 12 volt electrics, but not all. The inverter didn't like the low voltage.

So, we had no way to charge and run our laptops.

That won't do. So we figured that while we were still close to Adelaide we had better drive back into the city and replace the house battery. I did some research and found a replacement AGM battery on sale at AutoBarn in Noarlunga for $229 AUD ($216 CAD, $160 USD). I changed it out in the parking lot with my very basic hand tools... I am going to have to buy a half decent tool kit for this rig!

With that done, I had to figure out what to do with the defective battery. It didn't look that old. but I had no paperwork for it. Nothing to do but scrap it. The auto parts store said I could leave it with them, but they wouldn't give me any credit. So I looked up a nearby recycler that was open on a Sunday and we drove over there to drop it off... they gave me eight bucks for it!

And then we were off.... finally.

We took the back roads.

Watch for koala bears!

We didn't see any.

It rained on and off for a while. It wasn't supposed to.. the weather forecasters here in Australia must have taken the same courses that the ones in North America do!

We stopped for lunch at a roadside pullout.

The scenery was gorgeous!

Stopped for lunch.

It was overcast and rainy, but there was some sun shining through.

Then five minutes later, it was nice and sunny!

With not much effort, these rolling pastures could be a golf course!

On the opposite side of the road.

We made our way to the town of Strathalbyn (pop 6,500). I had checked the map and it looked like there was a nice walking path by the river. We found a parking spot and went to explore the town.

St. Andrew's Church dates back to 1844.

We saw a few of these colorful birds. 
This was the best I could do before they flew off.

The railway station is now a visitor's info center.

The elderly couple volunteering at the visitor's center were funny. He was more interested in Canada and the U.S. than he was talking about the local area!

Interesting building, now a bank.

They have a beautiful park in Strathalbyn.

And they have four pubs!

Ruth, by the very nice public bathroom building.

So far, we have learned that they are very civilized here in Australia! Most playgrounds and parks have public bathroom facilities. And the ones we have been in are kept clean and there is no graffiti and stuff marking up the walls. Maybe we've just been lucky so far... I guess time will tell.

This is what winter in Australia looks like in this area.

We stopped at a Woolworth's grocery store and picked up a few more items, and then headed to a free camping area I had looked up. We got there, and there were three other campers already set up. The sign said "72 hour maximum", but one of the units looks like it's been here a lot longer than that. There was also a sign saying it was $5 a night and you had to fill out a self serve permit, but there were no self serve permits to be had. I don't think they worry about it in the off season.

A decent free spot for one night.

Good for a one night stop over. Too close to the road, although it's not a busy road. And we've already heard some generator noise from the other rigs, so hopefully that doesn't go on too long.

Here's today's drive!

We did 86 kms (52 miles) today, but that included backtracking to get the new house battery!

Anyhow.. looks like all of our electric needs are fine now. And the weather forecast is looking quite nice for the next three or four days!


And in Canada...


  1. We stayed there last year 17th March. Also thought too close to the road but a pleasant spot. Toilets in general very good and lots of free showers to be had, often marked on the app. Another good cheap shower is often at the local swimming pool. We've paid as little as $2 for a swim. Hopefully you now have the batteries sorted. 6' bed with no footroom would be tough for Steve who sleeps flat.

    1. We ended up having seven other units camped out there overnight and a couple of them ran generators, one was very loud and didn't stop until we were ready to climb into bed. It was fine for overnight but we won't have wanted to stay any longer than that.

      We have done the swimming pool thing before too, our only problem with that is that we will need to get swimsuits as we didn't bring any knowing that it was going to be "winter" here. ;-)

      Kevin figures that the bed is just slightly less than 6', it isn't too bad when Kevin sleeps at a slight angle.

  2. For some reason I am surprised about how green it is. Thought it would be more like Nevada and ariZona. More brown and desert. Guess it is the area you are in. Beautiful place.

    1. Australia and mainland United States are very similar in size. Of course there are areas like Nevada and Arizona... and there are areas like Pennsylvania as well!

  3. That's not an uncommon problem when batteries have been sitting idle for a while. Hoping that is the last of those problems and you enjoy the rest of your adventure.
    Be Safe and Enjoy that beautiful scenery.

    It's about time.

    1. I read an article where it stated that 17% of all deep cycle batteries will eventually end up with one dead cell.

  4. Such a pretty area - and more beautiful birds!

    1. The scenery has been wonderful so far and it switches around a bit with rolling hills and vineyards to pasture land both rolling and flat to areas that are quite treed. Now if only the sun would come out and stay out for an entire day, we would have some stunning photos. :-)

      Yep, lots of birds around!

  5. Hi, hope you have a great trip. Are you getting use to the right hand drive? auto or standard?

    1. Yes... getting used to it, but still have to concentrate! It's a standard transmission, so shifting with my left hand and using turn signal with right hand.

    2. I can relate... we rented a RV in England a few years back. Same configuration. I was ok on the roads, but lost all sense of where to be in parking lots.
      safe travels.

  6. Glad the battery did it's dirty deed before you got too far. Off to a great start!

    1. We are too because we don't think we could have picked one up at a half decent price until we got to Melbourne and who knows how long that will take us at the speed we travel! ;-)

  7. At least now you know that you will have no electrical problems. I think you are off on an awesome adventure. Can't wait to hear all about it.

    1. Hopefully we shouldn't. We just need the sun to come out so we can start using the solar panel and then we could stay somewhere for more than just one night. :-)

      We are off to a great start, even with a couple of little bumps along the way.

  8. Nice that you are getting things taken care of. Our class B motorhome had a 3 way fridge as well, When we ran the fridge on 12 volts even with the engine running it really drained our battery, so it was propane or 120 volts then no more issues.

    1. Interesting. There must have been a problem with your alternator. It should have been able to keep up with the heating element on the fridge.


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