I have been considering installing a portable high-pressure breathing air compressor in the dive trailer for a while now.
I have been looking at a few different models, including the Max Air 35-G with a Honda gasoline engine shown here which I decided on because if its price, portability, and features. This compressor with a Honda gasoline engine weighs just 85 pounds, so it can be carried by just one person.
I wanted either a gasoline or diesel engine model so that I would be able to fill scuba tanks away from electricity.
These new portable compressors are able to fill scuba tanks with the same grade of compressed air (Grade-E) as the larger machines at dive shops, just not as fast. With a portable machine, tank fills would take around 20 minutes versus 10 at a dive shop.
When you think about it though, 20 minutes really isn’t that bad. If you are filling 3 tanks for the next days dives, in about an hour while you are cleaning you gear and getting it ready for the next days dives, your tanks are all filled and your ready to go — no trip to the local dive shop necessary.
You have to also consider fuel and maintenance costs of the compressor oil and the air filters which have to be changed out after every 10 hours of use, which would be about 30 filled tanks.
With the cost of fuel, maintenance, replacement filters, oil, etc, that would come to about $1 per tank fill versus the traditional $4 that the local dive shops here charge, saving me about $3 for every tank that I fill.
There have been several occasions when we have planned early morning dives at the last-minute the evening before, and the dive shops just closed. We were left with no way of getting tank fills for the early morning dives because we were planning to do the dives before the dive shops even opened. With a portable air fill station in the dive trailer, this problem would be a thing of the past.
I have been adding everything up, and a portable fill station like this would pay for itself within just over a year of use for me, which is an acceptable return on investment rate. After that time it would continue to save me money with every dive, not to mention the convenience of being able to fill my own tanks whenever and wherever I needed to fill them and being able to fill tanks for others on-site if necessary.
With the air compressor, spare air filters, compressor oil and shipping & handling the total came to just a little bit over $3,800.00 and should be here in about a week or so.
I have always considered myself to be a “self-contained” diver, meaning that I did not have to rely on anyone else for any of my diving equipment. Now I can truly say that I am completely self-contained. I will still get my Nitrox tanks filled at a local dive shop, but from now on I will be filling my own air tanks.
UPDATE: (7/1/13) I just found out that the air compressor was shipped out from the manufacturer in Texas last Wednesday the 26th and is scheduled to arrive here in Hawaii next Tuesday, July 9th. Hopefully I will have it operational by that weekend.
Today I will be installing a MaxxAir Fan/Mate rain cover over the top of the Fantastic Vent that I just installed on the roof of my dive trailer so that I will be able to use the ventilation worry free in any weather conditions, rain or shine.
This installation is also a very simple job to complete. Make sure that any rain cover you decide to use is specifically designed for high-flow ventilation fans otherwise you can starve the fan for air and burn the motor up in it quickly. The MaxxAir Fan/Mate is designed to be used with the Fantastic Vents roof fans and has been tested to be used with them. I will be installing the model 850 because my dive trailer is white. The Fan/Mate is also available in black (model 950).
- Sit the vent cover over the top of the vent and center it. Decide which side you want to have the hinges mounted on so that you can easily open the Fan/Mate for maintenance and cleaning. Make sure that it’s opening will not interfere with anything else that is already on your roof.
- Open the vent lid slightly so that you can access the side of its frame.
- Using a ruler and pencil, mark a line on your roof at the rear edge of your fan housing on the side that will have the locking brackets (the non-hinged side).
- Place one of the locking brackets so that the rear edge of it is exactly 1 ½” from the line that you drew in step 3.
- Mark the screw holes in the bracket onto the side of the fan housing and drill a 3/32″ hole in the center of each. Make sure that you do not drill more than ½” deep into the fan housing wall.
- Secure the locking bracket to the fan housing wall using two of the supplied self-tapping screws.
- Measure the second locking bracket so that its rear edge is exactly 9 ⅛” from the rear edge of the first locking bracket and mark the locations for the two mounting screw holes in this bracket onto the fan housing side.
