We are outfitting a trailer to serve as a mobile field laboratory.
Updated May 15, 2022
We are re-purposing “Dale’s Toolbox” to serve as a mobile field laboratory.
Dale Morrison, Master Trail Steward, was instrumental in the layout, design and construction of the granite hike and bike trails, concrete and wooden picnic tables, and pavilions at Lost Pines Nature Trails in Tahitian Village, Texas (now Bastrop Nature Park). Dale managed a crew of Master Naturalist volunteers who built and maintained the trails. This trailer, known as Dale’s Toolbox, was purchased to house a wide array of trail-building equipment, and has been re-configured to provide laboratory and computer benches, and equipped to house and maintain the water monitoring instruments and equipment. The trailer and equipment are owned and maintained by Environmental Stewardship.
We are grateful to Phil Cook, who undertook the job of re-purposing by installing benches, cabinets, and shelving to enable the space to function as a mobile laboratory and field office.
Phil built a laboratory bench for use in calibrating the water chemistry instrument, cleaning and maintaining the other instruments and equipment. Storage below will be used for chemical waste storage and a freshwater and distilled water supply.
A computer bench will serve as a computer workstation and will have 12-volt charging stations for charging instruments and batteries so that they are ready for the next user. The trailer will have 200 watts of solar panels, controller, battery lighting, and USB charging stations.
The solar power source will also be used to run a rooftop ventilation fan and other 12-volt equipment as needed in the future.
Michael Wunderlin oversaw the mechanical soundness of the trailer by getting new tires installed, axle checked and greased, and repairs to the rear door.
Claire Wunderlin arranged for property insurance for the equipment, and liability insurance for personnel using and handling the mobile laboratory.
We also plan to have tables and chairs stored for use outside as needed. There is room in the back to hang and dry wading boots, tools, equipment for installing T-post monitoring stations, and clearing trails to the monitoring sites.
We have now made the initial installation of the solar power supply system. Two 100 watt Renogy solar panels will be controlled by the 20 amp control device as it charges a deep cycle battery to keep the system powered when the sun is not shining. A 110-volt power source can be used to charge the battery when “shore power” is available.
This is clearly a work in progress!
We still have work to do to finish outfitting the trailer so that it is serviceable as a mobile laboratory. The roof needs insulated and outfitted with a ceiling exhaust fan, the solar panels, controller, batteries, lighting and charging stations need to be installed. And the interior will need a final coat of paint. We are also preparing an Operations Manual to guide the use of the trailer and equipment and can use the assistance of a technical writer and editor. I you have an interest in helping with these projects, please contact us so we can discuss how you can help.