- Drill a 3/32″ hole in the center of each. Make sure that you do not drill more than ½” deep into the fan housing wall.
- Secure the second locking bracket to the fan housing wall using two of the supplied self-tapping screws.
- Repeat steps 3-9 on the other side of the roof vent to install the hinges.
- Open the hinges and slide one of the supplied carriage bolts through each hinge so that when the hinge is closed the carriage bolt is sticking straight up.
- Set the MaxxAir Fan/Mate down onto the carriage bolts and threaded studs on the locking brackets over the vent.
- On the locking side of the vent cover, install the supplied wing nuts onto the threaded posts on the locking brackets, but do not tighten all the way yet.
- Place a supplied star washer on both of the hinge side carriage bolts and install a nut and tighten securely.
- Now you can fully tighten the wing nuts on the locking brackets all the way down hand-tight.
- To open the MaxxAir Fan/Mate for cleaning and maintenance just unscrew the wing nuts on the locking side and lift the cover open. Be sure to retighten the wing nuts when you are finished.
The Model 6000RBTA 3-speed reversible roof ventilation fan with automatic thermostat controlled opening from Fantastic Vents is an easy swap out for any standard 14″ roof vent in any trailer, truck, or R.V., that is IF your vehicle already has a standard 14″ roof vent installed in it.
But what if it doesn’t already have one? Today I will be walking you through installing this roof ventilation fan on my dive trailer which did not come from the factory with any roof ventilation at all on it at all.
First I had to decide exactly where I wanted to install the roof vent, making sure that it would not interfere with the trailer frame cross bars, and that I had a 12 volt power source accessible near it.
- Once I had decided on its location I measured and marked a 14 inch square area on the roof of the trailer with a permanent marker and drilled a hole in each corner.
- I then used a small circular saw fitted with a metal cutting blade to carefully cut along the line that I had marked creating a 14″ square opening in the center of the roof. I could have used a jigsaw to cut this opening, but the circular saw cuts straight lines easier and it was handy.
Once I had the opening cut out I placed the supplied foam gasket around the opening and dropped the new vent into place making sure that the foam gasket was straight all the way around the vent.
- Before you mount the vent frame to the roof, run the 12 volt positive and ground wires to the fan and connect them using the supplied bullet connectors. The white wire is the ground wire and the black wire is the hot wire. Turn on the fan and check airflow direction to make sure you have not crossed the wires. If the fan direction is not correct simply reverse the wires.
- The installation kit comes with 16 stainless steel sheet metal screws to secure the vent frame down onto the roof through the pre-drilled mounting holes all the way around the vent frame.
- Turn the hand crank on the inside of the vent to open the vent cover. You will then be able to better access the screw holes on three sides of the vent. By then closing the cover by turning the hand crank in the opposite direction you will be able to access the screw holes on the back side of the frame where the lid is hinged.
- After all of the mounting screws are securely in place you can now seal the vent against leaks. This is normally done by applying a bead of silicone around the base of the frame where it meats the roof all the way around, and another drop of silicone on each screw head.
- Alternatively you can use a product called RoofSeal from EternaBond which is a micro sealant in a convenient tape form that you roll out across a joint where you want to create a watertight seal. I have used this product previously on both my food trucks and house roof and am very impressed with its ease of use, convenience, and durability. It comes in several different colors to match the roofing material color and several sizes to meet your needs. Since I already had a roll of 2″ wide white RoofSeal tape left over from my last food truck, I will be using that on the trailer to create a permanent watertight seal between the roof and the vent frame.
- Once the vent frame has been sealed to the roof, the next step is to install the garnish ring around the vent frame on the inside. This will more than likely have to be sized for your particular installation because it comes extra long and unless your roof is 6″ thick it will not fit as is.
- To resize the garnish ring depth simply measure how deep you need the ring to be, score the side of it with a razor knife and cut the corners down to your score line. Then snap off the excess from each side.
- Once the garnish ring has been resized to your roof thickness simply slide it into position and secure it with the supplied mounting screws.
- Snap on the supplied bug screen and your installation is complete.
- Simply set the maximum temperature to where you want it to be and when the thermostat reaches that temperature the vent cover will automatically open and turn the fan on dropping the air temperature inside. When the air temperature inside drops below your selected temperature the fan will automatically turn itself back off. The lid will remain open until you push the button or turn the hand crank to close it or until the rain sensor becomes wet. Once the sensor dries the lid will re-open automatically to provide ventilation.
Next I will walk you through installing a MaxxAir Fan/Mate rain cover to the Fantastic Vents ventilation fan that we just installed.
Over the past few days I have made several changes and improvements to the dive trailer.
All together I have installed 24 amber and 9 red LED marker lights on the trailer now.
Since I have decided to change all of the outside trailer lighting from halogen and incandescent bulbs over to LED, these marker lights that were originally on the trailer (shown here circled in red) had to go. The only problem was if I removed them, they would leave a hole in the side of the trailer where they were mounted.
Then I remembered the four 3″ side vents that I had to install on the trailer, they were the perfect size to take the place of these marker lights.
With the new air vents installed, you can’t even tell that marker lights used to be there. They are a perfect fit, and look factory installed.
Legally this trailer is not required to have marker lights on the fenders because it in only a 5 foot wide trailer. This is why it does not come from the factory with marker lights there.
Recently a picky Honolulu Police Department officer harassed me about it not having marker lights showing the “widest point of the vehicle“. I have been getting a lot of harassment from them over the trailer because of the homeowners association where I live. They do not like the trailer parked either on the street, or in my driveway, so they call the police all the time, it’s a real pain dealing with them.
As you can see in the above photos, to appease him I installed both reflectors on the bottoms of the fenders and LED marker lights on the tops of the fenders of both sides to clearly mark the “widest point of the vehicle“.
When I went to get the trailer’s safety check so that I could renew the license plates on it, the guy inspecting it said that he can’t pass the inspection because it does not have reverse lights on it. Where do they find these people?
Even trailers on 18-wheelers do not have reverse lights on them. Trailers do not come equipped with reverse lights because unless you happen to have a 7-pin trailer electrical connection on the tow vehicle, there is no wiring for reverse lights for the trailer.
Luckily my Suburban is equipped with a 7-pin RV-style hookup for the trailer, so I installed reverse lights onto it.
I have owned this trailer for four years now and I have never once had anyone say that it has to have reverse lights to pass a safety check before. Most trailers I see on the island do not even have license plates on them anyway, and they want me to put reverse lights on mine? What a load of crap to go through completely re-wiring the trailer just for a safety check sticker.
So, almost $300 and another week later, I finally have current safety inspection and registration decals on the trailer.
Here is a photo showing the new LED floodlights that I installed on both the rear and right side of the trailer. They are bright enough that I can light up the area around the trailer when getting ready for night dives. I can set up my 10’x10′ pop-up tent beside or behind the trailer and light everything up like daytime making night shore dives much easier.
Next I will be installing the ventilation fan on the roof of the trailer and I will include step-by-step instructions with photos for installing a 3-speed reversible roof fan from Fantastic Vents on a trailer that never had a roof vent on it before. It’s a very simple process to follow making it easy to add a rood vent fan to any trailer, truck, or RV roof.
Now that the walls and floor have been painted it is time to get the shelving installed so that I can start loading everything into the trailer.
The shelves on the front wall of the trailer ended up being the strongest shelves because I used 3 vertical supports closer together than normal, all bolted directly into the steel frame of the trailer, Since these shelves would hold up considerably more weight than originally intended, I decided they would be the perfect location to store both of my DPV’s.
Since the DPV’s take up so much room, I had to drop those shelves down lower than I had anticipated which meant that I could no longer have the workbench in the nose of the trailer that I wanted.
All of my tanks are secured to the wall using the Super Quick Fist rubber clamps which I love. They hold the tanks securely and do not allow any movement at all. I also used the same clamps to mount the four DPV batteries to the front wall directly under the DPV’s so they are handy, and secure.
I have installed the hanging rod and moved over all 4 of my wetsuits, both of my BCD’s, hood, vest-hood, pocket shorts, multiple pairs of fins, etc. Now it is all safely stored out of the sunlight.
I found a set of 4 super bright LED floodlights that I will use to light up the area around the trailer for night dives. I have mounted 2 on the back of the trailer, and 2 more on the right side of the trailer. These floodlights each put out 1,500 lumens but only draw 1.6 amps of power on a 12 volt system. They have an anodized aluminum housing and are waterproof and shock resistant so they should hold up nicely on the outside of the trailer.
So that I will be able to use the lights whether the trailer is hooked up to the Suburban or not I have decided to install a deep-cycle marine battery onboard the trailer that these lights will draw their power from. When I am not diving the trailer will be plugged into 110 volt to recharge the battery.
I am installing a 12 volt 3-speed Fan-Tastic Vents reversible powered roof vent which automatically opens the vent and turns on the fan when the temperature inside the trailer reaches a pre-determined level which I set. It will be covered with a MaxxAir rain cover so that it can be operated without worry in any weather conditions. I used this exact same setup previously on my food truck and I loved it, they really keep the heat down inside and keep the air moving throughout the vehicle. This will make sure that my equipment and tanks to not overheat inside the trailer on our hot Hawaii summer days, and also make it cooler for me working on equipment or kitting up in the trailer for a dive.
To save power I also am converting all of the lighting on the outside of the trailer over to LED marker lights, tail lights, etc., as well as installing 12 volt fluorescent ceiling lights inside the trailer. They will use less power than halogen versions, and they are a lot brighter. I have also added about two dozen LED amber marker lights running down the length of the trailer on top and bottom, so that it matches the look of my Suburban that I will be pulling it with.
I decided I would wait to install the shelving until after I painted the walls and floor to protect the wood paneling from getting damaged from all the water and sand that will surely find its way onto them.
I went to the Home Depot to see what paint would be best for my particular application. I wanted to paint the inside of the trailer bright white so that it would reflect the lighting as much as I could to make it easier to see inside on night dives.
For safety I added a non-slip sand to the porch paint that I will be using on the floor to give a little more traction when it is wet, and am using a semi-gloss for the walls. All of it has to have two coats of primer/sealant on the bare wood before I can start applying the paint, then two coats of each paint. I am still deciding on painting the ceiling. It is bare aluminum now and Im not sure how this paint will adhere to it, so I may just wait on it for now.
I will also be adding a rubber mat made for restaurant floors to the center isle area of the floor to help with drainage. I happened to have one left over from one of my restaurants that was not being used, so why not put it to good use. This will also protect the floor from being damaged by tanks being dropped onto it.
Because of the application they are recommending I wait a full week for it to fully cure before I start using it, so I will wait to install the shelving for now to give it a little time to cure. Before I can start on the floor I have to wait until the walls have their finish coat of paint on them. Once the primer/sealant is applied to the floor, it can’t be walked on until the paint is on and dried. So unfortunately I can’t do all the primer at once, then go back and do all the paint at once like I had hoped to be able to do to save time and make it easier on me.
I want to get the hanging rod installed as soon as possible so I can get all of my wetsuits out of the sun. Right now they are on a garment rack at the back of the trailer waiting to go inside, but I can’t leave them out in the sun for long. Sunlight is the natural enemy of Neoprene.
I am still trying to decide if I want to mount the Rescue Cans on the inside or outside of the trailer. They are something that need to be available quickly when they are needed, so I am considering mounting them on the outside. They are not that expensive so if they happen to get stolen I can replace them and reconsider their location.
I ordered four 3″ round vents to help with ventilation in there. I will be installing a 12v powered roof vent to exhaust the hot air out of the trailer, but I needed intake vents on the sides to bring fresh air in with. I also ordered two 18″ fluorescent ceiling lights that I will figure out how to get installed when it all comes in this week.
Until then I will just have to sit back and watch as the primer and paint slowly dries.
I received the roof rack to mount my two kayaks on the trailer from Rack n Road on Thursday expecting to be able to have it installed on the dive trailer over the weekend, however they dropped the ball on this order.
One of the clamps necessary to install the roof rack was not included in the box. Apparently they shipped me one that had already been opened by someone else because the plastic parts bag inside the box had already been torn open, luckily all of the parts were still inside the bag.
Without the last bracket piece I am not able to get the roof rack installed, which has really put me behind in getting this trailer built. I need to have everything ready to go in just over one week because the trailer will be used to provide emergency equipment support for an event. During that time I also have multiple First Aid & CPR classes that I have to teach for two different companies, which further limits my free time to devote to building the dive trailer.
I was planning on custom building the inside of the trailer with marine-grade plywood, however with my time constraints now I am limited with my options. I have decided to switch over to a wire shelving system for the inside of the trailer instead. This will save me a lot of time as I will not have to custom build everything from scratch. The wire shelving will also allow better air flow for drying of the equipment.
The system I have decided to use is made by Closet Maid and is designed for closet organization in the home. They have a lot of different options available including wire shelves, wire drawers, wire hanging baskets, etc., and different shelf sizes to better fit my needs for a more custom look in the trailer.
This will also be quite a bit cheaper than custom building the inside with marine-grade plywood, not to mention a lot lighter saving me weight on the trailer that I can use for more gear inside.
I figured out a way to have a “Bathroom and Changing Room” by using a shower curtain rod and closing the curtain when it is needed. This will allow me to have the portable chemical camping toilet in the trailer for emergencies. There isn’t always a restroom available at a dive site.
This new layout is giving me a lot more room. I will start installing the wire shelving tomorrow.
I decided to move the two Rescue Cans that I have from my Suburban over to my dive trailer to keep all of my emergency equipment together in one place. They don’t get used very often, but I would rather have them there and never need them than to need them and not have them.
I also ordered a set of mounting brackets for them so that I can mount them to the wall of the dive trailer to make them easy to get without having to search for them. I will be mounting these right at the back of the trailer so they can be reached quickly in an emergency.
One of the companies that I provided first aid & CPR training for a couple weeks ago is planning a company party later this month at a beach park. They have 2 newly certified lifeguards in-house but they do not have any rescue equipment for them to use, so they contacted me to see if I could give them a list of what they needed to purchase and where they could get it from.
Since I have everything that they will need already in the dive trailer I decided that instead of them purchasing everything for a one-time event, I will bring the trailer over to them and “stand by” in case anything were to happen. They agreed that it was a great idea, and will basically rent me for the day.
This way they will have two lifeguards and a medic on-site along with all of the equipment needed to handle just about any situation.
I have been trying to figure out what to do with all of my dive gear instead of having it all cluttering up the back of my Suburban.
I finally decided that I will convert my 5’x8′ enclosed cargo trailer into a dive trailer to store and transport everything all at once.
It has been sitting in my driveway for almost a year since it was used last, so I might as well put it to use.
I just ordered a new Thule roof rack so that I can move the two kayaks and their racks off of the roof of my Suburban and mount them on top of the trailer, that should be in by the weekend hopefully. I also ordered 12 “Super Quick Fist Clamps” to mount scuba tanks standing up against the wall.
I am designing the inside of the trailer now to make the most of the space available. I will have a hanging rack for wetsuits, storage for my First Aid Kit, Trauma Kit, Oxygen Kit, AED, extra oxygen tanks, multiple sets of fins, 2 DPV’s with spare batteries and a built-in charging station, dive weights, assorted dive accessories, kayak accessories, and spare parts that I have been accumulating. I am also hoping to be able to fit a portable chemical toilet for emergencies and a rinse station for rinsing gear off before it is hung up to dry.
I already installed 4 dome lights inside the trailer for night dives and I will be adding additional lighting outside the trailer to light up a work/staging area.
I know I am forgetting about something, but right now I can’t think of anything else that I need to add to the trailer. I hope that I can think of everything before I get started on the construction of the inside so I don’t have to start over again.
If anyone has any suggestions for what needs to be included in a dive trailer, I’m all ears. This is my first attempt at building one.